Home » 'Junk DNA', Intelligent Design, theistic evolution » Even IF the Genome is Full of “Junk”

Even IF the Genome is Full of “Junk”

I particularly enjoyed Denyse’s comment here about how, according to some evolutionary theorists — who should be more accurately depicted as evolutionary storytellers — Darwinian evolution programmed us to find Darwinian evolution difficult to believe.

This is called science?

A much more reasonable explanation is that our minds were programmed to invent computer programs, and to find Darwinism difficult to believe because it makes no rational sense.

But I digress from the theme of my post.

I enjoyed Jonathan’s presentation about junk DNA at the link provided above. Let us presume that the genome does include junk. What does this have to do with the evidence for design found elsewhere, such as in the highly sophisticated, functionally integrated, information-processing machinery about which we know a great deal?

I’m sure that Francis Collins is a very fine fellow. I have no doubt about his Christian conversion. (I underwent a similar one.) I have no doubt about his intellect or problem-solving IQ.

However, there is something missing in his reasoning, which basically goes like this:

A troglodyte discovers a car in a junkyard. The engine runs. The transmission works, and the car can be driven. But wait: The headlights don’t work and do nothing (of course, the troglodyte has no idea what a headlight is, but he sees such structures and assumes that they have no purpose).

Even if (and that’s a BIG if) the genome is full of junk (that is, degenerate stuff that provides no function), the existence of that junk has nothing to do with an inference to design from the stuff that is obviously not junk, but highly sophisticated technology.

Based upon my experience, design theorists are not the troglodytes who refuse to follow the evidence where it leads — Darwinists are.

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68 Responses to Even IF the Genome is Full of “Junk”

  1. Can anyone describe a better system for getting rid of junk than the “Darwinian” one?

  2. IF the genome is full of ‘junk’ and was designed it does make you wonder why the junk was put in or left there. It costs resources to perpetuate the ‘junk’ so . . . . sounds like very shoddy design for a living, self-replicating system.

    The car was not designed with non-functioning headlights. Perhaps a better analogy would be with the more decorative bits, stuff that doesn’t affect how the car was supposed to behave.

  3. “Junk” DNA is just DNA that hasn’t been switched on yet.

  4. ronvanwegen,

    Some of the DNA identity tests used in forensics count the number of repeats of chunks of genome. IF junk DNA is just DNA that hasn’t been turned on then why do some people have different numbers of some sequences?

  5. If the genome is full of junk, this falsifies a prediction made by prominent ID advocates.

    “The theory of intelligent design predicts that most of the nonprotein-coding sequences in the genome should perform some biological function, even if they do not direct protein synthesis.” — Meyer S. C (2009) Signature in the Cell, Ch 18

    “Predictions of Design (Hypothesis): … (4) The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless “junk DNA”. — IDEA Center, FAQ: Does intelligent design make predictions? Is it testable?, http://www.ideacenter.org

    “If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function.” — Dembski W. (1998) “Science and Design” in First Things Oct 1998

    Cheers

  6. If the genome is full of junk, this falsifies a prediction made by prominent ID advocates.

    It all depends on which genome you are talking about. Ya see the genomes of today are not the designed genomes and the designed genomes are not around.

    And then it all depends on what one means by “junk”.

  7. Joe,
    Is there any question that Meyer and Dembski are talking about modern genomes? If we take ‘junk DNA’ to be function-less DNA then both are saying ID predicts little to no junk, don’t they?

  8. Joe @ 6

    C: If the genome is full of junk, this falsifies a prediction made by prominent ID advocates.

    J: It all depends on which genome you are talking about. Ya see the genomes of today are not the designed genomes and the designed genomes are not around.

    And then it all depends on what one means by “junk”.

    It’s not much of a prediction, then, if it all “depends”.

    In any case, the prediction seems pretty clear to me, and the meaning of “junk” in this thread seems pretty clear too.

    But not to worry. Falsified predictions should be a good thing. They help refine the theory so it more closely reflects reality.

    Cheers

  9. The point is one of logic. There is no reason to conclude, just because the genome contains junk, that the sophisticated functional technology found elsewhere came about by chance. But that’s how the Darwinian mind reasons.

    In any event, it is becoming increasingly obvious that much of the junk is not junk at all, so the ID prediction has already been at least partially vindicated. Note that the prediction is that “most of the nonprotein-coding sequences in the genome should perform some biological function,” and that “the genetic code will not contain much discarded genetic baggage code.” So the claim is not that everything will eventually be found to be functional, or that Darwinian mechanisms cannot account for some disabled or degenerate code. (In fact, this is known to be the case, as in bacterial antibiotic resistance.)

    In addition, there is what I call the trajectory of the evidence. If the Darwinian hypothesis concerning junk DNA is correct, more and more of it should be progressively demonstrated to be junk, but the exact opposite is occurring, further vindicating the ID hypothesis.

  10. wd400:

    Is there any question that Meyer and Dembski are talking about modern genomes?

    No idea, but they very well could be. And that is a mistake IMO.

    If we take ‘junk DNA’ to be function-less DNA then both are saying ID predicts little to no junk, don’t they?

    Funtion-less now does not mean always function-less.

    If a company builds a functioning product but also has a stock of parts that do not yet function because they are not yet implemented in the design, does that mean the stock is totally functionless?

  11. CLAVDIVS-

    I have never understood nor liked the “prediction” of no junk DNA or evry little junk DNA, even though it could turn out to be correct.

    And under the modern synthesis I would not expect junk DNA to accumulate, meaning the current ToE does not have an explanation for junk DNA.

  12. GilDodgen @ 9

    There is no reason to conclude, just because the genome contains junk, that the sophisticated functional technology found elsewhere came about by chance.

    Agreed.

    However, my point was, if the genome is “Full of Junk” – as speculated in the OP – then this would falsify the prediction made by prominent ID advocates that “most of the nonprotein-coding sequences in the genome should perform some biological function”.

    Surely nobody is seriously arguing that a genome “full of junk” is equivalent to a genome that is “mostly functional”?

    Cheers

  13. I’m somewhat confused on this issue. I thought science was starting to find more and more uses of the junk DNA. I thought I read an article where even Francis Collins was not referring to it as junk DNA anymore. Has science now found that it is indeed junk?

  14. Joe @ 11

    I have never understood nor liked the “prediction” of no junk DNA or very little junk DNA, even though it could turn out to be correct.

    And under the modern synthesis I would not expect junk DNA to accumulate, meaning the current ToE does not have an explanation for junk DNA.

    Joe, I am in total agreement with this.

    The “very little junk” prediction could turn out to be correct (though I have my doubts). But I don’t see how such a prediction is entailed by ID and therefore ID theory will not be affected by the answer, one way or the other. So, in my view, this is not really a prediction of ID.

    Nevertheless, this prediction has featured very prominently in ID literature.

    And you’re right: Darwinian adaptationists wouldn’t expect non-functional DNA to accumulate. They would expect it to be whittled away, like the eyes of a cave fish. Which is why I believe most biologists have long had suspicions that so-called “junk” DNA actually had unknown biological function.

    Cheers

  15. Jerad:

    IF the genome is full of ‘junk’ and was designed it does make you wonder why the junk was put in or left there. . . . The car was not designed with non-functioning headlights.

    Have you ever seen a car with a broken headlight? It is a statement of obvious fact that things which are designed over time break down, rust, decay, lose functionality. It is known that DNA has several mechanisms to help deal with this relentless march of entropy, but it is certainly possible that DNA is partly non-functional.

    However, and this relates to Clavdivs’ comment, there is excellent reason to think that most, even the great majority of DNA, is functional. Neither evolution advocates nor ID advocates have ever taken the position that no DNA is functional or that all DNA is functional.

    But they have taken opposite positions in terms of the extent of functionality, with evolutionary proponents regularly proclaiming that DNA is mostly junk, a mess, a kludge, riddled with non-functional detritus. Indeed, several evolutionary proponents early on even declared that everything that did not code directly for proteins was junk. In contrast prominent ID advocates, including those cited by Clavdivs, have predicted that most DNA will be functional. There is no question which way the evidence is running and where new discoveries are pointing. The results will not logically falsify either ID or Darwinian evolution one way or another in terms of deductive logic, but new discoveries almost weekly should cause any evolutionary proponent great pause. Asserting that most of something we don’t understand must be junk is the quintessential argument from ignorance.

  16. Clavdivs wrote:

    Darwinian adaptationists wouldn’t expect non-functional DNA to accumulate. They would expect it to be whittled away, like the eyes of a cave fish.

    Well, that’s the revised story that is starting to emerge now, isn’t it? Prominent evolutionary proponents have been extremely vocal for decades in pushing the idea that evolutionary theory “expects” lots of junk to accumulate, that all the junk in DNA is a prediction of evolutionary theory, that the junk confirms an historical evolutionary scenario, and that the junk allows us to conclude that DNA was not designed. Even in recent years we can still hear prominent folks making these arguments.

    Sorry, but evolutionary proponents don’t now get to do a 180 degree turn and start claiming that, “Well, we were just kidding. We actually didn’t expect much junk after all.” The trend of the evidence in recent years is a very clear failure of evolutionary predictions and expectations.

  17. Jerad:

    Sorry for continuing to post so many times this morning. However, I don’t know if you were following UD several months ago, so thought I’d link to a thread from last fall that contains some of my thinking on junk-DNA, the trend of the evidence, etc. Worth reading, in my humble opinion! :)

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....up-though/

  18. Eric,

    Thanks for the link, I wasn’t keeping track of things back then so it’s much appreciated. I will read it.

    I don’t remember (or can find easily) the exact comments made by both sides regarding how much of the genome will turn out to be ‘junk’. Most does just mean over 50% doesn’t it. Regarding the broken headlight analogy . . . I quite agree that things break no matter how well designed. Are you then implying that there has been no designer intervention since some genes were broken? Not tring to taunt or tease, just trying to understand what you’re thinking.

  19. I was just having a look at genome sizes . . . . did you know that two types of nematodes, Caenorhabditis elegans and Pratylenchus coffeae, have genomes of 100,300,00 and 20,000,000 base pairs respectively. Different species but similar critters. Hard to imagine that even most of the DNA in a genome 5 times the size has a function! Well, hard for me to imagine anyway. Was that an argument from ignorance? :-)

    Seriously though, genome sizes vary incredibly! Did you know that the genome of Paris japonica is almost 50 times the size of the human genome? Wow. And it’s a plant!! The marbled lungfish has a genome that is 40 times the size of the human genome There must be a lot of repitition in there!

  20. Jerad,

    Maybe those genomes contain the committee meeting minutes. :)

  21. Collin,

    hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahah :-) EXCELLENT!! Really funny. Best smile of the day here. :-) :-) Thank you!!

  22. 22
    Chance Ratcliff

    Collin, that’s pretty funny! :D

    More notes on “junk.” Data storage can appear haphazard as a result of design tradeoffs made in consideration of physical constraints.

    My computer hard drive contains lots of junk. But it’s a data storage medium, not the information itself (same with DNA). The meeting minutes, if they were deleted from my hard drive, would not actually be removed. The allocation for that information would be marked as “free space” in the file table, and so those segments could be overwritten by a successive write operation. Over time those segments would become fragmented, and anyone trying to piece together function without reference to the file allocation table would see disjointed, haphazard bits of once-functional information; but the overall design would still be anything but.

    I read somewhere recently, I don’t remember where, that some stretches of DNA did not encode functional information, but had a definite purpose. They allowed for the three-dimensional spacial positioning of other functional elements within the genome, which aids the internal processing of those elements. (I think I may have seen this in the recent Biola God end Evolution presentation by Jonathan Wells on Youtube.) This same constraint is present in two dimensions on a computer hard drive. Allocation tables commonly mark 4K segments; so any file which is smaller than 4K, or whose size is not a multiple of 4K, will be end-buffered with “junk,” padding the end of the 4K block with whatever data was left over from a previous write. This is two-dimensional spacial positioning. This would appear utterly haphazard without prior knowledge of the file allocation table and the data lookup scheme.

    The comparisons are not perfect, but they are striking.

  23. So the genome needs a defrag I guess. Or a whole reformat. Someone call cosmic tech support.

  24. Eric Anderson @ 16

    C: Darwinian adaptationists wouldn’t expect non-functional DNA to accumulate. They would expect it to be whittled away, like the eyes of a cave fish.

    E: Well, that’s the revised story that is starting to emerge now, isn’t it? Prominent evolutionary proponents have been extremely vocal for decades in pushing the idea that evolutionary theory “expects” lots of junk to accumulate…

    Actually, no, that’s not a revised story that’s starting to emerge now. A great many mainstream biologists explicitly said that non-coding likely had function, right from the early days after it was discovered.

    Immediately after Ohno’s very first presentation at the conference proceedings where he coined the term “junk DNA” he gave an interview describing his expectation that Darwinian adaptation should remove non-functional DNA, and therefore by implication remaining DNA is likely functional, even if we don’t know what the function is. The transcript is published in Ohno, S. (1973) “Evolutional reason for having so much junk DNA” in Modern Aspects of Cytogenetics: Constitutive Heterochromatin in Man (ed. R.A. Pfeiffer), pp. 169-173. F.K. Schattauer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany:

    Ohno: “If there is any gene which is doing some good for your general well-being, you will suffer when you lose that gene. For this very reason a fraction of randomly sustained mutations of that locus would be deleterious. There is simply no way of having a useful gene without paying a certain price for the cost of natural selection. If, on the other hand, there is a gene which is totally irrelevant, you will lose that gene sooner or later, for natural selection would not police that gene.”

    There are many, many more papers over subsequent decades describing the expectation that much “junk” DNA actually has function; some examples appear below.

    1974 — E. Southern, “Eukaryotic DNA” in MTP International Review of Science, Biochemistry Series One, Volume 6, Biochemistry of Nucleic Acids, (1974) University Park Press, Baltimore. pp. 101 – 139:

    “.. large variations in genome size could readily be accomodated if a high proportion of the DNA were used for functions other than coding for proteins. A number of such functions have been proposed and incorporated into hypothetical structures for the eukaryotic genome.”

    1977 — D.M. Skinner, “Satellite DNAs” BioScience 27 (1977) pp. 790-796:

    Satellites [tandemly repeating, non-coding DNA] constitute from 1% to 66% of the total DNA of numerous organisms, including that of animals, plants, and prokaryotes. Their existence has been known for about 15 years but, although it is thought that they must be biologically important … their functions are still largely in the realm of speculation.

    1980 — Orgel & Crick, Nature (284: 604-607), p. 606:

    Thus, some selfish DNA may acquire a useful function and confer a selective advantage on the organism.

    1982 — R. Lewin, “Repeated DNA still in search of a function” Science 217 (1982) pp. 621-623:

    Some repetitive DNA will undoutedly be shown to have a function, in the formal sense, some will likely be shown to exert important effects, and the remainder may well have no function or effect at all and can therefore be called selfish DNA. Repetitive DNA constitutes a substantial proportion of the genome (up to 90% in some cases), and there is considerable speculation on how it will eventually be divided between these three groups.

    So it is simply not the case that biologists only started to acknowledge function for “junk” DNA in recent times. Rather, function has been expected ever since the term “junk” DNA entered the scientific literature.

    Cheers

  25. Chance Ratcliff @ 22

    I read somewhere recently, I don’t remember where, that some stretches of DNA did not encode functional information, but had a definite purpose. They allowed for the three-dimensional spacial positioning of other functional elements within the genome, which aids the internal processing of those elements.

    Way, way back in 1971, even before Ohno coined the term “junk DNA”, biologists were discovering large portions of the genome that did not code for proteins and/or was repetitive, and had no known function. Nonetheless, they were proposing numerous possible functions for such, and subsequent research has shown some of their proposals to be correct.

    Ever since the initial demonstration of the existence of repetitive DNA there has been no dearth of theories on the function of this material. … Following is a list of functions that have been proposed …

    1. Recognition of centromeres of common origin.
    2. Recognition between homologous chromosomes during pairing.
    3. Regions involved in the initiation of replication and/or transcription.
    4. Sites concerned with specifying the folding patterns of chromosomes.
    5. Recognition sites for the process of genetic recombination.
    6. Provision of raw material for genetic divergence.
    7. Reflection of similarities in the structure of different proteins.
    8. DNA concerned with the regulation of gene expression (regulatory DNA).
    9. Reflection of multiplicity of repeated genes, as for example, in the master and slave or multistranded chromosome hypothesis.

    None of the recognition functions, i.e., recognition of centromeres, initiation sites, pairing sites, recombination sites, folding sites, or regulatory sites, that we have discussed is mutually exclusive of the others. They all relate to cellular phenomena that have been demonstrated or inferred from other data. All these phenomena probably exist within every higher organism. Therefore, DNA involved in each of these functions could contribute in varying degrees to the repeated portion of the genome.

    – Bostock, C. (1971) “Repetitious DNA” Advances in Cell Biology 2: 153-223.

    One can see that several of these hypothesised functions for “junk” DNA have since been confirmed — including the one about folding. They’ve been confirmed because they were initially suspected and scientists went looking to confirm them; they did not just write off “junk” DNA as irrelevant and functionless.

    Cheers

  26. Sorry, but evolutionary proponents don’t now get to do a 180 degree turn and start claiming that, “Well, we were just kidding. We actually didn’t expect much junk after all.

    What? I don’t think junk DNA is evidence for evolution, except in the sense that it knocks down (some) IDist predictions.

    But does tell us a little about the nature of evolution. Only a hyper-adaptationist would think natural selection would get rid of junk DNA (or stop it accumulating) – what do you reckon the extra cost of another copy of an ALU repeat is, do you really think natural selection is going to notice that in a population with an effective population size of 10 000 ?

    Here, indeed, we have a prediction. If junk DNA is costly, but only very slightly, then we expect organisms with large effective population sizes to, all else being equal, have smaller genomes with less junk. I encourage you to search for articles on this topic.

  27. The problem with the no junk DNA prediction is the people who make it appear to think that DNA is the software and as such shouldn’t be able to tolerate junk.

    I say that is a mistake and that the software is separate from the DNA. The DNA may be a storage medium as well as being able to transfer information (software) to the RNAs it encodes. But it isn’t the software.

    Just sayin’…

  28. Chance & Joe,

    DNA as a storage medium . . . interesting. It’s a living thing unlike a computer hard drive but . . . interesting. If I were going to copy my computer hard drive billions of times I’d purge the deleted files first. And you wouldn’t need billions of copies would you? A few would do. And why pass thousands of ‘junk’ files to your offspring when they might get corrupted and cause damage?

    Of course a computer hard drive is storage for not only data (like pictures and music and documents) but it can ALSO store software like the computer operating system. Perhaps that deserves some more thought? And, if the software isn’t in DNA then someone has got to find it!! Don’t forget about the mitochondrial DNA.

  29. Joe,

    Nothing is the software. This is biology.

  30. wd400-

    If someone ever demonstrates that living organisms are reducible to matter and energy I will believe you.

  31. So you’re a vitalist as well as IDist? Awesome.

  32. So you’re ignorant as well as a materialist? Totally awesome.

    Do you really think that if one gets all the hardware that events such as transcription and translation will “just happen”?

  33. Jerad-

    DNA is not a living thing.

  34. Do you really think that if one gets all the hardware that events such as transcription and translation will “just happen”?

    Yes, but that’s probably because I’ve done it in a test tube, many times.

  35. What, exactly, have you done in a test tube?

    Did you syntheisze the DNA and ribosomes and have them perform exactly as in living organisms? Nope. So what did you do?

  36. Taken DNA, RNA Pol and ribosomes (“hardware” surely?) and had transcription and translation “just happen”. It’s a standard lab protocol, undergrads do it.

  37. Umm if you get the DNA, RNA, Pol and ribosiomes from a living organism then it is a given that they are programmed, ie contain software.

    Synthesize those components and see what happens- which will be absolutely nothing…

  38. oops- RNA Pol not “RNA, Pol”….

  39. You might want to read up on this a little Joe…

  40. You might want to answer my questions-

    1- Did you synthesize the DNA?

    2- Did you syntheisze the ribosomes?

    3- Did you synthesize the RNA Pol?

    Note- synthesized ribosomes do not function.

  41. wd400,

    I don’t know if I’m a vitalist, but I agree with Joe that matter/energy is not enough. Information is also a fundamental part of life, imo.

  42. Joe @ 27

    The problem with the no junk DNA prediction is the people who make it appear to think that DNA is the software and as such shouldn’t be able to tolerate junk.

    I say that is a mistake and that the software is separate from the DNA. The DNA may be a storage medium as well as being able to transfer information (software) to the RNAs it encodes. But it isn’t the software.

    And in any case, clearly one of the software’s functions is to copy itself with a low, but non-zero, error rate. This by itself is likely to lead to non-functional areas.

    Cheers

  43. Chance @ 22:

    Good analogy and well stated.

  44. Joe,

    In my case the DNA was indeed synthesised. The RNA pol was probably expressed in bactrial cells, but could easily have been from cell-free media. The ribosomes come from wheatgerm, you need to provide a citation for “synthesized ribosomes do not function” (if you mean if you just bang our RNAs and proteins then you don’t get functional ribosomes that’s fine, but hardly a show stopper).

    Collin,

    Information isn’t methaphysical – it’s just a name with give to certain patterns of energy and matter.

  45. Clavdivs @24:

    Apologies that I don’t have time right now to respond in detail and am heading out of town in about 24 hours. Just a couple of quick comments:

    - Thank you for the quotes about junk DNA possibly having function. I think the quotes are not as strong as you suggest they are, particularly not the Ohno quote, which can easily be understood as meaning “yes, eventually, in the course of eons natural selection might weed out the junk,” and is not necessarily stating that he thinks there isn’t currently pervasive junk.

    - Nevertheless, I accept your point that some individuals were looking into the possibility of junk DNA having function early on, so thanks for the quotes.

    - In light of the many statements made by evolutionary proponents about pervasive junk DNA (including the comments I cited in http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-408575), I guess this underscores that there has been a significant disconnect in the evolutionary community about what to expect with regard to junk DNA. Perhaps this is not unusual, given that evolutionary theory can accommodate any outcome so there is no theoretical reason to expect a particular result.

    - I note that lots of prominent folks even now (go search Panda’s Thumb, for example) continue to promote the idea that junk DNA: is almost all junk, is evidence for evolution, and is evidence against design.

    - So while I am happy that there have been researchers who have speculated about possible function for junk DNA, this appears to have been a minority (or perhaps just quiet?) position, swamped by the more outspoken elements.

    In light of this:

    - Is it your view that careful researchers have always suspected function for most junk DNA, or did they just suspect that some occasional functions might be found amid the sea of junk?

    - Is it your view that careful researchers have always suspected function for most junk DNA and that it is just the loud propagandizers (Dawkins, Myers, Moran, et al.) who continue to push the incorrect idea that there is pervasive junk DNA?

  46. CLAVDIVS-

    The software could be copying itself without any errors. Until we can actually read the software we won’t know.

  47. wd400-

    Toward synthetic life

    They only used synthetic ribosomal RNA and now it only cranks out one polypeptide.

    Life what a concept- see page 52:

    We talked about the ribosome; we tried to make synthetic ribosomes, starting with the genetic code and building them — the ribosome is such an incredibly beautiful complex entity, you can make synthetic ribosomes, but they don’t function totally yet. Nobody knows how to get ones that can actually do protein synthesis. But starting with an intact ribosome is cheating anyway right?

    BTW information is neither matter nor energy…

  48. wd400,

    I disagree. From what I have read, it appears to me that information may be more fundamental than matter and energy.

    Here’s an interesting place to start.
    http://evoinfo.org/

  49. Joe,

    Could the software be external? Could we be part of a computer simulation? Clearly intelligently designed.

  50. Jerad:

    Could the software be external?

    External to what, the organism? How does it get in?

  51. Joe,

    External to the organism.

    If we’re part of a computer simulation then we are part of the software really I suppose. Some people think that is a possibility. What do you think?

  52. Eric Anderson @ 45

    I guess this underscores that there has been a significant disconnect in the evolutionary community about what to expect with regard to junk DNA. Perhaps this is not unusual, given that evolutionary theory can accommodate any outcome so there is no theoretical reason to expect a particular result.

    That’s a bit snarky. Evolutionary theory cannot accommodate any outcome. It can, however, accommodate a genome that has widely varying amounts of “junk”.

    - Is it your view that careful researchers have always suspected function for most junk DNA, or did they just suspect that some occasional functions might be found amid the sea of junk?

    Opinion amongst researchers has been widely spread, not clustered at the “mostly useless” end or the “mostly functional” end. Here are the results of a 2008 survey asking “How much of our genome could be deleted without having any significant effect on our species?” (n=595):

    15% - None
    18% - less than 10%
    16% - between 11% and 49%
    12% - between 50% and 74%
    13% - between 75% and 89%
    23% - 90% or more

    - Is it your view that careful researchers have always suspected function for most junk DNA and that it is just the loud propagandizers (Dawkins, Myers, Moran, et al.) who continue to push the incorrect idea that there is pervasive junk DNA?

    Yes, careful researchers have always suspected function for junk DNA.

    I do not know whether loud propagandisers push the idea that there is “pervasive” junk DNA. Of the five comments you cited only two (Futuyma & Avise) actually suggest junk DNA predominates; the others merely say that junk DNA exists or there is “lots” of it – which is completely non-committal on the subject of how much of the genome is junk. This is roughly in line with the survey I posted above – namely, opinion is fairly widely spread on this subject.

    In any case, my comment was about predictions of ID advocates who have stated that it is a prediction of ID theory that there will be very little non-functional DNA. And I was just pointing out, as a logical matter, if the genome is full of junk then these predictions would be falsified.

    Cheers

  53. Meh…

  54. CLAVDIVS-

    Another issue with the “prediction” and alleged falsification is how can we test it? That is how can we really tell how much of our genome is required? How much is for future purposes? How much is redundant (a design feature)? How much is just for software storage?

    We just do not know…

  55. Joe,

    You’re just not going to answer the computer simulation question are you? Oh well, I’ll stop asking then.

  56. Joe @ 54

    Well, if there’s no practical way to test it then its not really a prediction, and should not have been promoted as such.

    Cheers

  57. Jerad-

    No, I do not think, believe nor accept that we are part of a computer simulation.

  58. CLAVDIVS-

    Right now there may not be any practical way to test it but even being able to test it doesn’t make it a valid prediction for any specific model. So we are in agreement on that.

    What ID does predict is that living organisms are not reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance.

    It also predicts that when agencies act they tend to leave traces of their involvement behind. And we can detect and study those traces.

  59. Jerad,

    IF the genome is full of ‘junk’ and was designed it does make you wonder why the junk was put in or left there. It costs resources to perpetuate the ‘junk’ so . . . . sounds like very shoddy design for a living, self-replicating system.

    Or the original design was flooded by noise for some reason. Say you have a nice new radio receiver and then you drop it off the third floor. Well, it still can work but it’s not as good as new any more.

  60. Eugene,

    Yup, could be the case. So the designer is not maintaining the system then? Everything was frontloaded at some point and then let go? Or . . . .

    Just trying to get a handle on the implications of what you are suggesting.

  61. Joe @ 58

    What ID does predict is that living organisms are not reducible to matter, energy, necessity and chance.

    This got me thinking.

    Assume, for the sake of discussion, that reductionist materialism is true; that an alien intelligence evolved elsewhere in the universe; and billions of years ago they visited earth and seeded it with living organisations they designed, which have evolved since then.

    This scenario seems compatible with ID to me.

    So why do you say ID requires reductionist materialism to be false?

    Cheers

  62. CLAVDIVS:

    Assume, for the sake of discussion, that reductionist materialism is true; that an alien intelligence evolved elsewhere in the universe; and billions of years ago they visited earth and seeded it with living organisations they designed, which have evolved since then.

    This scenario seems compatible with ID to me.

    Mini-id- as in living organisms on this planet were designed. However Intelligent Design requires that all living organisms- on every planet- be traceable back to a designer.

    Intelligent Design is not OK with materialism being true.

  63. Joe @ 62

    Mini-id- as in living organisms on this planet were designed. However Intelligent Design requires that all living organisms- on every planet- be traceable back to a designer.

    Intelligent Design is not OK with materialism being true.

    But ID theory doesn’t allow one to define the characteristics of the designer of life on earth.

    So how do you know that designer of life on earth cannot possibly be an entity that developed via purely reductionist materialistic processes? How do you know it/they had to be designed? It can’t be because of ID theory, because the background and nature of the designer of life on earth are by definition outside ID theory.

    Therefore, it seems to me that ID theory must, in principle, accommodate strict materialism as an open possibility.

    Cheers

  64. CLAVDIVS:

    But ID theory doesn’t allow one to define the characteristics of the designer of life on earth.

    That is false. ID is NOT about the designer but ID does not prevent anyone from trying to define the characteristics of the designer. ID makes the designer and the specific processes separate questions from the detection and study of the design.

    So how do you know that designer of life on earth cannot possibly be an entity that developed via purely reductionist materialistic processes?

    If the designer of life on earth is so reducible then it figures that life on earth is also so reducible.

    Also the design inference extends beyond biology which means this solar system and especially our earth/ moon system would have also had to arise via necessity and chance.

    Therefore, it seems to me that ID theory must, in principle, accommodate strict materialism as an open possibility.

    It does. However it is obvious that materialism cannot be tested and therefor is not science.

  65. Joe @ 64

    C: Therefore, it seems to me that ID theory must, in principle, accommodate strict materialism as an open possibility.

    J: It does. However it is obvious that materialism cannot be tested and therefor is not science.

    Well okay, then; We agree that ID theory can assume neither the truth nor the falsity of materialism.

    Cheers

  66. Right- ID does not “assume” materialism is false as it is obvious that it is- no assumptions required. ;)

  67. Joe @ 66

    Right- ID does not “assume” materialism is false as it is obvious that it is- no assumptions required.

    It may be obvious to you that materialism is false, Joe, but amongst philosophers it is still an open question. And, as you say, the question is currently far beyond resolution by empirical science.

    Accordingly, as science, ID cannot simply assume the truth or falsity of materialism; to do so would be to take a metaphysical position beyond what the scientific evidence can tell us.

    Cheers

  68. CLAVDIVS-

    ID doesn’t care about materialism. And the only thing ID assumes is that we can determine the causal chain when investigating something.

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