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What advice, on junk DNA, would Jonathan Wells give Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins?

From the Salvo Magazine interview with Jonathan Wells, by Casey Luskin. Wells is the author of The Myth of Junk DNA:

If you could have lunch with Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins, what would you say to them about their use of the “junk DNA” argument? [that there is no design in life]

Actually, Collins no longer relies on “junk DNA.” In 2007 he announced in an interview for Wired magazine that he had “stopped using the term.” In 2010 he wrote that “discoveries of the past decade, little known to most of the public, have completely overturned much of what used to be taught in high school biology. If you thought the DNA molecule comprised thousands of genes but far more ‘junk DNA,’ think again” (The Language of Life, pp. 5–6). Unfortunately, his followers at the BioLogos Institute (which he founded) seem to be unaware of this, because they continue to promote the myth that most of our DNA is junk. I would encourage Collins to set them right.

UD News does not think Collins would succeed. They are not Collins’s followers, they are Darwin’s men. They do not seek more knowledge than Darwin had. They seek to make what he knew part of the bedrock of Christianity.

Unlike Collins, Dawkins seems utterly oblivious to recent developments in genomics. I would encourage him to read some of the scientific literature.

Why? Dawkins can command international attention for not keeping up to date – because millions of tax burdens feel he speaks for them – and they don’t need to keep up to date either. Their champions are fronts for the dead orthodoxies that keep them in place.

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30 Responses to What advice, on junk DNA, would Jonathan Wells give Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins?

  1. Jonathan Wells is the last person from whom Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins would solicit advice.

    On a related note there was recently an article posted at Uncommon Descent that examined a statement made by Richard Lewontin some years ago. The author, Kairosfocus, expressed worry that Lewontin’s comment about not letting a divine foot in the door was a problem for the objectivity of science.

    I wonder if Uncommon Descent would allocate the same resources to a similar discussion about Jonathan Wells? For those not familiar here is a quote…

    Father’s [Sun Myung Moon's] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.

    That’s incredibly damning if true. It basically tells us that before Wells had even studied the subject he had been instructed to devote his life to destroying it!

    Does this not color completely anything Wells publishes concerning the biological sciences?

  2. “Why? Dawkins can command international attention for not keeping up to date – because millions of tax burdens feel he speaks for them –”

    Irony here is that Collins is the “tax burden” (civil servant), who doles out the cash to other tax burdens (scientists like me-thanks for your kind consideration, news).

    Dawkins, on the other hand, made the majority of his money selling books and speaking engagements on the free market, and is paid by a private university.

  3. Single_Malt:

    Just for curiosity. You say:

    It basically tells us that before Wells had even studied the subject he had been instructed to devote his life to destroying it!

    But your quote from Wells is:

    “Father’s [Sun Myung Moon's] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.”

    I can’t see your point. Wells is obviously including “his studies” in the reasons that convinced him. What’s wrong with that?

  4. I can’t see your point. Wells is obviously including “his studies” in the reasons that convinced him.

    My post was poorly worded, but the point of the post is hardly obscure.

    Wells makes it clear he decided to devote his life to an antagonism towards ‘Darwinism’ prior to acquiring any relevant qualifications in the biological sciences. His guides appear to have been a) Sun Myung Moon b) Seminary studies c) God.*

    To quote further…

    When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.

    Do these sound like the words of an autonomous human being? No, these are the words of a political pawn. Specifically one of Rev. Moon’s political pawns. I wonder what other academic fields have attracted the Messiah’s ire.

    (Amusingly, Salvo Mag appears happy to promote Moon’s political agenda via the organ of Wells.)

    Nothing in Jonathan Wells’ books make sense except in the light of Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church.

    * C may be redundant, I admit.

  5. Single_Malt,

    Nothing in Jonathan Wells’ books make sense except in the light of Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church.

    Seriously? Have you actually read The Myth of Junk DNA.
    He cites the work of hundreds of scientists (many of whom are Darwinists) to state his case.

    In fact, what is it exactly you are saying.

    Are you rejecting his assertion that junk DNA is a myth?
    Are you rejecting his claims because he’s Jonathan Wells?
    Or are you dismissing both Jonathan Wells and his findings?

  6. So many questions, so little motivation!

    I have neither the inclination or ability to make my point any clearer. I can only suggest the re-reading of the paragraph that begins “On a related note…“.

  7. Single-Malt-

    Most people are introduced and taught Farwinism in high school. Anyone with 1/2 a brain can see that it is nonsense at that time but to take it down requires more than being a high school student.

    IOW buy a vowel…

  8. Single_Malt:

    I am not familiar with Well’s personal education, and I really don’t care.

    I would like, anyway, to stress two points that are, IMO, very important:

    a) Everybody is influenced, while doing science, by his personal view of reality, education and beliefs. That ia a general rule, and there is no exception. It is not, in my opinion, a negative fact.

    b) Anyione who writes on science, or does science, should be judged according to what he writes or does, and not accordimg to his personal beliefs outside of science, even if those beliefs have certainly motivated him in his choices.

    The Lewontin quote is about science and how to do science. So, I believe that KF’s indignation is correct.

    I beg to differ from your view, instead, regarding Wells. As far as I can understand, in the phrase you quote he is talking about his personal motivations, and that is perfectly correct. Indeed, it is a transparent way to make others aware of those motivations.

    But he is not saying that we should not allow the foot of reductionism into scientific discussion, nor encouraging other scientists to emarginate neo darwinism from the debate on an ideological basis.

    He is declaring his intentions to fight neo darwinism, for personal reasons. But at the level of scientific debate.

    There is a great difference, as far as I can see.

  9. Single_Malt,

    I have neither the inclination or ability to make my point any clearer. I can only suggest the re-reading of the paragraph that begins “On a related note…“.

    Cryptic. He makes a compelling scientific argument though, might want to give it a once-over ;)

  10. That quote is from Well’s old web site. It was quite a surprise to read it when I had read his first book, “Icons of Evolution” where he says that his first doubts about evolution began when he studied biology at Berkley.

    But what do you expect from someone who believes that Reverand Moon is Jesus Christ?

  11. I beg to differ from your view, instead, regarding Wells. As far as I can understand, in the phrase you quote he is talking about his personal motivations, and that is perfectly correct.

    His personal motivations, or at least those that could possibly be described as ‘his’, are only part of the issue. Wells is not simply describing his motivation; he is broadcasting his intent.

    And his intent is to destroy a field of scientific inquiry. Not discover. Not illuminate.

    DESTROY.

    The Lewontin quote is about science and how to do science.

    As is the Wells quote.

    In Wells’ world the way to do science is to collude with a religious demagogue to engineer the overthrow of a particular field of scientific inquiry because it conflicts with said Messiah’s view of the world.

    Therefore anything Wells publishes must be seen in the context of his stated mission to destroy, or at least seriously discredit, ‘Darwinism’.

  12. No Darwinism is NOT a scientific field of inquiry.

    You are confused.

  13. Single_Malt:

    I disagree. I can’t speak for Wells, obviously, but I believe that he might mean to “destroy” the power of neodarwinian thought in mode4rn scientism (not science) by falsifying tyhe darwinian theory through scientific means.

    But again, the beliefs, or ontents, of a person can maybe justify some caution, just to be aware of possible biases in his work. But again, it’s his scientific work that must be judged, in the end.

    I fond this attitude of many darwinists, including you (who, at forst sight, seem a rather reasonable person) really strange. I am not saying that with a destructive attitude: I really can’t understand that approach.

    If I read a paper, or a book, dealing with scientific issues, I judge it for what it says, not for the intentions on the authors. Most biological papers I read are, IMO, biased in their conclusions because of the darwinian ideology of their authors, but I read them just the same, and I often find them interesting. I just try to seprate the facts, and the good interpretations, from the biased conclusions.

    I am not interested in the relious beliefs, or the philosophical, or political, positions of scientists. Again, a correct awareness of those positions can be useful to detect possible biases more easily. But that’s all.

    And I find surprising that you state:

    “(Amusingly, Salvo Mag appears happy to promote Moon’s political agenda via the organ of Wells.)”

    Why shouldn’t it be so, if what you call “promotion of a political agenda” is in reality the defense of a scientific point of view?

    With all respect for my darwinist friends here, I feel that I can state safely that I too am committed to “seriously discredit ‘Darwinism’”. (I will not use the word “mission”, because I don’t like it). That’s very natural for me. I really believe that darwinism is a wrong theory, and that its effects both on scientific thought and on people’s general approach to reality are terrible. Why shouldn’t I try to “seriouly discredit it”?

    That’s what I try to do. And how do I do that? Through intellectual and scientific debate. That’s the only weapon I know, the only one I consider right to use.

    But I will never attack a darwinist because he has some strange religious or philosophical or political affiliation, or because I don’t appreciate his “intents”.

  14. I really believe that darwinism is a wrong theory, and that its effects both on scientific thought and on people’s general approach to reality are terrible. Why shouldn’t I try to “seriouly discredit it”?

    That’s fine.

    That’s what I try to do. And how do I do that? Through intellectual and scientific debate. That’s the only weapon I know, the only one I consider right to use.

    Admirable.

    However, Wells is a different kettle of fish altogether. He is, by his own account, just one of God knows how many personally selected vehicles for a messianic cult leader to shape the world in his image. Wells is not writing books critical of neo-Darwinism out of any scientific concerns. He is doing it because his ‘Father’ sent him out with a mission to do it. He is, in effect, a scientific troll in the service of a lunatic Korean megalomaniac; like we need more of those.

    Wells’ output is purely political in nature and should be received as such.

  15. You do realize taht if Dawrinism/ neo-darwinism had any supporting positive evidence then neither Wells nor anyone else would be able to attack it.

    Does that make you a troll in the service of darwin, et al.?

  16. Single_Malt,

    However, Wells is a different kettle of fish altogether. He is, by his own account, just one of God knows how many personally selected vehicles for a messianic cult leader to shape the world in his image.

    Wells’ output is purely political in nature and should be received as such.

    Wait, are we talking about Dawkins or Wells here? That sounds more like an accurate description of Myers, or Dawkins’ attempts at enforcing his much touted atheistic empire, rather than any actions or utterances of Wells.

  17. The difference is this.

    When you read Richard Dawkins you are engaging Richard Dawkins.

    When you read PZ.Myers you are engaging PZ.Myers.

    When you read Jonathan Wells you are engaging Rev.Sun Myung Moon.

    A.K.A. the Messiah.

    For Moon and Wells intelligent design is merely an expedient carrier wave for the Unification Church.

  18. How does any of this rambling denunciation change the physical evidence for design?

    How does a rule emerge in a physical process, say like translation?

  19. You mean it’s not an expedient carrier wave for fundamentalist Christians?

    Seriously, how do you go from anything in intelligent design to a 3rd Adam born in Korea?

    You seem to think it as a carrier wave. How is it “expedient?” Have new Unification Members been checking the “Where did you hear about is – ID” box on their membership applications?

  20. Upright BiPed:

    “How does any of this rambling denunciation change the physical evidence for design?”
    ====

    It doesn’t! You need to understand the strategy of deflection , burden shift and outright character assasination and it’s purpose when nothing of worth is to be found to prop up a failed evolutionist term such as “Junk-DNA”.

    You also need to consider the new ‘socks’ which miraculously appear when a number of house cleanings take place.

    Further, this deflection is purposely meant as a time waster. I certainly find the Rev Sun Myung Moon repugnant, but the subject here offers nothing to the subject facts that much of science is lightyears away from understanding all that there is with regards DNA and all of it’s functions. “Junk-DNA” was a cowardly term invented by Ideologically driven philosophers too arrogant to admit publically that there are actually things about DNA that they don’t know and are no where close to figuring out without making fluff up as they go along.

    Irresponsible technologies such as the ‘GMO’ Franken-Organism creation and the untold damage it has caused our Earth’s environments presently, only proves they have no clue as to what they have done in unleashing these freaks into nature. Only now are other scientists exposing the idiocy of these self-promoting psuedo-geniuses. In fact, they are also being exposed by these same scientists for lying and covering up the damaging data they always knew just might happen for breaking species barriers and boundaries in the puruit of obscene wealth.

    Needless to say, there are none of us here that know all there is to know about DNA and all of it’s functions. But little by little everyday there appears to be newer and newer evidence revealed about the sophistication and complexity that are the make up of this brilliant communications system. Correcting any gnetic pollution damage unleased into our Earth’s environment by these irresponsible technologies is nothing any human for the moment can find a solution to. It’s now up to the Author!!!

  21. I quite enjoyed this post.

    Who says apocalyptic literature can’t be both heart-felt and hysterical?

  22. Malt:

    “Who says apocalyptic literature can’t be both heart-felt and hysterical?”
    =====

    Now you know where the term/phraze “weeping and gnashing of teeth” gets it’s origins. Very prophetic indeed!

    There’s another old expression however that is found in the book of Jude.

    “to bad for them”

    —-

  23. Single_Malt, though I certainly don’t buy Moon’s claims for divinity, as I certainly don’t buy all the other far fetched stories from anyone, be they materialists or theists (and there are plenty of ‘stories’ out there to be wary of), I would like to, none-the-less, put forward the ‘scientific’, and empirically backed, case that the resurrection of Christ, as surprising as it may sound to you, offers the most plausible reconciliation between the materialistic, and entropic, 4-Dimensional space-time of General Relativity, with the Theistic, and infinite dimensional, realm of Quantum Mechanics (which is considered the number one problem in physics and mathematics today):

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Plausible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

  24. The difference is this.

    When you read Richard Dawkins you are engaging Richard Dawkins.

    When you read PZ.Myers you are engaging PZ.Myers.

    When you read Jonathan Wells you are engaging Rev.Sun Myung Moon.

    A.K.A. the Messiah.

    For Moon and Wells intelligent design is merely an expedient carrier wave for the Unification Church.

    Pu..leease, enough with the misdirection already. Dawkins, Myers and many other Darwinists bow before the alter of atheism, ie. an extreme a priori commitment to naturalism, clouding any sense of objectivity. Every one of us hold to philosophical viewpoints but they stand independently of any scientific arguments we might advance.

    It’s hysterical that you choose to deflect any meaningful argument surrounding Wells’ actual junk DNA claims, preferring instead some poor ad hoc character assassination.

    Thankfully not all Darwinists exhibit this behavior.

  25. Notes on Jonathan Well’s ‘The Myth Of Junk DNA’; (Let’s here directly from Jonathan himself!)

    Jonathan Wells: On Francis Collins and Junk DNA – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hksGZcqJ5h4

    Jonathan Wells On Frank Turek’s Radio Program – August 20 2011 – The Myth Of Junk DNA
    http://mediaserver3.afa.net/ar.....082011.mp3

    Demolishing Junk DNA as an icon of evolution – July 2011
    Excerpt: “The genome is hierarchical, and it functions at three levels: the DNA molecule itself; the DNA-RNA-protein complex that makes up chromatin; and the three-dimensional arrangement of chromosomes in the nucleus. At all three of these levels, DNA can function in ways that are independent of its exact nucleotide sequence.” (p.93) [. . .] “At the third level, the position of the chromosome inside the nucleus is important for gene regulation. In most cells, the gene-rich portions of chromosomes tend to be concentrated near the center of the nucleus, and a gene can be inactivated by artificially moving it to the periphery. In some cases, however, the pattern is inverted: rod cells in the retinas of nocturnal mammals contain nuclei in which the non-protein-coding parts of chromosomes are concentrated near the center of the nucleus, where they form a liquid crystal that serves to focus dim rays of light.” (p.94-5) (The Myth of Junk DNA)
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....n_of_evolu

    Darwinian Logic: The Latest on Chimp and Human DNA – Jonathan Wells – October 27, 2011
    Excerpt: If the striking similarities in protein-coding DNA point to the common ancestry of chimps and humans, why don’t dissimilarities in the much more abundant non-protein-coding DNA point to their separate origins?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52291.html

    Reference Notes For Jonathan Wells’ Book – The Myth Of Junk DNA – Hundreds of Studies Outlining Function for ‘Junk’ DNA
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?.....xHdM_e731g

    Vitamin C pseudogene refutation By Jonathan Wells – from appendix of ‘The Myth Of Junk DNA’ pages 109-114 by Jonathan Wells
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=18LV9Xp1RJv4k2KRQDOpN3_cjSCwBC_XXb8WGVNP4L8M

    The Myth of Junk DNA Grows With the Telling – July 2011
    Since the publication of Jonathan Wells’ The Myth of Junk DNA, many articles have come out documenting more functions for non-protein-coding DNA. It looks like Dr. Wells sampled the water just as the tide was starting to come in, and it’s still rising. Richard Dawkins, Larry Moran, and other proponents of junk DNA should move to higher ground.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....48311.html

    “Recent articles confirm the thesis of Jonathan Wells’ The Myth of Junk DNA” – audio podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_57-07_00

    “Pseudogenes Shrink Gaps for Theistic Darwinian Evolutionists Collins & Giberson”- audio podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....0_25-07_00

  26. It’s hysterical that you choose to deflect any meaningful argument surrounding Wells’ actual junk DNA claims,

    To which meaningful argument do you refer? No one has actually attempted to argue Wells’ junk DNA hypothesis in this thread so the accusation of deflection is patently bogus.

    There has been nothing to deflect from.

    …preferring instead some poor ad hoc character assassination.

    Wells alone is responsible for the assassination of his character.

    Wells’ association with the ID movement is purely a convenient alliance in order to further the agenda of Sun Myung Moon. You can be sure if ‘Father’ happened to change his mind and order Wells to devote his remaining life to destroying ID, Wells would throw himself into the task without question.

    Jonathan Wells is no friend to ID.

  27. Conspiracy lunatic night….

  28. gpuccio says

    ‘a) Everybody is influenced, while doing science, by his personal view of reality, education and beliefs.’

    That is true, the difference between a scientist and Wells is that the scientist will try to rise above his own personal views etc and try not to allow them to influence his conclusions. In this Wells fails.

  29. That can be said of teh majority of evolutionary biologists- fail.

  30. Single_Malt
    Re: “That’s incredibly damning if true.”
    Does not your statement instead exposes your superficial understanding without examining either the evidence Wells had on Darwinism nor his motivations, nor the foundations of ethics. See: <a href=Here’s Jonathan Wells on destroying Darwinism – and responding to attacks on his character and motives

    As an undergraduate at Princeton and Berkeley in the 1960s I studied mathematics, geology, physics and biology (with minors in philosophy and German). Along the way—despite my upbringing as a nominal Presbyterian—I became an agnostic and a Darwinist. . . .

    He wrote on the basis of knowledge – not ignorance.

    When you say “incredibly damning”, by what ethical standard are you basing your judgment?

    1) Do you base your argument on a Biblical injunction? Noah Webster defined: damning

    DAM’NING, ppr.
    1. Dooming to endless punishment; condemning.
    2. a. That condemns or exposes to damnation; as a damning sin.

    Is that your meaning – if so, on what moral basis? What commandment did Wells breach?

    2) Do you appeal to the four physical laws of the universe with stochastic processes?
    They provide no ethical foundation whatsoever.

    3) Do you appeal to “atheism”? It is illogical to a priori exclude intelligent agents. To exclude them scientifically, you would require complete knowledge over all space and time! Forensics or anthropology requires allowing for both intelligent agents and natural causes and distinguishing between them. Does not atheism but lead to “Might makes right”?

    That is the polar opposite of the Rule of Law, Lex Rex, on which constitutional governments of the West are founded. Do you seek to uphold the Rule of Law? If so, on what basis do you see Darwinism supporting the Rule of Law? Does it not rather destroy the rule of law and uphold tyranny?
    If not – why not?

    4) Do you base it on Darwinism? “Nature, red in tooth and claw”?
    (See Alfred Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H. Sect. LVI? or as Tennyson concludes in Sect. CXXXI)

    Charles Darwin ran aground over the “problem of evil”, not willing to allow that God could allow sickness and pain. See: Evolution and Evil, By Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

    Darwin resolved the problem of natural evil—the “bad” things that occur in nature—by distancing God from natural events: God made nature autonomous and cannot be blamed for its imperfections. In this way, Darwin defended God’s goodness at the cost of denying God’s sovereignty.

    Consequently, he sought to explain everything by a priori excluding God’s involvement.

    5) Or do you assert this on your own authority?

    Do you even know on what you base or arguments?

    See my further comments in the subsequent post

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