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Dawkins et al may be like children after a two minute look inside a supercomputer. They see some components that appear inactive so rip them out triumphantly claiming this computer is badly designed!

Let's have a decent look before we accept the word 'junk', shall we?



You say Dawkins had “a two minute look”.

He has been reading and writing on this for decades.

For example, in the opening passage of chapter nine of Dawkin’s book ‘The extended phenotype’ he cites his own words on this subject - from 1976.

Pseudo-genes arise from earlier generations and evolutionary activity. Thus, whatever the functional roles different pseudo-genes might have this won't support the notion of a ‘designer’. (Ditto for gene regulatory regions.)


Hi Grant

You say: "You say Dawkins had “a two minute look”."

No I didn't...


BTW, your a priory assumptions about how pseudo genes 'arise' would seem to be the moot point! Wot?


oops: a priori


You certainly wrote that - that you present it via an analogy doesn’t mean you can scrub it out after the fact!

Reversing the burden of proof is a false argument, ditto for trying to make out that may words were an assumption.

The claim that pseudo-genes (somehow) support the notion of a ‘designer’ was made by creationists/ID supporters. (It could only come from them first - think about it.) It’s their’s to demonstrate, etc.

Luskin writes about the function of pseudo-genes rather than their origins - if you're saying the latter is the issue, as you do above, then you should be dismissing Luskin's writing as besides the point. (Hence why I wrote what I did.)


Evolution doesn't disprove God any more than ID proves Him.

The debate seems a bit pointless as science will march on and accepted truths today will become seen to be false tomorrow.



"You certainly wrote that"

No I didn't! You are putting words in my mouth. You demonstrate a very careless style of argument.

My analogy was just that, an analogy. My point, which you missed (it seems) is that the science of DNA is comparatively new, not two minutes.

Note I said nothing about God, ID or a creator. All I did was criticize what appears to have been premature writing off of parts of the DNA as 'junk'.

Regarding 'pseudo genes' - you are still making several implicit assumptions! Eg that they 'arise'. Perhaps 'pseudo genes' have always been there. Can you disprove that idea? IF they have always been there (ie IF they were created ex nihilo), then they did not 'arise' and therefore your assumption would be false.

I'm suggesting it is presumptious to assume parts of DNA are 'Junk' just because we don't yet know what function (if any)these bits have.

If you find it hard to agree with that, you will eventually be proven wrong (or at least partly wrong) just like your dogmatic heroes. ;-)


I agree, to a point, but the advantage of the debate may be to stir more scientists to actually look for a purpose of those parts of the DNA they currently brush off as 'junk'. Isn't it great that there are at least some who are still looking?



You say"The claim that pseudo-genes (somehow) support the notion of a ‘designer’ was made by creationists/ID supporters. (It could only come from them first - think about it.) It’s their’s to demonstrate, etc."

How about this:
Suppose you walk along a deserted beach, and come across a magnificent sand castle complete with turrets. If I suggested this was designed by some intelligent being, would you then consider it my responsibility to demonstrate proof there had been a designer?

Just a yes or no will do...



There's little point in addressing your excuses, but for your benefit "Dawkins et al may be like children after a two minute look inside a supercomputer." reads "they took too superficial a look at it". It’s re-affirmed by your last sentence: “Let's have a decent look before we accept the word 'junk', shall we?”.

I pointed out Dawkins has been reading and writing on this topic for ~35 years. You can't excuse your error away. Just be man and accept it, eh?

Your latest defence is just as bad - the answer is already in front you: the 1976 quote I referred to Dawkins was writing about... “the science of DNA” (your words). The ‘classic’ pseudo-gene papers were published in the early 1980s; there has been substantial research on them ever since.

to stir more scientists to actually look for a purpose of those parts of the DNA they currently brush off as 'junk'.

You're not familiar with what science is doing, then. (I'm being polite.) I suggest you spend some time learning, rather than criticising others. (You also don't seem to properly understand what is actually meant by ‘junk DNA’.)

Next you’ll be complaining too much money has been spent on looking into ‘junk DNA’!

Isn't it great that there are at least some who are still looking?

The ID crowd don't do much "looking" - they expend almost all of their efforts commenting (inaccurately) negatively on those do, just as Luskin did in the article Ian pointed to.

In any case, you're missing the point re "badly designed" but I'll leave you to that.

If you find it hard to agree with that, you will eventually be proven wrong (or at least partly wrong) just like your dogmatic heroes. ;-)

You write this and accuse me of putting words in your mouth... ha! I didn't write anything at all about the function of ‘junk DNA’ itself, I just pointed out that whatever the answer to that is—either way—it won't help the ID cause.


Evolution doesn't disprove G-d […]

This seems to fit a different discourse. I didn’t say “evolution disproved G-d”. Although it does make it rather awkward for the notion gods creating life I didn't write that: I wrote that whatever the function of pseudogenes are, or aren't, won’t advance an argument that a ‘designer’ exists. Remember that's the ID camp’s claim - their's to establish, etc. I never offered anything against them in fact, I just pointed out that Luskin’s particular offering doesn't actually help a case for a ‘designer’ either way.

While we’re on the subject and perhaps more relevant as these people in question (the ID camp) biology does make a literal reading of the creation notions/stories/allegories nonsensical. That's accepted by most people, including Christians.

Worth remembering is that what ID proponents try do is to push that creationism should be taught in science classes, as a science. Creationism, even re-dressed as ‘ID’, is not a science. Naturally enough this effort gets the criticism it deserves.



Despite your blatant smokescreen, the fact remains - it seems at least some of those parts of DNA deemed 'junk' (D-kins' words: "nonfunctional pseudogenes, faulty duplicates of functional genes that do nothing...") now seem to have a function after all.

It seems (despite your protestations) that not enough time was spent studying the DNA before D-kins made his premature and inaccurate (and should be embarrassing) judgement. For an evolutionist, you seem to think 35 years is a long time, that's quite funny, really!

I absolutely stand by my words: “Let's have a decent look before we accept the word 'junk', shall we?”.

I didn't expect you would answer my question about the sand castle... ;-)


I never said anything either way about the function of ‘junk DNA’, pseudogenes, etc. You can’t make me say things I didn’t. All I pointed out was that Luskin’s articles doesn’t support the notion of a ‘designer’ - i.e. it’s besides the point I would have thought he’d have wanted to be making.

You referred to individual people looking at it. 35 years is basically a full working lifetime. You're now trying to change what you said to be about science investigating something. Talk about revisionist.

How long have you looked at it? A few hours on the internet? Have you read any of the science, or science blogs, or only creationist ‘literature’?

You screwed up, but aren’t man enough to just accept it. *Shrugs*

I didn't expect you would answer my question about the sand castle... ;-)

You’re asking a question that I’d already answered as it were. (Seeing I’d already raised the answer before you asked, I left it.)

I’d suggest you try learning more about the subject, rather than try say what others are doing without knowing what has actually been done, etc.

I may write about the science* of pseudogenes, ‘junk DNA’, etc. when (if) I have time (and—to be honest!—the inclination). We’ll see. In the meantime I’ve other things to get onto. In the meantime, you could try the Sandwalk blog - it has a number of articles on ‘junk DNA’ - one just up yesterday for that matter

* I’m not interested in writing about religious views on science matters; besides, a colleague covers that turf.



"I never said anything either way ..." blah blah

It's not all about you, you know...

It was Dawkins' quote above that posed the challenge about these things.

Listen carefully... After Dawkins' 'full working lifetime' he still rubbished part of DNA structure and challenged ID people to think about that.

Well it looks like HE was AT LEAST partially wrong.

It's not about you.

I think I know the real reason you didn't answer about the sand castle... That WAS about you :-)


I would expect anyone who doubted that the sand castle had been created by an intelligent being would be regarded as a crank.

Now why do we have such a problem when that same person looks at a 'simple' cell (many billions of times the complexity of a sand castle) and postulates there this must also have had a designer?

No, I don't claim to have one thousandth of the knowledge of men like Dawkins about DNA. But I do have an inkling of how complex a 'proto cell' would need to be...

There are other scientists, at least as qualified as Dawkins, who hold that no 'simple' cell could 'arise' without a Designer.

To me it seems more rational to accept that if it is unlikely that the sand castle was made by unguided natural forces then it is many billions of times less likely this could happen with a fantastically complex SO CALLED 'simple' cell.


It's not all about you,

You referred specifically to me in your comment.

he still rubbished part of DNA structure

DNA structure is an entirely different thing. This illustrates shows you have no idea what you are writing about. I suggest you try learn what the story is before writing; you can't honestly criticise something without first understanding it.

I think I know the real reason you didn't answer

It seems to be all you have in the end, just putting words in other’s mouths (not just mine, either).

Rather than play word games, why don't you make an honest effort to learn why pseudogenes are, what junk DNA actually is, etc.?

Gentle poke: by repeating creationist claims within making an effort to understand the subject matter at hand you’re just being a sheeple. Think about it.

Also, your excuse for not going out and learning misses (or avoids?) what I suggested. I suggested that you make an effort to go and learn. Not what other people think.

The people at Sandwalk (or elsewhere) may have more time for you than I do.

Ian Wishart

Just to throw the cat amongst the pigeons...early review comments on Jonathan Wells' new book, The Myth of Junk DNA:

In The Myth of Junk DNA, Jonathan Wells draws together published evidence over the past decade which clearly pulls the rug from under the concept that the majority of the human genome is ‘junk DNA’ (functionless DNA). Breathtaking discoveries since the publication of the Human Genome Project in 2001 have demonstrated that most, if not all nuclear DNA is transcribed.

The proponents of Darwin’s theory claim that junk DNA provides evidence for Darwinian evolution as it represents molecular accidents which are the indelible signatures of evolutionary histories. This argument now has been turned on its head.

I strongly recommend The Myth of Junk DNA, a lucid account of the evidence that junk DNA has many diverse biological functions. It is an important reference source with an excellent bibliography and notes. The Myth of Junk DNA clearly demonstrates that the concept of junk DNA is now dead. - Norman C. Nevin, OBE, MD
Professor Emeritus in Medical Genetics
Queen’s University, Belfast

“Jonathan Wells has clearly done his homework. In The Myth of Junk DNA, he cites hundreds of research articles as he describes the expanding story of non-coding DNA—the supposed ‘junk DNA.’ It is quite possibly the most thorough review of the subject available. Dr. Wells makes it clear that our early understanding of DNA was incomplete, and genomics research is now revealing levels of control and complexity inside our cells that were undreamed of in the 1980s. Far from providing evidence for Darwinism, the story of non-coding DNA rather serves to increase our appreciation for the design of life.” - Ralph Seelke, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbial Genetics and Cell Biology
University of Wisconsin-Superior

“Citing hundreds of peer-reviewed articles which show that more and more of the genome is functional, Jonathan Wells delivers a powerful and carefully researched broadside against the ‘junk DNA hypothesis.’ Even biologists who firmly reject the notion of intelligent design must surely acknowledge on the evidence presented in this timely book that appealing to ‘junk DNA’ to defend the Darwinian framework no longer makes any sense.” - Michael Denton, Ph.D.
Medical Geneticist and Author of Nature’s Destiny

“This is an excellent and in-depth discussion of several key points of the subject of ‘junk-DNA.’ The author shows for many prime examples still advanced by leading neo-Darwinians that the ‘Darwin-of-the-gaps’ approach doesn’t function or is at least doubtful.” - Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Department of Molecular Plant Genetics
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (retired)

“There is a box in the biological sciences into which all evidence must be placed. That box is called Darwinian evolution. In The Myth of Junk DNA Jonathan Wells tells the intriguing story of ‘junk’ DNA—the idea that non-protein coding DNA, which accounts for the majority of the DNA in the genome, is non-functional and without purpose; the result of the unguided purposeless process of random mutation and natural selection that produced it. In recent years, however, numerous researchers—not necessarily opponents of Darwinian evolution or advocates of intelligent design—have discovered many functions for non-protein coding DNA, which are thoroughly reviewed by Wells in this book. Unfortunately, in their effort to keep the ‘junk’ label attached to non-protein coding DNA so that it remains in the box of Darwinian evolution, a number of prominent Darwinists continue to insist, in spite of the recent results to the contrary, that it is largely left-over waste from the evolutionary process. As Wells clearly demonstrates in his book, this dogmatic commitment inhibits the scientific process. Science needs to be guided by objective evaluation of the evidence, and scientists should not allow their thinking to be arbitrarily restricted by dogmatic ideas. We need scientists who think outside the Darwinian box. Wells’s book not only informs its readers of very recent research results, but also encourages them to think objectively and clearly about a key discovery in biology and to approach biological research with more creativity. It is a great read.” - Russell W. Carlson, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Georgia



repetitive smokescreens don't help understanding.

You ask: "why don't you make an honest effort to learn why pseudogenes are, what junk DNA actually is, etc.?"

OK, I suppose that's relevant. I've read some of Dawkins' ideas, Behe, Denton and spent a couple of weeks or so on Dawkins' blog (and got called a 'troll' the moment I asked an innocent question :-) ...) And yes, I've read some of the Creation Science stuff too, and checked out TalkOrigins.

NO, I don't intend doing a degree in genetics - that seems to actually hinder some people in deciphering where the truth is. Often people seem to get brainwashed at Uni! Actually a little life experience and common sense goes a long way in being able to tell who to trust. The point of the sandcastle analogy was to try to get the big picture, but it seems to have been too hard for you to follow.

I've debated lots of folk who, like you resort to the old "this is too technical for you to understand" and I'm still not impressed.

All sidetracks aside:

Dawkins (above) is quoted as saying lots of 'pseudogenes' are junk.

Ryan Charles Pink, Kate Wicks, Daniel Paul Caley... et al say this is wrong.

It seems reasonable to me to say Dawkins was premature in labelling things 'junk', that's all my original post was saying!

Why do you find this so hard to admit OR understand?


Scientists need to be objective? Sure, but that is wishful thinking. They want the money to keep flowing. They need acceptance by their fellows. You can't rock the boat by questioning the 'received dogma'.

And people have the temerity to class 'molecules-to-man evolution' as scientific. Open your eyes people! Do some research into the obvious alternative, creation by God."



Thanks for the 'cat' ;-) Pigeons do often seem to get flustered when cats arrive... others behave more like ostriches!


Readers may wish to read the link I provided - it reviews the same book Ian refers to ;-)

“Impressive sounding” sound bites favouring a book are every publishers’* lame trick - Ian's one himself so he’ll know that well. So why then the lazy, feeble, cut’n’paste off the publisher’s website (the Discovery Institute Press**) without giving the source? Of course they’ll only present what suits them: the source of these reviews ensures that, but Ian isn't going to mention that... Tsk, tsk.

You don't have to trust me - try googling the names of those ‘reviewing’ the book - you’ll quickly learn they have a strong bias. (Most of the names are familiar to me as they’re ‘usual suspects’.) Wikipedia should have most of these people too.

With that in mind it’s hardly a ‘cat’: it’d take a pretty naïve reader to fall for it.

* or advocates’

** Here:


I've asked you before not to put words in my mouth - here you are still doing it, repeatedly. Seeing as you only want to ‘argue’ dishonestly, there is no honest discussion to be had with you, right?

As I was saying, the people at Sandwalk may have more time for you than I do.


Cough cough... it's getting smoky again!

Grant - I apologize for putting words in your mouth. I assumed since you were insisting I should learn more about pseudogenes, etc, that this would involve at least a master's degree or doctorate. Otherwise you could still point out that I was not qualified to comment on Dawkins!

That said, if you want to cling to ideas about Genes despite that appear to be fast becoming discredited why don't you just say so?

Re-reading your posts above, you've not even once tried to address the original question, and you talk about 'honest discussion'?

BTW, reviews from 'biased' people are not necessarily wrong. Everyone has a bias one way or the other... Even you and me :-)

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