We have another M.D. spouting off against evolution using bogus creationist arguments. Jeffrey Dach may also be embarrassing lefty-liberal types, since his page is hosted on Salon. It’s very confused and poorly argued.
He first says that he believes in evolution, but that Darwin’s ideas are outdated, and the new evidence suggests new theories of evolution, because Darwin’s theory can’t answer some big questions. OK, I thought, there are many unanswered questions…but then I read his four questions and realized he didn’t have a clue about the subject.
1) How does random change (mutation) in the genome add information to a genome to create progressively more complicated organisms? It Doesn’t.
It Does. Errors in DNA replication and recombination can produce DNA strands that are longer and contain more information than the parent strand. This is trivial.
2) How is evolution able to bring about drastic changes so quickly? An example is the Cambrian Explosion. It Can’t.
His example of “quickly” is a span of about 15 million years. This may be news to some creationists, but that is a long, long time. If you’re a young earth creationist, it’s a period of time approximately 2,000 times longer than you believe the whole earth existed.
Dr Dach needs to review some population genetics. We have nice algorithms that can be used to estimate how long it takes genetic changes to sweep through populations.
3) How could the first living cell arise spontaneously to get evolution started? It couldn’t.
It didn’t. The first living cell would have been the product of millions (quick!) of years of chemical evolution. It did not arise spontaneously.
4) The Human Genome Project showed that only 1-2% of Human DNA codes for proteins, or about 25,000 genes. These are not enough to account for the complexity of the organism. What is the other 98% of the genome’s function? We don’t know.
This is fast becoming one of the most popular assertions by creationists. Exactly how many genes would be sufficient to account for the complexity of a human being? Show your work. How many genes do we need to have to make you happy, and why should your sense of self-worth be a reason for us to have more?
Less than 25,000 genes is simply the number. It’s what has been counted in analyzing the genome. I don’t quite get the point of complaining that it’s not enough, becaust obviously, it is enough, or we wouldn’t be here.
They always seem so dismayed that humans have that number — it’s never shock that mice or birds have that many, or that flies have about half as many. It’s apparently a very personal issue to them, sort of like how many millimeters long their penis is. Come on, creationists! Be proud of your 25,000 micrometers!
They also seem to take it as a personal insult that so much of their genome is junk. We do know what a lot of the non-coding DNA does: a small percentage of it is regulatory, and most of it does nothing at all. It really doesn’t detract from the importance of the tens of thousands of genes to see that there’s also a lot of filler surrounding them. Perhaps they think there is a secret stash of super-special hidden genes to fluff up the mere 25,000 they find so inadequate?
He throws in another problem for evolution: the lack of transitional fossils. You know you’re dealing with a rube when they make a paleontological argument against evolution and simultaneously reveal that they’ve never looked at the paleontological data.
All right, so what are his “new theories of evolution”? Now it’s my turn to embarrassed: tossed into his superficial list of alternatives is evo-devo. No. Evo-devo is cool, but it isn’t driven by any of his unanswered questions. We don’t have any argument with the idea that mutations can add information, or that they can spread through populations “quickly”, we don’t dabble much in the issues of abiogenesis, and no, evo-devo does not create new jobs for long stretches of junk DNA, nor does it postulate any additional secret genes.
But then, all he is really doing is tossing about a few ideas he’s heard about, but knows nothing about, simply to give the impression that he’s fairly assessing the possibilities. We can all guess where he is really going with all of this:
This brings us to the “Intelligent Design” argument and the question of “is there a creator of the universe?” This is an obvious question raised from biology, which reveals DNA, the genetic code, and complex life forms in the world. All life forms share the same underlying genetic code which translates base pairs into proteins. The existance of a code, or “alphabet” is a language which implies an underlying intelligence for its creation. Coded messages do not happen by random happening. This DNA code was either designed by an intelligence, or not. I will leave it up to you to decide for yourself.
My Own Opinion
My own opinion is that Life did not happen by itself. It is self evident that everything in the Universe is the product of an intelligence, which can be considered as “the creator”. This may not be self evident to everyone, however.
Ho hum. The genetic code is not simply the product of ‘random happening’, nor do we need to invoke a designer to create it. It certainly is not self-evident that the universe is the product of intelligence — that is a conclusion derived from the abundant ignorance Jeffrey Dach demonstrates in his argument.