Casey’s Crusade Against Junk DNA

It’s Casey Luskin again. He’s our favorite creationist, the only non-fellow among the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

You may recall Casey’s amazing crusade against what is commonly known as junk DNA. In Discovery Institute: Astounding Stupidity we wrote about Casey’s bold declaration that there’s no such thing as junk DNA because:

[I]ntelligent agents design objects for a purpose, and therefore intelligent design predicts that biological structures will have function.

Our last post about the Discoveroids’ obsession with junk DNA was Discovery Institute Battles BioLogos. There, the Discoveroids were arguing — incorrectly, of course — that much of Francis Collins’ case for Darwinian evolution is based on junk DNA. The Discoveroids even invented a new strawman they called “the argument from junk DNA,” a non-existent argument that depends on the non-existent premise that no function will ever be found for any of it. They even said:

It is a faith based on gaps in scientific knowledge. Hence, “Darwin of the gaps.”

Today, Casey continues this campaign at the Discoveroid blog. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Subtle-But Important-Functions of Junk-DNA. Casey discusses some research about how some regions of what had been considered junk DNA may play a role in gene regulation.

For Casey, all research of this nature is evidence for his magic designer, and is therefore another fatal blow to the “Darwinists,” so this stuff is of supreme significance to him. It never occurs to Casey to wonder — if junk DNA is potentially so detrimental to “Darwinists,” why do they keep looking to find functions for it? And if they find some function, why do they publish their findings? Anyway, Casey says, with bold font added by us:

This could challenge a common argument in favor of “junkiness” for noncoding DNA. In particular, some ID critics have cited studies where stretches of noncoding DNA were removed from mice, and it was claimed that the mice still develop and survive. Does that mean non-coding DNA is useless junk after all? Not if the noncoding DNA has important long-term effects, such as preventing disease in the organism.

See there? The designer — blessed be he! — reveals his handiwork, even in junk DNA. Let’s read on:

Indeed, when commenting on a study that tried to remove noncoding-DNA from mice, principal researcher Barbara Knowles acknowledged that noncoding DNA might have subtle functions that aren’t immediately apparent:

Then Casey purports to quote a researcher who discusses knock-out mice, but read with caution because Casey is a creationist and we haven’t verified his quote:

[Casey quotes:] “Survival in the laboratory for a generation or two is not the same as successful competition in the wild for millions of years,” he argues.

Aha! The mice with chunks of junk knocked out of their DNA survived in the lab for a generation or two, but not in the wild for millions of years. To Casey, that’s rock-solid evidence that they really need that divinely-designed DNA.

But then Casey becomes so enthused with his argument that he gets himself all tangled up and he loses the big picture. Observe what happens as he discusses an article about some research:

Likewise an article at MSNBC noted that mice could survive without certain stretches of “junk” DNA, but that DNA was “ultraconserved” across different species of mammals, hinting at function

Casey fails to recognize that although DNA which is conserved across different species may suggest that it’s functional, it’s also powerful evidence of — gasp! — evolution. See what we’re getting at? In his desperation to disprove evolution by claiming that DNA is purposefully designed, Casey slips up badly and cites some very strong evidence for evolution — the thing he most abhors.

The MSNBC article also mentions that the “ultraconserved sequences” that were studied — get this! — were shared by humans, macaques, dogs, rats and mice. Somehow, Casey didn’t bother to mention that, and he must assume that his brain-dead fans won’t check out his sources. To further illustrate how very selective Casey was in quoting from that MSNBC article, it also says this:

Researchers suspect [that some sequences of DNA] do serve an important purpose, but have yet to figure out exactly what that purpose is. (These sequences are not the same as most non-coding or “junk” DNA, for which no function has been identified, because those sections are not so well-preserved.)

So there’s still plenty of junk DNA lying around to contradict the Discoveroids’ argument for an intelligent designer. Casey, however, bravely continues to claim that every tiny segment of the genome is a vital part of the great design. Maybe so, but the research he points to today provides far more evidence for evolution than it does for intelligent design.

Anyway, that was a nice try, Casey. But you need to keep the big picture in mind. Surely you recall what that is — destroying the materialist-atheist-Darwinist influence on our society. That means, Casey, that you must always criticize evolution. That comes first. Gotta keep your priorities straight.

Alas, Casey has never been a big-picture man — well, except for that gigantic, mural-sized portrait of Michael Jackson on velvet it is rumored he bought at his last visit to Neverland Ranch.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Casey’s Crusade Against Junk DNA

  1. I wonder if there’s any junk DNA in a species of plant that has obviously doubled its chromosomes? If so, then what about all of the other evidence of DNA doublings, just not as recently?

    Anyway, I always thought that gene families were a pretty good indication of the past existence of junk DNA (mostly gene doublings, although that might be due to a whole sections doubling)–which then proceeded to become useful DNA. Of course Casey would deny it, but what’s new about IDists denying good evidence?

  2. Yes, the biological research laboratories at MSNBC are world class!

    Next to WorldNut Daily that’s Casey’s favorite source of “scientific” research.

  3. Another case where DI employees sit in their cubicles reading about the work of actual scientists and puzzling over how to spin the results to somehow support design. Casey did a poor job at his selective quoting and, as SC mentions, losing track of his basic argument. Clearly the DI needs a more vigorous internal review process before allowing Casey to post on their website.

    The research Casey comments on, however, is very interesting. It’s nice that the DI occasionally draws attention to good science, albeit unintentionally.

  4. Ed says:

    Clearly the DI needs a more vigorous internal review process before allowing Casey to post on their website.

    That would require someone who understands the subject. Where would the Discoveroids find such a person?

  5. comradebillyboy

    I don’t know if this is appropriate but here is a letter to the editor in the Dec 23 Albuquerque Journal, but it addresses the philosophy of “teach the controversy” as well as anything I have seen…

  6. comradebillyboy

    Sorry, I posted accidentally before getting the quote in.

    Here is a wonderful letter to the editor in the Dec 23 edition of the Albuquerque Journal that perfectly encapsulates the ‘teach the controversy’ nonsense…
    “Once Again the Journal neglected to provide an alternate theory for the cause of lunar eclipses. What happened to the balanced reporting that allows readers to decide for themselves?
    The Journal should adhere to a consistent policy and avoid favoring the consensus in astronomy as well as in climate science. Just because the vast majority of scientists agree a lunar eclipse is caused by Earth’s shadow doesn’t mean that newspapers should ignore the earnest skeptics who believe the moon is being swallowed by a three legged toad.
    Mark Boslough

  7. That is “wonderful”?
    Someone needs a lesson in natural theology/general revelation: