Some background information is obviously necessary to explain the reason for that picture. Okay, here you go:
Our favorite creationist is Casey Luskin, 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).
Back in early 2009 Casey was speaking at some creationist revival meeting or something. During a heated exchange with Abbie Smith, which she later described here: Casey Luskin, Abbie flipped a bird at Casey.
Upon experiencing this “Darwinist” atrocity, Casey did the cyber equivalent of bursting into tears and collapsing on the fainting couch. He produced an amazing narrative which appeared on the Discoveroid blog: Civility of Darwinists Lacking at Academic Freedom on Evolution Event in Oklahoma. The picture which adorns this post is our subtle commemoration of that event. (The picture isn’t Abbie, who is lovely; it’s one of your Curmudgeon’s cousins.)
But this post has a greater purpose than reminding you of Casey’s delicate temperament. Most of you are aware of Casey’s Crusade Against Junk DNA. Before posting that, in Discovery Institute: Astounding Stupidity we wrote about Casey’s bold declaration that there’s no such thing as junk DNA because, he says:
[I]ntelligent agents design objects for a purpose, and therefore intelligent design predicts that biological structures will have function.
As we pointed out in our last post on this topic, the Discoveroids have even claimed that the case for Darwinian evolution is literally based on junk DNA. They 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 refer to this fictitious argument as “Darwin of the gaps.”
We’ve also pointed out that 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?
Okay, that’s the background for today’s post. Now we present some excerpts from If junk DNA is useful, why is it not shared out more equally?, which appears at the website of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. The bold font was added by us:
DNA was originally thought to have a single function: to help cells make the proteins they need. Any DNA that is not immediately required to produce proteins was written off as “junk” and deemed unworthy of study. Recently, however, it has become clear that junk DNA performs a wide range of important tasks. As a result, attention is shifting to asking why some organisms have so much of it and other organisms so little.
That’s a good question. It might help Casey explain why A Japanese Plant Has the World’s Biggest Genome. That plant has a genetic code 50 times longer than that of a human being. The Discoveroids’ mysterious, magical Designer — blessed be He — has a lot of explaining to do. Let’s read on:
A particular puzzle is posed by so-called “introns”, stretches of DNA that interrupt the sequence of genes. Ashley Farlow, Eshwar Meduri and Christian Schlötterer of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna now propose a mechanism to account for the range of intron numbers observed between different species. Their theory is published in the current issue of the journal Trends in Genetics.
Here’s a link to their paper: DNA double-strand break repair and the evolution of intron density . We continue:
It seems likely that new introns are added to DNA when double-stranded DNA breaks – which may arise from a variety of mechanisms – are not repaired “correctly” but the newly created ends are instead joined to other fragments of DNA. Farlow and colleagues at the Institute of Population Genetics of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna reasoned that introns may be lost by a similar mechanism. An examination of areas of DNA where introns are known to have been lost in organisms such as worms and flies provides support for their idea.
So introns are added or lost due to various repairs of breaks in DNA? But why didn’t the researchers mention Casey’s “purposeful tinkering by the Intelligent Designer” theory? Shoddy research, that’s what this is!
There’s no need for us to excerpt much more, or to even try to summarize this material. We’ll give you one more excerpt and then leave it to you to read the entire article, and then the published paper:
The theory represents a fundamental change in the way we think about the evolution of DNA. Evolution has seen periods of large scale intron loss alternating with periods of intron gain and this has been interpreted as the result of changing selection pressure. However, the rates at which single species have gained and lost introns throughout evolution have been found to vary in parallel, consistent with Farlow’s notion that the two processes are related. The new theory provides an alternative interpretation: changes in the activities of the “homologous” and “non-homologous” pathways for repairing DNA breaks could cause introns to be lost faster than they are gained, or vice versa.
We don’t see any way this new theory can compete with Casey’s — but what does your Curmudgeon know? Now that this has been published, we’ll see what the experts have to say. Meanwhile, vast stretches of our genome remain in the category of junk, and may well remain there. Sorry, Casey.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.