That delightful illustration is what we use whenever Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist, writes about junk DNA. The last time we posted about this was Casey Explains the Catch-22 of Junk DNA, and the time before that was Hey Casey! Our Genome Is 93% Junk.
For background (which our regular readers can skip), you need to know that since the earliest days of this humble blog, the Discovery Institute has been claiming that there’s no such thing as junk DNA. They insist that the genome is perfectly designed, without flaws, and every little scrap of it is designed to be functional. After all, their transcendental designer — blessed be he! — wouldn’t do it any other way.
Whenever the Discoveroids make that claim, we point out that there are other organisms — regarded as less complicated that we are — that have genomes far larger than ours. Consider the Polychaos dubium. The genome of that amoeba has 200 times more base pairs than ours. And then there’s the humble onion. Although not as spectacular as the amoeba, the onion’s genome is five times larger than ours. What does that say about the work of the designer? What wonders lurk within the onion’s DNA that the designer deliberately left out of ours?
There are other examples we’ve written about in the past, which tell us that if the Discoveroids’ bizarre claim is correct, and every genome is perfect, then their designer has a lot of explaining to do. Okay, you’re up to speed. Casey’s latest at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is New Book on “Junk DNA” Surveys the Functions of Non-Coding DNA. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
What Discovery Institute biologist Jonathan Wells calls the “myth of junk DNA,” long a favorite with advocates of unguided evolution, isn’t yet quite dead and buried.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, somehow it’s not quite dead and buried. Then he tells us:
But for many scientists, “junk DNA” is an idea that is increasingly untenable in light of the empirical data. A new book from Columbia University Press, Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome [Amazon listing], by virologist Nessa Carey provides a detailed review of the vast evidence being uncovered showing function for “junk DNA.”
What “vast evidence” is Casey talking about? Let’s read on:
She explains that junk DNA was initially “dismissed” by biologists because it was thought that if it didn’t code for proteins, it didn’t do anything: [alleged quote from the book]. Of course in dismissing non-coding “junk” DNA, we must conclude that these same evolutionary scientists hindered research into its function.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then who has been finding that some non-coding DNA actually has a function? Hint — it’s not creationists. We’ve asked before why it is that real scientists — not creationists — keep looking at junk DNA and when they find that some minute fraction of it has a function, they’re the ones who publish their findings. That’s inexplicable behavior for a conspiracy that — according to the Discoveroids — is desperately clinging to the fiction of junk DNA. Casey continues:
Now Carey [the book’s author] gives no indication that she’s an ID proponent and in fact she adopts many standard evolutionary viewpoints within her book. But note how, in making her case that we ought to suspect non-coding DNA has function, she employs a curious analogy. She draws a comparison to a car factory — something that obviously is intelligently designed:
[Alleged quote from the book:] Let’s imagine we visit a car factory, perhaps for something high-end like a Ferrari. We would be pretty surprised if for every two people who were building a shiny red sports car, there were another 98 who were sitting around doing nothing. This would be ridiculous, so why would it be reasonable in our genomes? … A much more likely scenario in our car factory would be that for every two people assembling a car, there are 98 others, doing all the things that keeps a business moving.
That “analogy” makes sense — but only if we’re talking about a human-designed factory. It has no applicability to an evolved genome. In fact, although the idea horrifies the Discoveroids, all that unused material is a clear indication that there was no designer. But Casey doesn’t think like that. He gives us another quote from the book — but, remember, we haven’t checked his quotes for accuracy or context:
The whole organization only works when all the components are in place. And so it is with our genomes.
Eureka! There’s a quote Casey can use. He enthusiastically declares:
Don’t miss that last line: “The whole organization only works when all the components are in place. And so it is with our genomes.” Doesn’t that sound exactly like irreducible complexity? So here we have a biologist, unaffiliated with the intelligent-design community, arguing that junk DNA must be functional because it’s like a car factory where all the components are needed in order for the entire system to function. Critics might claim that ID has had no impact on biological thinking, but the evidence shows otherwise.
Yes, yes — we know that’s not evidence of anything. But it’s supremely useful for the Discoveroids. They can show it to their generous patrons as “proof” that they’re having an effect on the scientific world, and then the cash will keep flowing.
Casey goes on for a while, giving a few more quotes mined from the book. He’s quite thrilled, even though he admits:
… she [the books’ author] doesn’t claim that our genome will eventually turn out to contain no “junk” DNA whatsoever. But she is clear that the trend line in research is away from junk DNA, and she notes that one reason for our lack of understanding of what a lot of junk DNA does is that we haven’t yet developed the technologies to study it …
In other words, there’s no new data here. All Casey has is a shabby analogy to a factory, some mined quotes, and an author who is likely to be horrified that she’s being cited by the Discoveroids.
Perhaps we’re being too harsh here, but it seems to us that the Discoveroids employ this rule of intellectual consistency: “Whatever argument was used yesterday doesn’t matter, whatever works for the moment is okay, and if necessary, we’ll come up with something else for tomorrow.” That might work, for a while, if one is a night-stalking purse snatcher, but it’s no way to practice science.
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