ICR: Coral Evolution Is Proof of the Bible

The subject of RNA editing is one we haven’t discussed before. Wikipedia says: “RNA editing is a molecular process through which some cells can make discrete changes to specific nucleotide sequences within a RNA molecule after it has been generated by RNA polymerase. RNA editing is relatively rare … . Editing events may include the insertion, deletion, and base substitution of nucleotides within the edited RNA molecule.”

The subject has come to the attention of Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom — and it has boggled them completely. They just posted RNA Editing in Corals Stupefies Evolution.

Wowie — evolution is stupefied! It was written by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, described at the end as: “Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research.” They say he “earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from Clemson University.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Coral reefs are a key component of ocean ecology, providing homes and habitats for a wide diversity of life. While a head of coral may look like a single organism, it’s actually a conglomeration of numerous genetically-identical creatures called polyps. These multicellular organisms are thought to represent a primitive form of multicellular animal life. In fact, secular scientists allege that the first corals evolved at the earliest stages of life on Earth over 400 million years ago. But are corals actually primitive, or are they just another example of highly complex designed engineering?

Are they primitive or “highly complex designed engineering”? That’s the question for today. Jeffrey says:

A new study in corals is befuddling the evolutionary story that life became progressively more complex over eons of time. This research involves a highly elaborate system of cellular recoding that enables organisms to change genetic information in response to environmental cues or during different stages of development. The phenomenon called RNA editing is so complicated that it’s only beginning to be understood.

Jeffrey has a footnote linking to this paper, published in Molecular Biology and Evolution from the Oxford University Press: A-to-I RNA Editing in the Earliest-Diverging Eumetazoan Phyla. You can read it without a subscription.

Okay, back to Jeffrey’s article. He tells us:

The best-documented cases of RNA editing in animals have been in mammals, flies, octopuses, and squids. In mammals and flies, it’s thought to occur at fairly low levels, but plays a huge role in the nervous systems of squids and octopuses. And as RNA editing is being studied more in humans, our knowledge of its importance in the nervous system is increasing.

Fine, but where’s the creationism? Jeffrey continues:

In this most recent study, scientists analyzed RNA editing in the coral Acropora millepora, which was supposedly one of the most basal or primitive animals. The researchers focused on reproductive cells where RNA editing was believed to play an important role. Surprisingly, it was discovered that the RNA editing patterns in the corals resembled those found in mammals.

Then Jeffrey presents his bombshell question:

So how was a dynamic phenomenon like RNA editing as complex as that found in mammals also present at the supposed beginning of animal evolution in corals? This represents a repeating theme in scientific discovery: nearly infinite levels of complexity in cellular systems at all levels of life. Nothing appears to be primitive!

Egad! What does it mean? If nothing is truly primitive, could it be that life on Earth wasn’t created a mere 6,000 years ago? Let’s read on:

This pervasive paradigm completely befuddles the evolutionary idea that life started out simple and then became increasingly complex over time.

Huh? How does RNA editing “befuddle” the concept of evolution? The answer — make of it what you will — comes immediately after the question, and it’s the end of Jeffrey’s brief article:

Science and its amazing discoveries can only be rightly interpreted within the model that an all-wise and all-powerful Creator engineered it all from the beginning.

Whoa! What just happened? Coral have been evolving, in part via the mechanism of RNA editing. And that is supposed to be evidence for creationism? We don’t understand this at all. If you do, dear reader, please explain it to us.

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16 responses to “ICR: Coral Evolution Is Proof of the Bible

  1. From Encyclopedia of American loons! “Diagnosis: Clueless moron, whose understanding of central concepts in biology seems to be – willfully – more or less non-existent.”

  2. Michael Fugate

    The things one finds searching…
    Tomkins is a member of the “Creation Science League” – I guess like the “Justice League” it is supposed to be comic(al).

    The founder of said league is Todd Elder BS, a self-proclaimed “baraminologist”. Hoo boy.

    Here is the “depth” of Elder’s “thinking”…
    The Tetrapods
    There are also difficulties in connecting together all of the tetrapod group (animals with four feet) – most notably because not all of them have four feet. Snakes are well known for not having legs. There are also legless lizards. There are also Caecilians which are lesser-known legless amphibians.

    Too funny.

  3. Christine Janis

    If RNA editing is found in vertebrates, and in fruit flies, then it’s at very least a basal bilaterian feature. Finding it in coelenterates, the sister taxon to the Bilateria, is hardly surprising.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Does the Bible state why God thought corals needed RNA-editing?

  5. Derek Freyberg

    “[a]re they just another example of highly complex designed engineering?”
    Do you think Jeffrey might be an undercover agent for the DiscoTute?

    But the reasoning is nonsensical – I think Jeffrey would require species to have switched from DNA containing ACTG to DNA containing something else before he’d even contemplate that evolution might have occurred. Why should mechanisms change as you move on the evolutionary tree?

  6. @Michael Fugate,
    You make a good point, an “intelligent design” really should not require editing at all.

  7. Seems as though Yahweh had no much use for coral Job 28:18
    “Coral and crystal are not to be mentioned; And the acquisition of wisdom is above that of pearls.”

  8. Why does the creator of all things resort to design or engineering to change those things which have been created?

  9. Apparently RNA editing isn’t preventing coral from dying off. If it was an intelligently designed evolutionary capability, we seem to be overwhelming it. Clearly not the design of an all-powerful being.

  10. At one time, it was thought that no divinely created kind could go extinct.

    Design is resorted to only by limited beings.

  11. Why do you want to know the mind of your creator, TomS? Vanity? Tsk. Just accept that creacrap without any further do, will you?
    Same for you, Ed.

    “it was thought that no divinely created kind could go extinct.”
    Ultimate proof that stupid humans like you and me cannot and hence should not try to read divine minds. So just knock it off.
    Oh wait, my bad. Our creator has created us with the specific purpose of us mocking creacrap. I cannot but admit that as far as this fine blog goes he (also know as the Mighty Hand from Above) He has done a fine job.
    Let’s face it – every single article and every single comment on this blog is carefully designed and finetuned. Stupid humans couldn’t have done it and random natural causes can safely be excluded. We are all endowed by the Holy Spook of the Mighty Hand from Above!
    All doubters of this Evident Truth will be severely punished by dying within 150 years. That will teach them!

  12. @mnbo
    I recognize that you are being sarcastic, but I will use the occasion to make my own serious point.
    I am not guessing the ways of the Lord. Quite the opposite, I am pointing out that that is the business which ID has introduced, by mentioning design.
    Is not a design a response for following rules? What are the rules which the Intelligent Designer(s) are following?

  13. RNA editing occurs in many single cell organisms (Protists) and appears to have evolved independently many times. By comparison animal RNA editing is much simpler than in some of the protist examples. If Jeffery wants something else to fret about, he should check out alternative RNA splicing where the same RNA is processed in different ways in different tissues or different times in development to specify different proteins. Though RNA modification is relatively common, a good designer would not need to resort to it. Jeffery could use a good course in genetics.

  14. @Scientist
    a good designer would not need to resort to it
    That observation is open to the objection that we do not know the ways of the Lord.
    IMHO it is more pertinent that design takes account of limits, but there are no limits to an omnipotent agent. It does not make sense to say that all-powerful beings design.

  15. @TomS: “Quite the opposite”
    Of course. A common tactic of creacrappers is to accuse opponents of what they’re guilty of themselves.