Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Luskin's Duplication Myopia

Casey Luskin has yet another article displaying his ignorance of evolution and biology. I won’t attempt a detailed technical critique, as that has been done better elsewhere. I am going to focus on one aspect of Luskin’s lengthy article to illustrate in gory detail just how flawed the IDist’s view of evolution truly is, and I’m going to do it using their favorite analogy: language. Luskin writes:

”Duplicating Genes Doesn't Increase Biological Information in Any Important Sense. I now have 2 questions to ask of Darwinists who claim that the mechanism of gene duplication explains how Darwinian evolutionary processes can increase the information content in the genome:

(1) Does gene duplication increase the information content?
(2) Does gene duplication increase the information content?

Asking the question twice obviously does not double the meaningful information conveyed by the question. How many times would the question have to be duplicated before the meaningful information conveyed by the list of duplicated questions is twice that of the original question? The answer is that the mere duplication of a sentence does NOT increase the complex and specified information content in any meaningful way. Imagine that a builder of houses has a blueprint to build a new house, but the blueprint does not contain enough information to build the house to the specifications that the builder desires. Could the builder obtain the needed additional information merely by photocopying the original blueprint? Of course not. “

The obvious flaw in this analogy is the implicit assumption that any duplication of any words must produce new meaning (analogous to function). That is not what evolutionary theory says. It only says that SOME duplications can result in new functions. To illustrate this point, imagine a series of genes that spell out the word “cot”. This word has meaning, function, if you will. Now imagine the middle “gene” duplicates, and we get “coot”, also a word with meaning, and one that differs considerably with its ancestor. Now imagine one pointmutation, yielding “colt”. Again, a new word with meaning, and all resulting from a duplication and a subsequent point mutation. This is the more apt analogy to evolution. It is a testament to the myopia of evolution deniers that they can’t seem to think of these two steps simultaneously.

Luskin then spends an inordinate amount of time harping on the supposed lack of step-by-step descriptions supplied by Dawkins et al of the genetic path evolution has taken. This is fallacious reasoning for two reasons. First, several step-by-step descriptions of evolutionary processes have been supplied (like the eye, and the bood clotting cascade), but when such is provided, the creationists invoke Gish’s Law, and triumphantly declare the existence of that many more gaps to fill. Every new step provides two more gaps, which is clearly absurd.

Second, it simply is not necessary. No one would claim that to believe a can of vegetable soup was constructed without an overall guiding intelligence that one would need to supply a step by step account of the entire process from seedling to soup and all the intermediary steps. It is enough to know generally what goes on with soup production, especially in the absence of any intervening force. Likewise, the existence of mutation, selection, drift, and all the other elements of evolution, coupled with the piecemeal fossil and chemical history we do know, is enough sans evidence that there was any other force present that could account for all of this. I need only a witness that I left my house on foot and entered my friend’s house across the street on foot to conclude that I walked between the two. Luskin doesn’t get to assume God transported me from one house to the other merely because I can’t show him every footprint on the way.

Luskin finishes this plane crash of an article revealing once again how alien an unguided process is to creationists, as his supposed analogy to evolutionary processes chooses the desired endpoint:

” [show me how]
can evolve into:
by changing the first sentence one letter at a time, and having it always retain some comprehensible English meaning along each small step of its evolution. This seems like a reasonable request, as it is not highly different from what Darwinists are telling me can happen in nature. “

Uh, yes it is. There is nothing in evolutionary theory that says one genetic code can evolve into any other genetic arrangement chosen by Luskin. What it says is that genetic codes will change over time, and given enough time, they may bear very little resemblance to their ancient precursor. This is just another variation of “Show me a dog giving birth to a cat”, only with more steps.

”How would Dawkins reply? Would he get angry and complain that this is “the kind of question only a creationist would ask”?

Well, I’m not angry about it, but yes, that is the answer to this question, and Luskin’s entire ill-thought-out article. It is all the sort of thing only an ignorant creationist would ask, because everyone else knows better.

1 comment:

Harriet said...

Outstanding! Not much else to say...