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  Topic: Luskin: ID vs Evolution Predictions, Responses etc.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 319
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 14 2003,15:45   

Luskin's article:

II discussion:

I'm beginning to think that Casey Luskin's a YEC.  He never declared himself in an email debate I had with him awhile ago, and now he says:


Indeed, many forms of "creation science" make a variety of predictions which are empirically testable. One example is that young earth creationism predicts that various observable lines of evidence will be found to show that rocks, the oceans, and the solar system are young. Regardless of whether or not such evidence is found, the theory makes scientific predictions which can be tested in the natural world, and thus qualifies the young earth hypothesis as a falsifiable and testable scientific theory.

The basic answers to Luskin's points are listed below.  The quotes are from his last table, I've inserted 'Ev', 'ID', and ''Fact''.


1. Biochemical complexity
Ev: High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will NOT be found.
ID: High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found.
'Fact': High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures are commonly found.

As has been discussed ad nauseum, gradual evolutionary process can, and regularly do, produce intricate systems with multiple required parts.  The most important mechanism is simply change-of-function, emphasized by Darwin and every biological authority since, and supported by numerous examples.

The Origin of "Information" via natural causes;t=6

immune system evolution;t=16

Evolution of multiple-parts-required pathways;t=17

Co-option/change of function;t=8

Evolving Immunity

Irreducible Complexity Demystified


2. Fossil Record
Ev: Forms will appear in the fossil record as a gradual progression with transitional series.
ID: Forms will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without any precursors.
'Fact': Forms tend to appear in the fossil record suddenly and without any precursors.

There are plenty of transitional fossils:

'Punk Eek' is an application of Mayr's theory of allopatric speciation to paleontology, and applies only to species-species transitions, which are indeed commonly (but not always, studies of good fossil records often put the number at 50-50) absent.  Gould himself has said that for transitions between higher taxonomic levels there are plenty of transitionals.

A classic example is the horse fossil record, where some species "microevolve" and some appear abruptly:

The Cambrian 'Explosion', OTOH, is probably mostly the result of the emergence of large, hard-bodied critters from their microscopic, wormlike ancestors, see:


3. Distribution of Molecular and Morphological Characteristics

Ev: Genes and functional parts will reflect those inherited through ancestry, and are only shared by related organisms.
ID: Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.
'Fact': Genes and functional parts often are not distributed in a manner predicted by ancestry, and are often found in clearly unrelated organisms.

Luskin quote-mines a whole bunch of quotes on incongruence, but neglects to mention that the big picture is that of congruence with a high degree of statistical confidence:

Quote-mining with molecular phylogeny:

The major exceptions only occur in (1) the well-accepted symbiotic theory for the origin of eukaryotes, and (2) prokaryotes, where we know **on independent evidence** that Lateral Gene Transfer is a common event.


4. Genetic Code
Ev: The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA."
ID: The genetic code will contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA."
'Fact': Increased knowledge of genetices has created a strong trend towards functionality for "junk-DNA"; examples of DNA of unknown function persist, but function can be expected or explained under a design pardigm.

"Junk" DNA;t=35

The basic observation supporting the 'junk DNA' inference is not pseudogenes -- these are a small fraction of noncoding DNA.  The basic observation is that closely-related critters can have widely-varying amounts of non-coding DNA with no apparent ill-effects.


The C-value paradox emerged from among the first applications of spectrophotometric analysis of nuclear DNA content1. The haploid DNA content of eukaryotic organisms ranges over a factor of 80,000. Some of the largest genomes are found among the lowliest of eukaryotes, such as the amoebae, and some of the smallest genomes are found among organisms with complex developmental and behavioural repertoires, such as Drosophila melanogaster.

Charlie d explains it quite well here:


Ironically, the anti-ID letter the DI complains about led me to read an article by a German biologist, apparently an ID sympathizer. Inexplicably, it was published in the prestigious, by-invitation-only Annual Review in Genetics - perhaps because it contained actual information (along with many unsupported and overextended interpretations, but that's just my opinion), and not just a pointless, self-defeating whine like Behe's letter.

Anyway, that paper happens to cite an interesting piece of data that I was unaware of, and which significantly undermines Behe's entire argument that the attribution of lack of function to non-genic DNA is based only on a negative argument (there are many more lines of evidence, of course, but I thought this was nice, especially given the coincidence about the sources).

The data is as follows. These guys (Muntiacus reevesi):

and this (M. muntjak):

are almost identical, they live in very similar environments in Southern China vs. India/South Asia/Indonesia, and just happened to be classified as differnet species because they do not interbreed. The major difference between them is that one has 46 chromosomes and the other 6/7, and one has 20% less DNA than the other, entirely ascribable to the reduction of various kind of non-genic, repetitive elements (ref here.

Go figure: a 20% DNA content difference between practically identical vertebrates (by comparison, remember chimps and humans differ by a few % at most). Gee, I wonder why biologists tend to conclude that most non-genic DNA has no significant function. Must be all that "negative argumentation", indeed.

Until IDists start talking about these kinds of facts they aren't even in the ballpark regarding 'junk DNA'.

PS: Oh yeah.  Luskin accidentally switched his 'predictions' regarding junk DNA.

PPS: The problem Luskin has with creating a "falsifiable" ID theory, when he explicitly says that he is open to a mix-n-match view, where if A is proven to be a result of evolution, he can accept that and instead assert that B, or C is a result of ID, shall be left for others to explore.

Edited by niiicholas on Aug. 14 2003,15:49

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