Tag Archives: Jay Wesley Richards

Ann Gauger’s new peer-reviewed paper on Darwinian evolution

Amazing new research paper by the Biologic Institute. The PDF of the paper, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” is available here.

The MP3 file is here.

Participants

  • Jay Richards, Director of Research at the CRSC, (Discovery Institute)
  • Ann Gauger, senior research scientist at the Biologic Institute

About Ann:

Ann is a senior research scientist at Biologic Institute. Her work uses molecular genetics and genomic engineering to study the origin, organization and operation of metabolic pathways. She received a BS in biology from MIT, and a PhD in developmental biology from the University of Washington, where she studied cell adhesion molecules involved in Drosophila embryogenesis. As a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard she cloned and characterized the Drosophila kinesin light chain. Her research has been published in Nature, Development, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Topics:

  • Co-authored with microbiologist Ralph Seelke at the University of Wisconsion
  • Purpose: study whether bacteria can evolve the ability to fix a broken protein (e.g. – enzyme)
  • Two areas are broken in the enzyme
  • If you fix the first one, it works a little but not fully (slight advantage)
  • If you fix the second one, it starts to work fully (huge advantage)
  • It’s a “two-step adaptive path” – a textbook case for evolution
  • should be able to hit both mutations and get back full functionality
  • At the start of the experiment, the cell is churning out broken protein
  • there is a cost to the cell for create the broken protein
  • the cell can either go through the adaptive path and repair the protein
  • OR, it can shut off production of the broken protein
  • EITHER PATH gives a selective advantage
  • So what happens? The cells NEVER followed the adaptive path
  • They almost ALWAYS turn off the production of the broken protein
  • It happens in 30-50 generations, in 14 different cultures
  • Each culture had a different way of turning off the production
  • They tested on 10^12 cells
  • Only one cell made the first repair, none made the second repair
  • It’s more advantageous to STOP PRODUCING the broken protein as soon as possible
  • The first cell that gets rid of the non-functional protein first overtakes the whole culture
  • so, even adaptive paths that provide a benefit with one mutation are unlikely to be followed
  • The point: even promising theoretical adaptive pathways MAY NOT WORK in experiments

I wrote about Doug Axe’s recent research paper here. He is the Director of the Biologic Institute.

Related posts

Upcoming apologetics events at Biola University and in South Africa

American Heroes: The Virtues of Capitalism

Southern California

Biola University events for Southern California readers:

May

6 • FREE: The Virtues of Capitalism Book Event with Scott Rae and Austin Hill

14 • FREE: Signature in the Cell Event with Steve Meyer and his Critics

15 • The Cambrian Explosion: The Data Behind Darwin’s Dilemma
with Illustra Media and others

15 • Intelligent Design and Issues in Religious Liberty
with Richard Land, John Bloom, Craig Hazen, and others

Note the details of tonight’s talk:

The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Markets
with Scott Rae, Ph.D. and Austin Hill, M.A.

Click Here for more details & to RSVP now!

Our country’s founding fathers took very seriously the selfish, fallen nature of human beings described in Holy Scripture. In a stroke of brilliance, they set up a system of governance and economics that harnessed this sinful nature for the betterment of humankind through competition in branches of government and between economic interests. Today everything seems turned on its head. Have we lost the ideas that undergird the greatest system of government and economics the world has ever seen? Is there hope for the economic well being of our children? Is it moral to be a successful business person? Dr. Scott Rae and Austin Hill will address these news-making concerns, based on their latest book.

Their new book became available this week. I ordered two! Scott Rae is, in my opinion, the top expert in bio-ethics at Biola University. To have him write about economics is a dream come true, for me. I love it when social conservatives and fiscal conservatives unite! Indivisible, to coin a phrase from the recently released collection of essays published by the Heritage Foundation, available as a free downloadable PDF document. Just FYI, Jay Richards’ “Money, Greed and God“, which I wrote about before, is now out in paperback.

South Africa

South Africa events from Mike Licona’s web site:

Monday, 10 May:

14:00 “The death of Jesus as a challenge to Islam” (North West University, Potchefstroom)
19:00 “The historicity of the resurrection” (North West University, Potchefstroom)

Tuesday, 11 May:

10:00-12:00 Colloquium: “The problem of differences: Do the Gospels contradict one another?” (UNISA, Pretoria)
19:00 Debate with Prof Pieter Craffert: “Was Jesus raised physically from the dead?” (University of Johannesburg)

Venue: University of Johannesburg
Location: B-Les 103
Cost: none

Wednesday, 12 May:

19:00 Debate with Prof Sakkie Spangenberg and Prof Hansie Wolmarans (HOD Greek & Latin Studies, University of Johannesburg) vs. Prof William Lane Craig & Prof Michael Licona: “How should we understand the narratives about Jesus’ resurrection?”

Venue: University of Pretoria
Location: Musaion Auditorium
Cost: R20 at the door

We have quite a few South African readers, so you all need to attend these events and then send me updates, and I can post them and give you credit. I am a big fan of Mike Licona.

UPDATE: Commenter Mary sends this link which has even more South Africa events.

Doug Axe publishes a new peer-reviewed paper on protein folding

A new podcast from ID the Future is worth listening to.

Participants

  • Jay Richards, Director of Research at the CRSC, (Discovery Institute)
  • Doug Axe, Director of the Biologic Institute

The MP3 file is here.

Topics

  • the new BIO-Complexity peer-reviewed journal
  • new peer-reviewed paper challenges Darwinian account of protein folding
  • proteins are found in every living system
  • a protein is a chain of parts called amino acids
  • there are 20 amino acids used in living systems
  • it’s like a 20-letter alphabet used to make sentences (proteins)
  • if the sequence is just right, it folds up and has a function
  • the information about the functional sequences is in the genome
  • the “protein fold” is the 3D shape that a functional protein takes on
  • the folding problem is good because you can TEST Darwinian mechanisms
  • the problem is simple enough to be tested rigorously in a lab
  • Question: how easy is it to create a sequence that folds?
  • English is a good analogy to the problem of protein folding
  • you have a long string of characters (e.g. – 200 letters)
  • each “letter” can be one of 20 amino acids
  • if you assign the letters randomly, you almost always get gibberish
  • there are tons of possible sequences of different letters
  • it’s like a 200 digit slot machine with each digit having 20 possibilities!
  • the number of sequences that would actually make sense is tiny
  • protein folding is the same
  • Doug’s paper assesses how many “tries” could have been attempted
  • Doug’s paper calculates the total number of possibilities
  • cells have arrived a large number of functional sequences
  • but only a small number of the total possibilities could have been tried
  • this is called the “sampling problem”
  • there isn’t enough time to test all of the possibilities (see previous paper below)
  • how did living systems arrive at the functional sequences so quickly?
  • there are some possible naturalistic scenarios for solving the problem
  • Doug’s new paper shows that none of the naturalistic explanations work
  • the only explanation left is that an intelligence sequenced the amino acids
  • it is identical to the way that I can sequence letters to make this post

A picture is worth a thousand words

Here’s a video clip from the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma showing the process:

If you would like to know more about Darwin’s Dilemma, you can read Brian Auten’s review of Darwin’s Dilemma.

Who are these guys?

I wrote a post before on Doug Axe’s previous publications in the Journal of Molecular Biology, where he researched how many of the possible sequences of amino acids have biological function. His PhD is from Caltech, and his post-doctoral research on proteins was conducted at Cambridge University.

Jay Richards is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and a Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute. In recent years he has been a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. His PhD is from Princeton University.

Related posts

Round-up of stories about intelligent design, from the Discovery Institute

The Discovery Institute is the headquarters for ID research and advocacy in the United States. They send out a newsletter by e-mail and I though this week’s hit on all cylinders. Below are some of their stories from the newsletter. Thanks to commenter ECM for an earlier tip on the Junk DNA story.


When “Junk DNA” Isn’t Junk: Farewell to a Darwinist Standard Response

Richard Sternberg, research scientist at the Biologic Institute supported by the Center for Science and Culture, is now blogging at Evolution News & Views, weighing in on the latest research showing that so-called “Junk DNA,” which Darwinists have discounted as “rubbish,” are actually “anything but that.”

Sternberg writes:

In the Darwinist repertoire, a standard response to evidence of design in the genome is to point to the existence of “junk DNA.” What is it doing there, if purposeful design really is detectable in the history of life’s development? Of course this assumes that the “junk” really is junk. That assumption has been cast increasingly into doubt. New research just out in the journal Nature Genetics finds evidence that genetic elements previously thought of as rubbish are anything but that. The research describes tiny strands of RNA, previously thought to be junk, that now turn out to play a role in gene expression. Another finding by Dr. Geoff Faulkner shows that “retrotransposons,” a further variety of “junk” as the dogma previously taught, play a similar role.

Also at ENV, Dr. Sternberg takes a look at the old Darwinian tripe that biological systems couldn’t possibly have been designed because they exhibit “shoddy engineering”:

We often hear from Darwinians that the biological world is replete with examples of shoddy engineering, or, as they prefer to put it, bad design. One such case of really poor construction is the inverted retina of the vertebrate eye. As we all know, the retina of our eyes is configured all wrong because the cells that gather photons, the rod photoreceptors, are behind two other tissue layers. Light first strikes the ganglion cells and then passes by or through the bipolar cells before reaching the rod photoreceptors. Surely, a child could have arranged the system better — so they tell us.

The problem with this story of supposed unintelligent design is that it is long on anthropomorphisms and short on evidence. Consider nocturnal mammals. Night vision for, say, a mouse is no small feat. Light intensities during night can be a million times less than those of the day, so the rod cells must be optimized — yes, optimized — to capture even the few stray photons that strike them. Given the backwards organization of the mouse’s retina, how is this scavenging of light accomplished? Part of the solution is that the ganglion and bipolar cell layers are thinner in mammals that are nocturnal. But other optimizations must also occur. Enter the cell nucleus and “junk” DNA.

Jerry Coyne Recycles: Why Darwinism Is False

Jonathan Wells is reviewing Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True over at ENV, and already the list of problems with Coyne’s book is mounting:

On Earth Day 2009, we are reminded of the ecological importance of recycling. As a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago, Jerry A. Coyne must be keen on recycling: He even recycles worn-out arguments for Darwinism.

If “evolution” meant simply that existing species can undergo minor changes over time, or that many species alive today did not exist in the past, then evolution would undeniably be true. But “evolution” for Coyne means Darwinism — the theory that all living things are descendants of a common ancestor, modified by unguided natural processes such as DNA mutations and natural selection.

Coyne discusses the fossil record, embryos, vestigial structures, the geographic distribution of species, artificial and natural selection, and the origin of species. In the process, (1) he ignores the Cambrian explosion — which Darwin considered a “serious” problem — and he rearranges the fossil record to fit Darwin’s theory; (2) he defends Ernst Haeckel — who faked some drawings of vertebrate embryos to provide support for Darwinism — and he dredges up the doctrine that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny; (3) he claims that much human DNA is useless junk — despite abundant recent evidence that this is not true — and he relies on theological arguments that have no legitimate place in natural science; (4) he invokes “the well-known process called convergent evolution” to explain many cases of the geographic distribution of species — even though the “well-known process” is merely speculation — and he again falls back on theology to justify a supposedly scientific theory; and (5) he describes examples of natural and artificial selection — none of which show anything more than minor changes within existing species — and he misrepresents experimental evidence to make it sound as though the origin of species by natural selection has been directly observed.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Other stuff

The newsletter also discussed historian A.N. Wilson’s return to faith from atheism, which is really interesting because he seems to be well-rounded in his reasons for rejecting atheism. And the newsletter mentions that Jay Richards’ forthcoming book, “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem” is out May 6th! Jay gave a great lecture on basic economics for Christians and another great lecture on what Christians should think about global warming.

Split decision on Texas evolution standards favors academic freedom

Over at the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News blog, they recently reported that the Texas State Board of Education reached a split decision on the state standards for teaching evolution.

Evolution News says this in their post:

Kudos to the New York Times for filing a story on the actions of the Texas State Board of Education that actually describes what happened last week. Unlike much of the rest of the newsmedia, the Times doesn’t tell only half of what happened or play up the hysterics. The story’s even-handed title is telling: “Split Outcome in Texas Battle on Teaching of Evolution.”

The NYT article they mentioned explains the compromise reached by the Texas State Board of Education.

First, the bad news:

…the board voted to drop a 20-year-old mandate that science teachers explore with their students the “strengths and weaknesses” of all theories.

But the board also passed some good amendments, among them this one:

…one that would compel science teachers to instruct students about aspects of the fossil record that do not neatly fit with the idea of species’ gradually changing over time, like the relatively sudden appearance of some species and the fact that others seem to remain unchanged for millions of years.

Let me explain why this is a big win for ID. One of my previous employers was a major academic publishing company. By major, I mean my alma mater’s campus library featured academic publication databases that I helped to code. In this company, it was well known that California and Texas were the two most important states, because their textbook standards set the guidelines for the other states.

The NYT article explains:

Whatever the 15-member board decides then will have consequences far beyond Texas, since the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the nation. The new standards will be in place for the next decade, starting in 2010, and will influence the writing of the next generation of biology texts, which the state will order this summer.

John G. West of the Discovery Institute evaluates the board’s decision as positive:

“They did something truly remarkable today,” John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a group that questions Darwinism, said in a statement. “They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory.”

I actually have podcasts for you of the testimonies of pro-ID scholars given to the Texas Board. If you want to learn how scientists argue for academic freedom on issues of origins, you should listen to these three 15-minute podcasts.

  1. My favorite ID scholar Stepen C. Meyer testified on the Cambrian explosion and the fossil record, (podcast, article). Meyer holds a Ph.D in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. I once saw him explain biological information using colorful lock-blocks, live. (He stole them from his children). I often draw it up for my co-workers on a white board, just like he does!
  2. Microbiologist Ralph Seelke testified about how his lab research that shows clear limits on how far bacteria can evolve, (podcast, article). Seelke holds a Ph.D in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
  3. Biochemist Charles Garner testified on the chirality problem in chemical evolution, (podcast, article). He also discussed the importance of not glossing over the weaknesses of scientific theories. Garner holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Colorado, Boulder. Garner is now a Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Baylor University.

For those looking for a definition of what intelligent design is, look here. I highly recommend the work of Canadian journalist Denyse O’Leary, who is probably the foremost expert on why there is an ID controversy. Her main blog on ID is called Post-Darwinist.

As a supporter of academic freedom, I sent a donation to the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture yesterday. The CSC is currently offering a free book with donations received before February 28th, 2009. For my annual donation, I chose Stephen C. Meyer’s forthcoming book “Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design“.

On another note, I am also excited about Jay Richards’ forthcoming book, “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem“. Jay did a great lecture on basic economics for Christians and another great lecture on what Christians should think about global warming. Maybe his employer, the Acton Institute, will give me a free book if I send them a donation?

UPDATE: Casey Luskin just posted audio of Stephen C. Meyer responding to questions after is presentation at the hearing.