Biological Information and Intelligent Design: New functions are everywhere


(system) #1
By direct experimental test, new biological functions have been shown to be common, not rare, within random sequences of DNA.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/biological-information-and-intelligent-design-new-functions-are-everywhere

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #2

Dennis,

What this means to me is that genetic structure is rational. If something is basically rational, then variations are much more likely to be rational and useful, than if it is basically not rational and has to be made rational and useful.


(Mark Twombly) #3

From this layperson’s perspective, what seems to be at issue is the ability of natural processes to produce new information, and this article seems to indicate this is actually a common occurrence. I am no expert scientifically, but I think the following contrasting article on the subject is worthy of consideration: http://creation.com/nylonase-update.


(James McKay) #4

The fact that natural processes can — and do — produce new information is a direct consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This is because information and entropy are one and the same concept.

This was discussed at some length in the thread Information = Entropy.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5

If entropy is change and it is, then clearly change/entropy creates more information. History is change and creates more information.

Change is traditionally seen as negative, a degradation of Being, but history indicates otherwise. On the other hand current events indicate that history can quickly become negative is good people do not stand up for what is right, rather than what is convenient.


(George Brooks) #6

It is a rare pleasure to have experimental results deliver up such impressive results in the area of Evolution and proteins. I had no patience with the whole area of dispute and wondered how to best set the quibbles aside.

It never occurred to me that what was going to happen was to simply prove the ID folks wrong!

Great 2 paragraphs!

"Further work by Rafik and colleagues would show that in some cases the new functional genes acted at the RNA level, and in some cases through the new protein that was produced. They examined four of the new beneficial genes closely, and found that three of them exerted their beneficial effects through the RNA form of the gene - the transcription product. One of the four, however, exerted its beneficial effect through the translated protein product. This demonstrates that transcription of random DNA sequences into RNA has significant potential to produce new functions. The confirmation that one of the new beneficial genes acts through the protein product also confirms that random DNA sequences can be a ready source of functional proteins. Though there are several hundred other functional de novo genes left to analyze from this study, these results are a demonstration that new functions are easy for evolution to find. "

“Though the researchers had expected new functional genes to be rare in a pool of random sequences, they were everywhere. The importance of these results for ID arguments is clear. By direct experimental test, new biological functions have been shown to be common, not rare, within random sequences - and that these functions may be found in either RNA transcripts or de novo protein products. By Gauger’s own measure, ID advocates have been shown to be wrong. Since this particular ID claim undergirds a large proportion of the ID argument that biological information cannot have arisen through evolution, the consequences for ID are significant.”


(Greg Rogers) #7

Hi Mark: I read the info on this link you shared and found it very helpful. I am also not an “expert” but sure do notice that historical science today in those circles that revere science as possible interpreter of deep past have ironically stood upon the idea of “I believe something now and have driven a stake upon that premise” then after this “fit the pieces of evidence to “prove” the worldview already espoused.” That is what we call pseudo science. For those who believe that science is objectively able to determine our deep past historically and accurately, then rely on good science not pseudo science.

For me, when I see not only evidences of general complexity in say dna, but also see evidences of irreducible complexity in organisms and ecosystems as well as the signs of DESIGN in things like sexual reproduction where a male and female have to somehow become attracted to one another who happen to have complementary organs for procreation etc…And after these observations see folks purposely pushing against any scientific attempt to bolster this statistically logical premise which some would call ID, then I have to question their worldview.

I believe that Venema believes that God is an intelligent Designer. But I question why he is demonstratively pushing against the OBVIOUS elephant in the room of signs of intelligent design by using fleas and gnats of information about bacteria evolving to break down nylon, a substance made from earth bound raw ingredients.

Of course for Christians, the biggest elephant in the room is the fact that God exists and is alive today and moving through the fabric of all of humanity by His Spirit as we speak! When God, whom I believe in with all of my heart who sent His Son to die for me is part of all of this discussion…And we are talking about a God who can speak the universe into existence in a second and carry it around as if it were some left over dirt under his fingernails after working in the garden so to speak, then when it comes to the determinations of history on how life arrived on this earth, the options are endless, potentially profound, and most likely impossible to detect via science. Since I found life in God my Savior through His Written Word, I choose to adhere a lot closer to God’s Word who declares that God created the kinds and less to evidence of a man’s theory of evolution using such observations of bacteria eating nylon to do so.


(George Brooks) #8

What scientists did was to randomly create genetic strings … entirely empty of any known information.

And they produced working, helpful amazing developments… from No Information!!!

You can’t beat that with a stick!


(Nonlin Org) #9

How is this different than simple breeding? We do know that farmers increase the “fitness” of chickens with oversize breasts as long as said chickens do not leave the controlled environment designed specifically for them.

Regarding Nylonase, organisms have various capabilities. We don’t know that a Nylonase equivalent cannot be found in nature, that the bacteria didn’t already have the capability to digest Nylonase even before the material was discovered, or that bacteria’s rapid adaptability is not built into the organism. If either one of these is true, then the Nylonase story is a non-story.


(George Brooks) #10

@NonlinOrg

Your objections alternate between making no sense or being irrelevant.

Evolution is about genetics. Whether genetics change in an artificial environment or a natural one makes no difference.

If you expect a thesis to be tested, it requires controls and very often controlled environments.


(Mark Twombly) #11

James, thank you for your promotion of the concept of entropy.


(Mark Twombly) #12

Greg, thank you for your coherent and refreshing response! I am reminded of the words of Jesus to Peter when He said, ‘flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 16:17). Certainly it is ultimately by faith that we understand God is the Creator (Hebrews 11:3) and it is in the fear of Him that we have knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10).


(Bill Wald) #13

How do you propose to quantify an idea or an event? Compare the entropy of various ideas and events?


(George Brooks) #14

@bill_wald

What an odd question. Why do we need to quantify an idea or event?

If a vast cloud of hydrogen plus gravity, can eventually coalesce into an unthinking Star … and that star converts
hydrogen into a complex and important molecule like Carbon … and even heavier and more exotic elements,
aren’t we through with this concern about where “information” comes from?

Is there some question as to whether solar fusion is a miraculous (vs. natural) event?

Entropy is not an issue for Evolution if the average star has a lifespan of billions of years . . .


(Bill Wald) #15

From google:
noun
1.
PHYSICS
a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
2.
lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

Science is ultimately about about measurement and measurement requires numbers, yardsticks, standard weights . . . . Even order and predictability are about numbers.


(George Brooks) #16

[Edit: Bill, I got your message that this post was mis-directed. I understand completely.]

@bill_wald,

Yes indeedy!

But it doesn’t have any bearing on Evolution.

The Sun is provides all the energy inputs … and the system doesn’t re-set until, at least, the Sun’s demise, if even then.

As you know, exploding stars are the source of some of the Universe’s most exotic elements… and to think it all started from a huge amorphous interstellar cloud of hydrogen - - the simplest of all elements. And from it we get all the planets, solar systems and galaxies… it’s a marvel.

Entropy is not relevant to the discussion of Evolution as it is known on the planet Earth.


(Bill Wald) #17

I was responding to previous posts that mentioned entropy and information and must have pushed the wrong button. Sorry.

Agree that entropy and information theory have nothing to “say” about choosing between “God” and “always was,” the unrecognized bottom line topic of the thread.


(James McKay) #18

You can’t. What you’re talking about is too vaguely defined.

Incidentally, one area where the relationship between entropy and information is clearly evident is in IT security — specifically, passwords. One measure of the entropy of your password is how long it takes a “smart” password cracking program (one that uses a dictionary attack with weighted character substitution patterns, e.g. “password” -> “P455w0rd1”) to brute force it.

Very common passwords such as “password” or “123456” or “qwerty” contain almost no entropy at all. Dictionary words contain about 16-20 bits of entropy. Bible references similarly contain about 16-20 bits of entropy. On the other hand, 25 characters of completely random, mixed case letters and numbers contains almost 150 bits of entropy.

What this means is that a string of purely random characters contains much more information than a sentence of meaningful words. This is counterintuitive to anyone who has never thought much about how to choose a good password.


#19

Just a simple google search on entropy:
a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
"the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time"
2.
lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

So in the end, according to evolutionists, the whole universe will descend into complete disorder, i.e. information???

The question is whether the so-called information created by the mentioned processes is capable of creating new structures with new functionalities that will also be incorporated into the existing organism such that it will eventually become a completely new and unrelated entity? There has never been a demonstration that this can happen. So unless and until this longed for eventuality occurs, the evolutionary paradigm is non-science.


#20

The entropy described by the Shannon channel noise measurements should not be confused or construed to have the ability to CREATE new information. IN that theory it has more to do with the ability to EXTRACT information from an existing communications channel. It has nothing to do with the information required to create the required expected darwinian evolutionary structures, functionality and commissioning.

A simple example of what is meant in the increase in information in the DNA complex is that the increased information will SPECIFY how to acquire new material, how to fashion new structures out of it - size, shape, chemical interactive abilities, energy requirements, energy supply, programming of signalling to use those new entities, how to safeguard the new entities, how to detect damage, how to repair those entities and how to actually incorporate those entities into a working system.
There is no random process that is going to deliver the required specifications for a new kind of organism. That kind of thinking is completely contradicted by the deterioration [ GENETIC ENTROPY!] that we actually witness in the genomes of human beings as well as the other animals, fish and birds and to a lesser extend plants.

The quest for random genetic processes to generate new information [ read specifications ] of the darwinian kind will continue into futility.