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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can natural selection produce new genetic information? Yes.

Lest there be any doubt, scientists seldom (if ever) sit around thinking up ways to discredit the Intelligent Design Movement. They just carry out experiments designed to test various hypotheses. A central claim of the Intelligent Design Movement is the claim that certain biological structures (including chemical ones) or phenomena are too complex, or unique, or both, to have arisen without some sort of intelligent intervention. An important statement of the ID view is Meyer's Signature in the Cell.

Dennis Venema, writing for the BioLogos Forum, has begun a series of posts which argue that new information can, indeed, arise without direct intelligent intervention. (Venema also wrote the review of Meyer's book, for Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, which review is referenced in the last link in the previous paragraph.)

The most important statement in Venema's first post is this:
Of course, it should be noted that describing how specified information can arise through natural means does not in any way imply God’s absence from the process. After all, natural processes are equally a manifestation of God’s activity as what one would call supernatural events. So-called “natural” laws are what Christians understand to be a description of the ongoing, regular and repeatable activity of God.

The second post refers to a long-time ongoing experiment, begun in 1988 (which was before the IDM had achieved any prominence) and proceeding for over 50,000 bacterial generations. This experiment has discovered good evidence for the development of new biochemical abilities by the common bacterium, Escherichia coli. In other words, new specified information arising through selective processes.

Thanks for reading.

*  *  *  * Added April 8, 2011:

Venema has now posted another part of his series. In this one, he presents documentation for the change, in higher organisms, of a gene that produces a protein that has one function into a gene that produces a protein with a different, but similar function.

* * * * *

January 4, 2013. As I haven't gotten a comment related to the post for over a year, I am blocking comments on this post, to save myself from having to clean out advertisements for loans, pet medicine, etc. If you have a comment on this post, please comment on another of my posts, and refer to this in your comment. Sorry.


Pastor Jason said...

Does "new information" mean new genes?

Scott F said...

I have started to view the "New Information" schtick as spurious. What I mean is that evolution does not create information at all. The information already exists in the environment. Any individual organism has merely had the available information imprinted in its genome by selection.

Martin LaBar said...

Pastor Jason, "new information" means new genes, and/or old genes doing new things.


Martin LaBar said...

Scott F, one problem is that information isn't always defined carefully, or at all.

I'm not an expert in the field, so I'm not going to define it here, but, to me, I am creating new information as I type the reply to your comment (and, of course, you created new information as you wrote the comment, in response to the post). I'm doing this in response to the environment -- your comment. Similarly, because of natural selection, a new gene, or a modified gene, may occur, in response to the environment. If these are imprinting, OK.

Thanks for your comment.