Friday, May 19, 2006
Science Magazine Promotes Irreducible Complexity and Genetic Front-Loading
What this new paper is saying is that Eukaryotes are the ancestors to Prokaryotes, not the other way around. So what's the big deal? Two things. (1) It directly contradicts the slow progression from less complex to more complex idea, and (2) the reasoning behind this is somewhat based on Behe's idea of irreducible complexity, but without the explicit Intelligent Design implications. Obviously there is a lot I would disagree with, but this is a huge, huge, huge step in the right direction. It acknowledges the difficulty in creating complex, integrated cellular machines from an evolutionary framework. It also acknowledge that there are actually limits to evolution's ability. They also fail to point out the difficulty to the origin of life that this brings (if the ancestor is _more_ complex, then you have even more difficulties) and the implicit hat tip to front-loading (front-loading is an ID hypothesis that the universal common ancestor was created pre-loaded with all the information necessary to differentiate into many lesser forms -- the information is "front-loaded" into the universal common ancestor, and then later organisms are all specializations and degredations from that ancestor).
Interestingly, if you use this reasoning to say that eukaryotes can't have evolved from prokaryotes, why couldn't you use this reasoning to say that eukaryotes can't have evolved from nothing?
Let's look at the primary argument:
Genomics and proteomics have greatly increased our awareness of the uniqueness of eukaryote cells. This, together with increased understanding of molecular crowding, as well as the dynamic, often reductive nature of genome evolution, offers a new view of the origin of eukaryote cells. The eukaryotic CSSs [cellular signature structures] define a unique cell type that cannot be deconstructed into features inherited directly from archaea and bacteria. [emphasis mine]
This points out that evolution is primarily in the detrimental direction. In fact, this fact is referred to throughout the paper. Usually, however, they mention the idea that evolution goes both up and down, and the fact that the "down" part has been ignored by many biologists who view evolution as upward-only. However, while they were correct in pointing out the failing of the "upward march" evolutionary argument, they failed to point out that the "up" part is primarily an inference from universal common ancestry, not an empirical observation from the data. In their defence, they were primarily talking about sequence loss and gain, not information. The idea of conservation of information is not dependent on the sequence length. There are indeed beneficial things which increase genome length. But these always occur within a larger semantic framework which governs them.
Anyway, they talk a lot about the potential for genome decay, which is another ID/Creationist idea.
The hat tip to irreducible complexity is in both the title and the last sentence of the quote. There is no step-at-a-time scenario which facilitates going from bacteria and/or archae to eukarya.
Anyway, it is very significant that this paper was published in Science.
1) "Evolving Christianity" is not the picture of creation given in Genesis
2) Common ancestry has very little basis in evidence
3) "Evolving Christianity" ignores the effects of the flood on the geologic column
It is true that many people have embraced both Christianity and evolution, and even perhaps found some spiritual insight in the mix, but the question is whether or not it really happened.