Evolution Icon Evolution
Life Sciences Icon Life Sciences

The Evolution-Lobby’s Misguided Definition of “New”

Links to our 8-Part Series, “The NCSE, Judge Jones, and Citation Bluffs About the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information”:

Part 1: Judge Jones’s Misguided NCSE-Scripted Kitzmiller Ruling and the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information
Part 2: The Evolution-Lobby’s Useless Definition of Biological Information
Part 3 (This Article): The Evolution-Lobby’s Misguided Definition of “New”
Part 4: Finding Darwin in All the Wrong Places
Part 5: How to Play the Gene Evolution Game
Part 6: Asking the Right Questions about the Evolutionary Origin of New Biological Information
Part 7: Assessing the NCSE’s Citation Bluffs on the Evolution of New Genetic Information
Part 8: The NCSE’s Citation Bluffs Reveal Little About the Evolutionary Origin of Information

Read the Full Article: “The NCSE, Judge Jones, and Citation Bluffs About the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information”

When Judge Jones claimed that Ken Miller showed “the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes,” Ken Miller and his friends at the NCSE didn’t just equivocate on the definition of “information,” they also misused the term “new.” In fact, they would likely accept something as “new” if it were merely a copy or a duplicate some pre-existing stretch of DNA, even if the new copy doesn’t actually do anything new, or perhaps even when the new DNA doesn’t do anything at all. In contrast, proponents of intelligent design would define “new” genetic information as a new stretch of DNA which actually performs some different, useful, and new function. For example, consider the following string:

This 42-character string has ~197 bits of Shannon information. Now consider the following string longer:
This procedure just added 42 “new” characters, but no new function has been produced. Assuming there was no way to predict beforehand that the first string would be duplicated just as it was, the amount of Shannon information has doubled, but the amount of CSI has not increased one bit (literally).

The above example is of course analogous to the commonly cited evolutionary mechanism of gene duplication, which evolutionists commonly cite as a mechanism by which Darwinian processes can produce new information. But new functional information is not generated by a process of duplication until mutations change the gene enough to generate a new function–which may or may not be possible. As Professor of Neurosurgery Michael Egnor insightfully said in response to one evolutionary biologist:

[G]ene duplication is, presumably, not to be taken too seriously. If you count copies as new information, you must have a hard time with plagiarism in your classes. All that the miscreant students would have to say is ‘It’s just like gene duplication. Plagiarism is new information- you said so on your blog!’16

Indeed, evolutionary explanations cannot simply rely upon duplication, for there must be duplication followed by recruitment to a new function. However one defines “information,” merely duplicating a string does not produce new functional information.17

References Cited:
[16.] Comment by Michael Egnor at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/02/dr_michael_egnor_challenges_ev.php#comment-349555 (February 20, 2007)
[17.] Again, as implied in the body, if one could predict the string would be duplicated, then the Shannon Information would also not increase after duplicating the string, in which case there is no increase in CSI nor Shannon Information.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Judge John E. JonesKitzmiller v. Dover Area School DistrictNational Center for Science Educationncsescience