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Pity the Unwanted Orphan Genes — An Awkward Topic for Darwinism

orphan genes

Discovery Institute philosopher of biology Paul Nelson is a great explainer. He is always a pleasure to listen to. In a rich and lucid conversation for ID the Future with Center for Science & Culture research coordinator Brian Miller, Dr. Nelson elaborates on the challenge to Darwinian theory from so-called orphan genes.

These are DNA sequences coding for protein (in the context of this discussion) with no known genetic relatives. They exist in great numbers. They often serve in vital roles in organisms. Where did they come from? Darwinism assumes a relationship of cousinship not only among all creatures, past and present, but between gene sequences. Orphan genes defy the theory of cousinship.

The history of life, presumed to originate with LUCA (“Last Universal Common Ancestor”), doesn’t afford enough time to generate these novelties, seemingly out of nowhere. On the other hand, a perspective open to intelligent design accommodates the possibility of generating absolutely new biological information as needed, at, so to speak, the designer’s pleasure. This information could occur anywhere at all in possible genetic sequence space.

Darwinism has its possible rationalizations of the orphan genes problem. It’s always does. But rationalizations are all they are.

Orphan genes are another example where predictions of standard evolutionary theory are defeated by the evidence. Meanwhile ID takes the evidence in stride. As a scientific theory, Darwinian evolution is indeed testable, except that it fails its tests. Download this podcast episode of ID the Future here. Or listen to it here.

And by the way, are you in the Greater Houston area? Meet Dr. Nelson in person at a premiere screening of the new Illustra Media documentary Origin: Design, Chance and the First Life on Earth. That’s Friday, March 31, from 7 to 9 PM. More information is here.

Photo: Orphaned baby two-toed sloth, Jaguar Rescue Center, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica, by Matt MacGillivray via Flickr.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



Brian MillerDarwinismDNAIllustra Mediaintelligent designLUCAOriginorphan genesPaul Nelson