Beginning to Decipher the SINE Signal

Remember the analogy of the two moons I used yesterday to discuss the distribution of SINEs in the mouse and rat genomes? Well, I am going to use it again today, but only for a moment. Moon Mysteries and the Lunarlogos Foundation Suppose you are keenly interested in the topography of one of the moons, named Y6-9. Suppose also that the books you first select to read on the topic are popular works, written by “experts” who are “living legends.” As you read through the works, you find paragraphs here and there about how utterly decrepit Y6-9 is, and how this space body exemplifies eons of random events. The authors argue that we already knew all there was to know Read More ›

Discovering Signs in the Genome by Thinking Outside the BioLogos Box

Yesterday I promised that I would show you a mysterious genomic signal, and today I shall fulfill that promise. The previous blog was devoted to describing the linear distribution of LINEs and SINEs along mammalian chromosomal DNA. We saw that L1 retrotransposons tend to be densest in the regions where Alus and Alu-like elements are the least common and vice versa. I included the following figure from an article co-authored by Francis Collins1 that showed this compartmentalization of LINEs and SINEs along over a hundred million genetic letters of rat chromosome 10: The blue line indicates the distribution of SINEs along a 110-million base pair interval of rat chromosome 10. (From Fig. 9d of Ref. 1.) Taxon-Specific Elements: The SINEs Read More ›

Rabbi Hirsch, Darwin Dissenter

Despite the old canard that the only people to question Darwinian evolution are evangelical Protestants (a canard regurgitated yet again last week by the New York Times), the fact remains that Darwin dissenters can be found among thoughtful scientists and other people from all religions and walks of life. There have been many Catholic dissenters from Darwin, from St. George Jackson Mivart and G.K. Chesterton a century ago to biochemist Michael Behe and philosopher/theologian Benjamin Wiker today. There also have been numerous Jewish dissenters from Darwin. David Klinghoffer writes about one of them in an essay for First Things on Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808—1888): Hirsch insisted again and again that God must be understood as acting with complete freedom Read More ›

Ayala and Falk Miss the Signs in the Genome

In his recent response to Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, Francisco Ayala claimed that repetitive portions of our DNA called “Alu” sequences are “nonsensical.” Ayala wrote: “Would a function ever be found for these one million nearly identical Alu sequences? It seems most unlikely.” In his response to Ayala, Meyer showed that Ayala is factually wrong about this. According to recent technical papers in genomics, Alu sequences perform multiple functions. In a rejoinder to Meyer, Darrel Falk defended Ayala and claimed although “a number of functional regions have been discovered within Alu sequences,” there “is no question that many Alu sequences really have no function.” In my last blog, I showed that the vast majority of the genome is Read More ›

Reading Wesley Smith: Why the Darwin Debate Matters

If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn’t receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven’t grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from a journalist whom I’d queried on the subject. “All told, I’m on the ID side of the debate,” he wrote, “but it isn’t a pressing interest for me.” Anyone who similarly doesn’t quite “get it” should read our friend and colleague Wesley J. Smith’s new and important book on the animal-rights movement, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy. If you follow conservative journalism, you’ve likely heard about the book from the contentious deliberation it Read More ›