Respectfully Disagreeing

A blog, which I read sometimes, and agree with somewhat, and before today would have recommended “without qualification” now comes with a caveat.  All because of a quote in a guest post (yes, I know the disclaimer is usually, “the views expressed … are not necessarily [my own]”…  so consider this my reply to that author, not the primary blogger; still, it needs to be said):

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” -Theodosius Dobzhansky

For reference, Mr. Dobzhansky was born over one hundred years ago.  Today, I find that statement almost humorous, given what we know about “junk DNA” (which is anything but junk), to name just one area.  See, for example, this article, which shows the silliness of comparing DNA with chimps, or others (read the first two paragraphs, then just jump down to the 3rd paragraph  of the Paradoxes section:

… More recently researchers have turned up a pea aphid with 34,600 genes and a water flea with 39,000 genes. If genes account for our complexity and make us what we are — well, not even the “chimps are human” advocates were ready to set themselves on the same scale with a water flea.

There was some research a while back (several years, if I recall), which basically found the root of some disease to be located precisely in the non-coding DNA (the correct term, now, for was as previously called “junk DNA”), and this link was missed primarily because of the bias in genetics toward evolutionary theory and against looking at that odd stuff — some 98 percent of our DNA is non-coding, and the ratio is higher for “higher life forms” than for lower organisms.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to that, but I did find an excellent article by William Dembski, now ten years old (the article, not Mr. Dembski), defending Intelligent Design and, more specifically, his own work and the foundations of it, as well as some consequences of it.

I was led to this:
Amato, I. 1992. Deoxyribonucleic acid: the chemical inside the nucleus of a cell that carries the genetic instructions for making living organisms. DNA shows unexplained patterns writ large. Science 257: 747.

All that to say: I couldn’t disagree more with the statement quoted (and some of the logical inferences of that in the blog post); at the same time, I will maintain that we human beings are biological, and respond in a purely biological (read: materialistic, animal) fashion at times, however, I deny the root of the similarity to be evolutionary, and the similarities cannot be purely reductionist.  We are, ultimately, uniquely, human, and that is more than physical.

To quote: “I cannot help but believe that [being human] means that … we are responsible, and we are free; that we are responsible to be free.” (From the intro to an Rich Mullins song).


One Response to “Respectfully Disagreeing”

  1. Thinking about Biology and C.S. « More than a Tweet Says:

    […] time now the musings of Steve Talbot at NetFuture.  (I’ve already referenced that writing previously), starting back when the focus was more The Future Does Not Compute — an interview on that […]

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