Friday, November 17, 2006

Are we the ORFans of the universe?

In a recent posting, the Christian Post stated: "Intelligent Design Defended by Unsolved Genetic Puzzle". This article appeared online on Nov. 17, 2006 at 2:45 PM.

In a recent conference, Dr. Paul A. Nelson (Biola University) stated that "I want to remind you that you don't need a theory of design to know that is design". In an attempt to discredit Darwin's theory of evolution by common descent, Dr. Nelson focused on ORFans, genes that seem to have no ancestral descent. In a nutshell, ORF (Open Reading Frames) are segments of DNA that code for proteins. As these genes change in evolution, a track is left. Following these tracks, through the use of computers and bioinformatics, can lead to a common ancestor. ORFans are genes that have no known common ancestor....but also, on a more technical point of view, ORFans are annotated open reading frames with no homologs in CURRENT databases. This could change with more research.

Dr. Nelson argues that humans rationality can detect intelligence without further evidence. He gave the mycoplasma example, a very simple organism that has 33% of its genes as ORFans. If I understand well, this points to the fact that the more ORFans an organism has, the higher the evidence that it originated from intelligent design.

Let me point you in another direction. Bacteriophages are bacterial viruses. These tiny creatures have the ability to inject their DNA in bacterial cells. According to Rocha and Danchin (2002) bacteriophages could be responsible for introducing A+T rich sequences into bacterial genomes (ORFans are known to be A+T rich sequences). So far, bacteriophage diversity has been poorly characterized....therefore homologs are difficult to find!

Dr. Nelson, please acknowledge that having no KNOWN homologs does NOT point in the direction of Intelligent Desing. Lets be objective here!


E.P.C. Rocha and A. Danchin. 2002. Base composition bias might result from competition for metabolic resources. Trends in Genetics, 18:291-294.


Mithrandir said...

How do Open Reading frames "prove" that Intelligent design exists.
That is similar to saying: "look, I have sour milk. This milk is not usefull when it is sour thus, Intelligent design must exist."

The only way this "scientist" might try to say something like that is if an even worse scientist tried to prove that evolution exists ONLY because of a common ancester.
A common ancester doesn't mean much in the end anyway.

The question is, if you go back far enough in the gene pool, what is the beginning?
Is the beginning a creator or just bits of protein?

Dominic B. said...

I agree with you...what was there at the beginning? I think there probably was something...or someone??? But there are no proofs...NONE in either way...for this reason I can not be a true believer....but I can not be a true atheist either!