John Avise of Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, has written an article in PNAS claiming that the human genome is so full of “dysfunctional traits” that it could not possibly be designed by an intelligent creator. He writes: “Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent. These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and foetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome.”

He goes on to say that the “gross imperfections” of the human genome are “consistent with the notion of nonsentient (mindless) contrivance by evolutionary forces.” He concludes: “The evolutionary-genetic sciences thus can help religions to escape from the profound conundrums of ID, and thereby return religion to its rightful realm—not as the secular interpreter of the biological minutiae of our physical existence but, rather, as a respectable philosophical counsellor on grander matters, including ethics and morality, the soul, spiritualness, sacredness, and other such matters that have always been of ultimate concern to humanity.”

In a commentary on Avise’s paper Philip Ball, writing for Nature News, agrees that the human genome evolved by mindless natural selection, but he issues this caution: “However — although heaven forbid that this should seem to let ID off the hook — it is worth pointing out that some of the genomic inefficiencies Avise lists are still imperfectly understood. We should be cautious about writing them off as ‘flaws’, lest we make the same mistake evident in the labelling as ‘junk DNA’ genomic material that seems increasingly to play a biological role. There seems little prospect that the genome will ever emerge as a paragon of good engineering, but we shouldn’t too quickly derogate that which we do not yet understand.”

Editorial Comment: Nature writer P. Ball is correct in stating that when we do not understand everything about how the genome works, it means we cannot write off anything as a useless mess. After all the same argument of uselessness was used of the appendix for so long that it became a good example of how evolutionary theory hinders scientific advance. Doing more study of the genome may show there are some parts of the genome that don’t work well, but it will be evidence that the genome has been damaged and has degenerated, i.e. it is devolving. This fits the Biblical history of the world, which tells us that everything started out very good, but has been degenerating due to human rebellion and God’s judgement.

It is also sadly pathetic to see a scientist commenting so naively on religion and morality with his assumption that moral and spiritual matters are just something we invented, and have nothing to do with where we come from. Jesus Christ’s ultimate claim over mankind, and his superiority over any other gods, is based exclusively on the fact that He is both Creator and Redeemer (cf. John 1 and Genesis 1:1-5).

As Richard Dawkins almost correctly states; “The central belief of Christianity is that the Creator of the universe…the inventor of Galaxies couldn’t think of a better way of ridding the world of sin than to get Himself tortured on a cross…how pathetic!” (Conservative Humanist Association, Birmingham, Monday 29 September 2008.)

It’s a comment Dawkins will not forget when he stands face to face with his Creator and Judge, who is Jesus Christ, who actually died to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin.

Evidence News, 26 May 2010

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