Questionable Motives

February 19, 2010

Human genome: is there evidence for Intelligent Design?

Filed under: Genetics,God,human genome,Intelligent Design,Science — tildeb @ 12:25 pm

Um, no.


From the Culture Lab over at New Scientist:

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome causes compulsive self-mutilation. Children eat their lips or fingers, and stab their faces with sharp objects. They feel the pain, but they cannot stop themselves. Why would a loving, all-powerful creator allow anyone to be born with such an awful disease?

Lesch-Nyhan is just one of the tens of thousands of genetic disorders discovered so far. At least a tenth of people have some kind of debilitating genetic disease, and most of us will become sick at some point during our lifetime as a result of mutations that cause diseases such as cancer.

The reason? Our genome is an unmitigated mess. The replication and repair mechanisms are inadequate, making mutations commonplace. The genome is infested with parasitic DNA that often wreaks havoc. The convoluted control mechanisms are prone to error. The huge amount of junk, not just between genes but within them, wastes resources. And some crucial bits of DNA are kept in the power factories – mitochondria – where they are exposed to mutagenic byproducts. “It is downright ludicrous!” declares John Avise, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Irvine.

The human genome, Avise concludes, offers no shred of comfort for those seeking evidence of a loving, all-powerful creator who had a direct hand in designing us, as not just creationists but many believers who accept evolution think was the case. If some entity did meddle with life on Earth, it either did not know what it was doing or did not care, or both.

So what effect might this assumption have on religious belief in an intervening creator? Does it emasculate religious belief? Not according to Avise:

“Evolution by natural selection emancipates religion,” Avise writes. “No longer need we agonize about why a Creator God is the world’s leading abortionist and mass murderer. No longer need we query a Creator God’s motives for debilitating countless innocents with horrific genetic conditions. From this refreshing perspective, evolution can and should be viewed as a form of philosophical salvation of theology and religion.”

Our ethics, writes editor Mike LePage, have been so hideously distorted by superstitious nonsense that we cannot see the clear moral imperative: we need to start sorting out the mess of a genome evolution has left us as soon as we can.


  1. So our environment, the food we eat, etc..has nothing to do with these mutations you speak of? Then why don’t we all have issues?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 21, 2010 @ 2:32 am | Reply

  2. Mutation or polymorphism?

    20/3/03. By Richard Twyman

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 21, 2010 @ 3:07 am | Reply

  3. A mutation does not have to be a massive disfigurement – many can only be seen if you have your DNA analysed.

    We do all have issues, we all have genetic mutations, but serious genetic mutations prevent reproduction. This is why some people are short, fat, have moles, bumps and lumps, poor eyes – and some people are athletic with perfect skin, teeth and eyes, some people die in their 20s, 30s, and 40’s from cancer and some people live until they are 100.

    I actually have a mutation – it is called

    It is not serious, and you would not know I had it unless I told you – I have a family a job and children. My father has FML as well, but my sister does not, and neither did my fathers brothers and sisters.

    Genetic mutation is what makes all of us unique and different.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 21, 2010 @ 8:49 am | Reply

  4. I’m sorry about that but glad it is not serious!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 22, 2010 @ 12:44 am | Reply

  5. Why are you sorry – you didn’t give me FML – I was born with it, and who is to say that it is anything to be sorry about?

    My father has a faulty gene, a gene that mutated in his DNA – the side effect of the mutation is that my body metabolises fat differently to most people, which results in visible bumps of fatty tissue under my skin (just like my dad) that are close to nerve endings. I know this, because I understand how humans reproduce sexually, and how genes are mixed and passed during conception.

    When the bible was written people did not understand this at all – so they would just say god did it. God didn’t do it, it is a random mutation, and we all have them – it is just that mine is observable. I dare say you have mutations, you may have a limb longer than another, or a mole or a funny patch of skin… all of this is mutation.

    In other words we are all living proof that small mutations do occur in the human genome, and that they can result in visible and measurable changes in appearance and function, and that those mutations can still allow the genetic host to reproduce. If the mutation provides a competitive advantage to us or our offspring then they are more likely to reproduce, and the mutation is given more opportunities to mutate further. Some mutations will die out, fail to mature by killing of the genetic host early or preventing it from reproducing.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 23, 2010 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

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