Entries by Jonathan McLatchie

Blink and You’ll Miss It: Jerry Coyne Turns His Attention to the “Engine of Evolution”

Chapter 5 is the only part of Coyne’s book that attempts to demonstrate the causal power of the proposed mechanisms driving evolutionary change, the key point of contention in the origins debate. Coyne concedes that “everywhere we look in nature, we see animals that seem beautifully designed to fit their environment…It is no surprise that early naturalists […]

From Jerry Coyne, “Evolution-of-the-Gaps” and Other Fallacies

In Chapter 3 of his book, Coyne turns his attention to the argument from suboptimal design. Whereas the “god-of-the-gaps” fallacy states that “evolution can’t explain this; therefore god must have done it,” Coyne’s argument in this chapter commits a converse “evolution-of-the-gaps” fallacy: “God wouldn’t have done it that way; therefore evolution must have done it.” […]

Jerry Coyne’s Chapter on the Fossil Record Fails to Show “Why Evolution Is True”

Chapter 2 addresses the fossil evidence for common descent. The first part of the chapter I generally agree with. Coyne provides a summary outline of the fossilization process and an introduction to radioisotope dating methods for estimating the age of rocks (radiometric dating of meteorites also allows us to estimate the age of our solar […]

Intergenic Retrotransposons Can Serve Long-Range Functions

Retrotransposons (which include LINEs, SINEs, and ERVs) are known for the ability of their long-terminal repeats (LTRs) to serve as promoters and enhancers for regulating the expression of genes that are immediately downstream (Conley et al., 2008; Dunn et al., 2005). The majority of retrotransposons, however, are located considerable distances from genes (often hundreds of kilobases away) — […]

The Design of the Complement Cascade

When I was an undergraduate biology student, one of my favorite topics was the complement system in immunology. The complement cascade is an array of sequentially interacting proteins that serve a vital role in innate immune responses. The complement cascade can be activated via interactions with antibody-antigen complexes. Proteins involved in the complement cascade react […]

Asteroid Belts and Planet Biohabitability

  A new study by Rebecca Martin of the University of Colorado finds that “Solar systems with life-bearing planets may be rare if they are dependent on the presence of asteroid belts of just the right mass.” Science Daily summarizes: “They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, shaped by the evolution of the […]

New Scientist Asks: Is There Such A Thing As Reality?

Last week, New Scientist magazine featured a special edition on reality. What particularly caught my attention is the accompanying video appearing on their website, which you can view for yourself here. The description states: “Is there such a thing as reality? It’s easy to take reality for granted: after all, science does a reasonably good […]

The Latest From Lenski’s Lab

Richard Lenski (of the University of Michigan) and his colleagues have published a new paper in Nature (Blount et al., 2012) entitled “Genomic analysis of a key innovation in an experimental Escherichia coli population.” Lenski, as most readers will be aware, is famed for his long-term E. coli evolution experiment. The abstract of the new […]

Gene Duplication and the Origin of Novel Biological Information: A Case Study of the Globins

Those of us who have been involved with the debate surrounding intelligent design and evolution for any significant length of time are well acquainted by now with the most fashionable neo-Darwinian model for the origin of novel biological information: gene duplication and divergence. Gene duplications normally arise through a phenomenon known as “unequal cross-over,” which […]

Chronological Snobbery and the Resurrection of Jesus

When discussing the historical basis for the resurrection, one often encounters a popular misconception that the ancient world was far more gullible about claims of resurrection than people are today. This common presumption amounts to what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” People imagine that, while our post-enlightenment modern world treats claims of resurrection with doubt […]

Perspectives on ENCODE and Junk DNA

As most ENV readers are aware, the scientific blogosphere has been abuzz in recent weeks over the recently published ENCODE results.Since the announcement of these findings (which I noted briefly here at the time), I have been closely following the ongoing discussion. I have also since then had the chance to delve somewhat into the […]

The Bacterial Flagellum Revisited: A Paradigm of Design

Going back to my undergraduate days, I have long been struck by the engineering elegance and intrinsic beauty of that familiar icon of intelligent design, the bacterial flagellar nano-motor. In tribute to this masterpiece of design, I have just published a detailed (31 pages, inclusive of references) literature review in which I describe the processes […]

The Same-Sex Marriage Controversy

This week, I participated in a debate on the subject of same-sex marriage before an audience at the University of Glasgow. The motion was “Politics, Religion and Expression: This House Supports Gay Marriage.” The format took a parliamentary style, with teams of three representing each side. Representing traditional marriage were myself, Father John Keenan (Catholic […]

The Demise of Junk DNA and Why It Matters

ENV’s Casey Luskin has already drawn our attention to the groundbreaking research published this week by ENCODE. A number of ID critics are asking the question: “Why should a pro-intelligent design news site care about these results?” After all, the discovery that a great proportion of the non-coding regions of the genome are functional does […]

On the Origin of Protein Folds

A common objection to the theory of intelligent design (ID) is that it has no power to make testable predictions, and thus there is no basis for calling it science at all. While recognising that testability may not be a sufficient or necessary resolution of the “Demarcation Problem”, this article will consider one prediction made […]