Sean Nice to see you are back. I had …

Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by pauluc.


Nice to see you are back. I had hoped you might have thought a little more about confirmational bias in selection of your sources. In reading your turtles book I was [struck by] the sentiment expressed again here that you as a literal creationist had anticipated the function of the whole of the genome well before people like John Mattick had provided experimental evidence for the role of non-coding RNA? This is really quite a bold claim but I cant seem to find any reference to your prescient publications on this topic.

On another issue that you cite again here is the issue of mutation rates. I am curious if you have read the Kong paper in science

on the effects of paternal age on transmitted mutations to offspring. Obviously this has implications for the putative antedeluvian populations and the genetic front loading of the population although unfortunately any front loading by these mechansisms would have been largely if not entirely wiped out in the genetic bottleneck at the flood.

If you read the paper you will see that the number of mutations increases by 2 for every year of paternal age from a baseline in their data of 29.7 years. On an exponential model the mutation rate doubles for every 16.5 years of paternal age.

According to genesis 5 and the patriarchal ages the average paternal age for first child was 155.6 and the text implies they were reproductively active on the average for another 706.9 years.

Using Kongs calculation from the direct genomic sequencing of 78 icelandic families what can we determine?

According to the linear model for increasing mutations, the mutation rate for progeny of the patriarchs was between 3 (3.09E-8 per nucleotide) and 15 (14.875E-8) times the current rate (1.2E-8). Using their linear model the rates are up to 273,276 per nucleotide per generation, a rate 2.27E13 more than the current rate. Clearly this is absurd but would certainly be in the range of a genetic meltdown anticipated by Sanford.

How does one respond to this sort of data? At the level of the science; with very old age of paternity it is likely that the linear model is an underestimate while the exponential model may fit the data only for conventional ages but if you take literally the ages of the patriachs and construct some mechanistic model one must assume some sort of sigmoidal distribution as nucleotide substitution must reach some point of saturation well below a subtitution per nucleotide per generation.

The bigger question is do we even take the science seriously? As I have said before I suspect you do not. If we do, what do we do with the account of the patriarchal ages let alone the similar ages of the Sumerian kings.

Do we as you seem want to do, add another layer of exceptionalism (ie miraculous God of the gaps reasoning for understanding of the natural world) as you have done for the question of front loading and genetic bottlenecks for the anteluvian world and repopulation from a breadding pair.

For many of us, including I suspect the scientists at la sierra who you malign yet again in this posting, we are happy to accept the evidences of science but would see the action of God not in our ignorance as the explanation of the inexplicable in the natural world but in the action of Jesus Christ the incarnate God who is the basis of our faith.

pauluc Also Commented

The End of “Junk DNA”?
Charles. I appreciate your pain and confusion.

I comment here because I fear the results of Seans destructive impulses and a world view of strict law and order forged as it seems to have been in US military service. He wishes to regulate and homogenize belief in the Adventist church to the extent that some who have more knowledge or insight than he, must deny what they truly believe in order to be an Adventist Christian. I happen to believe that God does not require us to tell lies to somehow justify Him.

This site as a vehicle for attack of Adventist education. The process of education itself however is a two edged sword. Ignorance, blind faith and following orders are by far the safest option for the military and for those in secular society. If you do not question or think you cannot doubt. Unfortunately we have this strange notion that knowledge is useful and in both secular and religious society particularly as Adventists we value a process of education and particularly the cargo of technology that attends it.

Fundamental to an education system is that people are taught new information and more importantly encouraged to seek new information and insights for themselves. To develop new and better ways of expression and creativity. This is extremely dangerous to a young person taught that faith and certainty are virtuous. At tertiary level he is now asked to accept and not question in one proscribed area at the same time as he is asked to develop patterns of critical analysis and thinking in all else. This cognitive dissonance is what Sean would have as normative. He asks that we accept a static world of certainty where everything to known about God is justaposed with a modern scientific approach where cause and effect and explanation by natural mechanism are valued. He seems to believe he has the secret sauce for reconciling this but does not allow for any other educator to come to a different view. Further he believes that belief should be so rigidly structured that as he has suggested if he himself has any doubt on theories of origins as he currently understands them he would leave the Adventist church and probably Christianity entirely. This fragility of belief, certainty and hubris is what I fear most about his world view and the approach he would impose on education. In contrast you express your philosophy;

“I choose to believe that most of our “reality” (including “life”) is beyond our comprehension. There is much about reality that God has reserved to Himself. If you think you can explain it, then you are buying into the lie told by the serpent, “you will become as God…”

Use the intelligence that God has given you to acknowledge your limitations and His role in our existence. Accept by FAITH those things that you cannot understand.”

This is certainly a safe option but unfortunately some of us are involved in education and research, processes predicated on questioning and trying to understand not placidly accept as unknowable. I am always interested when people articulate the view you have to know if you are happy to accept the cargo of my profession? You clearly use a computer and telecommunications. You probably have had medical interventions and use medications to prolong your life. You probably use a car and fly in an airplane. You probably live in a suburb with sewerage rather than emptying your latrine bucket over the back fence. Do you think these things came about because people said reality is beyond our ken, dont even try to understand it. Because they had faith God as the goto person to explain the things that did not understand? I dont know, God just did it?

You may have the luxury of your philosophy and critique others as you freeload on the questioning and research efforts of others but not everyone can do that least of all the many mr “scientists” that improve your life and life expectancy beyond the 30-50 years expected in traditional agrarian societies.

Where I absolutely agree with you is in having the humility to know that I could be very wrong religiously or scientifically. Acceptance that we are ignorant is the first premise of a scientific process just as acceptance of our sinful state before God is the basis for salvation. But to be driven to try to eleviate that ignorance is what drives scientists just as the acceptance of the Grace of God calls us to be disciples and live disciplined lives. In science there is a way of open and honest dialogue, creativity with postulates of natural mechanism and experimental testing against the data, the reality we can observe.

As a Christian and as an Adventist I accept that the natural world understood by natural law and process is not all there is and that the reality beyond has broken into the natural world in the person of Jesus Christ the incarnate God. That is where my faith is, not in some caricature of God that exists in my ignorance and gives me comfort as it to fills in my lack of knowledge to generate some militant certainty that can be used to beat up others.

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