On Challenging Assumptions

I think all good science employs a basic concept.  That is challenging the assumptions of other theories.  Intelligent Design challenges the assumption that life could arise solely from natural processes.  Creation science challenges the assumptions of the uniformitarian views of the Earth and the Universe.

The case of Gregor Mendel1 is a case in point.

At first Mendel’s work was rejected, and it was not widely accepted until after he died. The common belief at the time was that Darwin‘s theory of pangenes were responsible for inheritance. The modern synthesis uses Mendelian genetics.

So, here is one example of how challenging evolutionary assumptions advances science in a way that is applicable and beneficial to society.  Mendel’s work was not highly regarded at the time.  The scientific consensus was against him.  But what has history shown?

Einstein also challenged consensus and contemporary notions.2

His paper on the particulate nature of light put forward the idea that certain experimental results, notably the photoelectric effect, could be simply understood from the postulate that light interacts with matter as discrete “packets” (quanta) of energy, an idea that had been introduced by Max Planck in 1900 as a purely mathematical manipulation, and which seemed to contradict contemporary wave theories of light (Einstein 1905a). This was the only work of Einstein’s that he himself called “revolutionary.

Louis Pasteur challenged widely accepted notions of abiogenesis.3

Louis demonstrated that the fermentation process is caused by the growth of microorganisms, and that the growth of microorganisms in nutrient broths is not due to spontaneous generation but rather to biogenesis (Omne vivum ex ovo).

So, for me, the moral of the story is that you must always question the basic assumptions in science. Intelligent Design theory and Creation science do that very well in my opinion.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendel
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pasteur

John Cleese-Genetic Determinism

I loved John Cleese in all of the Monty Python movies and shows. In this video, he talks about Genetic Determinism.

Front-loading and genetics

Dave Scott over at Uncommon Descent thinks this paper has some interesting implications for ID.

As I read through, I found a few interesting tidbits.

(a) the Universal Genome that encodes all major developmental programs essential for various phyla of Metazoa emerged in a unicellular or a primitive multicellular organism shortly before the Cambrian period; (b) The Metazoan phyla, all having similar genomes, are nonetheless so distinct because they utilize specific combinations of developmental programs.

So, a couple of things that they found were:

While the presence of the opsins could be explained by their possible function in a simple light sensing, sea urchin has the entire set of orthologs of major genes involved in the eye development, e.g., Pax6, Six3, Prox1, Rx2 or Eya1 (NCBI database). Therefore, it appears that information on the eye development is encoded in the sea urchin genome, while no eye is actually developed, and thus the genetic information seems to be excessive.

….and

Also, sea urchin has Rag1 and Rag2 genes that mediate the somatic rearrangement process common to both immunoglobulin and T cell‑antigen receptor gene families. In addition, other components that function in the reorganization and diversification of immunoglobulins and TCR have also been identified, including a polymerase homologous to the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) and polymerase m.11 Yet, sea urchin does not have antibodies, and possibly lacks adaptive immunity in general. Genes that are seemingly useless in sea urchin but are very useful in higher taxons exemplify excessive genetic information in lower taxons.

Ref: [Cell Cycle 6:15, 1873-1877, 1 August 2007]; ©2007 Landes Bioscience