Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Allowing for Change Within a Functional Range

I wrote the following in response to a question concerning specified complexity. The person posing the question indicated that specified complexity (SC) can be generated in an evolutionary context and asked how we would know when it could not be generated. My answer:

The answer lies in analyzing why adaptive changes are possible. They are possible because genomic changes occur within a very narrow range. Too many mutations lead to genomic meltdown and none, or barely none, do not allow for change. This in turn is possible only because key core functions like a functional genome that codes for genomic repair mechanisms, protein and nucleic acid synthesis mechanisms and enzymes required by critical metabolic pathways are already in place. A true test of your hypothesis that evolution produces SC requires testing whether the core enabling functions can evolve. If they must come front loaded then your only move is to become an ID evolutionist.

The raw material for change within a neo-Darwinian paradigm is RM + NS. Random mutations that become fixed in a genome are those that have not been neutralized by genomic repair mechanisms. It is such mechanisms that allow for change within a specified range. The range can also be thought of as that which makes life possible. Outside the range, conditions making change prohibitive also limit adaptive change through mutations and at the other extreme, too many mutations are lethal. A theme of this blog has been that a constricted range was needed at life's origin. If so the complex mechanisms making it possible must have been front loaded. This would be evidence for intelligent design.



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