Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Minimal Genomes: An Area of Research

One of my Telic Thoughts comments serves as a means to make a point about evidence for intelligent design. Mike Gene had written the following in the blog entry that led to my comment:

"Here Derbyshire expects ID to behave as a form of metaphysics that comes with answers to Ultimate Questions. He fails to realize that ID is focused on proximate causes that best account for the immediate phenomenon under consideration."

That prompted comments including this:

Bradford: If one looks at proximate causes one can construct a case for ID.

Zachriel: What is the proximate cause?

It depends on what you are looking at. One of the focal points I believe to be helpful to ID is the exploration of minimal genomes. It seems to me that IDists would be well advised to consider this an area of research within which varying hypotheses could be constructed and tested much like their counterparts do with respect to abiogenesis. The overarching principle would be the position that a minimal level exists but varies within a range that is linked to the nature of the organism cited. Exploration of proximate causes, that lead to the demise of a specific organism when the threshhold is transgressed because function x is not present, would simultaneously lead us to a better understanding of minimal function. Only then would we be in a good position to assert that gradual, incremental process y leads to (or does not lead to) the minimal function of organism z.


Living organisms contain sets of instructions, encoded in nucleic acids, which dictate what genes are expressed and when. There is a minimal number of genes needed to enable life. What is that minimal level? It will vary with the organism tested but are we able to make reliable predictions about the numerical range and functions of genes found in minimal genomes? Moreover would data reveal anomalies in a mutation/selection process supportive of intelligent design at the expense of abiogenesis? There is a strong likelihood. Our species is entitled to an honest return on its investment of time, money and effort into discovering the truth about earth's natural history.

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