Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Making of a Paradigm Shift: An Exception Which Proves the Rule

I mistakenly referred to the ice fish video as the fourth video in my last post. I have edited it to the third video.

The ice fish is a very interesting example of evolutionary adaptation, and probably the very best evidence for evolution that I have ever seen. But it is an exception to the rule that random mutation plus natural selection never produce novel functions for a very important reason having to do with probability and protein structure.

The first time I watched this video, I thought the fish they were talking about might be the coelacanth, a famous failed prediction of evolutionary theory. Of course I should have known better, as these videos are intended to promote positive evidence of evolution, not to inform anyone of its deficiencies. Briefly, the coelacanth is a species of fish that evolutionists thought had gone extinct many millions of years ago because it disappeared from the fossil record at that time, according to their dating methods. Then, what do you know it, somebody who knew what they were about realized that fishermen off the coast of Madagascar had been catching live coelacanths. Epic fail.

But the fish caught in the video is the so-called ice fish. There are lots of "ooohs" and "aaahhs" in the video, but most of it in the end boils down to destructive random mutations. To its credit, the video explains this quite well. Random mutation broke the hemoglobin gene, and because the fish was able to absorb oxygen through its skin, it could survive without hemoglobin. I have discussed this type of mutation before, and it's really not evidence that evolution can create anything new, just more evidence that it can break things which already existed. Whoop-dee-doo.

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And why would it, after all? It's just a wet noodle, not anything in the way of a "real" protein. The only highly specified working part is the promoter, which didn't evolve at all and was part of the original sequence, and the gene it was designed to promote gets lopped off by a mutation leaving just the promoter connected to a short sequence of "meaningless gibberish". The video does actually show this but doesn't explain it. These anti-freeze proteins really could be just about any primary sequence, because, in another point completely left out of the video, they have no secondary or tertiary structure at all. While biological proteins are precisely engineered, three-dimensional, fully-automated machines with complex interlocking moving parts, the anti-freeze proteins are wet noodles flopping around helplessly in solution whose confirmation is completely at the mercy of Brownian motion. Whereas real proteins usually have multiple independent interactions with other complex proteins, identifying their target precisely in a cellular environment chock full of potential targets, anti-freeze proteins perform a function that can literally be performed by any small molecule with some polarity, or even just by elemental ions that have no chemical bonds at all. At a polite dinner party, we might be forced to call these things proteins. At the nerd bar with the beer flowing we could be less polite and call them what they really are: oligopeptides sucking at the tit of some destroyed gene's leftover promoter. What a bunch of losers. They dontsh effin haff aany tersheriairy struc....suuurre. Oh hey occiffer!

Now that's whack.