Evolution Stood on its Head?

I’m officially in “I told you so” mode. (for those of you new to Wizbang… if you care you can search the archives, or read the last paragraph in the extended section for a brief explanation.)

Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene

In a startling discovery, geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants that possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents’ generation or earlier.

The finding implies that some organisms may contain a cryptic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisms of heredity. If confirmed, it would represent an unprecedented exception to the laws of inheritance discovered by Gregor Mendel in the 19th century. Equally surprising, the cryptic genome appears not to be made of DNA, the standard hereditary material.

The discovery also raises interesting biological questions – including whether it gets in the way of evolution, which depends on mutations changing an organism rather than being put right by a backup system.

“It looks like a marvelous discovery,” said Dr. Elliott Meyerowitz, a plant geneticist at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. David Haig, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, described the finding as “a really strange and unexpected result,” which would be important if the observation holds up and applies widely in nature.

My argument about evolution* is and will always be, that all you loud mouth people who accept as some sort of fact etched in stone that man evolved from some primordial ooze are just as religious as the people you bash.

The truth is –though you are loath to admit it– that we don’t know jack about the origin of the species. If there is indeed some mechanism built into organisms to repair flawed genes, the whole theory -which is already mathematically astronomically improbable- is now a few dozen more orders of magnitude more improbable. There is something other than DNA that apparently carries some sort of genome and we don’t even have a name for it yet, much less understand it!

OK, you can now commence to ranting in the comments about how it is a fact and I’m just some ignorant fool. And make sure you bash religious people… If there is one thing I love to laugh at, it is one religious zealot claiming the other guy is just a religious zealot.

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* The nomenclature will always bite you. I don’t use “evolution” in the strict definition here, I mean evolution as in the theory that lighting stuck inorganic material and started life that a bazillion years later evolved into every life form on the planet. That version of “evolution” is seriously, seriously flawed…. And no amount of your typing in the comments section will make unflawed.

And as an explainer to newbies… My point is, it does not matter if you believe in the Bible’s version of Adam and Eve or you believe in the whole “primordial ooze” theory, either version requires a leap of faith. And the hypocrisy of the “oozers” bashing the religious for accepting something on faith just annoys me. The only real “truth” in the whole debate is that we have no clue. I’m enough of a scientist to admit that. Though the pseudoscientists can’t accept it.

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  1. Paul March 26, 2005