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For those wishing DNA worked exactly like computer code

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by tas8831, Aug 11, 2021.

  1. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Bye bye, cultist.
     
  2. ranunculus

    ranunculus very large ah-brain

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    @tas8831

    Your opening post got me thinking about analogies even if most of it is beyond my understanding.

    I've occasionally heard a creationist argument about how DNA is a code and therefore must have an author. I often think about that and feel strongly that it doesn't pass the sniff test but I find it hard to parse exactly what is wrong with it. But I have some rough ideas.

    It's easy to image a scientist saying at one time that DNA is like a code. And someone else interpreting that DNA is in fact a code. The problem I see is that the word 'like' in the English language has (too) many usages.

    If I say "it looks like no one is here", then the situation is exactly what it looks like, no one is here.
    If I say "that cat looks like a dog', then the situation is not what it looks like, because a cat is not a dog.

    So if someone says that DNA is like a code, it's like the second example because DNA is not a code and a cat is not a dog.
    Just because you can glean information out of DNA, does not make it a code, requiring an author. In the same way that tree rings are not a code. If you cut down a tree and count the rings, you can get information about the age of the tree. That does not make tree rings a code. Tree rings are the result of natural physical processes and do not require an author. The same is true for DNA.

    I'm wondering if my reasoning is even in the ballpark of being correct.
     
  3. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your assessment. Part of the problem is the manner in which many people define/use the word "code."
    Some could call tree rings "code" - in that they are just rings, and one has to know or deduce what they indicate in order to use them to make a determination of the tree's age, to 'break the tree ring code', so to speak. But I don't think a person that would subscribe to that would consider the notion that an "Intelligence" designed this tree-ring code. The "genetic code" is really the observed/deduced interaction between mRNA codons and tRNAs associated with specific amino acids, and by extension, the relationship between DNA triplets and mRNA codons.
    Strictly speaking, that is it. Unfortunately, as is often the case in science (especially when science is conveyed to/discussed by the public), words are often used more figuratively. 'Genetic code' is often used to refer to a gene, or the whole genome. This is incorrect, but many - even biologists - do it (and it drives me crazy). Dawkins explicitly refers to the DNA as 'digital code.' When he explains it, it makes sense, but then we have to deal with people running around saying 'a code needs a code-maker!'

    So I think you are spot on.
     
  4. SelfSim

    SelfSim A non "-ist"

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    Yeah, I agree.
    The problem is firmly embedded in the language now too, (I think). I mean even the 'm' in 'mRNA' conjures up the image of some kind of secret, vital message being sent from one part of a cell to another. In this sense, the analogy itself, is driving the spread of the misconception, with the biologists themselves being responsible for that(?) Its akin to the notorious 'something from nothing' analogy in Cosmology ..
     
  5. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    I think the problem originates in the way we think - simplifying the complex, using heuristics and approximations, interpreting the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar - and our typically agency-based anthropocentric view of the world.

    Our well-intentioned analogies with human behaviours and artefacts tend to bias our interpretations of the natural world. However poor the analogy is, once it becomes familiar we're inclined to think about the subject in terms of the analogy - because it's just easier.
     
  6. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To help me better understand the argument, What is gene duplication, anyway? Is this the gene intrinsic to the living animal, being duplicated in the egg/sperm, or in the complete animal?

    (If in the complete animal, then, I guess I'm hearing you say that what we observe as differences between say, father and son, (besides the usual by way of the union of sperm and egg), is because of this process we have observed. At least some of the differences are because of the duplicate (but not exact) genes. Thus, mutation. And this is not what results in mutation, but is the mutation, with effects/results visible in the product.)

    (Also, I'm hearing you say that if this is indeed a cause of such mutations, it is more likely that those genetics that lend themselves to use starch well, continue to produce results that lend themselves use starch better. Also, it sounds like the starch users have an advantage over the meat eaters in this regard?)

    As far as argument goes, I don't know enough to argue the duplicate gene business anyway, yet here, if I'm reading right, "appears to be", and "allowing for...populations to more readily...", is still speculation, (or worse, confirmation bias —if it results in positive claim depending on suggestions the phenomenon raises to the observer.) Still, it sound like an intriguing phenomenon.

    Supposing the suggestions to be true (i.e. more than mere suggestion), is there any indicator of usual size/ distance of mutation per generation, and therefore, of time it takes to go from one form to another? What I'm getting at, is how many useful mutations happen fast enough to accomplish the immense differences between say, a single-celled organism and modern human, in the few thousand/million years since life began? (I'm aware that this is apparently not the only source of useful reproducible mutation, so include those other sources/causes too, in the estimate). Yes, I realize this is jumping ahead, but it will be one question I would eventually need answered, even if I accepted every report / interpretation of phenomena studied and all the relevant data brought to bear.
     
  7. Estrid

    Estrid Well-Known Member

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    This could better have begun and stopped with
    "I don't know enough".
     
  8. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    One minor correction/addendum - pseudogenes may well be transcribed, but their transcripts do not translate into useful products, if they are translated at all. Some pseudogene transcripts have been coopted as functional RNAs.
     
  9. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mark.
    Sorry for the late response - life happens.
    I provided a link in the earlier response that explains it better than I could, but I will try.

    When cells prepare to divide, their genomes (all of their DNA) gets copied. This process is facilitated by various proteins, which do not copy the DNA with 100% accuracy (pretty close, but not 100%). You are probably more familiar with this imperfection when mutations are mentioned - mutation refers to the incorporation of an incorrect DNA base into the copied DNA. More generally, mutation refers to any change in the copied DNA, gene duplication is basically a type of mutation that involved an entire gene. In this case, a gene is copied twice. This is usually due to the nature of the DNA sequence surrounding the genes. The proteins (called polymerases) that copy the DNA can be 'confused' by long stretches of repetitive DNA, and can sort of 're-start' copying a region of DNA that it had already copied when this kind of DNA is present.
    This process also accounts for larger duplication events, called segmental duplications. A big chunk of our own genome is made up of these duplicated segments.
    Duplications can happen in any cell that is undergoing division, but if it happens in, say, a skin cell, it will not be passed on. When we talk about duplicated genes, these are genes that have been copied most likely during the production of a sperm or egg, so they could be passed on to offspring.
    In a way, yes. But the differences between father and son are more likely due to the recombined genes from the mother and father - differences themselves of which are produced via mutations of some sort.
    If I am following you correctly, I think yes.
    Perhaps to clarify a bit - a mutation is what occurs in the DNA, the resultant organism is thus a mutant. As all of us are born with something like 100-200 new unique mutations, we are all mutants. However, a relatively small fraction of the genome actually controls the way we look and function, so most mutations do not affect those sorts of things, though obviously some do. Gene duplications are more likely to affect the way we look/function than plain old point mutations (changes in individual DNA bases).
    That sounds pretty correct.
    What you are seeing is the tentative language of science. Less speculation and more cautious/tentative conclusions.
    An analogy - you go to a baseball game, and the score is 7-0 going into the 9th inning. The team with 0 has a losing record, the team with 7 has a winning record, so you leave to beat the traffic. Later, someone asks you who won, and you say "Most likely the team that was up by 7". Is that mere speculation, or is it a conclusion based on relevant facts? It is always possible that the team with no runs rallied in the 9th and won, but is that likely?
    Kimura (famous population geneticist) calculated in 1961 that "the total amount of genetic information which has been accumulated since the beginning of the Cambrian epoch along the lineage leading to higher mammals may be of the order of one hundred million bits (10^8 bits)."
    He used conservative estimates in his calculations.
    If we consider that, just thinking of land-based tetrapods (lizards, mammals, etc.), the basic body plan was established more than 300 million years ago, and thus all extant descendants are just tweaks of that original body plan, that seems like plenty to me. One of the hard things to wrap one's head around is the nature of the impact of mutation. There is no 1-to-1 relationship. A single point mutation (changing a single base) could be lethal and cause the organisms to die early in development, it could produce a benefit to the organism, or it may have no impact whatsoever. Gene duplications might have little or no impact, or it could alter the developmental trajectory of, say, brain development.
    There are some physiological systems that appear to have required multiple mutations (at least with regard to what we currently see), others that do not.
    This is why I generally dismiss claims of 'not enough mutations' - what IS enough? And HOW is that known?
    I'll do what I can, but I think you are going to have to drop that unilateral skepticism and realize that, given what you've been writing, admit that you were shall we say, a bit premature in your dismissal of evolution given your apparent lack of basic scientific understanding.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
  10. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure this "exchange" will bear fruit... It is too one-sided. Pearls and swine and all that.
     
  11. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, @Mark Quayle . It is funny how creationists operate - all full of bombast and aggressive unwarranted confidence. Only to later tease out of them that they actually do not understand even the basics regarding what they are so confident about. Yes, so funny.
     
  12. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's not that, though I suppose from your end it could be seen that way toward me, lol. I just have not gotten from you anything but this one argument against something that more-knowledgeable-on-the-subject-than-I-am creationists argue. While you may be right and win that argument, you haven't convinced me of anything that I would need to reject creationism and/or accept your theory of evolution.

    From my point of view, you have only educated me a little, with something that appears intriguing. That's pretty much it.
     
  13. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Had you considered that your admitted ignorance of the subject, coupled with your religious indoctrination, is at fault?
    The creationist will never concede, even as they admit that they cannot 'win' on the substance. That is not what the creationist is about,. They are about their tribe. And no amount of information will make them abandon the tribe, even as they admit that they cannot understand the reasons that they should.

    You remind me of Ken Ham when he admitted that despite claiming to be all about the science, that no evidence would make him change his mind.
    That is a start - isn't it interesting, then, that a few weeks ago, when you were 100% uninformed about basic genetics, you were supremely confident in your erroneous assertions on the subject? So much so that you would insult those that countered your assertions?

    Perhaps from here on it, at least, you will stay away from trying to argue against evolution using science.
     
  14. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't really know what you would expect. We get the same thing from supposed atheists about the existence of God —strawman arguments, false assumptions and simple turning away from what is as obvious (eg. first cause) as some of the things scientists pursue to prove.

    Anyhow, I still have not heard a strong enough set of data to show that there has been enough time to beneficially mutate reproducible generations from primordial soup to man. I still have not been convinced that there are enough 'links' to fill enough of what's missing, for the theory to be convincing.

    And most of all, I have not seen ANY indication that God did not do this just as Genesis lays it out. Every objection I have heard laid out falls flat on its face when GOD is included in the equation.
     
  15. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    I don't really know what you would expect - there is no evidence or consensus for what God is, or its supposed properties, or the arguments for its existence. What you consider 'obvious' (e.g. first cause), many philosophers and physicists consider to be unjustified assertion, folk logic.
     
  16. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sure there is logic and consensus. First Cause. Omnipotence. And the many logically necessary attributes which follow: eg. benevolence, aseity, simplicity etc etc. The fact many deny it doesn't make it non-consensus as to the definition of God.
     
  17. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

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    Well, no. You may not be aware, but there are thousands of different gods with different attributes and properties.

    There is, by definition, a consensus among those who believe & agree on particular things about a particular god, but not in general, and the fact that many don't agree on those things means it isn't an overall consensus (i.e. of humanity).
     
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  18. Tanj

    Tanj Redefined comfortable middle class

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    So alot like biology analytical software then.
     
  19. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Apples, meet oranges.

    But you just learned a couple of weeks ago about what mutations and gene duplications are!

    Now that you are confident enough to dismiss the science you just learned a high-school level of material about - how about you EXPLAIN why you think that there has been enough time to beneficially mutate reproducible generations from primordial soup to man? And support your supposition with evidence (which you now must understand such that you are using it in a statement of supposed fact).

    Oh and one thing - 'primordial soup' to man is not a thing. You are conflating abiogenesis and evolution.
    But you knew that, right?
    It seems to be convincing to actual scientists and those that understand the data and evidence. Heck - even creationists with doctorates admit that evolution is not only real, but that there is a lot of evidence for it. They do this because they have learned and can understand enough about the world around to realize that denial just makes them look like idiots. So.... they just place bible-friendly constraints on what they will accept.
    Oh, then you must have some actual evidence for Jehovah's existence (as well as the "other gods" mentioned in the 1st commandment).
    I have never seen any. I get lots of anecdotes, and the typical reliance on the parts of the bible that are not controversial and trivially true, such as the existence of certain cities. But never any legitimate corroboration or evidence.
    Well sure - when you put magic being that can do anything it wants into the equation, how can you fail?

    kid: How does Santa deliver presents to every house in one night?
    older kid: He just does! He is Santa!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
  20. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    A shame that @Torah Keeper never relied. I was looking forward to her explanations.
     
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