"It's not even close to explaining how really new functions and structures arise" - Evolution News & Views

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"It's not even close to explaining how really new functions and structures arise"

There's been a lot of handwaving about a study out of the University of Oregon that purports to refute Michael Behe. You might think this is deja vu (vu, vu, vu), but it isn't.

New York Times science writer Ken Chang reported this week on how "scientists have pinpointed mutations in an ancient protein that transformed its shape and function more than 400 million years ago." One of the researchers even claims to have discovered "how evolution sculpted the protein structure to produce a new function."

Really? With such claims having been bandied about before with little basis in reality, I sought out a biologist working in a research lab and asked her about this paper and she responded:

Chang has misrepresented what the paper in fact demonstrates. This paper says nothing about how one protein fold might evolve into another fold with a different 3-dimensional structure. Rather, it describes one hypothetical set of changes that might convert the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) to a glucocorticoid-specific receptor (GR). To change MR to GR does not require anything like unraveling the fold. The protein backbone still follows the same course, and the vast majority of its amino acids are unaltered. In fact the "evolved" MR started out able to bind to both hormones, as Ortland et al acknowledge in their paper, so relatively few changes were able to boost recognition of cortisol in preference to aldosterone. Even then, most changes they tested were non-functional, and in at least one case, required a second mutation to restore activity.

Thornton overstates his case also. He has shown a possible, but by no means easy route (see Edge of Evolution) to convert MR to GR. But in terms of functional shifts, this is minor. It's not even close to explaining how really new functions and structures arise.

Now I see that Michael Behe himself has a response on his Amazon.com blog that says in part:
Thornton's laboratory has been interested in the evolutionary development of differences between two proteins abbreviated GR and MR. Since the two proteins are very similar, and since they bind very similar small hormone molecules, they likely developed from an ancestral gene by gene duplication and subsequent diversification. Despite Chang's story, none of that challenges intelligent design, which agrees that minor evolutionary changes can happen by random mutation and natural selection.
This reminds me of the numerous reporters who have revealed their bias by making the charges --all in the same interview, mind you-- that ID isn't testable, and then only moments later turn around and say that ID has been proven false by this new research.

If ID isn't science, isn't worth researching, why do Darwinists continue to work so hard to try and refute it?