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Like a Grandfather Clock: The Splicesome's Intricate Dance of Parts

grandfather clock.jpg

The news from the University of Wisconsin-Madison starts so well. More beautiful design language in a scientific news article could hardly be penned:

A grandfather clock is, on its surface, a simple yet elegant machine. Tall and stately, its job is to steadily tick away the time. But a look inside reveals a much more intricate dance of parts, from precisely-fitted gears to cable-embraced pulleys and bobbing levers.

Like exploring the inner workings of a clock, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers is digging into the inner workings of the tiny cellular machines called spliceosomes, which help make all of the proteins our bodies need to function. In a recent study published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, UW-Madison's David Brow, Samuel Butcher and colleagues have captured images of this machine, revealing details never seen before. (Emphasis added.)

We learn that the spliceosome has RNA and protein parts, comprising "six complexes that work together to edit the raw messages that come from genes, cutting out (hence, splicing) unneeded parts of the message." That still sounds like design: irreducible complexity, and specification of an informational message. Good.

The team focused on two complexes that cooperate like "two partners holding hands" in a kind of "molecular symbiosis." One particular protein dives through a small loop in the RNA (see the model at Science Newsline). "No one has ever seen that before and the only way it can happen is for the RNA to open up, allow the protein to pass through, and then close again," says Butcher, a biochemist at the university. That sounds like design, too. "He hopes the findings mark a transition in the journey to understand these cellular workhorses." Brow and Butcher suspect that there are other machines that use this kind of molecular knot. Design thinking thus seems poised to lead to more discovery.

Then come the required nods to Darwinian evolution, in three places, always assumed, as usual:

The structure yields clues about the relationship and the relative ages of RNA and proteins, once thought to be much wider apart on an evolutionary time scale....

"What's so cool is the degree of co-evolution of RNA and protein," Brow says. "It's obvious RNA and protein had to be pretty close friends already to evolve like this."....

"It's exciting studying these machines," he says. "There are only three big RNA machines. Ours evolved 2 billion years ago. But once it's figured out, it's done."

Darwinian theory had nothing to do with the discoveries. These references to evolution are superfluous. They do more harm than good for Darwinists, anyway.

  1. �The RNA and protein parts were "once thought to be much wider apart on an evolutionary time scale," implying that a previous assumption about evolution has been overturned. Since they are not wider apart, this exacerbates the problem: how could this intricate relationship occur in less time? Where is the evidence?
  2. RNA and protein are not "friends" that co-evolve on purpose; that's nonsense.

  3. Saying it "evolved" does not explain how it evolved; the statement is vacuous. The final nonsense is the last sentence: "But once it's figured out, it's done." Ay, there's the rub: how is it "figured out"? Calculations show that the probability of chance "figuring out" a protein are vanishingly small -- so much so, that one as complex as the spliceosome would never arise in the entire history of the universe.

Like a late-model SUV equipped with a buggy whip, this was an elegant design article carrying unnecessary baggage. Intelligent design did the work. Evolution, as a useless narrative gloss, adds mass but no force.

Photo source: Artform Canada/Flickr.