Re: [asa] Behe's "Edge of Evolution"

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Sun Jan 20 2008 - 20:49:54 EST


On Jan 19, 2008, at 1:52 PM, wrote:

> Somebody at my church is going to present a 4-week class based on
> Behe's latest book (which I have not read). This person (retired
> public school science teacher) does not really have the background
> to judge the scientific arguments in the book, but then again
> neither do I.
> I wonder if anybody could recommend a critique (negative, positive,
> or mixed) of the book that would meet the following 3 criteria:
> 1) From a Christian perspective
> 2) From somebody with relevant scientific expertise
> 3) From somebody who is not a part of the ID movement
> Allan (ASA Member)
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
> "Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
> attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cat"


One of the main points of the Edge of Evolution is that so-called
random genetic variation does not have the generative ability to
account for phenotype diversity. One example cited is drug resistance
in the malaria parasite. Just today the following was on Science Daily
showing how much can be generated by a small number of SNPs.

> Tiny Genetic Differences Have Huge Consequences
> ScienceDaily (Jan. 20, 2008) A study led by McGill University
> researchers has demonstrated that small differences between
> individuals at the DNA level can lead to dramatic differences in the
> way genes produce proteins. These, in turn, are responsible for the
> vast array of differences in physical characteristics between
> individuals.
> This study solves in part the mystery of how a relatively small
> number of differences within DNA protein coding sequences could be
> responsible for the enormous variety of phenotypic differences
> between individuals. It had previously been shown that individual
> differences reside in simple, relatively small variations in the DNA
> sequence called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, often
> pronounced "snips"), which exist primarily in the "junk code" of the
> DNA not previously known to have any profound genetic effect.
> "There are many SNPs," explained Dr. Jacek Majewski of McGill
> University. "If you add them all together, you'd expect that two
> individuals would differ at more than a million of those positions.
> So we have a million or more small differences that distinguish you
> and me, and yet it would be very hard to explain all the phenotypic
> differences in the way we look, grow, and behave just by the handful
> of these protein coding differences."
> Majewski and his colleagues have demonstrated that the natural
> processing of messenger RNA (mRNA), via a process called splicing,
> is genetically controlled by these SNPs. The SNPs in certain
> individuals lead to changes in splicing and result in the production
> of drastically altered forms of the protein. These out-of-proportion
> consequences may lead to the development of genetic diseases such as
> cystic fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes.
> The study, part of the Genome Regulators in Disease (GRID) Project
> funded by Genome Canada and Genome Quebec, was led by Dr. Jacek
> Majewski of McGill University's Department of Human Genetics and the
> McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre, and first-
> authored by his research associate Dr. Tony Kwan. It was published
> January 13 in the journal Nature Genetics.
> The study was originally initiated by Dr. Tom Hudson, former
> director of the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation
> Centre, and drew upon the data collected by the vast HapMap
> (Haplotype Map) Project, a global comparative map of the human
> genome, which Hudson and his colleagues were instrumental in
> completing.
> Adapted from materials provided by McGill University.

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Received on Sun Jan 20 20:50:52 2008

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