Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Koonin and Collins


Eugene Koonin is a senior investigator at NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information. NCBI is under the National Institutes of Health at Bethesda, MD. Koonin's main research area is genomics. He heads a research group there that has been analyzing genes and comparing them between species.

It is interesting that Francis Collins, highlighted in my last post, has become the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under which NCBI operates. He was appointed to the post by President Obama in July and confirmed this month. This is the very place that work has been done in disproving Collins' hypothesis of naturalistic, materialist evolution.

Once scientists knew how to evaluate the contents of the gene, as Collins did with humans, researchers worked on various species to determine their specific makeups. The genes are made of molecules which make various patterns. The molecules of DNA are all the same between different species but the patterns are all different . (Pictures of the molecules can be seen here.) There are many species in our world--some estimate 50 million or so. These are subdivided from larger groups, such as animals and plants.

The researchers used organism species from various subgroups to compare genes. Even within bacteria, there are various subgroups and species. Then there is another large group of one-celled organisms called Archaea (are-KEY-ah). These were thought to be relatives of bacteria, but are so different as to now form their own domain. Within Archaea there are subgroups and species also.

The researchers have found amazing results. These are reported by Koonin and Yuri Wolf in a paper which I have linked with before called, "Genomics of Bacteria and Archaea," published in Nucleic Acids Research in October 2008 (online). All the species are showing unique genes. The majority of their genes are shared with only one or a few other species. There is no smooth increase from simple to complex, as Darwin predicted.

Some wonder, with so many species in the world and so few (comparatively) checked, whether the others will fill in "gaps." There are several reasons not to expect this. For one, Koonin states in the paper that their selection is across enough diversity that the sample is enough to talk about general principles of genetics.

A second reason is that mathematically, the random motion of molecules and rate of chance switches of DNA molecules within an organism do not jive with the diversity of the findings. The proteins which DNA produces do not match enough between organisms to agree with neo-Darwinism.

The Earth cannot have supported over 10^50 (that's 10 to the 50th power) organisms in the approximately 3.5 billion years of biological life. We know that because of the volume of water on the Earth. That is a limit in which random mutation would have to work to get from one species to another with smooth, small steps predicted in evolution. With the diversity of genes now found, the gap could not be filled with neo-Darwinian, chance changes. The probabilities are just too low.

A third reason to think the gaps will not be filled is that even higher organisms are found to have unique genes. There is reason to believe unique genes will continue to be discovered as more species are sequenced.

I wonder how Francis Collins, who insists on materialistic evolution, will handle the results of the very organization of which he is now in charge. Collins accepts the Anthropic Principle, which in at least one of its versions states the universe is fine-tuned in order for life to exist. Yet we need a Biologic Anthropic Principle to state that the complexity of the cell can only be explained by a supernatural designer and creator. I hope someday Collins realizes this need.

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Yuri Wolf, co-author of the paper mentioned here, is a member of Koonin's research group at NCBI.

Image links: Koonin ; Wolf .

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