Another installment in my series of essays that correct common misunderstandings about the hypothesis of front-loaded evolution as laid out in The Design Matrix.
Today, we’ll deal with a question that was posed to me back in 2001 on the ARN Forum:
Isn’t the prediction of “front-loading” that we should find genes that serve no apparent purpose until the new function (in this case multicellularity) arise?
This is one of the most common misunderstanding about front-loading that I consistently encounter. I answered the question back in 2001 as follows:
I’ve addressed this several times now. The answer is “no.” Don’t confuse predictions that would function to convince non-teleologists with predictions that stem from putting yourself in the designer’s shoes. If you wanted to design animals with receptor tyrosine kinases through protozoa, would you really give them no function in protozoa???? One would think that a good designer would understand evolution.
As anyone who has read The Design Matrix knows, I dismiss the notion that you can front-load useless genes that will only become useful hundreds of millions of years later due to the issue of genomic decay that we know occurs in the absence of functional selection. The whole idea is how a designer would get around this problem and I outline the logic and solutions in chapter 7.
Genes that serve no purpose are known as pseudogenes. And according to one study, pseudogenes are completely erased within 50 million years. If life was front-loaded over a billion years ago, any such useless genes would have vanished over 900 million years ago.
Front-loading does NOT predict we should find genes that serve no apparent purpose until the new function (in this case multicellularity) arises