Intron Reply

A few weeks ago, I started a series of blog entries on introns by laying out the following objective:

I’d like to take the topic of introns and steer it into a much more interesting teleological direction.

Let me propose a hypothesis that flows naturally from the hypothesis of front-loading evolution: introns facilitated the evolution of metazoan life.

I then laid the groundwork for my position. Since that time, Steve Matheson has weighed in and offered his own take on this issue here.

Steve kindly acknowledges that my hypothesis is “interesting and rational” and that I am “right about introns and their likely role in the origins of multicellular organisms.” Given that my objective was to steer the discussion of introns into a more interesting teleological direction and propose a teleological hypothesis to account for their existence, it would seem obvious to me that I have successfully accomplished my objective.   I can’t say with any sense of certainty that I am right; but I can say with strong conviction that my approach is both reasonable and plausible and anticipates more interesting finds and discussions in the future.

Of course, it is important to recognize that Steve is not being unreasonable for rejecting the core, teleological thrust of my hypothesis. It is, after all, possible for two disagreeing parties to both be reasonable.  He would point out, and rightly so, that my hypothesis does not refute a non-teleological perspective of evolution. That is, even if introns did indeed facilitate the emergence of complex, metazoan life, this fact could be easily fitted into a non-teleological perspective.  In fact, as he noted, there are a few mainstream scientists who have already begun to think along these lines.

Yet here I would remind people that my objective has never been to rule out the non-teleological perspective.  My objective has long been to flesh out the teleological perspective. I think this objective is important for the simple reason that science cannot incorporate design explanations and most design proponents think the way to handle teleology is to focus on coming up with refutations of the non-teleological perspective such that teleology is “the last man standing.”

To understand my approach, you really need to get your mind around the Central Metaphor. If you can do that, it will help tremendously as we next look at the points where Steve disagrees with me (discussed in the next entry).  For the core disagreement that separates us can truly be captured in the following one minute video.  As they say, “Out of the mouths of babes….”

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