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12th June
written by simplelight

It is rare to read a book that has the potential to change one’s entire worldview. This weekend I read Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome. The author is John Sanford, a professor of genetics at Cornell University, inventor of the gene gun, and holder of 25 patents. His essential thesis is that a blind evolutionary process could not have produced humans from single cell organisms. He gives a multitude of cogent arguments why this is so.

Moreover, he makes a very compelling case that, in fact, mutation and natural selection are actually degrading the genome to such an extent that humans will eventually go extinct. The simple reason is that each generation introduces at least 100 mutations which are both deleterious (degrade the genome) and near-neutral (unlikely to be removed by natural selection). The cost of natural selection would have to be extraordinarily high to remove such a large number of mutations from the gene pool. In addition, the rare beneficial mutations are also near-neutral and consequently impossible to select for.

A lot of this resonates with my experience with genetic algorithms where the vast majority of the population has to be wiped out at each generation to prevent non-useful mutations from multiplying.

What I find fascinating, though, is that everyone I have spoken to about this book immediately dismisses it because it “sounds like Creationism”. Perhaps secularism really has risen to the level of a religion: steeped in dogma and unwilling to confront facts.


  1. 12/06/2007

    If you’re interested in Christianity and evolution, I suggest you check out Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s writings. He manages to not only snythesize Darwin and Christianity, but to make evolution a pivotal force in God’s creation.

    I have to say, I don’t know enough about evolution to say whether or not it is a “blind” or “guided” process, but I agree that militant secularism does appear to be turning into a new “religion” in some circles.

  2. 13/06/2007

    The constant attacks from the religious community on science and sense have such an effect, when you get attacked you defend yourself, your peers and your cause. In this case the cause defended is the progress of the world for the last 100s of years that the religious fundamentalists want to throw away for “The book”.

    That the explanation, i am the first to say that a too narrow focus will hurt the scientific progress because just like living beings science evolve by looking wide and finding the solutions one didn’t believe was there at first glance.

  3. […] origin of biological information (added towards end of debate). They touched briefly on the direction of entropy but unfortunately nothing conclusive from either side. (I’d like to challenge some of the […]

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