We have been discussing the de novo gene T-urf13 found in the mitochondrial genome of certain varieties of corn. Readers have asked about the evolutionary claim that the gene arose via blind evolution, and in particular about the role of mutations. Let's have a look.
First, the time frame over which T-urf13 arose is too short for mutations to play a significant role. The evolutionary explanation is that existing, non proteins coding, DNA sequences in the corn mitochondrial genome provided the raw material for the new protein-coding gene, T-urf13.
Under evolution non protein coding DNA sequences are not supposed to carry a pre-planned protein coding information layer. Such information layers are common. For instance, in a communication system it is possible to transmit multiple messages simultaneously. Several telephone conversations or Internet users could, for example, share a single wire. In other words, there can be multiple messages superimposed on a signal.
And just as multiple messages can be transmitted in a wire, so too there can be multiple messages, or layers of information, in a DNA sequence. Of course evolution expected no such level of cleverness. Hence the surprise when overlapping genes were discovered in DNA. In recent years DNA has been found to contain several layers of information.
Could it be that there is another such layer of information that the cell uses to create new genes? Apparently so, for we now find de novo genes such as T-urf13. But because evolution dogmatically rejects any possibility of design, it does not allow non protein coding DNA sequences to carry a preplanned protein coding information layer.
Instead, such protein coding information must exist only by random chance. And when chance rearrangements occur, and a complete protein sequence just happens to form, then de novo genes can appear. A sophisticated protein such as URF13 may appear to be designed, but such an appearance must be deceptive. Such events must occur by chance, not by design.
And what are the chances of this occurring? The corn mitochondrial genome is about half a million base pairs in length. That is enough room to contain about 2,000 T-urf13 sized genes. This number can be increased by accounting for DNA's six different reading frames, and decreased by accounting for the fact that only part of the corn mitochondrial genome is available. It can also be increased by allowing for some overlap in the hidden genes.
Let's be conservative and say there is room for 100,000 such genes in the corn mitochondrial genome. Nonetheless this is seven orders of magnitude shy of the million million sequences needed for any hope of obtaining a functioning gene, as found in one experiment. And even that estimate was conservative because only the minor function of ATP binding was required.
In contrast, the URF13 protein is a far more complex, cleverly designed machine. It is designed such that several copies fit together to form a protein machine. And that machine fits into the inner mitochondria membrane, a very complex environment. And the machine provides a channel that allows only certain types of chemicals to pass through the membrane. And did I mention the channel is gated, with a molecular switch to open the gate?
The URF13 protein design dwarfs the experimentally screened function of ATP binding. And yet, even in that simple case, and with conservative assumptions, we find the probabilities of the T-urf13 de novo gene arising via blind evolution to be one in ten million (that is, 1 in 10,000,000). The real number undoubtedly has many more zeroes.
This is the story of evolutionary probabilities. Over and over we come up with so many zeros. In design after design, and species after species, evolution repeatedly draws upon unlikely events to create its marvels. Evolutionists now contemplate a multiverse--a super universe containing an untold number of unseen universes toiling away through the ages--in order to beat the odds. Sure these designs would never appear if there was just one universe, but what if there was a near infinity of universes? Surely one of them would get lucky.
Evolutionists do not worry that their story is unlikely. They insist de novo genes must, one way or another, be simply the result of blind processes. This is a good example of the absurdity of evolution. Like a robot that hits a wall but just keeps on trying, evolution cannot adjust to the scientific data. This is because evolution is not, at bottom, a scientific theory. It is driven by the metaphysical mandate that matter and motion must explain everything, regardless of the evidence. This mandate has arisen from a long history of thought in science, philosophy and theology. Religion drives science and it matters.