In my previous post I discussed a paper published in the leading journal Nature on protein evolution. In spite of the scientific evidence showing the evolution of proteins is unlikely, this paper is used as an apologetic by evolutionists for why said evolution is actually no big problem. The paper uses a somewhat circuitous method to arrive at its conclusion that protein evolution occurs early and often and that the findings are yet more “novel evidence of the common ancestry of life.” These conclusions are false and are based on a naïve and circular analysis. This is not easy to understand, however, because the analysis is circuitous. Here I will provide a simple explanation to help illustrate the fallacy.
Case 1: Two proteins that are different
Consider two proteins whose amino acid sequences are very different. You align and compare the sequences and find that fewer than 10% of their amino acids are identical. This is about what would be expected from two random sequences and we say that the distance between the proteins is large.
Now imagine that a mutation occurs, changing one of the amino acids in one of the proteins. Most likely the distance between the proteins remains unchanged. For instance, let’s say the amino acid mutated from alanine to valine. Meanwhile, the corresponding amino acid in the other protein is proline. So both before and after the mutation, the amino acids in the two proteins do not match, and the distance between the proteins remains unchanged.
There is a slight chance that the mutation could produce a match. The alanine could mutate to a proline. On the other hand, there is a slight chance that the mutation could eliminate a match. This would be the case if the original amino acid had been a proline. So there is a slight chance the mutation could either decrease or increase the distance. But these to events are unlikely, and in any case they average out. The bottom line is that for two distant proteins, a mutation is not likely to change the distance between them.
Case 2: Two proteins that are similar
Next consider two proteins whose amino acid sequences are very similar. Instead of 10%, let’say 90% of their amino acids are identical. In this case the distance between the proteins is small.
This time, a mutation most likely would increase the distance between the two proteins. This is because the mutation will probably change an amino acid that previously had matched the corresponding amino acid in the other protein. For instance, if corresponding amino acids in the two proteins are both alanine, and the mutation causes one of them to switch to valine, then the match is destroyed.
There is a slight chance that the mutation could produce no change to the distance, or even decrease the distance by producing a match, but in most cases the mutation increases the distance.
Conclusion: A mutation’s effect on distance depends on the distance itself
So the conclusion is that a mutation’s effect on distance depends on the distance itself. Specifically, for distant proteins, a mutation has little effect on distance. But for similar proteins, mutations usually increase distance.
This simple fact was a key result of the paper. In their research, the evolutionists performed a lengthy and circuitous analysis which demonstrated this straightforward relationship. It would be like a Rube Goldberg device that prints out: A = A.
Here is the figure in the paper showing the relationship. The average effect of mutations on the distance between the two proteins is plotted on the vertical axis. A small value close to zero means mutations will increase the distance. A value of one means that overall the mutations do not change the distance. These data are graphed versus the distance between the two proteins on the horizontal axis. As the solid line indicates, at short distances mutations will increase the distance. And at long distances mutations will not change the distance.
It may seem amazing that a leading journal would accept such meaningless research, but this is not too unusual for evolutionary papers. Starting with the “evolution is true” premise tends to blind one to objective analysis. And this is true for reviewers as well as authors.
This is a case where the classic criticism “it isn’t even wrong” applies. Researchers can make mistakes and an otherwise fruitful approach can produce erroneous results. But here there is no computational or scientific mistake. The evolutionists haven’t blundered. Rather, qua evolutionists they have followed their instincts and interpreted a meaningless tautology as powerful evidence for evolution. And of course evolutionists have welcomed it with open arms. The entire approach is absurd, but evolutionists are blind to their abuse of science.
Religion drives science, and it matters.