They Win Againlast time, evolutionists are saying this is “basically a solved problem.” But such de novo gene evolution is not anywhere close to a solution. Even evolutionists, only a few years ago, agreed this was a heroic idea and that such genes could not have evolved, at least in the usual way. In typical fashion they pushed the problem into the recesses of deep time where anything can happen by mysterious mechanisms that no longer are present and so cannot be critiqued. That narrative serviced evolutionary thought for many years until the evidence for unique, so-called “orphan,” genes became undeniable.
And why were orphan genes a problem? If any design, such as orphan genes, exists in a species but not its allied species then according to evolutionary thinking, said design must not have been present in the common ancestor of those species. It must have evolved after the split from the common ancestor. And that means such a heroic evolutionary event cannot be pushed into deep time. And that’s a problem.
At first evolutionists rejected such an idea. They said such orphan genes would no longer be orphans once we decode the genomes of more species. But with more genomes came more orphans. Orphan genes did not diminish, they escalated, much to the chagrin of evolutionists.
So next evolutionists admitted that there were some novel, orphan genes, but they were exceedingly rare. An evolutionary novelty. And of course novelties are not fundamental to a theory, and so don’t need to be explained.
But the orphan genes just kept on coming. And coming. Finally evolutionists had to admit that there were a whole bunch of orphan genes, and so a whole bunch of genes, in various creatures, must have evolved relatively recently.
And as only evolutionsts can do, after losing every battle, they once again won the war. They turned defeat into victory by explaining that they now have evidence that genes are routinely evolving. The de novo mechanism went from rags to riches. It now was the predominant mode of gene evolution—it happens all the time, and there is no mystery.
And what exactly was that evidence that resolved the mystery? How can evolutionists now be so confident of what, only a few short years ago, they insisted was not possible? Well, err, the orphans are the evidence. Orphans exist in only a single species, so therefore the orphans must have evolved recently.
There, I said it.
And immediately this new truth was broadcast to the people. The New York Times assured its readers that evolutionists have discovered a “step-by-step process” for fast, efficient, modern gene evolution.
So it wasn’t too surprising when an evolutionist claimed recently that the origin of new genes, save for the very first genes way back in deep time, is “basically a solved problem.” That is, after all, the party line.
But when I pointed out the circular reasoning, the failed expectations, and the lack of any real solution beyond hand-waving, the evolutionist doubled down. He cited an 11 year old irrelevant paper (which repeats the now discounted refrain that “the true de novo origination of new genes from previously non-coding sequences is rare”). He also cited two proteins, neither of which are even examples of de novo gene evolution.
And so there we have it. Another evolutionary victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.