What happens when you test experimentally the plausibility of evolutionary change from one protein to another similar protein with a different function? Recently I wrote a CP blog entry about a video of Doug Axe at Biologic Institute that decribes their experimental test of Darwinism. Given that none of my Darwinian readers at CP Blog posted a critique of my blog entry, I thought I would post a link to a critique of the Axe video by University of Toronto Biochemist Larry Moran: Douglas Axe on Protein Evolution and Magic Numbers. So, first read Moran, then my comments below, then finally Axe (linked at the bottom of this blog entry).
Moran's first two paragraphs read:
Imagine that I asked you to "prove" evolution by transforming a chimpanzee into a human. Would you recognize the fallacy that I described recently in Why Are Chimps Still Chimps?. Of course you would. Any intelligent person who understands evolution knows that chimps and humans share a common ancestor and both have evolved substantially since the two lineages diverged. In order to change a chimp into a human you would first have to "devolve" it back to the common ancestor and proceed from there. That requires a lot of changes.
Now let's think about two enzymes that are members of the same gene family but have evolved different functions. It's easiest to think of these as two enzymes that are now specific for similar but distinct substrates. Imagine that you were asked to "prove" evolution by changing one of those enzymes into the other? Would you recognize the same fallacy? Would you realize that the most likely evolutionary scenario is that the two different enzyme specificities evolved from an ancestral enzyme that carried out both reactions?
In the second paragraph Moran claims that Axe constructed a fallacious experimental test of evolution. To explain how Moran's argument fails, I shall begin below with a PowerPoint slide from my biology class last week in which I described the experimental work of Doug Axe and Ann Gauger at Biologic Institute.
Note at the bottom of my PowerPoint slide how I explain graphically what Gauger and Axe say about their work in the excellent book Science and Human Origins (Discovery Institute Press, 2012). The biologists at Biologic Institute clearly explain that the alleged Darwinian story has enzyme A and enzyme B evolving from another similar enzyme in the past (hypothetical common ancestral protein). Biologic Institute has tested the general kind of change that must be experimentally verified in order to make plausible any Darwinian story of enzyme evolution. “If the neo-Darwinian story fails here, it fails everywhere,” Gauger writes in the first essay in Science and Human Origins.
Moran, on the other hand, cites no experimental research, but merely invents a "just-so" Darwinian story about a common ancestral protein having both function A and B and then selectively loosing one or the other function as the two lineages allegedly diverged into today's A and B enzymes. His bedtime story (comforting as it might seem to committed Darwinists) ignores the issue of whether we have any good experimental evidence that any new enzyme function can evolve in the first place from a previous protein that had no such function. If Darwinists only had "loss of function" stories like the one Moran tells, this would not make plausible a theory that says, in general, vast numbers of new enzyme funtions evolved in evolutionary history. Where is the expeimental evidence for this general sort of claim about nature? That is precisely what the scientists at Biologic Institute tested. They found that there are severe natural limits to biological change at the protein level, which also shows humans could not have evolved from ape-like ancestors given what we know about the probabilistic resources granted by Darwinists themselves.
To better understand this final point about limited probabilistic resources, examine my PowerPoint slide below. Also read Doug Axe's own response to Moran's post to learn additional details.