Editors aren’t Borgs. Honest. But we often stress that resistance to saving multiple versions of the same document is futile. This practice might seem redundant and unnecessary, but when an entire manuscript becomes corrupted (as happened a few weeks ago), we are ever so grateful for that precious backup copy. It’s second in value only to coffee.

Yet if you were to ask an evolutionary biochemist, she might say that multiple copies (or redundancy), at least with respect to genes, is an example of waste. Redundancy in genes occurs when a gene that codes for a protein is randomly duplicated, leaving a seemingly unnecessary copy of the gene—something you’d expect from strictly natural, unguided processes.

As Fazale Rana explains (in the soon-to-be released 14th volume of RTB Live!), biochemists view genetic redundancy, so-called “bad design,” as key evidence for evolution and against creation. The redundancy due to gene duplication appears haphazard, Fuz says, which would indicate it was not the work of an intelligent mind.

This conclusion may seem ironic to anyone with a background in engineering. Expert engineers “allow for redundancy within very strategic systems, and that redundancy is a pretty sophisticated support.” These “responsive backup circuits” leave the main component active while the backup component is inactive. The backup will become active and take the primary’s place should the primary become disabled. (Sounds a lot like the editorial process.)

As it turns out, the redundancy seen in gene duplication functions as a responsive backup circuit, much like that in human-engineered systems. Once the primary gene is activated, the secondary (inactive) gene will become activated only if and when the primary gene becomes mutated. This backup copy then plays a crucial “fail-safe” role.

What seemed like a bad design (gene redundancy) turns out to be a good design because it “buffers against the harmful effects of mutation.”

Skeptics may continue to consider what they see as “bad designs” in nature as justification to dismiss the case for a Creator. But, Fuz points out that in multiple instances, now—such as the panda’s thumb, the human backbone, and the human esophagus—what initially looks like a bad design ends up corresponding to what human engineers do to prevent breakdown or to enhance the system.

In other words, Fuz says,

Every example of a futile cycle turns out to be an elegant design at the end of the day.

Rather than supporting evolution, redundancy serves as yet another indicator that life’s chemical systems stem from the hands of a skillful Creator. The culture may have yet to adapt to this understanding, but evidence suggests that resistance is futile.

–Sandra

Resources

The Cell’s Design

“Uprooting a ‘Bad Design’ Argument”

RTB 101: Bad Designs

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