Let's see how andyjones does on Uncommon Descent: Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE. He says,
Apparently, ENCODE are to be criticised for using an ‘evolution-free’ definition of function. Yep, you heard that right. You thought that function was function was function, but oh no, you must use a evolution-y definition or you will not get the ‘correct’ evolution-y answer. It seems awfully like you need to presuppose Darwinism or you will not find Darwinism. Can that be right?Does anyone still wonder why I refer to Intelligent Design Creationists as IDiots?
The excuse for this is some interesting Darwinian philosophy (or do I mean sophistry? – make up your mind below): the authors believe that function means nothing (is purely subjective) unless it is selected for. For example, the heart causes the pericardium (the membrane around the heart) to not collapse by filling space, so we could call that a function, but it is selected for pumping blood.
Amongst other things the ENCODE authors are lambasted for not distinguishing between ‘Junk DNA’ and ‘Garbage DNA’. No seriously, ‘junk’ now means stuff that is functional, but not used very often, but could be used, like stuff in your attic is ‘junk’. It is different from ‘garbage’, which is the stuff that you would put straight in the bin. ‘junk’ is now a rather misleading word for ‘functional’. So our genome is full of ‘junk’ that is useful and functional, but to a Darwinian it does not count until it starts getting used so that natural selection can get the credit. How convenient! The possibility of design is sidestepped by careful choice of language. Welcome to 1984! A better word might be ‘archived’ rather than ‘junk’.
I, and many of us, hold to an ID worldview firstly and most securely because of what we know about prebiotic chemistry and thus the origin of the first life form. Based on that, because I know there has been a designer involved, I think probably a lot of ‘junk’ will turn out to be ‘brought down from the attic’ at various stages of an organisms life, especially in the developing stages. Time will tell.
Scientific means finding out what is actually there. ENCODE are to be praised for doing that. Darwinism has always been about telling creation myths from the point of view of naturalism (roughly, physics only), and shoehorning every fact into the story. ENCODE are now receiving scorn because they did not wait for the Darwinian imprimatur. Intelligent Design people and creationists (in fact everyone who is not a Darwinist) should take courage from this, jump in and start driving forward ordinary mainstream science, but just make sure they sidestep the attempts to sign them up to that cult.