Ubiquitin: a challenge for evolutionary theory?

Glancing at Uncommon Descent (I still do as Denyse O’Leary often reports on interesting science articles, as here*, and the odd comment thread can still provide entertainment), I see an OP authored by gpuccio (an Italian medical doctor) entitled The Ubiquitin System: Functional Complexity and Semiosis joined together, telling the story of the ubiquitin protein and its central role in eukaryote biochemistry in some considerable detail. The subtext is that ubiquitin’s role is so widespread and diverse and conserved across all (so far known) eukaryotes, that it defies an evolutionary explanation. This appears to be yet another god-of-the-gaps argument. Who can explain ubiquitin? Take that, evolutionists! I’m not familiar with the ubiquitin system and thank gpuccio for his article (though I did note some similarities to the Wikipedia entry.

In the discussion that follows, gpuccio and others note the lack of response from ID skeptics. Gpuccio remarks:

OK, our interlocutors, as usual, are nowhere to be seen, but at least I have some true friends!

and later:

And contributions from the other side? OK, let’s me count them… Zero?

Well, I can think of a few reasons why the comment thread lacks representatives from “the other side” (presumably those who are in general agreement with mainstream evolutionary biology). 

  1. In a sense, there’s little in gpuccio’s opening post to argue over. It’s a description of a biochemical system first elucidated in the late seventies and into the early eighties. The pioneering work was done by Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, Irwin Rose (later to win the Nobel prize for chemistry, credited with “the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”, all mainstream scientists.
  2. Gpuccio hints at the complexity of the system and the “semiotic” aspects. It seems like another god-of-the-gaps argument. Wow, look at the complexity! How could this possibly have evolved! Therefore ID!  What might get the attention of science is some theory or hypothesis that could be an alternative, testable explanation for the ubiquitin system. That is not to be found in gpuccio’s OP or subsequent comments.
  3. Uncommon Descent has an unenviable history on treatment of ID skeptics and their comments. Those who are still able to comment at UD risk the hard work involved in preparing a substantive comment being wasted as comments may never appear or are subsequently deleted and accounts arbitrarily closed.

I’m sure others can add to the list. So I’d like to suggest to gpuccio that he should bring his ideas here if he would like them challenged. If he likes, he can repost his article as an OP here. I guarantee that he (and any other UD regulars who’d like to join in) will be able to  participate here without fear of material being deleted or comment privileges being arbitrarily suspended.

Come on, gpuccio. What have you got to lose?

906 Replies to “Ubiquitin: a challenge for evolutionary theory?”

  1. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: One AA is 4.3 bits of information, while one nucleotide is only 2 bits.

    Then 1200 bits of information has evolved in several of the twelve different lineages in the long-term evolution experiment with E coli if we go by nucleotide substitutions alone (as over 600 has been fixed in several lineages), and that’s not counting the ones that caused changes in protein coding genes.

  2. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket,

    Then 1200 bits of information has evolved in several of the twelve different lineages in the long-term evolution experiment with E coli if we go by nucleotide substitutions alone, and that’s not counting the ones that caused changes in protein coding genes.

    Therefore God was guiding the LTEE. Use your head, atheist.

  3. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Ahh yes, sorry. Of course substitutions can’t happen without God zapping them into action, and they can’t get fixed by drift or selection without God killing non-carriers. Or something.

  4. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket:
    Then 1200 bits of information has evolved in several of the twelve different lineages in the long-term evolution experiment with E coli if we go by nucleotide substitutions alone (as over 600 has been fixed in several lineages), and that’s not counting the ones that caused changes in protein coding genes.

    I have no doubt that gpuccio will spin that somehow. Ah! Of course! It’s an experiment, made by very intelligent scientists, thus an example of intelligent design.

  5. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: I have no doubt that gpuccio will spin that somehow. Ah! Of course! It’s an experiment, made by very intelligent scientists, thus an example of intelligent design.

    He will come up with some silly excuse for why it doesn’t count, I’m sure of that. The goalposts will be picked up and moved from whereever. It is the never-ending dance we get from IDcreationists.

  6. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    Are you going to finally explain the gender evolution? How many genders are there? I got many…

    What the hell does that have to do with ubiquitin?

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