04 December 2008

The Random Mutator of Perry Marshall

"Oh no! He's a creationist proving his point with a spam generator."

This post forms part of a series on Mr Marshall's Random Mutator. You can find all the posts here:
  1. The Random Mutator of Perry Marshall.

  2. Is DNA Analogous to Human Language?

  3. How Random is Random Mutation in DNA?

  4. Does Darwinian Evolution Claim that DNA Mutations are Random?

This random mutator is an attempt by Mr Marshall to debunk Darwinian Evolution. Note that Darwinian Evolution is merely the origin of our current Theory of Evolution. No biologist currently believes in Darwinian Evolution in its strict sense, as the Theory of Evolution itself has gone through the processes of adaptation, genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, natural selection and speciation.

A mutation. It might be pretty damn ugly, but it's not extinct.

It is thus clear from the outset that this random mutator is a straw man argument. Nevertheless, information scientist to information scientist, yet biological layman to biological layman, let's scrutinise this random mutator of Mr Marshall.

How Mr Marshall Imagines Random Mutation Works

  • the genetic code of DNA is analogous to a high-level human language. Letters map to amino acids, words map to codons and sentences (or the meaning of sentences) map to instructions in the genetic code

  • random mutations in the letters of words are similar to mutations in the genetic code of DNA

  • random mutation occurs among the entire portion of code without keeping certain portions intact

  • Darwinian Evolution claims that these mutations are completely random and are not subjected to any kind of selection process

  • a selection process implies a designer of that process. Hello, Cthulhu!

  • if you apply random mutation to a sentence and you don't get a new meaningful sentence immediately, your mutated organisms immediately go extinct

In the following posts, I shall take each of these points to task as patiently as I can while listening to Slayer. I've already dealt with Mr Marshall's spurious claims that DNA proves the existence of god. Hopefully, these posts would also lead to a healthy debate. All comments, hate mail and bottles of single malt whiskey are welcome, however I shall only take intellectually honest comments seriously.

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