Heads I win; tails you lose redux


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I have previously complained that, for cdesign proponentsists,

…if multicellularity is really complicated, that’s evidence for intelligent design. But if multicellularity is really simple, that’s evidence for intelligent design.

Now here’s another example of this logic. Fellows of the Discovery Institute have been arguing for some time that the human and chimpanzee genomes differ by more than is usually reported, and that this (of course) supports intelligent design. Denyse O’Leary, for example, complains that

We constantly hear the false news that we share 98 percent or 99 percent of our genes with chimpanzees, and therefore we must greatly resemble them. False news? Yes. If that claim were taken seriously, it would spell the end of genetics as a source of useful information.

Casey Luskin tells us

Realistic assessments looking at non-coding DNA, insertions, deletions, and other differences show that our DNA might be less than 85 percent genetically similar to chimps’.

David Klinghoffer says

This business about humans and chimps and bonobos as “cousins” and the figure of 98 percent genetic similarity among all of us is arguably the most exhausted and threadbare image in all of popular science writing.

(But remember, “No One — No One! — Denies the Interconnectedness of All Life.“) From Ann Gauger:

…in addition to the 1% distinction already noted, entire genes are either duplicated or deleted between the two species, sometimes in long stretches called segmental duplications. Such duplications represent a 6.4% difference between chimps and humans. There are also insertions and deletions within genes, which affect the structure and function of the proteins they encode. That contributes another 3%, according to some estimates. And there are entirely new genes, specific to humans.

So big differences between human and chimpanzee genomes are evidence for intelligent design and, according to some intelligent design creationists, against common ancestry. Now Cornelius Hunter, in a post arguing against the common ancestry of chimpanzees and humans, says,

In recent decades the genomes of humans and chimps have been determined, and in an evolutionary paradigm they make no sense. One of the main problems is that the genes of the two species are almost identical. They are only about 1-to-2 percent different and, if you’re an evolutionist, this means you have to believe that the evolution of humans from a small, primitive, ape-like creature was caused by only a tiny modification of the genome.

You know where this is going. If the human and chimp genomes are very different, that’s evidence for intelligent design. But if the human and chimp genomes are very similar, that’s evidence for intelligent design. Heads I win; tails you lose.

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