Posted by: salamandercandy | December 12, 2005

Unexpected interpretation

I recently received a request from a European scientist for a copy of one of my publications. My paper discusses evolutionary patterns in antimicrobial peptide genes in frogs and fishes. My results suggest that mutations may be nonrandom in that they might be more likely to occur in particular regions of the gene, although this is not the only possible explanation. The final sentence of the abstract is:

These hypotheses challenge the assumption that mutations are random and can be measured by the synonymous substitution rate.

After sending off a copy, I got a thank you:

Dear Colleague,
Thanks a lot for sending me a pdf-file of your interesting paper on the evolutional development of antimicrobial peptides of the frog. I’planning to study this paper thoroughly because it remains intriguing how the relation is between: creation – evolution and development. It is good to know that hypotheses are possible rational assumptions but nature is much more complex than we know as scientists. As an orthodox christian I’m very interested in these things.

My reply:

I’m afraid that neither my paper, nor any other similar work, will provide you with much theological insight. It is impossible to infer from the available empirical evidence whether or not your Christian worldview is metaphysically correct. As scientists, we must find natural explanations for patterns such as nonrandom intragenic mutation rates, while acknowledging that any influence one or more Creators might have had on the living world is a question of faith, not science. As a Unitarian Universalist, I believe that the world is a sacred place, and I find spiritual inspiration in the amazing beauty of the universe that science has helped reveal, but I realize that we do not have scientific evidence to address questions of ultimate reality and meaning. Good luck on your spiritual journey.

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