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A Front-loading Prediction

November 1, 2011

If intelligent design is to be accepted by the scientific community than the proponents of the intelligent design hypothesis must do more than merely attacking flaws in non-teleological evolution. Intelligent design proponents must go beyond this and develop a thorough scientific framework from which robust predictions can be generated.

And so I think it’s time for intelligent design proponents to begin focusing on the mechanisms by which the intelligent design of life forms may have been accomplished. The front-loading hypothesis is one such proposed mechanism, and we can begin to draw general predictions from the front-loading hypothesis.


So, what is the front-loading hypothesis? On page 147 of The Design Matrix, Mike Gene puts it this way:

“Front-loading is the investment of a significant amount of information at the initial stage of evolution (the first life forms) whereby this information shapes and constrains subsequent evolution through its dissipation. This is not to say that every aspect of evolution is pre-programmed and determined. It merely means that life was built to evolve with tendencies as a consequence of carefully chosen initial states in combination with the way evolution works.”


By the way, by the phrase “significant amount of information” is not meant a large genome. What is meant is a genome(s) that has been carefully crafted to shape the future of evolution.


Further, as Mike Gene pointed out, front-loading does not mean that all aspects of life were front-loaded. Perhaps only the origin of multicellular life was front-loaded, for example. Or perhaps all the phyla were front-loaded. So how does front-loading work? Well, there are several ways, but one of the ways is this: suppose the first cells contained genes necessary for multicellular existence but genes that were not necessary for unicellular existence. In this way, genes that would be needed in the future would be placed in the first organisms. To ensure that these genes do not decay over time, they can, firstly, be given an beneficial (but not necessary to the unicellular organisms) function, such that decay of these genes in the unicellular organisms would mean a loss of fitness; secondly, these genes could be part of an IC machine that is beneficial to the unicellular organisms. If these genes were part of an IC machine, then decay of these genes would mean decay of the IC machine and thus, again, loss of fitness would result.

Figure. A diagram illustrating how a gene that is not necessary for the existence of the first life forms but is necessary for future multicellular life is placed in the first life so that it will be present when multicellular life evolves. 


When we consider the above points, it is obvious that one general front-loading prediction is that genes necessary for the existence of major life forms (e.g., metazoan life forms; vertebrates; plants; animals; etc.) will be found in ancestral organisms – even though these genes would not be strictly necessary for the existence of the ancestral organisms.


Consider that fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals require the globin proteins to deliver oxygen to their tissues. In short, vertebrates seem to need globins. However, non-vertebrate groups don’t need the function carried out by globins. Nevertheless, consistent with the front-loading prediction, globin does occur in non-vertebrate groups like bacteria.


Thus, we can formulate the following prediction from the front-loading hypothesis:

Genes necessary for the existence of major life forms will always  have deep homology with or will always be found in simpler life forms that do not require those genes for survival; on the other hand, genes that are not necessary for the survival of major life forms will not always be found in ancestral life forms.


Note that absence of significant sequence similarity between a necessary gene in a major life form and genes in other life forms does not invalidate that front-loading prediction, since sequence similarity isn’t the only way we can find those pre-cursor genes. We can also use structural homology, looking at the 3D shape of a protein and comparing that shape with the shapes of other proteins across the web of life. Furthermore, and importantly, if cytosine deamination was utilized by the intelligent designer(s) such that the path of evolution would be channeled in a particular direction, we would have to take this into account when hunting for precursors of genes necessary for the existence of major life forms. How would this work? I’ll describe that in another article (yea, I say that a lot). Suffice it to say that if the above prediction of the front-loading hypothesis is confirmed with more and more research, then the front-loading hypothesis will be considerably strengthened. On the other hand, if that prediction is not confirmed by new research, then my confidence in the validity of the front-loading hypothesis will have to drop.

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