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Thoughts on DNA, Vitamin C and Origins

Posted Nov 28 2008 10:54am 1 Comment

I have not blogged much the past months for a variety of reasons.  Mainly I have been very focused on getting Flypaper on solid ground.  We have made a lot of progress and I am more confident in our ultimate success than I have been since becoming CEO a year ago. Dec and Jan will be big months in launching the Flypaper Platform aimed at Corporations and Service Providers who use and create lots of Flash content. 

With this post I decided to dip my toe back into the ID controversy.  Even though I am not a scientist and I tend to get hammered when I do this. The post is a bit "random"and I hope it hangs together as you read it.

I read an interesting book and have had a number of thoughts (insights?) that I want to share  primarily to other layman for their consideration.   I am well aware that scientists on both sides of the ID/Darwinist arguments will have already delved deeply into these issues and both will have even better arguments for or against my thoughts and ideas. That is fine.

1.  It was interesting to me to learn that it is likely that the human body once had the ability to make Vitamin C. Most likely in large quantities.  I had wondered why most mammals make large amounts of Vitamin C but humans did not. Under stress, animals will make even larger amounts.  Vitamin C is a great antioxidant and is involved in MANY enzymatic reactions including the making of neurotransmitters.  I wondered why the "Designer" gave this ability to goats and such, but not to us? 

Well I learned that we actually have 3 of 4 needed enzymes present in our systems to turn glucose into vitamin C.  And we apparently have in our genome the ability make the 4th enzyme, but a mutation somewhere in our history caused this last enzyme to not be made.  This had to happen very early in our history since no one can make Vitamin C.  I wondered why we don't see a mixture of some who do and some who don't make it? 

If one were to use the Biblical record, one could suggest two possibilities.  When God cursed Adam and Eve and said " and their days will be 120 years", maybe He turned off the gene for this enzyme and eventually that affected lifespans.  That way the 8 people who were on the Ark already had that gene turned off.  Since they populated the rest of us, we all have the gene turned off.  I am aware that this explanation is totally "creationist" and will be rejected out of hand by the Darwinists.  That is fine.

The Bible AND numerous other stories from other cultures and religions, record a time when people of antiquity lived many hundreds of years but after a worldwide flood, lifespans followed a downward curve until many people lived to 120 years old or less.  Moses died when he was 120. Today's anti-aging crowd often state that we should be able to live to 120.  Why do they pick 120?  I don't know but it is interesting that this is what I read most often.

2. I read " Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome" by Dr. John C. Sanford.  He is a retired Cornell Professor who is a Population Geneticist. He used to be a hardcore Darwinist who simply accepted the theory.  But the more he observed his experiments with mutations of plants, the more he came to question the theory as simply not able to account for what he observed.  

The book was not an easy read for me because it was pretty technical but I slogged through it.  Basically, he argues that genomes don't get better or more "intelligent" but rather deteriorate over time because of mutations.  He says, that essentially 99.9% of mutations are damaging to the DNA and it has never been observed that mutations have blindly "added" abilities to the genome to make new protein machinery that somehow benefit us. 

The part I loved was his detailed description of our genome and how incredibly intelligent and complex it is.  As more is learned about our DNA, it becomes more mysterious and wondrous.  6 billion nucleotides carry all the programmed information that make us what we are - human.  No bigger than a speck of dust, an exact copy exists in the nucleus of every cell and self replicates every time a new cell is made.  He also points out how scientists (including him) used to believe that most of the genome was "junk".  Meaning it did not do anything.  Now it is known that virtually all the genome does something important.  It was also interesting to learn that the same string of nucleotides can make different protein machines, apparently under the control of other parts of the genome. 

He also points out that it used to be believed that mutations were fairly rare but in fact they are more common.  As many as 100 mutations each generation.  These mutations take information away, they don't add information.  Most of these mutations are virtually benign.  But a few, have resulted in awful results like Downs Syndrome etc.  He continues to argue that our genome is definitely going downhill, as opposed to the evolutionary belief that we are getting "better" through mutations and natural selection. 

He also shows that natural selection is actually a very weak mechanism because it cannot "select" for specific mutations.  Rather it can only select for mutations in the genome that prevent the person from reproducing or surviving.  Since we are passing on about 100 mutations from generation to generation, and virtually none of these mutations prevent the person from reproducing, all the mutations are passed on. "We are all mutants."  He suggests that this is why "eugenics" (preventing certain populations from reproducing, either by sterilization or genocide) has at times been a popular idea.  Sort of helping evolution along by applying "intelligence" to the blind and weak process of natural selection.

3. Linus Pauling, two time Nobel Prize winner, became a strong proponent of taking large doses of Vitamin C.  He reportedly took as much as 18 grams per day.  He also proposed that many degenerative diseases were simply a manifestation of our loss of the genetic ability to make Vitamin C.  Certainly we can get enough vitamin C to prevent the worse kinds of vitamin C deficiency like scurvy, But Pauling argued that we have a much higher need of vitamin C to prevent other degenerative diseases like heart disease.  He put forth a number of articles about this.  He lived to 93 so not too bad. 

One thing that occurred to me was the problem of obesity.  Imagine if we had the ability to turn sugar into Vitamin C.  I wonder if most of the excess sugar in most people's diets today would simply be turned into Vitamin C instead of fat, how much healthier we would be in general?

4. It occurred to me that if our genome was at one time "perfect", but through generation after generation of genetic entropy (degeneration) we have " devolved" not evolved. Is it possible that people were actually, bigger, smarter, healthier and more advanced 6,000 - 8,000 years ago? Through mutations have we steadily lost abilities that we once had?  Certainly one could argue in the last few hundred years we have witnessed an increase in our lifespans, but I have seen it argued that this is really dueto  better sanitation, antibiotics, vaccines and pediatric care where more and more children who used to die young survive.  Even with that, the best we can do is live to mid 70's on average.  This is also a possible explanation for so called "bad design" that Darwinists love to cite as proof that we are not designed.  "Why would a designer design________ like this?  How stupid!!"  Perhaps HE/SHE did not design it like that.  Perhaps all we are seeing is a design that has degenerated by generations of mutations?

5. Also of interest was the recent study done at the University of North Carolina where they discovered that as much as 30% of "adaptations" are simply the fact that genes already present in our genome are expressed differently based on the environment we find ourselves in.  The Darwinian idea that mutations and natural selection is the explanation for our ability to gradually adapt to new environments intuitively did not seem plausible to me for many reasons.  But the idea that a Designer would program into our genome the ability to rapidly adapt to new environments by gene expression makes a lot of sense.  It is also known that exposure to chemical toxins will cause certain genes to express themselves inappropriately causing diseases like cancer.  One of the hot areas of pharma development are drugs that target genes that have been turned on or off causing problems.  I think the Designer did not program for really stupid things man would do by introducing toxic chemicals into the environment.

I find these ideas interesting and plausible.  Dr. Sanford makes the statement that ultimately the human species is destined to end as more and more damage is done to our genome.  This is not going to happen soon but he argues it is inevitable. 

So one thing we can do perhaps is take more vitamin C.  The best form is a buffered (Ph neutral) form called Ascorbates where Vit C is bound to different minerals where the acidity of ascorbic acid is made more neutral. Something like this. This makes the Vitamin C more tolerable to the GI.   Some studies have shown that increased amounts of Vit C have little effect on different diseases. There certainly is no lack of controversy here as well.  But if you look at the studies, often they do not use amounts anywhere near what the human body would likely make if we had that one enzyme present and working.  Goats normally make 13 grams per day and will dramatically increase it under stress.  We would likely make even more than goats.  Personally, I have started to take more Vitamin C.

Comments (1)
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Really superb.......I like it.

My thoughts :

Nature has removed the production of Vitamin C because it knows that we are intelligent enough to make it ourself with out the use of that gene. As in similar way how it removed Nails and big tooth from us, and it gave intelligence to our brain to create fire to cook our food and weapons to defend ourself. I think it will remove our ability one by one as you said and it will make us to use our brain to make it for ourself. Because DNA as limitations it can play only with organic componds it cant create a bullet from metals. So it is trying to find its own way through evolutions.We created weapons because we dont have anything given by nature to protect ourself....:-) This is also a way of evolution and cant say as deevolution.

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