One of the more sophisticated claims of creationists, especially used by advocates of intelligent design—I don’t think this term merits capitalization, for we don’t capitalize “creationism”, which is exactly what ID is—is that evolution “can’t create new information”, therefore, insofar as the process produces organisms doing novel things, God must have done it.
This ninth short video of the series produced by NPR and “It’s Okay to be Smart” attacks that claim. And once again I’m disappointed. I didn’t start putting up these videos to criticize them—they were simply a way to bring new pro-evolution material to public attention, but I haven’t seen one that isn’t either flawed or garbled. And I don’t much like this one, either, though it sort of makes the case:
The example they use for creating new information: gene duplication followed by divergence based on mutation followed by natural selection in the duplicated genes, is the common response, and a good one, but it would have been better if they’d given at least one example, such as the creation of new forms of globins that do different things, all descendants by gene duplication form an ancestral globin gene. As with other videos in this series, the narrator simply refutes the creationist question by assertion (“Evolution has no problem with adding new pages to the book of life”) rather than by giving good, comprehensible examples.)
I would have omitted the capture of retroviruses, as most of these have become inactivated once incorporated in our genome (and creationists would call that “the loss of information”), and concentrated not just on gene duplication, but on how new genes can arise, doing new things, from combination of bits of genes taken from the rest of the genome. My colleague Manyuan Long and his colleagues in my department, for instance, has traced the origin of many genes having brand new functions (ergo new “information”) from their origins elsewhere in the Drosophila genome. I wrote about the Long lab work in December of 2010.