Skip to comments.Evolution Critics Are Under Fire For Flaws in 'Intelligent Design'
Posted on 02/13/2004 3:14:29 AM PST by The RavenEdited on 04/22/2004 11:51:05 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
Even before Darwin, critics attacked the idea of biological evolution with one or another version of, "Evolve this!"
Whether they invoked a human, an eye, or the whip-like flagella that propel bacteria and sperm, the contention that natural processes of mutation and natural selection cannot explain the complexity of living things has been alive and well for 200 years.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
That's been my view all along. I've never seen the idea of Divine Creation and evolution as mutually-exclusive (or even competing) ideas. In fact, I find it even more awe-inspiring to consider that God built living things to be so adaptable to non-optimal conditions.
And this is kind of a mirror image of the argument that I have put forward, that if you are going to use faith to invoke a creator, why bother with trying to "debunk" all the evolutionary evidence? Just accept, by faith, that it was all created when the creator created the universe, complete with fossils, radioactive half lives, and ancient star light.
Interesting? The word is in the title of this thread. The subject matter itself is on that very topic. And my use of the word in a message is "interesting"?
I suppose we can also say that God has "evolved" as well...from the worship of gods of fire, war, etc....
Beats me, man. From what I've read, the last time God tapped anyone to speak on his behalf was over 2,000 years ago. He's been quiet on all matters of discussion since.
Moreover, the individual parts of complex structures supposedly serve no function. Because evolution selects only the fittest innovations, useless ones vanish. The odds against a bunch of useless parts lying around at the same time and coming together by chance are astronomical, mathematician and evolution-critic William Dembski of Baylor University correctly notes. emphasis added
For a feature to disappear, evolution must select against it. Selective pressure is a 'negative' in essence. If a feature decreases survival, then that feature is removed from the gene pool. If the feature aids or has no effect on survival, it remains.
Vestigial organs like the appendix are the obvious examples.
But that's what makes the anti-evolution arguments amusing at least, the shocking lack or misapplied knowledge.
If we do not "see" a purpose for something, it doesn't mean it isn't there, it only means we haven't learned enough yet to discover it. The more we learn, the less we really "know".
Ever heard of the Anthropic Principle?
We're at a distance from the sun that could generate advanced life forms capable of thinking about and posting an internet message commenting on how far the earth is from the sun. Planets at the incorrect distance from the sun(and there may be trillions of those) will not generate advanced life forms posting on a message board commenting on their distance from the sun. And given our distance from the sun we're going to evolve life forms perfectly adapted to that distance from the sun.
Basically, our distance from the sun could very easily be dumb luck rather than divine intervention.
Actually since the moon is receeding from the Earth, this phenomena is a very short lived one indeed.
All of your examples give rise to the reason life is here at all. They do not posit a diety.
This isn't quite the case anymore. Studies have shown an increase in stomach cancer after an appendectomy but this is attributed to the H. pylori infection. The H. pylori is also the aggravating factor for the inflamed appendix. Colon cancer in populations actually decreases after an appendectomy as the appendix is the initiating site for many colon cancers. (Appendectomy during childhood and adolescence and the subsequent risk of cancer in Sweden. Pediatrics, June, 2003, by Judith U. Cope, Johan Askling, Gloria Gridley, Adam Mohr, Anders Ekbom, Olof Nyren, Martha S. Linet and Boffetta P. Infection with Helicobacter pylori and parasites, social class and cancer. IARC Sci Publ. 1997;138:325-329)Although the presence of hematopoietic and lymphoproliferative malignancies confounds a direct causal relationship. There may in fact be a preventative relationship between appendectomies and colon disease although this is still under debate. (Does Appendectomy PreventUlcerative Colitis? Reviewed by Douglas K. Rex, MDIndiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN[Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2001;1(3):160] and Appendectomy and Protection Against Ulcerative ColitisAndersson RE, Olaison G, Tysk C, et al. N Engl J Med. 2001;344:808814.) Again, this may be related to the removal of a possible instigating site. There was some evidence for the relationship you mention 20 years ago (A case-control study of risk factors for large bowel carcinoma, Vobecky J, Caro J, Devroede G. Cancer. 1983 May 15;51(10):1958-63.)but it was found that these populations used there was an overall greater occurrence of colon cancers. It is now thought that the increase in cancers is due to an induction of tumor metastasis from the stress of the surgery. (Increased surgical stress promotes tumor metastasis. Tsuchiya Y, Sawada S, Yoshioka I, Ohashi Y, Matsuo M, Harimaya Y, Tsukada K, Saiki I. Surgery. 2003 May;133(5):547-55.)
Basically, the trauma from the appendectomy causes small pre-cancerous or early cancerous area to become very active in the abdomen.
Plus there is some argument that the narrow band isn't as narrow as previously thought.
Ancient cultures used to believe that a god existed only as long as he had followers. So, in a way, gods are also subject to evolution- those that cannot adapt to new spiritual environments end up dying out.
Many scientists hold the view that we're figuring out the mechanics of creation.
Nope. Experts on TTSS assert that the chicken came before the egg. The TTSS system is a stripped down version of a flagella rather than the flagella being a new and improved hypodermic.
The TTSS are on "bugs" that live in higher animals and have lost functions rather than gained functions.
And don't you just hate it when you trip over that stray lumpy puddle that doesn't fit the hole. :-)
Out of six billion people on earth, what are the odds that you would end up living next to the ones who are your neighbors?
How do you "strip down" something that's irreducibly complex and wind up with anything useful?
Use a big hammer and sell sand.
Connecting the Type III Secretory System to Bacterial Flagellum:
"Miller's whole argument that the bacterial flagellum evolved by Darwinian means rests on the existence of the type III secretory system (TTSS). The TTSS is coded for by about ten genes, each of which is homologous to genes in the bacterial flagellum. Thus Miller sees the TTSS as embedded in the bacterial flagellum, capable of being selected for on its own, and as a possible evolutionary precursor to the flagellum. He writes: "The TTSS does not tell us how either it or the flagellum evolved. This is certainly true, although Aizawa has suggested that the TTSS may indeed be an evolutionary precursor of the flagellum (Aizawa 2001)."
Accordingly, the TTSS may be thought of as a possible subsystem of the flagellum that performs a function distinct from the flagellum. Nevertheless, finding a subsystem of a functional system that performs some other function is hardly an argument for the original system evolving from that other system. One might just as well say that because the motor of a motorcycle can be used as a blender, therefore the motor evolved into the motorcycle. Perhaps, but not without intelligent design. Indeed, multipart, tightly integrated functional systems almost invariably contain multipart subsystems that serve some different function. At best the TTSS represents one possible step in the indirect Darwinian evolution of the bacterial flagellum. But that still wouldn't constitute a solution to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. What's needed is a complete evolutionary path and not merely a possible oasis along the way. To claim otherwise is like saying we can travel by foot from Los Angeles to Tokyo because we've discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Evolutionary biology needs to do better than that.
There's another problem here. The whole point of bringing up the TTSS was to posit it as an evolutionary precursor to the bacterial flagellum. The best current molecular evidence, however, points to the TTSS as evolving from the flagellum and not vice versa (Nguyen et al. 2000). This can also be seen intuitively. The bacterial flagellum is a motility structure for propelling a bacterium through its watery environment. Water has been around since the origin of life. But the TTSS, as Mike Gene (see citation at end) notes, is restricted "to animal and plant pathogens." Accordingly, the TTSS could only have been around since the rise of metazoans. Gene continues: "In fact, the function of the system depends on intimate contact with these multicellular organisms. This all indicates this system arose after plants and animals appeared. In fact, the type III genes of plant pathogens are more similar to their own flagellar genes than the type III genes of animal pathogens. This has led some to propose that the type III system arose in plant pathogens and then spread to animal pathogens by horizontal transfer.... When we look at the type III system its genes are commonly clustered and found on large virulence plasmids. When they are in the chromosome, their GC content is typically lower than the GC content of the surrounding genome. In other words, there is good reason to invoke horizontal transfer to explain type III distribution. In contrast, flagellar genes are usually split into three or more operons, they are not found on plasmids, and their GC content is the same as the surrounding genome. There is no evidence that the flagellum has been spread about by horizontal transfer."
It follows that the TTSS does not explain the evolution of the flagellum (despite the handwaving of Aizawa 2001). Nor, for that matter, does the bacterial flagellum explain in any meaningful sense the evolution of the TTSS. The TTSS is after all much simpler than the flagellum. The TTSS contains ten or so proteins that are homologous to proteins in the flagellum. The flagellum requires an additional thirty or forty proteins, which are unique. Evolution needs to explain the emergence of complexity from simplicity. But if the TTSS evolved from the flagellum, then all we've done is explain the simpler in terms of the more complex.
The scientific literature shows a complete absence of concrete, causally detailed proposals for how coevolution and co-option might actually produce irreducibly complex biochemical systems In place of such proposals, Darwinists simply observe that because subsystems of irreducibly complex systems might be functional, any such functions could be selected by natural selection. Accordingly, selection can work on those parts and thereby form irreducibly complex systems. All of this is highly speculative, and accounts for cell biologist Franklin Harold's (2001, 205) frank admission: "There are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations."
When I challenged Ken Miller with this quote at the World Skeptics Conference organized by CSICOP summer 2002 (for a summary of the conference see http://www.csicop.org/si/2002-09/conference.html), Miller did not challenge the substance of Harold's claim. Rather, he merely asserted that Harold had been retired a number of years. The implication I took was that Harold was old and out of touch with current biological thinking and therefore could be ignored (in which case one has to wonder what the editors at Oxford University Press were thinking when they agreed to publish Harold's book). I wish that at the skeptics conference I had followed up more forcefully on Miller's glib dismissal of Harold. Perhaps Miller will see my response here and clarify why Harold's retirement has anything to do with the substance of Harold's claim.
To sum up, the Darwinian mechanism requires a selectable function if that mechanism is going to work at all. Moreover, functional pieces pulled together from various systems via coevolution and co-option are selectable by the Darwinian mechanism. But what is selectable here is the individual functions of the individual pieces and not the function of the yet-to-be-produced system. The Darwinian mechanism selects for preexisting function. It does not select for future function. Once that function is realized, the Darwinian mechanism can select for it as well. But making the transition from existing function to novel function is the hard part. How does one get from functional pieces that are selectable in terms of their individual functions to a system that consists of those pieces and exhibits a novel function? The Darwinian mechanism is no help here. Darwin himself conceded this point. Writing in the Origin, he noted: "Unless profitable variations do occur, natural selection can do nothing." To say that those profitable variations are random errors is to beg precisely the point in question.
Of what use is a hypodermic if you have nothing to use it on?
The sequence of events appears to be
What difference does it make? Dembski would have you believe that the only way to disprove the irreducible complexity of the flagellum is to show, in great detail, the exact evolutionary pathway that created it. But why on earth would I bother with that? The TTSS is a perfectly functional subsystem of the flagellum, meaning that I can obviously take parts away the flagellum and have a useful structure left over, which I'm not supposed to be able to do if the flagellum is really irreducibly complex. Whether the TTSS came from the flagellum or vice versa really doesn't matter at all - one is a functional subset of the other, where the other isn't supposed to have functional subsets, by the very definition of "irreducibly complex".
The word translated as "formed" has specific meaning in Hebrew, having its root in how a potter makes pots.
Now, a potter doesn't throw down a lump of clay and have it instantly become what he wants. He forms and shapes it over time, through intermediate shapes until it takes the shape he wants.
I don't know how the ancient Hebrews thought, but to me, this implies that God did not create man in an instant, but shaped him over time. In short, by my reading, while it does not define the process in detail, the Bible specifically states that man is the result of an evolutionary process.
You mischaracterize the argument. The function in question is mobility, not transport of virulent proteins. And function is the determining factor in why it is not irreducible. A watch used as a paperweight is not irreducibly complex. When used to tell time it is.(note: that is not to measure time).
The fact that copper and sand are useful does not make the Pentium IV reducibly simple.
If anything, such design elegance (object-oriented design)as described by Begley reinforces the improbability of random evolution!
I suppose I should say that there is no such requirement in evolutionary theory or in nature - it appears that Behe and Dembski are all too happy to invent such a requirement, that the precursors must perform the same function to be considered precursors, out of whole cloth in order to strengthen their case.
What!? You are now disavowing the fitness function? How the heck can evolution work if changes are not driven towards a fitness?
Please provide chapter and verse.
How do you drive a single car down two different roads at the same time?
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