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Darwinist Ideologues Are on the Run
Human Events Online ^ | Jan 31, 2006 | Allan H. Ryskind

Posted on 01/30/2006 10:27:35 PM PST by Sweetjustusnow

The two scariest words in the English language? Intelligent Design! That phrase tends to produce a nasty rash and night sweats among our elitist class.

Should some impressionable teenager ever hear those words from a public school teacher, we are led to believe, that student may embrace a secular heresy: that some intelligent force or energy, maybe even a god, rather than Darwinian blind chance, has been responsible for the gazillions of magnificently designed life forms that populate our privileged planet.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; delusionalnutjobs; evolution; idiocy; ignoranceisstrength; intelligentdesign; whataloadoffeces
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To: ShadowAce; whattajoke; Right Wing Professor; Dimensio
I do as well. However, I also get mad when people start denigrating others based on beliefs and different interpretations of the evidence.

For example? Be specific.

Heck, I would *love* to have an actual difference of itnerpretation on the evidence. But that's not what the anti-evolutionists do. Instead, as you've seen on this thread, they either totally ignore the evidence and refuse to talk about it at all, or they simply lie about it.

I have yet to see anyone blasetd just for having a different interpretation. Man, I'd be *ecstatic* if the creationist "contributions" to these threads actually rose to that level. It would be a welcome change from all the lies, the belligerent "evidence can't prove nothin', so I ain't lookin' at it!", the "my interpretation of the Bible is the last word so nothing else matters", and the "you'll be sorry when you die and God damns you to hell" stuff.

441 posted on 01/31/2006 6:28:17 PM PST by Ichneumon
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I recall when I was young, doctors would yank your tonsils out if got a cough.
Why was that?

The cost of a full-up strep culture vs. surgery made tonsillectomies an equal-equal proposition in the 50s and early 60s.

Now, I can't recall the last time I heard of someone having their tonsils removed.
Why is that?

The cost of a throat culture has dropped to a small fraction of what it was, and with soaring malpractice insurance costs, surgery is horribly expensive.
Even so, a tonsillectomy is the most common childhood operation done today.

442 posted on 01/31/2006 6:29:42 PM PST by dread78645 (Intelligent Design. It causes people to misspeak)
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To: PatrickHenry

hemorrhoid-free placemarker

443 posted on 01/31/2006 6:37:30 PM PST by longshadow (FReeper #405, entering his ninth year of ignoring nitwits, nutcases, and recycled newbies)
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To: longshadow
hemorrhoid-free placemarker

What thread are you reading?

444 posted on 01/31/2006 6:39:55 PM PST by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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To: whattajoke

You're a highly evolved vampire ;)

445 posted on 01/31/2006 6:40:57 PM PST by furball4paws (Awful Offal)
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To: Ichneumon

Find someone who READS ENGLISH to read it to you next time.

The QUESTION IS, WHAT OR WHO TRIGGERED, SET OFF, DETONATED, TRIPPED (I'm running out of ways to try to get you to understand this) that BIG BANG??????

446 posted on 01/31/2006 6:41:23 PM PST by Dick Bachert
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To: Stultis
"Loosey-Goosey Intellectual Relativism alert!"

Hold on a minute thar pardner. I'm not advocating Intellectual Relativism -- just good teaching.

Learning science isn't just about memorizing facts -- you need the skills to do science. If students don't have those skills how can they debunk any junk science that comes their way -- and there will be lots of it?

If students were even half as interested in any subject as FReepers are in this one; schools would perform much better. Maybe that excitement could be brought into the classroom.

Don't just tell the students what they should believe (and withhold opposing views). Give them the tools to judge the quality of a theory. Let them know how ToE was tested. Let them then weigh the merits of ToE and I.D.

While ToE has high standing -- students should also know that theories cannot be proven; only falsified. (As science advances, most theories have been falsified, or modified to a considerable extent.) If you don't admit that -- you're indoctrinating, and not teaching science.

At the same time, tell students (or better yet, let them do the research and discover for themselves) how extensively the ToE has been tested. Teach Occam's Razor. Ask students if they're convinced, even though there is a remote possibility that the theory will one day be falsified. They will then have the tools they need to separate good from junk science for the rest of their lives.
447 posted on 01/31/2006 6:47:41 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: Dimensio

"Students don't learn "opposing" methods for how gravity operates in physics class."

Really? And just how does gravity operate?

448 posted on 01/31/2006 6:51:58 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: balrog666

Post #425.

449 posted on 01/31/2006 6:52:22 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: AndrewC
Thank you. These cultists are nutty. The Greeks knew how to balance sciences and arts. We (this civilization) insist on worshipping the god of science as The Only True Way to Knowledge. Bullhockey! This may not be the best place for it, but I prefer an outside view to the petty debates about this or that detail of the evolution theory, which is dominated anyway by the guy posting pages and pages of scientific material few will follow. What is the place of science in the life of a society. what are the limits of science? (I'd expect the cultists' answer to be lifted directly from some boob tube science fiction drama, that is to say - "no limits".)

And finally, this man is blind, but he and others like him, blind or not, can't fake it:

This man can see, but he and others like him have faked it and will fake it:

This man asked: "Who do you love?"

450 posted on 01/31/2006 6:52:28 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: ml1954


Love your tagline.

451 posted on 01/31/2006 6:56:15 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: balrog666
*****hemorrhoid-free placemarker*****

What thread are you reading?

Well, to be technical, I said the PLACEMARKER was free of them, not the thread....


452 posted on 01/31/2006 7:00:56 PM PST by longshadow (FReeper #405, entering his ninth year of ignoring nitwits, nutcases, and recycled newbies)
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To: ShadowAce; whattajoke; Right Wing Professor; Dimensio
I have no problem identifying the TOE as a theory. I do have a problem identifying it as fact.

I'm not aware of anyone who *does* identify the *Theory* of evolution as fact.

What *I* have a problem with is the anti-evolutionists writing off even the facts as "just a theory".

It has not been proven, though many here see the evidence as proof. Evidence is not proof. Evidence points to proof.

This whole passage is word hash. First, science does not deal in proofs. Second, "proof" is a standard that is impossible for anything in this real world -- "proof" is only possible in artificial realms like mathematics.

I happen to be a creationist (surprise, surprise!). I also believe in the Bible. The original Hebrew that was used for the word "day" in Genesis indicates a normal, 24-hour day. Given this, and the evidence I see around me, and the evidence others present, I reject the TOE.

What evidence do you have that a) Genesis is reliable, b) your interpretation of it is reliable, c) that there's anything wrong with the TOE?

I may be wrong in some of the arguments I present. For all I know it is possible for the very beginning asexually-reproducing creatures to produce a sexually-reproducing creature. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

...because? From your earlier questions, it appears the reason for your doubt is nothing more than the fact that you don't know enough about biology to grasp how such things occur, and to know that there are already many living things which reproduce in multiple ways which you erroneously considered either/or or incompatible with each other. There's a name for this kind of fallacy: The Argument From Ignorance. That may sound like an insult, but it's not. It's just the argument of the form, "If I (the speaker) can't think of how this could be possible, then it's not possible." It's an argument based on the speaker's *lack* of understanding and/or knowledge, not based on any actual evidence, knowledge, or logical argument.

At the very least, given the possible consequences of a wrong choice, wouldn't you rather err on the positive side?

Finding truth is not about "hedging your bets" or "playing it safe".

Furthermore, your argument is known as "Pascal's Wager", and the flaws in it have been identified for centuries, ever since Pascal first elucidated it in the 1600's -- and the dissection of it came immediately afterwards.

The most succinct rebuttal is that Pascal's Wager is an equally "good" argument for worshipping Odin. After all, if Odin doesn't exist, I've lost nothing, whereas if he does, it's a good thing I've worshipped him, because if I didn't I'd be screwed out of Valhalla.


And then the *same* argument "justifies" worshipping Shiva, Quetzelcotl, Tonantzin, and Cthulhu. *And* the invisible pink unicorns.

Another dumb part of Pascal's Wager is the implication that one "loses nothing" if one follows and worships a non-existent god. On the contrary.

Yet another problem is the question of whether a god would be likely to reward someone who didn't necessarily believe in the god, but went through the motions because of the results of a cost-benefit analysis on whether to act as if one actually believed...

See for example:

A refutation of Pascal’s wager and why skeptics should be non-theists

Pascal's Wager

On Rescher On Pascal's Wager

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager Is A Possible Bet (But Not A Very Good One)

Pascal's Wager Refuted

This is not a plea for spiritual matters, but a plea to recognize that science is not the only begetter of truth in this universe.

It is, however, worlds ahead of the second-place contender.

There are quite a few things that science does not attempt to explain, nor can explain.

Particularly things of no consequence. I mean that literally.

453 posted on 01/31/2006 7:01:56 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: ShadowAce
Obviously our body hair has nothing to do with protection from the elements, and it never did.

The former portion of your sentence is obviously correct, but the latter does not follow from any evidence or argument you have presented.

454 posted on 01/31/2006 7:05:55 PM PST by Ichneumon
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Your analysis is a good one in most respects.

The Theory of Evolution and all other scientific theories should be introduced and taught in this manner.

The problem we are having, here on FR and elsewhere, is that Intelligent Design wants into the game without doing the requisite research and testing. It wants to bend the rules, to do pretzel science, anything it takes to get into the science classrooms. And it is not science.

If you go back to the The Wedge Strategy, the whole plan to promote "theistic-science" was laid out in detail.

It certainly appears that this plan is being implemented by the Discovery Institute and others.

But what is their research budget vs. their public relations budget?

What discoveries have they made?

Your post accurately on what science is and how it is rigorously tested, but I can't see ID included except, along with astrology, phrenology, and phlogiston chemistry etc., as examples of non-science or discredited science.

If these subjects were taught in science classes in this manner I would have no objection.

But I think the creationists would really prefer to see ID taught in science classes in such a way as to be a subset of their religious beliefs.

For more details, you might check out some of the transcripts and the judge's decision in the recent Dover trial. I think they are linked through PatrickHenry's List-O-Links.

455 posted on 01/31/2006 7:07:37 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: Revolting cat!

"I walked 47 miles of barbed wire, Used A cobra snake for A neck tie"

456 posted on 01/31/2006 7:11:11 PM PST by dennisw ("What one man can do another can do" - The Edge)
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To: Ichneumon

As I understand it Darwin was averse to the notion of presenting the origin of species as a progression from simple to complex. Today's high school biology books may cause him to roll over in his turtle soup. And no, I would not think him or his followers to be so simple as to posit mutations and natural selection as the sole determinants of biological history. The question is whether these two things can be understood and applied in any way other than post facto, ad hoc explanations for speciation.

457 posted on 01/31/2006 7:13:27 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: dennisw

Definitely not Bocelli material, but wait till he records a duet with Willie Nelson! (Who hasn't?)

458 posted on 01/31/2006 7:14:23 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Mulch

Since you brought up that fatally flawed book, here's a hilarious exchange with the author (Michael Behe, one of the "leaders" of the "Intelligent Design" movement) from his testimony under oath in the Kitzmiller trial...

My jaw dropped when I read that part of the trial transcript. Here are the most relevant parts of that exchange, along with my earlier comments (although there's even more that shows Behe to be, at best, extremely sloppy about checking out the claims he makes:

Q. "Okay. Now you stated on Monday that [Behe's mass-market book] Darwin's Black Box was also peer reviewed, right?"

Behe: "That's correct. [...] The review process that the book went through is analogous to peer Furthermore, the book was sent out to more scientists than typically review a manuscript. In the typical case, a manuscript that's going to -- that is submitted for a publication in a scientific journal is reviewed just by two reviewers. My book was sent out to five reviewers. Furthermore, they read it more carefully than most scientists read typical manuscripts that they get to review because they realized that this was a controversial topic. So I think, in fact, my book received much more scrutiny and much more review before publication than the great majority of scientific journal articles."

Hold that thought for a moment, then read the following:
Q. "And one of the peer reviewers you mentioned yesterday was a gentleman named Michael Atchison?"

A. "Yes, I think that's correct."


Q. [quoting from an article written by Atchison] "While I was identifying myself as a Christian in Philadelphia, a biochemist named Michael Behe at Lehigh University was writing a book on evolution. [...] Behe sent his completed manuscript to the Free Press publishers for consideration. [...] The editor shared his concerns with his wife. His wife was a student in my class. [...] She advised her husband to give me a call. So unaware of all this, I received a phone call from the publisher in New York. We spent approximately ten minutes on the phone. After hearing a description of the work, I suggested that the editor should seriously consider publishing the manuscript. I told him that the origin of life issue was still up in the air. It sounded like this Behe fellow might have some good ideas, although I could not be certain since I had never seen the manuscript. We hung up, and I never thought about it again, at least until two years later. [...] After some time, Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box, the Free Press, 1996, was published. [...] I heard about it, but could not remember if this was the same book that I received the call about from the publisher. Could it be? In November 1998, I finally met Michael Behe when he visited Penn for a faculty outreach talk. He told me that, yes, indeed, it was his book that the publisher called me about. In fact, he said my comments were the deciding factor in convincing the publisher to go ahead with the book. Interesting, I thought."

The mind boggles... One of Behe's "peer reviewers" based his entire decision on A TEN MINUTE PHONE CALL which merely "described" the book, and he had "never seen the manuscript". And yet Behe claims that this fellow's comments "WERE THE DECIDING FACTOR" on the decision to publish, and that his reviewers "read it more carefully than most scientists read typical manuscripts". Ooookay...

In the quoted passage above there's also reference to the fact that Atchison was chosen as a "peer reviewer" on the basis of being the editor's wife's teacher at a vet school, not because he was one of the most qualified to review such a work (or even qualified at all). In the full transcript, it is made clear that the editor didn't really search for qualified reviewers, Atchison was just the one biochemist the editor knew of:

Q. "In fact, he was selected because he was an instructor of your editor's wife?"

Behe: "That's correct. My editor knew one biochemistry professor, so he asked, through his wife, and so he asked him to take a look at it as well."

Also, try to parse this one concerning the other reviewers:
Q. "Now you selected some of your peer reviewers?"

Behe: "No, I did not. I gave my editor at the Free Press suggested names, and he contacted them. Some of them agreed to review."

So you see, Behe didn't "select" those reviewers, he merely gave chose the names and gave them to his editor, who called them. Which is a different thing entirely. Ooookay.

Thus Behe's "peer reviewers" were apparently some folks hand-picked by Behe, and another guy who never actually even looked at the manuscript. Fascinating. To Behe, this equates to his book receiving "much more scrutiny and much more review before publication than the great majority of scientific journal articles". Pull the other leg now.

The astute reader will note that Behe makes grandiose claims that are directly contradicted by the facts, and which he had never actually bothered to check before making his pronouncements. Or maybe he was just lying. It's so hard to tell sometimes.

In any case, let's examine the central argument of the book to see if it holds water, shall we?

Here are my own analyses of it:

The next idea you probably will not like, and that is irreducible complexity.

As an "idea" I like it just fine, and so do evolutionary scientists. The problem is that Behe (and the creationists who follow him) have created a "straw man" version of "IC" which is quite simply incorrect -- but appears to give the conclusion they want.

The original notion of "IC" goes back to Darwin himself. He wrote:

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
-- Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species", 1859
That's "Irreducible Complexity" in a nutshell. It's not as if Behe has pointed out anything that biologists (or Darwin) didn't already realize.

But let's examine Darwin's description of "IC" in a bit more detail (emphasis mine):

No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, according to my theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we look to an organ common to all the members of a large class, for in this latter case the organ must have been first formed at an extremely remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become extinct.

We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. Numerous cases could be given amongst the lower animals of the same organ performing at the same time wholly distinct functions; thus the alimentary canal respires, digests, and excretes in the larva of the dragon-fly and in the fish Cobites. In the Hydra, the animal may be turned inside out, and the exterior surface will then digest and the stomach respire. In such cases natural selection might easily specialise, if any advantage were thus gained, a part or organ, which had performed two functions, for one function alone, and thus wholly change its nature by insensible steps. Two distinct organs sometimes perform simultaneously the same function in the same individual; to give one instance, there are fish with gills or branchiae that breathe the air dissolved in the water, at the same time that they breathe free air in their swimbladders, this latter organ having a ductus pneumaticus for its supply, and being divided by highly vascular partitions. In these cases, one of the two organs might with ease be modified and perfected so as to perform all the work by itself, being aided during the process of modification by the other organ; and then this other organ might be modified for some other and quite distinct purpose, or be quite obliterated.

The illustration of the swimbladder in fishes is a good one, because it shows us clearly the highly important fact that an organ originally constructed for one purpose, namely flotation, may be converted into one for a wholly different purpose, namely respiration. The swimbladder has, also, been worked in as an accessory to the auditory organs of certain fish, or, for I do not know which view is now generally held, a part of the auditory apparatus has been worked in as a complement to the swimbladder. All physiologists admit that the swimbladder is homologous, or 'ideally similar,' in position and structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals: hence there seems to me to be no great difficulty in believing that natural selection has actually converted a swimbladder into a lung, or organ used exclusively for respiration.

[Example snipped]

In considering transitions of organs, it is so important to bear in mind the probability of conversion from one function to another, that I will give one more instance. [Long detail of example snipped] If all pedunculated cirripedes had become extinct, and they have already suffered far more extinction than have sessile cirripedes, who would ever have imagined that the branchiae in this latter family had originally existed as organs for preventing the ova from being washed out of the sack?

-- Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species", 1859

Darwin makes two critical points here:

1. A modern organ need not have evolved into its present form and function from a precursor which had always performed the same function. Evolution is quite capable of evolving a structure to perform one function, and then turning it to some other "purpose".

2. Organs/structures can reach their present form through a *loss* of function or parts, not just through *addition* of function or parts.

Despite the fact that these observations were laid out in 1859, Behe's version of "Irreducible Complexity" pretends they are not factors, and defines "IC" as something which could not have arisen through stepwise *ADDITIONS* (only) while performing the same function *THROUGHOUT ITS EXISTENCE*.

It's hard to tell whether Behe does this through ignorance or willful dishonesty, but the fact remains that *his* definition and analysis of "IC" is too restrictive. He places too many "rules" on how he will "allow" evolution to reach his examples of "Behe-style IC" structures, while evolution itself *IS NOT RESTRICTED TO THOSE RULES* when it operates. Thus Behe's conclusion that "Behe-style evolution" can not reach "Behe-style IC" hardly tells us anything about whether *real-world* evolution could or could not have produced them.

For specific examples, Behe's example of the "Behe-style IC" flagellum is flawed because flagella are composed of components that bacteria use FOR OTHER PURPOSES and were evolved for those purposes then co-opted (1, 2), and Behe's example of the "Behe-style IC" blood-clotting process is flawed because the biochemistry of blood-clotting is easily reached by adding several steps on top of a more primitive biochemical sequence, *and then REMOVING earlier portions which had become redundant* (1, 2).

Even Behe's trivial mousetrap example turns out to not actually be "IC".

The usual qualitative formulation is: "An irreducibly complex system cannot be slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system, that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional..."

Note the key error: By saying that it "breaks" if any part is "missing" (i.e. taken away), it is only saying that evolution could not have reached that endpoint by successively only ADDING parts. True enough, but Behe misses the fact that you can also reach the same state by, say, adding 5 parts one at a time, and then taking away 2 which have become redundant. Let's say that part "A" does the job, but not well. But starting with just "A" serves the need. Then add "B", which improves the function of "A". Add "C" which helps A+B do their job, and so on until you have ABCDE, which does the job very well. Now, however, it may turn out that CDE alone does just fine (conceivably, even better than ABCDE does with A+B getting in the way of CDE's operation). So A and B fade away, leaving CDE. Note that CDE was built in "one change at a time" fashion, with each new change improving the operation. HOWEVER, by Behe's definition CDE is "Irreducibly Complex" and "could not have evolved (been built by single steps)" because removing C or D or E from CDE will "break" it. Note that Behe's conclusion is wrong. His logic is faulty.

The other error in Behe's definition lies in this part: "...any precursor to an irreducibly complex system, that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional". The problem here is that it may be "nonfunctional" for its *current* function, but perfectly functional for some *other* function helpful for survival (and therefore selected by evolution). Behe implicitly claims that if it's not useful for its *current* function, it's useless for *any* function. The flaw in this should be obvious.

"Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on."

True as far as it goes, but but this is hardly the same as Behe's sleight-of-hand in the first part of his statement, which relies on the false premise that a precursor to a structure is 100% useless for *any* purpose if *taking away* (but not adding) one part from the current purpose makes it unsuitable for the current purpose. Two gaping holes in that one...

Behe (an anathematized name)

For reasons I've outlined above.

talks of the bacterial flagellum, which contains an acid-powered rotary engine, a stator, O-rings, bushings, and a drive shaft. The machinery of this motor requires approximately fifty proteins.

Except that it doesn't. As many biochemists have pointed out, other organisms have function flagella (even *as* flagella) with fewer proteins (and/or different proteins). That flagellum isn't even "IC" by Behe's own definition since you *can* remove proteins and have it still work as a flagellum. [...]

For a far more realistic look at the evolutionary "invention" of the flagellum, see Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum , which I linked earlier in this post. From the abstract:

The model consists of six major stages: export apparatus, secretion system, adhesion system, pilus, undirected motility, and taxis-enabled motility. The selectability of each stage is documented using analogies with present-day systems. Conclusions include: (1) There is a strong possibility, previously unrecognized, of further homologies between the type III export apparatus and F1F0-ATP synthetase. (2) Much of the flagellum’s complexity evolved after crude motility was in place, via internal gene duplications and subfunctionalization. (3) Only one major system-level change of function, and four minor shifts of function, need be invoked to explain the origin of the flagellum; this involves five subsystem-level cooption events. (4) The transition between each stage is bridgeable by the evolution of a single new binding site, coupling two pre-existing subsystems, followed by coevolutionary optimization of components. Therefore, like the eye contemplated by Darwin, careful analysis shows that there are no major obstacles to gradual evolution of the flagellum.

For an analysis of numerous errors and such in Dembski's Design arguments/examples, see Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates: A critique of William Dembski's book No Free Lunch. It also contains material on the flagella issue you raise next.

As for Behe (the other author):

One small example is the flagella on a paramecium. They need four distinct proteins to work.

Actually they need a lot more than that. And as far as I know, Behe never used the cilia on paramecia as his example, he has primarily concentrated on bacterial flagella.

They cannot have evolved from a flagella that need three.

Contrary to creationist claims (or Behe's) that flagella are Irreducibly Complex and can not function at all if any part or protein is removed, in fact a) there are many, many varieties of flagella on various species of single-celled organisms, some with more or fewer parts/proteins than others. So it's clearly inaccurate to make a blanket claim that "flagella" in general contain no irreplacable parts. Even Behe admits that a working flagella can be reduced to a working cilia, which undercuts his entire "Irreducibly Complex" example/claim right off the bat.

For a semi-technical discussion of how flagella are *not* IC, because many of their parts can be eliminated without totally breaking their locomotive ability, see Evolution of the Bacterial Flagella

But even if one could identify, say, four specific proteins (or other components) which were critically necessary for the functioning of all flagellar structures (and good luck: there are three unrelated classes of organisms with flagella built on three independent methods: eubacterial flagella, archebacterial flagella, and eukaryote flagella -- see Faugy DM and Farrel K, (1999 Feb) A twisted tale: the origin and evolution of motility and chemotaxis in prokaryotes. Microbiology, 145, 279-280), Behe makes a fatal (and laughably elementary) error when he states that therefore they could not have arisen by evolution. Even first-year students of evolutionary biology know that quite often evolved structures are built from parts that WERE NOT ORIGINALLY EVOLVED FOR THEIR CURRENT APPLICATION, as Behe naively assumes (or tries to imply).

Okay, fine, so even if you can prove that a flagellum needs 4 certain proteins to function, and would not function AS A FLAGELLUM with only 3, that's absolutely no problem for evolutionary biology, since it may well have evolved from *something else* which used those 3 proteins to successfully function, and only became useful as a method of locomotion when evolution chanced upon the addition of the 4th protein. Biology is chock-full of systems cobbled together from combinations of other components, or made via one addition to an existing system which then fortuitously allows it to perform a new function.

And, lo and behold, it turns out that the "base and pivot" of the bacterial flagella, along with part of the "stalk", is virtually identical to the bacterial Type III Secretory Structure (TTSS). So despite Behe's claim that flagella must be IC because (he says) there's no use for half a flagella, in fact there is indeed such a use. And this utterly devastates Behe's argument, in several different ways. Explaining way in detail would take quite some time, but it turns out that someone has already written an excellent essay on that exact thing, which I strongly encourage you to read: The Flagellum Unspun: The Collapse of "Irreducible Complexity" .

(Note: Several times that essay makes a reference to the "argument from ignorance", with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with it. I'd like to point out that contrary to the way it sounds, Miller is *not* accusing Behe et all of being ignorant. Instead, he's referring to this family of logical fallacies, also known as the "argument from incredulity".)

That is called irreducible complexity.

That's what Behe likes to call it, yes. But the flagella is provably *not* IC. Oops for Behe. Furthermore, while it's certainly easy to *call* something or another "Irreducibly Complex", proving that it actually *is* is another matter entirely.

As the "Flagellum Unspun" article above states:

According to Dembski, the detection of "design" requires that an object display complexity that could not be produced by what he calls "natural causes." In order to do that, one must first examine all of the possibilities by which an object, like the flagellum, might have been generated naturally. Dembski and Behe, of course, come to the conclusion that there are no such natural causes. But how did they determine that? What is the scientific method used to support such a conclusion? Could it be that their assertions of the lack of natural causes simply amount to an unsupported personal belief? Suppose that there are such causes, but they simply happened not to think of them? Dembski actually seems to realize that this is a serious problem. He writes: "Now it can happen that we may not know enough to determine all the relevant chance hypotheses [which here, as noted above, means all relevant natural processes (hvt)]. Alternatively, we might think we know the relevant chance hypotheses, but later discover that we missed a crucial one. In the one case a design inference could not even get going; in the other, it would be mistaken" (Dembski 2002, 123 (note 80)).
For more bodyblows against the notion of Irreducible Complexity, see:

Bacterial Flagella and Irreducible Complexity

Irreducible Complexity Demystified

Irreducible Complexity

Review: Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box"

The fatal flaws in Behe's argument were recognized as soon as his book was published, and countless reviewers pointed them out. And yet, creationists and IDers, who seem to rely mostly on the echo-chamber of their own clique and appear to seldom read much *actual* scientific sources, still seem blissfully unaware of the problems with Behe's thesis, and keep popping in on a regular basis to wave the book around and smugly yell something like, "See, evolution has already been disproven!"

What's funny is that by Behe's own argument, a stone arch is "irreducibly complex" because it could not have formed by nature *adding* sections of stone at a time (it would have fallen down unless the entire span was already in place -- and indeed will fall down if you take part of the span away):

Needless to say, what Behe's argument is missing in the case of the stone arch is that such arches form easily by natural means when successive layers of sedimentary rock added on top of each other, and *then* erosion carves a hole out from *under* the arch by *removing* material after the "bridge" of the arch itself *was already there*.

Similarly, Behe's arguments about why certain types of biological structures "could not" have evolved fall flat because he doesn't realize that evolution does not only craft features by *adding* components, it also does so by *lateral alteration*, and by *removing* components.

Behe's "irreducible complexity" argument is fatally flawed. It only "proves" that a *simplified* version of evolution (as envisioned by Behe) couldn't give rise to certain structures -- not that the *actual* processes of evolution could not.


[Behe:] An example of an irreducibly complex cellular system is the bacterial flagellum: a rotary propeller, powered by a flow of acid, that bacteria use to swim. The flagellum requires a number of parts before it works - a rotor, stator and motor. Furthermore, genetic studies have shown that about 40 different kinds of proteins are needed to produce a working flagellum.

Behe's either a liar or an idiot on this point. Far from being "irreducibly complex", many simpler versions of working flagella get along just fine, as do several subcomponents of the particular flagellum which Behe uses as his poster-child. And *both* points violate the requirements which Behe states are necessary conditions for a system to be "irredicubly complex". Oops!

See also:
Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe

Irreducible Complexity Demystified

Beyond suboptimality: Why irreducible complexity does not imply intelligent design

ID's irreducible inconsistency revisited

Irreducible Contradiction

The Revenge of Calvin and Hobbes: Behe's Meaningless Complexity

As for the blood clotting cascade, see this earlier post. Not only do simpler, working versions of the blood clotting cascade exist -- the very existence of which disproves Behe's claim about it being "irreducible" -- but the major steps of the evolutionary development of the blood clotting cascade have been clearly determined already by cross-lineage biochemical and DNA analysis.

So in short, Behe's entire "IC" argument is fatally flawed in *several* ways.

What else have you got that might actually hold water for the anti-evolution side, Mulch?

459 posted on 01/31/2006 7:15:14 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Coyoteman

"along with astrology, phrenology, and phlogiston chemistry etc., "

I was taught about all those things in high-school science -- along with the ways the scientific method was used to debunk them. It didn't take a lot of class time; and it helped us understand why the scientific method is so important.

460 posted on 01/31/2006 7:18:14 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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