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ID: What’s it all about, Darwin?
The American Thinker ^ | August 26th, 2005 | Dennis Sevakis

Posted on 08/26/2005 8:57:58 AM PDT by wallcrawlr

My mother says she is a Darwinist. I’m not sure of all the things that could or should imply. I take it to mean the she does not believe that the Cosmos and all that it contains is the result of the will of a Supreme Being. Nature just exists and that is all there is to it. Asking what is the purpose of human existence is a nonsense question. It has no meaning. As we have no conscious origin, we have no conscious destination. Hence no purpose.

This idea is quite troubling to many humans as we are quite reluctant to attach no meaning to the thoughts and desires coursing through the synapses of our brains. And so, for most of human existence, the idea that there was no God was a heresy to be condemned, punished, reviled, tortured and even burned at the stake.

When our social institutions evolved to the point where asking such a question wasn’t as quite as painful or harmful to one’s health, science, in the sense that we use today, began to blossom. And it bloomed because of its explanatory power, its predictive power. If you combine A, B, and C – bingo! – you get D. And no one had ever seen, heard or thought of D before!

One of the best and most widely known examples of this is Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc^2. Exactly what this means is not, for the purposes of this discussion, important. What is important is that this conclusion results from a very simple postulate. Namely, that the speed of light is constant relative to an observer – hence the term “relativity” theory. The other postulate is that we are only dealing with non-accelerated frames of reference. That means constant velocities and no gravitational fields. Hence the term “special” relativity. General relativity, dealing with accelerated frames of reference, is, both conceptually and mathematically, a great deal more abstract and difficult. And, unfortunately, I’m not one of those privy to its secrets.

We still believe, given compliance with the postulates, that the mass-energy equivalence equation is an accurate description of physical reality. For someone with an undergraduate’s knowledge of physics and fair skill with the calculus, it isn’t even very difficult to derive. But that is not the reason for its endurance. Our “faith” in this equation is borne out by innumerable observations, experiments and even a couple of unfortunate events in Japan that took place just about sixty years ago. Though the details of specific processes may, to some extent, still elude us, we have an explanation for the enormous energy levels and extreme duration of the power generated by stars. It was this question that stumped some of the greatest scientific minds of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Einstein’s answer still has no competing theory and it does not leave unanswered questions as to its validity lying about unaddressed.

The same cannot be said of evolutionary theory. There are unanswered questions. Evidence that does not fit. “Facts” that have proven illusive or false. Fabricated evidence. Explanations that are logically incomplete. Jerry-rigged computer models – oops! – sorry, that’s global warming. Result? A competing theory, Intelligent Design or ID, has been proposed as an alternative to Darwin’s rumination. Is this “unscientific” as many wail and gnash in their haste to keep “God” out of science? No. It’s an alternative hypothesis. A competing theory. Not religion. Not superstition. Not a conspiracy by those pesky right-wing, Christian fundamentalist – fundamentalist Christians, if you prefer. A proposed theory. This is how science advances. If one never questions, there are no answers to be had.

If you would like to bone-up on the fundamentals of ID, I suggest that you read Dan Peterson’s piece in the American Spectator, “The Little Engine That Could...Undo Darwinism.” He gives a rundown of the main players in the ID debate along with their academic backgrounds and achievements as well as the main arguments supporting their positions. For an opposing view by a man of science in the field of evolutionary theory, read Jerry Coyne’s offering in the New Republic Online, “The Case Against Intelligent Design.” This was at one time linkable without a subscription as I have a copy saved. But alas, one now seems mandatory.

Based on my brief acquaintance with the subject, there seems to be two fundamental lines of argument used by ID theorists. The first is that which asserts the probability of the complex molecules that form our DNA occurring by chance is infinitesimally small and therefore unlikely to have ever happened by chance. This is the argument put forth by the mathematician and physicist William Dembski.

Michael Behe, who popularized the flagellar motor found in e. coli and other bacterium as an example of intelligent design, is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. His arguments are based on the concept of irreducibly complex processes or structures as opposed to those that are cumulatively complex. Those that are irreducibly complex do not lend themselves without great difficulty to explanation by a theory of evolution. For Darwin himself stated that if one could show that a blind, incremental process could not explain a natural phenomenon, his theory would fall apart.

Darwin’s theories are being questioned, but here we are not talking about religious zealots making the inquiry. We’re talking about real, live, grown-up scientists, who, because of our advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life, and not just bible stories, are asking legitimate and profound questions that are undermining the basis of Darwinism. And they’re not doing so with the desire nor intention of substituting scripture for textbooks. God, as the Jews or Christians or even Muslims perceive Him, is not being offered in place of Darwin.

What is? Good question. I’ll ask my mom. She always had the answers.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: allcrevoallthetime; anothercrevothread; crevolist; crevorepublic; enoughalready; intelligentdesign; makeitstop; notagain
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1 posted on 08/26/2005 8:57:58 AM PDT by wallcrawlr
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past; ohioWfan; Tribune7; Tolkien; GrandEagle; Right in Wisconsin; Dataman; ..
ping


Revelation 4:11
See my profile for info

2 posted on 08/26/2005 8:58:20 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: wallcrawlr
Here we go again.


Hindu Creation Story

This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.

Then the Divine Self-existent, himself indiscernible but making all this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the darkness.

He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own will.

He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them.

That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world....

The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought divided it into two halves;

And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters.

From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal, likewise from the mind ego, which possesses the function of self-consciousness and is lordly.

Moreover, the great one, the soul, and all products affected by the three qualities, and, in their order, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation.

But, joining minute particles even of those six, which possess measureless power, with particles of himself, he created all beings.


3 posted on 08/26/2005 9:09:04 AM PDT by Coyoteman (Is this a good tagline?)
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To: wallcrawlr

Cretinism marches on.


4 posted on 08/26/2005 9:10:11 AM PDT by don'tbedenied ( D)
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To: wallcrawlr

Freepers keep bringing this up about 5 times a day. Perhaps they are just looking (in vain) for some scientific evidence of creation. Why isn't their faith good enough? If you want to believe that all of this was created by the hand of God, by all means believe it. But recognize that He may just have done it the old fashioned way....through evolution.


5 posted on 08/26/2005 9:10:36 AM PDT by MACVSOG68
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To: wallcrawlr

> My mother says she is a Darwinist. I’m not sure of all the things that could or should imply. I take it to mean the she does not believe that the Cosmos and all that it contains is the result of the will of a Supreme Being. Nature just exists and that is all there is to it. Asking what is the purpose of human existence is a nonsense question. It has no meaning. As we have no conscious origin, we have no conscious destination. Hence no purpose.


You know, I think this is the Creationist version of the old gag about the paleontologist who finds a single toe-bone and then reconstructs, very wrongly, an entire fanciful creature from it.

"Darwinist = no purpose?"

I guess that's what they call a "leap of faith."


6 posted on 08/26/2005 9:12:42 AM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: MACVSOG68

Beliefe in the biblical form of creation requires overlooking some serious problems. I would call that faith.

Personally I mix my faith in God with my beliefe in evolution. Where I find problems with evolution I attribute the blank spaces to Gods secrets.


7 posted on 08/26/2005 9:17:07 AM PDT by cripplecreek (If you must obey your party, may your chains rest lightly upon your shoulders.)
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To: wallcrawlr
Prepare to have some of the normal "scientific" arguments thrown at you: Scoffing, scorn, insults, slurs against your faith, etc. Expect just about anything but an intelligent discourse.

God Bless

8 posted on 08/26/2005 9:20:17 AM PDT by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: Coyoteman; orionblamblam; don'tbedenied; MACVSOG68
Just another opportunity to test your copy/paste skilz ma' boys...
and oh yeah...sharpen up on your Christian God hate.

No mention of the fact that the article itself states:

Darwin’s theories are being questioned, but here we are not talking about religious zealots making the inquiry. We’re talking about real, live, grown-up scientists, who, because of our advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life, and not just bible stories, are asking legitimate and profound questions that are undermining the basis of Darwinism.

Do Freepers read articles anymore?

9 posted on 08/26/2005 9:22:32 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: trebb

ha ha...yes, my shoulders are broad and my ego humbled. I can handle it.


10 posted on 08/26/2005 9:23:38 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: orionblamblam
He said he's "not sure of all the things that could or should imply." Then, he goes on to tell us what he thinks (or fears) she means. Unlike the paleontologist/evolutionist, he keeps an open mind.

That seems to destroy your analogy. ;O)

11 posted on 08/26/2005 9:26:37 AM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: MACVSOG68
My mother says she is a Darwinist. I’m not sure of all the things that could or should imply. I take it to mean the she does not believe that the Cosmos and all that it contains is the result of the will of a Supreme Being.

Mac writes in part:
But recognize that He may just have done it the old fashioned way....through evolution.

Mac, I agree. The arrogance of people like Sevakis who assume that they know how God performed His miracles, is breathtaking. To conclude that a the person who understands Natural Selection therefore doesn't believe in God, is arrogant in the extreme. The truth will set you free -- using God's name to deny the evidence and promote a falsehood ("scientific" creationism) in order to cleave to a literal interpretation of Genesis, is wrong and true Christians should seek the truth through science and have enough faith in God to see His hand in all of it, as I certainly do in natural selection -- it is in itself intelligent design!

Notice that no literal interpretation of the New Testament is mandatory -- everyone knows that Jesus wasn't talking about someone having, literally, a sty or a log or a plank in their eye, because that makes no physical sense!!! Double standards!!! To me, it's the folks who insist on creationism who exhibit lack of faith in God, and the brains God gave them.

12 posted on 08/26/2005 9:26:50 AM PDT by Finny (God continue to Bless President G.W. Bush with wisdom, popularity, safety and success.)
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To: wallcrawlr
The only problem is that is just isn't true. No "grown-up scientists" are questioning Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection because of our "advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life".

Indeed our "advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life" have done much to advance and support Darwin's theory. I am a Molecular Biologist. And I don't "hate God". I love God.

Science can never do more than show Gods rules for the universe. Fear it if you must; but don't imply that science is 'anti-God' because it isn't.
13 posted on 08/26/2005 9:30:58 AM PDT by Mylo ("Those without a sword should sell their cloak and buy one" Jesus of Nazareth)
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To: wallcrawlr
We’re talking about real, live, grown-up scientists...

Whose listing always includes Behe, Behe, Behe, and no one else in particular.

Here's a good list of books on all sides.

14 posted on 08/26/2005 9:31:09 AM PDT by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: MACVSOG68; wallcrawlr
Freepers keep bringing this up about 5 times a day..... Why isn't their faith good enough?

The question answers itself. The answer is no.

15 posted on 08/26/2005 9:31:32 AM PDT by elbucko
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To: newgeezer

> Unlike the paleontologist/evolutionist, he keeps an open mind.

*Wow*.

On the one hand, we've got paleontology and the history of evolution constantly being updated and revised as new information comes in (such as wonderful new stuff regarding bird evolution coming from China), and being berated by Creationists for not sticking to one precise story...

And on the other hand, we've got people like yourself declaring that paleontologists and evolutionsts don't have an open mind.

Just... *wow*. What's it like being able to hold two contradictory beliefs simultaneously?


16 posted on 08/26/2005 9:32:11 AM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: orionblamblam
...very wrongly...

How does a creationist or ID advocate go about deciding that a paleontologist is wrong? How do you know, for example, that Piltdown Man was a hoax? What's your basis for saying that something in science is wrong?

17 posted on 08/26/2005 9:35:01 AM PDT by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: wallcrawlr
Always thought evolution was part of his plan.

God's plan that is.

18 posted on 08/26/2005 9:37:03 AM PDT by Reagan Man (Secure the borders;punish employers who hire illegals;halt all welfare handouts to illegals.)
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To: cripplecreek

See thats a problem with strcit Evos, they want no God to have anything to do with evolution, and the same with strict creationists they deny all aspects of evolution.

And some think that ID is Christian specific and therefore cannt be taught. The whole issue has been succesfully muddled by all sides.


19 posted on 08/26/2005 9:38:01 AM PDT by aft_lizard (This space waiting for a post election epiphany it now is: Question Everything)
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To: Finny

interesting...condescending, arrogant, and blasphemous...but interesting too


20 posted on 08/26/2005 9:42:26 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: Reagan Man

youre not alone in that thought, you may be right...its different than what I think but thats ok.


21 posted on 08/26/2005 9:45:08 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: orionblamblam
LOL. Obviously, I failed to get my point across, and you're drawing way too many conclusions from my little barb (perhaps the emoticon wasn't enough to make my intentions clear).

Next time, I'll know better. :)

22 posted on 08/26/2005 10:03:06 AM PDT by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)
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To: aft_lizard

>thats a problem with strcit Evos, they want no God to have anything to do with evolution

Replace "want" with "see." Then it'll be pretty much accurate.


23 posted on 08/26/2005 10:06:05 AM PDT by orionblamblam ("You're the poster boy for what ID would turn out if it were taught in our schools." VadeRetro)
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To: wallcrawlr


Watch what you post. The gaurdians of dogmatic darwinism will have your head.And most of them claim conservatism.

MIT biochemists calculated the odds of finding a folded protein are about 1 in 10 to the 65 power .

Now, when will the atheist/darwinists prove a single protein arose unaided.Even if they could,which they cannot,it would probably be one single, isolated, worthless protein, which would quickly fall apart in the presence of water or ultraviolet light from the sun!


'Since science has not the vaguest idea how (proteins) originated, it would only be honest to admit this to students, the agencies funding research, and the public.'

Journal of Theoretical Biology (yockey)

The rabid atheist/darwinists maintain life spontaneously created itself, IDers claim it`s a little more complex, and mathematically impossible.


24 posted on 08/26/2005 10:06:24 AM PDT by Para-Ord.45
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To: Reagan Man

"Always thought evolution was part of his plan. God's plan that is."



Unacceptable! You have not passed the new litmus test. You cannot really believe in God. And you must not be a real conservative.


25 posted on 08/26/2005 10:07:09 AM PDT by macamadamia (Do I really need to say this is sarcasm?)
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To: Para-Ord.45
The rabid atheist/darwinists maintain life spontaneously created itself

Considering that the TOE has nothing to say on the subject of abiogenesis, you are either ignorant or dishonest.

26 posted on 08/26/2005 10:10:07 AM PDT by RogueIsland
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To: wallcrawlr
Life is too complex to have originated from an imaginary designer. Stop making a fool of yourself by perpetuating silly superstitions. Evolution is the foundation which explains biology but, unfortunately for the ignorant, requires a small amount of learned science to understand! The same amount of time and effort you waste reading charlatans like Behe could be applied to reading a real science book. Try it sometime!
27 posted on 08/26/2005 10:13:52 AM PDT by shuckmaster
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To: wallcrawlr
I'll take this paragraph first:

The same cannot be said of evolutionary theory. There are unanswered questions.

There will always be unanswered questions. To assume otherwise is ludicrous.

Evidence that does not fit. “Facts” that have proven illusive or false.

Like what?

Fabricated evidence.

It happens. However, once the fabrication has been exposed it is rejected. Can't say the same for creationists. They've been telling the same falsehoods for decades.

Explanations that are logically incomplete.

Like what?

Jerry-rigged computer models – oops! – sorry, that’s global warming.

Cute way to sneak in a strawman.

Result? A competing theory, Intelligent Design or ID, has been proposed as an alternative to Darwin’s rumination.

It is not a theory. It meets exactly none of the basic requirements of a theory.

Is this “unscientific” as many wail and gnash in their haste to keep “God” out of science?

Nobody is wailing and gnashing, and there is no "haste to keep God out of science". The concern is that religion will be taught as science. That is what the debate is about.

No. It’s an alternative hypothesis. A competing theory. Not religion. Not superstition. Not a conspiracy by those pesky right-wing, Christian fundamentalist – fundamentalist Christians, if you prefer. A proposed theory. This is how science advances. If one never questions, there are no answers to be had.

It is not an alternative hypothesis, or a competing theory. There is no hypothesis. There is no theory. It asks no questions. It makes no predictions. There are no tests. It just says "that's too complicated to happen on it's own, God did it, move along, move along". This is NOT how science advances: this is how science is stagnated.

28 posted on 08/26/2005 10:17:52 AM PDT by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: cripplecreek
Personally I mix my faith in God with my beliefe in evolution. Where I find problems with evolution I attribute the blank spaces to Gods secrets.

Seems like a pretty good outlook.

29 posted on 08/26/2005 10:18:56 AM PDT by MACVSOG68
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To: wallcrawlr
I see. So ... God gave us brains, the ability to reason, the ability to observe and draw conclusions, the ability to resist or surrender to temptation, the ability to practice deception or truth, the ability to pursue science ... why, exactly? So that people like you can accuse the faithful who see God's hand in science as being blasphemous? Blasphemous because they think it's untruthful -- therefore unGodlike -- to interpret Genesis literally?

Any time one seeks the truth, one is following the ways of God. When you deny the truth, even if you do so in God's name, you're not doing Him or Christianity any favors. It reveals insecurity in the solid hand of God and his miracles. Such is this 150-year-old argument over evolution. Yes, the devil disguises himself and fools people very well, including those who deny evolution by denying truth. They think they're doing it for God ... but are they really? Whereas the person who accepts the truth of the evidence -- such as our molecular biologist friend who has posted to this thread -- and continues to credit God for the miracles, shows the more steadfast faith.

30 posted on 08/26/2005 10:20:28 AM PDT by Finny (God continue to Bless President G.W. Bush with wisdom, popularity, safety and success.)
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To: wallcrawlr
and oh yeah...sharpen up on your Christian God hate.

LOL. The creation-evolution debate may not be new, but It's always interesting to see the newest venom.

31 posted on 08/26/2005 10:22:04 AM PDT by MACVSOG68
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To: Finny

Finny, I think you have the post of the day! Good job.


32 posted on 08/26/2005 10:23:17 AM PDT by MACVSOG68
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To: MACVSOG68

Thank you! See my post 30 as well. One of the things I so love about FR is that I find I'm not alone. Thanks for your kind words.


33 posted on 08/26/2005 10:25:13 AM PDT by Finny (God continue to Bless President G.W. Bush with wisdom, popularity, safety and success.)
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To: Coyoteman

"If I only had a brain..."

Isn't that the straw man's theme song?


34 posted on 08/26/2005 10:31:08 AM PDT by frgoff
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To: wallcrawlr; trebb; js1138; Mylo; Para-Ord.45
We’re talking about real, live, grown-up scientists, who, because of our advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life, and not just bible stories, are asking legitimate and profound questions that are undermining the basis of Darwinism.

ROFL!! Okay, that's the creationist spin, anyway.

A more accurate description is that there are a very tiny handful (the same four names keep popping up) of allegedly "grown-up scientists" who bang the drum for ID, but who keep getting even the basic science wrong in their zeal to push ID. If they're "undermining" anything, it's not the "basis of Darwinism", it's their own ID hypothesis.

Meanwhile, the actual "advancing knowledge of the molecular basis of life" just keeps adding to the overwhelming mountain of evidence *for* evolution.

Here are some recent posts of mine highlighting the fundamental flaws in the "ID" work of Behe, Dembski, and friends:

Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth by Jonathan Wells

Read it already. Full of misrepresentations and misunderstandings on Wells's part. Classic "straw man fallacy" stuff (i.e. beating up a sham scarecrow replica of your opponent's position and then declaring "victory" over his *actual* position), as well as countless outright falsehoods. I haven't bothered to write my own review of it because this webpage already does such a good job of expressing my own opinion of the book: Icons of Evolution FAQs, especially in (but not limited to) this sub-page: Icon of Obfuscation Jonathan Wells's book Icons of Evolution: and why most of what it teaches about evolution is wrong. I don't just take Matzke's word for it -- I can personally vouch for the accuracy of his refutations of Wells's flawed points.

Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins by Dean H. Kenyon (biologist) and Percival Davis (zoologist). It compares the theories of evolution and "intelligent design" but does not mention God, Christ, the Bible, church or creation. It is a textbook that was reviewed by 35 reviewers, including evolutionists and non-evolutionists.

Haven't read it. But the full text is searchable and readable on Amazon.com, and when I tried a couple of keywords just now ("DNA" and "Cambrian"), I found a lot of the usual creationist misrepresentations and misunderstandings, so I can't say that I'm impressed. For example, he's just monumentally wrong (and jaw-droppingly ignorant) when he claims that:

This nearly simultaneous appearance of most known phyla [during the Cambrian - Ich.] is more remarkable when we consider that the variation within a phylum is quite small compared to how much the phyla vary from one another. In other words, there is more morphological distance between two phyla than separates representatives within the phyla themselves. This means that the origins of new phyla are evolution's greatest achievements in diversifying life forms."
Um, no. The author is making the ludicrous claim that there is *LESS* structural/evolutionary difference between, say, a parrot and a hagfish:

...(both are members of the chordata phylum) than between a Cambrian worm with a primitive notocord versus a Cambrian worm with a more diffuse neural net. Nice try.

The DNA material was equally giggle-worthy.

If you can direct me to a page number you feel makes a decent point without such serious flaws, let me know and I'll check it out.

Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson
Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Phillip Johnson

I've read the former, and based on its worthlessness I skipped reading the latter. I also debated Johnson online back and forth for a week about ten years ago. What he doesn't know about biology would fill volumes. He arguest against evolution in exactly the way you would expect him to as a lawyer (his actual profession) -- by using what *sounds* persuasive instead of on what is actually sound reasoning, or actually founded upon the preponderance of the evidence. I wasn't at all impressed. And apparently I'm not the only one. See for example:

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth? Why Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial and the "Intelligent Design" movement are neither science—nor Christian

Critiques of Anti-Evolutionist Phillip Johnson's Views

DARWIN ON TRIAL: A Review

Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe (biologist)

I've read that too. Behe seems sincere enough, at least, but in his zeal he produces shoddy, flawed work, while wildly overstating what he can actually support (if at all). Here are some of my prior posts on the problems in Behe's book and other statements/publications:

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 produced...by 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.
And:

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.

Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton (biologist).

Already read it. More misrepresentations and misunderstandings about what evolutionary biology *actually* consists of and the nature of the evidence supporting it. One example from a prior post of mine:

Michael Denton, an Australian biologist and self-described agnostic. Denton writes that evolutionists once thought that comparing DNA sequences would prove the "family tree" linkage between species that Darwin conceived. But "Thousands of different sequences, protein and nucleic acid, have now been compared in hundreds of different species, but never has any sequence been found to be in any sense the lineal descendant or ancestor of any other sequence,"

To be blunt, Denton is either an idiot or a liar. His claim is flat wrong. For many specific examples of five entirely *independent* methods of linking common ancestry via DNA analysis, see Molecular Sequence Evidence. For *tons* of research studies turning up more DNA evidence of common ancestry on a regular basis, see The Journal of Molecular Biology. You can browse abstracts from hundreds of articles publshed in the past 89 issues on that site. For full text, subscribe to the online version or go visit a technical library. From just the most recent issue, for example:

The PRAT Purine Synthesis Gene Duplication in Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila virilis Is Associated with a Retrotransposition Event and Diversification of Expression Patterns (short summary: the authors identified gene sequences which were inherited from a common ancestor of the two species 40 million years ago)

Phylogeny of Choanozoa, Apusozoa, and Other Protozoa and Early Eukaryote Megaevolution (short summary: A study of DNA sequences and the light it sheds on the very early split of the various single-cell organism types from a common ancestor)

Frequent Mitochondrial Gene Rearrangements at the Hymenopteran nad3–nad5 Junction (short summary: DNA from 21 distinct groups of wasps were compared and the implications for the family tree and "history" are discussed)

And here's one more from the Journal of Human Genetics: Molecular phylogenetics of the hominoid Y chromosome (short summary: Y-chromosome DNA from humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans were compared and the results were as expected if the species share a common ancestor.)

Denton is quite simply flat wrong.

Denton also writes, "The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable event."

Denton's either incompetent or dishonest here, since no one's proposing that any "known type of cell" was representative of the first spark(s) of life. The earliest life was far, far simpler than that. See for example: On the origins of cells: a hypothesis for the evolutionary transitions from abiotic geochemistry to chemoautotrophic prokaryotes, and from prokaryotes to nucleated cells or The Path from the RNA World

For more negative critiques of Denton's book identifying the errors in his arguments (with which I heartily concur and for which I can vounch), see for example:

Review of Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis

Reviews: "Evolution: A Theory In Crisis" by Michael Denton

I trust this is enough material to begin your search.

Way ahead of you, actually. You might want to read the above material and links in order to catch up with me, however.

Have you got any material that *isn't* obviously seriously flawed? I'll be happy to check it out.

Also:
My post pointing out the problems with Spetner's "analysis" of evolution

35 posted on 08/26/2005 10:31:25 AM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: RogueIsland


Darwinists are also mute and fear the third rail of how the first protein invented itself. MIT biochemists arlready crunsched the numbers,even factoring in the thin wisp evos cling to,abiogenesis.

AA`s come in 3D chains.Some leeway is possible,in others it`s not tolerated.MIT biochemists already tackled this.The odds remain.Calculated odds of finding a folded protein are about 1 in 10 to the 65 power ( Robert Sauer )

Of all the possible bonds of AA`s ,all have to form peptide bonds,the natural thing is for the reverse to take place(Sarfati, J.D., 1998. Origin of life: the polymerization problem).THEN,the P must contain only LH AA`s and exclude RH AA`s making it a 50/50 chance .Then it must be in the correct sequence.Now add to that the fact that one cell requires 75 "helper molecules",working together to make one protein(rgroup) as told by one dna base,translated by enzymes with special slots holding other modules,each one having 5 slots,,2 chem,2 nonchem,one atp.The cell needs 20,one for each R-group/code name (amino acid/tRNA).The whole set is USELESS without ribosomes to crack the code into three-letter code ,USELESS without constant atp and would VANISH if translases wore out,but actually renew.

What are the odds.MIT has already crunched the numbers.


We all await the darwinists recreating the process (spontaneously) in a lab over and over.


36 posted on 08/26/2005 10:34:26 AM PDT by Para-Ord.45
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To: js1138

Yeah, just like that heliocentric view of the solar system was just Copernicus, Copernicus, Copernicus.... At first.


37 posted on 08/26/2005 10:34:34 AM PDT by frgoff
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To: Ichneumon

Excellent post! And if the Crevos follow form, they'll do anything but respond to it.


38 posted on 08/26/2005 10:35:06 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: RogueIsland

Then why are evolutionists all in a lather over ID, which simply explains what TOE (according to you) has nothing to say about?


39 posted on 08/26/2005 10:36:15 AM PDT by frgoff
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To: Finny

I'll agree too - to a point. Survival of the fittest, no problem. Natural selection, makes sense. But when the Good Book says that life shall reproduce"..after its own kind...", that's where I am forced to disagree with Chuckie Darwin.


40 posted on 08/26/2005 10:38:16 AM PDT by Paisan
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To: frgoff
Yeah, just like that heliocentric view of the solar system was just Copernicus, Copernicus, Copernicus.... At first.

But unlike Behe, Behe, Behe; Copernicus, Copernicus, Copernicus could back his claims with actual science. He came up with a theory that included many testable hypotheses, something that (despite thread after thread) ID proponents have been totally unable to provide.

41 posted on 08/26/2005 10:38:35 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: Finny
I really find it interesting to see how callous Christians are when discussing how smart they are for not believing in Gods Word literally.

You really do have a sense of pride about it, don't you?

To me it doesn't seem right.

42 posted on 08/26/2005 10:40:02 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: frgoff

Except that the list of creationsts and ID advocates is shrinking. Denton has gone over to the dark side. He believes in "fine tuning" at creation, but accepts the history of life pretty much as biologists and paleontologists see it.

There are quite a few ID advocates who believe in some form of fine tuning. Even Behe, to some extent. It's pretty hard for anyone familiar with the evidence to deny the physical history of biology, regardless of how you interpret its origin and meaning.


43 posted on 08/26/2005 10:40:35 AM PDT by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: Para-Ord.45

thanks for the warning...i'm not a virgin to these debates.


44 posted on 08/26/2005 10:42:24 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: MACVSOG68

"venom"...you got to be kidding.

are you so sensitive?


45 posted on 08/26/2005 10:43:46 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: shuckmaster

oh ok, thanks for your concern.

"imaginary"...if you want to push him in the corner have at it...the path is wide.


46 posted on 08/26/2005 10:44:52 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: Para-Ord.45

"The rabid atheist/darwinists maintain life spontaneously created itself"



Are you rejecting the idea of spontaneous creation? Or spontaneous creation absent the hand of God? It seems to me Genesis itself implies all living things were brought whole or complete into being or created spontaneously because the text does not hint at any kind of evolutionary process. So...if as you say the odds of "finding a folded protein are about 1 in 10 to the 65 power" then what are the odds of animals and plants popping whole into existence?


47 posted on 08/26/2005 10:45:59 AM PDT by macamadamia
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To: Ichneumon; Zeroisanumber

some people are so sensitive that they're posts arent responded too.

"look at me, look at me"

sheesh grow up a little.


48 posted on 08/26/2005 10:47:47 AM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: Ichneumon

I noticed a very liberal sprinkling of "mights' and "may haves", which means that your ROFL indicates a very low threshhold for finding something humorous. If you really read the arguments using Behe's ideas on irreducible complexity, you will find the stone arh that they try to use as pretty darn funny too - that argument is more like a sixth grade fantasy than a scientific essay. I guess that if they can't come up with a good argument against irriducible complexity with cells and life-forms, they have to try to fool, somebody with a totally irrelevant example.


49 posted on 08/26/2005 10:48:39 AM PDT by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: wallcrawlr
Both ID arguments are the same--life is too complex to have come about on its own and so must have been designed by a designer.

However, the designer is too complex to have come about on its own and, therefore, must have been designed by a prior designer...and so on ad infinitum.

Unless one subscribes to an endless line of designers, complexity arose on its own somewhere along the line--something the IDers shout "can't happen".

50 posted on 08/26/2005 10:49:30 AM PDT by Cruising Speed
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