Holt on Behe in New York Times Magazine

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There’s an interesting piece by Jim Holt in the February 20th, 2005 issue of New York Times magazine, entitled “Unintelligent Design.” Holt makes some interesting observations, like this one:

In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

He also says something quite curious about Michael Behe:

But what if the designer did not style each species individually? What if he/she/it merely fashioned the primal cell and then let evolution produce the rest, kinks and all? That is what the biologist and intelligent-design proponent Michael J. Behe has suggested. Behe says that the little protein machines in the cell are too sophisticated to have arisen by mutation – an opinion that his scientific peers overwhelmingly do not share. Whether or not he is correct, his version of intelligent design implies a curious sort of designer, one who seeded the earth with elaborately contrived protein structures and then absconded, leaving the rest to blind chance. (emphasis added)

I’m curious, Thumbers and Lurkers - do you think this is a correct statement of Behe’s views?

Thanks, Dave

90 Comments

I’m curious, Thumbers and Lurkers - do you think this is a correct statement of Behe’s views?

Actually, no idea. I haven’t ever read anything by him stating that, but I haven’t read everything he’s written.

I do want to point out, however, that Behe seems to be pushing creation further and further back. From the YEC position (creation ex hinilo some 10000 years back) they went further and further until their only “peer-reviewed” publication which implied normal evolution back to the Cambrian, and now completely normal evolution going all the way back to abiogenesis. I wonder if Behe has finally admited that he has no case, and is trying to save face by attempting to fit ID into what few gaps are left? Maybe we should send a letter to YEC people to point out that Behe is no longer interested in the big tent…

Hope that helps (or at least brings a smile to someone’s lips)

Grey Wolf

It has to be, to stay consistent with Behe’s comments that he believes in natural selection and in common descent.

The only thing left to be consistent with ID and also natural selection and common descent is some now and then tinkering as the Intelligent Designer glues some flagella to the butts of some bacteria once in awhile but letting evolution take its course for the most part.

Of course there is no comment from Phillp Johnson, or anybody else at Discovery Institute if *that* is all that ID has to offer.

Well, I read Behe’s book, and he (surprise, surprise!) never gets specific about how and when information was “injected” into the system, but - by process of elimination - I came to the same conclusion that Holt does.

In the NY Times Holt wrote …

What if he/she/it merely fashioned the primal cell and then let evolution produce the rest, kinks and all? That is what the biologist and intelligent-design proponent Michael J. Behe has suggested. Behe says that the little protein machines in the cell are too sophisticated to have arisen by mutation …

I noted that in Holt’s piece. But I’ve also noted it in Behe’s public statements before. He maintains that he accepts evolution but then lists the structures that he defines as irreducibly complex. Therein lies a contradiction. Unless he posits that the great designer dips in and out, as the whim strikes him/her, creating an IC object here and then one there, but leaves the rest to evolution. That strikes me as an indefensible position, not only scientifically but also theologically. Scientifically for all the usual reasons and theologically because it presents a truly cavalier and indifferent designer, one who would draw the ire of the Consumer Product Safety Commission if he operated in the US. I plan on attending the Elizabethtown College (Pennsylvania) Conference on evolution and religion on March 1st, where Behe will speak in the morning in a “debate” with Niall Shanks. In the Q & A that follows, if I can get recognized, I plan to pose that very question.

From what I’ve read, Behe thinks that the “information” for IC systems was “front loaded” into the “first organism” only to be expresed when it was “needed.”

From what I’ve read, Behe thinks that the “information” for IC systems was “front loaded” into the “first organism” only to be expresed when it was “needed.”

Right, that was my take. Which leads to the conclusion that the first organism contained all the genetic information for E.Coli, HIV, Homo sapiens, fungus, palm trees…

This strikes me as a whole lot less credible than Santa Claus.

Jim Holt Wrote:

One beauty of Darwinism is the intellectual freedom it allows.

What is Darwinism? It would be nice if the author defined this term as he understands it. It is meaningless in the biological community and most often used by people unfamiliar with the modern state of biological research (i.e., lay-advocates of ID and creationism).

Because ID attempts to fit under the umbrella of evolutionary biology, and most biologists push ID out into the rain (yeah, it’s a forced metaphor), should we interpret “darwinism” to mean “those who believe in the modern synthesis?”

Right, that was my take. Which leads to the conclusion that the first organism contained all the genetic information for E.Coli, HIV, Homo sapiens, fungus, palm trees …

At least that is a testable hypothesis.

To my recollection, Behe has proposed three different (but not mutually exclusive) views. First, he has suggested the front-loading scheme, the “primal cell” business. Second, he has suggested temporary suspensions of natural laws for subssequent interventions like gluing flagella onto bacteria (his puff of smoke remark). Third, he has at least implied special creation of humans, as when he suggested that there might be irreducibly complex differences between humans and other primates. The second, of course, rules out the potential testability of the first. I suspect that the third, the suggestion of IC differences between humans and other primates, is a sop to the troops in the pews who might become a little restless over repetitions of Behe’s earlier remarks about accepting common descent:

For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. Darwin’s Black Box, p. 7)

Behe’s alleged adherence to common descent is sometimes used by his ID colleagues to show that ID is not attempting to overthrow all of biology. In that vein, William Dembski, for example, wrote in 2002:

The most prominent design theorist, Michael Behe, is on record to holding to common descent (the evolutionary interrelatedness of all organisms back to a common ancestor).

As with the rest of his colleagues in the intelligent design creationist movement, Behe has no theory of intelligent design, but just random conjectures tossed out with no development and repeated whines about the supposed inadequacies of genuine science.

RBH

I don’t think Behe is really a front-loading proponent. Half the examples of IC in Darwin’s Black Box have to deal with features that existed only in vertebrates (or at least, at the time Behe thought they did): the rearranging genes of the immune system, membrane/secreted antibodies, the complement and clotting cascades.

To postulate that precursor elements for these features were “front-loaded” billions of years ago in bacteria, with the idea that they would come together on their own by random mutation and selection at the appropriate time, would mean simply to negate the whole point of IC, i.e. that these system cannot evolve by conventional evolutionary mechanisms.

I think Behe thinks that God is a “pimp my ride” kind of guy, who shows up once in a while to spiff up the Creation with spanky new features that otherwise wouldn’t be there, according to some Mysterious Master Plan.

Because ID attempts to fit under the umbrella of evolutionary biology, and most biologists push ID out into the rain (yeah, it’s a forced metaphor), should we interpret “darwinism” to mean “those who believe in the modern synthesis?”

Considering some of Darwin’s seemingly quite personal remarks in his notebooks, I suggest that “Darwinism”, in its broadest sense, should be taken to mean “uncompromising materialism”. This may be his most fundamental contribution.

If Behe, indeed, argues that the DNA of life was “front-loaded”, then how can he tenably argue that common descent with modification occurred? That sounds strangely as if in Behe’s eyes life on Earth is not much more than a computer program whose course was pre-determined with external factors playing no role. Does that mean that the great extinctions were events in the history of life analogous to god playing war games with his toys, since the cretaceous meteorite was surely not part of the genetic plan?

And, if life was “front-loaded”, there should be abundant evidence of that “front-loading” in the DNA of the most primitive organisms living today. They should contain all those genes that were turned on millennia later in another branch of the evolutionary shrub to produce the more complex and more recently evolved organisms.

If Behe, indeed, argues that the DNA of life was “front-loaded”, then how can he tenably argue that common descent with modification occurred? That sounds strangely as if in Behe’s eyes life on Earth is not much more than a computer program whose course was pre-determined with external factors playing no role. Does that mean that the great extinctions were events in the history of life analogous to god playing war games with his toys, since the cretaceous meteorite was surely not part of the genetic plan?

And, if life was “front-loaded”, there should be abundant evidence of that “front-loading” in the DNA of the most primitive organisms living today. They should contain all those genes that were turned on millennia later in another branch of the evolutionary shrub to produce the more complex and more recently evolved organisms.

Well, lurkers were asked for and so here I am. (I have no problem with passive voice, if you don’t like it go whine to an English teacher.)

I am fond of taking ideas to their logical conclusion, and when Behe’s ideas are taken to their logical conclusion it seems that the only times the designer can design is sometime around the time of the common ancestor of prokaryotes and eukaryotes and before.

Having said this, Behe also uses blood clotting as one of his example of IC, and this certainly originated at some time considerably after the first appearance of life. At the latest this would be around the time that the phylum chordata originated (I don’t really know much about the circulatory systems of non-chordates and so can’t comment on their clotting mechanisms). Even though this example of a supposed “IC” system must have originated after abiogenesis, I would like to give Behe the benefit of the doubt and say that since blood clotting has been shown to be reducible that it is no longer a valid example for evaluating Behe’s positions.

Without blood clotting we are left with examples of systems that have their origin at the earliest period in the history of life and so ID becomes a rather desperate, if sophisticated, version of the God of the Gaps.

John Wendt Wrote:

Considering some of Darwin’s seemingly quite personal remarks in his notebooks, I suggest that “Darwinism”, in its broadest sense, should be taken to mean “uncompromising materialism”. This may be his most fundamental contribution.

I’m guessing you misinterpreted my quote:

Because ID attempts to fit under the umbrella of evolutionary biology, and most biologists push ID out into the rain (yeah, it’s a forced metaphor), should we interpret “darwinism” to mean “those who believe in the modern synthesis?”

I was trying to come up with an interpretation of what “darwinism” means when uniformed writers use the term. They may be attempting to imply some religious devotion to a dogma (sort of like the fundamental Christian obsession with the bible). Science is not run by dogma and literal reading of a 150 year old text, so the term “darwinism” is extremely confusing to a researcher in the field of evolutionary biology.

My goal was to find a synonym that we could use in order to understand what a “darwinist” really is. I concluded that “evolution” would be inappropriate, as IDist tend to believe in evolution and simply offer a shotty hypothesis for how it occurs. Because the modern synthesis (neo-Darwinian synthesis) more accurately describes the 21st century biologist’s understanding of evolution than Darwin’s description does, I proposed that “darwinism” most likely refers to “belief in the modern synthesis.”

I’m curious, Thumbers and Lurkers - do you think this is a correct statement of Behe’s views?

I don’t think so, but then Behe hasn’t been specific or clear about when the magic occured. For example, he has admitted a willingness to believe common descent, but that can’t go all the way back to a single cell because some of his alleged irreducibly complex systems make sense only for multicellular organisms (blood clotting, immune system).

It is difficult to say exactly what Behe’s views really are. Behe recognizes, I think, that he is not in a position to posit the existence, now or at some earlier time, of a real intelligent designer. Thus, he resorts to attacks on the perceived weaknesses in evidence for evolution. As a consequence, his “intelligent designer” lacks any specific qualities other than that he/she/it was the intelligent designer. This causes Behe’s argument to ultimately collapse.

It sounds to me that Behe is *really* a theistic evolutionist that expects to find fingerprints. (Unlike, say, Miller.)

Unfortuneately, every fingerprint turns out to be a smudge.

According to Andrea, “I think Behe thinks that God is a ‘pimp my ride’ kind of guy, who shows up once in a while to spiff up the Creation with spanky new features that otherwise wouldn’t be there, according to some Mysterious Master Plan.”

Good image, Andrea.

One important thing to keep in mind: If one wants to say that the designer turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) directly into a part of an organism, one runs the risk of saying something that is inconsistent with common descent. Did the designer turn inert matter (or “nothingness”) directly into a new cell? Cells are organisms. So, for instance, say that Behe thinks the designer turned dust directly into the first eye. That would be at odds with the hypothesis of common descent in that eyes are comprised of cells, and cells are organisms – at least in terms of how most scientists talk. Now bacterial flagella are not cells. So if Behe’s hypothesis is that the first bacterial flagellum is the only thing that a designer turned inert matter directly into, his hypothesis would be consistent with common descent.

Another point. I still can’t really figure out what Behe means by “irreducibly complex.” But I think he would say that some parts of me are “irreducibly complex.” And I was born by my mother. So that Behe says that something is “irreducibly complex” does not enable me to justifiably believe that a being turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) directly into that thing.

Behe might respond by saying that, while I am – or parts of me are – “irreducibly complex,” we know what proximately caused the existence of me. Bacterial flagella are “irreducibly complex,” and we don’t know what proximately caused the existence of the first bacterial flagella. But I thought he is saying that he knows that a designer caused the existence of the first bacterial flagellum. So what is it? Is it known what caused the first bacterial flagellum or is it not known? Maybe he would say that it is not known what proximately caused the first bacterial flagellum, but it is justifiably believed that an intelligent designer proximately caused it by using some sort of power.

But it is at least justifiably believed that the existence of the thing that Behe would identify as the first fully developed bacterial flagellum was proximately caused by cell-division; for the existence of billions and billions of organisms has been proximately caused by cell-division or sexual reproduction, and it’s very doubtful that a deity or extraterrestrial turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) directly into an organism in the last 4,000 years. Analogously, say I walk into my bedroom and find a crisp, new $100 dollar bill on my pillow. Let’s say I don’t know how it got there. I’m justified in believing that no deity or extraterrestrial put it there.

I posted: “…it’s very doubtful that a deity or extraterrestrial turned inert matter (or ‘nothingness’) directly into an organism in the last 4,000 years.”

Very doubtful?! It is better just to say that it didn’t happen.

Dave Thomas Wrote:

I’m curious, Thumbers and Lurkers - do you think this is a correct statement of Behe’s views?

Though not worded exactly like that, it is in fact the only alternate possibility stated in such detail by Behe, or any other IDer for that matter. AIUI, Behe has since stated that he doesn’t take it too seriously. H. Allen Orr’s quip about human pseudogenes for chlorophyll may have been a factor, but so may be an increasing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy among IDers. Despite being officially noncommittal, ID arguments increasingly hint at independent abiogenesis rather than any common descent scenario. The big tent is apparently the prime motivator.

More importantly, though, Behe has not, to my knowledge, tested that or any other potential alternative hypothesis.

RBH Wrote:

What is Darwinism? It would be nice if the author defined this term as he understands it. It is meaningless in the biological community and most often used by people unfamiliar with the modern state of biological research (i.e., lay-advocates of ID and creationism).

Thank you! Unfortunately, as you know, many scientists also use it carelessly, and in doing so, supply anti-evolutionists with their best rhetorical weapon.

Longhorn Wrote:

I posted: “ … it’s very doubtful that a deity or extraterrestrial turned inert matter (or ‘nothingness’) directly into an organism in the last 4,000 years.”

… which s/he corrected to:

Very doubtful?! It is better just to say that it didn’t happen.

You’d better say it didn’t happen. It was six thousand years if it was a day.

No one knows what the ID view really is on evolution and what portion of it they accept or don’t accept because they won’t state it. So whenever you characterize a position, they can say “that’s not what we say”.

It’s also risky for them to come out with a position on how much common descent they do/don’t accept. It means making statements about the age of the world and making predictions about the relatedness of species x and y, and how to show where natural selection does and does not work. That makes the theory vulnerable.

Good theories are vulnerable and do take risks. ID refuses to.

There are other considerations as well. They don’t agree. There is no unified ID theory. It’s a mishmash that tries to group everything from Creationism to Orthogenesis under one umbrella.

If you really want to take a trip down the rabbit hole read some of what Wells states about common descent. He argues you can have descendant species that are born from an ancestor that cares for them, but are not really the same species and not really genetically related. They are just similar enough for the ancestor to care for the descendant. So therefore, you don’t really have common descent.

I don’t know quite where to post this note, but two excellent essays appeared on-line today, one from the Boston Globe and the other from the Albuquerque Journal.

Larry Calloway writing for the Albuquerque Journal, has written a serious piece on evolution and ID with an emphasis on Ernst Mayr.

David Holahan, on the other hand, has written a very funny piece in the Boston Globe that is very, very funny, bringing in our gall bladder, the appendix, automobile recalls, and nudist beaches. Given their lack of a sense of humor, it will drive the ID promoters nuts.

Dave Thomas, shame on you! If you’d read and appreciated Ken Miller’s wonderful “Find Darwin’s God,” you’d know that Miller quotes Behe suggesting preciselythis idea. Here’s Behe:

“Suppose that nearly 4 bya the designer made the first cell, already containing all of the IR biochemical systems dicussed here and many others. (One can postulate that the designs for systems that were to be used later, such as blood clotting, were present but not “turned on.” In present day organisms, plenty of genes are tured off for a while, sometimes for generations, to be turned on at a later time.)

Miller then rips this idea to pieces, pointing out first of all that such a clairavoyant cell (containing all the IR systems from creatures not to walk the earth for a billion years) would be giagantic, and that none of the bacterial ancestors of this cell show any such thing. Worse, anything that was “turned off” for this length of time would degrade into nonsense because natural selection could not discard mutational errors in unexpressed genes that made it through the usual DNA correction mechanisms.

Note, for some reason the post script told me that “sms, pl” (without the interceding comma) was “questionable content” and refused to accept my post. The “sms, pl” in question was found IN BETWEEN the phrase “organisms, plenty” (again, the comma does not appear in the text I was quoting: I had to add it in order to make my post!) This certainly seems like bizarre behavior, so I’m reporting it.

I forgot to add. The Behe quote was from page 228 of “Darwin’s Black Box.” Do I get a cookie for being the only poster to actually address the concerns of the OP with a diect quote from Behe showing that he had advanced that as a possibility? :) I WANT A COOKIE! :)

Final post, I swear. It’s “Finding Darwin’s God,” not “Find Darwin’s God” (sounds like a scavenger hunt!)

Behe’s “views” are intellectually incoherent, serving only a political/social agenda of undermining belief in evolution and “the materialist worldview”. Taking them seriously enough to try to untangle them just plays into the hands of the anti-evolutionists.

Plunge, you are the Man! (Or Person, if gender specification is a problem.)

The quote you mentioned is exactly what I was looking for. (It actually starts up on page 227 of Behe’s book.)

Yes, you get a Cookie!

How about a Torte instead?

Make that two tortes- a Torte, and a re-Torte.

Thanks!! Dave

PS And thanks to all for their interesting comments on this thread!

LOL do you guys read your material?

If the design isn’t intelligent because it is inefficient…

Then how would nature select for it?

Are you now changing your theory to survival of the sometimes less fit?

The theory of natural selection relies on one species having enough of a compeditive advantage over other species to survive. If this nerve could be shortened incrementally it would or would not have an advantage?

To a neutral observer this is a silly argument because you are blind to your own theory’s required implications.

Its like bad mouthing your boyfriend and saying what kind of woman would sleep with you…

very silly.

Nature never selected for anything. That is pure Darwinian fantasy. All evolution was emergent and driven by internal forces that had little or nothing to do with the environment. That is what the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis is all about. Get used to it.

John A. Davison

Nature never selected for anything. That is pure Darwinian fantasy. All evolution was emergent and driven by internal forces that had little or nothing to do with the environment. That is what the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis is all about. Get used to it. It is here to stay.

John A. Davison

DK said:

If the design isn’t intelligent because it is inefficient …

Then how would nature select for it?

Nature selects the design that works. Generally those designs are modifications from the previous edition.

Were an intelligence to intervene, why couldn’t it back up a bit and re-engineer the entire thing, replacing inefficiencies with better design?

For example, why wouldn’t a designer with any intelligence re-engineer the human eye, perhaps to more closely resemble the cephalopod eye? The nerve and blood vessel connections in cephalopod eyes are much more suitable for good sight, especially over a long life, especially with a sugar-rich diet. To argue that human eyes were intentionally designed with the blood and nerve connections backward is to claim the designer goofed.

Now, if nature is doing the selecting, it has no choice but to use the structures available – the badly-wired mammalian eye in the case of humans.

Or consider giraffes and hummingbirds. Hummingbirds have 14 bones in their necks, though they don’t need them all for any hummingbird purpose. Giraffes have 7 bones in their necks. In order to make the giraffe neck long, the 7 bones each must grow more massive. That makes the neck long – but it also makes the giraffe top-heavy. Giraffes have a difficult time getting a drink – they cannot kneel down nicely. Instead they splay their forelegs to the side in an awkward sort of “push-up.” Old, or ill giraffes, who don’t have full strength, sometimes cannot get back up. They drown in their water holes, or they are set on by predators, or the stress causes a heart attack (another interesting side effect of the longer neck).

What intelligent designer with an ounce of empathy wouldn’t have given the giraffe more, smaller and lighter bones in its neck?

Nature had only the seven mammalian bones to use. Massiveness was an undesired by-product, but it made a design that worked, even though it is a sub-optimal design.

Nature was created somehow. I hope that is acceptable to everyone. What I want to know is exactly when, after the initial creation, did the Creator of that Nature hand over the reins to that which had already been created?

Let me answer that question with a simple one word answer - NEVER. Nature in the guise of Natural Selection is a Darwinian fantasy. Natural Selection is now and never was a creative force. Quite the contrary, it was a conservative force only serving to stabilize the species, an inescapable conclusion reached by Reginald C. Punnett, William Bateson, Leo Berg, Robert Broom, Pierre Grasse and most recently by myself.

That is why an amateur bird watcher like myself never has any difficulty identifying every bird he has ever seen armed only with Peterson’s Guide to the Birds. There is absolutely nothing in the Darwinian model that had any bearing whatsoever on the emergence of life on this planet. It is a scandal and a hoax. Get used to it folks.

As for the giraffe, the fact that it is here and thriving is sufficient explanation for the adequacy of its design and it most certainly was designed just as was every other living thing past and present.

John A. Davison

DaveScott typed: [blockquote]DNA/ribosome is a computer controlled 3-D protein milling machine[/blockquote] No, it isn’t. [blockquote]capable of making all the parts required to replicate itself.[/blockquote] No, it’s not.

That is why an amateur bird watcher like myself never has any difficulty identifying every bird he has ever seen armed only with Peterson’s Guide to the Birds. There is absolutely nothing in the Darwinian model that had any bearing whatsoever on the emergence of life on this planet. It is a scandal and a hoax. Get used to it folks.

Or, more likely, you’ve not been observing herring gulls – or are they lesser black-backed gulls? – just east of England; nor trying to distinguish jays in the eastern Rockies.

Thank God! Fortunately Peterson didn’t do salamander guides, and Audubon left them alone!

[sarcasm mode ambiguous]

As for the giraffe, the fact that it is here and thriving is sufficient explanation for the adequacy of its design and it most certainly was designed just as was every other living thing past and present.

Adequate, certainly; optimal, no. Is intelligent design a hypothesis of a “merely adequate designer?” How does that differ from natural selection in any way?

What evidence is there that the designer is only smart enough to do what the weather would do, and not smart enough to know much about design?

Or is ID a hypothesis of a giraffe-hating, hummingbird-blase designer?

Who are you or anyone else to say what is optimal? That is arrogant and infantile. Show me any example of Natural Selection producing anything beyond a variety or subspecies. You can’t and you know it. You Darwinians are living in a fantasy world and always have been. You know all about a process that has never been observed. Your primary spokespersons are or were nothing but a bunch of sedentary intellectual zeros whose sole purpose in life was to convert the entire world to the same sort of mindless, aimless, purposeless view of a universe which they proclaim with what Pierre Grasse described as “Olympian assurance.” Intelligent Design is plain as day to any rational observer. You are only to be pitied for the congenital malaise from which you so obviously suffer.

I am through screwing around with you guys. It is a waste of my time. Go right on fantasizing.

Evolution is finished. Get used to it. Until you do you are wasting your time.

“Evolution, after its last enormous effort to form the mammalian orders and man, seems to be out of breath and drowsing off. I find this metaphor a good description of the present state of evolutionary phenomena.” Pierre Grasse, page 71

John A. Davison

DaveScot said in #17941

It’s [abiogensis?] the only point where design is evident IMO and all the problems that skeptics of mutation/selection point to go away with a designed LUCA [L? Universal Common Ancestor].

Is DaveScot saying that the only evidence for an ID is in the evidence for the existence of a common ancestor organism that:

  • Had a superset of all the genetic information for all existing, extinct, and future organisms
  • Furthermore had a genetic program to disperse that information into its descendants
  • Used a super-accurate copying system to ensure that the original genetic information was not transformed along the way
  • Had no ancestors itself

For once, I think I agree with him. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any evidence for such an organism. -LilLeaguer

I’m going to make a prediction against the blog troll theory based on extensive research and a large amount of data.

John A. Davision Wrote:

I am through screwing around with you guys. It is a waste of my time. Go right on fantasizing.

I predict that this statement is false and that we’ll still have JAD spouting his superior intellect paranoid schizophrenia dribble about how evolution no longer occurs in the face of the evidence that has been provided to him time and time again. He expects new birds species, that look radically different to their parent population, to evolve over the course of a few decades to prove evolution.

As much as he keeps saying he’s done with us the law of blog trolling prevents him from actually leaving just as that same law allows him to ignore any statement, data, facts, papers, etc that refute his flawed hypothesis.

I’d read that paper.

Dave Scott writes: “Explain the chicken/egg paradox of DNA/ribosome.”

Dave, I’m not sure I see what you mean. But maybe you want to say that the first DNA on planet earth was “irreducibly complex.” But I think you would also want to say that the DNA in me is “irreducibly complex,” and my DNA came into being through sexual reproduction and meiosis. So that you think something is “irreducibly complex” does not enable us to justifiably believe that a deity or extraterrestrial turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – poof! – directly into that thing.

I don’t know the exact series of events that proximately caused the first DNA. I don’t think anybody does. But do you want to say that a deity turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – poof! – directly into the first DNA? If so, offer that as a hypothesis and present the data that you think supports that hypothesis. That will help us determine whether yours is a claim that we should accept.

This is my big problem with those who refer to themselves as proponents of “intelligent design.” I have yet to see one person who refers to him of herself as a proponent of “intelligent design” publicly offer one clear hypothesis. Which event(s) did the designer cause? I don’t care who the designer is. I want to know what event(s) you think the designer caused. For instance, did the designer turn inert matter directly into the first self-replicating molecules on earth? Did the designer cause that meteorite to hit off the coast of Mexico 65 million years ago, triggering the extinction of the dinosaurs? Did the designer turn inert matter – poof! – directly into the first two elephants (one male and one female)? And what evidence, if any, suggests that the designer did what you think it did? This kind of information is important for the community of inquirers. Otherwise I don’t know what to do with your claims.

Wayne Francis I read your idiotic prediction and I am here only to tell you once more that I am through screwing around with a bunch of atheist ideologues who still believe in the most failed hypothesis in the history of science. You may now, with my permission, return to your fantasies. If you ever publish anything send me a reprint.

John A. Davison

Spot on prediction, Wayne. I’m impressed.

Actually John, I think its best that you spend time away from PT. After all, you are attempting to revolutionise modern science, that must surely require a considerable amount of effort. Maybe every time you think about posting here, you should remind yourself ‘no, I must put the finishing touches to that paper I plan to submit to Nature.’

In fact, if you do this, then I guess we will never see you around here again. All the media interviews and preparations for becoming the most famous scientist of your generation won’t leave much room for messing around on a blog.

You still here JAD? Ah I see you’ve posted 4 times in less then 24 hours after you promised you where leaving us. Seems my idiotic prediction is 100% true. You keep saying to yourself that evolution is “the most failed hypothesis in the history of science” they say if you say something enough you begin to believe it. Problem is few others believe it in light of the evidence.

The fact that you think shark placentas are the same as mammals and that the duck billed platypus’s “bill” is structurally like a duck goes a long way to seeing what type of biologist you really are.

Return to my fantasies? I’m still waiting for you to have me arrested by the FBI. Haven’t you written to the Minister of Health here in Australia yet to get me fired and deported?

The more you talk like you do the more obvious it becomes that I’m probably right about your paranoid schizophrenia/ You think there is a huge conspiracy to silence you. I feel it is that your peers silently tolerate your constant unstable outbursts at anyone that doesn’t kiss your ass. Be thankful to them is all the advice I can give you.

Maybe if you spent more time, or actually any time, in the lab trying to prove your hypothesis then your peers might take you a bit more seriously. Some how I think you’ll stay at places like PT where you constantly pronounce how superior you are to everyone else.

John A Davison Wrote:

Nature was created somehow. I hope that is acceptable to everyone.

Unless you are expressing a personal opinion, no it is not acceptable to everyone. If it is a personal opinion, then it is acceptable for you to say it and then philosophize from that point. It is also acceptable to say that evolution does not deal with the formation/creation/whatever of nature, so it is moot. To make the statement you made, however, you must back it up with something.

As usual Wayne Francis plays fast and loose with the truth. I never said evolution was the most failed hypthesis in the history of science. Evolution is undeniable. What I did say was that Darwinism is the most failed hypothesis in the history of science. This is just one more demonstration of the mindless conviction that Darwinism and evolution are synonyms. How stupid can anyone be to still believe in the Darwinian myth?

Please, now that you have forced me to expose you for what you are, namely a liar, document where I ever proclaimed my superiority to anyone, or is that just another one of your knee jerk fantasies?

There is no conspiracy to silence me, only one to ignore me, just at the Darwimps have ignored all their critics, from Mivart in Darwin’s own day right up to the present. We simply don’t exist.

As for spending time in the laboratory, I have no laboratory and haven’t had one for several years. Furthermore I don’t need one as the molecular biologists and the chromosome mechanics are proving me correct every day as anyone with half a brain would realize if he would just read the literature.

John A. Davison

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I was at the conference in Elizabethtown. For an irreducibly complex system, Niall Shanks presented two postulates and Michael Behe presented one. Shanks said that there could be a scaffolding - a simple system which builds up to a complex one, but then the simple parts disappear and only the complex is left. Shanks said that each part of a complex system could have formed as serving a simple purpose first, and then all the parts together cooperated to function for a new purpose after they were all individually in place. Behe said that all the parts could have formed together precisely to perform the function for which we observe them working together today.

That is all his “intelligent design” theory really says. There is nothing about whether God exists or put things together in a perfect way or if there is any supernatural at all. Complex parts coming together exclusively for a function that they could not do individually leads on to all sorts of speculation about “designers”, but it is really the most obvious explanation we have. Both of Shanks’ postulates were way to limited to explain most of the biochemical systems we see today, let alone the complex systems such as vision. Can you imagine the lens being formed for a purpose other than vision, and the optic nerve also forming for some purpose other than vision, then also the retina, the iris, the pupil, the fluid inside the eyeball, etc.? And then once all the parts were in place they somehow discovered that they could also together work towards a new purpose which was for the organism to be able to see? It doesn’t convince me.

The scaffolding idea sounds a little more plausible, but it is hard to describe in any specific terms. What would the causal path look like for vision using a scaffold theory?

Glenn, I’m sorry, but you need to read more and write less.

Zimmer’s recent articles on the evolution of the eye, posted on Pandas Thumb found by searching for “eye”. Simple description. How could an elaborate set of components coming together somehow make more sense?

http://www.corante.com/loom/archive[…]ian_doll.php http://www.corante.com/loom/archive[…]truction.php

Glen wrote:

“That is all his “intelligent design” theory really says. There is nothing about whether God exists or put things together in a perfect way or if there is any supernatural at all. “

I guess thats why Behe spends more time on discussing his theories on Christian TV then he does at scientific conferences. THis is why the Christian right is pushing ID. After all, they are well known for pushing things that have nothing to do with Christianity and God. THey are well known defenders of modern science, and they want just whats good for the scientific community.

I hope you’re not thinking that such Naivete is to be rewarded here.

“ Complex parts coming together exclusively for a function that they could not do individually leads on to all sorts of speculation about “designers”, but it is really the most obvious explanation we have. Both of Shanks’ postulates were way to limited to explain most of the biochemical systems we see today, let alone the complex systems such as vision. Can you imagine the lens being formed for a purpose other than vision, and the optic nerve also forming for some purpose other than vision, then also the retina, the iris, the pupil, the fluid inside the eyeball, etc.? “

Hmmm… so you claim all useable eyes in nature have all of these parts?

Interesting claim. I suggest you examine the great variety of eyes that are found in nature, and report back as to whether or not your ideas are borne out by the evidence.

“And then once all the parts were in place they somehow discovered that they could also together work towards a new purpose which was for the organism to be able to see? It doesn’t convince me.”

Me Either. Fortunately thats not what evolution suggests happened. On the other hand its a typical view hold by IDErs and creationists, the vast majority of which are wholly ignorant of how evolution works.

I also attended the Elizabethtown day on ID, from morning to night, including all three debates and the capstone lecture in the evening by Paul Gross who dismembered ID, although, to be accurate, not in the eyes of many of the creationist/ID subscribers present who will hew to their beliefs until hell freezes over. The three debates included Behe vs.Niall Shanks on the science; John Haught (a Catholic theologian from Georgetown University) vs. David Martin (a local evangelical preacher); and Richard Thompson (president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center and attorney for the Dover Area School Board) vs. VIc Walczak (Legal Director for Pennsylvania ACLU). I haven’t had the time to write up my observations of the day but will do so tomorrow. There were some interesting exchanges, more in politics, legality and theology than in science, that I hope I can accurately describe tomorrow.

Glen, my experience is that ID advocates will specifically say that ID does not involve scaffolding. Scaffolding removes the need for an outside intelligence to intervene (since it explains, by natural, observable processes) the creation of things that only appear to be irreducible.

Ask Behe, for example. I don’t think he’d agree at all.

As for the intellectual superiors to whom I referred, I was not, as Wayne Francis isisted, referring to myself but to such real honest-to-God bench and field scientists as Robert Broom, Leo Berg, Richard B. Goldschmidt, Otto Schindewolf, Reginald C. Punnett. Pierre Grasse, William Bateson, etc etc, not to such couch potatoes as Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould, Ernst Mayr and William Provine. You clowns have your heroes and I have mine.

“No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.” Thomas Carlyle

As for myself, if anyone ever bothered to read my Mnaifesto he would also discover the following on the first page:

“A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.”

John A. Davison

So, JAD, if you haven’t claimed your superiority to anyone and you’ve also called us a bunch of losers, then you must be a loser too, right? Welcome to the club.

Of course I am a loser. We are all losers in the game of life. Did I ever claim otherwise? Not that I can recall.

John A. Davison

Of course I am a loser. We are all losers in the game of life. Did I ever claim otherwise? Not that I can recall.

John A. Davison

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on February 23, 2005 2:24 PM.

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