Michael Behe: malignant metastasizing metaphors!

| 84 Comments

What is wrong with Behe? This interview in the Christian Post contains one of the most illogical, stupid, idiotic excuses for the Intelligent Design hypothesis I've read yet. The writer asks a simple question, one I'd like to see answered by the IDists, but Behe's answer is simply pathetic.

Do you see ID having enough evidence?

Yes, I certainly do. Well, I am a biochemist and biochemistry studies molecular basis of life. And in the past 50 years, science has discovered that at the very foundation of life there are sophisticated molecular machines, which do the work in the cell. I mean, literally, there are real machines inside everybody’s cells and this is what they are called by all biologists who work in the field, molecular machines. They’re little trucks and busses that run around the cell that takes supplies from one end of the cell to the other. They’re little traffic signals to regulate the flow. They’re sign posts to tell them when they get to the right destination. They’re little outboard motors that allow some cells to swim. If you look at the parts of these, they’re remarkably like the machineries that we use in our everyday world.

The argument is that we know from experience that machinery in our everyday world that we use in our everyday world required design, required an intelligent agent that put it together, who understood how it was going to be used and who assembled the parts. By an inductive argument, when we find such sophisticated machinery in other places too, we can conclude that it also requires design. So now that we found it in life and in the very foundation of life, I and other ID advocates argue that there is no reason to not reach the same conclusion and that in fact, these things were indeed designed.

Seriously. This is the best the man can do? He's asked for the evidence, and what does he give us? Irrelevant word games ("scientists call 'em 'machines'!"), and asinine metaphors. Calling cytoskeletal transport proteins "trucks and busses" does not make them so. If I call Michael Behe bird-brained, it does not mean I think he has feathers and can fly; it especially does not mean he should jump off a tall building, confident in his avian abilities.

And no, if you look closely at them, they are nothing like the machineries with which we are familiar. When scientists call them machines and pumps and signals and motors, they are making broad but severely limited analogies in order to communicate their function to other human beings who are familiar with machines and pumps and signals and motors. They are not trying to imply that Ford has the contract to manufacture annexins for the phylum Chordata, or that there are little winking green, yellow, and red lights in the cell. Most importantly, there is no intent to imply designers.

One other interesting omission in the article: nowhere does Behe even mention "irreducible complexity". I guess that's one concept the IDiots have learned belongs on the junkheap, yet it's the one thing that made Behe famous.

84 Comments

So, Rev. Paley, do you see enough evidence for the teaching of ID in the schools? Rev. Paley: Why, yes I do. Check out my new watch!

Rev. Paley (continuing in the mode of Sal Cordova): “…Well, of course it doesn’t actually LOOK much like a watch, but that’s just because the Watchmaker was clever enough to ENCODE the, um, watch-works to make then LOOK just like something that could have naturally evolved.

“Not for the purpose of FOOLING us, or anything SILLY or DECEPTIVE like that, but just to make sure that thousands of diligent but bumbling biologists would temporarily overlook the design implications until the Watchmaker’s TRUE champions came along to solve the puzzle for them…!”

They’re little trucks and busses that run around the cell that takes supplies from one end of the cell to the other.

Pernicious nonsense. Everyone (o.k., everyone who reads Science and Nature) knows that both kinesins and processive myosins walk one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, making the “trucks and busses” analogy obsolete. Instead, these motors were - obviously - designed by the same Designer who was responsible for the AT-ST Imperial Scout Walker.

Reposted from Pharyngula:

Paul wrote:

“What is wrong with Behe?”

The answer is: absolutely nothing. In fact, he’s right on the money. I’ve been saying this for years . I’m glad to see that Mike is finally paying attention to what I’ve said repeatedly.

BEHE’S MOUSETRAP REVISITED

“In his book “Darwin’s Black Box”, Michael Behe discusses what he refers to as “irreducible complexity”. He defines IC as “a single system, composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”. He goes on to say that “an irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly … by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition non-functional”. He should have seen it coming. The critics had a field day with this because he handed them on a silver platter the means to defeat his claim. All the detractors had to do was to show that even if a part is removed some function, perhaps a different function, still remains and that there can be a workable but simpler form of the system. One can readily see by the most cursory of examinations that one could easily remove the platform and nail the other parts to the floor. Clearly Behe’s mousetrap is not irreducibly complex when measured against the definition that he provided. Behe missed the boat by measuring irreducibly complexity against simpler, non-functional systems. He approached the problem backwards by saying that if any part was removed the system would become non-functional. He should have known better. But Behe was right about one thing. The mousetrap is unevolvable by random, non-directed, accidental processes but not for the reason he provided. The reason for this is that a mousetrap has a quality called organization, which is much different from complexity or order. Each part of the mousetrap, the platform, the holding bar, the spring, the hammer and the catch each have specific functions. And each of these functions are organized in such a way that they support the overall function of the mousetrap, which is to catch mice. The function of the platform is to hold the parts, but it’s there ultimately to facilitate the process of mouse catching. The function of the spring is to exert a force on the hammer, but it’s ultimate goal is to enable the process of mouse catching. All of the parts have functions that not only support the other functions, but ultimately support the overall function of the device. This type of organization is not obtainable without insight, and insight always requires intelligence. There is no way that these parts could be assembled in such a manner without insight. A mousetrap is a simple machine, made up of several structures and processes and exists for a purpose. The construction of the mousetrap was initiated with intent, and fashioned for a purpose. Living organisms are similarly machines, with structures and processes that work together to create a function. In fact, all complex, highly organized machines in which means are adapted to ends are the product of intelligent design. The important point is that the adaptation of means to ends, the adaptation of structure and process to function requires insight. Behe’s mousetrap is unevolvable, not because you can’t take it apart without it losing it’s function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences. The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. Similarly, living organisms show the same characteristics. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.”

Get the whole paper at: http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm

With all due respect, the controversy is over. And you want to know what nailed it down? Firstly, Sean Carroll’s book, but more specifically, PZ’s article on jellyfish. These “toolkit genes” and genetic switches have been around since the beginning. They didn’t evolve, couldn’t evolve. They came to earth already programmed and ready to unfold their coded information. Just as development is the unfolding of an algorithm already present in the genome, in which “switches” are activated in various combinations and at various times so, what you call evolution is similarly the unfolding of a pre-programmed algorithm that was present in the ancient genome. Where this “program” came from, no one knows. But that it is the product of intelligence is clear and compelling.Evolution is over and now all we are seeing is extinction.

Paul’s reply:

Charlie, you are either insane or stupid.

Those toolkit genes could evolve and did evolve. They are uncontroversial elaborations upon patterns we find in bacteria. And no, Homo sapiens is not a recipe pre-encoded in the genome of a bacterial precursor.

So, according to Paul, the homeotic genes that are found in eukaryotes that regulate the differentiation of metazoan embryos evolved from the regulatory operons found in most bacteria. Hmmmm… Does that mean that eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes?

What is wrong with Behe?

Why, nothing. He just wanted to clear up any lingering doubt about whether ID is scientific.

Charlie Wrote:

Get the whole paper at:

ISCID.

(translation: I Still don’t ‘C’ ID)

CW Wrote:

These “toolkit genes” and genetic switches have been around since the beginning. They didn’t evolve, couldn’t evolve. They came to earth already programmed and ready to unfold their coded information.

Based on what evidence did you reach this conclusion Charlie? Because they are ancient? But Hox genes did evolve. Do you really have anything tangible Charlie?

After having heard Behe be interviewed several times, I am now convinced he doesn’t believe a word of what he promotes and (to his credit, but in the most pitiable fashion) is deeply embarrassed about being willing to whore himself to the insane/immoral/idiotic crowd that foots his bills as he drifts from customer to customer. Why doesn’t he come clean and admit he jumped FAR ahead of his initial intentions? Likely that he simply doesn’t have the nerve, or self-respect, to do so.

Oh, and CW is a nutcase, but without either humor or perversity.

The argument is that we know from experience that machinery in our everyday world that we use in our everyday world required design, required an intelligent agent that put it together, who understood how it was going to be used and who assembled the parts.

This isn’t even correct as it stands. Very frequently things are not used for the purposes for which they were intended. Increasingly, modern consumer goods are not assembled by intelligent agents — or is Behe declaring computers and assembly lines to be intelligent agents?

My field is computer science. I repeatedly see examples where a computer program works, yet the author is unable to explain how it works, or even gives a wrong explaination of how it works! Behe’s description of design doesn’t even apply to the things that we know are designed. Why should it apply to anything else?

I agree with darwinfinch. I think Behe’s fully aware that he’s at an intellectual dead-end. The fight long ago went out of him.

I’ve been saying this for years

Nobody cares what you think, Charlie. Please shut up and go away.

By an inductive argument, when we find such sophisticated machinery in other places too, we can conclude that it also requires design.

Since when did “inductive” mean “specious”?

Oh, and CW is a nutcase, but without either humor or perversity

He posted as “littleblondgirl” for a while on talk.origins. That’s got to increase his perv quotient a little bit.….….

I’ve always asked why “intelligent” design. Why not Just Design?

How intelligent can it be if “we” can figure it out? Not too clever, I’d say.

And if we can figure it out why not build the machines ourselves?

Oh, that would be “playing GOD?” But, “Intellligent Design” doesn’t specify God. So, it seems that clears the way.

We should start up the factory tomorrow. Stem cell research. Genetic engineering. Human super race! What’s stopping us?

I think we’re going about this all wrong. We should embrace “Intelligent Design”, reverse engineer the human blueprint and start cranking out new and improved puppies as fast as we can. I didn’t mean to be litter-al with that puppy comment.

Could it be that’s what the Discovery Institute is all about? Engineering a genetically superior super race? Intellect of Dembski, BradPitt-like features of Behe, fashion consciousness of Wells?

Hmmm, think about it.

PZ,

you point out that the inteviewer asked a simple question:

“Do you see ID having enough evidence?”

but this isn’t so simple, is it. would lenny have phrased the question the same way? would any of us?

no, we would more likely have asked him, “can you show us any scientific evidence to support ID?”

the question is infuriatingly obtuse in the way it is worded. I could easily claim that i “see” chewed gum on the bottom of my shoe as supporting ID. It leaves totally open the question of interpretation both of how i “see” things, and what defines “evidence” in this case.

don’t blame behe, blame the quetioner, who simply threw out a softball for behe to hit, just like the reporter who was hired by the bush administration to lob softballs at him.

Hell, behe himself probably wrote the question in that way specifically for the interviewer.

If you ever see a Ken Ham presentation, you’ll see endless repetitions of his “stuff” argument: “after a worldwide flood we would see billions of dead things deposited in layers by water, and this is what we see”. This “works” because, after cutting away the extraneous, it is equivalent to “what would we see after a worldwide flood? stuff! and what do we see everywhere in the world today? STUFF!!!!! (hand me a tissue)”

Glad to see Behe now leans most heavily on Ham’s ever enjoyable stuff argument - cells are full of stuff, and what do we know which is also full of stuff? Yes, designed systems!!!!! (hand me a tissue).

I think someone is paying a bunch of actors to pretend to be pseudoscientists so we can have people to parody.

Pim wrote:

Based on what evidence did you reach this conclusion Charlie? Because they are ancient? But Hox genes did evolve.

Not only because they are ancient but because in many cases these genes PRECEDED the organisms that use them. How the hell can a gene “evolve” independent of the organism in which it is found? That’s what so stunning about the recent report in NATURE re: jellyfish eyes. Tripedalia cystophora has at least 4 eyes. Paul Myers writes “there are two complex camera eyes, one pointing up and a larger one pointing down, each with a retina and a lens and a pigmented epithelium—the larger downward pointing one even has an adapting iris that closes down in response to bright light, and opens in darkness. Those are remarkably sophisticated structures for a ‘simple’ box jelly…” Now how in the name of all that’s holy did jellyfish evolve eyes? What possible Darwinian explanation can be made for such sophisticated structures in so simple an animal? Myers continues on: “Even more impressive, the investigators have plucked out the lenses and investigated their optical properties, and discovered that they are actually very, very good lenses. The refractive index of the lens material varies from the core to the surface, naturally correcting for spherical aberration. The topmost eye is nearly perfectly corrected, and can focus light on a sharp point at a distance of 3.3 radii from the lens center. The lower lens is less well corrected, but still produces a point of focus at 2.6 to 3.7 lens radii.” And to top it off, the damn eyes can’t even see!! How the hell did natural selection, based on fitness to survive, evolve eyes that can’t see? The anser is simple. Natural selection had nothing whatsoever to do with it. The instructions for making these eyes were present in the genome and for some bizarre reason, the program was switched on when it wasn’t supposed to be. So why does an animal without a brain have a highly organized and complex camera eye? Myers asks just this question: “What is the jellyfish doing with this eye?” The answer is stunning in it’s idiocy: if the jellyfish has no brain to process information, why would it matter whether the eye can actually see? The authors write: “the eyes might be specialized for a specific task only and that this allows complex filtering of information much earlier than in more general visual systems. The fact that box jellyfish have four different types of eye gives support to the idea that each eye type is highly specialized.”

ROFLMAO!!

In fact, it might even increase the organisms fitness if it can’t see! The authors state: “The lens eyes of box jellyfish indicate that there might be visual tasks best served by a blurred image.” Horsepookey!! The information to make vertebrate style camera eyes was already present from the very beginning, in organisms that had no need for it. In fact, all the information to make all of the various structures, processes and adaptations has been present from the very beginning and makes it’s appearance as the program runs, the processes and structures evolve, and the full potential of the genetic information is realized. Unfortunately, for the most part this process is over and will never resume. So we’re stuck with what we’ve got and we’re losing more of it each year. The fortunate part is that since all living forms are dependent on each other in the “web of life” an equilibrium point will be reached where, barring changes in the environment, ecological stasis will prevail unless some major pertubation occurs.

CJ stole my line. If this is the best argument Behe’s got, he could have just recited Paley verbatim and left it at that.

“Glad to see Behe now leans most heavily on Ham’s ever enjoyable stuff argument - cells are full of stuff, and what do we know which is also full of stuff?”

hmmm, maybe they’re just looking for a place for all that stuff? They might want to talk to George Carlin…

Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff!

Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore. Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else’s house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff. Somebody else’s stuff is all over the goddamn place! And if you stay overnight, unexpectedly, they give you a little bedroom to sleep in. Bedroom they haven’t used in about eleven years. Someone died in it, eleven years ago. And they haven’t moved any of his stuff! Right next to the bed there’s usually a dresser or a bureau of some kind, and there’s NO ROOM for your stuff on it. Somebody else’s shit is on the dresser.

Have you noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff? God! And you say, “Get that shit offa there and let me put my stuff down!”

Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house. It’s the second version of your stuff. And you’re gonna fly all the way to Honolulu. Gonna go across the continent, across half an ocean to Honolulu. You get down to the hotel room in Honolulu and you open up your suitcase and you put away all your stuff. “Here’s a place here, put a little bit of stuff there, put some stuff here, put some stuff–you put your stuff there, I’ll put some stuff–here’s another place for stuff, look at this, I’ll put some stuff here…” And even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it, you start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you. That’s when your friend calls up from Maui, and says, “Hey, why don’tchya come over to Maui for the weekend and spend a couple of nights over here.”

Oh, no! Now what do I pack? Right, you’ve gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The third version of your house. Just enough stuff to take to Maui for a coupla days. You get over to Maui–I mean you’re really getting extended now, when you think about it. You got stuff ALL the way back on the mainland, you got stuff on another island, you got stuff on this island. I mean, supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain. You get over to your friend’s house on Maui and he gives you a little place to sleep, a little bed right next to his windowsill or something. You put some of your stuff up there. You put your stuff up there. You got your Visine, you got your nail clippers, and you put everything up. It takes about an hour and a half, but after a while you finally feel okay, say, “All right, I got my nail clippers, I must be okay.” That’s when your friend says, “Aaaaay, I think tonight we’ll go over the other side of the island, visit a pal of mine and maybe stay over.”

Aww, no. NOW what do you pack? Right–you gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The fourth version of your house. Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need. Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber and change. Well, only the stuff you HOPE you’re gonna need.

So Heddle leaves, and Charlie reappears. Big whoop.

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“Not only because they are ancient but because in many cases these genes PRECEDED the organisms that use them.”

Uh, isn’t that evidence AGAINST them being designed insights suddenly added to the mix? The fact that similar genes exist in lifeforms farther down the chain of ancestry is perfectly in line with the idea that the genes were adapted to a new purpose, especially when they play different roles in the more distant cousins.

“In fact, it might even increase the organisms fitness if it can’t see!”

What do you mean by “see?” Just because the structural components of eyes, particularly the lenses, don’t “see” doesn’t mean they don’t do ANYTHING. As structural concepts, lenses and the fact that they can have better or worse focus are not exactly earth shatteringly difficult to imagine happening in organisms even initially as side effects: any sort of membrane holding back fluid can be a crude lens, and if there is some adpative potential to be exploited there, it can be.

And your “hiding in the genome and then switched on later” concept just doesn’t fly for almost too many reasons to name. Genes that aren’t swtiched on are fairly quickly eroded by accumulating mutations: since the genes aren’t expressed, they cause no good or ill effects, and errors don’t get weeded out. There is no way even designed genes for “eyes” would have survived millions of years of non-expression. Heck, information that WE design and insert into genetic code but leave unexpressed quickly gets errored away. More importantly, however, there is just no evidence of all your secret codes having ever been part of anything’s genes.

Notice, if you will, how Charlie ignored the other type of eye on the jellyfish–some light sensitive cells, at the bottom of a circular depression.

After all, what good is half an eye…

Comment #32466

Posted by Steviepinhead on May 27, 2005 05:15 PM (e) (s)

Rev. Paley (continuing in the mode of Sal Cordova): “ … Well, of course it doesn’t actually LOOK much like a watch, but that’s just because the Watchmaker was clever enough to ENCODE the, um, watch-works to make then LOOK just like something that could have naturally evolved.

“Not for the purpose of FOOLING us, or anything SILLY or DECEPTIVE like that, but just to make sure that thousands of diligent but bumbling biologists would temporarily overlook the design implications until the Watchmaker’s TRUE champions came along to solve the puzzle for them … !”

Not quite. I’ll rewrite it, but turning the Cordova up a notch.

Comment #32466

Posted by Steviepinhead on May 27, 2005 05:15 PM (e) (s)

Rev. Paley (continuing in the mode of Sal Cordova): “ … Well, of Dembski course it dosn’t actually LOOK much like a wach, but that’s just becuase the Wachmaker was clever Dembski enough to ENCODE the, um, wach-works to make then LOOK just like something that could have naturally evolved.

“Not for the purpose Dembski of FOOLING us, or anything SILY or DECEPTAVE like that, but just to make sure that thousands of diligent but bumbleng biogolsts would temporaririly overlook Dembski the design implacations until the Wachmaker’s TRUE champions came along to solve the puzle for them Dembski Dembski … !”

Behe said:

And in the past 50 years, science has discovered that at the very foundation of life there are sophisticated molecular machines, which do the work in the cell. I mean, literally, there are real machines inside everybody’s cells and this is what they are called by all biologists who work in the field, molecular machines.

I’m definitely not justified in believing Behe when he says that cells were “designed.” First, the claim is vague. What does he mean by “designed?” More important, it is seems like he is saying that a deity specially intervened on planet earth sometime over the last 3.8 billion years and caused some cells to be the way they are. But that is highly implausible. We see also sorts of cells come into being through division. In contrast, no designer has turn inert matter – zap! – directly into a cell in at least the last 20 years. In fact, it hasn’t happened in the last 20,000 years; at least it probably hasn’t. And it is not known to ever have happened. In fact, a deity probably hasn’t turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – poof! – directly into any object on earth over the last 10,000 years. At least probably not. And a deity is not known to have turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – poof! – directly into any object. Ever.

That cells are somewhat complex does not enable us to determine that a deity turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – Zap! – directly into some cells. Cells come into being through cell-division all the time. Also, I’m more complex than any cell. And no deity zapped me into existence. I was born.

My question for Behe is: What specific event(s) on earth did the designer proximately cause? And what evidence, if any, suggests that the designer caused those event(s)?

Also, any similarity between cells and motorboats does not enable us to determine that a being turned inert matter (or “nothingness”) – poof! – directly into a cell. There are some important differences between cells and motorboats. For one, cells are alive. They also divide on their own. They also are made of water and organic compounds. They are also really small, much smaller than motorboats.

Behe’s got eight kids?! Says so in his biography at the end of that article.

He must truly believe in evolution, because he’s running the rat race to outbreed his competitors!

Charlie Wagner Wrote:

So, according to Paul, the homeotic genes that are found in eukaryotes that regulate the differentiation of metazoan embryos evolved from the regulatory operons found in most bacteria. Hmmmm … Does that mean that eukaryotes evolved from prokaryotes?

Well, yes. However, this is old news.

Hope that helps.

Seeing as how it took commensurate amounts of time (i.e. 1.5 Gy) for 1) Eukaryotic cell organisms to develop from the most primitive life and 2) complex critters like homo-sapiens to evolve from those early Eukaryotic cell organisms, shouldn’t we EXPECT that cells as we know them today to contain some highly complex substructures?

Also, are the so-called molecular “machines” simialr among organisms that are closely related on the evolutionary tree? It seems like this would be helpful in determining how these machines evolved.

I’m a lurker, but your reapperance on this board and comments about the jellyfish’s lack of a brain are questionable. You’re saying the jellyfish’s lack of a brain is evidence of intelligent design? Does this mean the jellyfish’s motion in the water occurs because the designer encoded the pattern by which they swim? Although the mighty jellyfish doesn’t have a brain it contains a neural net of sorts. Why would a jellyfish have eyes (that can detect light, dark and motion) but no brain. What use would a jellyfish have for a brain with their current “behavior” and diet? If energy could be saved without a brain, wouldn’t it fit within the margins of natural selection? I guess I don’t see how you get from A to B, with B being evolution via natural selection as an impossibility for the jellyfish’s eye. Trillobytes had 2 lenses per eye, were they that much more perfect before The Fall? Did sin affect the jellyfish more than the trillobytes?

How do useful dog breeds, like Jack Russel Terriers, formed without design within recorded history, fit into Charlie Wagner’s philosophy?

Men have nipples. Not a very “intelligent” design. I know. Who am I to question a “mysterious” designer. Can we get our money back?

Alex Wrote:

Can you tell if a rat is male or female by sniffing its urine?

No. Unfortunately the chronic kidney failure has resulted in a creatinine level that varies from 2.5 to 4 and over a period of time, this has resulted in a neuropathy that extends to the olfactory sensors, rendering me totally unable to smell anything. It works out real well when I spend time on my farm. ;-)

Just to put Charlie’s bizarre little blessings in context…he’s an atheist.

Comment #32620

Posted by Charlie Wagner on May 28, 2005 06:21 PM (e) (s)

Since I suffer from chronic renal failure, erythropoetin-induced hypertension is probably occurring.

Don’t waste the end of your life repeating crank nonsense on a discussion board. Get off here and do something meaningful, for your sake.

I wouldn’t ban Charlie. Well I would, but PT can’t ban every crank. But people here who know about him will quit engaging him. The problem is new people engaging him because they don’t know it’s pointless. I suggest an automatic system which attaches something to the bottom of his post, like a summary of who he is and why no one should argue with him.

Actually, scratch all that BS, just ban him.

No, sorry. He’s a mindless crank, but he’s not abusive – he’s nothing like Davison. I’d oppose banning him, unless he took a turn for the worse.

Charlie, when the rodent TRPC2 gene is removed from a male mouse, it cannot tell whether another mouse is male or female. This distinction is made by scent; there are sex pheromones which are at high concentration in rodent urine (Science 295:1493).

You have a TRPC2 gene, but yours, like that of other apes, is a pseudogene. It looks like a channel gene but mutations in it preclude the production of a functional channel. The intact TRPC2 gene is found in many other mammals, including monkeys.

You also have a crippled umami taste receptor. Yours can taste only glutamate (i.e., MSG). The rodent umami receptor works on all of the amino acids.

I asked the question because you kept using words, apparently without knowing what those words mean. Precision with language is very important if you want to talk about science. Almost counts, but it does not mean “exact” and it does not mean “identical.”

By the way, even if you did have a functional TRPC2 gene, it would not be be affected, except indirectly through its actions on other channels, by felodipine.

And I’m sorry about the health problems. That’s no fun at all; I hope that you’re getting excellent care and that you feel well.

steve Wrote:

Actually, scratch all that BS, just ban him.

First of all, if the owner of this blog *asked* me to stop posting here, I would accede to his wishes without complaint. The same goes for Paul, and he knows it. Just a polite request is all that’s needed. I’ve been fobbed off, and I’ve been fooled I’ve been robbed and ridiculed In day care centers and night schools Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized Sent to meetings, hypnotized Overexposed, commercialized Hand me with care

I’ve been uptight and made a mess But I’ll clean it up myself, I guess Oh, the sweet smell of success Handle me with care

Alexey Wrote:

I asked the question because you kept using words, apparently without knowing what those words mean. Precision with language is very important if you want to talk about science. Almost counts, but it does not mean “exact” and it does not mean “identical.”

Agreed. On the other hand, our analog brains usually *know* what someone means even if the language is imprecise. Sometimes I incorrectly assume that I’m on the same wavelength as my correspondent but sometimes I’m not. Also, I don’t have a PhD so I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to technical jargon. But I’m smarter than the average bear and I can easily absorb almost anything that’s said to me. So I appreciate the information you provided and thank you for the kind wishes.

Russel said:

Well, no. Genetic material gets copied and - if it encodes some survival/reproducing enhancing function - tends to get preserved by natural selection. That function can morph over time, and be barely - if at all - recognizable after billions of cycles. But this business of waiting patiently for countless generations, somehow avoiding the ravages of mutation before ever actually being tested by natural selection …

I think that’s pretty much what I said (though not very precisely.)

Charlie Wagner said:

A complex machine is one in which multiple structures have multiple functions and multiple processes have multiple functions and the structures and processes are integrated in such a way that they support each other. In addition, these structures, functions and processes are integrated into a system in such a way so that they all work together to support the overall function of the system. They demonstrate a quality called “organization”. Nelson’s Law states that “things do not organize themselves in such a manner without intelligent input.

Nelson’s law falsified: A seed will turn into a plant with no intelligent input.

{From http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm}

The bicycle I bought will never assemble itself without human input. I have used Heathkit radio equipment for many years. Never once did a kit come to my house and assemble itself without my intervention.…I have cars, televisions, dishwashers etc. in my house. Not one of these machines ever assembled itself from it�s parts without intervention by a higher intelligence.

None of those are natural. They are all man-made contraptions. I.e., the “intelligence” needed to assemble them is known. We know that things created by humans (or the occasional smart monkeys) are created by intelligent agents. As soon as the ID camp can find positive evidence of the designer and how that designer went about designing, then they’ll be making a foray into something approaching science (though not a full-blown theory.) Why is it nothing is ever proposed about who the mysterious designer is or how they worked? Every other field of science which hypothesizes intelligent agents as the origin of objects proposes who the designers were and how they crafted the objects.

Never once did a kit come to my house and assemble itself without my intervention. My house doesn�t paint itself, my flowers don�t plant themselves and my broken window doesn�t repair itself.

Houses being painted does not fit your definition of “complex machine”, nor do the planting of flowers, nor repairing windows.

And last time I checked, flowers grew naturally and did, in fact, plant themselves. Hence the term “wildflowers.”

Since living organisms are highly organized biochemical machines, why should I think differently about them?

Probably because they differ substantially from all the other things you listed in one key aspect: There is no known intelligent designer who creates biological “machines”. Find the designer, and your theory is assured. You would probably win a Nobel and lots of money, and yet no one seems to be trying…

The organization of inorganic chemicals into living cells and the organization of these cells into tissues, organs and organisms required intelligent guidance.

This is a complete non-sequitur from the previous sentences. This statement is unsupported by the rest of your thesis.

For example, the Law of Gravity is a generalization from a large number of observations. You cannot prove that an object that is released will fall to the floor, but since it has happened every time it was done, we say that there is a high probability that it will continue to happen. But this is not a certainty, by any means. This is a Law that is based on an argument by analogy.

It is not an argument by analogy. Newton’s Law of Gravity was a theory, was tested experimentally, and found to be an excellent scientific explanation. Nothing can ever be shown to be the case forever and in all places of the universe, without humans being omniscient. At the time of Newton, it was known that Netwonian physics did not completely explain the motion of the planets. However, his theories continued to be used (and still are) because they explain a lot of observations and are useful.

A mousetrap has a quality called organization, which is much different from complexity or order. Each part of the mousetrap, the platform, the holding bar, the spring, the hammer and the catch each have specific functions. And each of these functions are organized in such a way that they support the other functions and the overall function of the mousetrap, which is to catch mice. The function of the platform is to hold the parts, but it’s there ultimately to facilitate the process of mouse catching. The function of the spring is to exert a force on the hammer, but it’s ultimate goal is to enable the process of mouse catching. All of the parts have functions that not only support the other functions, but ultimately support the overall function of the device. This type of organization is not obtainable without insight, and insight always requires intelligence

Here’s how a mousetrap could occur naturally: A twig from a bush gets bent to the ground and trapped by stone falling from a nearby hill. A piece of fruit from a nearby tree falls on the twig. Now we have a naturally-created mousetrap which fits your definition of “complex machine”. It has a structure for crushing a mouse (the twig), it has a catch to hold the crusher (the rock), it has a mouse-inducer (the fruit), and it has a crushing surface to crush the mouse (perhaps the ground, a stone, a nearby tree trunk). Sure it’s unlikely that this contraption WOULD occur naturally on its own, but I would say that in the history of the planet, some contraption like this has probably occurred at some point somewhere, and it certainly isn’t so unlikely that we should rule out natural causes. I think that kindof refutes your idea that “organization is not obtainable without insight.”

Re “One wonders why a lawyer who is attempting to argue that ID is SCIENCE and NOT RELIGION would need an … expert in theology?”

God only knows?

Henry

Guys i’m viewing this on a mobile device (axim x3i), how do i get a printer-friendly page that will fit in a 240px-wide pocket-ie window?! I’m dyin’ here!

chrismw12@yahoo.com Wrote:

Nelson’s law falsified: A seed will turn into a plant with no intelligent input.

Not true. The plant doesn’t assemble itself without specific instructions in the DNA in its genome. The intelligent input is already encoded into the cell. Thanks for looking at my website and taking the time to comment.

“A complex machine is one in which multiple structures have multiple functions and multiple processes have multiple functions and the structures and processes are integrated in such a way that they support each other. In addition, these structures, functions and processes are integrated into a system in such a way so that they all work together to support the overall function of the system. They demonstrate a quality called “organization”.”

As much as you’d like to distinguish this from IC, it’s still the same argument. The fact is, adapative evolution can just as easily explain these sorts of arrangements as long as there is a gradual path from A to B to C and so on. Biological systems can add components and modify them over time to take on new roles, which in turn make the addition of further components possible. The end result may look like a thoughtful organization, but there is no reason why a gradual process could not explain how all those functions could have evolved to support each other, even to the point where they come to rely upon each other. But there is no more a barrier here to evolution as a process to create such a result than there is to IC in general.

From 32534: That applies even more to men still having breast structures when they weren’t going to need them in this particular life-form … unless some non-homophobic god wanted to make it easier for them to be transsexuals … and here we have evedence that us guys really were “designed” to lactate http://annierichards.tripod.com/lactation.htm

“A complex machine is one in which multiple structures have multiple functions and multiple processes have multiple functions and the structures and processes are integrated in such a way that they support each other. In addition, these structures, functions and processes are integrated into a system in such a way so that they all work together to support the overall function of the system. They demonstrate a quality called “organization”.”

As much as you’d like to distinguish this from IC, it’s still the same argument. The fact is, adapative evolution can just as easily explain these sorts of arrangements as long as there is a gradual path from A to B to C and so on. Biological systems can add components and modify them over time to take on new roles, which in turn make the addition of further components possible. The end result may look like a thoughtful organization, but there is no reason why a gradual process could not explain how all those functions could have evolved to support each other, even to the point where they come to rely upon each other. But there is no more a barrier here to evolution as a process to create such a result than there is to IC in general.

Not true. The plant doesn’t assemble itself without specific instructions in the DNA in its genome. The intelligent input is already encoded into the cell. Thanks for looking at my website and taking the time to comment.

You haven’t shown that DNA is created by intelligence; you are assuming that all systems that are “complex machines” are created by intelligence, then labelling biological life as “complex machines”, then claiming your assumption is validated. But there is no evidence in that chain of reasoning.

You are arguing: Complex machines are always created by intelligent agents. (Which is only known for specific ones that are created by humans.) A complex machine such as a biological lifeform is the creation of an intelligent agent. The evidence for it being created by an intelligent agent is that it is complex. This is circular reasoning. You have to find the creator for your thesis to make sense. Why aren’t your trying? Unless, of course, you can find the designer and his/her/its methods of creating the DNA and evidence that they did what you think they did. It really is that simple.

Biologists have demonstrated that mutations and genetic variations (say, from sexual reproduction) occur. Biologists have demonstrated that genetic variations can be selected for. Biologists have demonstrated that genetic variations can cause morphological changes and speciation. Biologists have demonstrated that genetic variations between diverged populations (ones which used to be 1 population but are no longer the same pool of genes due to physical separation, speciation, etc.) will accumulate over time, making the two populations increasingly different over time, especially if exposed to different selective pressures. Biologists have demonstrated (at least apparent) morphological intermediates in the fossil record and shown DNA-evidence of relationship between different species. Scientists have shown that organic chemistry does allow for abiogenesis.

Now, I’d say the least we should expect from the ID camp is some hypotheses about the designer(s), who he/she/it/they is/are, how he/she/it/they operated, when the designing was done, etc. I’ll ask this yet again: Why hasn’t this been attempted? Please present us with a hypothesis on the identity of the designer(s) and how they went about designing and it will certainly get a fair review (meaning if you simply make unsubstantiated assumptions, then those will be pointed out.)

Ruthless: Here’s the part I thought more consistent with IDC than with evolution:

Genes are copied and mutated, then at some later stage in the population’s history get switched on…)

(emphasis mine)

Russel:

No problem. I understand the confusion, I phrased that poorly.

Alex Merz said (#32638): Precision with language is very important if you want to talk about science.

An observation on precision in writing: I agree with AM, but he doesn’t go far enough, because in fact precision is very very important. No, wait, it really couldn’t be overestimated if we said it is very very very important!

I learned in a writing class way back when that, when proofreading, every instance of “very” should be replaced by “damn.” Then proof it again, and scratch out every instance of “damn.” This is sound advice, in any kind of writing, but especially precise writing.

Bah, I’m just grousing because it is raining on the parades today …

Bah, I’m just grousing because it is raining on the parades today …

Which brings us back to the issue of theometeorology, the relationship between The Almighty, the U.S., and its military, and the information content of “random” weather.

”… very very very important”

that’s pretty precise, alrighty, but perhaps the better term to use to describe importance in linguistics is accuracy, not precision.

for example. i would consider the use of the word important in your above statement to be more accurate than the using the word irrelevant in its place. however, making the term important more precise by adding very very very in front of it is less important.

wouldn’t you agree?

;)

From Dembski’s blog: Granville Sewell, a mathematician at Texas A&M, writes in The Numerical Solution of Ordinary and Partial Differential Equations (2005) that

The development of any major new feature presents similar problems, and according to Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, who describes several spectacular examples in detail in Darwin’s Black Box [Behe 1996], the world of microbiology is especially loaded with such examples of irreducible complexity. Although I cannot imagine any uses for the components of this airtight insect trap before the trap was almost perfect, a good Darwinist will imagine 2 or 3 far-fetched intermediate useful stages, and consider the problem solved. I believe you would need to find thousands of intermediate stages before this example of irreducible complexity has been reduced to steps small enough to be bridged by single random mutations — a lot of things have to happen behind the scenes and at the microscopic level …

In answer to my own question, Dembski provides this link to the whole “appendix” in question. (Thanks Bill!) For all of you who follow creationist 2LoT arguments, have a look at it.

Does Wiley routinely let this kind of garbage into textbooks?

Oh, and for all of you who miss DaveScot, he provides the first comment in which he admires the work. (Just in case you thought there might be any merit in it.)

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on May 27, 2005 4:53 PM.

The status of ID from the Science & Religion community. was the previous entry in this blog.

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