Influenza viruses = evidence for design

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So, you may or may not be aware of the latest “challenge” to evolutionary theory–DI Fellow Jonathan Wells’ new book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design.” Following in the footsteps of Tom Bethell’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to Science” (whose terrible chapter on AIDS I reviewed here), the book is just all shades of terrible. (As has been pointed out by many others who’ve read books in the “Politically Incorrect” series, they should just drop the pretense of “Politically”–simply “Incorrect” sums them up much better). I’ll have a more comprehensive review of one of Wells’ chapters (discussing, essentially, how evolution plays no role in medicine, antibiotic resistance, etc.) next week some time, and you’ll be seeing others pop up as well (see this post for the collected links), but for today I want to focus on a small part of the final chapter (titled “Scientific Revolution”. Yeah, go ahead and snicker).

You probably remember Forest Mims III. He was the other party in the “Eric Pianka advocates genocide” saga. (See also here and here to remind yourself of the absurdity of the whole situation). Mims is a creationist and another Discovery Institute Fellow, and an amateur scientist. According to Wells, he’s made a bizarre claim: that the fact that influenza viruses haven’t evolved resistance to UV light is evidence for design. I thought that Casey Luskin’s piece on intelligent design and flu was as bad as it gets, but I think this is a toss-up; you just can’t make this stuff up.

(Continued at Aetiology)

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The Panda's Thumb: Influenza viruses = evidence for designこちらのブログ(ID批判を複数人でやっている)で批判されています。According to Wells, he’s made a bizarre claim: that the fact that influenza... Read More

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One should also note that viruses are generally minimalistic in their genomes, not performing many functions that, say, bacteria perform.

Indeed, just how are flu viruses supposed to resist UV anyhow, outside of the host? Sure, the capsid (I believe flus use capsids) might have some tiny screening ability, but they’re extremely thin and couldn’t block UV much. Bacteria repair UV damage, because they are autonomous organisms with an ongoing metabolism, while viruses aren’t even considered to be “alive” outside of their hosts, according to many.

It’s the old trick, pick a useful feature, ignore the evolutionary possibilities, and demand that “Darwinism” produce it regardless of the evolutionary limitations imposed upon viruses.

Why do so many bacteria have such good resistance to UV? Why didn’t the “designer” make pathogens less robust and capable of infecting his preferred creations, the humans?

Well, same old BS, pay no heed to the considerable evolved capabilities in autonomous organisms, while demanding metabolic responses in inert organisms (assuming the person demanding this is intelligent enough to know that UV resistance in micro-organisms involves metabolism, for the most part). It doesn’t really matter that it makes no scientific sense, because they’re only try to ignite ignorant reactions against considered science.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Ah the old stupid set-theoretic complement of evolution is ID business.

1 Darwinism predicts x 2 not x is true 3 therefore, Intelligent Design!

As Awesom-o would say, “Laaaaaaame

WOW - are they really arguing that the flu virus is designed? One of the most lethal pathogens around?

Leaving aside the idea that a virus like the flu can even in principle develop meaningful UV resistance, what kind of a designer is it, one that designs a virus that is incredibly efficient in spreading, killing the weak and immunosuppressed by the hundreds of thousands every year, but leaving the strong and healthy mostly just disabled for a while so that they can spread the infection, a virus which is a master at transformation to evade host resistance, and which hides in wait in viral reservoirs just to renew its attacks year, after year, after year, a virus which has been known to occasionally turn into a monster capable of killing people by the millions?

Or are we to believe that the designer only designed the “good features” of the virus? That’s just bizarre.

Or are we to believe that the designer only designed the “good features” of the virus? That’s just bizarre.

Yep. Flu viruses are still *killed* by UV, therefore God made them that way, therefore God loves us and is protecting us from the nasty pathogens (nevermind that they were “designed” in the first place with the ability to kill us). Or something along those lines, I think. Wells is such a crummy author it’s hard to say exactly what he’s getting at.

Note that I’m not saying that some resistance (beyond the capsid) is impossible in inert viruses, but bulky protective molecules and mechanisms (histones, maybe?) are unlikely to be “cost-effective” strategies for flu viruses. They may never have had the necessary precursors, either, in their minimalistic state.

I don’t suppose that cost-benefit analyses are anything IDists would resort to, let alone anything like showing that reasonable evolutionary pathways were even open. That’s too much like science.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Actual conversation with a creationist regarding a story from a science journal that showed the existance of the gas giants had some effect stabilizing the solar system:

Creationist: “It shows God’s mercy that He made the gas giants! Without them, we would be bombarded with asteroids and comets from the outer solar system! Life would be impossible! Clearly, the gas giants show intelligent design.”

Me: “Yes, it’s a good thing God was there to make the gas giants to protect us from that HORRIBLE UNTHINKING MONSTER who made the asteroids and comets. Who was it who made the asteroids and comets again?”

Creationist: “You’re going to Hell.”

At least the company will be good.

For example, Darwinism suggests that pathogenic viruses should long ago have evolved resistance to solar ultraviolet radiation (UV).

I suppose that it does, in the same way that evolutionary theory also suggests that humans should have evolved wings because it would have been helpful, or that all species should produce infinitely many offpsring at an infinite rate. Wells just refuses to understand evolutionary theory, doesn’t he?

Michael,

Whenever a creationist tells you that “you are going to hell”, use this reply; “You may be right, but guess what? With all the lies that you and your fellow creationists perpetuate on your following flock, you are going to be there right beside me. If I happen to get there before you do, I’ll save you a seat.”

Re “Or are we to believe that the designer only designed the “good features” of the virus? “

Would that be the flagellum?

Oh wait, viruses wouldn’t have that would they.

Never mind.

The neat part here is how “politically incorrect” is being used to describe anything which is correct according to the politics of the far right.

Similar to how INGSOC had a Ministry of Truth for disseminating its lies and a Ministry of Peace for fighting its wars, the right-wing noise machine uses “political incorrectness” as a label to praise political correctness and “political correctness” as a smear to attack anything it finds politically incorrect.

Michael,

When someone tells you you’re going to hell, ask them to prove it. If it doesn’t stop them, it usually means they’ll resort to craptastic theology, and you can have fun taking that apart as well.

One of my fun recent points: how can you trust God that he’s not going to change his mind on who goes into the lake of fire? Couldn’t he get bored after awhile and just chuck the lot?

That is one of the frightening bits of fundamentalist theology. God is all good, we’re told, but in turn, good is defined by God. Rape, incest, murder, adultery, etc., aren’t wrong because they are wrong, they are wrong because God said not to do them. If God changes His mind tomorrow, it will be okay.

They have no underlying moral structure. It’s all about fear of being caught, but by the Celestial Eye-in-the-Sky rather than the cops. They genuinely believe that anyone who *isn’t* in fear of God has no reason not to go around murdering anyone they want while raping women, children and farm animals. In fact, they seem to feel it would be natural to do so.

One has to ask, “If YOU, personally, were convinced somehow that there was no God, is this what YOU would be doing?”

Well, it’s not what I would do. If you convinced me to embrace atheism tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t decide it was okay to rape the first woman I saw, even lacking a fear of being caught by more mundane authorities. But then, I care about other people. That alone informs the basis of all my moral decisions.

I don’t overly worry about being sent to Hell. If the fundamentalists had any power, I’d have been sent along years ago. I can’t believe in a God so cheap, vicious and petty as theirs. But then, they’re making God in their own image, aren’t they?

Michael Suttkus Wrote:

Me: “Yes, it’s a good thing God was there to make the gas giants to protect us from that HORRIBLE UNTHINKING MONSTER who made the asteroids and comets. Who was it who made the asteroids and comets again?”

Creationist: “You’re going to Hell.”

Me: I must already be there. I’m talking about astrophysics with a Creationist.

I’m going to echo Glen Davidson’s comments, because they need to be repeated several times. The idea of the flu virus evolving some sort of resistance to UV doesn’t make much sense. The selective forces acting on what would be the conceivable “targets” are much stronger inside the host than in the air (where, I suspect, the virus spends precious little time), and they will craft a very different product than will atmospheric UV radiation. (I can only think of the viral coat proteins as a “site” for improved UV resistance, and even then most virologists would probably take issue with me.)

Other organisms tell us how to evolve resistance to UV, and the flu virus has neither the wherewithall or the need. This item from Wells’ book doesn’t make sense.

Don’t forget the most important design feature of the influenza virus: it is designed to be the most contageous under conditions where it can actively avoid UV light, such as indoors.

It has been argued that the Earth is intended as an observatory, laboratory and classroom.

It is ideally positioned to star-gaze and full of creatures great (like you) and small (like viruses).

All to the apparent benefit of mankind to learn at their own pace that there are consequences to free-will.

I think that “how do viruses adapt?” is a far more fruitful line inquiry than “how do viruses evolve?”.

Adaptation is observable. Calling it ‘gradualism’ does not then make evolution observable.

RM+NS is just biological entropy (degenerate), and only degrades pre-existing parametric gene information, which are perfect in declaration and definition.

RM+NS has never been witnessed to form new gene information, as required by gradualism.

So where did the original genetic information come from?

Life is a miracle.

[Snore…]

Wake me up when the new troll has returned from a tour a tour of TalkOrigins.

Dear Mr. Pinhead,

From Panda’s Thumb: “The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

My posts discuss (constructively debunk) evolutionary theory, critique (constructively support) the claims of the antievolution movement, defend (contextualize) the integrity of both science and science education, and the spirit of goodness is never far from my conversation.

… and your post is what?

constructively debunk

Holy crap! Evolution has been debunked?? I must tell Mother.

Life is a miracle.

Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

So, like, “nuh-uh.”

Why don’t we deal with the facts.

Is DuCrane wrong in his assertion that the creation of a new gene has never been observed?

Let’s start there. That’s a good stating point I think.

Is DuCrane wrong in his assertion that the creation of a new gene has never been observed?

Yes, he’s wrong.

Is DuCrane wrong in his assertion that the creation of a new gene has never been observed?

Yes. Trivially wrong. Every bacteria that develops resistance to antibiotics, does it through a new gene.

At this point I’d like to ask DuCrane if he accepts that all humans today are, as a matter of historical fact, descended from eight people who got off Noah’s Ark.

If so, I have a question for him . … . .

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

Yes. Trivially wrong. Every bacteria that develops resistance to antibiotics, does it through a new gene.

Incorrect. The majority of them, I expect, develop resistance through a new allele, not a new gene.

But he’s still trivially wrong. New genes arise by duplication of old genes all the time. Subsequent modifcation of the duplicated alleles leads to entirely new functionality.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

It has been argued that the Earth is intended as an observatory, laboratory and classroom.

It’s been argued that if the Earth where a sphere, people in Australia would have to hang on to the ground for dear life.

It’s been argued, but it’s quite wrong.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

It is ideally positioned to star-gaze and full of creatures great (like you) and small (like viruses).

Okay, so you’re saying that if evolution were true, what? We’d be the only animals on the planet? There wouldn’t be large or small creatures around? Funny how your “evidence” looks a lot like how the world would look if life evolved.

And where exactly ISN’T well suited to star-gaze? Can you not see stars from Mercury? From the center of the galaxy?

Every place in the universe has advantages and disadvantages. If we were closer to the center, we’d know less about other galaxies, but more about the structure of our galaxy. From our current position, our inability to work out what’s going on to the center is an ongoing hassle for astronomers. In fact, being near the upper edge much closer to the center would be FAR better.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

I think that “how do viruses adapt?” is a far more fruitful line inquiry than “how do viruses evolve?”.

That’s nice. Biology seems to be progressing just fine without you.

By the way, “evolve” and “adapt” are pretty close to the same thing. The distinction you are trying to draw is an illusion. I keep having to explain to creationists that they don’t object to evolution, they object to common descent. It’s unfortunate that creationists hate the word evolution more than what it represents. Well, fortunate, actually, since it keeps them from making an ounce of sense.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

Adaptation is observable. Calling it ‘gradualism’ does not then make evolution observable.

Are you going to make the evidence for common descent go away anytime soon? Or just pretend it doesn’t exist?

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

RM+NS is just biological entropy (degenerate), and only degrades pre-existing parametric gene information, which are perfect in declaration and definition.

Uh huh. Funny how we see native Hawaiian fruit flies adapting to imported fruit. That’s degeneration in your world?

And, um parametric? Just randomly sticking in big words in the hopes we won’t know they don’t mean anything in that context?

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

RM+NS has never been witnessed to form new gene information, as required by gradualism.

A lie. New information is seen all the time. In fact, new information is inevitable.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

So where did the original genetic information come from?

Randomly formed polymers. Random formations have maximum information, despite creationist lies about the subject.

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

Life is a miracle.

That’s nice.

ofro Wrote:

Don’t forget the most important design feature of the influenza virus: it is designed to be the most contageous under conditions where it can actively avoid UV light, such as indoors.

Aha, so that’s why you can’t get a SMART grant to study Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology! The creationists (sorry, cdesign proponentsists) want us all outdoors.

Bob

Collin’s posts at UD have been so bad, you could devote whole threads to them.

I keep having to explain to creationists that they don’t object to evolution, they object to common descent.

…and Debmski keeps having to explain to Iders that they don’t object to common descent, they object to evolution.

Poor guys like Collin get caught in the middle.

Here’s some assistance for you Collin:

neither the theory of evolution that encompasses RM+NS (but is much more than that), nor the idea of common descent have any evidence to suggest they are wrong.

If there was, guys like Behe would have won nobel prizes by now.

It would have been reasonable if Wells omitted the word “political” in the title of his pamphlet. Or better: he should have added “and” between political and incorrect.

[They have no underlying moral structure. It’s all about fear of being caught, but by the Celestial Eye-in-the-Sky rather than the cops. They genuinely believe that anyone who *isn’t* in fear of God has no reason not to go around murdering anyone they want while raping women, children and farm animals. In fact, they seem to feel it would be natural to do so.

One has to ask, “If YOU, personally, were convinced somehow that there was no God, is this what YOU would be doing?”]

That is the exact thing I was pondering before: http://scientianatura.blogspot.com/[…]rgument.html

Collin DuCrane Wrote:

My posts…critique (constructively support) the claims of the antievolution movement

And which of the mutually contradictory ones would they be?

That is one of the frightening bits of fundamentalist theology. God is all good, we’re told, but in turn, good is defined by God. Rape, incest, murder, adultery, etc., aren’t wrong because they are wrong, they are wrong because God said not to do them. If God changes His mind tomorrow, it will be okay.

Frighteningly, this is a true piece of monologue I saw on another forum:

THAT_GUY: Anyway, if God commands racism, who are we to argue?

Predictably, I used that quote many times to show that atheists like me are more moral than those who supposedly report to a higher power for morals.

Predictably, the retard still doesn’t see anything wrong with what he said.

It’s been argued that if the Earth where a sphere, people in Australia would have to hang on to the ground for dear life.

It’s been argued, but it’s quite wrong.

WHAT?!!!

YOU MEAN I’VE BEEN WALKING AROUND ON MY HANDS FOR NOTHING?!!!

It has been argued that the Earth is intended as an observatory, laboratory and classroom.

When God was giving the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, he had his head turned to the black board. I was sitting behind Moses and threw a paper plane, which got stuck in God’s massive hair. God thought it was Moses, so he punished him by making him carry the classroom rules carved into slabs of rock down the mountain.

It is ideally positioned to star-gaze and full of creatures great (like you) and small (like viruses).

You mean we CAN’T star-gaze from anywhere else? What the hell is the purpose of Hubble Space Telescope? Why do we need that?

All to the apparent benefit of mankind to learn at their own pace that there are consequences to free-will.

Isn’t this old argument already rebutted a long time ago?

I think that “how do viruses adapt?” is a far more fruitful line inquiry than “how do viruses evolve?”.

1:”How do viruses adapt?”

2:”They evolve.”

1:”How do they evolve?”

Think about it, genius.

Me:”How did we discover viruses?”

Adaptation is observable. Calling it ‘gradualism’ does not then make evolution observable.

Using strawmen does not make evolution wrong.

Man, that comment by Mims is as hilarious as that one AFDave over at AtBC wrote once: “If evolution is true, how come we don’t have people able to leap tall buildings with a single bounce?”

Yes, he was totally serious, too.

Who writes those guys’ lines? Seriously, this stuff is gold.

RM+NS is just biological entropy (degenerate), and only degrades pre-existing parametric gene information, which are perfect in declaration and definition.

False. RM+NS acts as a very effective generalised hill-climbing algorithm, which can efficiently locate and sustain optimal solutions to the fitness problem.*

You can demonstrate this on your very own home computer, if you’re willing to put the time in. Read up on genetic algorithms. Note that they’re often used to solve extremely complex problems that humans find rather intractable, such as how best to fine-tune the design of a diesel engine.

RM+NS has never been witnessed to form new gene information, as required by gradualism.

By any objectively-measurable definition of “information” (Shannon information, Kolmogorov complexity, etc) that is possessed by the human genome, evolution is perfectly capable of producing information.

I suspect you’re thinking of a more fuzzy meaning of “information”, such as “data that means something” or “data that does something”. There is none of the former in the human genome, and evolution is demonstrably capable of producing the latter in response to naturally-occurring selective pressures. For a fairly dramatic example of this occurring in the real world, I suggest you look at the nylon bug.

* Why should trolls be the only ones who get to overuse long words in an attempt to sound intellectual?

We have a real live one on DebunkCreation right now:

An idiot Wrote:

you like to suggest ludicrous notions that support your position. i wont ask for a power plant or a space ship those are beneath even the connection of brain to eye interaction, as usual much ado about nothing! all i ask is a simple outhouse , they should be springing up occasionall . we should have seen them by now!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Debun[…]essage/96503

Yes, he is arguing that if evolution were true, outhouses should have randomly appeared by now.

You just can’t make this stuff up. I now solemnly swear to restore my “Great Moments in Strange Creationism” page as soon as I get back from DragonCon.

Michael Suttkus II: Excellent posts, and have fun at DragonCon. The LA/Anaheim SF WorldCon will host the Hugos this Saturday (26 Aug.), tickets still available!

Doctor Who has three episodes nominated for Hugos! VICTORY IS ASSURED!

(It’s about time important subjects were discussed here on Panda’s Thumb, don’t you think? :-)

AFDave over at AtBC wrote once: “If evolution is true, how come we don’t have people able to leap tall buildings with a single bounce?”

I’m confused.

Hasn’t the creationist creed for years been the bugaboo of irreducible complexity - that if you find big mutant changes without useful intermediate steps it screams design.

Now AFDave is complaining that evolution is invalid because he doesn’t find big mutant changes without useful intermediate steps?

I’m so confused.

Anyhow, there are powerful jumpers all over the animal world in places that confer a real survival advantage. Fleas, for instance, that can jump several hundred times their body length - an important skill if you have to get from the ground up to a dogs back.

Humans jumping over a building - not so useful in day-to-day survival for most of us (Though there was that one time back in school when my girlfriend’s dad came home early, and it would have really been useful to be able to, oh, jump from a high window or something … but I digress)

all i ask is a simple outhouse , they should be springing up occasionally

Aw geeze - this is getting more complicated by the moment. Do we have to mutantly evolve the ability to jump spontaneous outhouses in a single bound now?

I’m even more confused than before.

Strictly speaking, the “We should have superpowers if EVILution were true” crowd don’t generally demand that those things happen at once, only that, by now, they should have happened.

Still utter nonsense, of course. They don’t understand that every feature in life comes at a cost. Hawks have excellent distance vision, but at the cost of being nearly blind up close. Cheetahs have great speed, but only at the cost of seriously specializing their anatomy, weakening their spine, compressing their abdomen.

Everything has many costs, developmental (how much energy does it cost to grow this feature), maintenance (how much energy does it cost to maintain this feature), and in opportunity (what do I give up to have this feature?). Natural selection isn’t out to pile us under every superpower imaginable, but to create a functional system.

WE could have better color vision with more cone cells, but then we’d lose rod cells and see worse at night. We could have much better night vision with more rods and maybe a tapetum like cats have reflecting light back through the retina a second time, but it would cost us vision in daytime. Human eyes are better than cat eyes in the daytime. Cat eyes are better than human eyes at night. “Perfect” eyes are a creationist delusion.

RM+NS has never been witnessed to form new gene information.

First, define “information,” and kindly tell us how we might measure and quantify it. Until you’ve done this, your claim is untestable and empty of real meaning.

Second, if a blond man and a black-haired woman give birth to a brown-haired child, is that “new information?” Also, if an acorn grows into a huge oak tree, is that “new information?”

My response to Collin appears to have disappeared into the Black Pit of Moderation. Any idea what’s up with that?

(It wasn’t rude, or nasty, or impolite, or anything like that, so if it was filtered the problem is with the filters)

Now AFDave is complaining that evolution is invalid because he doesn’t find big mutant changes without useful intermediate steps?

AfDave brings a whole new level to creationist silliness. As Steve S once pointed out, Dave makes the exact opposite of the “If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys argument.” That is, “If man evolved from monkeys, why aren’t there monkey civilizations?”

Weird stuff.

Stevaroni said: Humans jumping over a building - not so useful in day-to-day survival for most of us

It’s not the jumping that’s the problem; it’s the landing.

Everytime a commercial comes on that makes a stupid claim (which is, I suppose, most of them), I start griping about bad logic and ridiculing the idiocy.

A 200 dollar value, yours for only $75! Not sold in stores!

Okay, so it’s a $200 value… where? If it’s not sold in stores, and the only way you can get it is through this commercial, in what parallel earth is it a 200 dollar value? They’re just making up numbers.

Makes you smell like a man

I thought that’s what you wore cologne to prevent.

After a particularly inspired gripe fest, my brother turns to me and says, “Have you ever thought your life might be less painful if you just stopped thinking about things?”

Well, I hadn’t really, but he has a point. Every newscast, every stupid article I run into online, is an exercise in masochism to experience. Don’t even get me started on having to get through the room when Dad’s listening to Limbaugh or Faux News.

There are times it would be a lot easier not to think.

Okay, that’s weird, I sent this to another thread. How did I end up here?

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This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on August 23, 2006 12:20 PM.

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