An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe (Part 2)

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Dear Dr. Behe

Abbie Smith has recently responded to your reply to her article on the HIV-1 protein Vpu. To refresh your memory, Ms Smith showed that the recently evolved viroporin activity of HIV-1 Vpu directly contradicts your statement that HIV has evolved no new binding sites since it entered humans (see “Edge of Evolution”, page 145 and 146). I see you intend to reply to my open letter at your Amazon blog, rather than engaging in open discussion here, or better yet, doing Ms Smith the courtesy of replying on her own blog. I hope that at least this time you will reply to the key argument Ms Smith made:

HIV-1 M Vpu is a viroporin.

SIV Vpu is not a viroporin, HIV-1 O Vpu is not a viroporin. This is a new activity that evolved in HIV after the split from SIV over a 10 year timeframe and is part of the reason that the HIV-1 M clade is the most common type of HIV in the world.

HIV_Vpu_timeline.gif Timeline of the evolution of new binding sites in HIV. Note that several new binding sites develop after the evolution of HIV.

Just to remind you Dr. Behe, a viroporin is an ion channel, in the case of the HIV-1 Vpu, it is a gated cation channel, which appears relatively Na+ specific (Ewart et al., 1996, Bell et al., 2007, Menhert et al., 2007). To go from its original form to the multisubunit structure with a new function required the development of a new binding site, which involves more than a single amino acid substitution (Paul et al., 1998). Not just any binding site will do, or you get a higgledy-piggledy mass of agglomerated protein, not an ion channel with ion selectivity. Furthermore, this is a gated ion channel, not just a hole punched in the membrane, with a specific amino acid responsible for the gating (Mehnert et al., 2007).

Importantly, this mutation, producing a mini-“molecular machine”, is beneficial to the virus; it increases viral particle release, spreading HIV more efficiently (Paul et al., 1998). This is exactly what you demand in “Edge of Evolution”, viral protein-protein binding sites that are beneficial (see pages 139, 145 and 146). Incidentally, when on page 139 you state that there are no new reports of viral protein-protein binding, your citation to support this statement (21, Wang 2002), is a paper on how viruses recognize receptors, which is entirely irrelevant to your claim, this paper does not address surveys of HIV for new protein-protein interactions at all [1].

Dr. Behe, you can’t get out of this by claiming that the binding site is too simple, or not between completely different proteins. After all, your example binding site for humans is the Haemoglobin S point mutation. This is a one amino acid mutation that just destabilises the protein (what’s wrong with the Apolipoprotein A1 mutation that confers resistance to heart attacks?). If a one amino acid mutation that just causes haemoglobin to gunge together counts, then a multi-mutation event that leads to the formation of an elegant gated ion-channel which increases viral infectivity must count by your very own criteria.

HIV_Vpu_phylogeny.gif Evolution of HIIV binding sites in context of HIV binding.

So, contrary to your claims in “Edge of Evolution” there is at least one protein that fulfils all your criteria as enumerated in that book, new viral-protein-protein interactions which forms new basic machinery that has a survival benefit for the virus. This evolved in a mere 10 years, with the notable absence of any Soros uplift fleet. Also in this time a new Golgi targeting sequence, YRKI evolved (Pacyniak et al., 2005). Again, this is a multisubunit binding site that provides a benefit for the virus by targeting the Vpu-CD4 complex to the Golgi apparatus. Then there is the recently evolved D/GXLRLL sequence in HIV-M subtype C which binds adaptor protein complexes on the cell surface, resulting in targeting of Vpu to the cell surface and more efficient viral spread (Hill et al., 2007). You dismiss these examples generically because you claim that

Like throwing a wad of chewing gum into a finely tuned machine, it’s relatively easy to clog a system

As I’ve shown previously, this is nonsense. We are talking about a coordinated binding to a specific acceptor site. Nor should there be a blanket ban of these types of protein binding sites anyway, a binding site is a binding site, you still need to develop the same specific holes and knobs, and electrostatic charges to get specific, high affinity binding, whether the binding sites results in the formation of a molecular machine or a receptor blocker. The development of the binding sites uses identical processes no matter what the downstream outcome. Again, since your own example is the single point mutation in haemoglobin, which just leads to it gluging up, you claim that a specific multisite mutation which targets a multimeric complex to the specific, defined cellular site is not a valid binding site rings rather hollow.

What did you expect a virus would do anyway? HIV-1 is a cut down parasite with 9 genes (HIV-2 has 10, there is a new gene in HIV-2 not present in SIV cpz due to duplication and subsequent mutation of the Vpr gene, and has novel binding targets and functions that Vpr does not. This invalidates your statement on page 139 that “No gene duplication has occurred leading to a new function”). The entire reason for most of these proteins is to bind to cellular proteins (that’s why parasites such as viruses are so dramatically simplified, they trick the bodies own cellular machinery. By defacto ruling out of court viral protein-cellular protein interactions for reasons that don’t make any sense in the light of your own arguments and examples, you have ruled out 99% of the potential evolution of these viral proteins.

But even here you are inconsistent; on page 139 you lament that the HIV virus has not developed any new cell surface binding sites. This is a viral-protein-cellular protein binding site, but it seems to count when you can’t find an example. But unfortunately you missed the development of CXCR4 coreceptor binding. This can happen within the course of a single infection. The viral receptor binding protein gp120 mutates and switches from binding the CCR5 coreceptor to the CXCR4 coreceptor (Salemi et al., 2007). All in the duration of one infection, again with the absence of any Soros uplift fleet. Once more your references fail you Dr. Behe, you cite reference 19 (Demma et al., 2006) as evidence that HIV has not developed the ability to bind to other receptors and enter new cellular hosts. Yet Demma et al., is not about HIV, it is about how mutations in SIV proteins such as env allow them to bind to new targets, allowing them to bind to receptors on new species cells. This is almost exactly the opposite of what you claimed. Of course, you dismiss this as not an example of a major biochemical novelty, but that is irrelevant. We are talking about proteins sticking together; your claim is that they can’t easily develop this capacity, irrespective of what the functional consequences are (what major biochemical novelty occurs in chloroquine resistance?). Again, this line of argument is completely blown away by your own haemoglobin S example.

To conclude, contrary to you claims that zero binding sites have developed in HIV, we can point to several, in Vpu alone that conform to your own criteria. When Ms Smith pointed this out to you, you ignored her core argument and replied with misdirection and misinformation. I sincerely hope that this time around you will fairly represent her arguments. Comparing someone to the cast of “Mean Girls” is annoying, but by completely avoiding the core argument, and dragging in nonsequiters is the worst disrespect of all.

However, this form of response, where you write on a blog I can’t post too, and I write on a blog you won’t post too, is very limiting. I hereby invite you to debate on a neutral site where there will be minimal distraction. I have created the “The VPU debate” weblog site, and I invite you to be a co-registrant. There we can concentrate on the mutations of Vpu and how they relate to your claims. I look forward to seeing you there.


Yours sincerely

A featherless biped named Ian Musgrave[2,3]

[1] This is a feature of a number of the references you cite, they are either irrelevant to your point, or don’t actually claim what you say they claim. Looking at your reference 21 (Wang 2002) again, this is supposed to support the claim that no new viral binding proteins have developed, but it is actually about determinants of viral surface binding. Your commentary on this paper doesn’t relate it to the claim it is supposed to support, but claims that viral protein binding only has to be weak and…well its not clear what you are trying to get at, here (certainly not the claim that there are now new HIV binding sites), probably that because only weak binding is needed you can find binding sites easily. Unfortunately for you, the HIV affinity for CD4 is 10 nM, what biologists consider high affinity binding, which makes your argument irrelevant.

[2] Strictly speaking, I’m a senior lecturer, not a professor. Although the Australia senior lecturer classification is roughly equivalent to a US professor position, the real professors here would get annoyed if I get an undeserved professor designation.

[3] Boring disclaimer: The University of Adelaide and I have a deal, they don’t speak for me, I don’t speak for them, so my views are mine alone, not official University views (like I would have that power, yeah)


Bell CM, et al., Molecular Characterization of the HIV Type 1 Subtype C Accessory Genes vif, vpr, and vpu. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. 2007, 23(2): 322-330.

Demma LJ, et al., (2005) SIVsm quasispecies adaptation to a new simian host. PLoS Pathog. Sep;1(1):e3. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Ewart GD, Sutherland T, Gage PW, Cox GB (1996) The Vpu protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 forms cation-selective ion channels. J Virol 70: 7108–7115.

Hill SM, et al., (2007) Modulation of the severe CD4+ T-cell loss caused by a pathogenic simian–human immunodeficiency virus by replacement of the subtype B vpu with the vpu from a subtype C HIV-1 clinical isolate. Virology, In press.

Goujon, C et al., (2007) SIVSM/HIV-2 Vpx proteins promote retroviral escape from a proteasome-dependent restriction pathway present in human dendritic cells Retrovirology, 4:2

Mehnert T, et al., Biophysical characterization of Vpu from HIV-1 suggests a channel-pore dualism. Proteins. 2007 Oct 1; doi: 10.1002/prot.21642.

Paul et al. (1998) Mutational Analysis of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Vpu Transmembrane Domain That Promotes the Enhanced Release of Virus-Like Particles from the Plasma Membrane of Mammalian Cells. J Virol, 72 (2): 1270.

Pacyniak E, et al., (2005) Identification of a region within the cytoplasmic domain of the subtype B Vpu protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) that is responsible for retention in the Golgi complex and its absence in the Vpu protein from a subtype C HIV-1. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. May;21(5):379-94.

Salemi M, et al., (2007) Phylodynamics of HIV-1 in Lymphoid and Non-Lymphoid Tissues Reveals a Central Role for the Thymus in Emergence of CXCR4-Using Quasispecies. PLoS ONE. Sep 26;2(9):e950.

Wang J. (2002) Protein recognition by cell surface receptors: physiological receptors versus virus interactions. Trends Biochem Sci. Mar;27(3):122-6.

2 TrackBacks

Dear Gentle Readers: At the bottom of this essay, I’m collecting links to reviews of Behe’s book The Edge of Evolution, replies to reviews and so forth. Well, now the burden is off me, and I can devote my book-reviewing time to good books,... Read More

The middle-aged man named Ian Musgrave has replied to the grey-haired man Michael Behe in response to his recent condescending dismissal of the young woman Abbie Smith (don't these irrelevant signifiers of age, sex, and status add so much to... Read More


Excellent post although I feel that it may be too technical and therefore Behe will dismiss it in similar fashion as (IIRC) Sean Carroll’s post. “He uses too many technical terms and will confuse you but look, here is a simple explanation: goddidit. Don’t waste your time on science, it makes your head hurt”.

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Toni– …too technical…

Already nipped that at the bud.

Thanks again, Ian :)

Is there a place for a good current timeline for the evolution of HIV? I haven’t really paid any attention to the issue for quite sometime and it appears reading through the article that if HIV entered humans in the 20’s the story has changed quite a bit.

Though I am no expert in HIV.

It seems to me, this is only an example of “increased complexity” of trench warfare:

If this version of evolution were true; Would not “survival of the fittest” belong to the virus/micro-organism with the greatest “mutational firepower” and Higher organism would constantly be cut down, before they even had any chance to develop meaningful complexity? By these standards you propose, there would be miniature mutant warriors constantly attacking any higher organism to come along and thus constantly “out evolving them” into oblivion?

Thus if this type of trench warfare evolution is consistently true for viruses, then higher organisms of necessity can’t exist for any meaningful long period of time.

No I don’t see the proof, I believe Behe’s exacting definition for “building up complexity” is done precisely because of this insurmountable problem of throwing wads of gum into finely tuned machinery instead of building it up.

Just an observation - not meant as criticism or complaint:

To discuss scientific matters with a creationist is to run the risk of giving the appearance that the creationists desire. That there is a scientific controversy about creationism. That there is something of substance to creationism. That there is a “theory of creationism”.

Whatever the results of scientific research, the creationists can always say that “that’s the way that it was designed”.

I understand that scientists, being scientists, are interested in science, and enjoy the opportunity to tell others about science.

I fear that the creationists could play to that, and get scientists to talk about their science.

But, to the non-scientific observer, it has the appearance as if the creationists are saying something scientific. The observer could come away with this impression:

Maybe the creationist is wrong on some subtle point of science, but even the evolutionist recognizes that it is scientific. Why exclude the students from exposure to this scientific controversy?

Though I am no expert in HIV.

Yes, we know. Neither is Behe. Both of you are best ignored.

No I don’t see the proof, I believe Behe’s exacting definition for “building up complexity” is done precisely because of this insurmountable problem of throwing wads of gum into finely tuned machinery instead of building it up.

In spite of the evidence shown to you by Ms Smith and Ian Musgrave. What is your excuse for your continued refusal to accept these facts?

Though I am no expert in HIV, or evolution, I will pontificate on these subjects anyway because otherwise my favorite superstition may not be supported when challenged by those who are experts.

Tom S Wrote:

But, to the non-scientific observer, it has the appearance as if the creationists are saying something scientific. The observer could come away with this impression:

Maybe the creationist is wrong on some subtle point of science, but even the evolutionist recognizes that it is scientific. Why exclude the students from exposure to this scientific controversy?

If anything we help “the creationists” by lumping them in a single category based on their misrepresentation of evolution; misrepresentation that may or may not be intentional.

What we need much more of is exposing their differences, and how they cover them up. For example, Bornagain77 admitted on another thread that he (she?) accepts an old earth and common descent like Behe. Another “creationist” on that thread explicitly denied common descent, but there was no scientific debate between them, even though their internal scientific (if not philosophical) difference was greater than that between BA77 and us “Darwinists.”

The public, especially those who have bought the “what’s the harm in teaching both sides?” sound bite, needs to know that anti-evolution activists can’t have it both ways. Either they admit that their objections are not scientific, or they debate their differences like real scientists.

If you are the Tom S, you of all recall my series of threads on Talk.Origins where I asked some questions about the last design actuation event, and got 100% evasion. Not even fellow “Darwinists” could find a quote where an IDer let slip an unequivocal claim of a last design actuation event.

The irony is that if IDers did not need the political support of classic creationists under the big tent, the origin of viroporin activity might have been claimed as a design actuation event.

Is it possible that Behe honestly doesn’t think that these are examples of evolution, because he’s already certain that these changes were intelligently designed? I was trying to understand how he can possibly make the claims he does without his head exploding. Maybe he’s genuinely certain that no new binding sites have evolved in HIV, because the voices in his head already told him that the changes you guys are pointing out are in fact evidence of the Hidden Hand of Yahweh/Satan/Shiva/Beelzebub/Apollo in the affairs of mankind.

PvM you stated: In spite of the evidence shown to you by Ms Smith and Ian Musgrave. What is your excuse for your continued refusal to accept these facts?

These Facts?

Yet even Abbie Smith states: Again, since your own example is the single point mutation in haemoglobin, which just leads to it gluging up, you claim that a specific multisite mutation which targets a multimeric complex to the specific, defined cellular site is not a valid binding site rings rather hollow.

What did you expect a virus would do anyway?

Excellent question Abbie.

Well, what do we expect it to do anyway? As stated before, the examples you cite are excellent examples of trench warfare. Trench warfare that is thoroughly antagonistic to the bigger evolutionary picture of building finely crafted, astonishingly complex, multi tiered, molecular systems.

To give you an idea of what we expect to see,indeed what evolution itself is absolutely required to produce, to be proven true, here is a quote from Gpuccio on a UD thread; (commenting on evolutions failed chance to strut its almighty stuff in malaria)

So, we have where a very strong environmental challenge has emerged, which is exactly what is supposed to be a very strong motivation for evolution in a Darwinian scenario. So, the point is not if the parasite in those years has started to evolve some occult difference, but rather why it has not evolved any complex and non trivial adaptation to chloroquine, in the presence of such a strong selective force, and with so many reproductive cycles available. Why not a “cloroquinase”, or some equivalent mechanism, for instance? Why not a complex new pathway, let’s say 3 or 4 proteins in cascade whose purpose could be to metabolize the dr^ug, or to couple it to some molecule to make it ineffective. Why not new cellular functions which may allow the parasite’s survival in the presence of choroquine? Why not a deeply renovated parasite, much more dangerous than its ancestor?

That is the kind of complexity we expect (scientifically require) to see building up by totally natural processes if evolution is to be proven true. Indeed, to Quote DaveScot,

P.falciparum replicating billions of trillions of times in the past few decades represents the largest search to date for a “black swan”. This is orders of magnitude more replications than took place in the evolution of reptiles to mammals wherein there are many exceedingly complex biological systems that separate them. If P.falciparum had been seen generating any complex biological systems such as those that distinguish mammals from reptiles then it would have falsified the ID hypothesis. None were observed. This doesn’t prove ID but it certainly lends strong support to it. All perfectly scientific.

So there you have it:

A few other things that might help prove evolution true?

How about showing a new species that has emerged since man suddenly appeared in the fossil record, that can not be traced back to trivial reproductive isolation that is due to Genetic Entropy?

Or how about “evolving” any micro-organism into any other micro-organism by purely material processes?

How about producing a coherent beneficial mutation study that doesn’t fall apart on examination of definition of fitness?

Finch Beaks and spotted moths may have sold you on the lie of evolution, but I want to see some almighty transmutation before I believe that pigs may someday fly!


You are dismissing the fact that a virus that quickly kills its host is less successful than a virus that can coexist with its host.

If you get a virus that kills you in 2 days, making you very sick in 12 hours, you are’nt going to expose many people to the virus.

If you get a virus that doesn’t kill you, but just rides along with you (or just slightly increases the chance of you experience sickness, like HPV), then the virus will be spread more, and hence be more successful. Remember you do not win by killing your host, but by spreading your genome.

That is why parasites that kill you quickly will be less of an issue on a large scale of things than (relatively) slow killers like HIV.

to bornagain77:

Why do you insist on declaring that the parasite should evolve to be more dangerous? Why would it be in the interest of the parasite to be more dangerous?

Killing of your host is a bad strategy for survival!

Born again wrote:

“How about producing a coherent beneficial mutation study that doesn’t fall apart on examination of definition of fitness?”

I recommend that you read the thread on the fitness distribution of beneficial mutations. You will find that beneficial mutations occur and that they have a distribution of fitness values.

You have somehow gotten the idea that evolution must produce complex organisms and that they must survive. That is not necessary at all. Complex organisms did evolve and they may survive or they may not. The human race could indeed be wiped out by HIV or MRSA or anything else. That is because evolution has no goals or desires and no intelligent design.

Soren you stated;

Killing of your host is a bad strategy for survival!

That is a very interesting comment of yours, in fact I read somewhere where viruses are very important in helping bacteria (and other species) survive. They produce a kind of elaborate communication network of some kind for the bacteria (I believe it is some kind of a community driven environmental sensor network for the bacteria)…Thus viruses seem to have an inherent and exact purpose for being exactly what they are, to allow the bacteria to more precisely coordinate and accomplish there specific functions in the environments they find themselves in.

Contrary to evolutionary thought is there symbiotic purpose found for bacteria for future life to appear ?

To the dismay of evolutionists, Yes there is!

From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing bacteria, ted the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals that during this time a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures that the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years (much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals). Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia. Contrary to what naturalistic thought would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria scientists find in the geologic and fossil record are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere and producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon. Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponds exactly to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; PhD. Astrophysics; Creation as Science 2006). This “lucky” correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was absolutely necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear. Bacteria obviously depended on the temperature of the earth to remain relatively stable during the billions of years they prepared the earth for higher life forms to appear. More interesting still, the byproducts of greenhouse gas removal by these early bacteria are limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). These natural resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful to modern civilizations. Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing natural resources that would be of benefit to modern man, the sulfate-reducing bacteria were also producing their own natural resources that would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization. Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis. Many different types of bacteria in earths early history lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earths primeval continents. These colonies “dramatically” transformed the “primeval land” into “nutrient filled soils” that were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear. Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear. -// Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with almost all of the solid elements making up the earth itself, it took photosynthetic bacteria over 3 billion years before the earth’s crust and mantle was saturated with enough oxygen to allow an excess of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere. Once this was accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005)). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist. If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only three to four percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land. Because of this basic chemical requirement of photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. All these preliminary studies of early life on earth fall right in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no explanation from any naturalistic theory based on blind chance as to why the very first bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can naturalism explain why, once the bacteria had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them.

Is ESP part of current evolutionary theory?

Better go back to the drawing board guys!

off topic of interest to site:

China pandas forced to migrate for food[…]china_pandas

bornagain77 Wrote:

From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago…

Any of you YECs want to challenge that?

And bornagain77, please tell everyone, especially those YECs hiding under the big tent, what that last design actuation event was, whether it occurred in-vivo, as you and Behe seem to imply, and approximately how many years ago it occurred.

Oh, and see if you can say it - or anything for that matter - for once without dragging in irrelevant statements of your personal incredulity about “Darwinism.”

Nice C&P of the crap you previously posted at Uncommon Descent on 9/22/07.[…]new-entries/ Don’t you have anything new to say?

Just to remind you, “Poof! Goddidit!” isn’t science.

Do carry on.


I do take issue to you, for you declaring the materialistic philosophy superior to the Theistic philosophy prior to investigation!

Just to remind you, Poof! dirt and chance did it!, isn’t science either.

I would like to thank Dr. Musgrave for an excellent post, but also offer some unsolicited advice. This was actually a very mild example, but in my opinion the less snarky the reply the better. Behe’s “Mean Girls” reference was hardly worth mentioning, especially seeing as it came in response to some snarky stuff from ERV. I actually thought that was the most justified part of Behe’s response. Humor is okay, but unless it seems to carry some underlying sense of compassion for the victim (as in, there but for the grace of there being no god go I), it can be a divisive tactic. I guess this message is more for ERV than for Dr. Musgrave, but it has been bothering me about this particular debate. I know, “they deserve it,” but that has never seemed a great reason to me (remembering what Gandalf said).

Another unsolicited thought which this post and the above comments have sparked, is that the “chewing gum” and “trench warfare” models would make good essay questions for an Evolution 101 quiz. (Explain the fallacies in a few sentences.)

Born again,

Perhaps you did not read my post. Once again, evolution has not goals, no needs, no ESP. Just ask the anaerobic bacteria if there was a grand design that insured that aerobic bacteria would evolve and fluorish. I am sure the response would be much different. In the evolutionary game there are winners and losers, but as with human history, the losers don’t get to write the textbooks. How strange indeed that the rise in oxygen levels coincided with the evolution of animals who could take advantage of it. This is only evidence of ESP if there is some reason why such animals must have evolved and there is not. Anthropomorphism ain’t just a river in Africa either.

” bornagain77 said:

Soren you stated;

Killing of your host is a bad strategy for survival!

That is a very interesting comment of yours,”

… so I’m going to ignore it and change the subject by cutting and pasting in some utter anthropomorphic gibberish because I don’t understand that evolution doesn’t have humans as its goal.

Wolfhound, I don’t mean to digress to far from the topic “Edge of Evolution” and HIV

But to further elaborate on your blanket accusation:

Just to remind you, “Poof! Goddidit!” isn’t science.

Is it even possible for the spiritual to interact with the material in a tangible way that can be detected scientifically?

I presume you will say no prior to investigation

Yet, To the dismay of materialists, Yes it is!

Here is a article I recently wrote showing how spirit and material interact.

What is Truth?

To varying degrees everyone looks for truth. A few people have traveled to distant lands seeking gurus in their quest to find “Truth”. People are happy when they discover a new truth into the mysteries of life. People who have deep insights into the truth of how things actually work are considered wise. In the bible Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” as well as “I am the TRUTH, the way, and the life.” So, since truth is considered such a good thing, let us look for truth in a common object; a simple rock. Few people would try to argue that a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock until he was satisfied the rock is real. A blind man in a darkened cave would feel the rock hitting his head just as well as a sighted man who saw the rock coming. The rock is real and its reality is not dependent on our observation. Having stated the obvious lets look at what the rock is actually made of. A rock is composed of three basic ingredients; energy, force and truth. From Einstein’s’ famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all matter (solids, liquids and gases) of the universe is made of energy. This energy is “woven” by various forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these complex interactions of various forces into the rock is tremendous. This tremendous energy that is in the rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of atom . This woven energy is found in each and every individual “particle” of every atom in the trillions upon trillions of atoms in the rock. Woven energy is the “substance” of the rock. It is what gives the rock its physicality of being solid. Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the rock that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” component of the rock. It is the transcendent spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if energy and/or force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the logical laws of the universal constants that govern the energy and force of the rock that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place. Is truth independent and nt of the energy and force? Yes of course, there are many philosophical truths that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true. Yet energy and force are always subject to what truth tells them they can and cannot do. That is to say, the rock cannot exist without truth yet truth can exist without the rock. Energy and force must obey the truth that is above them or else it can’t possibly exist. Since truth dictates what energy and/or force can or cannot do, truth tes energy and force. Energy and force do not te truth. If all energy and/or force stopped existing the truth that ruled the energy and force in the rock would still be logically true. Thus, truth is eternal. The logical truth existed before the rock existed. The logical truth exists while the rock exists. The logical truth will exist after the rock is long gone. It is also obvious that truth is omnipresent. The truth that is in the rock on this world is the same truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times. It has been scientifically proven, by quantum non-locality, that whenever something becomes physically “real” (wave collapse of entangled electron) in any part of the universe this “information of reality” is instantaneously communicated everywhere in the universe. Thus, truth is “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe instantaneously. This universal awareness gives truth a vital characteristic of being omniscient. This instantaneous communication of truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that energy and even gravity happen to be subject to. This scientific proof of quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Truth is actually scientifically demonstrated to be the “active” nt component of this universe. Truth is not a passive set of rules written on a sheet of paper somewhere. Truth is the “living governor” of this universe that has dominion over all other components of this universe. Well, lets see what we have so far; Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omnipresent (it is present everywhere in the universe at all times); Truth is omnipotent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (it knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe); and Truth is active” (it is aware of everything that is happening and instantaneously makes appropriate adjustments wherever needed in the universe). Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and active are some of the very characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, by the strict rules of logic this means spiritual truth emanates from God.

Stephen Wells Wrote:

Is it possible that Behe honestly doesn’t think that these are examples of evolution, because he’s already certain that these changes were intelligently designed?

I strongly doubt it, for the simple reason that if he truly thought, as he constantly implies, that “this evolved and that was designed,” he’d have no problem telling us the what’s and whens of design actuation events. It may be that, like many “evolutionists,” he thinks that all biological processes are products of design. But saying that would risk alienating the Biblical literalist segment of his audience. Conversely, specifying design actuation events would draw attention to (1) why no one is testing those possibilities and (2) why there are so many irreconcilable differences between the classic creationists who do state the whats and whens of design actuation. That would arouse suspicion in the “jury’s still out” segment. So the win-win strategy is to play “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Extra bonus points for the Uplift reference.

David and Follow,

If evolution has no goals, your host is a very bad thing and symbiotic relationship is a very good thing, then why should me showing the fact that symbiotic bacteria working in precise harmony for the future benefit of higher organisms be excluded from consideration as Theologically significant?

Dave, the accelerated (and superior) metabolism of mammals depends on oxygen,,,Do you know any other element to efficiently metabolize energy with?

Dear BA77/Philip Cunningham

I am disappointed to see you trolling this thread when you left so many unanswered questions on the single comment thread still open on Behe’s Amazon blog. I can’t say that I am surprised by these drive-by drivel tactics, but I am still hopeful that you can head back over there and pick up the pieces of your shattered arguments about whales and such. Your inability to stick to an argument is especially hilarious in light of your recent comment at UD, where you modestly patted yourself on the back thusly - “What is extremely funny is that even though, I should not be able to so easily refute such high level critics of ID, I do so (albeit as you have pointed out, rather clumsily) with relative ease.”

They must have different standards over there; I have yet to see you “refute” anything except for your own inane arguments, when you can’t remember the implications of something that you said in your previous comment.


I would like to thank Dr. Musgrave for an excellent post, but also offer some unsolicited advice. This was actually a very mild example, but in my opinion the less snarky the reply the better. Behe’s “Mean Girls” reference was hardly worth mentioning, especially seeing as it came in response to some snarky stuff from ERV.

So sexism is the appropriate response to my original essay, in your mind? Sexism is hardly worth mentioning?

Interesting ‘advice’, Jim.

why should me showing the fact that symbiotic bacteria working in precise harmony for the future benefit of higher organisms be excluded from consideration as Theologically significant?

Anything you can dream of can be assigned theological significance, if you wish to do so. Any life is going to have side-effects (staying alive is one), which will be like any good breeze - blow something ill, blow something else good. Does this mean we can ignore the ill, cherry-pick the good, and find theological purpose in the wind? Sure, why not? This approach is useless for science, but maybe useful for some peoples’ peace of mind.

For some people, post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a logical fallacy. For others, it’s the only way they can conceptualize reality. Up to you.

Bach Wrote:

Evolutionist extremists …Global warming nuts have a hot day in October and BAM, global warming.

Hi. I guess I’m one of those “evolutionist extremists,” because, as I say in Comment 134602 above, no one has shown me what God, or any other designer, might have done other than evolution. Behe and Bornagain77 concede that life has a ~4-billion year history and that humans share common ancestors with other species. Do you agree? If not, what do you believe instead, and do you plan to challenge those “anti-evolution extremists”?

I for one have never called Behe a lunatic. He in fact is a skilled writer and debater and apparently even a good scientist - a rare combination. For more than a dozen years, however, he has steadfastly refused to apply any of his research to testing his alternative “theory.” And other than a vague suggestion that the designer might have front-loaded all the genetic information into the first ancestral cell (BTW, is that what you think happened instead of evolution?) he won’t even say what hypotheses he would test.

As for global warming (I assume you mean anthropogenic GW) I have until recently been on the side of the deniers, I still think there’s a fair chance that they could someday be vindicated, and I’m still on their side when it comes to what government ought to do about it. Sorry for destroying your “liberal atheist Darwinist” fantasy.

I don’t see SUPERNATURAL as part of the defiition of God

Sigh. Apparently the troll never thought to look up the definition of “supernatural”:

1. of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal. 2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity. […]

Bach: You believe Darwin and his fellow scientists of his day conclusions and the evidence he used still stand up to scrutiny?

Scientist conclusions are at best a wild ass guesses based on tiny amounts of data which are subsequently proven wrong or at best partially correct and/or misleading.

If you actually had the ability to look up what Darwin wrote about, including the formation of coral atolls, barnacle phylogeny, as well as the movement of earth by the actions of earthworms, you would have already known that Darwin’s conclusions have not only stood to modern-day scrutiny, but have been, in fact, strengthened.

You know absolutely nothing about science or how scientists work.


I don’t see SUPERNATURAL as part of the defiition of God, yet all evolutionist extremists use the term. Why?

It is, as I am sure you found out when you searched various dictionaries for the one that would support your point, a trivial matter to find dictionaries which use the term supernatural with respect to their definition of the term god. See here, here, here and here for instance. But since you missed my point so astoundingly and mostly just ignored everything I said to make the laughably idiotic argument that science doesn’t exist within the field of science, I will try to make it again.

You are conflating several different issues and somehow managing to get them all wrong. No one is arguing about the nature of God, if such a being exists. If you want to hypothesize your God that exists within the realm of nature, put forth your falsifiable hypothesis and provide observable evidence. I guarantee that, if you manage to succeed, you will be the most famous scientist in history. Good luck.

But that is irrelevant to the argument that scientists are having with various sorts of creationists. In that argument, the term God, on both sides of the argument, refers to the same concept. The term itself doesn’t matter. What matters is the concept underlying it. Whether that definition is the accepted definition of the term by every single human being on earth is completely immaterial to the question of whether creationists or scientists are correct about how scientific inquiry ought to work. That is, as I stated, that science is the study of the natural and supernatural entities are therefore outside its boundaries of inquiry.

If you want to have some convoluted argument about whether or not God is properly described as supernatural, I am sure there is some forum somewhere where that discussion will have at least some peripheral relevance to the argument at hand.

“Behe is a scientist, yet you all claim he’s a lunatic?”

Behe was a practicing scientist at one time, and a good one at that. But now he thinks that experiments are a waste of time for him to do (he has said as much). He would have a lot more street cred if he was actually in his lab trying to test the predictions that he believes ID makes.

Which prompts the question: Does he think that the empirical evidence might not agree with his predictions?

Armchair science is easy to do, but lab research is demanding, both physically and intellectually. Critics of evolution should try it sometime.

Stuart Weinstein:

BornAgain writes: “


Please prove your assertion that any other form of metabolism is superior to oxygen metabolism.”

What if there is no oxygen? I suspect sulfur reducing based metabolism beats Oxygen under those circumstances. Wouldn’t you agree?


Better dead than sulfur reducing based!

Stuart Weinstein said:

BornAgain writes: “


Please prove your assertion that any other form of metabolism is superior to oxygen metabolism.”

What if there is no oxygen? I suspect sulfur reducing based metabolism beats Oxygen under those circumstances. Wouldn’t you agree?


I recall a sci-fi novel in which the aliens breathed gaseous sulfer. Apparently at their temperature, oxygen would be way too reactive to be usable.


I don’t see SUPERNATURAL as part of the definition of God, yet all evolutionist extremists use the term.

Personally I avoid using the terms “natural” and “supernatural” to distinguish what science can study. It’s more to the point to say that science depends on detecting consistent patterns in the evidence, and producing hypotheses that explain or describe those patterns. So I guess that means I’m not an “evolutionist extremist”, whatever the heck that is.


So I guess that means I’m not an “evolutionist extremist”, whatever the heck that is.

Well you’re out of the club effective immediately.

Glen D


To finish up some unfinished business,

Somebody doubted that information was a spiritual entity,,,

Yay, computer and information theory, something i’m qualified to speak on. What bornagain is doing, as most computer illiterate people tend to do, is confusing *data* with *information*. Data is to information as Rectangles are to Squares. But, since he doesn’t seem to know a friggin’ thing about evolution, the fact that he’s clueless about computers is no surprise.

Well let’s take a closer look,,You write information on a piece of paper, Is the paper or the ink the information?

Stop anthorpomorphizing everything, it rots the parts of your mind that alcohol abuse didn’t. You don’t write “information” on paper. You write *data*. The informational quality of that data is up to the person interpreting it. The data may be informational, it may be gibberish, but until it is interpreted, it is only data. The paper is the storage container for the data, the ink is the data itself, the language/script used by the wielder of the pen is the data format, or possibly metadata, and the pen is the mechanism for entering data into storage. When using pen and paper, you use the pen to lay ink on the paper for storage. If that data is then read by someone who can interpret that data correctly and assign meaning to it, then it’s information. Until then, it’s just data, or even more basically, it’s just chemicals on paper. It has very little intrinsic value.

You record the information onto a tape recorder, are the sound waves you used to speak information?

BA has a fundamental misunderstanding of the process of speech, but we’ll overlook that. No, the sound waves are the data. Again, sans interpretation, it’s data. Con interpretation, it’s information. Technically, you record the data onto a tape *with* a tape recorder. The recorder itself has shockingly poor data storage capabilities.

Is the magnetic tape in the recorder the information, You transfer the magnetic tape to a CD, is the CD now information?

Both the tape and the CD are media. It’s really quite simple, once you know what’s going on. Perhaps you should read *another* book?

No we have obviously transfered a transcendent entity throughout all those totally different mediums yet the entity changed not in the least in its meaning!

No, we’ve simply used different methods to store the same data. This is not TM, it’s CompSci 101. Hell, it’s A+ certification 101. There’s noting *transcendent* about it. Hell, it’s not even being translated, (in theory). It’s just being transferred, and as such, there is no change to data content, just format.

As such, Are your memories (your information of your life) definitely stored in your brain? NO, there is no known definitive location for memories in the brain according to Nobelist Penfield.

As well, Transcranial magnetic stimulation studies, as well as, patient robustness after hemispherectomies, offer very suggestive, if not compelling, evidence that memories are stored on a “spiritual basis”.

Then you mean the studies I watched showing light electrical stimulation of different areas the brain via physical probe weren’t bringing up random memories? Wow, that’s some good fakery.

You Say Impossible?

With men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible!

Evidently not, as you keep spouting silliness.

Until atheists can justify their use of induction and the uniformity of nature in their universe of mere matter in motion, their battle against the Christian God is doomed to failure. The atheistic worldview reduces to absurdity. Today’s “scientists” are technicians and don’t have the philosophical sophistication to realize mankind’s ultimate foundation for knowledge - God. Time for atheists to read up on matters of epistemology and things logically prior to biology.


What you say is completely irrelevant to evolution, and how it’s misrepresented by anti-science activists. If you think that God used something other than evolution to create species, IC systems, whatever, please tell us what you think it is. Start with the basic questions, such as how long has life been on earth, and whether humans share common ancestors with other species.

Welch’s response is long and confused. A simpler response is that BA argues in effect that a DVD player can play a movie even if the DVD is removed because the movie is still present in “spirit”.

To Glove: read David Deutsch’s “The Fabric of Reality”, which explains how science if based on inference to the best explanation, not induction. As for absurdity, the notion that God is the ultimate foundation of knowledge is utterly incoherent. Read up on epistemology indeed.

Then you mean the studies I watched showing light electrical stimulation of different areas the brain via physical probe weren’t bringing up random memories?

That doesn’t contradict the claim that there is no definitive location of memories. (Of course BA’s leap from that to not definitely being stored in the brain is idiotic; they are definitely stored in the brain, but in a dispersed manner.)

It wasn’t irrelevant to the Professor of Biology and his Masters student I recently spoke to. They could not rationalize their use of induction and resorted to irrational argumentation, scoffing, and obfuscation. I reminded them, after their halfway back peddling, that any notion of theistic evolution allegorizes Genesis and effectively cuts the heart out of any need for redemption. The truth is, men in lab coats are like anyone else. They carry presuppositions into their theories, good or bad. There is no neutral, objective ground in these matters. We all have an authority we appeal to, again good or bad. And the ideas we draw from these authorities yield consequences.

Popper, it was his comment that memories aren’t stored “in the brain” that I was replying to. The neat thing in the film was that they were actually probing across a fairly wide area of the brain, (this was something like 20 or so years ago, so forgive me if details are a bit murky), and were amazed at just how decentralized memory storage was. I agree that there’s no one “memory spot” in the brain, but, memories are most definitely stored in the brain.

A success usually depends on essay outline offered by But your outcome just about this good post is interesting also.

Various people in all countries get the credit loans in different creditors, because that’s fast and easy.

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This page contains a single entry by Ian Musgrave published on November 11, 2007 11:52 PM.

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