Carl Woese dead at 84

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I just heard word that evolutionary microbiologist Carl Woese has died. Woese is probably most famous for defining the Archaea, the “third domain of life”.

Intelligent design proponents have touted Woese’s ideas about horizontal gene transfer as a challenge to evolutionary theory, even claiming that Woese argued there were multiple, independent origins of organisms. This was wrong, of course. Almost exactly a decade ago, I asked Woese to give his thoughts on his work and ID. I leave you with some of his comments:

It’s basically correct to say that I do not challenge common ancestry per se but rather the concept that there was a single common ancestor cell or organism that gave rise to the three cellular domains of life.

In a way my theory is more of a problem for creationists and their ilk than the old way of looking at things – though those folks do not seem to sense this yet. Special creation starts with a given type of form that may or may not change but in any case remains “true” to its original character. “Intelligent design” seems to see different mechanisms being designed individually, just as an inventor or engineer would do. Well, in my theory none of this is the case.

I have no trouble with a claim to the effect that God set the world up so that it progressed in an evolutionary fashion. That would affect my work no more than the belief that God’s world was a mathematical world affected Newton’s work; one can scientifically procede the same way with or without the assumption. And creationist or intelligent design views will be back where they belong, in the realm of (immature) religion.

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Woese is he.

Seriously, though, no one else ever made plants and animals seem so relatively close, while bacteria and archaea are now rather more distant. He will be remembered.

However, the name “archaea” does seem less than ideal, as if they were somehow old relics, rather than evolved modern organisms like, well, bacteria at least. Not nearly so important as the discovery itself, a relatively minor caveat.

Glen Davidson

(Please, let’s have replies to Byers occur on the Wall, where his effusions and troll-chasing belong).

Carl Woese had a major effect on microbiology, beyond just defining the Archaea. In effect, he introduced the notion that microbes could evolve. Before his and his students’ work in the late 1970s, most microbiology texts had discussions of classification but not of phylogenies. Microbial groups were defined on the basis of which chemicals could stain them or on some detail of their metabolism. But there were no trees in introductory microbiology texts. (If you find this hard to believe, go to a university library, get an old microbiology textbook of pre-1977 vintage, and try to find the phylogeny). While the work of the Woese lab never lacked for critics, after it microbiologists suddenly wanted to know what the phylogeny was. In my own university, shortly after Woese’s work the faculty of the Department of Microbiology wanted to know how to reconstruct phylogenies, and they turned to one of their own graduate students who ended up giving them lectures on that.

Basically there were three great periods of advance in microbiology – the classical era of Koch and Pasteur, the 1940s and 1950s when Luria, Delbrück, and the Lederbergs established that bacteria had genetics that could be studied, and the late 1970s when it was established that microbes did in fact have an evolutionary history. Very simply, Carl was the greatest microbiologist of our age.

How insightful Carl was became clear to me after he came to me with an argument about rooting the tree of life. He was convinced that if one compared sites in ribosomal RNA that were paired (in stems) with those that weren’t (in loops) that one could separate evolutionary rate from time. He had a clever argument for this, but it was not algebraic. I thought the matter over, and sat down to write a long letter to him disagreeing, and showing why you could not do make the separation between rate and time. In the midst of my letter I suddenly realized that part of my algebraic argument was wrong, and when I corrected it, it became clear that Carl was absolutely right. Which is pretty darned good intuition.

Carl Woese was not particularly humble, and was always campaigning for one viewpoint or another, but most of those were not only right, they were important. Hail and farewell.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

However, the name “archaea” does seem less than ideal, as if they were somehow old relics, rather than evolved modern organisms like, well, bacteria at least.

Glen Davidson

The Archaea were first called archaebacteria, when they were thought to be a phylum of bacteria/prokaryotes. Woese himself originally called the third domain archaebacteria, but later proposed Eukarya, Eubacteria, Archaea to emphasize the tripartite domains. In fact, some microbiologists still call them archaebacteria, esp. those who do not accept Woese’s three-domain hypothesis, like Bill Martin.

Martin WF “Archaebacteria (Archaea) and the origin of the eukaryotic nucleus.” Curr Opin Microbiol. 2005 8(6):630-637

http://www.molevol.de/publications/136.pdf).

What was very interesting to me (when I started researching Carl’s papers on domains and the archae kingdom was that I was taking HS biology just as these papers were coming out. So, I was taught about Monera.

When I started teaching HS Biology, I had to learn all that new fangled Domain stuff. I didn’t like it.

Then I actually did the research and found out why the domains were needed and the value that they had and I learned to appreciate them.

All

All of cellular life, including archae, has remarkable biochemical overlap.

It seems as if Woese was proposing more than one abiogenesis events.

That’s a very interesting idea; did he ever discuss the details of that?

Carl Woese:

“I have no trouble with a claim to the effect that God set the world up so that it progressed in an evolutionary fashion.”

…Which reminds me of something H. Allen Orr said about Stephen Jay Gould’s position regarding God-and-Evolution:

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render unto Caesar the things that are God’s as well.”

A clear surrender demand, as Orr correctly observed.

FL

A clear surrender demand, as Orr correctly observed.

Remember everyone, you cannot reason with the authoritarian mind (which means, of course, that you cannot reason with a very substantial proportion of the earth’s population of a very substantial number of issues).

Why do FL and the authoritarian he approvingly quotes project the making of “surrender demands” onto Stephen Jay Gould, of all people?

Because they conceptualize the world in terms of “surrender demands”. That’s how they communicate with everyone else, so that’s how they perceive all communications from everyone else.

harold,

If you read his paper, Woese proposed and had shown (this was when molecular biology was just coming into the fore) that Archae were as different from Eubacteria as Eubacteria was from Eukaryotes.

My understanding is that Archae are the proposed ‘first group’ because Archae have some characters that are more like Eukaryotes than Eubacteria and some characters that are more like Eubacteria than Eukaryotes.

So, not multiple abiogenesis events.

harold said:

All of cellular life, including archae, has remarkable biochemical overlap.

It seems as if Woese was proposing more than one abiogenesis events.

That’s a very interesting idea; did he ever discuss the details of that?

I vaguely recall reading that a few billion years ago, given energy inputs from sunlight, vulcanism, lightning, tides, wind and waves, various sources of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, etc., in billions of cubic miles of potential biosphere seething with pre-life chemistry, and considering that life would have started at a very small scale, there must have been more than one abiogenesis event.

Here’s a write up I did… including a link to the original article: http://ogremk5.wordpress.com/2011/0[…]main-system/

ogremk5 said:

harold,

If you read his paper, Woese proposed and had shown (this was when molecular biology was just coming into the fore) that Archae were as different from Eubacteria as Eubacteria was from Eukaryotes.

My understanding is that Archae are the proposed ‘first group’ because Archae have some characters that are more like Eukaryotes than Eubacteria and some characters that are more like Eubacteria than Eukaryotes.

So, not multiple abiogenesis events.

I think that when Woese named the Archaebacteria he proposed that they were a clade, the tree being

(Archaebacteria,(Bacteria,Eukaryotes));

i.e, the first split separated the Archaebacteria from all the rest. He felt that Archaebacteria were particularly interesting because of that early split. However …

Subsequent rerooting of this tree by Iwabe and by Gogarten placed the root between Eubacteria (which Woese had called Bacteria) so that the tree was rerooted to be:

(Eubacteria,(Archaea,Eukarya));

James Lake proposed that Eukarya arose within the Archaea, more closely related to some branches of them than to others, and a recent restudy of this seems to support that.

None of which detracts from Carl Woese’s status as the major figure introducing evolutionary history into microbiology.

“Authoritarian”? I thought H. Allen Orr was an evolutionist.

hrmm but lipids from which membranes are constructed differ widely between bacteria and archaebacteria, those lipids probably arose independently. Eukaryotes and eubacteria have the same kind of lipids.

So I was wrong — Woese (with Fox) actually did first come up with the name archaebacteria; for some reason I thought it had been in use earlier. Its from the famous 1977 paper. See Joe’s comment for why Woese thought the Archaea were “ancient”.

Woese CR, Fox GE. “Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 74(11):5088-5090.

http://www.pnas.org/content/74/11/5088.full.pdf

You might recall how, ~10 years ago, in the same paragraph, the Isaac Newton of Word Games notes how his buddy Michael Behe accepts common descent, while Woese - not an ID/Creationist - “explicitly denies” it. All the while having the chutzpah to keep you guessing on his position.

Bullshitter For Jesus Bullshitted:

“Authoritarian”? I thought H. Allen Orr was an evolutionist.

So, tell us again why we should assume you’re telling the truth? Or why we should even assume that your claim that “evolutionists” (sic) have an authoritarian hierarchy is somehow true when you’ve lied about having learned about evolution in university?

Would not common sense suggest that if there were one abiogenesis event, there might as well have been another - more or less remotely ‘related’?

How can we know for certain one way or another? All we possibly might learn is whether all known life is descended from the same event or not - but can we rule out events that left no trace?

why we should even assume that your claim that “evolutionists” (sic) have an authoritarian hierarchy

Ummm, I wasn’t the one that initially used the term “authoritarian”, nor have I said anything about any hierarchy. Please recheck the posts.

you’ve lied about having learned about evolution in university?

Looked at the university transcript just two nights ago. Course and grade are still there. “B” grade. Maybe not stellar but I’m quite okay with it.

FL

FL said:

[snip]

you’ve lied about having learned about evolution in university?

Looked at the university transcript just two nights ago. Course and grade are still there. “B” grade. Maybe not stellar but I’m quite okay with it.

FL

I thought your degree was in journalism? Just because you, maybe, took a survey course long ago, doesn’t mean you understand biology. Your posts regularly demonstrate the opposite.

I’m not sure if I even have transcripts for my coursework.

fusilier

James 2:24

Rolf said:

Would not common sense suggest that if there were one abiogenesis event, there might as well have been another - more or less remotely ‘related’?

It depends on their probability, tempo, and how narrow a set of conditions are needed (these are interrelated, not independent factors). If they are rare enough that the first replicator radically changes the global environment before another one would be expected to occur, then no, you would not expect more than one.

fusilier said:

Bullshitter Bullshitted:

[snip]

you’ve lied about having learned about evolution in university?

Looked at the university transcript just two nights ago. Course and grade are still there. “B” grade. Maybe not stellar but I’m quite okay with it.

FL

I thought your degree was in journalism? Just because you, maybe, took a survey course long ago, doesn’t mean you understand biology. Your posts regularly demonstrate the opposite.

According to some of FL’s routine anti-science rants, he would have mutated into an evil, inhuman, devil-worshiping, God-hating apostate for having set foot in a science classroom.

And then there’s the fact, like you’ve noted, that all of FL’s posts all demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of even rudimentary science education.

Rolf said:

Would not common sense suggest that if there were one abiogenesis event, there might as well have been another - more or less remotely ‘related’?

How can we know for certain one way or another? All we possibly might learn is whether all known life is descended from the same event or not - but can we rule out events that left no trace?

In terms of Woese, his work really doesn’t imply anything one way or another.

That being said, I would tend to agree with you.

That being said, the first replicator would have a massively huge advantage in all further development. Think of playing Monopoly, except one player starts with 9 properties and 18 houses. It would be almost impossible for the other players to beat him. Same thing with early life. Once the earliest form of life became predatory (i.e. able to use other organic molecules for nutrients or energy), it would be very difficult for any ‘new’ ‘organisms’ to compete successfully.

Unless two systems were significantly far apart (in space) and occupied sufficiently different niches so that when they did come into the same space, they weren’t competing, then I would suspect that one of early abiogenesis events produced all life that we are aware of.

I do think that gene transfer and similar events happened in the very early world.

Bullshitter For Jesus Bullshitted:

why we should even assume that your claim that “evolutionists” (sic) have an authoritarian hierarchy

Ummm, I wasn’t the one that initially used the term “authoritarian”, nor have I said anything about any hierarchy.

If you weren’t trying to deliberately misquote Woese and Orr into making it sound like that they were evil authoritarians trying to command other “evolutionists” (sic) into not believing in Evolution and God at the same time, then what were you trying to deliberately misquote Woese and Orr into saying?

eric said:

Rolf said:

Would not common sense suggest that if there were one abiogenesis event, there might as well have been another - more or less remotely ‘related’?

It depends on their probability, tempo, and how narrow a set of conditions are needed (these are interrelated, not independent factors). If they are rare enough that the first replicator radically changes the global environment before another one would be expected to occur, then no, you would not expect more than one.

If there were multiple abiogenesis events that produced recognizable descendants that still survive, then they all coincidentally resulted in common very basic cell structure, genetics, and biochemistry.

Thus, there “could have” been multiple significant abiogenesis events, as long as they “coincidentally made it look the same as if it happened once”.

However, there is no current life on earth that does not appear related to all other current life.

Therefore, it is most parsimonious, for now, to assume that, in a meaningful sense, life that survived originated once. By no means is that the only possibility, but it is the most parsimonious hypothesis right now, given all all current life is related to all other current life.

harold said:

A clear surrender demand, as Orr correctly observed.

Remember everyone, you cannot reason with the authoritarian mind (which means, of course, that you cannot reason with a very substantial proportion of the earth’s population of a very substantial number of issues).

Why do FL and the authoritarian he approvingly quotes project the making of “surrender demands” onto Stephen Jay Gould, of all people?

Because they conceptualize the world in terms of “surrender demands”. That’s how they communicate with everyone else, so that’s how they perceive all communications from everyone else.

My apologies to H. Allen Orr. FL is right. I have no reason to think he is particularly an authoritarian. He may be, and some great scientists have been, but I don’t have reason to think he is.

FL, of course, is an authoritarian who can’t be reasoned with, who demands “total surrender” from others, and who projects his own authoritarianism onto the rest of the world.

This is a clarification of a prior comment that points out why engaging FL is rather pointless.

harold said:

If there were multiple abiogenesis events that produced recognizable descendants that still survive, then they all coincidentally resulted in common very basic cell structure, genetics, and biochemistry.

Could the abiogenesis event have happened to a small group of near-biological entities? Kind of like an isolated population evolving and speciating on its own? Is there any biogenesis mechanism that might work that way?

Carl Drews said:

harold said:

If there were multiple abiogenesis events that produced recognizable descendants that still survive, then they all coincidentally resulted in common very basic cell structure, genetics, and biochemistry.

Could the abiogenesis event have happened to a small group of near-biological entities? Kind of like an isolated population evolving and speciating on its own? Is there any biogenesis mechanism that might work that way?

There’s lots of ways it could have happened. We’ll never know. But, when we’re talking about ‘organisms’ that are that simple, then gene flow, consuming and incorporating genes, etc. are all possibilities.

I am certain James A. Shapiro will lament especially Woese’s passing over at his HuffPo blog if he hasn’t already, since he has described Woese as the greatest living evolutionary biologist of our time. While I do acknowledge Woese’s important contributions to microbiology and systematics, and express my condolences to his family, his friends and his colleagues, I would not regard him as a scientist as important as Dobzhansky, Fisher, Mayr, MacArthur, Maynard Smith, Simpson, or Wilson.

What is interesting Douglas, is that Woese, like lots of proponents of Darwinian evolution, trot out the YEC ‘individual crafting of parts like a machinist’ position as also being an ID position, which is patently untrue. In fact, ID has no such debt to YEC.

Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

What is more curious though, in the context of this OP is that no matter what scenarios are proposed by people like Woese, these ideas can all live under the humongous Darwinian evolutionary tent.

No scenario left behind.

Hey Stevie, what would we gain by switching over to ID-inspired science?

Steve P. said:

What is interesting Douglas, is that Woese, like lots of proponents of Darwinian evolution, trot out the YEC ‘individual crafting of parts like a machinist’ position as also being an ID position, which is patently untrue. In fact, ID has no such debt to YEC.

Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

What is more curious though, in the context of this OP is that no matter what scenarios are proposed by people like Woese, these ideas can all live under the humongous Darwinian evolutionary tent.

No scenario left behind.

Sorry Stevie, no hypothesis unsupported by evidence will be accepted, unlike the ID band of merry charlatans.

Frank J said: Thus almost from the beginning of “scientific” creationism in the mid-20th century, the pressure to “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” began. And it has been a retreat ever since. Worse, for the ID peddlers, not only do they know that “goddidit” is all they have, they are painfully aware that mainstream evolution, and not YEC or OEC, have the correct whats, whens, wheres and hows. But of course they would not dare admit it.

Herbert Spencer noted in his essay The Development Hypothesis of 1852 that the advocates of special creations did not spell out what they thought happened. It is true that “Intelligent Design” and its successors have gone beyond these humble beginnings.

Carl Drews said:

We might get a chance to practice for Europa within a year or two. The British team has called off drilling into Antarctica’s Lake Ellsworth because of technical difficulties:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-e[…]ent-20850360

But they will be back! Or another team will penetrate Lake Vostok.

The Russians completed drilling into Lake Vostok last February. So far no signs of life has been detected. See for example: http://news.discovery.com/earth/no-[…]-121019.html

George

gmartincv said:

The Russians completed drilling into Lake Vostok last February. So far no signs of life has been detected.

Sure.

Sure there’s “no life” down there.

That’s just what the lake-dwelling reptiloids want you to think.

Steve P. said: Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

Well, I invite you to correct Woese. Provide a corrected characterization of the ID position. What intelligence, designed what bit of life, when, how, and what evidence can we expect that it left behind?

As far as I can tell, pretty much any attempted characterization of ID by a non-proponent is considered a strawman characterization. Its a three card monty idea; whichever description the mark picks, it was the wrong one. There is no bean.

Steve P. said:

What is interesting Douglas, is that Woese, like lots of proponents of Darwinian evolution, trot out the YEC ‘individual crafting of parts like a machinist’ position as also being an ID position, which is patently untrue. In fact, ID has no such debt to YEC.

Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

What is more curious though, in the context of this OP is that no matter what scenarios are proposed by people like Woese, these ideas can all live under the humongous Darwinian evolutionary tent.

No scenario left behind.

Now is your chance to prove Woese wrong.

1) Could any evidence convince you of the theory of evolution, and if so, what type of evidence is now lacking, that would convince you if present?

2) The Supreme Court ruled against the direct teaching of Biblical Young Earth Creationism as science in public schools; however, if that ruling were overturned, which would you support more, teaching of ID, or direct teaching of Bible-based YEC?

3) Do you think it is important for opponents of the theory of evolution to fully understand the theory of evolution? If so, can you explain it, and if not, can you explain why not?

4) Who is the designer? How can we test your answer?

5) What did that designer do? How can we test your answer?

6) How did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

7) When did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

8) What is an example of something that was not designed by the designer?

…a not so clever, limp wristed attempt to bait a Darwinian evolution skeptic into being accused of derailing a thread.

…maybe PT moderators should take a look at BWing these types of home-grown posts.

Just Bob said:

Hey Stevie, what would we gain by switching over to ID-inspired science?

.…but wait Harold, if you are implying that Woese is not wrong, then why lambast Behe for this off-hand remark that a single progenator cell started life’s evolutionary (non-darwinian of course) track?

…btw, your list has been answered twice.…you know what they say about repetitive behavior.

…no, you don’t gots to get paid!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaIZWjItReI

harold said:

Steve P. said:

What is interesting Douglas, is that Woese, like lots of proponents of Darwinian evolution, trot out the YEC ‘individual crafting of parts like a machinist’ position as also being an ID position, which is patently untrue. In fact, ID has no such debt to YEC.

Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

What is more curious though, in the context of this OP is that no matter what scenarios are proposed by people like Woese, these ideas can all live under the humongous Darwinian evolutionary tent.

No scenario left behind.

Now is your chance to prove Woese wrong.

1) Could any evidence convince you of the theory of evolution, and if so, what type of evidence is now lacking, that would convince you if present?

2) The Supreme Court ruled against the direct teaching of Biblical Young Earth Creationism as science in public schools; however, if that ruling were overturned, which would you support more, teaching of ID, or direct teaching of Bible-based YEC?

3) Do you think it is important for opponents of the theory of evolution to fully understand the theory of evolution? If so, can you explain it, and if not, can you explain why not?

4) Who is the designer? How can we test your answer?

5) What did that designer do? How can we test your answer?

6) How did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

7) When did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

8) What is an example of something that was not designed by the designer?

eric, contrast the ID postion with the ND position:

ND: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt it was a combination of physics and chemistry…

ID: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt is was information interacting with physics and chemistry…

…your continued attempts to imply that design requires the identity and method of a supposedly human like yet ethereal entity suggests you are purposefully twisting the ID position to make it easier to rebut…create a weak link and break it with tweezers…bolts cutters are way too expensive.

So I suppose to keep the logic consistent, we need to ask you for the identity and method of the physics and chemistry that started life and provided the conditions for Darwinian evolution…no but wait!; darwinian evolution does not depend on abiogenesis… separate issues! so I can’t require this of you.

With this in mind, ID is not required to propose the identity or method of a designer…simply contrast the ID position with the ND position by inserting a key conceptual element that ND denies…the existence of information as an independent and separate physical entity that interacts with physics and chemistry.

…yeah, you can wag a crooked finger at ID to please your perps.…but it is ID that will overtake ND.…just a matter of time.

…but we all know ND will attempt to co-opt ID’s information as a separate entity concept and claim it fit with ND all along.…we knew THAT!

eric said:

Steve P. said: Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

Well, I invite you to correct Woese. Provide a corrected characterization of the ID position. What intelligence, designed what bit of life, when, how, and what evidence can we expect that it left behind?

As far as I can tell, pretty much any attempted characterization of ID by a non-proponent is considered a strawman characterization. Its a three card monty idea; whichever description the mark picks, it was the wrong one. There is no bean.

Harold is not implying that Woese was wrong. He did not lambast anyone, not even Behe. His questions have not been answered in even vaguely responsive terms by you, or as far as I know, anyone who asserts “non-Darwinian” origins for the species. Sneers, falsehoods, irrelevancies and snide remarks are no substitute for evidence.

No, the hypothesis of “design” does not absolutely require the identification of a designer, although it would be a little less vacuous if one were identified. It does, however, require evidence that design occurred. Produce it, please.

The physics and chemistry that produce variation in allele are actually fairly well understood, even though they are formidably complex. From a genetic perspective, their effects have been understood for a century or more now, and the basic biochemistry for about half as long. The mechanism that selects the successful variations among those produced by this process is also well understood.

Those are the mechanics of evolution. They can be and have been minutely specified and subjected to endless experiment. Please specify the mechanics of intelligent design to the same degree of detail.

Douglas, of course HGT is a challenge to Darwinian evolutionary theory.

..co-opting this concept is simply an attempt to punt the ball.…as I alluded to several times in a discussion with Flint in a past posts, how does one account for the ability of early life to possess any ‘abilities’ - but specifically in this context, the ability to recognize new genes and utilize them, the ability to copy and release them to other organisms?

…all these myriad mechanisms which existing at the start of life are never adequately explained by ND, just a simplistic explanation and then ‘OK, folks lets move on’.

Steve P. said:

With this in mind, ID is not required to propose the identity or method of a designer…

Actually, Intelligent Design is obligated to propose the identity and the methods used by an “Intelligent Designer.” Otherwise, if Intelligent Design proponents do not, then they are not doing any science, simply making an evidence-free assertion of “Evolution can’t happen because GODDIDIT”

I would ask you to provide an explanation of why we must blindly accept your inane assertions, but, you’ve repeatedly whined that you are not obligated to do s.

simply contrast the ID position with the ND position by inserting a key conceptual element that ND denies…the existence of information as an independent and separate physical entity that interacts with physics and chemistry.

Have you been able to do any research to prove this assertion, or have you been too busy magically making money hand over fist at your alleged fabric business to do so? That is, when you’re not busy trolling at Panda’s Thumb being an asshole.

…yeah, you can wag a crooked finger at ID to please your perps.…but it is ID that will overtake ND.…just a matter of time.

If Intelligent Design proponents continue refusing to do any sort of scientific research, or even continuing to refuse to provide even an explanation on why Intelligent Design should be considered as science, your inane prophecy will never occur.

…but we all know ND will attempt to co-opt ID’s information as a separate entity concept and claim it fit with ND all along.…we knew THAT!

Are you actually claiming that scientists will attempt to steal the concept of Intelligent Design and “GODDIDIT” from Intelligent Design proponents to falsely claim as their own? Well that has got to be the most stupid assertion you’ve ever said.

Dave Luckett said:

No, the hypothesis of “design” does not absolutely require the identification of a designer, although it would be a little less vacuous if one were identified. It does, however, require evidence that design occurred. Produce it, please.

In scientific disciplines where one identifies a designer, like Archaeology, Animal Behavior, or Criminal Forensics, it is vital to verify and understand the identity, methods and motives of the designer. Otherwise, what’s the point of saying something is designed if you aren’t going to bother to find out who made it, how she/he/it made it, and why?

Steve P’s assertion that Intelligent Design proponents are not obligated to propose who the Intelligent Designer is and how God the Designer did it is simply a variation that science is not necessary because it’s too hard and too yucky for him to ever bother understanding.

In archeology, one usually can’t identify the designer of an artefact at all. A general cultural context is usually the best that can be done. However, the general techniques, methods and material used can be specified. In animal behaviour, no designer is ever specified, either of the animal, or of the behaviour. In criminal forensics, the purpose is not necessarily to associate any particular person with the crime, but often simply to define more closely what happened, when, by what precise means, and under what precise circumstances. Hence a hypothesis of design does not necessarily include the identity of the designer, but it does, and must, say what happened, generally when, and by what means or techniques, using what materials. If it does not specify these at least, it is merely vacuous.

If Steve P or any proponent of intelligent design were to say what happened in any terms other than the vaguest of handwaving, the hypothesis could be tested. But they refuse to do that - for that very reason. Absent such a description, it can’t be tested - which is exactly what they want.

But if it can’t be tested, it isn’t science.

Steve P. said:

.…but wait Harold, if you are implying that Woese is not wrong, then why lambast Behe for this off-hand remark that a single progenator cell started life’s evolutionary (non-darwinian of course) track?

…btw, your list has been answered twice.…you know what they say about repetitive behavior.

…no, you don’t gots to get paid!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaIZWjItReI

harold said:

Steve P. said:

What is interesting Douglas, is that Woese, like lots of proponents of Darwinian evolution, trot out the YEC ‘individual crafting of parts like a machinist’ position as also being an ID position, which is patently untrue. In fact, ID has no such debt to YEC.

Even Darwinian evolution skeptic Michael Behe made an off-hand comment that a single progenitor cell was a plausibility, an idea compatible with Woese’ take on early life. So this seems just another strawman characterization of the ID position.

What is more curious though, in the context of this OP is that no matter what scenarios are proposed by people like Woese, these ideas can all live under the humongous Darwinian evolutionary tent.

No scenario left behind.

Now is your chance to prove Woese wrong.

1) Could any evidence convince you of the theory of evolution, and if so, what type of evidence is now lacking, that would convince you if present?

2) The Supreme Court ruled against the direct teaching of Biblical Young Earth Creationism as science in public schools; however, if that ruling were overturned, which would you support more, teaching of ID, or direct teaching of Bible-based YEC?

3) Do you think it is important for opponents of the theory of evolution to fully understand the theory of evolution? If so, can you explain it, and if not, can you explain why not?

4) Who is the designer? How can we test your answer?

5) What did that designer do? How can we test your answer?

6) How did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

7) When did the designer do it? How can we test your answer?

8) What is an example of something that was not designed by the designer?

No ID/creationist has ever given me reasonable answers to these simple questions.

Steve P basically can’t/won’t explain ID, and can’t/won’t explain the theory of evolution.

That is not unusual.

Steve P. said:

…a not so clever, limp wristed attempt to bait a Darwinian evolution skeptic into being accused of derailing a thread.

…maybe PT moderators should take a look at BWing these types of home-grown posts.

Just Bob said:

Hey Stevie, what would we gain by switching over to ID-inspired science?

… And of course Stevie came back with a powerful, stiff-wristed answer to the question, right?

… Home-grow posts? As opposed to what – factory-made posts? Purchased at Walmart posts?

Steve P. said:

eric, contrast the ID postion with the ND position:

ND: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt it was a combination of physics and chemistry…

ID: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt is was information interacting with physics and chemistry…

So basically you are saying that ND and ID say the same thing, or at least agree that physics and chemistry were integral to the development of biological life. I am not quite sure what you mean by “information interacting with”. How can we observe this “information” interaction? What form is the information in and how exactly do you demonstrate it has any effect on physics/chemistry? BTW, I think virtually no biologist would claim that organisms don’t contain information, but for the moat part, this information seems to be information about the development, environment and historical lineage of that organism.

…your continued attempts to imply that design requires the identity and method of a supposedly human like yet ethereal entity suggests you are purposefully twisting the ID position to make it easier to rebut…create a weak link and break it with tweezers…bolts cutters are way too expensive.

Fine, don’t focus on who or what the designer is. Let’s focus on what you said ID posits, information as an independent efficacious entity. Focus on demonstrating that information does what you say it does. i.e. demonstrate that information is a discrete entity which has observable effects and interactions with matter that produce design.

So I suppose to keep the logic consistent, we need to ask you for the identity and method of the physics and chemistry that started life and provided the conditions for Darwinian evolution…no but wait!; darwinian evolution does not depend on abiogenesis… separate issues! so I can’t require this of you.

It’s fair enough to ask, however if you research it yourself, I think you would find (were you honest) that abiogenesis research has produced many interesting candidates in myriad hypothetical environmental conditions on an eclectic array of substrates. What we have observed are possible pathways self-replicating proteins and nucleotides could have spontaneously generated. And I will honestly tell you that science will most likely never know the exact pathway that lead to the first life form on earth. What science has demonstrated is that what many ID proponents and Creationists say is impossible appears not only to be possible but probable.

Now you act like it is unfair that evolution doesn’t require knowing how the first life form came to be in order to work. It isn’t. Evolution mainly demonstrates how natural pressures operate on populations of organisms. I have admitted that abiogenesis is an interesting question that is related to evolution, but evolution is also related to cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and the whole gambit of biological sciences yet it doesn’t depend on knowing every detail of those disciplines.

With this in mind, ID is not required to propose the identity or method of a designer…simply contrast the ID position with the ND position by inserting a key conceptual element that ND denies…the existence of information as an independent and separate physical entity that interacts with physics and chemistry.

You keep saying this. Now show us exactly how “information as an independent and separate physical entity” interacts with physics and chemistry to produce design. The onus is on you to demonstrate that your claim is accurate.

…yeah, you can wag a crooked finger at ID to please your perps.…but it is ID that will overtake ND.…just a matter of time.

…but we all know ND will attempt to co-opt ID’s information as a separate entity concept and claim it fit with ND all along.…we knew THAT!

Well since ND seems to have things mostly right and ID seems to have basically nothing demonstrable; I won’t hold my breath. And certainly information isn’t a new concept in science or biology, but the term is certainly used differently than how you seem to be using it. So far it isn’t demonstrable that information does any of the things you say, but I eagerly await the results of any research from your camp that would vindicate your claims.

Steve P. said:

eric, contrast the ID postion with the ND position:

ND: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt it was a combination of physics and chemistry…

ID: we don’t know how life got started…but without doubt is was information interacting with physics and chemistry…

IMO this is a complete mischaraterization of the mainstream position, which is better described as: we don’t know the details of how life got started, but all of the evidence collected so far is fully consistent with a combination of physics and chemistry.

Implied in the better description is the standard scientific caveat that this is a tentative conclusion, subject to revision should new evidence arise.

I agree with you in your characterization of ID. They do indeed believe “without doubt” that life was designed. One of the key differences between mainsteam science and ID is that where mainsteam science concludes natural processs, ID assumes or premises design based on preconceived, mostly religious beliefs. The claim of design is stuck in the wrong end of the argument; it should be the end, not the start. That is one of the reasons it is not science.

…your continued attempts to imply that design requires the identity and method of a supposedly human like yet ethereal entity suggests you are purposefully twisting the ID position to make it easier to rebut…

Certainly a testable hypothesis is easier to rebut than an untestable one. That does not make the untestable one better. Scientifically speaking, its still worse. So yes, the details I am asking you to provide will make a design hypothesis more fragile in terms of what it might take to refute it. But any real scientist would welcome that fragility as a necessary step in doing real science.

If asking for details that I can test is “twisting” the ID position, then there is pretty much no help for you. You’ve defined your own idea out of science.

the existence of information as an independent and separate physical entity that interacts with physics and chemistry.

I am skeptical you have any evidence of this claim. Care to show me your infomometer? What are the properties of the fundamental partcle of information - does it have charge? Spin? Mass? What is the force carrier?

but we all know ND will attempt to co-opt ID’s information as a separate entity concept and claim it fit with ND all along.…we knew THAT!

Somebody else might try to bogart your bullflop, but I won’t. You are welcome to it.

Steve P. said:

Douglas, of course HGT is a challenge to Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Why would you ‘think’ that ?

Given the FACTS that HGTs are easy to detect, and far more prevalent in prokaryotes than eukaryotes, upon what basis (other than a pathological need to sneer at evolution and everything beyond your feeble understanding) do you assert that ‘HGT is a challenge to Darwinian evolutionary theory’ ?

..co-opting this concept is simply an attempt to punt the ball.…as I alluded to several times in a discussion with Flint in a past posts, how does one account for the ability of early life to possess any ‘abilities’ - but specifically in this context, the ability to recognize new genes and utilize them, the ability to copy and release them to other organisms?

How, EXACTLY, is adding an OBSERVED FACT OF BIOLOGY that is fully consistent with what is already known ‘punting the ball’?

It is an OBSERVED FACT that the probability of a random peptide ~70 aa long or so having a selectable function is 1 in 10^9 to 1 in 10^15. So there was a LOT of potential.

Toxic sequences would not last long in a population.

Useless sequences would tend to be lost to drift, or might get lucky and take over (odds vastly favor loss).

Useful sequences tend to be retained in a population. Demographics fully explains what you desperately ‘need’ intelligence to explain.

Bacteria can readily pick up DNA from the environment - if it isn’t digested, there is a chance it may be incorporated into the DNA. The field of molecular biology RELIES ON THE FACT THAT BACTERIA CAN BE ‘TRANSFORMED’ easily - just a heat shock in the presence of calcium is enough to get DNA in the media into the cells.

Progenotes (life earlier than bacteria) could probably exchange DNA segments by simply fusing with other progenotes, then dividing again (shuffles everyone’s genes). Thus ‘useful’ sequences become more common, while deleterious ones are lost.

Eventually vertical transmission of DNA ‘information’ became stable enough to become the dominant mode.

…all these myriad mechanisms which existing at the start of life are never adequately explained by ND, just a simplistic explanation and then ‘OK, folks lets move on’.

And ID ‘fully explains’ IT’S mechanisms ?

ND does explain its many KNOWN mechanisms - IDiots then blubber “ ** I ** can’t/won’t see how that would work, so it didn’t !! DESIGNERDIDIT !!!!”

So Stevey says he’s answered the “Harold List,” okay Stevey since I’ve been running around the internet with it too, I have made my own additions to the list. Why don’t you try answering my additions to the list.

1) The DI is always arguing that they are capable of “detecting design.” Explain the methodology of “detecting design?”

2) The DI is always using “Complex Specified Information” to say that design can be demonstrated. Okay, what is “Complex Specified Information?” Can it be quantified? How is “information” measured? How much “information” does it take to make a man? A fish?

3) Maybe you want to discuss the odds of evolution. Okay, what are the odds? Can you explain how they came up with that number? Can you show the exact calculations they used to produce this number? If that’s too hard, can you at least tell us where to start to calculate the odds?

In addition to answering my questions I want you to either answer the “Harold List” again or post a link to the answers so that I can see them.

Steve P. said:

So I suppose to keep the logic consistent, we need to ask you for the identity and method of the physics and chemistry that started life and provided the conditions for Darwinian evolution…no but wait!; darwinian evolution does not depend on abiogenesis… separate issues! so I can’t require this of you.

Here is a little exercise that ID/creationists, to a person, are unable to do; and this includes you. The reason you cannot do it is because it requires knowledge of high school level chemistry and physics and at least some ability with algebra.

Scale up the charge-to-mass ratios of molecules separated by the nanometer distances at the atomic level to kilogram masses separated by distances on the order of meters. Use that to scale up the electron volt energies of interaction at the atomic level to the energies of interaction at that macroscopic level. All you need to do is get some orders of magnitude.

Hint: the results are on the order of 1010 megatons of TNT.

Given that knowledge, why do you think that things like tornadoes in a junk yard are appropriate ID/creationist metaphors for how atoms and molecule interact?

If you understood even a tenth of what such simple estimates imply, you might question your assertion that physics and chemistry can’t lead to biological organisms.

I will assert that you cannot even begin to understand how to do what high school physics and chemistry students can do. You will sneer and avoid the issue.

Steve P. said:

.…but wait Harold, if you are implying that Woese is not wrong, then why lambast Behe for this off-hand remark that a single progenator cell started life’s evolutionary (non-darwinian of course) track?

..

Thats a little confusing Steve..

Behe claims that life began with a progenitor cell that was heavily front loaded.

Is that what Woese claims? If so, would you mind pointing out where?

harold said:

Rolf projects an honesty onto ID/creationists which he possesses, but they do not

Not that it matters much, but what I had in mind is that besides the obvious reason harold mentions, I believe that many creationists simply avoid making a honest attempt at understanding the ToE, maybe because they already “know” that evolution is false and won’t risk learning anything contrary.

Behe claims that life began with a progenitor cell that was heavily front loaded.

I’ve begged ID/creationists to explain “front loading”.

If it means that early cells already had every useful gene that would ever be expressed in the biosphere, it’s absurdly and obviously wrong.

If it means that early cells had the capacity to give rise to the entire contemporary biosphere, it’s trivially true, but also the exact thing that ID/creationism is supposed to deny.

If it means something else, well, no-one has ever explained what else it might mean in any way that I can understand.

Just Bob, ask a question about Woese and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Just Bob said:

Steve P. said:

…a not so clever, limp wristed attempt to bait a Darwinian evolution skeptic into being accused of derailing a thread.

…maybe PT moderators should take a look at BWing these types of home-grown posts.

Just Bob said:

Hey Stevie, what would we gain by switching over to ID-inspired science?

… And of course Stevie came back with a powerful, stiff-wristed answer to the question, right?

… Home-grow posts? As opposed to what – factory-made posts? Purchased at Walmart posts?

Too much off topic, off OP, so shutting down.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Theobald published on January 2, 2013 8:30 PM.

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