Happy New Year, ID movement! (ID and Evol. Immunology)

The new PNAS article “The descent of the antibody-based immune system by gradual evolution,” blogged by Carl Zimmer (“The Whale and the Antibody”) and Reed Cartwright at PT, brings to mind a famous old declaration by Michael Behe in his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box:

“We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system.”

Darwin’s Black Box, p. 138

This wasn’t true in 1996, as was documented when PT contributor Matt Inlay reviewed Behe’s immune system argument in 2002 (see “Evolving Immunity” at TalkDesign.org and the hilarious response of ID advocates when challenged). It is even less true now, due to the new PNAS article and other evolutionary immunology research published in 2004 and before. In fact, the ID movement is in total denial about this body of literature, yet ID advocates continue to parade around as if they have some shred of scientific credibility behind their rhetoric. They even have the gall to claim that the scientific mainstream is dogmatically oppressing them – it’s rather like a geocentrist arguing for a stationary earth without considering Foucault’s Pendulum.

I’ll take the liberty of making some predictions for 2005:

Predictions about Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Immunology for 2005

  • Several major new articles increasing our understanding of the evolution of the vertebrate adaptive immune system will be published.
  • Several more major new articles increasing our understanding of the evolution of the invertebrate/vertebrate innate immune system will also be published.
  • If the genome sequence of a new basal chordate is sequenced, several new articles reviewing the evolution of the vertebrate blood-clotting system in the light of this new data (which is related to the innate immune system) will be published.
  • These articles, and all of the other research on the evolution of the immune system, will continue to be ignored by the ID movement. Any response will amount to no more than variations on “You haven’t provided an infinitely detailed explanation yet, so you should accept our ‘explanation’ invoking a completely vague, magical, ‘designer’ instead.”
  • ID advocates will never let on to their loyal supporters that the scientific discipline of evolutionary immunology exists and has far more Ph.D. participants actively conducting research and publishing articles in this one subfield of immunology than the whole ID movement has doing biological research of any sort.
  • The ID movement will continue to boldly pronounce the downfall of evolutionary biology, the inability of evolution to explain “irreducibly complex” systems, and the oppression of ID by the Dogmatic Darwinian Establishment.
  • ID advocates will continue to argue that ID deserves to be treated with kid gloves by the scientific community
  • Despite their almost complete unwillingness to engage the scientific literature on the evolution of the immune system, the origin of new genetic information, or many other topics, ID advocates will continue to argue that the fake “scientific debate” over ID and bogus “criticisms of evolution” deserves attention in public schools.
  • Anyone new to “intelligent design” (such as scientists, parents, teachers, school boards, judges, and reporters) who investigates the topic in detail will become aware of these kinds of gaping holes in ID. They will therefore see ID for what it actually is: a fake scientific movement, designed for the purpose of slipping theological apologetics past the Supreme Court and into public school science classes, in order to support a certain subset of protestant evangelical Christianity that considers special creationism to be crucial support for the faith.

Oh, and I almost forgot: 10. The Panda’s Thumb will be here to point these things out as they occur.

Happy New Years, everyone!