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Darwin: Too Important To Be Wrong

Given the economic problems lately, a lot of you have probably heard the term “Too Big To Fail” – the idea that, roughly, a given entity in the economy is so important, so vital, that they need special consideration from the government. It’s not that such an entity can’t fail – it’s that they won’t be allowed to fail, if it’s at all avoidable.

Think of it in smaller terms. Say your small town is hosting a beauty pageant. And let’s say one of the entries into this pageant is the daughter of a very wealthy out-of-town businessman, who is considering moving a factory to your town – a factory that will supply jobs the locals and the local economy very desperately needs. And let’s say she’s… not the most aesthetically gifted of all the contestants. If you can understand why chances are the businessman’s daughter shall somehow manage to win over the judges in the beauty contest – that the daughter is, in a way, too big to fail – you know enough about the too-big-to-fail concept. At least for the purposes of this post.

Well, there’s another area where a Too Big To Fail attitude shows up. And to see an interesting iteration of it, we only have to look back a few months to a paper on evolution which led to an interesting meltdown by an NCSE member.

Space is the final frontier for evolution, study claims was the headline. “Charles Darwin may have been wrong when he argued that competition was the major driving force of evolution.” Go ahead, give the article a read. It’s short, but what it amounts to is this: Instead of evolution and natural selection primarily manifesting through competition, it may be the availability of new, broad ecological niches that does most of the work. But Darwin, of course, thought competition was the primary driver of evolution. Therefore, if the paper finding the latter view to be more accurate is correct, then Darwin was wrong.

Notice a few things about this article.

* It’s from the BBC. Not the Discovery Institute, not some skeptic of evolution.
* It never once suggests that evolution or natural selection is incorrect, and in fact the entire article is predicated on an altered understanding of evolution.
* It even includes some balance in the form of another relevant authority questioning the interpretation of the paper.

But what’s most noteworthy is how modest the whole tone of the article is. Now, the idea of niche availability rather than competition being the primary driver of natural selection is very interesting, I admit. But that’s not what’s interesting about the article, at least for the purposes of this entry.

What’s interesting is the reaction.

Faced with headlines like “Was Darwin Wrong? An Alternative Theory Emerges”, “Darwin may have been WRONG, New Study Argues”, and the BBC’s subtitle of “Charles Darwin may have been wrong when he argued that competition was the major driving force of evolution.”, Steve Newton of the NCSE came out swinging in defense of Darwin. No, Darwin was NOT wrong. This study does NOT show that small-scale competition within species is incorrect. It does NOT show that new species arriving out of accumulated changes is a flawed concept. It does NOT show Darwin was wrong.

The problem is… None of the articles so much as suggested Darwin was wrong about either of those things. It wasn’t claimed that competition never happens, or even never drives natural selection – just that it isn’t the prime driving force of evolution. None of the articles cast any doubt on the idea of ‘new species arriving out of accumulated changes’ either, and in fact they expressly noted that all this study indicates is a different direction evolution and natural selection proceeds. But – and here is the real problem – they said Darwin was wrong about something. Worse, some of them even said this in the *headline*, of all things.

So if Darwin wasn’t wrong, but Darwin thought that competition was the prime driving force behind natural selection, and a study shows that competition is NOT the prime driving force behind natural selection… then what’s going on? What can we say about this?

Luckily, an answer is provided: This study is… “one facet of natural selection that [Darwin] didn’t immediately foresee”.

You know. Just as it wasn’t that economists were wrong about the direction the economy was heading. They just were unable to foresee how certain developments could impact their otherwise accurate models. A given movie wasn’t a flop – it simply was launched at a time when moviegoers didn’t have the appropriate tastes to appreciate the comedy stylings of Carrot Top. And the losers on Jeopardy didn’t answer questions wrong – they simply gave answers other than the ones Alex Trebek was looking for.

Now, I’m a TE of sorts. I have no real problem with macro-evolution, though no real emotional investment in it either. So let’s get this out of the way: Darwin was wrong. This study indicates he was wrong about competition’s role in evolution, but Darwin was wrong or in the dark on many things – from inheritance to horizontal gene transfer to genetics to cell structure to more. And this holds even if the latest version of evolutionary theory is treated as true for the sake of argument, even if someone swears up and down that Darwin was right about some things, even some important things. If either scientific study or rational thought brings a person into conflict with Darwin, so much the worse for Darwin – calling the man wrong should not be a thing to be feared, or tiptoed around.

But the problem is, of course, that Darwin is too important to be wrong at this point. There’s just too much emotional and intellectual investment in the man – not just in his ideas, but the very man himself. He has become a symbol, a kind of secular saint. And if average people – those unwashed masses, those laity – hear that Darwin was wrong about one thing, they may wonder if he was wrong about more things. They may feel that it’s okay to be open to questioning Darwin. Worse, in the course of their questioning and learning, they may decide that Darwin may have been wrong on other, more important questions.

And we can’t have that, now can we?

I end this with a quote from this article by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini:

Some months ago an American philosopher explained to a highly sophisticated audience in Britain what, in his opinion, was wrong, indeed fatally wrong, with the standard neo-Darwinian theory of biological evolution. He made it crystal clear that his criticism was not inspired by creationism, intelligent design or any remotely religious motivation. A senior gentleman in the audience erupted, in indignation: ‘You should not say such things, you should not write such things! The creationists will treasure them and use them against science.’ The lecturer politely asked: ‘Even if they are true?’ To which the instant and vibrant retort was: ‘Especially if they are true!’ with emphasis on the ‘especially’.

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43 Responses to Darwin: Too Important To Be Wrong

  1. Null I love that Palmarini reference at the end:

    OT,, of interest to the ‘information problem’ of Darwinism:

    Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight
    Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to. Explanation: None, at least not yet.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.
    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_.....ave-t.html

    It is important to realize just how detached our understanding is, for this ‘chemical impossibility’ of what is happening inside DNA, so that it may be clearly understood that there is another more foundation force at work in the DNA, besides, and independent of, matter and energy. Namely Information:

    Quantum Dots Spotlight DNA-Repair Proteins in Motion – March 2010
    Excerpt: “How this system works is an important unanswered question in this field,” he said. “It has to be able to identify very small mistakes in a 3-dimensional morass of gene strands. It’s akin to spotting potholes on every street all over the country and getting them fixed before the next rush hour.” Dr. Bennett Van Houten – of note: A bacterium has about 40 team members on its pothole crew. That allows its entire genome to be scanned for errors in 20 minutes, the typical doubling time.,, These smart machines can apparently also interact with other damage control teams if they cannot fix the problem on the spot.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....123522.htm

    3-D Structure Of Human Genome: Fractal Globule Architecture Packs Two Meters Of DNA Into Each Cell – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: the information density in the nucleus is trillions of times higher than on a computer chip — while avoiding the knots and tangles that might interfere with the cell’s ability to read its own genome. Moreover, the DNA can easily unfold and refold during gene activation, gene repression, and cell replication.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142957.htm

    “Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.”
    Norbert Weiner – MIT Mathematician – Father of Cybernetics

    further note:

    The relevance of continuous variable entanglement in DNA – June 21, 2010
    Abstract: We consider a chain of harmonic oscillators with dipole-dipole interaction between nearest neighbours resulting in a van der Waals type bonding. The binding energies between entangled and classically correlated states are compared. We apply our model to DNA. By comparing our model with numerical simulations we conclude that entanglement may play a crucial role in explaining the stability of the DNA double helix.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1

    comment on preceding analysis:

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint
    Excerpt: “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

  2. “Too big to fail” is the wrong analysis.

    If we were to point out that automobiles cause many deaths from traffic accidents, and seriously pollute the environment, people would not stop using them. It isn’t that they are too big; it is that we are too dependent on them. We cannot just drop them without having a viable replacement.

    The science of biology is deeply entwined with evolutionary thinking. That’s presumably what Dobzhansky meant when he said “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.”

    ID proponents come across as sniping from the sidelines, but as failing to offer an alternative basis for biological research. That’s never going to work. If ID is to succeed, its proponents must offer a program of biological research that is so compelling that biologists will be motivated to move to their new research program. “Specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity” aren’t able to do that; at best they lead into philosophical programs, not biological programs.

  3. NR:

    I beg to differ, from your analysis. Not only is most working wold biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, etc independent of the ins and outs ocf evolutionary biology, they often throw up observations that if they were taken seriously would drastically undermine the Darwinian paradigm.

    The real problem is that evolutionary materialism has been embedded in recent decades into the “scientific” — scientistic, really — worldview, and has become an a priori ideological commitment that a lot of people, money and institutional prestige is heavily invested in.

    Evolutionary materialism has become the central creation myth of the progressive modernist mindset, and the pronouncements of the high priesthood in lab coats is as breathlessly awaited as once the latest Bull was.

    Lewontin’s infamous 1999 NYRB article is, as ever, utterly revealing on the matter:

    ____________

    >> . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.] >>
    _____________

    Got that: Science, as the only begetter of truth?

    Never mind that this is actually an epistemological claim, about the source of knowledge. That is, it self-refutes as it is a philosophical claim in a cheap lab coat.

    Got that again: we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated?

    Through so-called methodological naturalism, evolutionary materialism is let in the back door and usurps science from a humbly progressive pursuit of the truth about our world based on empirical evidence and reasonable analysis, to a propaganda mouthpiece for a priori materialism.

    Philip Johnson is right to rebut Lewontin:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    GEM of TKI

  4. Neil Rickert:

    The science of biology is deeply entwined with evolutionary thinking.

    It is when blind watchmaker thinking tries to dominate evolutionary thinking that we have an issue.

    Neil Rickert:

    ID proponents come across as sniping from the sidelines, but as failing to offer an alternative basis for biological research.

    Do you think the blind watchmaker is a valid basis for biological research?

    Do you really think this is all one big accident?

    Neil Rickert:
    If ID is to succeed, its proponents must offer a program of biological research that is so compelling that biologists will be motivated to move to their new research program. “Specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity” aren’t able to do that; at best they lead into philosophical programs, not biological programs.

    One of the basic questions science asks is “how did it come to be this way?” Therefor if irreducible complexity is real and design is real then we study it in that light. IOW it is the difference between geologists studying Stonehenge as a natural formation and archaeologists studying it as an artifact.

  5. NR you state;

    ‘ID proponents come across as sniping from the sidelines, but as failing to offer an alternative basis for biological research. That’s never going to work.’

    NR, Actually there is a principle that explains the evidence we now have in hand far better than neo-Darwinism does. The principle is called Genetic Entropy:

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watc…h/4028086/

    The foundational rule for biology, Genetic Entropy, which can draw its foundation in science from the twin pillars of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and from the Law of Conservation of Information (Dembski, Marks) (Abel – Null Hypothesis), can be stated something like this:

    “All beneficial adaptations away from a parent species for a sub-species, which increase fitness to a particular environment, will always come at a loss of the optimal functional information that was originally created in the parent species genome.”

    - Genetic Entropy is the true rule for all biological adaptations -

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.(that is a net ‘fitness gain’ within a ‘stressed’ environment i.e. remove the stress from the environment and the parent strain is always more ‘fit’)
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    EXPELLED – Natural Selection And Genetic Mutations – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4036840

    “…but Natural Selection reduces genetic information and we know this from all the Genetic Population studies that we have…”
    Maciej Marian Giertych – Population Geneticist – member of the European Parliament – EXPELLED

    NR, Perhaps you can explain to me exactly why such overwhelming evidence for the principle of Genetic Entropy is simply ignored by supposedly brilliant and rational men?

    further note:

    As to any ‘reputable Darwinian scientist’ questioning the validity and rigidity of Dembski-Marks Law of Conservation of Information, all they have to do is falsify Abel’s ‘peer-reviewed’ Null Hypothesis:

    The main problem, for the secular model of neo-Darwinian evolution to overcome, is that no one has ever seen purely material processes generate functional ‘prescriptive’ information.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency – Dr David L. Abel – November 2010
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”,,, After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided. The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction: “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_L.....iency.html

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_G.....ciple.html
    http://www.us.net/life/index.htm

    Dr. Don Johnson explains the difference between Shannon Information and Prescriptive Information, as well as explaining ‘the cybernetic cut’, in this following Podcast:

    Programming of Life – Dr. Donald Johnson interviewed by Casey Luskin – audio podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201....._life.html

  6. Seeing that Charles Darwin didn’t know what we now know, I am sure he got many things wrong.

    Newton wasn’t 100% correct.

    The science of today is built on the science of yesterday. Today’s scientists stand on the shoulders of the scientists (and non-scientists) who toiled before them.

    The point is that shouldn’t be so upsetting nor surprising that Darwin got some things wrong. It should be expected.

    Most evolutionists have thanked Darwin and moved on. It appears there are some who still worship at his alter. And it figures that the NCSE would include that lunatic fringe…

  7. F/N:

    I must also comment on:

    [NR:] “Specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity” aren’t able to do that; at best they lead into philosophical programs, not biological programs.

    1 –> Is the text of this post (or of your own) an empirical — observable, measurable — phenomenon?

    2 –> Is there an observable characteristic that differentiates posts in English from (a) hvewug4g7iehh9gu, or (b) ppppppppppppppppp?

    3 –> The answers are obvious, and immediately imply that complex, specified information [and more practically FSCI] is a reasonable subject for inductive, empirically anchored inquiry.

    4 –> Such an inquiry will at once tell us that the only observed — i.e. empirical, not speculative — source for such is intelligence. And, on the same basic grounds as statistical thermodynamics is founded, we have excellent reason to see that chance and mechanical necessity of nature [i.e. natural law] are not plausible sources for FSCI.

    5 –> So, we have every epistemic and scientific right to hold as an inductive conclusion, that FSCI is a signature of intentionally and intelligently directed contingency, i.e. design. (Indeed, one of the key signs of intelligence in definitions thereof is ability to emit original FSCI, in the form of contextually responsive verbal language.)

    6 –> Citing Wikipedia, as an admission against interest:

    Intelligence is an umbrella term describing a property of the mind including related abilities, such as the capacities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning [this cluster heavily implicates language use -- recall the SAT verbal test], learning, learning from past experiences, planning, and problem solving.

    7 –> The cited attempted dismissal of CSI is therefore selectively hyperskeptical.

    8 –> Similarly, if you have ever had to source a hard to find, critical car part, you know that the concept of irreducible complexity for function is an empirically based concept.

    9 –> Not only so, but it is related to the functioning of life forms, from the cellular level upwards. There are many core clusters of parts that if any one is removed, vital function fails, from cell level up to organism level. Often, in the embryo — and yes, relevant function is life-cycle long.

    10 –> At micro level, in fact the function of many genes is identified through knock-out studies, where the loss of a particular genetic module blocks a particular life function of interest. In short, irreducible complexity is actually embedded in significant fields of biological research.

    11 –> This can be seen from Scott Minnich’s lab research with the iconic bacterial flagellum; which was actually presented — and was not controverted (the judge simply ignored the truth presented right before him) — in open court at Dover:

    Scott Minnich has properly tested for irreducible complexity through genetic knock-out experiments he performed in his own laboratory at the University of Idaho. He presented this evidence during the Dover trial, which showed that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its complement of thirty-five genes. As Minnich testified: “One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.” [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108.]

    ____________

    In short, you have been misled.

    GEM of TKI

  8. Thank you all for the responses to my comment (#2 above). Those responses make my point very well. They show how disconnected you are from the way that evolution guides biology.

    What should the biochemist put in his test tubes to do research on CSI? What should the ethologist study to do research on CSI?

  9. From the article:

    “For example, when birds evolved the ability to fly…”

    This makes my brain hurt.

  10. NR:

    You are staring the live answer in the face and refuse to see it.

    Kindly respond to the specific work done by Scott Minnich.

    And, the issue with CSI is not so much what should be put into a test tube or recorded in an animal behaviour notebook, or what should be looked for in a DNA sequence, but what should not be censored out on a priori imposition of materialist philosophy when the researcher moves to his hypothesising and modelling.

    For very relevant instance, consider the von Neumann self replicator, compare it to the processesin the cell as it undergoes metabolic and self-replication activity, then ask, how did such an entity come to be. For, we will observe the requisites for a self-replicator that uses coded information to replicate an entity that has a separate function:

    _________________

    Now, following von Neumann generally (and as previously noted), such a machine uses . . .

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, for a "clanking replicator" as illustrated, a Turing-type “universal computer”; in a cell this would be the metabolic entity that transforms environmental materials into required components etc.] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling:

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.
    _________________

    Now, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating machine with an integral von Neumann universal constructor. That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicating machine to exist. [[Take just one core part out, and self-replicating functionality ceases: the self-replicating machine is irreducibly complex (IC).]

    This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    Immediately, we are looking at islands of organised function for both the machinery and the information in the wider sea of possible (but mostly non-functional) configurations.

    In short, outside such functionally specific — thus, isolated — information-rich hot (or, “target”) zones, want of correct components and/or of proper organisation and/or co-ordination will block function from emerging or being sustained across time from generation to generation. So, once the set of possible configurations is large enough and the islands of function are credibly sufficiently specific/isolated, it is unreasonable to expect such function to arise from chance, or from chance circumstances driving blind natural forces under the known laws of nature.

    Now, such entities are a reasonable product of design.

    But, if we are locked up by the censoring constraint that we must never ever infer to design for such an entity, then we have here evolutionary materialism acting in the role of science censor and science stopper.

    And indeed, the saga of so-called junk DNA tells us much the same.

    So, is science an unfettered, responsible progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, on empirical evidence and reasoned analysis? Or, is it a handmaiden to an outdated C19 ideology?

    GEM of TKI

  11. Let’s make this clear: This is not a zero-sum game where the choices are “Darwin is wrong and ID is right” or “ID is wrong and Darwin is right”. It is entirely possible for Darwin to be wrong, even if we grant for the sake of argument that ID is wrong too. In fact, it’s fair to say that – on a number of topics – this is no longer a possibility, but an actuality. Even if evolution is accepted.

    That’s the other problem here: “Darwinism” or “Darwin” is not synonymous with “evolution”. Again, it’s entirely possible for Darwin to be wrong, yet for evolution to still be correct. Hell, it’s possible for evolution to be correct and for ID to be correct.

    At 6, Joseph says:

    The point is that shouldn’t be so upsetting nor surprising that Darwin got some things wrong. It should be expected.

    Most evolutionists have thanked Darwin and moved on. It appears there are some who still worship at his alter. And it figures that the NCSE would include that lunatic fringe…

    Though I question whether ‘most evolutionists have thanked Darwin and moved on’, I think this hits the point nicely. Some very modest articles by mainstream journalists noted that Darwin may have gotten something wrong in his picture of evolution. This prompted a response from the NCSE that can aptly be described as a sort of freak-out – despite, ultimately, it being admitted that Darwin (if the research about the role of competition in evolution is correct) was wrong. It’s just that you can’t say Darwin was wrong, even if it’s true.

    Especially if it’s true.

  12. Ndeil Rickert:

    Thank you all for the responses to my comment (#2 above). Those responses make my point very well.

    What point?

    Neil Rickert:

    They show how disconnected you are from the way that evolution guides biology.

    What “evolution” are you talking about?

    What should the biochemist put in his test tubes to do research on CSI? What should the ethologist study to do research on CSI?

    Perhaps you could tell us what each puts into their test tubes to study the blind watchmaker. That way we know what you will accept.

  13. nulla salus,

    The reason I said “most have moved on” is because mostly what I hear is that Darwin, although great ;), has been superseded by the modern synthesis, which has been evolving since its inception.

    The problem could be that when some people hear/ read “Darwin was wrong” it gets twisted into “the theory of evolution is total bullsh!+”, and they react to that.

    But they also confuse salvation with salivation and think your moniker stands for no salivation…

  14. kairosfocus (#9):

    Kindly respond to the specific work done by Scott Minnich.

    So Scott Minnich skidded off the highway, and you want everybody to abandon the automobile?

    There is a lot that science doesn’t explain. In fact, what is as yet unexplained drives science. No, science doesn’t just abandon its research program just because somebody perceives a problem.

    For very relevant instance, consider the von Neumann self replicator

    I doubt that it has any relevance at all to biology.

    So, is science an unfettered, responsible progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, on empirical evidence and reasoned analysis?

    Science has always been pragmatic, rather that truth seeking. Theoretical models that are useful, and aid our understanding, are valued even if they are not strictly true.

  15. It’s really sad seeing science is such a pathetic state that leads to emotionalisms and dogma.

    It’s really stuff like this along with the obfuscation of knowledge and the unnecessary conflation of biology with philosophical pressupositions that has leads me to abandon evolution (in the darwinian sense.

    Although I do not think evolution to be wrong in the sense that life forms change over time, the obfuscations of knowledge driven by darwinists with an agenda has made me very skeptical of their claims. The worst part is their attempt to disguise their faith in naturalism as “fact”.

    I was in the unfortunate position recently of trying to explain to an atheist how his beliefs rely on faith, an indefensible one of course and all he could master as a response was sheer denial! It was sad.

    Fortunately there are some who occasionally rise to the situation and say it as it is. Here’s michael ruse: “evolution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically.”

  16. Joseph (#11):

    Perhaps you could tell us what each puts into their test tubes to study the blind watchmaker.

    As far as I know, most biologists are not interested in studing “the blind watchmaker.”

  17. @neil

    If science is simply pragmatic, which I have absolutely no problem with, it needs to be made clear to the public that it is the case. And crack-pot materialists / atheists like krauss, dawkins, dennett etc should stop trying to interpret scientific theories realistically as so to propagate their atheistic agenda.

    This is something the public needs to be aware of. Science in other words should be viewd as a collection of disparate methodologies that help humans create technology and that’s all.

    Nonsense like those spewed by steve weinberg such that the world being purposeless should be left outside of the public discourse.

  18. Neil Rickert:

    As far as I know, most biologists are not interested in studing “the blind watchmaker”.

    Yet according to most biologists all genetic changes are errors/ mistakes/ accidents.

    Isn’t that te stuff of the blind watchmaker?

    Also didn’t you know that Intelligent Design just argues against the blind watchmaker hving sole dominion over the universe?

  19. Neil,

    ID is not anti-evolution.

    ID is pro-telic processes such as targeted searches and “built-in responses to environmental cues” (Dr Spetner) to drive evolution, with a little blind watchmaker mixed in (ID doesn’t pretend to explain everything).

  20. Joseph,

    The reason I said “most have moved on” is because mostly what I hear is that Darwin, although great ;) , has been superseded by the modern synthesis, which has been evolving since its inception.

    Oh, I agree that plenty of people recognize that evolution has moved beyond Darwin in numerous ways. (You just need to ask, “Why was there ever a neo-darwinism?” to realize “Because darwinism wasn’t cutting it.”)

    But I think there’s still a reluctance to ever explicitly acknowledge that Darwin was, in fact, wrong about anything. And I suspect it goes beyond the worry that people will take that to mean evolution as a whole is wrong.

    Either way, I hope that more people – TEs in particular – start to recognize that “lunatic fringe” as you put it isn’t very helpful. Maybe Biologos (for example) will someday run a series on what Darwin was wrong about, even if they highlight how they still hold evolution to be true in spite of that. In fact, that could be downright entertaining.

  21. I agree with you nullasalus. But we both know how the ultra-darwinists will spin it. The usual anti-religious nonsense.

    What needs to happen is to have this done via a secular source and a consensus of individuals from all philosophical backgrounds. An effort to keep science honest in other words.

    But so long as ultra- darwinists have a say in this or any coercive influence of any sort I don’t see it happening.

  22. NR:

    You have presented an unfortunately classic example of dismissive closed-mindedness in the face of uncontroverted factual reports by a professional researcher:

    ____________

    NR, 2: ID proponents come across as sniping from the sidelines, but as failing to offer an alternative basis for biological research. That’s never going to work. If ID is to succeed, its proponents must offer a program of biological research that is so compelling that biologists will be motivated to move to their new research program. “Specified complexity” and “irreducible complexity” aren’t able to do that; at best they lead into philosophical programs, not biological programs.

    KF, 7(citing ENV on SM’s research on the flagellum as IC, as presented at Dover, day 20 and uncontroverted): Scott Minnich has properly tested for irreducible complexity through genetic knock-out experiments he performed in his own laboratory at the University of Idaho. He presented this evidence during the Dover trial, which showed that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its complement of thirty-five genes. As Minnich testified: One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.” [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108.]

    NR,8: Thank you all for the responses to my comment (#2 above). Those responses make my point very well. They show how disconnected you are from the way that evolution guides biology.

    What should the biochemist put in his test tubes to do research on CSI? What should the ethologist study to do research on CSI?

    KF, 9 : You are staring the live answer in the face and refuse to see it.

    Kindly respond to the specific work done by Scott Minnich.

    And, the issue with CSI is not so much what should be put into a test tube or recorded in an animal behaviour notebook, or what should be looked for in a DNA sequence, but what should not be censored out on a priori imposition of materialist philosophy when the researcher moves to his hypothesising and modelling . . . [elaboration follows]

    NR, 13: So Scott Minnich skidded off the highway, and you want everybody to abandon the automobile?

    There is a lot that science doesn’t explain. In fact, what is as yet unexplained drives science. No, science doesn’t just abandon its research program just because somebody perceives a problem.
    ____________________

    In short, you have plainly closed your mind to evidence that shows an actual concrete case of irreducible complexity in the flagellum.

    Further, your dismissal of the von Neumann self replicator requisites shows that you do not understand that this model actually was what predicted DNA before it was discovered, c 1948/9, prior to 1953.

    Moreover, it is a logical analysis of what is needed for something that does something to have the ADDITIONAL facility of self-replication; which is met by the living cell — DNA is the base coded tape, the Ribosome and tRNA system with mRNA effect the tape to create proteins, and various mechanisms see to assembly and replication. (Onlookers, cf here, paying special attention to the Drexler Assembler. Self-replication is a particular application of a universal constructor.)

    Here is Merkle of Xerox PARC:

    We can view a ribosome as a degenerate case of [[a Drexler] assembler [[i.e. a molecular scale von Neumann-style replicator]. The ribosome is present in essentially all living systems . . . It is programmable, in the sense that it reads input from a strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) which encodes the protein to be built. Its “positional device” can grasp and hold an amino acid in a fixed position (more accurately, the mRNA in the ribosome selects a specific transfer RNA, which in its turn was bound to a specific amino acid by a specific enzyme). The one operation available in the “well defined set of chemical reactions” is the ability to make a peptide bond [[NB: This works by successively “nudging” the amino acid-armed tip of the codon- matched tRNA in the ribosome's A site to couple to the amino acid tip of the preceding tRNA (now in the P site) and ratcheting the mRNA forward; thus elongating the protein's amino acid chain step by step] . . . . [[T]he ribosome functions correctly only in a specific kind of environment. There must be energy provided in the form of ATP; there must be information provided in the form of strands of mRNA; there must be compounds such as amino acids; etc. etc. If the ribosome is removed from this environment it ceases to function.

    [[Self Replicating Systems and Molecular Manufacturing, Xerox PARC, 1992. (Parentheses, emphases and links added. Notice as well how the concept of functionally specific complex information naturally emerges from Merkle's discussion.)]

    GEM of TKI

  23. 23

    Great article! Love it.
    When Darwin becomes a has-been, he can still be a historical figure students learn about like they do van Helmont or Ptolemy: interesting for how many people believed it at the time, but irrelevant for what we do now in science.

  24. kairosfocus (#21)

    In short, you have plainly closed your mind to evidence that shows an actual concrete case of irreducible complexity in the flagellum.

    You have an amazing ability to completely miss the point.

    The post and the discussion thread were not about the flagellum. Rather, they were about why biologists would not reject evolution even if the much contested example of the flagellum were to hold up to scrutiny.

  25. Neil Rickert, just maybe, perhaps, presupposing purpose, instead of accident, would have averted the whole 30 year Junk DNA fiasco???

    “For I know the purposes which I am purposing for you,” says the LORD;
    “purposes of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (MKJV)
    -Jeremiah 29:11

  26. Heya all.

    One thing I want to note here is that nothing in the post directly involves ID. A study concluded Darwin was wrong about what drives natural selection, and this study wasn’t even borne out of ID research, nor did any of the papers cite it as such. That’s the telling thing here – ID was a non-issue, and neither the BBC, AOL News, or Huffington Post were so much as suggesting that evolution were untrue in any way.

    And still, there was a nice little NCSE freakout, complete with a lot of huffing about how this was all blown out of proportion and some act of journalistic bombast and distortion. Because simply noting “Darwin was wrong” apparently qualifies as that – even when it’s true.

    Again, at least consider the story Piattelli-Palmarini related. Even in that anecdote, reflect for a moment on what he’s saying – and again, notice P-P was not denying evolution, advocating intelligent design or creationism, or really, even approaching the question as anything but an atheist. You could accept evolution and still find something to ponder here.

  27. Null:

    (With all due apologies to our Muslim friends; we are bringing out a question as to whether some new “partners” are being pushed on One who brooks no partners.)

    Is this a case of: Chance and Necessity are gods, and Darwin is their prophet? [With NCSE as his faithful expositor and defender, at all costs and by any means deemed necessary?)

    If so, that is a sobering illustration of the ideologisation of evolutionary materialist science into a global worldview. (One, that hath predictable consequences.)

    GEM of TKI

  28. NR:

    No, it is you who do not get the point: you have [cf 2 above] dismissed the key design theoretic concepts CSI and IC, then when confronted with evident facts from the lab to the contrary, as I documented across yesterday, you have resorted to distractive dismissals. And now, you are trying to obfuscate what you said in comment 2 above, which made the specific case of Scott Minnich’s research results — demonstrating IC on the ground for the flagellum as a SCIENTIFIC (not “mere” philosophical) concept — a relevant reply.

    Nor have you retracted your attempted dismissal of the von Neumann self-replicating automaton, now that its historic and current relevance to life forms were brought to your attention. Sorry, GRADE: F.

    GEM of TKI

  29. 29

    kairosfocus

    When you say that science is the pursuit of the truth you have to realize that you take a specific philosophical position namely “scientific realism” but that is by far not the only possible position. There are also the following others:

    structural realism
    entity realism
    sophisticated falsificationism
    positivism
    conventionalism
    instrumentalism
    pragmatism
    relativism
    constructive realism
    constructive empiricism

    I think what Neil Rickert is trying to say that scientist have adopted the position of sophisticated falsificationsms and since they don’t consider ID to be a convincing alternative they will not abandon the ToE.

  30. 2ndO:

    Actually, not.

    I am simply acknowledging the same point that evolutionary materialists are implying when they [in the material sense, mistakenly] assert that “evolution is a fact.”

    Namely, that science at its best seeks — and should so seek — to progressively — thus also provisionally — understand our world as it actually is; on empirical evidence from observations and experiments, analysis, modelling and informed discussion of same.

    That is, to find the truth about that world: to accurately describe, explain and predict it, insofar as that is — provisionally — possible. But, that is constrained by the inescapable limitations of our methods, warranting grounds and the possibilities for observation. For instance, abductive inference to best explanation on empirical evidence is inherently a “best current state of the art” effort.

    And, on origins science, the subject of interest here, we face the further constraint that we are inferring from the present patterns we may observe and traces from the past, to try to reconstruct that unobserved and unobservable, unrecorded past of origins.

    When we are dealing with a direct cause-effect pattern [e.g. dFSCI is routinely and only observed produced by intentionally directed configuration and we have analysis on config spaces that tells us why], that is not so much of a concern. But when we are trying to reconstruct a whole past narrative history that we have not observed, that is a much bigger challenge.

    Thar is why [if science were not in ideological thralldom to evolutionary materialism] we would be far more confident in —

    (a) the inference from the characteristic sign, dFSCI in DNA etc, to the involvement of design in the direct causal process, than in

    (b) the grand macro-evolutionary narrative, that we have yet to identify observed cases, mechanisms to move from undirected chance variation and differential reproductive success in particular environments to novel body plans.

    And no, I don’t need to fit int6o any particular philosophical pigeonhole to understand this. Indeed, I follow J P Moreland in using an eclectic approach to assessing scientific findings. In short, different aspects of science have different degrees of credibility on their warranting grounds, but once we recognise that modelling theory tells us that a model does not have to be true to be useful, we can make good use of scientific models of the world. (Cf here how Newtonian dynamics is very useful indeed, though we know it is not strictly true.)

    But, science is not just about handy models. We are trying to see how close to reality we can get, however provisional our conclusions are at any given time.

    GEM of TKI

  31. PS: When it comes to NR’s calis, his problem is that he will not face up to a direct empirical refutation. Scott Minnich ha identified 35 genes and proteins that on knock-out and replace studies, are components of an irreducibly complex system. Namely, the bacterial flagella he studied. That is observational fact from the labs, the gold standard of scientific warrant. Theories and models should accommodate facts, not ignore or dismiss them if they are inconvenient. Or else, science becomes a politicised ideology that will increasingly lose credibility — as is happening over exaggeration of the significance of computer simulations in climate science. A bit more caution — as many urged — would have gone a long way, in enhancing the long-run credibility of climate science.

  32. Nulla salus,

    You may have hit on something.

    Part of what ID says is that Darwin (and neo-darwinism) are wrong.

    That must be why so much hostility is directed towards ID and IDists.

  33. OT:

    Robert J. Marks II interview with Tom Woodward, on “Darwin or Design?”
    http://podcast.den.liquidcompa.....38;event_i

    (note: the interview starts about 5 minutes in the podcast)

  34. F/N: Some remarks on gene knockout studies will be helpful to the blog and to the thread, so pardon the sidebar.
    ___________________

    1: What it is — Wiki has a helpful summary: >> A gene knockout (abbreviation: KO) is a genetic technique in which an organism is engineered to carry genes that have been made inoperative (have been “knocked out” of the organism). Also known as knockout organisms or simply knockouts, they are used in learning about a gene that has been sequenced, but which has an unknown or incompletely known function. Researchers draw inferences from the difference between the knockout organism and normal individuals. >>

    a –> That is, the idea is that genes effect proteins that function (do jobs) in the cell, so if a gene is knocked out, the function will be lost with the lost protein

    b –> So, the animal [mice are typical] with the knocked out gene will have a gap in function relative to a known typical mouse.

    c –> Notice, the heart of the technique is the functional part concept: the protein does a job, so if lost that job is blocked, and we may infer the function from the difference between the KO animal and the normal one, e.g. turn off a gene for hairiness or one that controls how fat an animal tends to be etc.

    d –> And, on logic: if we have a cluster of parts that each of them is necessary to function, and all together are jointly sufficient for function, we have an irreducibly complex entity.

    e –> So, what SM did is reasonable . . .

    2: How tweredun — here, the Cytokines & Cells Enc article is helpful on two typical techniques (and has a handy diagram): >> (a) Use of insertion type vectors involves a single cross-over between genomic target sequences and homologous sequences at either end of the targeting vector. The neomycin resistance gene contained within the vector serves as a positive selectable marker.

    (b) Gene targeting using replacement type vectors requires two cross-over events. The positive selection marker (neo) is retained while the negative selectable marker (HSV thymidine kinase) is lost. The advantage of this system is the fact that cells harboring randomly and unspecifically integrated gene constructs still carry the thymidine kinase gene. These cells can be eliminated selectively by using thymidine kinase as a selective marker . . . >>

    f –> The idea here for (a) is that the target point in a gen is split, the sequence is duplicated on either side, and a marker is pushed in the middle, breaking gene function and marking where the break was made so it can be observationally confirmed:

    g –> original:

    – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 –

    h –> to — with “n e o” as marker:

    – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 — n e o – 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 – 10 –

    i –> For (b), go look at the diagram.

    3: In praxis — Wiki (same art) is helpful again: >> Knockout is accomplished through a combination of techniques, beginning in the test tube with a plasmid, a bacterial artificial chromosome or other DNA construct, and proceeding to cell culture. Individual cells are genetically transformed with the DNA construct. Often the goal is to create a transgenic animal that has the altered gene. If so, embryonic stem cells are genetically transformed and inserted into early embryos. Resulting animals with the genetic change in their germline cells can then often pass the gene knockout to future generations. >>

    j –> In other words, a new constructed clone with the knockout is grown into a full animal from an early embryo.

    k –> BTW, something like 15% [~ 1 in 6] of cloned KO mice die in embryonic stages, so the technique reveals the riskiness of mutations for embryonic development. This is itself a challenge to claims that chance mutations played a big role in origin of body plans.

    l –> Next, a lab strain can then be created by breeding KO animals — it being much cheaper and more reliable to reproduce the old fashioned way. (There is actually a market in specific strains, for particular types of research, e.g. Methuselah is a long lived mouse strain.)

    [ . . . ]

  35. 4: Tying back to Scott Minnich’s work, as cited in 7 supra, via ENV: >> Scott Minnich has properly tested for irreducible complexity through genetic knock-out experiments he performed in his own laboratory at the University of Idaho. He presented this evidence during the Dover trial, which showed that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its complement of thirty-five genes. As Minnich testified: “One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect. [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108.] >>

    m –> that is, using knockout techniques, the 35 relevant flagellar proteins in a target bacterium were knocked out then restored one by one. The pattern for each: OUT — no function, BACK IN — function restored.

    n –> 35 iterations across the flagellar proteins, and so we see 35 necessary and jointly sufficient parts for an observable function.

    o –> this counts as an observation of irreducible complexity for the flagellum.

    5: But, couldn’t this evolve from the T3SS toxin injector? ENV (same art) is again helpful: >> Ken Miller has been making the same objections about irreducible complexity and the bacterial flagellum for a long time. In his Dover testimony, his book Only a Theory, and in other writings he argues that irreducible complexity for the flagellum is refuted because about 10 flagellar proteins can also be used to construct a toxin-injection machine (called the Type-III Secretory System, or T3SS) that some predatory bacteria use to kill other cells . . . .

    As New Scientist reported:

    One fact in favour of the flagellum-first view is that bacteria would have needed propulsion before they needed T3SSs, which are used to attack cells that evolved later than bacteria. Also, flagella are found in a more diverse range of bacterial species than T3SSs. “The most parsimonious explanation is that the T3SS arose later,” says biochemist Howard Ochman at the University of Arizona in Tucson

    Second, the T3SS is composed of only about 1/4 of the proteins in the flagellum, and does not help one account for how the fundamental function of the flagellum–its propulsion system–evolved. The unresolved challenge that the irreducible complexity of the flagellum continues to pose for Darwinian evolution is starkly summarized by William Dembski: “At best the T[3]SS represents one possible step in the indirect Darwinian evolution of the bacterial flagellum. But that still wouldn’t constitute a solution to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. What’s needed is a complete evolutionary path and not merely a possible oasis along the way. To claim otherwise is like saying we can travel by foot from Los Angeles to Tokyo because we’ve discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Evolutionary biology needs to do better than that.”36

    Dembski’s critique is apt because it recognizes that Miller wrongly characterizes irreducible complexity as focusing on the non-functionality of sub-parts. In contrast, Behe properly tests irreducible complexity by assessing the plausibility of the entire functional system to assemble in a step-wise fashion, even if sub-parts can have functions outside of the final system. The “leap” required by going from one functional sub-part to the entire functional system is indicative of the degree of irreducible complexity in a system. Contrary to Miller’s assertions, Behe never argued that irreducible complexity mandates that sub-parts can have no function outside of the final system.

    Miller misconstrued the proper way of testing irreducible complexity, and his argument amounts to this: if my laptop’s power cord could also be used to power my toaster, then my laptop is no longer irreducibly complex. Because a laptop requires a number of parts necessary for function, this is preposterous.>>

    p –> The T3SS is probably derived from the flagellum [which uses an injector in its assembly of the swimming filament], and indeed there are reports that some bacteria with T3SS have the complement to do a flagellum but the full complement is suppressed.

    q –> More importantly, co-opted parts have to be matched together to work well, and that matching is not a simple matter. (If you have ever had to match nuts and bolts, you will see the problem. Go over to your friendly local hardware store to see the point.)

    r –> And, where there are many components, it becomes increasingly implausible — on our experience of putting modules together to get an overall function — that matching will happen by chance. Matching of multiple components is a known sign of design to a common end.

    s –> So, once we see a fairly complex multi-part entity that has the IC property [even with separately functional modules in it], we have direct reason to infer to design as its best explanation.

    t –> In addition, we have good reason to infer that matching of so any complex parts will not happen by chance.

    u –> And, here, those parts in turn are based on dFSCI-rich protein molecules assembled step by step in the ribosome, and then transported to the flagellar site and coming together in a sequenced, self-assembly process.

    v –> So, the DNA codes for the 35 proteins are remote from the actual function, and the dFSCI is transformed into function through a Drexler Assembler [a component of a molecular scale von Neumann self Replicator], which is yet another IC system implicated in self-replication of the cell; again pointing to design.

    w –> In aggregate, for 35 proteins, we are well past the dFSCI threshold to infer intelligent design.

    _____________

    In short, the flagellum fairly screams design, on multiple grounds. And, objections to the inferences are shown to be ill-founded.

    GEM of TKI

  36. PS: One reason to point to the vNSR in the cell is that without it we do not have he type of observed self-replication in life. Indeed, arguably, this is part of the core of biological life. So, since it is IC AND in the context of a core life function central to any possibility of evolution too, we see positive reason to infer to design of life. Cf discussion and vids here on.

  37. kairosfocus,

    Is this a case of: Chance and Necessity are gods, and Darwin is their prophet? [With NCSE as his faithful expositor and defender, at all costs and by any means deemed necessary?)

    If so, that is a sobering illustration of the ideologisation of evolutionary materialist science into a global worldview. (One, that hath predictable consequences.)

    Well, notice that even “chance and necessity” weren’t being questioned here. Granted, the idea of competition as central to Darwin’s thoughts is one I think is accurate, but really, the alternative here wasn’t cast as problematic for evolution writ large for a moment.

    And yet, still we have this frantic response, this angsting over the unthinkable act of calling out Darwin as wrong.

    It’s almost as if evolution isn’t the central concern here. And almost as if Darwin is very important for reasons that go beyond evolution.

    Joseph,

    You may have hit on something.

    Part of what ID says is that Darwin (and neo-darwinism) are wrong.

    That must be why so much hostility is directed towards ID and IDists.

    I hope to write more about this soon. But to hint at it, yes, I think ID strikes a nerve that (for example) other criticisms of Darwinism never did. And the fact that a criticism of Darwin from a non-ID source – one that was affirming evolution at the same exact instance of the criticism – was able to stir a panic attack from the NCSE is instructive.

  38. 38

    kairosfocus

    Science is usually defined as an enterprise to acquire knowledge. Definitions usually don’t entail the word truth because that raises problems. In particular that you unnecessarily superimpose the findings with their interpretation.

  39. 2nd O:

    And, do, pray tell us, what be that strange thing we call “knowledge”?

    ANS: Classically, justified, true belief. In a post-Gettier example, defeatable reasoning, inference to best explanation, scientific world, we would be wise to adjust this to something like:

    Knowledge is warranted, credibly true (but possibly defeatable) belief.

    In short, there is no evasion of the issue of truth, in the sense of accurate reference to reality. As Aristotle said it in Metaphysics, 1011b, slightly paraphrased: truth says of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

    As long as science aims to be accurate to reality, it aims at truth, fall short in part though it must.

    And, here I need to point to the first warranted credible truth of all, following Royce through Trueblood: error exists.

    This is notoriously a fact of life. But it is more: it turns out that if we try to deny it, we are forced to affirm it by example instead, i.e. it is undeniably true. Thus, truth exists, and warranted, credible indeed in this case certain truth exists.

    That is, knowledge exists, though we may err in the effort to achieve that state of grace.

    And, insofar as science pursues knowledge truth is a target, fall short though we will of perfect and complete knowledge of it.

    GEM of TKI

  40. Null:

    The emphasis in my remark is on “prophet.” In this case, of evolutionary materialism — which reduces all to undirected chance and necessity acting on matter and energy in space and time.

    As an august personage, many feel critique of such a personage is a form of lese majeste.

    And, in this context, so much is freighted on the name of Darwin, that any public challenge is liable to be seen as a threat. And responded to accordingly.

    Hence the sort of response you noted above.

    GEM of TKI

  41. Can anyone help me “cast a cold eye” on Darwin’s story about dog breeding? I can see from Googling that it appears to be universally accepted, but just how probable is the narrative?
    1. How probable is it that primitive man would have been able to domesticate wolves and also get them to breed in captivity? What do scientific studies say about the probability? After selecting from 45,000 foxes over 40 years, Belyaev was able to develop only 100 fully tame foxes. This level of purposefulness and patience would seem to be beyond the ken of primitive man. Are there comparable studies in wolves? Coppinger concedes the improbability and claims that wolves domesticated themselves to improve survival. Is there any hard scientific evidence for this? Is it happening today?

    2. How probable is it that the many highly distinctive breeds seen today would/could have been derived from a single or even multiple wolf pairs by primitive man? Darwin points out that new breeds with highly distinctive traits can be developed fairly easily, with patience, from distinctive breeds; but how likely is it that many highly distinctive breeds can be derived from homologous pairs? Moreover, how do we account for the remarkable foresight of primitive peoples to engage in selective breeding when they had no previous experience of its effects?

    3. What actual historical evidence do we have about dog breeds or any kind of breeding apart from what Darwin himself offers— that ancient Egyptians already had many of our modern breeds? As far as I know, the first written account of selective breeding from ancient times is in Genesis 30. Are there any others?

    4. If the Egyptians had many distinctive breeds of fully modern dogs 6000 years ago, how long before that time would selective breeding have needed to take place in order for wolves to have been transformed into dogs? The consensus seems to be about 10,000 years. How credible is it that people who were capable of sophisticated animal husbandry would have left no other signs of sophistication behind—no written language, no poetry or chronologies, no advanced art or architecture or even farming?

  42. Perhaps darwin is too wrongto be important:

    The Scientist, Aug. 29, 2005

    Why do we invoke Darwin?
    Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology

    By Philip S. Skell

    Darwin’s theory of evolution offers a sweeping explanation of the history of life, from the earliest microscopic organisms billions of years ago to all the plants and animals around us today. Much of the evidence that might have established the theory on an unshakable empirical foundation, however, remains lost in the distant past. For instance, Darwin hoped we would discover transitional precursors to the animal forms that appear abruptly in the Cambrian strata. Since then we have found many ancient fossils¬ – even exquisitely preserved soft-bodied creatures – but none are credible ancestors to the Cambrian animals.

    Despite this and other difficulties, the modern form of Darwin’s theory has been raised to its present high status because it’s said to be the cornerstone of modern experimental biology. But is that correct? “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas,” A. S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000.1 “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

    I would tend to agree. Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.

    I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.

    In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.

    When I recently suggested this disconnect publicly, I was vigorously challenged. One person recalled my use of Wilkins and charged me with quote mining. The proof, supposedly, was in Wilkins’s subsequent paragraph:

    “Yet, the marginality of evolutionary biology may be changing. More and more issues in biology, from diverse questions about human nature to the vulnerability of ecosystems, are increasingly seen as reflecting evolutionary events. A spate of popular books on evolution testifies to the development. If we are to fully understand these matters, however, we need to understand the processes of evolution that, ultimately, underlie them.”

    In reality, however, this passage illustrates my point. The efforts mentioned there are not experimental biology; they are attempts to explain already authenticated phenomena in Darwinian terms, things like human nature. Further, Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed¬ – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.

    Darwinian evolution¬ – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit.

    None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs.

    Philip Skell ([email protected]) is Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor, The Pennsylvania State University, member, National Academy of Sciences, research contributions to Reactive Intermediates in Chemistry: Triplet/Singlet Carbenes, Free-Atom Reactions, Bridged and Optically Active Free Radicals, Reactions of Free Carbonium Ions, etc.

    1. A.S. Wilkins, BioEssays 22, 1051(2000).

    From The Scientist, Sept. 26, 2005

    Philip Skell responds: My essay about Darwinism and modern experimental biology has stirred up a lively discussion, but the responses still provide no evidence that evolutionary theory is the cornerstone of experimental biology. Comparative physiology and comparative genomics have certainly been fruitful, but comparative biology originated before Darwin and owes nothing to his theory. Before the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859, comparative biology focused mainly on morphology, because physiology and biochemistry were in their infancy and genomics lay in the future; but the extension of a comparative approach to these sub-disciplines depended on the development of new methodologies and instruments, not on evolutionary theory and immersion in historical biology.

    One letter mentions directed molecular evolution as a technique to discover antibodies, enzymes and drugs. Like comparative biology, this has certainly been fruitful, but it is not an application of Darwinian evolution — it is the modern molecular equivalent of classical breeding. Long before Darwin, breeders used artificial selection to develop improved strains of crops and livestock. Darwin extrapolated this in an attempt to explain the origin of new species, but he did not invent the process of artificial selection itself.

    It is noteworthy that not one of these critics has detailed an example where Darwin’s Grand Paradigm Theory guided researchers to their goals. In fact, most innovations are not guided by grand paradigms, but by far more modest, testable hypotheses. Recognizing this, neither medical schools nor pharmaceutical firms maintain divisions of evolutionary science. The fabulous advances in experimental biology over the past century have had a core dependence on the development of new methodologies and instruments, not by intensive immersion in historical biology and Darwin’s theory, which attempted to historicize the meager documentation.

    Evolution is not an observable characteristic of living organisms. What modern experimental biologists study are the mechanisms by which living organisms maintain their stability, without evolving. Organisms oscillate about a median state; and if they deviate significantly from that state, they die. It has been research on these mechanisms of stability, not research guided by Darwin’s theory, which has produced the major fruits of modern biology and medicine. And so I ask again: Why do we invoke Darwin?

    See also:
    Does Nothing In Biology Make Sense Except in the Light of Evolution?

    Let the flailing begin…

  43. null @ 37 “Granted, the idea of competition as central to Darwin’s thoughts is one I think is accurate, but really, the alternative here wasn’t cast as problematic for evolution writ large for a moment.”

    I have a hard time understanding how competition, that is the struggle to survive, could explain anything in a purposeless universe controlled completely by the laws of physics. One cannot toss purpose out of one’s ontology and then base one’s epistemology on it. Seems careless to me. At least.

    The truth of the matter is, the entire materialist enterprise is hogwash of the highest order and some day will be recognized for the massive fraud that it is. I hope to live to see that day.

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