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Jean Rostand on Evolution

In his 1956 book, “A Biologist’s View”, French biologist Jean Rostand wrote:

“If it is true that neither Lamarckism nor mutationism [Darwinism] enable us to understand the mechanism of evolution, we must have the courage to recognise that we know nothing of this mechanism…Some people may perhaps feel that such a confession of ignorance plays into the hands of those who are still fighting the doctrine of evolution. But quite apart from the fact that the most elementary intellectual honesty demands that we should say ‘I do not know’ where we believe that this is so, I think that this doctrine is now so solidly grounded on its own merits that it needs no support from false advocacy. I must add that however obscure the causes of evolution appear to me to be, I do not doubt for a moment that they are entirely natural.”

It is becoming harder and harder to find Darwinists willing to make a serious attempt to defend their theory, and explain how it could account for the complexity of life, they are almost entirely in attack mode*. Their three main arguments are 1) ID is not science 2) ID is not science and 3) ID is not science. I believe ID is science, but I can understand the concern many have about it being taught in science classrooms, so I would like to propose a compromise. How about we simply “have the courage to recognise that we know nothing of the mechanism” of evolution, and leave it at that? Each student can decide for himself/herself what the most likely explanation might be.

*see my comment #30 for clarification of this claim

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66 Responses to Jean Rostand on Evolution

  1. That would be an improvement, ie. better science. But better still would be an accurate description of the history of life, which would include include ID.

  2. Glad to help out.

    I’ve posted brief explanations of the two main scientific mechanisms of evolution at Granville Sewell Needs My Help”.

    Hope this helps.

  3. I would be thrilled if, in schools, students were taught that when it comes right down to it, we just don’t know. We don’t know why the fossil record looks the way it does. We don’t know how molecular machines got into cells. We don’t know where new biological information comes from. We don’t know what consciousness is. ID would not need to be mentioned as long as darwinism was not taught as a “fact”. Of course, this will never never never happen in our current state of “secularism”. Darwin is the only reason to even consider atheism as being plausible. Darwin will remain no matter what evidence is brought against it. It’s political now.

  4. Another tactic of evolutionists, besides the ID is not science mantra, Is when they are confronted with overwhelming evidence for Intelligent Design, they resort to their imagination.

  5. *Reads Larry’s response…groans.*

    Which brings up another tactic: referring to uncontroversial trivial examples and subject matter already well known by ID proponents.

  6. Larry Moran: What a classless response on your webpage. Name-calling and insults are not arguments, and really do diminish your credibility as a critic.

    But so much the better for ID as a popular movement, I guess. With enemies like Larry, PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, you don’t need so many friends.

    - Russ Riediger

  7. before we can even talk about mechanisms we should actually observe it in the lab first. Behe has shown that this is not the case and of course, if the Cambrian explosion was replicated in the lab, evolutionists wouldn’t need to use trivial examples such as bacterial resistance and blind cave fish.

  8. Larry,

    I don’t know if you know it but you have made the ID case. Nearly all who support ID recognize the importance of natural selection and genetic drift. They are trivial. So in order to help Granville, you re-state the obvious. Thank you very much.

    We have moved on to the main issue in evolution, namely the source of variation. That is the real game in town and you should look into it to understand the evolution debate.

  9. Ari, not to mention that bacterial resistence and blind cave fish are not facts that suport evolution (goo-to-you-via-the-zoo).
    Evolutionists must show to the world which non-intelligent force of nature is able to create genetic codes, nano-bio-machines, etc, etc.
    Until they are able to show us that magical force of nature, we will stick to common sense, evidence and logic, and say that the living world owes it’s genesis to an Intelligent Mind.

  10. 10

    OP

    How about we simply “have the courage to recognise that we know nothing of the mechanism” of evolution, and leave it at that? Each student can decide for himself/herself what the most likely explanation might be.

    If you are suggesting that we imply that UCD (through unguided naturalistic processes) is true but we just don’t know the mechanisms, that is not an honest compromise. The fact of the matter is that the assumption that UCD occurred through unguided naturalistic processes is not a scientific one because there is no evidence for it. In order for it to be scientific, there must be evidence for it. So we shouldn’t tell people this assumption is true and scientific despite the fact that it’s not scientifically supported by evidence.

  11. Larry,
    So glad to be insulted by the junior high antics of a man of such high pedigree Larry. I guess you have countless examples of evolution to living organisms that have not in fact degraded the preexisting integrated molecular abilities of the living organisms.

    Now that we have your expertise to guide us along maybe you can point us to the empirical violations of the triple CCC complex cluster that Dr. Behe pointed out so clearly in his Book “Edge Of Evolution”.

    Since science runs on hard evidence why don’t you just produce the hard evidence, that you undoubtedly are privy too, seeing as none of your atheistic cohorts can find any examples to refute Dr. Behe with.

    Michael Behe’s Amazon Blog

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

  12. It’s not just that these examples don’t support evolution. These examples show that if natural selection was the ever present force in nature that evolutionists claim it is, then natural selection would actually promote devolution.

    Templeton has also shown how natural selection, in the case of sickle cell anemia, actually works against the genotype that has the highest selective value, leaving the population with a nasty disease in its place.
    http://books.google.com/books?.....YgYLTel46I

  13. UGH! I can’t take it anymore.

    Yes, compromise is what is needed. This tennis match is maddening, and neither side is ever going to dominate the other except in their own minds. There will always be those who believe that mere matter is all that was needed to produce the cosmos, as well as those who reject the notion that matter can breath life.

    Why in the holy heck do we all continue to degrade each other? It’s senseless, and it’s not going to resolve anything other than cause extreme hatred.

    I believe that ID is science, because if it is not, then common descent, the multiverse theory, etc. are not science either. I think I’d give up on my wish that ID be taught at the university level if only the Darwinists would just simply be forthright about what does and does not constitute a “FACT”.

    Someone in a forum asked me: “So, FtK, why is Dembski’s personal belief irrelevant for his scientific efforts, and Dawkins’ lack of belief so compellingly and irritatingly an issue for how you think he should do science?”

    Dawkins’ “lack of belief” wouldn’t be so irritating if his meme/multiverse/common descent lines of reasoning weren’t considered “factual“ or “good science” but rather just good ‘ol scientific hypotheses. And, if Dawkins is hailed for his naturalistic “scientific” ideals, then there should be no reason whatsoever to exclude ID within the realm of science. Dawkins ideals stem from no less of a miraculous event than the inference of ID does, he merely deems his miracles as “natural”.

    But, obviously my dream of compromise will never transpire as it seems to me that both sides are out for blood and hope to reign as the dominant worldview…yes, obviously these issues all come down to one’s worldview.

    Now, we’ll all sit back and watch both sides (Moran’s groupies vs. UD groupies) battle it out in yet another deja vu experience.

    It’s never ending.

  14. Compromise is a dirty word.

  15. There are 2 main reasons why scientists hate ID so much

    1) some people really want to be atheists and ID makes it very very hard on them. Sure one *could* say some alien did it or we are in the Matrix but most atheists really don’t want to be put in that position.

    2) Scientists really don’t like to hear “X theory is false therefore Y is a possibility.” They don’t like what they perceive as potshots to a theory they claim attempts to explain the large scale patterns of life and history and ID doesn’t offer an alternative explanation.

    We would probably face the same problem with Ptolemaic astronomy. Imagine if we made convincing arguments back then why it would not work but we did not explain how orbits would work under a heliocentric system. We would face a similar disdain and we’d be still using Ptolemaic astronomy today. It actually made predictions. They were off but considered good enough. Astronomers today would still come up with “epicycles” to make it work with all the observations.

  16. To: ari-freedom

    Thank You!! I love ID and think it makes an incredibly perceptive point about the nature of biological information, but it is not yet an alternative paradigm because, as you mention, it does not deal with the broader issues of natural history.

    Before anyone jumps on me for pointing out the limitations of the ID paradigm (and it does have its limits), look at a post by Dembski on Dec. 2 replying to Marge Midgely’s criticisms. He says, “ID stakes its claim at the level of molecular biology…” If this is true then ID science is limited to these small scales and does not have the scope to deal with questions like speciation and the fossil record.

    ID can either let the Darwinists continue to run rampant with their fantastic stories about natural history, or ID can broaden its program to address these issues directly, while retaining its mathematically based commentary about small-scale biological phenomena.

    I personally am in favor of the latter.

  17. Compromise is indeed what we need. Really, I think all our academic endeavors should be based on compromise. The purpose of any educational system is to let students learn to learn. Only by exposing them to any and every idea, will they be able to truly get the greatest benefit from their education.

    All classes, I believe, in most subjects should be based on discussion and open ideas. This goes along with my belief that all tests (even in maths) should be essay. It’s the only way to really know if students know what they’re talking about.

  18. Bornagain77 wrote in response to Larry:
    “I guess you have countless examples of evolution to living organisms that have not in fact degraded the preexisting integrated molecular abilities of the living organisms.”

    I had to chuckle when I read this. It’s a great line, and really the point (a scientific one) of the entire debate. We have the IDists saying, “look, we know information comes from a mind, but show us the natural unguided mechanism which generates this information from atoms randomly smashing into each other and end of discussion.” We have hard data that shows the limits of Darwinian evolution, but still we have the Darwinists, smug with their attitude of condescension, replying with hand waiving, false claims, and wishful thinking.

  19. Larry Moran, thank you for clearing up the confusion of the IDiots. You did an excellent job of describing natural selection and genetic drift. Now that I believe that I understand these forces, let me apply them to a slightly different evolutionary context: When new products are produced, they fail or succeed in the marketplace based on market forces(natural selection and genetic drift). We can therefore determine the overall fitness of a product by its marketshare.

    We now have a full and complete explanation of how all technology develops. The best technologies spread their way through society driven by market forces. Period, end of issue.

    Moron — your case is clear, obvious, and certainly complete.

  20. “Why in the holy heck do we all continue to degrade each other? It’s senseless, and it’s not going to resolve anything other than cause extreme hatred.”

    Because Darwinism is the only justification for many people who can’t stomach the thought of God, especially in light of the apparent “fine tuning” of our universe. If Darwin falls, many people will be forced to change their worldview, and they don’t want to.

    “I believe that ID is science, because if it is not, then common descent, the multiverse theory, etc. are not science either.”

    Yesterday I was watching the Darwin Channel (Discovery), and I saw a quick trailer for an upcoming show. In it the question popped up “How do we confirm the existence of other universes?” Then the answer popped up, “Do the math.” So maybe you haven’t heard, but the materialists have made the multi-verse a reality…case closed.

  21. 21

    Even if we knew the mechanism of biological change (random mutation, front loading, etc.), we would still have no explanation for mutually beneficial co-evolution, i.e., the mutual evolution of two co-dependent organisms, e.g., bees and flowering plants. In mutually beneficial co-evolution, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, air, and climate, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism may be initially absent.

  22. JT75 I think the general problem is that scientists want to do ‘calculus’ before passing basic arithmetic. And if you don’t get the basics down first, it will be very hard to back out of a theory once it’s entrenched.

  23. Their three main arguments are 1) ID is not science 2) ID is not science and 3) ID is not science.

    Actually, I’d say their argument basically distills into “those people are yucky. You want to hang out with us.”

  24. Forthekids– There will always be those who believe that mere matter is all that was needed to produce the cosmos,

    You miss the point that that view is held by the academic establishment as respectable.

    You also miss the point that those who point out that, that view has no basis in any objective metric are held by the academy as not respectable.

    You also miss the point that IDists don’t claim their view as dogma (unlike Darwinians) but allow it to be subject it to falsification i.e. provide a false positive to CSI or show that the the flagellum is reducible (a attempts have been made, unsuccessfully I think, but simply making the attempt should demonstrate conclusively that ID is science.

    You also miss the point that though you seem to claim this debate to be futile you are still a participant :-)

  25. Larry Moran
    In your post: “Granville Sewell Needs My Help”, it is absolutely amazing to see such blind faith in the creative power of random mutation with the apparent selective power of natural selection. Larry do you even have a clue on the systematic power of mathematics to show the emptiness of such blind faith?

    Larry, how about we take the major mathematical models of population genetics as summarized in the appendix of John C. Sanford’s book
    “Genetic entropy and the mystery of the genome”, and dedicate a post to each? Perhaps you could enlighten us as to how the simple model of “evolution” you support can overcome such enormous reproductive improbabilities.

    e.g., begin with the probability of beneficial to harmful mutations. The results in the literature range from 1:10,000 to 1:1, million.

    Perhaps Larry you could enlighten us as to mathematically how evolution overcomes such odds.
    Even starting with microevolution, how can you possibly develop and sustain beneficial mutations in the face of the systematic genetic load of harmful mutations?

    Then perhaps you could enlighten us by showing models with realistic probabilities of abiognesis to the simplest genome and self replicating cell.

    I believe we would need title the post post:

    Moran needs Sewell’s help on population genetics.

  26. DLH said, “begin with the probability of beneficial to harmful mutations. The results in the literature range from 1:10,000 to 1:1, million.”

    I’m missing your point, DLH. Aren’t you saying that the statistics show that a large amount, but not all mutations would lead to either death of the organism, or of it’s descendents? Meaning, don;t those statistics show that it is reasonable to expect that some beneficial mutations occur? Doesn’t that answer your following question about the sustenance of beneficial mutations? Or are you suggesting that all beneficial mutations would automatically somehow be offset by some other harmful mutation?

    Wouldn’t that debunk microevolution, which ID doesn’t reject?

  27. I would be surprised if Mr. Moran came back to respond. My guess is that he “knew” his link was the killing stroke for us “IDiots,” and he can’t be bothered to check up on our response; his superior intellect has more important things to handle.

  28. his ‘superior’ intellect that (according to his premise) was the product of random mutations and a randomly changing environment. Garbage in, garbage out.

  29. JT75

    ““ID stakes its claim at the level of molecular biology…” If this is true then ID science is limited to these small scales and does not have the scope to deal with questions like speciation and the fossil record.”

    The reason ID sticks to the biochemistry is that it is the biochemistry that is actually known and partly understood.

    The causes of large changes are biochemical but they have not been elucidated well enough for ID to comment.

    What Mike Behe points out is that there is no layer of complexity below biochemistry. There are many layers above it that remain mysterious. It is almost certain that ID will contribute even more on large scales.

    It’s like we have found computer code. We can tell it is computer code and we can tell what small parts of it do. We have no idea yet how it all joins together to make the Windows operating system.

  30. 30

    Larry Moran,

    I realize there are plenty of Darwinists who will defend their theory in broad, sweeping terms, as you have done. But when confronted with specific complex structures in the cell, there are only a very few who will even attempt to construct detailled, far-fetched, Darwinian explanations, nearly all simply say, “natural selection must be able to explain this, because ID is the only alternative explanation, and ID is not science.”

  31. H’mm:

    First, I join Gil with his remark over in the next thread on the topic, that: I’m perfectly amenable to being convinced that the complexity, information content, and machinery of living systems can be explained by stochastic processes filtered by natural selection, and I would not even demand hard evidence, just some rigorous argumentation

    Perhaps, Dr Moran can come over and play with my toy example here, which outlines a bit of what we are getting at and why we sometimes make reference to Sir Fred Hoyle’s tornado in a junkyard makes a 747 example? [747s are a lot simpler than the so-called "simple" cell. C'mon in, the thermodynamics waters Dr Sewell has been swimming in for years is fine.]

    Getting a bit more specific:

    1] Dr Moran, over at his linked post: In natural selection the frequency of an allele increases in the population because the presence of the allele confers a selective advantage on the individual who carries it. This individual will survive and reproduce more frequently than individuals possessing the other allele of the gene in question. Over many generations the beneficial allele has a higher than normal probability of becoming fixed in the population

    This of course aptly summarises the SURVIVAL of the fittest. Namely, in effect, the “fittest” are those who survive and thrive enough to dominate the population across generations.

    ID’s concern is with the ARRIVAL of the fittest, especially at body-plan level. Citing that ever so often dismissed article by Meyer on the Cambrian revolution — i.e the sudden arrival in the fossil record of dozens of major physla and subphyla (i.e of highly diverse body plans):

    The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world . . . Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000 [I add, 4^318,000 ~ 1.195 *10^191,455 cells in the configuration space, or an information carrying capacity of some 636 kbits, far beyond the 500 - 1,000 bits that mark the edge of chance on the gamut of our observed universe; i.e. it is highly improbable that random searches across that space would arrive at the archipelagos of bio-functionality for DNA alone, much less for all the other nano-machines required for life.]). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur.6

    2] In random genetic drift an allele will increase in frequency due to chance alone and not because it confers a selective benefit. In most cases the allele will be nearly neutral with respect to its phenotype. Over a long period of time, these non-selected alleles will become fixed relative to other similar alleles in the genome.

    And, what is the chance, Dr Moran, that on the gamut of the observed universe, such a random walk would be able to jump up from say 5 mn bases to 180 mn, an increment of 175 mn?

    I.e the Cambrian revolution novel body plans credibly need injections of order 100 mn base pairs, in lets be generous 3 bn years on an earth that weighs in at far, far less than the 10^80 or so atoms and 13.7 BY generally held to be available in the cosmos as a whole that we actually observe.

    FYI, 4^ 100 mn ~ 1.358*10^60,205,999. This vastly exceeds, again, the reasonable edge of chance on the gamut of our cosmos,through exhaustion of available probabilistic resources. In short, that Dembski Universal probability Bound [UPB] rears its head and roars with laughter.

    I know, I know, that raises the question of . . .

    3] Shaner74, in 20: Yesterday I was watching the Darwin Channel (Discovery), and I saw a quick trailer for an upcoming show. In it the question popped up “How do we confirm the existence of other universes?” Then the answer popped up, “Do the math.”

    And I thought the Galilean principle — a la leaning Tower of Pisa and other apocryphal examples [the smaller ball will actually lag, slightly, due to differential effects of air resistance . . . G's genius actually lay in his ability to look at real world cases then extrapolate to idealised cases, e.g on his deduction that since a rolling ball in a U-groove tries to climb back up to its level, if we were to have a smooth groove that was flattened out horizontally it would roll on and on "trying" to rise back to its original level . . . ] — was that ideas were to be subject to empirical tests before being accepted as science?

    So, we are actually here in the province of metaphysical speculation on possible worlds in which we may live. Fine. But then, we should be honest about that, and accept that : [1] this is not science but phil, and [2] the proper methodology for phil is comparative difficulties across alternative live option worldviews, on pain of closed-minded dogmatism and question-begging.

    Dr Moran, will you now join us in calling for “teaching the controversy,” under its proper label: worldviews options and linked scientific issues? [Noting of course that scientific research programmes, as Lakatos pointed out, constitute a belt of theory etc, surrounding a worldview core. Here is the worldview core of indisputably the greatest scientist of all time, in the greatest single scientific work of all time.]

    GEM of TKI

  32. Q you ask,

    Meaning, don;t those statistics show that it is reasonable to expect that some beneficial mutations occur?

    From Dr. Behe’s work we now know that 1 in a million rate for beneficial mutations was far to generous to the evolutionists.

    Evolutionists like to claim that mutations are beneficial when in fact they are harmful for building complex molecular machines. This includes the sickle cell mutation. All antibiotic resistance can be traced to such disruption of the optimal balance we find in life.

    The only unambiguous “beneficial mutation” I’ve seen was a passive ring structure which allowed the virus to permeate the cell membrane of its host. Yet even in this example the virus is not a living organism so it destroyed far, far more complexity in the life of its host that it ever gained in itself on its hypothetical march to becoming living life form.

    So the 1 in a million “beneficial mutation” quoted is actually far to low for an estimate.

  33. Hey, sorry about this if this is not really on the thread. I’m not really a blogger and this is new to me; but, in desperation, I’m posting this here in the hope that someone will help.

    I have read very, VERY little about ID. Therefore I’m seeking advice concerning the sort of counter arguments Kenneth Miller asserts. First I’m not sure if I understand Miller’s arguments. Second I would like to know where Prof Dembski’s latest responses to Miller and others (in similar vein) are to be found – hard copy publications, web articles or both.

    It seems that when all is boiled down Kenneth Miller’s arguments against ID in general and IC in particular go like this:

    1. Argument about component parts

    It can be shown that some of the component parts of complex biological systems – such as a bacterium’s flagellum – exist as, other complex structures (a corollary being that the amino acid sequencing to make the relevant proteins, with their functional structuring, exists). Therefore, it is possible for natural section to have acted upon organisms whose variation in the relevant parts made it such that flagella evolved out of the recombination of those parts. If that really is one of Miller’s arguments in a nutshell, then it is not hard to see that it is nuts. But is that really hat Miller is in the end saying? Surely not.

    2. Argument about preserved system function when the parts are reduced.

    Some biological systems – such as the blood clotting cascade – don’t need as many parts as some instantiations of those systems in one species/type compared to another species/type, in order to have the same functionality. Therefore, the parts of some complex biological systems are not irreducible. Again if that really is one of Miller’s arguments in a nutshell then it seems to miss several marks. But is that really hat Miller is in the end saying?

    Comments: It seems to me that even IF ALL the parts required for the construction and functioning of, say, a bacterium’s flagellum, were present in prokaryotic cell, what is required is information for the re-assembly of those parts into flagellum. The random shuffling of code seems rather like the famous comment of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe that the probability of life evolving from random processes in the order of the probability of a Boeing 747 resulting from an explosion in junk shop. That intuition seems should even if one allows that all the components of a 747 are already in what, I concede would then be nothing like a JUNK shop. To me, the problem is that the assembly of flagella require instructions for that process to be “written”. But natural selection can’t write instructions since a set of instructions, although it could be built up bit by bit by an intelligent designer who scraps bits that don’t work and adds bits that refine the code to work better, is blind to any end. If some chance mutation manages to integrate some of the code for some of the components into a new set of instructions that would have to result in some actually functioning survival advantage of the system as a whole to the creatures of the relevant population for it to be selected. Intuitively the odds of this happening seem intuitively high. An answer might be to break down the probability into small parts and treat only the probability of the next “successful” step from an already functional state, but the overall probability that a sequence of such “useful” steps (note that “useful” inextricably connotes teleology) has occurred by randomness and blind “selection” seems mind boggling. Occam’s razor would look for something simple. I feel that in spite of all its trumpeting to the contrary, Darwinism lack appropriate parsimony.

    Further, if some generic system type “for” (better say “with” for “for” implies teleology) a specific outcome/function has varying instantiations, in different situations, (as one might expect from good or ergonomic design) it doesn’t follow that the complexity of the system type is endlessly reducible! There is surely in each concrete instantiation of the system, in a population, one reduction (of a component) too many.

    Okay, I’ve probably revealed that I have rather a poor grasp on these things. So I’d be grateful to be pointed to Prof Dembski’s latest responses to the matters I’m indicating.

    Thanks
    Gavin

  34. Gavin,

    Here is one of Dr. Dembski’s responses to Miller

    http://www.designinference.com.....sponse.htm

    Here is Dr. Behe’s response to Miller:

    Response to Kenneth R. Miller

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....X2AI5EMGXN

    Response to Kenneth R. Miller, Continued

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....LGXQXVL2KT

    Kenneth R. Miller and the Problem of Evil, Part 1

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....FY46FD1DA4

    Kenneth R. Miller and the Problem of Evil, Part 2

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....3UJ6MNJV6N

    Kenneth R. Miller and the Problem of Evil, Part 3

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....MS8WADYIGZ

    And for all His responses to all his critics you can go to Behe’s blog on amazon here:

    Michael Behe’s Amazon Blog

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

  35. To redress the beneficial mutation rate.

    This is in fact what Dr. Behe did.

    Dr. Behe states in Edge of Evolution on page 135.

    Generating a single new cellular protein-protein binding site (in other words, generating a truly beneficial mutational event that would explain the complexity of life we see) is of the same order of difficulty or worse than the development of chloroquine resistance in the malarial parasite.

    That order of difficulty is put at 10^20 replications (births) of the malarial parasite.

    Thus the true rate for beneficial mutations is far in excess of one-hundred-billion-billion mutational events.

    And as I said before this number for a “truly” beneficial mutation rate is far to generous to the Evolutionists.

  36. Gavin:

    Your first impression is the right one: all of Miller’s arguments are nuts.

    Nobody has ever answered the argument of IC, and nobody ever will, because it is not possible. The argument is deadly right, period.

    The fact is that ID’s fundamental argument is the complete impossibility to attain biological information with any kind of random variation. Both Dembski’s CSI theory and Behe IC argument are aspects of the same impossibility.

    Natural selection is invoked as a non random component of darwinian theory. But NS can do very little, except in the very trivial scenarios well known to all of us. In particular, NS is completely blocked from any complex achievement because of IC. Moreover, Dembski and Marks have clearly shown that a search method can do better than chance only if information about the target is incorporated in the method. And that makes complete justice of the stupid arguments and examples of darwinists, beginning from the silly “Methinks it’s like a weasel” example of the sublime Dawkins, up to all bogus genetic simulations.

    Larry Moran has clearly shown the intellectual and moral level od darwinist arguments: failure to answer any pertinent question, and readyness to grossly insult any adversary, are really their only weapons. While their moral failures can always be pardoned (after all, man is not a perfect being), their intellectual stupidity and arrogance are much more difficult to excuse.

    I must confess that I don’t very much like the call for compromise. Compromise with what? We cannot compromise about truth, and here I am not speaking of religious or spiritual truth, but just of the simple, tangible scientific truth.

    I don’t like fight for its sake, but I have always loved a phrase from one of the most interesting characters in Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”: “Never compromise!”

    After all, I am very, very proud of being an IDiot, now and forever…

  37. Correction, last sentence should read:

    And as I said before this one in a million number, for a “truly” beneficial mutation rate, is far, far to generous to the Evolutionists.

  38. Gavin:

    You can find a response by William Dembski to Ken Miller’s arguments at http://www.designinference.com.....sponse.htm and a response to Nicholas Matzke at http://www.designinference.com.....sponse.htm . I hope that helps.

    Kairosfocus:

    Thank you very much for the “hard numbers” which you posted in your last submission. I’m referring to the number of base pairs required for the simplest unicellular organism (at least 300,000) and for a Cambrian animal (about 180,000,000, if Drosophila is anything to go by). Since I already knew that human beings have around 3 billion base pairs in their DNA, I now have the answer to a question which has been bothering me for a few years, namely, which is the biggest evolutionary jump: simple organic molecules to single cell, single cell to Cambrian animal, or Cambrian animal to human being?

    I understand that scientists can generate polynucleotides with around 100 base pairs. That’s 10 to the power of 2. The simplest cell has 3 times 10 to the power of 5 base pairs, so that’s a jump of 3 orders of magnitude. A Cambrian animal has 1.8 times 10 to the power of 8 base pairs in its DNA, so that’s a jump of another 3 orders of magnitude. A human being has 3 times 10 to the power of 9 base pairs in his/her DNA, so that’s a jump of 1 more order of magnitude. My conclusion: the jump from non-life to simple cell and simple cell to Cambrian animal look about equally difficult, and the jump from Cambrian animal to human being looks much easier.

    That said, I have to respectfully disagree with your probabilistic calculations, where you cite a figure of “4^318,000 ~ 1.195 *10^191,455 cells in the configuration space, or an information carrying capacity of some 636 kbits, far beyond the 500 – 1,000 bits that mark the edge of chance on the gamut of our observed universe.” The figure of 4^318,000 merely represents the number of possible DNA sequences with 318,000 base pairs. Nobody is suggesting that nature tried each and every one of these out before hitting on the right one. What evolutionists are suggesting (as I understand them) is that there is some (as-yet-unknown) biological pathway from a short nucleotide to a cell whose genetic information can be specified in 318,000 base pairs, such that each step along the way is significantly probable, as well as being stable enough for nature to improve on it in an incremental fashion. Of course, the great majority of the possible DNA sequences with 318,000 base pairs would be non-viable, so they are irrelevant to our calculations. And out of the few 318 kilo-base sequences that were viable, the great majority would be incapable of being built up by a series of small intermediate steps, each of which is chemically stable enough to be amenable to incremental improvement. The question is: can we set an upper or lower bound to the number of 318 kilo-base sequences that could be built up in such a step-by-step fashion? The answer at present is: NO, because we know NOTHING about the hypothetical Darwinian pathway or the chemical stability of the hypothetical intermediates.

    This current state of ignorance is an immensely frustrating position to be in. We cannot mathematically demonstrate that the origin of life is either probable or improbable, at the present time; thus we cannot say whether NDE is likely or not. All we can say is that there are some formidable obstacles which most evolutionists have chosen to ignore, and leave it at that.

  39. It’s amazing (and amusing) to watch the ID proponents move the goalposts when they’ve been called out.

    In the original posting Granville Sewell asks that scientists, “have the courage to recognise that we know nothing of the mechanism of evolution.”

    Scientists know a great deal about the important mechanisms of evolution. They are natural selection and random genetic drift.

    Turns out that Granville Sewell misspoke. What he meant to say was,

    “Like all Intelligent Design Creationists I fully understand and accept the fundamentals of evolutionary theory including the key mechanisms. But what troubles me is something other than basic evolutionary theory and the mechanisms of natural selection and random genetic drift.

    What troubles me is how you can explain step-by-step the entire history of life on Earth using only the scientific principles of evolutionary theory and the available evidence.”

    That’s what you really meant to say, right?

    If that’s what you meant to say then why didn’t you say it?

    You all know very well that scientists cannot give you a detailed blow-by-blow accounting of everything that took place during the evolution of millions of species over 3.5 billion years.

    All we can do in reconstructing the past is to determine whether the pathways we’re examining are compatible with evolution. We do this by examining the fossil record, looking at changes in DNA sequences, and comparing the observations to other well-documented cases in the scientific literature.

    So far, we haven’t found any evidence that is inconsistent with evolution. Thus, there is no need to invoke the supernatural.

    Some of the more intelligent ID proponents realize that what their friends are demanding is extremely hypocritical. They’re asking for a detailed historical account of evolution while, at the same time, being as fuzzy as possible about the intelligent designer. Some ID proponents, for example, still believe that life was created only a few thousand years ago in spite of massive scientific evidence to the contrary.

    I’d be happy to answer questions from anyone who admits that: (a) the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the fossil record is an accurate historical record of changes that have taken place; (b) the basic mechanisms of evolution are proven facts, they have been observed and documented in living species; ( c) differences in the DNA sequences of genes from different species document changes that have occurred in the past.

    Those who accept basic scientific facts are at least minimally qualified to enter into a scientific discussion. All others are not qualified and will be ignored.

  40. From Dr. Behe’s work we now know that 1 in a million rate for beneficial mutations was far to generous to the evolutionists.

    OK, I haven’t read Edge of Evolution, but I have read the primary literature. For example this paper:

    Adam Eyre-Walker, A. & Keightley, P.D. (2007) The distribution of fitness effects of new mutations. Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 610-618.

    Which states this:

    As expected, relatively few of the mutations that are not effectively neutral are advantageous. In three mutagenesis experiments, the proportion of advantageous mutations was 4% in the RNA virus vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)15 (Fig. 1), 0% in Escherichia coli14, 0–15% in the bacteriophage &phi X174 (Ref. 40), 0% in &phi 6 (Ref. 13) and 6% in Saccharomyces cerevisiae16. However, although advantageous mutations are rare, they can contribute substantially to evolutionary change58. For example, in D. melanogaster, it has been estimated that more than 15% of all substitutions are due to advantageous mutations49.

    They then acknowledge that this is substitution rates, and then report an experiment (paper here) that gets round this and which gives an estimate of 15% of mutations being beneficial, but this estimate does depend on the population. In the high-fitness lines they get a point estimate of 0, but apparently with large confidence intervals (Fig. S2).

    Bob

  41. Granville Sewell says,

    I realize there are plenty of Darwinists who will defend their theory in broad, sweeping terms, as you have done. But when confronted with specific complex structures in the cell, there are only a very few who will even attempt to construct detailled, far-fetched, Darwinian explanations, nearly all simply say, “natural selection must be able to explain this, because ID is the only alternative explanation, and ID is not science.”

    I lecture in biochemistry. I give plenty of examples of probable evolutionary pathways to complex structures. For example, I explain how the photosynthesis complexes in chloroplasts arose from much simpler bacterial versions and I describe how the irreducibly complex citric acid cycle arose.

    Granvillle, what you are doing is focusing on those particular structures where we have less information at present. You conveniently ignore all the good examples that we teach in class.

    That’s why you say “when confronted with specific complex structures.” What the ID proponents do is comb the scientific literature so that they can avoid challenging scientists with examples that are easy to explain. Instead, they focus on the examples that are more difficult.

    Let me ask you a question. Did the intelligent designer allow naturalistic evolution to do most of the work, saving a few well-chosen examples for special attention? Did he (making an assumption here) let photosynthesis and the citric acid cycle—and dozens of other things that we understand—evolve on their own but step in to design bacterial flagella or whatever other complex you have chosen as the evolution problem of the day?

    Do you see the point? Scientists have plenty of good examples to choose from. From those examples they extrapolate to others where there is less information available. ID proponents, on the other hand, do the opposite. They take all of the well-studied examples and throw the in the wast basket because they are an embarrassment to their worldview. Then they taunt scientists with the more difficult cases and conclude that everything must be supernaturally created when scientists can’t give them a detailed answer to their specific example.

    This is irrational behavior on the part of the ID proponent. If those ID proponents are also the type who reject all of science—because they are Young Earth Creationists—then it’s not only irrational, it’s dishonest.

  42. DLH says,

    In your post: “Granville Sewell Needs My Help”, it is absolutely amazing to see such blind faith in the creative power of random mutation with the apparent selective power of natural selection.

    Why is that so amazing? We have concrete observable scientific evidence that mutation and natural selection can create.

    What you meant to say—giving you the benefit of the doubt—is something else entirely.

    What you meant to say it that it’s absolutely amazing that we assume evolution occurs in all 300 skazillion cases when we only have solid scientific evidence for several hundred.

    The ID proponent perspective it that every case is assumed to be supernatural until scientists prove otherwise. When we do prove one of the examples you just take it off the list and demand that we turn our attention to your other examples.

  43. Bob,
    All those 15% of beneficial mutations, they allude to in their studies, will ALL turn out to be beneficial in only a very narrow sense, and will be found to be detrimental as far as the CSI of the entire organism is concerned. In fact, it is commonly known that ALL “beneficial” mutations to bacteria that confer resistance to antibiotics are ALWAYS found to be detrimental in some way. In fact, MRSA is commonly known to be a super wimp when forced to compete against the “parent” lineage that it “evolved” away from.

    The point being is that Dr. Behe is well aware of the fact that all these mutational studies, like the one you cite, are fraught with analytical errors that hide the true detrimental nature of the “beneficial” mutations that are only revealed upon rigorous testing of the organism. That is exactly why he looked for an “undeniable” beneficial mutation in a protein-protein site generation.

    And as pointed out repeatedly to you, This should be child’s play for the malarial parasite since it has had far more mutational events than have been experienced by the entire line of mammals that is purported to have descended from reptiles.

    How many novel protein-protein binding sites do you believe exist in that line Bob?

    I can guarantee you it is more than the 2 protein-protein biding sites that Dr. Behe established for the limit of what evolution can accomplish.

  44. Since you guys apparently want to debate Larry Moran in this thread–are you guys masochists? ;) –I temporarily let his comments through but edited them for insults and such (the ones that were not entirely insults). Otherwise, Larry is banned as usual.

  45. Larry Moran you stated:

    I lecture in biochemistry. I give plenty of examples of probable evolutionary pathways to complex structures. For example, I explain how the photosynthesis complexes in chloroplasts arose from much simpler bacterial versions….

    Probable evolutionary pathways???

    Give me a break Larry.

    A News & Views essay in Nature addresses a very significant question. The authors write: “Biologists agree that cyanobacteria invented the art of making oxygen, but when and how this came about remain uncertain.” The measure of the problem is here: “Oxygenetic photosynthesis involves about 100 proteins that are highly ordered within the photosynthetic membranes of the cell. The main players are two molecular machines, photosystem I and photosystem II, that act as electrochemical solar cells. With the help of chlorophyll (…), they transform sunlight into electrical current.”

    Now I am sure you tell an quite an amazing story about how photosynthesis came about, with plenty of fanfare, that keeps your students spellbound, calling your opponents IDiots probably adds to the validity of your case in your students eyes, but that is not hard science.

    …The hard physical evidence scientists have discovered in the geologic record is stunning in its support of the anthropic hypothesis. The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of “photosynthetic” life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature]. This evidence has been fought by naturalists, since it is totally contrary to their evolutionary theory. Yet, Danish scientists were able to bring forth another line of geological evidence to substantiate the primary line of geological evidence for photo-synthetic life in the earth’s earliest known sedimentary rocks (Indications of Oxygenic Photosynthesis,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 6907 (2003). Thus we have two lines of hard conclusive evidence for photo-synthetic life in the oldest known sedimentary rocks ever found by scientists on earth! The simplest photosynthetic bacterial life on earth is exceedingly complex, too complex to happen by even if the primeval oceans had been full of pre-biotic soup. Thus, naturalists try to suggest pan-spermia (the theory that pre-biotic amino acids, or life itself, came to earth from outer-space on comets) to account for this sudden appearance of life on earth. This theory has several problems. One problem is that astronomers, using spectral analysis, have not found any vast reservoirs of biological molecules anywhere they have looked in the universe. Another problem is, even if comets were nothing but pre-biotic amino acid snowballs, how are the amino acids going to molecularly survive the furnace-like temperatures generated when the comet crashes into the earth? If the pre-biotic molecules were already a life-form on the comet, how could this imagined life-form survive the extremely harsh environment of space for many millions of years, not to mention the fiery crash into the earth? Did this imagined super-cell wear a cape like superman?

    The complexity found in the simplest bacterium known to science makes the complexity of any man-made machine look like child’s play. As stated by Geneticist Michael Denton PhD, “Although the tiniest living things known to science, bacterial cells, are incredibly small (10-12 grams), each is a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world”. So, as you can see, there simply is no simple life on earth as naturalism had presumed – even the well known single celled amoeba has the complexity of the city of London and reproduces that complexity in only 20 minutes. Here are a couple of quotes for the complexity found in any biological system, including simple bacteria, by two experts in biology:

    “Most biological reactions are chain reactions. To interact in a chain, these precisely built molecules must fit together most precisely, as the cog wheels of a Swiss watch do. But if this is so, then how can such a system develop at all? For if any one of the specific cog wheels in these chains is changed, then the whole system must simply become inoperative. Saying it can be improved by random mutation of one link, is like saying you could improve a Swiss watch by dropping it and thus bending one of its wheels or axis. To get a better watch, all the wheels must be changed simultaneously to make a good fit again.” Albert Szent-Györgyi von Nagyrapolt (Nobel prize for Medicine in 1937). “Drive in Living Matter to Perfect Itself,” Synthesis I, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 18 (1977)

    “Each cell with genetic information, from bacteria to man, consists of artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction and a capacity not equaled in any of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours” Geneticist Michael Denton PhD.

    Larry I can guarantee you that you will never demonstrate a novel protein-protein binding site being generated naturally in your hypothetical path to a more complex photosynthetic structure.

    Dr. Behe lays this principle out very clearly in His book “The Edge of Evolution”. (I suggest you actually read it before slamming it with your kindergarten taunts)

    You can tell “just so” stories all day long to your students, but that will not work here on this site, you must produce a experimentally verifiable increase in the protein-protein binding sites of the organism in its path to more complex photosynthesis.

    This should be child’s play for such “intelligent” scientists, such as you, to demonstrate, since, according to your self satisfied opinion, chance and selection generates countless billions of novel protein-protein binding sites all by itself in its march to create life on earth..

  46. Larry Moran:

    As you have taken the time to express your ideas here (a real merit, in my opinion), you deserve specific answers. I’ll give you a few.

    You say:

    “It’s amazing (and amusing) to watch the ID proponents move the goalposts when they’ve been called out”.

    Not true (see the following point).

    You say:

    “In the original posting Granville Sewell asks that scientists, “have the courage to recognise that we know nothing of the mechanism of evolution.”

    Scientists know a great deal about the important mechanisms of evolution. They are natural selection and random genetic drift.”

    You are, maybe unwillingly, misunderstanding the words in Granville Sewell’s post. I think you are confused about the meaning of the word “mechaninsm”. What Sewell obviously means is that we don’t know any theory which can explain the “causal mechanism” of the generation of information in biological beings which is usually termed “evolution”. All your stuff of arrogantly citing natural selection and genetic drift, as though Sewell ot all of us are not aware of them, is simply pointless. In case you have not understood that, the whole point of ID theory is that RM, NS, genetic drift, and any other kind of random variation, have not trhe power to generate that kind of information that we observe in biological beings. You may agree or not (I suppose you don’t), but simply stating that natural selection and genetic drift are the mechanism of evolution doesn’t answer the point of ID. To answer the point of ID, you should understand why we are convinced that your so called “mechanisms” are not mechanisms at all, and then demonstrate that we are wrong, and that you are right. Pretendong that we are only “invoking the supernatural”, because science can’t explain everything in detail, s only a lie. It will not do, not here. We know that’s not true. You can repeat that lie in your blog, where other darwinists are ready to support it, but not here. Here, if you want you must discuss.

    You say:

    “I lecture in biochemistry. I give plenty of examples of probable evolutionary pathways to complex structures. For example, I explain how the photosynthesis complexes in chloroplasts arose from much simpler bacterial versions and I describe how the irreducibly complex citric acid cycle arose.”

    Really? Can you explain a molecular pathway to all that you say? Please, explain that to us. Let’s verify the credibility of your “mechanisms” in your supposed molecular pathway. Let’s calculate the probabilitys of your supposed events. Lets’ reason, as every scientist should do, in terms of cause and effect, if we are talking necessity, and in terms of probabilities, if we are talking randomness. If you invoke natural selection, let’s verify which step of you supposed mechanism is selected, why and in what times. You see, nobody wants that you can explain everything, or have the e4vidence for everything, but just that you give a credible, detailed mechanism which “could” be believed, and for which there is at least some solid evidence.

    When you say that ID focuses on some complex structures, while many others are well understood, you show that you have not understood anything of ID. ID has focused on the bacterial flagellyum just because it is an easy example. But we could discuss practically any complex structure in biology, and show that it could not come into existence by your “mechanisms”.

    You ask:

    “Let me ask you a question. Did the intelligent designer allow naturalistic evolution to do most of the work, saving a few well-chosen examples for special attention? Did he (making an assumption here) let photosynthesis and the citric acid cycle—and dozens of other things that we understand—evolve on their own but step in to design bacterial flagella or whatever other complex you have chosen as the evolution problem of the day? ”

    No. Absolutely not. Again, you have understood nothing of ID. ID maintains that practically all “macroevolution” is the product of design. Only some patterns of “microevolution” (some kinds of bacterial resistance, and so on) can be ascribed to your “mechanisms”. Please, read Behe’s last book for the details, and then answer that. Bu please, stop pretending that ID says things that it has never said.

    You say:

    “Do you see the point? Scientists have plenty of good examples to choose from. From those examples they extrapolate to others where there is less information available.”

    Wrong again. See discussion above. The point is not, and has never been, how much information scientists have about something or something else. The point is how scientists have regularly deformed and forced the interpretation of facts to support an unlikely and unbielievable theory of supposed causal mechanisms.

    You say:

    “ID proponents, on the other hand, do the opposite. They take all of the well-studied examples and throw the in the wast basket because they are an embarrassment to their worldview. Then they taunt scientists with the more difficult cases and conclude that everything must be supernaturally created when scientists can’t give them a detailed answer to their specific example.”

    False. Irrational. You discuss your fantastic view of ID. Id has never said or done what you say. It is really offensive how you superficially and irrespectfully lie about serious scientists and thinkers like Dembski, Behe, and others. I respect you for having come here to say what you say, but not for saying this kind of things.

    You say:

    “The ID proponent perspective it that every case is assumed to be supernatural until scientists prove otherwise. When we do prove one of the examples you just take it off the list and demand that we turn our attention to your other examples.”

    Again: false, offensive, meaningless. What have you read about ID? PZ Myers’ posts in Pharyngula? Good choice, really!

    You say:

    “Why is that so amazing? We have concrete observable scientific evidence that mutation and natural selection can create.”

    No, you have not. That’s the point. You have not.

    “What you meant to say—giving you the benefit of the doubt—is something else entirely.”

    No. Again, you don’t understand. Please, don’t try to interpretate what you don’t understand. He really meant what he meant.

    You say:

    “What you meant to say it that it’s absolutely amazing that we assume evolution occurs in all 300 skazillion cases when we only have solid scientific evidence for several hundred.”

    No. Absolutely not. What we mean is that you have no scientific evidence for anything. Am I clear enough? Please, don’t try to interpretate what I am saying.

    You say:

    “Some of the more intelligent ID proponents realize that what their friends are demanding is extremely hypocritical. They’re asking for a detailed historical account of evolution while, at the same time, being as fuzzy as possible about the intelligent designer. Some ID proponents, for example, still believe that life was created only a few thousand years ago in spite of massive scientific evidence to the contrary.”

    Wrong. First of all, intelligent design proponents are usually “very” intelligent. And they are not hypocritical. And they sre not “asking for a detailed historical account of evolution”. They are only asking for a credible detailed causal “mechanism” of evolution, which is quite another thing. And that’s exactly the meaning of Granville Sewell’s original post. And they are not “being as fuzzy as possible about the intelligent designer”. ID is, explicitly, about design inference. Each ID supporter has his own specific ideas about the designer, and there is no reason that we must agree on that. ID is about the design inference. But that doesn’t mean that we are fuzzy. Each of us hase specific ideas. Dembski believes in the Christian God. Behe is a Catholic. Davescot, if I am correct, is an agnostic and believes in front-loading. I believe in a God as the ultimate designer, and I have no reason to be fuzzy about that. Some of us believe in panspermia. Other have even stranger ideas. You see, we are not “fuzzy” about our beliefs, only we (usually) keep them well separated from our scientific arguments about design inference. The same should be true for darwinists, but is not. The “naturalistic” prejudice is usually an integral part of darwinists’ scientific arguments. And, obvioulsy, of their critics of ID.

    Finally, let’s go to your self-made prerequisites for scientific discussion, and exquise me if up to now I had not counted among the most authoritative philosophers of science. You say:

    “I’d be happy to answer questions from anyone who admits that: (a) the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the fossil record is an accurate historical record of changes that have taken place; (b) the basic mechanisms of evolution are proven facts, they have been observed and documented in living species; ( c) differences in the DNA sequences of genes from different species document changes that have occurred in the past.”

    a) I agree. I am not sure that the age of the earth is necessarily accurate, but I can very well accept it as the best present approximation. By the way, don’t believe that YECs are an integral part of ID people. They are not. Some ID people can well be YECs. I respect their belief, but not necessarily their point of view about science. I sincerely believe that, even if our personal beliefs can certainly inspire our view of the world and our scientific approach (that happens anyway), science starts when we share our points of view in a reasonable way, and in complete independence from our personal, non scientific, beliefs.

    b) It depends on what you mean. You are being vague and “fuzzy”. If your mechanisms are NS and genetic drift, I am sure that they exist. They exist, but they don’t do what you say they do. They can’t.

    c) Here you are really being too fuzzy for me. What do you mean? “differences in the DNA sequences of genes from different species” OK, this I can understand… “document changes” what is the meaning of changes? what do you mean with “document”? “that have occurred in the past” that’s easy. They are probably not occurring in this moment, and they will certainly not occur in the future.
    But again, whta do you mena with “document changes”? Are you simply implying common descent? If so, you are not very fair in asking that common descent be accepted just for faith. I usually accept it, Behe certainly accepts it, and many of us accept it, but some have peplexities about it, especially in universal form. I think common descent is an important issue, and it deserves open discussion, rather than being put among the “inclusion criteria”.
    If, instead, you ae simply stating that changes have happened in the past, well, that’s easy. They have. Take OOL, for example. Earth was devoid of life (likely) for part of its history. And the, life appears. Thats a change. I agree. The problem is, how did that change happen?
    Another example. Bacteria and archea were the only form of life for great part of natural history (likely), and then eukaryotes appear. That’s a change. I agree. The problem is, what caused taht change?

    And so on: the appearance of multicellular organisms, and of each new phylum, or species, is a change. Each new gene is a change. And they all occurred in the past. Nobody is challenging that. The problem, in case you have not noticed up to now, is: what causal mechanism explains these changes? There, I think, we disagree.

    You see, Granville Sewell was perfectly right in his post. He has touched the real problem. And do you know why? Because here, in the ID field, we know very well our adversaries. We know what you think. We know what you believe. We know everything about RM, NS, genetic drift, sexual variation, chromosomal rearrangements, the debate about neutral or non neutral mutations, the debate about classical gradualism and puncuated equilibrium, and so on. We are interested in you, and we read what you write, and try to understand it. And still, we don’t believe (almost) a word of what you believe. And with reason.

    Maybe you do the same. But it doesn’t appear, judging from what you say about us. You dont’read what we say, or if you read, you don’t understand, or if you understand, you lie. Do you want a friendly advice? Try to understand, sometimes, what ID is about. Maybe that, in the end, you will be able to better defend your position. Or, simply, to change it.

  47. Larry Moran,

    I was hoping you would come back and defend your hand waving. In case you read this, I wanted to ask you, What do you think the bacteria were doing for those billions of years before the Cambrian Explosion?

    It wasn’t tiddly winks Larry!

    From 3.8 to .6 billion years ago photosynthetic bacteria, and to a lesser degree sulfate-reducing bacteria, ted the geologic and fossil record (that’s over 80% of the entire time life has existed on earth). The geologic and fossil record also reveals that during this time a large portion of these very first bacterial life-forms lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) colonies called Stromatolites. Stromatolites are rock like structures that the photo-synthetic bacteria built up over many years (much like coral reefs are slowly built up over many years by the tiny creatures called corals). Although Stromatolites are not nearly as widespread as they once were, they are still around today in a few sparse places like Shark’s Bay Australia. Contrary to what naturalistic thought would expect, these very first photosynthetic bacteria scientists find in the geologic and fossil record are shown to have been preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear from the very start of their existence by reducing the greenhouse gases of earth’s early atmosphere and producing the necessary oxygen for higher life-forms to exist. Photosynthetic bacteria slowly built the oxygen up in the earth’s atmosphere by removing the carbon-dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere; separated the carbon from the oxygen; then released the oxygen back into the atmosphere (and into the earth’s ocean & crust) while they retained the carbon. Interestingly, the gradual removal of greenhouse gases corresponds exactly to the gradual 15% increase of light and heat coming from the sun during that time (Ross; PhD. Astrophysics; Creation as Science 2006). This “lucky” correspondence of the slow increase of heat from the sun with the same perfectly timed slow removal of greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere was absolutely necessary for the bacteria to continue to live to do their work of preparing the earth for more advanced life to appear. Bacteria obviously depended on the temperature of the earth to remain relatively stable during the billions of years they prepared the earth for higher life forms to appear. More interesting still, the byproducts of greenhouse gas removal by these early bacteria are limestone, marble, gypsum, phosphates, sand, and to a lesser extent, coal, oil and natural gas (note; though some coal, oil and natural gas are from this early era of bacterial life, most coal, oil and natural gas deposits originated on earth after the Cambrian explosion of higher life forms some 540 million years ago). These natural resources produced by these early photosynthetic bacteria are very useful to modern civilizations. Interestingly, while the photo-synthetic bacteria were reducing greenhouse gases and producing natural resources that would be of benefit to modern man, the sulfate-reducing bacteria were also producing their own natural resources that would be very useful to modern man. Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization. Yet even more evidence has been found tying other early types of bacterial life to the anthropic hypothesis. Many different types of bacteria in earths early history lived in complex symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships in what are called cryptogamic colonies on the earths primeval continents. These colonies “dramatically” transformed the “primeval land” into “nutrient filled soils” that were receptive for future advanced vegetation to appear. Naturalism has no answers for why all these different bacterial types and colonies found in the geologic and fossil record would start working in precise concert with each other preparing the earth for future life to appear. -// Since oxygen readily reacts and bonds with almost all of the solid elements making up the earth itself, it took photosynthetic bacteria over 3 billion years before the earth’s crust and mantle was saturated with enough oxygen to allow an excess of oxygen to be built up in the atmosphere. Once this was accomplished, higher life forms could finally be introduced on earth. Moreover, scientists find the rise in oxygen percentages in the geologic record to correspond exactly to the sudden appearance of large animals in the fossil record that depended on those particular percentages of oxygen. The geologic record shows a 10% oxygen level at the time of the Cambrian explosion of higher life-forms in the fossil record some 540 million years ago. The geologic record also shows a strange and very quick rise from the 17% oxygen level, of 50 million years ago, to a 23% oxygen level 40 million years ago (Falkowski 2005)). This strange rise in oxygen levels corresponds exactly to the appearance of large mammals in the fossil record who depend on high oxygen levels. Interestingly, for the last 10 million years the oxygen percentage has been holding steady around 21%. 21% happens to be the exact percentage that is of maximum biological utility for humans to exist. If the oxygen level were only a few percentage lower, large mammals would become severely hampered in their ability to metabolize energy; if only three to four percentage higher, there would be uncontrollable outbreaks of fire across the land. Because of this basic chemical requirement of photosynthetic bacterial life establishing and helping maintain the proper oxygen levels for higher life forms on any earth-like planet, this gives us further reason to believe the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support intelligent life in this universe. All these preliminary studies of early life on earth fall right in line with the anthropic hypothesis and have no explanation from any naturalistic theory based on blind chance as to why the very first bacterial life found in the fossil record would suddenly, from the very start of their appearance on earth, start working in precise harmony with each other to prepare the earth for future life to appear. Nor can naturalism explain why, once the bacteria had helped prepare the earth for higher life forms, they continue to work in precise harmony with each other to help maintain the proper balanced conditions that are of primary benefit for the complex life that is above them. -// Though it is impossible to reconstruct the DNA of these earliest bacteria fossils, that scientists find in the fossil record, and compare them to their descendants of today, there are many ancient bacterium fossils recovered from salt crystals and amber crystals that have been compared to their living descendents of today. Some bacterium fossils, in salt crystals, dating back as far as 250 million years have had their DNA recovered, sequenced and compared to their offspring of today (Vreeland RH, 2000 Nature). Scientists accomplished this using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). To the disbelieving shock of many scientists, both ancient and modern bacteria were found to have the almost exact DNA sequence.

    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; (The Paradox of the “Ancient” Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes)

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

  48. Gosh, Larry. I’m pretty sure most of the guys here did not know of the words “allele” or “phenotype”. Both words you use to dress a definition that could easily contain the words “gene” and “animal” and be halfway suitable for an elementary book.

    The thing is that genetic drift, appears to be a “science-stopper”. It functions the same way as evolutionary paths. As I have heard absent conclusive proof of no possible evolutionary path, we must imagine that there is one possible because accepting that there might be no evolutionary path is a “science-stopper”. All the same, the only different between a gene present by natural selection and happenstance is whether or not we conceive of the advantage for which it was selected. But were we to accept that there is no possible selective advantage, it sounds like we curtail the question that could be asked if we imagined what selective advantage it might confer, absent conclusive proof that it does in fact confer no selective advantage.

    Thus the two are separated by 1) what we think is the cause of a beneficial feature and 2) what we cannot find to be associated with any known survival advantage.

  49. All those 15% of beneficial mutations, they allude to in their studies, will ALL turn out to be beneficial in only a very narrow sense, and will be found to be detrimental as far as the CSI of the entire organism is concerned.

    Huh? Is having more or less CSI bad? And how does CSI relate to fitness?

    In fact, it is commonly known that ALL “beneficial” mutations to bacteria that confer resistance to antibiotics are ALWAYS found to be detrimental in some way.

    Always? Can you give a reference for that? I know the theoretical arguments, and have never been terribly convinced. But you seem to have some stronger evidence.

    And anyway, it’s irrelevant. (a) the study was on a viros, (b) the study wasn’t on antibiotic resistance (see point (a)), (c) there is more to evolution than antibiotic resistance.

    The point being is that Dr. Behe is well aware of the fact that all these mutational studies, like the one you cite, are fraught with analytical errors that hide the true detrimental nature of the “beneficial” mutations that are only revealed upon rigorous testing of the organism.

    Can you point to his criticism of the analytical errors?

    Bob

  50. Bornagain77 (reply 32) said “From Dr. Behe’s work we now know that 1 in a million rate for beneficial mutations was far to generous to the evolutionists.”

    Yes, BA77, it seems we have several claims to the ratio of beneficial to detrimental mutations. Those claims seem to range from 15% to nearly one in infinite (or at least so low as to be disregarded as reasonable.)

    How do we settle which is the appropriate claim? This is a non-trivial query, because once the probability is great enough, we must expect that some beneficial mutations would occur and be sustained. Additionally, since some ID experts, such as Dr. Behe seem to accept microevolution – if I understand correctly – then it would make sense to accept a probability that can yield some beneficial mutations which would result in the microevolution. The numbers provided earlier by DLH (reply 25) from the literature also suggest that some beneficial mutations would be sustained.

    What evidence can you aim me at that would help to identify the most likely percentage of beneficial mutations to detrimental mutations?

  51. Bob and Q,

    Bob, please tell me you aren’t going to try to claim trivial complexity gained in a virus, that destroys more complexity in its host, is an example of a beneficial mutation. We have been through this and you know very well that Genetic Entropy is and will be strictly obeyed at the level of viruses.

    Here is the reference for the consistent detrimental nature of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, Bob and Q:

    Is Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics an Appropriate Example of Evolutionary Change?

    Kevin Anderson PhD

    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    of special note:

    In the presence of a particular antibiotic (or other antimicrobial), any mutation that protects the bacterium from the lethality of that compound clearly has a “beneficial” phenotype. Natural selection will strongly and somewhat precisely select for those resistant mutants, which fits within the framework of an adaptive response. But, molecular analysis of such mutations reveals a large inconsistency between the true nature of the mutation and the requirements for the theory of evolution (Table I).

    Table I. Mutation Phenotypes Leading to Resistances of Specific Antibiotics.

    Antibiotic -Phenotype Providing Resistance
    Actinonin -Loss of enzyme activity
    Ampicillin -SOS response halting cell division
    Azithromycin -Loss of a regulatory protein
    Chloramphenicol -Reduced formation of a porin or a regulatory protein
    Ciprofloxacin -Loss of a porin or loss of a regulatory protein
    Erythromycin -Reduced affinity to 23S rRNA or loss of a regulatory protein
    Fluoroquinolones -Loss of affinity to gyrase
    Imioenem -Reduced formation of a porin
    Kanamycin -Reduced formation of a transport protein
    Nalidixic Acid -Loss or inactivation of a regulatory protein
    Rifampin -Loss of affinity to RNA polymerase
    Streptomycin -Reduced affinity to 16S rRNA or reduction of transport activity
    Tetracycline -Reduced formation of a porin or a regulatory protein
    Zittermicin A -Loss of proton motive force

    I think His statement is worth repeating,

    any mutation that protects the bacterium from the lethality of that compound clearly has a “beneficial” phenotype. Natural selection will strongly and somewhat precisely select for those resistant mutants, which fits within the framework of an adaptive response. But, molecular analysis of such mutations reveals a large inconsistency between the true nature of the mutation and the requirements for the theory of evolution.

    How about any other mutations? Can we find “ANY MUTATIONS” that would help evolution out?

    This following study points to the fact that “beneficial mutations” are “drowned out” by what they term clonal interference and that the rate is 1 in a million for beneficial mutations(A number I disagree with since they do not (cannot) take in a complete measure of the integrated complexity of the CSI that is lost to the mutations at the microscopic level:

    The fate of competing beneficial mutations in an asexual population (Philip J. Gerrish & Richard E. Lenski)

    “Clonal interference is not the only dynamic that inhibits the progression of beneficial mutations to fixation in an asexual population. A similar inhibition may be caused by Muller’s ratchet (Muller, 1964; Haigh, 1978), in which deleterious mutations will tend to accumulate in small asexual populations. As shown by Manning and Thompson (1984) and by Peck (1994), the fate of a beneficial mutation is determined as much by the selective disadvantage of any deleterious mutations with which it is linked as by its own selective advantage.”

    http://myxo.css.msu.edu/lenski.....Lenski.pdf

    In this following study “truly” beneficial mutations are so rare as to thwart an actual measurement. (Sanford; Genetic Entropy)

    Estimation of spontaneous genome-wide mutation rate parameters:

    Whither beneficial mutations? (Thomas Bataillon)

    Abstract

    ……It is argued that, although most if not all mutations detected in mutation accumulation experiments are deleterious, the question of the rate of favourable mutations (and their effects) is still a matter for debate.

    http://www.nature.com/hdy/jour.....7270a.html

    ” Bergman (2004) has studied the topic of beneficial mutations. Among other things, he did a simple literature search via Biological Abstracts and Medline. He found 453,732 “mutation” hits, but among these only 186 mentioned the word “beneficial” (about 4 in 10,000). When those 186 references were reviewed, almost all the presumed “beneficial mutations” were only beneficial in a very narrow sense- but each mutation consistently involved loss of function changes-hence loss of information.”

    Zero beneficial mutations out of 1/2 a million searched?

    As well, Ancient Bacteria studies do not support the neo-Darwinist belief in(faith in) beneficial mutations.

    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; (The Paradox of the “Ancient” Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes)

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

    As well it is commonly known that scientists have never mutated a bacteria into anything “better” than the original bacteria.

    As esteemed French scientist Pierre P. Grasse has stated “What is the use of their unceasing mutations, if they do not change? In sum, the mutations of bacteria are merely hereditary fluctuations around a median position; a swing to the right, a swing to the left, but no final evolutionary effect.” Needless to say, this limit to the variability of bacteria is extremely bad news for the naturalists.

    Spetner and Gitt concur:

    “But in all the reading I’ve done in the life-sciences literature, I’ve never found a mutation that added information… All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not increase it.” Lee Spetner (Ph.D. Physics – MIT)

    “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” Werner Gitt, “In the Beginning was Information”, 1997, p. 106. (Dr. Gitt was the Director at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology) His challenge to scientifically falsify this statement has remained unanswered since first published.

    By the way, there is a one million dollar, origin of life, prize being offered to effectly falsify Gitts claim.

    “The Origin-of-Life Prize” ®
    will be awarded for proposing a highly plausible mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life.

    http://www.us.net/life/index.htm

    In fact, from consistent findings such as these, it is increasingly apparent that Genetic Entropy is the overriding foundational rule for all of biology, with no exceptions at all, and that the belief in “truly” beneficial mutations is nothing more than wishful speculation on the naturalists part that has no foundation in empirical science whatsoever:

    How about you Bob can you produce a “truly” beneficial mutation that can withstand honest and intense scrutiny?
    There is money for you if you can!

    As for myself, I believe it is pointless and is the same as a dog chasing its tail. Since no “beneficial” mutation can rise to the challenge to satisfy scientific integrity, That is Why I like Dr. Behe’s search for what would clearly be a beneficial mutation of unquestionable proof for evolution.

    Trying to find an actual “hard” number for the “truly” beneficial mutation rate is, in fact, what Dr. Behe tried to do in his book “The Edge of Evolution”.

    Dr. Behe states in Edge of Evolution on page 135.

    Generating a single new cellular protein-protein binding site (in other words, generating a truly beneficial mutational event that would explain the generation of the complexity we see in life) is of the same order of difficulty or worse than the development of chloroquine resistance in the malarial parasite.

    That order of difficulty is put at 10^20 replications (births) of the malarial parasite, by Dr. Behe.

    And please note the “or worse” part of his statement.

  52. 52

    Just wanted to mention that Jean Rostand was “one of the leading European biologists”, at least according to the cover of his book, and studied mutations for many years at the Laboratoire d’Evolution in Paris–and by the way, an atheist. So when Rostand says he knows nothing of the mechanism of evolution, I don’t think it was because he just needed Larry Moran’s help to understand Darwinist theory better.

  53. Hi VJT:

    Re 38:

    I have to respectfully disagree with your probabilistic calculations, where you cite a figure of “4^318,000 ~ 1.195 *10^191,455 cells in the configuration space, or an information carrying capacity of some 636 kbits, far beyond the 500 – 1,000 bits that mark the edge of chance on the gamut of our observed universe.” The figure of 4^318,000 merely represents the number of possible DNA sequences with 318,000 base pairs. Nobody is suggesting that nature tried each and every one of these out before hitting on the right one. What evolutionists are suggesting (as I understand them) is that there is some (as-yet-unknown) biological pathway from a short nucleotide to a cell whose genetic information can be specified in 318,000 base pairs, such that each step along the way is significantly probable, as well as being stable enough for nature to improve on it in an incremental fashion. Of course, the great majority of the possible DNA sequences with 318,000 base pairs would be non-viable, so they are irrelevant to our calculations . . .

    Of course, that is precisely my point: unless there is an “unknown mechanism,” all we have is random search without a predefined target, to get to the first level of functionality. Such a search will have to search the full config space, and will obviously be maximally likely to be fruitless. Re3call, 300+kbits is the estimated minimum for a functional life form — which is where, properly speaking, differential reproductive success [i.e natural selection] can take over. Just 500 – 1,000 bits puts us beyond the credible probabilistic resources of our observed cosmos.

    Beyond that, the alternatives are (a) law-like mechanical necessity written into the OS of the cosmos, or (b) agency.

    Such a law-like necessity would immediately raise the question that if there is a law of nature that forces the emergence of life from pre-biotic chemistry, then its most likely source is of course agency — the long since well-known source of CSI.

    So, on your onward point:

    We cannot mathematically demonstrate that the origin of life is either probable or improbable, at the present time; thus we cannot say whether NDE is likely or not.

    I would say that we have excellent reason to hold on a provisional, empirically anchored basis — all that science can give us on any subject of consequence — that the spontaneous emergence of life on the gamut of our observed cosmos is utterly maximally improbable to the point of being in effect impossible.

    Similarly, the information generation hurdles to surmount to get to novel body plans are such that the same holds, save that the scope of time and space and matter to carry out he experiments are far compressed. Thus, we come to Behe’s empirically observed edge of evolution.

    And to issue all sorts of promissory notes other wise, or to pretend that there is not a real, long-standing, unanswered issue there — as Dr Moran evidently wishes to, is to therefore be utterly intellectually irresponsible [at best].

    GEM of TKI

  54. Q, (wasn’t that the name of a Bond character?)

    you asked:

    What evidence can you aim me at that would help to identify the most likely percentage of beneficial mutations to detrimental mutations?

    This is a very controversial area.

    In fact, it is the standing challenge to Darwinists, who debate on this site, to produce evidence for truly beneficial mutations. Namely, show concrete evidence for a beneficial mutation that actually increases the CSI of a organism over what is present in the parent species. (note; all increases in fitness for a sub-species, that I am aware of, actually decrease the CSI of the parent species)

    Behe addresses the topic of beneficial mutations (or the erroneous classifying of them) in his blog here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....SMREEPM7P2

    of special note:

    A few months ago an interesting paper in Science, “Adaptive mutations in bacteria: high rate and small effects”, by the group of Isabel Gordo demonstrated that beneficial mutations in E. coli were more frequent than had been thought. In fact, the authors remark that “We found a rate on the order of 10(-5) per genome per generation, which is 1000 times as high as previous estimates, and a mean selective advantage of 1%.” They show that the previous underestimates of the beneficial mutation rates were likely due to clonal interference — accumulation of beneficial mutations in large bacterial populations which then interfere with each other to te the population, making beneficial mutations seem less frequent. Does this new result mean that Darwinian evolution can construct molecular machinery much easier than thought?

    No. While the result is interesting, readers of The Edge of Evolution will not be very surprised by it. As I showed for mutations that help in the human fight against malaria, many beneficial mutations actually are the result of breaking or degrading a gene. Since there are so many ways to break or degrade a gene, those sorts of beneficial mutations can happen relatively quickly. For example, there are hundreds of different mutations that degrade an enzyme abbreviated G6PD, which actually confers some resistance to malaria. Those certainly are beneficial in the circumstances. The big problem for evolution, however, is not to degrade genes (Darwinian random mutations can do that very well!) but to make the coherent, constructive changes needed to build new systems. The bottom line is that the beneficial mutations reported in the new Science paper most likely are degradatory mutations, and so don’t address the challenges outlined in The Edge of Evolution.

    Thus, Dr. Behe realizes the pitfalls and the fallacy of these types of mutational studies.

    If you noticed, the Isabel Gordo group completely ignored the Integrated complexity which deterred the beneficial mutations from being truly beneficial in an evolutionary sense. Yet to truly do a beneficial mutational study that is true to its purpose of finding “truly” beneficial mutations, it is clear one must take into account the whole organism, in all of its multi-layered complexity, and find how the hypothetical beneficial mutations will help that multi-layered complexity of the entire organism, one can not just pick and choose what mutations he may consider beneficial or not, Clearly that is job of the organism itself to pick and choose which mutations are “truly” beneficial.

    On Page 39, of EOE, Dr. Behe list all the “beneficial” mutations in the malaria “trench warfare”. They all break something; “degrade something from its pristine state.

    I listed a study on antibiotic resistance in a previous post but it did not appear, maybe it is caught in moderation. I will wait for it to appear before I continue in this vein. Like you said it is indeed an important subject that is well worth investigating to its limit.

  55. Kairosfocus:

    Thanks for your post. I think I have a better grasp of your argument now. What you are saying is that “blind” processes (that is, processes which are the outcome of either chance or necessity, or some combination of the two), while not utterly incapable of generating new information, are inherently unlikely to do so, and that once we go below a certain threshold of likelihood, we can say that the more information a complex structure contains, the less likely it is that it was generated by blind processes.

    Until recently, my problem has always been that I couldn’t quite get a handle on the meaning of “information,” but the notion of a minimal life-form which you invoked in your post has helped clarify the concept of “information” for me. In a minimal life-form, every bit of DNA does some “work,” – i.e. codes for something. There’s no redundancy. You are saying that the simplest cell requires 300,000 bits of information to function properly as a viable entity, and that the pre-biotic accumulation of this amount of information is vanishingly improbable, as it would confer no selective advantage on its possessor until said possessor came to life. (“Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction in terms.” – Theodor Dobzhansky. 1965. Discussion of G. Schramm’s Paper. In: S.W. Fox (ed.) “The origins of prebiological systems and of their molecular matrices,” p. 310. New York: Academic Press.)

    Just a quick question. I’m not a biologist, but there’s an article in Wikipedia on peptide nucleic acids or PNAs, which are chemically similar to DNA and RNA. Some scientists hypothesize that life on Earth may have used PNA as an early genetic material, as it seems to polymerize readily, binds strongly and is chemically stable. My question: do you consider a long-chain PNA molecule to contain more information than a short one? If not, why not? (Is it just a polymer, or can the glycine units vary? The Wikipedia article describes PNA’s backbone as being “composed of repeating N-(2-aminoethyl)-glycine units,” which sounds like NO new information; however, later on, the article states that “PNA oligomers also show greater SPECIFICITY in binding to complementary DNAs”, so I’m a litle confused. If the glycine units in PNAs can vary, I guess you could call that variation new information.)

    If you are prepared to allow that a long-chain PNA molecule can contain more information than a short one, then would you predict that there should be a limit to how big PNA molecules can grow? (As I understand it, you claim that 500 to 1,000 bits is the upper limit to what blind processes can generate. Incidentally, that’s a good, falsifiable scientific prediction, if that is what you claim.)

    Please pardon my ignorance of elementary biochemistry. I’m curious to hear your response.

  56. Bob, please tell me you aren’t going to try to claim trivial complexity gained in a virus, that destroys more complexity in its host, is an example of a beneficial mutation.

    If the mutation increases fitness, then yep, it’s beneficial. That’s what a beneficial mutation is. CSI is neither here nor there.

    As for fitness costs of anti-biotics, I guess you meant this passage:

    While mutations that provide resistance to an antibiotic can be considered “beneficial,” they often come with a physiological cost (Andersson and Levin, 1999; Maisnier-Patin et al., 2002). In fact, Björkman [sic] et al. (2000) conclude that most types of antibiotic resistance will impart some biological cost to the organism. (emphases added)

    Note that even Anderson doesn’t say that all resiatance alleles have a cost.

    In this following study “truly” beneficial mutations are so rare as to thwart an actual measurement. (Sanford; Genetic Entropy)

    That’s a review. It also pre-dates the paper I cited, so isn’t as up to date. It couldn’t cite the 15% figure I gave, because that was only published this year. It also cites a study where they estimated 10% of mutations were beneficial.

    Zero beneficial mutations out of 1/2 a million searched?

    Well, only if you re-define “beneficial”.

  57. (aagh, hit submit too soon…)

    How about you Bob can you produce a “truly” beneficial mutation that can withstand honest and intense scrutiny?
    There is money for you if you can!

    Possibly, depending on your definition of “truly beneficial”. It’s clearly different to mine.

    Bob

  58. Bornagain77 (reply 51) said “How about you Bob can you produce a “truly” beneficial mutation that can withstand honest and intense scrutiny?”

    This isn’t meant to be a “No True Scotsman” argument is it? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman“. I’m assuming that “benefical” really means something, so that arguments, such as BA77′s claims about beneficial mutations can actually be quantified and supported.

  59. Q,

    I think BA77 means a mutation that doesn’t simultaneously damage other pre-existing function.

    The analogy from Behe’s book is blowing up a bridge to stop an invading army. Sure, you saved the city, but you only did so by damaging part of it. That is trench warfare, not an arms race, and is no model for creative evolution.

  60. Atom (reply 59), but BA77 is stating that the pre-existing function that gets damaged is a functionality of the host, and not of the organism itsself. He says (to Bob) “please tell me you aren’t going to try to claim trivial complexity gained in a virus, that destroys more complexity in its host, is an example of a beneficial mutation. ”

    I’m seeing his argument as suggesting that a mutation that could cause pointier teeth in a predator (even a microsocopic predator) isn’t beneficial, since it is detrimental to the prey.

    Since microevolution is accepted within the scope of ID, isn’t it necessary to also accept within ID that beneficial mutations must occur with some realistic frequency?

  61. Hmmm…do you think he means host as in the virus itself? (Host of the DNA?)

    I don’t know, if he means what you think he means, then I’ll let him defend his logic, since I don’t agree.

    Microevolution is accepted and beneficial mutations can exist; the questions are: how frequent, what type, and how complex? The examples drawn from anti-biotic resistance are not the right type, since they destroy (in the cases looked at) pre-existing function in the organism. This can be seen in the fact that when the anti-biotic is removed, the unmutated strain will again take over the population. They are also usually very simple. (See Behe’s EOE, and how only a few steps are too much of a hurdle for bacteria to bypass…)

    I’ll let BA77 finish the discussion. I was just trying to maybe help you guys understand his points, but I’m sure he can speak for himself.

  62. Larry Moran said:
    I lecture in biochemistry. I give plenty of examples of probable evolutionary pathways to complex structures. For example, I explain how the photosynthesis complexes in chloroplasts arose from much simpler bacterial versions and I describe how the irreducibly complex citric acid cycle arose.

    Good for you Larry. Now why not take on something more substantial. The changes you reference all presuppose the existence DNA. How about an explanation for the source of genetic material and the information stored in them. And remember- this is not about gaps. It’s about no intelligence allowed.

  63. Hi VJT:

    Re PNAs. Here is Wiki’s opening:

    . . . PNA is not known to occur naturally in existing life on Earth but is artificially synthesized and used in some biological research and medical treatments . . .

    In short, all known occurrences of PNA are the products of highly intelligent agents, and are shaped and constrained by highly informational requirements. (Similarly, you may wish to see Shapiro’s recent Sci Am article on RNA world. I discuss this in my always linked.)

    Next, the issue on effective information content is of course coding and functionality. PNAs function in that context and so if we are seeing yet another proposed OOL scenario, we need to ask where the underlying code and algorithms came from. That takes us rapidly beyond the 500 – 1,000 bit threshold at which chance + necessity lose power to credibly account for the origin of the observed phenomenon.

    Now, you go on to inquire as to the concept information.

    Two senses are here: information- carrying capacity which can easily enough be measured in bits [so-called Shannon information], and what we may describe as functionally specific information, i.e what fits in with codes, algorithms and makes a difference to the outcomes for a system in an environment. This, I discuss in Section A my always linked.

    BTW, itr woulde be highly unliukely that there is little or no redundancy even in a 300 k minimal organism, as redundancy is the key defence against the inevitable noise. The very genetic code itself has in it significant redundancy, e.g. for certain codes, a change of one character in the codon will shift to a very similar amino acid; of course, this soon runs into limits, such that we see the fear of inducing mutations that is a haunting issue in a world of exposure to radioactivity.

    On the PNA information issue, I make no claims to be a biochemist. But, if there is a definable code using PNA’s as characters [that can vary within the place freely across an alphabet] then the lengthening of a chain would allow for greater information-carrying capacity.

    I observe again that we have a situation that if PNA was the first code-bearing system of life, why is it that there was a changeover inthe chemistry? Where is the empirical observation in the natural world to back up the proposed narrative on OOL?

    And so on.

    In short, is this the latest version of the Miller-Urey Expt style hyping of limited and ultimately irrelevant results again, through highly speculative just-so stories?

    The hints and clues in even the Wiki article point that way . . .

    GEM of TKI

  64. WOW

    A blog thread evolves quickly. There must be some intelligence in the system!

    Very many thanks for the helpful advice from:

    bornagain77
    and
    gpuccio
    and
    vjtorley

    Cheers

    Gavin

  65. I’ve been busy this past week so if Moran had tried to comment again I was not around to let it through moderation. So he might have responded but they got zapped in the spam filter.

    Anyway, BA77:

    Those certainly are beneficial in the circumstances. The big problem for evolution, however, is not to degrade genes (Darwinian random mutations can do that very well!) but to make the coherent, constructive changes needed to build new systems. The bottom line is that the beneficial mutations reported in the new Science paper most likely are degradatory mutations, and so don’t address the challenges outlined in The Edge of Evolution.

    In general, there are definitely examples of “beneficial mutations in relation to fitness”, which is exactly Bob’s point. I see the precise distinction you are trying to make, but I think you are parsing things too far and making this conversation confusing. You are looking for examples of mutations that are not only beneficial in relation to fitness but also in relation to the progressive/positive creation/heavy modification of existing CSI. But that’s a different thing than the generally used “beneficial mutations”. If there is a generally-accepted term that encapsulates what you are looking for I’m not aware of it. It’s not CSI in general since that could be negative in relation to fitness. For example, if I were to tack a spoiler (like on a vehicle) and a retractable anchor onto a bird I think that would not be too beneficial…

  66. right as I say “a rusted doorlock may make it resistant to a burglar with a skeleton key but it aint evolution”

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