Home » Intelligent Design » Loennig and Becker on the origin of carnivorous plants

Loennig and Becker on the origin of carnivorous plants

Although I have posted on this article before, I don’t think Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig and Heinz-Albert Becker’s Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences article on carnivorous plants has received the attention it merits. The section on the origin of carnivorous plants (pp 5-6) discusses not only the spectacular examples of irreducible complexity that can be seen in these plants, but also the issue of “evolutionary convergence”. While the similarities between species in the same branch of the evolutionary “tree” may suggest common descent, similarities also frequently arise independently in separate branches, where they are better explained by common design than common descent. Loennig and Becker note that “carnivory in plants must have arisen several times independently of each other…the pitchers might have arisen seven times separately, adhesive traps at least four time, snap traps two times and suction traps possibly also two times.”

I used one of these carnivorous plants as an example of irreducible complexity back in 1985 in an appendix of my first book here. These elaborate traps have no conceivable function until almost perfect, until they are able to catch and digest insects, and the authors point out that even the functioning traps are of dubious survival advantage to the plants–they seem to thrive just fine without catching anything. The idea that the struggle for survival could have driven the construction of these traps is, to put it mildly, ludicrous.

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29 Responses to Loennig and Becker on the origin of carnivorous plants

  1. 1

    Sorry this is not related, but interesting design related article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/livesc.....itsoldiers

  2. 2
    Granville Sewell

    When you think about it, evolutionary convergence is really a powerful argument for design. The idea that a pitcher-type trap would develop once in the history of life is absurdly improbable–but seven separate times! Good grief, the things you have to believe to be a good Darwinist.

  3. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Ken Miller himself argue ‘convergence as design’?

  4. Fuz Rana certainly makes such an argument.
    http://www.reasons.org/tnrtb/2.....rt-1-of-2/

  5. 5

    Granville, you just need to exercise more imagination to come up with an evolutionary pathway. Start with “Imagine a plant with a fly-sensitive spot…” and take it from there.

  6. StuartHarris,

    I chuckled when I read your post. The amount of belief that must be garnered to accept evolutionary theory is amazing.

    I’m sure many of the wits out there in UD land could work on other ‘sensitive spots’ to argue for the development of many differing biological characteristics!

  7. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-293161

    Awesome article. I’ve recently tried the best I can to take the new mentality ID has given me and apply it to some side-projects that would benefit from findings like this.

    Wonder if improved photocells could be made based off of leaves. Sounds crazy, but who knows.

  8. StuartHarris, “Imagine a plant with a fly-sensitive spot…” and take it from there. – Hilarious!

  9. Stuart:
    “Imagine a plant with a fly-sensitive spot…” and take it from there.

    I’m still laughing about this 20 minutes later. Perhaps UD could sponsor a “[fill in the blank] sensitive spot” Darwinian storytelling contest.

    Granville:
    Good grief, the things you have to believe to be a good Darwinist.

    It really is a perplexing phenomenon, that so many intelligent people hang on to chance-driven evolution without suffering some kind of cerebral short-circuit. Chance-driven evolution is dead, and has been for a long time. Darwinists are just trying to keep the corpse warm.

  10. Even if it did start with fly-sensitive spots, as I see it, the DNA had to come from somewhere, making proteins that made the convergent structures. If the DNA for the structures is the same in different species, it has to come from the same source, either a common ancestor or The Designer.

    Convergent structures are just barely conceivable, but DNA or proteins converging? I suspect the probability for that is well beyond the UPB.

    Has this already been discussed somewhere?

  11. merlin, for the best single source of discussion of convergent evolution see Simon Conway Morris’s “Life’s Solution”. He particluarly discusses molecular convergence.

  12. 12

    I’m still laughing about this 20 minutes later. Perhaps UD could sponsor a “[fill in the blank] sensitive spot” Darwinian storytelling contest.

    You can save yourself the effort. There are probably dozens of organizations sponsoring just such storytelling efforts. They style themselves as “peer reviewed science journals.” As if.

  13. This just in — more origin of life nonsense:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,391682,00.html

  14. Gil :

    “It really is a perplexing phenomenon, that so many intelligent people hang on to chance-driven evolution without suffering some kind of cerebral short-circuit.”

    compare with –

    Although the new believers had not a particle of evidence to support their statements on the matter, they asserted that the rabbit producing sludge (called soup to make it sound more palatable) was terrestrially located and that all chemical and biochemical transmogrifications of the sludge were terrestrially inspired. Because there was not a particle of evidence to support this view, new believers had to swallow it as an article of faith, otherwise they could not pass their examinations or secure a job or avoid the ridicule of their colleagues. So it came about from 1860 onward that new believers became in a sense mentally ill, or, more precisely, either you became mentally ill or you quitted the subject of biology, as I had done in my early teens. The trouble for young biologists was that, with everyone around them ill, it became impossible for them to think they were well unless they were ill, which again is a situation you can read all about in the columns of Nature [magazine].”

    (Hoyle, F., “Mathematics of Evolution,” [1987], Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, pp.3-4) my bold

  15. You can learn from Lönnig how to make ID popular:

    1. Create (sic!) your own publishing house (Naturwissenschaftlicher Verlag Köln) but don’t mention it’s your creature.

    2. Publish your ID work there (you are author, reviewer and editor)

    3. Cite your own books massively.

    However, unlike Lönnig you should make sure that the address of your publishing house is different from your private address.

  16. Gil: After reading the story you linked there is only one conclusion possible :
    These guys will believe ANYTHING as long as it remains in the realm of absolute materialism. Anything at all, no matter how ‘patently absurd’.

  17. I was disapointed we did not see the Loennig interview in Expelled.

  18. I blogged on the story here: “The plant ate it? Not as unlikely as some might think … (And what does that mean for Darwinian evolution?)” I provided many interestng links.

    One of our Canadian provinces has a carnivorous plant as its emblem: lily con carne – find out more at the link above.

  19. 19
    Granville Sewell

    Sparc,

    This article was published in John Wiley Interscience’s “Encyclopedia of Life Sciences”, as you can see by going to http://www.els.net.
    So why are you trying to imply this is self-published by Loennig?

  20. 20

    After my explanation that carnivorous plant organs can be explained by Darwinian evolution from a fly-sensitive spot, I bet some of you smarty-pants ID types are saying, “Yea Stuart, but where did that fly-sensitive spot come from in the first place, huh?”

    Well, it’s quite simple. Horizontal gene transfer or lateral gene transfer of genotypes between species must have occurred. Such a gene transfer of the light sensitive retinal-rhodopsin cycle could have happened from animal to plant. Once the light sensitive spot was established in a plant, co-optation occurred to change it into a fly-sensitive spot by the same process we all know took place to create the bacterial flagellum.

    This is how animals and plants got their spots. “Just so”, as Kipling would have said. It’s just soooo obvious! You IDists really must start using your brains.

  21. Sparc,

    This article was published in John Wiley Interscience’s “Encyclopedia of Life Sciences”, as you can see by going to http://www.els.net.
    So why are you trying to imply this is self-published by Loennig?

    I know, but check the further reading list and the references in Lönnigs Dolo paper.
    Actually, I am looking forward to your discussion of Lönnigs Dolo paper in which he even cites three self-published books.

    BTW, in the Dolo paper Lönnig manages to use each of the phrases “intelligent design” and “ID” only once. Not too often for an ID paper indeed. In all other places he actually uses the identifier C2 for ID. The identifier A stands for evolution theory and B for the “Genomic Potential Hypothesis” (see below) and C for

    tendency to postulate a discontinuous origin of higher taxa

    Under the later category he summarizes

    purely naturalistic interpretations (C1: Margulis and Sagan 1997; Schwartz 1999; Erwin 2000, 2004; Jablonski et al. 2000; Gould 2002; Müller and Newman 2003; Valentine and Jablonski 2003; Valentine 2004; Theißen 2005; and last but not least, Dollo himself)

    and

    a more or less typological vantage point, often including ID (C2), the hypothesis that, for example, irreducible complexity in certain organs and physiological processes (not to be discussed here) is real and not only apparent and is best explained by intelligent design.

    Lönnig even distinguishes different forms of ID-creationism:

    The latter, in turn, can be grouped into researchers postulating phylogenetic connections to putatively preceeding taxa (C2a) (Behe 1996; Denton 1998; Berlinski 2003a, 2003b; Conway-Morris 2003a, 2003b), and those doubting additional evolutionary links on a macro-evolutionary scale (C2b) (Dembski 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004; Junker and Scherer 2001; Junker 2002; Swift 2002; and many further authors, in part already quoted above – see Campbell and Meyer 2003; Meyer 2004).

    Of course it is legitimate to introduce identifiers if you have to keep your text short. Even in a 30 pages paper this may be OK. But using these identifiers throughout the text and only defining them on page 19 which is the fifth page of the discussion is absolutely rediculous.
    As rediculous as his reference to Christian Schwabe’s Genomic Potential Hypothesis in a 2007 paper.

  22. Sadly, Stuart Harris you are probably right. As much as I would like ID to be true, I am begening to doubt that there is anything intelligent behind the design we see in the universe.

  23. Thanks, Gil. That’s a hoot!

  24. 24
    Granville Sewell

    Sparc,

    I’m really tired of people like you who, rather than respond to arguments with arguments, resort to attempts to discredit the writer you disagree with. None of your remarks even relate to the paper in question, and if the worst dirt you can dig up on Dr. Loennig is that he cites his own self-published books, you better keep digging. Do you have any dirt on the other author? How about addressing the content of the article itself?

    As for the Dollo paper (though I don’t see how that’s relevant to this post), Loennig is the only one of the four authors who is openly ID, one is a Darwinist, the other two are somewhere in between, according to Loennig. So that might explain why the paper doesn’t discuss ID more explicitly…so what’s your point?

  25. 25
    Granville Sewell

    I may have overreacted a bit to “Sparc’s” comments, they probably did not rise to the level of “digging up dirt” on W.E.Loennig. But many of us are super-sensitive to ad-hominem attacks for good reason. For so many years, Darwinists have responded to their critics by completely ignoring the scientific criticism and instead questioning the credentials, motives or sanity of the critics. And we are frustrated that ridicule and intimidation have proven to be so much more effective than reason, for so long.

  26. Sparc, I would be intrigued if you could present published work suggesting a Darwinan pathway for carnivorous plant development. If such is in the literature, then Loennig’s statements are seriously challenged. If such are not in the literature, then his point is made.

  27. Sparc, I would be intrigued if you could present published work suggesting a Darwinan pathway for carnivorous plant development. If such is in the literature, then Loennig’s statements are seriously challenged.

    I don’t know if the link will make it through your filters and I hope you are not offended by the other content specified in that post (I am not deadman_932 and I hope not to be a deadman here soon).

  28. BTW, I wonder why since two days all my comments pass through without moderation. Holidays? If so enjoy it.

  29. sparc, Your link didn’t work. it seemed awfully funny — pointing to this article and my statement “spark, %20I%20b”

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