Home » Intelligent Design » Schlemiel Zuckerkandl in his dotage

Schlemiel Zuckerkandl in his dotage

Emile Zuckerkandl, an erstwhile co-author with Linus Pauling, just got accepted a very long piece attacking ID in GENE (go here):

Gene
Article in Press, Accepted Manuscript
doi:10.1016/j.gene.2006.03.025
Copyright  © 2006 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Intelligent design and biological complexity

Emile Zuckerkandl

Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University and Institute of Molecular Medical Sciences, P.O.Box 20452, Stanford, California 94309

Received 16 October 2005; accepted 15 March 2006. Available online 5 August 2006.

ABSTRACT. Before any intelligence can appear, a world endowed with the potential for being experienced as a body of phenomena has to be existent. Indeed, if there is to be an intelligence, there first has to be something intelligible. Hence, when an intelligence is present, “creation” must already have taken place. Nevertheless, biological complexity has been deemed by some to be one of the privileged points of insertion of a supernatural intelligence endowed with temporal and causal primacy. In the course of a critical review, it is pointed out here that the general and permanent spectacle of nature’s spontaneous tinkering with the structures and performances of informational macromolecules and with interactive connections among these molecules suggests an absence from evolution of design and intelligence. As a byproduct of combinatorial gambles and of the repair of molecular damage inflicted by mutations, the complexity of biological systems can increase spontaneously. One of the possible molecular pathways to such evolutionary increases in complexity is described.

If you have access to the articles at ScienceDirect, read this one. Zuckerkandl offers no actual arguments — he merely sneers. He declares that Dawkins and Miller have answered Behe’s argument on the flagellum. But Dawkins in his book The Ancestor’s Tale simply recounted what Miller said, and Miller has been blowing smoke now for years, always sidestepping the precise evolutionary paths for the systems that Behe has put forward as posing an obstacle to Darwinism. Even better, Zuckerkandl confuses the eukaryotic and prokaryotic flagella. It is the eukaryotic flagellum — also called the cilium — that has hundreds of proteins. The prokaryotic flagellum is a completely different structure, which has a few dozen proteins.

Bottom line: According to Zuckerkandl some argument decisively refutes Behe, and yet he doesn’t even know which biological structures are under discussion in the actual argument. If this is representative of Stanford’s biology department, you’re better off sending your kids to the local community college.

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30 Responses to Schlemiel Zuckerkandl in his dotage

  1. 1

    There never were any “pathways.” How many times do I have to repeat myself? How many times must I repeat Berg?

    “Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existing rudiments.”
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 406

    If only Berg had used the past tense.

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  2. I have said that philosophers make lousy biologists. I will add that biologists make lousy philosophers.

  3. 3

    All scientists make lousy philosophers. That is the way it is supposed to be. I know that and Einstein knew that too.

    “Upon reading books on philosophy, I learned that I stood there like a blind man before a painting. I can grasp only the inductive method… the works of speculative philosophy are beyond my reach.”
    Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein, page 193

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  4. Which reminds me: I once had some college biology major strenuously insist to me that science is not dependent on any sort of philosophy at all. I had much fun with that fellow. :)

  5. Zuck writes:

    Europe so far blissfully seems to have remained relatively immune to the intellectual virus named “intelligent design”

    Clearly, in the US it is not sufficient to laugh off this disguise [of creationism]. Creationists have proven to exert a sometimes decisive influence on the American political process and thereby on world history. Their educational and political militancy, linked to erroneous beliefs, are weighty reasons to keep them in check…we resume in a deeper sense
    a life of intellectual cave-men
    …..
    Kronos is a God who cannot be denied by any other God. Nor was he by the God of the Jews, since however speedy the Jewish God acted when he got busy, his work did take time

    One of the available foundations of ethics is science itself.
    ….
    humans, this higher Intelligence’s alleged pet creatures, in regard
    to their participation in the critical mind, appear in general to be a basket
    case.

    Was this a 64-page opinion piece in the National Enquirer or Panda’s Thumb or Pharyngula? Oh, wait, it’s a peer-reviewed science article!

  6. When they hide access to their profound thoughts behind membership subscriptions, you know they are simply preaching to the frightenned converted. From behind the closed doors of copyright they are safe from popular scrutiny.

    Contrast this with WmD’s generous sharing of his thoughts on http://www.designinference.com

  7. I must admit, Zuckerkandl is a bigger name than Richard Dawkins, imho. Seems like their varsity is coming out to meet us versus the minor league guys we’re usually used to seeing. A 64 page article. Whoa. Someone’s taking us seriously…..

  8. Tom English writes:

    I have said that philosophers make lousy biologists. I will add that biologists make lousy philosophers.

    So, where does that leave Philosopher’s of Biology?

  9. “So, where does that leave Philosopher’s of Biology?”

    Jacks of all trades, masters of none. ;)

  10. 10

    The term “Philosphers of Biology” is meaningless. Biology is the science of life and derives from the Greek Bios, life and Logos, study. The word philosopher means truth lover. That is rarely true. Most philosophers are lovers of the truth as they see it. The scientist, if he is lucky, discovers absolute truth which was always there just waiting to be revealed. That is all that science has ever been or ever will be.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  11. 11

    Zuckerkandl seems also to be operating under the assumption that evolution is still in progress, an assumption without a shred of evidence.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  12. “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    JAD,

    This seems to have become your signature. Would be so kind as to briefly give us your reasoning as to why you believe this to be true.

    Perhaps a few data points each to support your views of past / present evolution.

    I have read (and enjoyed) your papers linked to on this site but a quick summary of your views would be good.

    Thanks,
    antg

  13. The piece by Emile Zuckerkandl is sooo boring, there is little danger of anyone reading it through.

    He makes repeated obvious logical contradictions. Take the following.

    “Consider something designed by an intelligence: what would its general distinctive character be, as contrasted with products of nature? Would it be increased complexity? No, it would on the contrary be increased simplicity!

    If we consider the hierarchical plane of phenomena encountered in every day life it is simplicity that is much of the time a hallmark of actual intelligent design.

    As Glenn Ross says to intelligent designers: Yes, nature is extremely complex, and that’s the very reason we can guess it was not deliberately made.”

    Then he states

    “We have, in fact, progressed along the path of understanding nature exclusively thanks to the relative simplicities in relationships that science uncovers.”

    By the logic of his own argument, this simplicity found in Nature implies Intelligent Design!

  14. 14

    antg

    My papers speak for themselves as to answering your question, especially the one titled “Is Evolution Finished?” I also briefly suggest the same in “A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.”

    I also have repeatedly offered the following challenges to anyone willing to respond although I have done it only on forums and not yet in hard copy. So far they have been ignored much to my delight.

    1. Name any two species, living or extinct and provide the proof that one is ancestral to the other.

    2. Name a mammalian species younger than Homo sapiens.

    3. Present evidence that the most intensive of selection is capable of exceeding the species barrier.

    I have used as the criterion of speciation, the one proposed by Dobzhansky. Two forms will be considered to be separate species if their hybrid proves to be sterile. Rarely have the Darwinians even tested this most critical of all considerations. In retrospect I probably should have added the following and will if and when I publish. I always like to try my ideas out on the internet first.

    The new species, once formed, must be capable of faithfully reproducing itself. This immediately disposes of partial sterility.

    I honestly believe that these criteria have never been met either in contemporary nature or in the experimental laboratory. What we observe around us is not “evolution in action” as the Darwinians continue to insist. What we observe today are the terminal irreversible products of a long past process which is no longer in operation. Just as ontogeny terminates with the attainment of the adult definitive state, so evolution has terminated with the final products of what has been a completely orthogenetic and planned sequence. The death of the individual is to ontogeny what the extinction of the species is to phylogeny. Only ontogeny persists and, in my considered opinion, not for much longer.

    While no one in his right mind denies rampant extinction, I know of not a single demonstration of a replacement being produced.

    It is very interesting that the title of Pierre Grasse’s great book -
    “Evolution of Living Organsms” suggests that evolution is in progress, he presented an opposite prospectus on page 71:

    “The period of great fecundity is over: present biological evolution appears as a weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren’t we witnessing the remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren’t the small variations which are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Arent our plants, our animals lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and fauna?”

    I answer with a resounding yes to each of his questions.

    Furthermore, in 1984 I proposed a mechanism, apparently no longer in operation, in the form of the Semi-meiotic Hypothesis (SMH). Like my several challenges, that too has been ignored.

    One of the things I like about Grasse is his willingness to ask questions. That is the mark of a true scientist. When was the last time you heard a Darwinian ask a question?

    I hope this serves to at least partially answer your request. Thanks for asking. Darwinians never do. They have no need to as they already have all the answers. Ideologues are like that don’t you know.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

  15. “So, where does that leave Philosopher’s of Biology?”

    As specialized philosophers of science.

  16. 16

    I don’t know a single “philosopher of biology.” Biology is a science. There is no room for philosophy in science. Perhaps Tom English would tell me who these poor souls are.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

  17. John Davison wrote:

    I don’t know a single “philosopher of biology.” Biology is a science. There is no room for philosophy in science. Perhaps Tom English would tell me who these poor souls are.

    I have to differ with you, John, on a couple of points. First off, just go to Google and type in “Philosophy of Biology” and you’ll get a whole bunch of websites and names. How robust that field might be is another matter, but it does exist, and so do the phiolosophers.

    More importantly, though, is your statement that “there is no room for philosophy in science.” I don’t see how you can say that. Most of the foundational principles of science are based on philosophical considerations: the uniformity priniciple, the scientific method, uniformity of observation, etc etc. None of these can be derived through any sort of lab experiment, but they work none-the-less. For that matter what counts as “science” is itself a philosophical question. I don’t see how science can proceed without philosophical considerations. If you do, please explain how.

  18. 18

    DonaldM whoever that is.

    I don’t see how I can say that either but I sure did didn’t I? And I meant every word of it too. There is no place for philosophy in science. You may write that down if you choose. It matters not to me in any event.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  19. Some “philosophers of biology”: Philip Kitcher. Eliot Sober. Henri Bergson. Michael Ruse.

    In the trade — that is, in academic philosophy — “philosophy of biology” refers to philosophical examination of the central concepts used in the biological sciences (e.g. “species,” “gene,” “development,” “evolution,” “function,” “purpose’). It is, as DonaldM pointed out, regarded as a subset of “philosophy of science,” which pertains to philosophical examination of concepts used in science (e.g. “theory,” “explanation,” “model,” “experiment,” “observation.”)

    (Disclosure: I was trained as a biologist — as a paleontologist, actually — as a undergrad but switched to philosophy. I’m now a philosophy prof, and I studied with one of the four people mentioned above. I shan’t say who, since I value what little anoynmity the Web affords.)

  20. 20

    Carlos

    Since neither yourself, by your own admission nor those you cite are or were scientists, I prefer to let my statement stand. Thank you very much.

    Once again I will let a real honest-to-God scientist speak for me.

    “Isn’t all of philosophy like writing in honey? It looks wonderful at first sight, but when you look again it is all gone. Only the smear is left.”
    Alice Calaprice, The New Quotable Einstein, page 209

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  21. John Davison writes:

    DonaldM whoever that is.

    I’m no one important. Just a long time participant in the ongoing debate with Darwinists.
    I’m a strong proponent of ID.

    I don’t see how I can say that either but I sure did didn’t I? And I meant every word of it too. There is no place for philosophy in science. You may write that down if you choose. It matters not to me in any event.

    Well, if you can’t or won’t provide any argument to back up the claim, John, then to me it looks like little more than mere assertion without foundation. So, in the same spirit, I’ll make an assertion: science can not proceed without philosophical considerations. Prove me wrong.

  22. 22

    Science has never paid any attention whatsoever to philosophers or to their philosophies. I challenge you or anyone else to provide an example of a single scientific achievement that depended on a philosophical perspective. Quite the contrary, the atheist philosophy of the Darwinians has served only to prevent progress as it still does.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  23. 23

    There is no place for argument or debate in science either. Science, to the extent that it is science, is nothing but discovery of that which has always been there just waiting to be discovered. Nothing else matters.

    “Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.”
    Galileo

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    Johhn A. Davison

  24. 24

    Well come on DonaldM, let’s hear it for philosophically dependent science.

  25. John,

    Do you not accept the uniformity priniciple as necessary to science? It’s about as foundational principle for science as you can find. Yet it is at root a philosophical, not a scientific principle. Indeed what scientific results might mean is highly dependent on this philosophcial principle. I just don’t see how you can reasonably deny that.

    Surely you don’t reject the uniformity principle?

  26. 26

    I most certainly do, which is why I have found it necessary to propose a brand new hypothesis for organic evolution. Forces that operated in the past no longer operate in phylogeny if that helps to explain my position. Phylogeny, like ontogeny has proven to be a self-limiting, auto-terminating, goal-seeking phenomenon. I wrote a paper to that effect –

    Evolution as a self-limiting process, Rivista di Biologia 91:199-220, 1998.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

    “A past evolutioni s undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

  27. John D writes:

    I most certainly do [reject the uniformity principle], which is why I have found it necessary to propose a brand new hypothesis for organic evolution. Forces that operated in the past no longer operate in phylogeny if that helps to explain my position. Phylogeny, like ontogeny has proven to be a self-limiting, auto-terminating, goal-seeking phenomenon. I wrote a paper to that effect -

    Evolution as a self-limiting process, Rivista di Biologia 91:199-220, 1998.

    With all due respect,John, you seem seriously confused about what the UP is and how it operates in science. When is speak of the UP, I mean the UP detached from any hypothesis, theory or law of science, and not how uniformity might be expressed within a particular hypothesis, theory or law…which is a very different thing. Your alternative hypothesis for organic evolution does not in any way, shape or form falsify the UP. Rather, your analysis and lab work in biology led you to conceive of a different hypthesis to explain data staring you in the face. However, I’m willing to bet that in arriving at this hypothesis you employed the scientific method, and would expect, as any scientist would, that any other scientist, conducting the same experiment under the same conditions will acheive the same results. That is what the UP is all about. The last time I checked, water heated to 212 degrees F at sea level on planet earth still begins to boil…and I suspect that you would expect that same result. On the other hand, if you got a different result, you wouldn’t throw up your hands and say “Geez, I guess nature is capricious and not uniform as we thought.” No, instead, you’d begin to try and understand what the true uniformity with respect to water boiling was. The UP would be unscathed.

    That said, it is obvious that the UP is dependent on philosophical not scientific considerations. I still challenge your declaration that philosophy has no place in science and you still haven’t given any obvious reason why that is so.

  28. How good is peer review when you are the editor? In 1971 Emile Zuckerkandl founded the Journal of Molecular Evolution and served as its editor-in-chief until very recently.

    Zuckerkandl E., Derancourt J., and Vogel H., “Mutational trends and random processes in the evolution of informational macromolecules,”
    J Mol Biol (1971), 59(3):473-90.
    Zuckerkandl E., “The appearance of new structures and functions in proteins during evolution,”
    J Mol Evol (1975), 7(1):1-57.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Evolutionary processes and evolutionary noise at the molecular level. I.
    Functional density in proteins,”
    J Mol Evol (1976), 7(3):167-83.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Evolutionary processes and evolutionary noise at the molecular level. II. A selectionist model for random fixations in proteins,”
    J Mol Evol (1976), 7(4):269-311.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Multilocus enzymes, gene regulation, and genetic sufficiency,”
    J Mol Evol (1978), 12(1):57-89.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Polite DNA: functional density and functional compatibility in genomes,”
    J Mol Evol (1986), 24(1-2):12-27.
    Zuckerkandl E., “On the molecular evolutionary clock,”
    J Mol Evol (1987), 26(1-2):34-46.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Random walking. Can large insertions and deletions between genes affect development?,”
    J Mol Evol (1990), 31(3):161-2.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Revisiting junk DNA,”
    J Mol Evol (1992), 34(3):259-71.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Can flies stand in for humans?,”
    J Mol Evol (1993), 37(1):1-4.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Revisiting junk DNA,”
    J Mol Evol (1992), 34(3):259-71.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Neutral and Nonneutral Mutations: The Creative Mix-Evolution of Complexity in Gene Interaction Systems,”
    J Mol Evol (1997), 44(4):470.
    Zuckerkandl E., “The journal and its field: a case of co-evolution,”
    J Mol Evol. (1998), 47(3):236-7.
    Zuckerkandl E., “Social constructionism, a lost cause,”
    J. Mol Evol. (2000), 51(6):517-9.

  29. [...] Back in 1985 Denton wrote of the Molecular Clock Hypothesis which was concocted by Schlemiel Zuckerkandl: …the idea of uniform rates of evolution [molecular clocks] is presented in the literature as if it were an empirical discovery. The hold of every evolutionary paradigm is so powerful that an idea [molecular clocks] which is more like a principle of medieval astrology than a serious twentieth-century scientific theory has become a reality for evolutionary biologists…the biological community seems content to offer explanations which are no more than apologetic tautologies. [...]

  30. [...] The inability of Darwin and his followers to make the math of their ideas work continues to haunt them. Another mathematical problem for Darwinism comes in the form of the failing molecular clock hypothesis, a statistical theory of molecular evolution. The hypothesis was the brainchild of arch-Darwinist Schlemiel Zuckerkandl (Zuck for short). [...]

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