Monday, December 10, 2007

IDiot Logic on Display at Uncommon Descent

 
GilDodgen is at it again, displaying his unique sense of logic in defense of Intelligent Design Cretionism [A Practical Medical Application of ID Theory (or, Darwinism as a Science-Stopper)].

This time he's responding to someone who challenges the ability of Intelligent Design Creationism to make a contribution to medical science.

Never fear, GilDodgen is always ready to lower himself to the occasion,
Here’s a prediction and a potential medical application from ID theory: Design a chemical or protein which would require a triple CCC to defeat its toxic effects on a bacterium, and it will exhaust the probabilistic resources of blind-watchmaker mechanisms to counteract the toxic effects.

Such a success could and will only come from engineering and reverse-engineering efforts, not from Darwinian theory.
You have to wonder whether some of these IDiots are mentally challenged. This is so not a prediction of Intelligent Design Creationism. Here's the real prediction ...

Scientists have known for some time that evolution is limited by the availability of useful mutations. Some evolutionary biologists have even proposed mutationism to describe the fact that evolution may be much more dependent on mutations than most people realize [Evolution by Accident]. One of the possible ways in which evolution could be limited is if a beneficial allele could only arise when three or four mutations must happen simultaneously. (This is what GilDodgen means by a "triple CCC.") This conclusion comes directly from an understanding of genetics, population genetics, and evolution.

Thus, real scientists would predict that you could design an effective antibiotic if you knew that the only way to develop resistance would be via a highly improbable event. This is a conclusion that's based entirely on an understanding of evolution and how it works. Scientists would love to be able to do this but, unfortunately, they don't know all possible ways that bacteria could develop resistance. Evolution is very unpredictable.

Intelligent Design Creationism, on the other hand predicts the exact opposite of what scientists would predict. According to Michael Behe in The Edge of Evolution the Intelligent Designer will frequently design things that are impossible to evolve. Specifically, according to Behe, we often see things in nature that are so improbable that the required mutations could never have occurred in the lifetime of the planet. The fact that we see these things means that Intelligent Design Creationism is true.

Thus, Intelligent Design Creationists predict that no matter what kind of drug we create, the bacteria will always be able to overcome it because the Intelligent Designer isn't bound by the naturalistic rules of mutation and evolution. God can always step in and create the right series of mutations no matter how improbable they might be by natural causes.

It's a waste of time for humans to try and second guess God by creating very sophisticated drugs because God is omnipotent and he will always defeat us if he chooses. This is the exact opposite of the prediction that GilDodgen seems to be making.

Isn't that strange? And you wonder why we call them IDiots?


17 comments :

  1. Larry wrote:
    "Scientists have known for some time that evolution is limited by the availability of useful mutations."

    You've commented before that macroevolution (speciation) is probably through another mechanism besides just accumulative microevolutionary changes. The above quote seems to suggest that macroevolution is just that.

    Could you clarify? Thanks.

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  2. I never wondered why we call them "IDiots."

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  3. This deity of his is a rather unpleasant fellow, no?

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  4. Larry,

    On the subject of mutationism, have you read Nei's latest? He says that his work in the 80s you refer to in your essay was theoretically interesting, but lacked support. Now, he believes, such support exists. It's summarised in this paper:

    "The new mutation theory of phenotypic evolution"

    Free on his website:

    http://www.bio.psu.edu/People/Faculty/Nei/Lab/2007-NEI.pdf

    He also has some informal musings on the subject that I thought were interesting:

    http://www.bio.psu.edu/People/Faculty/Nei/Lab/2007-NeiHistorical%20perspectives%20PNAS.pdf

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  5. Larry - Thanks for your ongoing commentary on UncommonDescent, Dembski,O'Leary, et all.

    It's very easy to read Uncommon Descent or O'Leary's blogs (although much less so since her science knowledge is obviously that of an amateur) and be taken in by the pseudo-scientific gobbledly-gook writing - particularly for those of us who have very little professional scientific training (especially in the field of biochemistry).

    Since UD or O'Leary do not usually entertain any real objective criticism of their posts, I think you are providing a great service in dismantling their shoddy ideas and exposing them for what they really are. Keep it up, thanks!

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  6. Don, my reference to the limitations of variability don't have anything to do with macroevolution.

    I was simply referring to the fact that you can't select for a beneficial allele until that allele is created. Some potential benefits just aren't possible—for example, we aren't about to acquire the ability to make vitamin C because the number of specific mutations needed is too high.

    Similarly, pigs aren't going to evolve wings anytime soon.

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  7. I still get that feeling of unease when I hear about this sort of thing. My own guess is that the theory of evolutionary mechanism is not yet robust enough to absolutely refute this ‘tripleCCC’ contention. Evolutionists and ID aficionados repeatedly clash over a question that in the abstract is always the same question about the efficacy of evolutionary mechanisms; Namely a) Are the regions of structural stability in morphospace sufficiently connected and b) are the molecular shufflings required by evolution of sufficiently ‘high temperature’, to provide a realistic probability for the evolution of known biological structures given the size of the cosmos?

    The open-ended heterogenony of morphospace, and the fact that morphology is coupled to environment (and visa versa), makes the analytical handling of these sorts of questions extremely difficult.

    However, given the paleontological evidence in favor of evolution and taking a cue from Fred Hoyle’s guess that a carbon resonance must exist because carbon based life actually exists, then perhaps we can anticipate that some progress can be made on the highly theoretical question posed above.

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  8. Timothy,

    However, given the paleontological evidence in favor of evolution and taking a cue from Fred Hoyle’s guess that a carbon resonance must exist because carbon based life actually exists, then perhaps we can anticipate that some progress can be made on the highly theoretical question posed above.

    Is this the right way to proceed? For example, since Behe accepts common descent I'm going to assume that he doesn't have much of a problem with the fossil evidence*. He accepts the fact of evolution, he just doesn't accept the theory. Therefore, he might say that the fossil record of tetrapod evolution is fine but, loosely speaking, the mechanism to get the large leap from Eusthenopteron to Ichthyostega was Godly mutations (or whatever, since he doesn't actually bother to provide a mechanism).

    So, if I'm right about the above, Behe would say that palaeontological evidence is not relevant to his case. You have to deal with the CCC reasoning purely on its own merits. On the other hand, I could be talking complete bollocks.

    * Two slight caveats here; firstly I haven't read the book, so I can't be sure about this. Secondly, he did criticise the whale transitional series a few years back, so I can't be sure about my point.

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  9. > You have to deal with the CCC reasoning purely on its own merits.

    Yes, scientific points stand on their own merits, and since evolution does have some sort of limit, it is an interesting question as to where that is.

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  10. timothy v reeves says,

    My own guess is that the theory of evolutionary mechanism is not yet robust enough to absolutely refute this ‘tripleCCC’ contention.

    Evolutionary biologists have no intention of refuting the "tripleCCC" hypothesis. It's based on evolutionary biology and it is correct. If evolution requires the simultaneous occurrence of three separate mutations then it's never going to happen.

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  11. Stevef Said:

    He (Behee) accepts the fact of evolution, he just doesn't accept the theory.

    Thanks for pointing that out SteveF – I’m not at all familiar with Behee’s view on the fossil record. (Now you’ve pointed it out, I really need to get up to speed on that one) I’m only familiar with his notion of irreducible complexity. What you seem to be saying is that Behee sees the mechanism of evolution as including points in the history of life where ‘quantum leaps’ in design are made by intelligence. Presumably he would see this as one way of ‘making sense’ of the ‘lumpiness’ of the fossil record. I guess he doesn’t have any theory as to when and why these design jumps occur. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to second-guess him; I need to go the ‘horses mouth’ as they say. Does Lee Merrill have any insight here or references?

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  12. Larry said:

    If evolution requires the simultaneous occurrence of three separate mutations then it’s never going to happen

    So I infer that you’re saying that the occurrence of mutations 1, 2 , 3 are separated by large tracts of time. It follows, then, that these mutations individually have the structural stability (in relation to their environment) to persist through a long enough window of time for them to have a realistic probability of assignation with the next mutation in the sequence.

    You are effectively implying, then, that there is a stable incremental route through to the triple combination. This comes under my question ‘a’ Are the regions of structural stability in morphospace sufficiently connected? That is, for evolution to work there have to be ‘contours of stability’ running through morphospace enabling ‘evolutionary diffusion’ to diffuse along them.

    What I am trying to do here is to construct some abstractions and categories that boil the ID-evolutionist debate down to its conceptual kernal. My observation is that on an abstract level there are ‘isomorphisms’ between Behee’s ‘irreducible complexity’, GilDodgen’s ‘tripleCCC’ contention and Kirk Durston’s isolated protein fold regions. In each case there seems to be an implicit denial by these ‘theorists’ that the requisite ‘contour lines of stability’ exist. Yes we might usefully and successfully theorize that these contour lines exist, but is there room for a reasonable doubt thereby allowing the ‘IDiots’ some purchase for their implicit contention that the said lines don’t exist?

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  13. Timothy V Reeves says,

    My observation is that on an abstract level there are ‘isomorphisms’ between Behee’s ‘irreducible complexity’, GilDodgen’s ‘tripleCCC’ contention and Kirk Durston’s isolated protein fold regions.

    Yes, there are similarities. All three are attempting to find proof that evolution can't happen. So far none of them have come up with a single example that doesn't have a plausible evolutionary explanation.

    Behe's CC mutation is theoretically an edge of evolution as I stated earlier. Unfortunately, the examples he used have been shown to be incorrect.

    Durston's examples are all meaningless. He hasn't demonstrated that protein folds are separated by uncrossible chasms and there's no reason to assume that he ever will. It doesn't make sense.

    In each case there seems to be an implicit denial by these ‘theorists’ that the requisite ‘contour lines of stability’ exist. Yes we might usefully and successfully theorize that these contour lines exist, but is there room for a reasonable doubt thereby allowing the ‘IDiots’ some purchase for their implicit contention that the said lines don’t exist?

    No, I don't think there's room for "reasonable" doubt. The IDiots have already decided the right answer to their questions. Now they're just looking for post hoc ways to justify their answer. That's not how science is done.

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  14. If anyone here has ever had a comment posted to Uncommon Descent disappear or never show up, I'm collecting information on what is getting censored at various sites:

    Click here to tell your story.

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  15. I agree that the argument (as given) does not make much sense. If the bacteria were to acquire resistance via an evolutionarily "impossible" change (as some have labeled it), then this would count against evolution as the source of bacterial resistance. But if they don't, it proves nothing.

    However, before you all go sticking your necks out too far on this, it might be helpful to inject a few facts about mutation and the occurrence of apparent multiple changes in evolution.

    Changes that would seem to depend on tandem double and triple nucleotide substitution mutations happen far more frequently in evolution than one would expect from the theory that they emerge via independent single-nucleotide mutations (Whelan & Goldman, 2004; Averof, et al., 2000; others).

    This is generally considered an anomaly rather than a gift from God. The anomaly has not been resolved completely, and may involve some complications of population genetics and selection, but part of the resolution is surely that tandem double and triple nucleotide mutations occur FAR more frequently than expected from the independent occurrence of single nucleotide mutations.

    Mutation researchers have known about this for many years. For an entrez into the literature, see Ikehata, et al., 2007, "A model for triplet mutation formation based on error-prone translesional DNA synthesis opposite UV photolesions" (DNA Repair 6: 658).

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  16. It is often stated that intelligent design demands a Creator.
    What if organisms could evolve in Darwinian style - for a time, and then develop an internal binary biological computer - simple at first.
    •This would permit the assembling of complex systems by the use of objects.
    •This would explain sudden rushes of evolution as happened in the Devonian Explosion.
    There might just be more to Darwinism than we think.

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