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Showing posts with label Intelligent Design Creationism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intelligent Design Creationism. Show all posts

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Understanding Michael Behe's edge of evolution

It's been about twenty years since Intelligent Design Creationism rose to prominence. Just last week the Center for Science and Culture celebrated it's 20th birthday [Twenty Years Ago Today, Did This Change the Evolution Debate Forever?]. In all that time, the best that ID proponents can come up with is some work by Michael Behe that attempts to discredit evolution.

The first book by Behe was Darwin's Black Box where he developed the notion of irreducible complexity. The definition of irreducible complexity has changed over the years but the basic idea is that some biological structures are very complex and the removal of any one part will render the complex nonfunctional. This presents an enormous problem for evolution, according to Behe, because all the presumptive intermediates will be nonfunctional.

The conclusion is that it's impossible to evolve an irreducibly complex structure. Evolutionary biologists have no problem accepting the existence of irreducibly complex structures. They see them all the time. What they object to is the idea that irreducibly complex structures cannot have arisen by evolution. Behe's conclusion has been shown to be false and he has admitted on multiple occasions that irreducibly complex structures can arise by purely natural means (evolution).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A refreshing admission on Uncommon Descent

Some of us have been debating Intelligent Design Creationists for many years. Some of us have even visited the creationist blogs like Uncommon Descent where we discover that no facts and no logic will ever shake their obsession with proving evolution wrong and promoting their gods. That's why it was refreshing to read the following comment by William J. Murray in his post on "The Benefit of Arguments at UD." I only had time to read the first few lines but you get the gist ...

Probably one of the most daunting aspects of carrying on debates either about proper critical thinking, theism vs atheism, or intelligent design and its implications is the seeming implacable nature of those we debate here and elsewhere. It most often seems that no amount of logic, evidence or even reasonable discourse makes one iota of difference ...


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Do Intelligent Design Creationists still think junk DNA refutes ID?

I'm curious about whether Intelligent Design Creationists still think their prediction about junk DNA has been confirmed.


Here's what Stephen Meyer wrote in Darwin's Doubt (p. 400).
The noncoding regions of the genome were assumed to be nonfunctional detritus of the trial-and-error mutational process—the same process that produced the functional code in the genome. As a result, these noncoding regions were deemed "junk DNA," including by no less a scientific luminary than Francis Crick.

Because intelligent design asserts that an intelligent cause produced the genome, design advocates have long predicted that most of the nonprotein-coding sequences in the genome should perform some biological function, even if they do not direct protein synthesis. Design theorists do not deny that mutational processes might have degraded some previously functional DNA, but we have predicted that the functional DNA (the signal) should dwarf the nonfunctional DNA (the noise), and not the reverse. As William Dembski, a leading design proponent, predicted in 1998, "On an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function."
I'm trying to write about this in my book and I want to be as fair as possible.

Do most ID proponents still believe this is an important prediction from ID theory?

Do most ID proponents still think that most of the human genome is functional?


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fun and games with Otangelo Grasso about photosynthesis

Otangelo Grasso just posted another one of his screeds. This time it's on photosynthesis. All of his "essays' conform to the same pattern. He looks for some complex set of biochemical reactions, usually in complex animals, then claims that it couldn't possibly have evolved because the whole thing is irreducibly complex according to his understanding of biochemistry and evolution.

It's a classic argument from ignorance.

In this case it's photosynthesis in flowering plants. He posted this figure from the Kegg database ....


Then he says,
In photosynthesis , 26 protein complexes and enzymes are required to go through the light and light independent reactions, a chemical process that transforms sunlight into chemical energy, to get glucose as end product , a metabolic intermediate for cell respiration. A good part of the protein complexes are uniquely used in photosynthesis. The pathway must go all the way through, and all steps are required, otherwise glucose is not produced. Also, in the oxygen evolving complex, which splits water into electrons, protons, and CO2, if the light-induced electron transfer reactions do not go all the five steps through, no oxygen, no protons and electrons are produced, no advanced life would be possible on earth. So, photosynthesis is a interdependent system, that could not have evolved, since all parts had to be in place right from the beginning. It contains many interdependent systems composed of parts that would be useless without the presence of all the other necessary parts. In these systems, nothing works until all the necessary components are present and working. So how could someone rationally say, the individual parts, proteins and enzymes, co-factors and assembly proteins not present in the final assemblage, all happened by a series of natural events that we can call ad hoc mistake "formed in one particular moment without ability to consider any application." , to then somehow interlink in a meaningful way, to form electron transport chains, proton gradients to " feed " ATP synthase nano motors to produce ATP , and so on ? Such independent structures would have not aided survival. Consider the light harvesting complex, and the electron transport chain, that did not exist at exactly the same moment--would they ever "get together" since they would neither have any correlation to each other nor help survival separately? Repair of PSII via turnover of the damaged protein subunits is a complex process involving highly regulated reversible phosphorylation of several PSII core subunits. If this mechanism would not work starting right from the beginning, various radicals and active oxygen species with harmful effects on photosystem II (PSII) would make it cease to function. So it seems that photosynthesis falsifies the theory of evolution, where all small steps need to provide a survival advantage.
I responded on Facebook, pointing out that the cytochrome bc complex and ATP synthase pre-date photosynthesis [Facebook: Photosynthesis]. I also pointed out that there are many living species that use only simpler versions of photsystem I or only photosystem II to carry out photosynthesis [e.g. A Simple Version of Photosynthesis]. Those nasty little facts don't seem to fit with his claim that, "In these systems, nothing works until all the necessary components are present and working."

I probably should have known better. Otangelo Grasso's standard response to such criticism is to avoid dealing directly with his false statements and shift the goalposts on to some other topic. He then posts all kinds of links to websites that seem to back up his claims even if they have nothing to do with the criticisms. You can see him at work on the Facebook thread.

It's pretty frustrating. I probably shouldn't respond to kooks, especially those who think they are experts in biochemistry.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

You need to understand biology if you are going to debate an Intelligent Design Creationist

Last night's debate between Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Meyer, and Denis Lamoureux was very entertaining. I finally got to meet Stephen Meyer in person. (My photographer wasn't very good at focusing.)

There were some interesting exchanges during the debate. I want to talk about one of them.

Krauss tried to hammer Meyer on the "ID is not science" issue using quotes from a judge based on things said by lawyers in the Dover trial.1 Krauss tried to dismiss ID by saying that it never makes predictions but Meyer countered effectively by pointing out that ID predicts that most of our genome is functional and claiming that the prediction was confirmed by the ENCODE study.

The ID position is that Darwinists predicted that our genome would be full of junk while Intelligent Design Creationists predicted that most of our genome would be functional. ID was correct and Darwinism was wrong, according to this story.

Both Lawrence Krauss and Denis Lamoureux accepted the "fact" that ENCODE was right and most of the DNA in our genome has a function. Krauss was also hampered by his misunderstanding of evolution. It's obvious that he accepts the Richard Dawkins view of evolution so he tried to accommodate the ENCODE results by saying it's what you would expect of natural selection. This is the Richard Dawkins position.

Krauss tried to downplay the issue by saying that ID had not predicted what those functional parts of the genome would be doing but this was a weak rebuttal.

The facts are these ....
  • "Darwinists"—those who claim that natural selection is the only game in town—were opposed to the idea that most of our genome is junk. They still are.
  • Today, the majority of experts believe that most of our genome is junk in spite of the ENCODE publicity campaign from 2012.
  • The ENCODE Consortium has backed off it's original claim and now agrees that they misused the word "function." Some of them blame the media for distorting their position.
  • The ID "prediction" has been falsified.
A competent biologist would have known all this and could have challenged Meyer's statement. A biologist would have then demanded that Meyer explain how a genome that is 90% junk fits with Intelligent Design Creationism.

I talked to Denis Lamoureux after the debate to let him know that he was wrong about ENCODE and he was very gracious. I promised to send him more information. A genome full of junk DNA poses no threat to his version of Theistic Evolution.

Lawrence Krauss is an expert on cosmology but he's very weak on biology. I know it's common for physicists to think they are experts in everything but that's just not true. It was demonstrated in last night's debate.


1. This is a bad strategy. It's better to accept that ID proponents are doing science but just doing it very badly. Meyer ignored the issue of whether ID counted as science. He just presented the scientific case for ID and forced Krauss to respond to his "evidence."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An intelligent Intelligent Design Creationist

One of the biggest problems with the Intelligent Design Creationist movement is their attempt to corral all creationist under the same big tent. This leads to a situation where Young Earth Creationists are afforded the same level of respect as those who accept common descent and an ancient Earth.

It means that dissent within the ID community is strongly suppressed in order to maintain the illusion that they all agree on the basics (i.e. goddidit). This leads to ridiculous situations where Young Earth Creationists defend Stephen Meyer's attack on the Cambrian explosion in Darwin's Doubt when they don't even believe that the Earth is 500 million years old!

There's no consistency in the arguments from ID proponents so it's almost impossible to have a serious discussion of the science behind their claims. I've criticized ID proponents for not applying critical thinking to their own movement. They almost never dispute each other's ideas for fear that it would weaken their movement.

That fear is justified, but what they fail to realize is that the movement doesn't deserve any respect at all if they don't apply the same standards to their own views that they demand of others.

To their credit, a few members of the movement have started to change this long-standing attempt to silence dissent within the movement. I think they realize that the respect they crave will only come from kicking a few people out of the tent.

One of those people is Vincent Torley. He has posted an excellent discussion of Denton's structuralist views on Uncommon Descent: Denton vs. Moran on structuralism. I don't agree with everything Torley says but I congratulate him for his courage in thinking critically about Michael Denton's position.

It will be interesting to see if the Intelligent Design Creationist movement can deal with critical thinking. I'm watching the comments on the blog post.


Michael Denton discusses the "hierarchy of nature"

Here's a video where Michael Denton describes his view of biology. The main point is that he cannot think of a way for evolution to produce the "hierarchy of nature." Therefore goddidit there must be some other explanation.

The Discovery Institute made the video. David Klinghoffer describes it on Evolution News & Views (sic): Conversations with Dr. Denton: The Hierarchy of Nature. Klinghoffer says,
Darwinism, honestly regarded, should lead you to expect not an ordered, increasingly inclusive hierarchy of life but more like a disordered...smear of diversity. Such expectations are frustrated by reality. As biologist Michael Denton explains, life presents itself as a tiered formation marked by novelties or homologs. These taxa-defining novelties, such as the pentadactyl limb, are not lead up to by a series of forms increasingly like the final version.

That's strike one. Worse for Darwinism, it's typically the case that there is no way even to imagine how the novelty could be lead up to in such a manner. Strike two. Watch and enjoy.





Monday, February 22, 2016

An Intelligent Design Creationist disputes the evolution of citrate utilization in the LTEE ... Lenski responds

Most of you are familiar with the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) run by Richard Lenski. One of the cultures in that experiment evolved the ability to use citrate as a carbon source. Normally, E. coli cannot use this carbon source under aerobic conditions but the new strain not only utilizes citrate but can grow in cultures where citrate is the only source of organic carbon.

The pathway to this event is complex and requires multiple mutations [see On the unpredictability of evolution and potentiation in Lenski's long-term evolution experiment and Lenski's long-term evolution experiment: the evolution of bacteria that can use citrate as a carbon source].

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Darwin's statue

A large statue of Charles Darwin was installed in the main foyer of the London's Natural History Museum in 1885—just a few years after Darwin's death. It was removed in 1927 and replaced by a statue of Richard Owen who was no fan of Darwin.

The museum came to its senses in 2009 and put the statue back in it's original position. (It had been in the cafeteria in the basement.) Read the story at: Moving Darwin.

Owen was the man who founded the museum and he was also known for his support of structuralism—the idea that basic body plans cannot be easily explained by evolution. Structuralism is the new buzzword among Intelligent Design Creationists. They don't understand the concept but they're certain it refutes evolution and supports goddidit.

Michael Denton is upset about the statue [see Conversations with Michael Denton: You Can Move the Statue if You Wish...]. Watch the video ...



Ignorance + "body plans" + misinformation (lies) + god-of-the-gaps = Intelligent Design Creationism

Watch Paul Nelson combine his lack of knowledge of evolution and evolutionary theory with misinformation (i.e. lies) and a little bit of false developmental biology then stir the pot with a large dose of god-of-the-gaps to produce a smooth argument that refutes evolution.

There's lots of other stuff going on in this talk. I was especially amused by the discussion of methodological naturalism at the end. Paul Nelson argues that science is blind to all the evidence of a creator because the "rule" of science is that it can't even consider that evidence.

I'll say one thing about this talk: it's very clever. It would take a book to show that Paul Nelson is wrong about everything and the explanations would be far too complicated for the average creationist. For them, it's easier to believe that Paul Nelson is telling them the truth and evolutionary biologists are too stupid to understand their own discipline.

Otangelo Grasso has posted a transcript of the talk. Thank-you Otangelo.




Sunday, February 14, 2016

Justice Scalia's Misunderstanding

Antonin Gregory Scalia (March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016), justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, died a few days ago. This creates a crisis in American politics because they have a strange set of Constitutional requirements guaranteed to maximize the probability of crises every time they need a new Supreme Court justice.

Scalia's death reminded me of the dissenting opinion in EDWARDS V. AGUILLARD (June 19, 1987). This was the case that invalidated Louisiana's "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act." Stephen Jay Gould was puzzled by the dissenting opinion so he wrote a wonderful essay to explain Justice Scalia's Misunderstanding.

It's worth reading the entire essay but here's the conclusion,
Following this theme, Scalia presents his most confused statement in the written dissent:
Creation science, its proponents insist, no more must explain whence life came than evolution must explain whence came the inanimate materials from which it says life evolved. But even if that were not so, to posit a past creator is not to posit the eternal and personal God who is the object of religious veneration.
True indeed; one might be a creationist in some vernacular sense by maintaining a highly abstract and impersonal view of the creator. But Aristotle's unmoved mover is no more part of science than the Lord of Genesis. Science does not deal with questions of ultimate origins. We would object just as strongly if the Aristotelophiles of Delaware forced a law through the state legislature requiring that creation of each species ex nihilo by an unmoved mover be presented every time evolution is discussed in class. The difference is only historical circumstance, not the logic of argument The unmoved mover doesn't pack much political punch; fundamentalism ranks among our most potent irrationalisms.

Consider also, indeed especially, Scalia's false concept of science. He equates creation and evolution because creationists can't explain life's beginning, while evolutionists can't resolve the ultimate origin of the inorganic components that later aggregated to life. But this inability is the very heart of creationist logic and the central reason why their doctrine is not science, while science's inability to specify the ultimate origin of matter is irrelevant because we are not trying to do any such thing. We know that we can't, and we do not even consider such a question as part of science.

We understand Hutton's wisdom. We do not search for unattainable ultimates.

We define evolution, using Darwin's phrase, as "descent with modification" from prior living things. Our documentation of life's evolutionary tree records one of science's greatest triumphs, a profoundly liberating discovery on the oldest maxim that truth can make us free. We have made this discovery by recognizing what can be answered and what must be left alone. If Justice Scalia heeded our definitions and our practices, he would understand why creationism cannot qualify as science. He would also, by the way, sense the excitement of evolution and its evidence; no person of substance could be unmoved by something so interesting. Only Aristotle's creator may be so impassive.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Michael Denton discovers non-adaptive evolution ... attributes it to gods

Readers of this blog will know that I'm a fan of Evolution by Accident. I don't think that the history of life can be explained in strict Darwinian terms (i.e. natural selection) and I think that modern evolutionary theory includes Neutral Theory and a major role for random genetic drift.

This is the view of many modern evolutionary biologists. Their work and views have been reported frequently on Sandwalk over the past ten years but you can find it in all the evolutionary biology textbooks. I'm just the messenger here. It's evolutionary biologists who have made the case for non-adaptive evolution beginning long before The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme.

Friday, February 12, 2016

This is what a strawman looks like

This is another post about the stupidity of Intelligent Design Creationists. Stop reading if you don't need any more convincing.

Today is Darwin Day. It's the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (Feb. 12, 1809 - April 19, 1882).

This is not a happy day for the Discovery Institute so they've put up a series of posts on Evolution News & Views (sic) to discredit Darwin and "Darwinism."

One of them is by the newly rejuvenated poster boy, Michael Denton: On Darwin Day, Darwinism Is Well Past Its "Sell By" Date. Here's the part I want you to see,
To understand the core weakness of the Darwinian worldview, it is important to understand what Darwinian natural selection requires. The process will work its magic, building up functional structures in organisms, only when two very strict conditions are met: First, the structure must be adaptive—that is, helpful to the organism in flourishing in its environment—and second, there must be a continuum of structures, functional all along the way, leading from an ancestor species to the descendent.

That is, the thing we are trying to explain must in some way help the creature survive, and between the creature and the creature's ancestor there must be a gradual change, each step of which is stable and enhances fitness, or success in reproduction.
Strictly speaking, that's a reasonable explanation of Darwinism as most evolutionary biologists understand it. But here's the problem. There aren't very many evolutionary biologists who are strict Darwinists these days even though there are many who tilt strongly in that direction.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What is "structuralism"?

The Intelligent Design Creationists are promoting Michael Denton's new book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. The new buzzword is "structuralism" and it's guaranteed to impress the creationist crowd because nobody understands what it means but it sounds very "sciency" and philosophical. Also, it's an attack on "Darwinism" and anything that refutes evolution has to be good.

You can watch Michael Denton explain structuralism ... it only takes a few minutes of your time.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The most intellectual creationists explain why there are still Darwinists when Darwinism has been falsified

You are probably wondering why "Darwinism" persists after the creationists have thoroughly demonstrated that it is a failed theory. Lucky for you, the most intelligent and intellectual of all Intelligent Design Creationists, David Berlinski and Michael Denton, have gotten together to explain it in a short (15 mins) podcast.

It's moderated by David Klinghoffer who introduces it like this ... [Michael Denton and David Berlinski Discuss: How Does Darwinism Hang On?]
If the most brilliant Darwin critics, like David Berlinski and Michael Denton, are right, how then does Darwinism hang on? How does a failed theory maintain its grip on our science and on our culture? Why is there a sense of stalemate? On ID the Future, we posed these questions to Dr. Berlinski and Dr. Denton.

If you are interested in the conflict between Intelligent Design and science you owe it to yourself to see/hear the best they've got on their side.

ID the Future: More Berlinski and Denton.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Berlinski and Denton challenge Darwinism

It's fun to listen to the "ID the Future" podcasts. It shows us the very best of Intelligent Design Creationists. This time we get a twofer— David Berlinski and Michael Denton posing their most challenging questions to Darwinists. Here's how David Klinghoffer introduces the pair ... [Berlinski and Denton: If You Could Pose One Challenge to a Thoughtful Darwinist, What Would It Be?].
You can always dream. While the evolutionist side in the Darwin debate is long on rhetoric and insults, serious debate or dialogue is woefully rare. But imagine you had the opportunity to sit down with a thoughtful, honest, well-informed Darwinist and pose one question or challenge. What would it be?

I had the opportunity to pose that question to two of the most brilliant minds in the intelligent design community -- Michael Denton and David Berlinski. Take a well-spent 15 minutes and listen to their answers -- focusing respectively on the insect body plan and the enigma of whale evolution -- recorded as an episode of ID the Future.
Berlinski wants a detailed mathematical estimate of the number of mutations required to go from a land animal to a whale. Denton wants details on the formation of insect body plans.

It's important to note that these are questions about the history of life. You could easily answer "I don't know" to both questions and it would not affect our understanding of evolution and common descent one iota. The answers have nothing to do with "Darwinism" per se and nothing to do with evolutionary theory (which is not Darwinism).

Listen to the very best minds in the Intelligent Design Creationist community ... and weep for them. This is all they've got.

Id the Future: Berlinski and Denton


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Targets, arrows, and the lottery fallacy

Sandwalk readers have been discussing the way Intelligent Design Creationists have been calculating probabilities [see Intelligent Design Creationists are very confused about epigenetics and Waiting for multiple mutations: Michael Lynch v. Michael Behe].

We've known for a long time that the most common mistake is assuming that there's only one solution to a problem. They see an end result, like a bacterial flagellum, or resistance to malaria, or the binding of two proteins, and assume that a few very specific mutations had to occur in a specific sequence in order to produce that result.

judmarc calls this the "lottery fallacy" and I think it's a good term [see lottery fallacy],
This is of course what I like to call the "lottery fallacy." It's used by virtually every ID proponent to produce erroneously inflated probabilities against evolution.

Lottery fallacy: The odds against any *particular individual* winning the PowerBall lottery are ~175 million to 1. But there were three winners just last night. That's because *someone* winning the PowerBall is not an especially rare occurrence. It happens every few weeks throughout the year.

In exactly the same way, Axe, Gauger, Behe, and the rest of the ID folks always base their math on the chances that a *particular* neutral or beneficial mutation will occur, and just as with the lottery, the chances of a *particular* outcome are utterly minuscule. The occurrence of *some* neutral or beneficial mutation, however, is, as with the lottery, so relatively common as to be completely unremarkable.

To summarize: ID proponents misuse probability math to make the common appear impossible.
As it turns out, someone on Evolution News & Views (sic) just posted an excellent example of this fallacy [Intelligent Design on Target]. Here's what he/she/it says,
In his second major treatise on design theory, No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, William Dembski discusses searches and targets. One of his main points is that the ability to reach a target in a vast space of possibilities is an indicator of design. A sufficiently complex target that satisfies an independent specification, he argues, creates a pattern that, when observed, satisfies the Design Filter. There are rigorous mathematical and logical proofs of this concept in the book, but at one point, he uses an illustration even a child can understand.
Consider the case of an archer. Suppose an archer stands fifty meters from a large wall with a bow and arrow in hand. The wall, let us say, is sufficiently large that the archer cannot help but hit it. Now suppose each time the archer shoots an arrow at the wall, the archer paints a target around the arrow so that the arrow sits squarely in the bull's-eye. What can be concluded from this scenario? Absolutely nothing about the archer's ability as an archer. Yes, a pattern is being matched; but it is a pattern fixed only after the arrow has been shot. The pattern is thus purely ad hoc. [No Free Lunch, pp. 9-10, emphasis added.]
Most people have experience with target shooting of some kind, whether with bows and arrows, guns (including squirt guns), snowballs, darts, or most sports like baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, and football. Children laugh when they picture an archer who "couldn't even hit the broadside of a barn" and rushes up to the arrow and paints a bull's-eye around it. Grown-ups might compare that to a biologist looking at an irreducibly complex biological system and simply stating, "It evolved." In each of these cases, Dembski would say that since the pattern was not independently specified, therefore it is ad hoc.
The unknown author included the image shown above in order to illustrate the point (Image: © Kagenmi / Dollar Photo Club).

Do you see the fallacy? Just because we observe a complex adaptation or structure does NOT mean that it was specified or pre-ordained. There are certainly many different structures that could have evolved—most of them we never see because they didn't happen. And when a particular result is observed it doesn't mean that there was only one pathway (target) to producing that structure.

To continue the analogy—at the risk of abusing it—there may be hundreds of targets in the woods and most of them have very large bullseyes. Imagine you're out for a walk in the woods and you see that almost every tree has a big target with a large bullseye. You find an arrow stuck at the edge of one of the bullseyes and lots of arrows stuck in the trees, the ground, and parts of most of the targets outside of the central bullseyes. Would you write a book about how good the archer must have been?


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Intelligent Design Creationists are very confused about epigenetics

I've been trying to figure out why Intelligent Design Creationists are so excited about epigenetics. They seem to think it's going to overthrow everything we know about evolution (= "Darwinism"). That means, in their minds, that "naturalism" and "materialism" aren't sufficient to explain biology.

The logic escapes me.

Denyse O'Leary has added a new wrinkle in her latest post (as "News") on Uncomon Descent. She reveals a profound misunderstanding of epigenetics [Could epigenetics change perspectives on adoption?].

I'll just quote the relevant part and let you try and figure out whether Denyse represents mainstream Intelligent Design Creationism. 'Cause if she does, the movement is in far worse shape than even I imagined.
I remember one adoptive mother, taunted by a rebellious teenager who wanted to find her “real” mother, taking the girl by the shoulders and saying, “Look, I raised you from when you were seven days old; I supported you, sat with you in emergency rooms and juvenile court, laughed and cried with you, … and got you into a good school in the end. I don’t know who or where your birth mother is. But I do know this: I am the only ‘real mother’ you have ever had or ever will have. Look at me. Get used to it. It doesn’t GET better than this.”

I hope the kid smartened up. Meanwhile what if she discovers, when she has children, that their genome reflects in part traits she acquired growing up in the adoptive home? Maybe that would allay some of the sense of alienation.

Might epigenetics could provide some basis for understanding? Time will tell.

See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!


Monday, January 04, 2016

Answering two questions from Vincent Torley

Vincent Torley read a post by Jerry Coyne where Jerry wondered if Intelligent Design Creationism was in trouble because the Discovery Institute has lost Bill Dembski and Casey Luskin [Is the Discovery Institute falling apart?].

Torley disagrees, obviously, but he focuses on a couple of the scientific statements in Jerry Coyne's post and comes up with Two quick questions for Professor Coyne.

I hope Professor Coyne won't mind if I answer.

Before answering, let's take note of the fact that Vincent Torley has been convinced by the evidence that most of our genome is junk. I wonder how that will go over in the ID community?

Here's question #1 ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Waiting for multiple mutations: Michael Lynch v. Michael Behe

Casey Luskin is trying to help out a university student by describing some important ID contributions to science [No ID Research? Let's Help Out This Iowa State Student].

One of those contributions is a paper by Michael Behe and David Snoke published eleven years ago in Protein Science (Behe and Snoke, 2004). I described the result in a previous post: Waiting for multiple mutations: Intelligent Design Creationism v. population genetics.

If Behe & Snoke are correct then modern evolutionary theory cannot explain the formation of new functions that require multiple mutations.

Cassey Luskin is aware of the fact that this result has not been widely accepted. He mentions one specific criticism:
In 2008, Behe and Snoke's would-be critics tried to refute them in the journal Genetics, but found that to obtain only two specific mutations via Darwinian evolution "for humans with a much smaller effective population size, this type of change would take > 100 million years." The critics admitted this was "very unlikely to occur on a reasonable timescale."
He's referring to a paper by Durrett and Schmidt (2008). Those authors examined the situation where one transcription factor binding site was disrupted by mutation and another one nearby is created by mutation. The event requires two prespecified coordinated mutations.