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Hubert Yockey: A Pox on All Your Houses Except Mine

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Hubert Yockey, who at the Mere Creation conference in 1996 expressed to me some sympathy for ID and indicated at the time that he was not publicly coming out in favor of ID because he thought he could do the movement more good by working on his own program, has steadily been reversing himself on ID. Note that his love for the other side has not increased either. Here’s his latest.

Scientific Reality vs. Intelligent Design’s False Claims—The Problem Is Getting Caught in Behe’s Tar Baby, Not Darwin’s Black Box

Nuclear physicist and bioinformatician Dr. Hubert P. Yockey shows why Michael Behe and his ilk are wrong in his books, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1992). Dr. Yockey’s publications, going back to the 1950s, were seminal in creating the field of bioinformatics. He also is the only scientist who has defined the distinction between living and non-living matter—his definition is fundamental to the scientific understanding of the origin of life.


Okay, so on one hand he says that design should not be invoked because there could be an unknown explanation: “The fact that there are many things unavailable to human knowledge and reasoning...does not mean that there must be an Intelligent Designer.” But on the other hand he claims to know that there was a DESIGN to something Behe said: "The clear goal of ID proponents in taking Miller’s true assertion out of context is to mislead readers..." and "That is a deliberate deception." SO, Behe must have had an unstated "goal" of "deliberate deception." Yokey is wrong, of course, but with a little more practice he might just get this Intelligent Design thing down. RyanLarsen
Good piece of self propaganda by Dr. Yockey. Pitty that such an able scientist chose to go for the soft target (in this case ID) when there are many inconsistencies in General Theory of Evolution that can be valid subject of his criticism. There are so many false claims in his web article, that the whole content looks laughable considering the title "...ID's false claims". This whole episode reminds me of well thought Comunist propaganda; accuse your opponents of the very things you are guilty of. I will only comment on no 3: “Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view.” (Baksa). As far as I know, not a single ID theorist claims that ID explains origin of life. To quote Dr. Dembski "Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence." Therefore Dr. Yockey goes to a great length attacking the straw man. Srdjan
Usurper wrote "How can a bacteria all of sudden evolve arms and legs? Their bodies are too soft. It must evolve all together in order for it to happen. It’s irreducible." I think this post confuses me a bit. First, I don't think ID makes a statement like "How can a bacteria all of sudden be designed with arms and legs". Secondly, the evolution crowd will take you apart, for even evolution theory would not make such a statement. Evolution never says that a bacteria suddenly evolved with arms and legs. ID also does not imply that all of a sudden, bang, the bacteria got designed with arms and legs. Thunar
It seems to me Minnich understands the difference between genome and genetic code. The frozen accident discovered by Crick was the codon->amino acid translation table which is, in other words, the genetic code. It isn't quite frozen solid but it's close. Most of the variation is trivial and in mitochondria and other ostensibly ancient prokaryotes. I doubt like heck any of it is an accident. Where there's a code there's a coder in my experience. DaveScot
ps. I would be much obliged if one of the administrators here would be willing to reach me at sanctosantorum@yahoo.com for a very brief discussion related to this blog. Charlie
Far be it from me to even try to dispute Yockey, but I wonder about two of his objections. 1) He dismisses Behe's application of IC to biology because he claims that Behe hijacked the term from information theory. Because biological structures aren't IC in the sense that Yockey accepts it, they aren't IC at all. Does this do anything to Behe's claim that those structures are IC in the sense that Behe uses the term? Does it do anything to Behe's claim that structures that exhibit IC in that sense can not evolve via neo-Darwinian pathways? 2) Does Minnich really confuse the genetic code and the genome here, as Yockey claims? Minnich:
“The very genetic code, what Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the shape of DNA, referred to as a ‘frozen accident,’ does not appear to have evolved. Yet, it is a true code representing the most efficient information storage system known in the universe. Analysis of this code with the tools of supercomputers now shows us that of all possible codes, assuming ours is arbitrary, the natural code is hands down the best set of amino acid codons optimized to minimize the effects of point mutations. [Minnich’s reference for this remark is as follows: Hayes, B. 2004. Ode to the Code. American Scientist. 92(6) Page: 494.]
Minnich confuses the genome with the genetic code. The genome is the non-material information programmed into DNA. A code is a mapping of one alphabet to another. The genetic code is the mapping of the 64-letter alphabet programmed in DNA to the 64-letter alphabet of RNA to the 20-letter alphabet of protein (i.e., amino acids).
It's not clear to me that he does. He seems to me to be discussing the code throughout, and is saying only what I too have read about it. (I sure hope block quotes work here).   Charlie
How can a bacteria all of sudden evolve arms and legs? Their bodies are too soft. It must evolve all together in order for it to happen. It's irreducible. Usurper
Yockey: "Scientific theories are explanations of facts. That is why they are not facts." If you Google "evolution is a fact" you get all kinds of hits from anti-ID folk, including Dr. Richard Lenski, who if I'm not mistaken, is the guy who has been trying since the 1980s to prove that macroevolution occurs by fiddling with some tens of thousands of generations of bacteria in the lab. russ
Is Yockey on crack? Usurper
Point 1: "The clear goal of ID proponents in taking Miller’s true assertion out of context is to mislead readers into concluding that he has said all scientific theories are false, or at least perpetually shaky, because they are not facts. That is a deliberate deception." I'm not sure why any ID proponent would want to do that... Point 2: "The origin of life is unsolvable as a scientific problem." So...we just give up?? For point 3.1 I would think we'd agree that information is distinct so I'm not sure why that's a knock against ID. Point 3.2 is just plain...anal? Point 4: "What matters is that there are no gaps in the continuity of the genome from the origin of life to the present." He'd have to explain that assertion before I could accurately comment on it. Point 5...last time I checked there nothing wrong with using a particular wording to mean something else. Patrick
Is it just me, or do Yockey's answers uniformly miss the point? jaredl

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