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Carl Zimmer on Irreducible Complexity

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Darwinist Carl Zimmer, who maintains a blog over at the Discover Magazine website recently posted this little diatribe on irreducible complexity.

Oh No! I’ve Seen the Impossible! My Eyes!
Ah, the things you learn from creationists…

If you’ve ever read about intelligent design (a k a “the progeny of creationism”), you’ve probably encountered their favorite buzz words, “irreducible complexity.” If you take a piece out of a complex biological system (like the cascade of blood-clotting proteins) and it fails to work, this is taken as evidence that the system could not have evolved. After all, without all the pieces in place, it couldn’t work.

Scientists have shown over and over again that this is a false argument. At the famous intelligent-design trial in Dover in 2005, Pennsylvania, for example, Brown biologist Ken Miller showed how dolphins and other species are missing various proteins found in our blood-clotting cascade, and they can still clot blood.

Three years later, the creationists are still trying to salvage irreducible complexity. This generally involves a bait-and-switch game. Today, for example, the Discovery Institute tells us that the evidence of dolphins does not touch the argument for irreducible complexity. See, what you have here are two different irreducibly complex systems, with one that just happens to have an extra part. Just think about bicycles…

“Bicycles have two wheels. Unicycles, having only one wheel, are missing an obvious component found on bicycles. Does this imply that you can remove one wheel from a bicycle and it will still function? Of course not. Try removing a wheel from a bike and you’ll quickly see that it requires two wheels to function. The fact that a unicycle lacks certain components of a bicycle does not mean that the bicycle is therefore not irreducibly complex.”

Of course not. No. It’s not as if five seconds of googling could turn up a bicycle that still functioned without both wheels…

You’ll need to click the link above to see the photos and Youtube he includes as “evidence” of functional bikes with only 1 wheel. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I just love how he vigorously hand waves IC away with “Scientists have shown over and over again that this is a false argument.” Oh really? Perhaps the good Dr. Z would be so kind as to provide a bibliography listing all the peer reviewed scientific research studies that provide the detailed, testable (and potentially falsifiable) biological models for any of the IC systems that Mike Behe described in his ground breaking book Darwin’s Black Box. (hint: its about a dozen years since Behe first published his book and made the claim that no such research existed — and 12 years later, that’s still the case!) And please don’t give us references to computer games like the famous Avida study by Lenski et.al. or the review article by Pallen and Matzke. Scientists have not shown us any such thing even once let alone “over and over again.”

Dr. Z is one to talk of “bait and switch” games. He references part 2 of this article at the Discovery Institute website, but fails to mention part 1.
Perhaps if he’d read both parts he’d know that the bait and switch is accomplished not by the DI, but by his fellow Darwinian Ken Miller, as aptly explained in the entire article.

Finally, he resorts to “disproving” (falsifying?) the bicycle analgy by providing a photo AND a bonus video of a “functional” bicycle with only 1 wheel. Not to be picky (alright I am being picky) but if you look closely at the photo you’ll notice it isn’t just the front wheel that’s missing from this bicycle, but the entire front wheel assmembly, including the handle bars and wheel frame. In other words, its a modified unicycle. So what’s the point here? That we could just add a wheel to the functioning unicycle and have a fully functional bicycle? To what will the wheel be attached? Well, what if we add just the wheel frame first? Well what’s that attached to? Hmmm….seeem that the leap from UNI to BIcycle requires a whole lot more than a simple 1 part at a time addition. Not much use to an extra wheel with no place to attach it. No good to have the place to attach it with no wheel. etc etc. Thanks, Dr. Z., for demonstrating once again that IC doesn’t come cheap! But of course, scientists have shown “over and over again” that it does.

The video is virtually irrelevent because all it proves is that you can do a wheelie with a bicycle. (we all knew that as kids!) As soon as that front comes down the rider will find out how non-functional his 1 wheeled bicycle is. The front wheel assembly will be quite detrimental without the wheel!

Comments
#61 I'd add to this that the testable hypothesis must not consist of pathways less than 100 informational bits and only several beneficial and/or neutral steps, which we all agreed should be feasible for non-foresighted processes. I say this because that's all Darwinists keep hyping while they ignore the real problems.Patrick
January 7, 2009
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The YellowShark, Can you please provide a testable hypothesis pertaining to blind, undirected processes? I believe by attempting to do so you wil see the scientific vacuity of the anti-ID position.Joseph
January 4, 2009
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Ugh, I just reread what I wrote. My poorly worded point was that "most mutations are neutral" would need to apply uniformly (in general) and thus specifically to pathways relevant to the problems at hand. As in, it does no good if 80% of ALL mutations as a whole are largely irrelevant to the scenarios/barriers facing Darwinism. More on this later when I have time. I'll quickly note Futuyma's early estimates were limited mostly to inferences from phylogenetic analyses of sequence data, inferences that are only as good as the assumptions they make about population demography and the neutrality of synonymous mutations. The data from experimental observations is limited at this time. It's also not quite clear from experimental observations whether percentile distributions hold steady from virus to eukaryotes to all other higher creatures, never mind specific categories and pathways. EDIT: I'd also like to add that many amino acids at different parts of a protein are interchangeable and thus functionality remains unchanged for some nucleotide changes in a sequence. If that's where the majority of neutral mutations are limited to then how does that help Neutral Theory?Patrick
January 3, 2009
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If you are saying that in order for a long stepwise pathway to be viable that the majority of steps/mutations must be neutral or beneficial (weakly, strongly, destructively, constructively; doesn’t matter), then I’d agree with you. But if you’re talking in general, then I have to wonder what you are speaking of. Most of the estimates I’ve seen [link here] for deleterious mutations are generally in the range of 90 to 99 percent...
This is not at all what your link says. Your link states, quite clearly: "Our analysis suggests that ?95% of all nonsynonymous mutations that could contribute to polymorphism or divergence are deleterious". Note the word "nonsynonymous", and that they restrict themselves to "mutations that could contribute to polymorphism or divergence". The fact that "most mutations are neutral" was one of the most important & surprising findings of biology in the last 50 years. It is the reason that genetic drift of neutral mutations forms the null hypothesis for molecular biology. Estimates sourced in Futuyma's "Evolutionary Biology", which I don't have on me at the moment (I'm at Winnipeg Station) give approximately 80% of all mutations being neutral, 15% being deleterious and 5% being beneficial.TheYellowShark
January 3, 2009
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Patrick@44: Ken Miller's reponse is up at the Loom. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/01/02/smoke-and-mirrors-whales-and-lampreys-a-guest-post-by-ken-miller/TheYellowShark
January 3, 2009
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Short on time so I'll only focus on one topic and ignore the unsubstantiated assertions:
The “majority of mutations” are NEUTRAL.
If you are saying that in order for a long stepwise pathway to be viable that the majority of steps/mutations must be neutral or beneficial (weakly, strongly, destructively, constructively; doesn't matter), then I'd agree with you. But if you're talking in general, then I have to wonder what you are speaking of. Most of the estimates I've seen for deleterious mutations are generally in the range of 90 to 99 percent, with the remaining percentage comprising weakly beneficial yet often destructive mutations, and then rarely beneficial constructive mutations. But if you're only considering "beneficial" mutations in general, the ratio of deleterious-to-beneficial mutations is very roughly estimated to be one in one million by Gerrish and Lenski. I'll also quickly comment on the Behe vs Smith disagreement. Honestly I wonder why Darwinists choose to highlight this viral examples, especially since it only confirms Behe's own hypothesis. There's better examples in vertebrates, which have far less resources to work with compared those fast replicators. Even then there's not much to excited about. For example, I was reading about a change that required 3 amino acids which were encoded by 9 nucleotides each. So that's a pathway with only 54 informational bits involved. Where exactly do examples like this cause a problem for ID when it's all within previously stated expectations?
so basically what you’re saying is that IC is a worthless concept in ID. If IC can evolve, then it cannot be used as a form of design detection.
I'll just quote myself from this very thread: "Being IC does NOT equate to “X-structure cannot evolve in principle”. IC primarily deals with DIRECT Darwinian Pathways and always has. Behe has always stated that INDIRECT Darwinian pathways are another matter." The key is whether there exists indirect pathways for everything. For example, if a system is composed of 3 parts there's a good chance that there is a viable indirect pathway.Patrick
January 2, 2009
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TheYellowShark, Essentially all you are doing is making assertions and assuming they are true. You are welcome to your speculative interpretations of some isolated facts but that is all they are is speculations. To come here and assert that your assertions are established is hubris. We have seen it all before and none have stood up when scrutinized. Also the natural selection is not random is a red herring argument and not an issue. It is a meaningless discussion. ID accepts NS but NS is very limited so the answer to the assertion that NS is not random is "So what!" We been down this path a hundred times at least. There is a random component to NS but mainly what is in play is the population gene pool and the environment. No big deal. The random part comes from how something is added to the gene pool. So let's move on to something non trivial. The fact that you waste any time on this issue means you do not have anything of substance or else you would have trotted it out. There are no examples of gradual transitions in the fossil record, none, nada, zero, zilch, zip. We have yet to see one. We have been given the forrest animal to whale scenario but there are no gradual transitions there, only fossils millions of years apart and variations of marine mammals. There is also what is referred to the "crown jewel" of the fossil record and that is the reptile to mammal movement of three bones from the jaw to the ear. Again interesting but not an example of gradualism and ignores all other problems with the differences between mammals and reptiles. So have at it if you find this when you read again. We are still waiting for an example and as for the natural selection red herring, we have been down this path hundreds of times. I always looked at concepts such as scaffolding and co-option as things that were pulled out of one's back pocket when something got sticky and there was no answer for what happened or exists. They are not quite all purpose tools but they often are handy to survive a debate. I am surprised you did not resort to the all purpose concept of emergence and that one can solve everything. Maybe you are waiting till things get tough to pull that one out. So essentially your assertions here are all begging the question arguments. You take what seems logical within a framework and then assert them without examining the assumptions upon which the framework is based. You beg the question. It will be interesting to see how long you stay once you come back because assertions don't cut it. Just as heads up for you. We accept all forms of micro evolution so any changes to gene pools through the typical genetic processes is all well accepted even if a lot of it is in fluctuation as new information is discovered. The debate is over how novel complex functional capabilities arose in life given that the information to run such capabilities is immense and unlikely to happen by chance. So stick to that. I hope you enjoy your train ride.jerry
January 2, 2009
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The evidence for evolution speaks for itself.
"Evolution" is NOT being debated. Please read the following for YOUR clue: Biological Evolution: What is being debated Hint- the debate is about A) Origins and B) MechanismsJoseph
January 2, 2009
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tribune7- According to Hawking in "A Briefer History of Time" the laws "Just are (the way they are)". And that is about all you will ever get from those who oppose ID.Joseph
January 2, 2009
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And do you really think accident can explain everything? . . . No. See “natural selection”. It is not chance. It is not “accident”. Natural selection is an observable event but it can't be shown that it does what proponents of evolution claim it does. Anyway, if it is a law, how do laws come about without design?tribune7
January 1, 2009
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Dave Scott
Natural selection, you see, doesn’t get to select between individual alleles. It can only select whole organisms which contain millions of alleles - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Exactly, Dave. So often NS is discussed as if it only selected one allele at a time. But its quite possible that there are combinations of changes. What no one can predict is what the "winning" combination will be. Yellowshark
Natural selection is the antithesis of “dumb luck”.
NS isn't really anything other than a descriptive phrase to talk about certain observations after the fact. It not that NS is the "antithesis" of dumb luck, its not really anything at all except a handy phrase to describe observations.DonaldM
January 1, 2009
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Ya see the debate isn’t that IC can’t “evolve”. It is about the MECHANISM- ie designed to evolve vs evolution via an accumulation of genetic accidents. ==
Okay, so basically what you’re saying is that IC is a worthless concept in ID. If IC can evolve, then it cannot be used as a form of design detection.
I take it you have reading comprehension issues. IC can "evolve" if it was DESIGNED to do so. Your position of accumulated genetic accidents is still very much in doubt pertaining to IC. Toolkit genes- more evidence for intelligent design in biological organisms. ==
How so?
1- We have direct observational evidence and experience with designers putting together the resources needed to implement the design. 2- We have NEVER observed undirected processes doing so. As for HIV, the change Behe missed, ONE in the billions of opportunities, is not that significant. ==
Behe claimed that: “It still has the same number of genes that work in the same way. There is no new molecular machinery.”
You need to get updated. It appears you are stuck in the past. As for natural selection- it is the result of three processes, each with either a random component or entirely random. And in the end it doesn't do much of anything in populations over 1000. Now in sexually reproducing populations there isn't any guarantee that the most beneficial mutation will get passed on. Anything less than 50% and the math shows that unless there is a very high selective value it will get lost- no chance of remaining in the population. Yet your position requires that these genetic accidents not only become fixed but also accumulate. There isn't any evidence for this leading to new body plans.Joseph
January 1, 2009
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DaveScot, this belongs on the front page of UD. Darwinists should also have a post-it note on their fridge for what you just explained. Although, maybe a post-it note might not "stick" that well.ab
January 1, 2009
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Natural selection, you see, doesn’t get to select between individual alleles. It can only select whole organisms which contain millions of alleles - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This is not a refutation of anything that I've said. Stay on topic.
Fitness enhancing mutations are exceedingly rare because life is already exquisitely well designed. So the vast majority of random mutations are in the range of immediately fatal to slightly deleterious.
You meant to say "well-adapted", not "well-designed", I'm sure. And no. The "majority of mutations" are NEUTRAL. The *average* effect of random mutation, however, is slightly deleterious for the reason you mentioned above. But I'm sure you knew _exactly_ what you were talking about and you just misspoke.
Because natural selection doesn’t operate on single mutations but instead must accept or reject all mutations because it operates on the entire organism not microscopic bits of the organism, it must accept the bad and the nearly neutral along with the good.
Yes. Congratulations. Genetic hitchhiking, linkage disequilibrium, selective sweeps, etc. Still waiting for this to get to the refutation of the parallel processor analogy. (Hint: You are aware of the whole *population* part of "population genetics", right?)
The fossil record, I might remind you, is a record of abrupt appearance of new species, a long period of no significant change to the new species, followed by an abrupt disappearance.
So says the creationist version of Stephen Jay Gould. You might keep in mind that even die-hard punctuationists don't make this an absolutist claim. "Gradual" transitions between species exist. It was always an argument about which is the *dominant* pattern. And the jury's still out.
Exactly what a front loaded, pre-programmed phylogenetic progression should look like and nothing like what Darwinian gradualism should look like.
Strange you talked up all that teams of genes and you haven't even thought about what it means for species. How's about you do a little reading? You might want to start with: Futuyma, D. J. 1987. On the role of species in anagenesis. The American Naturalist 130: 465-473. Enjoy your clue. I'm getting on the train now.TheYellowShark
January 1, 2009
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Thanks sparc@40 for the blockquote tip. I wasn't aware that those tags would work here. Tribune said:
The point is don’t equate consensus with fact. The late Michael Crichton addressed how great a mistake is...
I'm not. The evidence for evolution speaks for itself. And it was that evidence that convinced each and every one of those scientists as well.
And do you really think accident can explain everything?
No. See "natural selection". It is not chance. It is not "accident". (Sorry if this double-posts. Internet isn't working too well.)TheYellowShark
January 1, 2009
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TheYellowShark
You may be forgetting that evolution in the same manner as a parallel processor. We don’t need to solve one problem before we move onto the next.
Your understanding of natural selection and population genetics is lacking deeply. Natural selection, you see, doesn't get to select between individual alleles. It can only select whole organisms which contain millions of alleles - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Actually, it’s not. I do recommend that you actually learn something about evolutionary theory before you criticize it. Natural selection is the antithesis of “dumb luck”.
I recommend YOU learn a bit more about what you think you're championing. In the theory commonly called Random Mutation Plus Natural Selection the mutations are random with respect to fitness. Fitness enhancing mutations are exceedingly rare because life is already exquisitely well designed. So the vast majority of random mutations are in the range of immediately fatal to slightly deleterious. Because natural selection doesn't operate on single mutations but instead must accept or reject all mutations because it operates on the entire organism not microscopic bits of the organism, it must accept the bad and the nearly neutral along with the good. This leads to things like Haldane's Dilemma and Sanford's Genetic Entropy. Unless very beneficial adaptations are front loaded into the genome in such a way that random mutuation finds them far more frequently than it takes to generate them from scratch then natural selection among species with obligatory sexual reproduction acts as a conservative force keeping the species from wandering too far off the reservation, so to speak, until the inevitable accumulation of nearly neutral (natural selection can't "see" nearly neutral mutations) slightly deleterious mutations spells eventual extinction. The fossil record, I might remind you, is a record of abrupt appearance of new species, a long period of no significant change to the new species, followed by an abrupt disappearance. Exactly what a front loaded, pre-programmed phylogenetic progression should look like and nothing like what Darwinian gradualism should look like. Get a clue.DaveScot
January 1, 2009
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However not everyone that can ride a bicycle can ride a unicycle. That does nothing to demonstrate that undirected processes could/ would do such a thing. == ...Umm, okay. Point taken? == Ya see the debate isn’t that IC can’t “evolve”. It is about the MECHANISM- ie designed to evolve vs evolution via an accumulation of genetic accidents. == Okay, so basically what you're saying is that IC is a worthless concept in ID. If IC can evolve, then it cannot be used as a form of design detection. == Toolkit genes- more evidence for intelligent design in biological organisms. == How so? == As for HIV, the change Behe missed, ONE in the billions of opportunities, is not that significant. == Behe claimed that: "It still has the same number of genes that work in the same way. There is no new molecular machinery." Both of these claims were disproved, and were in fact known to be false long before he made them.TheYellowShark
January 1, 2009
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Something that should be obvious is that while there is no way a unicycle could evolve into a bicycle it is possible for a bicycle to evolve (change via chance/accident/non-design) into a unicycle, with of course a loss of much function. Something else to consider is that while much function would be lost, this new, accidental unicycle would still have some advantages -- such as taking up less space in the garage and being lighter. And again it gives me pleasure to no end to see objects of known design being used as examples of undirected evolution :-)tribune7
January 1, 2009
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I emailed Luskin with this:
I was hoping you could clarify a comment you made. You said: “Unicycles, having only one wheel, are missing an obvious component found on bicycles. Does this imply that you can remove one wheel from a bicycle and it will still function? Of course not. Try removing a wheel from a bike and you’ll quickly see that it requires two wheels to function.” The Darwinists are saying that "he[Luskin] is attempting to say that bicycles are irreducibly complex because they are not reducible to unicycles (which are functional) if one merely removes a single wheel." Is that correct?
Luskin's response:
Thanks for your e-mail. As usual, Darwinists are mis-stating / over-stating my argument and missed the point of my argument very badly My point with the bike/unicycle example is to illustrate the fallacy of Ken Miller's argument re the blood clotting cascade (BCC). KEN MILLER effectively said that if system B (i.e. the jawed-fish BCC, or a unicycle) functions while missing component x (i.e. factors 12/12a/11, or a wheel) found in system A (i.e. the land-dwelling vertebrate BCC, or a bicycle), then system A is NOT irreducibly complex. My point is that this is not a valid argument, because: (1) System A and System B could be very different systems that have different functional requirements or (2) System A might have an irreducible core that does not include X, and therefore our findings about System B is irrelevant. (1) and/ or (2) could be true for the BCC, so Miller's argument did not refute Behe's argument. Regarding bikes and unicycles, bikes are irreducibly complex whether one has invented the unicycle or not. The reason we know this is because we can perform knockout experiments on a bike where we remove various parts, and find that the bike does not function. I argue that a bike is irreducibly complex with respect to: (a) Both its wheels (b) Frame (c) Steering mechanism (d) Motor mechanism ...because if you knock out any one of those parts, the bike won't function. So I'm not arguing that if bikes aren't reducible to unicycles, then bikes are irreducibly complex. The irreducible complexity of bikes can be demonstrated quite separate from consideration of unicycles; unicycles are discussed simply as part of my example to show the fallacy of Miller's argument. The reason we know bike's are irreducibly complex is because the knockout experiment described above shows that they are. It has nothing to do with unicycles. Does that clarify? Thanks and happy new year.
So, Yellowshark, if your comment was the essence of Zimmer's argument then you both misread Luskin and put words into his mouth. Although, I will say that his original paragraph was poorly phrased since it was open to interpretation.
You may be forgetting that evolution in the same manner as a parallel processor. We don’t need to solve one problem before we move onto the next.
Of course.
Lineages throughout the population are “working on the solutions to various problems”, and they share these solutions with each other by sexual reproduction, conjugation, etc.
At least with HIV and malaria (oh, and the changes wrought in humans) these were not controlled experiments. These organisms are constantly being modified and attempting to solve any problem that may affect their survivability. So your objection holds little force, although you may appeal to "deep time" as a solution to anything.
So we have plenty of time to work with.
Perhaps that may be reasonably asserted for fast replicators. But what of higher organisms with longer generation time?
And much of the “heavy lifting” that was done was in the evolution of various gene toolkits, proteins and enzymes early in the history of life (when generation times were likely as short as modern bacteria).
That's actually a design hypothesis, except you'd replace "evolution" with "design".
I have not read EoE, and only briefly glanced at Behe’s blog
No surprise here.
but needless to say, I was not impressed with his demonstrably false claim that there has been no significant biochemical evolution in HIV, as discussed by ERV and others.
When writing the book Edge of Evolution Behe wrote that we should expect certain things within certain boundaries. He was not aware of any at the time so he put a "0" in his graphics. Smith simply highlighted an example that Behe did not know about, but which fit within the expected "edge" for HIV, and if the book is ever revised I'm sure it'll be added.Patrick
January 1, 2009
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With me it comes to down to it being easier to type i that blockquote. :-) Also, aesthetics. I prefer italics for short quotes and blockquote for long quotes, especially if I'm starting my post with the quote.tribune7
January 1, 2009
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OK, it worked, kind of.vjtorley
January 1, 2009
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sparc You wrote: Why doesn’t the majority of commenters, even long time contributors like tribune7, use the blockquote tag when they cite from other comments? I know this sounds dumb, but to be honest, although I am capable of programming in HTML code, I never realized that you could use HTML tags (such as blockquote) when entering in comments on this blog. The thought never crossed my mind. I'd always wondered how other people manage to indent and do italics and stuff. OK, I'm going to try an experiment.
To indent with italics, type "
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vjtorley
January 1, 2009
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Why doesn't the majority of commenters, even long time contributors like tribune7, use the blockquote tag when they cite from other comments? It actually works, e.g. see Jerry at 37.sparc
December 31, 2008
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Happy New Year, YellowShark and everybody else.tribune7
December 31, 2008
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Geocentricsm was accepted beyond all reasonable doubt the scientific community circa 1610. Being in an echo chamber isn’t good for anybody . . .And intelligent design was accepted by the scientific community prior to 1859. Both ideas were replaced, and rightfully so. The point is don't equate consensus with fact. The late Michael Crichton addressed how great a mistake is here. And do you really think accident can explain everything?tribune7
December 31, 2008
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And intelligent design was accepted by the scientific community prior to 1859.
"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together . . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind." Max Planck, 20th century
Both ideas were replaced, and rightfully so.
Sheer dumb luck isn't a viable replacement. And that is you have without ID...Joseph
December 31, 2008
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Yes TheYellowShark, via intelligent design, ie design modifications, one can take an irreducibly complex structure and modify it to make another IC structure with a similar function. However not everyone that can ride a bicycle can ride a unicycle. That does nothing to demonstrate that undirected processes could/ would do such a thing. Ya see the debate isn't that IC can't "evolve". It is about the MECHANISM- ie designed to evolve vs evolution via an accumulation of genetic accidents. Toolkit genes- more evidence for intelligent design in biological organisms. As for HIV, the change Behe missed, ONE in the billions of opportunities, is not that significant.Joseph
December 31, 2008
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Off the top of my head, Malaria and HIV have bother been observed to use a huge number of resources in order to produce stuff within their expected range. This has been covered in EoE and on Behe’s Amazon blog. Dr. Lenski and his 20 years and 40,000+ generations of E.coli for citrate which is the equivalent of +-800,000 years of evolution in a species with an average generation of 20 years.. Again with E. coli, there is the lactose consumption experiment which involved 30,000+ generations which is the equivalent of +-600,000 years of evolution in a species with an average generation of 20 years. Nylonase, which was a a pre-existing esterase with B-lactam folds that had minimal nylon hydrolysis activity from the start. Pretty much every example trumpeted by Darwinists that I can think of involve a large number of replications. == I'm not sure why this is a problem, even if I accept the numbers you are providing. You may be forgetting that evolution in the same manner as a parallel processor. We don't need to solve one problem before we move onto the next. Lineages throughout the population are "working on the solutions to various problems", and they share these solutions with each other by sexual reproduction, conjugation, etc. So we have plenty of time to work with. And much of the "heavy lifting" that was done was in the evolution of various gene toolkits, proteins and enzymes early in the history of life (when generation times were likely as short as modern bacteria). I have not read EoE, and only briefly glanced at Behe's blog, but needless to say, I was not impressed with his demonstrably false claim that there has been no significant biochemical evolution in HIV, as discussed by ERV and others. Anyway, it's New Year's and I'm going out to have a drink. I suggest you do the same. I will address some posts tomorrow, but then I'll be catching a train across Canada tomorrow night, so it will be a few days before I can address responses any further.TheYellowShark
December 31, 2008
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Patrick: for any biological object I would think it should be potentially possible to imagine a gradual pathway(s) by which it could come to be. I can imagine a long series of neutral and beneficial mutations and presume the easy co-option of various components… ==,
Congratulations. You’re an “evolutionist”. And don’t forget that they need not be neutral or beneficial mutations. If the population is small enough, genetic drift can result in peak shifts.
Interesting. All it takes to be an evolutionist (or Darwinist) is merely imagine. Well, all due respect to John Lennon, but imagine makes a great song, but doesn't provide evidence in any scientific sense. Imagination can inspire scientific discovery without a doubt. But, imagination without experimental confirmation is scientifically empty. ==
Patrick: Actually, while I agree with Tribune that Darwinists should provide positive evidence for their claims… ==
And indeed they have. To the point where evolution is accepted beyond all reasonable doubt within the scientific community.
Science has historically accepted all sorts of things beyond all reasonable doubt. That doesn't tell us much. Sure there's a mountain of data that one can take to be evidence for this or that aspect of evolution. The issue is how strong is the evidential value of that data. What seems to be the case with evolution is that a lot of the data claimed to be evidence for evolution loses its evidential starch when the assumption of evolution is removed. For example, homologies in biological systems are often cited as 'strong' evidence for common ancestry. But, they could also be 'strong' evidence for common design. There's nothing in the data that allows us to scientifically exclude the one in favor of the other. What seems to be "accepted" within science beyond all reason is naturalism (whether philosophical or merely methodological - not that theres any real difference). When all data is looked at that way, then evolution, or something very much like it is the only game in town. Okay, its New Years Eve...everyone go party!! Happy New YEar. I won't be posting again until next year!DonaldM
December 31, 2008
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especially when the resources required for just a couple steps in a gradual pathway has been observed to be quite large. == Example?
First off, I'm speaking of observed evolution, not hypotheses. Off the top of my head, Malaria and HIV have bother been observed to use a huge number of resources in order to produce stuff within their expected range. This has been covered in EoE and on Behe's Amazon blog. Dr. Lenski and his 20 years and 40,000+ generations of E.coli for citrate which is the equivalent of +-800,000 years of evolution in a species with an average generation of 20 years.. Again with E. coli, there is the lactose consumption experiment which involved 30,000+ generations which is the equivalent of +-600,000 years of evolution in a species with an average generation of 20 years. Nylonase, which was a a pre-existing esterase with B-lactam folds that had minimal nylon hydrolysis activity from the start. Pretty much every example trumpeted by Darwinists that I can think of involve a large number of replications.
That was not Luskin’s intention.
and
He is attempting to say that bicycles are irreducibly complex because they are not reducible to unicycles (which are functional) if one merely removes a single wheel.
Ah, so that's how you are interpreting him. I did not read it that way but I can certainly see how you could read it that way. I'll email Luskin to see if that was what he intended to say. Also, if a component that is part of the IC core is removed from a system then that system would either have to operate as a different system, a combination of several different systems with different functions, or potentially be completely non-functional for any purpose (unless you assert that something like a ball bearing, screw, or spring is a "system" in itself). I'll also note that you're resorting to nitpicking based solely upon a single sentence by Behe which does not explain the concept at length. These short definitions are a little better... “A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, nonarbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system’s basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system.” (No Free Lunch, 285) “An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.” (A Response to Critics of Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael Behe, PCID, Volume 1.1, January February March, 2002) ...but it's funny how yet again you're resorting to word games. I swear this past month has been the Word Games Winter Olympics for UD.
And intelligent design was accepted by the scientific community prior to 1859. Both ideas were replaced, and rightfully so.
Replaced due to the ignorance of the amazing information-based systems in biology (they thought they were mere blobs and OOL was easy!) and currently held onto with a death grip due to ideology.Patrick
December 31, 2008
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