Mark Frank wants to know what all of the fuss is about regarding the recent empirical verification of Michael Behe’s prediction in Edge of Evolution.
In response to the News post Evolutionary biologist Larry Moran tries calculating with big numbers re evolution Mark asks:
I must be missing something important. As far as I can see everyone seems to agree that the mutations required for chloroquine resistance are extremely improbable and this is born out by the rarity of such resistance in the wild. So what?
Fair question, to which gpuccio aptly responds:
The point is simple. The malaria parasite under the extremely strong selection of chloroquine is a model extremely favourable to the neo darwinian algorithm: huge populations, very high reproduction rate, very strong and precise selective pressure, and a rather simple advantageous variation thta can be attained (just two AA variation to confer resistance to a lethal drug).
We can say that this the perfect scenario for the neo darwinian model, and a good way to measure its powers.
Now, in such a favourable scenario, how does the model work? It works (in the end, chloroquine resistance arises), but it definitely requires a lot of time and huge population numbers. IOWs, it happens with some difficulty.
That’s all. That difficulty is exactly what is needed to infer how much more “difficult” (indeed, impossible) it would be for the same neo darwinian model to explain the emergence of a new complex protein when the necessary transition is, say, of 300 AAs, and the population number, reproduction rate and selective pressure are much less favourable to the model. For example, to evolve just one new useful protein in vertebrates or mammals.
That is, and always has been, Behe’s point. And the point of ID.
Can you really say “so what” to that argument?
I would add to gpuccio’ response an issue that BA77 brought up earlier in the thread:
It is interesting to note that Chloroquine Resistance, as hard as it is for Darwinian processes to account for, (whether in the 1 in 10^14 calculation or in the 1 in 10^20 observation), it is not even a gain in functional complexity for the malaria parasite in the first place but is a loss of functional complexity for the parasite. . . . Thus the resistance, as crushing as it is, number-wise, for Darwinists to explain the origin of, is doubly crushing for Darwinists, since the adaptation, as hard as it was for Darwinian processes to acquire, was still ‘downhill’ evolution anyway and adds nothing as to explaining microbes to man evolution is remotely possible in a Darwinian scenario!
Conclusion. So what Mark? The “what” is that it has been mathematically demonstrated that Darwinian processes are real and they can account for small scale changes — which everyone concedes — but the same math demonstrates convincingly that they are not up to the larger task assigned to them by the theory — i.e., large scale changes requiring dozens if not hundreds of mutations.