Intelligent Design

Quaint and Amusing Things Our Ancestors Believed

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I came across this quote from 1906 today:

“Each of us was, at the beginning of his existence, a simple globule of protoplasm, surrounded by a membrane, about 1/120 of an inch in diameter, with a firmer nucleus inside it.

Ernst Haeckel, Last Words on Evolution (London: A. Owen & Co., 1906).

One wonders if the process that culminated in NDE would have ever gotten off the ground if its progenitors had had even a faint notion of how laughably wrong they were about the cell.

47 Replies to “Quaint and Amusing Things Our Ancestors Believed

  1. 1
    RobertC says:

    I’m confused by this post. What is contributed to the ID movement by picking on 100 year old science? Sure, Haeckel didn’t have a cryo-EM to define all cellular structures-but it is remarkable what biologists had right. Also, the term ‘protoplasm’ is not synonomous with ‘cytoplasm.’ Indeed, it is almost an admission of how little they knew, meaning “primative forming material.”

    Even by 1873, Curtis discusses the unifying features of protoplasm, and the existence of sub-cellular organelles which researchers didn’t understand the function of.

    “THE PROTOPLASM THEORY: AN INTRODUCTORY LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE OPENING OF
    THE WINTER SESSION OF THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS” Edward Curtis – 1873

    So even at this point, scientists found cells remarkably complex, containing the functional stuff of life that was surpassing their ability to discern.

    My question is: why focus on the historical narrative of science in this manner? If you admit the world of progress science has made in understanding cellular function (using a darwinist framework) doesn’t this give ammo to the “god of the gaps” critique of intellegent design? Where in the advance of knowledge over the past 100 years does intellegent design come in?

  2. 2
    leebowman says:

    “One wonders if the process that culminated in NDE would have ever gotten off the ground … “

    Hmmmm, one wonders why it’s still flying, but it seems to be losing altitude. Simplification is not the answer. While it’s true that we look for theory unifications and simplications, and despite Occam’s Inane Razor, you simply cannot unobstruct to facilitate. I sincerely doubt that a ‘one piece’ Unified Field Theory will ever be found.

    Just as a biologic cell is incredibly complex, I look at the Embryo as a Biologic Production Facility. I equate the chicken / egg question to be restatable as “which came first, the Lincoln Navigator or the GM assembly plant.

  3. 3
    GilDodgen says:

    A question comes to mind: As the decades have passed, and we have learned more and more about the true nature of living systems, has the explanatory power of the Darwinian mechanism been increasingly vindicated or increasingly seen to be speculative and inadequate? In the case of general relativity, for example, as the decades have passed its validity has been increasingly vindicated with new, confirmable, hard evidence. In the case of NDE we still see finch beaks, embryos, moths, etc. offered as evidence — the same old stuff that’s been around for decades.

  4. 4
    rpf_ID says:

    I believe the point being made is that 100 years ago the best knowledge was highly innacurrate to what really went on inside the cell.

    Maybe the unstated thesis is something like this, “If Darwin himself had access to what we know about the internal workings of the cell, would he have still had his deep felt convictions that ID had nothing to do with the development of life?”

    Furhter, I think the intended message is one showing or highlighting how little they knew then and how much we have learned in the past 100 years. The idea is that if we become to “Sure” of what we know, then we ignore the fact that evidences that we may yet, have the ability to understand or concieve of, will reveal the error in our thinking. I believe BarryA is just highlighting a pitfall many anti_ID people fall into, “the we know everything about evolution and that it happened, period.” There could be evidence that we have yet to uncover which would change out minds on such things. Anyway, that is my speculation of the day. All responses are more than welcome.

    Thanks,

    Ricardo

  5. 5
    leebowman says:

    RobtC:

    “why focus on the historical narrative of science in this manner?”

    Granted, maybe we should stop picking on Ernst Haeckel, just as Richard Dawkins might think about leaving Wm. Paley alone. As for the progress of testing the ID concept, that’s a work in progress. It may never be verified/falsified by emperical testing methods. I’m betting on mathematical and computerized modeling, for both ID and NDE.

  6. 6
    RobertC says:

    I’ve often been asked what sort of testable hypothesis ID can generate. If I were a researcher back in 1906 looking at a cell-membrane, nucleus, and ‘protoplasm’, what would an hypothesis would an intellegent design advocate make, and how could this be tested. I think a scenario showing how ID would have contributed to science, equally well with Darwinism would be very convincing to my peers.

  7. 7
    DK says:

    rpf_ID: “If Darwin himself had access to what we know about the internal workings of the cell, would he have still had his deep felt convictions that ID had nothing to do with the development of life?”

    I don’t think that statement is true. Darwin often mentions a Creator (Designer), he only describes how he thought the process might work. It is only Darwins “pupils” who have thrown out the inclusion of a Creator.

  8. 8
    BarryA says:

    DK, you’re kidding yourself. Darwin himself was a dyed-in-the-wool materialist and knew his work was a frontal assault on the entire concept of special creation and by extension the existence (or at least the necessity of) a creator. See http://www.asa3.org/archive/ev...../0158.html

  9. 9
    Karl Pfluger says:

    GilDodgen wrote:

    In the case of NDE we still see finch beaks, embryos, moths, etc. offered as evidence — the same old stuff that’s been around for decades.

    Uh, Gil, what about molecular biology?

  10. 10
    BarryA says:

    RobertC, I suppose Haeckel’s error could be attributed to his primitive understanding of the inner workings of the cell. Now that we know the cell is a tiny factory that is a marvel of both micro-engineering and data compression, one wonders how modern scientists can still hold the same quaint and amusing ideas held by Haeckel. That is my point.

    I would love to be a Darwinist. My life would be so much easier if I could go with the flow instead of against it. But I simply cannot manage the faith commitments necessary to believe something so unlikely. You seem to have made that leap of faith with alacrity. Tell me how you managed it.

  11. 11
    Scott says:

    Karl: How has molecular biology demonstrated the validity of Darwinian mechanisms?

  12. 12
    RobertC says:

    “My life would be so much easier if I could go with the flow instead of against it. But I simply cannot manage the faith commitments necessary to believe something so unlikely. You seem to have made that leap of faith with alacrity.”

    1) I never said I was a committed darwinist. Apparently disagreement with specifics isn’t tolerated here.

    2) I’d love to share more, but your draconian moderator thinks not….

  13. 13
    Mats says:

    Karl: How has molecular biology demonstrated the validity of Darwinian mechanisms?

    To put it bluntly, “It hasn’t”. Darwinists “predicted” that molecular biology would confirm their theory, but, as with everything else, that field of inquiry refused to provide any evidence for Darwinism.
    As Denton puts it

    In terms of their basic biochemical design, therefore no living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slighest hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredible diverse cells. For those who hoped that molecular biology might bridge the gulf between chemistry and biochemistry, the revelation was profoundly disapointing. “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”, pg 250, Michael Denton

  14. 14
    pd0054 says:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with Haeckel’s statement–is the idea that “protoplasm” isn’t supposed to have smaller structures inside it?

  15. 15
    Carlos says:

    It would be more accurate to say that “Darwinism” neither predicted (nor failed to predict) molecular biology. But the molecular evidence has tended to covergence with, rather than diverge from, anatomical, paleontological, embryological, and biogeographical evidence — in all cases one sees a pattern that looks like “descent with modification”. Ruse (in Darwinism and Its Discontents) calls this a “consilience of induction” — many different lines of evidence point towards the same inductive inference.

    But presumably “no true IDer” (see, aren’t I funny?) would dispute that. Rather, the complaint lies with the mechanisms which produce the pattern. The Darwinist claims that mutation and selection are not only necessary but also sufficient for “descent with modification”. The IDist would maintain that these mechanisms, while perhaps at work in “microevolution,” are insufficient to account for “macroevolution.” Something more is required.

  16. 16
    russ says:

    “…If you admit the world of progress science has made in understanding cellular function (using a darwinist framework) doesn’t this give ammo to the “god of the gaps” critique of intellegent design?”

    Comment by RobertC — September 21, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    Robert, could you give a few bullet points to outline what the “Darwinian framework” has contributed to the “understanding of cellular function”?

  17. 17
    rpf_ID says:

    DK wrote:rpf_ID: [“If Darwin himself had access to what we know about the internal workings of the cell, would he have still had his deep felt convictions that ID had nothing to do with the development of life?”

    I don’t think that statement is true. Darwin often mentions a Creator (Designer), he only describes how he thought the process might work. It is only Darwins “pupils” who have thrown out the inclusion of a Creator.]

    Actually, quite the contrary is true. You see Darwin was a master in his rhetorical approach in arguing his position. He understood who he was arguing against and how they would react to his hypothesis. Furhter, he understood that avoiding such contraversy was to get around those things by making it seem as if his theory was friendly to Natural Theology. For more on this looks up the works on Darwin’s rhetoric by John Angus Campbell. To be quite honest Darwin Intelligently Designed his books in a most rhetorically brilliant way.

    Ricardo

  18. 18
    John A. Davison says:

    I am sure that by 1911 Ernst Haeckel knew that cells were not mere blobs. He was a fine zoologist and I am sure he was aware of all the great strides that had been made chiefly by German science which had already disclosed the basis of both mitosis and meiosis. The chromosome theory of heredity was already firmly established and the discovery of Mendel’s paper fit right in. That proved to be very misleading as to the causes of organic evolution as I have explained elsewhere as well as here at Uncommon Descent. Mendelism had no role in evolution, none, except to bring it to a halt. That is true today as it always has been. Trust me, but of course you won’t.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  19. 19
    BarryA says:

    pd0054 writes: “I don’t see what’s wrong with Haeckel’s statement–is the idea that “protoplasm” isn’t supposed to have smaller structures inside it?”

    The difference between you and me is, you focus on the word “protoplasm” and project into the sentence an unwarranted assumption that Haeckel knew the cell is complex. I focus on the words “simple globule,” which lead to the inescapable conclusion that he did not.

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    Carlos,

    Well said. Now we can debate the evidence for support of the mechanisms that caused the changes that have been observed. Maybe not on this thread, but somewhere else.

    Barry,

    I get the feeling that debating this issue may be moot. It is like the baseball announcer who berates a runner for getting thrown out trying to steal second when the subsequent batter hits a long double. It does not take into account that the world changed after the runner was caught and the pitcher may have behaved differently. Similarly, if we knew about the complexity of the cell in Darwin’s day or just post Darwin, it would imply a different world and who knows what the zeitgeist would have been as a result of this knowledge. The technology that produced the knowledge might have produced a lot of other attitudes.

    Today, we look at the cell and see unbelievable complexity and precision in the inter working of tens of thousands of parts and know that nothing except an intelligence could have made it happen. The Darwinist looks at the same cell and sees the progression of these parts from a common toolbox of genes present in the distant past. It would have probably been the same way in the early 1900’s if we all knew about DNA and micro biology. A Darwinist’s belief is not tied into truth but rather it must be consistent with a much bigger belief system. Why do they play so many games with the facts. It would have been the same in 1906.

    The main difference is that the Darwinists could not have controlled the school system back then. But again I don’t know that for sure since it would have been a different world.

  21. 21
    bevets says:

    Our concern is rather with the unparalleled influence that Darwinism, and its application to man, have had during the last forty years on the whole province of science; and at the same time, with its irreconcilable opposition to the dogmas of the Churches. Last Words on Evolution (1920) p.36

    It was obvious that both the general theory of evolution and its extension to man in particular must meet from the first with the most determined resistance on the part of the Churches. Both were in flagrant contradiction to the Mosaic story of creation, and other Biblical dogmas that were involved in it, and are still taught in our elementary schools. It is creditable to the shrewdness of the theologians and their associates, the metaphysicians, that they at once rejected Darwinism, and made a particularly energetic resistance in their writings to its chief consequence, the descent of man from ape. This resistance seemed the more justified and hopeful as, for seven or eight years after Darwin’s appearance, few biologists accepted his theory, and the general attitude amongst them was one of cold skepticism. Last Words on Evolution (1920) pp.38-39

    Our science of evolution won its greatest triumph when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, its most powerful opponents, the Churches, became reconciled to it , and endeavored to bring their dogmas into line with it. Last Words on Evolution (1920) p.55

  22. 22
    Carlos says:

    A Darwinist’s belief is not tied into truth but rather it must be consistent with a much bigger belief system. Why do they play so many games with the facts.

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Scientists are human beings! Extra! Extra!

  23. 23
    WinglesS says:

    Nothing wrong about a scientist being wrong about some things or another. They probably are wrong on many other things really… The advancement of science and technology today is such that we often don’t even know how some of the things we use work. Most of us can’t tell how on earth scientists came to the conclusions they came to so we often take their words as the truth.

    “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” – G.K Chesterton

  24. 24
    Ekstasis says:

    Whether Ernst Haeckel did or did not have an inkling of the tremendous complexity of the cell, “a simple globule of protoplasm” would certainly give those around him the impression that achieving the creation of a human did not even require breaking a sweat. Since, at the height of the industrial revolution, people viewed organisms through the lens of machines, this certainly has the ring of a very simple machine.

    Since we are at a state in our accepted science through two factors — conditions from the past and condition today, the history is incredibly important. Scientists are humans, and none of us woke up today with a clean slate.

  25. 25
    pd0054 says:

    BarryA,

    “The difference between you and me is, you focus on the word “protoplasm” and project into the sentence an unwarranted assumption that Haeckel knew the cell is complex. I focus on the words ‘simple globule,’ which lead to the inescapable conclusion that he did not.”

    No, I wasn’t trying to suggest that Haeckel knew about the complexity of the cell. It just doesn’t seem to me that this statement denies it, at least not in a very strong way. Maybe “simple globule” suggests that, and maybe it does so in a stronger way given his background culture. But his main point seems instead to be the striking, and correct, fact that we all began our existence as little bitty zygotes. I’d really have to see the context of the passage to be confident of what he did or didn’t have in mind. I don’t think his meaning here is inescapable, not just from this passage.

  26. 26
    jerry says:

    Carlos,

    Interesting response, I wasn’t talking about scientists per se but more about those who haunt the various blogs as well as those professionals who support Darwinism. Though both are extremely guilty of disingenuous behavior. Your response makes my point and could be rephrased to include both groups as “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! all Darwinists are human beings, they all lie about the facts! Extra! Extra!”

    You might ask why Darwinists have a greater propensity to lie, distort or generate confusion than others. Is that an Extra, Extra or is that just normal behavior for this group?

  27. 27
    Ekstasis says:

    Jerry,

    Maybe “bending the truth” (sounds a bit nicer) is simply an adaptation that enables the Darwinists, or at least their theory, to survive. Besides, since NDE gets everyone off the hook for any real accountability, why not take a few liberties at the expense of “truth”, as long as you get away with it? “Truth” does not really exist anyway, it is just whatever works and allows one’s genes to survive that is important.

  28. 28
    franky172 says:

    You might ask why Darwinists have a greater propensity to lie, distort or generate confusion than others. Is that an Extra, Extra or is that just normal behavior for this group?

    You might ask that, but if your presumption is that a “darwinist” is likely to be a “materialist” and thus more likely to misprepresent the truth, you would be ignoring the much more flagrant, attrocious, numerous and (sadly) obvious fallacies put forth by the creation-science establishment over the past 20 or so years (not to insinuate that creationism is ID) (for examples see: http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....oject.html, 90% of what Kent Hovind says, http://members.cox.net/ardipit.....index.html and my favorite: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/knee-joint.html). Now given these facts, would it be reasonable of me to ask whether “lying just normal behavior for this group”?

  29. 29
    jerry says:

    franky172,

    I agree that many creationists also are guilty of similar behavior. I find it difficult to understand how one could believe in a young earth after studying geology and its areas of volcano formation, plate structure, or just the evidence of erosion and the time it takes. I would oppose a creationist interpretation of science as a basis for the curriculum in schools as much as I oppose a Darwinist interpretation of biology. However, given that I find creationist much more amenable to a rational discussion than Darwinists on most issues especially what is discussed on this site, namely the evidence for various mechanisms of evolution.

    I have learned a lot from the creationist just as I have learned a lot from many Darwinists. When each speaks truth, logic and facts it is easy to learn. However, one side distorts much more than the other on the topic of evolution.

  30. 30
    todd says:

    The dishonesty among darwinist scientists is in refusing to acknowledge they have a philosophy and that it shapes their inferences and conclusions – and I hesitate to call it dishonesty, but more an hubristic blind spot. Moreover, they are indistinguishable from the look down their noses holier than thou fundy types they tend to detest. I’m willing to throw my belief in the Abram’s God out the window if my own experience of his power can be explained with satisifactory reasoning.

    Science has limits and our reason has limits – and each one of us uses a type of faith to fill in the gaps. That faith is informed by beliefs, which are formally described by philosophy. There is an arrogance I’ve noticed among materialists which claims science informs and indeed justifies their beliefs when it is the exact opposite. I wonder how versed the average darwinist is in their own epistemology? How versed are any of us? Do we talk past each other because we have different standards about how we know what we know?

    Anyway, I derive these considerations largely based on the many fallacies I’ve encountered from those in the materialist camp when their faith is challenged and their refusal to acknowlege they have faith in the first place.

  31. 31
    John A. Davison says:

    comment #18 in which I claimed that Mendelism had nothing to do with evolution is the one that Alan Fox in his infinite wisdom had the stupidity to reproduce over at Elsberry’s Alamo. It hangs there still, pregnant with silent significance, unanswered and unacknowledged of course, like all my other pronunciamentos exposing the Darwinian fairy tale, the biggest hoax in the history of science. You have no idea what this means to me.

    Thanks again Alan as you continue, as always, to be my greatest supporter. Why not tack this one on as an epilogue? I want to rub all your Darwimpian noses in it don’t you know. God but this is fun!

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  32. 32
    todd says:

    RobertC asks,

    If you admit the world of progress science has made in understanding cellular function (using a darwinist framework) doesn’t this give ammo to the “god of the gaps” critique of intellegent design?

    No. I submit the darwinist framework is a gap filler in itself. The progress made in understanding cellular function has never needed a darwinist framework (see link below), it has needed better technology, which leads to Robert’s next question,

    Where in the advance of knowledge over the past 100 years does intellegent design come in?

    Science experiments
    computers
    electron microscopes
    gas spectrometers
    telescopes
    geological core drills
    electron cryotomography

    Does that answer the question?

  33. 33
    mjb2001 says:

    I’d like to make two comments. One is in response to russ’s question to Robert: “Robert, could you give a few bullet points to outline what the “Darwinian framework” has contributed to the “understanding of cellular function”?”

    It’s possible, and I’m just speculating here, that a “Darwinian framework” allowed scientists to ask different questions than they would with an “ID framework”. When one presupposes design, one presupposes designs that one is familiar with. Hence Crick’s famous quote about biologists reminding themselves that life evolved rather than was designed. Since “Darwinism” allows for anything, anything is possible, even what to the human aesthetic looks ridiculous or inefficient. Take for instance cytochrome c; it’s an important, well-described component of cellular respiration. It’s also an essential component to apoptosis. It’s possible that the seemingly absurd nature of its dual function would have been ignored as impossible if scientists presupposed a more intelligent designer. If everything fits together sloppily rather than precisely, scientists may not ignore discrepencies that they might if they presupposed design.

    Which leads me to my second comment, in response to jerry: “Today, we look at the cell and see unbelievable complexity and precision in the inter working of tens of thousands of parts and know that nothing except an intelligence could have made it happen.”

    Anyone who believes that the cell has precision is misleading themselves. Complexity? Yes. Precision? No. And certainly not efficiency. Cells are extraordinarily wasteful and contain insane amounts of functional, yet imprecise redundancy.

  34. 34
    DK says:

    Ricardo and Barry A.

    From Origin of Species:
    Chapter 13:
    The ingenuity and utility of this system are indisputable. But many naturalists think that something more is meant by the Natural System; they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator; but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge.

    Here Darwin simply states that he doesn’t think the Natural system is anything special, it is just “playing out”

    Chapter 14:
    To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.

    Again Darwin states a Designer had something to do with setting things in motion, but then stepped back and let things run their course. Yes Darwin was a materialist and was purposely explaining away “special creation” by using natural law to make things, where he has failed is in adequately defining what those laws are, he was left with what he could observe which was quite simply a bunch of plants and animals in different environments, he then leapt to conclusions that the environment alone was the cause of change.

    The explanation is inadaquate, incomplete and is not backed up by all the evidence, but nevertheless it kind of fits so is more acceptable to the scientific community because it pushes the designer out of the picture. In my opinion ID has not answered the question any better. Let me be clear, I believe in ID as a cause for change that could for example explain gaps in the fossil record but nobody has demonstrated or proposed how the system works. We are left with 2 scenerios, 1. Creation is simply set in motion with a grand design that plays itself out, in this case the system is far more complex then we can imagine and its going to be a while before we figure it out. Or 2. The designer intervenes and can cause changes to the system. Of the two the second is more intriguing and is more in line with our own experience when it comes to making anything. If that is the case then ID should be searching for methods to cause change… how do you introduce new information into the system?

  35. 35
    jerry says:

    mjb2001,

    Another interesting comment. Maybe we should devote a separate thread some time on the efficiency or inefficiency of the cell.

    Somehow all those proteins get made on demand and shuttled off to far away places to do their thing.

    Somehow in the embryo each new cell gets created in just the right place to build those bones and organs etc.

    Someone more knowledgeable could go on, I am sure.

    Amazing how inefficient it is. It’s a wonder it has lived as long as it has.

  36. 36
    Ekstasis says:

    Jerry,

    Yes, it is inefficient just as is junk DNA. Oh, that’s right, junk DNA isn’t really junk after all.

  37. 37
    BarryA says:

    DK, did you actually follow the link I gave you? It answers all the quotes you make.

  38. 38
    DK says:

    BarryA
    Yes I did read it and I will quote from it here:

    “Again, Darwin’s view of “the Creator” was deistic (if even that*),
    referring only to an original in-breathing, which set in train a
    purely naturalistic process that Darwin saw as “the war of nature”:”

    In other words the naturalistic process was designed and set in motion! Regardless of wether he identifies the Creator as deisitic or otherwise there still is one. Now again Darwins problem is he then set out to identify how the system worked and fell short as you know . So what is the ID definition of how it works? This has nothing to do with wether or not the Creator can be known to us on a personal level. Its a simple matter of identifing the “how it works”. We know why the moon stays in orbit around the earth, and the earth around the sun because we have found physical laws that explain it. Because of that we were able to send men to the moon. We however have not discovered formulas and laws for life, does ID claim they don’t exist?

  39. 39
    mjb2001 says:

    Somehow all those proteins get made on demand and shuttled off to far away places to do their thing.

    Yes. And somehow the MTA gets me to work every morning. In fact, the system picks me up and dumps me off in the same spots. And yet I would never use the words “efficient” or “precise” to describe the MTA.

    I’m not saying that developmental and cell biology isn’t amazing or fascinating or mind-boggling awesome.

  40. 40
    Mats says:

    Hi Carlos:

    But the molecular evidence has tended to covergence with, rather than diverge from, anatomical, paleontological, embryological, and biogeographical evidence — in all cases one sees a pattern that looks like “descent with modification”

    Actually, this is precisely the opposite of what has happened. Following the generally accepted fact that gradualism is nowhere to be seen in the fossil record, molecular biology only added more problems to the darwinian synthesis.
    “Anatomical, paleontological, embryological” evidence hasn’t been in favor of NDT, since
    1) Anatomical similarities (I think you mean homology) has been shown to not follow the darwinian pathway. Diferent genes code for so called homologous structures, and the same genes code for diferent structures.
    2) Paleontology has been shown to be totally against Darwinism.
    3)Embryological development (I hope you are no alluding to Haeckel) does not confirm Darwinism either. There are similar structures which have a diferent embryological development. Why would they?

  41. 41
    todd says:

    mjb2001,

    I’m curious what you base your claim of cellular imprecision upon? For instance, I’ve read some of the nano assemblies within the cell are highly efficient and precise – such as ATP synthase and flagellar motors.

  42. 42
    John A. Davison says:

    This is in response to Jerry a few messsages back.

    Speaking of efficiency, consider data from cremating chicken eggs and hatched chicks in bomb calorimeters which yield a gross efficiency of about 64%. Of course the molecules in the yolk and albumen must first all be released by hydrolysis before they can then be synthesized into the living, developing chick. Assuming each of these processes has about the same efficiency, the efficiency of the hydrolytic and synthetic processes would each be the square root of 64% or 80%. It is actually even more efficient than 64% because there was a maintenance cost involved during the 21 days if incubation during which the egg was transformed into the chick.

    The probable gross efficiency of development is closer to 80%, far in excess of our best light sources or machines. These and other such experiments are summarized in Samuel Brody’s
    “Bioenergetics and Growth” and were performed during the first decade of the 20th century by Tangl, a German investigator and his students . They were interested in determining the ” Entwicklungsarbeit,” in English, the “Work of Development.”

    As near as I can tell, they have been neglected by the students of themodynamics as applied to living systems. They seem more interested in armchair theorizing, sort of like Darwinians don’t you know. Muscle contraction has an efficiency of about 40% but that does not take into account the recovery and maintenance costs so it is undoubtedly much higher also.

    Thank God the efficiencies are under 100%!

    “The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”
    Anonymous, I think.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    John Davison,

    As usual, thank you for the education. There are a few people, I learn from on this site and you are definitely one of them.

    It is amazing how quickly a Darwinist will make an absurd or convoluted comment to back up their bankrupt theory. Of course, what else could they say because if a theory is bankrupt, it is hard to make an intelligent statement about it.

  44. 44
    John A. Davison says:

    Alan Fix, secure that I cannot answer him there, continues his denigration of me at ATBC and invited me to respond at his blog which I did. I also requested that he reprint that response at ATBC, but I doubt if the cowardly little twerp will do that.

    I know it is not nice to have to treat Darwimps they way that I do, especially since I am convinced it is not really their fault. They were “prescribed” or if you prefer “born that way” to be atheist worshippers of the Great God Chance. I really believe that to be true as I can conceive of no other explanation for the polarity that continues to exist.

    Nevertheless, I can’t help enjoying treating them with contempt since apparently I was “born that way” as well.

    “How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.
    after Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    “I shall loathe thee better after death.”
    ibid

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  45. 45
    mjb2001 says:

    I’m curious what you base your claim of cellular imprecision upon? For instance, I’ve read some of the nano assemblies within the cell are highly efficient and precise – such as ATP synthase and flagellar motors.

    Todd,
    You are undoubtedly correct that ATP synthase and flagellar motors are highly efficient and precise, due in part to low friction at those scales but also remarkably efficient in their own right. They are the exception, though, and not the rule.

    To be honest, I am not a cell biologist so I don’t know nearly as much as many others. I do know a fair bit about fatty acids however. I’ll take two examples. Many proteins in signaling cascades are membrane targeted and many are targeted via the fatty acylation of the N-terminus. In order to properly locate to specific microdomains (called “rafts”) in the membrane they must be myristylated, arelatively short, saturated fatty acid. The protein that does the myristlylation is highly promiscuous, and will stick on virtually any fatty acid available. That includes mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids which results in a mistargeting of the acylated membrane protein. This can happen a lot.

    Also, metabolism isn’t all that efficient. Again, I know mostly about fatty acids so I’ll use that as an example. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are all synthesized at the ER membrane, via a pathway of elongation and desaturation. Except the (arguably) most important one, DHA. The desaturase doesn’t exist. It is elongated to 24 carbons, shuttled to the lysosome and beta-oxidized back down to 22.

    Another metabolic pathway that isn’t as efficient as it should be is a photosynthetic enxyme nicknamed rubisco. It’s primary task is to fix carbon from the air, but it has residual oxygenase activity to the tune of 25% or so. And it’s slow, so it’s pretty much the rate limiting step in the whole cycle. To overcome the oxygen problem, many photosynthetic organisms have devised ways to enrich CO2 around the enzyme; on the whole, the enzyme would function a heck of a lot better if it didn’t bind oxygen.

    Now, I’m not saying that this is evidence for or against intelligent design or evolution; simply put, when I hear people argue that the cell is highly precise and efficient I feel as if they are basing that assumption on the few examples we have of very highly efficient complexes, like the F1/Fo-ATPase, and not on the thousands of other examples we have of systems that really appear to be pieced together haphazardly.

  46. 46
    John A. Davison says:

    Thermodynamic efficiency is measured in bomb calorimeters and is quite independent of personal opinion. Otto Warburg once claimed 100% efficiency for algal photosynthesis under special circumstances and I don’t know that was ever discredited. In vitro estimates of efficiency do not apply in organisms which are open, highly structured systems. I recommend Brody’s book which I mentioned earlier. Facts don’t lie – ideologues do it all the time.

    “Hypotheses have to be reasonable – facts don’t.”
    anonymous

    “Facts can be very stubborn things.”
    ibid

    “A past evoluton is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  47. 47
    jerry says:

    mjb2001,

    As I said there could be a lot of threads that are based on anti-design comments. Cell complexity and interdependence of cell parts should certainly be on the list. Your comment

    “are basing that assumption on the few examples we have of very highly efficient complexes, like the F1/Fo-ATPase, and not on the thousands of other examples we have of systems that really appear to be pieced together haphazardly”

    I do not think anyone thinks the cell is perfect but of course this gets into what is perfection. Your comment implies there are only a few wondrous things about the cell. I will leave it up to any micro-biologist in our midst if they are still reading this thread to comment on the remarkable things that go on in the cell.

    I do not have a degree in biology but to me the whole protein generating process including the mechanism of transcription, translation, the folding, and transportation is amazing. I am sure there are others such as the functions of the various organelles, the various pumps, membrane transporters etc. I would be surprised if it was just a few “gee whiz” phenomena and the rest was a mish mash which natural selection selected. I heard some say the cell is more complicated than any machine invented by man. If that is true or close to truth and the cell obviously works, then maybe we should still be in awe and wonder how it could possibly happen except with the help of an intelligent input.

    I like another comment of yours, “To overcome the oxygen problem, many photosynthetic organisms have devised ways to enrich CO2 around the enzyme.” It seems that we have identified the designer in this case as well as the motive. It is the organism itself.

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