Intelligent Design

Trench warfare, not an arms race

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In his new book, “The Edge of Evolution,” (another masterpiece) Michael Behe looks in considerable detail at the struggle for survival between humans and the malaria parasite where, in the last 100 years, the evolution of more organisms and generations can be studied than were involved in the entire natural history of mammals. He finds that natural selection can indeed be credited with some “change”, but concludes

Far and away the most extensive relevant data we have on the subject of evolution’s effects on competing organisms is that accumulated on interactions between humans and our parasites. As with the example of malaria, the data show trench warfare, with acts of desperate destruction, not arms races, with mutual improvements. The thrust and parry of human-malaria evolution did not build anything–it only destroyed things. Jettisoning G6PD wrecks, it does not construct. Throwing away band 3 protein does likewise…The arms race metaphor itself is misconceived…Real arms races are run by highly intelligent, bespectacled engineers in glass offices thoughtfully designing shiny weapons on modern computers. But there’s no thinking in the mud and cold of nature’s trenches…In its real war with malaria, the human genome has only diminished.

In an e-mail, I wrote Behe:

I still insist you don’t need to know any biology at all to have predicted your main conclusions, all you need to know is the second law of thermodynamics: natural forces don’t build bridges, they just destroy them*. But no one will listen to you unless you do know some biology, so I’m glad there are people like you who look at the details and arrive at the same obvious conclusions.

* see, for example, the link here from my 2005 John Wiley book.

Progress in the battle between Darwinism and ID is judged, by both sides, by who has the most Nobel prize winners and National Academy of Science members (they do!), but for me the whole issue has always been extremely simple. It’s not too complicated for the layman to understand, it’s too simple for the scientist.

10 Replies to “Trench warfare, not an arms race

  1. 1
    Collin says:

    a college professor of mine insisted that the 2nd law of thermodynamics was not a bar to evolution because there must merely be “net entropy” in the system (defined as the universe) so there may be an increase in order in part of the system (earth). I always thought that was too simplistic.

  2. 2
    Smidlee says:

    The law of thermodynamics at the basic level are very simple which deals with heat/energy but the purpose of knowing these simple laws in to build complex things (like building a better engine). So it’s a very simple law to help us understand very complex things. The second law help us realize energy itself must be directed in extremely narrow paths in order to produce order/work. So throwing a can of gas in your car and sticking a match to it will not get you to work in a orderly matter (it might get you there just not in one piece). It helps a lot to direct the gas intelligently down a narrow line into the engine to fire it just the right time.

  3. 3
    Peter says:

    Thanks for an answer to this important question. I have not seen as thorough an answer. As usual ID proponents produce the best science while evolutionist rely on wishful thinking. A guess a creator making life out of thin air is a stumpling block for many.

  4. 4
    Foxfier says:

    Peter- Personally, I think he made the air– thick and thin– as well. ;^)

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    Granville

    If the universe is deterministic then computers formed because the universe was predestined to produce them (probability = 100%).

    I tend to believe there are missing variables with regard to quantum uncertainty. That position was strengthened by evidence of so-called dark energy which is thought to permeate the universe at something like 10^-29 joules per cubic meter. Collectively it is 70% of the stuff that makes up the universe if our theory of gravity is correct. It appears to interact with normal matter/energy at least gravitationally. It then follows that it may influence the rest of the universe from the quantum scale up through the cosmologic non-uniformly if it (dark energy) isn’t perfectly uniform at various scales. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s inhomogeneity in dark energy just like there is in normal forms of matter/energy distribution and therein lies the missing variable. A quantum gravity theory might help shine some light on it but experimental apparatus that can measure energy that diffuse at a small scale seems practically unobtainable.

  6. 6
    Daniel King says:

    Collin:

    a college professor of mine insisted that the 2nd law of thermodynamics was not a bar to evolution because there must merely be “net entropy” in the system (defined as the universe) so there may be an increase in order in part of the system (earth). I always thought that was too simplistic.

    Bully for you, Collin.

    What would satisfy you as being adequately non-simplistic?

  7. 7
    JGuy says:

    Daniel King:
    Not to speak for Collin, my guess would be that the professor would have to explain why small pocketed increases of crystalline order would be adequate to unbar evolution from building the more complex & specified increases of order require in features of living organisms. i.e. The professor made a hand waving sweeping generalization where a more detailed examination of his overall claim is required.

    BTW: Do I win the prize for longest run-on sentence in this thread?

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    DK,

    Maybe you should try what Prof Sewell has to say in his linked.

    Or, you can pop by appendix 1 in my always linked.

    GEM of TKI

  9. 9
    GilDodgen says:

    Behe has simply provided concrete, empirical evidence for what should be transparently obvious to anyone with experience in the real world:

    Information and machinery are not built by randomly breaking things and throwing out the stuff that doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as well. Information and machinery are built by design.

    One needs a Ph.D. in denial of the obvious not to recognize this.

  10. 10
    niwrad says:

    In our universe there is a systematic trend toward disorder (2nd law of thermodynamics). This is exactly the opposite of random evolution, a systematic trend toward order. You cannot have both ways. Thermodynamics is confirmed everywhere. Darwinian evolution is confirmed nowhere. Choose between a hard science as physics and Darwinian fairytales.

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