Nick Matzke posted Entry 2669 on October 25, 2006 06:57 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2662

Over on the hopefully-named “ID the Future” podcast website run by the Discovery Institute, Casey Luskin has posted a short interview with Michael Behe – evidently recorded in-studio rather than over the phone, although, for some reason, Behe sounds like he is sitting in a cave.

Anyway, the topic of the interview is Behe’s response to the Pallen and Matzke (2006) article on flagellum evolution in Nature Reviews Microbiology. As I pointed out on PT last month, among other things, the NRM article showed that the ID advocates didn’t know what they were talking about on the topics of (1) number of required flagellum parts, and (2) number of “unique”, i.e. non-homologous, flagellum parts. These points are obviously important, since the ID advocates themselves have emphasized them repeatedly – almost in hypnotically repetitious fashion, actually – as major reasons that the flagellum could not have evolved gradually.

Homology: Make up your minds, guys

Well, in the Luskin/Behe interview, they don’t actually come out and admit that they and their colleagues have been spouting poorly-researched misinformation for years – instead they cheerily roll the goalposts over to “homology doesn’t prove anything”, citing the fact that Behe claimed this in his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box. Behe did claim this at various points in his book, of course, but it has always been a pitiful argument. Reasons: (A) The whole crux of the irreducible complexity argument was that multiple-parts-required systems couldn’t evolve gradually, because “a system missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.” Homologous subsystems show this is not true, full stop, game over. (B) Homology is directly and clearly predicted based on the standard, decades-old evolutionary model for the evolution of complex systems, namely gene duplication and cooption, and (C} ID advocates themselves thought that non-homology was a great point until we exposed their ignorance in Nature Reviews Microbiology. See all of the quotes I posted on PT, including the fav ID video, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, and the expert witness report of Kitzmiller expert, and the leading ID flagellum guy, Scott Minnich.

In fact, the claim is still being repeated. In the new book Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design, by ID cheerleader Thomas Woodward, we see the claim not once, but twice, plus a reference to Minnich’s article in a “peer-reviewed journal” which also repeats the mistake:

In the Unlocking video, Scott Minnich stands in his microbiology lab and quietly assesses the Darwinian TTSS scenario. Yes, he says, it is remotely possible that the TTSS injector came first, and he affirms that its ten proteins do seem to parallel or match the core proteins of the flagellum. But that’s where you bump into a huge problem. Where did the cell find the other thirty or so proteins to build incrementally from the TTSS all the way to a rotary-motor flagellum? You come to the point where you are borrowing from nothing, and the plausibility of the scenario fades quickly.

Since Unlocking was filmed (in 2000-2001), Minnich has done extensive research and has published in a peer-reviewed journal32 his findings showing that the flagellum is likely to have historically preceded the TTSS. This is indicated since the TTSS is found in gram negative bacteria that seem to have appeared in a later era, when more advanced kind of cells called eukaryotes had appeared. [sic – I think “kinds of cells” was meant] These gram negative bacteria with TTSS injectors don’t hassle other prokaryotes – bacterial life-forms. In essence, the current best evidence indicates that a flagellum devolved (decayed) into a tiny subsystem, the TTSS injector pump. [*]

Many observers watching the shifting battles over Behe’s theory feel that Kenneth Miller was premature in loudly declaring victory, insisting that the flagellum could possibly have evolved from the TTSS, when the evidence indicates that the TTSS was the fruit of reverse-evolution. Miller’s exercise in hand-waving (arguing that the TTSS led right on to the flagellum) has always depended upon the other thirty proteins – floating in from the cellular environment. But what’s the source? Are they just easily bubbling up from day-to-day cellular processes, in wondrous variety, ready to be recruited to build from ten TTSS proteins up to the flagellum’s set of forty?

[Thomas Woodward (2006). Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent Design. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, p. 80. Italics original, bolds added.]

[p. 202 has note #32]

32. For an updated version of this article, see Scott Minnich, “Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits in Pathogenic Bacteria,” chapter 13 in Darwin’s Nemesis, ed. William Dembski (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2006). [**]

Interestingly, after dancing away from the homology point, Luskin and Behe sneak back to it, when Luskin brings up the evidently important point that 11 flagellar proteins still have no known homologs. In the NRM paper, the number is actually 15, but whatever – perhaps Luskin is including some of the other homology suggestions that have been made in the literature which are more speculative (the NRM table only lists confident-to-certain homologies). Behe tries to have it both ways and says that this helps his argument, but that even if the homologies were discovered, he’d still be right, because he requires evolutionists to produce a literal point-mutation-by-point-mutation account of the origin of the flagellum before he will be satisified. This sort of ludicrous requirement – basically, infinitely-regressing goalposts – is of course just a cheap way to pretend to your innocent followers that you haven’t been refuted, when in fact you have lost the key points of the original argument in any reasonable scientific sense.

Both of them completely miss the point the other point I made in the PT post, which is that of the 15 “flagellum-unique” proteins, only two of them are thought to be required components on our analysis. Most of them, at least, are optional add-ons.

How many “required” parts in the “irreducible” system?

Moving to the issue of just how many flagellum parts are actually “required” – remember, this is why it is supposed to be hard to evolve things like flagella, because all of these parts allegedly have to come together at once – well, the Pallen/Matzke article makes a pretty big dent in that argument also. Just on present scientific knowledge based on the few modern systems that scientists have examined closely, we were able to show that only 20 flagellum proteins are actually universally required for function (some are clearly missing in some systems, some can be deleted while flagellar motility is retained, and some proteins are undetectable in the genomes of flagellated bacteria***).

So, what does Behe think happened? At various points, he and other ID advocates have excluded non-required parts from the unevolvable “IC core” of biochemical systems. This seems to admit that, while the ancestral 20-part flagellum must have been designed, the other 22 parts could have been added by standard evolutionary processes.**** Many of these proteins are, by the way, required in some bacteria according to experiments, just not all bacteria. But if the 22 additional parts, which are sometimes even required (in some bacteria), could be added by evolution, then it seems pretty silly to declare that the 20-protein remainder is inaccessible to evolution, particularly when functional homologs are known for 18 of those 20 proteins, and furthermore the homologies are grouped into subsystems that are known to have their own functions in modern bacteria.

In the interview, Behe says that homologous parts are like the nuts, bolts, and other parts in a car. He says that you might see those parts in other machines, and this doesn’t lead to an evolutionary conclusion. But this fundamentally misunderstands homology. Homology is not just any old similarity, it is a very peculiar and odd sort of similarity. A more correct analogy would be to imagine that airplane wings turned out to be modified car doors, and all of the other parts of an airplane also looked like stretched and twisted versions of corresponding parts of the car. Furthermore, these similarities would be found not only in the gross “adult” structure of these two machines, but also in their “development” from baby machines, and in their “blueprints” (analogous to the DNA genome) which would even share specific typos. Furthermore, all of these similarities, measured independently and compared across a range of diverse machines, would group into approximately the same tree of similarities with high statistical power. You don’t see this sort of thing in human technology, but it is rife in biology, ranging from bones and muscles right down to protein folds and amino acid sequences.

A Challenge to Luskin/Behe

After the Luskin/Behe interview was posted, a commentator named JM Ridlon critiqued the ID arguments along the lines above. Luskin responded bravely,

So let’s try to keep this discussion serious and on-point Jason, and let’s please stop the namecalling and mean-spirited tone. To set the standard for this forgiving and academic kindspirit, I have a few requests for Jason which I hope he can answer with serious mature responses that do not descent into namecalling

(1) please provide the citation where Behe claims all flagella have 40 parts that are all indespensible; [sic]

Question #1 is easy enough to answer, so in the spirit of “serious and on-point” discussion, I helpfully provided such a citation and asked Luskin a few questions. He has not answered yet. He doesn’t have to, of course, but in real science, errors are forthrightly admitted – scientists are people too, after all, and make mistakes all the time – and not hidden in order to, say, avoid embarassment with one’s supporters.

Here’s my comment. We’ll see how Luskin/Behe react:

Hi Casey, you wrote,

“(1) please provide the citation where Behe claims all flagella have 40 parts that are all indespensible;”

Well, here’s an example of Behe saying exactly this:

“The bacterial flagellum, in addition to the proteins already discussed, requires about forty other proteins for function. Again, the exact roles of most of the proteins are not known, but they include signals to turn the motor on and off; ‘bushing’ proteins to allow the flagellum to penetrate through the cell membrance and cell wall; proteins to assist in the assembly of the structure; and proteins to regulate the production of the proteins that make up the flagellum.”

Source: pp. 72-73, Darwin’s Black Box (1996).

So, will you now admit that ID advocates were wrong in several of their basic claims about their favorite system? Specifically:

* Behe’s 1996 claim that the flagellum had 40+ required parts.

* Minnich’s claim (in various places, and widely copied in the ID literature) that 30 of the flagellar proteins were “unique”, i.e., had no homologs.

* Your own similar claim that 2/3 of the flagellar proteins were unique.

I’m not asking you to concede your whole position, just these simple points which were debunked in Pallen & Matzke 2006.

Of course, the implications of admitting error on these points are pretty devastating, because it shows that the ID guys didn’t really know what they are talking about with their favorite “designed-looking” system, and furthermore shows that some of their favorite arguments for why the flagellum couldn’t have evolved were in fact wrong. Unfortunately, there is only one scientifically righteous path here: to admit these errors. Anything else is just more of the same from the ID movement – obfuscation and smokescreen. I don’t have my hopes up, but you never know.

Notes

* This is wrong, the actual situation on the which-came-first question is that the evidence goes both ways and so do the flagellum/T3S researchers. See Pallen and Matzke 2006 for brief summary and references. It is also false to say that the Minnich paper contains any of Minnich’s “research findings” on the which-came-first question, because it doesn’t. The “research” in that paper, such as it is, is about the co-regulation of flagella versus non-flagellar type 3 secretion in one specific bacterium, the bubonic plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. The which-came-first question is briefly reviewed in the conclusion, citing the 2000 paper they like (Nguyen et al.) and ignoring the 2003 paper they don’t like (Gophna et al.). But whatever.

** In his deposition, Minnich said his article, which was in a conference proceedings, not a journal, wasn’t actually peer-reviewed like a journal article would be, but whatever.

*** It is unlikely but conceivable that a few of these proteins will be discovered in the end in the flagellated bacteria in which they are undetected. But at the very least, the last category indicates that there are no strong sequence constraints on that protein, which is equally bad for ID.

**** Strictly speaking, the universally-required protein set is not necessarily identical to the protein set in the common ancestral flagellum (e.g., FliH is not strictly required, but presumably was in the common ancestor since it has homologs even in the ATP synthetases) – but it is pretty close.

P.S.: If memory serves, the “30 unique proteins” claim is also repeated in the new book from the old-earth creationist ministry Reasons to Believe, entitled Creation As Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/evolution Wars.

P.S.: Behe and Luskin also happily quote-mine the NRM article for its admission that work is just beginning on the flagellum-evolution question, but I have dealt with that at length already. Their complete failure to grapple seriously with the stacks of literature in a much more mature field, evolutionary immunology, has been widely noted.

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Comment #141542

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on October 25, 2006 9:23 PM (e)

Very well trounced as usual Nick. I do have to wonder if you’ll actually get a reply from Casey and/or Behe, but I imagine not. If you do however, I imagine it will be the same degree of hand waving and equal parts “completely ignoring the point” that they did this time.

You might end up having a discussion on the quote mine part, seeing as everything else they would want to ignore I imagine.

Comment #141544

Posted by Dave Carlson on October 25, 2006 9:29 PM (e)

Nick -

Great post, as always. One question (and pardon me if it’s an ignorant one): What happens if further research and evidence does indicate that the Flagellum probably preceded the TTSS? Would that pretty much kill your homology argument and send scientists back to the drawing board for discovering how the Flagellum likely evolved? Or is which one preceded the other not a vital point to your argument?

Comment #141553

Posted by RBH on October 25, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

Dave Carlson asked

What happens if further research and evidence does indicate that the Flagellum probably preceded the TTSS? Would that pretty much kill your homology argument and send scientists back to the drawing board for discovering how the Flagellum likely evolved? Or is which one preceded the other not a vital point to your argument?

My arms are homologous with a bat’s wings. That doesn’t mean either of us is descended from the other, but that we had a common ancestor.

RBH

Comment #141554

Posted by steve s on October 25, 2006 10:47 PM (e)

Casey has replied, with more of the usual.

Comment #141556

Posted by PvM on October 25, 2006 11:01 PM (e)

Man what a character this Casey.

Comment #141557

Posted by Joseph O'Donnell on October 25, 2006 11:07 PM (e)

I love how he cites a paper from 1987 and seems completely oblivious to the fact understanding of the flagellum may have advanced a lot since then. This may explain the considerable difference between the number of genes required as cited by a paper using recent research vs. one published 19 years ago. 19 years of additional research can really make a difference in a field.

Comment #141558

Posted by Nick (Matzke)) on October 25, 2006 11:30 PM (e)

Nick -

Great post, as always. One question (and pardon me if it’s an ignorant one): What happens if further research and evidence does indicate that the Flagellum probably preceded the TTSS? Would that pretty much kill your homology argument and send scientists back to the drawing board for discovering how the Flagellum likely evolved? Or is which one preceded the other not a vital point to your argument?

Regardless of which came first, the existence of the nonflagellar type 3 secretion system (NF-T3SS) proves that a major subset of flagellar proteins serves a function independent of motility, and therefore disproves Behe’s “any system missing a part is by definition nonfunctional” argument. Even a derived subsystem can prove that – it serves as “proof of concept”, as I believe we said in the NRM paper.

The which-came-first question is, though, important for resolving/testing several pieces of the basic evolutionary scenario. Even if the NF-T3SS is derived, most would argue that it probably is a decent model for an ancestral T3SS that preceded the flagellum. This claim is testable, for example it would be strengthened if another clade of NF-T3SS is found that is basal to flagella (considering that most bacterial genomes are proteobacteria and pathogenic/commensal on eukaryotes, our current sample is pretty biased). On the other hand, the discovery of extensive homology between flagella and gliding motility (this has been suggested by several people) could result in a much different model.

Regardless of how anything in the above paragraph turns out, some additional points can be made just with current data. It turns out that several flagellar proteins are homologous to the ATP synthetases (and boy, I really need to finish my post on that topic – see here for a preview), we have unambiguous evidence of yet another multiprotein subsystem unabiguously basal to the entire flagellar/nonflagellar-T3SS clade. Entertainingly, the common ancestor of ((F-T3SS + NF-T3SS) + ATP syntheases) must predate the Last Common Ancestor of life.

Finally, the T3SS provides some of the homologies but not all of them. By my rough count, if you include the NF-T3SS homologies you have 27 known homologies, and if you exclude the NF-T3SS you still have 19 known proteins with homologs inside or outside the flagellar system, due to proteins with multiple known homologs and the fact that 3 groups of modern flagellar proteins form homologous groups. So even without the NF-T3SS we would still have quite a bit to go on; in fact, this was part of my argument in 2003.

But, I admit it would be quite handy if the known NF-T3SS were determined to definitely be a “sister” group to the flagellar clade, rather than a “daughter” (derived) group, especially since so much research work has been done on NF-T3SS. There are a number of subtle considerations that actually make the sister-group relationship more likely than not in my view – this too needs a long post. Plus, there are a number of fairly obvious research avenues that could help resolve this question, which no one has tried yet for some reason (yet another post).

Comment #141559

Posted by Nick (Matzke)) on October 25, 2006 11:53 PM (e)

Oh my. That Luskin reply is confused for some very basic reasons. He apparently doesn’t realize that the terminology for flagellum proteins was standardized in the late 1980s. As the flagellar proteins were being identified, the different labs were using different naming systems and everyone was getting confused. Eventually they got together and developed a standard naming scheme, such that all of the “same” homologous flagellar proteins in all of the different bacterial species would be given the same name – e.g., FliI would always be FliI, not, say, flaC, fla AIII, or JW1925, which were some of the synonyms according to NCBI.

All of the old names were superceded by the new terminology, and you have to “translate” the old papers into the modern terminology to make any comparisons.

So you can’t just add together the list from the Macnab 1987 paper with the list from the Pallen/Matzke paper and get over 50 proteins – you are just double-counting the same proteins under two different naming schemes when you do that!

There are several other astonishing issues with Luskin’s reply that I can probably comment on tomorrow, but that takes the cake. Wowsers.

Comment #141560

Posted by Nick (Matzke)) on October 26, 2006 12:09 AM (e)

test

Comment #141561

Posted by Dave Carlson on October 26, 2006 1:12 AM (e)

Thanks for the info, Nick!

Comment #141563

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on October 26, 2006 2:56 AM (e)

I’m struck in that interview by Behe’s repeated insistence of comparing the flagellum to an outboard motor, or some other machine. Of course, this is common in ID. But it seems like they forget that comparing a biological component or system to a machine is a helpful metaphor- it is not actually a machine. And sometimes not as helpful of a metaphor even. There are differences between biological components and machines- some of those differences perhaps directly countrary to the espoused religious beliefs of Behe and his followers. But more to the point, insisting that the flagellum is a machine results in Behe being able to make claims that it is ridiculous to think your car could evolve simply because some components in it could be used for other purposes. He’s right. That is ridiculous. But the car is a machine. A cell is not.

Comment #141585

Posted by MarkP on October 26, 2006 8:32 AM (e)

Wow, for a biologist, Luskin sure is making a lot of basic errors in biology. One would think he was a lawyer or something, as out of his element as he seems.

More seriously, it stands out as a serious flaw to me that so often his supporting references are other creationists, even on philosophically mundane factual matters. One would think that were the facts on his side, he’d be able to make use of the findings of people outside of his little clique.

Comment #141591

Posted by Flint on October 26, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

Nick’s goal is accuracy and consistency. Luskin and Behe’s goal is “plausible sciencyness”. Nick’s purpose is to show that L&B are engaging in dishonesty and doubletalk. L&B’s purpose is to reinforce the feelgood policy position that science has found God.

This is like arguing with the advertising agency that the product does not in fact live up to the claims made for it, while the advertising agency points to the healthy sales figures. Is the ad agency “right”? If not for government regulation, would any ad agency EVER truthfully describe a product, at the cost of sales?

After Ralph Nader came out with his “Unsafe at Any Speed” expose of the Corvair, GM responded not by modifying the Corvair, but by giving away huge numbers of free bumper stickers saying “I love my Corvair”. It worked!

Comment #141596

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 26, 2006 10:19 AM (e)

In the interview, Behe says that homologous parts are like the nuts, bolts, and other parts in a car.

Nick did his usual excellent and quite comprehensive job, but I’d like to point further to how peculiar it is to take the truly interchangeable parts of the car to compare to homologies. Essentially, nuts and bolts are comparable to the amino acids and nucleotide bases, not the discernably homologous parts that evolutionary biology actually uses to show relatedness.

One reason, no doubt, is that the sorts of homology found in organisms is not found in cars, planes, etc., as alluded by Matzke. Behe simply compares interchangeability with homology, without caring in the least that important characteristics set off homology even from the kinds of copying that designers do. Two wheels may look the same, via copying, but they may easily be composed of different metals, and have “Ford” stamped on one and “Toyota” stamped on the other one. This sort of introduction of complete novelty is not found in organisms, Behe (some homologies may be lost forever with respect to some biological machines, of course, through gene loss and such things).

Darwin himself asked why there is so much variation among organisms, and so little novelty. Human designs are typified not only by rational design (for instance, suiting the wheel alloy to its use), but by novelty and borrowing from completely unrelated sources, while vertebrate organisms are typified by lack of rational design, lack of complete novelty, and lack of borrowing from unrelated sources (with a few exceptions, perhaps). This is why the functional design may have come from Toyota, or even Lockheed, while the styling and logo come from Ford—because intelligence forms a car (more or less), while evolution has crucial and easily distinguished limitations not found in designed machines.

Yes, I know, it’s the stuff they’ve been avoiding for years, since they by no means are into actual critical analysis. I just wanted to point out what Behe is missing once again, and especially that he is comparing interchangeable parts with homologous parts, even though real homology is discovered precisely in the forms which are clearly not interchangeable, thanks to heredity.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141597

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 26, 2006 10:30 AM (e)

But it seems like they forget that comparing a biological component or system to a machine is a helpful metaphor- it is not actually a machine. And sometimes not as helpful of a metaphor even. There are differences between biological components and machines

Not really. I have pointed out in the past that what we call “machines” in biology today were not called “machines” in the past. However, they are called machines today, not as metaphor, but as a useful designation for integrated entities which are not organelles or systems that act much as the machines we make do (usually biological machines are fairly simple mechanically, however).

The question to ask is, what is a machine? There is no inherent or “natural” reason to suppose that a machine must be designed or intelligently made, even though Behe uses that assumption in his endless invocation of the term “machine”. If we don’t use design as a criterion, but largely consider function for “machine”, the levers in our bodies, and the bacterial flagellum, may both be considered “machines”.

Anyway, a term only means what it means in its use, and biological machines are in that sense machines indeed. Only IDists confuse the quite different machines in organisms with the kinds of machines that humans design, of course, but that’s just because they don’t have anything except word games to back up their claims.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141598

Posted by Keith Douglas on October 26, 2006 11:02 AM (e)

Jedidiah Palosaari’s remark has provoked an interesting hypothesis that I haven’t thought about previously. Namely, that perhaps the insistence that flagella (etc.) are machines is as much a part of the creationist mind-body dualism as the insistence that “design” is disembodied, etc. This way the “split” is more prominent. (That said, I think it is fair to say that living things do make use of naturally “created” machines, but agree that it often misleading to call them that because they are not primarily strictly mechanical in character. But that’s true of an integrated circuit, so …)

Comment #141601

Posted by JM Ridlon on October 26, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

I am still waiting for an answer to my question from Casey as well. We all know Casey reads this.

I will ask again:
How have all the different flagellar systems come about through a non-Darwinian process; that is by what mechanisms do intelligent designer(s)-we’ll call them the Grand Omniscient Designer (G.O.D)-produce flagella?

Casey seems to be unable to recognize that the whole “science” of ID is based on arguments from analogy “DNA is like digital code”, “the flagellum is like an outboard motor” humans make digital code and outboard motors, therefore anything as complex as life must have been created. Proof? Why? Didn’t you just read my argument? The Meyer/Minnich quote Casey provided also gives a stunning example of the famous ID false dichotomy where their personal incredulity is somehow positive proof of the G.O.D.

Comment #141602

Posted by JM Ridlon on October 26, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

I am still waiting for an answer to my question from Casey as well. We all know Casey reads this.

I will ask again:
How have all the different flagellar systems come about through a non-Darwinian process; that is by what mechanisms do intelligent designer(s)-we’ll call them the Grand Omniscient Designer (G.O.D)-produce flagella?

Casey seems to be unable to recognize that the whole “science” of ID is based on arguments from analogy “DNA is like digital code”, “the flagellum is like an outboard motor” humans make digital code and outboard motors, therefore anything as complex as life must have been created. Proof? Why? Didn’t you just read my argument? The Meyer/Minnich quote Casey provided also gives a stunning example of the famous ID false dichotomy where their personal incredulity is somehow positive proof of the G.O.D.

Comment #141604

Posted by steve s on October 26, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

JM Ridlon, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

The Intelligent Designer isn’t god, and They’ll ban you for saying that it is.

Comment #141605

Posted by MarkP on October 26, 2006 12:48 PM (e)

Casey seems to be unable to recognize that the whole “science” of ID is based on arguments from analogy “DNA is like digital code”, “the flagellum is like an outboard motor” humans make digital code and outboard motors, therefore anything as complex as life must have been created. Proof? Why? Didn’t you just read my argument?

This goes all the way back to Hume. We might as well say that since everything that we know was designed had a mortal physical designer, the flagellum had to be designed by something mortal and physical. And prone to flatulence. A racoon maybe. Oh hell.

Comment #141606

Posted by MarkP on October 26, 2006 12:50 PM (e)

Casey seems to be unable to recognize that the whole “science” of ID is based on arguments from analogy “DNA is like digital code”, “the flagellum is like an outboard motor” humans make digital code and outboard motors, therefore anything as complex as life must have been created. Proof? Why? Didn’t you just read my argument?

This goes all the way back to Hume. We might as well say that since everything that we know was designed had a mortal physical designer, the flagellum had to be designed by something mortal and physical. And prone to flatulence. A racoon maybe. Oh hell.

Comment #141628

Posted by JM Ridlon on October 26, 2006 5:08 PM (e)

Steve s,

I can see why they banned you, how dare you bring up the GOD word in reference to their scientific theory about how an unnamed supernatural being created life. I am talking about G.O.D, the Grand Omniscient Designer. I never said the G.O.D was God, the science can’t tell us who the G.O.D is, but I think it is God. Clear? (I’m getting good at this, maybe I should join their side!!!)

Comment #141811

Posted by waldteufel on October 28, 2006 1:52 AM (e)

We here often wonder why Luskin, Behe, and the other drones from DI refuse to engage us in genuine discussion. But in reality, they don’t want to engage us because we are not their target audience.

DI’s blatherings are aimed directly at scientifically ignorant Americans who are nonetheless impressed by scientific sounding words and phrases.

I wouldn’t waste my time or energy arguing with the likes of Luskin or Behe, because neither one of them is a real scientist. They have scientific degress, of course, but neither one of them has practiced serious science for a long time.

Casey Luskin believes, I think, that science is done by one waiving one’s arms and making really stupid press releases.

Comment #141884

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 29, 2006 9:02 AM (e)

DI’s blatherings are aimed directly at scientifically ignorant Americans who are nonetheless impressed by scientific sounding words and phrases.

More specifically, DI’s blatherings are aimed directly at scientifically ignorant JUDGES who are nonetheless impressed by scientific sounding words and phrases.

ID is intelligently designed (pardon the pun) to get around the 1987 Supreme Court ruling against creation science. That is its sole and only purpose.

And it’s already failed miserably.

ID’s replacement, whatever they end up calling it, will be intelligently designed (again, pardon the pun) solely and only to get around the 2005 Dover ruling. That will be its sole and only purpose.

And it too will fail miserably.

Creationism will never win in court. That is because creationism is, at heart, nothing but religuious apologetics, and there is simply no way to preach while at the same time demonstrating to a judge that you’re not preaching. No matter what phrases and evasions the anti-evolutioners come up with, there will ALWAYS be people in their ranks who will enthusiastically stand up and shout “JESUS SAVES !!!!!”, thus giving the whole game away. The only way anti-evolutioners can ever be successful is if they shut their mouths, permanently, about the one thing they care most about in the world – their religious opinions. They can’t do it. They don’t WANT to do it. The only thing they are interested in is preaching. It’s why they will never win in court.

Comment #141925

Posted by Henry J on October 29, 2006 7:03 PM (e)

And never mind that “JESUS SAVES !!!!!” neither contradicts nor is contradicted by the conclusions of evolutionary biology.

Henry

Comment #141962

Posted by Alexey Merz on October 30, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

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