Re: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is the new enemy of

From: PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Aug 23 2007 - 12:38:06 EDT

On 8/23/07, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
> <quote>
> All in all, Behe's arguments sound poorly founded in data, contradicted by
> data and irrelevant to any discussion of the edge of evolution other than by
> accepting that 1 in 10^40 may be insurmountable odds but Behe has done
> little to show that any evolutionary transition has such odds. To conclude
> design in face of these major shortcomings seems to do a disservice to
> science and faith alike.
> </quote>
>
> Agreed that Behe should not conclude Design but my takeaway here is that at
> best, you can say that malaria and its evolutionary history is not a
> relevant gauge of the power of evolution in general. This leads me back to
> my original point that most of the reviews of Behe's book took issue with
> his numbers and how many mutations may be observed, but none substantively
> showed that his basic premise of there existing an edge to evolution was
> flawed.
>

Of course there exists an edge to evolution. After all we do not
sprout wings or gills now do we :-) However, what Behe is trying to
do, and failing, is to show that for existing structures, evolution is
unable to explain them.
He tried irreducible complexity and failed, now he tries to argue that
a double simultaneous mutation is unlikely and that this or at least a
quadruple simultaneous mutation is impossible and thus it forms an
edge to evolution. Since Behe's strawman of evolution is flawed, it
seems that his arguments need to be rejected.

> How do we really know that the current evolutionary theory of compounding
> complexity and the continuum of molecules to man is not mostly "fanciful
> Darwinian speculations" like Behe suggests? How often do we observe gene
> duplication in the lab and how often should we expect to find that in
> nature? Why did we not see it in malaria?

We do see duplications in malaria. In fact, gene duplications and the
mechanisms involved are quite well understood. Of course many of these
are speculations founded in positive evidence, unlike ID. If ID wants
to present a better explanation, they are certainly welcome to do so,
but somehow ID is not up to such a task.

> I am familiar with Sean Carroll's popular book on the forensic DNA evidence
> of evolution and I agree that it is a logical and rational way to explain
> the power of evolution but in fairness, a new species of ice cod fish
> without hemoglobin and color vision in monkeys is not all that powerful.

There we go again with moving those goalposts.

> This fits easily on this side of Behe's edge of species and classes.

So you agree at least that evolution has the evidence that gene
duplications happen and that they play a significant role in nature?
It's a first step to the logical deduction beyond species level.

> What would disprove this premise of an edge of evolution? What would it take
> to show empirically that Behe is wrong and that evolution can do all that
> Dawkins suggests? How could we ever settle the Design debate conclusively?

Fascinating, Behe has argued that there is an edge to evolution,
although what this edge looks like seems quite vague and speculative.
On the other side scientists are showing how nature is open to
evolution in all its aspects. I think we can all agree that there is
an edge to evolution, however Behe haphazardly places it arbitrarily
at certain points.

Perhaps your question should be: How will Behe support his fanciful
stories with actual data?

> Behe may be guilty of assuming uniformity and extrapolating the evolutionary
> history of malaria on to humans when it may not be the same, but Carroll and
> others are just as guilty of finding a few forensic single point mutations
> and concluding evolution as a fait accompli.

It's not just a few single point mutations that have people convinced
on the veracity of the theory of evolution, its a logical argument,
based on actual observations of the mechanisms, it is supported by
finding historical evidence from the full animal and plant world that
support evolutionary theory. It's because the hard work of scientists
continues to support these 'fanciful' ideas.
So you may want to ask yourself the question: If the evidence is so
overwhelming, why is Behe making these strawmen arguments?
Is it because his faith leads him to these conclusions? Is this what
drives you to reject evolution, because you seem to be unfamiliar with
its premises as well as the meaning of random?

> Just to get from chimps to humans we need on the order of millions of just
> right sequential mutations but here in this thread Behe's edge of 2
> mutations was dismissed due to the evidence of another example of a whopping
> 5 mutations.

Again, this shows a major ignorance of evolution. Remember that we are
talking about 2 _simultaneous_ point mutations. Run the numbers, take
the various forms of mutations and their rates, and simulate to see if
the number of genetic differences between humans and our closest
relatives can not be explained.

> Is it just Behe and I or does the hard evidence for macroevolution beyond
> just theories and conjecture seem somewhat faith based?

It's you and Behe... But let's for the moment focus on Behe's book and
come to the conclusion that it has some major flaws. Let's also
remember that contrary to Behe's musings science continues to find
evidence that shows that small Darwinian like mutations are well
within the grasp of reality. Of course connecting all the dots between
humans and primates is non-trivial but science already has
reconstructed some remarkable histories for protein evolution and
shown it to be quite explainable by Darwinian processes.

So John, how does ID explain macro-evolution? How does it compare to
the scientific explanation and the available evidence?

> John
>

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Received on Thu Aug 23 12:38:30 2007

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