Re: [asa] Four myths about I.D.; four myths about T.E.

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed Jul 02 2008 - 09:12:42 EDT

On Jul 2, 2008, at 1:52 AM, PvM wrote:
>>> The closest ID comes to a scientific claim is stating that 'x'
>>> cannot
>>> yet be explained by science. The rest is based on poor logic at
>>> best.
>> No. ID acts as a falsifier for Darwinism and some claims of
>> evolutionary
>> biology.
>> For those who claim to depend upon some form of empiricism a
>> falsifier
>> should be welcome.
> so show me that ID has anything relevant to contribute to science. So
> far you have provided no evidence. I am not surprised

It's worse than that. Not only does ID does not provide evidence, it
ignores it, and even dissuades any research that to do so "Sisyphus
himself would pity us". This is what critics of ID mean by being a
"science stopper". It is a well known fact that researchers such as
Behe's and Gonzalez' scientific output comes to a screeching halt when
they are involved with ID. Scott Minnich admitted on the stand in
Dover that he did not take any class in evolution because ISU didn't
"make him". This keeps him from being involved with important new
items in his specialty of plague research, e.g. the evolving of the
ability to produce biofilms (Experimental evidence for negative
selection in the evolution of a Yersinia pestis pseudogene. PNAS Vol.
105, pp. 8097-8101). It has been said ID is to promote a "God of the
gaps" approach. Most researchers look at the "gaps" as research
opportunities. But, ID is curiously incurious because if Goddidit
there is no reason to research the evolutionary mechanisms, no? This
is not merely hypothetical. Note the following example, specifically
how many references were ignored below, from Chapter 3 of Ken Miller's
new book, Only a Theory:

In essence the [immune] system has three basic parts. In addition to
the right DNA sequences, which contain the blueprints for the
antibody molecule itself, the cell also needs a molecular machine that
cuts and recombines the pieces of DNA during the shuffling process.
And finally it needs to have a set of signals built into the DNA
telling that machine where to cut and paste during the shuffling
process. This multipart system is another example of the type of
process that ID advocates claim could not have evolved, and therefore
must be further evidence for design, because the individual parts are
useless without one another. Michael Behe pointed out this problem for
evolution in 1996:

In the absence of the machine, the parts never get cut out and joined.
In the absence of the signals, it’s like expecting a machine that’s
randomly cutting paper to make a paper doll. And, of course, in the
absence of the message for the antibody itself, the other components
would be pointless.[17]

Behe, of course, was aware of an interesting suggestion made several
years earlier by Nobel laureate David Baltimore as to how this system
may have come about. Like other scientists, Baltimore noticed that the
gene-shuffling system in the immune system has a striking resemblance
to a class of DNA molecules known as transposons, or transposable
genetic elements. Behe, however, ridiculed this suggestion, comparing
it to a fanciful ride in a magic box by cartoon characters Calvin and
Hobbes. In fact, he told researchers that there was simply no point
in doing research into the evolution of this system:

As scientists, we yearn to understand how this magnificent mechanism
came to be, but the complexity of the system dooms all Darwinian
explanations to frustration. Sisyphus himself would pity us.[18]

Fortunately scientists in the field paid no attention to this advice
and continued to investigate Baltimore’s idea. In 1996 they noticed
strong biochemical similarities between antibody gene shuffling and
the ways in which transposons move from point to point in the genome.
Labs around the world followed this lead, and one step at a time they
confirmed each and every element of the transposon hypothesis. These
studies reached their climax in 2005, when the exact transposon from
which the immune system machinery evolved was conclusively identified.

How did the ID community respond to this work? Michael Behe was
systematically presented with the results of the studies while on the
stand at the Dover trial. Judge John E. Jones III first noted the
amount of evidence arrayed before him:

Between 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the
evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system.
[2:31 (Miller)] In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was
questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an
evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with
fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several
immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system.

He then remarked on Behe’s reaction to the pile of research papers and
books contradicting his assertion of unevolvability:

However, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient
evidence of evolution, and that it was not “good enough.” [23:19

The judge understood that merely shaking your head to reject a
substantial body of research places a “scientifically unreasonable”
burden of proof on those who have elucidated the evolution of this
key part of the immune system. The lesson from this part of the Dover
trial was clear to everyone in the courtroom: Even when presented
with every opportunity to make their case, the defenders of design
resorted to little more than saying “It’s not good enough for me” in
the face of overwhelming evidence for evolution.

[17] Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: The Free Press,
1996), 130.

[18] Ibid., 139.

[19] Vladimir V. Kapitonov and Jerzy Jurka, “RAG1 Core and V(D)J
Recombination Signal Sequences Were Derived from Transib Transposons,”
Public Library of Science, Biology 3 (2005): e181.

[20] This case is formally known as Kitzmiller v. Dover. Its detailed
legal reference is Federal Case 4:04-cv-02688-JEJ Document 342, filed
Dec. 20, 2005. This quotation comes from Kitzmiller v. Dover decision,

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Wed Jul 2 09:13:40 2008

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