Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Wed Jun 17 2009 - 04:03:18 EDT

There is another reason why the car analogy is fallacious. A car is made
out of precisely machined engineering components, that require to be
manufactured to precise tolerances. This is because the material they are
made out of is stiff, not flexible like proteins. However, if you look at
the kind of images that are displayed on ID-friendly websites, you would
come to the conclusion that flagella are exactly like that, but in fact they
are stylised representations that show the working of the organism in a
means that we can understand.

A couple of examples are here
image on Dembski's website) and
(The latter wasn't from an ID website, but I'll bet it's been adopted
shown around). These images with there polished surfaces and apparently
tightly machined components give the strong impression that they were
designed and manufactured, just like an electric motor.

a real electron micrograph of a bacterial flagellum. It really doesn't show
much resemblance to an electric motor (even though it works on the same

Here <>is an
animated gif of the rotating flagellar hook. No finely polished and
carefully machined surfaces there.

a diagram of the molecular structure of the filament cross section. Again,
there is no resemblance to the kind of picture from Dembski's website. The
author of the article <>I got
this from states that the structures look like typical bacteriophage viruses
and don't show anything in common with man-made machines.

Now, I am not saying that it doesn't WORK like an electric motor. Of course
it does; however the material it is made of is so radically different - a
whole bunch of flexible, twisty protein macromolecules, that analogies with
cars etc are really quite misleading IMO.


On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 7:33 AM, Iain Strachan <>wrote:

> On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 5:44 AM, Bill Powers <> wrote:
>> Iain:
>> I don't think this helps.
>> Yes, it would be important that the proteins be available for the
>> construction of the flagellum, but, it would seem, no more important that I
>> have steel in making a car.
> Once again I have little time to address fully your post, but up front it
> seems to me this is a false analogy. Steel is a raw material but it has to
> be formed (by something else) into body shells, wheels, drive-shafts, gears
> etc. But the proteins are not like a raw material; they fold over into
> different shapes according to the sequence of amino acids in the chain.
> Hence they ARE the driveshafts, gearboxes etc. I think if one were to have
> a biological analogy with steel, it would be the amino acids that get turned
> into proteins from the template information on the RNA (ultimately DNA)
> molecules.
> Is a car IC? Not at all, according to Behe's definition. Take away any
> part of a mousetrap and you get a non-functioning mousetrap. Take out one
> of the spark plugs from a car and it still runs, albeit not very well. Some
> components are essential (like the battery, the engine), others are not
> (like the windscreen wipers, the hub caps). The car can be reduced and
> still function - hence it clearly isn't irreducible.
> Iain

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Received on Wed Jun 17 04:04:10 2009

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