Re: FW: Michael Behe... by Palevitz

Date: Wed Jan 26 2000 - 23:46:48 EST

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    Barry A. Palevitz writes:

    >The problem is, the
    > Argument from Design was dismissed philosophically back in the 18th
    > century by Hume, with help from Voltaire. One can't use human artifice to
    > infer anything about a divine agent.

    I suppose if one was trying to use "The Argument from Design" as
    a kind of mathematical proof of the existence of God, Hume and
    Voltaire have a point. But inferring intelligent design behind some
    features of life is completely different. In this case, we happen to
    find that many features essential to life are more like the things
    human's design than *anything* else in nature. Thus, I see no good
    reason to flippantly dismiss ID as Palevitz does.

    > Still, creationists have used purposeful design for years to explain a
    > number of biological processes and structures, notably the bird wing and
    >vertebrate eye. Alas, the argument doesn't hold water scientifically
    > either. For one thing, evolution notoriously recycles old parts.

    So? Does this mean all parts are recycled? Clearly, one needs to
    at least *begin* with a set of non-recycled parts to get evolution
    up and running. The concept of re-cycling only gets us so far.

    > Structures that perform one function are often co-opted to do something
    > else. Genes duplicate, and with subsequent mutations, assume different

    "We are not aware, however, of any convincing evidence that the
    majority of duplicate copies have acquired new functions that did
    not already exist in the ancestral genes." [Force et al., 1999.
    Genetics 151:1531-1545].

    Palevitz simply repeats the old maxim, but the evidence in
    its favor is quite unimpressive (of course, we could quibble
    about what he means by "different roles").

    >The fossil and molecular evidence is clear.

    Yes, it does seem to clearly indicate there is no evidence of
    a last common universal ancestor (see the Doolittle article
    in the current issue of Scientific American).

    >So, creationists have
    > largely given up on anatomy and retreated to the cellular level, like the
    > crew of the Titanic desperately closing bulkhead doors. Enter Behe.
    > But purposeful design isn't any more logical when applied to cells. And
    > Behe notwithstanding, we know a lot about how cellular structures and
    > processes evolved. Besides, what is irreducible complexity? The concept is
    >probably meaningless.

    I don't think so. I've been reading "Muscles as Molecular and Metabolic
    Machines" and the parallels with Behe's views are intriguing. I'll probably
    write a review of this CRC book when I finish it. Suffice it to say that
    views of the cell are probably out of date.

    >Human cells have nearly 100,000 genes while
    > Mycoplasma, a perfectly respectable bacterium that does all sorts of
    >things, has only 470.

    So what's the point? That humans don't need 99,530 genes?

    >It's been estimated that the first primitive cells
    >may have had as few as 50 genes.

    Notice the faith of Palevitz. There is not a single shred of evidence
    that the first cells were primitive in any way. The notion that such
    cells had as few as fifty genes is a notion that exists ONLY in the
    imagination. That Palevitz would seriously raise this suggests
    that he lacks the required objectivity and skepticism needed to
    address these questions. There is no need to waste any more
    time on such lame anti-design rhetoric.


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