A reply to Joe Jensen

Sorry to derail the thread, it’s much easier to it this way, where I can easily do quotes and examples for you.

Here’s your latest comment in it’s entirety.

Hi again Ogre,

Hello yourself.

I’m not sure you read the article you sited.

Oh, I’ve read it… several times.  Cited it several times too.

I stand by my statement that any evolutionary advantage requiring more than 4 lucky mutations, won’t happen.

Then you are wrong.  Here’s why. 

Evolution doesn’t give a rat’s left nut about what is advantageous or lucky.  Evolution, in this use of the word, is a process that describes how the frequency of alleles change over time.  In general, mutations to alleles that are beneficial tend to be expressed more often in a population and mutations that are detrimental tend to be expressed less often in a population.

Notice those highlighted words.  It’s not an automatic thing.  Further, it depends on the selecting agent.  In most cases it is nature deciding whether something is advantageous or not.  Even further, the advantage or disadvantage of a mutation can change with the environment.  The best example of this is still sickle cell anemia.  In our modern society, the alleles are detrimental, even when heterozygous.  In Africa, the heterozygous condition enjoys a significant survival advantage to both the homozygous conditions.

Now, let’s look at the paper I cited “Darwinian evolution on a chip”.  In this we several several mutations, all four major mutational events (encompassing 7 of the 11 mutations in the final version) were very small mutations (except for M4, which is under your self-imposed threshold.

Each mutational event granted the RNA a slight advantage over non-mutated species.  So the effects, unlike what you and Behe are requiring is not all-or-nothing, it is cumulative.

It is shown that many of the mutations we ascribe to important modern systems (such as the bacterial flagella motor) are the results of first, a gene duplication (which means that the original gene is free to continue the original function of the gene) and second, subsequent mutations over a long period of time, resulting in a final change (through random mutation) that was a functional system.  This can easily be seen in many organisms today.

The article you sited, measures mutations to an RNA molecule, artificially reproduced and artficially mutated at a rate far above anything seen in the REAL world.

Bull cookies.  Here: http://tuvalu.santafe.edu/~mihaela/thesis/version_short.html  This paper shows the B cell receptor locus undergoes an extremely high rate of somatic mutation that is at least 105-106 fold greater than the normal rate of mutation across the genome.

So, your claim is incorrect.

I’d like to point out that your claim is very specific, that these mutation rates “far above anything seen in the REAL world”.  I countered with an example showing you are incorrect.  If you have evidence that the mutation rates as expressed in the above paper are wrong, then you need to cite them.

On top of that, advantages were realized before 4 mutations, so this is case of step by step  and making evolution possible, because the steps are small enough.

That is exactly what evolution is.  Behe’s (and by extension your) requirement that all mutations happen instantly AND be beneficial AND be the final version of the allele, is simply wrong.

It’s a strawman.  That means that Behe is erecting a false requirement, then showing how it must be wrong.  No one, that am I aware of (who is an actual practicing scientist) has this requirement that Behe does.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it would do you good, personally, to read the chapter in Behe’s book, ” the Edge of Evolution” on the “mathmatical limits to darwinism”.

Likewise, it would do you good to read the responses to this chapter from people who are actual mathematicians and evolutionary biologists.

Musgrave, Ian (2007-10-22). “An Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe”. The Panda’s Thumb.

Behe versus ribonuclease; the origin and evolution of protein–protein binding sites, Ian Musgrave, The Panda’s Thumb April 13, 2008


 It explains that ‘in the real world’, you can measure the rates of mutations in a strain of bacteria, needing 1 specific amino acid change, on a specific protein, in a specific position, as 1 in a trillion.

I’ll respond with the same reply that was used in the Kitzmiller trial to show that Behe was… I’ll be nice and say… confused about the issue.

In the real world, there are some 100 million to 3 billion bacteria per gram of material.  Scaling up appropriately, there are some 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria per tonne of soil.  That’s 1,000 trillion bacteria in a tonne of soil. I would submit that there are many, many tonnes of soil on the Earth.

Further, under good conditions, bacteria are capable of extremely rapid growth.  One bacteria could easily become several million in just a few days.

So, over a ton of soil and over a few days time, the odds of meeting your 1 in a trillion requirement (which, by no means, may be considered valid, for other reasons) approaches 1.

Now, let’s talk about those other conditions.  Some genes are much, much more difficult to mutate than even Behe’s requirement.  The simple reason is that they are so fundamental to the organism (say, the gene that builds the membrane of mitochondria) that any detrimental mutation results in the instant death of the organism.  Of course, as previously mentioned, some cells are capable to mutating so fast, that a single cell could approach unity for a 1 in a trillion chance, in just a year or two.

 This change used in that example, confers Malaria with resistance to the drug Atovaquone.  This ordinarily isn’t a problem for Malaria, because an infected person can have about a trillion Malaria cells in his body.
But, if the drug used is Chloroquine, then 2 specific mutations are needed BEFORE any advantage to Malaria is realized.  The odds of this have been measured, in real world trials at 1 cell in 10^20.  In other words, 2 lucky mutations are about 100 million times less likely than 1 lucky mutation.  And because about a billion people get infected with malaria in a typical year, even this remote resistance shows up occasionally.

Again, so what?  How many gajillions of malarial parasites exist in the world?  I don’t know.  Do you?

Once one of the malarial parasites have it, then it conveys a very powerful advantage and the frequency of that allele in the local (or even global) population will rapidly increase.  Remember, it just takes one.

Oh, BTW, a comment on ‘odds’.  Remember it’s just a statistical likelihood.  A couple of hundred year floods can happen in one year.

 But you will find, if you understand the science behind his case, and check the papers sited in the notes at the back of the book, a very compelling case for the impossibility of any selective advantage being realized by mammals with much longer generation times.

I doubt I will find a compelling case as the fundamental assumption behind Behe’s work is hugely flawed.

 Evolution has to account for numerous multi-lucky developments before selective advantages, that go well beyond the bounds of probability.

Again, you have failed to cite an example that this is the case.

And regardless of this, it is still negative evidence on evolution, and not positive evidence for Intelligent Design.

Here’s a hint, you know a position is vacuous when it cannot make a positive claim.  Claiming that something else can’t work, is not a positive claim.

Let’s try this.  In Edge of Evolution (or any pro-ID book), state one hypothesis that an ID proponent makes and subsequently tests.

This is where Evolution fails it’s test as Darwin himself indicated.

Again, even if evolution does fail the test (which is doesn’t), so what.  It still doesn’t mean ID is right.  Only positive supporting evidence can do that.  There is none.  But, that’s your next comment, let’s see what you say.

As for ID testing:
All specified information of the equivalent complexity of this sentence, has always been the product of a (semi) intelligent mind.

Word salad.  Where did you crib this from?

Define information.  To test your knowledge of information, which contains more information: a 30 minute speech by Churchill or 30 minutes of white noise?

Define complexity.

Oh, nevermind, having read the remainder of your sentence, I see that you confuse ‘meaning’ with ‘information’.  It’s a common creationist mistake… mainly because the people who promote these concepts refuse to define them in a rigorous way.  Of course, this easily gets them off the hook when countered too.

Do you really want to claim that all complexity is the result of an intelligent mind (and don’t try to get out of it with the ‘semi-‘ thing)?  Waffling will do you no good.

Fine I give you complexity, even complexity with functions, that are not the result of intelligence (I already did this), but here you go.

Termite mound showing structures and airflow for temperature maintenance

rock bridge - function - get to the other side

Unless you choose to make the claim that termites are intelligent, then I suggest you rethink your strategy here.  Termite mounds are exceedingly complex.  Indeed, there are whole fields of mounds that are all aligned in a N/S direction, every single one.

Note the chimney and air intakes for the maintenance of internal temperature.  The fungus combs are where these insects farm their food.  Interesting, a non-intelligent species farming.  I could go on.

If you claim, as you might, that they were designed this way, then  I would challenge you, as I have challenged other ID proponents to a simple test… here.  If you can, indeed, tell the difference between randomness and design, using the tools provided you by ID, then you might have something worth talking about.

 This is the way all historical sciences must operate, by taking the best explanation for the observed situation, basing it on processes we see today.

This sounds like it came from Meyer.  He’s the one who’s big into the difference between historical science and current science.

Define historical science.  Is forensics a historical science?  Is physics a historical science?

Of course, you neglect to realize that cherry-picking (another logical fallacy) your processes to show your (or rather Behe’s point) doesn’t help you.  There are plenty of processes that describe complexity and high information content, even though they are the results of non-intelligence.  Here for example. and here.

Test ID by either finding a low enough odds step by step real world process for bio-chemical machines like the flagellum motor, or show us another source of specified complex information not produced by intelligence.

Done.  All those papers that you haven’t read, show a step-wise real world processes for the flagellum.  Others show similar steps for the immune system, abiogenesis, etc.

Done.  Multiple real world, highly complex, high information processes, systems, and structures that are not produced by intelligence.  (see above)

But, neither of these is a test for ID.  I really encourage to take some real science classes.

What does ID actually say: That the features of the universe [or organisms] are best explained by a designer. Obviously, to this point, this is not the case.  Do we have all the answers to every single nit-picky question you could ask.  Of course not.  No one will tell you otherwise, which is why scientists are still employed.

On the other hand, I can, off the top of my head, name dozens of processes and inventions that are a direct result of knowledge of evolutionary theory.  Name one for ID (and no, forensics and anthropology don’t count).

Evolution is both an observed process and an explanation for that process… a mechanism if you will.  It encompasses everything from selection to mutation, population dynamics to environmental factors, etc. etc. etc.

What is the mechanism for ID.  Behe said that ID is all about the mechanism.  Fine, what is it?  How did that alien designer do everything?

BTW: I encourage you to read this article that explains why the designer must be a deity.

This should be easy for an intelligent person like yourself.  Instead of siting a hundred papers, try siting one, and help me, by explaining it.  I’m not that bright and would appreciate going through the points in the article, step by step.
Joe Jensen.

It was, it was exceedingly easy.  That is why, for all intents and purposes, Behe, Meyer, etc. are non-entities in the scientific community.  Not because there is an inherent bias against ID and for evolution.  It has been shown, a thousand ways since Sunday, that they are very simply wrong.

Unfortunately, citing one paper won’t help you.  Here’s why: the concepts we are talking about are so fundamental that they are covered in your average high school biology course (unless you live in the US).  These are concepts that have been shown to be true for upwards of 150 years.  The original papers that show these concepts to be accurate are over a hundred years old.

They are so fundamental no one even cites them anymore.  They are.  Just like no civil engineer cites Newton or has to explain where he got 9.8m/s^2 from.  You really don’t understand how nearly impossible it would be to eliminate evolutionary theory.  Why?

Because it simply works.  Disciplines from medicine to the stock market take advantage of the knowledge of evolution to do their jobs.  Tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of scientists use the principles and knowledge of evolution every single day in their work.

I would encourage you to read my series of articles on abiogenesis or my review of Your Inner Fish which is a review of the evidence for common descent (even read the book, it’s much better written than Meyer or Behe).  You could read this website for many of the basics that you missed.  If you actually want to learn about evolution, then why not start where 90% of the scientists started? Yes, it’s a test book, but it will probably help correct many of your fundamental errors about what evolution actually is (which, no doubt comes from creationist sources).

If you have specific questions, then I’ll try to help.  You might also visit After the Bar Closes.  If you come in citing Behe like he’s going to defeat evolution, then you will be pummeled.  If you have honest questions about evolution and are willing to actually listen to the answers, then they will be most helpful.  The denizens there include an astonishingly large number of working scientists and a high number of doctorates… and me.

This entry was posted in Biology, Creationism / ID, Education, Evolution, evolution, Science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A reply to Joe Jensen

  1. LRA says:

    Bravo, Ogre!!!! That was most excellent! Thanks for taking the time to write it all out.


  2. Nice piece of work, I really enjoyed reading it.

    Worth acknowledging that Michael Behe does actually accept common descent, natural selection and chance mutation as reality. What he doesn’t accept is somewhat hard to establish. It is bizarre how often he is cited by people who dispute that humans even share a common ancestor with apes.

  3. Tomato Addict says:

    Only time to skim, but I enjoyed it.

    If sexual selection is considered, the 4 mutations could occur over many generation in the parental lineage.

    That 10^20 odds misquote keeps showing up. When will they understand it is a bad argument that only disproves a nonsense version of evolution?

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