Skip to main content
Update
Non-financial boards have been closed.

Non-financial boards have been closed but will continue to be accessible in read-only form. If you're disappointed, we understand. Thank you for being an active participant in this community. We have more community features in development that we look forward to sharing soon.

Fool.com | The Motley Fool Community
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 0
From your link:

snip 1) came to recognize that inside the cell were a multitude of molecular machines that met Darwin's challenge. There were little molecular motors that moved other molecular machines from one part of the cell to another. There were exquisitely controlled collections of enzymes that made the products needed by the cell, but only when needed, producing chemical reactions that were the envy of many an organic chemist. There were pumps, and sensors, and drills, and batteries. These machines met Behe's definition of irreducible complexity- they consisted of interlocking parts that needed each other to work such that, if any one part was missing, the entire machine ceased to function. Just as your car can be immobilized by the removal of a single part (think of the Nuns holding the spark coils to the Nazi cars in "Sound of Music"), so each of these machines are rendered nonfunctional by the removal of single parts. It was not just that evolution lacked a plausible explanation for these machines; it was that evolution in principle lacked such an explanation- they could not be produced by small, gradual steps. What is required is multiple steps, all happening at the same time. Since Behe's work, an attempt at an explanation has been proposed- the theory of co-option; however, they were essentially speculations lacking in evidence. In addition, true believers (i.e. Darwinists) seemed to be in no hurry to address these problems experimentally. After all, why explore a question such as "What Can Evolution Really Do?" when you already have the answer? Clearly, evolution can evolve Biology Professors, and Legislators! It was this lack of experimental evidence that led me to my current research, in which I ask trillions of bacteria, over thousands of generations, to do a very specific evolutionary task. So far my answer to "What can evolution really do?" is: Not Much.

snip 2) A more serious charge is that critical analysis of evolution is just a cloak for teaching Intelligent Design. This is simply not the case. The evidence for and against evolution can be plainly presented, without any reference to Design Theory. I would expect that the Michigan State Board of Education, in implementing this bill, will provide guidelines for teachers in this matter.


snip 3) As you all know, antibiotic resistance is a serious medical problem. Our chances of dying from an infection are much greater today than they were, say, 50 years ago.

One of the problems with our introduction of antibiotics is that we did not plan for the resistance that emerged. We did not consider either what evolution can do (i.e., produce resistant bacteria) or what it has a great deal of difficulty doing (producing change when multiple, independent steps are required). Knowing what we know now, about both the capabilities and limitations of evolution of antibiotic resistance, our strategy of employing antibiotics would have been drastically different. Instead of introducing antibiotics one at a time, and allowing microbes to evolve resistance, a much better strategy would have been to only introduce new antibiotics in triple-antibiotic mixes- thus, no microbe would be exposed to ampicillin that was not, at the same time, being exposed to, e.g., tetracycline and ciprofloxacin. We know now that, while evolution of antibiotic resistance is often very easy (it is an exercise in my microbiology lab manual), evolving resistance to two or three at the same time is MUCH more difficult. Had we employed this strategy, I submit that the antibiotic resistance problem would be much different than it is today.


The expert witness (Ralph B. Seelke, Ph.D., Professor of Biology at University of Wisconsin-Superior) presents as I see it:

1) The author repeats the ID flock's party line argument against Darwin where complexity which may stem from multiple consecutive changes becomes "irreducible" in the sense that human intelligence (the same kind of intelligence which ID wants to attribute to an immaterial being of some kind) so far has been unable to reduce the complex "jumps" to a series of neat partial changes. This is not an expert opinion, it seems.

2) He accurately states that even if "we" accept irreducible complexity as in 1), that is no argument for accepting ID or allowing it to be taught or even mentioned in science classes. he comes close to saying ID is not science.

3) A good example from the author's own field of competence: compounding simple changes, like exposing an organism to multiple types of stress at the same time, is a challenge to biological organisms/systems ability to survive (adapt). Making a complex (but in no way irreducible) change to the ecosystem in a patient by introducing multiple toxins at once has the potential to wipe out (locally) the whole bacteria population in question. On a larger scale, similar ecosystem changes could lead to mass extinctions, and presumably did.


Is it likely that "we" (say microbiologists like Ralph B. Seelke) will set up lab experiments large and complex enough to provoke nature's mechanisms to produce changes which would be viewed by current observers as "irreducibly complex"? I don't think so, nature's lab is so much bigger, has been running for so much longer and has been subjecting its guinea pig populations of all kinds to such a variety of stress factors/environment changes that no human created lab or no human researcher's fantasy would be able to match it.

I still fail to understand why so many "Christians" have problems with Darwin or with current scientific theories about the genesis and evolution of life forms. The late Pope John Paul II had no problem with evolution and embraced the theory in a paper he authored long before his papacy, and which was issued by the Vatican in the early sixties (sorry, didn't find any useful links, this is based on written Polish sources). My own Christian belief doesn't assume that God (or "god") is equipped with human-like intelligence, gender or anything the like.

Gunnar
Print the post  

Announcements

When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.