Darwin's Black Box - Michael J. Behe and Intelligent Design

goyacobol

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For me Behe is like the Jordan Peterson of bioscience.

What a rare find this book is for me. I have never seen a scientist with so many good qualities rolled into one. Maybe it is because he is close to my age and uses examples to which I can easily relate but hopefully all generations will find his almost common sense logic at least difficult to avoid.

The following were some highlights I noted.

Car comparisons were fine with me.

In this chapter I have looked at three features of the immune system— clonal selection, antibody diversity, and the complement system—and demonstrated that each individually poses massive challenges to a putative step-by-step evolution. But showing that the parts can't be built step by step only tells part of the story, because the parts interact with each other. Just as a car without steering, or a battery, or a carburetor isn't going to do you much good, an animal that has a clonal selection system won't get much benefit out of it if there is no way to generate antibody diversity. A large repertoire of antibodies won't do much good if there is no system to kill invaders. A system to kill invaders won't do much good if there's no way to identify them. At each step we are stopped not only by local system problems, but also by requirements of the integrated system.
(Page 138).
Loved the Sisyphus picture for Darwinists in this comparison.

Diversity, recognition, destruction, toleration—all these and more interact with each other. Whichever way we turn, a gradualistic account of the immune system is blocked by multiple interwoven requirements. 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.
(Page 139).
I remember Tinkertoys so this was a great example for an old guy like me:

Like Tinkertoys, atoms can be put together to form many different shapes. A big difference is that the cell is a machine, however, so the mechanism to assemble the molecules of life must be automated. Imagine the complexity of a machine that could automatically assemble Tinkertoys into, say, the shape of a castle! The mechanism that the cell uses to make AMP is automated, and as expected, it is far from simple.
(Page 143).
Reality does not support "fuzzy-minded" approaches:

The point is to appreciate the complexity of the system, to see the number of steps involved, to notice the specificity of the reacting components. The formation of biological molecules does not happen in some fuzzy-minded Calvin and Hobbes way; it requires specific, highly sophisticated molecular robots to get the job done.
(Page 143).
I love the way Behe uses everyday examples (crank up that chain saw) to prove logical functioning of biochemical discoveries and functions such as this:

The need for regulation is obvious for machines we use in our daily lives. A chain saw that couldn't be turned off would be quite a hazard, and a car with no brakes and no neutral gear would be of little use. Biochemical systems are also machines we use in our daily lives (whether we think of them or not), and so they too have to be regulated.
(Page 157).
It is like sitting in on an experiment in an Orion lab while they discuss the process design:

Enzyme I requires an ATP energy pellet to transform ribose-5- phosphate (the foundation) into Intermediate II. The enzyme has
an area on its surface that can bind either ADP or GDP when there is an excess of those chemicals in the cell. The binding of ADP or GDP acts as a valve, decreasing the activity of the enzyme and slowing the synthesis of AMP. This makes good physiological sense: since ADP is the remains of a spent ATP (like a bullet shell after a gun has been fired), high concentrations of ADP in the cell means that the concentration of ATP, the cellular energy pellet, is low. Instead of making AMP, Intermediate I is then used as fuel to produce more ATP.
(Page 158).
The celebrations have not been forthcoming so far for a recognition of "design"...

The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of «design!» The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it musy be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and SchrÖdinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun or that disease is caused by bacteria or that radiation is emitted in quanta. The magnitude of the victory, gained at such great cost through sustained effort over the course of decades, would be expected to send champagne corks flying in labs around the world. This triumph of science should evoke cries of «Eureka!» from ten thousand throats, should occasion much hand-slapping and high-fiving, and perhaps even be an excuse to take a day off.

But no bottles have been uncorked, no hands slapped. Instead, a curious, embarrassed silence surrounds the stark complexity of the cell. When the subject comes up in public, feet start to shuffle, and breathing gets a bit labored. In private people are a bit more relaxed; many explicitly admit the obvious but then stare at the ground, shake their heads, and let it go at that.
(Page 233).
Those random mutation fans should at least figure out "how it works in the first place".

It would take at least as much work to figure out how such a structure could evolve by random mutation and natural selection as it did to figure out how it works in the first place. At an absolute minimum that would be expected to result in hundreds of papers—both theoretical and experimental—many reviews, books, meetings, and more, all devoted to the question of how such an intricate structure could have evolved in a Darwinian fashion.
(Page 267).
How’s this for something produced from random mutation?

The ribosome can be readily broken down into two large pieces, called the 30S sub-unit and the 50S subunit.6 Incredibly, the ribosome is self-assembling. Experiments have shown that when ribosomes are separated into their components and then remixed, under the right conditions the components will spontaneously reform ribosomes.
(Page 291).
Behe is even modest enough to give credit for the his "irreducible complexity" to another earlier source here:

2.The term «irreducible complexity» occurred to me independently. However, I've since learned that the phrase was used earlier in Templets and the Explanation of Complex Patterns (Cambridge University Press, 1986) by Case Western Reserve University biologist Michael
(Page 307).
 

beetlemaniac

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FOTCM Member
I went to the local university library to look for a biochemistry textbook, and I found this one Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 0000199226717: Medicine & Health Science Books @ Amazon.com which was relatively decent. However, it started things off with these quotes which I found a little silly.

30002

I mean, after reading about how photosynthesis works - with the intricate architecture of the chloroplast, and the stacks of grana, photosensitive regions, "light" and "dark" reactions, you wonder if someone caught on to the ruse that they are trying to put up here.

Anyway it was an interesting find. If I have the time I would visit the library again just to have a little peace and quiet and to be able to pore through all the detailed descriptions in these textbooks. Wikipedia is not bad in itself though.
 

Gaby

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Anyway it was an interesting find. If I have the time I would visit the library again just to have a little peace and quiet and to be able to pore through all the detailed descriptions in these textbooks. Wikipedia is not bad in itself though.
This is a good one:


It seems like a big favored one with +500 reviews in amazon. And it has lots of pictures.
 

beetlemaniac

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FOTCM Member
This is a good one:


It seems like a big favored one with +500 reviews in amazon. And it has lots of pictures.
Thanks for the recommendation Gaby, I'm really excited to read it. I was afraid the library wouldn't have it, but a check on their online database states that they do have it and it's the latest edition at that! :read:
 

Voyageur

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
goyacobol said:
I notice both Behe and Stephen Meyer both have difficulty in accepting the "Space Alien" hypothesis. When you think about it that intermediate creator step is not going to be easily/ever accepted by most of the Creationist leaning ID scientists. Without the Cs explanation of a 4D level of creation there is no awareness of the possibility of a creation that shares higher creation attributes beyond what science does here in 3D.
Given the religious leanings of most of that crowd, it might go down easier if they think of it in terms of 'angels'. But just think of what the response would be then: "Not only do these guys believe in Jehovah, they believe in darned angels too!" So I'm not holding my breath. But you're right, until someone could present a suitably reasonable account of something like a hyperdimensional intelligence between us and the ultimate, it's unlikely to get any traction in either the ID or materialist communities.
Yes, any possible sidesteps to 5D (let alone 4D) is obscured and it might seem that without this hyperD consideration (of something we don't/can't know a heck of a lot about) it will go back and forth with the latter materialists continually glossing over the data that does not fit (nothing to see here) like the AGW crowd does, and the former ID stance is stonewalled, even with such great arguments such as what Behe makes being relegated to bushwhacking a difficult scientific path forward against the adopted Darwinist stance - there is a lot invested in the text books. However, Behe has opened the door a bit wider, yet for him to go to other densities is another wall to climb over. Now when the designers of the future come together, Behe would probably gravitate to that role very well there is no doubt.

As for Behe's message, it really does not take more than a couple of examples from Behe (nor Stove) to bring the unbelievably complicated systems to bear. It does not take more than Behe explaining the breadth and depth of thousands of scientific papers void of a grand evolutionary argument that holds water or, papers that, again, conveniently gloss over what should be their main arguments that are never made (like Dawkins dances around etc.).

I've since had a few discussions with people looking at the complexity of our systems (the irreducibly complex) only to be told as a default the same story - and from their perspective to say otherwise brings up thinking about the 'who' of the designers and what that means, and it seems simply too difficult to grasp so Darwin reigns supreme. The ones that try to grasp these matters struggle, though, with arguments that can't be easily dismissed. So maybe in time.

Family-wise, my son was over the other day and somehow he starts taking about the animal kingdom and mentions seeing this particular snake in some country or other; we had not talked about Behe or ID'ers. He brings up an example (shown) of this hideous slithering 10 m thing that looked like it could devour a Volkswagen or squeeze the rust of it, and says 'tell me who in their right mind would design something like this' - it took me by surprise and I started to laugh, who indeed. I was expecting him to say 'how did this evolve" yet this brought up the designers and what would motivate certain designs.

So, speculating as some will do, perhaps on a cellular level (basic to life) these matters are templates (Behe talks about templates) with variegated mechanisms that produce x, y or z standard processes. It is the starting place that the designers would know completely well (kindergarten - like the biochemist knows certain processes verbatim). At some point larger forms are envisioned that can be created from these templates (humans enter the picture on one level) from flora to fauna, and it is astronomical in scope of where it has been with what has been designed. Each design has needs (photosynthesizes, reproduction, to life sustaining food) and each must be accounted for. I could get a headache at the vastness of possibilities.

Now perhaps there are STS designers in the mix (such as when the C's discuss certain STS hyperD’s meddling with our strands - burning them off) or, that hideous massive snake was designed with a purpose to ensure that other species don't overrun other designed species etc. - a balance?

Life, what a grand mystery for us 3D'ers, and how susceptible we are to other realms.

Lastly, a great deal of thanks goes out to Behe, really enjoyed reading from him (even the detailed work at the end - lost as I was) not to mention that he seems the type of guy that would really be fun to kick around with in the garage or lab.
 
You do realise the "hideousness" of a snake is totally subjective, right? I like snakes. What I don't like is Barbie dolls and pink ponies, so if anything, I would ask who designed those horrible things. Everybody likes and dislikes different things.

There's no reason any designed living thing has to be somehow nice, though. All there is is lessons. The more diversity, the more lessons. Anything and everything has some kind of purpose and meaning, whether intended or not.
 
I have finished the first draft of my article. I expect about 25 rounds or rereading and rewriting before I'm satisfied with it, but at least I've got the structure down. Writing is an excellent learning process. Reading all the books is great, but when you write something that you expect people will read and throw any inaccuracy in your face, you have to recheck all facts and do all kinds of small research on the side to make sure you're not talking out of your ass and that you understand what you're saying well enough. It helps you sort your thoughts and figure out what the core issues are. Of course this is no revelation, since everyone's doing that with their posts here to some degree, but if you try to put together something longer and try to make it coherent, you really learn a lot in the process and solidify your knowledge. Teaching others teaches you. I think the Cs mentioned that somewhere too.

I then went to reread luc's article, partly to check whether I wasn't writing the same things he did. Sure enough, I found some parts that were quite similar. Then again, if you write the truth, it's bound to have a lot in common with what other people who write the truth have written, so while there will be some rewriting, some parallels are unavoidable.

More importantly, though, as I now understand the topic in much more detail than when I read the article the first time, every single sentence makes perfect sense to me. It's incredibly well written. It's now easy to follow luc's line of thought, as I have sufficient context to understand every paragraph perfectly well. But then again, this drives home the problem that I raised earlier and that we've talked about: how do you explain it clearly enough for people who don't have sufficient context, without making it ridiculously long? And it's just impossible. There has to be some kind of compromise.

Currently my article is significantly longer than luc's, even though I think I've managed to stick to a fairly simple template without getting sidetracked much: why Darwinism doesn't work and what does it mean if not regression to Creationism. I would like to make it shorter, but knowing myself, any editing is much more likely to make it longer than shorten it. Hopefully I can at least make it readable enough. At any rate, great experience, and fun.
 

Joe

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I then went to reread luc's article, partly to check whether I wasn't writing the same things he did. Sure enough, I found some parts that were quite similar. Then again, if you write the truth, it's bound to have a lot in common with what other people who write the truth have written, so while there will be some rewriting, some parallels are unavoidable.
Indeed. And there is also the point that there is nothing wrong with repeating the same point. In fact, that's actually a requirement because there is so much competing information out there vying for people's attention. So definitely do not be worried about saying that same thing. I'd be happy to publish 100 articles on the same important topic by different people (with a little time in between).
More importantly, though, as I now understand the topic in much more detail than when I read the article the first time, every single sentence makes perfect sense to me. It's incredibly well written. It's now easy to follow luc's line of thought, as I have sufficient context to understand every paragraph perfectly well. But then again, this drives home the problem that I raised earlier and that we've talked about: how do you explain it clearly enough for people who don't have sufficient context, without making it ridiculously long? And it's just impossible. There has to be some kind of compromise.
For sure. We have to accept that we can't reach everyone. We pretty much gave up on that idea a long time ago and have settled for the idae that 'those with eyes to see' will get the message.
Currently my article is significantly longer than luc's, even though I think I've managed to stick to a fairly simple template without getting sidetracked much: why Darwinism doesn't work and what does it mean if not regression to Creationism. I would like to make it shorter, but knowing myself, any editing is much more likely to make it longer than shorten it. Hopefully I can at least make it readable enough. At any rate, great experience, and fun.
Well do you best and you can pass it on here and we'll give it another pair of eyes (or a few).
 
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genero81

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Currently my article is significantly longer than luc's, even though I think I've managed to stick to a fairly simple template without getting sidetracked much: why Darwinism doesn't work and what does it mean if not regression to Creationism. I would like to make it shorter, but knowing myself, any editing is much more likely to make it longer than shorten it. Hopefully I can at least make it readable enough. At any rate, great experience, and fun.
Well I for one am excited! Can't wait to read it!
 

beetlemaniac

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You do realise the "hideousness" of a snake is totally subjective, right? I like snakes. What I don't like is Barbie dolls and pink ponies, so if anything, I would ask who designed those horrible things.
I initially had an aversion to the idea that there is no value hierarchy for what we see in creation, but ascribing value to created beings would necessarily be confining our lens to certain characteristics which narrows how we see the world considerably. All nature is just too complex to be boiled down to that way of seeing it.

Still, I've wondered, in contradiction to the cliched phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", whether there could be in a universal sense - a kind of standard or hierarchy of forms sorted by beauty. I find it a little hard to deny that we are affected by what we see in nature, from the magnificent multicolored plumage of the most exotic birds to the creatures that look somewhat ugly like reptiles and certain deep sea creatures.

Thinking about it again though, it's difficult to actually see hideousness in creation per se. I however find that in things that veer towards unnaturalness, like GMO and fantasy creatures like Frankenstein to have some element of hideousness, I suppose just because that was the intention of their creators to some extent.

Thinking a little more and I'm already tending towards seeing all creation AS IT IS, not as I subjectively see them to be, ugly or otherwise. It's interesting that the more I think about the subject, the more things lose their subjective sense of goodness and badness.

That is not to say that ascribing value and using good judgment is wrong and that all is relative. It's just the specific context that determines when a discriminating eye is required. In fact, I think any real progress can only be achieved by developing that part of ourselves that is able to discriminate between lower and higher elements and make choices accordingly - and that requires knowledge of truth.

It does occur to me that I'm just rehashing what Laura has already written years ago in the Wave! I guess I had never really thought about it, rather had it stored (in my brain?) in a fragmented state.

Like the C's have said, Life is Religion - and religion means to bind together - all the pieces have to come into place so that the final (beautiful?) whole can be seen for what it is.

We don't have access to absolute truth and wholeness in this realm (only in 7D), though, so, does that mean that seeking for beauty and for the higher whole is a never-ending process for each of us? Since this is all speculation based on ideas for which we have no concrete proof at this level, it'll remain a question - which loops back to the idea that SEEKING is close to a default state for human beings who are healthy and free. We'll never have all the answers though we can get REALLY close like this group has, I think.

Sorry for the long convoluted post! I tend to like to drill down to the core of things and it can be quite an obsession. Thanks for taking the time to read this far! Time to get back to learning and living!
 

Voyageur

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You do realise the "hideousness" of a snake is totally subjective, right?
Oh yes, in jest on my part (like, not like), and that is what I'm getting at, by design everything may have its place - complex relationships that are fascinating. Even snakes help reduce rodents, and rodents do their thing.

Now I don't particularly enjoy mosquitoes, yet they are excellent and important pollinators, and there may be many other attributes not well understood. Mosquitoes are also delivery systems for exporting viruses, which, in some cases, can be deadly or cause vast sickness, or in the right body it might be possible that they help enhance immunity.

Looking forward to your article!
 

nicklebleu

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Joe said:
"I'd be happy to publish 100 articles on the same important topic by different people (with a little time in between)."


A really interesting idea!!!
Imagine the versions / different way of seeing about some topic of each one of the members of the forum.
In neuroscience there is the mantra, that for anything to stick permanently it requires ... repetition/ repetition/ repetition. So saying the same things over and over again is not in vain, but required.
 
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ScioAgapeOmnis

The Living Force
I just remembered this article, and I thought it was interesting when seen in the context of the new information in this thread:

Meat eating made us human. The anthropological evidence strongly supports the idea that the addition of increasingly larger amounts of meat in the diet of our predecessors was essential in the evolution of the large human brain. Our large brains came at the metabolic expense of our guts, which shrank as our brains grew.
...
For years anthropologists have speculated about why humans developed such large brains so quickly - from softball size to what we have now in just a short 2 million years.
...
A number of hypotheses have arisen to answer this question. Some say that humans developed large brains because they had to contend with problems involving group size, others posit that large brains came about as a consequence of developing complex foraging strategies, others yet say the development of a social or Machiavellian intelligence was the driving factor. And even others say that the complexities of learning to hunt expanded brain size.

Any or all of these hypotheses may be valid, but the problem isn't really as much a matter of why as it is a matter of how. Other primates deal with groups and have complex foraging strategies; and many deal with social problems within their groups, and some even hunt. Yet they still have small brains. (Granted, their brains are larger for their size than those of other mammals, but primates sport small brains as compared to humans.) How did the human brain grow?
I think it's interesting that there's of course this major gap in understanding why the brain would've grown. The reasons for how it could be the size that it is are still perfectly valid - we need a small gut and energy-dense foods, to allow the brain to be big and metabolically expensive, without compromising any other vital organs that had to remain large. But no one can explain what would prompt the brain to grow in the first place, only the conditions necessary to allow it to be the size it is now.

It's a good example of how otherwise good scientists that make sound logical deductions run into major problems because of certain unquestioned assumptions, and accept them as a given when they don't deserve such acceptance. Their brains just can't "go there", and they get stuck going in circles and making tons of hypotheses that will never pan out, all because the foundations are wrong. It's like those debate shows after 9/11 that basically asked "did the government do enough to prevent 9/11" - it's so wrong, it's not even wrong. Once you build on a faulty assumption, everything you're building is just imaginary, and you'd think scientists would know this, but alas!
 
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