Thursday, March 31, 2011
[A brief explanation: Messenger RNA makes a copy of a strand of DNA that codes for a protein. The first triplet of nucleotides, or the "start" codon, always codes for the amino acid methionine, whereas the last triplet of the strand, or the "stop" codon (of which there are three possible permutations), never codes for any amino acid.]
After much give and take between us, John finally came up with what I consider to be a good challenge for the ID hypothesis. Proteins achieve their function by folding into their specific shapes. In order to do this, it is important to have many or most of the correct amino acids in the correct positions. Because the stop codons do not code for any amino acids, when the ribosomes produce the protein, there is no problem of the stop codons coding for an unwanted amino acid. However, this is not the case with the start codon. Whether or not the protein calls for methionine at the first postion, methionine will be at the first position. Often this could interfere with the correct folding of the protein. So a second process is needed to remove the methionine before the protein can fold and function. From a design perspective this does indeed seem needlessly inefficient. It would seem that a much better process would be for the start codon not to code for an amino acid, also.
So the challenge is for the ID proponents to figure out why an intelligent designer would have used methionine for the start codon, instead of a codon that does not code for an amino acid. And until an explanation is produced, John's challenge weakens, to some extent, most ID hypotheses.
Of course, there may already be a good explanation that I'm not aware of. Any readers who know more about this should feel free to comment.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
2. However, there is nothing contradictory about a world where the future does not resemble the past.
3. The number of ways that the future would not resemble the past far outnumber the ways that it would resemble the past.
4. Therefore, it is very improbable that the future would resemble the past.
5. Therefore, we should not expect the future to resemble the past, unless it had a rational cause.
6. Therefore, our expectation that the future would resemble the past only makes sense if we believe that it has a rational cause.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
Then he suggests substituting the word "God" for "love." So we get:
"4 God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. 5 God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 God never fails."
A helpful exercise for those of us with dim views of God.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Well, God seems to like tinkerers, too. At least, if the Christian story is true, He liked them so much He decided to be incarnated as one. Or must God take on the form that is closest to His own nature?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The crucial part of his argument:
"Similarly, so long as you insist (for whatever reason) on treating natural substances as if they were a kind of artifact, and on predicating attributes of both the world’s “designer” and of human designers in a univocal way, you will never (from an A-T point of view, anyway) get even one inch closer to the God of classical theism, because you will necessarily be describing the “designer” in a way that not merely falls short of, but is positively inconsistent with, classical theism."
A commenter by the name of Maolsheachlann (how the heck do you pronounce that?) made what I thought was a very good point:
"I don't understand how intelligent design in the ID sense would be different from a miracle. A miracle is a kind of bypassing of the usual operations of nature, and yet it it attests to God-- not to some kind of sorcerer or Urizen. You may not be able to reach the God of classical theism from a miraculous cure of Parkinson's disease, and yet God doesn't disdain to act in this way."
So why must God disdain to directly intervene and create life?
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
(1) Natural (non-intelligent) processes (probably) cannot account for x.
(2) x closely resembles designed objects.
(3) Therefore, x is probably designed.
But what if (1) were false? What if
(4) Natural processes not only can but do account for x?
Does that mean that x was not designed?
No. For either
(5) The designer could have either introduced a previous designed object y, knowing that natural processes (probably) would then take y and produce x.
(6) The designer could have produced the natural processes themselves, knowing that they (probably) would in turn produce x.
And if (2) is still true, then the design inference should work.
So really, showing gaps is only one of the ways to construct a design inference.
Mike Gene seems to rely upon (5) in constructing his design inferences.
Thomists seem to rely upon (6) in conducting their design inferences.
Of course, I don't think there's an inherent reason why proving (1) is a bad way to go.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Right now, I'm reading the latest at Mike Gene's blog:
More Thoughts on Scientism
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I had heard this before. Religion was the driving force of the murderous, tragic events of 9/11. Reasonable people of good will should no longer tolerate superstitious nonsense that could have such catastrophic consequences.
I see two problems with this line of reasoning. The first one is that militant atheism could eventually become the driving force of murderous, tragic events: killing off the religious for the sake of society, for example.
Second, as a 9/11 truther, I believe that the real driving force of 9/11 wasn't religion, but probably greed and the lust for power.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if militant atheists were ever persuaded that the official version of 9/11 was false. And I wonder if their hatred of religion prevents them from seeing what appears to me and over 1,450 architects and engineers to be the obvious truth.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
One could argue that Behe has the burden of proof. After all, neo-Darwinism is the the consensus view in biology, with few scientists seeing any strong reasons to give it up.
I suggest that recent discoveries have shifted the burden. There is a famous quotation from Bruce Alberts, former president of the National Academy of Sciences:
"We have always underestimated cells. … The entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. … Why do we call the large protein assemblies that underlie cell function protein machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts."
(Bruce Alberts, "The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines: Preparing the Next Generation of Molecular Biologists," Cell, 92(February 8, 1998): 291)
When he said that we have always underestimated cells, he was referring to a time after the Modern Synthesis, but before we were able to study the inner workings of the cell.
Behe tells us that "the great majority of proteins in the cell work in complexes of six or more."
Most biologists claim that the origin of these complexes can be explained by neo-Darwinism. Perhaps they are right. But we would like some indication that the great majority of protein complexes, which are composed of six or more proteins, actually evolved from simpler complexes. Which ones? And how? Neo-Darwinism needn't explain the evolution of every protein complex. But I would think at least a half-dozen or so should do, just so we know that it can explain them.
I may be mistaken, but I don't think this has been done, yet. Until it is done, I suggest we withhold assent from neo-Darwinism.