Friday, September 04, 2009


When In Doubt, Punt


Can I get my official Dr. Strange Junior Seer badge now?

I predicted that Casey Luskin would soon be attempting -- at interminable length -- to refute the recent article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows that protein-transporting systems in eucaryotic cell are not irreducibly complex.

Well, now he has posted an article running to 4600+ words that makes such arguments as: 'we never claimed it was all irreducible;' repeating Behe's demand at Dover for an unreasonable degree of evidence in the form of a 'step-by-step, mutation by mutation analysis' of the pathway to the protein-transporting system, while offering no empiric evidence whatsoever themselves; and the "objection" that the various parts of the system would have had to evolve separately but still be available for adaptation to protein transport by "sheer dumb luck" (otherwise described as contingency viewed after-the-fact, like the highly unlikely sequence of cards that makes up any hand of bridge).

My favorite of all his arguments (of the bits I skimmed -- I didn't have enough migraine medicine to attempt to read it all) is one that may sound familiar:

[W]hen evolutionists are forced to resort to such goal-directed and teleological language and mechanisms [using words such as "machines" and "engineered"], this shows that inherently, blind and unguided materialist explanations are not sufficient to produce irreducible complex systems.

This is the same argument put forth by George Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, in the 19th Century that no one has taken seriously since. Essentially, he claimed that use of teleological language is not just an attempt to put events that are not within our every day experience, such as the effects of deep time or microbiological processes, into familiar terms to make them more understandable, but that such language reflects a deeper and intuitive understanding of how the world works. Dr. Michael Egnor, the Discovery Institute's resident Aristotelian and mystic has been pushing this line hard of late, fulminating against the evil "Darwinists" for failing to acknowledge "the teleology in nature that is obvious to all honest observers" ... so obvious, of course, that he doesn't have to produce a scintilla of evidence for it.

So, I guess we have to accept that football, with all its military terminology (blitz, bomb, field general, trenches, etc.) really is war and we will have to call in the UN to try to stop the NFL season.

But, as always, there is no such thing as a new argument that IDeologists can trot out in the defense of their religion, while science just goes on discovering.

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