Posted: Jul 21, 2010 10:23 pm
by Rumraket
CharlieM wrote:It does recognize this. Say there are four parts serving different functions. They have to be copied, adapted, produced at the right time and place in the right quantity and interact with each other in a suitable way.

What you just wrote here does not in ANY way demonstrate that Behe's claim reckognises that intermediate steps can serve alternative functions.

CharlieM wrote:Consider the hook as one of those parts. It is made up of over one hundred protein units formed and assembled on site in a precise manner. It needs to bind accurately to itself and its neighbours and it needs to rotate in a way that is unique and cannot be achieved by unregulated forces from within the protein units.

Well duh, in some ways that description can broadly fit any protein in any organism. They all have complex, specific and detailed functions and making big changes in their structure can break or change their function, either proving deleterious for the organism or depending on the environment, be neutral or positive. Where are you going with this?

CharlieM wrote:This is what Behe is saying. You cannot just pick a few systems and throw them together.

Well, Behe is in the business of asking for planck-length, quantum mechanical-propability distributional accounts of the movements of quarks through spacetime back to the beginning of the universe before he is satisfied with the answer. And if you were to provide him with one he'd just respond by saying that it was pure speculation or impropable. Noone is impressed by this and noone is under an obligation to provide answers at that level.
It's kind of like the defense asking for an atomic-level reconstruction of the events detailed in a murder-trial in order to be "convinced" it could have happened. "How did the atoms in the bullet move and where is your evidence?" If we can't answer, it means we lose the trial? In Behe's mind the answer is yes.

CharlieM wrote:There are many other factors to consider. Finding supposed co-opted systems and homologous proteins for some of the parts is not enough.

Yes it is, it is indeed enough. It doesn't tell us exactly at the tiniest detail how it evolved, but it tells us that it evolved. The underlying assupmtion in this claim of yours is that the hypothesis for the evolution of he flagellum stands on it's own and that upon it rests the responsibility of proving evolution. This is false. Evolution is true in light of the combined weight of all the evidence in all the converging fields of scientific enquiry. What is left to explore is how it evolved.

The absense of a complete atomic-level account of flagellum evolution is not positive evidence for design.
Positive evidence for design would entail, for example, actually observing the designer at work or, the flagellum not having a genetic basis. This would make it actively impossible for it to be a hereditary unit(no genetic basis).

The simple fact is that the flagellum as we understand it now fits perfectly well with evolutionary predictions.

CharlieM wrote:One thing is for sure, Behe's proposal that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex has stimulated a fair bit of research, which can only be a good thing.

From a paper linked to by GenesForLife:

One part of this claim is that each flagellar component is used solely for the purpose of making a flagellum that, in turn, is used only for motility. Further, each flagellar protein is assumed to have appeared independently of the other component

This is another example of misunderstanding Behe's argument.

CharlieM wrote:The reason why a separate function for the individual parts does not solve the problem of IC is because IC is concerned with the function of the system:

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

Darwin's Black Box, page 39.

Behe claiming that the system is irreducibly complex as a flagellum is correct. If you remove one of the parts that make it function as a flagellum, it will cease to function as a flagellum. But this is fucking irrelevant. It's a strawman claim supposed to make it appear like the flagellum could not evolve because, "what good is half a flagellum?".
Well it turns out "half a flagellum" is entirely a virulence system or a molecular syringe, or a secretion system, etc. etc.