Respectful Insolence

Agh!

I say: Agh! Again.

Remember how it was just a mere three days ago that I administered some Respectful Insolence™ to Dr. Michael Egnor, the Energizer Bunny of jaw-droppingly, appallingly ignorant anti-evolution posturing based on his apparently nonexistent understanding of what the theory of evolution actually says? Remember how I said how much I sincerely hoped that I could ignore him for a while? I really did mean it at the time.

Really, I did.

And then Afarensis and Mike Dunford had to and let me know that Dr. Egnor’s at it yet again.

Dr. Egnor just won’t stop, and as a fellow surgeon, I can’t help but feel obligated to be there for him with another intervention when he starts disgracing the field again. Once again, I’m forced to wonder how someone can be so competent and smart in an area as complex and demanding–and, let’s face it, downright studly–as neurosurgery and so appallingly dumb in another area (evolution). And, worse, he seems proud of his ignorance, flaunting it to the world, utterly impervious to the multiple corrections of the misinformation and misunderstanding of evolution that he so flagrantly displays.

Dear readers, once again Orac tried to ignore Dr. Egnor. He really did. Even at a surgical meeting in Washington, DC, he can’t egnor–I mean “ignore”–Dr. Egnor, particularly since the weather was crappy as hell last night, complete with snow and sleet, leaving Orac time to sit in the hotel room and marvel at the egnorance–I mean ignorance. No, actually, I mean both. But sometimes a Tarial Cell computer that is the most sophisticated artificial intelligence in the universe‘s gotta do what a a Tarial Cell computer that is the most sophisticated artificial intelligence in the universe’s gotta do, and this time around it’s gotta deliver some Respectful Insolence™, even if it is the weekend, when tradition around here is to post mostly fluff, if anything at all is posted.

It would appear that traditions are made to be broken, especially when Orac is sitting alone, bored, in a hotel room in a distant city and thus needs something to do.

When last we left Dr. Egnor, in rapid succession he had posted an objection to the Alliance for Science’s essay contest for high school students in which the subject was Why would I want my doctor to have studied evolution?, drawing my ire, and then followed up with a mind-numbingly brain dead podcast, in which that ever-chipper P.R. flak with zero sense of shame, Casey Luskin, gave a fawning interview where Dr. Egnor denied that evolution had anything whatsoever of use to tell us about anything in medicine, and, his most astoundingly brain dead statement in a whole boatload of brain dead statements, that evolution has done nothing at all–zero, nada–zip, to help physicians understand antibiotic resistance develops in bacteria.

Poor Mike the Mad Biologist is going to have a stroke at this rate, and Dr. Egnor’s misunderstanding of what the word “tautology” means is likely to drive blogchild Mark to drink.

This latest dustup occurred when Dr. Egnor noticed Dr. Burt Humburg’sevisceration of his rationale for not liking the Alliance for Science’s essay contest and tried to write a rebuttal, which Dr. Humburg duly shredded. The ball in his court, Dr. Egnor tried to respond again, and, in doing so, made more horribly incorrect statements of ignorance while, not surprisingly, focusing on only a strawman version of one argument that Burt made and ignoring all the other valid points that Burt made. This time around, I’m going to focus like a laser on the last part of Dr. Egnor’s post because (1) Afarensis and Mark have already taken on most of the other willful ignorance that makes up Dr. Egnor’s post (particularly the part about how the evolutionary biologists teach only comparative anatomy and genetics in medical school, as if comparative anatomy wasn’t the very stuff of evolutionary study and as if understanding medical genetics didn’t require a grasp of basic evolutionary principles, given that the entire field of genomic medicine rests on a foundation of the neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolutionary biology and genetics); and (2) he’s repeated an assertion yet again without providing one shred of evidence for it, and this assertion is of interest to me. (Oh, and there’s one final reason: My head might explode if I do yet another line-by-line deconstruction of such Egnorance so soon after my last two feats of self-abuse.)

After denying yet again that evolutionary theory has made any contribution to medicine whatsoever and claiming that evolutionary biologists in medical schools do not teach any evolution to medical students, Dr. Egnor once again bravely asserts:

The central assertion of Darwinism–that all biological complexity arises by random heritable variation and natural selection–is of interest to evolutionary biologists (and to those of us who disagree with it), but the assertion that randomness is the raw material for all biological complexity plays no role in medical education or research. Darwin’s assertion of randomness is irrelevant not only to medicine, but to much of biological science. Darwinism is, in Phillip Skell’s apt phrase, a narrative gloss applied to biology and highly superfluous. Teaching medical students about the anatomy of the brain or the molecular structure of DNA is very important. Teaching students about Darwinian speculations about the random origins of the brain or of DNA adds nothing to students’ knowledge of medicine.

In fact, most research and education in medicine involves the implicit assumption of design. The best medical research is the search for patterns recognizable as design, and the best teachers teach their students, implicitly or explicitly, to search for design and purpose in human biology. Evolutionary biologists who teach anatomy, and physiology, and microbiology, and molecular biology in medical schools contribute much to modern medicine by teaching those important subjects. Evolutionary biology itself, however, is superfluous to medicine.

As Ronald Reagan would say, “Michael, there you go again!” (Sorry, I just like that line.)

Again, I want to zero in like a laser on Dr. Egnor’s assertion that most research and education in medicine involve the implicit assumption of design. There’s only one word for that assertion:

Poppycock! (Well, actually there are many words, but these days I’m trying to keep the blog PG-13 rated.)

No assumption of “design” is made in teaching anatomy, for example, at least not in any anatomy class that I’ve ever taken. Indeed, comparative anatomy and the use of evolutionary relationships between creatures can make the usual tedious and difficult rote memorization of anatomic structures easier by putting some context behind them. Similarly, no assumption of “design” was made in histology, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, or any other basic science course that I took in the first two years of medical school, nor is, as far as I can tell, any such assumption made now at the medical school that I’m at. Indeed, I defy Dr. Egnor to provide concrete, verifiable examples in which assuming that the human body was “designed” improves teaching. As for the “best teachers” teaching their students to look for “design and purpose” in human biology (or any biology), I have to wonder if Dr. Egnor’s just making way too much about a common figure of speech that’s used in medical school, where we will sometimes say things like “the liver is designed to eliminate toxins,” “the kidneys are designed” to filter the plasma and produce urine to eliminate waste,” or “the neuron is designed to transmit an electrochemical message to another neuron.”

Yeah, I bet that’s it. Heck, even I sometimes use the same figure of speech and say that this organ or that is “designed” to do this or that. Really, Dr. Egnor, it’s just a figure of speech, not an assumption of “design,” except, perhaps, when being used by creationists like you, who are rather rare in the basic science departments of medical schools, fortunately.

Similarly, it’s utter balderdash that the best medical research proceeds from looking for patterns that are evidence of “design” (remember, Orac is from an old British TV show). In fact, the areas that provide the most promise in medicine at the moment are genomic/proteomic medicine and systems biology. Genomic medicine is based on whole genome expression profiling, where the levels of messenger RNAs for every gene in the genome can be assayed simultaneously on a single chip, and on tracking changes in alleles in different populations, the frequencies of which cannot be understood without an understanding of evolutionary biology. I’ve discussed this all before; so I don’t want to be too repetitious. It also just so happens that today I attended an excellent talk on systems biology by Dr. Leroy Hood (a truly amazing and brilliant man), a talk that I will probably blog early next week. The area of systems biology promises to allow the molecular diagnosis of hundreds of diseases from a single drop of blood. Understanding the interacting systems and subsystems of molecular networks at the level of genes, proteins, cells, and organisms requires evolutionary biology, which informs us of how these systems came to be and allows us to infer predictions about systems for which some of the nodes are not yet known. Indeed, the study of evolution at all levels, molecular, cellular, organismal, and population are integrated in order to understand the molecular networks in humans and how disease perturbs them, allowing early diagnosis and possibly the design of drugs to reverse the perturbation that causes the disease. As Dr. Hood states:

The challenges of biology are focused around three central features of life: evolution, development, and physiology. These features operate across very different time dimensions: roughly millions of years, the lifetime of the organism, and seconds to weeks, respectively. Our laboratory is focused on a series of deep biological questions relating to these features.

  • How do gene families evolve?
  • How do gene regulatory networks change in evolutionary terms and operate across the developmental and physiological time dimensions to control biomodules? Biomodules are groups of proteins that execute a particular function (e.g., cell cycle or sugar utilization).
  • How do innate and adaptive immune systems develop and function?

[…]

Halobacterium and yeast are wonderful model organisms in which to develop the approaches to systems biology so that they can be applied to higher organisms. In these organisms, we are studying the relationships between gene regulatory networks and their control of biomodules.

Dr. Egnor can answer me and others when we cite reproducible evidence of similarities evolutionarily conserved proteins in many disparate organisms by saying that “God did it” all he likes and follow that up by using the explanation that God used similar mechanisms in designing all living creatures to account for all these observations, but saying a “designer” designed life in similar ways contributes nothing–zero, nada, zip– to our understanding of human biology or disease. Studying simpler organisms and how gene networks evolved as these simpler organisms developed into more complex organisms and ultimately humans, as Dr. Hood and many other scientists do, does allow us to make predictions and define how human biology functions in a way that would not be possible without understanding evolution. (I’ll probably have more to say about systems biology next week.) Dr. Egnor is correct that looking for patterns in biology is very important, but these patterns are derived by evolution. Without evolution, the reasons for the patterns that we observe in all biological organisms are all but impossible to understand.

I’ll leave everyone with one final thought. Dr. Egnor has said on at least two occasions now that the design inference or the assumption of design results in the best medical research and is “of great value” in medicine. Indeed, he has even said that thinking about evolution hurts you as a surgeon and physician. (It hasn’t hurt me any, as far as I can tell.) However, Dr. Egnor has yet to provide even a single concrete example of how the design inference or assuming design has helped medical research. Not a single one. You’d think if the design inference were so useful to medicine and medical research that Dr. Egnor would be brimming with examples to show us the wondrous discoveries that were facilitated by “intelligent design.” Instead, he keeps making the same assertion as fact without a single piece of evidence to back it up, and then actually describes the evolution of resistance to antibiotics rather well but refuses to acknowledge that the very process he is describing is evolution! In any case, I challenge Dr. Egnor: I’ve already discussed several examples of how an understanding of evolutionary biology contributes to medical research. It’s now your turn. Show me examples of medical research in which the design inference has made a difference, in which it led to or significantly contributed to new medical knowledge or a new treatment for disease. Please include references to the peer-reviewed literature, so that I can look them up.

One final thing: Dr. Egnor whines that “most of the Darwinists’ comments on my posts have been personal attacks on me, rather than carefully reasoned arguments.” In my case, as heated as my language gets sometimes (people like Dr. Egnor, who repeat the same irritating canards over and over, tend to have that effect on me), this is not true. I have simply pointed out erroneous and downright stupid statements that Dr. Egnor has repeated made and criticized the content of his online writing and podcasts, which to me demonstrates a disturbing blind spot and an unwillingness even to consider data that contradicts his belief that evolution is not a valid theory and that it contributes nothing to medicine. I do this while acknowledging that Dr. Egnor appears to be an outstanding neurosurgeon otherwise. It has always puzzled me how someone like Dr. Egnor can be so very competent in one area and so very clueless about another area without even being willing to concede that he might be clueless. Be that as it may, it is not an ad hominem attack to point out that Dr. Egnor continues to repeat the same misinformation and attack his same straw man versions of the theory of evolution; to fail to back up his statements with scientific studies or evidence; to tout (or allows the Discovery Institute to tout) his credentials as a Professor of Neurosurgery and renowned neurosurgeon as though they had anything to say about his knowledge of evolutionary biology (they don’t), and to remain stubbornly and intentionally oblivious to all the evidence that contradicts his position, because all of this has been amply documented by me and many of my fellow ScienceBloggers. Dr. Egnor can continue to whine about how he is the poor victim of “personal attacks” by “the Darwinists” and continue not to be taken seriously (and deservedly so), or he can put his money where his mouth is and present, instead of his usual evidence-free assertions brimming with unjustified confidence, some actual evidence to support his claims. Inquiring minds want to know: Will Dr. Egnor show us some of these wonderful insights into human biology and disease provided or facilitated by the design inference or will he simply keep repeating the same misinformation? You never know. Maybe he’ll surprise us all.

I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

Orac’s debunkings of Dr. Egnor thus far (the list of which, sadly, seems to grow every week):

Slinking away in shame over my profession yet again (another surgeon behaving badly over evolution)


Medicine and Evolution, part 8: Two major medical misconceptions about evolution parroted by a Professor of Neurosurgery

Train wreck, thy name is Egnor!

The Energizer Bunny of antievolution

Dr. Michael Egnor: The gift that keeps on giving

Comments

  1. #1 George
    March 17, 2007

    I think the assumption that Dr. Egnor is clueless about evolution is not correct. I suggest that understands all to well. His goal is to try to eliminate the correct explanation of nature for a religious myth. This is a thoughtful and carefully made argument. His argument is not aimed at actually making a true scientific, evidence based thesis, rather to capture those of much less scientific understanding, those already somewhat ready to believe god did it somehow.

    Dr. Egnor knows that he can lie outright because so many people do not delve into the real science deeply enough. He uses this purposeful deciet to achieve his goal.

    Is Dr. Egnor clueless, I say no. Purposeful, decietful, I say yes.

  2. #2 Bronze Dog
    March 17, 2007

    Dr. Egnor erects straw men, claiming that evolution is random.

    Dr. Egnor performs the Humpty Dumpty fallacy as he redefines the evolutionary explanation for antibiotics resistance as not evolution.

    Dr. Egnor praises people (Behe and Dembski) who propose unfalsifiable and undefined hypotheses for “performing better science” despite them utterly failing to meet the most fundamental criteria for science: testability, falsifiability, objective measureability.

    Dr. Egnor mischaracterizes how medicine is done, attributing its progress to Intelligent Design without a shred of evidence.

    Dr. Egnor completely ignores evolution’s role in medicine.

    Dr. Egnor is an idiot.

    Now guess which lines of that text he’ll ignore.

  3. #3 Christopher Gwyn
    March 17, 2007

    “his credentials as a Professor of Neurosurgery and renowned neurosurgeon as though they had anything to say about his knowledge of evolutionary biology (they don’t)”

    Given what you have said about the importance of evolution in medicine I would expect that a Professor of Neurosurgery would have a good understanding of, at least, the basics of evolutionary theory. For even an uneducated person the logic of ‘evolution is about biology, medicine is biology…’ is somewhat obvious, and serves to support the ‘Appeal to Authority’ approach that the Discovery Institute is using (and Egnor does enjoy being an Authority).
    On the flip-side, if I was needing neurosurgery I would feel a lot safer with a neurosurgeon who knew, and understood, evolutionary theory. I think that his, or her, understanding of the brain would be more subtle, creative, and effective than Egnor’s ‘God did it’ approach which treats everything as arbitrary events with an unknowable cause.

  4. #4 Ahcuah
    March 17, 2007

    I would never, ever, want to be operated on by somebody like Dr. Egnor. He may be extremely competent in surgery, but he ruins any assurance of that.

    If he can go off into flights of fancy in this are, I have absolutely no confidence that he might not go off into some other flight of fancy during surgery. It puts into doubt his whole aura of competency in any area.

  5. #5 Orac
    March 17, 2007

    The importance of evolution in medicine is a more recent development, where evolution is becoming increasingly important. 25-30 years ago, which is probably when Dr. Egnor went to medical school, there was little appreciation for how evolution could be used to understand human susceptibility to disease and the pathophysiology of disease. Consequently, I’m guessing that it’s quite possible that Dr. Egnor had pretty much zero exposure to evolution during his medical school or residency days. Certainly he gives no evidence of any understanding any deeper than a Discovery Institute press release. He says he was a biochemistry major as an undergraduate, but back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, our understanding of the molecular basis of evolution was in its infancy. Molecular evolution was cutting edge (we didn’t even know the basis, for instance, of antibody diversity), and cutting edge science is usually not what gets taught in undergraduate science courses.

    People forget how fast the science changes. For example, the family of developmental regulators known as homeobox genes, which are now known to be critical to body plan formation during embryogenesis, were only discovered in 1984. I was still in college then. PCR didn’t exist until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and didn’t become cheap and ubiquitous until at least the mid-1990’s. (I still remember a PCR machine from c. 1991. It took up a whole benchtop.) The Human Genome Project then really gave us the data set nessecary to understand the evolutionary basis of human genes and gene function.

  6. #6 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 17, 2007

    it’s just a figure of speech

    Moreover, it is a figure of speech that is kept since the medieval days of creationism afflicted the personal views of the practicer of medicine as it has an easily understood translation into adaption (or spandrel, or whatever mechanism of evolution is responsible in the individual case).

    But it would still have been changed if not evolution was so pervasive that it doesn’t need the paraphernalia of its specific terms. So it is a testament to the common acceptance and use of evolutionary theory.

  7. #7 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 17, 2007

    it would still have been changed

    To be precise and make sense at all, it would have been a discussion to change it. No one can tell when terms change, certainly not me.

  8. #8 Interrobang
    March 17, 2007

    Torbjörn: Interestingly, I’ve noticed an awful lot of people beginning to say “evolved” instead of “designed” in exactly that usage. It sticks out for me because I’m sensitive to discourse and I’ve been paying attention to that usage in specific. (Granted, a lot of people still use “designed,” but “evolved” in that context is really starting to pick up.)

    Even I’ve noticed some huge, glaring problems with Egnor’s lines of argumentation, which is appalling, considering that I’m nobody’s idea of a scientist to begin with, and what I know about biology I’ve learnt from Pharyngula and so on…

    At one point, at least (who can tell, with the Amazing Perambulating Goalposts thing going on?) it seemed as though Egnor was confusing abiogenesis with evolution. That’s common enough and it’s enough to make even a total layperson like myself roll their eyes so hard their optic nerves go “sproing,” but I’m not sure what the Egnor Flavour of the Week is these days.

  9. #9 Joshua
    March 17, 2007

    Oh, this is interesting. This Week in Evolution mentions a paper by Weinreich et al. (Science 312:111-114) that determines likely paths for a five-step mutation to resistance from non-resistance in a beta-lactamase gene. Bam goes “irreducible complexity”, because they’ve clearly shown that out of 120 possible 5-step paths, 18 paths resulted in a gradual increase in resistance. Even not all of those paths were created equal, so the paper in essence tells us how to determine what sequence of mutations takes a population from non-resistant to resistant. Many of the other 102 paths resulted in less resistance.

    If that’s not medically useful knowledge based on an evolutionary analysis, I don’t know what is!

    I can think of so many possibilities there. If we can determine likely paths for the development of antibiotic resistance, we can examine the intermediate stages in that path and possibly develop treatment strategies that prevent resistance from developing. For example, maybe one of the intermediate stages grants higher resistance to one type of antibiotic but decreases resistance to another, maybe a “weaker” antibiotic that wouldn’t normally be used or an antibiotic that is typically prescribed for another kind of infection. You could then come up with a treatment cocktail that attacks the intermediate stages as well as the original bacteria, so the infection either never develops resistance or does so too slowly to matter.

    That’s something that we only get from taking an evolutionary view of antibiotic resistance. The design inference doesn’t even allow us to imagine possibilities like this.

  10. #10 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    I’ve noticed an awful lot of people beginning to say “evolved” instead of “designed” in exactly that usage.

    So I’m possibly wrong – and it wasn’t a very strong argument in any case. But OTOH acceptance is growing, which is still nice.

  11. #11 Interrobang
    March 18, 2007

    So I’m possibly wrong

    No, I suspect you’re quite right, but I think the people who are starting to use “evolved” in place of “designed” are rejecting the connotation of the term. They’re attempting to force a paradigm shift, I think.

  12. #12 TheBlackCat
    March 18, 2007

    Darwin’s assertion of randomness is irrelevant not only to medicine, but to much of biological science.

    Am I misreading this, or is Dr. Egnor denying the importance random mutation to medicine? Surely a neurosurgeon is not denying the existence of cancer.

  13. #13 Elf M. Sternberg
    March 18, 2007

    The problem is simple: Egnor has taken the shorthand phrase “designed,” which in medical terms means simply “performs apparent function X,” and applied a historical context to it that is inappropriate and not necessarily implied. The human tendency to supply agency to things other than human beings is strong and instinctual; Egnor and his ilk take it to an altogether irrational degree.

    And I add “apparent” because the kidneys might perform an obvious function, but given the way so much of our body’s processes are coopted by evolution to do other things, there are lots of other weird things that various organs do.

    My favorite wacky example in this regard is the vitamin D3 cycle, which takes 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin and photolyzes it by sun exposure, converts it again in the liver by adding hydroxyl groups, and converts in yet again in the kidneys by adding dihydroxyl groups, at which point it’s the hormonally active form of D and can be used for a variety of things like cell differentiation and immune system regulation. Anyone who thinks that circuituous pathway was “designed” needs their head examined. And not by Dr. Egnor.

  14. #14 mtraven
    March 18, 2007

    I’m repeating some comments I made on another thread, because I have a question for the assembled geniuses here:

    He’s creating a false dichotomy between ID and randomness, whereas the products of natural selection are neither — they are the products of a UD process — Unintelligent Design. This is a point that has to be made repeatedly and noisily, since it’s at the root of much of the confusion about evolution in the general public… Natural selection produces all manner of complex mechanisms and structures with functional parts that look designed. And in a sense they are, they are designed by a very slow, wasteful, and stupid process.

    My question: is “unintelligent design” a good slogan to use against creationists who are exploiting the apparent design in nature to push their theistic agenda? Or will it cause more confusion than it cures?

  15. #15 Tristan Heydt
    March 18, 2007

    I would like to note that my anatomy classes also had no assumption of “design”… and I went to art school. Yes, in a class that really, really doesn’t care how those muscle and bone structures came to be, and really only cares about how the structures operate… even then, there was no “design” assumption. We didn’t talk alot about how the structures evolved, but we did compare similar anatomies (human and ape, primate and other mammal, mammal and reptile, etc.) and see how similar and different they were, and not once were we told to think of the structures as “designed”. AT ART SCHOOL. My art school aparently has better anatomy classes than the one Dr. Egnor would teach.

  16. #16 tristero
    March 18, 2007

    two comments:

    I have often been confused by the colloquial use of the word “designed” by doctors and biologists. Designed by whom?

    It’s time to find a substitute that doesn’t imply a designer. “Evolved” is fine. There may be others.

    Also, Egnor’s usage of the term “random” seems, to this layperson, a bit weird and is brings up, possibly, another unfortunate colluquial usage.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but as I understand it, in evolutionary biology, “randomness” is not, as Egnor writes, “the raw material for all biological complexity” but rather the *results* of unpredictable variations are the raw material. There is one helluva difference between a process and result.

    And the constraints on genuine randomness are severe. For example, human height varies, but if it varied truly by random, eventually we might see a 50 foot woman born to a pair of normal-sized humans. In fact, the unpredictability is (usually) limited by the earlier values of the feature, values shaped by the history of the species’ evolution.

    So to some extent the word “random” is also colloquial in the context of evolution. More precisely, it is the resulting value of a pseudo-random variation.

  17. #17 MarkP
    March 18, 2007

    Tristero, I’ll leave it to the biologists to explain the “raw material” part, but I can say the “randomness” part of Egnor’s comment is as crappy as you perceive it to be. He uses it as a synonym for “purposeless”, as many creationists do. There doesn’t seem to be any room in their worldview for non-deterministic statistical distributions, like your human height example, with a mean and a variance. To the creationist mind, if it is not 100% deterministic, it is 100% random.

  18. #18 tristero
    March 18, 2007

    MarkP

    Thanks, and thanks for stating clearly what I was groping to say.

    Here is what strikes me as deeply odd. For many people, statistics is a daunting subject. But understanding where Egnor goes wrong is trivially easy. He is making the kinds of mistakes a poor 5th grade student makes.

    Egnor’s characterization of evolution is but one more example what seems to be either willful ignorance about probability and statistics or a concerted effort to confuse and obfuscate perfectly clear ideas and facts, purely for political/cultural ends. Either way, it is extremely disturbing.

  19. #19 Dave Whitlock
    March 18, 2007

    If organisms were “designed”, then the details are completely arbitrary, and any similarity is only by the whim of the “designer”. Studying one organism and expecting to learn anything about another is like studying Macs to learn how to use PCs, or studying a toaster to learn how to run a refrigerator.

    If multi-cellular organs like the heart are “irreducibly complex”, then they need to “poof” into existance at the multi-cell level, and not grow from a single cell. That should be pretty easy to see.

  20. #20 Bronze Dog
    March 18, 2007

    If multi-cellular organs like the heart are “irreducibly complex”, then they need to “poof” into existance at the multi-cell level, and not grow from a single cell. That should be pretty easy to see.

    And thus I whack myself for not seeing what should have been another obvious retort to IC. Good one, Dave.

  21. #21 HalfMooner
    March 29, 2007

    I agree with those who said that Egnor is not ignorant, but deceitful. He’s just one in a long line of history’s “pious frauds.”

    The fact he speaks from DI’s bully pulpit is illustration enough of his deceit. DI’s widely known and never-denied “Wedge Strategy” is the foundation of ID, a foundation of the most basic deceit. Anyone using DI as a platform for his remarks is almost bound to be a liar himself, as he’s knowingly using the pulpit of an infamous band of liars.

    Dr. Egnor is a liar and knows he’s lying. In his medieval, twisted mind, he doubtless justifies this as an act of faith.

  22. #22 teratogenome
    April 4, 2007

    A heart growing from a single cell is not a refutation of IC because the organism’s DNA is not mutating during the gestation process, therefore there is no new advantage to be selected for in utero.

    What your citing as evidence is basicaly recapitulation theory and has been widely discredited. Besides, to refute IC with this evidence you would have to hold to strict recapitulation (we see it grow that way, so it evolved that way) which has even less acceptance.

    Here is a more detailed explanation of the problem.

    http://www.skepticfiles.org/evolut/heart08e.htm

  23. #23 JoeG
    April 4, 2007

    Dr Egnor is not alone. Dr Skell is a member of the NAS:

    http://intelligentreasoning.blogspot.com/search?q=skell

    Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.

    And this totally demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of ID:

    If multi-cellular organs like the heart are “irreducibly complex”, then they need to “poof” into existance at the multi-cell level, and not grow from a single cell.

    IC is NOT anti-evolution. IC could be considered anti-the blind watchmaker having sole dominion over the evolutionary process. IOW IC can evolve if it was designed to evolve.

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