He’s baaaack. That creationist surgeon, Michael Egnor, keeps flaunting his ignorance — and his verbosity — in the comments.
Your assertion that you answered my challenge ‘perfectly’ is, well, not perfect. I asked for a measurement of new information, not anecdotes about new functions. You and Nick have managed to generate molecular ‘just-so’ stories, anecdotes without actual quantitative measurement, for your central hypothesis that Darwinism can account for biological complexity. I guess ‘just-so’ stories are in your genes.
Egnor is trying to make the argument that evolution cannot increase the information content of organisms over time, a stock creationist claim. He tries to argue that a duplication event doesn’t represent an increase in information. His sole support for this strange claim is that I can’t pin a specific, quantitative number to the example I gave. This is nonsense. It’s a panicky flight into ‘god of the gaps’ apologetics, trying to base his denial on finding something, anything that we don’t know in complete detail.
The Labbe paper I cited is not a just-so story, but is instead a detailed analysis of the population genetics and molecular genetics of a species. It contains data. This isn’t armchair speculation, it’s a primary research paper. If Egnor wants to close his eyes, wave his hands, and pretend it magically disappears, that’s fine; let’s do that to his research, too. Since he’s studying cerebral blood flow, we’ll just say that if he can’t measure in a quantitative way the cognitive effects of fluid transport in the brain, all of his work is vapor. That’s basically what he’s doing, conjuring up spurious calculations he wants in a paper and dismissing the work of value because it doesn’t fit his preconceptions.
In his comment, he then goes on and on about how Shannon information theory doesn’t help my case. Really on and on—Egnor can babble at length when he has nothing to say. It’s particularly peculiar because I plainly said I wasn’t talking about Shannon—he had asked for a change in the information in living things that “does things, specific things”, and I delivered. Even if we can’t easily quantify it, we can say that adding a variant copy of a gene to the mosquito genome represents a change in the information content of that genome, and in the study I cited, they also saw a heritable, beneficial (to the mosquito!) change in the phenotype.
He also goes on at length about how medicine doesn’t need evolutionary theory. That’s true enough, if you are uninterested in improving existing treatments or understanding basic mechanisms. Plumbers do not need to know metallurgy or fluid hydraulics or any physics at all to get their job done; but that isn’t a reason to pretend that those disciplines are of no use to explaining or advancing the work. Egnor reminds me of those pre-meds who really aren’t that interested in understanding the biology of their subject—give them a book to memorize and a collection of recipes to follow, and they’re happy.
The rest of his long comment degenerates into confusion. He asks me to pretend to be a med student in the 1920s, when eugenics was all the rage; I’m not. I’m a biologist in the 21st century who despises eugenics and ‘scientific’ racism. He quote-mines Darwin. He goes on at length about how racism is Darwin’s fault, and we all know how silly that argument is. He ends by praising Behe for raising important questions that Darwinists have avoided for 50 years…unaware that those questions were raised by Herman Muller 89 years ago, and answered—irreducible complexity is not an obstacle to evolution, but an unavoidable consequence of evolutionary and genetic processes.
One very nice thing here is that if you read the comments on that thread that follow Egnor’s interjection, you’ll see him getting steadily dismantled. I suppose I didn’t even need to write this, but it’s fun piling on to someone that oblivious to the basic research he’s criticizing.
Keep it up, everyone!
Oh, and of course, read Mark Chu-Carroll for the shredding of Egnor’s ignorance of information theory.