Pharyngula

Rats emboldened by Rick Perry

So Bryan Fischer came out swinging like a lunkhead, and now Ann Coulter scurries out to try and get in a sucker punch. Neither are very effective.

Roughly one-third of my 2006 No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” is an attack on liberals’ creation myth, Darwinian evolution. I presented the arguments of all the luminaries in the field, from the retarded Richard Dawkins to the brilliant Francis Crick, and disputed them.

But apparently liberals didn’t want to argue back.

I do, I do! I read Godless — it was appallingly bad, packed full of very poor rants made in complete ignorance of the science. I even challenged Coulter fans to pick out their favorite paragraph for me to dissect…and none stepped forward. Maybe there are no Coulter fans. Or maybe they’re smarter than she is.

She’s apparently going to do a series of columns exposing the weaknesses of evolution. This week, she holds her banner high for irreducible complexity.

Most devastating for the Darwiniacs were advances in microbiology since Darwin’s time, revealing infinitely complex mechanisms requiring hundreds of parts working together at once — complex cellular structures, DNA, blood-clotting mechanisms, molecules, and the cell’s tiny flagellum and cilium.

“Microbiology”?

“Microbiology”?!?!

It wasn’t microbiologists who worked out the structure of DNA. She apparently believes microbiology is the field that studies itty-bitty little things. It’s so cute to see someone so ignorant sit there and glibly type out such revealing nonsense. I’ve had students do that — it’s a sign that they deserve to fail.

Or how about this?

Thanks to advances in microscopes, thousands of such complex mechanisms have been found since Darwin’s day. He had to explain only simple devices, such as beaks and gills. If Darwin were able to come back today and peer through a modern microscope to see the inner workings of a cell, he would instantly abandon his own theory.

Bwahahahaha! How many of you molecular biologists do all your work by peering into a microscope? Oh, look, did you see that Notch molecule bind to Delta? Hey, there goes the cytoplasmic element, activating a transduction cascade! Do you also use your microscope to read off the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA coiled in the nucleus? Such a silly naif.

Aside from the ignorant gaffes, though, here’s the rotten heart of her argument.

It is a mathematical impossibility, for example, that all 30 to 40 parts of the cell’s flagellum — forget the 200 parts of the cilium! — could all arise at once by random mutation. According to most scientists, such an occurrence is considered even less likely than John Edwards marrying Rielle Hunter, the “ground zero” of the impossible.

Nor would each of the 30 to 40 parts individually make an organism more fit to survive and reproduce, which, you will recall, is the lynchpin of the whole contraption.

No one argues that they all arose instantly in a flash in full functioning order. Oh, wait, there are some who do: the creationists. No legitimate biologist is that stupid. Her claim that the individual components can contribute no incremental benefit is nothing but an assertion from a non-biologist with no knowledge of biology; I recommend Ian Musgrave’s article on the evolution of the flagellum that describes transitional forms and the combination of components involved, as well as refuting the simplistic notions of what a flagellum does that most creationists have.

Dembski has claimed that, as the eubacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex, he can eliminate explanations based on natural law for the origin of the flagellum. This conclusion is wrong for two reasons: (1) Being IC does not eliminate indirect evolutionary explanations, and flagella can evolve from simpler systems through a series of functional intermediates. Further, (2) eubacterial flagella are not the ” outboard motors” that Dembski envisages, but rather organelles that are involved in swimming, gliding motility, attachment, and secretion. They occupy one end of a range of secretion-based motility systems in bacteria of varying complexity, and several existing intermediate stages show how the flagellum could well have arisen by evolution and natural selection.

Coulter has a BA in history and a law degree. She hasn’t even done any research on the biology she’s critiquing; she only parrots creationist sources. Liberals aren’t afraid to argue evolution with her, but instead see her as an unqualified, clueless twit who isn’t even capable of addressing the actual substance of an argument.

(Also on FtB)