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Antibiotic resistance: proof of evolution?
November 7, 2005 11:08 AM   Subscribe

This question will either prove my ignorance, or that of the "intelligent design" crowd: Why doesn't antibiotic resistance prove the theory of evolution?
posted by CMichaelCook to Science & Nature (45 answers total)
 
microevolution is not really a point of contention among evolutionists or creationists.
posted by mragreeable at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2005


One of the big contentions among IDs is speciation, which, in my experiences, some tend to think antibiotic resistance covers. They contend that we haven't seen new species develop, so therefore speciation hasn't taken place (where one species evolves into another). Antibiotic resistance is not speciation, so it still doesn't answer the IDs' question.
posted by jmd82 at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2005


I think the idea is that microevolution does not lead to the creation of new species, or the spontaneous creation of eyes, so the anti-evolutionists don't see it as threatening to creationism/intelligent design.
posted by loquax at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2005


Advocates of intelligent design draw an arbitrary line between "microevolution" of traits such as antibiotic resistance and "macroevolution" of new species. I think if you were to follow their logic (such as it is), they would claim that so-called "irreducibly complex" features cannot evolve, but other features can evolve. Antibiotic resistance is not irreducible complex; therefore the evolution of antibiotic resistance does not prove the possibility of the evolution of irreducibly complex features.

I won't get into the problems with this; many of them should be self-evident.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:21 AM on November 7, 2005


The above answers have it correct. To get in the head of the fundamentlist/ID-type there was a good article in the NYTimes several months ago about how the Grand Canyon was being used by evangelicals to prove the world was only x years old. The idea being that the layers of rock could not bend or they'd break, totally ignoring that millions of years of pressure can create elasticity. If they can't see it happening before their eyes they can't/won't conceive of it.
posted by geoff. at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2005


Because they are still just bacteria.
Most intelligent design supporters have no problem seeing that a species "evolves" to work with its surroundings. There's an example that I can't recall all the details of about birds who have different shaped beaks depending on where they live. But they are still just birds.
What we have a problem with is the idea that one species evolves into a different one. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are still just bacteria. When they evolve into fish, get back to me.
posted by clh at 11:24 AM on November 7, 2005


I think the fact of antibiotic resistance is a good illustration of a proper way to understand evolution. From what I can tell, it seems like a lot of the anti-evolution talk is based on an incorrect understanding of evolution - like I heard a guy on a radio show say, well if evolution works, how come the apes at the zoo haven't started using tools?

If people understood that that evolution operates on the level of populations (a la bacterial resistance to antibiotics), maybe some of the misunderstandings would fade away. Or maybe I have a touching and overly naive view of human rationality.

Not to derail the thread, but I've never understood why the ID folks aren't more upset about the second law of thermodynamics.
posted by jasper411 at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2005


clh: Getting back to you re: the evolution of bacteria into fish. It happened. Actually, you missed it, 'cause it happened about 500 million years ago.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2005


Also, by the way, I don't know what you mean by "intelligent design," but usually that term is used to refer to the argument that, the world being the way it is, it must certainly have had an intelligent designer.

This is very different from the traditional religious (well, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) position, which is: though there is no physical evidence, we know that God exists and is the source of all things; since he is mysterious, we cannot know this through rational or empirical means.

Intelligent design has lots of flaws, and even many Christians think it's strange. Chiefly, it's flawed in the same way that modern science is: it presupposes a knowledge of the nature of God, which is by definition the most difficult thing in the world to know.
posted by koeselitz at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2005


you can't prove a theory, really. what you do is throw up a whole bunch of theories and then try to knock them down. last man standing is deemed "best we can do at the moment" (not really "proven" or "correct").

your usage does happen, and you may be aware of this. but i'd suggest a better way to phrase things is "doesn't antibiotic resistance raise important questions about intelligent design?" (and, if you want, you can add the rider that evolution seems to be quite consistent with what we see, and appears to explain things with more economy).
posted by andrew cooke at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2005


Chiefly, it's flawed in the same way that modern science is: it presupposes a knowledge of the nature of God

i'm not sure modern science "presupposes a knowledge of the nature of god", apart from the (significant and worrying, but perhaps not what you were considering) problems of causality and the foundations of mathemtics. in fact, apart from those points, it is a systematic attempt to discover that nature, without presupposition.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2005


"Chiefly, it's flawed in the same way that modern science is: it presupposes a knowledge of the nature of God, which is by definition the most difficult thing in the world to know."

I don't think God enters the equation for the serious scientific pursuit of knowledge, regardless of an individual scientist's religious beliefs.
posted by JMB1138 at 11:40 AM on November 7, 2005


JMB1138 writes "I don't think God enters the equation for the serious scientific pursuit of knowledge, regardless of an individual scientist's religious beliefs."

Well, science does presuppose that God didn't create the universe an instant ago with everything as it is completely intact, or that He isn't constantly fiddling with fundamental constants, or, say, projecting the stars onto a huge sheet of black paper at the edge of the solar system in an attempt to deceive us. These are all sorts of "presuppositions about the nature of God", I suppose. Really, though, they're just fundamental axioms of empirical thought. There might be no fundamental philosophical reason to accept them, but they do seem to work really, really well in an on-the-ground practical results sort of way.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:49 AM on November 7, 2005


I don't think God enters the equation for the serious scientific pursuit of knowledge, regardless of an individual scientist's religious beliefs.

That might depend on your definition of god.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2005


the funny chap in the dress says no, incidentally.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2005


CMC: This question will either prove my ignorance, or that of the "intelligent design" crowd: Why doesn't antibiotic resistance prove the theory of evolution?

Well, I'd go so far as to say that it helps, or at least is one piece of the overwhelming evidence for Evolution.

What you must understand is that theories in science are rarely "proven" or "disproven" or the weight of a single experiment, or a single observation. Instead, a theory is considered strong when supported by multiple independent lines of evidence, and weak when the evidence in favor is nonexistant, scant, or consists or is derived from only one type of measurement.

So for example, Einstein's theory of special relativity (E=mc^2) is supported by measurements of the speed of light, differences in clocks between stationary and moving frames of reference, decay rates of moving sub-atomic particles, the increased mass of particles traveling in particle accellerators, and the observation that the energy released by radioactive decay matches the missing mass of decay products. None of these alone make special relativity a good theory, but all of the combined make special relativity a great theory.

Likewise, observations of natural selection in action on human time scales alone is not strong evidence for evolution. Combined with evidence from molecular genetics, anatomy, physiology, and paleontology, the weight of evidence becomes increasingly harder to ignore.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2005


Well, science does presuppose that God didn't create the universe an instant ago with everything as it is completely intact, or that He isn't constantly fiddling with fundamental constants, or, say, projecting the stars onto a huge sheet of black paper at the edge of the solar system in an attempt to deceive us.

It's logically impossible to distinguish between the case where God created everything in the universe an instant ago and the case where He hasn't. So science doesn't have an opinion on that subject, because it's not testable, nor does it have any bearing on our understanding of how the universe works.

Of course, you'd have a hard time finding someone who believes that God is dicking around with us in that manner, but that's just a plurality of personal opinions, not a scientific hypothesis or theory.

Anyway, that's more of a philosophy subject than a science question anyway. Science deals with observable phenomena only, philosophy is for all that abstract stuff. See also 'brain in a jar' and 'the allegory of the cave'.
posted by breath at 12:16 PM on November 7, 2005


What mr_roboto said. Creationists draw a completely arbitrary line between "microevolution" (the evidence we can see right in front of us) and "macroevolution" (the stuff we have to infer from the evidence). This conveniently allows them to say that the "two different concepts" are unrelated. They claim that evolution of bacteria to display radically new traits (utilization of energy sources, antibiotic resistance, tolerance to other environmental variables) is different from "the evolution of a new species of organism."

Never mind that the concept of a "species," especially when it comes to things like bacteria, is a pretty useless construction.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:21 PM on November 7, 2005


A big problem ID has with science in general is that teachers of evolution are pretty backward compared to the nature of science -- science never actually says something, it's always "seems to indicate that this might be the cause." The next week when an archaeologist or pathologist or microbiologist or whatever makes some ripple-effect discovery or assertion, everything changes again, and this impacts that, new findings mean that assumption was wrong, and it's never consistent. However, the evolution teachers seem to want to make macroevolution rock solid without any possibility of a discovery of anything else that could possibly uproot that belief system. ID, at least in the school system, wants evolution teachers to emphasize the "we think so, and this is why" rather than "we know evolution is."

One reason ID doesn't flinch over antibiotic resistance is basically as clh noted, it's still bacteria. Perhaps the evolution side hasn't adequately explained how exactly they know bacteria didn't already have the ability to adapt so well in the first place but just never had the opportunity to use it. Not bothering to explain this, and just throw up the hands in frustration may even give ID more reason to further ID concepts since it had been preprogrammed to be able to counter antibiotics only knowable by a programmer with access to the future.

I, personally, am a Christian but taking the lukewarm route and sitting on the fence on this issue. It seems that Christians' (particularly older folk less exposed to science as we know it in their early years to the capacity it is taught today*) are hurt by the idea that we came from monkeys, but have no qualm about proclaiming we came from dirt.

* In elementary school, I disctinctly recall instructors telling us, along the lines that, "since xyz needed to survive, it decided to grow abc adaptation," such as a new type of sight or pattern of camo'd skin structure. The idea that the organism (which, grammatically, requires and organizer, same for a creature -- a creator) itself decided or had some basis in determining that a threat existed and a change needed to be made, was the striking part.

Similarly, I'm curious how evolution can explain the philippine anglerfish (Fig 7.3) and Lampsilis Clams -- how could the bait have been random?, Nematomorph Hairworms -- how can it make them (a) jump, and (b) in a specific direction?

I think one of ID's big points is that evolution seems to explain lots of dependent-relationship species examples and inadequtely researched (or explained) retorts with hideously absurd amounts of "they just happened to" excuses. Let ID know "this is what happened and this is why, not suggestions that seem plausible. ID, the Vulcan, is in the business of yes and no, not evolution's, the Betazoid, preference for maybe.
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:26 PM on November 7, 2005


The flaw in ID is to see the evolution of the eye, for example, as impossible. It is like winning, against all odds, some incredibly unlikely biological lottery. The lottery winner looks back at that virtually impossible chain of events and thinks they are blessed, but it is inevitable that there will be someone in that position.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2005


No matter how many times you crossbreed a cat, you won't get a dog out of it. (or so they say).
posted by blue_beetle at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2005


That is different from saying that, way back, cats and dogs had a common ancestor.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2005


If they can't see it happening before their eyes they can't/won't conceive of it.
Pretty ironic for people of faith.

Not to derail the thread, but I've never understood why the ID folks aren't more upset about the second law of thermodynamics.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that systems must become more disordered over time. Living cells therefore could not have evolved from inanimate chemicals, and multicellular life could not have evolved from protozoa.

This argument derives from a misunderstanding of the Second Law. If it were valid, mineral crystals and snowflakes would also be impossible, because they, too, are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts.

The Second Law actually states that the total entropy of a closed system (one that no energy or matter leaves or enters) cannot decrease. Entropy is a physical concept often casually described as disorder, but it differs significantly from the conversational use of the word.

More important, however, the Second Law permits parts of a system to decrease in entropy as long as other parts experience an offsetting increase. Thus, our planet as a whole can grow more complex because the sun pours heat and light onto it, and the greater entropy associated with the sun's nuclear fusion more than rebalances the scales. Simple organisms can fuel their rise toward complexity by consuming other forms of life and nonliving materials.

-From 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, published a couple of years ago by John Rennie of Scientific American.
posted by tetsuo at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2005


In elementary school, I disctinctly recall instructors telling us, along the lines that, "since xyz needed to survive, it decided to grow abc adaptation," such as a new type of sight or pattern of camo'd skin structure. The idea that the organism (which, grammatically, requires and organizer, same for a creature -- a creator) itself decided or had some basis in determining that a threat existed and a change needed to be made, was the striking part.


This is what I blame for the statistic that half of all Americans (or whatever it is) reject evolution entirely. The whole thing was taught fantastically awfully (in what was supposed to be one of the best public schools in the country) and I never understood the reasoning behind evolution until I got to college and took a real, experimentally-based biology course.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:47 PM on November 7, 2005


"Species" is a poorly constructed unit of analysis, which is one reason why speciation is poorly understood.
posted by Rumple at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2005


Does the evolution of bacteria say something about the role of life-span in evolution? Does short life-span favour evolution? There must be an optimum life-span for organisms to establish intelligence and make use of it. Beyond that they would not evolve as efficiently. Is death is an inevitable prerequisite for intelligent life?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:53 PM on November 7, 2005


Slightly off-topic, but it applies, it's a long example.

Like a how a woman asks a man, "Does this dress make me look fat," she is asking a seemingly yes/no question, which men tend to think in, but is REALLY asking, in her intent, an emotional question to see whether either: both of you are still in the same emotional level, or if you still adore her despite what she looks like, whereby she would feel more secure in the relationship.

And, how if a man were to ask a date, "How do you feel about Chinese food tonight?" expecting a yes/no answer, the woman interprets it as a emotional-level connection and gives an entire essay on previous experiences with Chinese food, problems with food preparation methods, and what happened on the last date to a Chinese restaurant -- the guy just wants to know yes or no.

In this way, science is attempting to ask questions of ID expecting to be answered in a "maybe" sense that science is naturally, while ID hears yes/no questions gives yes/no answers. Similarly, ID asks yes/no questions from science, which hears them as maybe questions and gives maybe answers.

What science is told -- Evolution is wrong because of xyz.
What science hears -- that evolution dress makes your butt look HUGE. I mean, WOW. I didn't realize you needed a clippership sail to cover that gut! Jinkies!

What ID is told -- Evolution is more than likely right, probably because of xyz.
What ID hears -- Well, really, I'm not sure, because, well, you see there's this problem I have with God. Not because, like, I'm against morality or something, but because I can't actually guage with my 5 senses and have anything to really document and publish. Well, maybe not that exactly, but I think you get the idea. Was there some other belief system you'd rather take up, because really, I'd rather not go along with your plan. But what I meant to say was...
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:55 PM on November 7, 2005


That can't be right. You've got science from Venus and ID form Mars. Isn't it the other way around?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:59 PM on November 7, 2005


-From 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense, published a couple of years ago by John Rennie of Scientific American.

Not sure what Jasper was going for, but I took his comment that he was surprised that ID people weren't more upset by the 2nd law to mean, if they really think an intelligent force is guiding life, why aren't they concerned that closed systems tend toward entropy? Evolution on our planet increases because we get energy from an outside source (the sun) but the solar system as a whole is tending towards entropy - etc. So unless the sun is god, then what's up with that?

I know IDers use a misunderstanding of entropy to make a case for their position, but a proper understanding of it should be a pretty big question mark for them...
posted by mdn at 1:12 PM on November 7, 2005


vanoakenfold: Pardon, but as someone who works with science teachers, I have to say, wow not only have you managed to misrepresent how teachers teach, but also how biologists work. And it's just a bit personal having a history in both microbiology and education.

To start with: However, the evolution teachers seem to want to make macroevolution rock solid without any possibility of a discovery of anything else that could possibly uproot that belief system. ID, at least in the school system, wants evolution teachers to emphasize the "we think so, and this is why" rather than "we know evolution is."

This is both the exact opposite of how most competent science teachers teach, and what most of the state standards demand in regards to teaching any kind of science. Science is a method of inquiry, not a collection of facts to be memorized. Evolution is taught as a strong theory supported by multiple chains of evidence.

Perhaps the evolution side hasn't adequately explained how exactly they know bacteria didn't already have the ability to adapt so well in the first place but just never had the opportunity to use it. Not bothering to explain this, and just throw up the hands in frustration may even give ID more reason to further ID concepts since it had been preprogrammed to be able to counter antibiotics only knowable by a programmer with access to the future.

Actually, this has been fully explained. Bacteria genomes are fairly simple and most bacteria strains of interest have been fully sequenced. So a researcher can say with a fairly high degree of certanty that the difference between the antibiotic-vulnerable and the antibiotic-resistant strain involves a frameshift or transformation at a specific gene that deactivates or limits a specific metabolic pathway. One can even create antibiotic-resistant strains from a single vulnerable progenitor, using UV light to improve the odds by bumping up the mutation rate. One can even splice an antibiotic-resistance gene into a vulnerable strain to verify (in a similar way to Koch's postulates) that gene does provide resistance.

At any rate, the evidence regarding mechanisms of antibiotic resistance strongly supports its origin as a mutation, and natural selection to explain why antibiotic resistance proliferates in antibiotic-rich environments.

Let ID know "this is what happened and this is why, not suggestions that seem plausible. ID, the Vulcan, is in the business of yes and no, not evolution's, the Betazoid, preference for maybe.

It seems like you are demanding that scientists make some fundamentally unscientific claims. One can't say, "yes, this is absolutely how it happened." One can say, "this is the most reasonable theory for how it happened, given XYZ." If indeed ID demands a yes/no answer, then it's out of the realm of science and deeply into philosophy.

The problem with ID is that it can't explain anglerfish either beyond "god did it." In contrast, evolution as a theory suggests some good hypotheses that can be tested. One can see if there are fossil ancestors of anglerfish with less complex lures. One can take a look at the modern diversity of anglerfish lures to see if there are conditions that favor complexity vs. simplicity. One can perform a variation of the classic "peacock" experiment and give anglerfish more realistic prosthetic lures and test hunting success. Then you can look at all of the various lines of evidence, and develop a theory about how the anglerfish got its lure.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:29 PM on November 7, 2005


vanoakenfold, there's a big flaw in your little anecdote: There's no XYZ. ID hasn't managed to prove evolution wrong. ID takes things that aren't understood yet, and uses the lack of understanding as proof that it couldn't have happened without a "designer's" help. That's no argument at all - unless you assume that we know everything knowable right now, current lack of knowledge and understanding doesn't make something unknowable. I hope you don't expect me to believe that just because a reaction I was running the other day did something that I didn't expect or understand, God must've made those methyl groups bind in weird places.

The "proof" that ID offers has been refuted over and over. "The eye is too complex to evolve" - but there are examples of all sorts of eyes, in all stages of complexity, and they apparently evolved several different times. Similar answers can be found for all of the other major "proofs" that I've heard for ID (that is, flagella and such.) I suspect that people who study the examples that you bring up already have hypotheses that are a little bit more useful than the assumption that because something is strange, there's no explanation beyond the intervention of a "designer." Check back in a decade or two and see if those examples are still so mysterious.

If ID managed to produce some actual proof that part of evolutionary theory was wrong - something testable, mind, not the assertion that something's so "irreducibly complex" that it must've had a designer - then science will take that evidence, absorb it, and revise its understanding of evolution. That hasn't happened yet. It's more than a little premature to say "science is rejecting this detailed research which proves some part of the current understanding of evolution to be flawed." ID hasn't offered any research-based proof, because it's not science. It's the opposite - a deus ex machina that absolves us of any need to investigate and understand our world. To prove a scientific theory wrong, you need to engage in the scientific method - you know, repeatable experiments that produce meaningful data. ID won't - and more importantly, can't - provide that.
posted by ubersturm at 1:45 PM on November 7, 2005


jasper411 writes "like I heard a guy on a radio show say, well if evolution works, how come the apes at the zoo haven't started using tools? "


But they do.
just sayin'.
posted by zerokey at 2:51 PM on November 7, 2005


Because ID is not about facts.
posted by Caviar at 4:00 PM on November 7, 2005


mdn - you captured my thought exactly. If I were one of those people who's upset about scientific theories that seem to displace god, I'd certainly have my underwear in a bunch about the 2nd law. It seems like a much bigger deal to me than evolution. Maybe the Onion would do a parody on in, as a follow up to the intelligent falling theory.
posted by jasper411 at 4:04 PM on November 7, 2005


ID has gotten its toe in because of two things:
  1. Creating a straw-man version of evolution that is both dogmatic and 'throws up its hands' about various things, ranging from 'missing links' to 'irreducibly complex structures'.
  2. Setting the stage so that merely asking questions about evolution is considered a valid (and scientific!) criticism.
This strategy works because of the fact that most people are so poorly educated about evolution. Partly I believe this has to do with sloppy terminology, as in the 'xyz decided to grow such-and-such an adaptation'. If anything should come out of this ID business it needs to be better science education.

The result is that ordinary people say to themselves "hey, I don't understand how birds evolved from dinosaurs, so therefore it must be a flaw in the theory of evolution!"

Combine this ignorance with a question-as-attack philosophy and whenever a science teacher is asked a question about evolution, he or she can't really be sure whether it's an honest question or just a precurser to an assault. I imagine many people become authoritarian under these circumstances.
posted by breath at 4:46 PM on November 7, 2005


..."most bacteria strains of interest have been fully sequenced."

KirkJobSluder, please tell me you are not a biologist. I recently attended a talk by E. O. Wilson who claimed that scientists have yet to even IDENTIFY, much less study, a majority of bacteria species.
posted by achmorrison at 5:09 PM on November 7, 2005


achmorrison, I think you're not reading Kirk closely enough, he qualified his statement as following:

most bacteria strains of interest

I assume that by 'of interest' he means the strains studied by biologists because they exhibit various qualities which aid the research.

For example, there's a type of bacteria whose DNA is exceedingly simple and they're the ones used for splicing and cloning and so forth (this is purposefully vague--IANAMB, I just read various articles here and there =)).

I sincerely doubt Kirk would claim we've sequenced the genome of every bacterial strain everywhere =)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 5:28 PM on November 7, 2005


achmorrison: That was badly phrased. What I meant to say (by "of interest") is that most of the bacteria used for studying antibiotic resistance in terms of molecular biology have been fully sequenced. So we can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that many forms of antibiotic resistance are the result of mutation rather than some primordial program going back billions of years.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:31 PM on November 7, 2005


Off-topic, but what about helacyton gartleri as an example of speciation? This is the only place I've ever seen it referenced, so I'm curious as to the truth of it.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2005


achmorrison, I think the key there may be "of interest." There are huge numbers of unidentified bacterial species, yes. But even of the species that are identified, a relatively tiny number are used in research with any frequency - think E. coli, S. aureus, B. subtilis, etc. Given that disease-causing bacteria are among the most frequently studied, a fair number of them have been fully or mostly sequenced.
posted by ubersturm at 5:35 PM on November 7, 2005


Why must "intelligent design" and evolution have to conflict at all? Evolution is a pretty complicated system that could have been conceived and put into motion by some intelligent designer.
posted by nickerbocker at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2005


Why must "intelligent design" and evolution have to conflict at all? Evolution is a pretty complicated system that could have been conceived and put into motion by some intelligent designer.

Because "Intelligent Design" means a very specific thing: that the biological world, as it currently exists today, is "too complex" to have developed "on its own." ID refers to a very specific, creationist notion (i.e. new species do not develop by mutation and natural selection). It doesn't have anything to do with the origins of nature and the world itself.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:50 PM on November 7, 2005


Ah....I see the difference now...the "of interest" was short for "of interest to disease research..." Sorry. I didn't mean to over-react. When I read "of interest" I took it to mean "any bacteria worth researching..."
posted by achmorrison at 7:57 PM on November 7, 2005


If they can't see it happening before their eyes they can't/won't conceive of it.
Pretty ironic for people of faith.


An IDer could similarly accuse science of unwillingness to apply ID-acceptable methods to ID's belief system, and likewise think they have actually said something. "If they can't see the obvious rationale of it with their own deducing minds, they won't even bother exploring it. Pretty ironic for people looking for answers."

there's a big flaw in your little anecdote: There's no XYZ. ID hasn't managed to prove evolution wrong. ID takes things that aren't understood yet, and uses the lack of understanding as proof that it couldn't have happened without a "designer's" help.

Replace keywords, such as "designer's" with "random mutations" in like manner, and you've got just as much a counterpoint. Both sides disqualify each others' evidences at will, not by any sort of mutually accepted form of elimination.

The "proof" that ID offers has been refuted over and over. "The eye is too complex to evolve" - but there are examples of all sorts of eyes, in all stages of complexity, and they apparently evolved several different times.

Except that "all sorts of eyes" doesn't exclude the possibility that they could have all been made like that on purpose. Similar does not necessarily mean "having a common ancestral origin" -- that is merely an assumption. Your word stages deliberately eliminates the possibility that they are unconnected or individually engineered. That is a guess, regardless of your personal degree of being convinced. Science keeps stating "complete refutations" that make sense only when applied in science's own tenets, while IDers keep rebutting with "complete refutations" that make sense in ID's tenets. It's like trying to write the alphabet with an abacus.

ID hasn't offered any research-based proof, because it's not science.

If you mean "research science finds acceptable," we are in agreement. Same for research ID finds acceptable.

To prove a scientific theory wrong, you need to engage in the scientific method - you know, repeatable experiments that produce meaningful data. ID won't - and more importantly, can't - provide that.

Replace corresponding keywords, such as "scientific theory" with "tenets of ID" and you've got a duplicate and just as effective counterargument.

It seems like you are demanding that scientists make some fundamentally unscientific claims.

We have a winner. Science is trying to understand the origins and process of life with maybes and if-then statements that work well so far according to their own system, but ID already knows based on pre-existing and ID-accepted rationale. Science ought to provide ID with rationale arguments rather than specialized information only "genome thumpers" understand, and vise versa. Refer to men/women remarks.

Then you can look at all of the various lines of evidence, and develop a theory about how the anglerfish got its lure.

None of which is indentifying what actually happened. Go all CSI if you want. As long as science deliberately avoids research from the perspective that a designer did have a role in it, or refuse to make some sort of philosophical point, ID won't be convinced.

Evolution on our planet increases because we get energy from an outside source (the sun) but the solar system as a whole is tending towards entropy - etc. So unless the sun is god, then what's up with that?

Who do you think created the process by which the sun would come to be there?

One can even create antibiotic-resistant strains from a single vulnerable progenitor, using UV light to improve the odds by bumping up the mutation rate.

Is this thing on? Test, 1, 2, 3. Test..

If it were valid, mineral crystals and snowflakes would also be impossible, because they, too, are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts.

...except that snowflake formation requires a process, and isn't spontaneous -- reacting on regular if-then functions already in place. So must a designer have created the processes by which mineral crystals and snowflakes form..

So we can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that many forms of antibiotic resistance are the result of mutation rather than some primordial program going back billions of years.

"...as long as we continually deny the possibility of a designer." It's like trying to open a door without the key, failing, and trying something else, never using the key when the key is always at hand.
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:43 PM on November 8, 2005


It's so clear, vanoakenfold. If only all those who wanted to cure disease and go to the moon had used The Key instead of fiddling with their clumsy experiments...
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:28 AM on November 9, 2005


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