Saturday, July 03, 2010

Re: `The two bacteria are ... related ... undeniable proof that the flagellum ... evolved'

Henry R.

Thanks for your comment to my post "Dawkins on the bacterial flagellum's `tiny molecular motor' #1." I decided to answer your

[Above (click to enlarge): "Diagrams of known positions of major flagellar components (A) and established and hypothetical TTSS functional homologs (B)" (my emphasis): PNAS]

comment in a new separate post. Your words are bold to distinguish them from mine.

----- Original Message -----
From: Henry R.
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Saturday, July 03, 2010 2:39 PM
Subject: [CreationEvolutionDesign] New comment on Dawkins on the bacterial flagellum's "tiny molecul....

>There is a different type of bacteria, (type three secretory) the one thought to be responsible for transmitting the bubonic plague and other viruses, Which has many but not all of the compositions found in the flagellum's rotary system but instead this bacteria used the filament to inject, kind of like a microscopic syringe, and therefore it does not rotate it's filament but it still serves a useful purpose.

Agreed that not only does the bacterial Type III Secretory System "not rotate" but it also has "not all of the compositions found in the flagellum's rotary system" (see above diagram).

>The two bacteria are undeniably related.

Agreed, and so would Michael Behe, who like me - see my "Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry (Not Evolution)" - accepts Universal Common Ancestry, "that all organisms share a common ancestor":

"Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it." (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," Free Press: New York NY, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2006," 2006, p.5)

agree that "The two bacteria are undeniably related" (my emphasis).

>Therefore it is undeniable proof that flagellum among all other organisms evolved from a less complex organism.

You are (perhaps unconsciously) playing the usual Darwinist Fallacy of Equivocation word-game, based on the multiple meanings of the word "evolved." But "related" by common ancestry does not necessarily mean "evolved" (see below).

First, that the Type III Secretory System shares a common ancestry with the Bacterial Flagellum's rotary motor is not "proof" that the latter descended from the former. The former could have descended from the latter. This is in fact what "Current opinion tends to favor," that "the flagellum evolved first and the T3SS is derived from that structure" (my emphasis):

"Evolution. As mentioned, the T3SS is closely related to the bacterial flagellum. It is unresolved, however, exactly how the two are related. There are three competing hypotheses: first, that the flagellum evolved first and the T3SS is derived from that structure, second, that the T3SS evolved first and the flagellum is derived from it, and third, that the two structures are derived from a common ancestor. Current opinion tends to favor the first option, where the T3SS is derived from an early flagellum." ("Type three secretion system: Unresolved issues," Wikipedia, 10 June 2010. My emphasis).

Second, even if the Bacterial Flagellum's rotary motor did descend from the Type III Secretory System, that is not "proof" that it "evolved" by the Darwinist mechanism of the natural selection of random micromutations:

"In line with the previous concern, Van Till offers the type III secretory system as a possible precursor to the bacterial flagellum. This ignores that the current evidence points to the type III system as evolving from the flagellum and not vice versa (cf. Milt Saier's recent work at UCSD). But beyond that, finding a component of a functional system that performs some other function is hardly an argument for the original system evolving from that other system. One might just as well say that because the motor in a motorcycle can be used as a blender, therefore the motor evolved into the motorcycle. Perhaps, but not without intelligent design. Even if it could be shown that the type III system predated the flagellum (contrary to Milt Saier's work), it could at best represent one possible step in the indirect Darwinian evolution of the bacterial flagellum. But that still wouldn't constitute a solution to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. What's needed is a complete evolutionary path and not merely a possible oasis along the way. To claim otherwise is like saying we can travel by foot from Los Angeles to Tokyo because we've discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Evolutionary biology needs to do better than that." (Dembski, W.A., "Naturalism's Argument from Invincible Ignorance: A Response to Howard Van Till," Design Inference Website, September 2002).

Third, "related" by common descent is not necessarily "evolved" in "the standard scientific theory" sense of "developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process"(my emphasis):

"... perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., 2002, "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February. My emphasis).

As I have pointed out many times, both Darwin and Dawkins have admitted that God could have supernaturally intervened at links in the chains of common descent, in which case it would not be "evolution at all" (my emphasis):

"Darwin ... wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' .... For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., 1986, "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, pp.248-249).

but a form of "divine creation" (my emphasis):

"... many theologians ... smuggle God in by the back door: they allow him some sort of supervisory role over the course that evolution has taken ... influencing key moments in evolutionary history ... In short, divine creation, whether instantaneous or in the form of guided evolution, joins the list of other theories we have considered in this chapter." (Dawkins, 1986, pp.316-317. My emphasis).

Which is what my Theory of Progressive (Mediate) Creation maintains, that "God intervened supernaturally at strategic points" in life's history:

"Progressive creationism accepts much of the scientific picture of the development of the universe, assuming that for the most part it developed according to natural laws. However, especially with regard to life on earth, PCs hold that God intervened supernaturally at strategic points along the way. On their view, Creation was not a single six-day event but occurred in stages over millions of years ... The PC view tends to overlap with other views, particularly with old-earth creationism." (Pennock, R.T., 1999, "Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism," MIT Press: Cambridge MA, Fourth Printing, pp.26- 27. My emphasis)

by inserting new genetic information, leaving chains of descent intact:
"Suppose contemporary evolutionary theory had blind chance built into it so firmly that there was simply no way of reconciling it with any sort of divine guidance. It would still be perfectly possible for theists to reject that theory of evolution and accept instead a theory according to which natural processes and laws drove most of evolution, but God on occasion abridged those laws and inserted some crucial mutation into the course of events. Even were God to intervene directly to suspend natural law and inject essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits and, eventually, new species, that miraculous and deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged such key theses of evolutionary theory as that all species derive ultimately from some common ancestor. Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is just descent with nonnatural elements in the process." (Ratzsch, D.L., 1996, "The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, pp.187-188. My emphasis).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: The Shroud of Turin & Jesus is Jehovah!