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Batten #4: Intelligent Design and ATP Synthase

March 18th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 4 Comments

Hat tip to Auke for his transcript.
{ } description of non-verbal events, actions.
[ ] time stamp, minutes:seconds, from Auke’s audio recording.
< > word unclear, sounds like.
Bold: my additions/corrections.
Please keep in mind this is a transcript of a live talk, not something Dr Batten thoughtfully and carefully wrote himself.

[11:13] Well what about biology, we got a lot of a lot of biological science is experimental science, but there’s a whole element of it that’s historical science, that’s the whole evolutionary idea that everything made itself over millions of years. But what about real biology? Living things that we studied, and things that I’ve studied? Is there design or evidence that they are made by an intelligent designer? Or is the evidence consistent that they are made by uh natural processes?

Well, Richard Dawkins says, that uhm

“biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having being designed for a purpose.”

Well, Richard Dawkins has written several books, quite a few books, trying to explain away the design that we see, try and explain how natural processes could produce things that look like they were designed.

Richard Dawkins has written several books trying to explain evolutionary theory to those who are not experts in the field. These explanations are either good enough, or not good enough. If they’re not good enough, explain why they’re not good enough, rather than doing this:

But perhaps a good scientific approach would be to suggest, that because they look like they were designed, maybe they were designed. Maybe we don’t shouldn’t be trying to explain away design, but recognize it and deal with it.

Perhaps a good scientific approach would be to suggest, that because it looks like the sun circles the earth, maybe the sun does circle the earth. Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to explain why the orbits of the planets don’t quite work with geocentrism, and instead recognise it and deal with it? C’mon… please.

So what is a good scientific approach? A good scientific approach is one where we try to find flaws in our theory, where we try to disprove it. Failing that, we will have a more reliable theory. As such, a good scientific approach would be for creationists to go and figure out ways that their theories can potentially be falsified. If they cannot do that, they are not doing science, never mind “good” science.

(Corrected a couple of grammatical typos here)

Well, what do we mean by design? Intelligent design concept is that life is too complex to have arisen by natural processes, and the evidence demands the involvement of intelligence. Well, we’re told that science can’t deal with intelligent design, that it’s outside of science, it’s religion. But in fact, where is suits scientists, scientists are ready to recognize design. For example, in forensic science, we find somebody with strychnine in their stomach, it didn’t happen by chance, somebody is responsible, an unseen intelligent agent was responsible for the strychnine being in a persons food or drink. So consequently we recognize an unseen intelligent agent. You can’t do experiments on the intelligent agent, but you can see the effects of the intelligent agent. You see, when it suits scientists, they are willing to recognize intelligent agents.

Another example is archaeology, where you find these axe heads here, and we say, well, they’re not the sort of thing that would happen because a stream rumbling rocks along the bottom of the stream. That would demand intelligent agent. Somebody did it. An unseen intelligent agent was responsible for this. Now, if we’re kooky, we might suggest that they are Little Green Men. But most archaeologists would suggest that they are humans who did this. No ape would be expected to do it. Humans did it. In the past, some humans were involved in creating these axe-heads.

From CI191. Archaeologists and forensic scientists can detect design in the Index to Creationist Claims:

The methods of archaeology and forensics are unrelated to any methods proposed by intelligent design advocates. Archaeologists and forensic scientists look for patterns that they know, from prior observation, are the sort of patterns that human designers make. The same goes for all other sciences that detect design. ID theorists have no prior observation of other designers to go by.

<..> the SETI program, listening in outer space for a signal on the radios beams, which says this comes from an intelligent source. If science can’t detect intelligence, or <..> intelligent source, or something which results from intelligence, how would you ever know that the radio signal from outer space came from an intelligent source. What is it about things that indicate that intelligent source?

CI190. SETI researchers expect that they can detect design:

SETI researchers do not expect to find recognizably designed messages in the signals they are looking for; in fact, they expect that the signal modulation would be smeared out and lost. They are looking for narrow-band signals, which are what people build and are not found in known natural radio signals (SETI Instutute n.d., Shostak 2005).

Look at DNA for example. A tiny little pinhead full of DNA. It’s an information storage system like we can only dream about. In fact, that pinhead full of DNA, if you stored books on that DNA, which you could do, it would take that pile of books, from here to the moon, over 240 times, would fit in a pinhead full of DNA. And if you bring it up to date with CDs, you’re looking at pile of CDs 18 hundred km high would fit into a pinhead full of DNA.

Where did DNA come from? Oh it just made itself in a warm pond on Earth {audience laughter}.

Ridiculing a straw-man, ignoring mutation/natural-selection. CF003. How could information, such as in DNA, assemble itself?

Well, think about this, with the SETI program. A simple message on a radio signal would indicate an intelligent source, it wouldn’t take too much, just like something SOS or something like that, something which couldn’t be explained by natural process.

SOS? You’ve got to be kidding me. What a feeble straw man!

Well, what about the information on the DNA? Surely that speaks of much much more int uh incredible intelligent source.

I would not argue with this statement if you call the evolutionary process intelligent. (If your measure of intelligence is the classical Turing test, you are defining intelligence by the result, by the consequences, and evolution could be described as “intelligent”. Of course, alternatively, evolution can be a counter argument for the Turing test, effectively another form of the Chinese room argument. But then our brains could also be Chinese rooms. Whatever. Our experience of “mind” exists in Meh, not in Lah.)

I love Marcus Borg’s use of the word “incredible”. It helps me see humour in cases where other people describe not-credible things as incredible.

Look at these ah mountains here (slide of Mount Rushmore, USA), you know, I look at that, and I say, look at what the rain and the wind and millions of years have created {audience laughter}. Well, of course not. But what is it about those rocks, those mountains, that specifies its intelligent design? The rocks actually specify something that is actually not possible for the matter itself to create. It stands for something, is stands for something, I’ll get back to this in a few minutes, the concept of intelligent design.

But Darwin said, that, if <..> something existed, if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly be formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down, he said. I can find no such case. Then following on from him, famous evolutionist from the last century, one of the formulators of the modern theory of evolution, J B S Haldane, acknowledged that various mechanisms such as the wheel and the magnet, would not arise by natural processes, because they wouldn’t, ah, they wouldn’t be any use until they’re fairly perfect.

The idea of evolution is that a lucky accident can create a little bit of functionality and a little bit of information, and then uh natural selection selects it, ah, or just by chance, by genetic drift, it happens to get fixed in the population, but it gets fixed there, and then another little lucky accident adds another little tiny bit more, you know, its preposterous to suggest that a whole swag of information that codes for muscle, for example, or bones, or something, to come into being just like that, so there has to be some series or sequence of lucky little accidents that add up to complexity. And J B S Haldane recognized that a wheel or a magnet wouldn’t arise by this process, because they’d have to have, well for example, if you had the spoke arise.. if the spoke arose, just the spoke, you wouldn’t have uh any functionality, you need a full wheel, the whole thing has to be present.

Well in fact magnets have been found in living things, and wheels have been found in living things, in fact incredibly complex wheels, like the bacterial flagellum, uh, a rotary motor like, uh, we can only dream about duplicating in terms of its miniaturization and efficiency, and uh this is incredible, about 30 different protein components make it. There are other rotary motors, bacteria have, some bacteria, have this one, but there’s another one, ATP synthase. And ATP synthase is in all living things, and its a rotary motor, and its spinning around inside you right now. In fact I know that your motor is working fine because if it wasn’t you’d be dead, and I see most of you look rather alive {audience chuckle}. Now this this ATP synthase is made up of proteins, its opened up so you can see the action in the middle, and its 10 nanometers across, and you can’t imagine what a nanometer is, neither can I, but if I tell you that 100 thousand of these motors could sit side by side in a millimeter, you starting to get a concept of how small this is.

Many people these days say that Microsoft Vista needs at least a gigabyte of RAM (that is 1024 megabytes, or 1048576 kilobytes). This is clearly an incorrect statement, because Bill Gates himself said no one will ever need more than 640 kilobytes. (That back in the 1980’s, I believe.)

The point? People make mistakes. So J B S Haldane made a mistake. If Richard Dawkins wrote a book that neatly explains how magnets and wheels could evolve in living things, it would refute Haldane’s comments. Haldane would say “ah, I was wrong”. Dr Batten would continue ignoring Richard Dawkins’ books.

And so creationists continue poking at cutting-edge science, rather than trying to explain flood geology, cosmology, or any of the other well understood sciences. Why? Why focus on cutting edge science where we do not yet understand specific details, and use that to argue that the world is six thousand years old?

Now, those of you who are not scientists, I’m just going to give a brief explanation of how these components are made. [19:00] Each of these coloured components, different colours <...> different proteins. Proteins are made of amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids. Amino acids are strung together hundreds at a time, sometimes thousands, not often thousands, but hundreds at a time, in the right order, to get the characteristics of each of the proteins. If the order of the amino acids is incorrect, the protein doesn’t work. Now all that is coded in the DNA. So the DNA code codes for each of those proteins, hundreds of amino acids in the right order, uh, and they’re manufactured <...> other proteins are involved in actually assembling this motor in the cell in the membranes in the cell, and it’s driven by a hydrogen ion current, a positive current, a proton current, [19:47] and generates ATP, which is the energy currency of all living things, from bacteria to humans. Now indications are, that in fact the first life had to have this functioning right at the start. Because if you’re going to actually manufacture proteins, you need ATP; if you’re going to copy DNA you need ATP; if you’re gonna blink your eyelid, move your muscle, you need ATP. But the first living thing had to have this, along with a whole suite of other complex biochemical pathways.

Now its actually preposterous to suggest such a thing could make itself, by natural processes, step by step or any other way. It had to go “boomp”, its already there.

As preposterous as to suggest that atoms are made up of sub-atomic particles that are smaller than light particles by which we see? As preposterous as suggesting that these light particles are both particles and waves? As preposterous as suggesting that light has a maximum speed and that, when looking at stars, we’re looking at the distant past? As preposterous as suggesting the earth revolves around the sun when we can clearly feel that it is quite stationary? Eh?

And of course, still the biased “makes itself” rhetoric. Either way, does anyone reading this blog know much about what’s necessary to copy DNA?

Wikipedia’s article on ATP synthase says “These enzymes are of crucial importance in almost all organisms, because ATP is the common “energy currency” of cells.” (Emphasis mine.) Almost? I’m most curious about the implied exceptions. How about someone add a “citation needed” note to that article? Further down the article mentions the different kinds of ATP synthase (more complex and less complex), and a suggested evolutionary pathway.

I wish we could put together a good database of all the similar sweeping claims creationists made ten or twenty years ago that no longer hold.

And the first life did not have muscles, and did not blink pathways. Still his biased and misleading tactics.

A Japanese scientist suggested this was a rotary motor and he was scoffed at by the establishment, the scientific establishment. Why was he scoffed at? Because they said it couldn’t evolve. A rotary motor couldn’t evolve, therefore its not a rotary motor. This is why I believe evolution is actually anti-science.

Humans can be anti-science. I don’t see how theories can be. Theories do not have opinions about science, they are either scientific or not, and they can be right or wrong. The fact that some humans scoffed at another human’s idea is what is potentially anti-science. I don’t see how a theory can be anti-science, but it is interesting to note that Dr Batten believes evolution to be anti-science. What does that tell us about Dr Batten?

Categories: Religion and Science
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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Johan Swarts // Mar 19, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Hy’s stupid, eintlik…

    Of baie slim en baie ryk. Hoeveel van daai gemorstydskrifte en DVD’s het hy daardie dag verkoop?

  • 2 Johan Swarts // Mar 19, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Ek vind dit nogal opvallend dat Kotze en kie nie kommentaar lewer nie. Dalk omdat hulle besef hulle het nie ‘n saak om mee te begin nie?

  • 3 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 30, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    I think the exception to all organisms with ATP synthase refers to virusses…which generally dont have genes for making ATP, because they can parasitise the host cell for all their energy needs. You still need an ultimate source of ATP somewhere, though…so the article is technically correct in that virusses dont need ATP synthase, but they still need ATP…which is a marvellous example of evolution in its own right. You don’t need ATP synthase? Then there will be no selection pressure to maintain the genes necessary for creating the complex…and you will lose them.

    Or do they need a step-by-step explanation?

  • 4 Creation Ministries International Strikes Stellenbosch Again — Noah’s Flood? // Aug 23, 2008 at 2:47 am

    […] Batten #4: Intelligent Design and ATP Synthase […]

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