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International Scientific Discoveries Since Kitzmiller Which Support ID (Part III)

Casey Luskin

Part I of this series discussed two exciting papers which support the claims of intelligent design (ID), and in Part II, I discussed how the molecular data is failing to support Neo-Darwinian common descent with modification. This final post of a 3-part series recounting some interesting scientific discoveries reported since the Kitzmiller ruling will discuss how Darwinists have tried to oversell evolution to the public while ID-proponents have continued to do some exciting research.

  • In 2006, Darwinists were so eager to promote evolution to the public that they called a fish with fins a “missing link.” Strikingly, it was only after promoting this fossil that they admitted that there exists “a large morphological gap between” the fins of fish and the true feet of early tetrapods like Acanthostega. A similar instance happened when the newsmedia tried to promote a few teeth and bone scraps from some ancient hominids as showing a “mini home movie of evolution” and providing “the most complete chain of human evolution so far.” It’s also very telling that National Geographic touted the find a “missing link” while admitting that it entailed mainly “jawbone fragments, upper and lower teeth, and a thigh bone.”
  • Another telling instance of overselling evolution came when Darwinists issued a press release about research published in Science claiming that irreducible complexity was refuted simply because they were able to change two amino acids in an enzyme and find that the enzyme was not rendered totally functionless. Michael Behe called this “The Lamest Attempt Yet to Answer the Challenge Irreducible Complexity Poses for Darwinian Evolution.” Paul Nelson observed that one of the study’s co-authors, Joe Thornton, stated on his website that his research aimed “to illustrate how a complex, tightly integrated molecular system — one which appears to be ‘irreducibly complex’ — evolved by Darwinian processes hundreds of millions of years ago.” Nelson added that “of course we must remember that the concept of irreducible complexity has stimulated no research, which is why Professor Thornton is working hard to solve the problem” and therefore these scientists are “Debating the Controversy That Doesn’t Exist.” Thornton apparently saw Nelson’s post, as Nelson later discovered that Thornton soon thereafter removed the words “irreducibly complex” from his research page.
  • While Darwinists deny that ID-concepts have any value, pro-ID scientists continue to explore intelligent design. The New Scientist article mentioned in the first post recounted that ID-proponents are “Building a case”:

    While researching protein structure at various institutes in the UK, Douglas Axe, now at the Biologic Institute in Redmond, Washington, published two peer-reviewed papers that are cited by anti-evolutionists as evidence that intelligent design is backed by serious science.

    “Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino acid changes on enzyme exteriors” Journal of Molecular Biology, vol 301, p 585.

    What it reports Inducing multiple mutations in a bacterial enzyme causes it to lose its ability to perform its role as an antibiotic disabler.

    How ID proponents use it Because such mutations destroy “the possibility of any functioning” in the enzyme, it could not have arisen via “Darwinian pathways” (William Dembski, from Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, Cambridge University Press, p 327).

    What scientists say Major modifications can be made to proteins without destroying function. Also, making many mutations at once is different to gradual evolution, where dud mutations get weeded out.

    “Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds” Journal of Molecular Biology, vol 341, p 1295.

    What it reports Calculates the probability that a random sequence of amino acids will result in the folded shape that a protein needs to function as an enzyme.

    How ID proponents use it The probability of creating a functioning protein fold “at random” is very low, making “appeals to chance absurd, even granting the duration of the entire universe” (Stephen Meyer, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, vol 117, p 213).

    What scientists say the vast majority of protein folds probably evolved via alteration of other smaller functional amino acid chains.

  • Unfortunately, Celeste Biever’s article pits “scientist” against ID-proponents, as if many leading ID-proponents were not also scientists. Some Darwinists did better, as students at Cornell University were allowed to debate over ID in a Cornell biology course, taught by an evolutionist biology professor. Elsewhere, students were not so lucky. Students at UCSD were required to attend an anti-ID lecture by Robert Pennock where no dissenting viewpoints were given stage-time.

But what is striking is how many key discoveries–some of which are said explicitly to support ID–are being made by scientists outside the United States. It will be exciting to see what scientific discoveries await the world in 2007!


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.