Not By Chance: Controlling Affinity Maturation

[Editor’s Note: This is part four of a six-part series from microbiologist Donald L. Ewert responding to Kathryn Applegate, of the BioLogos Foundation, in her arguments that the vertebrate adaptive immune system illustrates the claimed creative the Darwinian mechanism. Previous parts of Ewert’s response can be found at the following links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.] Pathogen-directed activation of the immune response The initiation of an immune response is designed so that the cellular and molecular components that are best equipped to deal with a pathogen are engaged. There are basically three response pathways. Non-protein antigens that have repeating carbohydrate units on their surface, such as are found on bacteria, can directly activate B cells. These B cell do Read More ›

Who or What Plays the Music of DNA?

As I was driving in to work, the local NPR station had on an interview with a guy who’s involved with gathering billions of seeds of various plant varieties into a “doomsday vault.” It is on a remote Norwegian island and intended as a precaution against the presumed devastations of global warming. There were few surprises in the conversation — the grim mood was well suited to the NPR target audience, which eats this stuff up — apart from one rather interesting question from a listener. The guest, Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, was asked why his group bothers with seeds. In the future, won’t we be able to reconstitute life from the digital code of DNA? Read More ›

Generation of Antibody Diversity is Unlike Darwinian Evolution

[Editor’s Note: This is part two of a response from microbiologist Don Ewert to arguments from BioLogos’s Kathryn Applegate that our immune system shows the creative power Darwinian evolution. Part one can be found here.] The intricate mechanism for generating antibody diversity from very few germline (existing) genes was discovered over thirty years ago. It involves shuffling gene segments and then fusing them to produce new combining sites for the antibody receptor displayed on individual B cells. How much of this process is pre-programmed and how much is random? Is this an example of the use of a “‘blind’ system to sustain and preserve life,” as Kathryn Applegate suggests? The evidence from decades of research reveals a complex network of Read More ›

Adaptive Immunity: Chance or Necessity?

[Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, in a series of posts on the BioLogos website (“Adaptive Immunity: How Randomness Comes to the Rescue” and “Evolution and Immunity: Same Story“), Kathryn Applegate argued that the “random” processes of the vertebrate adaptive immune system serve as an example of how Darwinian mechanisms can generate biological complexity. Today, Discovery Institute presents part one of a response to Dr. Applegate from Donald L. Ewert, a research immunologist/virologist who spent much of his career studying the molecular and cell biology of the immune system, as well as theories about its evolution. Dr. Ewert received his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 1976. As a microbiologist, he operated a research laboratory at the Wistar Institute in Read More ›

“Intelligent Design” in Hebrew?

In the Hebrew version of Wikipedia, the page on intelligent design translates ID with the phrase “tichnun tivoni,” which means something like “intelligent planning.” And so it’s translated regularly too in Ha’aretz and other Israeli news sources. The Wiki page is well supplied with the usual distortions that you’d expect from Wikipedia in any language, but never mind that. The question of how to translate “intelligent design” into the language of the Bible is an interesting one. Is there an actual Biblical phrase that captures the idea? In the journal Azure, published by the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, an essay on the “Secret of the Sabbath” indirectly suggests an answer. Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Lifshitz reflects on the passage from the Read More ›