Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bacterial Flagella Revisited

Mark Perakh has written a definitive response to Michael Behe’s Irreducible Complexity of the Bacterial Flagella called Flagella – Real or Fictional. Remember Michael Behe? He is a professor of bio-chemistry at Lehigh University and author of Darwin’s Black Box, published in 1996. This was the lead book in the assault on High School Science in the US lead by the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He was a key expert witness for the Dover School Board Federal Court Case known as Kitzmiller et al vs. The Dover School Board, and was the subject of a successful demonstration of how Intelligent Design is not science, to put it mildly. The truth is, it was embarrassing and the prosecution wiped the floor with him. They introduced contrary evidence in the form of a stack of books that Behe had said he hadn’t read and that they were wrong. An extraordinary drama as an expert witness was made to be seen as a fool.

Bacterial Flagella is not the only arrow in the quiver of the ID movement and I must advise you to read Kenneth R Millers recent book, Only A Theory, 2008, an excellent rebuttal to a lot of the other so called evidence for Intelligent Design. Let me say, Perakh has nailed even the appearance of Intelligent Design in the real world.

Articulation, forthrightness, subtle reasoning but lucid expression, skepticism--these are the traits of intellectuals, not of untrained and undeveloped minds, nor of neat scholars, capable only to serve as curators of the past, but not as critics of the present. Jacob Neusner, 1977, The Glory of God is Intelligence, p8

Friday, August 22, 2008

Evidence For Evolution 2

Exploding Chromosomes Fuel Research About Evolution Of Genetic Storage

ScienceDaily (Aug. 21, 2008) — Human cells somehow squeeze two meters of double-stranded DNA into the space of a typical chromosome, a package 10,000 times smaller than the volume of genetic material it contains.

"It is like compacting your entire wardrobe into a shoebox," said Riccardo Levi-Setti, Professor Emeritus in Physics at the University of Chicago.

Now research into single-celled, aquatic algae called dinoflagellates is showing that these and related organisms may have evolved more than one way to achieve this feat of genetic packing. Even so, the evolution of chromosomes in dinoflagellates, humans and other mammals seem to share a common biochemical basis, according to a team Levi-Setti led. The team's findings appear online, in Science Direct's list of papers in press in the European Journal of Cell Biology.

Packing the whole length of DNA into tiny chromosomes is problematic because DNA carries a negative charge that, unless neutralized, prevents any attempt at folding and coiling due to electrostatic repulsion. The larger the quantity of DNA, the more negative charge must be neutralized along its length.

Read the rest at ScienceDaily:

Darwin, Linnaeus, and One Sleepy Guy a good introduction to Linnaeus and his taxonomy, worth reading, Carl Zimmer always presents a well researched article or book and is a great spokes person for science and defender of Evolution. So visit The Loom as often as you can and learn, like I do about the many facets of Evolutionary Biology.

...religion thrives through the use of the mind and intellect. Skepticism and critical thinking are friends, not enemies, of religion. Jacob Neusner, 1977

Rational Thoughts.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evidence for Evolution 1

Molecular Sleuths Track Evolution Through The Ribosome

A new study of the ribosome, the cell's protein-building machinery, sheds light on the oldest branches of the evolutionary tree of life and suggests that differences in ribosomal structure between the three main branches of that tree are "molecular fossils" of the early evolution of protein synthesis. The new analysis, from researchers at the University of Illinois, reveals that key regions of the ribosome differ between bacteria and archaea, microbes that the researchers say are genetically closer to eukarya, the domain of life that includes humans. The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. read the rest at Medical News Today

Animal Evolution - The Development Of Nerves

University of Queensland researchers have traced the origins of one of the most important steps in animal evolution - the development of nerves. Professor Bernie Degnan, from UQ's School of Integrative Biology, together with PhD student Gemma Richards and colleagues from France, have traced the evolution of the nerve cell by looking for pre-cursors in, of all places, the marine sponge. "Sponges have one of the most ancient lineages and don't have nerve cells," Professor Degnan said. "So we are pretty confident it was after the sponges split from trunk of the tree of life and sponges went one way and animals developed from the other, that nerves started to form. "What we found in sponges though were the building blocks for nerves, something we never expected to find." Professor Degnan said the science involved came from the relatively new area of paleogenomics, which is the study of ancestral genomes to paint a more accurate picture of animal evolution.

Read the rest of this article at: Medicine News Today.

...religion thrives through the use of the mind and intellect. Skepticism and critical thinking are friends, not enemies, of religion. Jacob Neusner, 1977

Rational Observer.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Beliefs on Religion and Science

Just read some of the Templeton Foundation Website about beliefs in Science and Religion worth a look. The Question is "Does science make God obsolete?" and the participants are Steven Pinker, Christoph Cardinal Shonborn, William D Phillips, Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, Mary Midgley, Robert Sapolsky, Christopher Hitchens, Keith Ward, Victor J Stenger, Jerome Groopman, Michael Shermer, Kenneth R Miller, Stuart Kaufmann are the participants. Of course we don't need to know Richard Dawkins view on this subject, the debates between the participants are interesting though. Dawkins, of course has a point of view which we can characterise as Extreme Atheism or Fundamentalist Atheist, more commonly referred to as The New Atheists, where all religion is equivalent to child abuse and should be kept out of Primary and Secondary Schools with the exception of perhaps Comparative Religion, Referring to a child as a Mormon child, a Catholic child or a Moslem child, assumes too much and we can't expect our children to have such fully formed beliefs as their parents, etc, etc. I personally, take a view similar to Kenneth Miller and have the philosophical rule that, if you think there is a conflict between science and the scripture, you haven't read the scriptures correctly. This was held by Gallileo Gallilei amongst many luminaries and is a good place to start when a conflict, like evolution vs. creationism crops up in a discussion. I have recently been reading Stven Jay Goulds, Punctuated Equilibrium, a contraction to a specific subject of his great Opus The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

Theory and Practice

I have now decided to be on Kenneth Millers side after reading his latest Only a Theory, which has given his view as an evolutionary biologist and a practicing Catholic. He has covered evolutionary explanations for so many creationist themes I highly recommend his book if you need the explanations in a readable format like I do. It covers the nonsense from Ken Ham (not the astronaut), Dembski, Behe, to nominate three of the anti-evolutionists. The understanding of Genesis as a creation myth rather than a true story to be understood literally is one of the fights amongst religionists, and I feel such threats to such people should be considered unchristian. They need to understand this too. Science is explaining how the world was created not why. Those who are the New Atheists need to back off a bit, however they too are getting death threats from so called Christians and remember the Dover School Board, after voting the creationists from the School Board were told they shouldn't pray for assistance from the Almighty because they have rejected God by a prominent Christian Politician. How hypocritical was that after a court case found that the creationists (Bonsell, Buckingham et al) were lying. The Religions in the US should be teaching their congregations to support the Constitution and not knocking it down. The Dominionists are trying to turn the US into a Theocratic state, resembling Fascism and Nazism of the past that my ancestors fought a world war to prevent. This goal will result in any non-conformists from their definition being named Heretics and we know what happened when governments enforced religion in the past. The trouble is we are not learning from history on many levels, not just the one under discussion here. So if your public school is teaching religion, not just creationism in science class, but every thing including prayers at assembly, then contact the ACLU and find others of the same concern in your community. This is not just about one thing, it is about freedom to practice your religion without being forced by others through the Government and their schools.