Reaping the Whirlwind: protein function without stable structure

Tour certainly makes a good case that abiogenesis is something we currently are unable to explain, but that is old news and seed evident. While I admittedly skipped some of his talk that just seemed repetitive rants about how unlikely it was to put things together in the first place, I really never heard him address evolution, so don’t see any “blowing out of the water.” Perhaps you could direct us to a particular statement or idea regarding evolution that he presents illustrating your point, for like you said, I don’t see it.


Hi Raymond,

Our friend T.J. mentioned that he has provided you links to peer-reviewed research papers on cetacean evolution, but you have never engaged with the material. If you want to have a constructive conversation with him, I suggest that you start there.

I do think there is some value in Tour’s critique: the scientific community needs to do more work to link the theory of evolution with chemistry (Tour’s field). The problem is that “we’ve got more work to do in this area” is being interpreted by Tour, and by you, to mean that the hill cannot be climbed and God did it, that’s the final answer.

Why do you not raise a similar ruckus about general relativity and quantum mechanics, Raymond? As with evolutionary biology and chemistry, scientists have had a hard time synthesizing the two fields into one domain. Yet you are not saying of general relativity and quantum mechanics that they are “blown out of the water” because they cannot explain explain dark matter and dark energy, and cannot be reconciled into a single theory. Why do you apply such dramatically different standards to evolutionary biology than to general relativity and quantum mechanics, Raymond?

My $.02,
Chris Falter

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We have discussed Tour’s failures on peaceful science. I suggest you visit that forum and read up. Also I’ve been talking to you about whales. Not all this other crap you’ve brought up. You made claims about whale evolution. I showed you why you were mistaken and you’ve ignored it.

Yes, I would. I think he would be proud I used the brain God gave me to draw reasonable conclusions from my observations.

Why? Even if I was wrong about macro evolution, why would it matter one bit to Jesus? I think he would be much more concerned whether or not I had used the gifts he’d given me to do the good works he set out for me to do, like it actually says in the Bible. There is no science or theology test at the judgment seat of God.


More importantly why would Jesus do this? You really think he cares what position on biological origins you hold to?

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Hi Phil,

Sorry for the delay in responding. I’m puzzled that you don’t see the relevance of his talk to evolution. Maybe this is why you guys have trouble seeing the argument against evolution.

Evolution can only occur when a random change of one or more nucleotides results in a structural change to one or more proteins where each is highly interdependent on the other proteins (and collections of proteins, i.e., systems of systems) in the cell (thousands of them) for their function. Tour mentions at time 17:20 (approx) in the video that for a 3000 protein yeast cell there are 10^79,000,000,000 possible ways those 3000 proteins can combine. (That’s read 10 to the 79 billionth power (79 billion is the exponent))

When there is inter-dependency of protein function (based on structure), the problem becomes much worse (a point I’ve been making since day 1 of my engagement with you guys). For the first step in a new improved function in a life form (evolutionary step) a random change must be accompanied by a very precise (actually, “exact” is the word) change in a large number of other nucleotides to ensure the correct relationship of all the modified proteins work as a new interdependent functional whole to provide the new/modified function. Since there are 1^79,000,000,000 possible ways for those 3000 proteins to combine, to get a change that is needed for the new protein function, the chances of that are just that, 1 in 10^79,000,000,000. If there are 1000 other proteins dependent on the one that just randomly changed, they also must change (principal from SE 101) exactly to ensure this new or modified function can work and be sustained. Since these changes are random, each has the same probability of occurring, and the joint probability of 1000 of them all randomly occurring at the same time is 1 in 10^79,000,000,000,000 (1 chance in 79 trillion). It’s actually much worse since the command and control (C4) functions that result from an unknown combination or proteins must also change and be randomly correct. That’s a big number. Remember, there are only 10^80 elemental particles in the universe. Think about what you’re buying into (drinking the kool-aid) if you accept this as an explanation.

Tour’s argument against abiogenesis is based on a probabilistic model. Arguments against evolution build on this model, and the systems engineering considerations amplify the improbability of it by showing the joint probabilities when interdependent function is addressed. How can you not see this? Cell robustness, flexibility, and redundancy (RFR) are only narrative. Evolution says, “Well, we don’t completely understand it, but we observe it so it must be RFR. And besides, we reject design for ideological reasons, i.e., creationism is not science, but religion.” During my time away, I’ve read quite a bit, e.g., Coyne, Pennock, Venema, et al. Post offered by some in this forum are the same. They tie together anecdotal evidence and proclaim victory while never addressing the gaps that are glaring. Evolution is the quintessential example of pseudoscience. Theories are considered true until disproven. Theories are established by the logic of “Well, what else could it be?” and “God would never design it this way.” I’m stunned that you guys buy into this!

In light of the improbability of evolution (and abiogenesis) one would think that a good scientist would be hypercritical of evolutionist’s so-called evidence for evolution. Yet I see the opposite. The evidence for evolution is closer to what you see among a group of sixth graders passing around pictures of their toys. Where is your critical thinking?

The question you must answer if you truly embrace evolution is this, “Can the Darwinian explanation (random change & natural selection) explain this or is the observed change due to pre-programmed change designed in the genome?” Darwin’s finches always remain finches. There is no other life form close to the finch on the islands that would illustrate the kind of evolution you insist upon. The same is true of the fossil record. You claim the Cetaceans show evolution. From what I see, the Cetacean argument is mostly narrative with pictures that have popular appeal. A close look reveals a lot of assumptions that simply cannot be sustained with our current knowledge of science. ID invites readers to look at the improbability of evolution. Tour makes such a point in the video, though he doesn’t spell it out.

Are you kidding me? Moderators, how long are you going to let this guy continue?

@T.j_Runyon, while I believe Raymond’s concerns have been addressed earlier, they are his opinions, and are not out of bounds, so long as no too repetitive and presented in good faith.

It’s very repetitive. He just made the same argument that was addressed on like post 20…

This has always been the gist of Raymond’s comments, and I have tried without success to get anyone (Raymond included) to see that his open contempt for science and, more notably, for scientists, is inconsistent with the norms of the forum. To be fair, the forum’s goals include the notion of attempting to reach skeptics, and that means entertaining crudely dismissive comments like Raymond’s (and plenty of others) while attempting to discourage/disallow dehumanizing or personally disrespectful behavior. It’s a nearly-impossible task. But I agree that Raymond’s writings are inappropriate, despite my somewhat perverse interest in seeing conservative Christianity unmasked as a starkly negative influence on clear thought.

That’s false. Protein-coding changes are not needed for evolution, and this is a major focus of an entire subfield of evolutionary biology.

The point was wrong the first time you typed it. It was wrong the 5th time that you typed it. It will be wrong the 50th time you type it.

This is close to being a lie, because it’s so far from the truth and that has been explained to you repeatedly. There is no other way to engage with these claims, at this point, than to wonder why a Christian keeps making them, in front of other Christians who evidently share your religious and philosophical commitments.

It appears that all of you missed the purpose in my last response which was directed to Phil where he inquired about Tour’s video and how it addressed evolution. I responded by providing the position in the video (time 17:20) and the probability argument Tour made. I added to that statement that when systems engineering issues are included in the argument, the probability is even more unlikely. I commented at how I marvel that you guys can’t see it. I even pointed out that it should at least give you pause so that you would look at it more closely. I compared Tour’s statements to the Darwinian approach and pointed out how lacking in evidence it is which I still maintain. TJ Runyon notes that the Cetacean argument is well developed and provides ample justification for accepting the Darwinian model. I read the material at the link he provided back in his post (#420). The essence of that argument is that because there are similar genes and their location in the respective genomes in the animals in this clade they must be the result of the Darwinian process. This is where the bad science comes into play. The reality is that there is so much about the genome that we don’t understand that claiming one form came from another based on the presence and relative position of the genes is conjecture without solid science to back it up. To support the claim that one organism evolved from another requires much more than observing presence and groupings of similar genes. One must be able to chart the changes from the one random nucleotide change with all the other necessary random genetic changes in the genome to the protein changes and how they work together to get the new function in the next version. This must be repeated for the complete number of changes that result in the new organism or next version. No researcher has even come close to doing that. How many functions are there in the cell that we have yet to even identify? What role do they play and what other functions depend on them? When you understand the full function of the cell and its component parts, and trace it back to the individual nucleotides in the genome, then you can begin mapping their development and assess whether they came about via a Darwinian process. You simply don’t have the knowledge to make that call. Accordingly, your claim that evolution explains what we see today in life is wanting.

Sounds like the “if you can’t trace how every molecule got where it is in this mountain, then geology doesn’t explain anything" approach. Just demand an impossible level of detail and one never has to accept anything, and all the evidence we do have can be hand-waved away.

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Does this mean that hippos and whales have the same DNA?

What’s clear is that you don’t understand systems engineering. That explains much in your writing.

No, it’s not a lie, and in the context of evolution it’s absolutely true. You appear to have a deficient understanding of basic computer science as well. Together, not understanding computer science and systems engineering brings into question your qualifications discuss evolution.

I always considered myself an interested layperson with evolution, since I have no science education beyond high school biology. But since I do have a computer science background, I guess I’m halfway to an expert! Who knew!


Comments like this are not helpful. My point is simply that when you don’t fully know and understand the details of a complex system, you can’t say with authority that it will do this or that. Their are an increasing number of really accomplished scientists today who are now admitting that the Darwinian mechanism is a dog that won’t hunt.

I encourage you to read both sides and be open. Evolution sounds good as long as you don’t look too closely. More and more folks are starting to see that it has major problems. There are of course, a few “die hards,” a few of them in this forum. Hopefully, you’ve listened to the Tour video.

Yikes, that was 580 posts ago. Way past my memory or desire to reread. In any case, if no new thoughts of interest, may be time close it down.

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:laughing: Raymond, this comment is a tour de force of your writing. Your understanding of evolution is at the grade school level. Because it has stayed this way for months, I am forced to conclude that you have no interest in learning about evolution. That you continue to bluster about it is a disgrace.

This statement is so far off the mark with respect to evolutionary biology that it is, to reference Feynmann, not even wrong.

Biologists, please correct anything in my following statement that might be a misunderstanding.

The mathematical foundation of evolutionary biology is the simultaneous, stochastic optimization of a set of slowly changing probability density functions. The fact that you are looking for a deterministic prediction from a set of conditions shows that you have profoundly misunderstood the whole enterprise from the get-go.

To use a simplified analogy, in the same way that a statistician can apply the binomial distribution function to predict the likelihood of a certain number of heads in 1000 coin flips, an evolutionary biologist understands the likelihood of various inferences from a set of observations of, say, genomic data. A statistician can rule out the null hypothesis for 980 heads in 1000 flips, and make a strong inference to a biased coin. Likewise, an evolutionary biologist can rule out non-relatedness in genomic data from hippos, artiodactyla, and various cetaceans, and make a strong inference to a nested hierarchy of ancestry.

But you are insisting that the evolutionary biologists must make the logical equivalent of a perfect prediction of the exact sequence of 1000 coin flips to be able make sensible inferences. You could justify this insistence, I suppose, by pointing out that predicting the exact sequence of coin flips is theoretically possible given perfect knowledge of the relevant starting conditions/forces and vast computational power. The fact that the statistician can make strong inferences about coin bias is irrelevant when the onlooker demands perfection. The fact that the biologist can make strong inferences about the nested hierarchy of ancestry and many of the forces that produced it, is irrelevant when the onlooker demands that protein sequences be perfectly aligned and even the slightest deviation is allegedly a devastating critique.

Here’s another critique of your reasoning, Raymond: it does not align with empirical data.

You insist that sequences and their combinations must be perfectly aligned in order for life to exist. Even a single change throws out the alignment and is therefore not plausible.

But here’s the thing: You, Raymond Isbell, have approximately 70-100 mutations in your DNA that were not in the DNA of your parents.

You have about 150 that were not in the DNA of your grandparents. And so forth.

Go back just 6000 years, my friend Raymond, and you have 18,000 DNA mutations that were not in the DNA of your ancestors from 240 generations ago.

You claim that a single change in a sequence brings the house down. Yet you are walking around with 18,000 sequence changes in your DNA compared with your ancestors in the not-so-distant past.

This empirical evidence proves that your claims do not compute, my friend Raymond.