From Panda's Thumb: The Evolution of T-URF13: Does Irreducible Complexity Count or Not?

Not particularly. Your stark admission that Behe has not provided any evidence for the existence of a designer in his book is more than enough to chew on for now.


Let’s see . . . complementary base pairing, nicked DNA repair, polymerase activity . . . all things already present in nearly every organism. I’ve used genetic recombination in the lab, and so have many others. It’s an entirely natural process. What is it about genetic recombination that you think is such a problem for the natural process of evolution?

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Where did the Recombinate enzymes come from? Where did the precise mapping of change come from? How did the process of meiosis originate?

The recombination process requires a purposeful arrangement of parts to function. From this we can infer design according to Behe’s method.

Behe’s argument is against a blind and unguided process. Recombination is highly deterministic process.

Let’s move the goalposts!
Let’s move the goalposts!
Let’s move the goalposts!


Doesn’t matter. They are present, so it allows recombination to occur naturally.

You are assuming there is a precise mapping of change.

We don’t need to know where meiosis came from in order to determine if it occurs naturally.

Assertion without evidence.

Yet another assertion without evidence.

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The design argument (Behe’s method) is not against something occurring naturally. It is a method to detect design in nature.


“Are you ready to explain the origin of genetic recombination by natural means?”–colewd

So even if we observe a protein coming about through genetic recombination right in front of our eyes, you will still claim that it is the product of design? If so, how in the world is design falsifiable?

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In this case design becomes falsifiable as the direct cause of the protein. Genetic recombination is the direct cause just as in many cases the four forces are the direct cause of observations. Again Behe is not discounting future cellular mechanisms explaining some evolutionary observations.

But you are saying that anything with multiple parts is designed. So even if we observe something with multiple parts evolving right in front of our eyes, you will still claim that it is designed simply because it has multiple parts.


If we see it evolve in front of our eyes by recombination then recombination is the direct cause. Design can be eliminated as a direct cause of an observation.

Peeling the onion now you can ask what is the origin of recombination.

No it is not.

It is the assertion that something was designed, backed by no more than the assertion that the arrangement of parts was “purposeful”, in turn backed by the assertion that there is a “reason” – assertions all the way down.

I’m getting heartily sick of this continual invocation of “Behe’s method” as though that “method” wasn’t entirely vacuous – which is probably why this purported “method” has never been exposed to peer-review or any form of validation. It is not a method in any meaningful way – it is simply a rhetorical device.

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And yet you will still claim it is designed because it has multiple parts.

So how is design falsifiable? How do we disprove the claim that all systems with multiple parts come about through design?


False. It targets all mechanisms of evolution. Behe is on the record saying that all mechanisms of the modern theory of evolution is what he refers to as Darwinism:

At about 13 minutes in Dan takes about one minute to list things he considers non-Darwinian mechanisms and causes of change. He mentions (among other things) neutral theory, exaptation, horizontal gene transfer, epigenetics, then says:

Dan: The reason I harp on this is I wanna make sure I have this crystal clear.
Dan: When we say a system has irreducible complexity - does it preclude evolution by all these mechanisms - just the ones from 1859 - just the ones from the 1940s…?
Behe: Well - I, I’m glad to say it precludes them by all those processes you just mentioned…
Dan: Okay.
Behe: …I just wanna say that, in my mind, I consider them all random changes, remember Darwin didn’t know about mutations or anything - he said random changes plus natural selection - and you got look at each of them carefully - I think neutral mutation fits happily into Darwinian evolution except that the mutation has a selection coefficient of 0 instead of a negative or a positive one - uh, so… so that doesn’t strike me as a big deal.
Behe: And gene duplication - meh that’s fine that’s one event though. Ahh so, yeah - any unguided processes.
Dan: Alright, any unguided pro…(?)
Behe: Nods
Dan: Okay, any unguided processes!
Behe: Right.


They are members of the P-loop ATPases. Their ultimate origin can be traced to ATP binding proteins.

(Figure from: Inventing the dynamo machine: the evolution of the F-type and V-type ATPases | Nature Reviews Microbiology)

Edit: Btw RecA also forms the classic catalytic hexamer found in ATP-synthethases and DNA and RNA helicases:

Who would have guessed that RecA recombinases which are nucleotide and nucleotide oligomer binding proteins evolved from other nucleotide and nucleotide oligomer binding proteins that form similar structures and perform similar catalytic functions?

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Hi Rum

Recombination is not a random process.

It’s random with respect to the effect on fitness(the results of recombination are still filtered by natural selection, and are blind to the future). And in any case that’s irrelevant to what both you and Behe said. You said:

Irreducible complexity targets the Darwinian mechanism not genetic recombination.

And that’s just false, as Behe considers all of modern evolutionary theory to be Darwinism, because it’s all unguided, and only considers things to be exceptions to Darwinism if they involve intelligence or guidance. He directly states it in that interview with Dan.

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It’s turtles all the way down!


It may or may not be in the case of T-URF13. How do you know it was not a deterministic adaptive change?

From Behe Snoke 2004

. We strongly emphasize that results bearing on the efficiency of this one pathway as a conduit for Darwinian evolution say little or nothing about the efficiency of other possible pathways. Thus, for example, the present study that examines the evolution of MR protein features by point mutation in duplicate genes does not indicate whether evolution of such features by other processes (such as recombination or insertion/deletion mutations) would be more or less efficient.

That’s not peeling the onion. That’s asking a very different question. And it’s an infinite regress. If recombination evolved, you ask the origin of evolution. If evolution is an inevitable consequence of life, you ask about the origin of life. If life is a consequence of carbon chemistry, you ask about the origin of chemistry. Then the origin of the universe. You only stop when you arrive (as you inevitably will) at God, never thinking to ask about the origin of God.


I’m afraid this isn’t a case where there is any doubt. The processes responsible for non-homologous recombination are entirely blind to their future effects. They will blindly zip together double strand breaks wherever they find them. Incidentally the evolution of T-URF13 involved numerous such recombination events, and numerous small deletions, insertions, and substitutions. You really should read Hunt’s 2007 article: