Gil grabs some ammunition and shoots down Doug Axe's 2004 extrapolation by a factor of more than 10^44

Should I try again? I would think that the differences in the numbers would transcend any ESL issues.

Sorry to tell you that, but math is not a friend of evolution, not at all.

Coming from someone who thinks 10^77 and 10^33 are basically the same amounts, that doesn’t mean much.

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This is an unsupported and totally wrong charge that again show that you don’t understand the issue. I would recommend you to take Mercer’s claims with a grain of salt, for he is clearly misleading you.

In my experience, when ID supporters are asked for this math they usually don’t present it, or present completely irrelevant and flawed calculations. For example, using ID math we should only see a lottery winner every 150 million drawings.


I am afraid this shows you don’t understand ID math. But maybe you could elaborate your thoughts to show me that I am wrong.

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Commenting as a mathematician, I have not found any problems. But it does require a good understanding of evolutionary theory. Math is not a friend of the straw-man versions of evolution that creationists like to attack.


Notice something curious about the table posted earlier? Proteins of roughly similar length can have folds(not to be confused with functions) of vastly different relative sequence capacity. For example, the two proteins WW and Villin fold into all-Beta, and all-Alpha, respectively. Both are 35 amino acids long. WW has a relative sequence capacity of ~10^-24, and Villin has ~10^-33. That’s a difference of nine orders of magnitude between different folds of equal length.

Further down we have the IM7 and Titin I27 proteins, 87 and 89 amino acids long. Relative sequence capacities are ~10^-86 and 10^-38. That’s 38 orders of magnitude difference. These differences are enormous.

You can’t extrapolate the rarity of some particular fold, to other folds. Not even folds of equal length. The differences can be enormous. But as explained already in the Optima in Evolution-thread, these numbers are meaningless because they don’t tell us the frequency of functions. Different folds can perform the same functions, and some functions don’t even need folds, and folds can evolve from unfolded proteins. Larger and more complex, more rare folds can evolve from smaller, simpler, and more frequent folds. So in the end @Giltil simply has no good evidence for his a priori belief that he refuses to let go of even in the face of evidence against it, that functional proteins in general, or even any specific known protein, is too rare to evolve.

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I know. But I refer to this very recent article because it represents a breakthrough in our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying this extraordinary camouflage phenomenon.

This is a theological, not a scientific argument. And as far as science is concerned, the case for design of the molecular mechanism behind the squid camouflage is certainly very strong.

Cool, can we see that case for design?


Can you explain what you mean by this?

I refer you to the Wistar conference that took place in 1966 where many mathematicians express serious doubt about the neodarwinism narrative. Or to Berlinski. Or to Gelerntner. Etc…

You give the disconcerting appearance of having got all your knowledge of evolution from reading exclusively creationist literature.


You calculate the probability of getting a specific protein instead of calculating the probability of getting a selectable function.


Umm…you raised the argument. You couched the discussion in terms of doubt and faith. Go ahead, hypothesize. Who is the designer, just suggest a few guesses; what could it hurt? From the qualities of the design, what would you infer as to the nature and purpose of your proposed designer?

Do you really think that simply calculating the odds of a random search getting a selectable function explains what we are observing in the cell and in populations in general? If so please explain.

Physician, heal thyself.


That’s a pretty serious charge, Gil. Please document it or retract it.

And by “document,” I don’t mean your usual Nigel Tufnel bit.


Correct. I don’t understand how 10^-77 and 10^-33 are compatible. ID math is not real math.

You haven’t elaborated anything yet, Nigel.

It certainly makes a lot more sense than trying to calculate the odds of some specific protein fold emerging de novo.

Evolution doesn’t have to evolve some particular protein fold on command. In order to explain how a cell can come to have a genome with thousands of protein coding genes there just needs to be some way for novel protein coding genes to evolve.

That means there has to be enough selectable function in protein sequence space, for random expression of genetically encoded open reading frames to occasionally result in a functional, adaptive, polypeptide chain. This has been experimentally demonstrated to be the case.

It is of course also strongly implied by comparative genetics, with which it has been shown that there have been a relatively steady influx of gene gain and loss over the course of the history of life.

That means the two different “schools” of evidence corroborate and support each other. Direct experiment and historical inferences both show the same thing: Protein coding genes of all types can and do evolve. Whether they serve as macromolecular structural scaffolds, bind and stabilize cofactors, or each other, whether they are fat or water soluble, or catalysts of chemical reactions. They are evolvable entities.

Novel functional protein sequences are found in random explorations of amino acid sequence space, they have adaptive functions, they are retained by and their degree of function enhanced by natural selection, they become shuffled and assembled by recombination and fusion, grow into larger and more complex folding domains, and ultimately can assemble into elaborate multi-component molecular machines.

But one problem here is the misguided and simplistic thinking of ID creationists concerning protein evolution. You have this strangely constructed picture where a particular gene is a sort of target that must be experimentally recreated in de novo evolution before your very eyes otherwise you won’t believe it. It’s weird because you hold this standard in no other area of scientific historical inference. You’re not demanding that geologists re-grow particular (or even any) mountains before you accept that the forces operating in the Earth’s crust and mantle is the sort of thing that can produce the mountain ranges we see. On those subject, you are entirely fine with inference to the best explanation for highly specific and unlikely outcomes.