Hunt's 2007 Critique of Axe

Can you please help me to understand this? I could be taking it completely out of context, but to me the point that there’s a lack of evidence that any “conscious intelligence can produce anything like the complexity of DNA” is completely irrelevant.

There is zero evidence that a non-intelligence can produce the same.

It seems as though the complexity came about from either intelligence or non-intelligence and that probability is the key. Is it more likely that complexity came from intelligence or non-intelligence? It seems that the burden of proof is entirely on the side of evolution proponents to explain such complexity apart from intelligence. Am I seeing this incorrectly?

Except that there is evidence that it can produce this complexity. Look at the example of T-urf13. This is very strong evidence that natural processes can produce the exact complexity that ID argues is impossible.

What is confusing here @Michael_Callen is the meaning of “complexity” which you likely mean in an intuitive sense. The ID movement has given very specific definitions. So in this context we are talking about complexity by these metrics and mental models. They are not going to map to your “intuitive” sense. It is important to remember also that life is a different category than human design. Even if our intuitions are ultimately correct, the analogy you are making in your argument really does fail.

Arguments about shifting burden are not worth entertaining. That just shifts the debate to presuppositions instead of evidence. As it is, there is no clear scientific evidence for or against God’s design of life. It looks like natural processes, but this does not mean He was not involved.

Thank you!

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@art, didn’t you find that T-urf13 was helpful in pathogen resilience? What was it’s positive effect on fitness?

Also, on what grounds do you call it small @colewd? It seems to be a fully functional protein with more evidence of function than most of the ENCODE data. It is clearly not “junk.”

A below average AA count.

Rather than here, if Behe comes we will start a thread specifically for him, that will be moderated tightly to ensure he is treated with respect.

I’d start the conversation by asking which definitions of Irreducible Complexity are falsified, and which are still viable. Which Irreducible Complexity Argument?

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Not to belabor, but just to understand. Do you believe that ID argues that such complexity is impossible? Or do they argue that the wealth of complexity is better explained as intelligently designed vs coming about through natural processes? It seems that the point is important. Does the T-urf13 example (that, admittedly, I do not understand) falsify such claims? Or is it potentially an exception or outlier?

To use a Behe example, is the bacterial flagellum best explained by natural processes or design? If the flagellum were to be explained naturalistically (and I’m aware of attempts in this regard) does it falsify his point, or merely remove a valid example?

Sorry, I’m only trying to follow your thoughts here. Which failing analogy were you referring to? I have many threads with many failing analogies.

Thanks for attempting to explain the issue over the term “complexity”. This is another unfortunate example, then, of a term that will continue to be a potential landmine as long as we (the public) understand complexity in the traditional sense. Which, of course, we will.

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IMO this totally avoids the obvious fact that a complex fully functional, gated ion channel formed by essentially shuffling the maize mitochondrial genome. By any measure, this is an increase in what an ID advocate would call functional information.

But as far as the biology, there are a few things to consider. One is that Turf13 is a gated ion channel, they key to which is a toxin produced by a fungus. From the perspective of the fungus, it is very beneficial.

But there is more to consider. Recall that plants have many ways to,approach the matter of sexual reproduction. Some plants (Cannabis) are monoecious - individuals may be male or female. Others are diecious - their flowers are both male and female. Diecious plants may tend to outcross or self-pollinate. Some plants incorporate male sterility into the mix, as a way to further promote outcrossing. (Of course in such populations there will be normal and male sterile individuals.)

Turf13 makes maize plants male sterile. Contrary to what some may claim, this actually increases the reproductive strategies for the plant, and is not a detriment to the plant. Also, male sterility is not an arcane and contrived creation of plant breeders. It happens in the wild as well. Put it all together, then what we have here is an increase, not only in functional information when it comes to proteins, but in reproductive options and interactions with microbes.

All coming about by piecing together some non-coding sequences. Randomly, via unguided processes.

(Please do not try to claim that plant breeders in the 50s and 60s could design this protein from first principles, then create it and get it into the maize mitochondrial genome.)


First I want to say this is an extremely interesting case you have brought forward and deserves a respectful discussion. The formation of a gated ion channel that did not exist before is extremely interesting.

As far as adding functional information to the plant genome this is less clear based on Szotack and Hazens definition they brought forward in 2003.

I am currently neutral whether it does or doesn’t it all depends of what information already existed in the plants genome. Joe Felsenstein UW prof and TSZ contributor would measure added functional information by a net increase in fitness. If you can demonstrate this then I would agree with you that functional information has been increased in this process.

From your paper it appears that the process was built on existing information in the plant genome. Do you agree?

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Is genetic recombination a random process? It is clearly part of the reproductive process.

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Like most types of variation it is random with some constraints.

I agree.

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End of the day… science fills gaps in our understanding of “natural processes” with randomness. An explanation that involves randomness is not a complete explanation. An explanation of a phenomenon at the biomolecular level does not tell us how the molecules came to be arranged this way. Random self organisation that leads to highly complex systems interacting with each other to give specific results is not a satisfactory answer to me… Even though scientists seem to satisfy themselves with it.

The more I hear all this, the more looks like science has no option other than to peg God’s actions under “chance”.
As scientific knowledge increases, the no: of amazing things that have to have happened by “chance” mutations/errors are also increasing.

The inability to understand and accept stochastic processes is a major reason that many people continue to insist there is a god. Education can cure that.

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@Faizal_Ali (@Ashwin_s )

Humans are INCLINED towards faith. Nothing will cure humans of that.

Do you think the trait is heritable? It might change over time.


Yes, I do think the “God-shaped hole” in the human mind is genetically sustained. It could change over time, if:

  1. you can wait long enough;


  1. if being religious interfered with reproductive success. Every indication is that religious behaviors consolidate, rather than interfere with, reproductive success.

Religious behaviors comfort the great bulk of humanity, even while extremely agitating the victims of the former group.

Darwinism and it’s avatars is naturalism disguised as science

Scientists also let go of Darwinism a long time ago. Can you let go of ID-creationism?