Questions about Behe/Swamidass at TAMU

@swamidass @Daniel_Arant
Watched the Texas A&M Behe conversation.
2 questions when you have a chance…

Question 1:

  1. You are trying to Influence, these Texas A&M students (good)
  2. You are advocating for Science (good)
  3. You are asking for these students to Join you in your quest (good)
  4. You give our view/data, as an Alternative to Behe’s view (good)
  5. At one point, you ask a WHY question. Basically, you ask WHY God or a Designer made the design features of a Virus (ok, but Theological question).
  6. You don’t give additional context/alternatives to Virus in general (not good on my view)
  7. At 1hr 23min point in the video, Behe partially answers your question (he basically gives “some” good news about Virus generally)
  8. Here is my question
  9. IF there were Zero Virus on the Planet, would you be Dead?
  10. IF there were Zero Virus on the Planet, would you Probably be Dead?
  11. IF there were Zero Virus on the Planet, would your physical life have challenges?
  12. IF there were Zero Virus on the Planet, would that be a good thing?
  13. IF there were Zero Virus on the Planet, you don’t know what would happen.
  14. In my world, people use Your Question (#5 above), to throw the Designer under the Bus, and deny his existence.
  15. In your view, would it be better to give additional info on Virus (possible Good news), when you ask point #5?

Question 2:
16. At point 1:10:42, you got a lot of Applause from the students
17. At that point, you said… “Well Designed computer code, has Comments”.
18. I would counter, that Well Designed computer code, as a first priority… Needs to Work!
19. At 3am in the morning, crappy code is not fun to decipher
20. The “comments” in the code, as you know, are not “executed” to make the program run
21. I am missing your Comments point, I am missing why you got Applause for that?

@Daniel_Arant , you probably don’t want to be associated with me on this page, when I ask these types of questions, I usually don’t get a Clear answer.
However, I am including you here, so you can see if a simple challenge is answered.
Your challenges are at a different level, and very good. Keep up the good work.


The talk to which @hollstermark is referring can be found here: Veritas Forum: Behe & Swamidass, "God and/or Evolution"

Also relevant are these two articles published right after the exchange:

These are great questions, though your numbering is a charming but confusing mess :slight_smile: . I’ll try and answer when I have a moment.

As are the 1.5 million commas.

@swamidass Josh, I appreciate your verbose responses. And based on how much Data you need to study in order to keep up with all these details, I am surprised you are giving me a response! That been said, the “numbering” allows you (and I) to Focus specifically on what we Agree or Disagree on. Just to throw yet another challenge out there…

  1. IF there were Zero Hurricanes, Tornados, and Storms, would you be Dead?
  2. IF there were Zero Earthquakes, would you be Dead (sooner or later)?
  3. IF a Designer says… “you will surely Die”, what difference does it make, how the Designer “picks you off”?
    I am going to Tennessee for the next 5 days, trying to escape Illinois. Look forward to your response, if you have time, about 6 days from now. Have a good one.
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As are the randomly Capitalized Words.

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I’ll try one. If there were zero hurricanes, etc., this would be a very different world. It’s like asking what you would be like if volcanoes erupted marshmallow or if protons had a negative charge. Meaningless to ask, pointless to answer. Most of the other questions are of that sort.

I’m sure there’s some attempted point behind all the questions, but I’m unable to discern it. Easier just to say what you mean. Socrates was overrated.

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I’m fairly certain we will all be dead sooner or later whether or not there are earthquakes.

Okay, let’s take these one at a time. “Question 1” is about Viruses and Design.

That’s all good common ground, right?

Well, I approach these sorts of questions from theology first. That’s how I make sense of the world, even as I engage with science. So it was the question I was honestly left with after watching him show a video of a bacteriophage injection mechanism.

I did in the follow up post. The obstacle in this case was some fairly tight moderator control. I didn’t have much ability to flesh it out.

Probably not.

Probably not.

I’m not sure what you mean by physical challenges. Science would be quite different, because we use viruses as tools for genetic manipulation. I’m scientist, so this would be a major challenge, but I probably wouldn’t have a way of recognizing it could be another way.

Well some things would certainly be good. We would not have a lot of diseases. We also would lose out on all the scientific knowledge we’ve gleaned from viruses. I’m not sure how to weigh those things. What you are suggesting here is so far from our current state of affairs.

That is not well conceived. Or maybe it is. Depends what we mean here. It seems that Behe understands “Design” to mean with God’s intention. God created everything, but he did not design everything (according to Behe). In contrast, I hold that God created all things, and in this sense He designed all things. That does not mean God intended every little detail, but God does providentially govern all things.

Here is the thing though. Scripture does not teach that God designed all things in the way that Behe understands it. Scripture does not teach that God intended all that is found in creation. He did not, for example, intend to create sin. However, God did create all things. He also providentially governs all things.

What is going on here, it seems, is that we are having difficulty because we’ve substituted the term “Designer” where we should be saying “Creator.” To understand God, it seems we should work with the language of theology, not the language of ID.

Well, yes, which is why I wrote a blog post on it, and so did Behe.

This one is on comments, code, and what is “well-designed.” The key context here is that ID often says that DNA is a computer code. I was pointing out where the analogy fails. One place where it fails is that, unlike a programming language, DNA does not include comments. In this way it is totally unlike a computer code. There are other ways it is totally unlike a computer code too.

The point is not that DNA is poorly designed. That is not what I was saying. Rather, if we thought of it as a computer code, then we’d have to conclude it was poorly designed. But I think that’s wrongheaded. We shouldn’t take the analogy so far. In fact, this particular analogy breaks very very quickly.

Yup, because that is entirely true.

Well, just about anyone who works with software for a living would tell you this is just wrongheaded. Without comments, testing, and integration, you’ll never know if it works. You will never even know, without immense amounts of unnecessary effort, what the code is even meant to do!

Uncommented excellent code is also not fun to decipher.

Sometimes they are. Have you ever heard of doc-testing? But that misses the point anyways. The issue is that this is a way that DNA is not at all like computer code. It is just totally different. Whether or not comments are executed,

Hopefully it makes sense. I’m not entirely sure why the students applauded, except perhaps they had experience with uncommented code, so the point was relatable. Maybe @zacharylawson can fill us in.

It seems to me the questioner is basically posing the idea that, without viruses, we probably wouldn’t exist in the first place. Which is certainly true, viruses have placed an integral role in the evolution of all life on Earth, and many fundamental processes that occur in our cells are ultimately derived from truly geologically ancient virus infections.

But it seems to me this basically concedes that all extant species evolved over vast spans of geological time, and that what exists in the biosphere is largely a historically contingent outcome of large numbers of chance events.


We wouldn’t, but somebody else might. It’s another Texas sharpshooter argument.


Maybe they’re there, we just don’t know how to read them yet? :slight_smile: Maybe you’re making an argument from ignorance?

They’re not there beause DNA mutates, hence any commentary that we could envision having initially been present if life on Earth was initially created 4 billion years ago, is now long gone.

Yes, from your YEC creationist perspective you can certainly imagine God has created commentary in DNA. But your YEC perspective has been comprehensively debunked by modern science, so it would be a waste of time looking for creation-commentary in DNA.
Of course, all the DNA is there in public databases now, so you and the smartest creationists you can find are all welcome to see if you can find the God-commentary. You’re welcome to do that. Have fun!


Maybe the junk DNA is the comments.

I’m not actually suggesting that. But I’m amused at the idea being based on a suggestion from a skeptic of junk DNA.

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I think the creationist perspective is that much of “junk DNA” is probably functional. But then maybe the rest is comments. This came up in the genetics videos I was just starting to watch.

What are introns comparable to in a programming analogy?

Why must there be something comparable? These are two totally different things. As you know, all analogies are failures. The analogy of DNA as computer code fails pretty early. Analogies can sometimes be helpful to illustrate concepts, but rarely for proving a point.


The vast majority of introns, as a form of retrotransposons, are most analogous to mostly deactivated (by radiation destroying or flipping hard-drive bits), formerly self-replicating computer viruses, which have integrated themselves so thoroughly into large fractions of other computer code, that another piece of code exists to edit it out every time that other computer code is read, otherwise (if it was left in) it’d stop working.

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Start over. Introns are not a form of retrotransposons, though many introns to contain retrotransposons. Better, forget the computer code analogy, as everyone else has suggested.

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Sorry I meant just a form of transposons. I’m not sure by what measure they can’t be considered a class of transposons. They appear to be able to proliferate selfishly like transposons do.


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