The Problem with the ID Argument

So I would agree with @Faizal_Ali that I’m still not seeing a mechanism here. I think you would probably need to fill this out with more mechanistic information, maybe something like:

  • how would the particular sequence for Prp8 come together?
    • Would the amino acids/bases be generated as well or would those come from existing sources?
    • Would the entire sequence be generated or would it just be the sections of the sequence that are unique to Prp8?
    • Would the Prp8 gene be inserted randomly in the genome or would there be a particular position for it to be inserted? If the later, why is it in the specific position?
  • How widely distributed would these generated Prp8 sequence be?
    • Would it just be in one genome in one organism?
    • Would it be inserted in all organisms alive at that time?
    • Would it require whole new organisms?

Unlike @Faizal_Ali, I would presume, I have no problem with the idea of a “mind” (I would prefer to call it the God of the Bible, but “mind” or “intelligence” seem to be the preferred terms for ID folks so I’ll roll with it) being involved in the generation of the universe, but I don’t think “mind” has nearly the explanatory strength of a step-by-step mechanism. It may be an ultimate cause or the reason, but I don’t see a mechanism yet.

Yes, as a physical chemist I am awestruck with the complexity and amazing beauty of biochemical systems. Of course, as with all analogies, there are limitations to how far as we can take it. I worked on artificial molecular motors in graduate school, the biological analogs were way more complex, and yet I also know that a simple algorithm applied many times can often produce more complexity than a complex algorithm applied only a few times. Both are beautiful in their own way.

I have no idea, that’s why I’m here. I want to learn what the current understanding is from the experts and to see what the limitations of our understanding are. I’m also interested how other people think about these things.


Hi Jordan
I find your questions interesting but let me have some time to ponder them. Overall what we are dealing with is system design as prp8 is one of many proteins that make up the spliceosome. Here an article by gpuccio that describes the machine to get us on the same page.

From Wiki

In the science of biology, a mechanism is a system of causally interacting parts and processes that produce one or more effects. Scientists explain phenomena by describing mechanisms that could produce the phenomena.

Are you ok working with this definition?

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It’s a little on the vague side, but I don’t have a fundamental problem with it. In our case the “effect” we’re looking for is the generation of the Prp8 gene/protein, correct? So the mechanism is the set of processes and parts (I would use steps and states, but I think they’d mean the same thing here) that accomplish our task (generation of Prp8), right?

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prp8 is a large protein that is part of the U5 protein machine which is part of the spliceosome. The mechanisms that generate Prp8 are different then the mechanism responsible for the origin of prp8 U5 and ultimately the spliceosome.

First I will answer your questions the best I can regarding the cellular mechanisms tomorrow.

ID is not a theory about mechanism, so it doesn’t make sense to ask it to provide one.
I guess you would agree that the human mind is able to actualize things in the world. But do we have a mechanism for this?

Yes. For instance, I had a thought in my mind regarding what I wanted to say here. And in explaining how you are now able to read the words I have typed on your computer monitor, we can describe every step of the process in purely mechanical terms, from the electrical impulses in my brain, to how these are communicated to my fingers, to how the keystrokes are translated thru the computer into an image on my screen, and how that information is transmitted thru the internet to your screen.

To just say “Faizal’s mind made it happen” is not even the barest beginning of an explanatory mechanism.

I note that you have offered possible mechanisms from electrical impulses in your brain through my screen. Ok. But what about the initial mechanism from your thoughts to the electrical impulses in your brain ? How mind interact with matter is the thing to be explained and materialists are silent about the underlying mechanism of this interaction.

Yet another reason ID is 100% worthless as a scientific explanation.


@Giltil, the problem is that mechanism is what makes a scientific theory a scientific theory. I just got done teaching this to my General Chemistry and Physics I students Wednesday. You may have a hypothesis, a conjecture, an observation, it could even be a Law, but without a mechanism it’s really not a theory.

One of the major reasons we require a mechanism is that it allows us to test and distinguish between competing theories. Without the mechanism, it’s really just a (personal) interpretation of a particular set of data. We can’t apply such an interpretation widely (which is the purpose of a theory) without a mechanism.

For instance, Alfred Wegener developed Continental Drift, but without a mechanism it was not widely accepted within the scientific community until the mechanism (plate tectonics) was developed.

No, but that’s why the mind is not scientifically accessible, only the brain (if you go with a dualist approach). Theory of mind would be appropriately belong to a philosophical or theological discussion.


The amino acids come from food outside or metabolic systems inside the cell. Since eukaryotic proteins contain introns prp8 is required to make the amino acids for the enzymes in the metabolic systems.

From a paper I found on U6 the entire protein suite is transcribed together. I have no reason to believe that U5 is any different.

The specific position is next to other U5 genes. I think our understanding is limited here awaiting further research.

Every protein that is manufactured in the eukaryotic cell requires prp8. There are restricted portions of DNA in differentiated cells. Differentiated cells must express prp8. Multiple copies exist in the genome.

prp8 is unique to eukaryotic cells. All eukaryotic cells have some isoform of this protein and will not function without it. The protein is highly mutation sensitive.

Since prp8 has nuclear introns you need prp8 to make prp8.

Let’s remember that some eukaryotic genes do not have introns and that some introns are self-splicing.


This is true but self splice introns do not work in the nucleus due to its low magnesium content.

Then it’s fortunate that many mRNA’s make it out of the nucleus. What’s your point? Is this an objection to something?


If I might say so (not to be promoting any one person’s ideas :smile:), the discussion in that thread about the shared ancestry of spliceosomal introns with group II introns, and the ability of proteins quite different from PRP8 (and the rest of the suite of nuclear spliceosomeal proteins) to facilitate intron splicing, may be of interest here.


Based on this what is your opinion regarding calling universal common descent a theory?

UCD by itself isn’t a theory Bill. It’s an empirical observation, the result of natural physical processes explained by Evolutionary Theory. Evolutionary theory explains the mechanisms involved.


I guess you’d have to ask a materialist about that.

You seem to have missed the point, which was to contrast an account that actually provides mechanisms, even if not absolutely complete, with @colewd incredibly lame and inept effort to provide an account for how a mind created Prp8, which was basically “A mind did it, with its mind.”

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UCD is a process before human history yet is an “empirical observation” observed by humankind.?? Brilliant. This whole level of aptitude in thinking on UCD is on almost the same level of aptitude of proposing running nations upon principles, politics and economics that are known to be historical failures. This is university level intelligencia today. Its like we are doing the same as species-devolving towards extinction.

Yes the phylogenetic tree created from the genetic record is an empirically observable indication of UCD.