Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More on Kirk Durston

A while back, I blamed the rev of The Woodshed fame for backing me into a corner and forcing me to publish this post on Kirk Durston. I went through a debate from iTunes U that Durston participated in. I was unimpressed by the atheist side and unconvinced by Durston.
Well, over at Sandwalk, Larry Moran, a personal friend in the I've never met the guy nor exchanged correspondence with him in any way but I read his blog once a week kind of way, decided he'd suffer through a talk at an IDiot class. Turns out to feature Durston. And thus red meat was hung out in front of Moran. Since the heavy lifting's been done, I'm just going to link to some highlights and say "Mee 2."
Sandwalk: I'm Going to a Lecture on Intelligent Design

Sandwalk: Kirk Durston's Proof of God
As it turns out, not understanding the science shouldn't have been such a big deal since the form of his argument was obviously silly. At least I thought it was obvious. Here's the way it went ...

1. By making assumptions A, B, C, and D and constructing equations E and F he is able to predict that no protein will have more than X amount of information.

2. By making a few assumptions about protein families it is possible to measure the amount of information in a folded domain by plugging the data into his equations. It turns out that most proteins have more than X information.

3. Therefore God exists (i.e., the protein must have been intelligently designed).

This are (at least) two major flaws in this argument and it doesn't take an expert in computer science or biochemistry to detect them.

First, when you formulate a scientific hypothesis you test it against scientific reality. If the predictions of your hypothesis are not fulfilled then your hypothesis is falsified. At that point it's back to the drawing board. You need to reconsider your assumptions or your equations because they were not successful. That's how science is done but that's not how Intelligent Design Creationism is done.

Second, the sudden appearance of God in the conclusion is illogical. There's no mention of God intelligent design in the premise. It just pops out of the argument without any warning. This is not how logic works and it's certainly not how science works.

Sandwalk: Kirk Durston Interview
Sandwalk: A Scientific Test for the Intelligent Designer
Sandwalk: By Jove, I Think She's Got it!!!
The debate over the conflict between science and religion has been going on for hundreds of years. In the past 50 years the debate has focused on the methodology of science and how it must exclude the supernatural if it's supposed to work properly. I'm shocked (not really) that Denyse has never heard of this before. It's one of the main themes in the writings of Phillip Johnson [see Are You as Smart as a Second Year University Student? Q1 and comments].

Sandwalk: Bacterial Genomes and Evolution
Ryan Gregory is one of the world's leading experts on genomes and their evolution. He's also a Professor at the University of Guelph. Ryan has published an excellent description of what the Mira et al. (2000) paper shows and what it does not show. You should all read it [Bacterial genomes and evolution]. For Kirk Durston's sake, I hope Ryan Gregory isn't on his Ph.D. oral committee.

Sandwalk: Bacteria Genomes Are Degrading
At no point in the paper do the authors suggest anything close to what Durston says. There's no mention of primitive bacteria having the full complexity of all modern species including the myxobacteria and photosynthetic bacteria etc. Why in the world do the Intelligent Design Creationists have to lie about things like this? (I assume it's a lie because the only other possibility is ignorance and a Ph.D. student in biophysics can't be stupid enough to misunderstand such a key principle of evolution, right?) Naturally in a forum like this Durston had me at a disadvantage. He was displaying the scientific papers and I had to admit that I had not read them recently enough to comment. The point was not lost on some members of the audience. The atheist scientist was trumped by the religious graduate student who was more aware of the scientific literature. "Frustrating," doesn't begin to cover it ...

And some extra fun from the ever entertaining Canadian Cynic.

Canadian Cynic: The burning stupid: Denyse O'Leary edition.
Canadian Cynic: Kirk Durston: Hacktacular!
Canadian Cynic: I think Kirk has some serious 'splainin' to do.
I know: Lazy, lazy, lazy. Gotta cook supper. L8R.

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