We hope that our calculation will also rule out any possible use of this big numbers ‘game’ to provide justification for postulating divine intervention.
As usual divine intervention is the target and ruling it out is the motivation for the pseudo science. For evolution’s theoretical core, as Lakatos would put it, is not gradualism or selection, but naturalism.
Gradualism and selection are two of the many explanations of how evolution occurred, a topic that is always up for grabs because evolution is so unlikely. But despite its many scientific problems, evolutionists insist that evolution must have occurred. It is a fact, no question about it. Divine intervention is strictly disallowed, for otherwise we would be faced with all those unthinkables. The problem is not with the “divine,” it is with the “intervention.” That’s a no-no. So much for the separation of church and state.
Another problem: Protein aggregation
But science knows none of this. It continues on its inexporable march toward truth. One finding long hypothesized, that further aggravates the problem of protein evolution, is that what seem to be perfectly good proteins, in fact, have a propensity to stick to each other and form fibrils. Like a crystal, multiple copies of a protein can attach and form a growing and dangerous amyloid fibril.
The cell’s solution to this that the sticky patches on proteins, which cause the proteins to aggregate, are conveniently tucked away in the protein’s interior when it folds up. Furthermore, the cell is equipped with a variety of mechanisms to guard against aggregation, and detect and destroy fibrils when they do occur.
All of this simply creates more problems for the evolution narrative. Not only are proteins unlikely to evolve, but even if evolution somehow performs miracle after miracle, it must also ensure those sticky patches are not exposed, and evolution will rapidly need those additional safeguard mechanisms, with the hundreds of, yes, proteins they require.
But evolutionists will have none of this. As usual they are unfazed by empirical evidence. One evolutionist in the know commented:
Cornelius Hunter, 2011, paraphrased (blogpost): "It is too easy for proteins to evolve to bind to each other. Therefore, evolution is impossible."
Michael Behe, 2007, paraphrased (Edge of Evolution): "It is too hard for proteins to evolve to bind to each other. Therefore, evolution is impossible."
That’s funny, and perhaps more tongue-in-cheek than serious, but to be clear the amyloid state is caused by the binding of short, self-complementary protein sequences which have a relatively high propensity to stick to themselves. These self-complementary sequences are fairly common. The quaternary binding surfaces to which Behe refers, on the other hand, are far more elusive and difficult to generate at random.
Another evolutionist continued with the “numbers game” criticism:
The kinds of numbers games that Dr Hunter likes to play may be amusing to some, but they are futile at our current state of ignorance. … To disparage evolution for not being able to offer an explanation for every event in the history of life is a cheap shot, much favored by creationists.
Evolutionists insist that science completely and unequivocally confirms evolution, but when the evidence is presented to them they appeal to our ignorance and future resolution of the problems.
Of course no one knows what the future findings will reveal. That is the nature of science. But when we claim a theory is a fact, we are referring to our current knowledge. Evolutionists cannot claim their idea is a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, while simultaneously denying the empirical evidence. The evolutionist later continued:
The frivolity is in his probability calculations. Such calculations depend on such questionable assumptions that they are scientifically useless - though they seem to be useful to anti-evolution apologists.
Actually, while the evolutionist’s assumptions are “questionable,” as discussed above, even these estimates from the evolutionists themselves show how severely the evidence contradicts evolution. The evolutionary shortfall is between 27 orders of magnitude and 49 orders of magnitude, according to the evolutionist’s own numbers. So these probabilities do not come from me, they come from evolutionists. In fact, this same evolutionist had once recommended the paper which he now disparages. So what an evolutionist writes is good science. But when repeated by a skeptic, it becomes a frivolous “numbers game.”
Another evolutionist denied that contrary evidence is important:
Saying that something is unlikely really doesn't mean anything on it's own. A hypothesis can be extremely unlikely and still be correct. This is a point that Cornelius simply refuses to understand.
Actually I agree with this point. My point is not that evolution is false, as this evolutionist seems to think. The problem is not so much with the idea of evolution, which is empirically unlikely, but with the evolutionist’s insistence that it is a fact.
As I have explained many times, this “fact” claim is an epistemological claim. It is a claim about the state of our knowledge. I do not know whether evolution occurred or not. But I do know that it is not a fact. The protein evolution evidence discussed above is one example of why it is not a fact. So contrary to this evolutionist’s claim, saying that something (such as evolution) is unlikely really does mean something. It means it is not a fact.
Another evolutionist said that I was ignoring an obvious solution to the problem:
[T]hat's why so many of us have problems with CH's lack of honesty. The paper CH continually cites shows nothing of the sort. It says the protein couldn't evolve in that time frame by adaptive walking only. But then the paper goes on to add that adaptive walking isn't the only mechanism at work, that there are other known mechanisms such as homologous recombination that greatly shorten the timeline. So there's no huge time problem.
CH loves to quote-mine the first part of the summary but always forgets to include the later explanation.
Here is the quote this evolutionist refers to:
Such a huge search is impractical and implies that evolution of the wild-type phage must have involved not only random substitutions but also other mechanisms, such as homologous recombination.
I have discussed this several times, such as here and here. Homologous recombination is a complex genetic mechanism assisted by, yes, finely-tuned proteins. As with the bacteria example above, it is circular to recruit such a mechanism for the initial evolution of proteins—for no such mechanism is likely to have existed.
And even if homologous recombination could somehow have been in play, it wouldn’t help anyway. For while this is a clever mechanism for the swapping of nature’s protein modules, it does not help when used with sequences that are nowhere close to solving the problem. Jumping from one local peak in sequence space to another doesn’t improve the odds in finding the astronomical, one-in-10^70, longshot.
Finally, an evolutionist attacked a common strawman:
The "amyloid threat" that you mention poses a challenge to science only if you assume that the functional state of a protein must be its most thermodynamically stable state. But this is not a valid assumption since evolution does not aim for the all-time best possible protein structure in terms of stability but one that is stable enough to perform the intended function.
It is true that the “amyloid threat,” as he puts it, poses no threat to science. I never made such a claim. It does pose yet another problem, however, for evolution. And none of this assumes that the functional state of a protein must be its most thermodynamically stable state. Indeed, it may not be for many proteins, but that is a separate issue. He continued:
The error in your thinking is a common one, that of assuming that evolution must somehow aim toward an ideal situation (in this case thermodynamically most stable structure). The reality is that evolution can only work on what already exists, which often is far from being the best possible set of solutions.
Except that I made no such assumption.
Evolution, even with extremely optimistic assumptions, is easily the worst scientific theory. One can find theories that may be unlikely, but evolution’s shortfall, of 27 orders of magnitude (and that is assuming a biosphere teeming with life already exists), is extreme.
That does not mean future findings won’t somehow reverse our current knowledge. Nor does it mean that our current knowledge falsifies evolution. Though most scientists would drop a theory with such astronomically unlikely probabilities, low probability—even incredibly low probability—cannot insure that an idea is false.
What all this does tell us is that evolution is not a fact. It is not beyond all shadow of a doubt. But this is what evolutionists claim. And when presented with the science, you can see above how they react.
Religion drives science, and it matters.