Rumraket

About Rumraket

Always in doubt in proportion to the uncertainty.

Jeff Lowder presents one of the strongest rebuttals against theism, and cases for naturalism I have so far seen

Jeff Lowder of The Secular Outpost debated Frank Turek 22nd september in Kansas. From this debate (video is not available yet), Jeff has compiled a narrated presentation of his powerpoint slides used in the debate, which I think now amounts to one of the strongest cases for naturalism and against the type of theism offered by the likes of William Lane Craig, I have seen to date.

It is long but if you are interested in this sort of thing, it is definitely worth a watch:

Axe, EN&W and protein sequence space (again, again, again)

So I wanted to write a post on the whole “density of functional proteins in amino acid sequence space” because, it seems to me, most ID proponents have some completely unwarranted beliefs about it. Recently it seems the main champion of the idea that evolving new protein functions would be so unlikely as to be practically impossible for evolution, even given several billion years, planet-spanning population sizes and natural selection, is Douglas Axe. He produced a paper in an (actual) peer reviewed journal back in 2004, and ID creationists have been spinning it ever since.

In 2007 a review of Axe 2004 appeared on Panda’s Thumb, by Arthur Hunt: Axe (2004) and the evolution of enzyme function. It recaps what Axe actually did and what he concluded from it, and I will add a bit about how it’s been pushed in ID circles since (see for example how it is pushed here: Imagine: 60 Million Proteins in One Cell Working Together.

This paper is interesting because it relates to the work of Douglas Axe that resulted in a paper in the Journal of Molecular Biology in 2004. Axe answered questions about this paper earlier this year, and also mentioned it in his recent book Undeniable (p. 54). In the paper, Axe estimated the prevalence of sequences that could fold into a functional shape by random combinations. It was already known that the functional space was a small fraction of sequence space, but Axe put a number on it based on his experience with random changes to an enzyme. He estimated that one in 10^74 sequences of 150 amino acids could fold and thereby perform some function — any function.

Continue reading

Beating a dead horse (Darwin’s Doubt)

First off I must apologize for doing another post on a subject that’s been done to death around here, but I’ve been meaning to make a post about this for a while but other stuff kept coming up. Anyway, things have quietened down at work where I now only have to maintain some cell cultures, so I have a bit of time duing the christmas holiday.

My post, which is a repost of something I also brought up in a thread on Larry Moran’s sandwalk blog, is about a chapter in Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt and what I can, if I’m being generous, only attribute to extremely shoddy scholarship.
Continue reading