Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Self-Assembly of the Bacterial Flagellum: No Intelligence Required"

There was a man named Magellan
Who sought a motor flagellum
He got on his ship, propeller went zip
That's it, if I could just tell him!

(with apologies to Ferdinand, his family, and associates.)

The propeller of a ship is clearly designed; the bacterial flagellum (aka hot dog on a crooked stick, pictured), is a world of complexity by comparison. It is, we are assured, not.

There's an interesting article over at BioLogos entitled "Self-Assembly of the Bacterial Flagellum: No Intelligence Required". BioLogos seeks to straddle darwinian presupps and Christian theism. It's not a pretty sight.
Nothing we know from every day life quite prepares us for the beauty and power of self-assembly processes in nature. We’ve all put together toys, furniture, or appliances; even the simplest designs require conscious coordination of materials, tools, and assembly instructions (and even then there’s no guarantee that we get it right!). It is tempting to think the spontaneous formation of so complex a machine is “guided,” whether by a Mind or some “life force,” but we know that the bacterial flagellum, like countless other machines in the cell, assembles and functions automatically according to known natural laws. No intelligence required.
Of course, at this point, "laws" become merely descriptive, not explanatory. What needs explanation are the laws themselves that inexorably, inevitably it seems, first produce life, then complex life, conscious life, self-conscious life, then self-conscious, rational, free-willed, moral life.

The comments are informative and mostly respectful.
Flagellum of Gram-negative Bacteria. The base ...Image via Wikipedia

I liked this comment from "Chip".
"No intelligence required…  and I want to praise our great God."
If no intelligence at all is required, then the Dawkins faction is certainly right:  The process—as impressive as it is— got started arbitrarily, gets periodically updated, and consequently chugs along quite nicely through completely undirected and non-intelligent mechanisms.  God and any intelligence he might have are either non-existent or superfluous.  Why praise a person for an accidental process he has nothing to do with? 
If, on the other hand, praise is warranted, it can only be because God had something intentional  to do with the creation and/or sustenance of the BF’s assembly process (the context in which Applegate made her statement)—even if that something was frontloading the programming that allows the process to function “without the help of any conscious agent.”
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No comments:

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"