if you have evidence of design then surely you should be able to tell us exactly what that evidence is and what the mechanisms are that are responsible? — A dialog with a commenter at NCSE

The following is outfall from a comment I made at an article titled “Arbiter Declines Advertising from Creationist Groups”  My initial comment prompted quite a response, in particular from one named Ian Nicholas.

Here is my initial comment:

It is claimed on this site that Intelligent Design is not science, and that evolution is undisputed fact. Then I would like to see a response to the fact that life is full of purposeful machines such as the Kinesin motor as described here and at the following link:
” … Kinesin offers a fascinating example of undiscovered information in action. What programs and machinery are required to assemble the structure and function of kinesin? What information is needed for kinesin to achieve its “runtime” functions? How does kinesin know where to go to pick up a load, what load to pick up, what path to take, and where to drop its load? How does it know what to do next? All this functionality takes information, which must be encoded somewhere.
Indeed, the level of complexity is monotonically increasing, with no end in sight. … “
and here to see an animation of these amazing machines in action:
Fossils may be interesting and fascination, but they are dead, NCSE stays well clear of the actual science that is going on in studying, understanding and reporting on the “live” designs and machines that are all around an within us. Take a look, you might be surprised and awed by it all.

And here are several comments among many, from Ian challenging the idea of “purposeful machines” and “evidence.”

“Your second link is also creationist apologetics which makes rather grandiose claims of “purposeful machines” in spit of the fact that you can’t tell us the “purpose” of any of these things. “

“Evidence is irrelevant to your position.”

“And if you have evidence of design then surely you should be able to tell us exactly what that evidence is and what the mechanisms are that are responsible?”

What follows is my response to some of the challenges that Ian has thrown out. I have tried to post it directly to the NCSE Facebook page, but for some reason my comments failed to upload.


My goodness you were sure busy yesterday. I feel I must owe you an apology for causing you to spend so much time and energy responding to me. But then I realize that what I am seeing is your passion, and that is a good thing. I’ve been a passionate person for many years about quite a range of things, so I relate quite well to the passions of others.

You mentioned the so called “Gish gallop” earlier, and I guess that’s what I’m seeing in your flurry of responses. I have followed the Institute for Creation Research for years, so I am familiar with Dr. Dwayne Gish. I know he was noted as quite a formidable debater although oddly enough I never have heard even one of his debates, but I can infer what is meant by the term “Gish gallop.” He attended the same church in San Diego as we did, and I would see him and his wife there on a regular basis and actually met him personally one time.

I see you have read some of my blog posts and I thank you for that. These posts are from an interested lay person and not from a PhD practitioner in the fields of life science or medicine – and I gather you are in the same category as an interested lay person. You can see from my writings that I touch on many aspects of life and how it perhaps developed and flourished here on planet Earth. So perhaps I have addressed a fair number of your topics and criticisms of my world view, and I will not take the time to respond to each of your topics in turn. Many of my essays have been directed towards pointing the reader to the work and research of others who have a great deal of expertise and hands on experience with biological systems such as the human body.

But there are a few of your statements and criticisms that I will address here, and for the most part I will restrict my comments to the human body.

First is evidence. I have covered that previously, and on many occasions on my blog, and have pointed out that evidence of design is all around and within us. That evidence being the existence of purposeful machines and systems found at all levels of a human body from the cell containing its many machines, to the many purposeful organs each of us have, as well as the completed body itself.

One such machine (of many) I find particularly interesting is the Kinesin motor. As you can see from the animations of Kinesin, its main “purpose” is to transport cargo from one place in the cell to another. A fascinating adjunct to this machine is the roadway that the Kinesin traverses along its journey … this roadway as it turns out is constructed in a “just in time” fashion ahead of the Kinesin and its cargo, and is deconstructed after it is used.

I’ve been seeing these animations over the years, but always had the questions of how accurate they are in depicting what is actually going on in the cell, and is the instrumentation these days actually good enough to see what is happening. Another question I have had is why the animations in the first place and not just the actual video taken of the biology itself.

Well over the past year or so I’ve had a couple of opportunities to ask those questions of a couple of scientists actually working in the field. One was a researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and the other was an MIT researcher at a lecture I attended at Yale this past year. The answers to my questions were the same from both gentlemen – yes the instrumentation is that good that it can see the kinds of things that the animations depict. And the animations are quite accurate in replicating the activities of such things as the Kinesin motor. As to the reason for the animations — as I recall, the reason is twofold; one is to isolate the object under investigation from all of the other busyness going on in the cell so it can be studied somewhat in isolation, secondly, the animations being computer programs avail the researchers the opportunity to manipulate and tweak the object in their investigations.

You can read more of my brief but interesting encounters with these two researchers at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/interesting-people-i-have-met-e-michael-ostap-ph-d/

Kinesin is but one of a number of machines that have been identified in the cell as having purpose – and yes, the researchers do refer to them as machines. Kinesin can be likened to the freeways and roadways we see and use on a daily basis – functional and designed with the purpose of transporting cargo.

Another mechanism within the cell is that which replicates DNA strands. I don’t have an animation at the ready for you, but I’m sure a search will find one quickly and I encourage you to find one and watch. An interesting and purposeful part of this DNA replication is what is referred to as Quality Control (QC) where a machine like mechanism traverses the newly replicate DNA strand looking for errors in the transcription. When an error is found, the replication is paused while an attempt is made to repair the problem, or failing that the new strand is killed off so as not to cause problems downstream.

So there is much identified “purpose” within each of the trillions of cells making up our body. I hope this addresses your question “What’s the “purpose” of kinesin then? And how’d you figure that out?” I didn’t figure it out Ian, those much smarter than I figured it out.

Then we can move up from the cellular level to the various organs we all have. The major organs and systems within the human body each have specific purpose(s), and I won’t dwell on each of these organs and functions.

But I would like to pass on to you a purposeful part of the circulatory system that I leaned about just yesterday. Here is a snippet from the article:

“ … There are sensors located in the main arteries directly supplying blood to the brain, which can detect wall distension. These are the baroreceptors, which by sensing the stretching within the arterial walls are able to detect the arterial blood pressure. They are a type of mechanoreceptor that senses movement, in contrast to the chemoreceptors which detect chemicals like oxygen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen ion. The baroreceptors send their data on the blood pressure by way of nerves to the brain. The brain integrates this information, and if the blood pressure is too low, it causes the release of more norepinephrine and epinephrine from the sympathetic nerves. By attaching to specific receptors, increased sympathetic stimulation affects all three of the factors mentioned above, which makes the blood pressure rise. … “

You can read the full article at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/09/controlling_blo099611.html

So here we have an answer to another of your statements/questions –

“ … if you have evidence of design then surely you should be able to tell us exactly what that evidence is and what the mechanisms are that are responsible? “

This evidence being the very well-regulated circulation of blood – and the mechanisms are in part the baroreceptors and mechanoreceptors identified in the referenced article.

So I find it interesting Ian that somehow the so-called undirected mechanism of Natural Selection somehow results in very directed and specifically functional and purposeful end products – from the cellular level on up to the completed body itself which is functionally capable of achieving a wide variety of functional tasks from writing the great American novel — to holding a baby– to executing that perfect double play in baseball.

Yes Ian … we do indeed see purpose in the things that make up life – at all levels.

And where do we find such marvels reported? Not in this NCSE site where topics such as “Computational Biology” and “Systems Biology” are seldom (I would venture to say never) mentioned let alone seriously reported on. No Ian, what you find here is an abundance of stories of fossils, the Grand Canyon and court cases but very little of what is happening in the laboratories of places such as the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a layman where do I find an abundance of good reporting in cellular level biology and other fascinating stories of cutting edge research?, I find many of these reports at places like http://www.uncommondescent.com/ and http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/09/controlling_blo099611.html You might want to spend a little more time in such places Ian … they could be dangerous to your world view, but very rewarding to your curiosity in the long run.

I do thank you for your responses Ian. I don’t get angry or defensive at what you write, but rather take them as opportunities for communication and sharing and contrasting often contrary and conflicting world views.

Best regards,



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