• Darwin’s Doubt – Prologue Part II

    I don’t know how much I can stomach of this…

    I’m going to ignore the four pages where Meyer explains that his detractors really didn’t discredit his previous book (Signature in the Cell).  They did, but I’m not going to get into that fight.  SitC is dead.  It’s useless.  And even the DI knows it.

    So let’s to the actual science that Meyer screws up.

    Scientists attempting to explain the origin of life must explain how both information-rich molecules and the cell’s information-processing system arose.

    Done.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I’ve known about this research for years, long before SitC came out, much less Darwin’s Doubt.

    A ribozyme (ribonucleic acid enzyme) is an RNA molecule that is capable of performing specific biochemical reactions, similar to the action of protein enzymes. The 1981 discovery of ribozymes demonstrated that RNA can be both genetic material (like DNA) and a biological catalyst (like protein enzymes), and contributed to the RNA world hypothesis, which suggests that RNA may have been important in the evolution of prebiotic self-replicating systems.

    This is from Wikipedia (all emphasis original).  So a ribozyme is both information AND information processing.  There you go Dr. Meyer, the question was answered before you ever got around to asking it… indeed, it was answered about the same time you got your first degree. The Nobel prize in chemistry (1989) was awarded for the catalytic properties of RNA.

    Here’s a general catalyst ribozyme.  The paper describes a ribozyme that can extend any other RNA primer.  It was published in 2001, almost 12 years ago.  More sloppy research from Meyer.

    This paper describes a ribozyme capable of forming another ribozyme from scratch. It was published in 2011, so I’ll give him a pass on this one.

    Here’s one of my favorites.  The prior papers are interesting, but “How do we get those ribozymes.  That needed intelligence.”  Except, intelligence really isn’t required.  This paper describes the catalytic properties of an RNA that is only 5 nucleotides long.  It’s actually better than that because the active site is only 3 nucleotides long.

    The most intriguing possibility raised by these results is that an RNA reaction center for phosphoester transfer may exist somewhere near this size. This would make the polymerase/replicase needed to initiate Darwinian evolution of RNAs, the founding event of the RNA world, much more likely. On one hand, with this few ribonucleotides to dispose in space, there may not be other similar nucleotide structures that are both stable and capable of catalysis. On the other hand, for obvious reasons, it will be extraordinarily important to look for other tiny RNA active centers, now knowing they can exist.

    How long, do you think, would it take to form an RNA that has this specific pattern of 5 nucleotides?  How long would it take to form any 5 nucleotide RNA that has some catalytic function?*

    Probably not that long at all.

    So you see, Dr. Meyer, it’s already explained.  It was explained before you finished your degrees.  It’s a known fact that ribozymes are both the information and the information processing system.  Which is why the analogy to computers breaks down.  It just doesn’t work for biology. **

    Now, before the creationists get all hot and bothered… let’s finish the book shall we?  This is a specific response to a specific claim.  Meyer asks how the information storage system and the information processing system can appear.  It’s because, in biology, they can be the same system.  That’s it.

    Back to the rest of the review pages.


    * Because creationists (including ID proponents) don’t understand this, it is inappropriate to make these calculations because there is absolutely no way to understand everything involved.  Different nucleotides have different binding energies so the distribution is not totally random.  Metal ions can radically alter the probability of certain bonds forming.  It’s impossible (not improbable, but impossible) to understand all of the factors to produce an accurate result.  It’s a waste of time… except for people that are scared of big numbers… like creationists.

    ** Using analogies as an argument is doomed to fail anyway.

    Category: Book ReviewCreationismEvolutionOrigins of LifeResearch


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Nice. And you didn’t even mention ribosomes.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Thanks. Ribsomes are highly advanced ribozymes. They are also two part, so they have to be built and assembled. So not really useful for this discussion, being about minimal storage and processing systems.

    • RexTugwell

      Five nucleotides? That’s what you have to offer? Ribozymes
      can perform only a mere fraction of what proteins can accomplish. You’ll have
      to do better than 5-nuceotide long RNAs to make the case for RNA World. Since
      you’ve already proven in several different ways that you never read
      “Signature in the Cell” (probably never cracked it open), I’m here to
      inform you that Meyer devotes a whole chapter to RNA World and why it’s a poor
      candidate for information storage and processing. In fact, he shreds RNA World
      from every possible angle to the point that even a Darwinian sycophant like
      yourself might have second thoughts.

      Ribozymes might catalyze some processes but they’re nowhere near what’s needed for the
      function and reproduction of even the simplest cell. Ribozymes are, in Meyer’s
      words, “one-trick ponies”. A ribozyme might do one thing well but
      cellular processes need multifunctional enzymes that can do multiple,
      coordinated processes quickly. Before you continue to make a fool of yourself
      by trying to make a fool of Meyer, I’m offering to send you a copy of SITC so
      you can at least use it as a reference and stop assuming Meyer neither knows nor understands what you’re writing about.

      “Using analogies as an argument is doomed to fail anyway.”

      Kinda like your delusion / religion analogy, huh?

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        As usual. The bait and switch. Of course ribozymes aren’t what is needed for the function and reproduction of a simple cell. Please quote where I said that.

        They are (as I showed and you failed to refute) both storage and processing, to use Meyer’s words. Therefore, they refute Meyer’s claim.

        If it’s one thing that we can count on, it’s creationists to use this tactic.

        • RexTugwell

          Hmmm. RNA World is an origin of life theory so ribozymes would have to have been involved in the function and reproduction of simple cells. What else was there? I don’t have to quote you. By advocating RNA World you implied it and I inferred it. Simple. No bait and switch. Nice try.

          Chapter 14 of SITC shows quite clearly that RNA cannot be used for storage and processing. Have read it? Yes or no?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Doesn’t matter if I have or not, because the actual research… done by actual scientists in actual labs and published in actual peer-reviewed research (not by one’s friends who circumvent the process) agree that RNA is capable of being an information storage system AND the processing system.

            Indeed, if you had read the research I provided links to, you would see that.

            Look, Meyer is simply wrong. He has been wrong about nearly everything he’s written. If it weren’t for the ideological bias that people have, then they could use logic and see it. Note that common sense doesn’t work when faced with observations that conflict with common sense.

            It’s that simple.

          • Viktor Shakapopolous

            “Chapter 14 of SITC shows quite clearly that RNA cannot be used for storage and processing. Have read it? Yes or no?”

            Is Meyer a ribozyme expert? What are his qualifications? You see – I am playing creationist today.

            Since Meyer is NOT a ribozyme expert, then I can just ignore his silly SitC book.

    • RexTugwell

      OK, you admit you didn’t read Meyer’s chapter on RNA World and yet you say that Meyer is wrong. So let me get this straight: You’re reviewing a book (a prologue more precisely) by an author whom you say does shoddy research while referring to his previous book which you didn’t bother to read and claim that book also contains shoddy research. Brilliant! For those who read your reviews, how seriously should you be taken? Speaking for myself, I’m not impressed and am thinking my investment may have been a waste. Oh well, at least there’s more money in Dr. Meyer’s pocket regardless of whether you can give an objective review or not. It’s not easy being the smartest guy in the room. Really. You’ll have to take my word for it.

      The research you link to, the Wikipedia article in particular is in agreement with Meyer with regard to the major difficulties the RNA World theory has. You’re own tactic is to regard theories, even where there is still much debate, as settled.

      Your assessment of research is a bit puzzling. Why do I say that? Well, I wanted to get a rough estimate of the ratio of the endnotes from Dr. Meyer’s chapter on RNA World to the endnotes of Dr. Krauss’s chapter 9 “Nothing Is Something”. What was my result? ERR on my calculator. Hmmm, I says to myself. So I tried to calculate the ratio of SITC’s bibliography (27 pages) to the bibliography of “A Universe From Nothing”. SHAZAM! I got ERR again. That’s what happens when we divide by zero. I guess for you, Mr. Retreat, no research is better than imaginary “shoddy” research. LOL!

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        I’ll get there. Yes, I’m only on the prologue because there is much wrong with his work already. He made a very specific claim (that there is no way for information storage and information processing to happen at the same time). That claim is false as I have shown.

        We’re not talking about RNA World. I’m not, Meyer isn’t. He made a specific claim that I showed to be wrong. End of story.

        When I get there, then we’ll talk about RNA world.

        You do understand (probably not) that Meyer’s book is nothing more than a Gish Gallop, right. He’s throwing so much crap out that is unverified… if even a little bit sticks (which it seems to in your case), then science is wrong.

        It’s no wonder that Meyer needed help getting his ‘review paper’ published. Even a meta-analysis paper that didn’t cover ALL of the available information wouldn’t be published by any reputable journal.

        Now, why don’t I hold Krauss to the same regard? Because Krauss works in Cosmology. He has written the papers that he’s writing a popular book about. I’ve read them. I looked them up and read them. They agreed with him. Meyer doesn’t.

        We’re getting to a very interesting place right now. I’m trying to find a local library with a copy of a certain book that Meyer comments on. When I do so, then we’ll see what happens. I think you’ll find it enlightening… or not. Doesn’t much matter.

        You see, all this argument is a waste of time. Why? Because evolution simply works. ID does nothing. There are thousands of products and processes that are a direct result of or directly use evolutionary theory. ID does nothing. Let’s say that ID wins the culture war. So what? Does that mean all the evolution based processes don’t work any more? I doubt it. Does that mean that ID based processes take over? Nope.

        So far, after a quick few scans of the book (and in more detail when I get there), my 5 predictions of the book are confirmed. There is nothing new. It’s a god of the gaps argument and there is no useful information (get it?) about ID in here. But, I could be wrong. We’ll see.

        • Dkennedy

          ” He made a specific claim that I showed to be wrong. End of story.”

          Right, cause you listed the claim — then said it was wrong. What more could anyone need?

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I guess the evidence that was provided was ignored. That’s fine. So will you be.

    • 4johnny

      “It’s a known fact that ribozymes are both the information and the information processing system. Which is why the analogy to computers breaks down.”
      Well, computer programs are a combination of information & information processing anyway. Anyone who understands basic computer science would know that. So I am surprised any “scientist” would try to get away with such a strawman argument.

      • Dkennedy

        Computer programs are written by people. Intelligent people.


        That’s the point.

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          Yeah. So what. Computers are designed. We know that.

          That does NOT mean that everything that is complex or that produces information is designed.

    • Dkennedy

      Well, I’m back — as another person stated, it’s going to be a slog, cause so far I’ve made it only this far.. but off we go to read more of the review. This may be something I pursue over the course of say… the next year.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Get the digital edition and search for “Experiment”, “Evidence for ID”, “definition of ID” and related terms.

        You will find nothing to support ID. Meyer’s is purely an attack on evolution… and it’s wrong, as you will read about.

        Tell me one thing. Is it OK to lie to support your position on something?

        • Dkennedy

          No, I’d say it’s not ok to lie to support a position – but I’d also say I’d have to see the evidence of the lie, and if you were lying about the lying to support your position I’d feel the same way —

          There’s lying and there’s also levels of exaggeration – and interpretation. If you were mischaracterizing what is exaggeration as a lie…or portraying it as a lie due to different interpretations of evidence – then that would be on you, but as I siad, I’d have to see what you are speaking of.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            OK, then. When Meyer purposefully takes quotes out of context, making it sound like a scientist says one thing and the paper has additional text that Meyer left out (sometimes in the middle of a sentence), then I expect you to call him on it.

            • Dkennedy

              If the entire statement is there, then I don’t know that it is really a lie. If, on the other hand, I state “Evolution can’t be seen, in the sense that you don’t watch an ape change into something else before your eyes” — and the quote becomes “Evolution can’t be seen”.. then that is a lie.

              If you take an entire statement – but the person said something else in a different part of the text, the quote is still the quote. Using ellipses in the middle of a sentence is also common practice if it doesn’t change the meaning of the quote – if it makes the quote mean the opposite – then yes, that’s a lie.

            • SmilodonsRetreat

              Very interesting. I look forward to reading your comments when I point out a dozen or more of Meyer’s lies.

              You might also be interested in this article:

              And this one

              You might also note that when I write more on these topics, I include a bunch of papers that Meyer didn’t include in his book.