Saturday, October 10, 2009

Misunderstanding from Uncommon Descent

Uncommon Descent now has a dialogue up between Michael Behe and some guy named John McWhorter. Here's something McWhorter said that I found interesting:

I’ve always seen a certain kink in the whole natural selection argument. And I’ve always asked people this basic question, it’s about skunks. So if the idea is that there is this random mutation, and that certain random mutations end up spreading throughout a population because they convey some sort of fitness, then you have to go step by step by step. And this is something that I learned in particular from your book Darwin’s Black Box, that all these things have to happen incrementally. And I always thought to myself with the skunk, the skunk has this gland and this procedure where it shoots out this mist or this fluid that, you know, makes things run away. Okay. But what were the intermediate steps? Presumably there was some weasel-like creature that did not have that ability. And it’s easy to see evolutionarily how it would be advantageous to have that gland and to be able to squirt it at people. But, what were the intermediate steps? How was it that there was some sort of proto-skunk, where presumably it produced some tiny amount of malodorous chemical in its sweat in that part? And maybe just a hint of muscular tissue, and somehow this non functioning proto-version of the scent-squirter somehow helped that thing to propagate. What are the intermediate steps?

First of all, the fact that McWhorter can't think of intermediate step does not mean that they do not or can not exist. If that argument counted, then I could just as well ask McWhorter how the Intelligent Designer thought of the skunk and created it.

Second of all, According to Wikipedia, nearly all Mustelidae (the Family that skunks belong to) have anal scent glands, which they use for other functions, like marking territory and sexual signaling. There's an intermediate right there.


Baconsbud said...

This sounds like most arguments you hear all the time by those against evolution. No matter how much evidence you provide them with they will always find a hole in it to comment about. This is all about avoiding the truth to hide behind a curtain of fear.

Aaron said...

"Exaptation" is the key word. Dr. Ken Miller uses that word frequently.

This skunk issue is the EXACT same argument they made for bacterial flagella, and it was refuted in exactly the same way, practically ad nauseam. (So now, they have apparently switched to something else, and are playing dumb again).