The Instigator
pr.Daniel_Jordan
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Propower
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Darwinian evolution can not account for the bacterial flagellum

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Propower
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/23/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 970 times Debate No: 78973
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (13)
Votes (3)

 

pr.Daniel_Jordan

Pro

Before I start, I would like to respectfully request that you 'do not' accept this debate unless you are confident that you have the understanding necessary to successfully debate this topic of irreducible complexity.

Now, to begin with, I would like to state my argument. The argument goes like this. The bacterial flagellum is a molecular machine attached to bacteria -- their function is to propel the bacteria through the micro world. These machines consist of approximately 50 components. These components, I argue, could not have come about step by step naturally, they had to have been assembled by an intelligent mind in order to perform the function.

Now, before you answer my challenge, there is one thing you should absolutely not forget. You can not use your intelligence to assemble the machine, you have to propose a fully natural explanation through natural selection.
Propower

Con

Can natural selection explain the bacterial flagellum? In actuality, referring to "the" bacterial flagellum is misleading, as this argument points out:

https://www.newscientist.com...

In fact, as the article explains, bacterial flagella certainly are not irreducibly complex. Many of the parts perform individual functions independently of the others, and a good number of the protein structures of the flagellum arise in other parts of the organism as well.

Moreover, the "irreducible complexity" rhetoric makes one major assumption: that the pieces of an organism have to evolve one at a time. In actuality, the parts evolve in sync with one another and may even change in function, as the fins of our aquatic ancestors have evolved into legs, arms, and wings. It is possible that the motor of the flagellum evolved from an ion-powered pump.
Debate Round No. 1
pr.Daniel_Jordan

Pro

First of all, I would like to note that I do not assume the steps have to happen one at a time, they can happen in any way you like -- but you have to provide an actual advantageous natural path that Darwinian evolution would take through natural selection, you can't simply make it up -- if you see where I'm coming from here.

Then, you state: 'Many of the parts perform individual functions independently of the others, and a good number of the protein structures of the flagellum arise in other parts of the organism as well.' Well, what I'd like to begin with here is say that not all individual components have been found elsewhere -- but even if that were the case, I still do not see how that would prove the apparatus is not irreducibly complex, you have to elaborate on that.
Propower

Con

I am not making anything up. According to the article, the bacterial flagellum developed from a protein export system. It originated from various parts, such as an ion-powered pump and an asymmetrical filament. Each one of these things could have evolved step by step before they were combined into the final product. Having a crude filament and a simple pump would provide evolutionary benefits over having neither. Once these parts evolved, perhaps a mutation or two came along and unified them into the bacterial flagellum we know today.

Of course, we may never be able to prove this is how it happened. Perhaps it wasn't. Surely the bacterial flagella-all varieties of them-evolved many, many years ago. However, even if we had no explanation, or were wrong about the explanation, that would not prove it is impossible or even unlikely for the bacterial flagellum to have evolved. It does not warrant an unsubstantiated, untestable alternative.
Debate Round No. 2
pr.Daniel_Jordan

Pro

You proposed an ion pump as the precursor to the apparatus -- I believe you're referring to the type-3 secretion system specifically. Here is why it could not have been a precursor, let me quote Casey Luskin:

"The injectisome is found in a small subset of gram-negative bacteria that have a symbiotic or parasitic association with eukaryotes. Since eukaryotes evolved over a billion years after bacteria, this suggests that the injectisome arose aftereukaryotes. However, flagella are found across the range of bacteria, and the need for chemotaxis and motility (i.e., using the flagellum to find food) precede the need for parasitism. In other words, we'd expect that the flagellum long predates the injectisome. And indeed, given the narrow distribution of injectisome-bearing bacteria, and the very wide distribution of bacteria with flagella, parsimony suggests the flagellum long predates injectisome rather than the reverse."
Propower

Con

You and Luskin are correct: the current phylogenetic research suggests that the type III secretion system actually evolved from the bacterial flagellum and not the other way around as previously hypothesized. However, the relationship between these two systems certainly is suggestive, and the current hypothesis seems to be that the bacterial flagellum evolved from a simpler protein transport system than the current type III system.

Moreover, Luskin says that the flagellum preceded prokaryotic parasitism, but it may be the case that the earliest protein transport systems had other useful functions. Perhaps the study of protein secretion systems in nonvirulent bacteria will provide some insight into this important question.
Debate Round No. 3
pr.Daniel_Jordan

Pro

Correct me if I am wrong: you have no argument left and hope that future research will provide the answer?
Propower

Con

No, I am merely affirming the limitations of our current understanding and giving what I believe is the most viable hypothesis for the origin of the flagellum. Perhaps we are permanently barred from investigating this. I understand that you might see this as a cop-out. However, you are arguing for an untestable alternative. As a result, our ideas about the origin of the flagellum are far, far from being on equal footing. All throughout history, people have turned to gods or other intelligent agencies to explain the unknown, and they have almost always turned out to be wrong.
Debate Round No. 4
pr.Daniel_Jordan

Pro

When I say the bacterial flagellum was made by an intelligence, I do not argue from ignorance. I argue from two points. (1) uniformitarianism -- the scientific principle that we should observe the cause of certain things today and apply this cause to explain things in the past -- today we only see intelligence create nano technology, therefore, the bacterial flagellum which is nano technology, I conclude, was made by intelligence. (2) The research by many scientists over the years has not provided any evidence that the bacterial flagellum could arise by itself, quite to the contrary, they have proven more and more that it could not by each research effort they perform, such as the discovery Luskin mentioned.

Therefore, my argument is not one from ignorance, it's one from scientific investigation and reason.

Propower

Con

Yes, you are arguing from ignorance, and your latest arguments demonstrate this. You use a presumptuous analogy, then you finish by appealing to the idea that science was wrong about the evolution of the flagellum. However, the discovery you cite only rules out one specific pathway, from a modern secretion system. Since the bacterial flagellum did not evolve from modern bacteria, I can't see biologists losing sleep over this. In fact, contrary to your proclamation, research efforts such as the Lenski affair increasingly demonstrate that creationist assumptions about evolution are bogus.

Your appeal to uniformitarianism is ill-founded. It would be more reasonable to conclude, as biologists do, that since we only ever see biological traits arise through evolution or gene transfer today, this is how things operated in the past.
Debate Round No. 5
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by roguetech 2 years ago
roguetech
My vote apparently awarded points for conduct and grammar. Someone (I assume Daniel_Jordan) reported it for having no explanation. I did not intend to award points for those, and offer apology. For the rest of my vote, I stand by it. Where I stated "Pro established an argument from ignorance. Con failed to refute," it was my sarcastic way of saying there was no argument established why it could NOT happen. I suggest, Daniel_Jordan that you avoid the BoP when none could possibly exist.

Anyrate, no hard feelings for the vote report, and hope the same applies for at least those points, if not the others.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
pr.Daniel_Jordan, here's the argument you're giving me: there is no natural means, explained by Darwinian evolution, by which the bacterial flagellum could be formed. That's your stance, that's the one you were defending here. If the title of the debate had been "There is no proof that the bacterial flagellum can be accounted for through Darwinian evolution," this might have turned out differently. But that's not the resolution. You had to show that Darwinian evolution literally has no basis in the formation of the bacterial flagellum. Con didn't have to provide any direct explanation of how it happened, he just had to show that all the pieces could theoretically come together, and that they could be formed separately. That's a reason to believe that Darwinian evolution could, potentially, account for it. In other words, you lost because you set your own burdens too high.

Instead of treating the votes on this debate as an opportunity to lambaste the debate community on this site, how about you see this as a learning experience? Phrase your resolutions better, and you'll see better outcomes. You gave yourself an insanely difficult burden in this debate, one that was easily met by your opponent, and one that you would have a very hard time disproving. That was the problem. Learn from it.
Posted by pr.Daniel_Jordan 2 years ago
pr.Daniel_Jordan
Con has provided 'no' explanation for the bacterial flagellum, only speculations. The one con tried to provide (ion pump) I quickly refuted. I find the votes quite unfair, but that is expected when debating these sensitive topics, people get emotional and vote whoever they agree with and leave out the facts.
Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: Unbelievable.Time// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: I will address how the victory in this debate goes to Con. This debate is about whether Darwinian evolution can OR cannot account for the bacterial flagellum. Con has already proven that there is a possibility for the motor of the flagellum evolved from an ion-powered pump through mutation or so. With that point, Con has already made his own case and refuted Pro. The main thing that I have with Pro is that he did not defend his own position with facts but by casting doubt throughout the whole debate. In the end, Pro did not really defend that intelligent design is right. As previously said, Con has already proven that Evolution is still reliable for bacterial flagellum.

[*Reason for non-removal*] The voter sufficiently explains his decision, examining what particular pieces of the debate from both sides factored into it. The person who reported it seems to simply disagree with the decision.
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Posted by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: roguetech// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Con. Reason for voting decision: Pro resolved to demonstrate flagellum could not evolve. They then narrowed that to one branch of flagellum mechanics. No argument was proposed for why they could not evolve, and shifted the burden of evidence and arguments of ingorance. The proposed solution - that these flagellum are artificial - was not adequately supported. Where Pro offers sources, they do not provide any link, making it more difficult for spectators (or Con) to follow up. Not surprising, since they quote an attorney as an expert in molecular biology. I would like to see a source that "today we only see intelligence create [bacteria flagellum]" as claimed in closing arguments. Con explained potential ways it could have evolved, and provided a source.

[*Reason for removal*] While this vote sufficiently explains both the argument and source points, it fails to address either conduct or grammar, both of which are part of the point allocations. The voter must explain all point allocations made.
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Posted by pr.Daniel_Jordan 2 years ago
pr.Daniel_Jordan
Since I can't respond to you anymore, I'll make a brief comment here. In your last post, you simply ran over what I said without any arguments or evidence, like a pigeon playing chess, and made a false claim about evolution producing traits. Wow, what a hellish way to end a debate! :-)
Posted by MagicAintReal 2 years ago
MagicAintReal
Maybe you should put definitions in your debates, so that there is no issue...
Your definition would be:

irreducible complexity - something that can be reduced of integral parts and remain complex, like the bacterial flagellum.

Also, the fact that we've demonstrated the flagellum CONSERVING motility proteins over time demonstrates evolution accounting for the bacterial flagellum's function of motility.
Posted by robertacollier 2 years ago
robertacollier
Intelligent design could have designed evolution. These are not mutually exclusive.
Posted by pr.Daniel_Jordan 2 years ago
pr.Daniel_Jordan
In my defense I say that I have not had the chance to discuss this topic with you in my previous debate (which you linked) due to the fact that you repeatedly wrote of your faulty conclusion. In your mind, if the removal of some component(s) result in reduced function or total malfunction, the apparatus is not irreducibly complex -- of course, what you fail to realize is that you're not supposed to break the apparatus, you're supposed to assemble it. The destruction of an apparatus does not in any way prove that it's not irreducibly complex.
Posted by MagicAintReal 2 years ago
MagicAintReal
If you want to see what's all behind this debate, check out Pro's past debate on the same topic.

http://www.debate.org...

You can expect this type of argument form him.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by roguetech 2 years ago
roguetech
pr.Daniel_JordanPropowerTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro establishes their argument from ignorance. Con fails to rebut that Con is ignorant. Despite only one source being provided, I give Con the points, due to Pro quoting a lawyer as an expert in molecular biology (Casey Luskin). Pro failed to support their proposed alternative, that flagellum (and indeed, all bacteria and presumably by extension every organism - see Round 5) are artificial. Unfortunately Pro didn't point out that they came from parents.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
pr.Daniel_JordanPropowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con doesn't have to show precisely what the bacterial flagellum evolved from, or how the various pieces came together. Pro's argument is that Darwinian evolution is incapable of accounting for bacterial flagella, and he never does that. In order to do so, Pro had to counter every single argument Con made against the resolution, showing that the individual pieces could not have evolved independently, that there was no chance of them coming together, and that other pieces without independent features couldn't have subsequently become a part of the structure. Instead, Pro argues that the type-3 secretion system could not have evolved into flagella, something Con agrees with. The result is that I'm left with reason to believe that it's possible. It doesn't matter if the alternative Pro presents is possible, just if evolution is impossible, and Con proved that it could happen. Sources to Con because he provides links and thus context to his arguments, whereas Pro only quotes one author.
Vote Placed by Unbelievable.Time 2 years ago
Unbelievable.Time
pr.Daniel_JordanPropowerTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I will address how the victory in this debate goes to Con. This debate is about whether Darwinian evolution can OR cannot account for the bacterial flagellum. Con has already proven that there is a possibility for the motor of the flagellum evolved from an ion-powered pump through mutation or so. With that point, Con has already made his own case and refuted Pro. The main thing that I have with Pro is that he did not defend his own position with facts but by casting doubt throughout the whole debate. In the end, Pro did not really defend that intelligent design is right. As previously said, Con has already proven that Evolution is still reliable for bacterial flagellum.