There have been several calls for a “Quick Translation II”*, and thy wish is my command! Luckily someone else already did most of the work for me! :P From a poster over at After the Bar Closes:
As a non-scientist, it has been hard going, but rewarding, educating myself on the whole HIV issue so I can see the holes in Behe's argument. It still boils down to
Behe: X and there are no studies contradicting this
Others: What about all of these studies?
Others: They are not insignificant because Y and Z.
Behe: Gratuitous Insults
Behe: HIV cannot do X and there are no studies contradicting this.
Me: What about all of these studies?
Me: They are not insignificant.
Behe: Mean girl.
What I want to emphasize to laymen is that a talking a major talking point of Creationists is that “All they want is some evidence! If anyone could just show them an amino-acid-by-amino-acid evolution of something new, they wouldn’t be Creationists anymore!”
And that’s exactly what I did (and Ian, and other PT contributors). Amino-acid-by-amino-acid differences between the Vpu gene in two major subtypes of HIV-1, and the biological results of those differences. This was not *new* or *secret* information. This was all publicly available (certainly to Behe, with his Ivory Tower access to scientific journals), but Behe made the decision to write about a field he is not at all familiar with, and to kick and scream when people corrected him.
Rather than accepting refutations of his claims or responding to me in a scientific manner, Behe changed his song. He declared that the changes I pointed out were ‘insignificant,’ carefully omitting the fact that both of the subtypes I discussed formed new molecular machinery (a viroporin), and one of the subtypes evolved a special amino acid sequence that allowed it to be targeted to the cell surface to preferentially make viroporins compared to Vpus other function. Behe says in ‘Edge’ new changes and new protein-protein interactions don’t exist in HIV. Zero. None. He even has a picture with “0”. Magically, when it is pointed out that his ‘zero’ is not accurate, we learn he didn’t really mean zero. He acknowledges my essay, but the changes I mention are now ‘pathetic’.
Only a Creationist could argue zero doesn’t really mean zero.
But lets look at his new claims more closely. What does he say exactly?
We’re all very clear now, right? The changes I wrote about are pathetic according to Michael Behe. So if Michael Behe were in a lab performing HIV research (instead of sitting in his Ivory Tower, pooping out a book ever decade as if thats an accomplishment, completely isolated from the real world), he would have looked at the data in the papers I listed and thrown them in the garbage.
- That doesn’t seem like a fundamental change to me.
- As I wrote, there are many more ways to cripple a machine than to build one, so destructive Darwinian processes can appear to accomplish more.
- She goes on to list several other properties of Vpu, but, while interesting, none at all are what one should call “fundamental” changes.
- I don’t think that’s biochemically fundamental at all.
- The question, however, is to what extent the immense variation has produced novel virus systems or machinery? And, as I indicated, the answer is very little.
Again, I want to make sure I am very clear: Behe just said if he was a scientist, he would have dismissed the changes I listed between a couple of HIV-1 subtypes as ‘pathetic.’
It’s a good thing Behe is safe in his Ivory Tower, away from research labs.
A recently published paper revealed that those ‘pathetic’ changes have a HUGE impact on how fast a person gets AIDS after they have been infected with HIV-1. They made two different HIV-1 viruses—One that used the Vpu gene from a Subtype B virus, and another virus that was identical to the first, except it had a Subtype C Vpu gene instead.
The primates infected with Virus 1 lost all of their CD4+ T-cells (the target of HIV, and the measure of progression to AIDS) in 2 weeks. Primates infected with Virus 2 didn’t lose their CD4+ T-cells until about 4 months later!
So say you found out today you just got infected with HIV-1. Would you rather live for months, or years? Would you find that difference ‘pathetic’?
Additionally, contrary to Behes claims about gum and machines and cripples, these differences were a result of one of the subtypes evolving something new. Something new so it wouldn’t cripple your immune system, but still keep the viral load high! Yeah, those researchers measured how much virus was floating around in those infected primates, and the viral loads were about the same—Not only did this evolution not ‘cripple’ the cell, it didn’t ‘cripple’ the virus either!
So what does this mean from the viruses point of view? If it doesn’t kill you, you stay alive (might not even know youre infected…*sigh*) with lots of virus in your system, and you can spread the virus to other people. If you are a female, you could pass it on to your child… and they might even live to reproductive age to pass it on to their children…
But those pathetic changes go even further! So say you found out today you were infected with one of the ‘slower’ HIV-1s. Um, you still don’t want to die of AIDS or give it to your loved ones, right? The good news is those pathetic changes Behe dismisses provided us with brand new, previously unknown, chinks in HIV-1s armor! A chink we are already familiar with! That pathetic viroporin Behe ignored could be blocked with drugs similar to the ones we use against influenza to potentially decrease viral loads.
I don’t think laymen should have any problems seeing whats going on here. You dont have to know any virology or biochemistry or immunology. Just step back, and take all of this at face value. Once again, ID Creationism is a science stopper. Once again, ID Creationism is very, very wrong when applied to the real world. Once again, an ID Creationist falls flat as a ‘scientist’.
Once again its those ‘mean’ scientists saving the world while the Creationists do nothing.
Dare I say it, but even Lindsay Lohan could see whats going on here.
* Quick Translation I
** Illustrate Guide to Vpu