Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dr. Dawkins’ Deceptive Demonstration Doesn’t Display Descent

Evolutionists sometimes claim that there is nothing which evolution cannot “explain”. Stories can be created to cover everything and nothing. However, there are some creatures which serve as falsifiers, in the sense of not having any stories possible to account for their existence. Of a number of cases which have no story – e.g. woodpeckers, platypus - the Bombardier Beetle is a common first-lister.

The Bombardier Beetle is named for its ability to discharge and aim a hot, steaming chemical toxin from its posterior glands to repel predators. This entails generating and combining two chemicals in the presence of two specific necessary catalysts in an internal reaction chamber, also called the explosion chamber [1]. The resulting heated toxin and steam are aimed and directed toward predators, with some being able to deflect the stream straight forward and even to cover themselves with the offensive defense soup, to prevent being eaten. Others merely expel a hot, toxic fog in front of the predator.

The issue is how this evolved; specifically, what evolutionary path created the many components needed for this defense mechanism to work, even at a minimal level. Where are the precursor beetles which evolved in steps to this condition of complexity?

There are several components which must simultaneously exist for this to happen.

Watch Dawkins take on the evolution of the Bombardier Beetle in his video:

Dang. I missed it, I guess. Where in this "explanation" does Dawkins reveal the evolutionary steps required to develop the internal chemistry and structure of the beetle? Where does he enumerate the mutations and their exact locations in the DNA which made this beetle entirely different from all others? Where does he point out the "gradual" mutations which were kept, and which must have included both the peroxide, the claimed catalyst, and the hydroquinone. Not to mention the output of boiling temperature benzoquinones and steam. And also not to mention the fully aimable, pulsed jet stream which can be directed nearly 360 degrees including forward, or to the beetle’s own shell to deter attackers.

Here’s what Dawkins purposefully did: he ignored the actual conditions for catalyzed explosion in the beetle’s explosion chamber. He did this in order to prove his point that some catalyzed oxidation events can be shown to have gradations in the volatility which correspond to the amount of catalyst. He did this by using gun powder, which does not at all correlate with the process used in the chemistry of the beetle’s explosion. He did NOT show that to be the case for the beetle, and further he showed absolutely zero interest in defining the evolutionary steps required – and requiring isolation empirically – for the development of the beetle’s chemical processes. However, Dawkins was successful in demonstrating the possibility of gradual hardening of the explosion chamber, IFF the beetle used gun powder instead of the actual components.

Here’s the full story, which Dawkins dishonestly avoids by claiming that the hydroquinone is of no importance, when in fact it is of specific importance.

1. The output spray product is at roughly 100 degC, and is a caustic product called benzoquinone along with steam. Benzoquinone has been compared with burning plastic, and it is an interrupter of synapses in the control of skeletal muscles.

2. The process starts internally in cells that are said to produce both the hydrogen peroxide and the hydroquinone; they are stored separately, and are recombined on demand. The chemical process requires the presence of catalysts, one for the reduction of the peroxide in order to form oxygen, another which catalyzes hydroquinone with oxygen to produce benzoquinone and H2O plus heat. The catalysts are present in the explosion chamber.

3 There is a valving system which allows the two chemicals into the reaction chamber when the pressure inside the chamber is lower than the supply line pressure. When the reaction chamber pressure increases to greater than the supply line pressure, the inline valve closes, preventing backwash. The high pressure in the reaction chamber is released outward past deflection devices which are muscle controlled and are aimed with high accuracy. The deflection devices change the path of the ejecta to the direction chosen by the beetle.

4. Tests on various predators show revulsion and confusion when hit with the hot toxin which is sprayed by the beetle. Some show loss of control of musculature.

5. The spray varies by beetle “tribe” or sub-clade from a mist to a pulsed jet.

It’s no wonder that Dawkins didn’t use the hydrogen peroxide with the hydroquinone: it might have damaged the audience and himself. That would demonstrate the improbability of that combination of chemicals being developed accidentally, without the protective chambering and valving pre-existing. And why would the chambering and valving become so complex without having the combination of hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone production systems to use it?

And why is the beetle not affected by this toxin?

What Dawkins did was to use the magician’s trick of diverting attention away from the actual subject. He did this with a misdirection to a pretense of scientific experiment – smoke and beakers. And he made a point which fails the slightest examination (beetles don’t use simple gunpowder), yet which the audience accepted completely.

And more conclusively, Dawkins provided absolutely zero validation for the claim that evolution actually did produce this one-off capacity. In the final analysis, it’s all smoke. All of it.

Might we legitimately conclude that Dawkins, Darwin's Chihuahua, has no actual "story" for explaining the Bombardier Beetle? Yes, we might.


After watching the video one more time, I notice that Dawkins actually says that "the hydroquinone does nothing at all, and we can set it aside". That is more than a misdirection; it is false, and is a purposeful lie. The actual, real reaction involves hydrogen peroxide, hydroquinone, and two (2) catalysts. The result is not what Dawkins produces in his science-fair misdirection cum lie. The actual reaction is more complex.

Two interesting videos on Bombardier Beetles (there are a number of less interesting ones of course).



CJ said...

"The bombardier beetle uses peroxide, hydroquinone and a catalyst. We're going to leave out the hydroquinone, use a completely different catalyst, and just pretend we've done science. Because evolution."

And because he knows his pre-teen audience will eat up whatever he tells them to believe.

Steven Satak said...

Come on, no one goes to see Dawkins perform who isn't already a dyed-in -the-wool atheist in the first place. He holds no interest for anyone else. And actual facts have no place in Dawkin's performance, because he's essentially performing a liturgy for the faithful. The details are unimportant - it's performance art benefiting those who are required to believe in Evolutionism anyway.

Stan said...

Performance art. Perfect description!