Home » Intelligent Design » Darwinism Is Turtles, All The Way Down — I’ll Explain Below the Fold

Darwinism Is Turtles, All The Way Down — I’ll Explain Below the Fold

For those not familiar with “turtles all the way down,” I offer the following from wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

The most widely known version today appears in Stephen Hawking’s 1988 book A Brief History of Time, which begins with an anecdote about an encounter between a scientist and an old lady:

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down.”

The association of Russell with this story is most likely due to Russell’s telling of a version of the story in his 1927 essay Why I Am Not a Christian (in discounting the “First Cause” argument intended to be a proof of God’s existence): “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindus’ view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, “How about the tortoise?” the Indian said, “Suppose we change the subject.” The argument is really no better than that.

Russell apparently did not know or could not conceptually grasp the notion that time itself came into being at the origin of the universe, so the question of the origin of the cause of the universe is completely meaningless. Something must exist on the time line of the physical universe in order for the question of origins to have any meaning at all. But I digress.

So, how is Darwinism “turtles all the way down”? Just search and replace “turtles” with “speculation.”

In a previous UD comment I noted that Darwinian explanations for the evolution of anatomical features (e.g. the eye) depend on easily imagined, but undemonstrated, gross morphological and naturally selectable pathways. But I also noted that the starting point, a light-sensitive spot, would be of no use, without colossally complex mechanisms that could transform photon collisions into neurological signals that could result in meaningful muscle movements.

Commenter Hawks retorted: “The old ‘something cannot possibly have evolved unless it was for the sole purpose of doing what it is doing in modern organisms’, aka ‘something had to evolve the intricacies of whole biochemical pathways (including all its enzymes) all at once in one feel swoop’ argument. It is very convincing.”

This is the now tiresome co-option fantasy which I blogged about here.

So, you see, Darwinian “theory” really is turtles (oops, speculation) all the way down. Speculate about imagined but undemonstrated morphological pathways, and when challenged to explain the engineering that would be required, speculate about imagined but undemonstrated and highly improbable co-option scenarios.

When it comes to Darwinism, this is how “science” works.

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44 Responses to Darwinism Is Turtles, All The Way Down — I’ll Explain Below the Fold

  1. Perhaps it would be wise to detail how Intelligent Design Theory explains the eye? You know, for comparison. What research avenues into eye development does IDT open up? I’m all ears.

  2. But I also noted that the starting point, a light-sensitive spot, would be of no use, without colossally complex mechanisms that could transform photon collisions into neurological signals that could result in meaningful muscle movements.

    Light-sensitive spots are found among protists, which have neither nerves nor muscles.

  3. Perhaps it would be wise to detail how Intelligent Design Theory explains the eye?

    ID proponents do not pretend to explain everything, as do Darwinists (even though their proposed simplistic mechanisms are clearly inadequate and undemonstrated). ID proponents propose design as the best inference from the evidence, based on the known cause-and-effect structure of the world.

    Light-sensitive spots are found among protists, which have neither nerves nor muscles.

    Perhaps I should have been more explicit in noting that the standard Darwinian story suggests that the primary survival value of light sensitivity in the early evolution of the eye was derived from the ability to move away from or toward a light source. The fact that light sensitivity might have other useful purposes in other biological systems is irrelevant. Skin tans when exposed to light, but this provides no insight into how co-option could use this light sensitivity to produce vision.

  4. In Gil’s critique of cooption, he says:
    “Even if all the parts are available at the same time and in the same place, and are functionally compatible, one can’t just put them in a bag, shake them up, and have a motor fall out.”

    This is a retread of Hoyle’s “tornado in a junkyard” metaphor. Evolutionists do not promote this cartoon version of cooption.

    To an evolutionist, cooption proceeds more slowly and gradually. Existing structures are not completely dismantled, with the (possibly modified) parts being thrown back together in a completely novel (and random) way. Rather, the structure, like the parts themselves, is modified gradually.

    Later, he says:
    “Co-option is a demonstrably fantastic story made up out of whole cloth, with absolutely no basis in evidence. And it doesn’t withstand even the most trivial analytical scrutiny. There is not a shred of evidence that this process ever took place, or that it even could have taken place. Worst of all, it requires blind acceptance of the clearly miraculous.”

    Gil,

    Cooption would require “blind acceptance of the miraculous” if it required many highly improbable things to happen at once. But this is true only of the cartoon version of cooption, not the one accepted by evolutionary biologists.

    Do you believe that cooption is impossible in principle, or merely unlikely? If the latter, how do you estimate its likelihood? Are you evaluating the cartoon version of cooption, or the real version?

  5. Yes. Because, the theory that jaw bones moved slowly (for whatever reason) up inside the head to eventually become bones in the ear with brand new functions and complete systems that also evolved with this slow drift up isn’t cartoonish at all.

    It’s like claiming that a computer slowly, through some direction-less process evolved into a newer, faster running computer, with parts in the hard drive no longer needed, so they slowly work their way up to become parts of the new graphics system (without any direction to do any of this)..all the while, a new operating system was being formed to work with the new hardware, all of it from pieces of the old operating system that were no longer needed in point A so could be used in point B.

    We do have to remember one imporant thing- ALL of these co-option scenarios have two imporant features. 1. There are no directions from any outside source to do any of this co opting, evolving, etc. 2. All of the new functions are accidental remnants of accidental mutations. These mutations were left in the gene pool, because those who had the accidents, for whatever reason, lived longer and passed these accidents into their offspring.

    A trillion accidents “evolved” systems that are far more complex than any madmade system, and certain old parts were used as new parts with new functions, the underlying systems forming around them at the same time. Let’s face it- it sounds fairly cartoonish no matter how you put it.

  6. Do you believe that cooption is impossible in principle, or merely unlikely? If the latter, how do you estimate its likelihood? Are you evaluating the cartoon version of cooption, or the real version?

    You failed to reference the rest of my argument concerning assembly mechanisms and instructions, so your depiction of my thesis is a cartoon version.

    Co-option is just a story that has no basis in evidence. Concerning unlikelihoods, see my essay here.

  7. Many biological features serve multiple purposes. Sometimes the primary purpose and the secondary purpose get switched out in terms of how benificial they are in a particular environment. By doing so, the path to co-option can and does take place. Some people here seem to think co-option happens in a linear switch off fashion as if one sub-system that does one thing suddenly gets more complex and becomes a newer more complex system that does something else. A good prediction is that any system that was coopted into another system would have an overlap in dual functionality. (for instance the flagellum precursor would serve both as a device for transport and secretion, assuming there’s not another function bridging those two.)

  8. “ID proponents do not pretend to explain everything, as do Darwinists (even though their proposed simplistic mechanisms are clearly inadequate and undemonstrated).”

    It’s not that ID proponents do not pretend to explain everything, they don’t try to explain anything. The ToE lends a hypothesis for how structures evolve. You don’t like the hypothesis, fine. But you are unable to provide a better hypothesis than “something was designed at some time by some agent.” A hypothesis that doesn’t lend itself to any scientific pursuit.

  9. I don’t get that complaint. If something was designed and did not evolve (or that it did not evolve via RANDOM MUTATIONS and SELECTION)- what else do you propose? Let’s say that all of life was designed. Every bit of it from front to back. Let’s argue the evidence was behind that. Where would that leave you? Without knowing the designer, what could say you? Well, there’s much that has been said- Dembski has how many books 3? 4? Behe’s book. Others on the market- I have a feeling it’s not 300 pages of “something was designed at some time by some agent, end of story.”

    Let’s argue that the evidence is behind the idea that EVERYTHING biological was designed. It was so clear that no one ever argued differently. Now, what explanation would you provide if that were the case? I have a feeling that you’d have to live with the limits of knowledge. There are limits to all knowledge. No one will ever know everything, nor even half of everything. If all the evidence was behind “all of biology was designed”- but we didn’t know who did the designing, my bet is that you would live with that and not demand more.

    Just because the theory of evolution (again, we have to point out that ID takes issue with Darwinian evolution, not “ToE” in general as you imply) makes a hypothesis on how all the life we see on earth came to be doesn’t mean it’s actually how life came to be. It’s great to have a hypothesis and try to explain everything with it, but if it’s wrong, then what?

    I don’t see how saying “A and B were designed- we can find out all about how both of these work, we can see how they have changed in minor ways, etc…but other than that, we eventually hit a limit to what we can know further” I don’t see why that’s such a problem. We hypothesize the big bang created matter and space and time, but we can’t go beyond that point. We eventually go back and hit a wall and our knowledge is limited by that wall. We don’t complain in that situation, why complain that “A and B are designed” isn’t enough. I’d really like to know, given my hypothetical above, what else you would say about the clearly designed elements of life. IF the evidence was 100% behind “all biology was designed”- I guess you think we’d all be in a heap of trouble, as it would mean there’s absolutely no scientific pursuit to be had, right?

  10. But Fross- how would a system, without any instructions whatsoever, move into a different spot to perform a different task? There’s no information there to tell any of these systems to do any of this. That seems to be a problem in my mind. Further- EVERYTHING in Darwinism is accidental. You have to provide convincing evidence that not only did certain parts of a system change function, change place, change their overall part of the whole, but you also have to provide evidence that this was all the result of a trillion accidental events.

    I know of no observational evidence to suggest that any accidental event can causee any system to form itself, let alone parts of a system to move into different spots and take over different functions. Especially with no directions to do any of this and no information to kick off any of these events. If you told me that a automobile factory suddenly started to transform itself via accidental events, and that certain machinery started to switch spots to do different jobs, I’d call you crazy. Yet, NDE can claim that this happened in systems 1, 000 times more complex than any auto factory every imagined and it all happened via a bunch of accidental events with no foreman handing out instructions/no blueprints involved?

    I know of no observational evidence that co option has taken place, as you seem to be saying. There are claims that A and B probably switched off, changed areas/functions, but I don’t think we’ve ever witnessed it.

  11. “Just because the theory of evolution (again, we have to point out that ID takes issue with Darwinian evolution, not “ToE” in general as you imply) makes a hypothesis on how all the life we see on earth came to be doesn’t mean it’s actually how life came to be. It’s great to have a hypothesis and try to explain everything with it, but if it’s wrong, then what?”

    Then you rework the hypothesis until it DOES explain everything. Good hypotheses do that. Or, you could scrap it all and start with a fresh hypothesis. It seems that everyone here is ready to take the second choice, but without a fresh hypothesis to work with yet, it’s a bit premature. Unfortunately the hypothesis of “all biology was designed” isn’t testable.

    By the way, I would like to hear your distinctions between the ToE and “Darwinian evolution”.

  12. Actually, I’d say that no hypothesis could possibly explain everything and that even trying to explain everything means that there’s a fundamental flaw in the hypothesis.

    The theory of evolution- I’d think most people use this to describe the general idea that life has evolved over time. You could probably throw in common descent for most people who would say they believe ToE explains all of life. Darwinism would be ToE but with the stipulation that all of life was the result of accidental events that took place in DNA and that they stuck around for a survival benefit. Also- that we can explain everything in life by pointing to it’s supposed survival benefit and its benefit in helping reproduction.

    I still wonder about the hypothetical situation. If all the evidence pointed 100% conclusively to “all in biology was designed” what your proposed plan on scientific pursuit would be. What would your overall hypothesis be besides “this and this were designed by some designing agent at some time.”

  13. Come to think of it- I don’t know of a single scientific theory that claims to explain EVERYTHING outside of darwinian evolution. I can’t think of any branch of science that thinks their particular branch can explain everything or even nearly everything.

  14. OFF TOPIC

    Am I the only one that is shocked at the fact that a working scientist (Wes Elsberry) could, at all, be taken seriously? Just take one look at his website and you see that he posts every post here (I guess he has it set up to copy over every post here to that site) and it’s under “anti-science news”. Then, he has forums where they have disgusting stuff like this:

    Tard Awards
    Official Uncommonly Dense Discussion Thread

    And this sort of civil and oh-so-classy material:

    1) Professional tards (Dimbski, Behe, Wells, Fuller, etc)
    2) Lay tards (Denyse, dave tard, joel tard, and other ordinary tardettes from UD)

    If this guy is a professor- let us know, so we can make sure to not send our kids to that school! Just as I’d urge my kids to not attend the school where hate-filled PZ teaches.

    No bias at all. None. Nope. Thank goodness for unbiased scientists like Elsberry. (what a joke).

    Finally- is it just me or do these sites like the one above and the other who link to it and from it (pz, pt, and others) seem to be run mainly by atheists, commented on by atheists, etc? If an alien were to land on earth tomorrow to read Elsberry’s site or the sites he links to- that alien would almost surely conclude that darwinism=atheism. I don’t think I’m imagining things, but it seems like these sites are all too ready to attack religion, religious people, etc. And the supporters of these sites seem to be very anti-religious for the most part. Just from browsing comments, I’d make the guess that atheism runs about 85% at these sites. My point with this- it seems that darwinism, in the minds of a large number of people, DOES equal atheism. The Dawkins quote comes to mind right away. An intellectually fulfilled atheist, indeed. I’ve a feeling that there’s an anti-theistic bias running through mostof these sites, which I think will only make people further solid in their belief that darwinism and theism are the great friends so many try to claim.

  15. “If all the evidence pointed 100% conclusively to “all in biology was designed” what your proposed plan on scientific pursuit would be. What would your overall hypothesis be besides “this and this were designed by some designing agent at some time.”” I completely agree. It sounds like a completely boring result if you ask me.

    I know of no scientific organization that shares your distinction between “Darwinian evolution” and the ToE, so I’m not going to use it. Do you know of one?

    The ToE does not try nor claim to explain everything. It offers no hypothesis to test how electrons orbit their nuclei, nor does it try to explain the cosmic microwave background. Those are just two trivial examples of things the ToE doesn’t bother to explain. Can you provide links to show where the ToE is claiming to explain everything?

    Physics, on the other hand, does indeed try to explain everything. Ever hear of the holy grail of Physics, the Grand Unified Theory?

  16. Umm. Speaking of Elsberry’s site-

    this is creepy.

    “About
    This weblog exists to store the sometimes evanescent postings made at antievolution blogs.”
    http://antievolution.org/buud/?page_id=2

    Two thoughts pop into my head- ‘stalker’ and ’1984′

    Of course, it’s just a carbon copy of this site and others similar along with all the comments on the site. If someone carbon copied a website I created, I wouldn’t be sure if I should smile knowing I had a fan club or cringe in fear that people were following my every move, as if this was communist russia.

    Maybe when they hold the public trials, we’ll all be found guilty or not guilty based on the fact they’re “always watching” and have the records to prove it.

  17. “And this sort of civil and oh-so-classy material:…”

    Not that I’m defending the PTers, but are you trying to say that the ID protagonists (even on this blog) have always been civil and classy?

  18. So- you’re saying that all scientific organizations define ToE as what? Blind watchmaker evolution?

    I know of no scientific organization that makes room for theistic evolution. I think it’s safe to assume they conclude that ToE equals what I said then. Blind watchmaker…trillions of accidents. Life is the result of survival and reproduction and that’s that.

    YOU were the one that said a theory should try to explain everything. And, google evolution, evopsych, etc- and you will see that evolution tries to explain everything in the realm of biology. It tries to explain why we believe in imaginary Gods (well, imaginary to those who claim that evolution created these false God ideas long ago in our ancestors)…it claims to explain why we like chocolate. Why many men like blondes (except when they like brunettes), how all life came to be, how you came to be, why you THINK you have free will but really don’t. I could go on for days. Yes, in the field of biology, religion, society, genetics, etc- ToE claims to explain it all.

    A proposed theory of everything? And? It doesn’t exist. Most think it will never exist, and they probably think so because they know that no theory could explain everything.

  19. “Not that I’m defending the PTers, but are you trying to say that the ID protagonists (even on this blog) have always been civil and classy? ”

    No- I’m saying that there are bad apples in all bunches. But, a simple look at this site and the Elsberry site says a lot. I don’t see a single post here with the word “tard” in it. I don’t even see any posts where the post contains name-calling “IDiot” for example, “tard”, “retard”, etc.

    The ID sites and anti-ID sites are like comparing apples and palm trees.

  20. Strangelove asks Jason:
    “Not that I’m defending the PTers, but are you trying to say that the ID protagonists (even on this blog) have always been civil and classy?”

    Strangelove,

    I’m pretty sure Jason is reacting to the following comment of mine:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ment-60656

  21. Allow me to correct some misunderstanding (my part as well). A theory should try to explain everything in its realm. The ToE should TRY to explain every biological structure, every speciation, every genetic difference, etc. Does it succeed? Not yet. Is that a problem? Nope. It’s a work in progress, like all rich avenues of research. Do scientists claim they are correct in every respect? Not that I see. Apparently you see differently. When you see an evopsych paper, you must be assume that they have arrogantly come up with an irrefutable theory. Sure, every scientist hopes for such, but most don’t have the arrogance you are assigning them. Scientists are people. And science inherantly contains arguing. Competing theories arise all the time. Those scientists will adamantly defend their theories. Ultimately, through new data, or new perspectives, the more correct theory will arise. This is they way science works. It’s not a perfect endevour, but no human endevour is.

    If you’ve been keeping up with the field, you’ll notice that evopsych is a volatile science. Meaning that they aren’t coming up with solid theories yet. The ToE, however, (don’t conflate the two) hasn’t had major upheavals in a long time. New data seems to be agreeing with the present theories quite well. It is only the minor points that are being argued over and discussed.

    You might be correct. A GUT may not exist. Does that stop science from pursuing it? Should it? It might just exist afterall, and be within the limits of our understanding. It’s exciting to think that it’s out there, although, it might be a little boring once we’ve found it.

  22. Thanks Karl, for providing a clear example why Wes set up the mirror site. Having your comments (especially pertinant questions) thrown down the memory hole is no fun.

  23. strangelove:

    It’s not that ID proponents do not pretend to explain everything, they don’t try to explain anything.

    Yes it does. It explains how irreducibly complex structures come to exist in nature.

    The ToE lends a hypothesis for how structures evolve.

    The hypothesis in question is “random mutation”. Let’s be clear about that. ID proposes “purposeful design” is also at work.

    You don’t like the hypothesis, fine. But you are unable to provide a better hypothesis than “something was designed at some time by some agent.”

    Oh, and saying “an accident happened at some time” is like what, superior? Don’t make me laugh.

    A hypothesis that doesn’t lend itself to any scientific pursuit.

    Excuse me for my apparent cluelessness, but when did answers in science require that that they lend themselves to further scientific pursuit?

  24. “Yes it does. It explains how irreducibly complex structures come to exist in nature.”

    What exactly is this explanation? I certainly haven’t heard it yet.

    “Oh, and saying “an accident happened at some time” is like what, superior? Don’t make me laugh.”

    No, but “this particular accident happened via this particular, understood process at this particular time” is, like, superior.

    “Excuse me for my apparent cluelessness, but when did answers in science require that that they lend themselves to further scientific pursuit?”

    It’s not a requirement, but historically, it’s been generally true. The more we learn, the more we learn we don’t know.

  25. The explanation is simply to replace “random” in random mutation with “directed”.

    No, but “this particular accident happened via this particular, understood process at this particular time” is, like, superior.

    You can’t predict random mutations, we can’t predict directed mutations. You do not know the causal chain of events causing any particular random mutation, we do not know the causal chain of events leading to any particular directed mutation. Sounds like the cluelessness factor is equal to me. Please explain why you think the former is superior.

    My problem is that one clueless narrative is exclusive and dogmatic in public education and the other is legally censored. Indeed, even criticism of the random cause narrative is legally censored. One narrative is dogma beyond criticism and the other is censored beyond mention.

    It’s not a requirement, but historically, it’s been generally true. The more we learn, the more we learn we don’t know.

    I don’t think your answer could be more lame if you tried. There’s plenty we don’t know about intelligent design. You should have stopped with the admission that there’s no requirement for answers in science to lead to further questions.

  26. As I was revieing Strangelove’s comment history here to see if there was any good reason to keep him around I found this

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....mment-7213

    Strangelove and Cogzoid are the same person. Since Cogzoid was banned by Professer Dembski a year ago, and it’s been my experience that Bill’s decisions in these matters are sound ones, Cogzoid under his new name is no longer with us. Fare thee well, Cogzoid.

  27. “Also- that we can explain everything in life by pointing to it’s supposed survival benefit and its benefit in helping reproduction.”

    If Darwinism means that every feature of an organism must provide some reproductive benefit then Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin aren’t Darwinists, and Darwinism isn’t synonymous with modern evolutionary theory.

    “I know of no scientific organization that makes room for theistic evolution.”

    Thats becuase it’s a philosophical position. Scientifically speaking there is currently no difference between theistic evolution and non-theistic evolution.

    “when did answers in science require that that they lend themselves to further scientific pursuit?”

    What a theory needs to do is provide a framework for prediction and scientific investigation, otherwise it’s just a hypothesis. For intelligent design to become the dominant theory is has to be shown that it can do these things better than the current framework.

  28. “At times two or more structural features, probably do need to evolve simultaneously, or in very rapid succession, for a higher-order structure and its function to be realized.”

    “Before precise molecular pathways have been established, probability calculations regarding living systems are meaningless, and after they have been established they are changed from meaningless to superfluous, since a satisfactory probability of certain reactions, will have been established by their very occurrence.”

    The first quote provides tacit support for irreducible complexity. The second quote demonstrates that ID is correct in arguing from probability.

    These are the two mainstays of ID theory.

    Guess who wrote the words I quoted? Emile Zuckerkandl.

  29. Let’s come back to discussing the origin of the eye. It appears to me that when they are looking at the eye, the ID folks are focusing on gross anatomical features and totally disregard (suppress?) that many of the eye’s components are already in place. There has been a lot more co-option in the development of the eye than meets the eye in these circles. Let me just give you a few examples.

    The photoreceptor rhodopsin is am member of a large homologous family of structurally and sequence-wise related membrane proteins involved in cellular signaling, which includes hormone receptors and olfactory receptors. The biochemistry of signaling after receptor activation is the same for rhodopsin as for other members of this family. In fact, a single photon, activating a single rhodopsin molecule per cell is sufficient to trigger the biochemical signal amplification cascade (all components of which are known from other tissues where they have related functions), with the end result that that there is a macroscopic change in the current flowing into the cell. No need to invent anything new here. We all know that neurons and inter-neuronal synapses exist elsewhere and don’t need to be invented. To show the versatility of co-option, there is a bacterial rhodopsin homolog that has a different function, namely to capture the energy in light so that it can be converted into chemical energy in the form of ATP.

    Another example: the function of the lens is to focus the light so an image is formed on the retina. To that purpose, the lens cells are packed with many different proteins called crystallins. Although they have the same generic name, they make up many different unrelated proteins. It turns out that there are many familiar proteins in this group, all of them recruited into a function different from what they do elsewhere. Among the crystallins are heat shock proteins which function is to bind to many different cellular proteins and either protect them from heat denaturation of even help refold correctly after denaturation. Anther crystalline is homologous to a stress protein of the nematode C. elegans. There are co-opted metabolic enzymes among the crystallins: an aldehyde dehydrogenase, an argininosccinate lyase and an oxido-reductase. A retinol-binding protein is present with the new function to filter out UV rays and thus protect the retina.

    The components of the eye are available in the genome for other functions. All that needs to be done is to mutate the promoters such that the proper genes are expressed in the proper cells. In other words, the hard work is done. Evolving a structure called eye that focuses the light and contains all the components is relatively minor.

  30. I for one am incredulous as to how the ID ‘discovery’ (that all life has been designed with purpose) could result in boredom for the biologist. This is certainly not the result for the many Theistic Physicists and chemists. Wonderful Life will not cease to be wonderful if (unknown?) purpose is attached. Many of our NDE friends will, I believe, come to realize that the world is not as it seems to them after all, that they do have intrinsic value, and ZuZu’s petals are still right where they’ve been all along.

  31. Davescot responds to Strangeloves assertion that ID proponents don’t try to explain anything: “Yes it does. It explains how irreducibly complex structures come to exist in nature.”

    Well, having tried to follow this discussion and others like it, I don’t see how that explanation is much more than “Poof. Someone or something designed it.” That seems to be pretty much a dead end unless you actually seek to understand who or what the designer is, what their motivation and methods were. And, if this previous comment is to be believed, ID doesn’t go there.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ment-57812

    Dave also writes:”Excuse me for my apparent cluelessness, but when did answers in science require that that they lend themselves to further scientific pursuit?”

    Well, you must certainly agree that is a pretty large part of how knowledge advances.
    To the extent that design detection moves beyond pocketwatch and Mount Rushmore metaphors, it should not be viewed as an end unto itself. It needs to lead somewhere. Merely saying “Yup, it is designed” and calling it a day doesn’t advance us much past Thomas Aquinas.

  32. cjok

    Well, having tried to follow this discussion and others like it, I don’t see how that explanation is much more than “Poof. Someone or something designed it.”

    Unfortunately that’s true as there doesn’t seem to be an evidentiary trail to the designer(s). Fortunately it augments current theory which is “Poof. An accident changed it.” So you see, it’s quite compatible with mainstream thought. The difference is the ID poof offers a rational explanation for how incredibly complex digitally coded and controlled nanomachinery came into existence. Few are willing to believe the accidental poof story because in no one’s experience does complex machinery poof into existence by accident while we all know for certain it can be created by intelligent agency.

    Maybe you can tell me where assigning causes to random mutation instead of directed mutations leads more areas of inquiry. How does “an unpredictable accident did it” become somehow superior to “an unpredictable intelligent force did it”. It seems to me the latter merely offers a more rational explanation for things which have the overwhelming appearance of design and in that way it is a superior explanation even though it’s just as wanting for predictability as the other.

  33. DaveScot:“It explains how irreducibly complex structures come to exist in nature.

    To follow up on your response, this sentence comes across stronger that it probably deserves to be.
    If the only answer to “how” is the claim that ID can detect the work of a designer, I agree. However, most scientists, and laypeople for that matter, expect more from the statement “how irreducibly complex structures come to exist”, namely an indication on the way or mechanism this came about (“come to exist”). Either ID stops short of this claim, in which it is so limited that it is of little use for scientific exploration, or it has not made any effort to go further. I don’t see that there should be an need to have the narrow version of “how” rigorously proved before one can endeavor to explore the wider version. Which efforts are currently in the works to go further?

  34. Davescot: “The difference is the ID poof offers a rational explanation for how incredibly complex digitally coded and controlled nanomachinery came into existence”

    I’d suggest that, while it may be a more comfortable explanation, it isn’t necessarily more rational. Now, I am just a humble engineer, but the idea of random mutations filtered through natural selection is far more rational than “abracadabra” if for no other reason than there are conditions under which it is observable. As near as I can reckon, ID offers assessments of probabilities, but not observable phenomenom.

    Davescot:”Few are willing to believe the accidental poof story because in no one’s experience does complex machinery poof into existence by accident while we all know for certain it can be created by intelligent agency.”

    This seems to be the whirlwind in a junkyard argument. The only place I have seen this employed, in my limited time hereabouts, is as an argument from incredulity offered up by critics of evolution. I’ve never seen evolution proponents offer poof. I just don’t see how this rises above the level of caricature.

    Davescot:”Maybe you can tell me where assigning causes to random mutation instead of directed mutations leads more areas of inquiry.”

    You mean besides that all of the last 150 years of evolutionary biology and large parts of genetics, immunology, paleontology, and agricultural science? Sorry, drawing a blank.

    Davescot: “How does “an unpredictable accident did it” become somehow superior to “an unpredictable intelligent force did it”. It seems to me the latter merely offers a more rational explanation for things which have the overwhelming appearance of design and in that way it is a superior explanation even though it’s just as wanting for predictability as the other.”

    Whether it is more rational is debatable, but somewhat tangential to the real issue of where does it lead us. And I am struggling to see where ID leads us other than to either shrug our shoulders and say we just can’t understand something so complex or, in extremis, to offer up entreaties to the designer over a Petri dish. But, until ID at least seeks to understand the designers methods, it sure looks like a dead-end. And when ID does decide to pursue such an understanding, isn’t it just starting at the same point that evolutionary biology was at 150 years ago? That is alot of history to overthrow.

  35. Ofro: “There has been a lot more co-option in the development of the eye than meets the eye in these circles… To show the versatility of co-option… It turns out that there are many familiar proteins in this group, all of them recruited into a function different from what they do elsewhere… There are co-opted metabolic enzymes

    Note the presentation of speculation as established fact. This is standard Darwinian fare. The phenomena discussed above have never been observed or reproduced, but are assumed to have taken place because Darwinian theory requires them if the theory is true. The fact that there are “familiar proteins” is no evidence whatsoever that they have been co-opted.

    Ofro: “All that needs to be done is to mutate the promoters such that the proper genes are expressed in the proper cells. In other words, the hard work is done. Evolving a structure called eye… is relatively minor.”

    Once again, speculation presented as fact. If all that needs to be done is mutate, and the hard work is done, and evolving the eye is relatively minor, then it should be possible to demonstrate this process since it is such a trivial exercise.

    It’s speculation, all the way down.

  36. DaveScot and Ofro:

    if ID is to address how IC biological systems came to exist, is it fair to say that the question is basically “How and when does change in the instruction set for assembling the organ/organism occur?” Isn’t this the same basic question before NDE? It seems ID could make a much closer approach to a credible general hypothesis since there is no requirement that chance be involved, whether or not it actually is.

  37. Fross,
    “Sometimes the primary purpose and the secondary purpose get switched out in terms of how benificial they are in a particular environment. By doing so, the path to co-option can and does take place.”

    Your post sounds like a simple restatement of the theory, but I’m willing to listen. Can you provide a concrete, known example of a biological structure which was known to have primary purpose A and sedondary purpose B which were then known to have “switched out” with each other. Please define the “particular environment” you had in mind, along with “how beneficial they are” is measured. Thanks.

  38. Anyone care to comment on this research article?

    http://biology.plosjournals.or.....io.0040216

  39. GilDodgen:
    “It’s speculation, all the way down.”

    My post had four paragraphs. The first three were statements about the functions of proteins in the eye and lens that are differnt from in the rest of the body. No speculation here.

    Only the last paragraph contained what you could call “speculation” and was a resonable mechanistic proposal.

  40. ofro: “My post had four paragraphs. The first three were statements about the functions of proteins in the eye and lens that are differnt from in the rest of the body. No speculation here.”

    Of course it’s speculation! You can’t see this? Where is the evidence that these proteins were co-opted from other functions? And where is the evidence of the random generation of the genetic information that would be required to integrate these proteins into their new functions?

    Sigh.

  41. GilDodgen: “And where is the evidence of the random generation of the genetic information that would be required to integrate these proteins into their new functions?”

    This statement says nothing about random generation. It is empirical experimental evidence, not theory, for a totally new role of these proteins in the lens: in the rest of the body some of these crystallins have a demonstrated enzyme function. In the lens they do not have this function since this tissue has a very low metabolic activity. In addition, they are present at very high concentrations, much higher than in any other cell in the body. Instead, the high concentration of the proteins enables the lens to diffract the incoming light. Different function. These are objective statements, no speculation whatsoever. Do you have a better explanation -any reasonable explanation- for this observation, perhaps based on design? An engineer will recognize the light-diffracting properties of a high-concentration protein solution.

  42. ofro,

    You completely missed my point and don’t see the forest for the trees. An empirically detectable, totally new role for a protein is completely irrelevant and meaningless in this discussion.

    Unless you can reverse engineer, in detail at the biochemical and genetic level, the process by which vision came about, and recreate it experimentally, you are just speculating. And even if you could recreate the process experimentally all you would have done is demonstrate that intelligent agency can create vision. Yet another step would be required: Demonstrate that random mutations could reasonably be expected to accomplish the same thing with the available probabilistic resources. Nothing even remotely close to any of this has been demonstrated, so it’s all just speculation.

    Darwinian theory is based on an absurdly low standard of evidence compared to real science.

  43. I’m sure there must be other factors that would lead an evoBiologist to this assumption (That a material or basic structure is used in different places and for different purposes in an organism it must be drivative from a single original source). However, we see this all the time in things we know are designed. a striking example may be the gold used on the ornamentation on my Lexus (oh, was I dreaming?) is also used for electrical contacts in the same machine for totally different reasons. Also dashpots, circuit board components, code snippets, little metal balls, all kinds of similar and identical things are used all over the place in complex machinery for different purposes. This trait does not speak to whether or not something was designed or whether it could have come about by random processes. If anything, since we see that this trait in complex designed things is ubiquitous, It probably should be rejected as evidence for random development out of hand.

  44. For the anti-IDists and ID critics on this page:

    ID and MECHANISMS:

    To say that ID has no proposed mechanism means only that we don’t specifically know how ID was implemented. So what? Do we have any good reason to think that if ID was implemented at the origin of life (for example), then we should be able to determine how ID was implemented? Of course not. The truth of ID does not entail the ability to describe the process of design. Thus, the inability to describe the actual process that was implemented is essentially meaningless apart from its rhetorical appeal.

    That said design is a mechanism. Sure that may be vague but so is “random variations/ mutations culled by natural selection”- that is unless you are going to tell us what mutations caused what changes. but everyone knows that is not going to happen.

    As for co-option we observe designing agencies do this every day. But when have we ever observed unguided, purpose-less processes do such a thing?

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