Home » Intelligent Design » “Ilities” – Judging Architecture and Design

“Ilities” – Judging Architecture and Design

Sometimes we seek to infer from a design what its requirements might have been, and in ID thought this question comes up. As a practitioner in the architecture of large scale computer environments (the composite set of applications, databases, and communications networks) in major enterprises, I wonder if some of the principles my profession uses in design could be useful in understanding what is going on in biology.

First a little background. What I am describing applies, in my opinion, to architecture and I would submit there is a rather considerable tension between architecture and design. But I am not going to get into that now, so let’s assume they are the same and call them “architecture”. Next, in my field you should be aware that Carnegie-Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (the “SEI”) has been responsible for the development of a lot of the thinking in this area. One of the SEI’s insights is that there are “Architectural Quality Attributes” (AQA’s). These are a whole set of characteristics that the global architecture of an enterprise may have.

Examples include “availability”, “customizability”, “extensability”, “understandability” and so on. A list is available here. Because the AQA’a tend to end in the suffix “ility” they are informally known as the “ilities”.

It is simply impossible for one architecture to have all the “ilities” because many conflict. For instance, if I want high “security” I am going to have to give up a good deal of “interoperability”. A large part of architecture is actually deciding what you are going to give up, which incidentally affects how the architecture can change in the future (i.e. usually it cannot “evolve” to conform to different “ilities”). This is all still fairly new, but we are now able to judge architectures in terms of the “ilities” they match and the “ilities” they do not match. A better understanding of the conflicts between certain “ilities” is gradually developing.

If we could similarly develop a taxonomy of “ilities” for biological systems we could then judge the qualities of different biological designs and understand the trade-off’s among them. They key is to have a standard taxonomy that most biologists would accept. A key issue might be that by accepting such a taxonomy biologists would be accepting that there is such a thing as “design”. Furthermore, figuring out the trade-offs between biological “ilities” would render evolution based on random chance more transparently preposterous. Lastly, this approach offers a way to infer, and perhaps, predict from an ID perspective.

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63 Responses to “Ilities” – Judging Architecture and Design

  1. Alfred Russel writes:

    Sometimes we seek to infer from a design what its requirements might have been, and in ID thought this question comes up.

    Usually it’s batted down by ID proponents who say that we cannot presume to know the Designer’s intentions. This is typically presented as an excuse for patently bad designs, such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe.

    A key issue might be that by accepting such a taxonomy biologists would be accepting that there is such a thing as “design”.

    Biologists already do accept that life exhibits “design” of the kind generated by natural selection. The “ilities” you describe can be present in this sort of “design”, but they aren’t the result of foresight.

    I do applaud your desire to infer the Designer’s goals from his designs. One particularly interesting question is this: of the infinitude of possible designs, why did the Designer specifically choose ones that give the overwhelming appearance of having been produced by a mindless Darwinian process?

  2. Bub, FYI you are only experiencing the appearance of bad design. Remember, your scientific knowledge is only provisional. You will without doubt stumble upon the ingenuity of the apparent bad design.

    Curiously, how would you show methodoligically that “ilities” are the product of natural selection?

    Further, overwhelming appearance seems an appeal to the obvious. I thought Darwinism was counterintuitive, where design is only apparent. But in the same breath, you are telling us that overwhelming appearance of Darwinian processes is a slam-dunk?

    Hmmmm.

  3. You do love your question begging, don’t you?

    Let me show you how an IDist sees this argument.

    IDist: I believe that living organisms show evidence of design.

    Darwinist: Really? So explain to me why they show no evidence of design.

    IDist: But I just said…

    Darwinist: Answer the question!

  4. StephenA,

    I think you’re too generous in sharing the credit. That vision of the debate might just be unique to you.

  5. Oramus writes:

    Bub, FYI you are only experiencing the appearance of bad design. Remember, your scientific knowledge is only provisional. You will without doubt stumble upon the ingenuity of the apparent bad design.

    Translation: Have faith, Bub! The bad design is only apparent. The 19 extra feet of the RLN are there for a reason, I just know it!

    Curiously, how would you show methodoligically that “ilities” are the product of natural selection?

    By showing, as has been done over the past 150 years, that organisms are the product of natural selection (and other evolutionary processes), and that they exhibit one or more of the “ilities.” For example, we know that E. coli is extensible because we have extended it ourselves (to produce human insulin, among other things).

    Further, overwhelming appearance seems an appeal to the obvious. I thought Darwinism was counterintuitive, where design is only apparent. But in the same breath, you are telling us that overwhelming appearance of Darwinian processes is a slam-dunk?

    I’m not talking about superficial appearance. I’m talking about how things look after 150 years of scientific investigation.

  6. They key is to have a standard taxonomy that most biologists would accept. A key issue might be that by accepting such a taxonomy biologists would be accepting that there is such a thing as “design”.

    That’s a good idea. Anyone want to propose some “ilities” for biological designs?

    It seems to me that in architecture the focus is on human interaction with the design features of the architecture, whereas the ilities in biology would need to have a different focus (e.g., interaction with the environment and so forth).

  7. StephenA,

    Uh, the default setting is design (which we can observe) until such time that a lack of design can be shown(empirically).

    It is so much easier to show design than it is to show no design.

    Disproving current observations of design can only lead to discoveries of higher orders of design, not NO design.

  8. Say what? I don’t actually disagree with you, but I don’t see what it has to do with my previous post.

  9. Hmm. I just realised I should have made it clearer that I was actually responding to beelzebub in my first post. Apologies.

  10. StephenA, no worries.

  11. Bub,

    Translation: Have faith, Bub! The bad design is only apparent. The 19 extra feet of the RLN are there for a reason, I just know it!

    But then again, what else could you think about that 19 feet? Hedging is intrinsic to “provisionalism”.

    Pronouncements of “there is no design” are not altogether of a scientific nature.

    For example, we know that E. coli is extensible because we have extended it ourselves (to produce human insulin, among other things).

    It has yet to be established that e.coli’s extensibility (as you put it) is an acquired trait rather than a design feature. So I am not sure what you are driving at here.

    I’m not talking about superficial appearance. I’m talking about how things look after 150 years of scientific investigation.

    150 years of scientific investigation seems to have created a long laundry list of exceptions to the rule.

    Darwinism: That gnarly behemoth being crushed under the weight of its own hedge bets.

  12. Mr. Russel,

    Your take is interesting.

    In my field of technical textile production, I have to consider what it is the buyer wants in their textiles. Do they want a nice optic, functionality, hand, bulk, pricepoint?

    Some buyers want it all, which is my nightmare. This compels me to think of new ways of coming up with options that do not necessitate the dropping of features, but rather adjusting the degree of “quality” in a feature.

    For example, hand is directly proportional to cost. Optic (outward appearance) is cost sensative in proportion to the level of creativity of the designer; i.e. some designs require changing yarn and/or changing to a higher guage machine thus reducing production yield, increasing cost; whereas changing the construction only does not add to cost.

    Function created with topical treatments are cost sensitive. However, function can be achieved (thermal / breathable) through design changes utilizing novel construction methods, which often can avoid cost increases.

    Optic may affect function and visa versa. Likewise, bulk (loft) and optic are intertwined. You cannot increase bulk without changing the optic.

    Also, there are many trade-offs that keep cost stable; i.e. I may have to change to a pricier yarn, yet I can slightly reduce the g/m2 weight of the fabric to compensate for the higher yarn cost, keeping my overall cost per yard unchanged.

    I think it would be worthwhile to pursue your line of inquiry to get more insights as to the characteristics of decision nodes in organisms.

  13. Oramus asks:

    But then again, what else could you think about that 19 feet?

    You could draw the obvious conclusion that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is the product of a mindless process that did not realize it could shorten the nerve by 19 out of 20 feet simply by unlooping it from around the lung ligament.

    Isn’t that a bit less strained than asserting that “this isn’t bad design, it’s just good for a reason that we’re not aware of yet!”

  14. Orasmus, perhaps you should stop beating around the bush and actually define for all of us exactly what the term “design” entails, and why the product of many generations of beneficial mutations doesn’t constitute it.

  15. RDK:

    We are all — yourself included — very familiar with the nature and characteristics of design, thank you.

    Indeed, just look all around you: directed contingency, usually towards a goal or purpose that requires a balance of elements that work together to achieve a function.

    Second, the point where designs — contra BZ’s linked — unambiguously point to intelligent not spontaneous (chance + undirected necessity only) cause is where the functionality is complex and specific enough that the other source of high contingency, chance, is maximally unlikely to land us on the shores of an island of function from which any optimising algorithm may act. [NB: Necessity is manifested in low contingency -- a heavy and unsupported object, reliably, falls.]

    So, the issue of the architecture of a complex object or system or process or network, and the balance of tradeoffs required to achieve adequate function is a real issue.

    One we may with profit focus on in light of Alfred Russel’s suggestions.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: BZ (As in “Lord of . . . “) my good friend Mikey the Archie — and he is fingering the keenness of edge of that sword our living treasure from Japan who got in under Rom 2:6 – 7 helped him sharpen up, and grinning — is reminding us that a giraffe as a whole has a great many highly specific functional and highly complex adaptations that point to careful and balanced design; whether or not you may find the design of its nervous system well-fitted to your particular provisional views of the moment.

  16. Beelzebub writes:

    Isn’t that a bit less strained than asserting that “this isn’t bad design, it’s just good for a reason that we’re not aware of yet!”

    Ah, but experience tells the wise scientist that too often conclusions drawn from observation turn out wrong, like with junk DNA. So to the wise scientist, it is better to just sit patiently and wait for further information that could possibly change the tragectory of the investigation; say discovery of a relationship of the laryngeal nerve to the circulatory system or a secondary function unrelated to the larynx.

    It is very plausible and worth considering rather than jumping to the conclusion that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is “bad design” or no design.

    Looks like only exhaustive testing on the recurrent laryngeal nerve of giraffes could potentially resolve this question.

  17. RDK, design is the default assumption based on logical necessity.

    If we cannot model life breaking the below thresholds from:

    1)amino acid to uni-cellar life
    2)uni-cellular life to multi-cellular organism
    3) multi-cellular organism to multi-cellular organism with appendages,
    4) multi-cellular organisms with appendages to multi-cellular organisms with appendages and simple systems.
    5) Multi-cellular organisms with appendages and simple systems to multi-cellular organisms with appendages and complex systems (cognition of other organisms)

    6)multi-cellular organisms with appendages and complex systems to dissimilar multi-celled organisms with complex systems.

    7)and probably more thresholds I have missed (well we can get the picture now I think),

    then we are not justified in claiming it happened spontaneously, simply based on inference from interpreted data.

    Think about it. If we have no detailed plans in our brain as to “how” these thresholds were broken through,then we are left with such narratives like the organism acquired, or the organism somehow adapted a new use, or the organism most likely evolved a new trait, etc.

    I mean, are “acquired”, “somehow”, and “most likely” rigorous concepts we can sink our teeth into? What is it that prevents science from modeling any of the above threshholds?

  18. Mr Oramus,

    First, on a personal note let me say that I think textile design is a very interesting topic! Thank you for sharing a bit of your technical and professional background.

    I would nominate “mutability” as key component of the list under discussion. (Not really helpful to call it a taxonomy at this point.)

    There is an idea in engineering called “Design For Change” that recognizes the need to expect change and design in such a way as to not make the inevitable also difficult and costly. In the area of evolutionary computation, there is the study of the evolution of evolvability.

    In this sense, the observed rate of copying errors in DNA is a “fine tuning”. Too great, and organisms could not sustain function. Too small, the population could not react to changes in the environment.

  19. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Who is the living treasure from Japan? I didn’t know there was a reference to Japan in the NT.

    I see you are using the phrase “maximally unlikely”, which I saw was also used by Mr Upright BiPed. He was using it to mean “independent trials”. If you are using it in the same way, then you should consider that no one is arguing that chance plus independent trials is a part of the definition of an evolutionary process. The opposite is true. Chance plus history is a part of the evolutionary process.

  20. beelzebub,

    Your first question,

    of the infinitude of possible designs, why did the Designer specifically choose ones that give the overwhelming appearance of having been produced by a mindless Darwinian process?

    is the equivalent of a lawyer asking, “Why are you beating your wife?” You have not established the premise.

    In fact, there are a number of Darwinists who strongly disagree with the premise. For example, take Dawkins:

    Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

    This is not taken out of context. Read the entire first chapter of The Blind Watchmaker.

    Or, as George Gaylord Simpson put it:

    A telescope, a telephone, or a typewriter is a complex mechanism serving a particular function. Obviously, its manufacturer had a purpose in mind, and the machine was designed and built in order to serve that purpose. An eye, an ear, or a hand is also a complex mechanism serving a particular function. It, too, looks as if it had been made for a purpose. This appearance of purposefulness is pervasive in nature.

    Now if you want to disagree with men such as Dawkins and Simpson, be my guest. But don’t expect your position to be persuasive.

    You go on to cite the recurrent laryngeal nerve of the giraffe as an example of bad design. In fact, you fail to see that this very post may have the answer to your argument.

    The recurrent laryngeal nerve has the path it takes because of the requirements of embryology. It passes under an embryonic aortic arch that eventually becomes the innominate artery. Thus unless it were to re-splice, which we don’t know how to do and may not be possible, it must run down to the thorax and back up to the larynx, which in the giraffe is close to 3 meters each way.

    Two comments can be made. First, the charge of “bad design” is inaccurate. The design is perfectly functional. The only real charge that can be made is that it is suboptimal.

    And second, part of what requires optimization is embryological development. If we knew that there was a way of developing embryos that was (1) simple, not requiring extra megabases of DNA, (2) functional, not killing the embryo for some other reason, and (3) could route the recurrent laryngeal nerve directly to the larynx rather than sending it down to the thorax first, and instead we have the present anatomy, we could make a strong case for suboptimal design.

    But we do not know that the present design can be avoided that easily. So the charge of suboptimal design is a charge that is presently without proof, and therefore faith-based. If that’s your faith, fine. Just don’t expect everyone to share your faith.

    It would be interesting to try to assess the design constraints for embryological development of blood vessels and nerves, and their interactions. Perhaps we will eventually understand whether the design of the design of the recurrent laryngeal nerve is suboptimal, or truly optimal when all the relevant factors are taken into consideration, and why. The approach of this post seems to offer the best promise of answering those questions.

  21. Paul Giem,

    You had a great reply to “bub”. I think the evolutionist argument for bad design or vestigial structure more often than not is an argument from ignorance.

    Not necessarily willful ignorance but simply a misunderstanding of the extent of the role of the structure in debate. More often than not evolutionary charges silently evaporate as we come to learn more; as in the junk DNA idea.

    On another note: I am wondering if you are the same Dr. Paul Giem I met in Lancaster, CA a couple years ago. That Paul Giem gave a presentation on carbon dating.

    If it is you, I would like to know how I can contact you with an invitation to speak. Perhaps the moderator will send either one of us the email of the other kept in our word-press profiles on this site.

  22. Indeed, just look all around you: directed contingency, usually towards a goal or purpose that requires a balance of elements that work together to achieve a function.

    Why this requires intelligence needs to be explained in detail, instead of vague allusions to the “design implies designer” argument.

    And by the absurdly vague definition you gave above, I could very well use that to describe the evolutionary process (albeit directed by necessity rather than any sort of interference of intelligence).

    Second, the point where designs — contra BZ’s linked — unambiguously point to intelligent not spontaneous (chance + undirected necessity only) cause is where the functionality is complex and specific enough that the other source of high contingency, chance, is maximally unlikely to land us on the shores of an island of function from which any optimising algorithm may act. [NB: Necessity is manifested in low contingency -- a heavy and unsupported object, reliably, falls.]

    Tell us, then, exactly where the line in the sand is? Exactly how specific and complex does an organism that fulfills a certain function have to be?

    And what of organisms (or perhaps we should call them systems, in keeping with your purposely vague terms) with multiple functions, or components that have been co-opted for new functions? What of organisms that have been shown to produce new proteins with brand new functions? Are we to assume the Creator interfered with said organism’s development process in order to produce new proteins?

  23. bb,

    Yes, that was me. If you wish to contact me, click on my name, which brings you to my website, http://www.scientifictheology.com. Then look for the e-mail link at the bottom. (The instructions are so as not to attract undue spam.) We’ll see what can be arranged.

  24. Paul Giem,

    You had a great reply to “bub”. I think the evolutionist argument for bad design or vestigial structure more often than not is an argument from ignorance.

    Not necessarily willful ignorance but simply a misunderstanding of the extent of the role of the structure in debate. More often than not evolutionary charges silently evaporate as we come to learn more; as in the junk DNA idea.

    On another note: I am wondering if you are the same Dr. Paul Giem I met in Lancaster, CA a couple years ago. That Paul Giem gave a presentation on carbon dating.

    Perhaps you should enlighten us to how horrifically bad a design has to be to constitute “bad design” in your mind. What would it take to convince you?

    The human esophagus, which is a no-brainer (eating and breathing through the same orifice)? The spinal column, which works quite well for quadrupeds, but when placed upright causes slipped discs, pinched nerves, and lower back pain? The botched design of the reproduction period, which delivers human babies prematurely compared to most other mammals and takes a heavy toll on the health and condition of the mother?

    Also, there’s the little problem of why the Creator didn’t design his creation for optimum efficiency. If you agree that it’s not about what’s “best”, but rather what works, or what’s “good enough”, then you’ve conceded that there’s nothing special about nature–nothing that couldn’t have proceeded from countless evolutionary changes. Because that’s exactly what evolution does.

    The argument from designed purpose is vague at best, and dishonest at worst. Anything from a microwave oven to a thermostat displays purpose, either in the design itself or in its use. If people are designed, what is the purpose? If the purpose is to eat, poop, and procreate, I can think of a plethora of better designs. If the purpose is to glorify some sort of deity, once again, I could do better.

  25. RDK, design is the default assumption based on logical necessity.

    Design is only the default when you start out with presuppositions; oddly enough, kind of like the entire field of ID.

    then we are not justified in claiming it happened spontaneously, simply based on inference from interpreted data.

    Think about it. If we have no detailed plans in our brain as to “how” these thresholds were broken through,then we are left with such narratives like the organism acquired, or the organism somehow adapted a new use, or the organism most likely evolved a new trait, etc.

    I mean, are “acquired”, “somehow”, and “most likely” rigorous concepts we can sink our teeth into? What is it that prevents science from modeling any of the above threshholds?

    It seems you’re unfamiliar with the way the scientific process works. Argument from design is invalid unless you can actually demonstrate specifically where the designer interfered in the development process of said organisms. Just because an organism (or system) has the appearance of design and fulfills a function does not mean that it was actively created by an intelligence. This has been proven patently false, and why you still assert it is beyond me.

    But even so, ID fails by your own rigorous test that asks for proof of the Darwinian method’s effectiveness. All you have to do is display some evidence of interference. Not number-juggling, not poking holes in modern evolutionary theory. Actual evidence. Point to any stage / phase / frameshift / transposition and say “Here. Right here. Some Designer interfered here at some point, somehow.” Then you can move on to just what was done. Then, maybe, one day, how the designer did it. You don’t even have to name the designer, not that it would make a difference.

    The Nobel Prize awaits.

  26. RDK:
    “Why this requires intelligence needs to be explained in detail, instead of vague allusions to the “design implies designer” argument.”

    For starters, I’ve begun to explain the connection here at my comment on May 21, 2009 at 10:22 am (for some reason I can’t get the link to bring you directly to my comment).

    RDK:
    “Tell us, then, exactly where the line in the sand is? Exactly how specific and complex does an organism that fulfills a certain function have to be?”

    More specific and complex than the information theoretic measure of the probabilistic resources (time and trials) available.

    RDK:
    “Are we to assume the Creator interfered with said organism’s development process in order to produce new proteins?”

    No such assumption of intervention is required. It is more likely the result of a goal oriented program which merely unfolds previous information in a goal directed procedure — you know, how evolution was originally envisioned to operate.

  27. When anyone uses the concept of bad design against ID they are essentially making a theological argument which ID does not address. The supposition is that because something is apparently of bad design, then an omnipotent creator had not done it and this somehow in their deluded minds undermines ID. But ID does not presuppose an omnipotent creator though it does not rule it out.

    If in truth the design is bad, then it could have been done by the little green men that Richard Dawkins thinks might have been the creator. Maybe we should ask Sir Richard.

  28. “Design is only the default when you start out with presuppositions; oddly enough, kind of like the entire field of ID”

    Another deluded comment. Maybe this person should refrain from commenting till they read more here.

  29. RDK:
    “Perhaps you should enlighten us to how horrifically bad a design has to be to constitute “bad design” in your mind. What would it take to convince you?”

    Are you implying that good design = the result of intelligence and bad design = the result of law + chance. Then I turn your question to you and ask how much “good design” it would take to convince you of ID Theory?

    However, you don’t have to completely negate law and chance operating within a system in order to arrive at the conclusion that the system itself is intelligently designed. In fact, that is not how reality works. Even a car, although it is intelligently designed, can show the effects of law and chance. Look at a rusty old beater car. You can’t explain the “rust” feature by design, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the car itself was intelligently designed. Furthermore, you can’t point to the rust as a “faulty feature” and thus arrive at the conclusion that the car could have or must have been created by only chance and law.

    Another example is if random processes create a new function or strengthen an older function by damaging or clogging a system, does that prove that the original system was the result of only chance and law? Let’s look at a lock and key mechanism. Just because natural processes can increase the security function of an ancient castle door by “gunking” up the lock, making it unopenable even with the original key, does that mean that unguided law and chance can create the castle, the door, the lock, and the key? Of course not!

    RDK:
    “If you agree that it’s not about what’s “best”, but rather what works, or what’s “good enough”, then you’ve conceded that there’s nothing special about nature–nothing that couldn’t have proceeded from countless evolutionary changes. Because that’s exactly what evolution does.”

    1. To say that something is “good” or “bad” you need an external set of rules to make that determination. You would have to hold each example against a non-arbitrary standard. The argument about whether or not this universe (or the processes within it) is the “best” of all possible is a metaphysical discussion; not science. Can you define “best” such that it is useful in a scientific investigation?

    2. Not many people here deny evolution. If you want to argue for a non-telic variant, then you’ll have to provide evidence rather than just assertion and assuming your conclusion.

    RDK:
    “The argument from designed purpose is vague at best, and dishonest at worst. Anything from a microwave oven to a thermostat displays purpose, either in the design itself or in its use. If people are designed, what is the purpose? If the purpose is to eat, poop, and procreate, I can think of a plethora of better designs. If the purpose is to glorify some sort of deity, once again, I could do better.”

    The identification of previous intelligence is the science part. Guessing as to the exact purpose (psychoanalyzing the designer’s intentions) is the philosophy and psychology part. Although, as previously mentioned, we can see that the purpose of some part appear to be obvious — the purpose of DNA is information storage; the purpose of RNA is information transfer, the purpose of the eye is sight, etc …

    The point is not whether you could do better (although I’d love to see you try — or was that just a useless rhetorical bluff on your part?). The point is whether chance and law absent previous intelligence can even create certain patterns in question.

  30. 30

    Hi jerry,

    When anyone uses the concept of bad design against ID they are essentially making a theological argument which ID does not address. The supposition is that because something is apparently of bad design, then an omnipotent creator had not done it and this somehow in their deluded minds undermines ID. But ID does not presuppose an omnipotent creator though it does not rule it out.

    If so, then how can ID theory predict anything specific about “junk” DNA? For example, if the designer is fallible and incompetent, we might expect to find lots of junk in the genome, whereas with an efficient or omniscient/omnipotent designer, we would expect to find little or no junk.

    So, in order to predict even a general proportion of “junk” DNA, doesn’t the ID theorist have to take a stand on the nature of the designer first?

  31. RDK:
    “It seems you’re unfamiliar with the way the scientific process works. Argument from design is invalid unless you can actually demonstrate specifically where the designer interfered in the development process of said organisms. Just because an organism (or system) has the appearance of design and fulfills a function does not mean that it was actively created by an intelligence. This has been proven patently false, and why you still assert it is beyond me.”

    That’s a lot of ignorance and assertion without evidence in one paragraph.

    Please follow this discussion especially comments #112 and #147 to learn a bit about the fundamentals of ID Theory in terms of inference, observation, prediction, testing, and potential falsifiability.

    Is it just me, or has it become a trend lately for people who refuse to educate themselves about ID to think that they can utilize their ignorance as a tool to critique ID Theory?

  32. More specific and complex than the information theoretic measure of the probabilistic resources (time and trials) available.

    We’ve already explained to you why evolution isn’t simply “time and trials”. It doesn’t botch a bad gene combination and say “Oh well!”, just to start from scratch again. There’s a history involved. Brand new proteins are improvements on a previously existing gene combination. They are quite literally “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

    When you portray evolution via Darwinian mechanisms as consisting solely of chance mutations, time, and trials, you are attacking a strawman.

    No such assumption of intervention is required. It is more likely the result of a goal oriented program which merely unfolds previous information in a goal directed procedure — you know, how evolution was originally envisioned to operate.

    Once again, your definition is vague enough for me to easily attribute it to modern evolutionary mechanisms.

    And I’m not quite sure what you mean by “how evolution was originally envisioned to operate”. Perhaps it’s some secret esoteric creationist jargon?

    If in truth the design is bad, then it could have been done by the little green men that Richard Dawkins thinks might have been the creator. Maybe we should ask Sir Richard.

    Nice misrepresentation. Dawkins certainly doesn’t think with any certainty that little green men planted the seed of life on earth. When pressed with Ben Stein’s inane attempts at getting him to concede a point for creationism, Dawkins said he might entertain the idea, but it was highly unlikely in the face of zero compelling evidence. And even that doesn’t account for where the little green men came from! Your argument spirals into an infinite regress.

    You guys either don’t watch your own mockumentaries very closely, or you’re just that good at skewing what other people say.

    Another deluded comment. Maybe this person should refrain from commenting till they read more here.

    Am I mistaken in thinking that ID proponents start out with the a priori assumption that the universe is imbued with a specific design in mind?

    CJYman, I quoted the following from the specific post you gave me:

    1. Observe that intelligence precludes physically inert “meaning/function.”

    2. Use that observation to predict that any system purported to be intelligently designed will, upon further investigation, be found to contain physically inert function/meaning.

    3. Provide a falsifiable and testable statement such as “law and chance absent intelligence will not generate physically inert function.”

    4. Continue to “do science.”

    You go on to say that “physically inert”, another obfuscating, Aristotlean term, can readily be replaced with “formally organized”. Before we go on, perhaps you can enlighten us as to what exactly that term implies? In detail?

    Are you implying that good design = the result of intelligence and bad design = the result of law + chance. Then I turn your question to you and ask how much “good design” it would take to convince you of ID Theory?

    I was under the assumption that you, like Dembski, propose a Biblical creator as the foundation of your viewpoint of intelligent design. If my assumption is wrong, please let me know so I can continue from the appropriate angle.

    However, you don’t have to completely negate law and chance operating within a system in order to arrive at the conclusion that the system itself is intelligently designed. In fact, that is not how reality works. Even a car, although it is intelligently designed, can show the effects of law and chance. Look at a rusty old beater car. You can’t explain the “rust” feature by design, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the car itself was intelligently designed. Furthermore, you can’t point to the rust as a “faulty feature” and thus arrive at the conclusion that the car could have or must have been created by only chance and law.

    Too bad a car is not analogous to a living, breathing, reproducing organism!

    But even so, let’s run with your analogy, just for kicks. If evolution can account for later changes to a group, and those changes are indistinguishable from earlier “changes” (or even the origin of said organisms), why then is there a need for a creator? You even said yourself:

    2. Not many people here deny evolution. If you want to argue for a non-telic variant, then you’ll have to provide evidence rather than just assertion and assuming your conclusion.

    At what point exactly was the creator (or intelligent designer; whatever tickles your fancy) needed to start / interfere / help develop the process? At the origin? Sometime after?

    Again, the Nobel awaits…

  33. Is it just me, or has it become a trend lately for people who refuse to educate themselves about ID to think that they can utilize their ignorance as a tool to critique ID Theory?

    I could say the very same about Darwinian evolution.

  34. “And I’m not quite sure what you mean by “how evolution was originally envisioned to operate”. Perhaps it’s some secret esoteric creationist jargon?”

    No I think he’s referencing something else.

  35. 35

    Beelzebub,

    I am trying to understand your response to my post. Do you have a theological position that the creations of a perfect Creator would always be apprehended as being perfect by any rational being? And so the trait of the giraffe which you mention, not being so apprehended, cannot therefore be a creation of a perfect Creator. From this you seem to deduce that there is no such thing as ID. Putting it syllogistically:

    (1)
    (Major) Every thing not apprehended as perfect by every rational being is not the creation of a perfect Creator

    (Minor) The RLN of a giraffe is a thing not apprehended as perfect by every rational being

    (Conclusion) Therefore, the RLN of a giraffe is not the creation of a perfect Creator

    (2)
    (Major) Either every living thing is the creation of a perfect Creator, or no living thing is the creation of a perfect Creator

    (Minor) The RLN of a giraffe is not the creation of a perfect Creator

    (Conclusion) Therefore, no living thing is the creation of a perfect Creator

    I did not mean to suggest the Major in (1) and certainly would not have suggested the Major in (2). I do not really have a sufficient theological background to address either proposition.

    Regards, Alfred Russel.

  36. “I could say the very same about Darwinian evolution.”

    I will try to be polite but some times it is hard because we have seen this supercilious attitude literally hundreds of times. Let’s take the UD challenge.

    Provide a coherent defense of Darwinian macro evolution with empirical evidence to back one up. It is not necessary to lay out all the evidence and one can point to sources to back oneself up. But you should be able to reasonably discuss results of studies.

    In the nearly four years I have been reading this site I have not seen one person able to meet this challenge. I have not seen it in any book, internet site or academic articles. We are all waiting for our enlightenment but as I said no one has been able to do it. Use a definition of macro evolution as the origin of novel complex capabilities. And by the way ID accepts Darwinian micro evolution as an explanation for a lot of life’s changes but not for macro evolution.

    So have at it.

    And while you are making challenges, you might try to answer another one from us.

    Point out one piece of research in all the history of science that someone who believes in ID would not do. That includes any journal article you can dig up from the literature of the last 20 years or all the way back to when the Ancient Greeks ruled the intellectual world. But be careful, because I said experiment but did not say that an ID person would necessarily accept the conclusions from the findings of the study that was in the published report.

  37. RDK,

    In #24 you say,

    Perhaps you should enlighten us to how horrifically bad a design has to be to constitute “bad design” in your mind. What would it take to convince you?

    You go on to list the esophagus, the back, and the human reproductive system as examples of bad design.

    You need to be careful about declaring something bad design, for the same general reason that I gave regarding the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Also, there seems to be some confusion in your mind, as design that can’t stand up to unlimited abuse or resist fundamental tweaking qualifies as bad design in your opinion.

    Take, for example, back pain. If one tries to lift 500 pounds, or is in a severe auto accident, it is no surprise that the back will be injured. And perhaps normal activity will injure a back that has weak fibrocartilage due to a mutation, allowing the nucleus pulposis to herniate. That does not make the back undesigned, any more than the fact that if I drop my laptop I may break the screen, makes the screen undesigned, or the fact that if defective paint is used on a house, the paint may peel unduly, means that either the paint or the house was not designed.

    But you asked about bad design. The fact of the matter is that I do indeed see bad design, or more precisely, malevolent design (technically good but harmful in its effect on humans). The malaria parasite is one example, and with a little thought one can think of others. Pain in childbirth has been attributed to malevolent design (Gen 3:16). Pain in childbirth may serve some useful function, and may be partly a blessing in disguise, but it is primarily thought of as a curse. So yes, I do see bad design. It doesn’t keep me from detecting design. It just suggests the possibility of a bad designer. As you may know, Christianity from its inception postulated both good and (morally) bad designers.

    You go on to say,

    The argument from designed purpose is vague at best, and dishonest at worst. Anything from a microwave oven to a thermostat displays purpose, either in the design itself or in its use. If people are designed, what is the purpose? If the purpose is to eat, poop, and procreate, I can think of a plethora of better designs. If the purpose is to glorify some sort of deity, once again, I could do better.

    I understand your opinion of the “argument from designed purpose”. But there is some confusion here. That is not the usual terminology. Perhaps you could express your understanding of what the argument is, and why you find it either vague or dishonest.

    You ask what the purpose for design in humans is. I agree that to eat, eliminate, and procreate is not the only purpose; it would seem that using our brains has something to do with it. If you asked me to hazard a guess, I would say that it has something to do with the capacity for love.

    You go on to say that if the purpose of humans is to glorify some deity, you could do better. I’m impressed. Which parts of human DNA would you change to accomplish this, and how would you change them?

    The Nobel awaits. ;)

  38. We have had some questions about what Richard Dawkins said in Expelled. Readers can decide just what Richard Dawkins believes is possible. Let me quote Dawkins in response to Stein’s questions in Expelled:

    ————-
    Stein: So you have no idea how it started?

    Dawkins: No, No, nor has anybody.

    Stein: What do you think that intelligent design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?

    Dawkins: It could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably some Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded on to perhaps this planet. Now, that is a possibility and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry and molecular biology you might find a signature of some sort of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe.

    That intelligence in itself would have had to come about from explicable or some ultimately explicable process. It could not have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That’s the point.
    —————-

    Welcome Dr. Dawkins to the pro ID community and the comment about little green men remains a possibility according to Sir Richard.

    A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

  39. Nice detective work, Jerry. I’m kind of surprised the Darwinists haven’t “expelled” him from their own ranks, given his loony ideas. What an embarrassment.

  40. 40

    jerry @ 27,

    I personally don’t see the ‘bad design’ as an anti-ID argument but as a pro-evolution argument. Those things can be, of course, mutually exclusive.

    I see it this way because many of these instances of ‘bad design’ make perfect sense if one believes in evolution. Indeed, many of them can be given plausible reason based on what we now propose about the order of descent.

    As an anti-ID argument, I agree, there is no reason to think that a possible designer is perfect. I see it as I see the ‘problem of evil’ argument, that being why would anyone think that God(s) must be good? and why must the designer(s) be perfect?

  41. Dick was put in a tight spot according to his blog. Later that day he said he only talked about aliens because Stein was too stupid to understand abio and/or evolution.

    I believe we were put here by aliens, not necessarily seeded in single cell form in all cases (see dogon tribe astronomy predictions), but either way placed here. Our genomes were pre-programmed in a general way to accommodate this environment, but still put on a set course.

    This could account for and include:

    - lack of observed speciation.

    - genetic entropy. Loss of beneficial mutations because they’re swamped by bad and near neutral mutations. So it appears we’re going downhill from the start of genomes unless there’s programming inputted in genome to counteract that.

    - DNA structure IC, all IC

    - Protein folding problem pointing to multiple starts to life; highly specific gene sequences needed to create functioning proteins.

    - So many creatures have similar eye, ear etc placement

    Probably lots more. Or it’s something kind of Lamarckian, like we’re all spirits and so can alter lifes direction. Or a hybrid of both. The pre-programming part might be testable with junk dna.

  42. I’d like to throw in a random question relating to the topic of ‘ilities’. Assuming that one designer is ultimately responsible for all of nature, why does so much of nature seem to work against itself? Earlier in the year we were introduced to Message Theory, one of whose tenets is that life is designed “to survive”. But the widespread phenomena of predation and mass extinctions would seem to belie this. What ‘ility’ does the designer have in mind that compels the production of both diseases and immune systems?

    What is mainstream ID’s take on this? If anyone says “But who said there was only one designer?”, I’ll just kind of look at you funny. I’ve never heard of a single scholarly ID attempt to demonstrate the handiwork of multiple designers, and I would guess that roughly 100% of IDers are ‘monodesignists’.

    Oh, and another question that’s often come to my mind regarding design purpose. It appears to be a common ID position that the same designer is responsible for the universe as a whole — which means that, directly or indirectly, the designer has made both the ecosystems and their environment, the cupcakes and the mold.

    In this context, how reasonable is it to probe the question of the purpose of a given organism or one of its traits? We might say that eyes detect the wavelengths they do because of the nature of the sun, but how meaningful is this if the designer also made the sun, not to mention the electromagnetic force itself? Where do the “purpose” questions end? And is it necessarily the case that a designer who gets to create the fundamentals of nature has to make occasional “tradeoffs” — that the same economic constraints apply?

    If the official consensus answer is that ID ‘doesn’t address’ the realm of physics, my question would be… why not? Don’t you, like the materialists, believe that science should be no-holds-barred?

  43. Re: bad design

    Why do Darwinists get so wound up when they hear the reply ‘We don’t know what that feature dose yet, but I’m sure that we will discover it has a good purpose’. It seems that this is somehow not a permissable scientific answer, or something. But surely it is obvious that it is in fact a one of those predictions that ID supposedly never makes. ‘Junk’ DNA was predicted to have purpose by ID, and that is being revealed to be the case. So why is it such an impermissable answer?

  44. Provide a coherent defense of Darwinian macro evolution with empirical evidence to back one up. It is not necessary to lay out all the evidence and one can point to sources to back oneself up. But you should be able to reasonably discuss results of studies.

    I’m assuming you’re asking me to quote mounds and mounds of scientific journal articles that provide support for macroevolution, but it would save me a lot of time if I just linked you to the TalkOrigins page on macroevolution evidence. There’s plenty of information there, including mounds and mounds of scientific journal (and book) evidence, so it saves me the searching and it allows you to have it all in one neat spot.

    And while you are making challenges, you might try to answer another one from us.

    ^ And BTW, I’m only providing this coherent defense because I’m nice and want you to learn(unlike how many creationists paint us “evil Darwinists”). You haven’t answered any of the challenges I’ve strewn across several posts, so why should I play your game?

    Ah, but that’s where we’re different Jerry. I’m not petty like you.

  45. 45

    What about variab’ility’? For instance, we know that HIV has lots of variability due to it’s mechanism of replication. We also know that it’s (presumed) ancestors have less due to their slightly different genome and mechanism of replication via (micro)evolution.

    So why must ‘ilities’ presuppose design? Cannot some of these ‘ilities’ be a product of evolution?

  46. Mr herb,

    If Dr Dembski made the same allowance for the possibility of space aliens being the cause of life on Earth, would the idea still be loony, and would he be an embarrassment?

  47. Hey Paul Giem:

    You go on to list the esophagus, the back, and the human reproductive system as examples of bad design.

    You need to be careful about declaring something bad design, for the same general reason that I gave regarding the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Also, there seems to be some confusion in your mind, as design that can’t stand up to unlimited abuse or resist fundamental tweaking qualifies as bad design in your opinion.

    Well then let’s clear some of the fog right off the bat, then, shall we?

    What constitutes good design?

    Take, for example, back pain. If one tries to lift 500 pounds, or is in a severe auto accident, it is no surprise that the back will be injured. And perhaps normal activity will injure a back that has weak fibrocartilage due to a mutation, allowing the nucleus pulposis to herniate. That does not make the back undesigned, any more than the fact that if I drop my laptop I may break the screen, makes the screen undesigned, or the fact that if defective paint is used on a house, the paint may peel unduly, means that either the paint or the house was not designed.

    You misquote me. I never purported that the back was undesigned, but rather designed without any apparent intelligent foresight. There’s a big difference between the many ailments of the bad design of the back and dropping your computer in order to break it. That’s an awful analogy to begin with, anyway, because as I just explained in my previous post, a laptop is not a living, breathing, reproducing organism.

    So either the designs I listed above came about on a “good enough” basis (which evolution proposes, as opposed to a “best” basis as proposed by ID), or they were created by a designer that lacks basic common sense and would no doubt fail any high school biology class.

    But you asked about bad design. The fact of the matter is that I do indeed see bad design, or more precisely, malevolent design (technically good but harmful in its effect on humans). The malaria parasite is one example, and with a little thought one can think of others. Pain in childbirth has been attributed to malevolent design (Gen 3:16). Pain in childbirth may serve some useful function, and may be partly a blessing in disguise, but it is primarily thought of as a curse. So yes, I do see bad design. It doesn’t keep me from detecting design. It just suggests the possibility of a bad designer. As you may know, Christianity from its inception postulated both good and (morally) bad designers.

    I’m glad you agree with me that there are signs of bad design. We’ve made progress.

    But then you go on to say that Christianity postulates both “good” and “bad” designers. This is news to me! Are you proposing that Satan had a hand in creation? Or that the Judeo-Christian God is capable of malevolent design?

    If not, then how are things like parasites explained? A good portion of life is parasitic, and in the harmful sense (causing agonizing pain, discomfort, and eventually death for the host organism). These animals obviously were not “good” in the beginning and then, effected by sin, became co-opted to a parasitic function. How did they come about?

    I understand your opinion of the “argument from designed purpose”. But there is some confusion here. That is not the usual terminology. Perhaps you could express your understanding of what the argument is, and why you find it either vague or dishonest.

    My bad; let me clarify.

    My point was that terms like “design” and “purpose” need to be specifically defined so that there’s no room for weasel room. Plenty of organic components hold (or can hold) more than one function, or can be co-opted for a different function.

    Take cows, for example, and their tails. If I asked you what the purpose for a cow tail was, you’d probably say so that the cow can swat flies off of its back. We know that cows are descended from marine creatures, specifically whale ancestors, which also obviously had tails, but which were used for a very different function.

    You ask what the purpose for design in humans is. I agree that to eat, eliminate, and procreate is not the only purpose; it would seem that using our brains has something to do with it. If you asked me to hazard a guess, I would say that it has something to do with the capacity for love.

    If using our brains was the sole purpose of human design, don’t you think the designer could have done a better job of it (as far as function and efficiency is concerned)? Use your imagination.

    You go on to say that if the purpose of humans is to glorify some deity, you could do better. I’m impressed. Which parts of human DNA would you change to accomplish this, and how would you change them?

    Assuming that I was the deity in question and I had options for creating an organism whose sole purpose was to glorify me, I’m not sure you would like my answer. ;)

  48. Another one bites the dust. We’ve seen the TalkOrigins page a hundred times before and it doesn’t cut it. It is essential micro evolution with some speculation about a couple items. You would think that overwhelming information would have some information that overwhelms. But, hey, we will look at some underwhelming stuff. It is all we get here.

    We will make it easy for you. Pick a couple examples and build your case one by one. You do not have to cover the waterfront. Just pick a pier or two to examine. That is not asking too much is it. It must be time for khan to pop up and he may be able to give you some help since he is an expert on it.

    And don’t come back with endosymbiosis which is khan favorite example. This may or may not be an example but there is no evidence it ever happened by Darwinian means. It may have happened but then again it is just conjecture how it happened.

    Show us the money.

    “so why should I play your game?”

    It is an ID site but we do answer all questions and sometimes the answer is we do not know. But list your challenges again and we will see if any of them have merit.

    So far you or 0 and 2 and we are saving the 95 hour curve on the outside corner for last. Actually I am giving you credit for a couple foul balls since you were wrong about what Dawkins said and you did not answer the reply about poor design being a theological argument.

  49. Back to the OP. After reading the list of system quality attributes, I think many of these would apply to biological systems. Additionally, they may fit well with existing ID frameworks.

    Consider the eye. Some attributes that may be considered are: accuracy, process capabilities, compatibility, dependability, durability, efficiency, flexibility, mobility, modularity, precision, seamlessness, simplicity, and stability.

    In other words, different systems or parts of organisms could be rated along these dimensions. In addition, one would likely find that higher ratings across all those dimensions and a low rating on simplicity would make it much more difficult for any naturalistic process to result in a biological system possessing these attributes. Considering Behe’s Edge of Evolution, evolutionary processes may be able to produce a feature that has very high simplicity, and low ratings on all other system quality attributes. So, it’s not just irreducibly complex systems or complex specified information that evolution is incapable of producing, but also systems with certain configurations of quality attributes.

  50. RDK,

    I’ve got one for you which you might be able to hit out of the park. Know that I don’t speak for IDist here, as I’m new to ID, these are my own questions:

    Cambrian explosion.

    One idea I’ve seen put forth is; the explanation for the rapid evolution/coming into existense of over 50 phyla in this 10 to 80 million year time period is exoskeletons, or calcification’s first appearance.
    The problems I see:

    1. Wouldn’t the first “tank” creature, or partial tank have total dominance and so reduce phyla? Yet we see phyla increasing? Eat everything in it’s path? Seems like a clear win in the arms race. If the answer is “they all got hard structures at once”. Then how? Horizontal gene transfer? But say quite a few did harden at once, isn’t this just a better case for less phyla, as certain creatures will only eat certain prey? But then the question would be; why the huge diversity of hardened creatures? What new advantage would spur these hardened creatures to further diversify into 50 phyla when we don’t see this happening now? The only option would be to say that there were already 50 soft phyla and they all became hard at once.

    2. How come zero new phyla since then? In fact less than ever, we’re down to 30 something. Nothing can compete in the millions of years since with hardened parts to spur diversity?

    3. Lastly, do you take the tactic of Eugenie Scott and say “there is no debate”, Knowing how many issues more concrete than this are brought up on this site and others?

  51. RDK (#46),

    What constitutes good design?

    I would think this would be obvious. Good design is design that accomplishes its purpose. The recurrent laryngeal nerve exhibits good design. Whether it is optimal is another question.

    You misquote me. I never purported that the back was undesigned, but rather designed without any apparent intelligent foresight.

    I’m confused. Are you saying that the back was designed, but without any apparent intelligent foresight (i.e., that the designer couldn’t think ahead? That would seem to be an actual designer; albeit a very dumb one. Or perhaps what you really meant is that it was “designed” by natural selection acting on random variations. In that case, it would seem like what really happened was that there were different kinds of apes (I presume you meant the human back) that had different stances, specifications for fibrocartilage proteins, etc., and the ones that were best at passing along their genes (for presently unknown reasons) had the most descendents, some of whom became progressively more upright and finally became human. In that case, I don’t understand your objection to the term “undesigned”. How can something that had no designer be called designed? Wouldnt’ “has the appearance of being designed” be more accurate? Are you trying to say that Natural Selection designs?

    There’s a big difference between the many ailments of the bad design of the back and dropping your computer in order to break it.

    Now you’re misquoting me. I didn’t say anything about intentionally dropping a computer

    That’s an awful analogy to begin with, anyway, because as I just explained in my previous post, a laptop is not a living, breathing, reproducing organism.

    The “analogy” was meant to help you realize that if one applies overwhelming force to something that is indisputably designed, it can break. Thus the claim that a back that is stressed beyond its tolerance can break, and therefore the back must not be designed, is a non-sequitur.

    Let me put it to you in propositional form. The logic you implicitly used goes like this.
    (Major) Designed objects will not break
    (Major, restated) If an object can break, it is not designed.
    (minor) The back can break.
    (Conclusion) Therefore the back is not designed.

    I will grant the minor premise. Part of my specialty is taking initial care of broken backs. But the major premise is just plain wrong. The dropped laptop screen is a specific counterexample to the generalization. Why you call it an analogy is beyond me.

    Perhaps I can give you a different perspective. I know about back diseases. What is commonly not appreciated is that a substantial number of people have no trouble whatsoever with their backs, in spite of the various accidents or diseases that can cause back problems. Would you then grant that those people might have well-designed backs? Or are we only allowed to look at part of the picture when assessing the presence of design?

    You show your ignorance of ID when you say

    So either the designs I listed above came about on a “good enough” basis (which evolution proposes, as opposed to a “best” basis as proposed by ID), or they were created by a designer that lacks basic common sense and would no doubt fail any high school biology class.

    A number of people, myself included, have noted, some on this thread, that design does not necessarily imply optimal design. Yet you have the ignorance or nerve to say that ID proposes only “best” design. The example of defective paint was given you. Are you really that dense? Or are you reluctant to accept the truth about our position, even when it is stated, because it is just too good a straw man to hold onto and beat up on the position you want us to take?

    Your hubris is getting the better of you. After being implicitly reproved for your statement that you could create humans better, at least for the purpose of glorifying God, than they presently are, you now assert that such things as the human back could be designed better than they are by anyone who passed high school biology. Really now. You must have passed high school biology. What human DNA would you change to make the back better, and how would you change it?

    I’m glad you agree with me that there are signs of bad design. We’ve made progress.

    Not really. You may have made progress. As I noted, my position is some 2,000 (2,500 to 3,500 if you count Job) years old.

    But then you go on to say that Christianity postulates both “good” and “bad” designers. This is news to me! Are you proposing that Satan had a hand in creation? Or that the Judeo-Christian God is capable of malevolent design?

    You must be icredibly theologically naïve. You really had never heard of malevolent design? Let me help you. In Genesis 3:17 it says (NIV) “It [the ground] will produce thorns and thistles for you”. The text does not say whether this will be because of genetic changes that were pre-programmed, or whether God did it specifically, or whether He turned Satan loose, or whether there was some other mechanism, but however it happened, it was malevolent design from the perspective of mankind. The fact that you have not seen this suggests that Christian theology is not your forte.

    You mentioned parasites, and said,

    These animals obviously were not “good” in the beginning and then, effected by sin, became co-opted to a parasitic function.

    How do you know? To take the case of roundworms, there are free-living nematodes that do not necessarily cause pain, discomfort, and death to other animals. One could reasonably explore whether the changes that would be required to form hookworms could be explained by random mutations and natural selection. If not, then the reasonable conclusion is that they were designed.

    You said,

    Take cows, for example, and their tails. If I asked you what the purpose for a cow tail was, you’d probably say so that the cow can swat flies off of its back. We know that cows are descended from marine creatures, specifically whale ancestors, which also obviously had tails, but which were used for a very different function.

    Now, I have heard that whales originated from cows, although I don’t think that is the currently most popular theory. But cows originating from whales? That seems like a whale of a tale.

    Finally, you say,

    Assuming that I was the deity in question and I had options for creating an organism whose sole purpose was to glorify me, I’m not sure you would like my answer. ;)

    Perhaps we should all be thankful that you are not God! ;) Although I’d still like to know how you would plan to do it. To quote my last comment you quoted, and never answered,

    Which parts of human DNA would you change to accomplish this, and how would you change them?

    A Nobel Prize still awaits. ;)

  52. Nakashima-San, re # 19:

    In 15, I was making several semi-humorous allusions in the semi-speculative study known as angelology; given BZ’s use of the name of a former colleague of Michael the Warrior Arch-Angel.

    (Beelzebub = “lord of the flies” is either old Lucifer himself, or one of his key lieutenants, depending on who you talk to. There are three canonically recognised leading angels: Lucifer the ex- worship leader and prideful rebel . . . now known as Satan; Michael the warrior Archangel who defeated him and drove him from heaven; Gabriel the messenger — NB “angel” at root means messenger. From the Apocrypha and other ancient works, Raphael, the healing angel and at least four others: Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jarahmeel are sufficiently prominent that they may be viewed as [arch?-] or at least prominent angels.)

    As to the reference to Japan, etc, all nations are implied in the New Testament, and several dozens are explicitly mentioned; in particular, we may see in the revelation that God has saved from every tribe, kindred and nation. In that general context, the Biblical theology — as opposed to systematic theology — position is that God judges us eternally by the light we have had access to and how we have used it: light of truth and light of right that we know or should know and should live by as a result. this is illustrated by the terms of Rom 2:6 – 7 in the context of 5 – 8:

    Rom 2:5 . . . because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    Moderate inclusivists such as myself, hold that we see here that those who walk by the light they have, being penitent for their recognised sins and seeking and walking persistently int the truth they know and learn, will be welcomed by God. (Of course, by sharpest contrast, those who — sadly — are self-seeking, follow evil and resist the truth they knew or should know will face a fateful Divine regretful frown.)

    So, I simply stitched several threads to gether to make up a little story: a [hypothetical] former national treasure of Japan who is an expert on sword sharpening — Japanese blades being world famed for sharpness and cutting power — helping Michael out as he prepares for the upcoming showdown with his old antagonist and former colleague. (Who knows, maybe there is indeed one up there helping Mikey the Archie out, as we speak!)

    Okay?

    (Hope that makes a bit better sense.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: before you can get to hill-climbing algorithms like RV + NS circulating around already functioning genomes in workable body plans, you have got to first get to the shores of islands of functionality. On the config spaces to get to first life [2^600,000+ and onward increments of complex functional information to get to novel main body plans ~ 2^10,000,000 +: recall every cell in our bodies with a nucleus has in it a small nanotechnology based digital computer compete with strage and processing], the search resources of the observed cosmos — no more than about 10^150 quantum states of all atoms across its reasonable potential lifespan — are so inadequate that it is maximally improbable on the required random changes in chemicals in warm ponds or in in-vivo DNA molecules or RNA molecules, to get TO such shores of function in vast seas of non-function. In short, where the design import of FSCI comes to bear is BEFORE RV + NS can get to work to provide a hill-climb to improved function. (Thus, despite the Weasel program and its kin, there is no real-world escape hatch through so-called cumulative selection. For, you have got to get to shores of function across the see of complex but non-functional configs, before you can begin to climb up within an island of function.)

  53. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Thank you for the explication of your little story. I’m not so familiar with the Miltonian and Midrashic embellishments fo the angel’s stories. Perhaps they will do a manga version of Paradise Lost, and I will have a chance to catch up!

    Be that as it may, I would be careful putting too many of these side comments into your posts. It is sadly true that there are disturbed individuals on the internet who could take such messages as incitement to do violence against a real person, rather than your intention.

  54. Mr Kairosfocus,

    I see you have changed your standard bignums to powers of 2. Do you have any derivation of these numbers?

    I remember reading Ronald Fox’s Energy and the Evolution of Life many years ago. He is basically a “metabolism first” OOL person, with a specific interest in the chemistry of phosphorus. I bring it up because I think the activity of small molecules (and RNA oligomers) is a likely defeater of the “hard to find an island of function” argument.

    In general, what is your position on the argument that our universe and our world are agreeable and hospitable to life in an unusual degree? It seems to me that from some people I hear “the world is set up to make life inevitable – proof of design” and from other people I hear “life is very hard to make – proof of design”! :)

  55. Nakashima-San:

    Quick notes — came back as found a “lost” file . . .
    1] Manga — that would be nice.

    2] Violence — never thought of it, but Archangels clashing is actually in the bible. Mikey and Lucifer had it out over Moshe’s body. Used to be “neighbouring” territorial spiritual princes at one time too — Mikey over Israel, Luce over Lebanon.

    3] Chemical activity of RNA, amino acids etc is actually a minus on the likelihood of formation of the integrated molecular nanomachines of life: to the extent that things happen by dint of chemical forces, to that same extent they become non-info storing and so unprogrammable. More tot he point, hydrolysis reactions and the like tend to drive breakdowns not chaining and organisation into digital info systems.

    4 ] Energy flow though is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of complex organisation, especially algorithmic info processing. [Cf App 1 my always linked, where I go thorugh the thermodynamics starting with Clausius' first example on which he based the 2nd law.] So the “open systems can increase order” standard dismissal is wrong-headed. 9try the onward Chs’ 7 – 9 of TBO’s TMLO.]

    5] The configuration spaces are as they are: each monomer in a DNA or RNA chain can be in one of 4 states, the chaining chemistry being in effect independent of the info storage in the side groups. So, for N-element chains we can store 2N bits of information, or 2^2N states. For simple life, at about 300,000 base pairs, functional disintegration of the cell happens, actually a bit more. For the formation of phyla level organisms, you need cell ti=types, tissues, organs and organisation into body plans. Using fruit flies as a metric, 10′s – 100′s of millions of fresh base pairs; dozens of times over.

    6] to compare, 1,000 bits specifies 2^1,000 states, or about ten times the square of the number of states the cosmos’s atoms can credibly go though across a thermodynamically reasonable lifespan. 2^600,000 ~ 9.9 * 10^180,617. Algorithmic code bearing functionality is rather specifically programmed and so naturally would come in islands of function. the resulting search space challenge is a needle in a haystack on steroids.

    7] As for the orderliness of the cosmos we live in, i discuss in Section D my always linked. In a nutshell, so many separate parameters have to be co-tuned to get to a cosmos that forms atoms of enough variety, stars of enough lifespan, and enough galaxies of spiral type to make a difference, that it is plain that there is a finetuning effect. including things like the ration of protons to electrons and the associated charge matching, as the E-M force is a long range one: work out he force between two 1 C charges at 1 km separation: K = 9*10^9, q1 = q2 = 1, r^2 = 10^6, so we see the force is 9 kN, a pretty strong push, about a tonne’s weight worth. (It’s a lot easier to get to 1 N of electric force than 1 N of gravity!]

    8 ] Multiverse speculations end up putting this up one step: how do you get to the cosmos baking factory that so varies parameters that we get he possibility of the balance. And, this is a metaphysical not a scientific — empirically testable — model. So, art eh table we have to provide room for the alternative that the fine tuning is real, and the cosmos looks designed for the obvious reason that it is.

    9] Remember, the issue is inference to best, empirically anchored explanation: cosmically, we know engineered systems exhibit fine tuned complexity, and the alternative is such a vast array of chance cases that are inaccessible to us that Occam cuts to the bone. (As to a programming superlaw that forces the comos to be as it is, that too would be exceptionaly fine tuned.) And, the sort of algorithmic, complex functional organisation we see in the cell has other cases were we do know the origin directly: intelligence, without exception. And, the other source of high contingency, stochastic, undirected contingency — aka chance — runs out of room for trial and error searches north of 500 – 1,000 bits.

    GEM of TKI

  56. PS: You’ll love this Wiki article, esp the pics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_(archangel) also there IS a manga on Michael et al, but rather far away form the traditional angelology!

  57. 57
    SaintMartinoftheFields

    Nakashima, it’s probably not healthy to worry too much about that kind of stuff.

    I mean nearly everything can be misconstrued. Just live your life and don’t worry so much.

    Best,

    Marty

  58. Oramus:

    RDK, design is the default assumption based on logical necessity.

    RDK:

    Design is only the default when you start out with presuppositions; oddly enough, kind of like the entire field of ID.

    Acually, design is the default since it is what we observe directly.

    What could conceivably falsify our observation of design is a model that would show beyond a reasonable doubt that in fact organisms built up their form and function step-by-step from fortuitous mutations fixed in the genome over time.

    This is an undoubtedly a gargantuan task. Yet it is the most promising method in which to falsify design.

    Inumerable Nobels await you, RDK. :)

  59. Nakashima,

    I forgot to thank you for your reply to my earlier comments.

    I stumbled upon the technical textile field and have yet to be bored with my job. My striking gold with a particular design (2 mil yard order) doesn’t hurt either.

    On your comment of mutability, I believe it is one more attribute of life that bolsters the concept of design.

    In all the years of discussion of ID vs Darwinism, I still have yet to see rigorous modelling of even the most elementary functions or forms being created by fortuitous mutations fixed over time.

    It seems there is only interpretations of data vis ‘designed’ data organizing processes like homology and cladistics. I do not see this organization of data as rigorous support for a hypothesis of organic development vis fixing of fortuitous mutations over time.

    Rather it appears more like the building up of a circumstantial case for the plausibility of the existence of such an idea.

    Two different animals in my book.

  60. TCS,

    You mention quality. That is a great question.

    Can we say quality is commensurate with complexity? I ask this because it seems there is in the animal kingdom a proportionality between the level of complexity of an organism and its quanity in the environment. Bacteria and next Insects are innumerable yet appear to be at the botton of the complexity ladder. The higher up we go on the complexity ladder the less the quantity.

    So it appears there is a purposeful inverse heirarchy in quality vs. quantity.

    Until we reach the highest level of complexity, Humans. Here there seems a curious anomoly. Humans comparitivel,y are ascending to top honors in both categories quality AND quantity.

    I mention this as a question to consider in investigating ‘ilities’ and their relation to the position of each organism in this hierarchy if it in deed exists.

    Any thoughts?

  61. Mr Oramus,

    I dn’t think most scientists think there is anything like a “ladder”. If anything, it sounds like you are arguing for an inverse relationship of body mass and quantity. But you have to say how you are measuring complexity/”quality” – number of genes? number of cell types? brain size?

    Humans skew the results only recently. The same measures run 100,000 years ago probably fit humans into the curve pretty well, because there were not so many of us back then!

  62. One note: “non-coding DNA”, not “junk”, please. Who knows, (jgod?),it may come in use in future environments.

  63. Mr. Nakashima,

    Since Kairosfocus did not specifically answer your final question in #54, I will give it a try.

    In general, what is your position on the argument that our universe and our world are agreeable and hospitable to life in an unusual degree? It seems to me that from some people I hear “the world is set up to make life inevitable – proof of design” and from other people I hear “life is very hard to make – proof of design”! ;)

    There may be some who are arguing that “the world is set up to make life inevitable – proof of design”, but they are not very many. Specifically, the Privileged Planet hypothesis states that the earth is set up to be hospitable to life, and to facilitate scientific discovery. Nothing in that hypothesis claims that the earth is set up so that life will arise spontaneously.

    Now if the claim were that the earth is set up so that life will arise spontaneously, then there would be a contradiction with those who claim that “life is very hard to make – proof of design”. But since that is not the case, the earth could be set up to be hospitable to life (and for scientific discovery), more than chance would expect, and life might still be very hard to make spontaneously, and both might be legitimate (and mutually reinforcing) arguments. At present, I happen to think the evidence supports both propositions, in which case design has two arguments in its favor.

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