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Worldview Blinders

Jurassicmac quotes from this post and responds: 

“What’s really needed is a prize recognizing plausible non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution.”

Uh, before we start handing out prizes for plausible non-Darwinian mechanisms, someone should, y’know, propose one. All ears.

 Jurassicmac’s comment is precious, because it illustrates with such crystal clarity a point Phillip Johnson made many times.  Here’s Johnson:

Is the blind watchmaker hypothesis true? From the naturalistic standpoint of Darwinists like Dawkins, the question really doesn’t arise. Instead of truth, the important concept is science, which is understood to be our only (or at least by far our most reliable) means of attaining knowledge. Science is then defined as an activity in which only naturalistic explanations are considered and in which the goal is always to improve the best existing naturalistic explanation. Supernatural creation-or God-guided evolution-is not a naturalistic explanation. The blind watchmaker hypothesis is therefore merely a way of stating the commitment of “science” to naturalism, and as such the existence of a blind watchmaker is a logical necessity. If a critic doesn’t like Darwinism, his only permissible move is to suggest a better blind watchmaker. That a competent blind watchmaker doesn’t exist at all is not a logical possibility.

 Jurassic is so entangled in his worldview to him alternatives to Darwinism that have been suggested at this site are not a logical possibility.  They are almost literally ”unthinkable.”    He remains “all ears,” he says, but his worldview has made him deaf to anything other than what he wants to hear.

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15 Responses to Worldview Blinders

  1. In Jurassicmac himself writing this short passage,,,

    “What’s really needed is a prize recognizing plausible non-Darwinian mechanisms of evolution.”

    Uh, before we start handing out prizes for plausible non-Darwinian mechanisms, someone should, y’know, propose one. All ears.

    Jurassicmac himself has surpassed merely proposing a plausible mechanism, but has indeed ‘scientifically demonstrated’ that intelligence is the only known ‘non-Darwinian mechanism’ capable of producing the massive amounts of functional information. Massive amounts of complex integrated functional information that all proposed material Darwinian processes are grossly inadequate to explain.

  2. Darwinists are not the only ones whose “worldview has made him deaf to anything other than what he wants to hear.” Most people take their worldview as established fact, whatever that worldview happens to be, to the point where they cannot hear or see anything that contradicts it.

    For a great example of two Christians who are equally incapable of hearing anything other than what they want to hear, follow the conversation between me, StephenB, and Bornagain77 in “Great TED vid: Human Life from Conception to Birth” below.

  3. 3

    I’ve run into this kind of comment many times. Sometimes they mean an intervening device between the proposed intelligence and the biological effect (like a gene gun? like quantum observer-collapse?); sometimes they want the process of the intelligence described in mechanistic terms.

    What they don’t seem to comprehend is that the “alternative mechanism” being postulated is intelligent design. IOW, everything that is proposed to have occurred with Darwinian evolution occurs, but instead of there being no intelligent coordination of or involvement in mutation and selection, that intelligent coordination is involved.

    What difference does it make if the intelligent coordination was accomplished via quantum observer-collapse, a gene gun, a breeding program, gene splicing, or some capacity/technology that would appear to us to be magic? That’s as silly as saying that we cannot determine that an alien artifact on a distant planet is the product of intelligent design until we figure out how they built it.

    ID is the proposed alternative mechanism, if by “mechanism” you mean (from dictionary.com):

    2. the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.

  4. I can’t help but note that no one, neither the author of this post, nor the commenters, has yet proposed an alternate mechanism. I’ve been following ID for years and I’ve yet to hear anyone propose a mechanism, let alone a plausible one. I could be wrong. Please correct me If I am by stating a proposed mechanism.

    Jurassic is so entangled in his worldview, to him alternaties to Darwinism that have been suggested at this site are not a logical possibility.

    I have been reading this site almost since it’s inception. (agreeing with it entirely for most of that time) I have yet to come across an alternate mechanism for evolution put forth here. Again, please correct me If I’ve merely overlooked it. I assure you, there is nothing in my worldview that necessitates that alternative explanations are not logical possibilities. (I’m amused at how many contributors to this site are mind-readers, and terrible ones at that; I’m curious as to how you know what my worldview necessitates.)

    And just to preemptively address a point that is sure to come up by someone who isn’t paying close attention: “It was designed,” is not a mechanism. If two detectives are trying to figure out how millions of dollars were taken from a still intact and undamaged bank vault, saying “I think a person did it,” contributes nothing to the investigation. The same is true with this subject. Let’s assume for sake of argument that there is a designer: How did he/she/it/they implement the design?

    My prediction is that instead of a clear, concise answer to this question, there will simply be more “blah blah blah your world view blah blah close-minded blah materialist blah blah blah.”

  5. What they don’t seem to comprehend is that the “alternative mechanism” being postulated is intelligent design.

    No, ‘design’ is not a mechanism. A ‘mechanism’ is a proposal of how something was done.

    Ironically, you even got the definition of mechanism right when you quoted the definition:

    2. the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.

    There must be some way, in principle if not in practice, to verify or test either the agency or means. We believe that the pyramids were constructed by the ancient Egyptians because we have strong evidence for the existence of the proposed agents: humans. We believe the Grand Canyon was created by natural processes because we have strong evidence for the existence of the means: erosion. Saying “some natural process did it” is not an adequate explanation to the question: “How is pillow basalt is formed?” Saying “some supernatural agent did” it is equally not an adequate explanation for “How did life evolve?”

  6. Over at Evolution News and Views is this quite revealing paragraph:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52821.html

    A rather basic question fundamental to any evolutionary account of life’s development — how “genotypes generate phenotypes,” in other words how genes build an individual creature — remains totally obscure to science.

    I don’t see that scientists can claim that there is a “theory” of evolution until the above question is answered. If theory is defined as an explanation for some natural phenomenon, then what science has right now is merely a hypothesis. Scientists have certainly not explained evolution as we commonly understand the word. The random variation and natural selection phrase that has appeared in all of the popular literature that I have read should be considered to be a hypothesis and not an explanation.

    I was glad to see this post on ENV because I have been asking this question in one form or another on various blogs. Is there a paper that discusses this fundamental problem? I would like to see a paper that does discuss (in terms that a layman can understand) what scientists really need to know before they can claim to have an explanation for evolution, and what scientists know so far.

    I know Stephen Meyer and/or Jonathan wells have suggested that the body plan for an organism is not found in the DNA, and that means all the mutations in the world cannot account for changes in the genotype causing a new phenotype.

    From the article linked at ENV:

    We now know that there are at least 50 possible functions that DNA sequences can fulfill [8], that the networks for traits require many proteins and that they allow for considerable redundancy [9]. The reality is that the evolutionary synthesis says nothing about any of this; for all its claim of being grounded in DNA and mutation, it is actually a theory based on phenotypic traits. This is not to say that the evolutionary synthesis is wrong, but that it is inadequate – it is really only half a theory! (My emphasis)

    Rather than a prize for a plausible non-Darwinian mechanism, I would like to see a prize for a complete explanation of the Darwinian mechanism.

  7. Great point! The fact is that the neo-Darwinian synthesis just assumes that a small change in an organism can be produced by a relatively simple mutation in the genome, but without an understanding of how genotypes generate phenotypes, as you say, there is no justification for such an assumption.

  8. I should point out that I don’t expect the prize to be won because I find the ID arguments persuasive.

    Certainly research needs to continue until scientists fully understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. The big questions remain. Will a complete understanding of the genotype/phenotype relationship lend credence to the ID inference? If so, will the materialist scientists admit, albeit grudgingly, that it does?

  9. What was the mechanism that produced the Mona Lisa? I think the answer is that the cause was not a deterministic mechanism but rather agency. Searching for a mechanism that can produce the Mona Lisa will never contribute something to the investigation.

    One thing that ID determines is whether a mechanism was involved. If CSI is discovered, we know—in theory and through observation—that mechanisms cannot produce it but agents do all the time.

    If the agent is a scientist or an artist, I think we have a chance at discovering the how (such as, how were the pyramids built?). If the agent is tremendously-powerful God, I do not think we will ever fully answer that question, though the engineering of biomimetics is revealing more of this answer every week. Note, though, revealing “how” an agent did something is not discovering a “mechanism.”

  10. Saying “some supernatural agent did it” frees us up from fruitlessly searching (ad nauseum) for a deterministic mechanism when none exists. Whether agency was involved is an important question to answer, a question asked quite often in forensics.

    In the field of biomimetics, it is also an important question to ask, for who would want to copy a product that was produced by blind, purposeless, and meaningless mechanism? Now, discovering in this design something such as, “oh, piece X needs to be here because without it piece Y won’t work” is a very good discovery.

    Saying “some natural process did it” is not an adequate explanation to the question: “How is pillow basalt is formed?” Saying “some supernatural agent did” it is equally not an adequate explanation for “How did life evolve?”

    Saying “some natural process did it” is equally not an adequate explanation for “how was the Mona Lisa produced?” (If it were a print of the painting, you could point to the printer, but if the asker is asking about the origin of the original, detailing the mechanism of the printer doesn’t answer the origin of the CSI in the painting.) Saying DaVinci painted it with oils in the 1500s, however, is a good answer (one you find quite often on a tiny placard next to the painting in museums).

  11. jurassicmac

    No, ‘design’ is not a mechanism. A ‘mechanism’ is a proposal of how something was done.

    Yes, design is a mechanism:

    A mechanism is a a process, technique, or system for achieving a result-

    Design is to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.

    A plan is a process, technique, or system for achieving a result.

    Therefor design is a mechanism.

  12. jurassicmac,

    I wouldn’t consider your point of view unreasonable if not for the double standard.

    Like so many, you are skeptical of what you cannot see even when its effects are evident. Half of astronomy would vanish under the weight of such disbelief, if effects could not be followed to unseen causes.

    But while ID does not even require a miracle, you insist in explaining biology with one under the strict condition that it must be without cause. A bunch of molecules rubbing together and starting a three-billion year party with decorations and music doesn’t even raise your eyebrow.

    Don’t show off your skepticism badge. You haven’t earned it.

  13. Joseph,

    As you define ‘mechanism’ and ‘plan’, you are equating one with the other, ‘mechanism’ same as ‘plan’. If we substitute the word ‘plan’ in your definition of ‘design’, we get “Design is to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to [a] mechanism.” That would seem to indicate that ‘design’ is a result of a ‘mechanism’. But your conclusion “design is a mechanism” would result in defining ‘design’ as “to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to design.”, ie, ‘design’ is a result of ‘design’, which seems consistent with the kinds of argumentation that you present to support your views.

  14. correction: If we substitute the word ‘mechanism’ for ‘plan’ in your definition of ‘design,…

  15. jurassicmac,
    I think your question is a fair though not necessary one to infer an intelligent agent.

    The rational belief that pyramids are the result of human design doesn’t rely on the notion that we can believe so only if we can also propose how they might have been built. I only need to know a) what cannot happen naturally and b) an idea of intelligent agency has designed in the past and/or is capable of designing.

    And while our detectives saying “a person did it” may not add *further* to their investigation it does rule out the possibility that the money walked out of the vault on its own.

    “A person did it” IS a valuable bit of information for our detectives or else they’d be chasing down all kinds of other possibilities that lead nowhere. See?

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