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HeKS suggests a way forward on the KS “bomb” argument


New Contributor HeKS, has had occasion to comment a few hours ago on KS’ claimed bomb argument (cf. my own headlined for record response here, WJM’s here and here,  VJT’s here,   BA’s Black Knight Taunt summing up here and other responses at UD . . . KS’s  repeated boasts that he has not been answered are groundless).  I think his comment is worth headlining as a pivot for discussion on the issue and on what has been happening rhetorically:


HeKS: >> In this thread, I noticed Keiths posting a summary of his supposed ‘bomb’ argument. I haven’t been around much lately and haven’t seen too much of the discussion around his argument that has apparently been taking place, but seeing his summary I decided to offer a few initial thoughts and ask a few questions. Keith responded by pointing me to his original article at TSZ. After reading it, I came away thinking his argument was worse than I had originally thought and asked that he respond to my previous comments so we could move forward from there as we have time. He asked me to repost my comments here, so that’s what I’m doing. The following will be the brief history of our interactions in that thread and then Keith can respond as he sees fit.

Keith’s summary of his argument was posted in this comment. This was my initial response:

I haven’t been around too much lately cause I’ve been busy with other stuff, but seeing your argument in #59, I have a few questions and then, if I have time, I might address it further in coming days.

You say:

3. We know that unguided evolution exists. Even the most rabid IDer/YEC will admit that antibiotic resistance can evolve

This seems to me like a cheat.

First, in order for this claim to have any value at all for your argument, we would have to assume that the biological processes that make unguided evolution (if indeed it is unguided) even possible are themselves not designed. A system can be designed to allow for inputs that are not specifically predicted and generate outputs that are not specifically intended, and yet the framework that allows for this to happen can be designed to specifically fulfill this purpose. It’s also possible for a system to be designed to generate outputs within certain constraints when it receives one or more of a wide range of predicted inputs. Furthermore, a system can be designed to degrade gracefully when certain functions or data become unavailable, so that the system as a whole can continue functioning in some form, though it sports a lesser array of features, or, alternatively, it can throw up some kind of fatal error that completely crashes the system when core features or data are missing. People who program for the web and for various browsers and devices (desktop, tablet, phone) do this kind of thing all the time, and programming and markup languages include features to make this kind of stuff easier.

So, when you say that we know that unguided evolution exists, all we really know is that specific events happen that we couldn’t predict in advance, and they sometimes result in relatively minor changes in organisms. We do not know that the systems that allow this to happen were not designed or that the possibility of this happening was not a specifically intended function of the system to allow for biological diversity and adaptation to changing environments.

Second, your argument assumes that this “unguided evolution”, if it exists, is of a sort that it could, at least in principle, offer some kind of possible explanation for the macroevolutionary changes that would be necessary to produce an objective nested hierarchy naturalistically, even if it would require a large degree of extrapolation. The problem is that the type of “unguided evolution” we observe is not one that is observed to add novel functional information to the genome. It slightly alters and degrades genetic information, and it breaks existing functions or sometimes fixes functions that had previously been broken by simple point mutations, but we do not see it adding brand new complex (in the sense of “many well-matched parts”) functionality that didn’t exist before.

So the type of “unguided evolution” that “even the most rabid IDer/YEC” observes is not of the kind that they would have any reason to think can offer, even in principle, a possible explanation for the macroevolutionary changes needed to produce an ONH naturalistically at any point that the ONH requires a significant increase in functional genetic information. Wherever that would be necessary, any appeal to the known existence of “unguided evolution” as a basic feature of reality would not even simply be an extreme unwarranted extrapolation of the available evidence, but would actually be the misleading invocation of a process that does pretty much exactly the opposite of what we observe “unguided evolution” doing.

So, if by your #3 you mean something like this:

We know that there exists an unguided natural mechanism of a sort that might, at least in principle, be able to explain the significant increases in functional genetic information at particular nodes of the supposed ONH of life.

Then I have to say, no, we don’t know of any such thing.

We don’t know that the apparently “unguided evolution” we observe is not made possible by designed systems intended to allow for that evolution to happen in the first place, and we don’t know that there exists any unguided mechanism that could, in principle, account for significant increases in functional genetic information or significant changes in body plans, whereas as we do know of constraints that would seem to prevent such things.

Of course, if you want to say that the ONH results from a gradual and unguided degrading of genetic information, that could work, at least to a certain point, and could be viewed as a reasonable extrapolation of the “unguided evolution” we observe. Of course, this raises the question of where the high information-content of the ancestor genome came from in the first place and we would have to account for the places in the hierarchy where a significant increase or change in functional information seems to have arisen.

4. We don’t know that the putative designer exists, so ID is already behind in the race.

We don’t begin with a knowledge that the designer exists, but we do know that intelligent design exists as a form of causation, that it is capable of generating significant amounts of functional information, and that it is capable of arranging many parts into complicated relationships that carry out specific functions. We even know that human intelligent design is capable of building molecular machines, as in the work of Dr. James Tour.

So, in terms of invoking some kind of causal force or mechanism that is actually known to exist and that could, in principle, explain what we see in nature at various nodes of the alleged ONH, including systems that would allow for the graceful degrading of genetic information, ID is far ahead in the race.

UE is literally trillions of times better than design at explaining the evidence


12. If we take that approach and assume, temporarily and for the sake of argument alone, that the designer is responsible for the diversity of life, we can see that ID does not predict an objective nested hierarchy out of the trillions of possibilities.

What are these trillions of possibilities? How did you come up with “trillions”, since you say “literally trillions”? Can you give me some examples of how else the designer might have designed life? How many ways might he have designed life if we don’t assume that he designed every current species in its current form all at once? How many of those trillions of ways require that the designer ignore efficient and flexible design principles? Or that he endlessly reinvent the wheel?

Also, what method are you using to reasonably constrain predictions of what approach the designer might use, and what pattern to life might ensue, without any knowledge or hypothesis of what the designer was wanting to achieve or even what degree of specificity the designer might have had in mind for the species we currently observe?

Anyways, those are a few initial thoughts I have about your argument. There’s probably not much point in going any further or addressing any other issues until I hear your thoughts on this stuff.

Keiths suggested I might want to do some background reading on his argument (i.e. read his original article, which he linked me to) before trying to tackle it.

I did, and responded with the following:

I went and read your article at TSZ as requested. Having done so, I now think your argument is worse than I originally thought, so why don’t you start by addressing what I said and we can go from there as we have time.

He responded with:


I went and read your article at TSZ as requested. Having done so, I now think your argument is worse than I originally thought…

A lot of people say things like that. Then they try to refute the argument, and fail. It’s been almost a month now with no refutation.

…so why don’t you start by addressing what I said and we can go from there as we have time.

Repost your comment on this thread, which is the most recent thread discussing my argument. I’ll respond there.

And now my brief response to that:

A lot of people say things like that. Then they try to refute the argument, and fail. It’s been almost a month now with no refutation.

A lot of people have said that the more they understand your argument the worse of an argument it seems to them? That’s not really surprising.

You say that it has been almost a month with no refutation, but are we really supposed to expect that you would readily admit a refutation to an argument which you are obviously quite fond of? It tends to be the case that when someone offers an argument that appears to be poorly reasoned and then goes on to loudly promote that argument as a powerful refutation of an opposing point of view, it is highly unlikely that the person will be prone to recognizing when serious flaws are pointed out in it, much less that it has been soundly refuted. I highly doubt that I’m going to convince you that your argument is flawed, or that anyone else could either, but some of the flaws seem rather obvious.

Anyway, please offer some response on my initial comments and questions, and feel free to ask for clarification if you don’t understand any particular point I’m making.>>


I think this may be a useful point of departure for onward discussion, and will supplement with something FTR. END