Biology Darwinism Intelligent Design

Bird Brains, GN&C, and ID

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For many years I was an avid hang glider pilot, and one of my specialties in aerospace R&D is Guidance, Navigation and Control software development for precision-guided airdrop systems.

During many of my hang glider flights I had the opportunity to observe, from an unusual perspective, hawks in their native environment — the air. Flying wingtip to wingtip at the same airspeed, one gets a profound appreciation for these amazing creatures and their GN&C.

On a number of my hang glider flights, hawks came up close. They always seemed to be curious about me, flying my lumbering 32-foot-wingspan Dacron and aluminum aircraft. Up this close, I could observe the subtle adjustments they made in their primary feathers to compensate for the turbulence in the air, and they would glance furtively at me.

And they like to show off! I’ve seen this many times. On one occasion a redtail hawk who was flying with me folded his wings, went into a high-speed dive, performed several really amazing aerobatic maneuvers, and then pulled up and flew side by side with me again, moving his head and looking over at me as if to ask, “Can you do that?”

It is fascinating to watch birds land, especially in swaying tree branches in a gusty wind. Their GN&C is completely amazing.

Did all of this aerodynamic and control-system technology — which much integrate the visual system, tactile system, neurological system, muscular system, etcetera and etcetera — come about by random variation and natural selection? Please give me a break. I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m not that dull.

The real question is, What in biological systems can be explained by RV&NS? The obvious answer is, not very much at all.

35 Replies to “Bird Brains, GN&C, and ID

  1. 1
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    “Did all of this aerodynamic and control-system technology — which must integrate the visual system, tactile system, neurological system, muscular system, etcetera and etcetera — come about by random variation and natural selection?” – Gil Dodgen

    Obviously not. And the suggestion that it might have, I contend, indicates either a radical defect in the gray matter, or a willful and blasphemous denial of our God-given ability to intuitively recognize such examples of design. I don’t think our adversaries will soon be healed — or converted — by mere formulae.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Gil,

    I just read a chapter in a book by Henry Gee on bird evolution. He tries to make a case for naturalistic evolution mainly by arguing that all the necessary ingredients for flight evolved for other reasons. So that the original creatures who became birds found that they had adapted in such a way that they were suited for flight. The rest was down hill.

    His case is so hard to believe and to me looks like someone trying to shoehorn something that is so improbable but he does not know any other way of doing it. He is committed to naturalistic evolution. Birds needs so many adaptations to fly that they could not have just appeared since selection did not know the little dinosaurs wanted to fly and all the adaptations had be serendipity or in other words an amazing just told story.

    Some of the adaptations are:

    – feathers
    – conversion of fore arms to wings
    – hollow bones
    – beaks, not teeth
    – air sacs to lower density
    – unique oxygen delivery system that no other animal has
    – large keeled breast bone to hold strong muscles for flight
    – wishbone for structural superiority
    – box like body for protection against force of wings

    None of it included all the GN & C. or the fact that birds are warm blooded and have 4 chambered hearts that reptiles do not.

    There is a movement to have dinosaurs have some of these features but mainly are wishful thinking.

  3. 3
    Apollos says:

    Gerry,

    I don’t think our adversaries will soon be healed — or converted — by mere formulae.

    Perhaps not, but the excuse removal application of natural proofs undoubtedly serves a purpose. Since we know that natural proofs exist, we can infer a purpose for their design.

    I for one will not elect to define for God what He can use to drive His detractors into the arms of their Savior.

  4. 4
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    “…the excuse removal application of natural proofs undoubtedly serves a purpose… I for one will not elect to define for God what He can use to drive His detractors into the arms of their Savior.” – Apollos

    I really have no interest in being contentious here, but I think the “excuse removal application of natural proofs” is generally over-rated. And I’m certainly not defining what God can and can’t use to accomplish His ends — He’s done that for us:

    “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent… hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Cor 1:18-25

    “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Cor 10:3-5

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Eph 6:12

    Just as it’s a mistake to think that “friendship evangelism” can substitute for the preaching of the Gospel, it’s likewise a mistake to think a spiritual battle can be fought and won on intellectual grounds.

  5. 5
    Apollos says:

    Just as it’s a mistake to think that “friendship evangelism” can substitute for the preaching of the Gospel, it’s likewise a mistake to think a spiritual battle can be fought and won on intellectual grounds.

    As it is a mistake to consider that intellectual battles can be won on spiritual grounds.

  6. 6
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    “As it is a mistake to consider that intellectual battles can be won on spiritual grounds. – Apollos

    I disagree, because I see the intellectual as a subset of the spiritual, not something disconected from or along side of it.

    That’s why I believe Theology – the study of God and His works – is the super-study that includes all of the “lesser” sciences; and further, that these more restricted studies cannot be properly executed outside of that larger framework. The scientist (of whatever specialty) who fails to repeatedly ask himself if he is “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” will end up wasting a great deal of time and energy — and may even do serious damage.

    Note also that today’s popular mantra — “following the data wherever it leads” — is a subtly different thing from “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. While the two frequently coincide, the latter includes both proscriptive and prescriptive elements that the former does not. Nazi scientists who experimented on imprisoned Jews during World War II, I’m sure, felt they were “following the data wherever it leads” — but they were hardly “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”.

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    Birds and their flying abilities are certainly most amazing evidence of the huge intelligence, beauty, computational efficiency and supreme functional control that we can observe in living beings. What they do is overwhelmingly awesome, and I cannot begin to understand not only how it could have “evolved”, but even how it can work!

    However, it is interesting to remember that not only birds fly. A lot of invertebrates, mosquitoes, bees, flies, butterflies, etc. do the same, and they do it very well. And I am even more amazed of that, if I think that those are less “evolved” beings, and that their nervous systems, and therefore their computational and control abilities, should be much simpler. And yet, they master their movements in the tridimensional space with efficiency and, sometimes, elegance.

    The wonders and beauties in the natural world are countless. Only the heavy and dull filter of the reductionist mind can obscure their perception, reducing them to a dim and repetitive feeling of admired surprise that “Oh, evolution did that!”.

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    On the evolution of flight I’d point out that hydrofoils and airfoils rely on exactly the same principles. Ostensibly all forms of life that fly in the air descended from life that first flew in water. Water is much more forgiving of flaws since living things have essentially the same density as water. Hydrofoils and associated GNC systems could have evolved piecemeal in an environment where neutral buoyancy was first obtained then speed & manueverability were added subsequently. Once all that was perfected in water additional development in the way of energy production and weight savings could occur on land to make aeroflight possible.

  9. 9
    SteveB says:

    “Ostensibly all forms of life that fly in the air descended from life that first flew in water.”

    Orthodox darwinism posits that bats descended from a land mammal, ostensibly (a key word in all such accounts) some kind of proto-mouse or shrew-like creature living in the trees.

  10. 10
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Talking about sophisticated aeronauts I wonder how this piece will fly in these parts:

    If I was enlightenment gentleman of the eighteenth century and I happened to stumble across a discarded 3rd millennium jet fighter on a heath, my conclusion might be that it was the product of superhuman intelligence and conceived in one gigantic act of cognitive genius. In enlightenment times the single human mind could probably wrap itself right around most of the innovations available (even a square rigger). With this spurious one mind/one artifact model before me I might be tempted to believe that the Jet fighter was irreducibly complex, as any small simplifying changes in it that I could conceive are likely to degrade its performance. Moreover, aspects of the jet fighter, like say general relativistic corrections to satellite navigation system, might be forever beyond my understanding.

    And yet this highly advanced artifact has many precursors that came together in gradual stepwise form, consistent with the given quantum of human intelligence. Think also of all those human innovators effectively working blind, not knowing that their precursors would find their way into this fantastic artifact. From Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein through myriad, engineers, metallurgists, computer scientists, chemists, to the Wright brothers and inventors of jet engines; all worked perhaps having no inkling of what their projects portended. In a kind technological morphospace these innovative strands came together to produce the modern jet fighter. If this artifact was truly irreducibly complex it could not have been made by humanity. The modern jet fighter has many lines of technological evolution running into it. And I don’t apologize for the term ‘evolution’ in this context: the mind, it seems, works on a kind of trail and error basis and has isomorphisms with evolution – in short evolution and intelligence are related. It’s a good thing that technological morphospace isn’t inhabited just by irreducibly complex innovations, because using the one-mind/one-artifact model, human society would not advance very far, but would probably stay medieval!

    So what am I trying to say here? Basically that gut feelings about the necessity of the presence of agents capable of enormous fait-accompli cognitive leaps of super intelligence may not reliable. And don’t forget that when you zoom in on the human mind you find that it is composed of very small neuronic (moronic?) quanta of intelligence indeed – the intelligence is, of course, in the overall organization of the system. Likewise, zooming in on evolution proper (if it’s happened) I don’t necessarily expect to see little intelligent homunculi (as per Melkikh) but units of next to no intelligence. Hence, if evolution has happened the intelligence is going to be found in the overall system. Now, at this point Dave (Scott) is going to accuse me of process structuralism but that’s another story….

  11. 11
    GilDodgen says:

    DaveScot,

    I’m not sure if your post was meant to be taken tongue in cheek.

    Birds were supposed to have evolved from reptiles, which don’t have any water-flying experience, although I suppose the blind watchmaker could have preserved genetic memory of water-flying skills from fish, to amphibians, to reptiles, to birds, for some reason.

    The big problem with learning to fly (and I presume evolving flight) is that you don’t get to make very many mistakes, and you only get to make one serious mistake. Natural selection works really decisively and really quickly to weed out would-be aviators.

    Then there’s the problem of the evolution of the bat’s sonar-based GN&C. I imagine proto-bats crashing into cave walls in the dark while their sonar system evolved step by tiny step. Poor things.

    No wonder bats appear in the fossil record fully formed with no discernible evolutionary precursors.

  12. 12
    gpuccio says:

    Timothy:

    “If this artifact was truly irreducibly complex it could not have been made by humanity”

    What do you mean? The jet is obviously irreducibly complex in many of its parts (our friends engineers can show that better than I can), and yet has been made by “humanity”. Machines do not “evolve” by infinitesimal increases of “intelligence”, as you seem to affirm. Machines change because their inventors, be they a one man band or a big equipe, find new solutions to solve new problems. Obviously, they take into account what has been done before them, and, if they are good engineers, they go beyond that in a creative way. Many of the machines, or of the sub-machines, made by humans are indeed irreducibly complex. I don’t know what is your concept of irreducible complexity, but a machine, or any information structure, is irreducibly complex when its function cannot be preserved if any of its constituent parts is missing.

    Intelligence has never been observed in small quanta. Indeed, it is very difficult even to define what intelligence is. Probably, the best rigorous definition of intelligence, at present, is the following:

    any activity of a conscious being having as its outcome an increase in CSI

    In this way, intelligence is defined from its results. Please take notice that the definition of CSI does not need a specific definition of intelligence.

    Machines are the product of intelligence, even if they are not irreducibly complex. Irreducible complexity is only a special case where the intelligent origin of the machine is particularly obvious, and cannot be denied by any spurious, pseudo-gradualistic reasoning.

  13. 13
    Paul Giem says:

    DaveScot, (8)

    This must be why the standard evolutionary history of birds has ichthyosaurs (or is it plesiosaurs?) as their evolutionary ancestors, and penguins were the first birds. 🙂

    Timothy,

    Talk about a non-sequitur! Your model is Berra’s Blunder writ large. ID is perfectly compatible with agents of intelligence matching or exceeding that of humans helping life over technological humps to greater and greater complexity. That is one corner of the big tent that is ID. But to suggest that if minds can do it, mindless processes can do it just as well, is a logical leap. How many jet fighters, or light bulbs for that matter, have we found on Mars? And if we did, would you choose to attribute them to mindless processes?

    Your claim that it takes many minds is an interesting one. It is partly true; one can trace improvements in jet fighters in time. But there are certain steps that appear to require the minds to be deliberately concentrating on the problem, and at the same time. The Wright brothers had to master aerodynamics, at least control of internal combustion engines, and drive train and propellor technology all at one time; otherwise their plane would never have gotten off the ground. The light bulb, some of which are probably in the jet airplane, required someone to put vacuum technology together with materials technology and electrical resistance theory to produce a functioning light bulb, and the major driving force in that invention appears to be a single mind.

    You can claim that the mind is the brain, and can be broken down to component parts which are not intelligent in and of themselves. But that the mind is in fact nothing but the function of the brain is not known; it can only be accepted by a faith akin to that of religion. Even stipulating that equality, one could not design, or even improve, a jet airplane with several disconnected pieces of brain. One must have a whole brain, or at least an intact cerebral hemisphere, in order to do useful design.

    I suppose one could say that there is some structure analogous to a brain (or many brains) in nature that is not locally contained. But I haven’t seen any evidence of such a structure. And without evidence, we are looking at blind faith, of the kind for which religionists are routinely condemned. Furthermore, that structure must be complex, on the order of complexity of the human brain, and the question of “Who designed the designer?” applies to it. At some 15 billion years, the designer can’t be based on the organization of matter. I don’t see this kind of structuralism (and yes, it is structuralism) an adequate way to explain the problems presented by design in nature.

    Your statement that “If this artifact was truly irreducibly complex it could not have been made by humanity” is truly nonsensical. There are parts of the airplane that can be damaged without significant loss of function; otherwise, the first bullet that hit the airplane anywhere would bring it down. But it will not fly if the engines lose more than so much power, or if the wings come off, or if the control system becomes locked. Period. In that sense, it is irreducibly complex. And yet, it is obviously designed by humans.

    You say, “ in short evolution and intelligence are related.” That depends on how you are using the word “evolution”. If you mean that unguided evolution can work in the same way as intelligence, then you need to explain how unguided evolution can create the bacterial flagellum either in one lucky stroke or DNA bit by DNA bit. If you mean that guided evolution can work in the same way as intelligence, then we welcome you into the ID tent. But take that theory back to your naturalistic friends and ask them whether your theory is acceptable. I suspect you know the answer.

  14. 14
    Ekstasis says:

    gpuccio,

    Good point. Much the same could be said about the Internet. Computers were created long before the Internet ever became a twinkling in the eyes of DARPA, and yet the computer itself required design, intention, and desire. And we could go back through a regression that preceded electronic computers, back to the abacus or some other counting or writing device.

    Humanity has a built in (designed?) propensity to explore and try new things, and then learn to imitate and emulate those things that work. Survival of the fittest is not the equivalent in effectiveness.

    Besides that, what if Watson died through lack of fitness (mutation gone bad) every time he tried something that did not result in the lightbulb? We would be sitting in the dark until this very day.

  15. 15
    Ekstasis says:

    Woops, I meant Edison, got my inventors all confused. Happens all the time.

  16. 16
    magnan says:

    “Did all of this aerodynamic and control-system technology — which must integrate the visual system, tactile system, neurological system, muscular system, etcetera and etcetera — come about by random variation and natural selection?”

    I agree that obviously not. Intuition is correct that this is ridiculous. But the Darwinistic just so stories are dreadfully attractive to the faithful. The answer would be that the ancestral terrestrial reptile already had developed over long ages and millions of generations a basic guidance, navigation and control system for life on the ground. The proto-bird just needed to slowly improve and coordinate certain functions of the system. The claim would be that this would have happened in a step by step ratcheting manner. The already existing vestibular balancing organ and associated low-level brain systems for attitude control would be favored to increase in speed of sensing and response. The already existing coordination system between limb motion, attitude, body motion over the ground and intention or desire to go somewhere for food, etc. would be favored for variations that slowly improved stability and motion control in the air, starting with just minimal flight.

    It goes on and on with such speculation, with navigation for instance. The ancestral terrestrial reptile already had a rudimentary “navigation” system in that it had developed the ability to remember and revisit locations based on visual ground features, smell, etc. The proto-bird just needed to slowly elaborate these systems.

  17. 17
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Gpuccio (11) said… ‘What do you mean?

    Sorry guys (Gpuccio and Paul,12)) but I suffered from that effect when things seem so clear in my mind that I failed to introduce a concept, that is, the concept of ‘relative’ (as opposed to ‘absolute’) irreducible complexity. The argument goes like this. We assume a quantum of intelligence of human level. If the intelligence quantum is represented by Qi, then clearly for humans Qi >> 0. Presumably for your purposes evolution has Qi ~ 0 ! (that assignment ought to please you no end because a billion steps of nothing comes up with, you’ve guessed it, nothing!) If Qi for humans has a value of say Hi, then it seems pretty clear to me that Hi has a value too low for a single human intelligence to be able to conceive and create a jet fighter from scratch in a life time. But the human mind can construct a jet fighter given that it is quite capable of innovating a host of precursors that can ultimately be assembled into this high tech machine. Thus with respect to the value Hi a jet fighter is not irreducibly complex since it can be constructed from a history of incremental human innovation. Moreover, Hi Paul when I said, “If this artifact was truly irreducibly complex it could not have been made by humanity” I meant with respect to the value Hi, not with respect to the value ~ 0. I hope that this will make you feel a just a little less uptight! Clearly, the jet fighter is not irreducibly complex with respect to Hi because it can be constructed by a history of incremental innovation where the increments are consistent with Hi and where Hi Gpuccio! You say that a machine or any information structure, is irreducibly complex when its function cannot be preserved if any of its constituent parts is missing. You do yourself a favor if you scrap that notion because your friend and my friend Larry Moran has shredded that concept on many occasions. You need to define irreducible complexity (and we are talking about absolute irreducible complexity here, not relative irreducible complexity) in terms of the absence of routes of innovation given that Qi ~ 0. Best you get this sorted out with me rather than Larry because you might find I have less emotional investment in evolution and therefore a little more ‘give’.

    Paul: My materialist friends? I hope they are your friends as well! Christ loves the sinners, repentant and unrepentant! I dare say that over on Sandwalk they will claim that you are one of my YEC friends and that Gpuccio is one of my ID**t friends, which of course you are – aren’t you?

  18. 18
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Sorry had to repost this beacuse it went wrong !

    Gpuccio (11) said… ‘What do you mean?

    Sorry guys (Gpuccio and Paul (12)) but I suffered from that effect when things seem so clear in my mind that I failed to introduce a concept, that is, the concept of ‘relative’ (as opposed to ‘absolute’) irreducible complexity. The argument goes like this. We assume a quantum of intelligence of human level. If the intelligence quantum is represented by Qi, then clearly for humans Qi is a lot less than 0. Presumably for your purposes evolution has Qi ~ 0 ! (that assignment ought to please you no end because a billion steps of nothing comes up with, you’ve guessed it, nothing!) If Qi for humans has a value of say Hi, then it seems pretty clear to me that Hi has a value too low for a single human intelligence to be able to conceive and create a jet fighter from scratch in a life time. But the human mind can construct a jet fighter given that it is quite capable of innovating a host of precursors that can ultimately be assembled into this high tech machine. Thus with respect to the value Hi a jet fighter is not irreducibly complex since it can be constructed from a history of incremental human innovation. Moreover, Hi is a lot less than Gi where Gi represents the intelligence needed to conceive a Jet fighter fait accompli style. So Paul when I said, “If this artifact was truly irreducibly complex it could not have been made by humanity” I meant with respect to the value Hi, not with respect to the value ~ 0. I hope that this will make you feel a just a little less uptight! Clearly, the jet fighter is not irreducibly complex with respect to Hi because it can be constructed by a history of incremental innovation where the increments are consistent with Hi and where Hi is a lot less than Gi.

    I hope that’s clear. Anyway, restating the point I tried to make in the light of the foregoing: what I was trying to say was that if I was an enlightened gentleman I might be tempted to see the jet fighter as irreducibly complex with respect to Hi and then wrongly conclude that superhuman intelligence, Gi, is entailed. The Take Home Lesson: Gut reactions as to the presence or absence of certain levels of intelligence may be unreliable.

    I rather mischievously and stupidly threw in those rather controversial comments about neurons, intelligence and evolution, but I’ll drop those for now, in favor of the main point above. Sorry I mentioned them.

    Now Gpuccio! You say that a machine or any information structure, is irreducibly complex when its function cannot be preserved if any of its constituent parts is missing. You do yourself a favor if you scrap that notion because your friend and my friend Larry Moran has shredded that concept on many occasions. You need to define irreducible complexity (and we are talking about absolute irreducible complexity here, not relative irreducible complexity) in terms of the absence of routes of innovation given that Qi ~ 0. Best you get this sorted out with me rather than Larry because you might find I have less emotional investment in evolution and therefore a little more ‘give’.

    Paul: My materialist friends? I hope they are your friends as well! Christ loves the sinners, repentant and unrepentant! I dare say that over on Sandwalk they will claim that you are one of my YEC friends and that Gpuccio is one of my ID**t friends, which of course you are – aren’t you?

  19. 19
    gpuccio says:

    Timothy:

    It is always a pleasure to discuss with you. So, let’s go on!

    “You do yourself a favor if you scrap that notion because your friend and my friend Larry Moran has shredded that concept on many occasions”

    I am not aware of that glorious shredding, would you please oblige and give me the details? And yes, I do prefer to discuss the thing with you and not with Larry Moran. Cowardice? I don’t think so. I just prefer to select my friends (see later), and also my intellectual partners (or adversaries, it’s the same).

    Going back to IC, it seems to me that you, either in your relative or absolute applications of the concept, seem to miss the simple meaning of the concept itself (maybe you just associate with Larry too much 🙂 ). Let’s start from the beginning, so that I can better receive the shredding.

    IC has really nothing to do with how much intelligence is needed to design something. IC is just what I said, a property of a machine of information structure, be it medium complex, or very complex, easy or difficult to design in a lifetime, that doesn’t matter. IC means just that:

    a) we have a function expressed as a result of a complex structure.

    b) that function cannot be expressed by a simpler structure, in particular it cannot be expressed by any simpler aggregation of the parts in the IC structure.

    Is that difficult? No. Can it be shredded? May be. I am waiting…

    But, first of all: is it relevant? You bet! Why?

    Because IC is a “natural selection” stopper. Absolutely it is. It has no other meaning. So, you must see its importance in the context of the scenario of natural selection.

    In other words, the IC concept says: if you think that function A has been selected because it is useful, then you have only the following chances:

    a) function A appeared as it is, completed, and was selected. But in that case you have to take into account the real probabilities that function A can emerge as it is, that is practically zero in most, if not all, cases.

    b) function A appeared in a simpler form, was selected, and then improved. But that is possible only if the same function can be expressed by simpler structures, even if in lower degree. In other words, if function A is already IC, b) cannot be true.

    c) function A is the aggregation of simpler functions, each one selected for its usefulness, and then, all of them, “joined up” to make function A. If I am not wrong, that is the “cooption” hypothesis, practically the only answer ever given to the concept of IC, and essentially the basis of the shameful attempt to “explain out” the bacterial flagellum, which is pitifully repeated in slightly different forms evrey two or three months on darwinist “journals”. Is it an answer? No, it isn’t. Why? Because the logical assumption of that argument is that functions (and we are not speaking of a single funtion, but of billions of them) can always be built as a “gross” sum of other, completely different, functions. Even if that were possible, at least in a few cases, you should anyway calculate the real possibilities that such a thing takes place. You should calculate the search space of all possible functions, and of all possible aggregations of functions, and show that there is even the tiniest chance that such an aggregation may happen “randomly”, and then be selected. In other words, you should offer a reasonable model, and not a “just so” story. In other words, with cooption darwinists are putting themselves in an even more terrible mess than they have with CSI. If you are still willing to believe in Larry Moran’s fanciful slopes which friendly join completely different islands of functionality in the almost infinite ocean of random configurations of proteins, will you also accept his imaginations about smooth slopes which friendly join the even more distant islands of functional function aggregations in the even more infinite space of all possible function aggregations? Will we go even further in that “mise en abyme”, and speak of higher levels of aggregations of function aggregations, and so on?

    The truth is: the darwinian model, rooted as it is in random variation as the only possible cause of new information, is completely lost without the imaginary help of natural selection. NS is the only saver for darwinism. I know that many darwinists are all too happy to betray NS in favour of more sophisticated ghosts, such as genetic drift, but they don’t know what they are saying: their ghosts are, indeed, only ghosts. Only NS, in the whole darwinian structure, gives at least the “appearance” of explaining something. All the rest is pure randomness, and pure randomness does not pay, unless you are willing to forget your elementary mathematics.

    So, in the end, they have to come back to the old, good NS. But NS does not work, or at least it does not work the way they say. There are infinite reasons for that, but one is simple and easy and beautiful and obvious to any reasoning person, except darwinists: IC. Glory be given to Behe for that. IC is, has been and ever will be the main NS stopper. Because the frail hypothesis of NS is completely shredded (excuse the stealing) by IC. That’s why darwinists are still working overnight to try to shred it.

    So, let’s talk of IC, the real one, not the useless concepts of quantum intelligence and similar, which have nothing to do with IC, be it relative or absolute. Let’s discuss IC, as Behe has defined it. And if it must be shredded, well, you’re welcome!

    A final word about Larry Moran and friendship. I certainly agree with you that Christ loves the sinners, and I can certainly “try” to love the sinners. So, I can certainly try to love Larry and behave friendly towards him. Indeed, I have tried, at least a couple of times.

    But friendship is more. Friendship, in its complete sense, is bilateral. You cannot create a friendship alone. So, while I feel honoured of considering you, if you agree, a friend, or at least a potential friend, please let me take my time with Larry… After all, he is not alone at Sandwalk, and he probably does not need my company.

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    The prototype dinosaur for the dino to bird evolution is the dromaeosaur. It is small, ran very quickly and had several bird like features such as hollow bones with holes for air sacs, three toed limbs and clavicles fused into wish bones. Related fossils seemed to have feathers.

    These are only some of the necessary adaptations. The three toes are not the same as the three toes for the bird. There is no support for the unique oxygen delivery system in dinosaurs but I believe several paleontologists are trying to claim the dinosaur has this same oxygen delivery system as well as being warm blooded and have a four chambered heart. All would be necessary to support the dino to bird transitions. Such a oxygen delivery system is truly superior and only present in birds. So at the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs, birds were the premier species, with mobility and the superior oxygen system. They were set up to dominate the world but they obviously didn’t.

    Flight was an after thought according to this scenario and the first birds were flightless and only learned to fly later on as they either ran quickly to catch prey or climbed trees and learned to first glide and then fly.

    To many coordinated transitions to be feasible. Challenges the probability resources of the universe but not the imagination of Darwinists.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    Timothy V Reeves,

    IC is often misunderstood. Take a car or a jet plane. Neither is IC but contain IC systems. So separate the two. A human is not IC but contains many IC systems. The removal of some will kill the human but the removal of others will just make the human less effective.

    So if you take a car and start dismantling it by taking out seats, windows, fenders, windshield wipers etc. you still have a working car but not a very desirable one.

    But if you took out the carburetor or the drive shaft you would not have a working car. If you took out a compressor from the air conditioner you would not have air conditioning but a working car. So removal of some elements from sub IC systems can shut down the car or only a desirable sub system.

    You can remove some of the proteins from the bacteria flagellum and it will not work and you will still have a bacteria. It will be a less effective one. You can think of all sorts of similar systems in lots of organisms and in intelligently designed machines such as a jet engine.

    The other common fallacy that opponents of ID make about IC is that none of the parts can have a function except as a part of the IC system. This is nonsense and nearly every attack on IC uses this bogus argument. It is quite possible that all parts have other functions. Did Larry Moran use this argument? If he did, then he should go back to school and take up logic.

    I have not seen anyone obviate any IC scenario. So it would be interesting to see how your mentor has succeeded when everyone else has failed.

  22. 22
    Paul Giem says:

    Timothy, (17–I assume that because you reposted, 16 should be considered inoperative)

    I’ll take the last first. I may have sounded like I meant something that I did not intend to convey. When I suggested that you talk to your naturalistic friends, I did not mean to imply that I was glad that they weren’t my friends. I simply assumed that you had friends that were believers in naturalism and that their opposition to an idea you might present to them would therefore not be simply reflex because any idea that you espoused must be automatically wrong. (I have dealt with people like that.) Your friends are not likely to be my friends, but not because I would not like to have them as friends, as I would. It is simply that in all probability I do not know them. That is all I intended to convey. I’m sorry if I implied otherwise.

    On the point you raise, I agree with the underlying theology. It depends on where you draw the line between an acquaintance and a friend, but you are at least a friendly acquaintance. I divide people into three groups: Friends, those who are not yet friends, and those who have refused friendship but are welcome to change their minds anytime. Belief in YEC or ID, or disbelief in naturalism, is not a criterion for friendship.

    Thanks for having the guts to withdraw your comments on neurons. Most people would have just slunk away.

    On irreducible complexity, you are using a different definition than the usual one. It appears that you are meaning “impossible (or perhaps so highly improbable that it might as well be impossible) to make given the resources.” The conventional definition is (condensing gpuccio), a structure is irreducibly complex if and only if it performs a function and is made of parts the removal of any one of which destroys the function.

    That definition needs clarification. Not all the parts of an irreducibly complex structure are always necessary for function. The mousetraps I buy usually have some paint on the base, the removal of which makes no noticeable difference in the function of the traps. The watch I have has a glass front, which is useful in that it protects the watch from damage, but is not strictly necessary if I carefully keep the watch protected. However, if I take the computer chip, or the display, or the battery out of the watch, or I take out the spring, or the catch, or the base, out of the mousetrap, the function isn’t just degraded; it is gone. Similarly, if one knocks out one of the proteins in a flagellum, the function of motility is not just degraded; it is gone. As far as we can tell, there is no other function for the flagellum.

    Again, one can argue that taking off 1, or 5, or 20 amino acids makes no difference to the function. It depends on which 20 (some 20 may make no difference, whereas a different 20 may completely destroy function, and we may not always know which is which), but what is experimentally (not just theoretically) known is that if you knock out a complete protein, *any* complete protein, the function will cease. That is irreducible complexity.

    As gpuccio mentioned, co-option is the only workaround from a Blind Watchmaker point of view. It is important to note that irreducible complexity does not by definition rule out the possibility of co-option as an explanation for a structure’s origin. In Behe’s original (not his new and improved) model of the cilium, one could propose that tubulin initially developed as a cytoskeletal protein, and that dynein initially developed to move things around the cell, so all one had to do was to have the cell evolve nexin (quite a bit in itself), then have the three components be modified so that they fit together. Perhaps there is another function that nexin can evolve to perform first. So this workaround is initially plausible for the simple model of the cilium.

    But for the flagellum, the situation is much worse. The best I have seen is Matzke, and he is not very good (I once took his paper apart [virtually] in front of a bunch of PZ Myer’s buddies).

    I do want to finish on a note of agreement. A structure that to us appears to require God might instead be made by a group of humans, building on the intellectual shoulders of many other humans. It is reasonable to be cautious and not to make too strong a claim for the kind of intelligence without extremely good warrant.

  23. 23
    DaveScot says:

    Gil

    No, it wasn’t tongue in cheek at all.

    Reptiles ostensibly descended from fish. Both mammals and birds ostensibly descended from reptiles so it then follows that birds and mammals descended from fish. Fish have all the basic structures and GNC for flight including pitch, roll, and yaw control and stabilization as well as foil shaped surfaces for more efficient generation of lift than angle of attack alone can provide. The only real difference is hydrofoils versus airfoils which I’m sure you know is no real difference at all as fluid flow is fluid flow whether it’s air or water or something else.

    I’m presuming the same ostensible rule (flight in water preceding flight in air) also applies to flying insects.

    The only real difference is that due to the density of organic life buoyancy makes it a LOT easier to fly in water than in air.

    Paul Giem

    Excellent case in point you made with penguins about the same basic structural components that work to acheive flight in air work the same way for flight in water. I’d also point to flying fish as possible stepping stones between hydro-flight and aero-flight.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    Dave,

    But penguins or anything looking like them were not the first birds. At least what has shown up in the fossil record. And the dinosaurs that were supposedly the precursors to birds were lean and fast. Maybe they were swimmers but they didn’t look like penguins.

    Now this is the official record as of today and could change as new fossils are found or how desperate they get to make a coherent story as to how birds evolved.

    Birds seemed to precede the two mammal variants, marsupials and placenta, though some mammals preceded birds. Mammals represent a far greater variety of species than birds. Birds all seem to be minor variants of the basic plan. It will be interesting to see what genomic differences there are amongst birds to account for their phylogenetic differences.

    If Darwinian forces were truly at work creating complexity and novelty then why not more divergence amongst birds. After all the flightless birds with their unique oxygen system would seem to lead to more variety than we see. After all they were recently dinosaurs, the rulers of the world. Why couldn’t they evolve back to their majestic forms?

    Dave, you may be giving the Darwinist a new idea on how birds evolved, from swimming dinosaurs. It actually makes more sense than gliding out of trees or running and leaping great bounds while pursuing prey.

  25. 25
    Paul Giem says:

    DaveScot,

    Jerry points out that in fact penguins were not the first birds, at least if we believe what we have seen in the fossil record. The key is to look at things from a design perspective rather than a Blind Watchmaker perspective. The BW can’t keep the exquisite information alive from fish to birds, but must develop it all over again. I have always been fascinated to note that flight developed 3 times in the standard evolutionary story, in birds, in bats, and in flying reptiles. One would think that birds and bats would be descendants of the flying reptiles, but that is not how the trees are put together. To have flight evolve once is hard enough to swallow; to have it evolve three times boggles the imagination.

    On the other hand, if one has a designer, the designer can easily use some of the same modules that worked in a reptile, modify them adequately, and stick them into a bird and a bat, and convergent evolution makes perfect sense. In fact (and i think this is your point), an engineer could re-use Guidance, Navigation, and Control systems that worked well in water as a part of the GN&C for flight in air. Your point about flying fish is excellent; the only problem from a mechanistic point of view is that nobody supposes that flying reptiles are descended from flying fish. But maybe the designs were. (or vice versa 🙂 )

  26. 26
    Paul Giem says:

    Timothy
    in post 22 I mentioned your posts 17 and 16. I was off. Those were supposed to be posts 18 and 17.

  27. 27
    jerry says:

    Paul Giem,

    You forgot about insects. That makes it 4.

    The conventional wisdom about fish to land animals is with a specific type of fish called lobe finned fish which developed limbs from their fins while still fish and these eventually enabled them to move to land. So flying fish do not enter the picture nor do nearly all fish. Only this specialized fish.

    I have seen flying fish a lot but don’t claim to be an expert. They are fun to watch and if you are a Darwinist you may see them gain real flight some day and then they will develop the ability to breathe air and we will have number 5 for flight.

    I just finished Henry Gee’s book called “In Search of Deep Time.” It is a good synopsis of what is known in paleontology on a few major issues. His final chapter on humans gets too emotional and I feel he lost it but the rest of the book is interesting reading. You can get a copy for $11 plus shipping on Amazon.

    Gee is a Darwinist but doesn’t hesitate to undermine a lot of their thinking.

  28. 28
    Paul Giem says:

    jerry,

    Actually, I forgot to say “in vertebrates”. There is a paper in Nature that suggests that in stick insects alone the wing has evolved “many” times. I have seen figures from 4 to 62 bandied about. I didn’t want to get into that, but can we be certain that all other insects with flight were descended from the same flighted insect? How many times has flight really evolved in insects?

    The abstract to that article states the usual reason for disbelief in flight arising more than once by Darwinian mechanisms:

    [A}n evolutionary reversal from a flightless to a volant form has never been demonstrated clearly for any pterygote lineage. Such a reversal is considered highly unlikely because complex interactions between nerves, muscles, sclerites and wing foils are required to accommodate flight.

    I agree. In fact, I think that it is highly unlikely to happen once as an evolutionary (read Darwinist) process, but that’s just me. Now we are being told that it happened many times in the evolutionary tree. Perhaps both sides are right. Perhaps it can’t happen multiple times by naturalistic means, and it happened many times. Perhaps we are looking at design in the evolutionary tree, at a minimum.

  29. 29
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Thanks very much for the responses from Paul, Gerry and Gpuccio.

    IC is one of the corner stones of ID and hence any mention of “shredding it” touches sensitive nerves, I know. So you want to talk IC? Good. So do I.

    Oh yes Gpuccio, I am well aware that intelligence is not a logical concomitant of IC. One important point in favor of IC is that it is scientifically and ontologically intelligible, albeit, as it turns out, not very scientifically tractable (but neither is evolution particularly scientifically tractable). However, to discuss IC we needn’t get tangled in questions over the robustness of the conjectured conditional IC => ID, and thus, for the moment avoid the debates about the scientific status of ID. So let’s see if we can at least clarify the notion of IC.

    In short IC is property conjectured to be found at least somewhere in that stupendously complex platonic object called Morphospace. ID aficionados believe it is actually reified in biological structures found in our world. The ulterior (perhaps not so ulterior) motive behind IC is, as Gpuccio has suggested, to put forward an evolution stopper. Certainly, I agree that if it is defined correctly IC is an evolution stopper – that’s why I keep coming back to it. My current theoretical front-runner, evolution, must either jump or fall at this hurdle. Let me stress that in my case, my emotions are not quite so bound up with subject as your selves (or various atheists), and therefore I don’t get hurt if evolution trips at the hurdle. (ditto ID). But I need to test it at this hurdle and hence IC is of immense interest to me.

    But IC must be defined correctly. With an eye, as always, on potential barriers to evolution, the presence or absence of what I have variously called ‘Dawkins slopes’, ‘ratchets of innovation’, or ‘contours of stability’ are highly relevant to the absence or presence of IC. So much as a whiff of these things and the barrier to evolvability required by ID is compromised, for then we may have a ‘leak in the sheer wall’, a breach through which the ‘low intelligence’ shufflings of happenstance can in principle wonder. In my view a watertight definition of IC would deny all possible routes and incremental innovative histories.

    However both Paul and Pucky admit that cooption does seem to be a breach in the system at least at the conceptual/logical possibility level, if not at the practical level. Using my usual metaphors this is the case where one or more ‘ratchets’, ‘slopes’ or ‘contours of stability’ (or what have you) converge, and so I see it as just another conjectured aspect of what might be found in the landscape of morphospace; no new category need be invented to hold it; it is all part of the ‘evolutionary routes’ question. We can, of course, find cooption in human pathways of innovation. For example, an aircraft is IC with respect to its engines and landing wheels, but both subassemblies were developed in circumstances that didn’t have flying in mind. So cooption does have a real manifestation at least when Qi = Hi.

    On the subject of evolutionists co-opting cooption into their theory Pucky waxes lyrical with some superb superlatives describing this practice, such as ‘pitiful’, ‘shameful’ ‘explain out’, ‘a terrible mess’, and ‘fanciful’. My own reaction to this is to not forget that atheists might be tempted to use similar superlatives about my rather highfalutin and epistemologically problematic notions about deity and my sometimes-pirouetting theology.

    Cooption suggests that whilst making a cut through the structure that separates one part from the whole may yield two unviable pieces that have no function in any stable nexus, other cuts may lead to parts that can separately serve a function in other stable structures. Think, for example, of taking the wheels and computer out of a fly by wire aircraft – these parts may be separately useful elsewhere. The big problem is that once one allows many cuts in the structure and not just those that have been arbitrarily identified as a separating out a ‘single component’, the possibilities start to exponentiate!. The sub-parts created by arbitrary slicing have to be examined and considered for viability in other structural connections (if you are an evolutionist!) or consigned to universal functional redundancy (if you are an IDer!), and these questions do not have easy answers for either party.

    This is where we hit problems big time – for both evolutionists and IDers. Now Pucky says of evolutionists who resort to cooption:

    Is it an answer? No, it isn’t. Why? Because the logical assumption of that argument is that functions (and we are not speaking of a single function, but of billions of them) can always be built as a “gross” sum of other, completely different, functions. Even if that were possible, at least in a few cases, you should anyway calculate the real possibilities that such a thing takes place. You should calculate the search space of all possible functions, and of all possible aggregations of functions, and show that there is even the tiniest chance that such an aggregation may happen “randomly”, and then be selected. In other words, you should offer a reasonable model, and not a “just so” story

    Well, in response to that the best I can do for now is to quote my blog:

    Our ignorance of the structure of morphospace is cutting both ways here: Behe is claiming that absence of evidence of possible evolutionary routes in morphospace is evidence of absence. On the other hand evolutionists claim that absence of evidence of these evolutionary paths is not evidence of absence. Of course, neither party has provided killer evidence either way. So who has the edge here? The claims of ID theorists and evolutionists are, logically speaking, in complementary opposition rather than symmetrical opposition. It is surely an irony that of the two sides ID, in an elementary Popperian sense, is ostensively making the more easily refutable claims: ID is stating a quasi-universal, namely that evolutionary paths to the working structures like the flagellum of E. coli don’t exist – all we need to do is find one route and the proposition is ‘falsified’. Evolutionists, on the hand are making an existential statement; they are claiming that the routes do exist: such statements can’t be falsified, but they can be ‘verified’ by just one case – if they find that one case their claim is ‘proved’. But both sides have their work cut out; the sheer size and complexity of morphospace makes it a little more difficult to investigate than the Pacific! Moreover, the ontological complexities of what is basically a historical subject will no doubt scupper any claims of either absolute falsification or verification and at best only evidence tipping the balance in one direction or the other is likely to be found.
    Thinking about the logical categories here: certainly given the seemingly analytically insurmountable task of exhaustively searching morphospace to prove the absence of possible evolutionary paths to the flagellum structure, the demand that ID theorist prove these paths don’t exist is at least practically impossible if not logically impossible. This point does reveal that the ID community have given themselves a rather difficult task: In ascribing ‘irreducible complexity’ to this or that biological structure, they are imputing a property that they have little chance of proving outright. OK, given the analytical/logical barrier here, I can give ID theorists some leeway and accept a weaker criterion for trying to identify IC (but what is this weaker criterion?) But then shouldn’t I also be giving evolutionists a little leeway? After all evolutionists may also be faced with a difficult problem, an epistemological problem. Even if they have the imagination to tentatively propose possible evolutionary routes to the structure in question, the empirical evidence for this path being traversed in actuality may well be lost in the mists of time; therefore the demand that they produce empirical evidence for the full path is as impossible to fulfill as the demand that ID theorists show that such paths don’t exist. How does some one who is trying to be fair choose between these two parties and make a fair judgment? Who is making the most extraordinary claims requiring the most extraordinary proof? In fact how does one evaluate what is ‘extraordinary’?

    I have to be frank and say that currently I haven’t yet arrived at a satisfactory conclusion to this kind of question, and my thoughts are still ongoing here Paul, does indeed suggest a weaker definition of IC: It is important to note that irreducible complexity does not by definition rule out the possibility of co-option as an explanation for a structure’s origin However I find this rather arbitrary; it seems to be an attempt to persevere the analytical simplicity of an IC concept that is inherently complex and epistemically problematical (a bit like evolution itself I suppose!). It seems that in response IDers are going for a back stop – if they can’t find an absolutely water tight evolution stopper in IC, perhaps the second law will help. Well, I have yet to evaluate the ID take on the second law. I hope to do that at some stage.

    Yes Jerry, Larry Moran has been a helpful mentor on the evolution front, just as you and your friends are being a helpful mentor on the ID front – I’ve already benefited tremendously from your input. However, what ultimately happens in the long term when these ideas from opposing camps clash in the steaming cauldron of my restless mind God only knows.

  30. 30
    jerry says:

    Timothy V Reeves,

    It seems like there is a lot of over thinking going on. IC is a system in biology made up of several parts. If you take any part away from the system you have a non working system. It is as simple as that. If the person declares a system is IC then it is found that taking away one part leads to a functional system then one has to look at this new system and see if it is IC or not and maybe the system was not defined properly at first. To falsify IC one has to find a continuous pathway of functional systems starting with individual proteins up to the final system. If at any step there is no functional system then that original super system is IC.

    So you are presented with a non functional set of proteins. Why should it exist as a structure or system? It should not be preserved.

    It might be possible to take this non functional structure and remove something from it and find a functional structure. And in a way this is one of the arguments against the IC of the flagellum. Each of the proteins or some subset may have a use some place else. So if you have the individual proteins or some subset that is a functional system each will have a function but that does not mean that a pathway can be found of combinations of these that are functional all the way up to the IC system. At some point on the way all combinations become non functional.

    All your examples of co-option are intelligence based. We agree that an intelligence can take parts from some place else and reassemble then to make a new structure. So to me co-option is an admission that intelligence is necessary to solve the problem. It is possible that throwing probabilistic resources against the problem would lead to the chance association of these un related proteins forming a new functional sub system but you can only go to the well so often before the probabilities exceed anything ever likely to happen. Co-option implies intelligence. If you want to have a discussion on this, we could probably do that in the future.

    So to find some function for each protein is hardly a dismissal of the IC structure. They have to be assembled in a specific combination and that just does not happen by chance too often. Also if someone like Behe should propose several IC structures and one is analyzed and found wanting as IC, this does not dismiss the concept of IC.

    If for example 50 IC structures were proposed and analysis found that 25 of them were not really IC, then the argument for IC would get much weaker since it would be assumed in time that the others would be found wanting. But if over time all that was found was 5 that were not IC then the concept is very strong and just what was chosen at the beginning as IC was too ambitious.

    The only emotion I have over this is the obvious distortion that is presented by those who dismiss IC. If I saw an honest refutation, we would all admit it. But we are constantly presented with rhetoric and hand waving as evidence. That has its toll. I constantly read material by Darwinist and follow their arguments and appreciate a lot of them but it gets old after a time when they continually resort to dishonest arguments on so many things. Why is it necessary to do so when they have the overwhelming evidence to support their ideas and we are rubes.

    As you are seeing, some of us are not the rubes that people like Larry Moran portrays. We are not biologists or evolutionary biologists but are able to penetrate the disingenuous arguments used by biologists some times.

  31. 31
    Paul Giem says:

    Timothy,

    I agree with many of your characterizations in (29). I also agree with jerry’s answer in (30). There is a point that I would like to try to clarify, and another that I would like to amplify.

    It is not enough to propose that there might be some way to climb mount improbable for a particular structure, unless one wishes to step out of the realm of science and into that of faith. If one is to keep a naturalistic approach scientific, then one must with some regularity be able to point to at least one specific pathway up mount improbable for each structure considered in time. If one finds a rare exception, one might be inclined to believe that the concept of irreducible complexity had simply been misapplied on rare occasions. But if dependably, 20 years after a structure had been proposed as an example of irreducible complexity, a step-by-step Darwinian process was found that accounted for the structure, one would be left with the reasonable assurance that within 20 years, all such structures could be accounted for by co-option, and the IC argument would lose its power.

    This is not exactly a Popperian approach. But I have always been uncomfortable with Popper as the best exponent of how science works. My opinion is closer to that of Imre Lakatos.

    The important point is, however, that the argument will not be settled by appeals to models of how nature should work. That is Aristotelianism (or at least scholasticism) at its best. The argument will be settled, as well as science can settle it, by looking at actual data.

    That is why it is important whether the flagellum is easily explained (or explained with some difficulty) by Darwinian processes. That is why it is important that almost all of the proteins of the bacterial flagellum do not have sequence homologies with other bacterial proteins, and the one that does only has a 30% homology. That is why it is important that knockout experiments so far have uniformly resulted in permanent cessation of function. Matzke’s proposed pathway should be tested. Start with the TTSS. See if the next step really does enhance survival because of some effect on adhesion, or stalk production, or whatever other mechanism is being proposed.

    There is one more point that should be covered. When such experimental challenges are made, a common reply is to say that the probabilities of forming the structure are too low for it to happen reliably in the laboratory, but not so low for it to preclude it happening in our universe. If this argument were only about one structure, I could agree. But the problem with that reasoning is that it will work only if one does not invoke it repeatedly. One can fairly easily get 10^12 organisms in a given experiment. Let’s suppose that the real (as opposed to calculated) probability of getting a flagellum from scratch is 10^-15. Then the probability of a thousand experiments getting a flagellum is 1-1/e, or about 66%. Perhaps we were just unlucky (although in that case, why didn’t we get at least some evidence that some organisms were halfway up the mountain?).

    But if we have 10 such structures, then we have exceeded Dembski’s universal probability bound. In fact, 4 such structures exceed Dawkins’ universal probability bound of 10^-50, which I regard as more realistic. So somewhere, experimental results had better be forthcoming, or we are looking at a just-so story with faith demands vastly surpassing those of religion.

    And while we are at it, lets not forget the problem of OOL. Here, there are no handholds in the cliff wall until we get to a self-replicating form using fairly simple precursors, which appears to be life itself.

  32. 32
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Thanks Paul and Jerry for the comments. Obviously there is some unfinished business here, especially to do with cooption. I’m currently looking at the 2LoT papers, which I hope to comment on.

  33. 33
    jerry says:

    Timothy V Reeves,

    It may be best to continue this discussion when you have read more or want us to read some of your literature about this. This thread is getting buried down the list.

    I have often referred to co-option as a back pockets argument mainly because of the closeness of the back pockets to a particular part of the anatomy. When the going gets tough and the data and logic do not support your point of view, pick out one of the convenient back pocket arguments such as co-option, convergence, emergence or just resort to the good old stand by, “it evolved.” Discredit probabilities because the phenomena happened so probability arguments have no relevance.

    The entire evolutionary biology argument is one of begging the question, essentially assuming your assumptions are true without any proof and then using these unproven assumptions as evidence for the debate.

    I don’t know if you are following the discussions on the thread about the Altenberg 16. It is now quite long and mainly being driven by an evolutionary biologist named Allen MacNeill who admits that Darwin’s ideas are not supported by the evidence. (This does not mean that everything is disproved, just some major parts of the modern synthesis) Allen MacNeill is not an ID fan but there are friendly discussions going on that are a little theoretical in places so may not be the easiest to follow.

  34. 34
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    Thanks Jerry, I’ll have a look at that Altenberg 16 thread.

    In the meantime if you are finding that the ‘rube’ insults start to grate here are some verses!!

    Have mercy on us O Lord, have mercy on us for we have endured much contempt. We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant

    Ps 123 (NIV) !!!!!

  35. 35
    jerry says:

    Timothy V Reeves,

    I am a major proponent of keeping religious discussions off this blog especially quotes from the bible. But I do like the one you found very much.

    I might put it on my car as a bumper sticker.

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