Darwinism

How Darwinists confuse the extravagant with the essential

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Suppose I constructed a Rube Goldberg machine to do the simple task of turning on a light. Suppose the Rube Goldberg machine were irreducibly complex, being composed of 10,000 components such that if even one component were removed, the Rube Goldberg machine would no longer function. Are the components really essential to turning on a light in the ultimate sense or are the only essential in the sense that the extravagant Rube Goldberg machine would fail without it?

The correct answer is that the components are not essential in the ultimate sense since there are simpler mechanisms to turn on lights (aka a “light switch”). The components are “essential” to the turning on of light only in as much as the extravagant Rube Goldberg machine would fail to perform its task without them. But the arrangement of the components to turn on the light in that way is not essential, since there are many simpler architectures to do the same task. The problem for Darwinism is the problem of extravagance in biology like the monarch butterfly and the peacock’s tail and multicellular creatures.

Darwinists like Dawkins are incapable or unwilling to see the nuanced meaning of “essential” in the context of extravagant vs. “essential” in the context of ultimate necessities. A multicellular creature’s parts are essential to its ability to live, but it doesn’t mean such parts are essential in the ultimate sense because unicellular creatures are alive and well without all those parts. Yet, in his confused thinking, Dawkins will argue that selection will create such designs because we see that removing parts from a functioning creature causes selection to disfavor it in favor of creatures that have the parts. His WEASEL program is a great illustration of his wrongheaded thinking.

If we liken biological systems to Rube Goldberg machines (Behe describes IC systems with the phrase “Rube Goldberg”), why will biology select for a more extravagant solution (like multicellularity) when a simpler more durable architecture (unicellularity) exists? It is correct to say that a certain component is essential to implement a certain extravagant creature, but it fails to explain why selection can or will aim toward building the extravagance in the first place. Essential in the context of extravagance is not essential in the context of ultimate necessity. Darwinism does not explain the problem of extravagance and the Rube Goldberg architectures in biology.

Evolutionary biologists might give the following bone-headed reasoning, “If we remove an essential part of a multicellular creature, it dies, and thus demonstrate selection favors the existence and integration of that component, therefore selection evolved the multicellular creatures parts.” But demonstrating selection selects for a system after that system exists does not mean selection will select for a system before that system exists. Darwinists equivocate “selection after a system exists” with “selection before the system exists” and the stench of such illogic permeates evolutionary literature. (See: Selection after something exists is not the same as selection before something exists.)

This equivocation is the foundation of Dawkins Blind watchmaker hypothesis. Amazing that such an elementary error in logic is the basis for perpetuating the illusion that Dawkins and Darwin have some sort of genius insight into biology. Genius it is not, stupidity it is.

37 Replies to “How Darwinists confuse the extravagant with the essential

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Nice article. Concise and easy to read. Even better, it sticks it to the Darwinists where it hurts. Ouch.

    As an aside, why the awesome extravagance in nature? There is no naturalistic necessity for it. Come to think of it, why is life necessary at all? Inert dirt is fine as it is, no?

  2. 2
  3. 3
    turell says:

    Gould in “Full House: described the success of Bacteria and then turned the argument its head: Since they were so simple evolution could only proceed in one direction toward complexity. Why did they bother if they have been the most successful life form on Earth? Exactly Sal’s point. Only Darwinists don’t see the illogicness of the point.

  4. 4
    Mark Frank says:

    If we liken biological systems to Rube-Goldberg machines (Behe describes IC systems with the phrase “Rube-Goldberg”), why will biology select for a more extravagant solution (like multicellularity) when a simpler more durable architecture (unicellularity) exists?

    Because natural selection doesn’t choose the the simplest or best solution – it stumbles across a solution that works based on what already exists and other bits of stuff lying around. And provided no other organism stumbles across a better solution that is the one that sticks. On the other hand you might well ask why an omnipotent designer chooses an extravagant as opposed to essential design.  As far as I can see, your OP makes the case for natural selection as opposed to design.

  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    Sal:

    Wonderful essay, and a fundamental point.

  6. 6
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    I think you don’t see clearly the real problem.

    Neo-darwinism assumes that reproductive success is the drawing criterion of NS. Now, the best example of reproductive success is still represented by prokaryotes. From that point of view, eukaryotes are an useless complexity, an “extravagance” in Sal’s words. Multicellular beings are the absolute top of extravagance, and even among multicellular beings the prize for reproductive success is certainly to be given to insects, I suppose. Rats could be good performers among very complex beings, but still they are simple amateurs in the general context. 🙂

    So, the simple point is: reproductive success in no way explains the need for all that complexity. Prokaryotes should have been the glorious end of the road, if we really accept that there was any need at all to go beyond stones and to undergo such a bizarre procedure as OOL. 🙂

    You say:

    “On the other hand you might well ask why an omnipotent designer chooses an extravagant as opposed to essential design.”

    What you seem to miss is that complexity, while “extravagant” in the context of simply achieving the goal of survival and reproduction, becomes “essential” if we assume different goals: for example, the conscious goals that can be entertained by conscious intelligent designers.

    So, what could those goals be? I believe that the desire to allow new functions and experiences may be the main obvious goal in designed evolution. So, eukaryotes and multicellular beings were necessary because they can do more things, and be more things, than simple prokaryotes, not because they can reproduce better. Birds came into being because they can fly, not to find better nourishment by flight. And so on.

    So, higher functions may well be the main goal of designed evolution.

    Expressing beauty can well be another perspective. And, more generally, expressing variety. And obviously, there can certainly be less noble goals, goals that can appear frankly “evil” to our point of view. I will not go into a discussion about theodicy here because, as you know, I never discuss religion in this context.

    The simple point is: intelligent designers can have a lot of different goals, all of them related to an intelligent plan and to intelligent representations. Just look at human artifacts if you need to be convinced of that.

    And, to realize those intelligent goals, good or evil that they may be, complexity is often absolutely “essential”, even if it may appear “extravagant” in relation to simpler goals.

  7. 7
    seventrees says:

    Greetings everyone

    Neo-darwinism assumes that reproductive success is the drawing criterion of NS.

    Thank you for pointing this out, gpuccio. The rest of your answer is very good.

    Scordova, thanks for shedding more light to the issue.

    This is the best I can do.

  8. 8
    seventrees says:

    Correction: Shedding more light on the issue.*

  9. 9
    Box says:

    Mark Frank #4:

    Because natural selection doesn’t choose the simplest or best solution (…)

    Your statement is in accord with Scordova’s thesis that NS is not involved in finding solutions.

    Mark Frank #4:

    (…) – it stumbles across a solution that works based on what already exists and other bits of stuff lying around. And provided no other organism stumbles across a better solution that is the one that sticks.

    Again you are in accord with Scordova’s thesis that NS can only select after a system exists. Which means that NS does not perform better than chance.

  10. 10
    Mark Frank says:

    #9 Box

    Again you are in accord with Scordova’s thesis that NS can only select after a system exists.

    It would be bizarre or truly ignorant to think otherwise. Of course natural selection operates on what already exists.

    Which means that NS does not perform better than chance.

    This could mean lots of things – but if you mean it does no better than(metaphorically) throwing DNA up and seeing which way it lands then this is famously and trivially wrong.

  11. 11
    Box says:

    Mark Frank #10:

    It would be bizarre or truly ignorant to think otherwise. Of course natural selection operates on what already exists.

    So you agree with Scordova’s article ‘Selection is falsely called a mechanism when instead it should be labeled an outcome’? Do you agree that ‘what already exists’ is offered by chance and by chance alone? Do you hold Dawkins’ concept of a blind watchmaker to be bizarre and based on true ignorance?

    Box #9: “Which means that NS does not perform better than chance.”

    Mark Frank #10:

    This could mean lots of things – but if you mean it does no better than(metaphorically) throwing DNA up and seeing which way it lands then this is famously and trivially wrong.

    Why is that? What does NS do exactly?

  12. 12
    gpuccio says:

    Box:

    You ask:

    “What does NS do exactly?”

    I would try to give a brief answer myself, from my point of view. An answer which is perfectly compatible with the ID theory for biological information.

    I would not say that NS “does nothing”. We can discuss how to label it (mechanism, outcome, whatever), but essentially NS is a very observable process, which happens when reproducing beings are competing for resources and some kind of them acquires, usually by RV, some kind of reproductive advantage or disadvantage.

    We observe NS happening in all known forms of microevolution. We observe it mainly in bacteria or monocellular eukaryotes, but a few, limited examples are known also in multicellular beings, including humans.

    NS is very simply the process through which one of the following happens:

    a) Reproducing individuals who acquire some serious reproductive disadvantage reproduce less or don’t reproduce at all. We see that happen, even in humans, with very serious genetic diseases, for example. Some diseases, for example, are incompatible with reproduction, so their prevalence in human population is only due to new mutations. Let’s call this kind of effect “negative NS”.

    b) Reproducing individuals who acquire some important reproductive advantage reproduce more and are “expanded” in the original population. In the most extreme scenario, the new individual can take the place of the original population. Let’s call that “positive NS”.

    Now, both negative and positive NS can have important consequences in population genetics. So, they cannot be simply denied.

    In the neo darwinian model, they are supposed to have two important consequences:

    a) Negative NS preserves functional information, new and old, defending it in some measure from random deterioration.

    b) Positive NS “expands” the rare cases of functional variation. In that way, the new information becomes represented in a large number of individuals, instead of being restricted to the original individual where it occurred and to its limited descendants.

    The only reason why the process of positive NS cannot help creating new complex functional information is very simple: a new function, which requires a great number of functional bits to be implemented, is not achieved as the sum of single simple variation steps, each of them giving reproductive advantage. That’s what I mean when I say that complex information cannot be “deconstructed” into the sum of simple informational steps.

    And complex functional information is so extremely unlikely in a context of pure RV that it can never arise by randomness alone.

    That’s why the neo darwinian algorithm cannot explain the appearance of new complex information in biological beings. It’s as simple as that.

    Even a child would understand that. But, evidently, not intelligent adults biased by decades of wrong ideological thinking.

  13. 13

    Mark Frank @4:

    Because natural selection doesn’t choose the the simplest or best solution – it stumbles across a solution that works based on what already exists and other bits of stuff lying around.

    Yep. Stuff Happens.

    Isn’t evolution wonderful!?

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    Mark,

    Nice to see you. I’ve always had great respect for you ci\vil tone in our dialogue.

    At issue is whether natural selection on average will in general select for precursors of a more complex system (like an extravagant Rube Goldberg machine) before that complex system exists. WEASEL illustrates this idea, but the problem is whether the idea accords with reality.

    In the lab, as far as I know, if the knockout experiments on complex creatures are deep enough such that redundant pathways are gone, there is no hope the complexity will ever be recovered. If missing complexity isn’t ever recovered, why should we expect that it would even evolve in the first place when it didn’t exist?

    At issue is whether complex biological systems resemble Login/Password systems or those resolvable by WEASEL. Empirically and theoretically, the jump from unicellularity to multicellularity doesn’t at all look like the sort of systems WEASEL can resolve. They look more like login-password systems statistically speaking.

    Proteins interact with each other in ways that are analogous to lock-and-key, login-password systems. Like the matched gear seen in this photo:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-organism/

    it is easy for us to create well-matched parts in our minds toward some goal, but why will selection do this? Say a creature evolves one gear, why would it evolve the matching gear? A single unmatched-gear would seem like a liability or neutral feature at best.

    The problem is evolutionary biologists ascribe to unguided processes the behaviors of an engineer. As a former engineer, I’d say, “ok, show me why nature will compel evolution to behave like an engineer. You can start by explaining the evolution of that gear system. And please, spare me from your sequence and anatomical similarity arguments.”

    For a multicellular creature to evolve it needs lots of capabilities whose precursors would include:

    1. complex inter cellular communication
    2. coordination for cellular differentiation

    good grief, we could go on and on, the complexity of the precursors that have to be evolved and selected for boggles the mind.

    Personally, it bothers me when I hear evolutionists say that something as complex as the immune system evolved because the organism needed it, or that it evolved the inusulin molecule because it needed it to process sugars.
    The creature might well be dead before it had a chance to evolve something as complex as the immune system or even something relatively modest as the insulin protein.

    It is no coincidence so many ID/creationist sympathizers are doctors or engineers, the notion of functioning intermediates for certain critical systems seems just plain wrong.

    You don’t have to accept what we say, but if you’re trying to understand the resistance by ID sympathizers against natural selection, this essay and comment attempt to summarize those reasons, on logical and empirical grounds alone.

    Some may argue we believe ID because we are religiously motivated, at least in my case, its the other way around. I became religiously motivated because I believe ID, not the other way around!

    There seems plenty of reason unguided selection will actually select AGAINST non-existent complexity, not for it. I’ve posted several essays to that effect here at UD, and the fact that multicellular creatures are going extinct faster than unicellular ones is prima facie evidence real selection in the wild does not evolve more complexity on average, it kills it off.

    See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....darwinism/

    I believe in natural selection in the wild, but real natural selection. Real natural selection in the wild in general selects AGAINST evolution of novel complexity not for it. The fact that it selects for existing complexity does not in any way suggest it selects for non-existent complexity, and an argument can be made that selection for existing complexity is evidence that it selects AGAINST non-existent complexity.

    Even one of your astute acquaintances was forced to admit this fact.

    See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-to-work/

    and

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....z-vs-behe/

  15. 15
    JGuy says:

    Mark Frank

    On the other hand you might well ask why an omnipotent designer chooses an extravagant as opposed to essential design

    One could ask that, and have many answers to speculate about intention. And even if one couldn’t answer it readily, not havng an answer for a designer’s intention wouldn’t take away from the fact that an intelligent designers do make such designs and that Darwinian processes have no intention. So, as the age ole expression goes, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? 😛

  16. 16
    scordova says:

    On the other hand you might well ask why an omnipotent designer chooses an extravagant as opposed to essential design

    Maybe for similar reasons that we human intelligent designers make extravagant designs — we find them delightful.

    Of course there are extravagant forms of torture in biology, such as how a centipede eats its prey alive, or whales killing walruses for sport, etc.

    And we also create deliberately malicious and “defective” designs too — like the characters in the novels and video games we design, or the terminator and traitor seeds that are incapable of reproducing.

    I wrote an essay on why a designer would make extravagant self-desctructing “imperfect” designs:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-thoughts/

    All this to say, what superficially seems like a bad argument against how God ought to do business, falls apart with a little more thought.

    The extravagance of Mount Rushmore is evidence for design, so too is extravagance in biology evidence of design.

    Certainly the malicious designs of God are not pleasant to us (like the plagues God designed in Egypt were not pleasant to the Egyptians), but it doesn’t lessen the design inference.

    Ironic that Darwin couldn’t comprehend the failure of his arguments with respect to intelligence and malicious designs. I illustrated Darwin’s own blindness to the facts from his own experience in hunting birds:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nt-design/

    Darwin and friends collectively made malicious and extravagant designs in the way they hunted birds (for sport, not so much for food).

  17. 17

    Complex organisms do not arise because of Darwinistic processes but rather in spite of them. No rational theory of natural origins, random mutations and natural selection starts off with what are arguably the most hardy, efficient and reproductive organisms (single-cell bacteria) and ends up with (compared to bacteria) horribly inefficient, failure-prone, poorly-reproducing hyper-complex organisms with narrow zones of environmental survivability.

    Darwinism isn’t an explanation for complex organisms; it does nothing more than allow that they might come to exist if they happen to beat the extreme odds stacked against them.

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    William J Murray @17,

    Well said. What’s even more amazing is that, the less reproductive an organism gets, the more complex it becomes. The most complex organisms have the lowest rates of reproduction and the least chance of being selected by natural selection. What’s up with that nonsense?

    Darwinian evolution: the only “scientific theory” that survives by force of law. Something needs to be done about that. Democratic action at the ballot box comes to mind.

  19. 19
    Box says:

    Gpuccio #12:

    I would not say that NS “does nothing”.

    I agree, it does something: NS hinders innovation. NS kills off all unfinished solutions offered by chance. So thanks to NS evolution performs even worse than by chance alone.

  20. 20
    5for says:

    WJM @17: That does raise the issue as to why the designer started off with the most hardy and efficient organisms and then moved on to design “the most horribly inefficient, failure-prone, poorly-reproducing hyper-complex organisms with narrow zones of environmental survivability”.

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    5for @21:

    “the most horribly inefficient, failure-prone, poorly-reproducing hyper-complex organisms with narrow zones of environmental survivability”.

    Are you talking about humans? The human brain consumes about as much energy as a 100 watt light bulb. A comparable super computer with the same bandwidth capacity as the brain would have to be powered by an electric power plant of a big city. Hardly what I would call inefficient.

    Poorly reproducing? Do we want a trillion humans per square mile?

    And failure prone? Are you kidding me? The whole point of a learning system is to learn from its failures. This is what intelligence is about.

    I should add that I don’t exactly see what point you were trying to make in your comment.

  22. 22

    WJM @17: That does raise the issue as to why the designer started off with the most hardy and efficient organisms and then moved on to design “the most horribly inefficient, failure-prone, poorly-reproducing hyper-complex organisms with narrow zones of environmental survivability”.

    Please note how I framed the context. As the product of an assumed natural origin and process, that is what we see, because the only things that nature “cares” about in terms of evolution is procreative survivability, which is not a program one would expect to produce the less survivable, less procreative complex organisms we see on Earth.

    In fact, the evolutionary process looks much more like a design job where the designer begins with the best, most hardy building block possible and then uses that design concept as much as possible going forward to more complex living systems.

    The success and relative value of any design depends on the design goals. Humans are pitiful designs in terms of what makes bacteria great designs; but then, humans are not bacteria, and humans are not designed simply to survive and procreate.

  23. 23
    Mark Frank says:

    Sal
    There isn’t time to respond to everything you write. I have selected some sentences from #14 and #16.

    At issue is whether natural selection on average will in general select for precursors of a more complex system (like an extravagant Rube Goldberg machine) before that complex system exists. WEASEL illustrates this idea, but the problem is whether the idea accords with reality.

    I don’t think any responsible biologist would claim that natural selection selects for precursors. It selects for things that are currently beneficial which then sometimes turn out to be precursors for more complicated things. The WEASEL program was not intended to duplicate the way evolution works. All it was ever intended to do was illustrate a point about probabilities. 

    If missing complexity isn’t ever recovered, why should we expect that it would even evolve in the first place when it didn’t exist?

    Because it evolved in a different context for a different reason. It then got coopted into a complex system. The initial reason for its evolution may well then disappear. If you now remove it the complex system fails to work.

    Personally, it bothers me when I hear evolutionists say that something as complex as the immune system evolved because the organism needed it, or that it evolved the inusulin molecule because it needed it to process sugars.

    Yes it bothers me as well. It is an incorrect description of the process.

    Maybe for similar reasons that we human intelligent designers make extravagant designs — we find them delightful.

    The trouble is – as soon as you allow any old motive then any result might the product of design – so the only evidence for design is that you can’t think of another explanation. If you want design to be a testable hypothesis then some observable results have to be incompatible with it.  But if you allow any motive and any abilities – then all results are compatible. Some might also be compatible with known natural processes but a super powerful designer who wants to produce effect X will always be the best explanation of effect X.

  24. 24
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    The trouble is – as soon as you allow any old motive then any result might the product of design – so the only evidence for design is that you can’t think of another explanation. If you want design to be a testable hypothesis then some observable results have to be incompatible with it. But if you allow any motive and any abilities – then all results are compatible. Some might also be compatible with known natural processes but a super powerful designer who wants to produce effect X will always be the best explanation of effect X.

    I am afraid you have it all wrong.

    It is absolutely trivial that design can do anything, given the resources. Design has no intrinsic limitations. So, your statement that “some observable results have to be incompatible with it” is simply senseless.

    I will be more clear. The ID theory for biological information is not, and never has been:

    “Design can do that”.

    It is obvious that design can do that. Design can certainly, in principle, synthesize some functional protein, or plan some very complex biological machine. Why not?

    So, there is no need that “some observable results have to be incompatible with it”, because the argument was never: “Design can do it”.

    The ID theory for biological information is, and has ever been, as you should well know:

    “Only design can do that”

    (where “that” is dFSCI, or CSI, as you like).

    Can that statement be falsified? Sure. Just show one case where “that” can come into existence without a designer. Very easy. And never accomplished.

    So, whatever you may say, the ID statement is perfectly scientific in a Popperian way.

    The reasons we have suggested for what can appear as “extravagance” in biological design are perfectly legit, because they are derived from observation of the only certain examples of design we already know, that is human artifacts.

    It’s your statement that a designer would never do things that way, that is completely unwarranted, and unsupported by any fact or reasonable argument.

  25. 25
    scordova says:

    Sal
    There isn’t time to respond to everything you write.

    But thank you for your responses, and it turns out you highlighted the most important points.

    Personally, it bothers me when I hear evolutionists say that something as complex as the immune system evolved because the organism needed it, or that it evolved the insulin molecule because it needed it to process sugars.

    Yes it bothers me as well. It is an incorrect description of the process.

    EXACTLY! That encapsulates the central issue at Uncommon Descent for the last 8 years.

    I don’t think any responsible biologist would claim that natural selection selects for precursors.

    That may be true, but then they can’t claim selection will actually build the deep integration and coordination we see in biology.

    If precursors are not selected for, but rather against, then selection will not evolve integration and coordination (like matching gears, lock-and-key protein docking).

    Matzke and Miller gave the illusion precursors were selected for in a way that builds complexity for the flagellum. They did not do that in reality.

    By their standards, my passwords coopt your passwords because we use the same alphabet (symbol base). Merely demonstrating that proteins were coopted in this way is not the central problem, but they insinuated it was. We coopt each others alphabet (symbol base) to create passwords. In that sense we select each other’s rudimentary precursors, but not the way that is needed to build integration and coordination.

    WEASEL is symbolic of what I meant by “selecting precursors”. In WEASEL the precursors are selected toward a pre-specified goal. Evolutionists will say evolution doesn’t really work like WEASEL. To which I respond “fine, how does it really work?”. They’ll argue through cooption. To which I say, “fine, my symbol base coopts yours symbol base when I create passwords, for that matter monkeys on typewriters will coopt our symbol base — that sort of ‘cooption’ in no way implies monkeys can resolve my passwords nor make coherent well matched strings that we call sentences much less paragraphs, essays, or books.”

    Evolutionists will argue “evolution has no goal”. And I’ll counter, then if so, why should there be reasonable probability of creating matching parts (like gears in an insect).

    so the only evidence for design is that you can’t think of another explanation. If you want design to be a testable hypothesis then some observable results have to be incompatible with it. But if you allow any motive and any abilities – then all results are compatible. Some might also be compatible with known natural processes but a super powerful designer who wants to produce effect X will always be the best explanation of effect X.

    I respect the objection, and I cited you in one of my essays. I felt this objection is reasonable grounds for not accepting ID (even though I personally accept ID):

    Good and bad reasons for rejecting ID

    With respect to testability, I’m certainly at variance with many of my ID colleagues:

    Am I the only ID proponent that doesn’t like the phrase “positive case for id”?

    I wrote:

    I rarely disagree with Casey Luskin, and Casey echoes the majority view of ID, and I’m clearly in the minority to disagree with him.

    However, “positive argument of ID” in some people’s view would mean: “we see the Designer in action creating designs in the present day, therefore the designs of life in the present were made by the same Designer we see creating designs today.” So by that definition, there isn’t a positive argument for Design. I don’t like that situation, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt…

    We can believe Stonehenge is designed because we see designers today that can make similar structures. If we saw the Designer creating new biological life forms or making planets and stars in the present day, that would be a positive case for ID in biology, but we don’t have such evidence in the present day. The only other ID proponent that seems to share my reluctance to promote ID as having a positive case is Mike Gene.

    ID is mostly based on analogy and heavy amounts of negative arguments. Negative means: not by chance, not by law, not by mindless evolution.

    Nice to hear from you, Mark.

  26. 26
    Mapou says:

    gpuccio @25,

    While I am a firm believer in ID, I have to disagree with this statement:

    “Only design can do that”

    (where “that” is dFSCI, or CSI, as you like).

    Can that statement be falsified? Sure. Just show one case where “that” can come into existence without a designer. Very easy. And never accomplished.

    This does not provide an easy or even a feasible experiment that can falsify ID, in my opinion. It’s trying to prove a negative. There is a way to falsify ID but this is not it.

  27. 27
    Mark Frank says:

    Gpuccio:

    It is absolutely trivial that design can do anything, given the resources. Design has no intrinsic limitations. So, your statement that “some observable results have to be incompatible with it” is simply senseless.

    I can’t make head or tail of what you are saying here. What I wrote was “If you want design to be a testable hypothesis then some observable results have to be incompatible with it.” Do you deny this? Can something be testable even though even though all results are compatible with it (which you appear to think is trivially true)?

    I will be more clear.

    Good

    The ID theory for biological information is not, and never has been:
    “Design can do that”.
    It is obvious that design can do that. Design can certainly, in principle, synthesize some functional protein, or plan some very complex biological machine. Why not?
    So, there is no need that “some observable results have to be incompatible with it”, because the argument was never: “Design can do it”.
    The ID theory for biological information is, and has ever been, as you should well know:
    “Only design can do that”
    (where “that” is dFSCI, or CSI, as you like).
    Can that statement be falsified? Sure. Just show one case where “that” can come into existence without a designer. Very easy. And never accomplished.
    So, whatever you may say, the ID statement is perfectly scientific in a Popperian way.

    And my point is that if you allow designers to do anything then the only thing that can count as evidence for design is the perceived failure of other known explanations.  That is all I am asserting. I think it is a pretty big problem. If you disagree then suggest something that would count as evidence for design other than the perceived failure of other known explanations (and don’t take me through the dFSCI charade again – the term for “no known natural explanation” is right there in the formula).

    It’s your statement that a designer would never do things that way, that is completely unwarranted, and unsupported by any fact or reasonable argument

    Only I didn’t make that statement – I only asked why would a designer do things that way?  If ID is to lead to anything other than a denial that other explanations are true then I suggest it needs to start forming hypotheses of this nature.

  28. 28
    Mark Frank says:

    Sal

    If precursors are not selected for, but rather against, then selection will not evolve integration and coordination (like matching gears, lock-and-key protein docking).

    That is the key question about natural selection. Most biologists would say that selecting against (as you call it) will evolve integration and coordination – just not a planned integration and coordination.

  29. 29
    Box says:

    Evolution theory assumes an overflowing abundance of new viable creatures and subsystems offered by chance. An affluence of brilliant ideas out of nowhere which only has to be pruned by NS to explain the current collection of life forms.
    Somehow the activity of selecting adapted species has been wrongfully elevated to designing adapted species. NS signs its ugly autograph on what is offered by chance ever since.

  30. 30
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    The testable hypothesis is not design in itself. This is your mistake.

    The testable hypothesis is that some observable pattern in objects (dFSCI) can only exist as the result of conscious design.

    Now, we know:

    a) That design can generate dFSCI

    b) That nothing else in our experience can do that.

    That is the rationale for the hypothesis.

    Is the hypothesis falsifiable? Yes. Any example of dFSCI come into existence without any conscious design would do that. This is not a “negative”, no more than saying that finding a black swan would falsify the hypothesis that all swans are white, while no black swan has been observed.

    The idea in Popper methodology is that a scientific hypothesis must be in principle falsifiable. The ID hypothesis is in principle falsifiable.

    All your reasoning in your post is wrong because you say that design should be “testable”, which means nothing. The point in ID is that dFSCI is a reliable marker of design. That is a scientific hypothesis, and can be tested and falsified. It is not a negative.

    You say:

    “And my point is that if you allow designers to do anything then the only thing that can count as evidence for design is the perceived failure of other known explanations.”

    No. The evidence for design comes from the presence of dFSCI. It has nothing to do with the “intentions” of the designer. It depends only on the recognition of a function which is linked to high complexity. The “intentions” in implementing that function are not important. You have tried to use the “intentions” as falsification of the design hypothesis, and I have simply answered that there is no credibility in that argument, because what we observe is perfectly compatible with reasonable intentions of some designer, indeed is similar to what we observe in human design.

    But the point remains that the evidence for design comes from dFSCI, not from any reasoning about “intentions”.

  31. 31
    gpuccio says:

    Mapou:

    You say:

    “This does not provide an easy or even a feasible experiment that can falsify ID, in my opinion. It’s trying to prove a negative. There is a way to falsify ID but this is not it.”

    I disagree with you. Proving that dFSCI can be generate out of design would falsify the whole premise of ID. For all purposes, it would falsify the scientific utility of ID at all. It would be a perfect Popperian falsification.

    The point in Popper is that, for a theory to be scientific, there must be some possible observation, fact or experiment that can falsify it. Generating dFSCI out of design is certainly a possible fact or experiment that would falsify ID. It has never been done. I am sure it will never be done. But it is certainly “possible”. That is all that is needed for a theory to be “potentially falsifiable”.

    Falsification does not need “proving a negative”. It just means: there is in principle some possible observation that would falsify the theory. A simple object exhibiting dFSCI, and generated, with certainty, in some system without any design intervention, would do it.

    Please, read also my answer to Mark at #31.

  32. 32
    5for says:

    gpuccio @31:

    You say:

    “Now, we know:

    a) That design can generate dFSCI

    b) That nothing else in our experience can do that.

    That is the rationale for the hypothesis.”

    Of course what you are missing out with that analysis, as RDFish pointed out ad infinitum, is that nothing in our experience can design anything other than an entity that is already chock full of dFSCI. There is no empirical support at all for the idea that “design” on its own can do anything. In fact the statement that “design can generate dFSCI” doesn’t even make sense.

  33. 33
    Mapou says:

    gpuccio @32:

    Mapou:

    You say:

    “This does not provide an easy or even a feasible experiment that can falsify ID, in my opinion. It’s trying to prove a negative. There is a way to falsify ID but this is not it.”

    I disagree with you. Proving that dFSCI can be generate out of design would falsify the whole premise of ID. For all purposes, it would falsify the scientific utility of ID at all. It would be a perfect Popperian falsification.

    I’m sorry but you must provide an experiment that can potentially falsify the ID hypothesis. You have not done so. Describe the experiment you have in mind.

  34. 34
    Mapou says:

    5for:

    Of course what you are missing out with that analysis, as RDFish pointed out ad infinitum, is that nothing in our experience can design anything other than an entity that is already chock full of dFSCI.

    So? The ID hypothesis is not about who designed the designer but who designed life on earth. There may or may not be a hypothesis for who designed the designer but that’s besides the point.

  35. 35
    Upright BiPed says:

    5for,

    RDFish made two general claims: a) the material complexity found in the cell only comes about through the act of design/intelligence, and b) the act of design/intelligence requires the material complexity of the cell.

    As was pointed out to him “ad infinitum”, the second claim does not alter the first, and thus, his objection has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of the design hypothesis.

    You, also, may want to keep that in mind.

  36. 36
    Mark Frank says:

    Gpuccio:
    In the end this comes back to the fact that the formula for calculating CSI, FSCI or dFSCI includes the term P(T|H) where T is the target and H is a known chance hypothesis and P(T|H) has to be low enough. i.e. dFSCI/FSCI/CSI includes by definition the requirement that there be no known chance explanation.
    If this is not true then all you have to is describe what it would be like to observe “an example of dFSCI coming into existence without any conscious design”. How could we possibly observe that?

  37. 37

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