Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

More on “Incompetent Design”

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Sam Chen posted the inside story on the “Incompetent Design” video that I highlighted here at UD two days ago (go here for Sam’s post). Here’s my favorite quote from Dave Wise (not to be confused with Kurt), the designing intelligence behind this farce:

Branding ID as Incompetent Design involves both humor and grit but avoids direct insult to the opposition, a mistake to be avoided in any political campaign. All the tools of political campaigns should be used: slogans, songs, bumper stickers (“Human skeletal errors: Incompetent Design or Evolution ?”), IDers will attempt to take us off-message with debates on origins of life, thermodynamics, etc., but instead we must continue to pound simple themes of obvious design failures. Science can win this battle only if we recognize this is not a Sunday school debating match but a deadly serious political contest.

That’s right, let’s not get hung up on such trivialities as the origin of life. Wisdom teeth and back pain — that’s the slamdunk evidence for evolution! Yes, and these people get tenure at our universities, at tax-payer expense no less.

45 Replies to “More on “Incompetent Design”

  1. 1
    Columbo says:

    It seems to me that there is a fundamental fallacy here in materialistic thought. If we are purely the product of RM + NS, as materialists insist, then how can we possibly judge between “good” and “bad” design? What do such values mean?

    IF the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents – the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts – i.e., Materialism and Astronomy – are mere accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.
    C. S. Lewis

  2. 2
    kvwells says:

    Dave Wise is correct about one thing, these are bumper-sticker grade “arguments.” Where are the voices representing careful philosophical reflection on the side of NDE? Isn’t the scientific method (however mythical its existence or application concerning NDE hypotheses) based on rules of logic?

    I would ask the proponents of the “‘bad design’ confirms no design” hypothesis to approach the argument as a logical proof and see if it holds water.

  3. 3
    a5b01zerobone says:

    Design Theorists are pretty bright people. I am sure they can explain Wisdom teeth and back pain.

    I would rather listen to the ID folks then the people who brought us the eugenics movement and Hitler.

  4. 4
    GilDodgen says:

    This is marvelous! Essentially he is saying, “IDers will attempt to take us off-message by discussing whether or not Darwinian hypotheses and conclusions are supported by the evidence and withstand analytical scrutiny. We mustn’t allow this to happen. Keep the emphasis on politics and religion instead.”

    The “incompetent design” argument is really a variation on the problem of evil, which is a theological question.

  5. 5
    Robo says:

    Since we have examples of ‘perfect’ teeth, eyes and backs that appear to have no problems, how do we know we are not seeing devolution in the bad cases. This would be a loss of genetic information or unfavorable mutations over time.

    Columbo: good and bad in the case of design are not moral good and bad. Rather they are gradings of how well a system works. Of course that requires we know HOW the system was meant to work but surely we can gather some ideas from revelation (the Bible) and/or by applying design principles we would use in engineering to our own bodies. Or we could compare ourselves to Hulk Hogan or superman.

  6. 6
    scordova says:

    Design Theorists are pretty bright people. I am sure they can explain Wisdom teeth and back pain.

    I hope you are not being sarcastic…

    Is a Perfect Designer obligated to make something as eternally perfect as Himself? Is that even logically possible!

    Furthermore, what great drama has no bad design in it? What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? Or a drama without a clumsy bumbling foil to increase the renown of the heroes?

    Likewise how meaninful would a perfect world be without an imperfect and troubled-filled world to contrast it to. The bad design argument is not so immutable as it seems at first glance….

    When the civilized world first began seeing hieroglyphics, they knew it was designed even before it was decoded. Not knowing the reasons or purposes or even meaning (semantics) for a design does not negate the design inference. That was the case for hieroglyphics, and that could also be the case for life and the universe….

    So I don’t have an explanation for bad teeth and back pain, but what if the explanation would be beyond human comprehension? However, a good explanation is that the design has worn out, and if one can reverse engineer the good design from clues strewn across biotic reality, one has a hope of effecting some relief…

    Or may a decaying life, a disposable universe (one with the 2nd law of thermodynamics as it’s most fundamental principle), is part of some greater design, like one chapter in a larger novel….

  7. 7
    bFast says:

    “Science can win this battle only if we recognize this is not a Sunday school debating match but a deadly serious political contest.”

    This guy is two-thirds correct, its not a Sunday school debating match, and it is a deadly serious contest (especially in light of evolutionary concepts like eugenics). How on earth does he claim that it is a political contest. Oh yea, because they can’t win if its a scientific contest. I guess he is right after all.

  8. 8
    a5b01zerobone says:

    Hi Scordova. I am not being sarcastic.
    I apologize if I gave you that impression.

  9. 9
    a5b01zerobone says:

    When I wrote this

    “Design Theorists are pretty bright people. I am sure they can explain Wisdom teeth and back pain”

    What I meant was that because Darwinism is the dominant school of though (as of right now) and Darwinists hold all the key positions in museums and universities. When a Darwinist makes a claim about “bad design” or “junk dna” it tends to confuse average joes like myself, because these people we have been taught to respect.

    So what I was saying was that there needs to be a vigorous attempt to challenge Darwinist propaganda.

    I hope that makes sense, I need to go get some lunch. Running on fumes here.

  10. 10
    Jehu says:

    Robo

    Since we have examples of ‘perfect’ teeth, eyes and backs that appear to have no problems, how do we know we are not seeing devolution in the bad cases. This would be a loss of genetic information or unfavorable mutations over time.

    Of course that is what we are seeing. If you look at the evidence, it fits this paradigm so much better than the Darwinist view. My favorite web site about degeneration:

    http://www.evolutionisdegeneration.com

  11. 11
    jb says:

    Regarding wisdom teeth, see these articles:

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....mteeth.asp
    http://www.answersingenesis.or....._teeth.asp

    “Research now indicates that the reasons for most third molar problems today are not due to evolutionary changes but other reasons. These reasons include a change from a coarse abrasive diet to a soft western diet, lack of proper dental care, and genetic factors possibly including mutations.”

  12. 12
    dacook says:

    a5b01zerobone: There’s a pretty good implied challenge to that propaganda in the recent book on genetic entropy by (pardon me if I’m misremembering the name, the book’s at home and I’m at work) Dr. J.C. Sanford, a plant geneticist.
    He makes a convincing case that the genome must be degenerating with each generation.
    This is my brand-new favorite explanation for back pain, ill-fitting wisdom teeth, arthritis (which definitely does tend to run in families) etc..: we are not as robust as our ancestors of many generations ago.
    And if you extrapolate back far enough, you hypothetically come to a time when the genome was perfect and people lived a very long time without wearing out.
    Dr. Sanford also states that one original couple could contain between them enough genetic information to account for all the diversity of the human race as it resorted over the generations. Interesting stuff.

  13. 13
    shaner74 says:

    “IDers will attempt to take us off-message with debates on origins of life, thermodynamics, etc., but instead we must continue to pound simple themes of obvious design failures.”

    I wish I had something better to say, but I have been shocked into a state of disorientation and rendered nearly speechless after reading such a dim-witted statement. It’s like he sat down and thought, “Hmm, what can I say to make the opposition look good?” Why didn’t he just say, “Darwinism is a religion, but we refer to it as ‘science’”? If a Darwinist said this in a debate they’d be shredded. I just hope the lawyers remember stuff like this the next time Darwin goes to court.

    dacook said:
    “And if you extrapolate back far enough, you hypothetically come to a time when the genome was perfect and people lived a very long time without wearing out.”

    Gee, if that was the case you’d think someone would have wrote that down, in like, a Book. Go figure.

  14. 14
    Columbo says:

    Robo,

    I probably shouldn’t have used the words “good” and “bad” in my post. I did not mean to imply a moral judgement. What I take C.S. Lewis to mean is that the judgements of human minds (be it on “competence” or any other criteria) cannot be reliable if they are nothing more than the result of mere accidents. Why would such an apparatus be trustworthy in reporting facts about reality?

    Materialism is self-defeating epistemologically – and for that matter, morally.

  15. 15
    jmcd says:

    Gil said:
    “This is marvelous! Essentially he is saying, “IDers will attempt to take us off-message by discussing whether or not Darwinian hypotheses and conclusions are supported by the evidence and withstand analytical scrutiny. We mustn’t allow this to happen. Keep the emphasis on politics and religion instead.”

    I don’t think that is what was said at all. Origin of Life discussions are extremely speculative because there is very little that we know about the subject. Arguments about thermodynamics have been refuted so many times but they are still effective with a lot of people because that can appear convincing at first glance. These topics do not begin to address the merits or defficiencies of evolutionary theory. Those are arguments that can be and have been used to take the debate away from ET though.

    bfast
    He claims its a political contest because that is primarily what it is. There is not much of a contest in science yet. To be fair there is a definite bias against ID that will be difficult to overcome. So the battle is being waged by school boards and is indeed political. I don’t think it should be, but it is.

    As far as the bumper sticker campaign criticism goes I seem to remember the various t-shirts and coffee mugs that used to be peddelled here with oversimplified bumper sticker esque slogans. I am not saying its wrong or a bad idea. I am saying that this has long been a political fight waged by both sides.

  16. 16
    rrf says:

    Sal writes:

    Is a Perfect Designer obligated to make something as eternally perfect as Himself? Is that even logically possible!

    I don’t understand something. How do we know the Designer is perfect?

  17. 17
  18. 18
    scordova says:

    Regarding original design, for me personally the most exciting example was the reconstruction of an original design through immortalization of the human cell by the biotech firm, Geron. They re-engineered the cell based on a hunch that all the machinery was there for “immortality” in human cells except maybe a bad switch that was mysteriously re-programmed for early death…

    It made the stories of ancient people with long life more believable.

    8 “How old are you?” Pharaoh asked him.

    9 Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.”

    The account is from Genesis 47. Whether it is historically accurate and literal is the subject of never ending debate. However, in light of Geron’s work, the hypothesis of the accuracy of Jacob’s claims of long life in our human ancestors becomes far more compelling.

    The immortalization of the cell has other properties such as increased healing capacity. There is probably much about the original design that remains to be discovered. We’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg.

    Another hypothesis is that most of biotic reality has dual modes, both malicious and benevolent. In principle this could be subject to discovery via reverse engineering as well.

  19. 19
    dacook says:

    Jehu: Yep, that’s it.

    I have some quibbles about the book’s organization, some imprecise language, and lack of definitions for some important terms, but overall I thought he makes his case quite well.

  20. 20
    Jehu says:

    dacook:

    Thanks, I added it to my shopping cart.

  21. 21
    Jehu says:

    scordova,

    interesting account regarding the Geron research. I think another clue is that tortoises don’t age. If they can do it, it is resonable that humans were once able to do it but lost the trait. I recall a discussion we had about the ability to regenerat limbs and that it has been discovered that many species once had the ability to regenerate but have lost the ability.

  22. 22
    scordova says:

    Jehu,

    I wrote a bit about Sanford’s work here: Respected Cornell geneticist rejects Darwinism in his recent book

    I concur with DA Cook’s review of maybe some editorial changes, but overall, WOW, what a book.

    Sal

  23. 23
    tribune7 says:

    This is marvelous! Essentially he is saying, “IDers will attempt to take us off-message by discussing whether or not Darwinian hypotheses and conclusions are supported by the evidence and withstand analytical scrutiny. We mustn’t allow this to happen. Keep the emphasis on politics and religion instead.”

    Like I said on the other post. We won. It’s time for a victory party.

  24. 24
    crandaddy says:

    Like I said on the other post. We won. It’s time for a victory party.

    In my view, we haven’t “won” until materialist ideology is no longer unquestionable orthodoxy in academia.

  25. 25
    Fross says:

    (bumped)

    I think calling something “bad design” is a very subjective thing. I think the point many people try to make (even though it may seem unreasonable to you guys) is that designs created by evolution are limited to using/modifying what was already there. For instance, whale fins are using modified hand bones, but they also work perfectly as a design for the whale. This isn’t a bad design, but it is a modified design vs. a redesign. Evolution is limited to modified design, and I think people don’t expect the workings of a designer to be limited to modified design. (vs design from the ground up)

    I think it’s a subjective opinion to say that something like boat that was built using nothing but the parts from a Volkswagon Bug is not as well designed as something like a ski boat that was designed from the start to be a boat. Both function well enough to be boats. It’s just that one shows signs of having once been useful for another function. The real point is that evolution is limited to the refurbished technique and ID makes no explanation as to why either technique should be expected.

  26. 26
    a5b01zerobone says:

    Perhaps the Creator has already answered “why” and “how”.

    Regardless, do you really think Dr. Dembski or Scordova are simpletons?

    I see what you are trying to do here and it is not constructive. I am going to take your bait.

  27. 27
    a5b01zerobone says:

    Thank you Atom!

  28. 28
    Atom says:

    RE#33: What “untestable” hypothesis are you referring to?

    (If you mean that intelligence can create CSI and IC structures, I’m afraid we test that claim everyday)

  29. 29
    Atom says:

    Again, what specific hypthesis are you referring to?

    We have a given effect (lifeforms, molecular machine, etc) and two possible causal classes: RM + NS or Intelligence.

    Now, can RM + NS produce the effects? Theoretical considerations say no and empirical tests are so far fruitless.

    Can intelligence? Theoretical considerations say yes and empirical tests have validated those claims.

    What exactly is faith-based in the above? (In regards to ID, that is…to still hold to Darwinism in light of the above surely does take a bit of faith.)

  30. 30
    Avater says:

    Dave Wise: “Thus, Science need only show lack of intelligence in nature’s designs, the human frame being a prime example.”

    By categorizing some parts of the human body as bad design, they unknowingly put all others into the “good design” category. How many examples do they have anyway:
    1. Pelvis slopes
    2. Too many teeth
    3. Squashed facial bones
    4. Tail bone
    5. Appendix
    6. Junk DNA
    7. …
    It’s funny that they never list “getting old” or “death” itself as bad design. Or how about people being jealous, greedy, lazy, haughty, violent, etc… Why aren’t they never listed?

  31. 31
    tribune7 says:

    In my view, we haven’t “won” until materialist ideology is no longer unquestionable orthodoxy in academia.

    How about until existing academia shows itself to be such fools they can no longer be taken seriously? (see video)

  32. 32
    a5b01zerobone says:

    “It’s funny that they never list “getting old” or “death” itself as bad design. Or how about people being jealous, greedy, lazy, haughty, violent, etc… Why aren’t they never listed?”

    This wanders into religious/philosophical territory and is not something that ID addresses directly. Right?

  33. 33
    jmcd says:

    “It’s funny that they never list “getting old” or “death” itself as bad design. Or how about people being jealous, greedy, lazy, haughty, violent, etc… Why aren’t they never listed?”

    They are never listed because they cannot be addressed by ET. An evolutionary psychologist might want to venture a guess, but they are part of a seperate, much more contentious, and highly speculative field.

    As far as ageing and death are concerned they seem to be universals in nature. To a significant extent ageing seems to be a side effect of our defense against cancer. So it is a good design as far as keeping us alive long enough to procreate goes.

  34. 34
    scordova says:

    Wise wrote:

    but instead we must continue to pound simple themes of obvious design failures.

    We may view this as pathetic, but I wouldn’t diminish the power of the bad design argument. I would rate it as their best strategy, and I think ID proponents would do well to give adequate answers.

    There are good philosophical answers to the ultimate “bad design” argments. I tried to give the ones which I consider adequate, above.

    Beyond that, on a smaller scale, one must know what the organizing principle around which a design is made to argue bad design. For example, a CD or DVD is optimized for compactness of storage. Without going into the details, the most optimal way to achieve compact storage is to allow numerous read/write errors into the physical medium and then use an error correction filter to clean them out. To learn about this technique, see: Reed–Solomon error correction. In other words, it is fair to say, the errors are by design!

    Darwinist have often complained about the error correction mechanisms in the DNA processing. They claim a competent designer would not design an information processing system with so many read/write errors as found in the DNA processing of cells. I respond by saying, like CDs and DvDs using Reed-Solomon error correction, cells also have error correction mechanisms to fix the numerous read/write errors in processing of DNA.

    Had they known a little more about information science, they would conclude that the cell is optimized for information compactness and robustness. Like CDs and DvDs, the “errors” are actually evidence of optimal design!

    Their limited understanding of good and bad design is inappropriate for making claims of bad design. They are quick to use the “bad design” argument, but a different perspective easily shows they are mistaken.

    One could argue that there could be organizing principles in the design of everything else which we may not fully comprehend. If read/write “errors” are the optimal design for the molecules of DNA, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine there might be a larger design purpose for the errors of bad teeth and back pains. We simply may not know the purpose or organizing principle for such designed “errors”.

  35. 35
    Atom says:

    Since they want soundbites, how about this for one:

    “Bad design is still design.”

    “And it ain’t all that bad.”

  36. 36
    shaner74 says:

    sal wrote:
    “We simply may not know the purpose or organizing principle for such designed “errors”.”

    The “bad design” argument-pushers really annoy me. Who are we to judge “bad” design, when there’s so much we don’t know about life? You mentioned in another post there’s most likely many layers of information in DNA. I think it’s the pinnacle of ignorance to condemn a design because it’s “flawed” when you have an extremely limited understanding of it – at best. That’s usually the only response I give these days.

  37. 37
    tribune7 says:

    I would rate it as their best strategy,

    But that’s the point. It’s not science. Which means it’s our best “strategy” to simply point it out. The only authority and influence they have is the claim of science.

    Since they are now merely playing games we can simply say “checkmate”.

  38. 38
    a5b01zerobone says:

    “It’s funny that they never list “getting old” or “death” itself as bad design. Or how about people being jealous, greedy, lazy, haughty, violent, etc… Why aren’t they never listed?”

    This actually is a very good description of the effects of sin if you want to stray into theological territory.

  39. 39
    mentok says:

    Dave Wise wrote:

    Science can win this battle only if we recognize this is not a Sunday school debating match but a deadly serious political contest.

    Set. Match. “Science” can “win” if they see the debate as a “political contest”? This shows the clear bias of the evolutionists in crystal clear clarity. To them the debate is in fact a political (including social) challenge. They see the attack on Darwinism as an attempt to give scientific validation for the existence of god. In their view that validation is a political weapon that will be ultimately used in order to enforce religious laws on them. Nevermind about scientific integrity and honest scholarship, to them “science” is not about those things. To them “science” is a cult of materialism with a specific political agenda i.e. to promote their political and social values. “Science” isn’t about knowledge to them, it’s about destroying religious belief. Dawkins, Harris, et al, are their most honest strategists because they will come right out and say what many of them are too fearful to say because of the political incorrectness of stating their actual beliefs. Therefore the Darwinist collective is nothing more then a political party with the single aim of destroying faith in god.

    Dave Wise also wrote:

    Branding ID as Incompetent Design involves both humor and grit but avoids direct insult to the opposition, a mistake to be avoided in any political campaign

    Clearly most of the Darwinist collective cannot follow that commandment in their critique of ID. Their stock in trade is little more then ad hominem imbecilic insults. If you take away their juvenile and unending insult competitions, what will you have left? It appears that what they have left is religious arguments, political arguments, and the usual lies and decpetions and the putting the hands over the ears and saying nah nah nah nah over and over whenever confronted with science which discredits their dystopian fear mongering agenda.

  40. 40
    a5b01zerobone says:

    Mentok, I hear you.

    A wise man once said “It is important that we be able to distinguish between the scientific concept of ID, and the philosophical and theological implications we draw from it”.

    Yet Materialists seem to only want to debate the metaphysical implications of ID.

    That same wise man wrote

    “Some ID theorists might think God is the designer, and that the design of life is the result of miraculous intervention at some point after the Big Bang, but ID does not take them there. ID proposes that certain things in the universe are the result of intelligent cause(s), or mind(s)”.

    Again, the Darwinists want to talk about issues that are philosophical or religious in nature.

    A.”Bad” design
    B. Why do people do bad things and hurt one another?
    C. Why do people get sick and die?

    These questions have nothing to do with the apparent design in nature.

  41. 41
    Borne says:

    Isn’t it self-evident that “bad design” as “no design” is a logical absurdity in and of itself?

    Otherwise the word design should not even be employed. It’s very use intrinsically annuls the logic.

    bad design

    It would be logical to say bad structures = no design. Bad design = no design is a misnomer of “argument”.

    Like I keep saying, NDT pseudo-logic cripples the mind.

  42. 42
    JGuy says:

    LOL !!!

    “IDers will attempt to take us off-message with debates on origins of life, thermodynamics, etc., but instead we must continue to pound simple themes of obvious design failures” [my emphasis]

    Hahah……. my side hurts!

    This reminds me of satire by Colbert on supposed a Stephen Hawking’s remark, ie. that we should look to colonise the moon or Mars to escape pending global disaters.. LOL.. Think about it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVfJvWfyqFo

    I know. Colbert can be crude, but it was a funny point.

  43. 43
    JGuy says:

    Sorry. I shouldn’t laugh too hard. I’ve made my share of poorly thought out remarks.

  44. 44
    j says:

    William A. Dembski, The Design Revolution, pp. 59-63:

    In my public lectures, I’m frequently asked about the alleged suboptimal design of the human organism. Among the things a putative designer of the human organism is charged with botching are…susceptibility to choking…back pain and loss of mobility…difficulty giving birth…difficulties with wisdom teeth…the inverted retina…

    …Just because a design could be improved in the sense of increasing the functionality of some aspect of an organism, this does not mean that such an improvement would be beneficial within the wider ecosystem…

    Biology is, among other things, a drama. Interesting dramas require characters who are less than optimal in some respects. In fact, authors of human dramas often consciously design their characters with flaws and weaknesses. Would Hamlet be nearly as interesting if Shakespeare had not designed the play’s lead character to exhibit certain flaws and weaknesses, notably indecisiveness?

    I’m not saying that weaknesses or flaws in the design characteristics of organisms or ecosystems can be the basis of a design inference. [But they] could be compatible with evolutionary changes guided by an intelligence…

    …if we think of evolution as regressive, as reflecting a distorted moral structure that takes human rebellion against the designer as a starting point, then it’s possible a flawless designer might use a very imperfect evolutionary process as a means of bringing a prodigal universe back to its senses…

    We’ve veered a long way from science, and for good reason. In arguing that nature couldn’t be designed because various biological systems are suboptimal, opponents of intelligent design have shifted the terms of the discussion from science to theology…

    Nonetheless, naturalistic mechanisms are incapable of generating the highly specified, information-rich structures that pervade biology. Organisms display the hallmarks of intelligently engineered high-tech systems — information storage and transfer, functioning codes, sorting and delivery systems, self-regulation and feed-back loops, signal-transduction circuitry — and everywhere, complex arrangements of mutually interdependent and well-fitted parts that work in concert to perform a function. Opponents of intelligent design are fond of equivocating, staging ad hominem attacks, slaying strawmen, making simplistic theological claims in the guise of science or simply stonewalling. What they are not fond of is squarely facing the astonishing evidence for intelligent design and seeking to refute it point by logical point.

    Pascal, Pensées:

    Nature has some perfections to show that she is the image of God, and some defects to show that she is only His image.

  45. 45
    jerry says:

    jmcd,

    Those who die later would produce more offspring so according to natural selection this trait should be increasingly more prevalent in a species and any mutation that affected it should be selected over time.

    The species does not know about cancer when it attempts to procreate unless you subscribe to a Lamarckian point of view or that the mechanism for cancer and long life are identical.

    So the universal lack of death being extended through natural selection would seem to argue against a naturalistic mechanism for species determination and point to some possible design element in a species. Otherwise we would see selection happening here for some if not all species.

    If there is a part of the genome that affects length of life then it is obviously being conserved over time and NDE would not predict such a mechanism but ID might. It might be an interesting area of research for ID because such a mechanism would not be inconsitent with ID. But once such a mechanism is found the Darwinists will rise to the occasion and explain why early death is better for procreating ones genes. I have faith in their ability to explain anything with this most powerful theory.

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