UDEditors: “Berra’s Blunder”is a well known and documented error that Darwinist can’t seem to stop themselves from making. See our glossary for a definition. In the thread to a previous post Brian Douglas gave us an example of such a blunder and Eric Anderson provided a corrective. All that follows (except, obviously, the text provided by Brian) is Eric’s:
brian douglas @36:
Joe/Jack/virgil/Frankie/whoever, evolution just proposes the mechanism, not a step by step account of how it occurred. Much in the same way that I can propose the mechanisms involved in the production of a car without knowing the step by step process that is actually used.
You are partially right, so let me see if we can bridge the gap.
You are absolutely correct that you can propose general mechanisms involved in car production without knowing every detail of the process. And, you can know with reasonable certainty that a car (or similar object) was designed, without knowing the precise manufacturing process involved. We do this all the time.
After all, there are many ways an intelligent designer can build a functional machine. And while we can perhaps catch some glimpses of the process by reverse engineering a machine, we cannot necessarily tell with complete certainty the entire process used to bring the machine about.
The reason for this is intimately related to and is precisely because an intelligent designer has the ability to choose between contingent possibilities. Thus, an intelligent designer can choose not only what to build, but can also, within fairly broad parameters, choose when and how to build it. Indeed, there is an entire section of patent law devoted to the improvement of methods and processes, and companies collectively spend billions on efforts to improve manufacturing processes. From solely examining a machine we may not know whether it was created through process A, or B or C.
And this is precisely because it is a designed machine produced by an agent that has the ability to chooseamong several contingent possible modes of construction.
Let’s now contrast this with the mechanistic approach. The blind forces of chemistry and physics have no ability to choose between different manufacturing processes. They have no ability to decide when or how they operate. They will blindly follow whatever interactions come their way and will (either inevitably or at least stochastically) produce whatever those laws dictate.
We know that a designed system can come about through various means, depending on the decision of the designer. In contrast, it makes no sense to say that a purely mechanistic process — one that blindly follows the deterministic and stochastic processes of chemistry and physics — it makes no sense to say we know a mechanistic process brought a machine about, but that we don’t know what the process was.
In the mechanistic context — in sharp contrast to the designed context — the mechanistic process is the issue at hand, it is where the rubber must meet the road. And the absence of a well-understood materialistic process for producing the machine, means that we don’t have a materialistic explanation.
Thus, you have made a category mistake with your example.
Your example of not being able to provide a complete description of the process for manufacture of a car is a good example, but you have it exactly backwards. Your example holds, for a designed system, not for a naturally-occurring one. If you want to provide a mechanistic example, you would essentially be saying that “undesigned machine X came about through a purely material process, but I don’t know what that process is.” Such an approach is nonsense. Thus, you are left to steal examples from the other side of the aisle — designed systems where we know the process can be contingent.
If we are going to claim a mechanistic process, then we at least need to have enough of a detailed understanding of the process to see if such a mechanistic process actually has any chance of producing the machine in the real world. A mechanistic theory is only as good as the mechanism proposed.Otherwise, we are just making up stories.
Thus, regarding the origin of life, we cannot say life came about through purely mechanistic processes, but that we don’t know what those processes are. If materialists are being minimally intellectually honest, the most they can say is that they don’t know whether life could arise through purely natural processes. And if they want to be truly intellectually honest, they will need to admit to and grapple with the many problems of naturalistic abiogenesis, just some of which I listed in the OP. And they would also acknowledge that, in sharp contrast to purely material processes, intelligent beings are known to have the capacity to create, and are regularly observed creating, complex functional machines in three-dimensional space.