Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Keith’s “Bomb” Defused & Debunked


Even though keiths “bomb” has been defused and debunked in several ways, it has occurred to me that there is another major flaw in keiths argument. However, to reiterate the main debunking point: Barry Arrington asked for a “science bomb” that would demonstrate him wrong about what ID argues; keith’s “bomb” assumes the very thing that ID challenges – that natural forces are capable of producing the CSI found in living organisms. This makes keiths argument logical in nature (given he assumes everything that requires actual science), not scientific, and renders it irrelevant to the challenge – irrelevant even if it was logically valid, which it is not, as I will now show.

First, let’s assume that genetically, living organisms do fall into a nested hierarchy.

Keiths claims that a nested hierarchy leading back to a UCA is what we’d expect to find if natural forces were responsible for life and evolution – yet, he doesn’t explain this expectation – why natural forces could not be expected to produce something other than what we would find to be a nested hierarchy.

If the manufacture of living organisms occurred once in the very early history of earth, why not more than once? Why couldn’t there be multiple ancestral lines leading back to many origin of life points and multiple, entirely separate lines of descent? Why shouldn’t we find multiple, distinctly separate nested hierarchies? Why shouldn’t we find outlier species that, by chance circumstances, bore no distinguishable relationship whatsoever to the known hierarchy?

Given non-teleological natural forces that do not have a specific goal in mind, why should there be only one branching line of descent for living organisms that falls into a neat, nested hierarchy (here assumed arguendo)? Over billions of years, is it not possible for living organisms to diverge so completely so as to lose all genetic material that would connect to any other historical lineage, even if life, for some strange reason (given materialist thinking), only originated once?

Given natural forces as the originator of life, why wouldn’t we expect there to be several different forms of life on earth that are not even remotely related? Even if related, why should we expect natural forces to leave evidence of the relationship? Couldn’t natural forces -given enough time and chance – find ways to eliminate evidence of these relationships? Given billions of years, isn’t it rather odd to think that natural forces couldn’t generate any other form of life, or sever the relationship evidence between a few organisms even once?

Given billions of years and all that available chance, our arguendo single, nested heirarchy of life leading back to a single UCA seems to me extremely unlikely – it smacks more of a design choice that frontloaded a specific search plan, prohibited clutter, excised outliers and optimized the chances for arriving at the goal.

Ultimately, keiths asks the question of IDists (to paraphrase)“why did the designer pick just one form of life and utilize just one lineage, when it could have utilized any number of alternate, non-nested systems?” – yet, keiths fails to ask the same question of the natural forces argument – why just one form of life, why one lineage, why one neat, nested hierarchy?

Keiths attempted logical argument claims to make the same assumptions about both natural and artificial causal agencies – that natural forces and design are both capable of originating life and generating the evolutionary processes and patterns we find. However, this is obviously not the only assumption keiths makes when it comes to the “natural forces” side of the argument; he assumes that natural forces could not have generated anything other than a nested hierarchy leading back to a UCA when it comes to biological life forms.

He simply asserts that this is what we should expect from natural forces and makes no case for it. If we provide the same assumptions on the ID side of the argument, then we must assume any designer could not have generated anything other than a nested hierarchy leading back to a UCA when it comes to biological life forms – which means that given the same assumptions on both sides of the ledger, keiths argument fails to produce a distinction between what we should expect to find if natural forces or if design agency generated life and evolution here on earth.