Intelligent Design

“Please Be My Toothpick You Scrumptious Old Wrasse!”

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Synopsis Of The Third Chapter Of Nature’s IQ By Balazs Hornyanszky and Istvan Tasi
ISBN 978-0-9817273-0-1

Mutualism and symbiosis are terms that budding biologists are all too familiar with by the time they begin their university careers. We all learn about the cooperativity that exists amongst many of our world’s creatures and the benefits they can reap from each other’s presence. Goliath groupers that open their mouths to cleaning ‘minions’ such as the blue-streak cleaner wrasse defy deeply held expectations of nature’s ways as do sharks that extend their vicious jaws to pilot fish that then pick out food remnants from between their teeth.

Extraordinary from a predatory perspective is the finding that wrasses and pilot fish are rarely (if ever) eaten by their much larger hosts. Discussions on the evolution of such partnerships leave the non-expert believing that chance mutations could simply turn predator ‘fearers’ into predator ‘lovers’ that naturally bond with their otherwise mortal enemies. Evolutionists weigh in by further supposing that reciprocal mutations led these same enemies to offer VIP treatments to their tasty servants.

Hornyanszky and Tasi nevertheless spare little in their decrial of the evolutionists’ hand-waving ideals. In their own un-minced words “it is nonsensical to suggest that, because of chance mutations, a small fish would suddenly approach a predator without inhibitions with the idea of getting food from its mouth…and that the former predator and prey would then propagate generations of fish that continued this symbiotic relationship” (p.47).

Symbiotic partnerships are of course hot favorites for television naturalists eager to spread their own vision of a world where faunal allegiances are mere products of an overarching process of evolutionary adaptation. No more so than for the Egyptian plover and the voracious Nile crocodile both of which have featured prominently in many a natural history documentary. The plover’s shrieking call, which signals the whereabouts of a potential meal, is an invaluable asset for the Nile crocodile as are the rich, bite-sized pickings on its own skin that supply the plover with its daily food rations.

Other partnerships can be vitally indispensable for the parties concerned. With its own cohort of formic acid-spraying weaver ants, the centaur oakblue caterpillar for example is dutifully protected from its enemies. Without them it would be hopelessly vulnerable. In turn the caterpillar supplies ants with a rich sweet milk, attracting them to its bounty through vibrations and special scents that they can quickly recognize.

Devotees of Pixar’s animated blockbuster Finding Nemo will no doubt tell of the symbiotic lifestyles that unite both the clownfish and the sea anemone. While the anemone’s stinging tentacles are of little consequence to the adult clownfish because of its protective gelatinous coat, the young unprotected fry relies on its instinctive ‘cautious first’ approach to avoid the deadly stings of its newly-found roommate.

And yet the seemingly intractable problem that Hornyanszky and Tasi repeatedly draw attention to in their own consideration of the facts is that of how the integrated cooperativity so visible in such partnerships gradually evolved. How might an ancestral anemone-dwelling clownfish have co-evolved the vitally important cautionary approach of its youth and the equally critical gelatinous covering of its older self? Any ‘half ready’ evolutionary intermediate would have suffered a prompt demise. And how might ancestral weaver ants have evolved a response to the caterpillar’s vibrations and scents as well as the ability to search for its milky secretions? As the authors’ duly note:

“The weaver ants would have no concept of [the caterpillar’s] existence; therefore, they would take no notice of the scent and sound signals emitted by it. And if they had accidentally bumped into each other in the forest, the ants would have ruthlessly torn the novel caterpillar apart. Thus, we can hardly consider their relationship the result of an evolutionary process” (p.53)

A scrumptious wrasse picking inside the mouth of the Goliath grouper is the image that best epitomizes the attack on the Darwinian edifice that Hornyanszky and Tasi lay out in the third chapter of their book. And what a well-orchestrated attack it has turned out to be.

For more information and to order Nature’s IQ go to http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/php/book_show_item.php?id=129

41 Replies to ““Please Be My Toothpick You Scrumptious Old Wrasse!”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    The world truly is full of such “house of cards” type relationships that defy the “accident explanations” of atheists.

    I’ve been fascinated of late by the symbiotic relationship of honey bees and the flowering plants who are dependent on them for pollination:

    Evolution vs. The Honey Bee – an Architectural Marvel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW7CLGQOpfQ

    As well, The Honey Bee looks exactly the same in the millions of years ago as it does today

    45 million years – HoneyBee
    http://www.fossil-museum.com/f.....hp?Id=1373

    Flowering Plant Big Bang:
    “Flowering plants today comprise around 400,000 species,“To think that the burst that gave rise to almost all of these plants occurred in less than 5 million years is pretty amazing – especially when you consider that flowering plants as a group have been around for at least 130 million years.”
    Pam Soltis, curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is another symbiotic relationship right at the base of a very complex food chain

    Coral Reef Symbiosis – A Challenge To Darwinism
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVvhzm9OlBA

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    I edited the video a bit,,
    This new link should work:

    Coral Reef Symbiosis – A Challenge To Evolution
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9oIZ1nwHPw

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    Please Be My Toothpick You Scrumptious Old Wrasse!

    Evolution is a never ending source of delightfully hilarious metaphors. ahahaha…

  5. 5
    Lenoxus says:

    You know, just because one study finds that symbiotic relationships —

    wait a minute, that’s not a study, just some — what’s the word? — speculation. It appears to be based on nothing but the writers’ personal intuition on the matter at hand. Huh.

    I’ll ask my standard question at this point. Mainstream biology has some neat ideas up its sleeve regarding the origins of mutualism. What’s the ID explanation? Is it at least interesting beyond the realm of poofery?

  6. 6
    GilDodgen says:

    This is yet another example of irreducible complexity, which appears at every level in biology – from the machinery of the cell, to the orchestration of cells to form organs that are in turn orchestrated to cooperate in a functionally integrated way, to the orchestration of creatures at the highest level as elucidated in the OP. In each case, simultaneity of multiple changes is required, or negative survival value clearly ensues.

    In addition, this article reveals the magical thinking of orthodox Darwinists: If a feature is observed in nature that provides a survival advantage, it can be had just for the asking. The following questions are never asked, much less answered:

    1) What random genetic changes would be required to produce the new feature?
    2) How many of these changes would require simultaneity in order to produce the new feature, such that a selectable advantage would be acquired?
    3) What is the probability that this could occur?
    4) If it did occur, would there be a sufficient supply of individuals and reproductive events in the amount of time available to fix the feature in the population through natural selection, given the vagaries of life in the real world (premature death resulting from myriad events and causes).

    Without answers to these questions, the assertion that “Darwinian mechanisms did it” does not even qualify as pie in the sky.

  7. 7
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Dodgen,

    I would be careful with your use of the word ‘never’, or advise that you hold that belief provisionally. A blog entry about clownfish (better for our discussion than just the abstract outside the paywall) shows that, yes, now that sequencing is getting cheap, those activities are being done.

    In the case of clownfish, it seems they are arguing that the gelatinous coat which allows clownfish to survive the anemone sting was evolved for another purpose and exapted. The rest of the behavioural suite of cautious hiding was also ancestral.

  8. 8
    ScottAndrews says:

    The question of fixing the cooperative feature in both populations is a challenging one.
    If we optimistically assume (to put it lightly) that a grouper and wrasse simultaneously evolve behaviors beneficial to their nature and contrary to their previous behavior, what happens next? That same wrasse visits another grouper, tries out its new behavior, and, the end. No more grouper-cleaning wrasse.

    Did the grouper’s tolerance of the wrasse evolve from some previous behavior? It should be easy to tell – what else do grouper willingly allow to enter their mouths without intending to eat it?

    Did the groupers’ behavior evolve gradually, as everything supposedly does? If the grouper occasionally allowed the wrasse to clean its mouth but usually ate it, how would the wrasse’s modification propagate long enough to work out the kinks?

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    Ho ho ho ho! [ROTFL! Pounding hands, coughing and tears flowing . . . ]

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak-(I ain’t no materialist)-ashima,

    You called your “evil materialistic twin” Skippy, would that make your name Skinny, as in the Skinny and Skippy twins?

    http://www.ussschenectadylst11.....ance-1.gif

    In case you don’t know, The picture represents your pathetic arguments against what the evidence actually is.

  11. 11
    Dave Wisker says:

    There is an interesting literature on the evolution of mutualism, a lot of which draws on the proneering work of Hamilton and Trivers. Here are a couple of examples: .

    Frank SA (1994). Genetics of mutualism: the evolution of altruism between species. J. Theor. Biol. 170: 393-400.

    http://stevefrank.org/reprints.....ualism.pdf

    Doebeli M & N Knowlton (1998). The evolution of interspecific mutualisms. PNAS 95(15): 8676-8680

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....rtid=21135

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    DW:

    the abstract from the 2nd just linked is telling:

    __________________

    Interspecific mutualisms are widespread, but how they evolve is not clear. The Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma is the main theoretical tool to study cooperation, but this model ignores ecological differences between partners and assumes that amounts exchanged cannot themselves evolve. A more realistic model incorporating these features shows that strategies that succeed with fixed exchanges (e.g., Tit-for-Tat) cannot explain mutualism when exchanges vary because the amount exchanged evolves to 0. For mutualism to evolve, increased investments in a partner must [An a priori suggestive of question-begging] yield increased returns, and spatial structure in competitive interactions is required. Under these biologically plausible assumptions [H’mmm: A priorism is biologically plausible? ho ho ho . . . ], mutualism evolves with surprising ease. This suggests that, contrary to the basic premise of past theoretical analyses, overcoming a potential host’s initial defenses may be a bigger obstacle for mutualism than the subsequent recurrence and spread of noncooperative mutants. [In short the first cooperative cleaning wrasse gets eaten . . . ]
    ___________________

    GEM of TKI

  13. 13
    GilDodgen says:

    In the case of clownfish, it seems they are arguing that the gelatinous coat which allows clownfish to survive the anemone sting was evolved for another purpose and exapted.

    My four questions must still be asked and answered before any claim can be made that Darwinian mechanisms did it.

  14. 14
    ScottAndrews says:

    Two other points come to mind – I had hinted at one of them.
    With regard to both the grouper and the wrasse, the new behaviors would not be extensions to or modifications of the old ones. They must both evolve 180-degree u-turns. The big fish doesn’t eat the little one, the little one doesn’t flee from the big one. Most just-so stories involve co-opting behaviors, not radically reversing them.

    Second, while it’s been mentioned that both must occur simultaneously, it’s implied that they must also occur in close proximity. If a wrasse decides to clean and a grouper decides not to eat wrasse, but both are a mile apart in all the ocean, the opportunity is missed.

    Everything must be not only just so, but also just then and just there.

  15. 15
    Lenoxus says:

    One thing to keep in mind about the particularly confounding case of the wrasse and the grouper is that catching and eating tiny fish is not as easy or quick as one might assume, because they can often swim very fast. (Have you ever tried to catch a bird or flying insect in a net?) Given this, it’s not too hard to imagine wrasses developing the willingness to pick off smaller and smaller chunks of a grouper’s most recent meal, and getting away with it each time. If a given fish isn’t eaten, that doesn’t necessarily mean the predator intentionally spared it.

    From there, it would be a simple matter of selection whereby those groupers that were less willing to eat wrasses would, surprisingly enough, prosper.

    Of course, this is all just speculation — not too many hard studies have yet been done on the specific subject of cleaner fish. There I go, imagining and speculating things about the past instead of knowing them.

    This article examines a nifty case of parasitic cleaner-fish mimics exploiting the system. The question is: is the same designer responsible for the mimicking parasites as well? Or is it perhaps a jealous rival designer, wanting to get back at the one who thought up cleaner-fish in the first place?

  16. 16
    Dave Wisker says:

    kf,

    the abstract from the 2nd just linked is telling:

    So what?

  17. 17
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Bornagain77,

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  18. 18
    ScottAndrews says:

    The grouper’s behavior is not at all passive, ignoring a fish that’s too small to eat. It swims to the wrasse’s “station” and opens its mouth – comparable to visiting a dentist.

    Did the first grouper to allow a wrasse into its mouth gain such a great advantage that the behavior would necessarily be passed on and become fixed? If a fish has a behavioral anomaly, does it pass it to its offspring? Can a genetic mutation make a fish open its mouth to be cleaned?

    Another factor to consider: Not only grouper visit the cleaning stations. All sorts of larger fish do. Does the wrasse and its behavior predate all these varieties of fish, so that they evolved their desire to be cleaned before they speciated, or did all these varieties of fish evolve the same unlikely behavior separately?

    This calls for some quite complicated explanations.

  19. 19
    Dave Wisker says:

    Here is a nice review paper that gives us a good picture of the variables involved with trying to understanding how interspecific mutualisms come about. It could help prevent jumping to conclusions from overly simplistic analysis:

    Herre EA, N Knowlton, UG Mueller & SA Rehner (1999).The evolution of mutualisms: exploring the paths between conflict and coopersation. TREE 14(2): 49-53

    http://www.biosci.utexas.edu/i.....e_1999.pdf

  20. 20
    Nakashima says:

    Mr ScottAndrews,

    Indeed, it is easier to imagine the wrasse adapting it’s cleaning behavior from existing scavenging behavior than from directly competitive behavior. It is also easy to imagine a satiated predator not being particularly sussed about the nearby presence of smaller non-threatening species. With a little nuance the just-so-story starts to accord better with reality.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Hey Nak,
    I’m so hurt,,,you don’t love me any more…Well, even though you won’t help me understand evolution anymore, maybe you can help this poor guy out,,,He is asking for someone of your expertise to help him understand evolution, maybe you can find it in your heart to help him since you so freely spread your BS, OH I mean wisdom, on this site.

    Is evolution Horse S**t?
    http://video.google.com/videop.....=firefox-a

  22. 22
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA77,

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak,
    Baby Come Back – Player
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn-enjcgV1o

  24. 24
    Lenoxus says:

    ScottAndrews:

    This calls for some quite complicated explanations.

    Or, in the case of ID, one quite simple one, consisting only of a single word: voila! 🙂

  25. 25
    ScottAndrews says:

    Lenoxus:
    I find your comment perplexing. Have I ever suggested that designing living things that interact to form a sustained ecosystem would be easy? Maybe it was someone else. Who?
    Explain your characterization that ID = “voila!”

  26. 26
    ScottAndrews says:

    Nakashima @20:

    With a little nuance the just-so-story starts to accord better with reality.

    No, it just just accords better with all the other just-so stories used to explain the prior existence of both fish.

  27. 27
    Lenoxus says:

    ScottAndrews:

    I find your comment perplexing. Have I ever suggested that designing living things that interact to form a sustained ecosystem would be easy? Maybe it was someone else. Who?
    Explain your characterization that ID = “voila!”

    Sorry, but that’s a general sense I get from here. I’ve actually never heard anyone give any account for the relative difficulty/ease of Immaterially Designing things — or otherwise of what constraints in resources the designer had to work with (apart from logic itself). I don’t see why the “means” of design had to be any more than “voila”, and therein lies a problem for me. Evolution has a just-so story consisting of details ultimately deriving from known physical principles; ID doesn’t even have a just-so story, beyond “just so.”

  28. 28
    ScottAndrews says:

    Lenoxus:
    I’m pleased to be able to clear up this misconception so that it won’t trouble you again.

    Saying that intelligence was required to design a thing in no way whatsoever means that a designer or designers simply “poofed” them into existence. Your comments required intelligence, but didn’t you still have to type or otherwise enter them?

    Consider such common real-world examples as the pyramids and Stonehenge. When they were first discovered it was unknown how they were constructed. Further research revealed that. But there was never an intermediate period where anyone assumed that they just popped into existence.

    It’s not scientifically realistic to expect that we should A) determine that a thing required intelligent design, and B) simultaneously acquire a detailed knowledge of the tools and methods used in its construction.

  29. 29
    Lenoxus says:

    ScottAndrews:

    It’s not scientifically realistic to expect that we should A) determine that a thing required intelligent design, and B) simultaneously acquire a detailed knowledge of the tools and methods used in its construction.

    But that sort of seems to contradict the earlier paragraphs. When it comes to Stonehenge, for example, experts could make some very educated guesses as to what specific physical tools may and may not have been used — that ropes might have helped swing rocks around inside dug ditches, but that backhoes can be ruled out entirely. We wouldn’t know right away the exact methods, but we could determine perimeters.

    A good example of where this gets sticky with ID is abiogenesis. Various naturalistic theories of abiogenesis are criticized here for one or another reason — but an alternative physical theory is never given. The core argument, after all, is that physical pathways simply can’t do it on their own. So at some point a designer “intervened”. What physical means did the designer use in that intervention? It seems that they can be whatever we want them to be. Furthermore, we have to ask why the designer chose one process over another. (Why deep-sea vents and not comet-struck clay?)

    Getting back to the original topic of mutualism, why wouldn’t the designer “poof” such relationships into existence, taking the shortest route available to her? Why complicate things?

  30. 30
    ScottAndrews says:

    Lenoxus:
    My point with regard to Stonehenge was that first someone said, “Who made this? I wonder how!” Later they examined it and found tool marks, etc. Knowing that it was designed did not instantly produce an understanding of its construction.

    If it is determined that abiogenesis required intelligence, is it not rational not reject hypotheses that do not involve intelligence, even if no alternative is available?

    If the DNA says the murderer was a woman, do you arrest a man because he’s the only suspect you can find? No. You reject them all and look for one that fits the evidence.

    Why doesn’t the designer “poof?” Truthfully, if I don’t know how something was made, I can’t rule out that or anything else.

  31. 31
    DATCG says:

    Scott,

    I think he was trying to say…

    Voila! Presto-Chango a random mutation created a new brain architecture simultaneously in both creatures allowing for convergent brain signal acceptance on part of predator and prey. And did so without harm or threat of life and genetic decline. Magical Oceanic Dental Hygenist.

    Although, another explanation may be based on Darwin’s TOL where the ancestor is in fact the Wrasse that is recognized now by its descendent long lost sons, the Groupers.

    Its kinda a father/son relationship of the ages. If you only imagine. Its easy if you try.

    One can easily imagine in the past, the Grouper about to eat the Wrasse is suddenly mystified when one morning for brunch, hears a Wrasse Who, who, who and he recognizes it is his long lost father. Dad!

    Don’t worry son, says the Wrasse, I may have left you long ago in the past, but today, I am here to clean your teeth. My, what big teeth you have son! You’ve grown so much! That’s my boooy. Take care of me son in my million year old age, and your teeth will shine! I’m a professionally trained underwater floss fish.

    One can “easily imagine” these situations develop over long periods of time. The Wrasse and Grouper so happy with their new found family heritage spread the news to other fathers and sons.

    Disney will make a movie soon.

    Super Grouper, a fishchip off the old Wrasse-a-Flosse block.

  32. 32
    DATCG says:

    I’m curious, when Ford designed and made the Model T, was there a mutual gas amoeba growing from the past into a gas station attendent?

    Mutualism does not confer Darwinism.

    But Design can handle mutualism very easily. One does not have to prove the designer exist to recognize the patterns of mutal dependency can be organized, indeed categorized and created simultaneously by a Designer. And it does not need to “poof” anymore than a car poofs today by GM, except for poofery economics, which is indeed magic welfare.

  33. 33
    DATCG says:

    Quick follow-up.

    Are cars and batteries and battery installers poofing today into existence by Designers?

    Or, are there coordinated Design metrics worked out in advance planning stages for a new transportation future?

    Same with Hydrogen, Natural Gas, etc, for car refueling networks.

    Mutual beneficial Relationships by design over time – no problem. It is done every single day by intelligent agents.

  34. 34
    vjtorley says:

    Lenoxus

    Thank you for your post. You wrote:

    Various naturalistic theories of abiogenesis are criticized here for one or another reason — but an alternative physical theory is never given. The core argument, after all, is that physical pathways simply can’t do it on their own. So at some point a designer “intervened”. What physical means did the designer use in that intervention? It seems that they can be whatever we want them to be.

    Even materialists would have to agree that there’s a reasonable likelihood that life on earth arose as a result of intelligent agency. Here’s why. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and life on Earth is certainly no more than 4.4 billion years old. As far as we know, there’s nothing particularly exceptional about our Sun. Thus if we assume (for argument’s sake) that life arose naturally, then it probably arose on some other planet in the Milky Way galaxy long before it arose on Earth. If we also assume for argument’s sake that intelligent life is the product of natural processes, then once again, unless its evolution is fantastically improbable, it probably emerged somewhere else first. It would have been very easy for intelligent beings to send unmanned probes to explore the entire Milky Way, in a relatively short time span. They should have arrived on Earth long ago. These probes could have easily been seeded with microbes or alternatively, accidentally contaminated with microbes. Given that life emerged on Earth relatively late in the history of the cosmos, there’s a reasonable chance that life on Earth arrived from elsewhere.

    We can figure this out, but this probabilistic argument tells us nothing about the modus operandi of the alien civilization that sent life here – if there was one. Thus we have an ID-friendly result, built on purely secular assumptions, which says nothing about mechanisms.

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Lenoxus says:

    It would have been very easy for intelligent beings to send unmanned probes to explore the entire Milky Way, in a relatively short time span.

    At this point, you’re technically not arguing that our existence is likely the result of those intelligent beings, just that it’s possible. The argument gives no reason to pick that over a scenario in which our own origins are as non-artificial as the aliens’. However, you could argue that any given intelligent civilization is likely to want to seed its neighborhood with life, which could make most biospheres in the universe the result of intelligent seeding by a few civilizations. But I don’t see too much strong evidence yet for such a claim.

    this probabilistic argument tells us nothing about the modus operandi of the alien civilization that sent life here – if there was one.

    But it tells us plenty. It tells us that the methods would have been physical, involving technology at least vaguely similar to our gene-splicing methods. Plus, there’s no reason not to expect some sort of “footprint” left by the aliens. (Indeed, plenty have argued for such footprints in the form of ancient human art supposedly depicting ETs, but there has yet to be evidence pushing things beyond the reasonable doubt that, for example, the “space helmets” of ancient gods are really halos.)

    In any case, ID is pretty clearly not about aliens — the ETs only seem to come in as a rhetorical point to rope in naturalists. The meat of things, mechanism-wise, is still in the insistence that materialism is insufficient for biology. So I think my earlier point still stands — the designer can do whatever it wants, not only physically but motivationally. Even Behe’s argument that demonstrating evolutionary pathways would rule out design is insufficient — who’s to say that the designer isn’t behind each and every mutation ever seen in Earth’s history?

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    Lenoxus:

    You have reconstructed the point to fit your own preconceptions.

    Design theory — as it has long been defined — is about inference to design on empirically credible signs of intelligence. The point of putting up a logically possible alternative for life on earth is that it shows that there are various possible candidates; aka suspects.

    One shows that there was arson or murder FIRST, then one looks at likely suspects and finds further evidence to rule in/out.

    But, your controlling ideological metanarrative seems to be that ID is “creationism in a cheap tuxedo,” as can be seen form your remark:

    ID is pretty clearly not about aliens — the ETs only seem to come in as a rhetorical point to rope in naturalists.

    kindly look at he correctives above on that slur.

    When it comes to your:

    The meat of things, mechanism-wise, is still in the insistence that materialism is insufficient for biology.

    You have again created a strawman. the issue is not “biology” but functionally specific, complex information, which is commonly observed as to occurence and as to origin. In every known case, it traces to intelligence. tha tis we have an inference to known explanation here.

    Further tot his, we see that biological cells have in them code based, algorithm implementing digital information systems that go well beyond the threshold of 1,000 bits where the whole universe as we observe it acting as a search engine would be incapable of scanning 1 in 10^150th part of the possible configurations. So, islands of function (i.e. function is specific to a cluster of codes and mutually adjusted executing machines) will be maximally unlikely to be found by blind search. But, intelligences routinely produce such systems, e.g. posts in this thread.

    In short, we have on inference to best explanation, that intelligence is the best candidate for the information systems in life.

    And, when we look at materialism itself, it runs into all sorts of trouble as a philosophical system of thought. just, it happens to be institutionally ideologically dominant in power centres of science and the wider culture, a hang-over from the history of C19 and C20.

    But, a simple glance at Lewontin’s 1997 NYRB article wil tell us what is really going on:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    A priori censorship that blocks science from inferring to empirically well warranted causal factors in short.

    That’s not good enough.

    GEM of TKI

  38. 38
    Lenoxus says:

    kairosfocus:

    One shows that there was arson or murder FIRST, then one looks at likely suspects and finds further evidence to rule in/out.

    I hear this a lot and still don’t quite get it. Do you really need the OK of the biological community before you can start to talk about the nature of the designer?

    But, your controlling ideological metanarrative seems to be that ID is “creationism in a cheap tuxedo,” as can be seen form your remark.

    I certainly don’t think ID is creationism in any but the remotest sense. I believe in referring to groups by their own terms for themselves, or the nearest I can come to that without feeling dishonest. I would call ID a metaphysical research program ;).

    When I refer to the “insistence that materialism is insufficient”, I’m talking about what I’ve gleaned from this blog, which I see as representative of ID. Many of its entries have specifically discussed limits of materialism. I used the word “biology” as a shorthand for “aspects of biology”, including complex structures.

    But, a simple glance at Lewontin’s 1997 NYRB article wil tell us what is really going on

    Oh, Lewontin, destined to be forever quoted… well, he’s not my idol, and in fact, I completely disagree with him. If I see a divine foot nudging its way in, or a divine finger hitting the doorbell, I will happily open the door all the way.

    The problem is that the first part of that doesn’t seem to have happened. The divinity seems to be being dragged in, not coming in on the basis of its own positive physical evidence. That quote keeps getting used to demonstrate that “prior adherence” is the only thing stopping science from incorporating supernaturalism (yes, I will keep using that word, because that is by definition what is beyond the natural). I think that lack of evidence is part of it too.

    In any case, come to think of it, I doubt that Lewontin was actually thinking of what scientists should do if divinity unequivocally appears to them — he was more likely talking about avoiding a god of the gaps.

    Oh, and where did that “divinity” come from, kairosfocus? I could have sworn that you insisted that ID was not anti-naturalistic? So confused…

    All that said, I truly don’t believe that anything you’re expressing here is a result of ulterior motives, but an earnest conclusion from the data. Much love!

  39. 39
    Nakashima says:

    Mr vjtorley,

    Or course, it is not quite as easy as subtracting 4 from 13. Arguing for space aliens requires more than SETI. You need a spacefaring civilisation that litters. 🙂

    But that doesn’t solve the regression of the problem to how the aliens came to be, though it does make timeframe more difficult for their creation.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    Lenoxus:

    A few follow up notes:

    1 –> Again, unless one has good reason to infer that a fire was credibly designed, one does not go looking for an arsonist. that is, inference to the credibility of destgn is antecedent to attempted detection of candidates.

    2 –> Mr Lewontin is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and his view is seen to be implemented by that new Magisterium, cf here. (The result is holding the children of a state hostage to enforce a priori materialism, L; is THAT what you want to enable?)

    3 –> Design theory is not primarily philosophy, more than that any research programme has to address phil elements, per Lakatos. It is about identifying and inferring from empirically reliable signs of design, formalising what is actually routine in a great many fields of science, now multiplied by bringing together implicaitons of a chain of results on chaos, complexity, self-ordering etc; cf the current review paper by Abel.

    4 –> Lewontin went on to say: >> Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. >>.

    5 –> This reflects his profound ignorance of the subject, as for instance, for a miracle to be recognisable we need an orderly cosmos; likewise if we are to be morally accountable, we need reliable cause-effect bonds. And, historically, that is the frame of reference in which science in its modern form was born.

    6 –> I note as well that Lewontin was not hesitant at all, as was just again cited: he imposed a priopri marterialism, full stop; in the name of defending the orderly cosmos from the imagined — sky is falling — chaos of an intervening God. (Just look at what he actually said as opposed to what you would like to defend rhetorically.)

    7 –> That is, the real issue is that methodological naturalism so-called is in reality implicit imposition of a priori philosophical materialism without having to address the consequences of that on a proper comparative difficulties basis across worldviews. (Wonderful how effective a little materialism-serving creative re-writing of history is! [Contrast Newton in his General Scholium as just one key example.)

    8 –> In this context, naturalism is more or less synonymous with materialism. The design view is opposed to the imposition of materialism as an a priori [as should be anyone concerned for allowing science to be unfettered].

    GEM of TKI

  41. 41
    Lenoxus says:

    unless one has good reason to infer that a fire was credibly designed, one does not go looking for an arsonist.

    But you do believe you have good reason for the inference — so why no arsonist? Or do you mean that it’s best to credit the fire to the universe’s fundamental principle of Arson?

    Mr Lewontin is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and his view is seen to be implemented by that new Magisterium, cf here. (The result is holding the children of a state hostage to enforce a priori materialism, L; is THAT what you want to enable?)

    I’m pretty sure that no one treats Lewontin as infallible. Furthermore, I imagine that if anyone, adult or child, experiences a supernatural miracle (in the presence of witnesses etc), they’re not going to say, “Ah, but His Lewontinness said not to allow any Divine Feet in, so I’d better keep my mouth shut!” In any case, of course I don’t believe in conditioning children to be athiests or materialists, even if Lewontin… does…?

    To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. >>.

    5 –> This reflects his profound ignorance of the subject, as for instance, for a miracle to be recognisable we need an orderly cosmos

    But in a wholly orderly cosmos, miracles follow a predictable pattern, and therefore aren’t miracles. I don’t see much of a middle ground between a universe without an intervening god and the “chaos” you refer to later on. (Even a mild chaos is still chaos.) Fortunately, ID doesn’t require miracles, because maybe it’s the case that the designer does follow a specific, predictable pattern in its behavior, just as humans often do. Predictably unpredictable, so to speak.

    All that said, it is an interesting and important point that miracles can only happen in an otherwise ordered universe.

    he imposed a priopri marterialism, full stop; in the name of defending the orderly cosmos from the imagined — sky is falling — chaos of an intervening God. (Just look at what he actually said as opposed to what you would like to defend rhetorically.)

    That is pretty much what I meant earlier. Lewontin and I agree that we shouldn’t resort to a God who can fill each and every gap. However, a god for which there is positive physical evidence anyway must be let into the door, whatever Lewontin has to say about it. I think he’s implicitly assuming that we’re talking about a divine foot that lacks such evidence, and is therefore being brought in only to explain the shortcomings of current naturalistic theories.

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