Yesterday, Intelligent Design critic and creationist basher, P.Z. Meyers, posted what he considers to be a real scientific challenge for ID proponents on his Pharyngula blogsite. The main thrust of his challenge is outlined in this Youtube video:
So, has Myers indeed stumbled upon a true significant challenge for ID? Or, has he simply stumbled, as he so often does, over his own misconceptions and metaphysics? I vote for the latter.
First off, he stumbles into what Phillip Johnson called Berra’s Blunder referring to Darwinist Tim Berra’s book Evolution and the myth of creationism,1990, pg 117-119, where Berra writes “If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious. This is what paleontologists do with fossils, and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people.” As Johnson points out, Berra completely misses the point that similarities between cars are still the result of common design.
“Of course, every one of those Corvettes was designed by engineers. The Corvette sequence – like the sequence of Beethoven’s symphonies to the opinions of the United States Supreme Court – does not illustrate naturalistic evolution at all. It illustrates how intelligent designers will typically achieve their purposes by adding variations to a basic design plan. Above all, such sequences have no tendency whatever to support the claim that there is no need for a Creator, since blind natural forces can do the creating. On the contrary, they show that what biologists present as proof of “evolution” or “common ancestry” is just as likely to be evidence of common design.”
P. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by opening minds, 1997, pg 63.
In other words, homolgy doesn’t necessarity imply evolution, or exclude design. In his challenge, Myers is relying on the same sort of blunder, as he is assuming that any homology automatically eliminates design. My challenge back to him would be to show scientifically why that is the case.
ID proponent and Darwinism critic, Cornelius G. Hunter points out the hidden metaphysical blunder Myers is making as well. On his Darwin’s God blogspot, Hunter writes “While there are several problems with the challenge, the disguised religion comes around the 1:15 mark, [in the Youtube video], where the criterion of homology is explained. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the concept of homology. The bottom line is that the challenge uses random design as a test for whether a structure evolved. Specifically, if there is any non random pattern detectable, then it must not have been designed; instead, it must have evolved.” Hunter goes on to say “This is today’s version of a test that dates back to Daniel Bernoulli and Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century. The idea is that God would not design according to a gratuitous pattern.” In other words, this yet another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it this way” argument. It would be interesting to see Myers scientific explanation for how he knows what God would or would not do.
Then there’s Myers’s implied Philosophical Naturalism, as he writes in the blog “The argument has long been highly asymmetric. Scientist find a gene, and what do they do? Figure out what it does, and dig into the databases to find its relatives within that organism or in other species. Creationists claim genes can’t be created without the intervention of a designer, and what do they do? Nothing.” In other words, Myers merely assumes evolution is the only explanation for homology, and his criticism of ID is that they aren’t busy digging into databases looking for those homologies, that is to say a naturalistic explanation for the data. Thus, according to Myers, doing “nothing”, means “not looking for only undirected, natural causes” as opposed to actively trying to understand the information content of the genetic code, tracing the informational pathways and/or trying to determine when, where and how the information was imparted into the system and how an intelligence may have been involved to bring this about. All that, per Myers, is doing “nothing”.