We asked physicist Rob Sheldon:
“Front-loading” is something I picture as an elaborate “Rube Goldberg” machine. Here’s a sampling of real-life front-loading by brilliant engineers with too much time on their hands.
Okay, if engineers could do that, couldn’t God make the flagellum out of spare parts by a properly front-loaded machine?
I think the answer here is “yes”.
But of course that begs the question, “doesn’t the machine show much more design than the thing it makes?”
Of course. But our goal wasn’t to minimize design effort, our goal was to create a “front-loaded” machine, which is what was asked.
Now we have another problem. Isn’t the “front-loading machine” a lot more fragile than the thing it made, the flagellum? And doesn’t the problem of “single-point” failures multiply until the probability of this “front-loading machine” actually performing –> zero?
Hmmm. Well we could put our engineers back to work to make a “robust, front-loading machine”, but there’s a limit to what they will do for free.
If this were Detroit, and the thing they were building were, say, automatic transmissions, we could probably get a robust automated assembly plant in, oh, three years or so. But then we would be recouping our costs by making 3 million of them and selling them at $1000 apiece.
But that isn’t what the “evolution by design” people ordered. They ordered a “robust, front-loading machine” to make the first flagellum, or the first cellular assembly plant, and then after using it once, this “robust, front-loading machine” had to vanish. Not exactly a way to work out the bugs, recoup losses or keep engineers employed exactly, not to mention that vanishing act.
Well, if cost is no object, is it possible to make such a “use-once, robust, front-loading machine that also self-destructs to avoid detection”?
Well, believe it or not, the hardest part to accomplish is the vanishing act. Why? Because information makes huge changes in its environment, and making it all look random after-the-fact is really, really hard–as all con men, assassins, and detectives know.
In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that it is impossible. If Stephen Hawking finally surrendered to Leonard Susskind that Black Holes cannot destroy information, then I submit such a front-loading machine cannot vanish even if it were dropped into a convenient Black Hole.
So perhaps front-loading is possible, though I don’t find Rube Goldberg machines particularly satisfying, but they are amusing.
Perhaps God wanted to amuse us, I certainly would not want to defend a humorless God. But the front-loading machines can’t be erased. And therefore they cannot be used to support theistic evolution.
Which is a long-winded way of saying that front-loading and ID are indistinguishable philosophies.
See also: How far back does front-loading go? (PAV)
ID Foundations 15(c) — A FAQ on Front-Loading, thanks to Genomicus (kairosfocus)
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