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Same pattern, different implementations. One is designed, the other is not designed.

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Paper snowflakes:
paper snoflakes

Water (real) snowflakes:

Even though the two sets of snowflakes share similar hexagonal patterns, and even though we could envision paper snowflakes having exactly the shapes of those found by Wilson “snowflake” Bentley, paper snowflakes would be regarded as designed even though they share the same pattern as those that arise via natural process.

The Hexagonal structure of real snowflakes is expected, even though each pattern is unique. Whereas such patterns are not expected to form spontaneously from paper. The way we determine a paper snowflake is designed (apart from actually seeing the human designer in action) is that the paper snowflake conforms to an independent pattern and is improbable from the behavior of paper left to itself or non-intelligent processes.

Repetitive patterns in nature capture our attention, but the reason the repetitive patterns in biology suggest design is that the materials that make biological organisms are inherently materials that tend to spontaneously disorganize. Hence, living things stand out not because they are replicators, but because they are replicators made of materials that would ordinarily resist replication.

Jason Rosenhouse complained and complained IDists can’t identify independent specifications to use for biology. He said ID techniques should work well for man-made designs but not for God-made designs. That was a biting criticism, and I resolved to find ways to counter. The first independent specification I found was in homochirality. See: Illustrating Embedded Specifcations and Specified Improbability. I continue to look for ways to construct other kinds of independent specifications.

The easiest independent specifications involve improbable duplication (like paper snowflakes). Below are some designs made by a non-human intelligence or possibly natural selection or both. I concede natural selection is a possibility in the following cases (one of the few times I will ever suggest this), but whether it is God-made or selection made, I have a hard time saying it doesn’t look designed.

Now the reason I don’t totally rule out selection in this case is that at least with respect to color, the idea is not outrageous. Some of the other details, however, it is hard for me to think selection could have such a level of specificity.

But, these are examples I would consider as at least looking designed for similar reasons we know paper snowflakes are designed. And it is also formally possible the Designer did have minor roles for natural selection to help make such camouflage (as Blyth, the creationist pioneer of Natural Selection would argue). To the degree selection was involved, then these are cases where we can say the object is designed and selection had a role. Of course, since I think all life started by ID, I obviously think in the ultimate sense these creatures below are intelligently designed. This is one of the few cases that I would still say an object is intelligently designed but where the designer may have used selection as a mechanism of manufacture. Why should this be outrageous? Engineers use genetic algorithms to engineer, don’t they?

From the definition of the EF, I don’t have a lot of problem arguing the following mimics are designed even if selection might have had some role in optimizing the design.

Leaf Insect:
leaf insect

Camouflaged Fish:

Camoflaged Spider

Photo credits:
Wilson “snowflake” Bentley and Pretty Snowflakes and Nature is Awesome

17 Replies to “Same pattern, different implementations. One is designed, the other is not designed.

  1. 1
    Eric Anderson says:

    The Hexagonal structure of real snowflakes is expected, even though each pattern is unique. Whereas such patterns are not expected to form spontaneously from paper. The way we determine a paper snowflake is designed (apart from actually seeing the human designer in action) is that the paper snowflake conforms to an independent pattern and is improbable from the behavior of paper left to itself or non-intelligent processes.

    True.

    And . . .

    A paper snowflake isn’t a snowflake. Rather, it represents a snowflake. In that sense, it is similar to many of the other kinds of representations often see: a painting representing a real landscape or a real person; a series of letters representing a real word in spoken language; etc.

    Maybe that is part of what you are hinting at when you say it “conforms to an independent pattern” . . .

  2. 2
    Eric Anderson says:

    Jason Rosenhouse complained and complained IDists can’t identify independent specifications to use for biology. He said ID techniques should work well for man-made designs but not for God-made designs. That was a biting criticism . . .

    No.

    That was not a biting criticism. It was a stupid criticism.

    Particularly since ID is not claiming anything about the designer or God. And also because Rosenhouse doesn’t have any ground to claim, based presumably only on his own religious/philosophical biases, that it would not work for God-made designs.

  3. 3
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Below are some designs made by a non-human intelligence or possibly natural selection or both.

    No, it is impossible for natural selection to create anything. To select means to choose from what already is. By definition, selection is not creative.

    For centuries before Darwin, natural philosophers (i.e. scientists) observed that natural selection actually works to stabilise a species around its norms. Predation kills off the weak, the sick, the old, and the mutant.

    Darwin’s theory relies on ignoring observation and indeed proposing that selection operates in the reverse manner from what we observe. (Dawkins gives us a modern echo of Darwin’s anti-science when he says that living things only LOOK designed, but they really are not. IOW, he denies observations, he does not explain them.)

    But whether you are an intelligent designer or an unintelligent natural process, you can only select what is already there.

    Once you start talking about selection creating things you’ve already lost the argument before it starts, because you’ve already conceded what is actually at issue.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    ScuzzaMan-Natural selection eliminates- it doesn’t select- Mayr, “What Evolution Is”

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    Another old PRATT has been brought up on my blog- that is if we don’t have a candidate for the designer then we don’t have any design. The problem being, of course, is we don’t look for a designer until AFTER design has been determined. “Not so” accordng the Jerad- “we need to have a designer candidate before determining design!”

    That is just so bass-ackwards to me and represents sloppy thinking.

  6. 6
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Joe:

    Natural selection eliminates- it doesn’t select- Mayr, “What Evolution Is”

    Then I guess it is a misnomer. It should be called “Natural Elimination

    … but then that might be too inadvertently honest, eh?

    In any case, it doesn’t create, either.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    ScuzzaMan- That was my point- being eliminative makes it even more difficult to be creative- whatever is good enough is what survives.

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    No.

    That was not a biting criticism. It was a stupid criticism.

    Thank you for your criticism of my characterization of Rosenhouse’s criticism.

    So let me amend my poor choice of words. I thought he had a point that just stopped me in my tracks. Where this came up was when Bill Dembski was debating Michael Shermer a few years back and both Jason Rosenhouse and I were there.

    Bill brought up the probabilities cited in the Wistar conference, and Jason made at least a nice concession that ID literature is great for detecting man made designs. Presumably this is because man-made designs have lots of pre-specifications.

    Rosenhouse didn’t say that, but I suspect that’s what he was thinking because he was arguing Wistar and IDists are being post-dictive, exactly the argument Shermer makes. It has been my mission thereafter to refute the post-diction objection.

    Probably my first explicit attack on the post-diction objection was published here:
    the key to refuting post diction and single target objections.

    I have since tried to refine methods of finding independent specifications. The reason this is important to me is Jason’s specialty is discrete math. He likes to show up at my talks at JMU, and if he brings up this objection in my talks at JMU, I’ll be armed to counter it next time around. Hehehe. 🙂

    The first obvious independent detachable specifications are the embedded ones

    Howard van Til echoed my concerns here, but unlike van Til, I think there are independent detachable specifications in biology that can be shown to be unassailable, but now I feel comfortable making that assertion, I didn’t 7 years ago, even though I obviously believed it I couldn’t articulate it with much force back then. I feel better equipped today because of the mimicry and duplication arguments.

    The first set of specifications I worked from were trivial ones, but you can see, the opposition didn’t want to yield one millimeter of ground because, once you can find one such specification, you can find more!

    Statistics Question for Nick Matzke. The problem is fighting the post-diction objection. Mimmics (which are duplicates) fight the post diction objection.

    When a biological organism mimics rocks and other biological organisms, just like the real snowflakes mimicked by paper snowflakes, we have ready-made independent detachable specifications. So now in the inventory of techniques for developing independent detachable specifications in biology:

    1. duplicates, homochirality
    2. mimics

    I have been pondering transformed mimics. That is proteins are a transformed mimic of DNA through the cellular machinery, but it is still a mimic. Further, cells are transformed physical mimics of their parent’s informational representation. Hence we have here also independent detachable specifications.

    Much of Bill’s writing defended the probabilities, and he left it as an exercise to create formal methods of making independent specifications. CSI v1 was easier to work with to do this, but CSI v2 is almost intractable for ordinary mortals to do the calculations. I’ve been interested in simpler more accessible methods, since simplicity is harder to assail.

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    Perhaps to clarify what I meant in NS having a role in the implementation of mimicry in the animals pictured above:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....r-made-ns/

  10. 10
    Eric Anderson says:

    ScuzzaMan, Joe, everybody:

    The prior thread on this issue Sal cited:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....bjections/

    is pretty insightful, IMHO, and addresses some of these issues, including Natural Selection.

    —–

    Sal, maybe to help us understand the issue you are driving at a bit better perhaps you could state what you mean by “post-diction” and how that differs from other applications of the design inference? Or is the design inference always post-diction, and if so, why would it be usable in the human-design context but not usable in the non-human-design context?

    Thanks,

  11. 11
    tvarhegyi says:

    In my opinion all snowflakes are actually designed as well. Each snowflake is produced by an algorithm which takes multiple inputs such as air pressure and temperature, wind speed, vertical descent velocity angle, and the size of water droplets and so on. Based on the mix of these inputs a snowflake of some shape will be generated. We could do the same in a computer, if we knew enough about the properties and behavior of water molecules at various atmospheric conditions. Even if we don’t we could generate an infinite number of hexagonal patterns by simply designing a procedure which takes a number of inputs and we would arbitrarily modify our equations based on those inputs. The result would not be real life snowflakes but a good approximation of the infinite variety produced during a snowfall.
    Now, just who designed the real-life snowflake generation algorithm? We don’t know ( and we don’t need to know), except it had to be the same intelligent agency which designed the properties of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. All known properties of water in all of its states is derived from the design of those two atoms. It cannot be otherwise. Of course the operating ranges of air temperature and pressure, wind, gravity and all the other conditions acting upon water vapor in a cloud had to be designed as well, however the particular mix of the values at any particular time and place is random, which makes the snowflake creation a random spectacle.

  12. 12
    ScuzzaMan says:

    That was my point- being eliminative makes it even more difficult to be creative- whatever is good enough is what survives.

    Understood.

    I wasn’t arguing with you, just making a poor attempt at humour.

  13. 13
    scordova says:

    Sal, maybe to help us understand the issue you are driving at a bit better perhaps you could state what you mean by “post-diction

    Thanks for the kind words. That’s such an important topic it deserves a post of its own. The word is used in No Free Lunch, maybe the only book in all of ID literature to use the word, LOL!

  14. 14
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Thanks, Eric.

    That was an epic thread; dense with useful information and eminently reproducible arguments.

  15. 15
    Eric Anderson says:

    Thanks, ScuzzaMan.

    In case you may have missed it, the following is another interesting thread with some specific thoughts about natural selection. Start, in particular, partway down the thread with my comment #73:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-486562

  16. 16
    Eric Anderson says:

    ScuzzaMan,

    Just so you don’t get frustrated with the long thread at that link, focus on my comments, which discuss natural selection (there are other things going on in the thread). (The allegedly evolutionary-algorithm-formed antenna is also interesting, but a side issue).

    Anyway, key in on the exchange between Box and me. I think (hopefully), you’ll enjoy it. It is foundational enough, that at some point I might raise it to an OP.

    Best,

  17. 17
    scordova says:

    Eric,

    Here you go, I ended up making a small retraction as a result this discussion.

    The direct link:
    http://www.creationevolutionun.....dcs/?p=107

    The UD link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-the-fact/

    I’m having to start migrating my essays to CEU IDCS since I’m trying to build up a student resource. Some of the essays so far are not exactly tailored for students, but gradually more of them will be. In the meantime I just try to make do with what I have.

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