Ian Musgrave posted Entry 2720 on November 14, 2006 06:24 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2712

In a recent article in Touchstone Magazine, Jonathan Witt, fellow for the Discovery Institute’s Center for the renewal of science and culture, has written a review of Francis Collins’ book “ The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”. Amongst other things in this review he claims that Michael Denton has demonstrated that the “backwards wiring” of the mammalian retina improves oxygen flow and is good design.

Denton of course, has done no such thing. Since I am on a role with things visual, I am reposting an updated version of an earlier article on this topic.

Just to recap, vertebrates (like ourselves), and the invertebrates Squid and Octopi have “camera eyes“. They differ in how the photoreceptors in the retina, the part of the eye that receives the image, is wired up to the brain. The vertebrate wiring system is often cited as an example of “bad”, or at least quirky, design that is explainable by evolution.

The vertebrate retina is wired “backwards”. That is the photoreceptors point to back of the retina, away from incoming light, and the nerves and blood vessels are on the side of the incoming light, this means that any image formed on the vertebrate retina has to pass though layers of blood vessels and ganglion cells, absorbing and distorting the image.

To get decent visual acuity, vertebrates must focus light on a small patch of retina where the blood vessels and nerves have been pushed aside, the fovea. This patch must be small because of the nutrient requirements of the retina. Also, the construction of the vertebrate retina means that blood vessels and nerves must pass through the retina, creating a “blind spot”, where no image is formed. Finally, the “backwards” retina means that vertebrates have a high risk of retinal detachment. Altogether this shows that having the nerves and blood vessels in front of the photoreceptors is less than optimal design.

Imagine taking a pane of glass, then smearing it thickly with vaseline, then wiping a tiny hole in the vaseline. That is what the vertebrate retina is like.

Now consider the eye of squids, cuttlefish and octopi. Their retinas are “rightway round”, that is the photoreceptors face the light, and the wiring and the blood vessels facing the back (1). Squid and octopi have no blind spot; they can also have high visual acuity. The octopus also has a fovea-equivalent structure, which it makes by packing more (or longer) photoreceptors into a given area (1). Because it doesn’t have to create a hole in the supporting tissue it can have arbitrarily large “fovea”, and greater visual acuity. Cuttlefish have better visual acuity than cats (2) and because of their “rightway round” retinas; this level of acuity covers nearly the entire retina (1,2) unlike vertebrates where it is confined to the small spot of the fovea.

The vertebrate retina is a prime example of historically quirky “design”. The vertebrate retina is backwards because the development of the retina was first elaborated in rather small chordates, where issues of acuity and blind spots were non-existent; all subsequent vertebrates got stuck with this “design”. Vertebrates do very well with the limitations of the design of the eye, but it is clear that this is no system a competent designer would make. Naturally, this annoys the proponents of an Intelligent Designer, and they have been looking for ways to put a better spin on the kludged design of the vertebrate eye.

ID advocates have a hard time dealing with the quirky design of the eye, both Witt and Behe have used the “better blood flow” argument in order to show the backwards retina really is good design.

This invokes an argument that has been doing the rounds of creationists for a while. The True.Origins site (which is a rip-off of Talk.Origins) has a page that claims that the “backwards” retina improves the blood supply. It is probably the canonical page where these claims come from. Denton’s argument is slightly different, but follows on from the canonical creationist argument, so I will deal with the creationist argument first.

In vertebrates, underneath the photoreceptors is a layer of pigment and pigment cells called the choroid (the squid, cuttlefish and octopus have similar arrangements - more on this later), this layer of pigment absorbs stray light that is not caught by the photoreceptors, which might reflect back and fuzz up the image.

In terrestrial vertebrates, the amount of light landing on the retina produces a significant amount of heat, enough to damage the retina itself (3,4). The True.Origins page gives the impression that it is light focused on the retina that produces the heat. The article implies that by having the most thermally sensitive bit of the photoreceptor bang up against a heat sink (the blood vessels of the choroid, whose rapid blood flow removes the heat, see below), vertebrates can tolerate light intensities that “right way round” retinas could not.

However, when one reads the paper they reference (3), a completely different picture emerges.

It is the choroid itself that generates the heat that threatens the retina! As noted above, the pigments in the choroid absorb light that is missed by the photoreceptors. This light is re-radiated as heat. 25-30% of the light falling on the retina ends up being absorbed by the choroid and re-radiated as heat (3,4). So we have the most thermally sensitive part of the photoreceptors bang up against the bit that generates the most heat. Good design? I think not.

To cool down the choroid, very fast blood flow through the tissues below and in the pigment layer is needed (3,4). But let’s be clear about this, the Creationists have it back to front. The “backwards” arrangement of the vertebrate retina does not make possible fast blood flow, it requires fast blood flow to cool the tissue down. This is yet another area where vertebrate design is flawed, with the fragile photoreceptors hard up against the source of the damaging heat.

Of course, the question of why fish, which have more species than all terrestrial vertebrates combined, must suffer with a backwards retina so that terrestrial vertebrates can have high blood flows to an area that wouldn’t need them if the system was designed correctly in the first place, is never addressed. The other question is why terrestrial gastropods which have camera eyes have a “right way round” retina if invert retinas are important for terrestrial vision? Their camera eyes are relatively small compared to terrestrial vertebrates, and so should loose heat readily. However, arthropod eyes of this size are subject to light-induced retinal damage. See the references in this paper.

In squid, octopi, cuttlefish and terrestrial gastropods, the pigment layer is below the photoreceptors, in an area of dense blood vessels (1). This arrangement blocks stray light and provides sufficient blood flow to cool the tissue and provide nutrients without the added layers of ganglion cells over the top of the photoreceptors that distort and absorb the image. Even better, squid, octopi and cuttlefish do not have the most thermally sensitive part of the retina next to the source of waste heat, as it is in vertebrate eyes, needing an outrageous amount of blood flow to cool the system.

The vertebrate eye does very well indeed, but it is a kludge. The fovea is a cute trick to squeeze greater acuity out of a flawed design, but octopi and squid do it better. The cooling blood flow to the choroid is needed as the pigments of the choroid generate waste heat, but this is irrelevant to whether the photoreceptors are forward or reverse facing. The arrangement of the vertebrate eye does not improve the blood supply, and it looks like the vertebrate eye has to kludge up a high blood flow to the choroid because the vertebrate inverted retina is poorly designed to get blood to where it is needed.

This brings us to Denton’s argument. This is that the blood flow through the choroid needs to be high for the metabolic requirements of the retina. This is a variant of the “cooling bath” concept, and has exactly the same problems. The retina is an energy hungry system, but it doesn’t need to be inverted to get a high blood flow. In fact, the way the vertebrates do it is just plain silly. Molecules used for providing the energy to run light detection are formed in the mitochondria in the cell body from blood born nutrients, then passed along to the photoreceptors in the modified cilia projecting from the cell body (see diagrams in links above). As the retina is invert, the cell bodies are further away from the choroid, with the light harvesting disks between them and the choroid. Consequently, all blood born nutrients delivered by the choroid in vertebrates must diffuse from the choroid, through the pigmented epithelium, then past all the photoreceptor disks to the mitochondria in the cell body to be used (and all waste diffused in the reverse direction). Delivery from the cell body end would result in a shorter diffusion distance through less restricted space; ie, more efficient delivery. This point is born out by the fact that choroid oxygen tension drops by only 3% from artery to vein. In consequence, the retinal artery, though it only carries 5% of the blood supplied to the retina, carries 40% of the oxygen used by the retina.

Denton says

Blood absorbs light strongly, …. From this we can immediately discount one possible way of supplying the photoreceptors in a non-inverted retina where the photoreceptor would form the inner layer–pointing directly towards the light, i.e., by placing a choriocapillaris-type system of blood vessels in front of the photoreceptor cells, i.e., between the photoreceptors and the light. While such an arrangement might well deliver sufficient quantities of oxygen to the photoreceptors, the sensitivity and acuity of any such hypothetical “eye” would be greatly diminished by the highly absorbent complex of blood vessels positioned between the light and the photoreceptor layer

This is pretty silly, with the current arrangement, the photoreceptors have a range of ganglion cells, supporting cells, nerve cells and blood vessels already piled thickly on top of it (when you look into the eye with and ophthalmoscope, you can see the superficial blood vessels on top of the retina, there are also capillaries that dive deep into the cell layer as well. The retina already has a mass of blood, and lots of other things, getting in its way. Of course there is a better way to do it, the way cephalopods do it.

In cephalopods the blood vessels are right next to the terminal parts of the photoreceptor process, the photoreceptor cell bodies and the pigment cells where it is needed. You can see the blood vessels and pigments in this paper on the octopus retina. It is far more efficient than the vertebrate system for both cooling and nutrient delivery. No wonder cephalopods require a much smaller blood supply to the eye.

Both the “cooling bath” and the “nutrient/oxygen delivery” arguments actually reveal that the vertebrate eye is a kludge. The high flow rates are required because the quirky design means more efficient methods can’t be used.

Denton brings in other arguments for the “superiority” of the vertebrate “back-to-front” retina, but they are irrelevant. Fore example, vertebrate photoreceptors can detect a single photon as he claims, great, but so can cephalopod photoreceptors, and they are not covered with gunk that absorbs or scatters the incoming photons. Cephalopods occupy many niches, from shallow water tidal zones with high light intensities to the abyssal depths where every photon counts, some are ambush predators, and some are active hunting predators. Some see in black and white, some see in colour, some see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t). Many have visual acuity equivalent to many vertebrates; cuttlefish have equivalent visual acuity to cats as befits their status as active hunters. All this without an invert retina. When Denton says

that in redesigning from first principles an eye capable of the highest possible resolution (within the constraints imposed by the wavelength of light16) and of the highest possible sensitivity (capable of detecting an individual photon of light) we would end up recreating the vertebrate eye

he is just plain wrong.

The pre-adaptation concept Denton prattles on about is nonsense. We are to expect that an intelligent designer will give the marine vertebrates, which are significantly more numerous in species and population than the terrestrial vertebrates, a poorly designed retina so that a very few percent of all terrestrial vertebrates can have supposedly superior vision? This is a definition of “good design” of which I was not previously aware. And again, cephalopods do it better.

Let’s be clear, the vertebrate eye works, and works rather well given its limitations (one merely has to contemplate the visual acuity of the eagle to see that the “design” works well). But it is a suboptimal Heath Robinson “design” where the limitations of the original invert retina setup (which were irrelevant to amphioxus and the small chordates in which the vertebrate eye evolved) are worked around by kludges. It is like claiming that the misground Hubble mirror with its correcting lenses is the “best possible design” because it gives clear pictures.

Once again, the vertebrate eye fails as Intelligent Design. ID proponents loudly proclaim they are not creationists and one is left to wonder why they have appropriated a bad Creationist argument.

(1) Matsui S et al., Adaptation of a deep-sea cephalopod to the photic environment. Evidence for three visual pigments. J Gen Physiol. 1988 Jul;92(1):55-66
(2) Schaeffel F, Murphy CJ, Howland HC Accommodation in the cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis). J Exp Biol. 1999 Nov;202 Pt 22:3127-34.
(3) Parver LM. Auker CR. Carpenter DO. The stabilizing effect of the choroidal circulation on the temperature environment of the macula. Retina. 1982, 2(2):117-20.
(4) Parver LM. Temperature modulating action of choroidal blood flow. Eye. 1991;5 ( Pt2):181-5.
(5) Denton, M The Inverted Retina: Maladaptation or Pre-adaptation? Origins & Design 19:2

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Comment #143966

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 14, 2006 7:00 AM (e)

he claims that Michael Denton has demonstrated

Gee, isn’t it surprising that Witt never mentions the fact that Denton used to be a Fellow at Discovery Institute, but left because he thinks ID is a load of crap …. …. .

Comment #143967

Posted by minimalist on November 14, 2006 7:11 AM (e)

I’ve heard repeatedly that Denton left the DI and pretty much repudiated the crap he used to write, but I haven’t been able to find a source for this claim.

Anyone have a link?

Comment #143970

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on November 14, 2006 8:27 AM (e)

Denton brings in other arguments for the “superiority” of the vertebrate “back-to-front” retina, but they are irrelevant. Fore example, vertebrate photoreceptors can detect a single photon as he claims…

The Celestial Grammar Teacher calls thee SINNER!

:-)

It’s worth noting that certain aspects of cephalopod eyes are a bit of a kludge as well. Most cephs have holes in the middle of their lens. Why? Because they evolved from primitive pinhole eyes as found in modern Nautilus. It’s a really stupid system that just happens to work better than no lens at all.

But if you could combine a vertebrate lens and iris with the cephalopod retina and related structures, you might actually get an eye that could seem intelligently designed.

“Seem” being the key word, but it’s irrelevant because we still don’t have any eyes remotely like that. We just have really stupid ones.

Comment #143971

Posted by Bob C on November 14, 2006 9:27 AM (e)

Michael, Ian could rip the terminal e off of “fore” and stick it onto the end of “blood born.” These slips are not to be borne. Oh, wait, maybe they are. I’m terminally confused. :-)

Comment #143972

Posted by k.e. on November 14, 2006 9:58 AM (e)

The Celestial Grammar Teacher calls thee SINNER!

:-)

**Applause**

Nowth thay ith wif a lisp…..ersorrymycelestialpronunciationteachertookadayoff

as did….my c*!!*stia! punct:u@tion over!ord.

Glory to the great Kosmic spller indy skye. Praise her vowels and share the grammer.

//end sillyness (for now)

If I understand this right, the great I designer (yes first person singular) up in heaven (blessed be her drafting team) saw a need for TV and to facilitate this made sure we could pixelate when we were still swimming in the oceans.
Brings a new meaning to being post literate.
Makes sense to me.

Comment #143974

Posted by stevaroni on November 14, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

Ya Know, down here on earth, us mere-mortal engineer types go to battle with conflicting design requirements every day (think battery life versus processor power, for example).

Despite this - and I know this is hard to believe - we are sometimes able to work two or even three core requirements into one single product!.

So I’m a little disappointed to hear that the Big Draftsman in the Sky couldn’t take his successful arthropod design and retrofit it to my poor little peepers.

Maybe he was too busy that day to hit the foundry twice. Hmm, but that might imply that our creation was an afterthought when he got done with the squids, and he was just using up old parts. Either that, or he made us first, and we weren’t important enough in his mind to go back and fix.

Of course, we are made in His image, so maybe it’s just that he’s nearsighted.

Hmmm. none of these options is particularly comforting to me.

Comment #143975

Posted by k.e. on November 14, 2006 11:15 AM (e)

Maybe he was too busy that day to hit the foundry twice.

Maybe she/they/himself mixed up the petrie dishes before they went into the incubusator …..or should that be succubus-ator?

The incompetent designer.

There might be room for a class action suit there.

Comment #143976

Posted by Donald M on November 14, 2006 11:19 AM (e)

Vertebrates do very well with the limitations of the design of the eye, but it is clear that this is no system a competent designer would make.

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed. This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument, which raises the question of what is a theological premise doing in what is supposed to be a scientific argument? Perhaps there is some new scientific reasearch studies that comfirm an hypothesis about what God would or would not have done? If no such studies exist (and surely they don’t), then claiming that the supposed “sup-optimal’ design of this or that biolgical system demonstrates there was no design at all is little more than hand waving speculation. There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design. Once again the metaphysical presuppositions overshadow the science. When will you guys admit it.

Comment #143977

Posted by William E Emba on November 14, 2006 11:32 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

[Some cephalopods] see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t).

Actually, most humans can, especially with practice. The image you can see is known as Haidinger’s brush. It looks like two short blue bulbs in the direction of polarization, and two longish yellow bulbs in the perpendicular direction. The image is quite faint, but unmistakeable. Without special equipment, it’s easiest to see around the time of sunset while looking towards the zenith.

A full explanation of this phenomenon is still unknown. So far as I am aware, no known photographic technique captures the apparent image.

See also the July and August 2005 issues of Sky and Telescope, and the classic Marcel Minnaert Light and Color in the Outdoors.

Comment #143978

Posted by William E Emba on November 14, 2006 11:38 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

[Some cephalopods] see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t).

Actually, most humans can, especially with practice. The image you can see is known as Haidinger’s brush. It looks like two short blue bulbs in the direction of polarization, and two longish yellow bulbs in the perpendicular direction. The image is quite faint, but unmistakeable. Without special equipment, it’s easiest to see around the time of sunset while looking towards the zenith.

A full explanation of this phenomenon is still unknown. So far as I am aware, no known photographic technique captures the apparent image.

See also the July and August 2005 issues of Sky and Telescope, and the classic Marcel Minnaert Light and Color in the Outdoors.

Comment #143979

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 14, 2006 11:42 AM (e)

There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design. Once again the metaphysical presuppositions overshadow the science. When will you guys admit it.

Really? Seems to me that ID making any statement that anything was ‘designed’ or ‘designed well’ (which happens routinely) is a metaphysical presupposition that overshadows science. When when you guys admit that?

ID is more than happy to say “oh this is designed well, so of course God Did It”, and yet when something quite poorly put together is pointed out, ID advocates pompously declare “oh, it’s not valid science to try and second-guess what the Designer would or would not do!” You can’t have it both ways.

Comment #143981

Posted by stevaroni on November 14, 2006 12:26 PM (e)

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed.

Au Contraire, Donald.

The Ford Pinto was actually a pretty reasonable design at the time, given the prevailing constraints the engineers were working with.

That period in automotive history was marked by the sudden demise of the American luxo-boat in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargos of ’73.

American manufacturers found themselves scrambling to compete with Japanese and European builders with decades of experience and infrastructure for making small, attractive cars (like the Honda CVCC).

You can’t just downsize components when you’ve just built engine-specific plants for making big V-8’s, and, while the body-on-frame system that most American cars used was poorly suited for an econobox, there was little manufacturing capability for a unibody design in the Ford system.

The engineers at Ford had to compromise and improvise at every stage of their design, still, they did a decent, if not stellar job, and if it weren’t for that one tiny design flaw (a pesky tendency for the gas tank to rupture against a frame piece in rear impacts) the Pinto would have been remembered as a practical, if eminently forgettable, econobox.

(Sorry for the rant, I always feel the need to defend otherwise good engineers who are forced to produce crap)

But anyhow, you’re totally missing the point, Donald.

This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument … There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design.

Bull pookey.

Reverse-engineer any manufactured product and you can learn a lot about the capabilities and methods of the designer.

Anybody who’s handled, for example, western and Asian machine tools, can tell just by the different materials that China hasn’t had a good steelmaking infrastructure as long as Germany has.

A cash register full of precision mechanical parts probably came from an older, established company, which has interest in amortizing an existing assembly line, while an equivalent product full of fast microcontrollers probably comes from a new player, which has to bite the bullet on NRE anyhow, so they optimize unit-cost.

Howard Hughes built the famous Spruce Goose out of a very sub-optimal material. Even without knowing about WW-II you could surmise that he was probably facing some sort of supply problem with aluminum.

Reverse-engineer the Pinto, compare it to the Civic, and you can see exactly what technology the two builders did and didn’t share.

It’s perfectly scientific. It’s all cause-and-effect. Down here on Earth that’s the way we have to do things.

Yes, the Pinto was a flawed design – because it was built by mortal engineers. Engineers working with all sorts of arbitrary, earthly, constraints.

You can tell something about those constraints just by carefully examining the design.

But all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God - a God who made all the physical laws of the universe in the first place - just plain doesn’t have those limits.

There’s just no reason for God to compromise. God should be able to make a perfect product – He controls all the rules.

He is, in fact, not only the only engineer in the known universe who has the opportunity to do a perfect design – he’s actually got the easiest time of it.

So if, as you propose, Donald, He still consistently borrows inappropriate parts from previous designs and does a slap-dash modification to repurpose them into another sub-optimal design, there are only two good explanations.

1) God is not all knowing/seeing/powerful or…
2) God is incompetent.

This is a fascinating new line of reasoning you have there, Don. Which option do you favor?

Comment #143985

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 14, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

Vertebrates do very well with the limitations of the design of the eye, but it is clear that this is no system a competent designer would make.

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed.

You think it might have been Ford Pinto designers who designed the eye?

What you anti-science sorts fail to recognize is that you have an idiot savant designer, who can design what humans can’t hope to design de novo (flagellum as it exists in all of its complexity–or the eye, which often is an example of what “couldn’t evolve”), yet can’t think well enough to put the blood vessels behind the retina. Or, he can think to do it, but not in vertebrates.

Which leads to the next failing of your “thought”. We have good explanations for “poor design”, indeed, we know why designs are often poor. It is because evolution produces little novelty and it cannot “see ahead” to design anything from scratch. Hence the “poor design” that we fits into evolutionary constraints (archaeopteryx is not simply “poorly designed” compared with modern birds, it is “poorly designed” because it was adapted from a small theropod dinosaur. You have no explanation at all), and above all, “poor design” follows the well-established patterns of inheritance.

We can tell you why sperm whales have the “poor design”, then, when the giant squids that it eats have the better “designs”—the reason being that whales are come from a lineage constrained by evolutionary events that gave it a poorer “design”, and squids are not. Why don’t you explain why marine mammals have one “design” and squids have quite another one? If evolution doesn’t explain it, there is no explanation, the only outcome with which IDists and creationists are satisfied.

This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument, which raises the question of what is a theological premise doing in what is supposed to be a scientific argument?

Yes, why do you claim that design is a scientific argument when you steadfastly refuse to posit a designer producing predictable results? I’m glad you’re seeing the problem at last.

Perhaps there is some new scientific reasearch studies that comfirm an hypothesis about what God would or would not have done? If no such studies exist (and surely they don’t), then claiming that the supposed “sup-optimal’ design of this or that biolgical system demonstrates there was no design at all is little more than hand waving speculation.

Tell that to Dembski, who tries to tell us what is expected from God. Indeed, it is mere speculation, our point exactly.

There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design.

Actually, it isn’t optimality that shows design, it is rational design, novelty, and borrowing good ideas from disparate sources, that indicates design by known designers. It is only because IDists/creationists frequently claim that “design” is “too good to have evolved” that we point to the many examples of “poor design” to show how false your claims are, even by your own standards. Nevertheless, optimized “designs” are presumably possible via evolution, as well as through design proper.

The trouble for you is that both “very good designs” and “poor designs” happen to betray their derivative origins, to fulfill the predictions of evolution. We have good explanations (generally, if not always) both for the “good designs” that we see, and the “poor designs”. All you have is the ridiculous plaint that “we don’t know how God would design”. That may be, however we do know how evolution would “design”, and it is essentially as we observe in organisms, in cladistics, in the derivative structures seen throughout life.

Once again the metaphysical presuppositions overshadow the science. When will you guys admit it.

We do admit that your metaphysical presuppositions overshadow what you call “science”, which is without any meaningful predictions (sorry, complexity beyond the capability of known designers is not a prediction of design, rather it is an indication of non-design).

We sometimes do take the word of IDists at face value, however, and ask if any marks of design exist in organisms. When we do not find them, the “obviousness” of design in organisms is no longer evoked by the true believers, rather the invisibility of design (since we don’t know what it looks like when God does it) becomes your argument. And yes, thanks for finally admitting our primary objection against ID, that no evidence for it exists.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #143986

Posted by infamous on November 14, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

“Seems to me that ID making any statement that anything was ‘designed’ or ‘designed well’ (which happens routinely) is a metaphysical presupposition that overshadows science.”

But, but, but… ID doesn’t make a claim about WHO the “designer” is or His intentions, it just says that we can detect His “design!”

“There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design.”

Evolution works with what it has, which is why we would expect to find flaws like this or vestigial structures. On the other hand, it seems a “designer” wouldn’t leave these in the design. I find that people resort to these “science can’t make claims about the metaphysical” or what have you when they don’t like the implications of the evidence.

Comment #143988

Posted by stevaroni on November 14, 2006 1:01 PM (e)

[Some cephalopods] see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t).

Actually, most humans can, especially with practice.

I find that I’m sensitive to polarized light out at the very outer edge of my visual field.

It manifests itself when I’m sitting in my car on a bright day, looking ahead, and I can detect moiré patterns in the glass of the drivers-side window, just at the edge of my peripheral vision (which instantly go away if I turn my central vision onto them).

It took me a while to work it out, but with a little experimentation, I eventually I figured out that the pinpoint source of the sun and oblique angle combined with the multi-layered safety glass to make a primitive polarizing filter with significant banding.

Oddly, I’m also much more sensitive to flicker out at the extreme edges, too.

Comment #143989

Posted by stevaroni on November 14, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

[Some cephalopods] see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t).

Actually, most humans can, especially with practice.

I find that I’m sensitive to polarized light out at the very outer edge of my visual field.

It manifests itself when I’m sitting in my car on a bright day, looking ahead, and I can detect moiré patterns in the glass of the drivers-side window, just at the edge of my peripheral vision (which instantly go away if I turn my central vision onto them).

It took me a while to work it out, but with a little experimentation, I eventually I figured out that the pinpoint source of the sun and oblique angle combined with the multi-layered safety glass to make a primitive polarizing filter with significant banding.

Oddly, I’m also much more sensitive to flicker out at the extreme edges, too.

Comment #143992

Posted by stevaroni on November 14, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

[Some cephalopods] see polarized light (which vertebrates can’t).

Actually, most humans can, especially with practice.

I find that I’m sensitive to polarized light out at the very outer edge of my visual field.

It manifests itself when I’m sitting in my car on a bright day, looking ahead, and I can detect moiré patterns in the glass of the drivers-side window, just at the edge of my peripheral vision (which instantly go away if I turn my central vision onto them).

It took me a while to work it out, but with a little experimentation, I eventually I figured out that the pinpoint source of the sun and oblique angle combined with the multi-layered safety glass to make a primitive polarizing filter with significant banding.

Oddly, I’m also much more sensitive to flicker out at the extreme edges, too.

Comment #143993

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 14, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

Cue Lenny, and his usual post about DonaldM’s monthly drive-by lie.

Comment #143994

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on November 14, 2006 2:00 PM (e)

Let’s see if there’s anything to say in response to Donald not covered by stevaroni …

*thinks*

*thinks*

Hmm… the answer seems to be no. Well, I’ve never let that stop me.

Donald M wrote:

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed.

Yes, clearly the Ford Pinto was designed by a loving, caring, omnipotent deity. He loved his children so much he wanted them to be BURNED! Hail and Amen!

I think we can safely conclude that the Ford Pinto was not designed by the Christian God. Do you conclude this as well, Donald? Or do you feel that we must remain agnostic regarding whether Ford Pintos are examples of divine miracles?

Donald M wrote:

This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument, which raises the question of what is a theological premise doing in what is supposed to be a scientific argument?

Theological premises derived from the Bible:

1. God is perfect.
2. God loves us.
3. God cares about us.
4. God is competent at design (as an omnipotent being must be in all things)

Conclusion: The God of the Bible did not directly create the eye.

Please inform me which of the premises is false.

Donald M wrote:

Perhaps there is some new scientific reasearch studies that comfirm an hypothesis about what God would or would not have done?

I’m talking theology! God was already outside of scientific discourse. Theologically, it is heresy to attribute anything so cocked up as the human eye to God.

Donald M wrote:

If no such studies exist (and surely they don’t), then claiming that the supposed “sup-optimal’ design of this or that biolgical system

See, this is your goof. The design isn’t “sub-optimal”. The design is plain dog stupid. Attributing plain dog stupid design to God is an insult to my religion.

Donald M wrote:

demonstrates there was no design at all is little more than hand waving speculation.

Who said there is no design? We said there is no intelligent design. And the design is stupid! It matches exactly what we expect from everyone’s favorite unintelligent designer: evolution by natural selection.

Comment #143998

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on November 14, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

How is it that Behe produced some pretty good science back in the day in regards to biochemistry in his research, yet can’t seem to understand the very basics of biology, including biochemsistry, and is so off on biological reality? I mean, seriously, it’s never made sence to me.

Comment #143999

Posted by Russell on November 14, 2006 2:16 PM (e)

I’ve heard repeatedly that Denton left the DI and pretty much repudiated the crap he used to write, but I haven’t been able to find a source for this claim.

Anyone have a link?

Well, Denton’s status as erstwhile Fellow of the Disco Inst is evident from Disco Inst’s own website. He seems to have become a sort of “nonperson” over there. Of course, Johnson, Behe, Wells, etc. can’t unpublish the remarks they’ve all made about how Denton’s “Evolution: a Theory in Crisis” opened their eyes to the “failures of Darwinism”, but in fact that book was all about challenging common descent. In Denton’s 2000(? or so) book, “Nature’s Destiny”, he drops that whole line altogether, and makes a pitch for a whole different proposition: “cosmological intelligent design”.

The piece Witt is resurrecting here is from 1999, when Denton and the Disco Inst were, apparently, still on speaking terms. If I recall correctly - and I refuse to waste the precious five minutes of my life it would take to reread and confirm this - Denton makes the case that the fact that the weird vertebrate eye evolved in our fishy ancestors argues that the Intelligent Designer was anticipating the eventual benefits of such an arrangement in their eventual warm-blooded, terrestrial descendants.

Pretty hilarious stuff.

Comment #144000

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on November 14, 2006 2:18 PM (e)

Donald M: Perhaps there is some new scientific reasearch studies that comfirm an hypothesis about what God would or would not have done? If no such studies exist (and surely they don’t),

You’re right. Scientific studies couldn’t show that. But there are good theological studies to indicate that the IDea of God creating systems that don’t work is a pretty poor understanding of God- at least the Judeo-Christian God. There are some good theolgical thoughts on how we can actually understand the Judeo-Christian God. Maybe though you’re coming from a different kind of god then that, in which case understanding god may not be important or possible, and god may not be perfect.

Comment #144002

Posted by Coin on November 14, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed.

Wait, this is an interesting argument. If the eye can be equated to the Ford Pinto, does that not imply that if God exists, all that lives is legally entitled to compensatory and punitive damages from Him?

Is the upcoming Rapture a product recall?

This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument, which raises the question of what is a theological premise doing in what is supposed to be a scientific argument? Perhaps there is some new scientific reasearch studies that comfirm an hypothesis about what God would or would not have done?

Okay, so Donald, be clear here. Do you agree then that it is not logically possible to identify a “designed” from a “non-designed” object without specific knowledge of the designer in question?

Comment #144003

Posted by Peter Henderson on November 14, 2006 2:52 PM (e)

The folks here are probably already aware of this, but AIG’s Dr David Menton ( very similar sounding name !) has a couple of talks on the origins of the eye :

http://www.answersingenesis.org/video/ondemand/

He makes the claim that at least one evolutionist has admitted that we don’t know the evolutionary origins of the eye and that we probably never will.

Comment #144004

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on November 14, 2006 3:07 PM (e)

Russell brings up that: Well, Denton’s status as erstwhile Fellow of the Disco Inst is evident from Disco Inst’s own website. He seems to have become a sort of “nonperson” over there. Of course, Johnson, Behe, Wells, etc. can’t unpublish the remarks they’ve all made about how Denton’s “Evolution: a Theory in Crisis” opened their eyes to the “failures of Darwinism”, but in fact that book was all about challenging common descent. In Denton’s 2000(? or so) book, “Nature’s Destiny”, he drops that whole line altogether, and makes a pitch for a whole different proposition: “cosmological intelligent design”.

It seems to me ironic the similtude between the Creationist groups diversity and disagreements, well described in Pennock’s “Tower of Babel”, and that of the early Gnostics. In both the infighting would lead ultimately to being sidelined and ultimately being irrelevant.

Comment #144005

Posted by Donald M on November 14, 2006 3:42 PM (e)

Steveroni

Au Contraire, Donald.

The Ford Pinto was actually a pretty reasonable design at the time, given the prevailing constraints the engineers were working with….snip…
The engineers at Ford had to compromise and improvise at every stage of their design, still, they did a decent, if not stellar job, and if it weren’t for that one tiny design flaw (a pesky tendency for the gas tank to rupture against a frame piece in rear impacts) the Pinto would have been remembered as a practical, if eminently forgettable, econobox.

Okay fine. So, given that the vertabrate eye does a decent if not stellar job, how does its supposed sub-optimal design equate to no design at all? Its easy to play arm chair designer and imagine all sorts of improvements in one component part of a given system, but as you just pointed out real designers seek to acheive constrained optimism where each sub-system contributes to the best over-all function of the entire system.

But all of that is beside the point. The one and only point is that there is no scientifically principaled way to equate sub-optimal design with no design at all. That is based entirely on a metaphysical premise somewhere in the neighborhood of “God wouldn’t have done it that way.”

There’s just no reason for God to compromise. God should be able to make a perfect product – He controls all the rules.

Perfect with respect to what overall purpose? Statements like this are simply fraught with huge theological premises. That’s fine, but what are those premises doing in what’s supposed to be a scientific argument? The claim is still ‘sub-optimal design equals no design.’ That is not a scientific statement.

Arden Chatfield

Seems to me that ID making any statement that anything was ‘designed’ or ‘designed well’ (which happens routinely) is a metaphysical presupposition that overshadows science. When when you guys admit that?

I don’t see how that follows. It is a purely legitimate scientific observation to say that chance and necessesity or their combination lack the resources to account for the level of specified complexity observed in some system X and that X bears all the hallmarks normally associated with things that are acutally designed. There’s nothing metaphysical about that. It is a farily straightforward scientific observation. Now, it might be incorrect, or disconfirmed by other evidence, but that is a different matter altogether. What it is not is metaphysical. What is entirely metaphysical is to say that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principal, which is the claim made by anti-IDists all the time. In other words, ruling out design a priori on metaphysical grounds.

Coin

Okay, so Donald, be clear here. Do you agree then that it is not logically possible to identify a “designed” from a “non-designed” object without specific knowledge of the designer in question?

Of course I don’t agree. SETI being a case in point. If it were the case that a signal from space were discovered such as the one in the movie Contact and was attibuted to intelligent cause, we still wouldn’t have any specific knowledge of the designer(s) in question. But again, all this is really beside the point, which is, quite simply, that to say sub-optimal design equals no design is metaphysical and not scientific.

Comment #144006

Posted by TheBlackCat on November 14, 2006 3:49 PM (e)

While we are on the subject of the eye, why did our designer limit us to just 3 color-sensitive pigments while giving goldfish 4, some birds 5, and some random arthropod like the mantis shrimp 16? How come fish that live under water, which has high UV absorbance relative to air, have UV vision while we don’t? Why would a creature like humans that are “designed” to live on the ground in a savanna (or garden) be given a point fovea that can only see straight ahead instead of a linear fovea that can see the entire horizon like some other savanna-dwelling mammals have? How come we are designed so that our eyes will automatically hide from us the fact that we are going irreversible blind from easily-correctable causes? Why do fish fish, amphibians, and reptiles have lenses that move around in the eye to change focus while mammals and birds have ones that change shape and thus harder over time, forcing us to use get glasses when we get older?

Comment #144007

Posted by GuyeFaux on November 14, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

But again, all this is really beside the point, which is, quite simply, that to say sub-optimal design equals no design is metaphysical and not scientific.

Then why is saying “[apparent] optimal design equals design” not metaphysical?

Comment #144008

Posted by trrll on November 14, 2006 4:03 PM (e)

What I find particularly revealing is that the Yamamoto et al paper was published in 1965. And the descriptive title, “Fine Structure of the Octopus Retina,” would have made it easy to find even before the advent of searchable electronic databases. Yet even a glance at Fig. 1 utterly destroys Denton’s arguments–the extensive vascularization is quite apparent, as is the presence of pigment to prevent light scattering. It is even possible to see how support cells are incorporated without interfering with photoreceptor packing–all supposed problems with the “verted” design according to Denton. So did he really not bother to even look up the anatomy of the octopus eye before pontificating? Or is he simply lying, expecting that most of his audience will never bother to look it up (in which assumption, he was apparently correct, as ID/creationists continue to cite it to this day).

Comment #144009

Posted by Coin on November 14, 2006 4:12 PM (e)

Okay, so Donald, be clear here. Do you agree then that it is not logically possible to identify a “designed” from a “non-designed” object without specific knowledge of the designer in question?

Of course I don’t agree… But again, all this is really beside the point, which is, quite simply, that to say sub-optimal design equals no design is metaphysical and not scientific.

So “sub-optimal design” is metaphysical, but “design” isn’t?

Why? What’s the difference?

SETI being a case in point. If it were the case that a signal from space were discovered such as the one in the movie Contact and was attibuted to intelligent cause, we still wouldn’t have any specific knowledge of the designer(s) in question.

Contact is a fictional movie, not real life.

In real life, SETI starts out assuming they know something about the “designers” they are hoping to find signals from. They assume that these designers are living beings who exist within the naturalistic universe, and that their signals are created by electromagnetic communication devices. They use this assumed knowledge about their “designers”, in fact, to discern whether the signals are designed at all; they aren’t testing for “design” by itself, they’re testing for signs of a specific “designer”. If SETI received a strange signal, they would immediately check to see whether that signal fits with the origin hypothesis of their assumed known designer. If the signal didn’t fit what they’d expect of the designers they’re expecting, they would probably start looking for hypotheses involving natural origins of the same signal. Consider the discovery of the LGM-1 signal, which, unlike “Contact”, actually happened in real life.

But even aside from this, you can absolutely bet that if we received a signal that, for whatever reason, we “attibuted” to intelligent life, the very first thing we would do is start speculating and drawing conclusions about the designers. We would in fact use the signal itself to learn about the designers. We would consider the place in the universe where the signal is identified of coming from (say, what kind of planets or other objects are visible there) to draw conclusions about what kind of life the signal might have come from, we would analyze the signal itself to draw conclusions about their signal transmission technology, we would analyze the signal’s content (if any) in every way we could think of…

But you’re telling us the opposite of what SETI does– you’re telling us we can identify “design” without having a specific designer in mind, but we can’t then use the design once identified to draw conclusions about the nature of the designer, since that would be “metaphysical”.

Comment #144010

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 14, 2006 5:01 PM (e)

Its easy to play arm chair designer

rigghhhtttt….

but then, that’s what ID is all about there, eh Ducky?

I’d say hold up a mirror, but these IDiots are so far gone they probably wouldn’t be able to recognize what they were seeing anyway.

Comment #144011

Posted by TheBlackCat on November 14, 2006 5:18 PM (e)

but as you just pointed out real designers seek to acheive constrained optimism where each sub-system contributes to the best over-all function of the entire system.

Omnipotent designers do not have constraints. That is the definition of omnipotent. Omniscient designers do not make mistakes. That is the definition of omniscient. Loving designers are not unnecessarily cruel. That is the definition of loving. So in order for these sorts of designs to appear the designer cannot be omnipotent, omniscient, and loving. It is not a scientific argument nor does it pretend to be. ID and creationism are based on metaphysics, not science. But the metaphysics is self-contradictory. The designer cannot be all the things it is claimed to be. We are merely pointing that out.

That is based entirely on a metaphysical premise somewhere in the neighborhood of “God wouldn’t have done it that way.”

The same is true of denying evolution. You are claiming on purely metaphysical grounds God would not use evolution to create apparent design.

Perfect with respect to what overall purpose?

Perfect may not be the best word, it would be better to say “passably competent with respect to equivalent structures in other organisms”.

The claim is still ‘sub-optimal design equals no design.’ That is not a scientific statement.

As others have said, neither is “optimal design equals intelligent design”.

I don’t see how that follows. It is a purely legitimate scientific observation to say that chance and necessesity or their combination lack the resources to account for the level of specified complexity observed in some system X…

No it isn’t, not without any evidence to back it up. It is merely a baseless assertion until some evidence is presented to show that this is true. As it stands now it is simply conjecture. Just making a claim is not science. Science requires testable claims. Until this “observation” is stated in a manner that will allow proper testing it is not the least bit scientific.

…and that X bears all the hallmarks normally associated with things that are acutally designed.

Our point is that X does not “bear all the hallmarks normally associated with things that are actually designed”. Things we see in nature are completely different than anything designed by any intelligent designer we have ever encountered (namely, us). They are extremely intricate but contain downright stupid design features, some that are so recklessly dangerous that they would land any human designer in jail. It is not so much sub-optimal design that is the problem, it is downright incompetent design that is the problem. Design so bad that if found in a human design would lead to a product recall. Your argument is based on the assumption that what we see in nature is similar to our own designs. If this turns out to be false, as it has, then any further argument regarding the metaphysics is irrelevant.

You are assuming that a supernatural designer would act similarly to a human designer. That is central to your argument, since you are assuming things that look designed by humans are designed by something other than humans. The assumption that any other designer, not to mention an omnipotent supernatural one, is inherently metaphysical in and of itself. Any argument based on that assumption is, by extension, metaphysical as well.

There’s nothing metaphysical about that. It is a farily straightforward scientific observation. Now, it might be incorrect, or disconfirmed by other evidence, but that is a different matter altogether. What it is not is metaphysical. What is entirely metaphysical is to say that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principal, which is the claim made by anti-IDists all the time. In other words, ruling out design a priori on metaphysical grounds.

No in the pro-science side claims this. We claim that design we observe in biological systems can not be scientifically tested for being actual design by a supernatural entity on principle. That is due to the fundamental nature of science.

But again, all this is really beside the point, which is, quite simply, that to say sub-optimal design equals no design is metaphysical and not scientific.

By its very nature ID requires a supernatural entity not bound by the laws of nature. That is inherently metaphysical, and there is no way to escape that metaphysics on either side as long as one side invokes such an entity.

Comment #144012

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 14, 2006 5:36 PM (e)

(Donald once again rushes in breathlessly, hysterically screams “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!!”, then runs away)

(yawn)

Yes, yes, yes, Donald —- science doesn’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, and you don’t like that. Right. We got it. Really. We heard you the first hundred times.

Of course, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medical practice or the rules of basketball also don’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, do they.

If it makes you feel any better, Donald, none of them pay any attention to MY religious opinions either. Of course, I don’t throw endless tantrums over it, like you do. (shrug)

Comment #144017

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 14, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

Hey by the way, Donald, I have a few questions waiting for you over at the “Honest Science Wins in Ohio” thread.

Naturally, I don’t expect you to answer any of them. I just want to remind everyone, yet again, that you are an evasive coward who runs away from direct questions.

Comment #144022

Posted by infamous on November 14, 2006 6:17 PM (e)

Donald:

The point everyone is trying to make is that “poor design” fits in well with evolution, while it seems illogical that an INTELLIGENT designer would use such a sorry design…

Comment #144023

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on November 14, 2006 6:28 PM (e)

Nowth thay ith wif a lisp…..ersorrymycelestialpronunciationteachertookadayoff

as did….my c*!!*stia! punct:u@tion over!ord.

[absurdity]
Dear Thirth:

Pleathe thend a man thoon to fix thith machine. I think the “eth” key ith thtuck.

Thincerely,

Tham Thmith
[/absurdity]

Comment #144027

Posted by Ian Musgrave on November 14, 2006 7:19 PM (e)

In comment #143970

Michael Suttkus wrote:

Denton brings in other arguments for the ?superiority? of the
vertebrate ?back-to-front? retina, but they are irrelevant. Fore
example, vertebrate photoreceptors can detect a single photon as he
claims…

The Celestial Grammar Teacher calls thee SINNER!

Okay, so I’m not so crash hot at proof reading at 11:30 pm after a total of 4 hours sleep and dealing with a rambunctious 3 year old. I’ll fix it later on.

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

Comment #144029

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 14, 2006 7:23 PM (e)

I’m sure that virtually everyone but DonaldM understands the irony of his statements on this thread. Spelling it out, though, for those who don’t easily understand things, let’s say that a couple of the the “experts” spearheading the ID movement (one of whom subsequently got smarter, one didn’t) are doing their very best to claim optimization of the eye, because that is what they expect for their G…, uh, Intelligent Designer.

Now I’ve said that I don’t especially think that optimization is assured with empirically known designers, nor is optimization (within biological limits (metallic titanium is not going to be used, even if it is best)) unexpected for some evolutionary solutions. However, the old Denton and the present Witt strain to claim that sub-optimal “designs” are optimal, simply because their GIntelligent Designerd is actually supposed to be the greatest designer ever, in their theology.

Of course it isn’t science to deny design based on sub-optimal results, largely because no designer having God’s proclaimed capabililties is known to exist, and we happen to know only fallible designers. Pointing to “poor design” simply is one answer to silly theological claims being foisted off as “science” by the old Denton, Witt, and DonaldM.

Notably, if we don’t accept their metaphysics even tentatively, they shrilly denounce us as close-minded. Then if we do entertain their metaphysics to show how ridiculous their claims are even by their own standards, they accuse us of dealing in metaphysics. I’d call it hypocritical, however I think they are generally too lacking in critical abilities even to be hypocritical.

No, the only scientific approach is to look at the relatedness of organisms and to create hypotheses based upon that, upon the fossil record, upon homologies, upon nested hierarchies, and upon the genetic evidence, among other things. That is to say, to come up with a sound causal evolutionary theory that fits the evidence as objectively as possible.

Any answers to their claims which countenance their own metaphysics is not science, of course, however it is an intelligent way of turning their metaphysics on their own heads. The screeching about metaphysics is in fact a denunciation of their own dishonest claims, for of course we don’t use a speck of their dishonest metaphysics to do actual science, nor as evidence for evolution. We only enjoy playing with their anti-science claims about the world in order to show how their metaphysics isn’t even internally consistent, let alone consistent with scientific practices.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #144030

Posted by Ian Musgrave on November 14, 2006 7:26 PM (e)

Thanks to William E Emba and stevaroni for pointing out that humans can, under certain circumstances, see polarised light (just). As an amateur astronomer (see Astroblog in link to my name) I think this is cool and I am going to check this out as soon as I can.

From the link to Haidingers Brush (Thanks William, this goes in my links list).

The eyes of men (AND women) are not designed to distinguish between different types of polarization, contrary to insects, cephalopods, many amphibians, fish, and other animals, for which nature possesses a different class of “colors” (but even common colors do not mean the same to everyone). However, a small quirk in the structure of the human eye gives us (by accident) the ability to tell apart different states of polarization. Thanks to this small aberration or “defect” of the eye we are not completely polarization-blind.

So, while cephalopods can distinguish polarisation with ease, humans (and possibly other vertebrates) can pick it up with difficulty after a bit of training. None the less, I will modify future postings in this regard.

Comment #144031

Posted by Ian Musgrave on November 14, 2006 7:29 PM (e)

In comment #143998

Jedidiah Palosaari wrote:

How is it that Behe produced some pretty good science back in the day in regards to biochemistry in his research, yet can’t seem to understand the very basics of biology, including biochemsistry, and is so off on biological reality?

Actually, he is more of a chemist than a biochemist. He has done some very good (if not outstanding) work on folding states of B and Z DNA. But this sort of biophysics/chemistry gives you very little insight into the world of biology. Also, a pet idea can overwhelm even the greatest minds critical facilities. Fred Hoyle, outstanding physicist and a hero of mine, thought that viruses came from outer space, and could not or would not get his head around the biochemical and epidemiological evidence that they weren’t.

Comment #144032

Posted by Ian Musgrave on November 14, 2006 7:36 PM (e)

In comment #143976

Donald M wrote:

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed. This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument…[snip].. There simply is no scientific basis to say that sub-optimal design equals no design.

No one is claiming there is no design, just no intelligent design. While IDers play all coy and refuse to speculate on the Designer (but at the same time desperately trying to show that the “design” of organisms is good despite all contrary evidence), scientists are familiar with several tool-using designers (humans, chimpanzees, Pacific Island Ravens and dolphins for example), and we can use our knowledge of these designers to eliminate potential candidates.

First off, we know the Designer is not Vulcan or Hesperatus, these engineer Gods are too precise to put up with such sloppy design (the Human genitourinary tract, where you have a sewerage system running through a playground, THAT could have been designed by a civil engineer, but Vulcan and Hesperatus arenot civil). We can automatically exclude any east Asian Deity. If they hade been responsible then organisms would be elegant, sleek, compact and liable to turn into all-terrain vehicles at the drop of a hat (where are our roller-skated rats then?). Organisms could be a collaboration between Loki, Raven and Coyote, but in that case organisms would be cute and furry, with big adorable eyes and a tendency to explode randomly but lethally when cuddled.

After a careful examination of potential designers we are left with the only possible designers being the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation, Heath Robinson or natural selection (with added random drift and developmental constraints). Heath Robison and Rube Goldberg were not around in the Precambrian, so they couldn’t have done it. Despite being littered with broken viruses, broken genes (why are all primates stuck with the broken ascorbate synthetase gene?) and sundry rubbish, entirely consistent with construction by Nerd programmers, organisms Genomes are not stamped with “Share and Enjoy” (or “Stick your head in a Pig”), and most organisms work reasonably well, most of the time, so we can eliminate the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation.

Thus, by a process of logical elimination, using the characteristics of known designers, we can confidently say that natural selection is the designer.

Comment #144033

Posted by Coin on November 14, 2006 7:43 PM (e)

nor is optimization (within biological limits (metallic titanium is not going to be used, even if it is best)) unexpected for some evolutionary solutions

Maybe a good way of putting it is that evolution finds local optima.

Comment #144034

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 14, 2006 7:55 PM (e)

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

Because ID is dead as a mackerel, there’s no point in arguing against it scientifically anymore, and all we have left is making fun of diehard IDiots like Donald who still try to walk the stinking corpse around, a la Weekend at Bernie’s.

Comment #144045

Posted by John Marley on November 14, 2006 9:31 PM (e)

so we can eliminate the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation.

You mean I memorized their theme song for nothing?

And I put so much effort into singing precicely a flattened fifth off key.

Comment #144049

Posted by Henry J on November 14, 2006 9:42 PM (e)

Re “No in the pro-science side claims this. We claim that design we observe in biological systems can not be scientifically tested for being actual design by a supernatural entity on principle. That is due to the fundamental nature of science.”

Perhaps if there were evidence of something having engineering abilities and gaining some benefit (even if only apparent enjoyment) from a feature of some Earthly life-form.

Henry

Comment #144050

Posted by T. Bruce McNeely on November 14, 2006 9:43 PM (e)

Lenny Flank said:
Because ID is dead as a mackerel, there’s no point in arguing against it scientifically anymore, and all we have left is making fun of diehard IDiots like Donald who still try to walk the stinking corpse around, a la Weekend at Bernie’s.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!111!!!!

I love it!!!

Comment #144051

Posted by T. Bruce McNeely on November 14, 2006 9:44 PM (e)

Lenny Flank said:
Because ID is dead as a mackerel, there’s no point in arguing against it scientifically anymore, and all we have left is making fun of diehard IDiots like Donald who still try to walk the stinking corpse around, a la Weekend at Bernie’s.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!111!!!!

I love it!!!

Comment #144059

Posted by Henry J on November 14, 2006 10:56 PM (e)

“but in that case organisms would be cute and furry, with big adorable eyes and a tendency to explode randomly but lethally when cuddled.”

Or morph into something else if fed after midnight…

Henry

Comment #144077

Posted by Darth Robo on November 15, 2006 6:50 AM (e)

Donald M said:

“This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument,”

Then how WOULD God have done it, Donald?

“It is a purely legitimate scientific observation to say that chance and necessesity or their combination lack the resources to account for the level of specified complexity observed in some system X and that X bears all the hallmarks normally associated with things that are acutally designed. There’s nothing metaphysical about that.”

How do you measure SPECIFIED COMPLEXITY, Donald?

How does the theory of ID actually WORK, Donald?

Are you ever going to answer Lenny’s questions, Donald?

Donald?

Donald?

Don?

Donald?

Donald?!?

DONAAAAAAAAAALD!!!!!!

Sorry, keep forgetting. As soon as Lenny gets here, Donald goes. I’m sick of waiting for my new connection, I miss all the funny stuff and have to wait until the next day. :(

Comment #144086

Posted by Gary on November 15, 2006 8:32 AM (e)

Ian, just wanted to say thanks for the review of the topic. I occasionally teach histology and like to mix up a functional approach with an evolutionary approach. I’ll be including lots of these comparisons the next time around.

Comment #144088

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on November 15, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

Okay, so I’m not so crash hot at proof reading at 11:30 pm after a total of 4 hours sleep and dealing with a rambunctious 3 year old. I’ll fix it later on.

Me either. I was just delivering a message…

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

Because cephalopods are so much cooler than algae.

Comment #144094

Posted by Parse on November 15, 2006 9:26 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

Partly because the trolls are here, but for me, the main reason why is that I don’t really understand the other post.
I mean, I understand what the general concept is, but I can’t grasp the technical details behind it. Mostly it’s because I don’t have any training in it - I’m a code monkey, not a biologist. It’s also partly impacted by the fact that in order for me to be able to fully grasp the importance of this, you’d have to explain everything from essentially first principles. You did do a good job of explaining it and its importance to the lay people, I don’t understand it enough to fully recognize or appreciate the weight of what it is saying.

It’s somewhat like me trying to explain the impact of the somewhat recent discovery of searching for primes in P, rather than NP. You may grasp what is being talked about, and the reason why it’s important, but if you aren’t fully aware of the complete history behind it, it’s hard (but not impossible) to understand why it is such a huge discovery.

Comment #144097

Posted by Tracy P. Hamilton on November 15, 2006 10:20 AM (e)

DonaldM wrote:

Somebody else wrote:

Vertebrates do very well with the limitations of the design of the eye, but it is clear that this is no system a competent designer would make.

The same can be said about the Ford Pinto, but no one would claim that it wasn’t designed. This is nothing more than another version of the old “God wouldn’t have done it that way” argument, which raises the question of what is a theological premise doing in what is supposed to be a scientific argument?

Actually it is a “competent designer would not do it that way” type of argument (see the box your responded to - is God mentioned?). The question is: do YOU think the designer is God? Obviously so, therefore YOUR idea of God is an incompetent designer. I hope you understand why people object to your theology which appears to be characterized by no forethought at all.

Second, you have design and incompetent design mixed up. The Pinto was not incompetently designed. Putting the gas tank as the bumper would have been incompetent.

Comment #144104

Posted by stevaroni on November 15, 2006 10:38 AM (e)

Donald wrote;
Its easy to play arm chair designer

Donald, I’m hurt! Arm chair designer? I beg to differ.

I’m actually more of a “Work-bench stool designer” who goes to work doing engineering stuff every day. I think this gives me some at least some small level of insight into the mechanical workings of the world, and maybe even the psychological workings of those who design complicated hardware in general.

“God wouldn’t have done it that way.” …Statements like this are simply fraught with huge theological premises…. The claim is still ‘sub-optimal design equals no design.’ That is not a scientific statement.

Yes, that’s true. There is an uncomfortable amount of theological guesswork involved, but that’s by necessity. We can, however, narrow it down a bit.

Let’s be intellectually honest for a second, Don. Yes, there could be any variety of “designers” involved, but the ID movement isn’t seriously proposing that “alien scientists did it”, and that wouldn;t work anyway.

Though technically possible, an all-out, as-is construction by material beings (a la’ Hitchikers Guide) would have left detectable evidence, and we’d have found something by now. And a panspermia style life-seeding doesn’t answer any questions, since the seeds still had to come from somewhere material, which just pushes the “origin” issue back a little, and then stuff evolved anyhow.

No, Donny, the only available candidate with the appropriate skill set and motivation is a good old-fashioned supernatural deity, a big one, along the lines or the Judeo-Christian Jehova or his colleagues.

And that, my friend, falls squarely in the “theology” subdivision of human endeavors. While I don’t usually go to the church for technical answers, if we assume for a moment such a creator exits, then that’s where you head to find a repository of knowledge on the subject.

(Got it,? If God is real, then the churches are right, and after 3000 years of study they ought to have some reliable baseline. Theology will have been shown to be correct, therefore should be an acceptable source of at least some reliable data).

Conviently most of the world’s deistic theologies pretty well agree on some aspects of God. They use words like “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, “outside space and time”. They never seem to use phrases like “unacceptable leadtime”, “cost pressures”, “materials shortage” or “eh - that’s good enough, for this client, I’m going home”.

No, they all talk about a God that ought to be able to design an eye where the retina doesn’t detach, the wiring doesn’t block the view and (my personal favorite) the lens doesn’t slowly turn opaque when exposed to sunlight.

They posit a God who – specifically – takes pride in doing a good job. (Except for the Romans and Greeks. Their gods had issues – but we’re not talking about Pagan deities, are we?)

Again, I’m not making any assumptions about the creator, the experts in the creation field have already done that for me, I’m just taking them at their word.

It is a purely legitimate scientific observation to say that chance and necessity or their combination lack the resources to account for the level of specified complexity observed in some system X and that X bears all the hallmarks normally associated with things that are acutally designed.

Um, No.

The problem, Donald, is that chance and necessity have been demonstrated to drive changes in organisms. The math convincingly shows that the rate of change is enough to do the entire job and the available fossil evidence agrees neatly with this.

We call this concept a theory supported by evidence.

The natural processes at work in the background have been shown to be enough to do the job without further help. That’s big.

Against this you have, um, help me here, what exactly are these much vaunted ” hallmarks normally associated with… design”. The target keeps changing, and since the eye, flagellum, and blood clotting are all pretty well explained by now I forget what the ID folks are pointing to this week.

Throw me a bone, here, Donald, waddya got?

Put it on the table already so we can finally declare you the winner and this whole pesky evolution thing will be over like that.

Comment #144106

Posted by stevaroni on November 15, 2006 10:48 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

Because that other thread is full of pesky facts.

Facts, details, and the precise words that support them are tough for guys like Donald to argue with, there’s no place to get a toe-hold with ID or God.

We all look at that kind of post and say “Kudo’s guys, another piece of the puzzle of life found. Good work there”.

The trolls look at it and think “facts.. big.. words. Too.. hard.”

Comment #144110

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 15, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

So now how come we’re writing about not posting about that post? Same reasons, no doubt.

Well, I have a specific reason—I read about it already it in some journal or other (a summary in Science or Nature. So I think it’s all well and good, but it’s not new to me, and I wasn’t really very concerned about Behe’s claims anyhow.

And maybe that’s the main problem, no one really had taken Behe’s claims seriously. He just wrapped up a lot of incredulity in a Black Box, included “Ph.D” on the cover, and provided a scientific veneer for know-nothingness.

If the IDists were sincerely concerned about the evidence no doubt they’d be interested, though not very happy, with the fungibility of the components of “irreducibly complex” biological systems. Knocking down specific examples of “irreducible complexity” would destroy ID forthwith if its proponents were interested in the science.

But guess what? They’re not interested in the science. That’s why we meet DonaldM’s boilerplate excuses for the invisibility of design, rather than worrying about meeting Behe’s “challenge” head-on. Frankly, I’ve always thought that we gave too much credence to their arguments, so that instead of pounding away at Behe to give an honest account for why eyes, flagella, and bombardier beetles, unlike mouse traps, have all of the appearances and evidences of rather natural derivation processes, we have too often met them according to the rules that they chose.

True, we can do that. But this is not the first time that Behe has been well-answered on the specifics. It doesn’t matter to IDists/creationists, though, because they’ll just go on to find something that can still be plausibly (at least to the rubes) be claimed to be irreducibly complex. They are never thwarted by having their arguments refuted, they simply pluck up their goalposts and gamely move them down the field.

DonaldM and UD have moved well past the “obviousness” of design to its total invisibility, at least without the EF. True, one still hears how obvious design is on UD, in among the arguments that design leaves no marks, except a complexity unknown to be produced by designers.

Refuting DonaldM’s and O’Leary’s claims also are not going to change their minds, but that’s not what we’re trying to do. First off, we probably wouldn’t do it without it being entertaining, amusing, for us. Besides the Schadenfreude, though, we recognize that IC is long (probably 10 years at least) dead as an even remotely plausible claim in science, that ID has suffered tremendous set-backs (which won’t destroy anti-evolutionism), and that the retreating “arguments” of the IDists are that “poor design” really doesn’t mean anything, even though the designer is supposed to be superior to ourselves and makes mistakes that a fifth-rate engineer wouldn’t make.

We’re attacking the retreat and its absurdity, not to convince DaveTard, O’Leary, or DonaldM, rather to show to any fence-sitters that ridiculous arguments call ridicule upon the heads of those who reproduce them. Most people are persuaded more by a fear of looking stupid than by research or by meeting ID’s “challenge”, and we mean to show how stupid ID looks.

Roman general Aetius was disgraced for not attacking the Huns that he had defeated and who were retreating. We, too, would be disgraced for not attacking the pathetic “arguments” of a retreating ID/creationism. Unlike the Huns, the anti-science forces cannot be finally and completely defeated, however we ought to do as much damage as possible to them.

And bringing up yet another refutation of Behe’s specific claims, while worthy in itself, is certainly not going to do much damage to those who care not at all about our “pathetic level of detail”. Exposing the ridiculousness of a “science” based upon an invisible design running throughout organisms may cause some damage, and cause the next incarnation of creationism to be even weaker than ID has proven to be.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #144117

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 15, 2006 11:57 AM (e)

Ian Musgrave wrote:

So how come everyone is commenting on this post, while the post about restoring visual responses in blind mice with algal photoproteins, incidentally demolishing Behe’s irreducible complexity concept, is being ignored?

So now how come we’re writing about not posting about that post? Same reasons, no doubt.

Well, I have a specific reason—I read about it already it in some journal or other (a summary in Science or Nature. So I think it’s all well and good, but it’s not new to me, and I wasn’t really very concerned about Behe’s claims anyhow.

And maybe that’s the main problem, no one really had taken Behe’s claims seriously. He just wrapped up a lot of incredulity in a Black Box, included “Ph.D” on the cover, and provided a scientific veneer for know-nothingness.

If the IDists were sincerely concerned about the evidence no doubt they’d be interested, though not very happy, with the fungibility of the components of “irreducibly complex” biological systems. Knocking down specific examples of “irreducible complexity” would destroy ID forthwith if its proponents were interested in the science.

But guess what? They’re not interested in the science. That’s why we meet DonaldM’s boilerplate excuses for the invisibility of design, rather than worrying about meeting Behe’s “challenge” head-on. Frankly, I’ve always thought that we gave too much credence to their arguments, so that instead of pounding away at Behe to give an honest account for why eyes, flagella, and bombardier beetles, unlike mouse traps, have all of the appearances and evidences of rather natural derivation processes, we have too often met them according to the rules that they decreed.

True, we are indeed able to meet them head-on according to their rules (but by doing this we only answer their claims that evolution cannot happen, we do not supply the evidence that shows that it did happen—wasting an opportunity). But this is not the first time that Behe has been well-answered on the specifics. It doesn’t matter to IDists/creationists, though, because they’ll just go on to find something that can still be plausibly (at least to the rubes) be claimed to be irreducibly complex. They are never thwarted by having their arguments refuted, they simply pluck up their goalposts and gamely move them down the field.

DonaldM and UD have moved well past the “obviousness” of design to its total invisibility, at least without the EF. True, one still hears how obvious design is on UD, in among the arguments that design leaves no marks—except for a complexity unknown to be produced by observed designers.

Refuting DonaldM’s and O’Leary’s claims also are not going to change their minds, but that’s not what we’re trying to do. First off, we probably wouldn’t do this without it being entertaining, amusing, for us. Besides the Schadenfreude, though, we recognize that IC is long (probably 10 years at least) dead as an even remotely plausible claim in science, that ID has suffered tremendous set-backs (which won’t destroy anti-evolutionism), and the desperation in the retreating “arguments” of the IDists are that “poor design” really doesn’t mean anything, even though the designer is supposed to be superior to ourselves yet makes mistakes that a fifth-rate engineer wouldn’t make.

We’re attacking the retreat and its absurdity, not to convince DaveTard, O’Leary, or DonaldM, rather to show to any fence-sitters that ridiculous arguments call ridicule down upon the heads of those who reproduce them. Most people are persuaded more by a fear of looking stupid than by research results, or by meeting ID’s “challenge”. And we mean to highlight how stupid ID looks.

Roman general Aetius was disgraced for not attacking the Huns that he had defeated and who were retreating. We, too, would be disgraced for not attacking the pathetic “arguments” of a retreating ID/creationism. Unlike the Huns, the anti-science forces cannot be finally and completely defeated, however we ought to do as much damage as possible to them.

And bringing up yet another refutation of Behe’s specific claims, while worthy in itself, is certainly not going to do much damage to those who care not at all about our “pathetic level of detail”. Exposing the ridiculousness of a “science” based upon an invisible design (by an invisible designer, so it all works out) running throughout organisms may, by contrast, inflict some damage, and cause the next incarnation of creationism to be even weaker than ID has proven to be.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #144118

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on November 15, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

stevaroni wrote:

Conviently most of the world’s deistic theologies pretty well agree on some aspects of God. They use words like “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, “outside space and time”. They never seem to use phrases like “unacceptable leadtime”, “cost pressures”, “materials shortage” or “eh - that’s good enough, for this client, I’m going home”.

There are Eastern religions that do not. I recall one set of creation stories explained birth defects as people the gods created while drunk and another specifically recorded that the creator god ran out of good clay and had to start using inferior clay that didn’t take the sculpt as well.

None of these explain the consistently backwards eye, but I thought it was an interesting aside.

Comment #144123

Posted by Donald M on November 15, 2006 1:45 PM (e)

Well, this has certainly been interesting. There’s really only one issue here and that is that the claim that ‘sub-optimal design equals no design’ is not scientific, but metephysical (or theological if you prefer). So far, no one has provided any reason to think otherwise, though many have gone to great lengths to tell me how bad my theology must be, or what I think God would or wouldn’t have done. I take all that as confirmation of what I said. No one has a scientific basis for the claim that sub-optimal design equals no design.

In fact, the claim of sub-optimality fails to carefully distinguish intelligent design from apparent design on the one hand, where something appears to be designed but isn’t, and optimal design on the other hand, which really doesn’t exist except in some idealized plane. By way of analogy, someone might think that Apple manufactures the best computers in the world, but it would be wrong to say they are either just apparently designed or optimally designed. But no one would say they are not intelligently designed.

With respect to biological systems, the argument sneaks in a straw man version of ID that insists that if any design of a biological system is actual, it must also be optimal (in the sense of being perfect), even though no scientifically rigorous standard of optimal exists. The obvious problem here is that this entails a theological presupposition. Of course, the only reason to even use the argument from sub-optimality is try and make the case that since design isn’t optimal (based on a theological argument rather than a scientific one), then it is only apparent, in the sense of there being no design. The latter, of course, sneaks in the other metaphysical presupposition that the properties of the cosmos are such that any apparent designs (which is what the argument from sub-optimality assumes) can not be actual design, even in principal. Neither of those presuppositions is scientific in any way.

The argument from sub-optimality fails on logical grounds, scientific grounds, metaphysical grounds and theological grounds. Other than that, its a heck of an argument…keep using it!

Comment #144129

Posted by stevaroni on November 15, 2006 2:18 PM (e)

No, Donald.

It’s not a case of optimal design or sub-optimal design.

There is no evidence of design. Design leaves detectable traces.

Among those traces in an “intelligent” design is an attempt at optimization, and, of course, the eye fails that test, but that’s far from the only test it fails.

Design has many other hallmarks, involving material selection, adaptation of previous work, and a variety of different solutions to specific applications.

The eyes have none of these.

They do, however, have many of the hallmarks of evolution, including adaptation of existing structures, and a long, unbroken chain of simpler progenitor designs.

And yet, you keep telling me that somehow, I should ignore a simple, documented, evolutionary source for the eye and instead believe in an intelligent designer that can whip up all the subatomic particles in an entire universe, but when he sits down to do a simple eyeball, something us mere mortals had a pretty good copy of by 1860, he produces crap.

Comment #144131

Posted by Glen Davidson on November 15, 2006 2:21 PM (e)

Can’t do anything but repeat the tired old purloined ID nonsense, eh Donald? Do you know how many times we’ve seen this rank garbage, and how truly awful it is?

I see you didn’t even trouble to try to answer what I had written. I’ll assume that you didn’t understand it, as you seem unable to do anything but repeat the Sunday school lessons you learned from O’Leary and others.

You can’t even explain why Witt and the old Denton bothered to claim optimization of the eye. You’ve been off-topic from the very beginning, too incompetent even to understand the Witt position that had been answered, and unable to move on to other matters.

So like AFDave, once you’ve been thoroughly trounced you claim victory based on the dense fog of obfuscation that you brought into this thread. Yes indeed, you triumph in your quest to avoid learning anything beyond the plodding apologetics of a dull little cult.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #144132

Posted by Henry J on November 15, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

Re “ (Except for the Romans and Greeks. Their gods had issues –“

Especially when Xena got involved…

Comment #144134

Posted by Henry J on November 15, 2006 2:42 PM (e)

Re “Design leaves detectable traces.”

Or more precisely, it’s engineering that leaves those traces. The designing part only leaves traces if you can find the trash dump used by the designer when throwing out early drafts. ;)

Comment #144135

Posted by Stevaroni on November 15, 2006 2:44 PM (e)

Especially when Xena got involved…

I always had more of a thing for Gabriella, I’m kind of into perky little redheads.

Comment #144137

Posted by stevaroni on November 15, 2006 2:59 PM (e)

I wrote
Design has many other hallmarks, involving material selection, adaptation of previous work, and a variety of different solutions to specific applications.

The eyes have none of these.

They do, however, have many of the hallmarks of evolution, including adaptation of existing structures, and a long, unbroken chain of simpler progenitor designs.

And I phrased it badly, since it seems like I’m trying to have it both ways with “adaptation”.

I shall be more precise…

Design (other than an optimized new item) involves conscious adaptation of previous work, either a structure that’s highly suited and just needs small modifications or, more commonly, really good sub-units that are well suited and save you redesign time.

Evolution always re-adapts entire structures, whether they’re well-suited or not, because that’s all it has to work with. Evolution will, however, never mix and match existing parts, a common feature of all know designed artifacts (even the most original manufactured design uses standard existing screws and connectors, for examples).

Comment #144148

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2006 4:33 PM (e)

Donald, are you STILL here … ?

Haven’t you run away YET ??????????

Comment #144151

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2006 4:36 PM (e)

I always had more of a thing for Gabriella, I’m kind of into perky little redheads.

I liked Callisto. Always had a thing for crazy blondes.

Comment #144156

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2006 4:46 PM (e)

Well, this has certainly been interesting.

It sure has. It shows with crystal clarity what the entire point of ID “theory” is —- science doesn’t pay any attention to their religious opinions, and they don’t like it.

**All** their other bitching and moaning and weeping and griping and complaining and arguing, flows from that simple ur-bitch.

Thanks for making it so clear to everyone, Donald, that ID is just religious apologetics, and that IDers are just lying to us when they claim otherwise.

Of course, most of us already KNEW that Iders are dishonest evasive deceptive liars.

Like you, Donald.

Comment #144158

Posted by MarkP on November 15, 2006 4:59 PM (e)

Glen Davidson:
We’re attacking the retreat and its absurdity, not to convince DaveTard, O’Leary, or DonaldM, rather to show to any fence-sitters that ridiculous arguments call ridicule down upon the heads of those who reproduce them. Most people are persuaded more by a fear of looking stupid than by research results, or by meeting ID’s “challenge”. And we mean to highlight how stupid ID looks.

Totally agreed. The scientific war is over, by any reasonable standard, and kudos to those that did the hard work. As The Donald demonstrates by his intransigence in the face of solid counter arguments, this is not a war logic will win. Make people see Creationism/ID/whatever-the-new-name-is as something risky to defend for fear of looking stupid. Be polite, but concentrate on making them look absurd. Use the silliest counterexamples you can find. No one, not even Fundies, likes looking the fool.

Comment #144164

Posted by Anton Mates on November 15, 2006 5:36 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

I take all that as confirmation of what I said. No one has a scientific basis for the claim that sub-optimal design equals no design.

Quite true. Thus, evolutionary theory and the sub-optimal design it predicts are compatible with theism.

Thanks for helping us make the point that evolution isn’t anti-God. Your check is in the mail.

Comment #144167

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 15, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

As The Donald demonstrates by his intransigence in the face of solid counter arguments, this is not a war logic will win. Make people see Creationism/ID/whatever-the-new-name-is as something risky to defend for fear of looking stupid. Be polite, but concentrate on making them look absurd. Use the silliest counterexamples you can find. No one, not even Fundies, likes looking the fool.

Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, rule number 5:

Ridicule, especially against organizational leaders, is a potent weapon. There’s no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force concessions.

:)

It should be pointed out, though, that Donald is far more valuable than just as a laughingstock. He is actually a wonderully perfect example of why anti-evolutioners, whatever new name they adopt, simply cannot win in court, ever. You see, in order to win in court, the anti-evolutioners MUST, absolutely MUST, avoid the fatal legal error of bringing up their religious opinions. That, of course, is quite impossible, since anti-evolution (whatever new name it gets) *IS* nothing but their religious opinions. But in order for the anti-evolutioners to have a prayer in court (pun intended) they have absolutely no choice but to keep quiet, indefinitely, about the one thing they care about most in the whole wide world ——-> their religious opinions. If they mention them even once, the ref blows the whistle, the penalty flag hits the grass, and the whole game is over. And they know it. It’s why they have already lsot every single Federal court case they have ever been involved with. Every single one.

Alas for the anti-evolutioners, though (and as Donald is kind enough to demonstrate on a regular monthly basis), the fundies simply cannot shut their big mouths. Not only CAN they not be quiet about their religious opinions, but they simply DO NOT WANT TO. That is why, in every anti-evolution campaign (Kansas, Ohio, Dover), there is ALWAYS some idiot like Donald who will stand up in a crowded room and yell “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!” at the top of his lungs, thus giving the whole game away, and utterly insuring that the anti-evolutioners lose (yet again) in court.

It’s why I love fundies so much. All you have to do is let them talk, and they happily and publicly shoot themselves in the head, every single time. (shrug)

That’s why I not only encourage Donald to keep posting, as publicly as possible, but I strongly encourage him to please please pretty please with sugar on it, please testify on behalf of the anti-evolutioners (whatever name they adopt) in any future court cases. Please please please explain to the judge that science is atheistic and that it’s all just a plot against god. Please present all the supporting evidence you can to demonstrate that.

Please.

(The funniest thing about people like Donald, by the way, is that they are so utterly stupefyingly clueless that they quite literally have no idea at all how much damage they have done – and will continue to do – to their own cause.)

Comment #144215

Posted by Hurl the Pearl on November 15, 2006 9:02 PM (e)

I find this rather strange: Darwin nearly shakes with trepidation making the suggestion that the “eye” wasn’t designed; and now you’re saying that the “eye” is confirmation that nature isn’t designed. A bit wierd.

Comment #144217

Posted by Coin on November 15, 2006 9:12 PM (e)

So… the level of certainty associated with the state of biological science has increased in the last 160 years?

Bizarre, yes, I know.

Comment #144223

Posted by Ian Musgrave on November 15, 2006 9:58 PM (e)

In comment # 144215

Hurl the Pearl wrote:

I find this rather strange: Darwin nearly shakes with trepidation making the suggestion that the “eye” wasn’t designed; and now you’re saying that the “eye” is confirmation that nature isn’t designed. A bit wierd.

Neither of these points is correct, Darwin introduces a rhetorical point, then proceeds to explain, in great detail, why the rhetorical statement is wrong.

Darwin, The Origin of Species, 6th edition, page 143

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye

He then goes on to give examples of simpler, intermediate eyes. This goes on too long to present here, and the full exposition can be read via the link above, for a simple example from Page 144

The simplest organ which can be called an eye consists of an optic nerve, surrounded by pigment-cells and covered by translucent skin, but without any lens or other refractive body. ….. In certain star-fishes, small depressions in the layer of pigment which surrounds the nerve are filled, as described by the author just quoted, with transparent gelatinous matter, projecting with a convex surface, like the cornea in the higher animals. …… In this concentration of the rays we gain the first and by the most important step towards the formation of a true, picture-forming eye; for we have only to place the naked extremity of the optic nerve, which in some of the lower animals lies deeply buried in the body, and in some near the surface, at the right distance from the concentrating apparatus, and an image will be formed on it.

The quirky design of the eye is one piece of evidence that nature was designed by natural processes, including natural selection (or the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation). The irony is that IDers, who should be accepting of imperfect designers, seem desperate to show that the design of organisms isn’t quirky, and yet their examples re-enforce the quirkiness of organisms (why should they be bothered if the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation designed organisms, if that is where the evidence takes them? Could it be that gasp they are trying to support their religious ideas?).

Comment #144235

Posted by Arden Chatfield on November 15, 2006 11:58 PM (e)

But, but, but… ID doesn’t make a claim about WHO the “designer” is or His intentions, it just says that we can detect His “design!”

Hence the wonderfully evasive term for God the Designer that I’ve seen on UD, ‘Disembodied Telic Entity’.

(‘DTE’ for short.)

Comment #144236

Posted by Coin on November 16, 2006 12:02 AM (e)

Hm, the DTE is up 38 cents in after-hours trading.

Comment #144295

Posted by whheydt on November 16, 2006 12:48 PM (e)

DTE, eh? So the folks at UD believe in Data Terminal Equipment. Interesting. Perhaps the designer is an ADM-3A?

Comment #144543

Posted by Henry J on November 16, 2006 9:41 PM (e)

Re “Perhaps the designer is an ADM-3A?”

Wonder if it’s designed with Intel inside?

Henry

Comment #144664

Posted by stevaroni on November 17, 2006 10:01 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'I'

Comment #144805

Posted by Al Moritz on November 17, 2006 3:04 PM (e)

Ian,

thanks for a superb article which gives fascinating insights into details of evolution and which, with devastating precision, demolishes the ID arguments.

I don’t get Donald. From his writing style it is obvious that he is an intelligent person, but it is incomprehensible that he stubbornly keeps adhering to a position that is scientifically untenable and theologically full of holes, putting the idea of God in a highly questionable and even silly light (the imperfect perfect designer). I agree with most of what various posters said on this thread in attack of Donald’s arguments (and Lenny, a very amusing post 144167!).

Until not too long ago I held the ID position myself, without ever knowing about the politics and the detailed arguments of the movement (I did not read Behe and the others). I guess, it is the trap into which a believer automatically falls when he is uninformed or intellectually lazy about the topic of evolution. However, once I informed myself, the house of cards quickly collapsed. After beginning to study the issues, it took me less than a month to realize that evolution all the way is the real deal (a no-brainer, especially after reading Ken Miller), and I am a die-hard evolutionist now. With abiogenesis it took me a little longer, about two and a half months, to realize that the assumption of an origin of life by natural causes was the way to go – I first had to study the primary scientific literature to be able to come to that conclusion.

As to the concept of God, science has only made it grander for me, and the ID position now seems to result in a rather belittling concept of God – the clumsy and quite imperfect “tinkerer”. It is obvious that if God exists, he designed the processes that make nature and natural selection the designer (in your own words, natural selection is the designer), without overruling them.

Thus, if the science is so evident, how can an intelligent person not “get it” after a while? Maybe Donald is not a scientist, whereas I am. Still, even for a non-scientist the issues should not be that complicated as to not being able to grasp them with an open mind (maybe that is exactly the issue, an open mind). And for a scientist, upholding the ID position even after careful study of the issues is intellectually inexcusable.

In the face of even more obvious things than the eye, such as “junk” DNA, how can you uphold that God “designed” all that stuff directly? Ludicrous.

Look at the gigantic size differences of the genomes of the two rats:

http://www.jgi.doe.gov/science/highlights/nobrega1004.html

And God “designed” the 16 GB genome of the Viscacha rat? You gotta be kiddn’ me.

Al

Comment #144819

Posted by MarkP on November 17, 2006 4:08 PM (e)

Al, I’ve noticed that some smart people, especially those who grew up around a lot of really dim bulbs, can develop very bad intellectual habits. Prominent among them are reaching too much certainty too quickly, overrating the power of thought alone, and of course the biggie - never admitting your errors, mostly by being able to overwhelm ones’ adversaries with complicated rationalizatins. There was a book written called “Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things” that covered this fairly well.

Perhaps this explains Donald and others.

Comment #144962

Posted by Al Moritz on November 17, 2006 8:59 PM (e)

Al, I’ve noticed that some smart people, especially those who grew up around a lot of really dim bulbs, can develop very bad intellectual habits. Prominent among them are reaching too much certainty too quickly, overrating the power of thought alone, and of course the biggie - never admitting your errors, mostly by being able to overwhelm ones’ adversaries with complicated rationalizatins. There was a book written called “Why Smart People Believe Stupid Things” that covered this fairly well.

Perhaps this explains Donald and others.

You are right. Being flexible enough to admit errors to others, but first and foremost to yourself, is not readily found. To some people it is such an unnatural attitude that, once you change your mind in the middle of a discussion and start to agree with them because their arguments convince you, they may even think you are trying to make fun of them (happened to me once).

Comment #145024

Posted by Steven Giardino on November 17, 2006 11:18 PM (e)

hi all, sorry to drop in with an unrelated question, but there appears to be many informed people reading these posts, and i am uncertain about a number of things that you may be able to help me with. One: if we have all evolved from lower life forms originating in the oceans, and if this would mean that from those life forms to the present ones there should have existed a very large number of beings, then where are these transitory fossils? I know that we have discovered some, but shouldn’t there be so many more of these? For example, say hypothetically that there were one million beings that walked on all fours, that existed 10 million years ago, and today, there are one million beings that fly, which have evolved over these 10 million years from the former mentioned million that walked… okay, so then there should be multiplied billions of transitory fossils preserved for us, but why are there so few? or even none? Two: how did our DNA “know” which mutations were good and which were bad, and then only reproduce the good ones? Like say, some squirrels started developing a flying mechanism which enabled them to float, and this was a positive benefit, and so it was passed on to offspring, but how did the organism know this particular mutation was “positive” to begin with? Thanks for your time!

Comment #145025

Posted by Coin on November 17, 2006 11:53 PM (e)

Steven Giardino wrote:

hi all, sorry to drop in with an unrelated question, but there appears to be many informed people reading these posts, and i am uncertain about a number of things that you may be able to help me with.

Well, thank you for asking so politely. I will do my best to answer, though there are other posters here who can probably explain better than I can.

One: if we have all evolved from lower life forms originating in the oceans, and if this would mean that from those life forms to the present ones there should have existed a very large number of beings, then where are these transitory fossils?

Well, you’ll have to be a bit more specific– it depends on which transition you’re talking about. Here is a list from wikipedia of important transitional fossils that we know about, though.

I know that we have discovered some, but shouldn’t there be so many more of these?

Not really. The thing is, fossilization is really, really hard. It is extremely unlikely that any given organism will be fossilized. Even worse, exactly how likely fossilization is to happen varies from place to place, and from time to time, and depending on what kind of animal we’re talking about (like, soft-bodied animals are less likely to be fossilized than ones with hard bones). There are some periods and places where the environmental circumstances were such that we have an absolute wealth of fossils giving us a snapshot of that one particular place and time, but by and large the fossil record is just one huge bunch of gaps with little tatters of information here and there. This gives us enough information to establish a general timeline and family trees, but not enough that we can map out every litle tiny transition that ever happened.

The interesting thing is though, we (“we” as in humans) are getting better and better at finding missing transitional links all the time. Like, look at the first entry on that list I linked above, the Tiktaalik– a really early pre-amphibian that looks like a fish with feet and was in the headlines a lot earlier this year. Tiktaalik wasn’t just dug up by accident. The team that found it actually sat down and decided they wanted to find a transitional of a certain type. Then they worked out exactly when in history they’d expect that transitional to have occurred, and then worked out, given the time period and the kind of animal they wanted to find, what kinds of places would be the most likely to have preserved an animal from that environment and time. They settled on Ellesmere Island in remote Canada, and after about five years of hunting around found a little collection of several skeleton fossils of exactly the kind they’d been expecting to find. They didn’t know Tiktaalik existed, but evolutionary theory predicted something like it would exist, and so they knew how to go about discovering it.

So we’re going to get better and better with transitionals with time, as we get better at looking for them. Although scientists are pulling off some amazing tricks with searching out the missing links, though, they can’t always get lucky. Sometimes in science you just have to work with what you have.

Two: how did our DNA “know” which mutations were good and which were bad, and then only reproduce the good ones?

The DNA doesn’t know. The mutated organisms don’t know either. But, the trick is this: The animals with the bad mutations died. It was not necessary for anyone to “know” whether the mutation is good or bad, because the process of natural selection– which basically just means that the animals that are likely to survive survive and the animals that are unlikely to survive don’t– filters “good” mutations from “bad” totally naturally (where “good” and “bad” are measured in likelihood that offspring will pass on their genes).

Think of it like you pour a bunch of sand on one of those little metal filters from a colander or something. The little grains of sand will go through, and the big grains of sand will get stuck in the filter. How does the filter know which grains are big enough to fit through? How do the grains know whether they’re big enough to pass through the filter? Well, neither the sand nor the filter know anything– it’s just that the holes in the filter are big enough to let some things through and not others.

Like say, some squirrels started developing a flying mechanism which enabled them to float, and this was a positive benefit, and so it was passed on to offspring, but how did the organism know this particular mutation was “positive” to begin with?

The fact it was positive made it more likely to be passed on to offspring, all by itself. Or, to be more accurate, the “floating” trait was more likely to be passed on to offspring, so after the fact we wind up describing it as having been positive.

Comment #145036

Posted by Al Moritz on November 18, 2006 2:55 AM (e)

Great explanations, Coin.

I would only like to add something about cumulative natural selection:

As Coin said, natural selection works as a filter for random genetic variation. Adaptive improvements select out the organisms with genomes carrying beneficial variations. Important is that these genomes serve as template for further variations, the beneficial ones of which are again selected, and so on. Step by step, through slow cumulative selection over many generations of living organisms, numerous random variations thus can non-randomly accumulate within a single genome, each one of them beneficial. Non-randomly means, not by chance, since through natural selection each random variation is filtered for being correlated in a favorable manner to other functions of the genome, including those of other preceding random variations.

The overall cumulative effect will be of considerable magnitude over vast timescales, leading to new functions and structures: macroevolution as a sum of the accumulation of very many steps of microevolution (manifestation of small genetic changes after selection by the environment).

From the above it should be clear that a sudden, improbable chance accumulation of genes, which together would lead to complex structures all at once, in general is not considered to play a role in this very gradual process.

In this context it needs to be pointed out that complex structures like eyes and wings did not have to simply appear in their current form to be useful; all small intermediary steps towards them plausibly were useful too in conferring an advantage. This is a crucial point that is extensively and well illustrated in Richard Dawkins’s book Climbing Mount Improbable, which also shows that some intermediary forms of fully developed eyes and wings are still found in the animal kingdom, as a testimony to evolution.

*****

The gradual achievement of complexity of life by evolution thus is inevitable. On the other hand, the random element of mutation makes it likely that if evolution were to repeat itself, it would not exactly follow the same pathways. In other words, the evolution of complexity through natural selection is guaranteed by how the mechanism works, but the evolution of exactly the same kind of complexity is not.

Added to this are of course random natural elements other than mutation, like the asteroid impact that likely is responsible for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Without this, mammals could not have started to prosper. A repetition of evolution without such an asteroid impact would obviously have yielded a different result.

Comment #145037

Posted by Al Moritz on November 18, 2006 3:02 AM (e)

I would also like to add that natural selection is not a simple “live or die” phenomenon, but one of living somewhat longer or somewhat shorter, and thereby – or for other reasons of “fitness” – exhibiting differences in reproductive capability. These differences do not have to be great at all to have an enormous impact over many generations, as a simple calculation shows.

Comment #145054

Posted by naysayer on November 18, 2006 7:30 AM (e)

Your argument completely wins the day over the creationist’s mumbo jumbo. However, why do you bother trying to convince everyone that our eyes could have been “designed” better? Who cares? All a creationist has to do to incorporate your argument into their belief system is say, “Well God has a plan and since he created our eyes this way it must mean something.” You will never win them over with facts and in the end you have persuaded no one from either side to see things in a different way.

Comment #145060

Posted by Ryan on November 18, 2006 9:42 AM (e)

It’s just so amazing that, for being created and designed by such a perfect creator, there are so many things wrong with our bodies. Only a certain amount can be attributed to “the fall” and being punished by bodily hardships. Did god decide to put blood vessels in front of the retina due to Adam and Eve’s sin? Don’t think so. Seems to me it was a design error, and since he knows all, he would have known that he was doing it. So god made us shoddy on purpose. What a mean god.

Comment #145061

Posted by Donald M on November 18, 2006 9:58 AM (e)

Quite true. Thus, evolutionary theory and the sub-optimal design it predicts are compatible with theism.

Thanks for helping us make the point that evolution isn’t anti-God. Your check is in the mail.

Evolutionary doesn’t “predict” sub-optimal design. I’ve never heard anyone claim that the intra-cellular transport system or the bacterial flagellum represents some sub-optimal kluge. On the contrary these have often been invoked as examples of the marvelous engineering ability of Darwinian evolution.
So it would seem that evolution predicts both optimal design and sub-optimal design. But, of course, there’s really no such thing as “optimal” design, so evolution simply “predicts” whatever turns up.

I’ve never said evolution was anti-God. You’ve confused me with someone else.

But, at least we agree that the claim that sub-optimal design equals no design isn’t scientific, which was my only point all along. The one and only reason Darwinists are fond of trotting out the argument from sub-optimal design is because of the hidden theological pre-supposition that if God had designed the system in question, it would be optimal in every respect, and so the argument is intended to say sub-optimal design proves no design and therefore neither God nor any other intelligent agent was involved in bringing this system into existence. And that is a purely philosophical argument fraught with theological premises. So, I continue to ask what is a theological premise doing in what’s supposed to be a purely scientific argument?

Comment #145065

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 18, 2006 10:37 AM (e)

I’ve never said evolution was anti-God.

Right. Just atheistic materialistic science. (snciekr) (giggle)

Hey Donald, I have a few questions for you …… .

Comment #145066

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 18, 2006 10:38 AM (e)

So, I continue to ask what is a theological premise doing in what’s supposed to be a purely scientific argument?

You tell us – YOU are the one who keeps yammering about “godless atheistic materialistic naturalistic science” ….

(shrug)

Comment #145085

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 18, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'i'

Comment #145086

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 18, 2006 2:32 PM (e)

Evolutionary[sic] doesn’t “predict” sub-optimal design.

leaving the “design” aspect of it aside for a moment (yes, I realize you are mentally incapable of leaving teleological perceptions aside), you could very easily have many predicted situations where the selective pressues on any given trait would result in something sub-optimal from an absolute fitness perspective.

-the trait might be genetically linked to one that had an even higher fitness value for the given set of selective pressures

-the trait might be balanced against competing traits (think “prisoner’s dillemma), hawks and doves, what have you.

-the current perceived regime of selective pressures might not be the ones that were important in the evolution of the trait to begin with, this is especially true in the case of the vertebrate eye.

as usual, ducky hasn’t a clue what he’s on about.

shocker.

Comment #145087

Posted by Walt on November 18, 2006 2:39 PM (e)

My friends: I was referred in here from a vastly different thread & discussion. The comments by Donald M are hilarious. The scientists herein attempt to write in logical, factual prose; Donald M pontificates. The rules of logic apply absolutely in math, philosophy, etc.; not so much elsewhere.

In the truly olden days, Aquinas & Augustine attempted to define religious beliefs in forms of Aristotelian logic. Then along came Calvin & Wesley & the arguments fell apart because everything they BELIEVED is illogical. The main reason religious arguments are gavelled out of the courtrooms is that the rules of law require logic. Theology ignores & transcends logic.

One of the difficulties with the life sciences may be that not all of those various bodies of knowledge are logical. As a result, verbally skilled fools can use third-rate rhetorical devices to advance illogical fallacies about evolution because the scientific disciplines most concerned with the topic have some genuninely illogical stuff to work with–such as variations among cephalod eyes & the vertebrate eyes, wow. The rhetoric, then, convinces a few silly people that the science is questionable and, if not absolute, then wrong.

Most of the posters here simply blow Donald M out of the discussion: if his particular deity has any of the attributes commonly assigned to that entity, then the evidence here on this planet contradicts the presence of all those attributes in the design, creation & production of “stuff,” & the evidence in space just laughably refutes every possible attribute of that deity.

Finally, Aristotle attempted to sort out some of these issues. In Latin, scientia means knowledge; but the word also describes specific disciplines of knowledge. Thus the differences between “meta ta physika,” “scientia” & “scientia de ente.” There is an immense difference between discussing a being & BEING [de rerum natura & metaphysica].

Anyway, for those of you who “feel” that Donald M appears to be an intelligent person, he merely shows a rhetorical skill common to preachers, used car salespersons & politicians–nothing really there except clouds of murky chop logic, false premises (or promises) & faint hopes that their beliefs resemble some aspects of the facts. And his assertion that the discussion refers to metaphysics is a misuse of that term. Theology, his, & actual metaphysics are infinitely different (pun intended).

Comment #145089

Posted by MarkP on November 18, 2006 2:46 PM (e)

Donald Dissembled: But, at least we agree that the claim that sub-optimal design equals no design isn’t scientific, which was my only point all along.

You intellectual dishonesty is showing Don. It’s been explained quite clearly to you several times that it is moronic, idiotic, downright foolish design that is at issue, and which disproves design by an omnipotent being.

Comment #145091

Posted by David B. Benson on November 18, 2006 3:07 PM (e)

Coin — That was most wondrously done! Thank you for the clear, crisp prose…

Comment #145093

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 18, 2006 3:18 PM (e)

and so the argument is intended to say sub-optimal design proves no design and therefore neither God nor any other intelligent agent was involved in bringing this system into existence.

well, ducky, all you have to do is show us exactly what the characteristics of “the designer” are, and then you can quickly go about logically rejecting hypotheses that don’t fit what your proposed designer might have done or not done, eh?

but neither you, nor anybody else, can tell us what those characteristics really are.

gee, I wonder why that is…

Comment #145108

Posted by Mister Spak on November 18, 2006 7:03 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank posted:

“It’s why they have already lsot every single Federal court case they have ever been involved with. Every single one.”

Creationists have lost in court in the past
because judges deal with the facts of the case and the constitution.
Conservatives understand this is a problem for them. They are trying to fill the judiciary with activist judges who will rule according to
conservative ideology. The creationists’ courtroom losing streak
is not guaranteed to continue.

Its not enough to explain DonaldM’s logical fallacies, its not even enough to make the DonaldMs of the world look like fools. The goal is to keep the creationists and their political leaders out of power.
Making the DonaldMs look stupid is only useful as a means to that end.

Comment #145111

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 18, 2006 7:50 PM (e)

They are trying to fill the judiciary with activist judges who will rule according to
conservative ideology.

Like Judge Jones … ? (snicker) (giggle)

The creationists’ courtroom losing streak
is not guaranteed to continue.

Oh yes it will. The Republicrat power structure doesn’t want the fundies to gain real power, any more than anyone else does. They just use the fundies to gain votes and money. Even Bush’s Supreme Court refused to reconsider the Freiler case (which the fundies lost). Heck, Bush’s Supreme Court won’t even go along with him on, ya know, detaining people indefinitely without trial.

The goal is to keep the creationists and their political leaders out of power.

Alas for them, the last election seems to have done a pretty effective job of that for a few years. (snicker) (giggle)

Comment #145112

Posted by Steven Giardino on November 18, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

thanks all, i am progressively learning all that i have missed while holding strictly to Christian dogma over the years, which was a result of my upbringing. after coming to realize the many instances of contradiction and injustice in the Bible, i finally came to reject it as “divinely inspired,” and have since been exploring science and philosophy openmindedly. a great site on the above which helped break me out of my bias is http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

also, the book “Misquoting Jesus,” by Bart Ehrman has helped me a great deal.

i would like to ask your advice as to what materials i should read now, and in particuar as regards science/ evolution. thanks again!

Comment #145121

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 18, 2006 11:45 PM (e)

Alas for them, the last election seems to have done a pretty effective job of that for a few years. (snicker) (giggle)

so has a predilection for gay sex, pedophillia, and drugs, apparently.

that was some week before the elections, eh?

Comment #145122

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 18, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

i would like to ask your advice as to what materials i should read now, and in particuar as regards science/ evolution. thanks again!

easy. check the links to good references on the subject on the front page of this very site.

Comment #145142

Posted by stevaroni on November 19, 2006 10:03 AM (e)

evolution simply “predicts” whatever turns up.

Sigh. OK, once more, slowly.

Evolution predicts that nature will use whatever turns up, and good ideas that help organisms survive will be kept. Some will be optimal, some less so. The vast majority of mutations will be bad, but because they harm the creature, they will be lost. Some of the rest will be useful, and will be kept, most will be neutral and ride along. Some will be a little bad, but tolerated because they come with some benefit (think sickle-cell trait, which causes anemia, but protects against malaria).

ID predicts that evidence of design will be found. Design, at least design carried out by an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God, can be reasonably assumed to be free of large numbers of sub-optimal, even harmful kluges. If the creator is a loving (and technically capable) God, making us in his own image, there’s simply no good reason why we have things like a reproductive system that allows large numbers of kids to be born with fatal birth defects.

Comment #145143

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2006 10:05 AM (e)

i would like to ask your advice as to what materials i should read now, and in particuar as regards science/ evolution.

Anything by Dawkins.

Anything by Gould.

Mayr’s “What Evolution Is”.

Kenneth Miller’s “Finding Darwin’s God”.

John Shelby Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” is a bit old, but still good.

Comment #145145

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2006 10:08 AM (e)

so has a predilection for gay sex, pedophillia, and drugs, apparently.

Oh heck, they’ve ALWAYS had THAT.

;)

that was some week before the elections, eh?

I suspect much of it was release-timed. If so, perhaps the Democans have grown themselves a pair after all (although it was the rank-and-file Democans who won this election – the leadership was all set, as usual, to roll over and play dead).

Comment #145147

Posted by stevaroni on November 19, 2006 10:14 AM (e)

Am I the only one to notice the similarity and in sentence structure, argument selection and phraseology between Donald’s posts here, and CSC posts attributed to Casey Luskin?
(check http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/11/national_geographic_evolution.html for example)

Comment #145149

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 19, 2006 11:10 AM (e)

Am I the only one to notice the similarity and in sentence structure, argument selection and phraseology between Donald’s posts here, and CSC posts attributed to Casey Luskin?

Donald has ALWAYS simply parroted whatever he’s told.

When he was in the DebunkCreation email list, 8-9 years ago, he faithfully parroted all the standard YEC arguments, right up until ID became the new political game in town — when he promptly switched horses and began faithfully parroting page after page from Behe’s book instead.

He hasn’t stopped parroting since. And indeed, he’s been preaching the very same “atheistic science unfairly rules out the supernatural boo hoo hoo!!” sermon for five or six years now.

Like all creationists, he’s utterly incapable of original thought. (shrug)

Comment #145460

Posted by Carol Clouser on November 20, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

Folks,

Despite all the vitriolic garbage that has been heaped upon him here by folks who claim to be rational, the fact is that Donald M’s main point, as I understand it, is absolutely correct and any skull with a modicum of gray matter under it should find it obviously so. And that point is, as I would formulate it:

In the absence of any knowledge of a possible deigner’s motives, goals, purposes and methods, we cannot use the fact that the eye’s structure seems to us, from the point of view of OUR goals and purposes, to be sub-optimal, as an argument for there being no designer.

This is indisputably logical. Now why cannot some “intelligent” folks here understand this idea?

Comment #145462

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 20, 2006 3:44 PM (e)

In the absence of any knowledge of a possible deigner’s motives, goals, purposes and methods,

except that wasn’t HIS point, Carol.

Donald wanted to simply make an exception for his God, without defining that God to begin with.

THAT was his point.

you misninterpreted it because you assumed ducky is logical to begin with.

that was your error.

beyond that…is your god not omnipotent and omniscent, Carol?

do tell us your analyis of the Hebrew God’s characteristics, so we can all logically reject arguments based on the most common assumptions on the nature of God, eh?

phht.

Comment #145463

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 20, 2006 3:50 PM (e)

…and while you’re at it, oh dense one, do note that the thread contribution is about refuting the ridiculous postulates of CREATIONISTS IN FAVOR OF DESIGN, not vice versa. Or didn’t you even bother to read Ian’s post?

ID advocates have a hard time dealing with the quirky design of the eye, both Witt and Behe have used the “better blood flow” argument in order to show the backwards retina really is good design.

This invokes an argument that has been doing the rounds of creationists for a while. The True.Origins site (which is a rip-off of Talk.Origins) has a page that claims that the “backwards” retina improves the blood supply. It is probably the canonical page where these claims come from. Denton’s argument is slightly different, but follows on from the canonical creationist argument, so I will deal with the creationist argument first.

it’s not the scientists argument that bad design disproves god, it’s the creobot’s argument that twisting the appearence of design to “make it look good” proves it is good design, and therefore: Goddidit.

*sigh*

will you never get past your own dissonance?

go save some zebras or something, eh?

Comment #145464

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 20, 2006 3:52 PM (e)

Or, Carol, putting it another way, how sub-optimally, non-optimally, or a-optimally “designed” can something be and still be meaningfully called “designed.”

Especially, as STJ notes, in the absence of anyone with the guts to commit to identify some usefully-forensic characteristics regarding the “designer”?

We know one well-evidenced method by which “apparent” design is generated in living forms: evolution.

And then we have these fuzzy, evidence-free claims that there’s some other way to do it…

Until a serious problem is demonstrated for evolution, or some serious evidence is adduced for the fuzzy claims that currently lack any, it’s more than a little silly to hold out hope for the success of the latter over the former.

Comment #146372

Posted by Eoin Bairéad on November 25, 2006 10:42 AM (e)

Hi. If a non-biologist could ask a question. Might it be the case that the choroid itself is the original organ, that ot developed as a heat sensor, and from there became part of a light detection complex ?

Eoin