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Intelligent Design

Justin_Anstey

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Intelligent Design -FT154

It seems to me that this is a case of two competing dogmas, Evolutionism and IDism.

The ID people should have stuck to gathering the emerging evidence rather than getting bogged down in composing theories, (defining beliefs?) which have only attracted unhelpful attention.

-J
 
I'm afraid that I was turned off the aricle by the initial example of the bacterial flagellum. As an argument for ID it was hopelessly flawed. The irreducible complexity of these surely just demonstrates how long flagellae have been evolving.

I eventually struggled through it but it seemed to me that ID was just a synthesis of Creationism and von Danikens ancient astronoughts (mis-spelling intended). It's the same argument - that there is a power *out there* that created us for a purpose.

All of these systems manipulate data to produce their conclusions. They then ignore Occams razor, which despite its faults is still a most effective technique for sorting gold from dross. They then top it off by saying "Well it hasn't been shown to be wrong".

I don't say there isn't life out there and I'm not saying it didn't influence events on this planet. But surely better subjects for such influence can be found. The book exerpt in this months Scientific American points out that modern humans and neanderthals lived alongside each other for many kiloyears then, very rapidly in evolutionary terms, neanderthals vanished. What is more there appears to be no physical differences between pre- and post- neanderthal homo sapiens.
 
I was also a little dissapointed with the article. ID seems to be a case of people who can't get their heads around the concept of progress by natural processes. And the bit about natural selection was almost funny - of course it is not creative! Mutation is creative (but random) which is then "steered" by natural selection. When people use misinforming arguments like this you get the feeling that they either isunderstand much of the whole field, or they are deliberately trying to pull a fast one on the public.

After recent threads on these boards I've been looking for good evidence backing up or refuting evolution. Found very little of the latter so far.

Creationist arguments see to follow a patten: make a claim about evidence - (claim is disproved) - make an argument based on evolution's supposedly flawed principals, using logic to show how it cannot be correct - (logic is shown to be flawed) - with nothing else for it a personal attack is made on the integrity of proponents of evolution, trying to mar evolution by association.
 
I was also not very impressed with the article. It seemed to me that the fact that the main guy (im trusting my memory here..) was a lawyer just goes to show you can argue anything. Flagella are interesting but as intaglio said it just goes to show how long life has been around that it was able to evolve.
As for irreducible complexity. Does it even exist? As Dawkins pointed out it is always possible to imagine a slightly less complicated but still useful version of a complex system. A flagella without (hang on a sec while i look up voet&voet Biochemistry)
Right ive looked it up and....
The gram positive bacteria (lacking the outer membrane) that lack L-ring or P-ring structures in their flagella work equally well as the gram negative bacterial flagella that have these structures. Instant dismissal of the "irreducible complexity" when it is shown to not even apply in the organisms that are meant to be studying.
Pah!!
There is a reduction in complexity between Gram positive and gram negative flagella.
 
There are many problems with intelligent design. (apart from the apparent lack of intelligence in the design - does genitals next to excretory organs sound like an intelligent design to anyone?;))

The greatest of these is the idea that complex intelligent life could not have come into existence withought an intelligent designer. Presumably this intelligent designer is a complex intelligent lifeform? Oops! (And the argument disappears in a blinding flash of infinite recursion.)

As a general principle, intelligent design solves no problems. It is only a way to explain something that (it is claimed) is not understood, with something else that is not understood, without picking up any simplifying theory on the way.
 
Fortis- "...does genitals next to excretory organs sound like an intelligent design to anyone?"

With birds it's an all in one orifice, isn't it?

-J
 
Justin Anstey said:
With birds it's an all in one orifice, isn't it?

-J

Yup. The cloaca. One truly screwed-up way of sorting things out.;)
 
I've come to this thread late, and peeps seem to have already said much of what needs to be said. Like others, I found the article unsatisfactory, like something that looked good on the menu but lacked real meat when it got to the table.

But I can make a couple of minor points:
Infinite regression may not satisfy those who like things wrapped up in nice little packets, but this doesn't mean the universe doesn't work this way. Occam's Razor, after all, is not itself a law of nature, or even handed down in Holy Writ, but is just a pragmatic suggestion about how to utilise our tiny brains in attempting to understand the universe. Some of these ideas were discussed on another thread (New Sci.>The Case for Infinity), and I put a recent article of mine on a website to go with it, so as it's still there I'll give it another plug!

Another thought that occurs to me sometimes when I watch nature programs, especially undersea ones, is that there almost seems too much variety in the life-forms on display, more than seems necessary to fill all the available environmental niches, and the explanations based on Natural Selection seem a bit hollow, just a collection of Just So stories. (I asked before, why do we have slugs AND snails co-existing in the same environment..?) In fact, the natural world sometimes seems to me like the output of some other-worldly Art College, where students produce many, many interpretations of given themes.

Of course, there are those who would say that Art Students aren't intelligent so this idea is not relevent to Intelligent Design! But the point I'm struggling to make is that the religious or scientific purposes that have been attributed to putative designers may be off the mark - maybe we are simply works of art.

Well, I'll see meself out...
 
rynner said:
I've come to this thread late, and peeps seem to have already said much of what needs to be said. Like others, I found the article unsatisfactory, like something that looked good on the menu but lacked real meat when it got to the table.

But I can make a couple of minor points:
Infinite regression may not satisfy those who like things wrapped up in nice little packets, but this doesn't mean the universe doesn't work this way.

That may be true, but the arguments in favour of ID tend to be of the form "This is too complicated to explain by any other means, therefore it must have been created by an intelligent designer." It doesn't seem reasonable to use this argument without at least dealing with the infinite regression issue. Perhaps the ID folks should try to suggest who or what may have done the designing. (This would at least flush the creationists out into the open. Note that they *don't* believe in an infinite regression. Their chain of reasoning drops back just one step to God, who they then fail to apply their own logic to.)

Another thought that occurs to me sometimes when I watch nature programs, especially undersea ones, is that there almost seems too much variety in the life-forms on display, more than seems necessary to fill all the available environmental niches, and the explanations based on Natural Selection seem a bit hollow, just a collection of Just So stories. (I asked before, why do we have slugs AND snails co-existing in the same environment..?) In fact, the natural world sometimes seems to me like the output of some other-worldly Art College, where students produce many, many interpretations of given themes.

I think that we can simply consider the analogous case of the car industry. There we have many different brands (or species) competing in more or less the same environment. The fact that there are similar products (e.g. off-roaders) from a range of suppliers doesn't worry us.:)
 
I am sorry I missed the Prog but ... Personally I do not see how Evolution as is commonly stated, can account for everything we see. Some animals have very complex systems where an awful lot of time and energy is expended in the system but that system needs to be perfect to show any evolutionary advantage that you can see and if they were not working then they would be at a huge disadvantage. To name a few the Bombadier Beetle, The Flamingo and just about anything that flies.

The Flamingos mouth only works upside down and is very different from other birds A normal mouth just would not work so how did it progress from feeding like other birds to standing with its head upside down making a fine target for all the predators between now and then whilst its minor mutations allowed it to feed and not drown in that position!

The Bombardier beetle basically has a pulse rocket up its jacksi and uses some pretty improbable chemicals to produce its 500 explosions a second to escape, how did this evolve by minor mutations.. Even 75% operational would be useless. So While it evolved this amazing skill countless generations were eaten on the launch pad with cancelled countdowns to ignition! or maybe blew themselves up!


Flight! Half a wing is pretty useless and channels alot of energy for what Survival advantage? 95% would be little better.

Hey I can think my fingers stronger according to science, perhaps I can think a bigger brain! Or Wings. makes more sense than waiting for "Random Mutations".

OK so something gives an organism a little, and the way I understand Evolution we are talking very little, advantage surely the "Background Noise" of chance survival will wipe it out anyway.
We need bigger steps of evolution.

I think that perhaps all the things we can "Evolve" are already in the blueprint somewhere and some unseen (at present) transaction mechanism can occur where things can change dramatically quicker than the random mutation idea, just how and what remains to be discovered.
 
I understand evolution from the view of a programmer... first something functions on a simple and basic level. then it develops from there.

I think what we are questioning here is our idea of what "organic" means. Organisms are based and built on patterns... as we peer inside the structures that make up life we see more and more about these structures and how they relate to the inorganic...

However, must go - an Xmas lecture about the origins of life has just come on TV!!!! :eek!!!!:
 
How can we explain the evolution of complex systems which require more than one component to be present? A good question, but I don't think that it is one that can't be dealt with. It may be possible to gain some insight into the problem by considering, as an analogy, the question "Which came first, the screw or the screwdriver?"

Clearly one is of no use without the other, therefore they must have been created together by the same person?

Perhaps not. My understanding (I remember being told this but I haven't been able to confirm this independently) is that the screwdriver came first. In its original incarnation, it was a tool for removing bent nails. Then at some later time, someone had the bright idea of designing screws that you could use with it.

How did the wing develop? Perhaps it provided an advantage somewhere else, other than flight. (It seems to be reasonable to think that the wing started to develop before the feather.) Perhaps (pure speculation on my part) it started off as a highly efficient means of radiating (or absorbing) heat? Perhaps it then gave some enhanced hopping/leaping ability before it was capable of being used for flight (e.g. flying squirrels and flying foxes, etc.)

Just some thoughts and idle speculation... ;)

I don't want to labour this point too much, but if we accept ID to be correct, then who or what is this intelligent designer? If they are intelligent (as is implied by the acronym) then surely they are *also* too complex to have just evolved, therefore they have an intelligent designer. This more or less knocks te creationist argument on the head. The ultimate creator *cannot* exist (if ID arguments are at all valid) as they would also need a creator.

The only vaguely plausible ID scenario is one in which either:
a) There really is infinite recursion back in time with an infinite series of creators, (tricky if we assume that the universe is of a finite age), or
b) The infinite recursion is acheived by the use of time travel (e.g. we, or our descendants, travel back in time to create our ancestors.)

Neither of these appeals. (Though the sci-fi reader within me has a soft-spot for option (b). If anyone has read "All you zombies" by R A Heinlein then you'll know what I mean.)

Any thoughts?

:confused:
 
Fortis said:
It seems to be reasonable to think that the wing started to develop before the feather...
I believe recent dinosaur research has shown the opposite, and that feathers probably evolved as an efficient means of thermal insulation. Some dinos could fly anyway without feathers. Only later did feathered wings evolve. (This is an example of your screwdriver analogy: feathers had one original purpose,and were then adapted for another.)

If some creatures are the product of ID, we don't have to get involved in an infinite regress - we only have to assume that life arose at sometime in the history of the universe, and then when it had reached a sufficiently advanced level (perhaps not that far beyond where we are now) some species began creating artificial life forms. It is even possible that all original(natural) lifeforms have died out, meaning that all life now existing has descended from the results of artificial creation or ID.
 
rynner said:
I believe recent dinosaur research has shown the opposite, and that feathers probably evolved as an efficient means of thermal insulation. Some dinos could fly anyway without feathers. Only later did feathered wings evolve. (This is an example of your screwdriver analogy: feathers had one original purpose,and were then adapted for another.)

I can well believe that that is the case (evolutionary biology was never my area of expertise. ;) ) It was the screwdriver analogy that I was aiming for.


If some creatures are the product of ID, we don't have to get involved in an infinite regress - we only have to assume that life arose at sometime in the history of the universe, and then when it had reached a sufficiently advanced level (perhaps not that far beyond where we are now) some species began creating artificial life forms. It is even possible that all original(natural) lifeforms have died out, meaning that all life now existing has descended from the results of artificial creation or ID.


I'm not so sure. I thought that one of the tenets of ID was not just that we could have been created by other intelligent entities, (not completely beyond the realms of possibility,) but that the main argument in favour of the existence of a designer was that we were too complex to have come into being by a process of evolution.

Perhaps we should divide ID into two (in a similar way to the anthropic cosmological principle.)

Weak ID : This just finds evidence of non-human, intelligent intervention in our development.

Strong ID : The primary argument in favour of us having been designed is our complexity.

I think that weak ID is a fair position to argue from. (I am unconvinced by the evidence, but it at least seems possible.) Strong ID, on the other hand, requires the a solution to the infinite recursion issue.:)
 
HI all,

I'm late to this thread but I must echo the replies of others to the ID article - it was very poor. Even though I'm totally unconvinced by the idea of irreducable complexity the article didn't do the basic ideas any justice at all (I'd suggest http://www.talkorigins.org for anyone wanting to see some more details as to why it's a bad idea).

Another thought that occurs to me sometimes when I watch nature programs, especially undersea ones, is that there almost seems too much variety in the life-forms on display, more than seems necessary to fill all the available environmental niches, and the explanations based on Natural Selection seem a bit hollow, just a collection of Just So stories. (I asked before, why do we have slugs AND snails co-existing in the same environment..?) In fact, the natural world sometimes seems to me like the output of some other-worldly Art College, where students produce many, many interpretations of given themes.

Why should evolution through natural selection lead to less forms? Evolution doesn't lead towards anything in particular, particularly not towards the "necessary." The basic rule is that if a mutation makes an individual less fit to survive in its environment is less likely to have offspring and propogate the mutation. The converse is also true. However, many mutations will be selection-neutral - they will confir neither advantage or disadvantage to the individual. You therefore get a huge range of forms that are able to get along just fine in their particular environment.

Evolution has neither direction nor purpose - it's just something that occurs because genes don't copy precisely.

One other thing about the debate - if there is irreducable complexity then that implies intelligent design (according to the proponents of the hypothesis). To get bogged down in debates as to where the intelligence came from is a bit misleading. These people are not talking about intervening aliens they are talking about a deity - this is creationism pure and simple. Creationism is about a supernatural force that created the universe and is therefore outside of its rules. If you believe in God then there's no need to explain his existence by the physical laws of the universe because God created those laws in the first place.

If you don't believe in God then ID/IC is just another way that Creationists are trying to get around the US constitutional block on religious teaching in schools by trying to claim that divine creation, is by some stretch of the imagination, a scientific theory and not medievel superstition.

Pete
 
I often feel that irreducible complexity is something along the lines of "The horse can't have evolved, because if it's legs were any shorter it wouldn't be able to reach the ground."
 
Carrots are impossible: Intelligent Design of Earth?

Please enjoy this text file on I.D I wrote a few months back :)

The problem: why is a carrot orange?

This of course is a lie. All scientific stuff starts with that kind of thing, trying to make the reader believe the writer approached it in a fair unbiased manner. The writer generally has a theory why the carrot is orange, and sets out to see if it is provable.

So, carrots are tasty & visible to a wide variety of creatures. The berry is bright red so the bird sees it, eats it, and defecates the seeds with some fertiliser at some distance. Symbiosis.

The carrot gains nothing from being eaten, so why is it an overtly visible colour?

There are two obvious answers:

a) that possibly many different types of root are sweet and tasty, but it happens that many animals found the carrot over the generations including humans, and so it became popular, selectively bred, and even tastier, yet retaining the chance pigmentation.

b) that humans bred the orange colour selectively in addition to taste requirements.

These are the only two possible standard, usual, conclusions I can think of. I find them unlikely. Over the years humans have identified many, probably most of the, edible roots. The carrot is particularly edible, setting it apart, and reducing the likelihood that it is orange. The selective breeding of colour would also not be of great importance in human history, much of which has been decorated with drought and starvation.

The tantalising prospect is Intelligent Design. The problem with the Intelligent Design theory is the question that if something designed all this, how did it evolve? Was it the subject of genius design?

This unhealthy loop leads to the thought that the intelligence behind any possible intelligent design exists outside of our usual concepts of animal evolution or design. But of course that is God, and scientists don't generally believe in God.

Evolution can be seen in two main branches. That slight changes happen by chance and if better thrive, or that slight changes are the intention of DNA to adapt to conditions, or both. There is evidence that DNA changes to meet conditions that are experienced by the supposedly unlinked conciousness or basic senses of a creature, the fact that better nutrition for a number of generations results in taller people is ample evidence for that.

It is easy to imagine the diversity of bacteria over billions of years. The rate of multiplication is so high that it can be imagined how occasional chance freaks could occasionally be better bacteria resulting in the huge diversity of bacteria there is.

My problem is with orange trees, grape vines, oak trees, carp, bottlenosed dolphins, koala bears, long-toed sloths, strawberries, apple trees, tyrannasaurus rex's and all that great stuff. I can't see how the tiny spaces of time like billions of years can account for these by chance. Even a thousand thousand thousand thousand years doesn't seem long enough.

Are carrots impossible?
 
Re: Carrots are impossible: Intelligent Design of Earth?

MuscularSpasm said:
The carrot gains nothing from being eaten, so why is it an overtly visible colour?

There are two obvious answers:

a) that possibly many different types of root are sweet and tasty, but it happens that many animals found the carrot over the generations including humans, and so it became popular, selectively bred, and even tastier, yet retaining the chance pigmentation.

b) that humans bred the orange colour selectively in addition to taste requirements.

These are the only two possible standard, usual, conclusions I can think of. I find them unlikely.

Sounds right to me:
http://website.lineone.net/~stolarczyk/history.html

Quote: "The bright orange fleshy root vegetable we know today as the carrot is a far cry from its wild ancestor, a small tough, pale fleshed acrid root plant."
 
Well, carrots was a bad example. As the previous link shows the orange color is cultivated. The same with for example goldfish, they used to be silver colored.

And go look up evolution again, you seem to have gotten it wrong. It is not about pure chance. There are also other factors, which is how you get strawberries and T Rex'es.
 
The current theory of evolution IS about pure chance. The 'other factors' (i assume you mean natural disasters etc) are supposed to just allow chance mutations greater opportunity.

I'm really bringing up two points, not just I.D. Also that DNA could be linked with conciousness, or have it's own discreet conciousness, and be 'deciding' to mutate. eg. a few generations of good nutrition resulting in taller people.

That would also result in quicker diversity.
 
No, I was refering to sexual selection and natural selection, that will bring out certain characteristics. Many people seem to think it is all about chance. You know, that a tornado in a junkyard should not be able to put together a boing 747.
 
the correlation of good nutrition with tallness is fairly easy to rationalise. The amount you grow is determined early on and takes into account how much energy you can "spend" on growing and how much youll need just to jkeep surviving. All of us have a capacity to grow to a certian limit. When nutrition was bad the amount of energy we could "spend " on growing was well below the maximum possible. We were underdeveloped. With the advent of good nutrition the latent ability to grow big took advantage of increased resources to "spend" and enabled bigger people.
Also research shows that taller people (male) are more sexually promiscuous. That is they are deemed more attractive and produce more offspring than smaller people allowing the genes for tallness to be passed on. This was not really relevant when everyone was small due to universal bad nutrition, but now that some have the right nutrition to allow them to grow to their maximum the genes that produce tallness get passed on and reinforced.
As for carrots being orange all it takes is one small mutation. A single base pair change in the many billions of basepairs that make up the carrot genome. If this mutation occurred in a gene involved with the breakdown of carotenoids (Vitamin A family) and stopped it working the whole pathway would stop and lots of orange carotenoid would accumulate giving an orange colour. This could be bred for and since the root is underground, having an orange colour is no disadvantage or advantage to the carrot (unlike, say a black and yellow berry which might be a discouragement to browsers). So man can easily breed orange carrots. Speak to anyone with Alcaptonuria. A single mutation in a gene involved with their amino acid metabolism causes them to produce black urine.
look at the way the colours of roses have been manipulated. And thats only in a couple of hundred years that rose cultivation has occurred. Anything is possible in the million of years that evolution works over.
Speaking personally i have no time for ID or creationism. If people would just read a bit of "Origin of species" or Dawkins "the blind watchmaker" then maybe they would be less keen on mouthing off with pseudoscience. This rant is not directed at anyone by the way.
 
I also think mutations are not that rare that causes carrots to revert back to being white.
 
I think in this arguemtn you are leaving out a major possibility: consequence.

First of all, the colour could be simply a side effect of processing something in a way that it part of its natural life cycle which turns it orange.

An example would be the jaundiced appearance that a human can take on from eating exclusively orange things. A case was recorded in the US of a 9 year old who drank way too much Suny Delight, she turned a distinct oprange hue.

As such, I think it a big leap to intelligent design.

Another point though, evolution does not occur purely on a macro level. Each second cosmic radiation passess through each and every one and thing on this planet. As such, things get altered on a molecular level, so even as your body replaces cells, mutatiions occur on a minute level. These are what later prompt major mutations and this is where selection takes over. Therefore, it is not a case of chance really at all. On a molecular level it would be possible to predict how a certain type of radiation might interact with the proteins of the DNA strand, and therefore predict the mutation, but this would be on a chain by chain, strand by strand level and so would be so vast that it would appear random.

LD
 
i would still call mutaion a chance event, because the calculations needed to predict a mutation are so vast. You'd have to know the position of every basepair in the local vicinity of where the radiation hits the DNA strand and this is impossible for a living cell, where the DNA is semiordered on a protein scaffold, but still with a large degree of flexibility.
Evolution is a macro consequence following on from micro events. However the mutation has to occur in the germ cells to be passed on to the next generation, if it occurs in the somatic cells (i.e. a sporadic mutation) then it is not passed on and only affects the bearer of the gene. Though if it is lethal before they can produce offspring then i suppose the tendency to produce sporadic somatic mutations can be selected against
 
My problem is with orange trees, grape vines, oak trees, carp, bottlenosed dolphins, koala bears, long-toed sloths, strawberries, apple trees, tyrannasaurus rex's and all that great stuff. I can't see how the tiny spaces of time like billions of years can account for these by chance. Even a thousand thousand thousand thousand years doesn't seem long enough.

I don't know... a million years here and a million years there; pretty soon it starts to add up. ;) Take two of your examples... koala bears and sloths. Assume they diverged only 50,000,000 years ago (probably conservative, considering we're talking marsupial vs. placental). Let's assume the average generation during that time was ten years (which again probably errs in favor of your position rather than against it). Then every generation of each of the two populations needs to change by what?... only 0.00002% in order to account for the divergence? That seems fairly generous to me.
 
You're all forgetting the major point that not always does something have a reason for being.
You also seem to be assuming that the carrot knows it's orange.
 
My feeling is as follows: there is no point to a carrot (apart from at one end, obviously). There was no point to Tyrannosaurus or the Mammoth. These things just happen. Animals adapt to cope with their environments, but there is no reason for them to exist at all. So let's all just be glad that there are carrots.

Besides, everyone knows that carrots are orange so you can tell them apart from parsnips.
 
Inverurie Jones said:
My feeling is as follows: there is no point to a carrot (apart from at one end, obviously). There was no point to Tyrannosaurus or the Mammoth. These things just happen. Animals adapt to cope with their environments, but there is no reason for them to exist at all. So let's all just be glad that there are carrots.

Besides, everyone knows that carrots are orange so you can tell them apart from parsnips.
The real question appears to be. Why are some apples green and others red or yellow or.......why isn't any fruit blue.....why are bananas curved....surely if we're going by evolution they should be spherical???
So many questions, so little time.....
 
Bananas are a very strange fruit. I can't think of any other fruit that is at all similar in shape or texture. Going back to the banana's shape. I think you'll find that long curved bananas developed as a result of human cultivation. The wilder banana species which we don't tend to see on european shores are fat squat things, almost oval in shape.
 
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