Ewert Explains “Specified Complexity,” (Part Two)

Let us continue with our discussion of Winston Ewert's defense of the concept of “specified complexity.”

In Part One we saw that Ewert's defense was actually rather tepid. He mostly gave away the game by writing:

It is true that specified complexity does not in any way help establish that the probability of complex life is low under natural selection. You must have another way of showing that, for example Michael Behe's irreducible complexity, Doug Axe's work on proteins, or Stephen Meyer's work on the Cambrian explosion.

However, all these methods only seek to show that various biological systems are improbable under Darwinian evolution. That is a logical claim distinct from arguing that Darwinian evolution is false. Specified complexity exists to bridge this gap, arguing that we are justified in inferring the falsity of Darwinian evolution on the basis of the low probabilities established by these other arguments.

As we saw last time, this is really just a concession that assertions of specified complexity add nothing to the argument for ID. Such assertions are always parasitic on other ID arguments, and it is those other arguments that are doing all the work.

We also saw that Ewert kept digging by writing this:

Some critics of intelligent design regard this as an obvious point. If complex life were prohibitively improbable under Darwinian evolution (an idea these critics certainly reject), Darwinian evolution would clearly be false. They find it difficult to believe that specified complexity was developed to defend such an obvious point. However, other critics insist that low probabilities of complex life would not provide evidence that we should reject Darwinian evolution.

That sure looks like an admission that “specified complexity” serves only to establish an obvious point. Considering that ID proponents are sometimes fond of referring to William Dembski as the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory,” that's a pretty damning admission.

But who are these critics who need to have specified complexity explained to them? Well, it turns out that I am one of them. Ewert writes:

In “Can Probability Theory Be Used to Refute Evolution,” Jason Rosenhouse writes:

For suppose that somehow we did manage to carry out such a calculation and suppose we found that it really is terribly improbable than our eye evolved by natural means. What would we learn from such a result?

Almost nothing. Improbable things happen all the time, you see, and the fact that something is improbable does not mean that it cannot happen.

This comes after a quote from philosopher Ingo Brigandt expressing a similar thought, and just before another similar quote from mathematician John Allen Paulos. Ewert then closes with this:

All of these critics argue that we cannot draw conclusions about Darwinian evolution from small probabilities. To be fair, many critics would not agree with these simplistic criticisms of probability arguments. They would in fact argue that evolution makes complex biological systems highly probable. It is unfortunate that these writers feel the need to disparage specified complexity, which exists to defend against an argument they would not make.

Winston Ewert was a student of William Dembski. When it comes to the art of misquotation, it seems he has truly learned at the feet of the master.

Let me begin my reply by noting that Ewert decided for some reason to change the title of my essay. The actual title was, “Can Probability Theory Be Used to Refute Evolution? (Part One).” This is significant, since it was Part Two, not Part One, that discusses the notion of specified complexity.

Part One, by contrast, had nothing to do with specified complexity. I don't even mention it, much less disparage it. The essay wasn't even about intelligent design. I don't mention intelligent design at all until the very end, and I only mention it there to set up Part Two. Part One was specifically about creationist arguments, and since the ID folks are always keen to assert that they are not creationists I am surprised Ewert would make this particular error.

In the essay Ewert links to, I am discussing the especially naïve uses of probability used by creationists. Most of the essay explains why their probability calculations, which entirely ignore the role of natural selection in the evolutionary process, are simply invalid. I also explain why it is impossible to carry out meaningful calculations of the sort they require.

The part Ewert quotes is from near the end of the essay, where I note that even if by some miracle the calculation were valid, it would still tell us next to nothing since improbable events happen all the time. My very next paragraph begins with:

But perhaps the situation is not as simple as I am suggesting.

It builds up to this climax:

This suggests that, while improbability by itself does not suggest anything extraordinary, the combination of improbability with a recognizable pattern does require a special explanation. Could we use this strategy to revive our probabilistic critique of evolution?

Many proponents of Intelligent Design believe that we can. In the second part of this essay, I will show why they are wrong. We will also consider some ways in which evolutionary biologists make legitimate use of probability theory in their work.

And this brings us to the best part. I am surprised that Ewert would think that the statement he quoted makes me look bad. I suspect that Ewert, like most other ID proponents, actually agrees entirely with what I am saying there.

The whole point of talking about specified complexity was that complexity by itself is not enough to indicate design. William Dembski writes, in No Free Lunch, “Even so, complexity (or improbability) is not enough to eliminate chance and establish design (9),” and later, “One concern is that the filter assigns merely improbable events to design. But this is clearly not the case since, in addition to complexity or improbability, the filter needs to assess specification before attributing design (12).” But this is just precisely the point I was making in the statement Ewert quotes.

Of course low probability by itself does not rule out chance. This is obvious and entirely non-controversial even for ID folks. No one thinks that discovering after the fact that the human eye was improbable shows that Darwinian evolution is false, or even challenges the theory in any way.

So why is Ewert pretending not to understand that?

More like this

Over at the Discovery Institute's blog, Winston Ewert has a post up explaining, one more time, what specified complexity is. Since I am given a mention near the end, perhaps it's worth a look. For those not steeped in ID rhetoric, “specified complexity” is a term coined by William Dembski. It is…
There's a famous short story by Woody Allen called “The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers” that I like to reread from time to time. (It's very short, so follow the link if you've never read it before.) The story is told through the correspondence of Gossage and Vardebedian, as they argue about a game of…
I had not intended to do another post on this topic so soon after the last one. But I have just readan astonishingly bad post over at Uncommon Descent that discusses this issue, and I cannot resist responding. The post is called, “Where Do We Get the Probabilities?” It was written by Winston Ewert…
As usual, Casey Luskin over at DI's media complaints division is playing games, misrepresenting people's words in order to claim that that they're misrepresenting IDists words. Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black, eh? This time, he's accusing Ken Miller of misrepresenting Dembski in a…

Winston Ewert, the Pooh Bear of Intelligent Design, worked under Robert Marks, the Papa Bear of Intelligent Design, at Baylor University (mascot: obvious). He plagiarized Dembski and Marks in the originally accepted version of his master's thesis. Not just a little. Not in an obscure place. Over half of "his" introduction was written by Dembski and Marks. And Marks, his advisor, approved the thesis. This is hardly the only evidence that Marks, like Dembski, is an intellectual psychopath.

It's now abundantly clear that Winnie-the-Pooh learned nothing from the experience of being nailed for dishonesty. He's an incorrigible cheat and liar.

By Erasmus Wiffball (not verified) on 06 Dec 2015 #permalink

Just some bookkeeping and minor comments. Ewart wrote a series of four articles on the subject. Jason referenced the first. Here is the second. In order to avoid filters I'll just list the third and fourth by title: "The GUC Bug" and "Breaking Sticks."

Here are my thoughts on the second. From Ewart:

In an earlier article at Evolution News ("These Critics of Intelligent Design Agree with Us More Than They Seem to Realize"), I emphasized that while the theorems of conservation of information show that active information must derive from a non-mechanistic source outside of the universe, this does not necessarily imply that the source was intelligent or even teleological

My bold. No, AFAIK he has shown nothing like that at all. What Ewart has 'shown' before this is that active information can come from outside the search algorithm itself. And I put 'shown' in scare quotes because really its more of a definitional game. In any event, I don't see any argument that active information must be (a) non-mechanistic, or (b) outside the universe. In fact his example of a source of active information is the law of gravity, something which is both very quantitatively well understood (though maybe not as well understood as we'd like) and 'inside' the universe. His one example of a source of active information, then, contradicts his claim.

Darwinian evolution is not a sufficient explanation of how complex life arises, but it instead depends on an external information source, the fitness landscape, in order to work. All information must eventually derive from a source external to the universe, which is suggestive, but not definitive proof, of intelligent design.

My response to this is "well, duh, yes." He's basically saying that RM+NS will only work (better than chance) in a universe that is relatively stable. So what? Since we live in a universe that is relatively stable, his comment here is not an argument that evolution couldn't have produced the varied species of life on Earth over the past several billion years. At best its an argument that in some alternate, highly chaotic universe, evolution could not produce species. Which may be true, but is not very relevant.

JimV,

As interesting and useful as this has been, it fights ID on ID’s chosen ground, assuming that concepts like ‘teleology’ might actually meant something important in our universe.

I worry quite a bit about seeming to concede more than I actually do, just by arguing the points. I'm sure that I did not worry enough, in years past. But with respect to "conservation of information," I've said outright (see "The Law of Conservation of Information Is Defunct") that there's much more wrong with it than I'm addressing, and that I'm playing along to show that Dembski et al. have not achieved so much as internal coherence. In retrospect, I'm glad that I have played only one card, and not shown my entire hand. Let them think hard as to whether they want to put a lot of work into salvaging a wreck, when they know that I (and the likes of Joe Felsenstein, Jeff Shallit, Dietmar Eben, and, last but not least, Jason Rosenhouse) have much more to say.

By Tom English (not verified) on 07 Dec 2015 #permalink

In reply to by eric (not verified)

My thoughts on article three.

First, Felsenstein has already responded to #3 here.

Now on to Ewart:

The GUC Bug falls within the expectations of active information. It extracts active information through repeated queries. Running on a random fitness landscape, it fails to be a model of evolution, because it performs even worse than random search would have. If run on a smooth landscape, it may be a model of Darwinian evolution. However, in order for it to be a non-teleological model of evolution, that fitness landscape would have to be derived in a non-teleological fashion.

This seems to me to be a complete concession of defeat. He's basically saying that (1) simple evolutionary algorithms work as long as you consider cases of more than one generation of replicator, which we know to be true. And (2) evolution requires a universe, but we've not shown that the universe itself is not intelligently designed.

The latter concession seems very close to "initial condition-setting God" theology, in which God sets up the laws of the universe and just lets it run, knowing evolution will produce what he wants it to produce. AFAIK the empirical arguments for evolution say nothing for/against this sort of deistic claim; the counter-arguments against a God who sets up the universe and then lets evolution run are (1) theological (YECs says that isn't what the bible says), (2) philosophical (it is untestable and nonpredictive), and (3) ethical (that's an awful lot of bloodsport just to avoid poofing what you want into existence).

My comment on article four will be pretty short, then I'll leave off for now. Ewart:

Our argument would be refuted by the demonstration of a model with a source that is both non-teleological and provides sufficient active information to account for biological complexity.

...and...

if Felsenstein could demonstrate that the weakness of long-range physics interactions, or something equivalently non-teleological, could account for the active information in biology, it would dismantle the argument we have made. Furthermore, it would be a massive contribution to the fields of computational intelligence and evolutionary biology.

I cannot prove that Felsenstein cannot do this. I can point to past attempts, which all incorporated teleological decisions. They all show the effect of having been designed. My prediction is that you cannot build a working model of Darwinian evolution without invoking teleology. Felsenstein, English, or anyone else is invited to attempt to falsify my prediction.

Ewart has reversed the burden of proof here. ID does not win by default - science does not need to 'refute ID' in order for the theory of evolution to have a solid grounds for acceptance among the community. There is a lot of empirical evidence that evolution does and did occur. IDers likewise need to provide empirical evidence for their hypothesis if they want the scientific community to accept it as viable. Saying 'you haven't done the (difficult) calculation that would definitively prove us wrong' is simply not enough.

I see that a lot of good thinking has been done here, at The Panda's Thumb, and by Tom English and others, in response to ID's 'arguments'. As interesting and useful as this has been, it fights ID on ID's chosen ground, assuming that concepts like 'teleology' might actually meant something important in our universe.

I would like to see the fight occur on neutral ground, with battle lines such as, "You use words like 'intelligence' and 'design' as explanations for physical phenomena - what do those words mean? How do they work to, as you claim, produce miraculously-improbable results? Are they not just an extended, meta-level form of biological evolution? What can you point to as evidence that they are not? Have you studied Thomas Edison's trial-and-error experiments? Have you studied the history of the development of calculus? Can you point to any modern design that does not derive from previous developments over hundreds or thousands of years? Have you even studied the evolution of the mousetrap? Have not your own arguments evolved by trial and error as people pointed out their flaws?"

Sorry for the usual rant. As a design engineer I started work with an IBM 700 mainframe computer with water-cooled vacuum tubes, and ended up on a unix RISC workstation at my desk with several times the power. I've seen evolution all around me all my life. I've never seen anything poof into existence by magic (by sleight-of-hand tricks on TV and green-screens and CGI in the movies, of course, but never by actual magic). I would like to see some reliable evidence of an alternate mechanism to evolution before having to spend any time considering it. I know I'm dreaming, and I'm glad that the afore-mentioned people are spending some of their time on it.

ID/creationism will remain a pseudoscience because they never will operationally define key terms - like intelligence, information, design, complexity, etc.

As I mentioned over at PT, Bertrand Russell sums this up nicely.

“What is wanted is not the will-to-believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

They believe that if god exists then evolution can't be true - it is not clear why one is contingent on the other and of course they have no means of finding it out even if it were.

By Michael Fugate (not verified) on 07 Dec 2015 #permalink

Jason,
The last full paragraph in your article above states the following:
" Of course low probability by itself does not rule out chance. This is obvious and entirely non-controversial even for ID folks. No one thinks that discovering after the fact that the human eye was improbable shows that Darwinian evolution is false, or even challenges the theory in any way."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The human eye is one of a million examples I could provide you with, as a complex structure, which denotes, with 100 % certainty, that a complex form of Intelligent Design is responsible for it's existence.
I like Lawrence Richard's observation.
" The human eye is enormously complicated - a perfect & interrelated system of about 40 individual subsystems, including the retina, pupil, iris, cornea, lens & optic nerve. The retina has about 137 million special cells that respond to light & send messages to the brain. About 130 million of these cells look like rods & handle the black & white vision. The other 7 million are cone shaped & allow us to see in color. The retina cells receive light impressions, which are translated to electric pulses & sent to the brain via the optic nerve. A special section of the brain called the visual cortex interprets the pulses to color, contrast, depth, etc., which allows us to see "pictures" of our world. Incredibly, the eye, optic nerve & visual cortex are totally separate and distinct subsystems. Yet, together, they capture, deliver & interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages EVERY Milli-Second.
It would take dozens of Cray supercomputers programmed perfectly & operating together flawlessly, to even get close to performing this task."

Once you've absorbed this complexity, add in the following considerations:
1- A co-dependent Central Nervous system, that allows vision to even take place.
2- A co-dependent Muscular system, that allows complex eye movement. Not just one, but BOTH eyes moving in harmony.
3- A co-dependent Circulatory system, that allows blood flow to the eyeball, allowing all the functions above to take place.
4- A co-dependent Respiratory system, allowing OXYGENATED blood to enter into millions of these blood vessels.
5- A co-dependent Skeletal system, that allows two sockets to exist in the human skull, with both slots facing forward, allowing complex, 3 dimensional vision.
6- A co-dependent Reproductive system, that allows genetic transfer, on a microscopic level, of all these complex functions above, COMBINED into one system, that develops in the human fetus, with extreme complexity. An example is the fact that a pair of optic nerves develop BEFORE a pair of eyeballs are even formed.
7- A co-dependent Endocrine system, that allows tear ducts to carry moisture to the eyes. Without constant moisture, the eyeballs would stop functioning in a short amount of time.
8- A co-dependent Integumentary system, which consists of the eyelid & eyelashes, to cover the eyeball, as a protection function.

Therefore, the human eye is a definitive example of Intelligent Design. To argue in favor of Randomness, as an explanation for ALL of the Co-Dependent systems listed above, is nothing more than pure, blatant insanity.

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 07 Dec 2015 #permalink

Joseph, um, which part of natural selection is random?

By Michael Fugate (not verified) on 07 Dec 2015 #permalink

"It would take dozens of Cray supercomputers programmed perfectly & operating together flawlessly, to even get close to performing this task.”

Flawlessly? I'll take blind spots for $100, Alex.

And just for one, eyes evolved *long* before tear ducts were necessary, they only needed to come along after eyes made it out of the water. And if we moistened our eyes by licking them would your paragraph say "A co-dependent tongue used to moisten our eyes."

Mr. Alden, I know it is hopeless to get you to consider all the evidence against your position, but does it give you no pause to know that biologists who have studied the things you cite most of their lives and know much more about them, and won Nobel Prizes and other awards, consider your position as the naive, ridiculous one?

A long time ago, humans noticed that it was easier to roll logs than to drag them, and the smoother the logs the easier they rolled. Then they started using rollers under heavy objects when moving them (moving the rollers which the object had already traversed in front of the object again). Then they came up with rollers that moved with the platform - the wheel.

Thousands of years later we have Ferrari's, with wheels, fuel systems,engines, steering, braking, etc. No one sat down with a blank piece of paper and invented the Ferrari before the wheel, the lever, combustion, thermodynamics, etc. were developed beforehand. The Ferrari is the end-product of a lot of incremental changes - it evolved. Everything else you see around you did also. Nothing poofed into existence in a final, perfect form with no simpler antecedents. You have no evidence in nature or human industry of the sort of thing you claim is more likely to occur than evolution. (None that has passed peer review or won James Randi's Million Dollar Prize.)

Biological evolution, on the other hand, has been and is being observed in nature and in lab experiments. We know it exists.

* Follow-up to my 12-7 post above.
I forgot 2 more:
The human eye also requires-

9.) A Co-dependent Digestive system, that breaks down food into nutrients, which are PARAMOUNT to normal eye function. Vitamin A is a perfect example. Without it, vision cannot take place. Every year, tens of thousands of children, in third world nations, go blind, from a lack of Vitamin A in their diet.
And, 10.) closely related to digestion, is a Co-Dependent Immune system, which helps fight disease and infection, in the human eye. Without an Immune system, the human eye would quickly lose it's purpose, based on environmental hazards. Sorry Jason. Mere CHANCE cannot explain away, ALL 10 of the above mentioned, Co-Dependent systems, that are required, in order for the human eye to function properly.

Now, on to the evos-inbreds.

To Michael Fugate : Jason said Chance.....Random Chance....Random variations......somehow, someway directed by Natural Selection ? Not quite. Natural selection is the foundation to all Science Fiction. Nature does not pick winners and losers, of anything. Nature represents destruction. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Forest Fires, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Floods, you name it.

To Keith B- Blind spots ? Is that all you can come up with ?
What a POS. My cousin in an eye surgeon. I have discussed this with him in great detail. He said the blind spot critique is Total, Bogus, Bullshit. Light waves need to be channeled through the neuron layers, before they reach the retinal photoreceptors. If the human eye were designed any other way, we would suffer massive headaches. We're not cephalopods, swimming in murky oceans, having to deal with polarized light, passing through salt water.

And finally, to the resident village idiot, aka Jimmy V-

Our dear Jimmy said, and I quote :
" ....... Nothing poofed into existence in a final, perfect form with no simpler antecedents..........."
This is utter nonsense. Complete insanity on parade.
Jimmy must have flunked basic high school Biology class.
Hey Jimmy, FYI, there are TONS of species, that came into existence, with no simpler example in the fossil record.
For brevity, I will provide 4.

First, Trilobites, which came into existence around 500 million years ago, with NO transitional fossils. AND, they had very complex eyes. Hear that Jason R. ?

Second, Snails, also appeared about 500 million years ago, with NO transitional fossils. They TOO had very unique eyes, that work in conjunction with their tentacles.

Third, Dragonflies. They first appear in the fossil record, around 100 million years ago. AGAIN, with no transitional examples. Sorry Jimmy, they just POOFED into existence.

Fourth, another life form. Flowering Plants. Chuck Darwin HATED flowering plants, because they TOO, just magically appear in the fossil record, with no transitional models. Chuck said, way back in 1879, that flowers
were an " abominable mystery, with exquisite complexity ".
Sorry Jimmy. There is in fact definitive, overwhelming evidence, that Intelligent Design is responsible for all known forms of life, both plant & animal, hear on dear Mother Earth.

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 08 Dec 2015 #permalink

Joseph Alden, how did the Intelligent Designer come to exist in the first place? Your argument is that human beings, and living things in general, are so spiffyliciously complicated that they simply could not have arisen in the absence of an Intelligent Designer.

Fine.

Is it possible that the Intelligent Designer was less spiffyliciously complicated than human beings? If so, that means a complex entity can arise from a cause/source less complex than itself. And if that's the case, then what need to invoke an Intelligent Designer?

If, on the other hand, it's not possible that the Intelligent Designer was less spiffyliciously complex than human beings, the Intelligent Designer must, itself, necessarily have been created by an earlier Intelligent "Intelligent Designer"-Designer. Who, in turn, must necessarily have been created by a yet-earlier Intelligent "Intelligent 'Intelligent Designer'-Designer"-Designer. Who, in turn…

You see the problem. I trust.

So… is your Intelligent Designer merely superfluous, or is your Intelligent Designer an infinite regress of Designers designing Designers?

Joseph Alden wrote:
What a POS. My cousin in an eye surgeon. I have discussed this with him in great detail. He said the blind spot critique is Total, Bogus, Bullshit. Light waves need to be channeled through the neuron layers, before they reach the retinal photoreceptors. If the human eye were designed any other way, we would suffer massive headaches. We’re not cephalopods, swimming in murky oceans, having to deal with polarized light, passing through salt water."

Not even wrong. Are you really Ted Holden? ISTR that his main argument was based on headaches.

To Michael Fugate : Jason said Chance…..Random Chance….Random variations……somehow, someway directed by Natural Selection ? Not quite. Natural selection is the foundation to all Science Fiction. Nature does not pick winners and losers, of anything. Nature represents destruction. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Forest Fires, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Floods, you name it.

huh?

By Michael Fugate (not verified) on 09 Dec 2015 #permalink

Mr. Alden, you are not reading and considering people's responses carefully and logically. It may be that, like an old friend of mine, you have mental problems (not your fault, due to flaws in evolution which is not a perfect process and produces imperfect results, myself included) which prevent you from doing this. If so, all I can say that your argumentative behavior is probably making you and those you argue with feel worse. The tragedy of mental problems is of course that they take away our ability to judge our behavior.

As a brief example of the lack of logical thinking which you are displaying, you can not claim gaps in the scanty fossil record as positive evidence of new species spontaneously forming. This is equivalent logically to claiming that if no one can prove that Santa Claus does not exist, then Santa Claus must exist. The obvious logical error you are making is that there is another possibility. In the case of the fossil record, it is that not all species have been found in the fossil record. What we have found though, supports my conclusion that simpler forms precede more complex forms.

Show me Santa Claus, or show me something poofing into existence and you will have evidence. All the positive evidence which I know of is on the other side.

With respect to gaps in the fossil record, the fossil record is entirely consistent with respect to how rarely conditions allowing remains to be preserved as fossils occur in nature.

I suggest, Mr Alden, you take a walk in the nearest old-growth forest--do you see the ground littered with the remains of generations of song-birds, squirrels, deer, etc., all patiently awaiting fossilization?

Re: the human eye

Mr Alden, you seem to be presuming that complexity is a hallmark of design--it isn't. No engineer sets out to achieve the most complicated to solution to a design problem, but instead the simplest and most efficient. Complexity is instead a hallmark of systems arising as a consequence of multiple iterations of trial and error.

"It would take dozens of Cray supercomputers programmed perfectly & operating together flawlessly, to even get close to performing this task.”

The example is only analogous if evolution acts to achieve a preferred and predetermined goal: that isn't how it works, however. It's neither goal oriented nor does it possess foresight such that it could act to preserve those genetic changes that would be steps toward achieving that goal (in this case, the creation of a human eye).

Natural selection simply acts to conserve genetic changes resulting in increased fitness with respect to a specific environment or to oppose the conservation of genetic changes that result in decreased fitness with respect to environment at the time these genetic change arise.

And we see the intermediate stages of this process still extant in living organisms today, where they continue to confer increased fitness in the environments those organisms exploit: photosensitive eye-spots found in scallops and starfish, lens-less eye pits found in planaria and other flatworms, 'pinhole camera' eyes where the pit has deepened and the aperture although still lens-less has narrowed found in nautilus, etc.

To Keith B- Blind spots ? Is that all you can come up with ?
What a POS. My cousin in an eye surgeon. I have discussed this with him in great detail. He said the blind spot critique is Total, Bogus, Bullshit. Light waves need to be channeled through the neuron layers, before they reach the retinal photoreceptors. If the human eye were designed any other way, we would suffer massive headaches.

Just to make sure I understand you -- you're saying that it is utterly and completely impossible for God to design a vision system for humans that works as well as the one we currently have but that lacks our blind spot and is headache-free?

God just can't do it?

What about all the people who have migraine headaches? They suffer massive headaches anyway, and don't even get a better vision system as compensation.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

To : JGC

You said, and I quote, "

............. if evolution acts to achieve a preferred and predetermined goal: that isn’t how it works, however. It’s neither goal oriented nor does it possess foresight such that it could act to preserve those genetic changes that would be steps toward achieving that goal (in this case, the creation of a human eye).

Great. This is the typical, Shit - for - Brains response I always get from evos-inbreds. I was hoping for something more tangible, when it comes to defending the fallacy of Darwinian evolution. Oh well, easy to disprove otherwise.

So JGC, since you are re-quoting the same old Chuck Darwin bullshit, regarding how there is no direction when it comes to evolution, i.e. " no arrow " as Chuck was found of saying. Why then, do we have a utility of function, in EVERY EFFFFFING material object within our known universe ?
According to our resident shit for brains, aka JGC, everything has been established for itself, by sheer luck,, based only on randomness, with no purpose whatsoever. Everything in our known universe, is based on chance, blah, blah, blah..........
Why then, do we even have eyeballs, as human beings ? Explain then, my dear POS atheist, how you account for all the other major organs of the human body ? What about the human liver ? Here is an Extremely complicated piece of high tech machinery. The human liver performs over 500 EEEEFFFFINGGGGG functions every EEEEFFFFINGGG day of the week. By random chance, you say JGC ? ? ?
What a pathetic POS you must be in real life. All life forms, both plant and animal, exist in our universe, for a SPECIFIC, EEFFFFFFINGGG purpose. Life does not happen by random chance. It is the result of an Omnipotent Creator. We have ears for a specific reason. To absorb and then translate sound waves into useful information. We have taste buds, for a specific reason. To distinguish between various flavors of food. Reproductive organs allow us to pro-create more human life on this planet. They exist for a specific reason. This entire universe exists because an Intelligent Designer set everything into motion, by creating every molecule, of every known material object.
Your response represents the typical, projectile vomiting of all evos-inbreds. I could give you a BILLION more examples to expose your blatant insanity. How do you explain Vitamin C ? Why does it even exist in our universe ? How did it establish itself into existence ? Without Vitamin C, humans could not exist on this planet. We would die a slow and painful death. Vitamin C sustains human life, among about a million other support systems.

We probably need to order a straight jacket for you, JGC. You and all of your fellow evos-inbreds
need to spend some quality time, like several decades, in an EEEEFFFFFINGGGGGG mental institution.

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

According to our resident shit for brains, aka JGC, everything has been established for itself, by sheer luck,, based only on randomness, with no purpose whatsoever. Everything in our known universe, is based on chance, blah, blah, blah……….

Sigh. Mutation is random, selection is not. Those six words basically answer your entire post.

At the risk of adding nuance that will likely be misinterpreted by you, mutation isn't even random in the sense of all outcomes being equiprobable. Some mutations occur more often than others. What biologists mean by mutation being random is that the likelihood of a mutation occurring is not influenced by the fitness gain/loss of any phenotypic change it will cause in the future. Which, if you think about it, pretty much has to be true, unless you think the fitness value of the resulting phenotype can travel back in time to influence which mutations will occur.

Why then, do we even have eyeballs, as human beings ?

That's a good question - to ask a theist. Why do we have eyeballs, if we are supposed to be immortal souls that can see without using eyes?

Under evolution, our eyes are the contingent result of organisms that used senses to detect changes in the world around them, and react to those changes. Those that could not sense changes could not react to those changes, and some of those changes had effects on survival.

How do you explain Vitamin C ? Why does it even exist in our universe ? How did it establish itself into existence ? Without Vitamin C, humans could not exist on this planet. We would die a slow and painful death. Vitamin C sustains human life, among about a million other support systems.

But vitamin C, like all vitamins, is a chemical produced by organisms that we ingest. We shouldn't actually need vitamins, given intelligent design, because our own bodies should be able to generate all of those chemicals -- we know it is biologically possible to generate vitamin C, for example, because most other mammals do, and we have found the broken gene that used to do so in our own genetic code (look up GULO). To simply leave that out of our own genetic code is incompetent or stupid or malicious.

Are you arguing that God is incompetent or stupid or malicious?

The reason we need vitamins makes sense given evolution, because evolution is not intelligent (and therefore cannot properly be described as incompetent or malicious, even though it would be so if an actual intelligent agent was responsible). If the vitamins are present in the food commonly eaten, the "broken" gene has little or no effect, and can thus be passed on to successive generations. It's a very good example of how a mutation can be "mildly" negative and yet still be passed on (in the context of a vitamin C rich diet).

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 11 Dec 2015 #permalink

A friend of mine became erratic in his behavior in his late 20's and was clinically diagnosed as bi-polar. He had these characteristics, which I have since read about in other cases:

He refused to accept his diagnosis and believed his hallucinations were caused by the angels and demons of the religion (Christianity) in which he had been brought up.

This caused him to take the Bible literally including its creation myth, which made him opposed to the Theory of Evolution.

He made irrational arguments for his position and reacted to criticism and contrary facts with hostility and ad hominems.

Pointing out errors of fact and/or logic in a particular argument made no lasting impression on him; a few days later he would repeat the same argument.

So when I see such behavior I bear in mind the possibility that the person doing it may also have become bi-polar or schizophrenic, and cannot help it. The brain, like any other organ, is subject to ailments which prevent it from functioning well. The tragedy is that that the dysfunction also prevents the person from understanding what is wrong.

There are other explanations, less charitable, for such behavior, but the above one is quite possible, based on my personal experience.

My friend lost his job as a Program Manager at Honeywell, was divorced by his wife, and then had a series of minimum-wage jobs but could not hold them for very long. The last I knew (I have moved to a different town and lost contact with him) he lived on a Social Security Disability Pension, and spent a lot of time on a computer at a public library, reading creationist websites and arguing with people on forums and websites like this one. He was a decent and friendly person before becoming bi-polar and some of that remained. At his request I read a couple of books by creationists, didn't think much of them, and then read Ken Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" which made much more sense to me (up to the part of about quantum-mechanical divine intervention). I had never spent much time thinking about evolution until then, so my friend's illness is the reason I read posts and comments at this website.

It now looks like Jimmy V has resorted to the usual, projectile vomiting, spewing useless information about his long lost friend who was bi-polar................which has NOTHING to do with the subject matter on this Blog, hosted by Jason Rosenhouse.
Jimmy V is just pissed he got his ass kicked, up in post # 13. He flunked high school biology class. Since then, he has wandered all over the country, working minimum wage jobs, mumbling to himself, frustrated why he can't accept the Science of Logic. He is stuck in his own fantasy world. He often sits and stairs at pictures of Chuck Darwin.

I had never spent much time thinking about all the collective shit for brains, like Jimmy V and his fellow evos-inbreds. However, I sincerely enjoy kicking their ass with Logic. It is the REASON I read posts & comments at this website....................

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 12 Dec 2015 #permalink

My (naturally evolved) ass feels distinctly un-kicked.

Boasting about how awesome you are and how badly you've beaten your opponents looks a lot like primate dominance behavior and threat display -- what we would expect from someone who is naturally evolved from primates, and who also has poor self-control.

Using "inbred" as an insult is interesting, given that the common myth is that all of humanity descended from one man and his reverse-sex clone, and then from a ridiculously small population of four closely-related men and their wives.

Consider also that inbreeding is bad because of genetic diseases and defects, which don't make sense if we were intelligently designed, and only do make sense if we evolved naturally from a population that never was as low as two, or even eight.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 12 Dec 2015 #permalink

I am frankly annoyed at my fellow biologists in this thread for engaging Alden's typical red herring nonsense. For example, he makes the ludicrous assertion (which he knows is false) that evolution is supposed to be random chance. I challenge anybody to provide even a single example of a biologist who has claimed that evolution is random, as opposed to saying that it includes elements of chance, which everyone (including Alden) knows is not the same thing. Even the aspects of evolution that can be said to be random are not random in the mathematical sense in which Alden uses the term, i.e. all possible outcomes being equally likely. No actual biologist uses the term random with respect to mutations in the strict mathematical sense, and like all people afflicted by belief in intelligent design, Alden knows this full well; he is bating us into a non-sequiter discussion because he knows actually addressing the issue will reveal his ignorance. The same thing can be said about every other "argument" he advances. To my fellow biologists as well as everyone afflicted by belief intelligent design, until one of the following can be provided the design delusion should be rejected:
1 A counterfactually controlled EXPERIMENT which finds that the system, organism, etc. which is the subject both cannot have evolved and must have been the result of a creative intelligence, and which said experiment was specifically designed to differentiate between the two results.
2 A set of related predictions based on the idea of intelligent design which successfully predict previously unknown phenomena.
3 A scientific paper published in a tier one journal which finds both against evolution and for intelligent design, and whose methodology and results are verified by independent investigators.
4 A set of field observations, whose accuracy is verified independently, which independent experts agree provide evidence for intelligent design and against evolution.

Until one of these things is ACTUALLY DONE (and not just hazily recounted from a conversation from an unnamed cousin) EVERYONE SHOULD STOP ENCOURAGING THESE IDIOTS BY TREATING THEIR ARGUMENTS AS IF THEY ARE WORTH CONSIDERATION, because until then there is not actually anything to consider.

By blaclodgebob (not verified) on 13 Dec 2015 #permalink

To Alden:

Why then, do we have a utility of function, in EVERY EFFFFFING material object within our known universe ?

There’s a large rock in my front garden which as far as I can tell does nothing other than making planting the flower bed difficult. What is that large rock’s material function, Alden, and more importantly, how have you determined it was created and placed in my garden for the express purpose of realizing that function?

According to our resident shit for brains, aka JGC, everything has been established for itself, by sheer luck,, based only on randomness, with no purpose whatsoever.

First, good luck with that whole name-calling thing: I hope it works for you on some juvenile level. It does nothing, however, to support your argument or undermine mine.

Second, that isn’t the argument I’ve advanced: nowhere have I stated that the biological diversity we observe is a product of sheer luck based only in randomness. While genetic changes arise in a random manner as the result of purely mechanistic natural mechanisms, natural selection doesn’t act in a non0-random manner (i.e., it doesn’t act to conserve or oppose the conservation of alleles within a gene pool randomly regardless of whether they increase or decrease fitness but acts to conserve changes that increase fitness and oppose conservation of changes that decrease fitness.

And third, you seem to be confusing ‘purpose’ and ‘function’—why?

Why then, do we even have eyeballs, as human beings ?

Because they confer increased fitness with respect to the environmental niches we exploit, arising as a result of the serial accumulation of intermediate stages each of conferred an increase in fitness with respect to specific environments were selected for at the time they arose.

Explain then, my dear POS atheist, how you account for all the other major organs of the human body ?

First, I’m not an atheist. Second, the same mechanism which resulted in vision is responsible for those other major organs: the serial accumulation of genetic changes over successive generations, each selected for at the time they arose with respect to environment.

By random chance, you say JGC ? ? ?

No, I don’t say that at all. One more time: natural selection operates in a non-random manner.

All life forms, both plant and animal, exist in our universe, for a SPECIFIC, EEFFFFFFINGGG purpose. Life does not happen by random chance.

For what “SPECIFIC, EEFFFFFFINGGG” purpose was the nematode Onchocerca volvulus created, if it’s anything other than using young children in Africa to go blind?

It is the result of an Omnipotent Creator.

The evidence factually establishing the existence of such an omnipotent creator would be what, exactly? You do actually have some-right?

They exist for a specific reason.

The evidence demonstrating they exist in order to fulfill a preferred and predetermined purpose would be what, exactly? You do actually have some—right?

This entire universe exists because an Intelligent Designer set everything into motion, by creating every molecule, of every known material object.

By what natural mechanism has this purported intelligent designer acted to achieve their design? Where can we see this mechanism operating today?

How do you explain Vitamin C ?

Interesting that you’d bring up vitamin C.

L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO) is the final enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway for vitamin C in most plants and many animals, allowing them to produce vitamin C from glucose or galactose. There are some animals, however, that can no longer synthesize their own vitamin C and are dependent on dietary sources to provide it (which is why humans can develop scurvy).

The GULO-P gene found in humans, chimpanzees, orangutans and macaques is no longer functional, rendering it a pseudogene. What’s notable is that in all these the functional gene is no longer functional due to the 164 nucleotide sequence of exon X exhibiting the same single nucleotide deletion.

That is, not only do humans, apes and old world monkeys all possess a GULO-P pseudogene rather than a functional GULO-P gene, the pseudogene is broken in exactly the same way in all three, as a consequence of a random mutational event.

Evolution explains these observations as being the result of these primates all arising by descent form a shared common ancestor in which the GULO-P gene had already undergone the single nucleotide deletion, such that they inherited the non-functional GULO pseudogene instead of a functional copy.

How does your proposed intelligent design model explain these observations instead? Does it posit that the intelligent designer drunk and screwed up royally on the day it created humans, apes and old world monkeys?

Sorry for the blockquote fail, and the typo re: African river blindness (should be 'causing young children', not 'using young children'>

Same old, pathetic, worn out, bull-shit responses, from the same old, worn out evos-inbreds. Our dear simpleton JGC is re-quoting the same shit he posted back on August 21st. Same....response....., based on pure insanity.

However, we must FIRST allow everyone the pleasure of watching our dear " blaclodgebob" being drawn and quartered.

He said......" until Mr. Alden can satisfy ONE of my 4 criteria, we should not accept the idea of Intelligent Design. ......
This is way too easy.
Hell, I can provide ONE example that achieves ALL .......EEEFFFINGGG ......FOUR........ of your stupid requirements. How about Dr. Douglas Borchman, from the University of Louisville ?

http://www.southeastoutlook.org/news/features/article_9f63fbf8-bd7a-11e…

1- Scientific research, proving Intelligent Design ? Check.
2- Provable testing method ? Got it.
3- Peer reviewed research ? No problemo. Dr. Borchman has over ONE HUNDRED PEER REVIEWED scientific studies.
4- Proven research ? Of course. Over 30.....EEFFFFING....YEARS of scientific research, totally devoted to the complexity of the human eye.
* All of this from a former atheist, who now supports Intelligent Design.
Therefore, we owe a big thank you, to our dear SpongeBob-blaclodgeBob. He said if ONE of his requirements could be met, it would validate Intelligent Design. We met all 4. Looks like we will now have to re-write the atheist inspired textbooks & start teaching ID in our public schools.

As for our other resident shit-for brains, aka JGC ?
Thanks for the quote mining. It does nothing but expose your blatant stupidity.
Regarding the " purpose " for the big rock in your flower garden, causing you mindless hours of frustration ? Even our great Creator has a sense of humor. It's to aggravate yet another evos-inbred. What blithering idiot tries to plant a flower garden, where a big rock already exists ? Ummmm...JGC, if it pains your pea size-brain that much.......and you can't move the rock...?? ..how about moving the garden instead...
Next, he tries the same old bullshit response regarding the African river blindness nematode.....blah....blah.....blah.
Atheists love this stupid example because they think it somehow validates evolution. You might want to update your data. Thanks to medical technology, we now have treatments for this ailment, like the drug Mectizan, among many others.

As for your Vitamin C response ? Yet ANOTHER, typical evos-inbred rant. Love the cut and paste job from your lame August 21st projectile-vomiting. Again, you missed the ENTIRE.....EEFFINGGG......point.
It's not about HOW some species can synthesize Vitamin C and others can't, you stupid dip-shit. You must first ask the question, WHY.........Why does this life supporting nutrient exist in our world, in the first place.?

In summary, for anyone interested in discovering the truth, go back up top......to the very beginning of this post.....

Jason Rosenhouse said even IDers agree that CHANCE, not natural selection.......
MERE......RANDOM......EFFFFFING.....CHANCE.... could account for the existence of the human eye. I responded with " nothing could be further from the truth." I then proceeded to list the 10 MAJOR co-dependent systems necessary for the human eye, to even function properly.
Mere chance....or random chance......or random mutations..........CANNOT ACCOUNT FOR ALL THE OTHER systems that allow the eyeball to have a utility of function within the human body.

And so we have it, yet AGAIN......... 100 % PROOF, for the validation of our wonderful, Omnipotent Creator. AND... his Intelligent Design of the universe......

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 19 Dec 2015 #permalink

Actually, according to both ISI web of science and dr. Borchman's own website http://louisville.edu/imd3/imd3-faculty/douglas-borchman-ph.d he has never published a paper reporting on an experiment testing intelligent design. Most of his work has been on the biochemistry of aging in the human eye, with not a single paper addressing the design issue. But I suppose that mr Alden knows more about Borchman's work than Borchman does.

By blacklodgebob (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink

Here is a link to the discovery institutes dubious list of research:
http://www.discovery.org/id/peer-review/
Please note that Dr. Borchman is not listed anywhere in the bibliography. Also note that every single paper in the bibliography which reports on an actual experiment refers to experiments which were not intended to decide between design and evolution. Every paper in the bibliography which supports intelligent design is academic and not experimental.

By blacklodgebob (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink

Here is an interesting link. It is to a paper authored by Dr. Borchman. In the citations, #69 is a paper which reports on an experiment in which the evolutionary history of the human eye is confirmed. It even mentions evolution in the title. Again, this is a paper supporting evolution which is cited by Dr. Borchman himself.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2918433/#!po=68.8356

By blacklodgebob (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink

Here is a link to a pubmed search for "intelligent design". Every result is either about things such as how to design drugs intelligently (not what we mean here) or is against intelligent design as the term is used in this thread. The best one is #6, where the author, a psychologist, reports on his use of creationist ideas to illustrate cognitive errors. He reports that the more his students considered creationism objectively, the more they rejected it. Note that not one result dsupports intelligent design.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=%22intelligent+design%22
There is also an illuminating study in which the authors use belief in creationism to successfully predict lower than average I.Q. scores.

By blacklodgebob (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink

This link is to a pubmed search for the term evolution. Some of the 425,838 results refer to things such as evolution of chemical species in chemical reactions (a different use of the word evolution). Of those that concern biological evolution, every single one supports evolution; Most of those report on experiments in which evolutionary processes are observed and/or measured.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=evolution

By blacklodgebob (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink

Okay folks. I think this conversation is past its sell-by date. Everyone go cool off and calm down.

Joseph Alden--

No profanity please. This is a family blog. Also, nowhere did I suggest that chance alone could explain the human eye. I said that an object or event having low probability is never enough by itself to infer design.

blacklodgebob--

Don't clutter up my Recent Comments tab with relentless comments. You don't have to leave a separate comment for each thought.

A few years ago I debated a fine gentleman named Andrew. He was the typical evos-inbred. A pure-blood atheist. Andrew had a PhD in Biology from UC-Berkeley.

I asked him to prove evolution, utilizing the Trilobite. Show me the lab experiments. Produce the definitive, observable transitional life forms, based on random mutations, for this species. Show me the fossil evidence, detailing how this life form came into existence, with VERY.....COMPLEX.....EYES.....through a series of mutations, with Mother Nature, waving her magic wand called natural selection.
He couldn't. In fact, he became very upset. I remember his last response. I saved his quote. It went like this......" Look Mr. Alden, .....not everything in science must involve controlled laboratory experiments. Many scientific investigations don't involve conducting experiments at all. Astronomers cannot hold stars in their hands....and.... geologists cannot go back in time, to see rocks being formed.....Quite often, scientists learn a great deal about the universe, through simple observations & comparisons...."

To which I replied..." Great...Fantastic......You TOO just validated Intelligent Design.......It operates under the EXACT SAME CRITERIA....."
Now....where did SpongeBob-Blacklodgebob run off to....
Oh wait I see....He's been busy using old, worn out science links, to try and discredit Dr. Borchman.

Hey SpongeBob, wake up.....We've learned MUCH more about the human eyeball, in just the last......10.......YEARS alone.
Many of your linked quotes above, were from the early 1990s..........

Sorry dude........We can't live in the past forever.
Oh well, here we go.......

By Joseph Alden (not verified) on 20 Dec 2015 #permalink