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    Even Intelligent Design Requires Evolution
    By Gerhard Adam | May 7th 2013 01:47 PM | 79 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Intelligent Design is often presented as a view that runs counter to evolutionary theory.  Whether it be the concept of natural selection or ideas about speciation, Intelligent Design (ID) purports to reconcile the observed environment from the perspective of an intelligent ordering system.

    Concepts like "irreducible complexity" to examples of finding a watch or a tornado spontaneously assembling a 747 in a junkyard.  All these images are invoked by Intelligent Design as an argument against evolution.
    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
    http://www.intelligentdesign.org/
    Yet, this is wrong, even from ID's perspective.

    Since the argument invariably follows from examining the complexity of inanimate objects, then the presumption is that when one sees a system based on a particular set of functions, then it cannot have evolved, but it must have been specifically designed.

    So, let's take this argument at face value and apply it to the ID examples.

    If we consider the 747 jet, then the assumption of design is invoked because such complexity cannot arise randomly.  Forgoing the complete misunderstanding about randomness, what is wrong with this argument?

    Since the 747 is an aircraft, we have to ask where did the design originate?  We can immediately see that it didn't occur directly, but rather was the result of an evolutionary process beginning with the Wright Brothers [and even previous unsuccessful attempts at flight].  So, once flight was achieved, instead of designs simply arising, we see a long evolutionary process of designs, improvements, further designs, further improvements, etc. etc. etc.  In fact, one could argue that once the principles of flight were understood, the process gave rise to their own class of "speciation" events giving rise to helicopters,ultra-lights, and other modes of air travel [even the space shuttle].

    Similarly if one examines the proverbial watch or any other object of complexity that is introduced.  In no instance is the object produced directly by design.  Rather the object in question is invariably the result of design, evolution, and selection.  At each design step, the characteristics that work best get selected for incorporation in future versions of the object.

    There are simply no exceptions.  

    Therefore any object that exhibits design also exhibits evolution and selection.  It is, in effect, what we call progress.  

    From this we can see that the problem ID overlooks is that the question isn't about specific objects like watches and jet aircraft any more than it is about jellyfish or chimpanzees.  It is about the processes that gave rise to the means by which such objects/organisms evolve.  Therefore the process is the critical element that results in their production.

    If one were to examine the development of computers, one would see a gradual evolutionary path, giving rise to other "species" such as the iPad or iPhone, etc.  Each of which is designed, based on the operational parts of its predecessors.  Successful elements are conserved, while design operates by taking the successful parts of the past developments and incorporating them in future products.

    Therefore, if one were to accurately apply Intelligent Design to biology, one would have to conclude that the requisite explanatory part must define the process, not the object.  Therefore, intelligence doesn't design objects, it designs the means by which objects can be produced.

    A common criticism invokes "irreducible complexity" as an argument against evolution, and yet, this quite clearly requires evolution.  Examine your iPad or laptop and you'll find all manner of components that, if missing, would render the whole inoperative.  Yet, we also know that your iPad or laptop is a direct result of computer evolution, so that it consists of those elements that have been gradually improved upon and integrated into the object you are now viewing this article on.

    Yet, someone may well invoke the argument that the distinction is that these processes aren't random, but clearly show a purpose; i.e. they are directed.  But that isn't true, since no one can anticipate what discoveries or inventions may occur, so from the perspective of the final product they are completely random [or at least as random as biological processes] when viewed in hindsight.  Since biological processes aren't random either [merely unpredictable], then the purported evidence for ID, would also require such unpredictability.  After all, if everything were predictable, then the Wright Brothers would've simply flown the 777 Dreamliner at Kitty Hawk and it would represent the culmination of man's flight capabilities.  Yet, even here, no one expects that the 777 is the last word on human flight.

    As a result, Intelligent Design absolutely requires that evolution and natural selection be true.  Just as the first developers of the computer couldn't design, much less envision, an iPad, nor could the Wright Brothers design the 777 Dreamliner.  The designer has no concept of where these processes may lead.  Similarly, it would be absurd to argue that an intelligent designer of the universe, would be able to predict the directions such process creation could take. Claims to the contrary are no longer discussing ID, but invoking the supernatural.

    Consequently one can only conclude that Intelligent Design is not an argument against evolution.  It clearly indicates that it also requires evolution and natural selection to fulfill it's predictions.  Therefore, at best, it is simply an argument about origins and not evolution.  

    Comments

    logicman
    the object in question is invariably the result of design, evolution, and selection.

    In human systems, design, evolution and selection are all three always a product of human behavior.  The economic model of 'consumer choices' is but an abstract of the study of a subset of human behavior.

    The selection of improvements in artifacts has led from finger counting through the Jacquard loom to the computer which I am typing these words on.  But the selection was neither organized nor random: the appearance of a strand leading from a to b is hopelessly false.  In every field of human endeavor, if we wish to see further than those who preceded us we have no option but to stand on the shoulders of giants, that is: to build on what went before.  It is impossible to build even an abstract concept out of nothing.  Looking back through the clouds of history we think we see a road.  We are deluded:  what we see in a modern idea is an emergent property of millions of human decisions made over the course of time, some "good", some "bad".

    One theological argument against the idea of 'intelligent design' is that an omnipotent and omniscient God could cause any effect merely by a single thought.  There would be no need for a planning or design stage - that lack of need is implied by 'omniscience'.   Ergo there is no theological need for intelligent design: the end product appears instantly without any intermediate stage of design or operations research.
    Gerhard Adam
    One theological argument against the idea of 'intelligent design' is that an omnipotent and omniscient God could cause any effect merely by a single thought.
    Yes, but then Intelligent Design is not a counter argument to evolution.  It is merely creationism.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    It is merely creationism.
    No!  Formal creationists reject ID as being founded in ideas having their origins in paganism.

    Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text.
    Discovery Institute
    Gerhard Adam
    I understand.  My point is that ID is supposed to be agnostic, and yet to do so they cannot reject evolution.  The only point that they can make, in the final analysis, requires a divinity which transforms it back into creationism.

    That's the basis of my argument since there is no "scientific theory" of intelligent design.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    there is no "scientific theory" of intelligent design.

    If you read the quotes as meaning so-called then:

    There is no "scientific" theory of intelligent design.   False.

    :-)
    More fun and games with English language and logic >>



    Rick Ryals
    Cosmological ID assumes that the designer is simply tweaking the forces in a manner that would enable life to arise and evolve.  It has often been proposed that a more advanced life form could theoretically accomplish this.
    MikeCrow
    And this could be God's doing, but there's no evidence, just Faith, which for believers is fine by me.

    But we also have no way to know how many attempted Universes there are, assuring at least some would have the right parameters allowing us to get to a point where we can ask such questions.

    Id also implies a creator, whether in this Universe or beyond this Universe, which I see as an Alien, whether it has God like powers or not.
    Never is a long time.
    Rick Ryals
    Or, more plausibly, a simple law of nature that requires life at a very specific time and region of the universe as a necessary function of the thermodynamic process, but I think that you missed Gerhard's point.
    MikeCrow
    I was really adding to the Cosmological ID comment.

    My post yesterday that I think I forgot to send, was more to Gerhard's point.
    Never is a long time.
    Rick Ryals
    Okay, Mi Cro... and it's a good point too.
    Rick Ryals
    Also, Gerhard:
    Yet, someone may well invoke the argument that the distinction is that these processes aren't random, but clearly show a purpose; i.e. they are directed.  But that isn't true, since no one can anticipate what discoveries or inventions may occur, so from the perspective of the final product they are completely random [or at least as random as biological processes] when viewed in hindsight.

    How do you know that the trial an error hasn't already been done elsewhere previously, so that whatever designer already knows that the the final product will turn out as "directed" this time?
    Gerhard Adam
    The problem with your argument is that you require a "final product".  In other words, evolution must stop.  If it doesn't, then you're back in the same quandry as before, in that you cannot predict what direction things may take in the future and therefore it cannot be "directed".
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rick Ryals
    No, evolution doesn't have to stop, as I may know from previous "designs" what will get me from point A to K, and we'll just watch and see what the next evolutionary step will be... for future reference.
    Gerhard Adam
    Unless you can control all the variables, I can't imagine such a situation being viable.  You can't know what the next evolutionary step will be, since you can't predict the environment in which the design will have to operate.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rick Ryals
    Tell that to the climate scientists... haha, but I'm not sure that I understand what you're saying here.  Why should I care whether or not the design advances it any farther in order for me to produce the current end product?... which is what we are talking about, but if it does, then I'll modify the design in the future...

    ... and on the seventh day... I'll get drunk!
    MikeCrow
    What if you're looking to see what 10,000 experiments evolve to over 100 million years?

    The biological version of genetic algorithms.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    The point remains the same.  If one were to postulate intelligent design, then the designer must engage in designing an algorithmic process that is capable of evolving and adapting.  Anything else requires an explicit act of creation which is simply creationism.

    Therefore, my point is that if one is suggesting that intelligent design is the mechanism rather than natural selection, then the quibble is over origins and not evolutionary processes.  In other words, there would be no way to distinguish natural selection from intelligent design except as an argument about how the whole thing started.  Anything else puts you in the position of having to argue about explicit acts of creation, which is specifically invoking a creator, which is religious.

    Intelligent Design purports to be scientific and denies any connection to creationism.

    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    then the quibble is over origins and not evolutionary processes

    Actually this is a good point, I think this is what a lot (though not all) of the disagreement is over, genesis.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Disagreement can run rampant in this area, because there's nothing definitive anywhere [from a scientific perspective].
    Mundus vult decipi
    As a Bible-believing evangelical Christian, I love this article! I think you make an excellent point about one of the many flaws in the intelligent design argument. More and more believers are welcoming, or at least becoming open to, the overwhelming evidence for evolution that science has uncovered. You can read more of my perspective at www.godofevolution.com. Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    Rick Ryals
    Or you could just convert to Catholicism, since they already believe in a hands-off god and evolution.
    If by "already believe" you mean "took 91 years to make up their mind" then yes, I suppose you could :) 

    Oh wait a minute, they haven't actually pronounced on the subject yet. Looks like we will have to wait another 91 years before we can all stop thinking for ourselves.
     
     
    Rick Ryals
    There is no doubt in my mind that Catholics are IDists who deny this fact simply because they are liberals who don't want to be associated with the right winged fundies:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/opinion/07schonborn.html?_r=0
    There is no doubt in my mind that Catholics are IDists who deny this fact simply because they are liberals who don't want to be associated with the right winged fundies
    Unlikely. ID is specific - that there are signs in the physical nature of living things that an intelligent designer subverted natural processes in order to force the formation of things that would not have otherwise evolved. I think the NYT article is absurdly simplistic. This site is hardly the best place to discuss theology and I may be being excessively charitable to the Catholic church (I am not a Catholic!), however, what I would glean is that (some) influential Catholics see transcendent qualities of purpose in creation. Transcendent purpose has nothing to do with whether a hummingbird's beak actually works for the bird, but everything to with whether the thing has intrinsic value. As the article says: 
    Furthermore, according to the commission, "An unguided evolutionary process - one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence - simply cannot exist."

    Benedict proclaimed: "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."
    I cannot see how the most ardent ID-er would ever claim that every individual is specifically willed by God! On the contrary Benedict is saying that we (humans but it would also apply to the whole of creation) are planned from before anything existed. Indeed it takes a peculiar kind of blockheadedness to read about evolution falling under divine providence and still think it means God tinkering with the machine he made!
     
    Rick Ryals
    Evolution entails a constant directional pressure that is determined by the constantly changing ecobalance, which is a lot more relevant to the big picture than anybody that matters ever bothers to recognize for its full significance, but that has everything to do with laws of nature and nothing to do with anybody's god.

    I cannot see how the most ardent ID-er would ever claim that every individual is specifically willed by God!

    Stay out of the bible belt and you'll continue to never see how.
    I meant that the Catholic sources are highly unlikely to be saying that God specifically willed every individual but he created them using ID alone. 

    Mind you, who ever cared about being reasonable in a witch-hunt ? 
     
     
    I disagree one one crucial point, ID spoke persons have always acknowledged the role of evolution in biological development. So on that point we are in agreement. Evolution alone, still doesn't explain the existence of complex features that could not possibly exist without planning and forethought, ID in other words.

    Gerhard Adam
    You can't acknowledge evolution and then deny it in the next sentence.  That's the point.  Evolution is a process, just as design requires a process.

    As I said, the complexity argument doesn't work, since there is no intelligent designer, in any example, that is capable of producing the product you are currently examining.  It got there by an evolutionary process.

    Now, if your argument is that each organism was an explicit act of creation independent of any other organisms, then you're no longer talking about Intelligent Design, but invoking creationism.  In that instance you can not claim a scientific theory, since you've crossed over into the realm of religious belief.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I was not denying evolution, but constraining its abilities to VERY small innovations. For the vast majority of biology's innovations, the mutational steps required are too vast. Evolution has a limited that is easily reached. Therefore, DESIGN is necessary to explain most features in life. Your examples are all products that require intelligent design. You may label the process as evolution, but it is not the definition the ardent defenders of Evolution would agree with.

    Gerhard Adam
    You can choose to deny it, but that's the way it works.  There isn't a single product I've described that hasn't evolved.  The problem here is that you think invoking "intelligent design" provides some explanatory power.  It doesn't.

    My point is that the only thing an intelligent designer could do would be to design the process.  Anything else is creationism, since you're asserting that each of the elements of complexity require a separate and distinct act of creation.  Your examples aren't about design, they are about creation.
    ...but it is not the definition the ardent defenders of Evolution would agree with.
    While I certainly don't consider myself a "defender", since I don't believe one needs to defend a theory that is so robust.  However, I could certainly agree with this definition of evolution, so perhaps you can find someone that would dispute it.

    The limits you attribute to evolution are only in your own understanding.
    Mundus vult decipi
    My point is that the only thing an intelligent designer could do would be to design the process. Anything else is creationism, since you're asserting that each of the elements of complexity require a separate and distinct act of creation. Your examples aren't about design, they are about creation.
    If ID were to change its name to "Intelligent Creation-In-Little-Lots-Not-Creation-All-In-One-Go" (ICILLNCAIOG) would it make any difference?
     


    Gerhard Adam
    If ID were to change its name to "Intelligent Creation-In-Little-Lots-Not-Creation-All-In-One-Go" (ICILLNCAIOG) would it make any difference?
    Yes, because then they could stop pretending to be a scientific theory and admit that they are simply a revision of creationism.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    ICILLNCAIOGLMAO !
    then they could stop pretending to be a scientific theory
    Not really. Your blog was about design vs creation, not creationism vs science. If ID called itself ICILLNCAIOG it would still claim to be scientific, just as Creation Science already does. 
     
    The Stand-Up Physicist
    The evolution of phones is something people in the first world have first hand experience with.  There is all kinds of different market place pressures which have made the device veer different directions in both form and function; big, small, fast powerful, and most important of all, sexy.  It is sexual selection that does the oddest thing in evolution.  Thanks for the blog.
    Hank
    Why do people always have to go after my trusty DynaTAC 8000X? I kept that sucker in the car until the late 1990s for one reason - its polycarbonate plastic construction could survive any crash, of course, but also because no teenager could feel cool with that thing plugged into the cigarette lighter, and uncool kids drive slower.
    MikeCrow
    Though if it hit you in the back of the head in an accident, it might also out survive you.
    Think that antenna is long enough impale you from the back of the head an still be long enough for an eye to dangle off the tip?
    Never is a long time.
    logicman
    Evolution alone, still doesn't explain the existence of complex features that could not possibly exist without planning and forethought, ID in other words.

    Evolution does explain the existence of complex features: micro-scale changes are sufficient.

    rholley
    Far too long a string of comments to get myself embroiled in, but you might like this picture inspired by the book

    The Evolution of the Euclidean Elements: A Study of the Theory of Incommensurable Magnitudes and Its Significance for Early Greek Geometry by Wilbur Richard Knorr (Paperback) Kluwer Academic Publishers (Dec 1981) ISBN: 9027711925


    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Progressive evolution of design, as evidenced by the theory of Evolution, but by advanced science and not nature, over some 12000 years, followed by 13200 of our history to 1945.(Oh my God the kids have found the matches!!) - HIROSHIMA)This statement is made against a backdrop of this planet being indeed very old and a sort of 'living machine', where land masses created by different scientifically advanced humanities, have gone back into the mantle over about 30000 years.There have been many humanities on this planet which have disappeared for the same scientifically predictable reason, we can well understand, today. Our level of science today is conceptually about the level of someone living 2000 years ago, compared to say, a NASA scientist today.
    Source; A level of science with an in depth knowledge of the biology of the human species
    " LET NOTHING PASS THE SIEVE OF UNDERSTANDING, THROUGH MERE CONFIDENCE AND AUTHORITY " -
    MONTAIGNE
    666+ human generation since the creation of the first men
    http://blog.world-mysteries.com/science/666-human-generation-since-the-c...

    KRA5H
    "Or you could just convert to Catholicism, since they already believe in a hands-off god and evolution."

    I'm not sure, Richard, what you mean by "hands-off."

    Rick Ryals
    In context with the subject matter being discussed, Catholics typically claim to accept evolution via **unguided** natural selection.

    As I stated... I don't actually buy this ideologically motivated lie... substantiated by Christoph Schonborn in his 2005 opinion piece written for the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/07/opinion/07schonborn.html?_r=0

    He has since conveniently withdrawn from this position while claiming that the Discovery Institute "pressured" him... LOL!!!
    KRA5H
    I don't get the impression from the Catholic Answers page the word "unguided." To wit,

    "Concerning biological evolution, the Church does not have an official position on whether various life forms developed over the course of time. However, it says that, if they did develop, then they did so under the impetus and guidance of God, and their ultimate creation must be ascribed to him."

    By "unguided," I get the impression that anything could have happened. For example, God frontloads the universe with the necessary parameters for some form of life to evolve (not necessarily carbon based), then waits around for a dozen or so billion years until something intelligent evolved, not necessarily primates, but maybe cetaceans, or maybe Corvus brachyrhynchos. Then, arbitrarily, He chose primates (Homo sapiens) with whom to have personal relationships, establish contracts, and so on.

    Gerhard Adam
    I think we need to be clear that Intelligent Design purports to be a "scientific theory" that does not depend on a God.  Invoking a deity is simply a religious argument and has no place in discussing the scientific merits of a theory.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Your case seems puzzling to me. Surely there is a parallel between the way nature has blossomed on earth and the way technology has blossomed on earth. Surely nature has added new function upon old, just as technology has added new function upon old. Most in the ID community would absolutely agree with your statement, "Consequently one can only conclude that Intelligent Design is not an argument against evolution. It clearly indicates that it also requires evolution and natural selection to fulfill it's predictions." The premise of ID is that the tools of selection and randomness, as they often express it, "chance and necessity" are not sufficient to explain life as we know it. Our patent system is a rather good record of the many insightful, intelligent advances that allowed the propeller plane to transform (evolve) into the 777. The ID community simply contends that in addition to natural selection and random variation, an intelligent factor is also required to produce life as we know it.

    logicman
    The ID community simply contends that in addition to natural selection and random variation, an intelligent factor is also required to produce life as we know it.

    This amounts to the same idea as proposed by Thomas Aquinas: the argument from efficient cause.   In simple terms, if every effect has a cause then we have an infinite causal regression.  We can only avoid infinite causal regression by evoking a prime cause.

    If you combine ideas from David Hume and others (multi-path causality)and Edward Lorenz (the butterfly effect), then the idea that infinite causal regression demonstrates the existence of a god / intelligent designer becomes somewhat obsolete: infinite regress does not follow of necessity from the flows of causality.
    "Prime cause", or "intelligent prime causal agent" is the best logical explanation for the big bang. However, it does nothing for the analogy of the process of transformation (evolution) necessary to get from propeller plane to 777. Some IDers hold that the first life on earth was seeded with all that is necessary for life as we know it to form. They parallel first life with the seed of a tree that knows how to become the full tree.

    I do not find their case compelling. The evidence I see requires an active agent interrupting nature at many points along the way. This would, of course, be a tight parallel to the known process of getting from propeller plane to 777.

    Gerhard Adam
    ..."chance and necessity" are not sufficient to explain life as we know it.
    ... and yet "chance and necessity" are precisely what humans have often benefited from in their own discoveries and inventions.  Are you suggesting that such cannot play a role?

    BTW, what "chance" are you referring to?  Surely you don't believe that the misunderstandings about randomness are considered biological facts.  Surely you can distinguish the concept of "randomness" when what is being described is merely unpredictable.  After all, we know there are rules in physics and chemistry that favor certain events and disallow others.  That's hardly random.

    Yet, my point is that without an explicit act of biological creation at every variation in the environment, then even ID has to acknowledge that the biological process is robust enough to exploit "chance and necessity" to allow organisms to adapt. 
    The ID community simply contends that in addition to natural selection and random variation, an intelligent factor is also required to produce life as we know it.
    ... and this is where it falls down.  Let's be clear that "design" and "production" are two different things.  These are two vastly different things as is clearly demonstrated by the roles played by engineers [i.e. design a process] versus those that actually build it [i.e. robots in many cases].  The point is that the actual production of something is mostly done by unintelligent processes. 

    Again, this is an example of how ID wants to take a particular idea, such as design, and then conflate it with creation.  It is the process that produces the result.  The actual mechanics of production does not require intelligence. 

    So, unless you're claiming that every time a bacteria acquires antibiotic resistance, there is a specific, intentional act of creation occurring, then you must concede that these processes are capable of changing, mutation, etc.  Hence your "chance and necessity" are just as much a part of ID as any other explanation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "and yet "chance and necessity" are precisely what humans have often benefited from in their own discoveries and inventions. Are you suggesting that such cannot play a role?"
    Chance and necessity play a role! Absolutely yes! The ID position is that chance and necessity are necessary BUT NOT SUFFICIENT to explain the evidence of biology.

    "The point is that the actual production of something is mostly done by unintelligent processes." I adopted 2 young girls which were the product of a woman with diminished capacity. She answered natures call and poof, babies. This process requires no intelligence, it is merely built into the machine.

    "Let's be clear that "design" and "production" are two different things." In the technological world, these two processes sometimes blur pretty badly. We use patch software to make small tweaks in existing software, for instance. I know of no IDer who thinks that a designer is required to manage replication. Production does not require active design. Designed for automated production is the theory.

    "So, unless you're claiming that every time a bacteria acquires antibiotic resistance, there is a specific, intentional act of creation occurring, then you must concede that these processes are capable of changing, mutation, etc."

    This reminds me of experiments published by Behe in "The Edge of Evolution". They take a bacterium, and using a single point mutation, damage it to not be able to digest a particular substance, then let its progeny discover how to digest the substance. It takes little time for the progeny to come across the corrective mutation. When they start with a bacterium with two points of damage, where both must simultaneously be corrected before there is any improvement in digestion, then the bacteria are nearly incapable of solving the riddle. If there are three simultaneous mutations required, well, the bacteria cannot pull it off.

    Behe presents an interesting term in the title of his book, where is the edge of evolution? Chance + necessity clearly play a role. How much can chance + necessity do? Can chance + necessity pull off life as we see it? The data I see causes me to conclude that chance + necessity is not adequate.

    Gerhard Adam
    The ID position is that chance and necessity are necessary BUT NOT SUFFICIENT to explain the evidence of biology.
    Be more specific.  This is just hand-waving.
    When they start with a bacterium with two points of damage, where both must simultaneously be corrected before there is any improvement in digestion, then the bacteria are nearly incapable of solving the riddle. If there are three simultaneous mutations required, well, the bacteria cannot pull it off.
    ... and this is supposed to demonstrate what, besides a gross misunderstanding of biology, natural selection, and evolution?
    The data I see causes me to conclude that chance + necessity is not adequate.
    As I said, I need something more specific.  What I don't need [or want] is someone simply stating that the eye couldn't possibly evolve, or that DNA couldn't possibly evolve, etc. etc. etc.  I want to see the evidence that demonstrates that such a thing couldn't have happened, not mere assertions.

    Overwhelmingly, when such claims are made they demonstrate a lack of understanding more than insight.
    I know of no IDer who thinks that a designer is required to manage replication. Production does not require active design. 
    OK and yet you would invoke not just intelligent design but intelligent production.  So, a designer would not merely have designed DNA, they would have had to construct DNA in the first place.  This would have had to be robust enough to anticipate all future changes.  Ironically, it is this same DNA that would be responsible for constructing the complexity that you claim isn't possible.  So, if the DNA [which is an unintelligent process] is capable of constructing a structure that you claim is too complex to have been constructed by an unintelligent process, then that simply leads us to a regression where DNA is somehow the product of intelligent design but the structure [i.e. the eye] is not.

    Yet, we could go back even farther and question why DNA should be the product of a designer, and why not RNA?  or go back even farther.  The point is that Intelligent Design must put a stake in the ground and define at what point they claim that an intelligent act of production had to occur.

    Because if an unintelligent process can produce a complex structure, then [again] you are left with either acknowledging that the mechanisms of evolution ARE sufficient to create complexity, or you must invoke a specific act of creation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Ok, case in point -- the HAR1F gene. It is ultra-conserved in all mammals (oh, and birds but not lizards.) There is that one nasty exception, the human HAR1F differs at 18 non-contiguous points. As this gene is universally conserved, except for three nucleotides in the tail, if the theory is correct no single point mutation is permitted that retains the gene's function. As it has been tested by every mouse and bunny, this view is certainly well tested anyway.

    Now, if you look at the folding of the HAR1F between human and non-human, it becomes fairly apparent that all 18 of the mutations are required in a single event, or the gene fails to function. As Behe has established that the best nature can do is two mutational events without benefit, making the 18 non-contiguous mutations just right is well, hopeful monster. (I do recognize that a single mutational event can involve more than a single nucleotide, but the fact that the mutations are non-contiguous all but eliminates this possibility.)

    The best answer to the HAR1F puzzle, unless it is dismissed a priori, is that an agent "patched" the dna in a human ancestor, just like software is patched in a working program.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you're already wrong.  The HAR1F gene does not code for any proteins that perform a function in the body.  It produces mRNA which directs other protein behaviors. 
    ...if the theory is correct no single point mutation is permitted that retains the gene's function.
    Based on what?  Even in your software analogy, you must realize that programs can have numerous changes/patches while still retaining their basic function. 
    The best answer to the HAR1F puzzle, unless it is dismissed a priori, is that an agent "patched" the dna in a human ancestor, just like software is patched in a working program.
    Not at all, but let's be clear that you're invoking creationism, not design.  A program that is "patched" is actively being modified.  It isn't a design issue. 

    Yet, you manage to introduce the paradox of your own argument.  Instead of design, you are requiring an active intervention in an existing organism to have produced the effect.  In short, you are requiring an act of creation, since obviously the "design" is inadequate to have given rise to this genetic change.  Yet, simultaneously you want to present HAR1F as the item being designed and ignoring the fact that the complexity you're claiming can't occur develops precisely because of this RNA molecule's expression.  Even then, your argument is based on HAR1F being highly conserved which requires the question of the designer which asks ... what was the point?

    One major problem I have with your explanation is that you glibly introduce an "agent" and don't even feel the slightest need to define it.  If you're going to attribute an intelligent agent to such a genetic change, then I expect some explanation as to what you're proposing.  Otherwise it's little better than invoking wizardry.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "The HAR1F gene does not code for any proteins that perform a function." True enough, HAR1F is an RNA gene, not a protein coding gene. "Sorry, but you're already wrong." Well, not really. Dictionary.com defines "gene" as "a basic physical unit of heredity." That it is. I didn't mention protein, I didn't mention amino acids, I mentioned nucleotides because that is the resolution of an RNA gene.

    "Based on what?" Based on if a single point mutation worked as well (doesn't even have to work better) as the original then some animal somewhere would have incorporated the new allele into its system. If this is not so, then the entire evolutionary theory collapses.

    "let's be clear that you're invoking creationism, not design." How is that? Big C creationism calls for an abrupt realization of all life about six thousand years ago. My position holds to universal common descent. It is far on the ID side of the ID - creationism divide.

    "One major problem I have with your explanation is that you glibly introduce an "agent" and don't even feel the slightest need to define it." I am declaring the need for an agent, as yet a mystery. You are suggesting that unless this mystery has resolution it must be dismissed a priori.

    Gerhard Adam
    Based on if a single point mutation worked as well (doesn't even have to work better) as the original then some animal somewhere would have incorporated the new allele into its system. If this is not so, then the entire evolutionary theory collapses.
    Now you're just making stuff up.

    Sorry, but the rest of your post is just making up excuses as to why creationism isn't creationism.  This isn't only about Young Earth Creationism.  It is specifically about invoking the act of creation which is what you've done.

    You can't simply introduce a mystery without demonstrating such a need, which you haven't done.  Simply because you don't understand is no basis for invoking creation.

    In any case, your argument answers/explains nothing because you would simply have pushed the argument back to another layer that needs explaining.  You wish to argue that complexity is impossible without a designer, yet you have no problem magically invoking a complex designer with no explanation as to origins.

    This is just going down the same path as before.  I'm not interested in ID arguments, because there are none, beyond expressing a profound misunderstanding of biology and evolution.

    My point has been made, which is that ID requires evolution and is not an argument against it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    it becomes fairly apparent that all 18 of the mutations are required in a single event

    You've heard of GMO, right ?  Nature can do that.  Genes do not need to change 1 'letter' at a time.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106316/
    You've heard of GMO, right ? Nature can do that. You are referring to horizontal gene transfer, I presume as that is the primary activity of the GMO engineers.

    My understanding of mutation is not by any means limited to point mutations. It recognizes duplication, insertions, deletions, inversions horizontal gene transfer, and a few other mechanisms. However, as the points of mutation are not contiguous, the size of the matching sequence needed in the hopeful monster event becomes larger. A particular 18 nucleotide sequence is requires 4^18 nucleotide search space . 18 specific letters changed with a field of 35 (a guess) requres a 4^35 nucleotide search space. 'Gets a bit hopeful.

    Patrick Lockerby, it is clear that you believe that you have already answered every question asked. I have not read your two links, I have only scanned them.

    The first seems to say that the probability arguments are not valid because you don't need to get from point A to point B in a single bound. Alas, it appears that with the HAR1F, the evidence is that the jump from point A (non-human HAR1F) to point B (human HAR1F) likely did happen in a single bound.

    Your second article, "when is a code not a code" seems to contend that DNA gets written in nature by the twiddle and confirm cycle. The twiddle and confirm cycle clearly works if a bacterium needs to find one mutation to broaden its food-base. The twiddle and confirm cycle, however, has found no way to enhance the HAR1F within all of the mammal kingdom. It suddenly (in evolutionary time) changed by 18 non-contiguous point. The most reasonable explanation is that this bit of code was changed in a single blink -- unless that possibility is dismissed a priori.

    logicman
    My point in providing those links was to show that neither probability nor DNA in action is as simple as many people seem to think.

    DNA is an imperfect tool with which to implement a design.  By physical chemical processes, DNA causes proteins to be constructed if all the ingredients are available.  Even if all the ingredients are available, there may be chemicals present (poisons) which inhibit protein synthesis.  Even if a protein is synthesised it may be chemically corrupted and / or not end up folded into a functional shape.  A protein in a cell is not just a chemical: its physical structure is vital to the normal expression of genes.  Many diseases have their cause in protein mis-folding.  Surely an intelligent designer would have modified the laws of thermodynamics to eradicate this design fault.

    I am laying all of this out because - and I may be wrong - you, like many people,  seem to take a simple computer model as a valid analog of DNA in action.  It isn't.
    MikeCrow
    seem to take a simple computer model as a valid analog of DNA in action.  It isn't.

    While a simple computer model isn't, Genetic Algorithms show exactly how you can randomly hack and then splice large sections of code strings when used as a direct substitute for DNA, and evolve program functionality.
    Never is a long time.
    The fact that DNA isn't as, well, disciplined as computer code changes nothing in this context. It remains that there is a segment of code, labelled HAR1F, which is exactly the same (except for 3 nucleotides in the tail) in every single mammal. (This fact should indicate that for some reason this segment requires a computer-like precision to function.) It also remains that there are 18 non-contiguous point that differ in the human from all other mammals. These changes produce an alternate folding that would not be easily supported with fewer than all 18 changes.

    The modern scientific model does not find a likely explanation for this phenomenon.

    logicman
    there is a segment of code, labelled HAR1F, which is exactly the same (except for 3 nucleotides in the tail) in every single mammal.

    That claim is at odds with the nomenclature: "human accelerated region" implies a difference from non human genes.  So I checked.

    [my emphasis]

    Abstract

    We devised a ranking of regions in the human genome that show significant evolutionary acceleration. Here we report that the most dramatic of these 'human accelerated regions', HAR1, is part of a novel RNA gene (HAR1F) that is expressed specifically in Cajal-Retzius neurons in the developing human neocortex from 7 to 19 gestational weeks, a crucial period for cortical neuron specification and migration. HAR1F is co-expressed with reelin, a product of Cajal-Retzius neurons that is of fundamental importance in specifying the six-layer structure of the human cortex. HAR1 and the other human accelerated regions provide new candidates in the search for uniquely human biology.

    Nature. 2006 Sep 14;443(7108):167-72. Epub 2006 Aug 16.
    An RNA gene expressed during cortical development evolved rapidly in humans.
    Pollard KS, Salama SR, Lambert N, Lambot MA, Coppens S, Pedersen JS, Katzman S, King B, Onodera C, Siepel A, Kern AD, Dehay C, Igel H, Ares M Jr, Vanderhaeghen P, Haussler D.
    Center for Biomolecular Science&Engineering, Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16915236

    Since you have not cited the source of your claim I tracked it down.  It is from The Journal of Creation published by Creation Ministries.  So it wouild appear that the HAR1F argument for ID is also a creationist argument.  How unexpected!

    The HAR1F gene: a Darwinian paradox.

    It's hardly fair on Aquinas to compare him to IDers. His arguments may have been flawed but at least he respected logic. In contrast, IDers show no sign of rationality but just appeal to emotion, as they point at the pretty flowers and gibber "Goddidit, goddidit, goddidit!"
    "IDers show no sign of rationality but just appeal to emotion." I challenge you to a debate, sir. I challenge to have an independent arbiter determine whether either of us has abandoned logic. I am a logic engineer (software engineer). It is data and logic that causes me to hold an ID view. You seem to think that my logic can be eliminated with nothing more than rhetoric. I therefore charge you with abandoning rationality and just appealing to emotion.

    What on earth makes you think I would be interested in a debate? Evolution is settled science - if you want to learn about it, try a dedicated site such as talkorigins.

    GoAT
    Well said, sir.

    Just trying to be fair here, but I think the "know your opponent" mantra would be well applied here.

    Burning down your strawman is not a very scientifically sound way to go about getting to truth.

    In that vein, I 'd say that ID people would not disagree with much of what is said, except that there seems to be a creative word semantics game being played. It seems that word usage goes from "Design requires evolution" to get to "see, evolution can account for all appearent design." I don't think that's fiar and I don't think the logical arguments follow.

    The problem I have is that the word 'evolution' is being intentionally uses as a generic form and a loaded form to mean "biological evoloution of the specie" or fill in your own definition. I don't think you'll find an ID proponent that disagrees that what they see as desing undergoes changes governerned by natural selection. I think you would find that they see that as a design component, but with limits that don't allow that mechanism to explain life arising from non-life, the develompent of a genetic code, certain complex biological systems that are difficult to explain through gradual steps that don't add selection value until combined with others.

    Sumarizing, I'd say those are intriguing concepts to me, and there are in fact plenty of scientists that struggle with the same. We should spend our time talking about that, not trying to word game ourselves to intellectual superiority.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...but with limits that don't allow that mechanism to explain life arising from non-life, the development of a genetic code, certain complex biological systems that are difficult to explain through gradual steps that don't add selection value until combined with others.
    The problem is that there are many assumptions that are simply incorrect when applied to biology, so rather than learn where the error occurs, they simply invoke intelligent design.  Origin of life questions are not part of evolution.  So, regardless of how one views life arising from non-life it is not an evolutionary question [in the biological sense of Darwin]. 

    Darwin started with the point of life already existing and then described natural selection as the vehicle for explaining the diversity that exists.

    As for complex biological systems and gradual steps, well ... that's simply misunderstanding the process.  As a simple example, our fingers didn't develop one joint at a time and yet this is precisely the assumption that is often made regarding "gradual steps".  Every nerve and blood vessel doesn't require a specific genetic code to render it.  The process is considerably more robust than that.  In addition, "nature" isn't required to be efficient, so some of what develops is "over-developed" and then trimmed away. 

    You may think that these are semantic games, but in the absence of any actual "theory" of Intelligent Design, that's precisely the argument that has always been brought forth.  They simply invoke "irreducible complexity" with the wave of a hand, never actually examining the basis for such a claim.  Instead, they invoke a mechanism that has never been proposed in biology [i.e. gradualism] and then argue that such a thing couldn't occur without a designer.  Yet, the structure does exist, and even if one proposes intelligent design, it doesn't account for intelligent creation. 

    So, if the point is that the structure is too complex to have evolved, then the choice is either to invoke a specific act of creation that created it in one gesture, or to acknowledge that the structure evolved from an existing set of processes.  Take your pick, but the former no longer has any claim as being anything other than creationism.
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    It's hardly fair on Aquinas to compare him to IDers. His arguments may have been flawed but at least he respected logic.
    I have great respect for Aquinas' logic.  I was simply comparing his notions of prima causa with those of the ID brigade.  Prima causa may be an interesting topic in philosophy, but it is not an accepted causal agent or object of study in the physical sciences, ergo I.D. is not a science.
    KRA5H
    This is actually on topic so, can anyone tell me what this is:

    Gerhard Adam
    A picture of a rock? :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat


    A dinosaur tooth fossil maybe, like this one? 
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    KRA5H
    * points at Gerhard, touches nose *

    Next question: was it designed?

    Of course it was. 
     
    KRA5H
    Well done, Derek! You were able to distinguish between an "eolith" and a manufactured artifact. It is indeed designed and is, in fact, an Oldowan Chopper:

    Oldowan ~2.5 to 1.2 million years ago

    The Oldowan is the oldest-known stone tool industry. Dating as far back as 2.5 million years ago, these tools are a major milestone in human evolutionary history: the earliest evidence of cultural behavior. Homo habilis, an ancestor of Homo sapiens, manufactured Oldowan tools.

    First discovered at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Oldowan artifacts have been recovered from several localities in eastern, central, and southern Africa, the oldest of which is a site at Gona, Ethiopia. Oldowan technology is typified by what are known as "choppers." Choppers are stone cores with flakes removed from part of the surface, creating a sharpened edge that was used for cutting, chopping, and scraping (image 1985–0235). Microscopic surface analysis of the flakes struck from cores has shown that some of these flakes were also used as tools for cutting plants and butchering animals.

    You might be able to recognize the modern tool:

    It seems to me that whenever someone wishes to address the topic of "design" he or she uses as an example a pocket watch (I suppose we can blame this on William Paley), or Saturn V rocket, or 777 aircraft.

    Why not choose instead, the subtle Oldowan Chopper as an example of something that is designed?

    logicman
    Oldowan chopper ?

    That's not a chopper!

    This is a chopper:    ;-)
    Original Travel Jonathan Scott Leakey
    visit the Cradle of Mankind in east Africa by helicopter (pictured above) with Louise Leakey
    source: ttgdigital.com
    KRA5H
    Right, then....Crocodile Lockerby. This is a chopper:
    logicman
    Oh! The shame of it!  To have been linguistically out-choppered!