What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.

“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/

Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated.

The topic “design is history” nevertheless enables an obvious point of contact between “evolution” and “design”. They both have histories that can be studied. Present in the above meaning of “design” are the origin, processes and agent(s) involved in the “designing”. This differs significantly from the Discovery Institute’s version of “design theory”, when it comes to history, aim, structure and agency, since the DI’s version flat out avoids discussion of design processes and agent(s). The primary purpose of the DI’s “design theory”, meanwhile, is USAmerican religious apologetics and “theistic science”.

The quotation above likely didn’t come from an IDist, and it isn’t referencing “Intelligent Design” theory as a supposed “scientific theory”. The “designer” in the quotation above is a (more or less intelligent) human designer, not a Divine Designer. This fact distinguishes it “in principle” from the Discovery Institute’s ID theory, which is supposed to be (depends on who you’re speaking with in the IDM) about first biology, then informatics, and statistics. The DI’s ID theory is not actually focused on “designing by real designers”, but rather on apologetics using “design” and informational probabilism.

The Discovery Institute’s failure to distinguish or even highlight the differences and similarities between human design and Divine Design, and instead their engagement in active distortion, equivocation, double-talking, and obfuscation between them, are marks of its eventual downward trend to collapse.

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885 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. CharlieM:
    Having a genetic component does not mean that it has to have a genetic basis.

    It is a hypothesis worthy of consideration, rather than knee-jerk dismissal.

    In my opinion individual abilities between single humans are equivalent to differences between between bird species or kinds. In other words the ‘personality’ is at the group level.

    Jolly good. How does it get there? By what means does a bird access the ‘group creativity’ you analogise with that of an individual human, such that their nests are as distinctive as their eggs?

    Eta – is the mechanism of group transmission fundamentally different for nest-shape and egg colour? If so, why? If not, why not?

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  2. CharlieM:
    Feel free to read or ignore whatever takes your fancy. Judging by your participation here it seems to me that you find enough to discuss with respect to the content from my own personal contributions.

    Correct. I’ve tried addressing your ‘noises-off’ addenda – for example noting that Talbott’s point was a non sequitur – and you ignored it, proving the futility of my going down the rabbit hole. After all, you didn’t write it, why should you defend it? Sigh.

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  3. CharlieM: Me: The capacity to bind other atoms and molecules results from the charge pattern of the folded protein. It’s not directly encoded – but then, do you think that gene-centrists are saying that genes produce enzymes that can’t bind anything?

    Charlie: No but these molecules do need to be present and made available to be incorporated. Materials and processes, both intracellular and extracellular, need to be coordinated and tightly organised and this includes activity centred around the genomes.

    And you think this is news to gene-centrists?

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  4. CharlieM:Me: It’s not forgotten, not even for a moment, except by a gene centrist of your imagination.

    Charlie: Well if not forgotten, marginalised.

    Still no. You’re tilting at windmills

    Me: I frequently exclude ‘small molecules’ specifically to head off this dodge, but may occasionally forget to do so.
    Charlie: Excluding them is to ignore them.

    Nonsense. I exclude them from statements invoking direct manufacture by gene products because the genome clearly does not ‘make water’ (well even then … oh, never mind). I don’t exclude them from All Statements About Anything Ever. You’re determined to get a Gotcha out of it one way or another.

    The activity of cells is a dynamic balance of a host of interdependent factors. Genes are expressed or silenced as required. There is no central control. That is a mechanistic fantasy.

    The fact that given expression modes occur repeatedly and consistently, such that one can look at one member of a species and be sure the same thing goes on in all others (the basis of medicine, for one thing), and the observation that this regulation itself has a genetic basis, suggest that you are wrong.

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  5. CharlieM: Me: That doesn’t preclude the possibility that they outcompeted yet more primitive forms. Sweeping up after itself is the very essence of an evolutionary process, so the present absence of ancestral forms is no strike against it.

    Charlie: I do not believe that we have outcompeted bacteria or archaea.

    Your argument here being “because X has not outcompeted Y, nothing was ever outcompeted and hence everything that ever existed should have left modern descendants”.

    Me: Guffaw! “There was this mind, see, and it just ..”

    Charlie: Matter is condensed energy. The only physical evidence of the earliest stages of earthly life are the forms that are condensed enough to leave a trace. We have no clue as to what forms might have existed. Forms that had not condensed sufficiently to leave evidence that would persist.

    That’s a pretty awful mangling of relativistic concepts with taphonomy. First quantum, now this. At least RNA world tries to take account of actual physics.

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  6. colewd: Population Genetics models start from the place where the innovation (flight, sight etc) is in place. Why is this? When you look at the models of creations and evolutionist they are in fact pretty similar.

    I think you meant to say that explaining complex adaptations is a goal of both evolutionary theory and creationism accounts, right? I am a bit of a suspicious bastard, so I actually doubt the latter.

    To get the thread a bit more on OP, could you comment on the criticism that to escape from the realm of pseudo-science, ID should focus on describing “origin, processes and agent(s)” of organismal design? Is it a good idea? Is it even possible?

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  7. Mung: Me: Suppose that Intelligent Design would succeed as a scientific theory. Then that would automatically make the Designer subject to scientific research.

    Mung: Non sequitur. Your conclusion does not follow.

    Trust me on this, I am a researcher.

    Mung: Mutation alone produces novel functional and non-functional forms. No natural selection needed. Occam’s Razor suggests that natural selection is superfluous.

    I admire your faith in the power of chance events.

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  8. Allan Miller:

    Me: I’d see mine as more the product of education than belief, but what the hey!

    Charlie: A good education will provide you with knowledge of current beliefs. But beliefs are like living forms in the course of evolution, they are constantly changing.

    Any sign of yours changing?

    All the time. I don’t stare out of the window on Christmas Eve looking for Santa anymore. I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god anymore.

    It is interesting that IDists latch onto the latest notions – epigenetic inheritance, for example – without first troubling themselves to get a grip on the dominant paradigm. Anyone perceived as ‘revolutionary’ (this belongs in the ‘Third Way’ thread) is bigged-up to the nines. Those staid evolutionists, huh? Revolution’s a-comin’! Produced by … well, not IDists, that’s for sure.

    ID and creation science has been playing an important role in stimulating reductionist, physicalists to defend their position. I’ve read plenty of papers and articles in which ID advocates and/or creationists are mentioned and criticised. Why would these subjects even need to be mentioned in scientific literature if the authors don’t feel that they are worthy of countering?

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  9. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: The simplicity that you assume does not match the real complexities involved. The person I have become is shaped a good deal by my life experiences. I doubt the individuals known as Rowan Atkinson and CharlieM would be recognisable from the product of this procedure.

    You would be as different from Rowan Atkinson as Rowan Atkinson’s identical twin. Such experiments have been performed (not on humans, for ethical reasons …). In all cases, the genomic component has determined what arises. The breed of Dolly the Sheep, for example, was that of the nuclear mother, not the cytoplasmic donor nor the embryonic surrogate. Of course (you will protest) there is more in a nucleus than ‘just genes’, but it certainly narrows things down somewhat. See also: sperm.

    It is pointless to say that I would be an identical twin of Rowan Atkinson. If that way the case that person would not be me.

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  10. Corneel,

    I think you meant to say that explaining complex adaptations is a goal of both evolutionary theory and creationism accounts, right? I am a bit of a suspicious bastard, so I actually doubt the latter.

    This was not to be a comment about the goals. Its about how the models are implemented and the starting points for the models. Both models use the same starting point which is reproducing populations.

    To get the thread a bit more on OP, could you comment on the criticism that to escape from the realm of pseudo-science, ID should focus on describing “origin, processes and agent(s)” of organismal design? Is it a good idea? Is it even possible?

    To escape the wrath of science ID needs to become useful. In order for scientific inquiry to be effective it needs to understand where its lines of inquiry are likely to lead to productive discovery. ID is useful in helping to shine the light on areas that have a low probability of leading to useful discovery.

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  11. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Weismann’s experiment was totally needless as thousands of years of Jewish boys being born with foreskins would have told him the same thing without him having to mutilate mice.

    So true. Let’s learn from history here:

    Weismann was aware of the limitations of this experiment, and made it clear that he embarked on the experiment precisely because, at the time, there were many claims of animals inheriting mutilations (he refers to a claim regarding a cat that had lost its tail having numerous tail-less offspring). There were also claims of Jews born without foreskins. None of these claims, he said, were backed up by reliable evidence that the parent had in fact been mutilated, leaving the perfectly plausible possibility that the modified offspring were the result of a mutated gene. The purpose of his experiment was to lay the claims of inherited mutilation to rest.

    So it turns out there were lots of silly people around then who stubbornly refused to accept well accepted and perfectly obvious conclusions in the face of overwhelming supporting evidence. Some of them even were so attached to these false notions that they put their trust in fake stories. Can you believe that?

    Yes I can believe that. Weismann’s experiment was pointless from his point of view because he already knew what the outcome would be. If others believed anything different, then that was their problem.

    The inheritance of acquired physical differences should be thought of as occurring at the group level. A population of birds on Mauritius lose the inclination to fly. They had little to fear by remaining on the ground where they had all they needed and so their morphology changed accordingly. I might have seen them as the avian equivalent to couch potatoes were it not for the existence of sloths.

    A more advanced form of inheritance that does take place at the individual level is learning. It is fairly straightforward to make the Standard evolutionary argument when dealing with plants. They follow pretty standard patterns of replication and differentiation. Animals have the additional complication of instinctive behaviour to explain. But even higher animals and humans have in addition to this the ability to progress through individual learning. In higher life forms evolution has produced creatures that are relatively poor at reproducing in numbers but they live more meaningful and unique individual lives. Their existence goes against the flow of what would be expected of Darwinian evolution. Compare what it takes for e coli to reproduce with the intricacies that higher animals have to traverse in order to reproduce. Does this make any sense in a Darwinian franework?

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  12. colewd: ID is useful in helping to shine the light on areas that have a low probability of leading to useful discovery.

    For example?

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  13. Corneel: CharlieM: [snip lotsa quantum woo]

    Are you channeling J-Mac?

    Are you frightened of where quantum mechanics is leading us?

    Instead of showering me with quantum mysticism, could you engage with the argument please: a mutation of the DNA gets inherited, a mutation of a body part does not. Heritable variation is overwhelmingly encoded in the genome, hence this is the place to focus for evolutionary biologists

    Changes in the DNA of germ cells get inherited. But not all changes are caused by blind chance. Why assume all changes are ‘mistakes’?

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  14. CharlieM: I’ve read plenty of papers and articles in which ID advocates and/or creationists are mentioned and criticised. Why would these subjects even need to be mentioned in scientific literature if the authors don’t feel that they are worthy of countering?

    In my experience they are mentioned because they have misrepresented previous or similar work. Nobody is actually rebutting their scientific work.

    Perhaps you can link to a few examples where this countering can be seen? It should be easy, if you’ve ready plenty of papers.

    In the real world it seems to me that most people writing scientific papers have never even heard of ID or creationism and certainly don’t think they need to be “countered” as they simply are not relevant in their everyday experience.

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  15. CharlieM: Are you frightened of where quantum mechanics is leading us?

    This is the same “you are frightened of the implications of what X means, that a creator god is real, that’s why you are rejecting the evidence for Y”

    It’s a sad ploy. It’s pure projection, even though you phrase it as a question.

    And where is it that you think that quantum mechanics is leading is? And how long until it gets there and you can note unambiguously what it means that we are “there”?

    Who should we watch in the world of QM? Who is doing work you believe will eventually led us to a place where people here are frighted of the implications?

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  16. Alan Fox: Selection working on variation is evolution’s only weapon.

    Weapon against what, creationism? And why does evolution need a weapon?

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  17. Corneel: Trust me on this, I am a researcher.

    I don’t doubt that. What I am calling into question is your ability to reason. But then, perhaps you’re not trying to be reasonable, or rational. 🙂

    Do you understand what is meant by the term non sequitur?

    Corneel: I admire your faith in the power of chance events.

    Likewise.

    If the mutations that lead to novel functional and non-functional forms are not chance events, what are they?

    And beyond that, do you think a mutation has any say in the environment (erm, “context”) in which occurs? Is that also not a chance event?

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  18. Mung: Weapon against what, creationism? And why does evolution need a weapon?

    Oh dear! I was trying to help evolutionary skeptics focus their attacks. Attack selection successfully and your task is done. Have at it!

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  19. Mung: If the mutations that lead to novel functional and non-functional forms are not chance events, what are they?

    They are chance events.

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  20. Mung: I don’t doubt that. What I am calling into question is your ability to reason. But then, perhaps you’re not trying to be reasonable, or rational. 🙂

    Do you understand what is meant by the term non sequitur?

    I would think an unknown designer of something that exists would be subject to scientific research whether ID is scientific or not. Why not?

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  21. CharlieM ID and creation science has been playing an important role in stimulating reductionist, physicalists to defend their position. I’ve read plenty of papers and articles in which ID advocates and/or creationists are mentioned and criticised. Why would these subjects even need to be mentioned in scientific literature if the authors don’t feel that they are worthy of countering?

    Because of the pernicious political influence of these notions in popular thinking. It’s like saying ‘why do people attack anti-vaxxers if there’s nothing in it?’.

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  22. CharlieM:
    It is pointless to say that I would be an identical twin of Rowan Atkinson. If that way the case that person would not be me.

    No, it wouldn’t be you. But it’s still the case, if it were a genetically identical nucleus implanted in your zygote’s cytoplasm, that ‘you’ would be a functional twin. The point of the thought experiment (a mirror of real experiments) is that the form of the result is determined by genetics, not cytoplasm, not that one is implanting a sense of ‘self’ in the nucleus.

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  23. OMagain,

    This is the same “you are frightened of the implications of what X means, that a creator god is real, that’s why you are rejecting the evidence for Y”

    My immediate reaction too.

    ‘Quantum’ goes along with ‘epigenetics’, and anything else IDists fondly imagine bolsters their position by going against the ‘reductionist paradigm’. Sadly, as with epigenetics, or indeed genetics, a grasp of the subject itself is lacking. And people seem to reach a certain point in their lives that getting that grasp – especially in conversation with a ‘reductionist’ – will remain perennially elusive. It is reminiscent of attempts to reason with conspiracists. Once the mind has opened sufficiently, it becomes a yawning chasm, and all manner of nonsense falls in! 😉

    Feynman’s jibe ‘cargo cult science’ remains true today.

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  24. Corneel:

    CharlieM: No matter what grotesque form they end up in, they remain dogs.

    Dogs did not exist 50,000 years ago and in 50,000 years there will be dog types that have never existed before. You are masquerading completely novel shapes as old hat, but that’s a misrepresentation.

    No but I assume their ancestors would have. Dogs are a narrower specialisation which has developed out of a more general mammalian form.

    And the evolutionary future of dogs has been restricted by their limbs which are specialised for locomotion and their sense and nervous system which has developed one-sidedly towards the sense of smell.

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  25. Corneel:

    CharlieM: And regarding alien life forms. What attributes do you think they would need to possess to get to a point where they could observe life in a separate region of the universe?

    I imagine they need to be able to shoot fire from their bums and be able to hold their breath really long.

    Not what you meant? That’s because you are not really thinking of aliens, but of intelligent, dexterous and technologicaly advanced creatures, i.e. humans.

    Of course there would be some similarities to humans. They would need to have some similar attributes that we would recognise. Why do you think the search for other form of life in the solar system has focused on primitive forms with no awareness of the wider universe? What evidence would be expected if any more advanced life existed?

    Do have a more sensible answer to my original question?

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  26. Corneel:

    CharlieM: We don’t know how either of the zygotes would turn out, assuming that they stayed viable until adulthood.

    Answered by Allan. You are in denial now, Charlie. Nuclear transfer experiments have been performed, and we have a pretty good idea how they would turn out in humans.

    Clones are never exactly identical and it is not just the genome but the complete nucleus that is transferred.

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  27. CharlieM: Of course there would be some similarities to humans. They would need to have some similar attributes that we would recognise.

    For US to recognize THEM, then it goes without saying that they would have some attribute that we would recognize, but your original question was “What attributes do you think they would need to possess to get to a point where they could observe life in a separate region of the universe?”, so there is no need whatsoever for them to have any attributes that we would recognize. Your thinking is, for the umpteenth time, waaaay to anthropocentric.

    Why do you think the search for other form of life in the solar system has focused on primitive forms with no awareness of the wider universe?

    Prior probabilities: given what we currently know about our solar system, technologically advanced aliens in our solar system seems unlikely…

    What evidence would be expected if any more advanced life existed?

    …we would be enslaved.

    Do have a more sensible answer to my original question?

    To observe life in a separate region of the universe, aliens would need to be technologically advanced. The idea that they would be humanoid is just plain silly.

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  28. CharlieM:
    it is not just the genome but the complete nucleus that is transferred.

    Heh. As predicted. However, this is not the case with prokaryote transfers. However you slice it, form appears not to be determined by cytoplasmic factors, however much you may wish to blur all of phenotype into one mushed-up concept. To the extent that a zygote has pre-loaded cytoplasm/nuclear content, which does have a role in extracting genotype, that material is rapidly diluted by repeat cell division. What isn’t diluted is the genome.

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  29. Alan Fox: Oh dear! I was trying to help evolutionary skeptics focus their attacks. Attack selection successfully and your task is done.

    Why not come out of your cave and read up on the history of skepticism regarding selection. Skepticism that arose within the evolutionary community, not from the opponents of evolution.

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  30. newton: I would think an unknown designer of something that exists would be subject to scientific research whether ID is scientific or not.

    I agree.

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  31. Mung: Skepticism that arose within the evolutionary community, not from the opponents of evolution.

    Funny how a process can have opponents.

    Next up, Mung vs the power law.

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