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 The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.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. I’ve thought a bit more about the article Adapa linked to, “The evolution of eyes: major steps. The Keeler lecture 2017: centenary of Keeler Ltd”. It is a good specific example of how light is used by animals in various ways. It discusses light gathering structures from a design perspective. It is perfectly legitimate to examine these entities as designed objects, because that is what they are. They are able to recognise some eyes as, ‘camera-style’ because cameras are designed to work in a similar fashion to these eyes, they are matching designs.

    So the question that should be being argued about is: what gave rise to these natural designs?

    In the article they are fairly sure that they know the basics of how eves have come about:

    A camera-style eye is a simple eye, but we think of a camera-style eye as more complex than just a cup with a pinhole. A cornea, lens, extraocular muscles (EOMs), and ocular adnexa were added as necessary for the occupied niche. Hence, there are differences in these structures suggesting independent and often, convergent evolution. For example, some spiders and humans both have six EOMs, but these are completely unrelated in embryology and function

    More examples of convergent evolution which is ubiquitous in nature. The problem is that saying they arose independently does little to explain how this was achieved in each case. The components; those intricate, dedicated, combination of structures are conveniently added as required in order to occupy a niche. What ‘evolution’ wants, ‘evolution’ gets!

    They also wrote:

    evolution co-opted the molecule for sight instead of using it as a proton pump.

    and

    Evolution has selected whatever enzyme or heat-shock protein was available, often co-opted from other functions, to design and fashion metazoan lenses

    Evolution is a process, it doesn’t co-opt or select. Living beings co-opt and living beings make selections.

    But as far as they are concerned the problem is solved, evolution designs!

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  2. Gregory:
    CharlieM,

    Which part? The charlatan part? No, of course not. It was a polite conversation and he was clearly perplexed to be told what I said about Divine Names. He’s Roman Catholic, after all.

    Did I say he was speaking over his own head? Even better; he admitted it openly, stating “I’m a simple biochemist.” That’s his escape hatch from more meaningful questions. He did it on both days. The student organizer understood, as did I, that was not a satisfactory way to face the conversation with integrity and dignity. But Miller gave his evangelical testimony at the end of the event while Behe got paid by the DI, so he’s happy, right?

    So, as long as you are polite to him, you don’t have to be polite about him. Is that your philosophy?

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  3. Flint: I’m not a theology maven, but my reading is that Paul’s Jesus never actually came down to earth, but instead did his thing in the lowest level of heaven which Paul placed between earth and moon.

    So what does Paul preaching Christ crucified, with all that it entails, mean to you?

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  4. Evolutionary Tinkering With Visual Photoreception
    Timothy H Goldsmith

    Evolution is an irreversible process, but tinkering may recover some lost functions, albeit by new mutational routes. There is both elegance and intellectual coherence to the natural processes that produce such variety and functional complexity. But marginalizing the teaching of evolution in public education is a continuing social and political problem that contributes to the reckless capacity of humans to alter the planet without trying to understand how nature works.

    Be warned! If you don’t believe in that intellectual elegant tinkerer evolution, you are contributing to the ruination of our planet. Evolution saves! 🙂

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  5. The fact that lower life forms and plants can take in light and turn it into organic matter has allowed us to be able to take in light and turn it into creative thoughts. We have become not only creatures but also creators.

    Through evolution creatures have become intelligent creators. We will have reached an even higher stage when and if that intelligence becomes wisdom.

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  6. CharlieM,

    If Michael Behe is actually a charlatan, then people should be warned about him, not celebrating his work. Wouldn’t you agree? From what I’ve read and now seen up close and personal, he either has a gigantic ego or is terribly oblivious. Behe actually claimed that ID theory “has implications for all humane studies.” Saying things like this, make Behe a charlatan. And I’m quite certain that if Behe and I sat down (in different venues) for a 1 hr conversation, this would be exposed quickly and convincingly based on his refusal to answer important, relevant and highly damaging problems with “ID theory.”

    One dictionary defines a charlatan as “a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.” Yup, that’s Behe. He actually pretends to know more than all of the other biologists combined, that is, except for IDist “biologists”, who Behe believes are the future of the discipline. Except for none of them have produced anything noteworthy, and Behe’s publication record has plummeted, except for what the DI funds. Again, charlatan is an appropriate term for what Behe is doing, how he is acting, and what he is saying, that over-reaches his “I’m a simple biochemist” ruse. It’s low integrity ideological hack work that Behe is largely engaged in as poster-boy for a weaponized theistic science apologetics movement from the USA, with a kind of “neo-creationist” imperialism among evangelicals towards others.

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  7. Gregory:
    CharlieM,

    If Michael Behe is actually a charlatan, then people should be warned about him, not celebrating his work. Wouldn’t you agree? From what I’ve read and now seen up close and personal, he either has a gigantic ego or is terribly oblivious. Behe actually claimed that ID theory “has implications for all humane studies.” Saying things like this, make Behe a charlatan. And I’m quite certain that if Behe and I sat down (in different venues) for a 1 hr conversation, this would be exposed quickly and convincingly based on his refusal to answer important, relevant and highly damaging problems with “ID theory.”

    One dictionary defines a charlatan as “a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.” Yup, that’s Behe. He actually pretends to know more than all of the other biologists combined, that is, except for IDist “biologists”, who Behe believes are the future of the discipline. Except for none of them have produced anything noteworthy, and Behe’s publication record has plummeted, except for what the DI funds. Again, charlatan is an appropriate term for what Behe is doing, how he is acting, and what he is saying, that over-reaches his “I’m a simple biochemist” ruse. It’s low integrity ideological hack work that Behe is largely engaged in as poster-boy for a weaponized theistic science apologetics movement from the USA, with a kind of “neo-creationist” imperialism among evangelicals towards others.

    He’s always come across as fairly sincere to me. But having never met him I don’t really know him well enough to judge.

    He has highlighted the fact of the irreducible complexity of complex entities which I would say is a good thing.

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  8. The following article, Blindsight: Animals That See without Eyes, by Ferris Jabr on August 20, 2012, has some fascinating information on how a variety of animals have been using light on novel ways from very early in their evolution:

    Recent insights into how animals see without eyes reveal that vision and light-detection are older and more widespread than biologists previously realized.

    …Despite their familiarity and prevalence, eyes are not essential…

    Although biologists do not yet have definitive answers to these inquiries, it’s already clear that vision and light-detection are older, more diverse and more widespread than researchers previously realized…

    The remarkable truth is that sea urchins have a much more organized visual system than anyone expected…

    A sea urchin’s hundreds of feet may act as one giant compound eye, allowing them to see just as well as a horseshoe crab or nautilus, both of which have genuine, if primitive, eyes…

    Octopus, squid and cuttlefish skin is also peppered with chromatophores—elastic sacks of pigment that expand and retract, allowing the mollusk to change its color. Other cells called iridophores and leucophores make the skin more or less reflective. Hanlon and his colleagues propose that opsins work with chromatophores, iridophores and leucophores in an unknown way to detect and mimic the color of nearby objects…

    These are just a few examples of the inventive way that creatures use the available material.

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  9. CharlieM: He’s always come across as fairly sincere to me. But having never met himI don’t really know him well enough to judge.

    You know what CharlieM, I always thought the same thing as you about Behe’s sincerity until I spoke with him and saw how he responded to a non-standard question, not being put to him by an atheist anti-IDist, but by a religious theist anti-IDist, TWICE. He actually pretended that he does not know a single “design universalist”. Yet I had just spoken with someone, Robert Larmer, former president of the Canadian evangelical philosophical society, who had openly, unambiguously, and directly asserted just that – design universalism – when I asked him about what is and isn’t “designed” 2 minutes prior.

    Behe can’t be that oblivious to not realize there are fanatics and ideologues in the IDM who hold to design universalism. Or can he? It would appear that Behe himself is a design universalist, and if so, then he has been sincerely deluded & most likely psychologically damaged by IDism.

    He has highlighted the fact of the irreducible complexity of complex entities which I would say is a good thing.

    He has never answered the question, “What does IC extend from?” with clarity that counts as “scientific rigour”. This is because he avoids the source of Intelligence in his “theory”, which looks more like posturing than “science” as most scientists define it. And thus Behe must resort to philosophy. Sadly for Behe, he is a very poor philosopher and hides away under “I’m a simple biochemist.” That’s not a person of integrity right there to avoid fatal questions to ID theory, while getting paid for life from his weaponized theistic science apologetics.

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  10. Behe is a trained scientist. He’s well educated. So there’s absolutely no way he’s not aware of the bullshit he’s been endorsing for the DI. How anybody would believe he’s sincere is beyond me. He chose to become a con artist and take advantage of ignorant fellow Christians to make a quick buck, just like everyone else at the DiscoTute.

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  11. CharlieM,

    The problem is that saying they arose independently does little to explain how this was achieved in each case. 

    You say nothing about how it was achieved in each case. You appeal vaguely to some kind of mystical potentiation without ever establishing, in even the vaguest terms, how the changes become part of the genetic makeup of the species. Conventional evolution has change progress via the genome, so that basic mechanistic problem doesn’t arise. It gets into the genome by amendment of the ancestral genome, through mutation and recombination. Multiple paths to the same solution are guided by the same reward trajectory. If improved sight is beneficial, and there is a limited space of possible solutions, then the broad conditions for convergent evolution are satisfied.

    But your notions … no idea. Mechanism? Pah! I’m doubtful you are even aware there’s a problem to be solved there. I look forward to another analogy in place of an answer.

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  12. CharlieM: Evolution is a process, it doesn’t co-opt or select. Living beings co-opt and living beings make selections.

    Oh noes!!! Someone used anthropomorphic language while describing a natural process!! THAT MAKES ALL OF EVILUTION WRONG!!!! 😀 😀 😀

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  13. Gregory:

    CharlieM: He’s always come across as fairly sincere to me. But having never met himI don’t really know him well enough to judge.

    You know what CharlieM, I always thought the same thing as you about Behe’s sincerity until I spoke with him and saw how he responded to a non-standard question, not being put to him by an atheist anti-IDist, but by a religious theist anti-IDist, TWICE. He actually pretended that he does not know a single “design universalist”. Yet I had just spoken with someone, Robert Larmer, former president of the Canadian evangelical philosophical society, who had openly, unambiguously, and directly asserted just that – design universalism – when I asked him about what is and isn’t “designed” 2 minutes prior.

    Behe can’t be that oblivious to not realize there are fanatics and ideologues in the IDM who hold to design universalism. Or can he? It would appear that Behe himself is a design universalist, and if so, then he has been sincerely deluded & most likely psychologically damaged by IDism.

    I suppose it would all depend on how he interprets the term, “design universalism”.

    He has highlighted the fact of the irreducible complexity of complex entities which I would say is a good thing.

    He has never answered the question, “What does IC extend from?” with clarity that counts as “scientific rigour”. This is because he avoids the source of Intelligence in his “theory”, which looks more like posturing than “science” as most scientists define it. And thus Behe must resort to philosophy. Sadly for Behe, he is a very poor philosopher and hides away under “I’m a simple biochemist.” That’s not a person of integrity right there to avoid fatal questions to ID theory, while getting paid for life from his weaponized theistic science apologetics.

    He has asked himself the question, Can the orthodox proposal account for the fact of irreducible complexity? And his book, “The Edge of Evolution” is his answer to that question. He tries to show that the key factor in producing novelty, random mutations, is far too limited and ineffective to account for all of the novelty of life. He might very well believe that the creator of novelty is God, I think I remember him saying as much somewhere. But he has not made a scientific argument to that effect. His argument is that novelty is for the most part brought about by non random changes to the genome.

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  14. I’ll get back to this discussion later, I’ve got much more important things to do. I’m off to give my grandkids a cuddle for the first time since lockdown began. 🙂

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    Mung
  15. CharlieM,

    “He might very well believe that the creator of novelty is God, I think I remember him saying as much somewhere.”

    Um, yeah. He does.

    “But he has not made a scientific argument to that effect.”

    Uh, yeah. Exactly.

    I suppose it would all depend on how he interprets the term, “design universalism”.

    So I didn’t use that term with him, as it would have confused him, “simple biochemist” that called himself. Instead, I simply asked him to distinguish Divine Design from human design. When this failed to register, I explained to him why failing to distinguish was important, and how it reflected the possibility that a person had not thought through the limits of the “theory” that they are putting forward.

    When I asked Larmer, his answer paraphrased: “everything is designed.” Et voila – universalism! In such a worldview, there are no limits to the ideology of IDism. This makes it scientifically (and broadly intellectually) vacuous.

    CharlieM, you have an opportunity at this moment to show you are not a “design universalist”. Can you name 5 things that (you believe) are not designed? If you can’t, then likely you too are a “design universalist” like Behe, Larmer, Miller, and most of the DI leaders and fellows.

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  16. Yes, I don’t have time to allot to TSZ today either. Where’s the inspiration?

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  17. Gregory-“Design, design, why doesn’t the DI talk about design the way I want them to talk about design, they don’t understand design!!! Charlatans!”

    “Gregory, what do YOU mean by design?”

    Gregory- “It’s, it’s, um, um, species, um, look, …..they are charlatans I tell you!”

    Gregory, design universalist extraordinaire, slowly losing his grip on reality.

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  18. phoodoo,

    ROTFL. Behe is not near the charlatan that “phoodoo” has shown himself to be over the years at TSZ. Since you obviously wanted the attention, Happy Fourth of July to an ex-pat “designed” in Hong Kong! = P

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  19. colewd: The model from Genesis. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    Is it any wonder then that people think ID is Creationism and is religion and not science?

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    Entropy
  20. Mung: Is it any wonder then that people think ID is Creationism and is religion and not science?

    If ID is science then would Behe’s claims regarding a scientific way to determine design be able to be put to the test? Can his filter be shown to actually work in a repeatable manner?

    I’m not saying it is or it is it not scientific. I’m saying I’m not willing to take colwed’s word for it and a youtube video.

    If ID is science, where and what is that science? What does it do? What does it tell us?

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  21. phoodoo: “Gregory, what do YOU mean by design?”

    Gregory- “It’s, it’s, um, um, species, um, look, …..they are charlatans I tell you!”

    everyone: phoodoo, what do you mean by design?:

    …..

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  22. OMagain: All they have to do is go ahead and actually ‘detect design’ with one of the many flavours of their design detection filter they claim works. Show each step in turn, how everything was calculated.

    You should read Dawkins. He detected design and wrote a program to show the steps to produce it. From that, a bright student could perform the calculations.

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  23. Gregory: “As a designer it is important to understand where design came from and who shaped its development.”

    I suppose that’s why they call it software development and not software evolution.

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  24. colewd:

    The model from Genesis.In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    Here’s the more modern version:

    In the beginning it was fabulous. What God did was incredible. See, it was dark. Really dark. So dark you couldn’t believe it. And God said “Somebody turn on the lights!” And guess what? A good Republican angel turned on all the lights, and it was just incredibly bright. And God created the Garden of Eden. Eden was beautiful. Just beautiful.

    That’s from The King Don version.

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  25. Mung: You should read Dawkins. He detected design and wrote a program to show the steps to produce it. From that, a bright student could perform the calculations.

    Intelligent Design?

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  26. Three (at least) distinct ID approaches being peddled here. Mung suggests that the mechanism may be designed. Which would mean evolution was correct, but designed (which Mung also appears to oppose: evolution is not correct. But then consistent inconsistency is a bit of a trademark). For CharlieM, there exists some mystical, diffuse and impersonal force that places change in the genome according to the long-term goal of producing Charlies (and a bunch of other species that have some role in the support of Charlie’s timeline). For Bill, it’s straight-up Creationism (morphed somewhat from the JAQing with which he made his entrance).

    None of them is clear on mechanism. Just how does the proposed change end up in the genome? I kind of grasp that at a general level with evolution – the mechanisms of mutation, recombination, selection and drift. But with these alternatives, I’m not seeing the ‘how’. Also missing: an explanation for the hierarchic pattern evident throughout genomes.

    Rival theories need to explain everything evolution explains. As yet, they don’t.

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  27. Allan Miller,

    Rival theories need to explain everything evolution explains. As yet, they don’t.

    I don’t think it is a rival theory. It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

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  28. colewd: It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

    Some day you’ll realize “a disembodied mind used magic to POOF life into existence” is neither an explanation nor a scientific theory. Or not.

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    Entropy
  29. colewd: It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

    Well, go on then.

    Or is ‘a mind did it’ that explanation?

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  30. colewd to Allan Miller,
    I don’t think it is a rival theory. It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

    It’s just apologetics.

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  31. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    I don’t think it is a rival theory.It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

    Even those characters you would describe as ‘significant origin events’ are embedded in genomes with a distinctly hierarchic character among species. That needs explaining.

    Also, given evolution and extinction, it would be possible to produce, through small amendment, features that looked like ‘significant origin events’ on a survey of survivors, but in fact weren’t. You’d need a means of distinguishing false positives.

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    Entropy
  32. colewd: It attempts to explain what evolution does not such as significant origin events.

    You say ‘events’. Do you have a list of them? Are there origin events of less significance that don’t require Intelligent Design? Do you have a list of those?

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    Mung
  33. Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    You say nothing about how it was achieved in each case. You appeal vaguely to some kind of mystical potentiation without ever establishing, in even the vaguest terms, how the changes become part of the genetic makeup of the species. Conventional evolution has change progress via the genome, so that basic mechanistic problem doesn’t arise. It gets into the genome by amendment of the ancestral genome, through mutation and recombination. Multiple paths to the same solution are guided by the same reward trajectory. If improved sight is beneficial, and there is a limited space of possible solutions, then the broad conditions for convergent evolution are satisfied.

    But your notions … no idea. Mechanism? Pah! I’m doubtful you are even aware there’s a problem to be solved there. I look forward to another analogy in place of an answer.

    You are asking me for mechanisms! It is you not me who believes in a mechanistic universe.

    Stephen L. Talbott has written a piece which is of relevance to this here He writes:

    There is no molecular “code” that the cell does not modify and employ flexibly in the service of its own needs. No code is embodied in an instructional mechanism accounting for the organism. Informational codes are our own rule-of-thumb abstractions from the organism’s living performance. When we imagine a code as determinative, we are always smuggling back into our imagination the meaningful organic behavior from which we have done the abstracting.

    The mechanistic, programmed organism is a deception. It turns out that nothing is controlled in the required way. The relevant processes — generally involving trillions of diffusible molecules making their way in a watery medium — remain “on track” only because the organism, as a unified center of agency, is being-at-work-staying-itself. It is wisely coordinating, redirecting, revising, and sustaining the overall form and coherence of countless interactions, including all those interactions involving what once was thought to be the explanatory program.

    … if — as in the concerted voice of the research literature today — we credit a vast array of molecules and molecular processes in the organism with powers to “regulate,” “control,” “modify,” and “adapt” the genetic program to changing circumstances and the needs of the moment, then we have forgotten that these are the very sorts of living, teleological powers the program was supposed to explain in the first place. Moreover, those powers belong not to “controlling” molecules but to the organism as a whole.

    You are asking me to account for the actions within and between living organisms in mechanical terms as if that is going to give a complete picture. Well a mechanism does not and it cannot accomplish what you ask of it.

    If not completely ignoring, it does nothing but explain away intentional activity, emotions, thinking and other aspects of life and of consciousness. These things can no more be explained by genetics than the headlines in a newspaper can be explained by the analysis of the paper and ink. Who is it that is not aware of any problems?

    I suggest you read the whole of the Talbott piece I linked to if you can bear it.

    His reference to the small flatworm, Girardia dorotocephala is a prime example of end-directed activity.

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  34. Adapa:

    CharlieM: Evolution is a process, it doesn’t co-opt or select. Living beings co-opt and living beings make selections.

    Oh noes!!! Someone used anthropomorphic language while describing a natural process!! THAT MAKES ALL OF EVILUTION WRONG!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    Evolution is as real as individual development. You misinterpret what I am saying in the same way that the processes by which evolution comes about can be misinterpreted.

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  35. CharlieM,

    You are asking me for mechanisms! It is you not me who believes in a mechanistic universe.

    If you are interested in persuading anyone else, it is worth going beyond what you, personally, believe. Otherwise, it’s just someone wibbling on the internet.

    You subscribe to vague notions of ‘things happening uncaused’. Nonetheless, these uncaused things behave like things caused. Convergences, for example, appear to result from genetic change of the kind we see every generation, just like any change that had only one example. So what would persuade someone that they aren’t, in fact, of that character?

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  36. CharlieM,

    I suggest you read the whole of the Talbott piece I linked to if you can bear it.

    I didn’t even read the passage you quoted. I’m not interested in the words of people I can’t discuss the matter with. Argument by glove-puppet.

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  37. Gregory:

    I suppose it would all depend on how he interprets the term, “design universalism”.

    So I didn’t use that term with him, as it would have confused him, “simple biochemist” that called himself. Instead, I simply asked him to distinguish Divine Design from human design. When this failed to register, I explained to him why failing to distinguish was important, and how it reflected the possibility that a person had not thought through the limits of the “theory” that they are putting forward.

    When I asked Larmer, his answer paraphrased: “everything is designed.” Et voila – universalism! In such a worldview, there are no limits to the ideology of IDism. This makes it scientifically (and broadly intellectually) vacuous.

    Are you sure that it failed to register with Behe? Could it not have been that he didn’t see the relevance of the question? Without getting any feedback from Behe how do you know that he is a “design universalist” as you put it?

    CharlieM, you have an opportunity at this moment to show you are not a “design universalist”. Can you name 5 things that (you believe) are not designed? If you can’t, then likely you too are a “design universalist” like Behe, Larmer, Miller, and most of the DI leaders and fellows.

    I take it you are not using the word ‘design’ to mean a pattern like you might see on fabric. In that respect it could be said that the ripplles in sand, waves on the sea or in mackerel-type cirrocumulus clouds are patterns caused by oceanic and atmospheric forces while the relative position of the water molecules or sand grains of which these patterns are composed are arrived at randomly.

    So if we restrict ‘design’ to include some sort of intent. And so we can say that forms taken up by living beings are inherently designed and we can point to particular forms in lifeless nature and say that they are the result of chance.

    The form of mountains and clouds, the course a river takes to its lowest level, the sequence of radioactive decay, the images going through my mind while I am daydreaming, none of these things are designed.

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  38. Allan Miller:
    Three (at least) distinct ID approaches being peddled here. Mung suggests that the mechanism may be designed. Which would mean evolution was correct, but designed (which Mung also appears to oppose: evolution is not correct. But then consistent inconsistency is a bit of a trademark). For CharlieM, there exists some mystical, diffuse and impersonal force that places change in the genome according to the long-term goal of producing Charlies (and a bunch of other species that have some role in the support of Charlie’s timeline). For Bill, it’s straight-up Creationism (morphed somewhat from the JAQing with which he made his entrance).

    None of them is clear on mechanism. Just how does the proposed change end up in the genome? I kind of grasp that at a general level with evolution – the mechanisms of mutation, recombination, selection and drift. But with these alternatives, I’m not seeing the ‘how’. Also missing: an explanation for the hierarchic pattern evident throughout genomes.

    Rival theories need to explain everything evolution explains. As yet, they don’t.

    Again reading Talbott might make it clear to you why I haven’t proposed any alternative mechanism. Mechanics won’t give us the answer to these questions in the same way that mechanics is no answer as to why a spider makes a web.

    Everywhere we look in the living world we see purposeful activity. Mechanical explanations tell us only how these goals are achieved and they are not concerned with intentions. Biological entities use physics but biology has its own rules over and above physics which are not explicable in terms of physics.

    Asking for mechanisms misses the point. Physics deals with how the parts determine the whole. Biology, if it is to get beyond physics, should deal with how the whole determines the parts.

    The skier broke his left femur not because the force of the leg hitting the rock was too great for the strength of the bone to cope with. He broke his leg because he lost control of the activity he had decided to participate in. It wasn’t physics that caused him to end up in hospital, it was the outcome of intentional activity gone wrong. His designs on having a good time were thwarted.

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  39. CharlieM,

    CharlieM,

    You’ve elided from mechanistic to ‘mechanic’. It is reasonable to suppose that the fact that all spiders of a given species make the same general form of web is genetic, in the same way that they lay an egg distinct to their species, or are similarly marked. Unless you regard behaviours as always non-genetic. Which latter case would, to my mechanistic mind, demand an explanation of what the spider-brain is actually accessing to achieve this constraint, and how it varies between species but not (so much) within. You can disrupt the web by changing genes, or chemical interference. These are strongly suggestive of a mechanistic basis for both the commonality within a species and the differences between.

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  40. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: You are asking me for mechanisms! It is you not me who believes in a mechanistic universe.

    If you are interested in persuading anyone else, it is worth going beyond what you, personally, believe. Otherwise, it’s just someone wibbling on the internet.

    You subscribe to vague notions of ‘things happening uncaused’. Nonetheless, these uncaused things behave like things caused. Convergences, for example, appear to result from genetic change of the kind we see every generation, just like any change that had only one example. So what would persuade someone that they aren’t, in fact, of that character?

    Did you read any of the Talbott piece?

    He quotes from E.S. Russell’s 1934 book “The Behaviour of Animals”, and writes:

    But Russell is adamant that the instinctiveness of the animal’s behavior does not make it merely mechanistic, directed only by “the physical and chemical stimuli impinging upon the sense organs of the animal.” Not even “mechanical” reflexes can be understood in merely mechanistic terms: “There is no such thing as pure reflex action in normal behaviour; all so-called reflexes are parts of co-ordinated and generally ‘purposive’ or directive actions, and they cannot be understood until their relation to the objective aim of the whole action is known.”

    He quotes Russell:

    “the end is more constant than the means of attaining it.”

    This can be seen in the abundant cases of convergent evolution and the like. Living forms are drawn towards similar outcomes. They end up converging on recognisable patterns and features through separate paths. The unity of form does not come from the underlying genetics. The genetic system provides the necessary materials in the right time and place to achieve this form but not much more.

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  41. Allan Miller:

    I suggest you read the whole of the Talbott piece I linked to if you can bear it.

    I didn’t even read the passage you quoted. I’m not interested in the words of people I can’t discuss the matter with. Argument by glove-puppet.

    Oh well! If you’re not open to even considering a variety of view points then you’re not in a position to argue against them.

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  42. Mechanistic explanations of holistic structures and processes consist of showing how relations amongst parts give properties to the whole that cannot be found in the intrinsic properties of the parts. So it’s false that holistic phenomena cannot be mechanistically explained.

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  43. OMagain,

    You say ‘events’. Do you have a list of them? Are there origin events of less significance that don’t require Intelligent Design? Do you have a list of those?

    Evolution has quite a bit of variation to work with for adaptions. A simple example is a change of hair color to blend in with the environment.

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  44. Allan Miller: CharlieM,

    You’ve elided from mechanistic to ‘mechanic’. It is reasonable to suppose that the fact that all spiders of a given species make the same general form of web is genetic, in the same way that they lay an egg distinct to their species, or are similarly marked. Unless you regard behaviours as always non-genetic. Which latter case would, to my mechanistic mind, demand an explanation of what the spider-brain is actually accessing to achieve this constraint, and how it varies between species but not (so much) within. You can disrupt the web by changing genes, or chemical interference. These are strongly suggestive of a mechanistic basis for both the commonality within a species and the differences between

    I can disrupt my TV’s output by fiddling with the remote, that does not mean that the remote is the cause of the output.

    In my opinion instinctive behaviour within species is an indication of group consciousness. Just as the source of the overall design of termite mounds are not to be found in any individual, the instinctive behaviour of web building does not have its source in the individual, although individuals do improvise.

    The ratio of instinctive behaviour to learned behaviour is an indication of the proportion of group consciousness to individual consciousness in an organism.

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  45. Kantian Naturalist: Mechanistic explanations of holistic structures and processes consist of showing how relations amongst parts give properties to the whole that cannot be found in the intrinsic properties of the parts. So it’s false that holistic phenomena cannot be mechanistically explained.

    Of course they can be mechanistically explained. But how complete would that explanation be? Can you give me a complete explanation of a mouse trap in mechanistic terms?

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  46. CharlieM: Of course they can be mechanistically explained. But how complete would that explanation be? Can you give me a complete explanation of a mouse trap in mechanistic terms?

    Without criteria for what counts as “complete”, I didn’t think this question makes any sense. As Carl Sagan pointed out, if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create a universe.

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  47. Kantian Naturalist:

    CharlieM: Of course they can be mechanistically explained. But how complete would that explanation be? Can you give me a complete explanation of a mouse trap in mechanistic terms?

    Without criteria for what counts as “complete”, I didn’t think this question makes any sense. As Carl Sagan pointed out, if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create a universe.

    I’m mean complete with regard to the entity itself. We can talk about the creation of the universe without mentioning apple pies. Talking about the creation of a mouse trap would be pointless without regard to the mouse trap. The design of a purpose built mouse trap begins with a mind.

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  48. CharlieM: Stephen L. Talbott has written a piece…

    He’s a proponent of “The Third Way of Evolution”. Denis Noble is another. They have a disclaimer on their website:

    It has come to our attention that THE THIRD WAY web site is wrongly being referenced by proponents of Intelligent Design and creationist ideas as support for their arguments. We intend to make it clear that the website and scientists listed on the web site do not support or subscribe to any proposals that resort to inscrutable divine forces or supernatural intervention, whether they are called Creationism, Intelligent Design, or anything else.

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  49. colewd: Evolution has quite a bit of variation to work with for adaptions

    FFS Bill the scientific term is adaptation, not adaption.

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  50. colewd: Evolution has quite a bit of variation to work with for adaptions. A simple example is a change of hair color to blend in with the environment.

    Did the FI increase, decrease or stay the same for that change?

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