Friday, December 23, 2005

Ken Miller Vs Bill Dembski on the BBC

Bill Dembski provides what he was going to say after Ken Miller used up all the time available on the BBC interview a week ago here. Ken Miller's main point was that ID is bad because it is a "negative argument." I blogged about this complaint here.

5 Comments:

Blogger Roger Marshall said...

I am not a scientist, so my comments might be off beam. But the main problem I have with ID is as follows. In the 18th century Paley pointed to the eye as the 18th cnentury equivalent of Behe's "flagellum", and the analogy he used was a watch, the equivalent then of Behe's mousetrap. Darwin, if I am not mistaken, dismissed the eye as an example of "irreducible" complexity, and showed how very much simpler structures were functional and that the eye could therefore have evolved from a simpler mechanism. Is it therefore not going to be a matter of time before someone in the evolutionist camp comes up with evidence that the components of the flagellum could have undergone a similar process. I am not arguing against the presence of purpose and "teleology" in the whole process; I believe that there was a master plan. But I'm not sure that it is wise for Christians to place so much store by the "irreducible complexity" of specific structures. We may be asking for it.

Having said that, I think Behe's arguments sound very convincing. But it seems to me that what might sound very convincing now may be laughed off the stage a generation from now. I feel that it better to say that God "inserted" information at the start of the process, and maybe at several successive stages during the process, and that everything unfolded, like a flower opening up, in accordance with that information. I cannot see why that information could not have taken the form of "instructions" for a given species to develop into another quite different species. The Designer is not any less responsible for the outcome than he would be if he had created each species separately.

5:32 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hello Roger,
A few points:

1. Darwin found a series of "eyes" from a light sensitive spot to the elegant organ for which we should be more thankful than we are. He proposed that small changes along the series would be selected and that this is the explanation for the wonder of vision. Modern darwinists have waved their hands and quote papers about selection pressures but the molecular and developmental details of eye production are a different matter. How do you know that a generation from now we might all be laughing about how it was possible that people could believe that chance genetic change and natural selection could make a motor or an eye.

2. To say that Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa is one thing. To say that he did it blindfold by flicking paint around randomly is another thing entirely. Do we think about him in quite the same way?

3. The vast majority of biologists do not allow any intervention of God at all in the process. They make a planner and a designer entirely redundant and unnecessary in the production of life.

4. Random change and natural selection are simply the wrong sort of causes for these kind of objects. Despite a huge effort since Behe published his book there are no intermediates to the motor.

5. If ID makes darwinists produce the evidence necessary then it has performed a very useful purpose. ID has sharpened the debate and clarified the arguments... if this is all it does then it has done something important.

However I am convinced that what we can see is real design and real evidence of intelligence within nature... and that darwinists are stomping all over and shouting that it is not there.

6:31 pm  
Blogger A Blogger said...

Andrew, a brief response to your comments:

1. Examples of intermediate eyes abound in nature. It's not a problem for evolution.

2. Evolution is not random so your analogy is useless.

3. Science will never say anything about 'God'. All of science is about finding natural explanations for natural phenomena.

4. Random mutation and non random selection is mathematically proven to produce evolution and also experimentally confirmed. The flagellum 'motor' does have a simpler precursor from which it could have evolved. Even Behe admits this.

5. ID is an old argument. Everytime it surfaces under a different guise it just looks more stupid and tired. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming and is only getting stronger.

6. There is no evidence for design. Noone can even agree on how to define 'design' or how to detect it. There are thousands of examples of 'bad design' such as a nerve in a giraffe's neck which is 4 foot long instead of 6 inches because it goes around a bone in the shoulder. The fact that we can find ways of improving on natures shows that there is no designer, only evolution.

1:04 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

(rational man) says:
" Examples of intermediate eyes abound in nature. It's not a problem for evolution."

Sure there are eyes in nature which are "simpler" than the very developed vertebrate eye, but how can you say that they are intermediates? Do you have a pathway from these intermediate eyes that is supported by empirical research? If so then please propose it!
How can you be sure that it is not a problem for evolution? Maybe one could envision a primitive eye slowly adding features to become more complex, but is this possible on the biochemical level? I think not.

"Random mutation and non random selection is mathematically proven to produce evolution and also experimentally confirmed"

What exactly do you mean by evolution? Microevolution is of course a scientific fact, but macroevolution is not. There is a large distinction between the two.

"The flagellum 'motor' does have a simpler precursor from which it could have evolved. Even Behe admits this."

Could you please give me the name of this precursor.

"There are thousands of examples of 'bad design' such as a nerve in a giraffe's neck which is 4 foot long instead of 6 inches because it goes around a bone in the shoulder."

To determine what is "bad" design you would first have to get into the mind of the designer and determine that yes, in fact the designer goofed up. You cannot say without doing this whether the designer actually made a mistake, or designed the creature exactly how it intended to.
Maybe the long nerve in a giraffe neck serves some other purpose not dicovered yet. So you can see the weakness in this argument of yours, since there is no way to determine what the designer intended to do.

" The fact that we can find ways of improving on natures shows that there is no designer, only evolution."
I think that this is an incredibly arrogant statement based on the complexity of living organisms. Maybe we could improve on nature in a land of fairy tales, but whether these improvements actually work or not has not been tested. Therefore your statement is unsubstantiated.

8:12 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Nathan,

The precursor that I imagine Rational Man is referring to is the Type III Secretory system about 10 of the proteins of the Flagellum show homology to these proteins. There is an ongoing dispute about whether the evidence points to the secretory system being a very broken flagellum or whether the flagellum is a "very well mended" (by mutation and selection and co-option of course :-)) secretory system. There is quite a significant difference in structure function and many of the proteins involved. You probably knew all this anyway.

All the best and happy new year!

10:39 pm  

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