Re: Fw: the evolution of mousetraps

Glenn Morton (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 21:11:19

Russ Maatman wrote:

>Glenn, you have written some pretty insightful stuff on these listserves.
>And you have enlightened me in quite a few matters. In addition, I enjoyed
>your book. I admire your wide range of knowledge.
>But. Yes, there is a but. It seems to me that anyone who reads your account
>of how mousetraps evolved would move pretty far into the antievolutionary
>camp. Your scenario is Rube Goldberg-ish. I would like to see a biochemist
>construct a gradualistic path for one of Mike Behe's cases, present it to
>the Journal of Molecular Evolution, get past the referees, etc., and
>finally get it in print. If that path had the characteristics of your
>mousetrap scenario, I rather think the YECs would have a field day.
>Naturalistic evolutionists would run for cover.
>Really. Glenn, please re-read what you wrote. If _this_ is the answer to
>people like Mike Behe, then the argument is over.

I got mixed reactions to that mousetrap thing; some liked it some didn't as
with most of what I write. The thing to note in my "intellectual exxercise"
with the mousetrap was designed to show that IF one allows reproduction with
alteration, gradualistic pathways can be constructed in which each step
improves the efficiency at each step. The thing anti-evolutionists are missing
is the power of iterative systems. The assumption in most design arguments is
that the object arises like Athena sprung from Zeus' head, fully formed. Of
course a mousetrap or human body is unlikely to be formed by shaking a box of

My serious criticism is that a mousetrap is absolutely useless as an analogy
to the question of design in living systems. Living systems reproduce.
Mousetraps don't. Paley's watch doesn't. We recognized the need for design in
a mousetrap or Paley's watch precisely because of it's inability to procreate.

Iterative systems like nonlinear systems produce remarkable patterns. In
mathematics the Mandelbrot set, Julia sets, Sierpinski's gasket and the
Duffing equation among others produce amazing complexity (I know Brian Harper
you are going to say "ordered" But that is another argument)

In order to prove that design case, one must prove that simpler systems
are not able to perform the task and that there is NO pathway to the current
system state from simpler system states. In the case of the mousetrap or
Paley's watch, we are forced to conclude human design and manufacture because
there is no pathway to the fully developed state. Why? Because moustraps and
watches don't reproduce!!! This simple fact rules out all possible pathways to
the mousetrap system state EXCEPT for human design and manufacture. If
mousetraps are granted reproduction, there is a pathway, Rube Goldberg-ish as
it is.


Foundation,Fall and Flood