Re: [asa] Re: "junk" DNA

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 17:40:50 EDT

D.S. said: *What human designer is both omnipotent and omniscient? Why
would a deity who knows exactly what a final creature should be like in
order to function with maximum efficiency have to tinker with dozens of
whalelike creatures on the way to a final design? Why would there be a
process taking 2 or 3 billion years from a start for life......*

But you are taking the *analogy* of human design too far here. The very use
of the word "tinker" betrays that, as does the notion of a "final' design.
The fact that God used a *process* of design doesn't have to imply that God
is a "tinkerer" who isn't able to get things "right" on the first shot. And
the fact that things are a certain way right now doesn't have to imply that
God finally got it "right" such that the current state of things is the
"final" design. In fact, Christian eschatology tells us the current state
of things isn't the "final" state of God's design for creation.

Maybe the answer to your "why" questions is that it delighted God to do it
this way -- maybe He simply enjoyed all the different forms of creatures
that came into being this way. Maybe it's just part of God's creative
nature to use design processes that result in maximal diversity of
creatures. (Yes, there is a theodicy question there, but as C.S. Lewis
noted in The Problem of Pain, we also shouldn't be so quick to assume that
animals and other non-human forms of life experience "suffering" -- that
also may be pressing an analogy of being too far.)

Or maybe the answer to the "why" questions is that, having chosen the
contingency of *this* universe, the design pathway God chose was the most
efficient for producing accomplishing His purposes for the design.

Or, maybe, God's reasons are simply inscrutable to us. Why should that be
so surprising? After all, He is God, and we are not. And after all, even
if the world as we know it was created fully "mature," the question of
"waste" still doesn't go away. Why would God create any universe by any
method at all with morally responsible beings whom He foreknew would sin?
I'm reminded of a passage in Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," in which
the atheist character compares human history to compost -- suffering piled
on suffering, all to feed some fragile flower. The flower has a day to
bloom, but is that fair to the generations of waste that went into the
compost heap? Questions at this level become beyond our comprehension at
some point.

On 6/14/07, D. F. Siemens, Jr. <> wrote:
> I think that there is a slip up here. What human designer is both
omnipotent and omniscient? Why would a deity who knows exactly what a final
creature should be like in order to function with maximum efficiency have to
tinker with dozens of whalelike creatures on the way to a final design? Why
would there be a process taking 2 or 3 billion years from a start for life,
hundreds of millions for development from the so-called "explosion,"
evolutionary trees with more lopped off branches than ones continuing to the
present? Occasionally a human being will put things together in a single
insight, but normally we try one thing after another until we get something
that functions somewhat as desired. I owned (bought new) one of the first
cars that was designed to reduce pollution--more things hung on the engine
to do one thing or another. Worst car I ever owned, though it looked great.
The dealer even brought an engineer from Detroit to try to get adequate
function, without success. One of its most endearing traits was dying during
a left turn. The designers finally rethought the entire concept and have
engines that are functional, economical and "green."
> The ID designer may be incompetent, though smarter than we. The process
theology Mind may be restricted by its connection to matter of a sort. But
the Creator of orthodox theology is not restricted in knowledge or action,
and the lesser made-in-human-image super-beings are.
> Dave
> On Thu, 14 Jun 2007 19:21:12 +0200 "David Opderbeck" <>
> It's fair to say that IDist, unless they base their views on their God
> not being wasteful, have no way to predict the existence or absence of
> junk DNA.
> I've never understood why this is taken as a strong argument againts
ID. "Wasteful," after all, is a value judgment. Assuming God is
the "designer," who is to say that what God has done is "wasteful?"
Wouldn't be more than just a bit arrogant for a human being living at one
particular moment in history, with all the limitations on cognition and
knowledge that implies, to presume that the processes that produce "junk"
DNA are "wasteful?" Even the term "junk" is rather silly, IMHO, regardless
of whether non-coding DNA has any present function, as it also is a value
> Moreover, if the ID advocate suggests that we "detect" God's design
because of a sort of analogia entis -- by some analogy to human design -- it
would not be surprising in the least that God's design would resemble a
process that produces artefacts such as non-coding DNA. I was in the Louvre
this weekend, looking at paintings that were designed by people. Underneath
the layers of visible paint, there are pencil lines that once supplied the
initial outline for the finished design. Those pencil lines no longer serve
any function -- they are covered over by the paint and invisible to the
naked eye. Does the presence of "junk" pencil markings suggest the painting
was created randomly rather than by design? Was it "wasteful" of the
painter to start with pencil rather than to immediately splash paint onto
the canvas?
> In addition, a microscopic examination of the canvas would probably reveal
other artifacts of the design process arising from the design media chosen
by the designer, which no longer serve any purpose -- say, tiny bits of
fiber from the paint brushes embedded in the layers of paint, or invisible
threads of canvas fiber that have become dislodged into the paint. I would
daresay that in no area of human design is there a design process that
incorporates 100% of the design media into the final functionality. This
isn't necessarily "wasteful" -- it simply reflects the constrains of the
physical media with which designers must work.
> Finally, if "waste" is a problem for ID, it is just as much a problem for
TE. In fact, many materialist atheists argue exactly that evolution
necessarily elides any concept of the Christian God because of the problem
of "waste." It is ultimately a theodicy problem. And I have to imagine
hearing God's response to Job: "where were you when I laid the foundation
of the world?"

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Received on Thu Jun 14 17:41:21 2007

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