RE: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Mon Jun 15 2009 - 17:56:07 EDT

Cameron says:
"Once again, unless you rigorously separate "evolution" from "Darwinian evolution", as I have been begging everyone here to do, you will never understand the arguments or motivations of ID proponents."

That seems silly- because Darwin died a long, long time ago and evolution has progressed much since then. Darwin is just a pillar (a "father")- one of many- for modern evolution. Nobody follows Darwin, as if stuck in a time warp. Why would they? It is ancient knowledge. Evolution has evolved and fine-tuned as it grew (as all other memes).

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 1:33 PM
To: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

Bernie:

Bill has partly answered your posts already, and my understanding is about
the same as his, but let me try to address your objections in my own way.

Two things must be kept distinct:

1. The nature of an irreducibly complex system
2. The question whether Darwinian evolutionary processes can produce
irreducibly complex systems

On point 1:

"Irreducible complexity" is a non-historical, functional description of a
system. It indicates that all the parts are necessary for the whole to
function. In an irreducibly complex system, all the parts interact in such
a way that the removal of one of them would cause the system to cease
functioning. This is basically an engineering concept, having nothing
intrinsically to do with evolution or even with biology.

On point 2:

We know from our experience as human beings that irreducibly complex systems
can be built by intelligent agents, e.g., ourselves. We do not have
experience of inanimate matter building irreducibly complex systems.
(Unless the inanimate matter is following a template, e.g., as in embryonic
development; but I am speaking of building them up from scratch, or from
earlier systems which are quite different.) So the question is, can natural
processes, unguided by any intelligence, produce irreducibly complex
systems, or transform one irreducibly complex system into an entirely
different one?

Darwinian evolution says that they can. Behe's argument is that there are
formidable barriers in biological systems to the production of irreducibly
complex systems by means of accidental mutations, even when those mutations
are culled by natural selection, because natural selection can't select for
a system which does not function. So how do you get enough mutations
together to make up the new system that you want, so that "natural
selection" can select it?

Behe grants that in theory there might be intermediate stages between two
irreducibly complex systems, each of which has survival value. But he
doesn't find much evidence in the Darwinian literature of these stages.

Regarding Ken Miller, Miller and Behe have been at this for years. They
have published several articles each on the irreducible complexity of the
flagellum. I think it is important that if you read Ken Miller's criticism
of Behe's argument, you read every one of Behe's rejoinders.

First, Miller sometimes misrepresents Point 1 -- what Behe means by an
irreducibly complex system. Whether this is out of lack of understanding or
out of malice, I don't know. Anyhow, Behe clarifies what he means in his
rejoinders. You can read them.

Second, Miller has suggested as a possible intermediate the Type III
secretory system. Let's say we grant this. It still doesn't do nearly
enough to solve the problem that Behe is raising. There would have to be a
series of useful intermediates, not just one, between your basic bacterium
and your bacterium with a flagellum. So you still need some notion of what
these stages would have been, how they would have given the creature
survival advantage, how they would be generated genetically, etc. 99% of
the story is missing. And in many cases in the animal kingdom, 100% of the
story is missing. What are the intermediate stages? What survival value
did they have? An eagle with 5% sharper eyesight has a definite survival
advantage. But what about a bat with half a wing, enough to impair the
normal functioning of the arm, but not good enough to fly, or even glide in
a stable manner? What survival advantage would that intermediate form have?
Or a malfunctioning sonar, one which sometimes caught mosquitoes very well,
and other times let the bat crash into the cave wall? What survival
advantage would that intermediate form have? If evolution had to work up
through such imperfect partial stages, it would certainly never get to the
bat. And Darwinists have yet to come up with even a single plausible
sequence of intermediate forms, anywhere in the animal kingdom, that could
produce complex organic machinery such as the cardiovascular system.

We can trace the "evolution" of the motor car. We can see "intermediate
stages" between the Model T and modern cars. But all of those intermediate
stages were designed, irreducibly complex systems. They did not mutate into
the next phase by accident. The question is, can nature do the equivalent,
and manage, not just frequently but millions of times, to find its way,
unguided, to useful intermediate forms? The Type III secretory system, one
possible intermediate in a single type of unicellular creature, is very
thin evidence upon which to rest a mechanism which is supposed to explain
the entire macroevolutionary process.

To bring this back to your original objection: Behe allows that "evolution"
(not of the Darwinian kind) might have produced irreducibly complex systems.
But if so, it would be "front-loaded" evolution of some kind, in which the
parts were, so to speak, self-assembling, almost as if they had an inbuilt
intelligence which told them when to appear and where to take their place in
the new arrangement. Needless to say, such a front-loaded evolution would
require a mind with an ability to handle complex interactions far beyond
that of the greatest supercomputer, a superintelligence which could only be
divine. So if you go for front-loading, you have to believe in God. Maybe
not the Christian God, but some kind of God. Thus, Denton, who proposes
such a system, speaks of God. Behe stops short of endorsing Denton's view
as the correct one, but allows it as a possible means of producing
irreducible complexity through an evolutionary process.

Once again, unless you rigorously separate "evolution" from "Darwinian
evolution", as I have been begging everyone here to do, you will never
understand the arguments or motivations of ID proponents. The intelligent
design of irreducibly complex systems is logically compatible with
evolution, but not of course with Darwinian evolution.

Cameron.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Cc: <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 2:18 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the
nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

> Bill said:
> "The issue is the number of elements that must be simultaneously
> available. If all the parts of a mouse trap are present simultaneously
> it might even be possible for a car accident to put it together, but
> highly unlikely."
>
> As I understand irreducible complexity (IC) , it is argued that the parts
> can't al be around at the same time because there is no use for them to be
> around. That is the whole point of the argument- since there is no use
> for them, they must have been created together all at once. Therefore-
> evolution, guided or unguided, is impossible. Evolution is all about
> building something more complex from more simpler building blocks. IC is
> all about this evolution being impossible, because there is no need for
> the lower building blocks to be around.
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Powers [mailto:wjp@swcp.com]
> Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 10:34 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and
> the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)
>
> Bernie:
>
> I'll let Cameron reply for himself.
>
> But clearly your understanding of irreducible complexity cannot be
> correct. After all, we do construct mouse traps and cars all the time.
>
> The issue is the number of elements that must be simultaneously
> available. If all the parts of a mouse trap are present simultaneously
> it might even be possible for a car accident to put it together, but
> highly unlikely.
>
> It is a matter of probabalistic resources. In order to put togehter a
> car, say on an assembly line, it is required that
> 1) the available parts be simultaneously, or more carefully that they
> would be available on the time scale much shorter than the dissipative
> time scale (i.e., some measure of the effects of entropy, friction, or
> chaotic mixing).
>
> 2) That all the pieces would be put together on a time scale short
> compared to the disordering time scale (e.g., the time for the parts to
> rust, etc.).
>
> Irreducible complexity, as I understand it, is a statement that the
> joint probability of both the parts being nearly simultaneously
> available, say over time DeltaT, and the probability of the parts being
> put together over a time DeltaT is vanishingly small for a non-lawful,
> non-intelligent process.
>
> It assumes that there is no necessity in the parts coming together
> (e.g., the parts of a mouse trap have not "lawful" reason to come
> together, although once together they remain together, implying, it
> seems short range forces). The parts must have a lifetime that is long
> compared to the time of preparation, otherwise what is put together will
> not be made of the parts, although it might be possible that even a
> rusty car could become a whole, or an "inferior" mousetrap.
>
> bill
>
> On Mon, 15 Jun
> 2009, Dehler, Bernie wrote:
>
>> Cameron quoted:
>> " If the parts of the universe are so fine-tuned that they cannot help
>> but fall together into certain biologically functional arrangements, then
>> irreducibly complex structures will of course form through a front-loaded
>> evolutionary process."
>>
>> I don't understand. I understand "irreducible complexity" to mean that
>> it is impossible for nature to sequentially build something complex
>> because all the parts would need to appear at once (like the mousetrap
>> needing all of it's basic parts to be present at the same time). This is
>> against evolution- guided or unguided.
>>
>> ...Bernie
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
>> Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
>> Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 7:35 AM
>> To: asa@calvin.edu
>> Subject: Re: design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re:
>> Gingerich on TE and ID)
>>
>> Actually, Bernie, that's not the case. Here are just three paragraphs
>> for
>> you:
>>
>> If the parts of the universe are so fine-tuned that they cannot help but
>> fall together into certain biologically functional arrangements, then
>> irreducibly complex structures will of course form through a front-loaded
>> evolutionary process. The evolutionary process would then be analogous
>> to
>> the embryological process, in that the outcome would be planned from the
>> beginning, with the changes all ready in advance. But this would be a
>> planned evolutionary process, unlike Darwin's evolutionary process, the
>> essential nature of which is to be unplanned. Irreducible complexity
>> does
>> not clash with "evolution"; it clashes with "unplanned evolution". Behe
>> assumed that any careful reader of *Darwin's Black Box* would understand
>> that he was talking about "unplanned evolution".
>>
>> Of course, there is as yet no evidence that fine-tuning can accomplish
>> such
>> an evolutionary feat. Fine-tuning at the evolutionary level essentially
>> requires that the earliest DNA has the plan for the whole march of life
>> implicit in it, and this claim is still highly speculative, and will
>> remain
>> so until we understand what all the apparently unused DNA is for. But
>> this
>> view is no more speculative than Darwinism itself. Each view requires
>> one
>> seemingly incredible claim. Darwinism requires us to believe that time
>> after time, over the course of life, accident produces new functional
>> structures, with the whole process conveniently tending upwards toward
>> man;
>> front-loading or fine-tuning requires us to believe that level after
>> level
>> of biological complexity is packed into the fundamental properties of the
>> chemical elements, and this gives to biochemical necessity the awesome
>> power
>> that Darwinism gives to chance. On the face of it, it seems incredible
>> that
>> either chance or necessity could have such powers.
>>
>> The smart money, I would say, is on the view that the evolutionary
>> process
>> is in fact intelligently guided. It's a view consistent with our
>> knowledge
>> of integrated complex systems, and of the limited power of Darwinian
>> mechanisms. It's a view in tune with common sense. It's the view that
>> seems to be held by Ted Davis and George Murphy and Robert Russell, and
>> also, I am told, by Owen Gingerich and other TEs. It is also a view
>> compatible with the arguments of Behe and of many other ID supporters.
>> But
>> it is of course a view which, according to many here, is unscientific, or
>> non-scientific. I never said that intelligently guided evolution was
>> "scientific" in the sense of a formal scientific hypothesis, but I
>> certainly
>> believe that it is compatible with the best scientific data -- more
>> compatible, in fact, than pure Darwinism is. Once again, I think that
>> TE,
>> when it is not afraid to say directly and without ambiguity that God
>> controlled the evolutionary process to produce certain specific results,
>> is
>> in tune with some versions of ID.
>>
>> Cameron.
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
>> To: <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:19 PM
>> Subject: RE: design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re:
>> Gingerich
>> on TE and ID)
>>
>>
>>> I think one TE could say "yes" (fully gifted creation- Howard Van Till),
>>> and another might say "No" because God needs to guide it somewhat or at
>>> certain times.
>>>
>>> Cameron said:
>>> ID says, "NO -- unless the properties of the atoms and the laws of
>>> nature
>>> are fine-tuned, which implies design."
>>>
>>> If ID says it could happen, then that blows apart Behe's mousetrap
>>> example
>>> (irreducible complexity), which is a pillar for ID I think ("Icons of
>>> ID"
>>> if you will).
>>
>>
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Received on Mon Jun 15 17:56:36 2009

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