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

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Wed Jun 17 2009 - 07:34:36 EDT

This is a good point wrt how the IDM speaks about 'organisms' as analogous with 'machines.' Dembski has clearly stated that 'intelligent design' as he conceives and perceives of it, is *not* a mechanistic theory or hypothesis. At the same time, the force of their argument to 'design' is at least partly based on the idea that since 'molecular machines' display similarities to machines that are human-made (e.g. mousetrap, if one could call this a simple 'machine'), there seems to be room for more clarity about the role that 'mechanism' and mechincal things play in IDT.
A simple example is the Wiki entry on mechanism, which alerts some different definitions of the term.
Iain wrote: "analogies with cars etc are really quite misleading IMO."
I would agree and say the same of all human-made things. ID can be anthropomorphising to the Creator when it confuses the terms.

On Wed, 6/17/09, Iain Strachan <> wrote:

From: Iain Strachan <>
Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)
To: "Bill Powers" <>
Cc: "Cameron Wybrow" <>, "asa" <>
Received: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 12:03 PM

There is another reason why the car analogy is fallacious.  A car is made out of precisely machined engineering components, that require to be manufactured to precise tolerances.  This is because the material they are made out of is stiff, not flexible like proteins.  However, if you look at the kind of images that are displayed on ID-friendly websites, you would come to the conclusion that flagella are exactly like that, but in fact they are stylised representations that show the working of the organism in a means that we can understand. 

A couple of examples are here (the image on Dembski's website) and here . (The latter wasn't from an ID website, but I'll bet it's been adopted and shown around).  These images with there polished surfaces and apparently tightly machined components give the strong impression that they were designed and manufactured, just like an electric motor.

Here is a real electron micrograph of a bacterial flagellum.  It really doesn't show much resemblance to an electric motor (even though it works on the same principle).

Here is an animated gif of the rotating flagellar hook.  No finely polished and carefully machined surfaces there.

Here is a diagram of the molecular structure of the filament cross section.  Again, there is no resemblance to the kind of picture from Dembski's website.  The author of the article I got this from states that the structures look like typical bacteriophage viruses and don't show anything in common with man-made machines.

Now, I am not saying that it doesn't WORK like an electric motor.  Of course it does; however the material it is made of is so radically different - a whole bunch of flexible, twisty protein macromolecules, that analogies with cars etc are really quite misleading IMO.

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Received on Wed Jun 17 07:35:15 2009

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