Re: [asa] Exaptation

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 14:31:14 EDT

> "Exaptation, and evolution more generally, tends to have a more
> jury-rigged look to it than would be ideal for ID-type inferences.
> I.e., whatever was handy was put to use."
> This is an appeal to what I call the Criterion of Rationality, as "look
> like" arguments have a place at the table.
> We need only score this appearance to advance the ball.

However, "tends to have a more ___ look" is not readily scoreable.
More fundamentally, the issue is what sort of pattern one expects
under any given scenario. Neither evolutionary nor non-evolutionary
(nor evolution with occasional gap) models have a single unique set of
predictions, but the observed patterns in organisms are compatible
with a few or no gaps in evolution model.

> "Of course, this does not
> rule out lower-case design, especially if the designer favored using
> natural laws, but it does not fit with the attempt to claim scientific
> proof of ID."
> Agreed.  To me it makes most sense to think of the designer exploiting
> naturals laws than fighting against them and, of course, there is no
> "scientific proof" here.  But there is plenty of room between vacuous
> nonsense and scientific proof.

Yes; I think that fine tuning-type arguments are reasonable as appeals
to common sense or general plausibility, but that they are generally
not amenable to strictly scientific proof and that they depend on
prior assumptions about the likelihood of various things, especially
of the existence of a designer. (The role of prior assumptions is
equally true whether the goal is arguing for or against the existence
of a designer).

> BTW, I outline a successful prediction of front-loading here:

I don't see how this is a very good prediction of front-loading. On
the one hand, a lack of multifunction proteins associated with
ribosomes would be no disproof of front-loading; any number of other
ways to front-load things could be done. On the other hand,
evolutionarily, multiple functions of the proteins would be
unsurprising. They've been around for so long that any possible
alternate use has had a good chance of being found. After all, a lot
of proteins are multi-function-proteins are rather good at that.
Also, there's been plenty of time for secondary assimilation of two
compatible functions, if originally separate genes were somehow
merged. Finally, they would have originated early enough that having
fewer relatively generic jack of all trade proteins may have been more
the norm than having numerous specialized ones; multiple functions
could be retained from such a situation.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Jun 26 14:32:03 2009

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