Re: NTSE #11

Stephen Jones (
Thu, 20 Mar 97 06:10:14 +0800


On Fri, 07 Mar 1997 08:55:36 -0400, Pim van Meurs wrote:

>BH>"Agreed. After reading Paul Nelson's NTSE paper, in which he
>quoted extensively from Gould's and others' arguments about how a
>wise designer would not have used the same limb structure for such a
>wide variety of creatures, my reaction was that if God had desired to
>optimize the adaptability a single mechanism, he succeeded. The
>point is that Gould and others who use the argument from imperfection
>have no way of knowing what the designer had in mind."

>PM>True, which is why appeal to a supernatural force has little
>scientific value. Because any flaw can be explained as "we do not
>understand what the designer had in mind".

The point is that it cannot be claimed to be a "flaw". We may
*think* its a "flaw", but that may be due to our limited understanding:

"There is simply no denying the breathtaking brilliance of the designs
to be found in nature. Time and again, biologists baffled by some
apparently futile or maladroit bit of bad design in nature have
eventually come to see that they have underestimated the ingenuity,
the sheer brilliance, the depth of insight to be discovered in one of
Mother Nature's creations. " (Dennett D.C., "Darwin 's Dangerous
Idea", 1995, p74)

To claim it is a "flaw" you would have to *know* that the Designer
wanted to do a better job but couldn't, either because of a lack of
ability or a lack of power, or both. But it is equally possible that
an omniscient and omnipotent Designer deliberately chose not to make
living things flawless, in order to fulfil other design goals for the
whole system.

In any event, there is no reason why there cannot be a scientfic
theory of Intelligent Design, even if the design were freely admitted
(for the sake of argument) to be flawed, by an ideal engineering
standard. Design that is flawed is still design. Metaphysical
naturalists must show that there is *NO* design.

PM>Perhaps he/she was sadistic or just playfull in having eyes of
>the flaunder move all over the body or route the urinary tract
>through the prostate gland of men?

These are good examples of the subjectivity of argument from
imperfection. Darwin actually though the first of these, the "eyes
of the flaunder" that "move all over the body" (actually one
eye moves a short distance around the head), were regarded by Darwin
as an advantageous adaptation which stops the lower eye being abraded
and helps the fish feed and avoid enemies:

"The Pleuronectidae, or Flat-fish, are remarkable for their
asymmetrical bodies. They rest on one side,-in the greater number of
species on the left, but in some on the right side; and occasionally
reversed adult specimens occur. The lower, or resting-surface,
resembles at first sight the ventral surface of an ordinary fish: it
is of a white colour, less developed in many ways than the upper
side, with the lateral fins often of smaller size. But the eyes
offer the most remarkable peculiarity; for they are both placed on
the upper side of the head. During early youth, however, they stand
opposite to each other, and the whole body is then symmetrical, with
both sides equally coloured. Soon the eye proper to the lower side
begins to glide slowly round the head to the upper side; but does not
pass right through the skull, as was formerly thought to be the case.
It is obvious that unless the lower eye did thus travel round, it
could not be used by the fish whilst lying in its habitual position
on one side. The lower eye would, also, have been liable to be
abraded by the sandy bottom. That the Pleuronectidae are admirably
adapted by their flattened and asymmetrical structure for their
habits of life, is manifest from several species, such as soles,
flounders, etc., being extremely common. The chief advantages thus
gained seem to be protection from their enemies, and facility for
feeding on the ground." (Darwin C.., "The Origin of Species", 6th
Edition, 1872, Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1967
reprint, p210)

As for "the urinary tract" going "through the prostate gland of men",
Darwinists presumably must think this must have a selective
advantage, otherwise it would not have remained such a dominant
feature in all mammals apart from the monotremes and the beaver.

An Intelligent Design theorist would just argue that this was part of
the mammalian body-plan and there were good reasons why it was
designed that way.

>PM>If anything else Gould's arguments and your response show
>perfectly the enormous chasm between scientific approach and
>religious faith.

It shows that the so-called "scientific approach" used by those who
use the argument from imperfection, is really a type of "religious
faith" itself. That is clear in the emotionalism, subjectivism and
just plain bad logic used by the imperfectionists.

Let's face it, even if the Designer used designs that were less than
perfect, it would not mean that there was no Intelligent Designer,
just that there was an Intelligent Designer who could have created
everything perfect but who chose instead, for His own good reasons,
not to do so. Some scientists might not like such a Designer, but
since when does scientists not liking something disqualify it as an
object of scientific study?

BTW, the Bible nowhere says that God created everything "perfect",
just "good" (Gn, 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).

God bless.


| Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ |
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