Re: Looking for the gifts (where?)
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 17:38:47 EDT

I wrote:

> Perhaps it is at this point where the typical versions of theistic
> evolution and intelligent design can be altered and merged to exist
> in a symbiotic union. An understanding of evolution takes us back to
> the primordial gift (as the globin-fold is very ancient, being found
> in bacteria). Something like Dembski's filter might be helpful it
> corroborating something as a gift (after all, the globin fold is an
> example of complex, specified information).

Tim replied:

>"Something like Demski's filter" might be helpful; but Dembksi's
>filter itself is of no help.

This is simply a matter of opinion. As I see it, if an evolutionary
analysis takes us back to a starting point that is characterized by
complex, specified information, we may very well be looking at
the history of evolution that has followed an initially designed
state. I do think Dembski is on to something with regards to
complex, specified information (in fact, Paul Davies does an
excellent job highlighting the unique features of this type
of complexity). To put it simply, CSI can rationally be viewed
as the frozen trace of Mind. And as I see it, mind expresses
itself through understanding and free will. In fact, the process
of design itself is the application of understanding through
free will. To truly design something, I must freely choose the
components that will be incorporated into the thing I am
designing. If I have no free choice, I am not truly *designing*.
In fact, I think free will is demonstrated when a physical happening
emerges (brain activity) that cannot be attributed to law or chance.
Law-like causes would eliminate choice (which I know to exist from
direct subjective experience) and chance would eliminate coherency
(choices happen for reasons). Thus, as I see it, CSI is the frozen
trace of a free agent's intervention, i.e., a designer.

Of course, I am completely open to the notion that CSI is generated
by some self-organizing principle inherent in the fabric of creation.
If certain forms of CSI self-organize and are then exploited by
evolution, for me, this is no less of a design inference.

I wrote:

> However, one thing is clear. The evidence that hemoglobin evolved
> through standard evolutionary mechanisms is quite plausible, yet the
> evidence for myoglobin's evolution is essentially non-existent. I thus
> see no basis whatsoever for ruling out some form of actualized design
> behind the origin of myoglobin, a gift to be exploited by evolution.

Tim replied:

>A recent paper suggests that the original function of these
>heme-carrying proteins was not to carry oxygen but to perform
>a detoxification process. Thus myoglobin, as an oxygen carrier,
>appears to have its origin in an older protein with a different

Are you talking about the work with ascaris hemoglobin?
If so, I fail to see how the function in an intestinal parasite
so clearly implies an original function given all the evolution
that would be involved in parasitism. Furthermore, there are
bacteria which use hemoglobin in the classic sense, namely,
to bind and sequester oxygen.

But none of this really matters, as the notion of myoglobin
as a "gift" doesn't entail any specific original function. The
fact remains that ascaris hemoglobin is still a globin protein.
If the originally designed globin protein worked to detoxify,
so what? For many organisms, the simple process of oxygen
binding can be viewed as detoxification. The point remains
that an original globin-like protein would still be a gift (regardless
of its original function) in that it would serve as the framework
upon which minor changes could be made to evolve the vertebrate
version of hemoglobin.


>Now, while there is no way to rule out "some form of actualized
>design" behind the progenitor of oxygen-carrying hemoglobins,
>what exactly is there to support this belief? Personally, I find
>it hard to make the case for design based on the negative argument
>presented. Positive evidence is what's needed.

I'm not really interested in making "the case for design." I simply
enjoy speculating in an uncoventional manner and exploring lines
of thinking that don't fit into the standard way of thinking. Now,
you need "positive evidence." Okay, and what would this look like?
Unless I have a feel for the type of data you consider "positive
evidence," I'm not sure exactly what you want. For example,
what is the "positive evidence" for the evolutionary origin of
myoglobin? What is the "positive evidence" for the widely
held belief that myoglobin arose through mutations, drift,
and natural selection? Perhaps if I can understand the positive
evidence behind these beliefs, I can begin to ponder what type
of positive evidence might exist for design. After all, deep
down, I am a relativist in these matters.