Posted: Jan 05, 2018 3:07 pm
by Cito di Pense
Calilasseia wrote:Now of course, we have a problem, in that characterising that three-step process above as "design", leaves the entire topic wide open to apologetic abuse, at the hands of miscreants taking ruthless advantage of uneducated or credulous audiences. Which not only stems from the multifarious issues already covered above, but from another issue I've yet to deal with - namely, how one defines the 'successes' in step [3]. Of course, in the world of evolutionary biology, 'success' is easily and simply defined, as an affirmative answer to the question "has X produced descendants?" Step [3], on the other hand, does not admit of a well-defined universal criterion independent of subjective human judgement, when humans are the generators in step [1]. What constitutes 'success' for one set of humans, seeking one goal, will constitute dismal failure for a different set of humans, with a different goal. "Does it work?", in the case of human activity, constitutes such a broad brush that its utility value as a defining criterion, is limited by being similarly open to subjective change across instances."Does it work?" is a useful first step along the way during our infant trials, but necessarily gives way to more precise specification later, and for different instances of the requisite human activity, those precise specifications will differ too. Evolutionary processes differ sufficiently substantively in that respect also, to render the homomorphism I expounded above apologetically useless in the face of an informed audience.

We do define 'success' as part of evolutionary theory. In that vein, extinction isn't really a failure simply because environmental changes might outstrip the pace of adaptation.

Those who want to define 'success' and 'failure' (or, as above, 'design') are welcome to do so. Sorry if I don't stand at attention and salute anything but efficient communication, where no one has yet given the utility of using 'design' to refer to structures arrived at in organic evolution. This roadshow isn't headed anywhere: as Gould pointed out, there's a wall of low-complexity at one end, and everything seems to get more complex from there, but only up to a point.

Design, as I take it, is aimed at meeting criteria posed by a particular set of extant conditions, so all these temporary successes meet the requirements; nevertheless, without the aim of doing so, it's strange to call it 'design'. Simply failing to fail is, of course, one way to do that, but it's weak in terms of the way we define 'success' (in the context of 'design'. In past cases of mass extinction brought about by drastic environmental change, calling the survivors successes seems out of place.

There are strains of humanism that go right down this street, but what those humanists bring along with them includes stuff like consciousness, morality, free will radio. On the air 24/7/365. Need a substitute religion? They have your back.