Posted: Jul 28, 2010 10:47 pm
by Calilasseia
And now, time to post the serious post I intended to post in this thread, before discovering that my shiny thread was full of the dumped contents of the soiled intellectual nappies of mythology fetishists.

And, since I've been itching to do this for some time, I've decided to give this post a title that will amuse many here. Namely:


With respect to the "design" assertion, another apposite problem has come to my attention, a problem which is apposite with respect to my opening post, because it brings problems inherent with any purported universal metric for detecting "design" that I haven't covered before into sharp relief. This applies equally to two different classes of purported "designer", namely natural ones and supernatural ones, but, as shall be seen, is actually worse for supernatural ones.

One of the favourite corollary assertions erected by fetishists for "design", is that instances of so-called "design" in the biosphere are purportedly detectable as such, because they exhibit a purported level of "perfection" that is beyond the remit of evolution. The problem with that corollary assertion, of course, is that the biosphere contains numerous documented instances, from the molecular level upwards, of features that make absolutely no sense whatsoever when juxtaposed with this assertion of "perfection". The biosphere contains enough documented instances of kludgey and far from optimal 'solutions' to various ecosystem space problems to render this assertion null and void. But that corollary assertion of "perfection" turns round and bites design assertionists on the buttocks in another way.

One of the reasons why evolution has produced some kludgey, sub-optimal solutions to various ecosystem space problems, is that evolutionary processes are not striving for some teleological goal in this regard. All that evolutionary processes do, when they operate, is produce organisms that are sufficiently competent for their particular ecosystem niche at any given time, and if the conditions of that niche change too rapidly for evolutionary processes to respond in a given instance, then that particular solution ceases to be sufficiently competent and becomes extinct. Evolutionary processes rely upon organismal genomes to act as their 'memory' of what works and what doesn't in a given instance, and when a given instance stops working, those processes can only rescue that instance from extinction under certain appropriate conditions. Before any creationists or IDists try to quote mine this, and claim that I'm accepting that evolutionary processes have limits, well, duh, congratulations for alighting upon the banally obvious - no one, myself included, has ever said that evolutionary processes can operate beyond the laws of physics, for example, but myself and others have reported at length, that evolutionary processes are perfectly capable of producing observed biodiversity and its allied features, and have presented the evidence for this, so don't bother quote mining this paragraph unless you actually want to look dishonest. What I and others who paid attention in science class do NOT accept, is blind creationist/IDist assertions that evolution cannot produce X, Y or Z, simply because creationist/IDist ideology and its defining assertions require magic. I've said so often in my time, that 300 years of scientific endeavour has established conclusively that we don't need magic in order to understand the universe, that any quote mining of my words above will not only look dishonest, but stupid.

Continuing for a moment on the real limits of evolution, as understood by those of us who paid attention in science classes, as opposed to the fantasy magic barriers asserted to exist by mythology fetishists and their ilk, one of the constraints acting upon evolutionary processes is that they work by using inheritance. This constraint doesn't stop those processes from producing a large number of interesting organismal features, but it does mean that those processes have to work with whatever has arisen in the past. Those processes cannot conjure up an entirely new genome, totally bereft of any trace of antecedent genes, and no one in the world of real science has ever postulated that they can. What real scientists have postulated, of course, is that despite the limitations of having to work with inheritance, those processes can still alight upon a vast range of solutions to various ecosystem problems, courtesy of the time honoured mechanism of shaping population heredity differentially. Assertions to the effect that this constitutes some sort of 'magic barrier' preventing those processes from producing, say, the bacterial flagellum, are so asinine in the light of the scientific evidence (including the 15 or so papers I've presented in detail elsewhere on these forums) that the only proper response left is to point and laugh at such assertions.

However, the point I am leading up to with the above preamble is this - any entity that possesses the vast body of knowledge, and the means, to manufacture organismal genomes from scratch, as design assertionists claim is the case for their purported "designer", is NOT thus constrained.

Such an entity is NOT constrained by the requirements of inheritance. Indeed, in the case of those asserting that a supernatural magic entity is required to produce the biosphere, they define their magic entity as not being thus constrained. However, the same applies to any purported "natural" entities capable of genetic engineering on the grand scale required to support the "design" assertion - any entities possessing the knowledge and the means to perform this task are NOT constrained in the least to rely upon inheritance.

As a corollary of the above absence of constraint to work within inheritance, any entity that qualifies as a "designer" for the biosphere is free to produce a range of elegant solutions, none of which need betray ANY trace of homology with antecedent systems whatsoever, because, well duh, such a "designer" isn't relying upon inheritance. Any such "designer" is free to alight upon whatever elegant solutions happen to be made possible by that vast body of knowledge and vast possession of skills. Consequently, we should see no instances of kludgey, sub-optimal solutions if a sufficiently powerful "designer" was genuinely responsible for the biosphere. We should indeed observe that the biopshere conforms to what I labelled the "Bugatti Veyron fallacy" when dealing with Michael Behe's nonsense in a previous post at the Richard Dawkins Forums - we should see that organisms are indeed the acme of perfection, and that there is no room for improvement in any organismal lineage. This follows inexorably from the fact that design assertionists insist that their magic entities are purportedly wonderfully gifted in this regard.

Now, this is bad enough for any assertion that the purported "designer" is itself a natural entity, working within the laws of physics. Even an entity constrained in this manner, if it possesses sufficient knowledge, skill and tools for the job, should be capable of producing elegant solutions that don't result in biologists looking at them, and thinking upon doing so, that their electrician or plumber could produce a better job.

But in the case of sueprnatural entities, the situation is even worse, because such entities are defined by those who assert that they exist, to operate outside of the constraints of natural processes altogether. As a consequence, such entities should be even more capable of producing the "perfection" that design assertionists frequently insist is present, and on an even greater scale. Which means that design assertionists' own insistence upon holding up the biosphere as evidence of the fantastic and wonderful capabilities of their assorted magic entities, turns round to bite them on the buttocks, because such perfection is far from evident. The biosphere includes more than its fair share of lash-ups, nonsensical features and broken relics extant within living organisms, to support the notion that they were the result of natural proccesses constrained to work with inheritance, and refute the assertion that they were the product of some supremely gifted magic entity.

Apologetic fabrications to the effect that recognising this constitutes "arrogance" on our part are precisely that - apologetic fabrications and nothing more. They amount to erecting the wholly unsupported claim that their asserted magic entities possess some privileged knowledge denied to us, despite the fact that it is this very claim of purported "privileged knowledge" on the part of their asserted entities that we are contesting with this evidence. The assertion that their magic entities are somehow so inscrutable and so far above us in knowledge, that these instances of kludgey solutions somehow constitute "perfection" for reasons unbeknownst to us, despite exhibiting manifest inconsistencies with this assertion of "perfection", is merely another of those apologetic fabrications that the assertionist mind is so fond of. One of the juicier ironies arising from such apologetic fabrications, of course, is that after posturing as being in a position to chastise us for doubting the magic powers of their beloved entities, design assertionists of various species then happily erect other assertions, that are tantamount to making the very claim that they purport to chastise us for - namely, possessing the very privileged knowledge about the mind of their magic entities that they previously told us was somehow "impossible" for us to obtain. Indeed, their very assertion that their magic entities possess this purported "privileged knowledge", including the claim about purported inscrutability described above, is a claim of the same type that they are posturing as being in a position to chastise us for erecting!

The only escape left to design assertionists, given the above, is to accept that their beloved entities must be subject to additional constraints, if what we see is indeed the best that those entities could purportedly "design". But if the vast body of scientific evidence, to the effect that magic entities are superfluous to requirements and irrelevant, wasn't enough on its own, that body of evidence is doubly damning once constraints are accepted upon those entities, because the whole point of erecting those entities, was to make the claim that those entities possessed capabilities beyond those of testable natural processes, capabilities that were purportedly "necessary" to produce the observed phenomena we see. The moment that constraints are placed upon those entities that reduce them to the same level as testable natural processes, they are even more superfluous to requirements than before, because the entire raison d'ĂȘtre for those entities, as described above, has vanished.