Some creationists consider the thorns on plants a problem for evolutionary theory. As I will show, this is based on a flawed understanding of evolutionary theory. But before I proceed, let me present the ‘argument‘ presented by Joseph Alden (uncle of Gary McGuire)
May 11, 2008
May 5, 2008
Joe Felsenstein, Professor of Genome Sciences and of Biology and Adjunct Professor of Computer Science and of Statistics has a guest posting on Panda’s Thumb titled Gambler’s Ruin is Darwin’s Gain in which he exposes the vacuity of the Intelligent Design comments by Young Earth Creationist Salvador Cordova.
So yes, the mathematics of Gambler’s Ruin speaks to the issue of natural selection—but it confirms its effectiveness.
(The other issue raised by Cordova, that of interference between mutations at different loci, is the well-known Hill-Robertson effect. If the loci have more than a tiny amount of genetic recombination between them, the interference largely vanishes. Cordova and the other commenters there have forgotten this.)
PZ Myers at Pharyngula observes similarly in a posting titled ‘squish’
That’s the sound you should hear when Joe Felsenstein takes on an idiotic claim by Sal Cordova. Would you believe that Cordova claims that Kimura and Ohta’s classic 1971 paper “shatters the modern synthesis”? That’s what he claims, on the basis of his poor understanding of the mathematics of population genetics, which is ridiculous on the face of it. So it’s very satisfying to see one of the big guns of population genetics take him down with one brief explanation: contrary to Cordova, the principle he’s describing confirms the effectiveness of natural selection.
May 4, 2008
Many Intelligent Design proponents, seem to be unfamiliar with the simple fact that Intelligent Design is a straightforward argument from ignorance.
The problem is that ID proponents have used equivocating language which has led to much confusion amongst its followers. I cannot blame Crowther for taking serious the claims of his DI fellows, but claiming that ID is not an argument from ignorance is merely begging the question.
While it is relatively straightforward to reach the conclusion that ID is an argument from ignorance, it does require some careful analysis of how various terminologies are being (ab)used and confused by ID proponents.
So what is the design ? Simple, it is the “set theoretic complement of regularity and chance” or in other words, that which remains once one has eliminated known processes. Note that ID provides no positive argument but merely refers to our ignorance as ’designed’. This of course does not mean that a ‘designer’ may not be hiding in the gap we have just created, it’s just that historically science has been extremely effective in closing these gaps.
So what about the complexity argument? We see complexity in the world around us and ’invariably this complexity can be traced to a designer’? What’s wrong with this argument? Well, for starters, complexity in ID – speak is nothing more than the negative base 2 logarithm of our ignorance. In other words, IFF we can explain something then the complexity disappears. So why would ID use such equivocating language? One explanation is that the term complexity hide the true meaning of the argument which is the typical argument from (im)probability. We are all familiar with the creationist argument that ‘X’ is too improbable to have happened by pure chance alone? It is trivially simple to multiply probabilities to obtain a small enough probability as Dembski has shown in his non-sensical calculations of the probabilities involved in protein formation.
To recap: ID’s argument is that we see a lot of things that we cannot yet explain. To conclude ’thus designed’ is not different from our ancestors assigning earthquakes, solar eclipses and other unexplained events to deities.
So next time you hear an ID proponent argue that ID is not just about ignorance, ask them how they explain the bacterial flagella. And the silence that follows indicates how ID has failed and will continue to fail to contribute in a positive manner to scientific understanding.
So perhaps Crowther can enlighten us: How does ID explain the bacterial flagella? Oh, I forgot, ID is not in the business of answering such pathetic requests…
Must be hard to be communications director with so many ID proponents making such silly comments.
January 1, 2008
William Dembski wrote:
As for your example, I’m not going to take the bait. You’re asking me to play a game: ”Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position.” ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.
Source: William Dembski Organisms using GAs vs. Organisms being built by GAs thread at ISCID 18. September 2002