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Author Topic:   Biological Evidence Against Intelligent Design
deerbreh
Member (Idle past 2123 days)
Posts: 882
Joined: 06-22-2005


Message 1 of 264 (543962)
01-22-2010 11:45 AM


I propose a discussion on the question,
"What biological evidence is there against Intelligent Design?"

Discussion should center around what we would expect to see in extant species if in fact organisms were designed by an intelligent being? The assumption is that as intelligent beings we should be able to make such an assessment. Then, having made the assessment, it should be relatively easy to identify flaws in design that would suggest that rather than intelligent design we are dealing with some kind of ad hoc mechanism, such as evolution. To simplify things, I suggest that we focus on the human body mostly, but if someone has a really good example from another species - particularly another primate - let us hear it. But in order to not get caught up in the "transitional fossil" argument - which already has a current thread, I would like to stick to existing organisms.

I think Biological Evolution is the best home for this, as ID is usually proposed as an alternative to evolution.


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Message 2 of 264 (543968)
01-22-2010 1:00 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Biological Evidence Against Intelligent Design thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
hooah212002
Member (Idle past 32 days)
Posts: 3193
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 3 of 264 (543969)
01-22-2010 1:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by deerbreh
01-22-2010 11:45 AM


Hopefully I'm on track here....
I would start with the human head/neck combination. An intelligent designer would not have made our heads to as proportionally large in comparison to our necks: whiplash is evident.

most all other mammals (biologists correct me if I'm wrong) have a head that is equal to or smaller in size compared to their neck. Human beings being bi-ped, this makes it even worse.

We can also look at cancer: our own bodies attack us. Our own cells attack us. I'm not too familiar with cellular bio, as much as someone like WK, so I don't know what else I could say to expound on this.

These two are all I can think of with even half an argument from myself, so I'll leave it there.


Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people
-Carl Sagan

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
-Carl Sagan


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deerbreh
Member (Idle past 2123 days)
Posts: 882
Joined: 06-22-2005


Message 4 of 264 (543970)
01-22-2010 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by hooah212002
01-22-2010 1:12 PM


Re: Hopefully I'm on track here....
I would start with the human head/neck combination. An intelligent designer would not have made our heads to as proportionally large in comparison to our necks: whiplash is evident.

Good example. I would add also that an intelligent designer would presumably have anticipated motorized travel by these intelligent beings - another reason for not making the head subject to whiplash.

One of my favorite examples is the flying buttresses above the eye teeth. Now if we were saber tooth tigers or even baboons, such support for the eye teeth would make some sense but for the wimpy little eyeteeth in the upper mouth of Homo sapiens such support makes no sense.

Edited by deerbreh, : Correct usage.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 1337 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 5 of 264 (543972)
01-22-2010 2:08 PM


This is an easy one!
"What biological evidence is there against Intelligent Design?"

The human knee. That disproves ID right there!


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

  
hooah212002
Member (Idle past 32 days)
Posts: 3193
Joined: 08-12-2009


Message 6 of 264 (543975)
01-22-2010 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by deerbreh
01-22-2010 1:33 PM


Re: Hopefully I'm on track here....
One of my favorite examples is the flying buttresses above the eye teeth. Now if we were saber tooth tigers or even baboons, such support for the eye teeth would make some sense but for the wimpy little eyeteeth in the upper mouth of Homo sapiens such support makes no sense.

What? You lost me on this one.


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Percy
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Posts: 20745
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 7 of 264 (543978)
01-22-2010 3:19 PM


The examples offered so far are all against a perfect designer, not an intelligent designer. As often as we've heard it said that "Any mechanical engineer could design a better knee joint," the fact of the matter is that it isn't true when the materials are biological. And it isn't true in spades when you add the requirements of self repair and drawing energy from the blood stream and so forth.

The argument from design is that evolution is insufficient to account for the diversity and complexity of life we see both today and in the past through the fossil record, and that therefore an intelligence must have intervened.

How often the intelligence intervened, whether it was continually, periodically, sporadically or just once (and even whether it is still intervening), depends upon which brand of IDist you're talking to. And no IDist proposes any mechanisms by which the intelligence intervenes.

But imperfect design is only an argument against a perfect designer. A real-world designer would face real-world constraints, even including things like deadlines and budgets. In the real world compromises must always be made, and perfection is a goal that is never met.

--Percy


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Taq
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Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 8 of 264 (543981)
01-22-2010 3:32 PM


The best evidence against an intelligent designer is the nested hierarchy. Planes, trains, and automobiles do not fall into a nested hierarchy. No known designs I am aware of fall into a nested hierarchy, and I see no reason that a designer would be limited to such an arrangement. To use a biological designer, if ID were true we would just as likely find a fossil with a mixture of avian and mammalian derived characteristics as we would a fossil with a mixture of reptilian and mammalian derived characteristics.

There is simply no connection between these different adaptations other than evolutionary relationships. There is no reason that an organism with feathers can not have three middle ear bones. There is no reason that a creature with feathers can not have cusped cheek teeth. There is no reason that whales need a pelvis, nor even a mammalian arrangement of forelimb bones. ID just can not explain why we see this pattern of homology. It is anathema to design.


  
greyseal
Member (Idle past 3092 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 9 of 264 (543982)
01-22-2010 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by deerbreh
01-22-2010 11:45 AM


evidence against ID requires limits set on the designer
I don't want to sound either trite OR smug, but to be able to field evidence against design you have to have limits set on the ingenuity and guile of the designer.

Truly, there is no realistic way for us to tell if we were designed or not if the designer (assuming there is one) was clever enough to design everything so it looks entirely natural - if a designer were clever enough and determined enough to create lifeforms that looks just like us (maybe to prove some archaic point about believing before being worthy even in the face of apparent faked evidence) then to take a naturalistic viewpoint is the wrong answer because the crime scene was a setup.

So, what we're looking for is to say that the designer

* wasn't trying to pull a fast one (and make it look natural)
* must be capable of avoiding stupid decisions that end up with a rube goldberg machine

so that we can say that

* if we have evidence that whatever processes went on to make mankind and (say) ape, that they were shared processes, implying a common ancestor
* that the similarities service no current requirements (current in terms of 6000 years or so)
* any grevious mistakes and rube goldbergisms are signs of non-design (if any competent engineer could design a better knee, then the designer must be less smart than it's creation)

is that fair? I don't want to side-track the whole thread into nitpicking, but at least the first point has to stand to take this anywhere - if a perfectly powerful and ingenious and sneaky creator could make it look all natural and DID, we'd never be able to say anything about him, except that it's obviously not the god of the bible.


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greyseal
Member (Idle past 3092 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009


Message 10 of 264 (543983)
01-22-2010 3:42 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Percy
01-22-2010 3:19 PM


The examples offered so far are all against a perfect designer, not an intelligent designer

Is it fair to say that the "design" (whether we agree it was designed or not), if it appears natural and sub-optimal, speaks against being a blueprints-and-clay-model production of a deity?

Or are you specifically saying that this human body is the best that god could come up with for some reason - maybe he was slacking or something?

I mean, why not give us the blood of an alligator? why put the funpark where the waste disposal is? nipples for men? rly? the fact we can get cancer, but a shark won't - that speaks volumes, unless you call the copout of "the fall". People choke on food - chimpanzees have a better design for chewing, drinking and breathing than we do, iirc, why did humans deserve second best?

This is the thing - there's a myriad of things that could be improved, and if you assume a powerful, intelligent creator that's massively smarter than us he shouldn't have missed this sort of thing.

for the purposes of this thread, I'm going to have assume he either outsourced mankind to india (no offence) or - all these defects really are evidence against ID.


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bluescat48
Member (Idle past 3420 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 11 of 264 (543984)
01-22-2010 3:55 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Percy
01-22-2010 3:19 PM


Unintellegent design
The examples offered so far are all against a perfect designer, not an intelligent designer.

True but it also shows a lack of intelligence. Why should a squid have a better eye than a human? If the designer could design the squid's eye, why millions of years later he can't do the same for, that the creos think is the highest life, humans? Where is the intelligence in humans lack of a capability to form Vitamins that are necessary or did the designer make a pact with the producers of vitamins. All in all, if there was or is a designer, he is incompetent.


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


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Taq
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Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 12 of 264 (543985)
01-22-2010 4:01 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by bluescat48
01-22-2010 3:55 PM


Re: Unintellegent design
Why should a squid have a better eye than a human? If the designer could design the squid's eye, why millions of years later he can't do the same for, that the creos think is the highest life, humans?

Not only that, but why design two different eyes (the vertebrate and cephalopod eye) and only allow those with a back bone to have one type of eye and those without backbones to have the other? Why is there an intrinsic connection between eye and backbone?

If these were cars we would scratch our heads if a designer could only put halogen lights in cars with bucket seats while cars with bench seats get the standard incandescent bulbs. Of course we don't see this because there is no reasona car with bucket seats has to have halogen lights, so why would a designer do that?

Edited by Taq, : No reason given.


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Blue Jay
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Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 13 of 264 (543987)
01-22-2010 4:02 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by hooah212002
01-22-2010 1:12 PM


Re: Hopefully I'm on track here....
Hi, Hooah.

hooah212002 writes:

I would start with the human head/neck combination. An intelligent designer would not have made our heads to as proportionally large in comparison to our necks: whiplash is evident.

If we're going to include this, let's also ask why the designer didn't include the following:

unbreakable bones
unpullable muscles
inpenetrable skin
unburnable skin
teeth that don't fall out
teeth that don't wear down
an invincible scrotum
lungs that filter out all pathogens from the air
joints that don't get arthritic
built-in eye shields
an unpuncturable eardrum
shin-splint-proof leg bones
an unbitable tongue
a female system that doesn't require monthy bleeding
an inpregnable immune system
auto-sealing blood vessels

I think you understand what I'm getting at. We could rail all day on the imperfections and vulnerabilities of the human body, and claim it to be evidence against Intelligent Design. Eventually, the discussion would get completely absurd (e.g. unbreakable bones).

We'd have to propose either that an Intelligent Designer must have made our anatomy with no flaws (which would probably require a different system of physical laws), or that a Designer must have made our anatomy with an essentially arbitrary number of imperfections.

Then, we'd have to start asserting back-and-forth that a Designer should prefer perfection or imperfection, and we'd only end up talking about why a Designer would want to create something in the first place.

-----

Taq already beat me to the point I was going to make next, but I put a lot of effort into it, and I'm not about to remove it just because I was ninja'd.

To me, the hallmarks of Intelligent Design have nothing to do with the prevalence of imperfections.

Rather, the hallmarks would have to do with the process of Design.

How does an intelligent being design things? Would it take a template and shape the gestalt in different directions? Or, would it mix and match different parts and generally make stuff up from the ground-up each time?

Well, how do humans (our model intelligence for all other ID discussions), design things?

Ancient humans made up centaurs, griffins, dragons and fairies: composites of pre-existing things.

Our technological designs are also very modular. A spear became a bow-and-arrow by adding a bow and feathers to the spear’s tail end. The bow and arrow became a crossbow by adding a stock and a crank. The stock of a crossbow, combined with a tube and explosive, makes a gun. The same tube, combined with the spear, makes a harpoon gun. While our weapons do “evolve” over time, they evolve in a modular fashion as much as in a gradualistic fashion, with a lot of mixing and matching happening along the way.

For a more modern example, here is a list of aircraft that used the Rolls Royce Merlin engine during World War II. The list includes aircraft with one engine, two engines and four engines; bomber aircraft and various types of fighter aircraft; basically, you can find the Rolls Royce Merlin engine in aircraft that essentially share nothing else in common. And, while there were many variants of the Merlin engine, you could find any one variant distributed across any number of different aircraft: for instance, the Merlin XX was used in the single-engined Hawker Hurricane fighter and the four-engined Avro Lancaster bomber.

If life was designed intelligently, we may still see the gradualism, but I would expect to see at least some modularity, some mixing of parts, combining of old ideas to make new, hybrid ideas, and complete restructuring of old ideas to make new ones. For instance, I would expect to see something like the occasional mammal with snake fangs; or a reptile with bat wings; or maybe a whale with squid tentacles. But, traits always stay within their group, and they seem to be strongly associated with other traits. The very fact that we can even group things according to clusters of characteristics suggests to me that what is happening does not, in any way, mirror the process of design that is utilized by the only model of intelligence that we know.

Edited by Bluejay, : "Their." Ugh.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1928 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 14 of 264 (543990)
01-22-2010 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by bluescat48
01-22-2010 3:55 PM


Re: Unintellegent design
Hi, Cat.

bluescat writes:

Why should a squid have a better eye than a human?

This is somewhat a misnomer that's popular with evolutionists.

Cephalopod eyes aren'treally any better than human eyes. There are a couple of things that cephalopod eyes do better than mammal eyes, but there are also a couple of things that mammal eyes do better than cephalopod eyes (e.g. cephalopod vision is monochromatic).


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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RAZD
Member (Idle past 636 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 15 of 264 (543991)
01-22-2010 4:12 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by greyseal
01-22-2010 3:42 PM


Hi greyseal,

Perhaps I can expand on what Percy was implying.

Is it fair to say that the "design" (whether we agree it was designed or not), if it appears natural and sub-optimal, speaks against being a blueprints-and-clay-model production of a deity?

We, as a model of intelligent designers, are increasingly using an evolutionary paradigm to find optimum designs for things, designs that would not be developed by normal "blueprints-and-clay-model" procedures.

These new designs outperform the "blueprints-and-clay-model" design process AND their design products.

Thus it makes sense to assume that this process could be used by an intelligent designer in order to reach an optimum design, and without having to put as much time into "blueprints-and-clay-models" or spend as much time refining and revising the output. It's like a feedback system that does the work for you.

One of the big questions has always been how is design accomplished - how does it get from drawing board to reality? With the evolutionary design paradigm this is built in.

Of course this results in a process that is indistinguishable from non-design using the same process, so the question reverts to whether the process is natural or designed.

I mean, why not give us the blood of an alligator? why put the funpark where the waste disposal is? nipples for men? rly? the fact we can get cancer, but a shark won't - that speaks volumes, unless you call the copout of "the fall". People choke on food - chimpanzees have a better design for chewing, drinking and breathing than we do, iirc, why did humans deserve second best?

Why assume that humans are the intended result?

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
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to share.


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