Intelligence? by design, WATE TV Post - Part I
The Knoxville TV station WATE ran a story on the Blount County School Board's decision to include Intelligent Design along with the theory of evolution in its science curriculum. The station has a web site which includes a discussion board which allows comments about their stories. On the one titled "Intelligent? by design" found here, a comment was posted by Mr. Hughes which listed six areas that he felt evolution did not address. His points in italics, with my responses which appeared in a follow up post are listed below.
Well, first their is the record of man. No record anywhere of man being "partly evolved." One might expect, given the idea that all don't evolve at exactly the same pace, it would be logical to expect some to have fully evolved and others still lagging behind in a less than human state. But, no human record of evolution, or of a partly evolved human. In fact just the opposite is true. Records from each and every ancient people include some sort of a creation event.
1. There is nothing in evolution that deals with "partly evolved" humans or any other species. All organisms are fully evolved at the time of their existence. Evolution deals with the history of how biodiversity occurred over time. It does not project how any organism might change from any point in time into the future.
Neanderthals existed up to at least 30,000 years ago. The meter tall fellows on the Flores Island were around till at least 18,000 years ago. These are examples of near human species. There are three major lines of humans, Mongoloid, Negroid and Caucasian, each with different characteristics which demonstrate how humans continued to evolved due to the pressures of their differing environments.
Aboriginal peoples exist at various locations with a variety of evolutionary differences as well.
Many cultures have creation myths, while others do not, your blanket statement not withstanding. I like the one about a raven bringing people to the earth in the shell of a turtle myself. Creation myths have nothing to do with science.
Second is the fact that species tend toward stasis, not change. Species survive because they become the best at what they do. Not because they are continually changing. Sure they adapt, but that doesn't change who they are. The peppered moth is now white again (due to the cleaner air). The whole reason this natural selection argument worked way back when, is because it was based on ignorance and hope (if we just wait, we'll see it change...). No reason to expect the moth to become a bird or anything other than a moth. Stasis is even what is observed in Fruit flies, whose generational cycle is so fast, that one can imply that we are able to observe hundreds of thousands of years in just ten. Yet, we still find that fruit flies are still just fruit flies. Sure, we able to select traits, and make it adapt, but the more it's pushed. The less likely it is to survive. Which brings me to point number three.
2. Species tend toward stasis in an unchanging environment. Environment includes climate, food supply and predation among many lesser conditions. The cycles of ice ages and the drifting of the continents due to plate tectonics have produced dramatic changes in climate over time. The diversity that occurred during the 50 million year Cambrian period is a dramatic example of predator prey interaction with each surviving by staying one adaptive variation ahead of the other. Many new body types emerged at this time. If it doesn't "look like" prey, then the predator wont eat it. Organisms that do not change with the changing environment do not survive to pass their genes on to the next generation.
Genetics have limits. Evolution is based on the idea that organisms contain the ability to change over time. The longer the time the larger the change that is possible. However, this isn't what we observe with genetics. What is observed, is that there are limits beyond which, an organism will not adapt, but die. If an organism doesn't have the right amount of oxygen, it dies. If it doesn't have the right food, it does. We can artificially put pressure on an organism (simulating evolutionary pressure), and we find that we can only push it so far, before the organism dies. The idea that bacteria can adapt and grow resistant to a new strain of antibiotics. Doesn't indicate that evolution is creating an organism that will continually resist forever. Only that the recessive traits are present already and this natural selection has brought them to the front. And that the organism in question, hasn't been pushed beyond it's limit yet. In fact, the evolutionist relies on the idea of time, but what isn't answered is what exactly does additional time add to genetics that allow it do continually change beyond what we see are actual observational limits?
3. The theory of evolution is not based on the idea that organisms contain the ability to change over time. Evolution records the fact the changes have occurred over geological time as evidenced by the fossil record. Based on this past history, the theory of evolution predicts that changes will continue to occur in the future. Random changes which increase the organisms chances to live and reproduce will be passed on to future generations. No "ability to change" is implied by the theory.
Evolution requires more genetic variation than just bringing recessive traits to the fore as in your moth example. The variation required comes from mutation, insertion, combination and duplication. Insertion and duplication add to the size of the genome which provides more genetic material from which adaptive features can originate. Since there is no limit to the number of times that any of these producers of variation can occur, there is no limit on the potential evolutionary changes that can result.
The resistance of bacteria to antibodies is a result of mutations. In fact, bacteria under stress mutate at a higher rate than otherwise. These mutations have been observed through genetic mapping.
Fourth, the fossil record doesn't support the idea of evolution. All the organisms found there are fully grown, something that even Darwin himself said would invalidate his theory, if none were found. Things appear in the fossil record all the sudden, not gradually. The Cambrian explosion is a great example of this. The example of the Chimpanzee, called a precursor to the humanoid race, based on three small fossils fragments indicates the level of faith that evolutionists have, not the level or quality of the evidence. Fact is, there's no way the biology of these organisms can be analyzed at all, since they don't exist. It's more likely that the chimpanzee is simply a unique, previously undiscovered form of chimpanzee, than a precursor to humans.
4. Fossils are found which form clustered hierarchies, the evolutionary tree, if you will. Branches on the tree can be followed back in time to a common ancestor. Recent genetic mapping of present day species correlate to a high degree with the clustered hierarchies previously determined by morphological comparisons.
Gaps in the fossil record say nothing about the validity or invalidity of evolution. As long as evolution accounts for all the data we now have, it's the best way to explain the observations we have made. Darwin's point was that if we found fossil remains that fell off the tree, so to speak, they had no link to any know ancestor, then that would be an exception that his theory could not handle. So far, no such fossil has been found.
Hominids that walk upright have a different toe structure than chimpanzees who spend more of their time in trees. So even though the number of fossil fragments was small, since toes bones were included, the inference that this was a hominid can be made.
Fifth is the unsupported idea that intelligence can arise from an non-intelligent source. Fact is we observe everyday the exact opposite, that intelligence always has an intelligent source.
5. This is the anthropomorphic fallacy, that is, ascribing uniquely human qualities to non-human entities. In psychiatry, this is known as projection, finding non-existent qualities in others that are actually one's own. Saying that there is human-like intelligence in the universe, biology or the family cat, just doesn't make it so.
Sixth, the fact that the genetic code contains a language that uses symbols and information the same way as any language does along with a complex communication process. And this fact alone indicates an intelligent origin of this information not a naturalistic or materialistic one.
6. Your analogy between genetic code and language breaks down since language involves a sender and a receiver, while genetic code does not. DNA simply interacts with its physical and chemical environment. How the information content of the DNA can develop through natural processes was covered in item 3, paragraph 2, above.
So for me, based on these six examples there is quite a strong indication that we didn't get here by evolutionary means. Scientists often say that evolution is based on empirical data. Which is usually referring to what they observe today. What they don't say is that evolution, as it relates to origins is based on quite a large set of unsubstantiated conjecture, or belief or faith or dogma. And that's the part I disagree with.
The fact that evolution occurred as evidenced by the fossil record, and the theory of evolution which describes how it occurred, through genetic variation followed by natural selection, are well established in the scientific community. While there are lots of opportunities for further research is this area, the value that the knowledge of evolution provides in enabling this research is undisputed.