Is Evolutionary Theory Undermined by Creationist Claims?

  • Thread starter Daneel_Olivaw
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Evolution
In summary, your friend sent you an article from the website drdino.com, claiming that it disproves the theory of evolution. However, after researching and reading responses from other biologists, you discovered that the claims made in the article have been refuted by evolutionists. You also found that the article confuses the theory of evolution with the origin of life, which are two separate concepts. Furthermore, you explained that Louis Pasteur's experiments did not test the origin of life, but rather showed that microorganisms in the air can contaminate sterile solutions. The validity of the theory of evolution is not dependent on man's ability to create living cells, and the Miller-Urey experiment has also been refuted. In addition, you
  • #211
f95toli said:
But the problem is that all (at least as far I know) examples of "irreducible complexity" used by ID proponents has been shown not to be "irreducibly" at all, specfically because either a there is a known evolutionary "pathway" where on each step the developeing trait gives an evolutionary benefit to the host (the eye would be an example; which even has evolved several times) or because one can show that a mechanism could very well orginally have evolved for another "purpose" and the complex task it now performs might be a relatively recent "assignment".

Heres were I have a problem with evolution. It seems to me that genetic mutations occur as part of species breeding. That genetic mutation will either help or hurt and could even not make a difference at all depending on the outside forces acting on it. If it is a trait that gives a signifigant advantage over the other traits, the new trait will advance all species with that trait over the others. This is natural selection. I feel darwins mistake was the assumption that his birds developed bigger beaks to contend with nature, instead of because of the genetic mutation the birds had a better chance to survive in nature. So darwins argument against intelligent design was that nature was intelligently designing through evolution. I think it goes more to the luck of the draw with which traits are in each species genes. The strong survive, the weak(or defective genes) dont.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #212
Jasongreat said:
Heres were I have a problem with evolution. It seems to me that genetic mutations occur as part of species breeding. That genetic mutation will either help or hurt and could even not make a difference at all depending on the outside forces acting on it. If it is a trait that gives a signifigant advantage over the other traits, the new trait will advance all species with that trait over the others. This is natural selection. I feel darwins mistake was the assumption that his birds developed bigger beaks to contend with nature, instead of because of the genetic mutation the birds had a better chance to survive in nature. So darwins argument against intelligent design was that nature was intelligently designing through evolution. I think it goes more to the luck of the draw with which traits are in each species genes. The strong survive, the weak(or defective genes) dont.

Darwin's original proposal started from the observation that variation exists within a species. The organisms that survived were those whose variations gave them a competitive advantage over other members of the population. The genetic explanation of how variation arises in the first place is a separate point that was filled in later.
 
  • #213
f95toli said:
But the problem is that all (at least as far I know) examples of "irreducible complexity" used by ID proponents has been shown not to be "irreducibly" at all, specfically because either a there is a known evolutionary "pathway" where on each step the developeing trait gives an evolutionary benefit to the host (the eye would be an example; which even has evolved several times) or because one can show that a mechanism could very well orginally have evolved for another "purpose" and the complex task it now performs might be a relatively recent "assignment".

There are still things we don't know about some systems. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but as far as I know we have no idea how operons that regulate enzyme production could have evolved such a complex, integrated system through mutations and natural selection. We don't even know how chaperonins supervise protein folding.
It would take supreme arrogance to think we'll ever understand how everything in the universe works, and likewise we're never going to be able to force everyone to accept evolution, even though we educate them and it's been established as a scientific fact.

That said, this thread is for helping the OP with his debate, not discuss what ID is or how tolerant or intolerant people are.
 
  • #214
WaveJumper said:
How would you treat the idea that everything we observe is created by Nature, but God is behind the existence of all of Nature? Is this ID? Just want to know on which side of the debate i am standing.

What you suggest is not necessarily Intelligent Design per say, but it is exactly what Intelligent Proponents want you to ask.

By that i mean instead of basing your opinion on facts for or against evolution, your going to base it upon your religious views. That in and of itself is the objective of Intelligent Design.

To me, its disappointing in a way that the question is framed in such a matter. I have to ask, what WOULD it take for us to prove evolution over and beyond the 150 years of proof we already have?

Also, what is nature to you?
 
  • #215
Hel said:
There are still things we don't know about some systems. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but as far as I know we have no idea how operons that regulate enzyme production could have evolved such a complex, integrated system through mutations and natural selection. We don't even know how chaperonins supervise protein folding.
It would take supreme arrogance to think we'll ever understand how everything in the universe works, and likewise we're never going to be able to force everyone to accept evolution, even though we educate them and it's been established as a scientific fact.

That said, this thread is for helping the OP with his debate, not discuss what ID is or how tolerant or intolerant people are.

The idea of "the God of the Gaps" has been criticised by theologians and scientists alike. It's where the idea of methodological naturalism becomes really important. To entertain the idea that "whatever we can't explain, God must have done" would be such a barrier to progress. A prime example would be gravitation. Newton's theory of gravity made no attempt to explain the origin the inverse-square force, he just showed that such a force would match all of the observational evidence available at the time. You could say, "that's just one of God's little rules to make the universe work". But then Einstein came along and not only explained the observations in terms of the geometry of the universe, but actually improved upon the predictive accuracy of Newton's theory. Someone who was content with the "explanation" that "God did it" would never look for a better theory the way Einstein did.

Actually, as an afterthought, I think there's a sense in which it's much more arrogant to say that "whatever we cannot work out immediately must be forever beyond human comprehension".

I'd also suggest that there's a big difference between knowing everything that there is to know, and getting people to accept what is known.
 
  • #216
WaveJumper said:
How would you treat the idea that everything we observe is created by Nature, but God is behind the existence of all of Nature? Is this ID? Just want to know on which side of the debate i am standing.
No, those beliefs on their own are not ID, remember ID was created as a deliberate attempt to get specific religious beliefs into public schools disguised as science in an attempt to get people to reject evolution. Sad but true.
 
  • #217
Hel said:
That said, this thread is for helping the OP with his debate, not discuss what ID is or how tolerant or intolerant people are.

I think we answered it. Speak objectively for Evolution and state the facts and not lend any credibility to Intelligent Design because of the obvious failures in said theory and its obvious religious undertones which are there by design.

If you can't discuss what ID is how in gods name do you debate for or against it?
 
  • #218
muppet said:
The idea of "the God of the Gaps" has been criticised by theologians and scientists alike. It's where the idea of methodological naturalism becomes really important. To entertain the idea that "whatever we can't explain, God must have done" would be such a barrier to progress. A prime example would be gravitation. Newton's theory of gravity made no attempt to explain the origin the inverse-square force, he just showed that such a force would match all of the observational evidence available at the time. You could say, "that's just one of God's little rules to make the universe work". But then Einstein came along and not only explained the observations in terms of the geometry of the universe, but actually improved upon the predictive accuracy of Newton's theory. Someone who was content with the "explanation" that "God did it" would never look for a better theory the way Einstein did.

Actually, as an afterthought, I think there's a sense in which it's much more arrogant to say that "whatever we cannot work out immediately must be forever beyond human comprehension".

I'd also suggest that there's a big difference between knowing everything that there is to know, and getting people to accept what is known.

Very well said.. and i wish its definitely objective (more so than i could be). I'm sincerely interested in how an Intelligent Design supporter would debate such statement.

For me, beyond what science teaches us there is a paradox to Intelligent Design. We're close in many ways to mimicking the technology we see in nature from nano technologies to stem cells and artificial intelligence. What happens when man masters those technologies does that mean man is the designer or now super natural? If you want to give credibility to Intelligent design then you have to assume humans are masters of technology and when our technology matches that of nature what's next?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #219
muppet said:
The idea of "the God of the Gaps" has been criticised by theologians and scientists alike. It's where the idea of methodological naturalism becomes really important. To entertain the idea that "whatever we can't explain, God must have done" would be such a barrier to progress. A prime example would be gravitation. Newton's theory of gravity made no attempt to explain the origin the inverse-square force, he just showed that such a force would match all of the observational evidence available at the time. You could say, "that's just one of God's little rules to make the universe work". But then Einstein came along and not only explained the observations in terms of the geometry of the universe, but actually improved upon the predictive accuracy of Newton's theory. Someone who was content with the "explanation" that "God did it" would never look for a better theory the way Einstein did.

Actually, as an afterthought, I think there's a sense in which it's much more arrogant to say that "whatever we cannot work out immediately must be forever beyond human comprehension".

I'd also suggest that there's a big difference between knowing everything that there is to know, and getting people to accept what is known.

actually my point was that everybody, creationist, evolutionist, apathetic, whatever, are going to have to accept that they aren't going to know everything.
 
  • #220
BTW, i just want to say this is probably one of the most interesting discussions of ID I've ever had.. my inbox isn't full of hate mail, I'm not banned, nor are other people banned for expressing differing views and people are really coming out and pointing out a full heuristic view of the topic.. love it :) thanks all hehe
 
  • #221
Hel said:
actually my point was that everybody, creationist, evolutionist, apathetic, whatever, are going to have to accept that they aren't going to know everything.

For arguments sake though that point is terribly moot and sort of a cop-out. As the original poster mentioned Newton described gravity but Einstein actually predicted it. In many ways Darwin laid out evolution and genetics supported it - and can even predict it. That is hard evidence to ignore if all you do is look for more holes that over time as technology and science advances could be filled in.
 
  • #222
Hel said:
actually my point was that everybody, creationist, evolutionist, apathetic, whatever, are going to have to accept that they aren't going to know everything.

Good :biggrin: Sorry if that sounded like it was intended to get at you. It's one of those things that's perpetually surfacing in these matters: what's the proper way to deal with that of which we are ignorant?

One of Hovind's little gems I've come across in the last 48 hours of getting into this thread:
So this kid says to me, "I'm an atheist". So I ask him, "Do you know everything? Do you even know half of everything?" And he says no. So I say "Well how do you know God isn't in the half you don't know about?"

I'm not sure I want to get into tearing it to bits, because it's not ID related but is explicitly religious, so it'd be very easy to overstep the mark and violate PF rules or offend someone. (I'd encourage similar caution from anyone who wants to comment on that! :wink:) Still, I'm hoping the statement's deficiencies as an attempt at rational argument are apparent.
 
  • #223
Hel said:
It would take supreme arrogance to think we'll ever understand how everything in the universe works

Indeed, note that I am not saying that we understand everything. But the point I was making is that so far evolution has been able to example every example of "irreproducible complexity" but that has not stopped the ID proponents from using it as an argument.
If the measure of "success" is that biology can explain everything there is simply no way to win the debate; simply because once something has been explained they can always move on and find a new example.

As far as I understand there have even been studies that were motivated by the fact that ID proponents were using them as examples. The explanation of one of these examples (flagellum?) were even used to refute ID in the recent court case.
 
  • #224
WaveJumper said:
How would you treat the idea that everything we observe is created by Nature, but God is behind the existence of all of Nature? Is this ID? Just want to know on which side of the debate i am standing.
That is intelligent design, and there is no way to disprove this notion. There is no way to prove it, either. That is why it isn't science. Its a belief. Now science of course is going to say if that something that is not necessary and that cannot be tested does not exist -- at least insofar as science is concerned. Get rid of the non-essential stuff, break things down to the bare minimum. That's a basic assumption of science. A belief, if you will.
wofsy said:
WI think, Id in form or another is a key idea in the history of ideas and as we have already seen on this thread, it takes a good scientific argument to over come the hypothesis of irreducible complexity, one of the main arguments against descent through modification.
That is where ID falls apart as science. Those irreducible complexity arguments used by its proponents are bogus. Every example of irreducible complexity has been shown to be false, including in front of a judge who everyone expected to rule in favor of ID before the Dover trial started. Irreducible complexity is a bunch of BS.

Look at it this way: You're supposed to have faith. Absolute proof that God exists would destroy a lot of what religion is all about.
Hel said:
There are still things we don't know about some systems. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but as far as I know we have no idea how operons that regulate enzyme production could have evolved such a complex, integrated system through mutations and natural selection. We don't even know how chaperonins supervise protein folding.
It would take supreme arrogance to think we'll ever understand how everything in the universe works, and likewise we're never going to be able to force everyone to accept evolution, even though we educate them and it's been established as a scientific fact.
That is the god of the gaps argument. Note well: That is not a phrase invented by a bunch of atheists. It is a phrase invented by a 19th century evangelist. Using this idea was a bad idea 100+ years ago, well before science really got on a steamroller. It is not just a bad idea now. It is downright silly. The gaps are very, very small and are getting smaller and smaller.[
muppet said:
Can I wonder aloud if Moderators REALLY HATE threads like this?
Oh, yeah. Moderators in general don't like threads that generate a lot of traffic. Threads that generate a lot of traffic right next to a banned subject (religion)? Yeah, they love it.
 
  • #225
D H said:
That is intelligent design, and there is no way to disprove this notion. There is no way to prove it, either. That is why it isn't science. Its a belief. Now science of course is going to say if that something that is not necessary and that cannot be tested does not exist -- at least insofar as science is concerned. Get rid of the non-essential stuff, break things down to the bare minimum. That's a basic assumption of science. A belief, if you will.

I think you should re-read the question. There is no way that that is intelligent design in the sense that we are talking about here. Intelligent design is theology masquerading as science. The belief that a god created everything and than let everything else evolve is a completely separate issue.

If the belief is that this god does not interfere in the process of evolution then it is not attempting to make a scientific statement and there is no problem with it.
 
  • #226
aPhilosopher said:
I think you should re-read the question.
I did read it, and re-read it. I know several people who believe that "God is behind the existence of all of Nature." That statement by itself (I can't read the poster's mind) does not necessarily imply the clockwork god. Those people that I know who believe God is behind all of Nature believe in a rather active god.

There is no problem with the belief that God did interfere with the process of evolution, either -- so long as this belief is not pushed as science. Attempting to push this religious belief as science is what is wrong with ID.
 
  • #227
byronm said:
That statement makes me want to barf. Seriously. *snip*
Er... so you're disagreeing with the claim that a statement such as
we should reject creationism1 because it is religiously motivated​
is a dogmatic statement?

It's hard to tell if anything that follows is relevant to what I said, or if you simply misinterpreted me. I never claimed, for example, that citing empirical evidence supporting evolution was dogmatic.

1: Referring specifically to the denial of evolution, rather than the more general meaning of the word
 
  • #228
Hurkyl said:
Er... so you're disagreeing with the claim that a statement such as
we should reject creationism1 because it is religiously motivated​
is a dogmatic statement?

It's hard to tell if anything that follows is relevant to what I said, or if you simply misinterpreted me. I never claimed, for example, that citing empirical evidence supporting evolution was dogmatic.

1: Referring specifically to the denial of evolution, rather than the more general meaning of the word

Are you now satisfied that I didn't intend to make such a statement?

I'd also really like to know if DaveC or TheStatutoryApe are still reading this, to see if my earlier posts responded adequately to their objections or not.
 
  • #229
muppet said:
Are you now satisfied that I didn't intend to make such a statement?
I flipped back through the posts, and I cannot find what prompted me to reply -- I must have misread something.

I still believe my statement to be true, of course1, I just withdraw the impliciation that you have made such statements.

1: Replacing "you" with something appropriately generic, of course
 
  • #230
D H said:
I did read it, and re-read it. I know several people who believe that "God is behind the existence of all of Nature." That statement by itself (I can't read the poster's mind) does not necessarily imply the clockwork god. Those people that I know who believe God is behind all of Nature believe in a rather active god.

There is no problem with the belief that God did interfere with the process of evolution, either -- so long as this belief is not pushed as science. Attempting to push this religious belief as science is what is wrong with ID.

Although I'd agree that most people who believe in god aren't deists, deism- the belief in a creator God who set a match to the inflaton fields at t=0 and stood back, and hasn't done much since- would also fall under the description of "behind the existence of all nature". Although I agree that in broad terms "intelligent design" is a good description of such beliefs, the fact that it's been hijacked by the movement identified with the term means I think it's unhelpful to bundle theories that are so significantly different together using ID as an umbrella term.
 
  • #231
Hurkyl said:
I flipped back through the posts, and I cannot find what prompted me to reply -- I must have misread something.

I still believe my statement to be true, of course1, I just withdraw the impliciation that you have made such statements.

1: Replacing "you" with something appropriately generic, of course

I'd hardly ask you to reconsider a statement I agree with :wink:
 
  • #232
Hurkyl said:
Er... so you're disagreeing with the claim that a statement such as
we should reject creationism1 because it is religiously motivated​
is a dogmatic statement?

It's hard to tell if anything that follows is relevant to what I said, or if you simply misinterpreted me. I never claimed, for example, that citing empirical evidence supporting evolution was dogmatic.

1: Referring specifically to the denial of evolution, rather than the more general meaning of the word

Not at all. Here is what you said:

"I submit that every time you cite "religious motivation" as a reason for rejecting ID without even considering the topic, then you are portraying science as dogmatic."

1. Haven't we already considered the topic if we have fully discovered its religious undertones? (with the proof i linked in my response)
2. If we have discovered and documented the religious undertones, the religious message of ID and the people pushing it, haven't we already done enough work to realize that isn't science?

With that said, it makes me sick to think if scientists reject something because its based on religion that science is now seen as dogmatic. Thats not dogmatic, that science.

Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") refers in its broadest sense to any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique or practice

Religion can't / doesn't / isn't made to be a practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable outcome.. why would it be dogmatic of science to write off ID because of its religious implications?
 
  • #233
f95toli said:
But the problem is that all (at least as far I know) examples of "irreducible complexity" used by ID proponents has been shown not to be "irreducibly" at all, specfically because either a there is a known evolutionary "pathway" where on each step the developeing trait gives an evolutionary benefit to the host (the eye would be an example; which even has evolved several times) or because one can show that a mechanism could very well orginally have evolved for another "purpose" and the complex task it now performs might be a relatively recent "assignment".

What you say is interesting. Basically you agree then that of a case of irreducible complexity were demonstrated then we would need to rethink descent through modification. That's fair.

My evolution teachers argued that there is a general proof against irreducible complexity as well that does not require a case by case examination. But you are saying that a case by case examination is necessary.



As far
 
  • #234
wofsy said:
What you say is interesting. Basically you agree then that of a case of irreducible complexity were demonstrated then we would need to rethink descent through modification. That's fair.

My evolution teachers argued that there is a general proof against irreducible complexity as well that does not require a case by case examination. But you are saying that a case by case examination is necessary.

To the best of my knowledge the existence of a genuinely irreducibly complex system- such that not only would the whole not function without the parts, but that the parts were in and of themselves useless- would in fact kill the possibility that the system had evolved. I'd be fascinated to hear of a "general proof" of the impossibility of such a system that didn't assume that evolution was true, although I can't think what kind of form it would take when proof is such a notoriously thorny subject in science.
 
  • #235
muppet said:
Good :biggrin: Sorry if that sounded like it was intended to get at you. It's one of those things that's perpetually surfacing in these matters: what's the proper way to deal with that of which we are ignorant?
The proper way? Investigate the subject and see if we can't find the answer. Then we can deal with it through what we've observed. :D


D H said:
That is the god of the gaps argument. Note well: That is not a phrase invented by a bunch of atheists. It is a phrase invented by a 19th century evangelist. Using this idea was a bad idea 100+ years ago, well before science really got on a steamroller. It is not just a bad idea now. It is downright silly. The gaps are very, very small and are getting smaller and smaller.

I didn't say it explicitly, but I intended to communicate that nobody has the answers. This includes people of all religions. I'm certainly not saying that we should find a philosophical explanation to questions not answered by science.
Of course this is a small, and rather obvious point. But the reason I made it is because humility is required when studying life, and the ultimate goal of science should be attaining more information, not breaking down other people's ideas.

muppet said:
To the best of my knowledge the existence of a genuinely irreducibly complex system- such that not only would the whole not function without the parts, but that the parts were in and of themselves useless- would in fact kill the possibility that the system had evolved. I'd be fascinated to hear of a "general proof" of the impossibility of such a system that didn't assume that evolution was true, although I can't think what kind of form it would take when proof is such a notoriously thorny subject in science.

Proofs really only exist in math. And since most scientists don't consider evolution to be an assumption, but a fact, you'll be hard pressed to find the general proof you describe that people would take seriously.

The thing irreducible complexity that is that we could find a system that seems very complex, but with research we can break it down and see that it's not irreducibly complex. I'm particularly interested in how the regulation of enzymes by operons--a very complex, integrated system--evolved. Possibly research has already been done on this and I just have to do some searching. In any case, if it hasn't already been done, it'll probably be done soon. *wanders off in search of a good database*
 
  • #236
Hel said:
Proofs really only exist in math. And since most scientists don't consider evolution to be an assumption, but a fact, you'll be hard pressed to find the general proof you describe that people would take seriously.

I agree, although I didn't want to express too much scepticism until it's clear what precisely wofsy is talking about.

The thing irreducible complexity that is that we could find a system that seems very complex, but with research we can break it down and see that it's not irreducibly complex. I'm particularly interested in how the regulation of enzymes by operons--a very complex, integrated system--evolved. Possibly research has already been done on this and I just have to do some searching. In any case, if it hasn't already been done, it'll probably be done soon. *wanders off in search of a good database*
I was really only considering the idea in the most hypothetical terms of its logical possibility :wink:
 
  • #237
muppet said:
To the best of my knowledge the existence of a genuinely irreducibly complex system- such that not only would the whole not function without the parts, but that the parts were in and of themselves useless- would in fact kill the possibility that the system had evolved. I'd be fascinated to hear of a "general proof" of the impossibility of such a system that didn't assume that evolution was true, although I can't think what kind of form it would take when proof is such a notoriously thorny subject in science.

I didn't mean mathematical proof. maybe I should have said general principle. The idea was that parts that have other uses are reorganized into a new unit. So you don't need to have half a mousetrap - the spring and clamp and platform could have existed separately with different functions and then were assembled into a mousetrap later.
 
  • #238
f95toli said:
But the problem is that all (at least as far I know) examples of "irreducible complexity" used by ID proponents has been shown not to be "irreducibly" at all, specfically because either a there is a known evolutionary "pathway" where on each step the developeing trait gives an evolutionary benefit to the host (the eye would be an example; which even has evolved several times) or because one can show that a mechanism could very well orginally have evolved for another "purpose" and the complex task it now performs might be a relatively recent "assignment".

Right. But this is a good argument - non-trivial
 
  • #239
If there is no way to detect ID then what you are saying is that ID has no role in scientific theories of Evolution.

On the other hand ID certainly does occur through human action such as animal breeding. The human hand I guess could never be detected unless we knew already that humans were breeding animal traits for a purpose.

So it is perfectly possible from this point of view that ID explains everything but we could never test for it and so can not use it in any theory.

I have a religious friend who is extremely pious who agrees with this exactly. He says that science can never trace intent or reasons and therefore that we must make hypotheses based on faith.

I wish that I could say to him that if design were involved in the Universe that we should be able to detect it.
 
  • #240
wofsy said:
Right. But this is a good argument - non-trivial

meh...

It reeks of gaps. If we are able to demonstrate that almost every supposed example of irreducible complexity is in fact reducible (as has occurred so far, to the best of my knowledge) and nobody figures out one or two for some given amount of time, it does not come close to following that it is a flaw in the darwinian-mendelian synthesis. It would speak more to insufficient knowledge and creativity on the part of the scientists.

Its triviality is a matter of degree and as things stand now, it seems pretty trivial.
 
  • #241
muppet said:
To the best of my knowledge the existence of a genuinely irreducibly complex system- such that not only would the whole not function without the parts, but that the parts were in and of themselves useless- would in fact kill the possibility that the system had evolved. I'd be fascinated to hear of a "general proof" of the impossibility of such a system that didn't assume that evolution was true, although I can't think what kind of form it would take when proof is such a notoriously thorny subject in science.

Actually, there's no theoretical problem with the evolution of a system that is composed of a number of interworking parts, all of which are required for the system to work at all, and none of which are useful apart from their role in the system.

All you need to remember is that in evolution, the parts themselves are as subject to modification as anything else. Evolution only rarely works by adding or subtracting parts. The most common form of evolutionary change is the modification of parts, and this is completely ignored in the ID defense of the idea that IC presents any kind of difficulty for evolution.

Consider a system which involves a number of interacting parts, so that the removal of any part only degrades the performance of the system, without removing the function entirely. This is not IC, by the definition proposed.

Now let this system be subject to evolution. Each of the parts may be subject to small changes in how it works and interacts with other parts. Furthermore, the context in which selection is applied is one where all the parts are in place. There's no selection for a part to operate independently of the others, and there can be strong selection for a small change to a part so that it works a bit better, but in such a way that its operation relies crucially on the presence of other parts. Indeed, this kind of change is precisely what one should expect. The result of such changes is to introduce new dependencies between the parts that are all ready present, so that after a time the system DOES become IC, all by perfectly normal evolutionary processes.

The earliest plain description of "irreducible complexity" was actually called "interlocking dependency", but the meaning is exactly the same... all parts are required for the operation of the system. This description was given in 1918 by Herman Muller, who went on to win the Nobel prize in 1946 for his work on mutations.

The major difference with later and much less competent analysis is that Muller presents irreducible complexity as an expected consequence of conventional evolutionary processes; not as a problem. It is only seen as a problem with a stunted strawman of the processes of evolutionary change, as "adding and removing parts". With the more common evolutionary step of modifying parts, IC falls out very naturally as an expected consequence.

Reference:
  • Muller, H. J. (1918) http://www.genetics.org/content/vol3/issue5/index.shtml , in Genetics, Vol 3, No 5, Sept 1918, pp 422-499.

The description from this paper of interlocking complexity (irreducible complexity) is as follows (with emphasis as in Muller's original!):
... Most present day animals are the result of a long process of evolution, in which at least thousands of mutations must have taken place. Each new mutant in turn must have derived its survival value from the effect which it produced upon the "reaction system" that had been brought into being by the many previously formed factors in cooperation; thus a complicated machine was gradually built up whose effective working was dependent upon the interlocking action of very numerous elementary parts or factors, and many of the characters and factors which, when new, where originally merely an asset finally become necessary because other necessary characters and factors had subsequently become changed so as to be dependent on the former. It must result, in consequence, that a dropping out of, or even a slight change in anyone of these parts is very likely to disturb fatally the whole machinery; ...

Note carefully how this arises. It occurs because of the changing of parts so that they now depend on other parts.

Cheers -- sylas
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #242
Nan said:
Are you referring to the theory of Panspermia?

I believe Panspermia has significant conflict with Big Bang - unless BB is a cyclical event (and we've discussed that in a different thread).

My point is you can't prove the unproveable (faith and ID), there is strong evidence for Evolution, and a strong probability we are not alone in the Universe.
 
  • #243
A related doubt. Suppose an organism develops a trait- say a random mutation in one of its cells that enabled it to turn itself into a photoreceptor-. Now how does Nature 'know' that it will help the organism in its survival and hence make it carry on to the future generations through inheritance? Whats the mechanism of this natural selection?
Sorry if its a stupid question. This question is bugging me these days.
 
  • #244
muppet said:
To the best of my knowledge the existence of a genuinely irreducibly complex system- such that not only would the whole not function without the parts, but that the parts were in and of themselves useless- would in fact kill the possibility that the system had evolved. I'd be fascinated to hear of a "general proof" of the impossibility of such a system that didn't assume that evolution was true, although I can't think what kind of form it would take when proof is such a notoriously thorny subject in science.

From my understanding though irreducible complexity though is a test for (or against) evolution not for design.

With that said, isn't it strange to be looking for complexity when in nature the simpler systems usually prevail? The way i see it the simple flagellum motor could be natures way of showing us an evolved system that does its job simply and efficiently. What if billions of years ago it was much more complex appearing having more interactions and more parts because it relied more on other interactions. (wild guesses here..)

Couldn't you propose "derived simplicity" through evolution and pretty much try and push that against "irreducible complexity" because derived simplicity could explain the already reduced apparent complexity of the said process (motor in this case) through evolutionary processes rather than assumed design/intention/engineering or art.

I mean sure.. the sum of the total may appear complex but nature has an odd way of letting the simplest system prevail and that is sort of what natural selection is all about.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #245
sganesh88 said:
A related doubt. Suppose an organism develops a trait- say a random mutation in one of its cells that enabled it to turn itself into a photoreceptor-. Now how does Nature 'know' that it will help the organism in its survival and hence make it carry on to the future generations through inheritance? Whats the mechanism of this natural selection?
Sorry if its a stupid question. This question is bugging me these days.

If a change does help survival, then the next generation will have more descendants of this individual than otherwise. Furthermore, the descendents tend to inherit traits from their parents.

In this way, each generation tends to naturally have more individuals with traits that help survival and reproduction. No knowledge is involved.

Cheers -- sylas
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Replies
14
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
Replies
16
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
47
Views
4K
Replies
6
Views
920
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • General Discussion
2
Replies
66
Views
16K
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
7
Views
8K
Replies
4
Views
3K
Back
Top