To: All Msg #47, Oct2893 11:53AM Subject: Re: CONCEPT OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN Research group
From: Andy Peters
To: All Msg #47, Oct-28-93 11:53AM
Subject: Re: CONCEPT OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Organization: Program in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior, Indiana University
From: email@example.com (Andy Peters)
All of these "brief highlights" are cribbed directly from Walter
Brown's _In The Beginning..._. I wonder why no reference is given.
In article STUDENTS FOR ORIGINS
RESEARCH (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote:
: Some brief highlights of how the theory of organic evolution is invalid.
: 1. The law of Biogenesis:
: Spontaneous gener
: ation (the emergence of life from non-living matter) has never been
: observed. [...]
: The theory of evolution conflicts with this law by claiming that life arose
: from nonliving matter throught natural processes.
The "law of biogenesis" refers to the arisal of complex life forms
from non-reproductive substances. What *has* been demonstrated is the
arisal of self-replicating systems from non-self-replicating systems.
This is all the theory of evolution requires.
: 2. Acquired Characteristics:
: Acquired characteristics cannot be inherited. For example, the large
: musclds acquired by a man in a weight lifting program cannot be inherited
: by his child.
True. Fortunately, the inheritance of acquired characteristics is not
in any way a part of current evolutionary theory.
: 3. Mendel's Laws:
: Mendel's laws of genetics and their modern-day refinements explain
: almost all of the physical variations that are observed in living things.
: Mendel discovered that genes (the genetic units of heredity) are merely
: reshuffled from one generation to another. Different combinations are
: formed, not different genes. The different combinations produce the many
: variations within each kind of life, such as in the dog family. A logical
: consequence of Mendel's laws is that there are limits to such variation.
: Breeding experiments and common observations have also confirmed that these
: boundaries exist.
This is a bald assertion. It is most definitely not a logical
consequence of Mendel's laws that there are boundaries on genetic
variation: if you continue to claim that it is, you must explain your
In addition, your claim that there is evidence for such boundaries is
completely unfounded. Please give references, and summarize the facts
which support your statemtent.
: 4. Natural selection:
: Natural selection cannot produce "new" genes; it only selects among
: preexisting characteristics.
Again, this is no problem; the production of new genes has never been
attributed to natural selection. Therefore, the fact that NS can't do
so causes no problem whatsoever to the theory of evolution.
: 5. Mutations:
: Mutations are the only proposed mechanism by which new genetic
: material becomes available for evolution. Rarely, if ever, is a mutation
: beneficial to an organism in its natural environment. Almost all (perhaps
: all) observable mutations are harmful; many re lethal. No known mutation
: has ever produced a form of life having both greater complexity and
: greater viability than its ancestors.
That the vast majority of mutations are deleterious or neutral is
recognized by, dealt with in, and in fact an integral part of,
evolutionary theory. The assertion that these facts call the theory
into question is, like the other assertions above, mere dishonesty.
wrt the last sentence above, there is a convenient "both" in the
middle of the sentence. There are, indeed, known mutations which
increase the viability of their carriers. As to complexity, I
challenge you to come up with a definition of "complexity" in the
context of living organisms.
: 6. Fruit flies:
: Over eighty years of fruit fly experiments involving 3000 consecutive
: generations, give absolutely no basis for believing that any natural or
: artificial process can cause an increase in compolexity and viability. No
: clear genetic improvement has ever been observed despite the many efforts
: to increase mutation rates.
See the discussion of mutations increasing viability above; see also
the challenge re: the definition of complexity.
: 7. Complex Organs:
: There is no reason to believe that mutations or any natural process
: could ever produce any new organs as complex as, let's say, the eye, the
: ear, or the brain ( which Isaac Asimov claimed was the most complex and
: ordered piece of matter in the universe.) For example, each human brain
: contains over 10 to the 14 power (a hundred thousand billion) electrical
: connections -- more than all the electrical in all the electrical
: appliances in the world. Just the human heart, a ten ounce pump that will
: operate without maintenance or lubrication for about 75 years, is an
: engineering marvel.
This is a downright falsehood. No one claims that eyes or hearts were
the result of single mutations. The "natural process" which can
easily produce such organs is called natural selection. Perhaps you
(and Dr. Brown) should read up on it.
: 8. Fully Developed Organs:
: All species appear completely developed, not partially developed. They
: show design. There are no examples of half-developed feathers, eyes, skin,
: tubes (arteries, veins, intestines, etc..) or any of thousands of other
: vital organs. Nor are such changes plausible. For example, if a leg of a
: reptile were to evolove into a wing of a bird, it would become a bad leg
: long before it became a good wing.
This, again, betrays a complete lack of understanding of evolution.
To suggest that evolution would predict that a species would "appear
.. partially developed" is yet another strawman. Since evolution is
aiming toward no goal, there is no such thing as "fully developed...;"
there is merely functional or non-functional.
To assert that no improvements could be made on the organs possessed
by extant organisms is merely wrong.
Finally, there are several "plausible" pathways for the evolution of
bird wings (as well as just about any other trait)... perhaps you and
Dr. Brown might wish to read about them sometime, rather than writing
balderdash about strawmen based on your incomprehension of the topic.
: 9. Distinct types:
: If evolution occurred, one would expect to see gradual transitions
: among mnay living things. For example, variations of dogs might blend in
: with variations of cats. Actually, some animals, such as the Duckbill
: Platypus, have organs that are completely unrelated to their alleges
: evolutionary ancestors. The platypus is warm blooded and suckles its young
: like mammals. It lays eggs, has a single "simple" ventral opening (for
: elimination, mating, and birth) and it has a shoulder girdle like most
: reptiles. The platypus can detect electrical currents (a.c. and d.c.) like
: some fish, and has a bill like a duck (a bird). It has webbed forefeet like
: an otter, a flat tail like a beaver, and the male can inject venom like a
: poisonous pit viper. Such patchwork animals and plants are mosaics and have
: no place in the evolutionary tree.
Actually, the platypus has a very well-supported place in the
evolutionary tree. It is a monotreme mammal; the "fish," "duck",
"snake," "beaver," and "otter" traits are evolutionary convergences
which have only passing similarity to those organisms from which you
insinuate they are derived.
As to dogs blending in with cats, the mechanism of speciation is such
that after a certain point, the related organisms cannot interbreed.
Thus, distinct boundaries are expected for most organisms.
: There is no evidence that any major group of animals or plants arose
: from any other major group.
This is an outright lie.
: Species are only observed going out of
: existence (extinctions), never coming into existence.
Another lie. See the talk.origins introduction to biology FAQ for
examples of observed speciation.
Go ahead and believe what you want to believe. But please don't lie
to try to get other people to believe it. So far, your posts to
talk.origins have only served to prove what your letter to the editor
attempted to disprove: creationists, at least your group, is
dangerous, naive, and pseudoscientific.
: Additional bulletins will follow. Please direct comments to
: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or
: email@example.com. Thank you!
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank