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« Speaking Of John Roberts' Age | Main | How Good A Rider Was She? »

From Ape To Man

Carl Zimmer has an interesting analogy for those who still don't understand evolution, and instead prefer to jump from "gap" to "gap."

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 30, 2005 06:49 AM
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The proximity of this post near the stupidity article indicates to me that there's an intelligent designer somewhere out there. I can't speculate on his nature, how many angels he has at his beck-and-call, nor compare the relative value of his heavenly real estate to the competitors. Nope, that's not part of the theory.

More seriously, this is a path problem. The theory of evolution claims that a modern organism A evolved from some ancient organism B. It's a bit late to observe continuously this hypothetical evolution of A from B, but we have blurry snapshots in form of fossils. As a result there are "gaps". It appears a recent ID tactic is to claim intermediate species aren't so because they are neither A nor B.

My take is that this is like someone claiming they walked from New York City to Los Angelos (say over a six month period). They then present a bunch of pictures of themselves at various locations (complete with dates). The argument that Mr. Zimmer rebuts is the one that claims the pictures of the stops in between don't count because they are neither in New York City nor in Los Angelos.

That is, if he shows a picture of himself walking by the "Gateway to the West" in Saint Louis (say three months into his hypothetical trip), then the corresponding claim would be that it doesn't prove anything because Saint Louis is near neither the start nor finish of the trip.

As I hint in my first paragraph, I also am disappointed by the inability of ID people to say anything concrete about the hypothetical "intelligent designer" other than it's intelligent and designs living organisms.

Posted by Karl Hallowell at September 30, 2005 09:18 AM

Dear Sirs,

This is the same line of argument put forth by Richard Dawkins in "Climbing Mount Impossible". He acknowledged the impossibility of major random changes but proposed that a series of small changes occurred. In the link the rule of the game is that all intermediate words must be recognized Englich words. In Dawkin's scheme each of the intermediate forms must be viable and suitable to the end form. In both cases an external "rule" is posited. This is exactly and precisely an "Intelligent Designer".


Posted by Roy Lofquist at September 30, 2005 02:22 PM

This is exactly and precisely an "Intelligent Designer".

Ahem. No, it's not. It's an Intelligent Observer. The fact that any model a scientist uses to demonstrate that ID is very likely bunk was created by an intelligence is immaterial.

Such arguments make for cute semantics, but not good science.

Posted by John Irving at September 30, 2005 04:21 PM

In fact, the "rules" in question, the origin and endpoint, and recognizable words inbetween, are merely placeholders for demonstrable interim forms that bear only some resemblance to either endpoint, and expected endpoints.

As these rules are being applied to the previously existing English language and alphabet, which was explicitly NOT designed for such a demonstration but exists merely as a random medium that makes such a demonstration possible, it is incorrect to state that this is an example of Intelligent Design.

Unless the Intelligent Designer was acting at random, completely unaware of the process, and unconcerned with any resulting chains of possibility. . .

Posted by John Irving at September 30, 2005 04:33 PM

I agree with John here. Roy, unless you are claiming that Dawkins (the one who came up with the rules in question) is also the "intelligent designer", then this argument is counterproductive.

The gist of ID seems to be that evolution is impossible, that it can't work. Many of the arguments are absurd, eg, "irreducible" complexity or a lot of small changes can't ever be a large change, in part because the arguer can't provide a reason the claim should be true.

It's especially bothersome because we have observed the basic features of the theory of evolution in nature. There is selection for various traits (and these traits seem fundamentally described by the genetic information passed on by its ancestor(s), mostly contained in DNA), traits are inheritable, and traits change over generations.

Irrationally, ID proponents also seem to be ignoring the reasonable theory that evolution has been "steered" in the past by visiting aliens or prior intelligent life on Earth. For some reason, the very principles of evolution have to be wrong.

Posted by Karl Hallowell at October 1, 2005 11:17 AM

Intellegent Design happened becuase GOD is intellegent and evolutionists are still a buch of weirdo crack-pots

Posted by spurwing plover at October 3, 2005 12:45 PM

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