Thursday, February 9, 2012

Frog Genome Shares Substantial Similarities With Mammalian Genomes

Ten years ago work began on sequencing the first amphibian genome. The organism of choice was Xenopus tropicalis, a two inch frog native to Sub-Saharan Africa. And when the finished product was analyzed it was found to share substantial similarities with mammalian genomes, including our own. As one headline put it, “Frogs and humans are kissing cousins.” As the report explains:

What's most surprising, researchers say, is how closely the amphibian's genome resembles that of the mouse and the human, with large swathes of frog DNA on several chromosomes having genes arranged in the same order as in these mammals. …

"There are megabases of sequence where gene order has changed very little since the last common ancestor" of amphibians, birds and mammals about 360 million years ago, says bioinformaticist Uffe Hellsten at the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, a co-author on the study. …

Such conservation has important evolutionary implications. "By comparing the genomes of these different animals, you can really tell what the ancestral complement of genes may have been," says Richard Harland, a molecular and developmental biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who also took part in the study.

In addition, says Harland, it belies the view that genomes as a rule evolve quickly. "I think the old expectation was that there was a lot of chromosome rearrangement, but I think increasingly we are finding that chromosomal translocations are pretty rare."

So much for another “old expectation” based on evolutionary thinking. After all, it is not as though evolutionists had no reason for their prediction. Other vertebrate genomes are known to vary substantially more than this. But now we must believe in remarkable genetic conservation over 360 million years.

This of course will not be the last surprise. You can bet new genomes will be found that have more differences but yet have far less time to evolve those differences. This will leave evolutionists saying remarkable genetic similarity is conserved over hundreds of millions of years yet is lost over tens of millions of years. It all depends on which species you examine.

Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

77 comments:

  1. Well, sure. They don't have the same DNA in the same order because reptiles are ANCESTORS of mammals! It's because The Designer wanted it that way!

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  2. What's most surprising, researchers say, is how closely the amphibian's genome resembles that of the mouse and the human, with large swathes of frog DNA on several chromosomes having genes arranged in the same order as in these mammals. …

    There are megabases of sequence where gene order has changed very little since the last common ancestor


    So basically this is all good evidence for evolution then? Surprisingly good evidence that wo do indeed share a common ancestor with frogs.

    Nice own goal there, Cornelius.

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  3. Exactly how does this falsify the underlying explanation behind evolution?

    Again, evolutionary theory explains the knowledge of how to build the biosphere as being created by conjecture and refutation in the form of genetic variation and natural selection.

    How would observations that this knowledge gets created faster, slower, more often or less often than we might have expected in some cases show this underlying explanation to be in error?

    Or perhaps the better question is, why would you expect what we experience to exactly meet our expectations? How could we know what we'll experience given the problem of induction?

    Did the knowledge of how to great the biosphere always exist, therefore we should be able to simply extrapolate it from experience? Do voices in a whirlwind tell us what we will experience in a way that is infallible?

    Your objections do not exist in a vacuum. That these things are "problems" for evolution, but not science as a whole speaks volumes.

    CH: Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

    Really?

    Then why don't you start out by explaining how knowledge is created. Then, point out how conjecture and refutation in the form of genetic variation and natural selection doesn't doesn't fit that explanation?

    Please be specific.

    But, as usual, I won't be holding my breath.

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  4. CH: Other vertebrate genomes are known to vary substantially more than this. But now we must believe in remarkable genetic conservation over 360 million years.

    The key question here is why were they conserved?

    If this sequence was critical for animals living in this environment, it could have varied significantly and often, only to be found in error. In other words, that a sequence was conserved doesn't mean that it did not change often and significantly, but those variations were not passed on.

    As such, it's unclear why you'd consider this remarkable given evolutionary theory?

    However, what would be remarkable, is if these conserved areas were conserved because they never varied in individual instances at all. But this would represent a straw man evolutionary theory.

    And surely, you'd never, ever present a straw man of evolutionary theory, right Cornelius?

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  5. To give an example, why hasn't our explanation for the phenomena of gravity changed significantly since Einstein?

    Is it because people haven't conjectured a number of significantly different explanations since then? No, it's not.

    It's because these conjectures were found in error or were not significantly better at explaining the phenomena of gravity.

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  6. Scientist says:

    "I think the old expectation was that there was a lot of chromosome rearrangement, but I think increasingly we are finding that chromosomal translocations are pretty rare."

    Cornelius' non sequitur:

    Nothing in biology makes sense in the light of evolution.

    Cornelius pretends that the theory of evolution predicted a more scrambled genome and now this prediction has been falsified. See? Evolution gets it wrong again!

    In reality, the expectation was simply based on inaccurate older estimates of rates of chromosome translocations. As more data comes in, the estimates get adjusted downwards. Standard science in action.

    Nothing Cornelius writes makes sense except in the light of deception.

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  7. We work with what we have within the frameworks that we have made. Would this be a fair summation, Scott?

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  8. It's the darwinian fairytale...frogs could become princes, if you give them enough time and "wonderful" genetic mistakes.

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    1. National Valium

      It's the darwinian fairytale...frogs could become princes, if you give them enough time and "wonderful" genetic mistakes.


      But an Intelligent Design Creationist will never become honest, no matter how much time and how many chances you give him.

      You still haven't provided a single detail on those "Intelligent Design did it!" claims you made on the other thread. Empty bluster is all you've got it seems.

      Delete
  9. Smith: We work with what we have within the frameworks that we have made. Would this be a fair summation, Scott?

    Do you have an explanation as to how it's possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework? If so, please enlighten us.

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  10. Extrapolation can be can be nothing more than a means of relocation – the observation being the thing that is extrapolated. Three items should be noted.

    1. the site of extrapolation (context)
    2. the means of extrapolation (filter(s))
    3. the site of placement (new context+original filter(s)+new filter(s))

    Connotation and denotation are inherent components of the data or object being observed and of the observation itself. Observations may or may not coincide with original intent.

    Some data can only be observed “as is” – relocated and placed within a new framework for easier observation. Easier is a terminally relative concept. An example would be to translate from an uncommon to familiar tongue. Even so, many tongues have congruous or incongruous dialects, thus requiring an understanding of the original tongue, the given dialect, the context of each, and the context of their sum. Each context and ultimate sum may require and understanding of known histories or anticipated futures, with each, again, being relative. Speaking french in France may denote or connote something different than when spoken in Spain. It may mean something even more different if the french speaker is a member of Manchester United and is participating in the playoffs in Spain against a team from Spain. There is a loss and addition of context whenever data is relocated.

    More concisely, interaction with the context alters the context. If we are aware that we are altering the context continually, we will more closely approximate objectivity. If we filter the context by placing a framework over it before we extrapolate it, it has been altered all the more. As such, it may or may not be “good” or “bad,” but it most certainly is something.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Smith,
      As usual, you cut to the core of the issue; sharp as a razor, straight as an arrow. Your every post, pure brilliance, your words, a clarion call to reason. Angels marshal in anticipation whenever you clear your throat. You sir are eloquence personified. Bravo.

      Delete
    2. *smith leans in closely and whispers into Cook's ear*

      Gentle now, the arrow straight. In brilliant hue do angels wait.

      Cored eloquence on razor's edge and clarion to folly's fate.

      On webs of reason, hushed they flow.
      As flowers stilled. As well you know.

      Delete
  11. Smith: Extrapolation can be can be nothing more than a means of relocation – the observation being the thing that is extrapolated.

    Knowledge that was original located here, but was relocated there? But how did you extrapolate this knowledge in the first place?

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    1. There, and then here preferably - wherever both of those might be. But knowledge is an awareness of information. The information, then, was there and then here, or somewhere else altogether regardless of one’s intentions for it or awareness of it. Yet, when intentions are acted upon, extrapolation begins. Contexts are fundamentally altered as filters are applied. If, as you state, awareness (knowledge) itself is extrapolated then the context of the awareness has been altered as well.

      More interesting is to ask why we would ever do such a thing.

      Delete
    2. Mr. Smith poses a koan for us all. A masterfully crafted poem which forces us to see past the convoluted web of reson and into the truth of the pure perception of now.

      I know what you will say Scott, "But how can we trust perception? We cannot know the fact of the flower; its theory laden." Hush now. It's all right. Still your mind. The flower is you as well.

      Delete
    3. My question was, how can you avoid doing it?

      What do I mean by this? Bertrand Russell illustrated this point well with his story of the farmer and the chicken. He's an expanded version which elaborates on this further.

      A flock of anthropomorphic chickens has observed a farmer who fed them every day like clockwork since they were chicks. They extrapolate these observations to conclude the farmer will continue to feed them. One day the farmer starts feeding them even more corn that usual. This observation further reinforces their conclusion they will continue to be fed. However, not long after, the farmer puts them in cages and sends them off to slaughter.

      In other words, mere observations alone are inadequate to justify conclusions. This is the problem of induction.

      However, if we're not careful we'll miss (or knowingly accept) a more fundamental misconception illustrated in this story. Specifically, that it's even possible extrapolate observations without first placing them in a explanatory framework.

      Before these chickens could have induced a false prediction, they must first had in mind a false explanatory framework of the farmers behavior, such as thinking he had benevolent feelings towards chickens. However, had the chickens guessed a different explanation, such as the farmer was fattening them up for slaughter, they would have extrapolated observations of his actions differently. In other words, how we form predictions depends on our underlying explanation. According to the benevolent-farmer theory, observations of being fed even more corn suggested the chickens were more likely to continue being fed, while the fattening-up theory suggested this same observation was an omen of imminent slaughter.


      So, it would seem that theory always comes first, rather than later, when extrapolating observations.

      Delete
    4. Smith:
      " More interesting is to ask why we would ever do such a thing?"

      Why would we ever do such a thing?

      Delete
    5. Scott, a dandy sample.
      To what degree do you feel that Mr. Russell has ascribed anthropomorphism?



      Velikovskys, it could be that some people thoroughly enjoy green elephants. I would posit that we all do to some degree from moment to moment.

      Delete
  12. The flaw in the presumptions here is that frogs and mice are any more different then mice and cats.
    i mean that the divisions of mammals and reptiles are not true.
    there is only kinds in the bible and these other divisions are just interpretations of connections based on minor details.
    Frogs are not reptiles but only have some like details with other creatures .
    Unrelated to heritage.
    This DNA stuff is based on ideas of heritage and so they easily fail.

    There is just a common model for life from a common creator.
    No such thing as reptiles or mammals.
    Its been a error of classification.

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    1. I think this officially qualifies as senseless rambling...

      For one thing, a frog is an AMPHIBIAN.

      For another, what utter nonsense are you talking, saying that these classes don't even EXIST? They very much do.

      I don't even really know how else to refute such blatant tripe. It's like someone saying there's no such thing as the Sun. What can you possibly say except "Yes there is. You're obviously wrong"?

      Delete
    2. Ritchie, meet Mr. Robert Byers.

      For another, what utter nonsense are you talking, saying that these classes don't even EXIST? They very much do.

      Let's make this clear for our Agassiz fans: the clades that are ranked as phyla, classes, orders, families, &c, do exist, but the taxonomic categories don't exist by themselves, viz. they are "ontologically empty designations".

      Delete
  13. T. Cook, my reply to you about unbounded genetic change is on the other article.

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  14. "There are megabases of sequence where gene order has changed very little since the last common ancestor"

    --

    I think design explains this better.

    --

    The comparisions between the design of computer hardware/software and life is curious. Perhaps someday, our computers will improve to where the comparison is closer. I think it will, because life is designed the way it is on purpose, not arbituarily.

    In the computer industry, the various hardware, software, and network products are normally made according to some standard. Network protocol layers are standardized. Here's a list of some of the standards:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_computer_standards

    As the standards article states, "Technical standards are instituted for compatibility and interoperability between software, systems, platforms and devices."

    Since all creatures on earth share the planet and biomes, it would not be a good design (as Darwin and friends assumed) by a good designer to make each life form strictly unique. I'll assume here the reader understands the life cycle and how ecosystems function over long periods of time.

    In addition, a standard is something that usually works well within its intended purpose. From a designers point of view they are normally considered good things to have and often a necessity.

    Beyond having a set of technical standards, computer hardware, software and networks are built on "platforms". The platforms themselves are real world expressions of various standards. Upon these standard platforms various features can be either turned on or added. It appears that the more we learn about biosystems, the picture that is emerging from these complex systems is that living organisms are based on specific technical standards, code standards, perhaps layers of protocol, with various features either added to the platform or turned on or off. What is particularly curious are the genetic features that exist in some species but are turned off, while on others the feature code is turned on.

    What a elegant design property of living organisms. Common basic platforms with feature add-ons.

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  15. Tedford the idiot said

    The comparisions between the design of computer hardware/software and life is curious. Perhaps someday, our computers will improve to where the comparison is closer. I think it will, because life is designed the way it is on purpose, not arbituarily.

    In the computer industry, the various hardware, software, and network products are normally made according to some standard. Network protocol layers are standardized. Here's a list of some of the standards:


    Computers still don't self-reproduce or pass on heritable traits.

    I see you didn't learn a damn thing from your debacle over the 'nested hierarchies' of iPods.

    That's because you're an idiot.

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  16. Neal Tedford asseverated

    I think design explains this better.


    No, it doesn't explain it at all. It's just speculation that an intelligent agent was responsible.

    What is particularly curious are the genetic features that exist in some species but are turned off, while on others the feature code is turned on.

    You mean, like the designer making us dependent on vitamin C then turning off the gene we need to make it? I suppose "curious" is one word for it. I can think of several others.

    What a elegant design property of living organisms. Common basic platforms with feature add-ons.

    Elegance is certainly an appealing property. Ipods and Ipads are certainly elegant designs. But suppose the designer of the Ipad camera had draped wiring across the front of the imaging sensor, would that be considered an elegant design solution?

    Religion drives science from the classroom, and it matters.

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  17. Neal: I think design explains this better.

    And by "better", you mean?

    What is your criteria for a good explanation?

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  18. Ian: "But suppose the designer of the Ipad camera had draped wiring across the front of the imaging sensor, would that be considered an elegant design solution?"

    It would be if it was as articulately choreographed as the optic nerve in our eyes. Luckily we evolved Muller glial cells which were selected for when predators the size of lady bugs attacked us from just the right angle and killed off all the unfit with that dark spot in their vision. Or you got spanked by fundy non scientists at this fringe website;

    http://creation.com/mueller-cells-backwardly-wired-retina-v-dawkins

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    1. John

      It would be if it was as articulately choreographed as the optic nerve in our eyes. Luckily we evolved Muller glial cells which were selected for when predators the size of lady bugs attacked us from just the right angle and killed off all the unfit with that dark spot in their vision. Or you got spanked by fundy non scientists at this fringe website;

      http://creation.com/mueller-cells-backwardly-wired-retina-v-dawkins


      No one, not even Dawkins, denies that the human eye is a marvelous organ. But from a design perspective it has flaws that belie the claim that it is a nearly perfect.

      A human being, properly supplied and maintained, can live for 80 or more years, barring accidents and illness. The eye, however, begins to show signs of presbyopia - or loss of accommodation - from around age 40 onwards. This leads to near-total loss of the ability to focus from around age 60 onwards. If you can design a creature that lives for 80 years, why equip it with an eye that begins failing halfway through that lifespan?

      The lens is also vulnerable to other age-related conditions such as cataracts, in which it gradually becomes cloudy and, eventually, completely opaque. Again, why didn't this designer specify more durable materials for this vital component?

      Coming back to the retina, yes, it works very well in spite of the flaws, but they require workarounds or fixes that need not be there if the basic design was improved. Muller glial cells notwithstanding, the fact remains that in the fovea - the small depression in the retina which contains the highest concentration of photoreceptors and provides the sharpest vision - all that wiring and plumbing has been kept carefully out of the way. The simplest and most obvious reason for that is that if you want the sharpest vision you don't put anything in the way of the image-forming light that doesn't have to be there. Now, in the fovea, there is a penalty to be paid. If the cells in that area are strongly stimulated, the demand for oxygen and nutrients can outstrip the supply and they can become fatigued. But, yet again, if all these issues could have been resolved more elegantly by a slightly re-routed and higher capacity blood supply, what was the problem with doing that?

      No one is denying that organs like the eye can have the appearance of design. But that sort of argument is susceptible to the fallacy of selective reporting, in other words, you only take notice of the bits that suit your case. A better perspective comes from taking a full account of all its properties, good and bad.

      Religion drives science from the classroom, and it matters.

      Delete
  19. Richie
    i persist to insist that there is no such divisions in nature as mammals or reptiles or dinosaurs or anything else.
    There are just kinds. These created by God and fixed.
    Reptiles etc are man made constructs unrelated to biological connections or heritage.
    As i said its just usefull for different kinds of creatures to have like details.
    Dinos may lay eggs but they are not birds.
    its just a usefull way to reproduce.
    The old classification systems was based on these divisions being real things in nature and later evolution picked it up to make more biological relatedness.

    I am sure I am right.
    Its up to your side to prove in the first place their are reptiles as a real group unless its just a cute word for creatures with like heating systems.
    In biology there is no reason to do that if thats all your doing.

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    1. The term 'mammal', for example, definitely does have a meaning. It is a creature with a mammary gland.

      Such animals are very diverse - from moles to bats to humans to blue whales. They all have a mammary gland in common.

      So, if evolution is true, we should find any two mammals more closely related to each other than to any non-mammal.

      And that is exactly what we do find when we look at the tree of life created via the genetic record.

      Same with birds. Their distinguishing feature is the feather.

      These are not meaningless terms.

      Delete
    2. Ritchie:

      The term 'mammal', for example, definitely does have a meaning. It is a creature with a mammary gland.

      Actually, no. That's just the etymology of the taxon's name. There are no necessary and sufficient sets of characters for group membership in systematics. Mammary glands, fur, neocortex, and a single-part lower jawbone are diagnostic characters for the mammalian clade. Same with birds.

      These are not meaningless terms.

      More precisely, they refer to branches of the phylogenetic tree of animals.

      Byers,

      Its up to your side to prove in the first place their are reptiles as a real group unless its just a cute word for creatures with like heating systems.

      LOL, that's just the case. "Reptilia" is not a natural group. Your ability to learn nothing of what the other part is saying (as well as English punctuation) during all these years is admirable.

      Delete
    3. It is presented that reptiles and mammals are terms with real ideas about connections between creatures.
      Its not just cute words with no meaning.

      Classification is premised that like features indicate like origins .
      Thats evolutions use of these terms.
      If your saying reptiles etc has nothing to do with biological heritage or anything connecting the "reptiles" then great.
      I didn't know this.
      I'm sure most people don't know this.
      they meaningless terms in biology.
      AMEN.
      There are just kinds of creatures who are just using like features for like needs but no intimate relationship otherwise.

      birds, dinos, platypus,snakes all lay eggs but it has nothing to do with biological trails.

      cows,whales,kangaroos, snakes all have live births but its unrelated to trails of heritage.

      There is no such biological groups as mammals or reptiles but only old terms of classifying minor bits and pieces.
      HMMM.
      I still think they do mean these are real groups but---

      Delete
  20. Ian: "Now, in the fovea, there is a penalty to be paid. If the cells in that area are strongly stimulated, the demand for oxygen and nutrients can outstrip the supply and they can become fatigued. But, yet again, if all these issues could have been resolved more elegantly by a slightly re-routed and higher capacity blood supply, what was the problem with doing that?"

    This concern was directly addressed in the article. Specifically, the choroid which supplies the higher blood capacity and cooling is opaque by nature and so MUST go in the back. The choroid capillaries are already the densest in the entire body (not in the article). Are you sure with that piece of information that an even higher throughput of blood is possible within the constraints of the system?

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    1. John

      This concern was directly addressed in the article. Specifically, the choroid which supplies the higher blood capacity and cooling is opaque by nature and so MUST go in the back. The choroid capillaries are already the densest in the entire body (not in the article). Are you sure with that piece of information that an even higher throughput of blood is possible within the constraints of the system?


      I don't know for certain but it seems to me that there should be no insuperable difficulties in providing an increased blood supply, not for some one - or some thing - that had the skill to design the rest of the human body.

      In fact, it would be an interesting challenge for a human bioengineer, to see if they could design a hypothetical retina which was non-inverted, did not have capillaries or nerve fibers in front of the photoreceptors and had a higher-capacity blood supply.

      Delete
  21. Ian: "A human being, properly supplied and maintained, can live for 80 or more years, barring accidents and illness. The eye, however, begins to show signs of presbyopia - or loss of accommodation - from around age 40 onwards."

    In a car, the engine wears out faster than the frame usually. What's your point? Everything in the universe wears out. I don't fancy it per se, but what does my fancy have to do with the evidence for whether something was designed? I don't like it so I can ignore it? I don't like it so I'll try not to believe in it? I don't understand the whole "it's a design I don't like, so let's agree it's not a design". It's similar to the, "God didn't make me into an immortal superhero, so he can't be real" kind of childishness.

    Plastic silverware... it could last so much longer if it were metal. No one would design crap like that.

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    1. John
      "the engine wears out before the frame usually"

      It seems reasonable to assume that an intelligence capable of " designing " all life on earth would be more competent than the designer of a Ford Pinto.

      Delete
    2. Much of marketing and advertising would have us believe that some things are meant to wear out.

      Delete
    3. Smith: Much of marketing and advertising would have us believe that some things are meant to wear out.

      Which can be explained by what knowledge we have or have not yet created.

      For example, we could build a car that could withstand almost any impact. However, it would be very inefficient, exhibit poor performance and would cost millions of dollars.

      However, unless something is forbidden by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, again, we can explain the fact that cars wear out at the rate that they do in that it's a trade-off due to the knowledge we have or have not yet created.

      Automakers could build cars that last for centuries. But they would cost an arm and a leg, and they would become quickly out dated in regards to technology, performance, etc. So, you'd need to build a car that could be upgraded inexpensively.

      However, how can we plan to inexpensively upgrade a car with technology we have yet to conceive of?

      On the other hand, an abstract designer has no such limitations. And an omniscient, omnipotent designer doesn't need to conceive of anything as it supposedly "just was" complete with the knowledge of everything that could be possibly conceived, already present.

      Delete
    4. The existence of data does not seem to require our permission.

      Scott:
      For example, we could build a car that could withstand almost any impact. However, it would be very inefficient, exhibit poor performance and would cost millions of dollars.

      Smith:
      What are your metrics for efficiency and performance? Those are relative notions outside of a given standard and are often small determinants over cost. Depending upon your metrics, the proposed object may not fit within the category of “car.”

      Scott:
      However, unless something is forbidden by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, again, we can explain the fact that cars wear out at the rate that they do in that it's a trade-off due to the knowledge we have or have not yet created.

      Smith:
      That is one explanation, yet not the only explanation.

      Scott:
      Automakers could build cars that last for centuries. But they would cost an arm and a leg, and they would become quickly out dated in regards to technology, performance, etc. So, you'd need to build a car that could be upgraded inexpensively.

      Smith:
      Indeed. They have. Yet you hope the automakers to be more benevolent than is possible given their purpose of revenue generation. Upgrade or upkeep?

      Scott:
      However, how can we plan to inexpensively upgrade a car with technology we have yet to conceive of?

      Smith:
      You assume conception is required over discovery.

      Scott:
      On the other hand, an abstract designer has no such limitations. And an omniscient, omnipotent designer doesn't need to conceive of anything as it supposedly "just was" complete with the knowledge of everything that could be possibly conceived, already present.

      Smith:
      Abstraction is a framework bound by rules of abstraction. Those who choose abstraction as a mode are free to adhere or break the bond.

      It is curious to infer the ability to grasp either omniscience or omnipotence. What is your familiarity with the realm of “design?”

      Delete
    5. Smith: The existence of data does not seem to require our permission.

      Is data equivalent to knowledge?

      Smith: What are your metrics for efficiency and performance? Those are relative notions outside of a given standard and are often small determinants over cost. Depending upon your metrics, the proposed object may not fit within the category of “car.”

      Would the earliest cars fit within the category of "car" we have today in regards to safety? How about performance or efficiency? How about cars 200 years from now?

      Scott: However, unless something is forbidden by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, again, we can explain the fact that cars wear out at the rate that they do in that it's a trade-off due to the knowledge we have or have not yet created.

      Smith: That is one explanation, yet not the only explanation.

      We can make choices, however, the options we do eventually choose from can, in part, be explained by what knowledge we have or have not yet created.

      Smith: Indeed. They have. Yet you hope the automakers to be more benevolent than is possible given their purpose of revenue generation. Upgrade or upkeep?

      I'm referring to possible options for revenue generation given the knowledge they've currently created.

      For example, we have yet to create the knowledge of how to build cars on demand, which would require an flexible, automated assembly process. Without the need to keep inventory, this would significantly reduce the cost of cars to the customer. An automaker could sell the car at the same price, which would allow them to generate the same revenue if the customer kept the car longer, or sell the car cheaper, which would allow the customer to upgrade more often. etc.

      Books are going though this process now, as companies like Amazon has started printing books on demand. And then there's iBooks U, in which text books are individually sold to students at a lower cost, rather than selling them to a school for significantly more. In the end, publishers will make more money, while students will receive more interactive and up to date materials.

      Scott: However, how can we plan to inexpensively upgrade a car with technology we have yet to conceive of?

      Smith: You assume conception is required over discovery.

      We discover evidence. But we create theories via conjecture and refutation.

      Scott: On the other hand, an abstract designer has no such limitations. And an omniscient, omnipotent designer doesn't need to conceive of anything as it supposedly "just was" complete with the knowledge of everything that could be possibly conceived, already present.

      Smith: Abstraction is a framework bound by rules of abstraction. Those who choose abstraction as a mode are free to adhere or break the bond.

      As I mentioned below, the current crop of ID is parochial, in that it assumes there is no relationship between adaptations and how the knowledge used to build those adaptations was created, or that the origin of this knowledge is incomprehensible, has always existed, etc. That x was designed is science, but that's as far as science can go. This is a varaint of solipsism.

      Smith: It is curious to infer the ability to grasp either omniscience or omnipotence. What is your familiarity with the realm of “design?”

      What is your experience with intelligence and intent?

      Every time we've experience intelligence and intent, it was accompanied by complex material nervous systems. In the case of extremely complex things it was accompanied by the human brain.

      Does this mean that all intelligence and intent requires complex material nervous systems?

      Delete
    6. Hmm... Perhaps we have a conceptual language barrier. I was speaking of design in the context of industry.

      Your final statement to John seems to be a good place to pick up the conversation.

      Scott: But when we create knowledge, problems like this get solved. And when the do, it changes the specific adaptations we make.

      If knowledge is awareness, we can choose whether or not to act upon it. "Solving" is one such action.

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  22. John: In a car, the engine wears out faster than the frame usually. What's your point? Everything in the universe wears out. I don't fancy it per se, but what does my fancy have to do with the evidence for whether something was designed?

    Cars were designed by human beings.

    Why don't you explain why human designers should be a criteria for good design. Specifically, what is it about how we, as human beings, create knowledge, would make us a good criteria. Please be specific.

    For example, you're assuming the role an engine plays could not be performed better by something other than the internal combustion engines (ICEs) we find in todays automobiles. However, electric motors require far less maintenance than ICEs. And that doesn't take into account for yet to be conceived replacements that could play the same roles as ICEs.

    However, ID's abstract designer has no limitations on knowledge, and an omniscient, omnipotent designer doesn't need to create knowledge. Neither need to conceive of anything before they can implement it. Rather, that's just must what the deigned must have wanted.

    So, it seems you're comparing designs from people, with an abstract designer whom's means of creating knowledge is not constrained or an omniscient designer that "just was", complete with the knowledge of how to build anything, already present.

    Why do you think this is a good comparison?

    Or, to rephrase, what's your explanation for how human beings create knowledge? Please be specific.

    John: What's your point?

    The point is that adaptations require knowledge to build. The origin of specific adaptations is the origin of the knowledge used to build that adaptation. Saying the knowledge was originally here, then moved to there, doesn't serve any explanatory purpose.

    What ID proponents have essentially done is push the food around on their plate and claimed they ate it. But it's still stilling there staring them in the face.

    John: Everything in the universe wears out. I don't fancy it per se, but what does my fancy have to do with the evidence for whether something was designed?

    Because you're position is parochial, in that it assumes there is no relationship between adaptations and how the knowledge used to build those adaptations, or that the origin of this knowledge is incomprehensible, has always existed, etc.

    John: Plastic silverware... it could last so much longer if it were metal. No one would design crap like that.

    Which, again, comes down to knowledge, as plastic silverware represents a trade-off due to what knowledge we have yet to create.

    For example, metal silverware is more expensive, so it's more cost effective to wash, rather than throw away. However, we have yet to create the knowledge to make silverware that was self cleaning, in that food does not stick to it, while also making it light, inexpensive, etc.

    In other words, plastic silverware isn't merely "what we fancy". We can explain it as a trade off based on what knowledge we have and have not yet to create.

    But when we create knowledge, problems like this get solved. And when the do, it changes the specific adaptations we make.

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  24. John

    In a car, the engine wears out faster than the frame usually.


    My twenty year old van is still on its first engine and it will probably never be changed now.

    There may be economic reasons for built-in obsolescence but there are no technical problems with designing engines which can last as long the the frames. Do we have any reason for thinking that alien designers, who are apparently long gone now, would have been influenced by the same financial considerations as human engineers today?

    What's your point? Everything in the universe wears out. I don't fancy it per se, but what does my fancy have to do with the evidence for whether something was designed? I don't like it so I can ignore it? I don't like it so I'll try not to believe in it? I don't understand the whole "it's a design I don't like, so let's agree it's not a design". It's similar to the, "God didn't make me into an immortal superhero, so he can't be real" kind of childishness.

    The point is that if we were designed by some alien intelligence long, long ago, whoever did it was a lot more advanced than we are today. If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they? And if they could, why didn't they do anything about it?


    Human designers strive to create the best, most efficient, most economical, most elegant design they can, at least within the constraints of the specification and the knowledge and the materials available. The only time they don't is when the manufacturer calculates that they cam make more money from a planned obsolescence. They can profit from selling replacement product to customers whose first purchase has worn out or broken down more quickly than they expected. But, like I said before, it's hard to see an ancient alien intelligence could still be operating on that economic model.

    The problem in the case of the Christian God as the designer is more fundamental. This being is, by definition, a necessary being - "entire and whole and perfect". The question here is not just why would it design such an imperfect creature - and we all agree we are imperfect - but could such a being design imperfection without violating its essential nature?

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    1. Doesn't being perfect include the ability to choose to be imperfect?

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  25. velikovskys: "It seems reasonable to assume that an intelligence capable of " designing " all life on earth would be more competent than the designer of a Ford Pinto."

    You're exactly right, which is why Ford Pinto's don't reproduce and regenerate themselves. Still, I don't see why a design should circumvent the tendencies of energy to reach equilibrium. I'm not denying miracles, I'm just saying they are not to be expected by definition.

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  26. Of course you are not denying miracles, you dropped the God card in your post.
    So are you more of a TE? God set nature,like some Rube Goldberg machine, on it's zig zagging way to create man,in his likeness? The natural means creates the lack of optimal design? Or do you see it as necessary for God to step in,nudge the ball, to get to where He desires?

    As Smith explained it best"The information,then,was there and then here,or somewhere else altogether regardless of one's intentions for it or awareness of it"

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    1. I still don't see how you establish that there was a "lack of optimal design". You are assuming this and your definition of "optimal" also seems to married to personal pleasure. It's not like I don't understand the political convenience of that, but I really don't care about those things any more. Electric chairs are clearly designed.

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    2. That is a fair objection, so do you agree that there is some standard by which a design can be judged? Car not exploding in ball of fire, a eight foot window for a seven foot opening? This does not seem political in any way, just a practical tool.How well a design performs its goal

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    3. The "goal" of "design" in biology is not an observation. It's usually an analogy, and, at best, an inference. You also need to know the constraints of operation and implementation in order to assess design optimality meaningfully.

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  28. Ian: "My twenty year old van is still on its first engine and it will probably never be changed now."

    I'm going to venture a guess that it's on its first frame as well. ;)

    Ian: "There may be economic reasons for built-in obsolescence but there are no technical problems with designing engines which can last as long the the frames."

    Your confidence in this is amazing. Do you think that moving parts wear out more slowly?

    Ian: "The point is that if we were designed by some alien intelligence long, long ago, whoever did it was a lot more advanced than we are today. If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they"

    They could if you could, but you can't...and that might be because it is actually impossible or farther from the intended purpose of our eye type. You seem to have a problem distinguishing between your imagination and reality. You don't think it gives the game away when you claim to know that "IF" we were designed, then the designer was "a lot more advanced than we are today", but then in the next breath, confidently imagine that you can make improvements in the face of evidence to the contrary? Please describe where you would move the optic nerve to improve things. I think that maybe you are just discussing a caricature of the eye.

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  29. Scott:"For example, you're assuming the role an engine plays could not be performed better by something other than the internal combustion engines (ICEs) we find in todays automobiles."

    No, I'm not assuming that, I was only using it as an example to illustrate that just because something wears out faster than some other part, that is not evidence that the thing is not designed. Again, your personal enjoyment of a longer lasting engine the analog of which I suppose you imagine is possible in the eye, doesn't really seem to count as evidence that the current configuration is not designed. Why would it? Because God can only exist if he gives you nice happy things?

    Scott:"or that the origin of this knowledge is incomprehensible, has always existed, etc."

    I just don't like to ignore more obvious proximate causes just because they might point to ultimate causes I don't understand yet.

    Scott:"But when we create knowledge, problems like this get solved. And when the do, it changes the specific adaptations we make."

    I would be more likely to entertain your eye improvement suggestions as seriously as your plastic silverware improvement suggestions if you could actually create eyes in the first place. Your argument seems to be along the lines of, (1) imagine that X could be designed better, (2) if a creator could create X better, according to my imagination, it would, (3) since I do not observe an X at least as good as I imagine is possible, therefore X is not designed.

    As you can see, actually being able to improve the design of X yourself would make your argument convincing in reality, and not just in your imagination.

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  30. LASIK sugery improves the design of the lens, artificial knees repair knee design failure. Surgery repairs faulty designs,genetic heart defects.

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  31. You give the game away with the word "repairs". Also, your example uses regular genetic constructions AND a huge LASIK machine. I don't think giving birth to and being attached to every possible medical device a person might need in their life smacks of economy...unless you shrink them down to the size of microscopic machines that are only created when they are needed.. HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

    Seriously, maybe you could design a LASIK enzyme.

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  32. John: Again, your personal enjoyment of a longer lasting engine the analog of which I suppose you imagine is possible in the eye, doesn't really seem to count as evidence that the current configuration is not designed. Why would it? Because God can only exist if he gives you nice happy things?

    As I've said elsewhere, a designer could choose to build things well, poorly, or even intentionally design something to look *as if* it was not designed by constraining it's choices. So, whether something is "very well designed" isn't a good indication if something was designed. Furthermore it could be that God has an equally knowing and powerful, perfectly evil, twin. As such, nothing turned out as either of them wanted as it's all a compromise.

    The original claim made by several posters here was that "very good design" is an indication of intelligent design, rather than natural process. My point was that this "explanation" has been found in error. Specifically, we do not universally observe "very good designs". Nor is it clear that human design is a good criteria for "very good design" in the first place.

    That moving parts wear out faster, doesn't mean that a significantly, "better design" couldn't use non-moving parts, or magnetically suspended moving parts, to perform the same role, which would wear at a more uniform rate as the rest of the car. Again, this is relevant to showing the presented theory that "very good design" is an indication of intelligent design is in error, not "proving" that the biosphere wasn't designed by observations.

    John: I just don't like to ignore more obvious proximate causes just because they might point to ultimate causes I don't understand yet.

    Cars to do not yet contain the knowledge of how to build themselves. That knowledge is in us and and the machines we built/programmed to assemble them. However, organisms do contain the knowledge of how to build themselves.

    Merely saying this knowledge was previously located somewhere else doesn't serve an explanatory purpose. All you've done is push the problem into some unexplainable mind in some unexplainable realm. It's as if you've pushed the food around on your plate, then claimed you've ate it. But it's still there staring you in the face.

    John: I would be more likely to entertain your eye improvement suggestions as seriously as your plastic silverware improvement suggestions if you could actually create eyes in the first place.

    Again, I've yet to hear an explanation as to why human design should be the criteria for "very good design". Is it magic? Do we create very good designs because that's what God must have wanted?

    Or, more specifically, what is your explanation as to how we create knowledge and how does it allow us to create optimal designs? Please be specific.

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  33. Scott: "Specifically, we do not universally observe "very good designs". Nor is it clear that human design is a good criteria for "very good design" in the first place."

    Heads I win, tails... well coin flipping isn't a good way to decide a winner all of a sudden now huh?Let me know what you decide.

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  34. John: Heads I win, tails... well coin flipping isn't a good way to decide a winner all of a sudden now huh?Let me know what you decide.

    Not sure I'm following you.

    Are you saying we do universally observe very good designs?

    Evolution uses conjecture, in the form of genetic variation, and refutation, in the form of natural selection, to create the knowledge of how to build the biosphere. As such, just good-enough designs are common.

    Are you saying you have an explanation as to why today's human beings would be a criteria for good design?

    In a comprehensible universe, if something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, whether we're currently a good criteria for good design depends on our explanation as to how we create knowledge.

    For example, since people create knowledge by creating theories using conjecture, and refute those theories using observations, it's unclear why this process would result in designs that are very good, when compared to the best possible design not prohibited to the laws of physics.

    In other words, our current designs are limited by what knowledge we have, and have yet to create.

    Or are you claiming we live in an incomprehensible universe? if so, how do you explain our ability to make progress?

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  35. "Heads I win, tails you lose" is a phrase similar to "you can't have your cake and eat it too". In the context of your comments and the discussion you joined, it means that you can't go around claiming the eye is a bad design on one hand and then question if you can know good design on the other.

    The resolution works out as follows; if the design is "bad", then it is more compatible with a theory that it was created randomly given first life, BUT if that fails, well then, isn't it just impossible to know what good design is anyway?

    This is akin to claiming you win if it's heads, but if it's tails I lose, or complaining about not having any cake but also complaining about not being able to eat it.

    But I noticed that neither of you have yet to demonstrate how you would improve the design, let alone how that would be represented by the constituent proteins, cell types, etc...

    You seem to have some standard for "progress".

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  36. John Feb 14, 2012 01:42 AM

    Ian: "There may be economic reasons for built-in obsolescence but there are no technical problems with designing engines which can last as long the the frames."

    Your confidence in this is amazing. Do you think that moving parts wear out more slowly?


    What? You think it is beyond the wit of man to design and build an engine that has the same designed lifespan as a frame? You seem to have a lot more faith in unknown alien designers than their human counterparts.

    Ian: "The point is that if we were designed by some alien intelligence long, long ago, whoever did it was a lot more advanced than we are today. If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they"

    They could if you could, but you can't...and that might be because it is actually impossible or farther from the intended purpose of our eye type.


    "Intended purpose of our eye type"? We know what the eye does - what it's function is - but you need to establish the existence of a designer - or at the very least a broad specification for a putative designer - before you can start inferring anything about an "intended purpose".

    On the other hand, we know a bit about human designers so we can infer a bit about what they might purpose.

    You seem to have a problem distinguishing between your imagination and reality. You don't think it gives the game away when you claim to know that "IF" we were designed, then the designer was "a lot more advanced than we are today", but then in the next breath, confidently imagine that you can make improvements in the face of evidence to the contrary? Please describe where you would move the optic nerve to improve things. I think that maybe you are just discussing a caricature of the eye.


    Since we couldn't have designed and built a human eye in the distant past, we can safely assume that whatever alien designer did was a lot smarter than we are now. Today, knowing a little bit more than we did way back then, we can see how the design of the eye could be improved in terms of resolution, unnecessary blind spots, better oxygen supply and cooling. Since that alien designer would presumably be able to see the same problems we can, you have to explain why it left things as they are, if you want the idea of an alien-designed eye to have any traction.

    As for an improved design of they eye, first I would increase the space between the back of the retina and the eye to allow for a higher-capacity blood supply. Then I would have all the "wiring and plumbing" moved behind the retina. This would have the triple advantage of, first, completely clearing the light path to the retina, second, placing all that stuff closer to the blood supply that could both nourish and cool it and, third, doing away with the need for a blind spot in the retina at all. Next, I would move the fovea to a central position in the retina and enlarge it, as well as increasing the resolution of the outer areas of the retina. I would also add a fourth color photoreceptor which appear in some other animal eyes

    We can't do any of this, not yet. But if some more advanced alien intelligence did, I can't see any reason why they didn't include those upgrades.

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  37. John: The resolution works out as follows; if the design is "bad", then it is more compatible with a theory that it was created randomly given first life, BUT if that fails, well then, isn't it just impossible to know what good design is anyway?

    If, for the sake of argument, we use human design as the criteria of "vey good design", we do not universally observe "very good design".

    However, you have yet to provide an explanation as to why human beings should be the criteria for "very good design" in the first place.

    Again, In a comprehensible universe, if something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, whether we're currently a good criteria for good design depends on our explanation as to how we create knowledge.

    John: You seem to have some standard for "progress".

    What I have is an explanation for how we create progress, which would have implications about whether human beings should be a criteria for "very good design."

    On the other hand, you do *not* seem to have an explanation for how we make progress. As such, it's unclear why you think human beings be a criteria of "very good design"? That's just what God must have wanted?

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  38. Ian: "What? You think it is beyond the wit of man to design and build an engine that has the same designed lifespan as a frame"

    Yup, unless you start skimping on the "crumple zones" to save on material costs, it's a general principle of engineering that moving parts wear out first. Of course one simple example by yourself may just revolutionize the auto industry. Should I hold my breath?

    Ian: "You seem to have a lot more faith in unknown alien designers than their human counterparts."

    You brought up the aliens and in the same reply explained how they would be "a lot more advanced than we are today" based on evidence you then try to dismantle. I'm having trouble following your reasoning there if you had any. Perhaps you meant to say how they were a lot more advanced than we are today excluding yourself given the superior engineering tech you were about to drop on us. Is that closer to how you feel about it?

    Ian: "'Intended purpose of our eye type'? We know what the eye does - what it's function is - but you need to establish the existence of a designer - or at the very least a broad specification for a putative designer - before you can start inferring anything about an 'intended purpose'."

    I did not infer anything about the intended purpose, but YOU DID! You exact words were, "If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they?" You take it as a given that your purpose for your own vision is the same as the putative designers purpose if you claim to be able to accomplish it better! Maybe if you could resolve images farther and even in different spectra, you would be more powerful than intended and disrupt the equilibrium in nature... WHO KNOWS!! The point is, you are quite apparently unqualified to wax on about the purpose of your own vision when YOU DIDN'T DESIGN IT, can't design anything remotely as elegant, and can't even improve it's existing configuration to better YOUR OWN PURPOSES!

    Ian: "Since we couldn't have designed and built a human eye in the distant past, we can safely assume that whatever alien designer did was a lot smarter than we are now."

    I've been assuming this (green men connotations aside), but you seem to resist acknowledging it.

    Ian: "Today, knowing a little bit more than we did way back then, we can see how the design of the eye could be improved in terms of resolution, unnecessary blind spots, better oxygen supply and cooling."

    False. You can imagine it, which is what you are doing. The best you could do is point to some other animal with an eye that has a particular quality that you desire in your own and say that the designer SHOULD HAVE given you that type of eye because you WANT THAT. Since you didn't get what you want, the designer must not have designed either you OR that other animal. These type of arguments are emotional and political and I don't find them convincing. They all end up reducing to the, "God didn't make me God so God doesn't exist" argument, which is patently absurd. Also, you still haven't shown that the blind spots are not necessary, and the choroid tissue has far more oxygen than is needed (not in the article) and provides adequate cooling.

    Ian: "Since that alien designer would presumably be able to see the same problems we can, you have to explain why it left things as they are, if you want the idea of an alien-designed eye to have any traction."

    Yeah, you'd think that a designer who could create a brain as awe inspiring as yours would have at least the wisdom to match.. .Go figure! Or maybe what you imagine are problems are real physical constraints, or intended limits, or not actually real problems, or who knows what. Once I didn't like seat belts... what a stupid design.

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  39. Ian: "first I would increase the space between the back of the retina and the eye to allow for a higher-capacity blood supply"

    With what... forceps? Wait, you can design the proteins now? There's already plenty of blood. Now I'm sure now that you hardly even skimmed the article I linked you to.

    Ian: "Then I would have all the "wiring and plumbing" moved behind the retina."

    Wow, again with forceps, or maybe a scalpel and stitches? Let's just agree to call this a "solution" with win quotes.

    Ian: "This would have the triple advantage of, first, completely clearing the light path to the retina, second, placing all that stuff closer to the blood supply that could both nourish and cool it and, third, doing away with the need for a blind spot in the retina at all."

    Actually, (and again in the SAME ARTICLE) not having all the light reach that part of the retina actually improves image quality because the glial cells help eliminate "light noise" reflected within the eye and convey only the direct light like a fiber optic cable. Secondly, both the optic nerve and fovea already have adequate cooling, so your imaginary solution is again shown unnecessary. Now, armed with the new knowledge that "all that stuff" in the way actually improves image quality over what it otherwise would be, we are free to understand how the blind spot is actually a desirable trade off within the given architecture.

    Ian: "Next, I would move the fovea to a central position in the retina and enlarge it, as well as increasing the resolution of the outer areas of the retina. I would also add a fourth color photoreceptor which appear in some other animal eyes"

    Blah blah, you're welcome to try. Maybe if you took all the best parts of all the eyes that exist and mashed 'em up we'd have eyes so awesome they'd be almost as good as the eyes of a god! Then we would have the evidence we really want... er need! Not really though, because if we all had the same, equally perfect (redundant for illustrative purposes) eyes it would also be filed away as evidence for common descent. Here's the Bible verse I hear you repeating; "He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see?" It was likely written by a sheep herder thousands of years ago and it's better logic than your argument (with your super evolved brain).

    Ian: "We can't do any of this, not yet. But if some more advanced alien intelligence did, I can't see any reason why they didn't include those upgrades."

    Translation; My current eye is evidence that if aliens built my eye, they were more advanced than me, BUT I see other eyes (that would also have been designed by the putative advanced aliens) which contain features I want but don't have, ergo, the advance alien designer race is not real. Don't you see this implies that the alien designers are only advanced if they give you what you want? That is why I'm calling your argument emotional and political... and unconvincing.

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  40. Scott: "If, for the sake of argument, we use human design as the criteria of "vey good design", we do not universally observe "very good design".

    Romans 9:21

    Scott: "However, you have yet to provide an explanation as to why human beings should be the criteria for "very good design" in the first place.

    Ian's original complaint was that the optic nerve would not be "considered an elegant design solution" so the onus is not on me. But isn't it fascinating that the reasons he gave for it not being elegant were instead addressed as being so according to his own criteria? What a coincidence!

    Scott: "Again, In a comprehensible universe, if something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how. So, whether we're currently a good criteria for good design depends on our explanation as to how we create knowledge."

    Even according to that basis, you can't claim the optic nerve is a bad design according to non-current good criteria simply because you imagine you will in the future, create the knowledge that something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics.

    Scott: "On the other hand, you do *not* seem to have an explanation for how we make progress."

    I did not imply I had progressed beyond the design I observed in the eye. That was Ian.

    Scott: "As such, it's unclear why you think human beings be a criteria of "very good design"?"

    "Very good design" was a term you used first, and I'm not sure of all the connotations you are associating with it. I was focusing on if the eye appeared designed or not, and was actually trying to distinguish that quality from morality although they may be intertwined. When atheists make moral arguments it sounds like them saying "my theory doesn't work according to your theory, therefore your theory is wrong". It's perfectly understandable that morality doesn't form a good basis to argue from in any atheistic world view, shifting moral zeitgeist and all, but that doesn't mean that morality is the flawed part. It may be the atheism.

    Scott: "That's just what God must have wanted?"

    It doesn't appear accidental, but it may be possible that it all happened randomly without reason, but that's a science stopper. I remember when I read the dry description of what a particular topoisomerase did, that it severs both strands of DNA and causes another strand to pass through and then re-anneals them. Since I was looking at it from a design perspective, I was wondering "why" not "what". The light dawned and I wondered if it was doing this to untangle the DNA the way one might untie a hopelessly tangled knot. I called my father (a bio PHD) to confirm this.

    It seems that if our putative creator likes to untie knots, that's something he shares with us. He also likes to create rotary engines and electric motors. I would say that's painting the target before the shot.

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  41. Scott: "If, for the sake of argument, we use human design as the criteria of "vey good design", we do not universally observe "very good design".

    John: Romans 9:21

    Again, I'm not suggesting that bad design somehow positively proves the biosphere wasn't designed. Rather, the argument being addressed is the claim that "very good" design *is* a sign of design. It's not, for reasons you and I have both pointed out.

    John: But isn't it fascinating that the reasons he gave for it not being elegant were instead addressed as being so according to his own criteria? What a coincidence!

    "according to his own criteria" is an incomplete description of Ian's objections. Someone claiming they could improve the eye's design isn't a claim that the result should be considered "very good" in the space of all possible eye designs.

    Scott: Again, In a comprehensible universe, if something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing it is knowing how.

    John: Even according to that basis, you can't claim the optic nerve is a bad design according to non-current good criteria simply because you imagine you will in the future, create the knowledge that something isn't prohibited by the laws of physics.

    I'm not suggesting something that could be improved necessitates it being a very bad design. In fact, I'd classify the eye as a good enough design. Rather, I said it shouldn't be considered a "very good" design based our explanation as how we, as human beings create knowledge.

    Scott: "On the other hand, you do *not* seem to have an explanation for how we make progress."

    John: I did not imply I had progressed beyond the design I observed in the eye. That was Ian.

    An explanation for how we make progress is not the same as *if* we've made progress.

    John: "Very good design" was a term you used first, and I'm not sure of all the connotations you are associating with it.

    If we live in a comprehensible universe, then "very good" design would be dependent on what isn't prohibited by the laws of physics, rather than what any human being had designed up to now.

    For example, if the designer you're referring to in Romans 9:21 has always existed and has always been all knowing, then he wouldn't need to create knowledge. And since we mere mortals can, in principle, point out improvements that could have been made if we knew how, then it's unclear what would have prevented this designer from designing a better eye.

    In other words, even if we never created the knowledge, for what ever reason, this doesn't mean that a better design wasn't possible, which would be the criteria for good design.

    John: I was focusing on if the eye appeared designed or not, and was actually trying to distinguish that quality from morality although they may be intertwined.

    I'd again point out that we've already established that whether something is designed "very well" isn't a good indicator since a designer could choose to design things poorly, or even make them appear to have been formed by natural processes, regardless of what criteria you use for "very well".

    I'd suggest that eyes appear designed to us because both evolutionary process and human beings create knowledge using a form of conjecture and refutation.

    John: It doesn't appear accidental, but it may be possible that it all happened randomly without reason, but that's a science stopper.

    No, it's not. See above.

    John: It seems that if our putative creator likes to untie knots, that's something he shares with us.

    Does the designer also guess about how it might be possible to build something, trying out that guess and discard guess that are shown in error by observations? Is that the sort of designer you worship?

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  42. Scott: "An explanation for how we make progress is not the same as *if* we've made progress."

    If we cannot agree on what progress is, then "how we make progress" is certainly farther away from being understood. Perhaps a simple definition of progress is "getting what I want". Of course, if I made the modifications to my eyes you are both suggesting, It seems I would be blind or have seriously impaired vision, so I would not consider that progress. I think you would consider that a "refutation" of your attempt to get what you wanted. Now, I know you don't imagine that's the way your suggested improvements would impact things, but it appears as if that is what would happen even if the parts could be placed where you imagine. The choroid is opaque, the glial cells filter out noise light. Just these two facts ruin the imagined effects of your modifications... at least according to someone who considers sight progress over no sight. If, however, you desire to become blind, then these are definite improvements.

    Scott: "And since we mere mortals can, in principle, point out improvements that could have been made if we knew how, then it's unclear what would have prevented this designer from designing a better eye."

    "if we knew how".. you don't think that might undermine your claim that the proposed "improvements" are actually physically possible? It's like you're saying, "I know he could have done this, I just don't know if it's possible to do."

    Scott: "Does the designer also guess about how it might be possible to build something, trying out that guess and discard guess that are shown in error by observations? Is that the sort of designer you worship?"

    I don't think he has to, but he might do it for fun.

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  43. John

    Ian: "What? You think it is beyond the wit of man to design and build an engine that has the same designed lifespan as a frame"

    Yup, unless you start skimping on the "crumple zones" to save on material costs, it's a general principle of engineering that moving parts wear out first.


    Really? So how many times do plan to replace the engine in your car? If you're having to do it a lot you must be buying some pretty crappy vehicles because I can tell you I've never had to do it in all the years I've been driving.

    I did not infer anything about the intended purpose, but YOU DID! You exact words were, "If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they?" You take it as a given that your purpose for your own vision is the same as the putative designers purpose if you claim to be able to accomplish it better!


    So you had no idea what the function of the eye is? I know this is a long shot but could it perhaps be to see? Now, just in case there is any confusion, by 'function' I mean what something does. That's all. It doesn't imply purpose. It doesn't imply design.

    But if you bring a designer into the picture then you start having to deal with purpose. If you don't have any other information about the designer then you start with the observed function and assume that was the purpose. Of course, it's always possible that your designer (I say "your designer" because I'm not persuaded that there was any designer involved) intended they eye as a satellite TV receiver or wifi hotspot detector but didn't get it quite right. Is that what you're suggesting?

    The point is, you are quite apparently unqualified to wax on about the purpose of your own vision when YOU DIDN'T DESIGN IT, can't design anything remotely as elegant, and can't even improve it's existing configuration to better YOUR OWN PURPOSES!

    You know, I've been looking over what I wrote and I can't see anywhere that I claimed either to have designed the eye or to be able build one.

    Ian: "Since we couldn't have designed and built a human eye in the distant past, we can safely assume that whatever alien designer did was a lot smarter than we are now."

    I've been assuming this (green men connotations aside), but you seem to resist acknowledging it.

    I am happy to state here and now, for the record, categorically that have no problem at all with the possibility of alien involvement in life on Earth. I've just yet to see any evidence of it.

    The best you could do is point to some other animal with an eye that has a particular quality that you desire in your own and say that the designer SHOULD HAVE given you that type of eye because you WANT THAT. Since you didn't get what you want, the designer must not have designed either you OR that other animal


    Nope, it's nothing to do with what I want or what I think the designer should have done.

    We know that human designers strive to create a design which is the best possible solution to the requirements of the specification within the constraints of available knowledge and resources. In other words, they try to get the most output for the least input or the biggest bang for the buck. Of course, we know there are business models where financial considerations take precedence over those of functional efficiency, profit before perfection. But when an aircraft manufacturer is contracted to design and build a fighter to defend their country's airspace, they don't skimp on the design in the interest of a healthy profit margin, they usually try to design a world-beater.

    There's no doubt that our 'design' is very impressive in many ways but it's far from perfect. If there was a designer involved we are fully entitled to ask why it didn't do better.

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  44. Ian: "Really? So how many times do plan to replace the engine in your car? If you're having to do it a lot you must be buying some pretty crappy vehicles because I can tell you I've never had to do it in all the years I've been driving."

    Aside the fact that I did just replace the engine in my Sebring last year, your personal experience is no excuse to ignore all the rest of the available data. I'm confident that you will find that people more often replace the engines in their cars than they do the frames. And if you don't count accidents (as they would not be considered design flaws), I've never heard of that being done in my life.

    Ian: "So you had no idea what the function of the eye is? I know this is a long shot but could it perhaps be to see? Now, just in case there is any confusion, by 'function' I mean what something does. That's all. It doesn't imply purpose. It doesn't imply design."

    Glad you cleared that up, but in that case, we wouldn't have to be guessing if sight was a function of eyes, would we? You obviously tried to switch from my word "purpose" to "function" in your statement and got a little confused perhaps? In any case, we could imagine that our creator's original purpose was to make our eyes capable of much more personally desirous feats, but we have no reason for doing so. You also might not consider the eyes of many animals as "advanced" as your own, but upon careful observation, you would see the same level of articulate machinery goes in to composing them as well. In fact, evolutionists think that eyesight evolved at least 40 times independently the last time I checked. Once you realize what this means at the protein level, you will not find such imaginations convincing any longer.

    Ian: "But if you bring a designer into the picture then you start having to deal with purpose. If you don't have any other information about the designer then you start with the observed function and assume that was the purpose. Of course, it's always possible that your designer (I say "your designer" because I'm not persuaded that there was any designer involved) intended they eye as a satellite TV receiver or wifi hotspot detector but didn't get it quite right. Is that what you're suggesting?"

    No, it is what you were suggesting. Again, your original words were, "If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they?" So you are the one saying the mark was missed.

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  45. Ian: "You know, I've been looking over what I wrote and I can't see anywhere that I claimed either to have designed the eye or to be able build one."

    That's why I'm not impressed by your imaginary improvements. I seem to have difficulty communicating this.

    Ian: "Nope, it's nothing to do with what I want or what I think the designer should have done."

    Then maybe in our case, "world beating" eyesight was not what was intended. Should every organism have been created with "world beating" eyesight, or only humans? What about flight? What about the best type of hearing? What about the best type of EVERYTHING!!? Wouldn't that mean that only one type of thing would exist?

    Ian: "There's no doubt that our 'design' is very impressive in many ways but it's far from perfect. If there was a designer involved we are fully entitled to ask why it didn't do better."

    Wonderful, now you have criteria for perfect eyesight. Is that like, as far as a hawk, with 180 degree range like bug eyes, all while still looking pretty on a lady? You deny that your objection is based on what you want or what you think the designer should have done, but then say a designer is not likely because you don't have something "better". Just out of curiosity, what type of resolution would our eyes have to have before we start getting into 'god is probable now' territory?

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  46. John Mar 1, 2012 11:46 PM

    [...]

    Aside the fact that I did just replace the engine in my Sebring last year, your personal experience is no excuse to ignore all the rest of the available data. I'm confident that you will find that people more often replace the engines in their cars than they do the frames. And if you don't count accidents (as they would not be considered design flaws), I've never heard of that being done in my life.


    No one is denying that engines or frames can fail and need to be replaced during the lifetime of a vehicle but neither does it require some extraordinary feat of engineering to design and build a car engine that will last as long as the rest of the car.

    Glad you cleared that up, but in that case, we wouldn't have to be guessing if sight was a function of eyes, would we? You obviously tried to switch from my word "purpose" to "function" in your statement and got a little confused perhaps?

    You and your fellow IDC proponents are the ones that seem to be confused. I was just pointing out that an observed function does not necessarily imply a purpose in the mind of an intelligent agent. You could say that the function of a stream or river is to channel water from higher to lower ground and, ultimately, down to the sea. That doesn't mean that the Missisippi was designed by anybody or anything, though.

    No, it is what you were suggesting. Again, your original words were, "If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they?" So you are the one saying the mark was missed.


    Yes, the mark was missed if we assume the existence of a highly-advanced intelligent designer. If, on the other hand, we accept the evidence for evolution then there is no surprise, no missed mark. The process is not expected to produce perfection, only that which is just good enough to survive in the environment in which it finds itself. And that is what we see.

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  47. John Mar 1, 2012 11:49 PM

    [...]

    Then maybe in our case, "world beating" eyesight was not what was intended. Should every organism have been created with "world beating" eyesight, or only humans? What about flight? What about the best type of hearing? What about the best type of EVERYTHING!!? Wouldn't that mean that only one type of thing would exist?


    Now we are getting closer to the point.

    As John Stuart Mill argued, to design is to create with constraints. Design implies the limitations of the designer. An all-powerful god like that of Christianity has no need to design. It can just 'poof' anything into existence that it chooses. If biological structures appear to be designed then that appearance argues against them being created by God. As I've suggested before, if your case is that life on Earth is the product, in part or in whole, of some highly-advanced alien intelligence then I have no particular problem with that. I'd need to see a lot more evidence first but, in principle, I don't regard it as absurdly improbable.

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  48. Ian: "No one is denying that engines or frames can fail and need to be replaced during the lifetime of a vehicle"

    I am. I did. I believe it is obvious that most vehicles are not finally abandoned because the frame "wore out" especially due to design failure.

    Ian: "...but neither does it require some extraordinary feat of engineering to design and build a car engine that will last as long as the rest of the car"

    Show me, I don't believe you. It's a pretty basic engineering principle that moving parts wear out first.

    Ian: "I was just pointing out that an observed function does not necessarily imply a purpose in the mind of an intelligent agent."

    I never said it did. So again, your original words were, "If we can see how the 'design' of living things could be improved, why couldn't they?" And I'll ask you again, now that you admit you cannot know their purpose, how do you propose to improve on it? Otherwise I'll continue to believe that your 'improvements' are simply for your own purposes (and would still make you blind in spite of what you imagine).

    Ian: "Yes, the mark was missed if we assume the existence of a highly-advanced intelligent designer."

    But you showed you are not qualified to make that claim. Why are you making it again? Have you found another place for your choroid tissue yet? Have you found another device to filter out refracted light besides the glial cell?

    Ian: "If, on the other hand, we accept the evidence for evolution then there is no surprise, no missed mark."

    What evidence?

    Ian: "The process is not expected to produce perfection, only that which is just good enough to survive in the environment in which it finds itself. And that is what we see."

    Tautological reasoning aside for now, please tell me how far the perfect eye is supposed to see. Should it see the entire spectrum? Should it see behind me also? I get the feeling you know why I'm asking this. You claim "it's nothing to do with what I want or what I think the designer should have done.", but then you go back to compare it to human designers and fighter aircraft.

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  49. Ian: "As John Stuart Mill argued, to design is to create with constraints. Design implies the limitations of the designer. An all-powerful god like that of Christianity has no need to design. It can just 'poof' anything into existence that it chooses. If biological structures appear to be designed then that appearance argues against them being created by God."

    Apparently the god of John Stuart Mill's theory didn't create the contraints as well. Some people never stop to think that if God was all powerful, would he not be able to create something less than himself, like a universe, or anything at all? If God can lift 100 lbs, can he lift 20? Things are constrained, but newsflash, that's part of what makes them plural!

    Ian: "As I've suggested before, if your case is that life on Earth is the product, in part or in whole, of some highly-advanced alien intelligence then I have no particular problem with that. I'd need to see a lot more evidence first but, in principle, I don't regard it as absurdly improbable."

    In science we have something called a control group. If you can provide one that would distinguish between aliens that could design your brain, and all powerful creators such as the Christian God, please supply it. Otherwise you sound like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyT_AOtwHa4

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