Home > Evolution, Intelligent Design > Footprints of nonsentient design

Footprints of nonsentient design

May 6, 2010

John Avise has a paper upcoming in PNAS. Here’s part of the abstract:

Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent. These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome. Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces.  

Article is here. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914609107  

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  1. creationbydesign
    May 7, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Fascinating theological article in the National Academy of Sciences publication. Apparently, evolutionary scientists have developed theories on “how God would have done it”. I suppose, Mr. Avise has tested ID concepts and has determined that imperfection in the architecture of biological features argue against the involvement of an intelligent agent. Certainly that would be a very good task for science to determine — namely, “what would indicate the involvement of God in nature and do we find evidence of that”? First, science could determine the nature of God and how He communicates that nature in biology. This would help with further testing.

    Mr. Avise states:
    [ID] posits that complex biological features did not accrue gradually via natural evolutionary forces but, instead, were crafted ex nihilo by a cognitive agent

    Of course, this is false but don’t know if we can expect much better from a peer reviewed evolutionary journal. ID does not posit the ex nihilo creation of features.

    But Mr. Avise’s mistake in that statement caused him to conclude that evidence for the work of an intelligent agent means that the “designed features” must be flawless. But the fact that he is addressing this issue at all is a problem for hiw (and PNAS’s) evolutionary claims since it should be simple enough to point to the solid evidence that molecular machines and genetic information are the products of Darwinian processes.

    But it’s obvious that he can’t do that. So, the next best thing is to attack a straw-man of the ID concept and claim that “God wouldn’t do it that way”. That brings us back to 19th century science and the exact theological speculations that Mr. Darwin made.

    Nothing like injecting religious views into one’s scientific claims, right?

  2. Alex
    May 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I have to agree with the above commenter’s point. Although PNAS has published at least two philosophy papers that I know of (by Dan Dennett and Elliott Sober), this piece is an internal criticism of natural theology and should have been published elsewhere (and by a philosopher).

  3. DLC
    May 8, 2010 at 1:03 am

    I’ll give you two examples of genetic mutation which a “caring cognitive agent” would not have included : Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis.
    If ID proponents can explain why a designer would include those two obvious system failures in the design I’ll consider ID as a scientific proposal. Until then, kindly stop trying to teach your religion to school children.
    And please spare me the “god works in mysterious ways” or “disease was created as a trial” canards.
    As for the “it should have been written by a Philosopher” argument — I’m sure the emperor would listen to an expert tailor over the child in the audience.

  4. May 8, 2010 at 4:18 am

    creationbydesign :
    But Mr. Avise’s mistake in that statement caused him to conclude that evidence for the work of an intelligent agent means that the “designed features” must be flawless. But the fact that he is addressing this issue at all is a problem for hiw (and PNAS’s) evolutionary claims since it should be simple enough to point to the solid evidence that molecular machines and genetic information are the products of Darwinian processes.

    That’s just the problem. It is simple enough to do that but ID supporters don’t seem to accept the physical evidence they are presented with. This is why this article legitimately focuses on their philosophy and theology which is what ID supporters use to persuade sizeable chunks of the American population that their science is good.

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