Contracted-Out Creation?

I made the image above based on a comment Kenneth Gilmore made on Facebook. In the background is a sketch of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in the giraffe. The fact that it takes such an indirect route is strong evidence that giraffes evolved from beings with shorter necks, with the laryngeal nerve lengthening along the route it already followed, rather than being designed from the ground up.

But an alternative is of course that the making of the nerve was contracted out to a company that would be paid on the basis of length.

You can hopefully see why many Christians think that Intelligent Design arguments, far from representing a defense of the Christian faith, actually result in a very dubious and problematic depiction of God.

  • arcseconds

    In the Timaeus, Plato depicts something not unlike this: the Maker (having done a bit of a slap-dash job on mortal souls, because he was running out of good material and was possibly getting fatigued and maybe even a bit fed-up with the job of creating everything) delegates the task of creating physical bodies to the gods he created in the last episode.

    And that’s why everything’s a bit screwed-up down here.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    There is a much overlooked part of math called Pessimalization Theory, it is the opposite of Optimization Theory. The goal of the latter is to do something as fast as possible or to use as few resources as possible. The goal of the former is to actually make progress (so an infinite loop is not allowed) but to do it as slow as possible, for example, when one is doing something in Paris and wants to stay in Paris as long as possible but your boss keeps asking if you are making progress and you must answer truthfully.

    • arcseconds

      One of my favourite algorithms is bogosort – to sort a list, shuffle it, and check to see if it is in order. If it’s in order, you’re done. If not, back to shuffling.

      The algorithm is guaranteed to return in the sense that for any small ε, there is some time t such that after t has elapsed, the probability of the algorithm completing is 1 – ε. Given that real hardware has a nonzero chance of failure, this for all practical purposes is indeed a guarantee.

      However, of course, the expected time to sort a list is terrible, and increases in proportion to the factorial of the length of the list.

      It’s not fully pessimized, though, because the best case is extremely quick!

      And isn’t it better to be an optimist?

  • Keen Reader

    A wonderfully winsome post, thanks!

  • Gary

    Not a new idea. “The Secret Book of John”, seven authorities provided the raw materials. Then a throng of about 80 angels each created a separate part of Adam. Then another throng animated each part. Sounds like a Defense Department contract/plus multiple subcontractors. In all, there were 365 angels on the clock, including per diem, no doubt.

  • stuart32

    ID proponents have focused on life at the molecular scale in order to argue for design. In fact, examples of bad design can also be found at this level. A good one is DNA replication. When DNA is replicated the double helix is unzipped and each strand is copied. The copying is done by the enzyme DNA polymerase. There is one for each strand. One enzyme makes its way up one of the strands and creates a new strand as it goes.

    It would be nice if the same thing happened with the other strand. Unfortunately, there is a problem. The enzyme on the other strand can’t make its way up the strand as the DNA is being unzipped. It can only make its way down the strand. Therefore, the enzyme has to wait for a section to be unzipped, go up the strand and start copying on its way back down. When the enzyme has done this it jumps off and goes back up to start copying a new section.

    It’s a bit like a molecular version of Laurel and Hardy. If DNA replication was the result of intelligent design this arrangement would be inconceivable.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    “You can hopefully see why many Christians think that Intelligent Design arguments, far from representing a defense of the Christian faith, actually result in a very dubious and problematic depiction of God.

    Because we can’t discern a good reason for something means there can be no good reason for it?

    • stuart32

      Mike, the proponents of intelligent design want it to be regarded as science. In that case, ID must be testable, and the best way, perhaps the only way of testing ID is to imagine ourselves as the designers of the things that have allegedly been designed. So we can test ID by asking whether we would have designed something like the recurrent laryngeal nerve. There is no point in saying that it has been designed in a way that we can’t comprehend because that would completely undermine the attempt to make ID scientific.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        I don’t know much about ID but I doubt whether its proponenents would stake its validity on whether or not they can successfully defend the quality of design in every organ of every living thing.

        • beau_quilter

          Quite the contrary, ID proponents “stake its validity on whether or not [evolutionary biologists] can successfully defend the quality of [evolution] in every organ of every living thing.” Virtually all ID argumentation boils down to an attempt at finding some biological structure that evolution cannot explain.

          So you’re right. ID proponents do not stake it’s validity defending ID in every single organ or organism. Instead, this is the ridiculous demand they make of the theory of evolution.

          Quite unsuccessfully, I might add. Every time ID proponents have claimed a structure to be irreducibly complex, evolutionary scientist have shown it’s “irreducible” parts in other structures, and explained quite clearly the evolutionary pathways that make it possible.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            “Virtually all ID argumentation boils down to an attempt at finding some biological structure that evolution cannot explain.

            A reasonable inference from this statement would seem to be that there are biological structures that evolution cannot explain – and that the existence or non-existence of the ID approach has no bearing on this fact.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              How do you manage to so badly misunderstand people so consistently? Or are you just trolling and doing this deliberately?

              • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                I don’t troll.

                When someone challenges me on my blog, I give serious answers to serious questions. I respect those who disagree with me, and feel that they deserve explanations of my positions.

                You, however, seem to take offense if I question your positions. Often, you seem to dodge my questions and try to “score points” instead. I thought a university was a place where ideas could be questioned in good faith.

                The evolution-creation debate is an important one. I thougth this would be a place where a reasonable discussion of the issues could take place. On the contrary, you seem to simply want to throw mud at YEC’s and ID’s and then complain if anyone asks you to provide a reasonable case for it.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  You took Beau’s statement about ID looking for something, and claimed it meant that the thing being sought must actually exist. At a university, this would be drawn to your attention, not to prevent the questioning of ideas in good faith, but precisely to make sure that that is what happens.

                  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

                    I was looking for Beau to respond to what I said – either acknowledging that the inference was reasonable or explaining why it wasn’t. I wanted to understand both sides of the argument. I didn’t know which way he’d respond, but I was interested in hearing from him. There was no need for you to insert yourself into the middle of that exchange, and even less reason for you to question my good faith.

                    • beau_quilter

                      You have a short and selective memory, Mike. You were the one who said,

                      “I don’t know much about ID, but I doubt whether it’s proponents would stake its validity on whether or not they can successfully defend the quality of design in every organ of every living thing.”

                      I was merely pointing at that this expectation is one that ID demands of the theory of evolution, and yet never fulfills itself. And by never, I mean NEVER. For a movement claiming to be changing the scientific paradigm, it’s proponents have displayed an absolutely amazing dearth of actually doing any science.

                      As for the scientists of evolution theory, though they will be the first to admit that there is much yet to discover in their field, they have handily shown that every ID argument for what evolution can’t do, has proven false.

            • beau_quilter

              This is a reasonable inference only if you think that ID credibly proves organs to be irreducible. You neglected to note that I said ID “attempts” to find such structures. ID has failed to do this in ways that show an embarrassing lack of basic research on the part of proponents such as Behe.

              More importantly! If this is a “reasonable inference”, it is far more damning for ID, which has not – to this date – provided an explanation for ANY biological structure.


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