The analogy with human design...yet again
Just noticed this piece from a British professor of design and nature (an engineer) defending the concept of "intelligent design." It's a mostly harmless bit of fluff which offers nothing beyond tired canards we've heard many times. But one paragraph does give me the opportunity to hammer on a point I've been trying to get across for quite some time - the difference between human design and "design" in nature.
"I've been designing systems like spacecraft for more than 20 years. One of the lessons I've learnt is that complex systems require an immense amount of intelligence to design. I've seen a lot of irreducible complexity in engineering. I have also seen organs in nature that are apparently irreducible. An irreducibly complex organ is one where several parts are required simultaneously for the system to function usefully, so it cannot have evolved, bit by bit, over time."As I've said before, design proponents love the facile conclusion, seldom spending any time evaluating deeper aspects of their argument.
Our spacecraft systems designer is actually mistaken about what it is he's learnt over the years. So let's rephrase what the good professor had to say so that it more accurately reflects reality.
One of the lessons I've learnt is that complex systems - which reflect human intent in such qualities as minimization of waste, removal, redesign and replacement of suboptimal systems or parts, incorporation of new technology, and comprehensive cost/benefit considerations - require an immense amount of intelligence - in fact, often teams or committees - to design. I've seen a lot of irreducible complexity in engineering - which of course would be expected due to the fact that human design utilizes processes that evaluate and eliminate extraneous parts or systems. I have also seen organs in nature that are apparently irreducible - which should lead me to wonder if there are evolutionary processes that can produce natural systems which appear to be "irreducible." An irreducibly complex organ is one where several parts are required simultaneously for the system to function usefully - the removal of any one of which destroys the function of the organ or system, so it cannot have evolved, bit by bit, over time - or so I'd like to believe.Okay, that last bit was editorial comment on my part.
Human design is not analogous with natural systems and structures. This argument reveals, not some obvious truth of nature or a conspicuous denial of that truth on the part of biologists, but the shallow self-deception engaged in by those who cannot bear to closely examine their beliefs.
The good professor concludes with this,
"I can understand that some people are worried about the implications of the existence of a creator, but it's not science to rule something out because you don't like the implications."This might be a tad more creditable a protest had he the intellecual integrity to face the implications inherent in a deeper examination of his position.