February 22, 2007

Dembski's blissful misunderstanding of design

William Dembski, over at the Giant Flagellum blog (Uncommon Descent) has once again seen fit to display the shallowness of his approach to design, not to mention "design."

In a silly entry about vestigial structures he notes at the end,
"But vestigiality need not evolve by purely material means — it can also be designed. I was delighted to be informed (after my recent debate with Michael Shermer at Bridgewater College) of a nifty example of vestigial structures that arise not through “devolution” but rather through design, to wit, vestigial running boards on older automobiles. Look at the following Ford models:" [Followed by pictures of old cars with pseudo-running boards and one with a fully functional running-board.]
Once again I'll observe that "design" advocates appear to pointedly avoid deeper consideration of the qualities of real design, opting instead for the convenience of imprudent inferences which support their religious convictions.

Fortunately this mistake on Dembski's part is simply and quickly corrected, so let's put it right: a vestigial structure or organ is one that has lost, or nearly lost, any discernible function by way of a release of selection pressure. In other words, vestigiality is a case of disuse and (sometimes) deterioration due to a lack of need. As such, vestigiality presents difficulty for some shallow versions of "design" (such as Dembski's). Thus he tries to offer an analogy with human design (a fatally flawed argument to be sure) which would support the notion that vestigiality need not be incompatible with "intelligent design."

His problem is that the supposedly vestigial running-boards to which he refers are simply nothing of the sort. They are, in fact, stark examples of functionality. Those structures may no longer serve the original purpose of a running-board, but they in no way represent a loss of function. They were designed and manufactured to be exactly what they are - probably ornamentation, but possibly structural support and/or mechanical protection of the door - and where they are.

They are not vestigial at all. We might be forgiven, however, for wishing that Dembski's argument was.

Update - Dembski adds to the silliness with another post.


Blogger Dr Umesh R Bilagi said...

Intelligent Design & Vestigial Organs
Dr Umesh R. Bilagi
Associate Prof of Medicine
KIMS Hubli


Topic :-Vestigial organs not necessarily proof of evolution for Darwin

I would postulate that it is possible to have a vestigial organ [ananatomical structure in organisms in a species, thought to have lost its original function through evolution] without the process of evolution. Let me illustrate this idea using an analogy drawn from popular computer software.

Assuming, I have a reasonable amount of storage space on my computer hard disk, if I first create an unformatted document using Microsoft(MS) Word, and then a second MS Word document that I format very rigorously, I do so because I consider MS Word software to be the best option for my purposes, as opposed to using, say, the less sophisticated Notepad software, where little formatting of documentsis possible.

Now, if you argue that there is a vestigial structure to the first MSWord document (the capacity - in this case, unused - for formatting)and that this only became functional in the second document,ultimately concluding that the first document evolved from the second document, you would be incorrect, since I am the creator of both documents.

Similarly, I would argue that vestigial organs do not necessarily confirm evolution; they only point to what tools - improvable overtime - the creator used while making the species. This same principle is seen even in electronic gadgets today.

Most probably, such an explanation did not occur to Darwin given that, in his time, there were no common tools to carry out varied, complex,seemingly disconnected jobs. So he concluded that unless a creator planned to mislead us, vestigial organs should not have existed

It is tendency of creators of to make some useful common tools, which can be used to carry out multiple jobs (or to make machines). so by virtue of this comman tools (if tools get fitted into machines), vestigenesity will come up.

Vestigial organs can be classified in to verticle & tranverse ones

Verticle ones are like appendix which are inherited from ancestor to next species

Tranverse one are in which one sex has fuctional capacity & in opposite sex it is vestigineous

Vertiginous Male breast can be better explained tools of intelligent design than Darwin evolution now look at male nipple which are functional in female. Male & female have come much before mammals, so presence of male nipple in mammals can be explained by theory of tools of intelligent design better than Darwin evolution.

2:51 AM  

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