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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Douglas Axe pretends to be an expert on intelligent design

This is a really interesting video presentation by Dougla Axe, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design Creationism. He's criticizing the argument from poor design; an argument that attempt to refute intelligent design by pointing out examples of poor design that a creator would never create. Axe uses an example from Neil deGrasse Tyson and if you look at this objectively you would say that Axe does a pretty good job of refuting Tyson's claims.

Tyson is not a biologist and he shouldn't pretend to be one, but that's not the most interesting take-home lesson from this video. The most interesting point concerns the comments Douglas Axe makes at the end of the video beginning at 11:30 minutes. He claims that Neil deGrasse Tyson is not an expert on designing life so it's foolish of him to pretend that he knows anything about the subject. When you hear someone making an imperfect design argument he asks his listeners to challenge them by saying, "What have YOU made that you think qualifies you to critique life."

Yep. He actually said that! Someone who promotes intelligent design without any experience in designing life actually tried to use that argument against opponents of intelligent design.

God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.


J.B.S. Haldane

The burden of proof is on Intelligent Design Creationists to demonstrate how their view is compatible with science and with the history of life. They have to demonstrate why it took 3.5 billion years to get where we are today and why the history of life is so compatable with evolution. They have to demonstrate why millions of species of bacteria and almost as many species of beetles can only be explained by the actions of an intelligent designer. They have to explain why all the data shows that modern humans and chimpanzees have descended by gradual fixation of mutations from a common ancestor that lived only a few million years ago. They have to explain why an intelligent designer would design a genome that's 90% junk.

These creationists haven't made anything that qualifies them to be experts on the design of life1 but I'm willing to listen to any ideas they have. So far, all we've seen is criticisms of evolution, which is also a topic where they lack expertise.


The Haldane quotation is accurate. See “"A Special Fondness for Beetles" by Stephen J. Gould in Dinosaur in a Haystack.

1. Unless they have some special insight into the mind of god in which case they should be able to tell us exactly how he did it. Why did he create all those strange animals in the Cambrian only to allow most of them to go exinct? And speaking of extinctions, what did he have against most dinosaurs that he decided to kill them by smashing a meteor into the Earth 66 million years ago? Can you explain that, Dr. Axe?

14 comments :

  1. ID is not biblical YEC creationism. Yet they are right to question why any human knows what the superior design is in anything? Biology is complicated and hidden smart details easily may require other reactions to deal with them. It is unintellugent for any person to say they know the best design for anything. If so why don't they use the second best design to fix/heat stiff. like eye problems which i have.!!
    One should not use geology or any non biology subject to prop up a biology claim of mechanism by the way.
    Otherwise its admitting that if there was not enough time, only thousands of years, then evolutionism couldn't be true. it should prove itself on the merits of the evidence of biology.
    Beetles need only be another example of a spectrum of diversity where they could speciate very quickly. In fact a common equation , I say, in nature and only noticed in insects. fast and furuios speciation after the great flood.
    yes criticism of the establishment idea is the right way to go and then introduce ideas of ones own. However the idea is that complexity in biology is too smart for happanchance and impossible. its not just a option but demanding that god created this glory. its too easy to say bumps in the night could/did do it. ID/YEC simply alsi help to dissolve that EXPERTS say its by chance. the public already has a history with creationism and a tendency for it. just impressed by the expert status thing. not the case.

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  2. My favorite example of non-design is the mammalian jaw/middle ear. Start with a set of supports for a filter-feeding apparatus, change that apparatus to substitute oxygen absorption, turn the frontmost parts of that structure into a device for capturing large prey (a jaw) with two sets of cartilaginous elements, turn those into endochondral bone, surround those endochondral bones with supplemental dermal bones that gradually take over most of the structure except the joint, give the part near the joint a secondary function of assisting with hearing, introduce a supplemental jaw joint that bypasses the endochondral bones, transfer the endochondral joint and some associated dermal bones from the jaw to the middle ear through gradual steps until all contact with the jaw is lost, leaving only the dermal bone joint. Whew. It should be obvious that the current state was the intention all along. I guess it should, I dunno.

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  3. I can grant that its a good critique of Neils’ examples of stupid design, since those are not very good examples (and I don’t really see them used by biologists). But the crux is that there are volumes of other examples of stupid design, and his post fails to really get at those. As examples, there is the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the weird plumbing to the external testes in mammals (so two dumb design features there), and the various vestigial organs. Also one could go on at great length about the incredibly dumb things that embryos do as they run thru their program of development. Developing whole organs and complex circulatory systems, only to erase and replace them. I don’t see where you can use his trade-off argument in these examples. We mammals are on our third pair of kidneys, for non-existent gods' sakes, having developed and then discarded two other pairs as embryos.

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  4. It's a trivial thing to identify poor design even in objects you haven't designed yourself. We do it for everything from vechicles through kitchen utensils, to traffic intersections and computer software. You don't have to design something yourself to recognize when some aspect of it is poorly designed.
    Organisms are no different, including human beings. We often times have to fix the poor design ourselves. Think of having to wear braces, wear glasses or get eye operations, having wisdom's teeth removed, removing or adjusting ingrown toenails, and innumerable other such ailments.

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  5. hey larry. i think you should take a look at fig 3 in this paper:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737309/

    as for the claim about "bad design" i will remind the spare tire. if cars had DNA. will you conclude they were not designed since they have a spare tire which do nothing?

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    Replies
    1. Do you carry an extra leg around for when one of your other ones puncture?

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    2. @scd

      The fact that such a silly paper could be published is one of the reasons why I'm writing my book.

      If our genome were full of extra copies of genes then the "spare tire" analogy might make sense. But our genome does NOT contain "space tires" so the analogy is nonsense.

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    3. John Mattick strikes again. Google "Dog's-ass plot".

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    4. but do you think the car in that case will not be evidence for design since it has DNA and thus can supposedly evolve?

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  6. Obviously, the argument about poor design should be a problem for IDists. After all, poor design is still design.

    What I find very revealing is that IDist don’t take this approach. Instead, they invariably argue that the design is not poor.

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    1. I meant to say that “Obviously, the argument about poor design should not be a problem for IDists.

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    2. The reason it's a problem is the usually unstated one: that the designer is God, and God wouldn't make a poor design. And anyway, any poor designs are the result of the Fall.

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    3. Harshman. Yes design was perfect first. yet after the fall all design was corrupted. there is no p[oor design. any thing "poor" just shows the mechanism for the beed for bofyp[lan changes within a working machine. There was no more design/Gods help after the sixth day of creation.
      A tec can allways explain away poor "design this way. ID folks would have problems. Too bad.

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    4. It appears that Robert's typing skills were corrupted by the Fall.

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