Friday, August 29, 2008

ID Misconceptions

Someone on the WWGHA forum posted the following:

"Almost every discussion involving evolution that I'm privy to, there are misconceptions about evolution that come up. Heck, I'm sure I've probably said things that misrepresent or misunderstand evolution, just by virtue of the fact I'm not an evolutionary biologist.Out of interest, I wonder if there are similar problems with people's understandings of various forms of creationism and of Intelligent Design.Does anyone here know of common misconceptions about creationism and/or ID that wrongly influence people's attitudes to them?"

My Response:
A common misconception about ID concerns "irreducible complexity". A lot of people think that the only way an IC system could evolve is by all parts being produced at once. In fact, a lot of people think that this is Michael Behe's position, when it is not: he has admitted that IC systems could evolve in a step by step manner. He simple argues, from his own incredulity, that it is "improbable".

2 comments:

alcari said...

Of course, Behe is a special case.
Where any other creationist is perfectly willing to shift the goalpost just a little further away from god, Behe struggles for every inch of the goal.

I seriously believe Behe holds a view in his mind that distributes everything on earth into two catergories: Created and Non-created. The first catergory is reserved for an ever shrinking group of organisms that contain a very specific feature that has not yet been explained.

And as long as there is a single organism in the "created" section, Behe will have a job.

That's the only explanation I can think off after reading some of his book. Aside from serious mental problems that is.

Jeffrey said...

I had an interesting debate with an IDer over the definition of IC. The way he thought of it was that the definition of IC and argument from IC are two different things.

The definition of IC is that if you can't remove any piece from its irreducible core without removing its original function, then it is IC. The definition by itself neither proves anything nor attempts to.

The argument from IC is that an IC structure is very unlikely to have evolved, because it would require a long series of machines that are structurally very similar but have very different functions (why?).

So progress toward a step-by-step evolutionary model of the flagellum does not disprove that it is IC. What it does is refute the argument from IC.

I thought this was a fairly honest description. I wish more IDers understood what IC actually means so that they would understand the argument's weakness. We both agreed that most IDers and evolutionists don't know the difference between the argument from IC and the definition.

But one funny part of the discussion was when I showed that Behe was among the people confusing the two:

"An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway." - Behe

I'll accept that this was merely a slip up, and Behe does actually know what IC means. But if he can't even get it straight himself, that suggests something is fundamentally fuzzy in the entire argument.