style="margin-top:40px;" Mind Over Matter: July 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

On Mind Over Matter

When Darwin first published his book, On the Origin of Species, he did more than present a theory of evolution. Although his theory did not explain the emergence of the original species from which all others allegedly evolved, he presented a mechanism which attempts to explain the origin of all species thereafter. Instead of providing a rigorous account for minor variation within a species, he attempted to provide an account for the origin of the diverse number of species we see today; consequently, from less complex ancestral organisms.

In an attempt to account for diversity, or novel organisms which supposedly descended from pre-existing ones, he ran into a lot of problems. He found that transitional forms were lacking, and that complexity (such as that found in the eye) was a real threat to his theory. Darwin was aware that facile explications were inadequate to account for systems which possessed such complexity:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.
[Darwin C., 252]
Natural selection, working on pre-existing (less complex) systems, is supposed to be the mechanism responsible for the emergence of complexity. Working itself up through small gradual successions (with modification), the eye, Darwin reasoned, could have been formed from crude light sensitive elements. He figured that since the eye varies from species to species, and variations are heritable, then the eye could have become more complex, generation through generation; each grade being useful to its possessor.

This explanation raises more questions than it answers. Indeed, the novel genetic information necessary to evolve and construct complex systems requires far more than gene duplication, mutation, and natural selection. To arrive at such specified complexity, there must be a mechanism for adaptation. Moreover, since environmental tracking has only proven natural selection as a conserving mechanism, the question of evolutionary novelties remains unanswered. Darwinists insist that, given enough time, a minor variation within a species will result in major morphologic change, and thus, account for an innovation of species and their physiological adaptations. This is our point of disagreement. Their contention ultimately rejects teleological conclusions, and in doing so, reject the idea that nature exhibits design; a common archetype (as opposed to common ancestry). To Darwinists "design" is a misnomer because the term implies intelligent agency. This is the crux of the argument: Is natural law capable of producing design without intelligence? In other words, does nature possess a creative ingenuity that is ultimately guided by chance, or does nature's "apparent" design necessitate one to invoke intelligence?

Intelligent Design (ID) advocates propose that nature exhibits design, and that this design is not apparent, but real. They argue that "design" without "intelligence" is absurd, and furthermore, that the idea that nature's intricacy does not exhibit the sort of design which is empirical and attributable to intelligence--can be subjected to critical analysis. ID as a rigorous scientific program, can be the instrument used to scrutinize and infer where design may be present. If design is a measurable condition for which mathematical and scientific parameters exist, then their investigation would be a great contribution to our state of knowledge about our universe. Just as cryptographers attempt to decode the hidden message in a sequence of symbols, Intelligent Design theorists attempt to find the biotic message in systems that are marked by irreducible complexity and complex specified information. ID attempts to resolve the nature of functional complexity and attempts to detect or account for the generating function giving rise to the system's structural complexity.

Mind Over Matter is dedicated to have both camps explore the various available resources of knowledge; and allow the public to decide whether nature is free from the presumptions of Darwinism, or whether it exhibits the sort of design which can only be attributable to intelligence. We want to allow both Darwinists and Intelligent Design advocates to engage in discussions by giving them the platform to present their ideas openly.

This weblog is not intended to promote "anti-evolutionism." Although it is obviously pro-ID; our intentions are to promote a scientific worldview that is free from misleading information and prejudice. We hope that, as each side presents their contentions, people begin to understand both sides clearly enough to make thoughtful decisions about what they believe in regard to our origins.

--Mario A. Lopez