Genitalia and Irreducible Complexity

Please read Preface first:

Straight Forward Article: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/41392/title/A-Tale-of-Two-Genitals/

More Detailed Article: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/science/2014/11/05/harvard-researchers-unravel-evolution-genitalia/LVnJz0bvjxmUYz4rWuw7rM/story.html

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory (of evolution) would absolutely break down.” – Charles Darwin 

The argument for the existence of God initially stems from many earlier philosophical quarrels concerning what is real or where we came from. One of the most prominent, and mind boggling, is the Teleological Argument (Irreducible Complexity) by William Paley. Paley’s argument states, “If I stumbled on a stone and asked how it came to be there, it would be difficult to show that the answer, it has lain there forever, is absurd. Yet this is not true if the stone were to be a watch.”

The inference he makes here is that, whereas a stone is not complex at all, a watch is. The function and complexity of the watch naturally implies that the watch has a maker. He then takes this inference of a watch and a maker and applies it to the universe. The universe is vast and infinitely complex, thus we can assume it too has a maker.

There is an analogous example to Paley’s watch for modern times. This more “current” argument uses an organism known as a Bacterial Flagellum. Under the definition of an “Irreducibly Complex Organism” given by Micheal Behe, who wrote an anti-evolution book mainly concerning Irreducible Complexity, states that,

“An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. …. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on.” (Behe 1996b)

The Bacterial Flagellum comes into play because it is an example of an Irreducibly Complex organism; a biological system whose parts can only work when put together, and would cease to function if even one part was missing.

Do you all believe in God now?

Hold up. Recently, through their research concerning the relation of male reptiles who have two penises, scientists at Harvard have determined that, “external genitalia develop from the same cells that give rise to hind legs…”, and similarly, genitalia in mammals, birds and crocodilians derive from the tail bud. Essentially, developing the genitalia of either type of creature comes from the same signal and genetic programs that would produce hind legs or a tail.

“While mammal and reptile genitalia are not homologous in that they are derived from different tissue, they do share a ‘deep homology’ in that they are derived from the same genetic program and induced by the same ancestral set of molecular signals.”

Similarly, it is known that when some babies are born with malformations in their legs, the often times have malformations in their gentials as well.

Assuming that genitalia can be considered irreducibly complex (IR), did scientists just discover an instance where an IR organ can be produced purely by random? In which case, can we infer from such a discovery that complex organisms such as humans (or even pre-humans) must have had an original maker? What objections, if any, can you make against Paley’s argument? Is Paley’s watch/universe analogy viable?

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64 Responses to Genitalia and Irreducible Complexity

  1. moneytrees3001 says:

    An interesting wrench to throw into the cogs of the Irreducible Complexity theory: if followed through, it defeats God on its own. This idea is popular among New Atheists like Dawkins and Hitch. They argue that if our universe needs a creator to “set things into motion,” then that creator needs an even greater creator to bring him into being. That great creator needs a greater creator, who needs a greater creator, ad nauseam. This means that the existence of a creator is even more illogical than no god: “Far from terminating the vicious regress, God aggravates it with a vengeance” (The God Delusion, p. 146). Paley’s argument remains a standby for religious folks, but the numerous critiques and rebuttals have proved it to be outdated and illogical.

    • A good point to go along with this is that Voltaire pointed out that the Teleological Argument can only suggest that there is a creator but not that that creator is God or infinite or invisible or omniscient. And so if the creator is not an infinite God then the creator would need to have a creator and that creator would need a creator and so on like moneytrees mentioned above.

      • waterbottle19 says:

        Interesting point. I believe Immanuel Kant said something similar. He stated that the Teleological Argument at most proves that there is an “architect” of the universe rather than a supreme being.

        • butterjones says:

          not that it’s particularly relevant here, but fun fact–
          I’m in an Ancient Gnosticism class, and we talk about this a lot. and the gnostics (an ancient sect of christianity) believed that there is a “demiurge” (translates to “craftsman”) who crafted us and our physical world (as gnostics read the bible, they would take “God” to be the demiurge). But he is merely a creation of the much more powerful forces in the universe, and because he is so attached to the physical world, he is not regarded as a positive force. He is supposedly malevolent and ignorant and arrogant

          • This is an interesting idea, butterjones. A question that I have then would be that in line with this theory, is it believed that our “craftsman” has remained a stagnant being, or has it changed as well over time?

      • sunny2018 says:

        I think that it is also important to note that most scholarly sources define evolution as a random, non-teleological process. Evolution is not goal-oriented, so Paley’s argument is automatically flawed.

    • gatorade15 says:

      Interesting point, moneytrees3001! I like the idea that you present here, however, would the Irreducible Complexity argument really apply to a Creator? Intelligent Design proponents believe that an omnipotent being created everything in our existence today, and that this Creator obviously defies many aspects of modern day scientific theory. This is a given, so according to ID, their Creator would be exempt from the Irreducible Complexity Theory from the start, because its very existence doesn’t follow any known laws or theories. By applying this Irreducible Complexity Theory we are also assuming that the Creator evolved from other creators, which again as noted by ID proponents, is not the case.

      • graduallychanging says:

        gatorade15, as we discuss God’s exemption from the Irreducible Complexity Theory, I would like to bring up an argument used by Christians to “prove” that God did not require a creator to exist. The argument lies on the assumption that everything that has a beginning must also have a cause. However, they said that since God created time, S/He lives independently of the dimension of time and thus never began. Instead, S/He has always existed.
        This reasoning, in my perspective, does not seem logically sound as it could be applied to any potential divine being. Moreover, the source that I found for this argument bases many of its claims on quotes from the Bible. To use the bible as evidence of God’s existence eliminates the validity of the argument because the only way that the Bible could be used as evidence of God’s existence is to believe that its content was inspired by God.
        Does anyone know of other arguments that are used to explain why the Irreducible Complexity Theory supposedly does not apply to God? I would love to learn of a stronger argument for God’s eternal existence.
        Christian reasoning of why God did not need a creator in order to exist: http://christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c039.html

  2. pigfish1116 says:

    The article was difficult to read while eating my breakfast but I like that regan1984 introduced the theory of Irreducible complexity to make the topic of genitalia evolution even more interesting. To answer your question “did scientists just discover an instance where an IR organ can be produced purely by random” I will respond with another question: aren’t all the biological complexities of life originating from the “random” mutations of organisms? Now this does not disprove that a maker exists but it does take into account the fact that there are numerous complexities in nature and it is greatly proven that they have gradually evolved from the beginning of the biological world when there was just a single-cell organism. If this single-cell organism was not complex, then according to Paley’s argument, did it have a supreme maker?

    • regan1984 says:

      Great insight, pigfish1116! Whether or not you knew about Paley’s argument beforehand, you definitely grasped the complexities of his argument much quicker than my philosophy class did! However, while I wholeheartedly agree with your statement, if I were an atheist supporting Paley’s argument, in terms of the bacterial flagellum, why couldn’t I argue that on top of the fact that it is an irreducibly complex organism, it’s so small and specific in its function that it seems quite hard to believe that it was produced by random mutations and not by some greater power with a purpose.

    • sm4321 says:

      Interesting comment, pigfish1116. I am particularly interested in your comment about the “random” nature of things. You ask “aren’t all the the biological complexities of life originating from the ‘random’ mutation of organisms?” While this is something interesting to consider, I think it is important to note how such a statemt effects both evolutionary theory and creation theory. Evolutionary theory states that nothing is truly random- that every adaptation has a purpose and occurs over time to make organisms better fit for their environment while creationism differs some but basically says that God created everything exactly the way it was meant to be. Neither of these things are random. So how does this “random” process speak to both creationism and evolution?

      • sm4321, I would have to question whether every adaptation has an actual purpose. It must be specified that mutations upon their first appearance are completely random. They occur by accident. However, the mutations that last and become adaptations in a sense are the ones that are beneficial to the species. In this sense I would agree with you in that they are not random. Certain mutations stick around because of the benefits that appear after the fact. It is simply important to point out that they are at first random.
        The problem with the irreducibly complex theory is that evolution can explain the appearance of these adaptations. They occur over time by adopting attributes that originally served another purpose. In the Bacterial Flagellum example, it has been argued that the flagellum or the “propeller” of the organism could have before existed as a type of needle that allowed the bacteria to insert itself into other organisms. As time passed and the bacteria developed mitochondria and other parts of the irreducibly complex system the flagellum gradually evolved into its current purpose. Through this theory and explanation, evolutionary theory can combat the idea that IR means their most be a God.

        • glowcloud says:

          I agree with you, Vikingsfootball. The IR theory seems to neglect the amount of time it takes for evolution to occur. It’s not as if these complex systems appeared at once in perfect working order. Evolutionary processes are extremely gradual.
          An example that I believe directly refutes IR is the development of a human fetus, especially the respiratory system. In the most simplified way I can describe it, babies essentially pass through several stages of evolution while in the womb. During the process of embryogenesis, they initially possess amphibian-like features. Later, they develop working lungs just as they are ready to leave their aquatic environment. IR says that these complex systems don’t function if they don’t come about all at once or if parts are missing. But this clearly shows that complex systems evolve from earlier complex systems

          • butterjones says:

            glowcloud– i think your point about human development in the womb is excellent! But I’m really here to address your statement, “The IR theory seems to neglect the amount of time it takes for evolution to occur.” First of all, yes, it does. But this is a point that’s not easy to use in arguing with proponents of ID and IR, because they do not acknowledge the true age of our earth. It is hard to explain just how “extremely gradual” the process of evolution is to those who believe the earth is so young

      • pigfish1116 says:

        vikingsfootball33 actually clarified my statement on “random” mutations for me so thank you! To sm4321, I did mean to say that mutations in their initial state are random but if beneficial then they will stick around.

      • gatorade15 says:

        There seems to be some confusion regarding how organisms actually change over time, so I am going to try to build off of what vikingsfootball33 stated very clearly. There are thousands of genes in our genome, with each gene containing up to several thousand “bases”. Every 3 bases makes an amino acid, which is then added onto the ~hundred other amino acids to make a protein (processing also occurs in between). Knowing these numbers is important because changing ONE base can produce a completely different protein, which in turn leads to a different function. This is how random mutations occur. Your body can only prevent so many mutations from occurring (we contain internal proteins that repair errors) before one gets through to the next generation, causing a mutated offspring. These mutations are in fact random because our body is like a computer. Our DNA is what makes us who we are, and like all code, it sometimes has some errors. These errors lead to different proteins, which lead to different functions. This is why it is relatively common to see mutations in all living organisms. The good mutations give that organism a better chance of living and passing on its genes, while less favorable ones generally are not passed on.

      • sunny2018 says:

        I disagree–while the environment dictates how organisms evolve, evolution is absolutely random. We can’t predict exactly what will happen to an organism depending on the environment it is exposed to, and there are no set outcomes.

    • I would say that you are right about life’s biological complexities and their origination in random mutations. Mutations and diversity in a species is in fact a basis (and in fact, a requirement for) darwinian evolution. I think that the overwhelming presence of this type of knowledge in today’s world makes it hard to back up the argument presented in this article.

  3. waterbottle19 says:

    the argument of Irreducible Complexity is a very interesting one posed by Creationists. In addition to the clock example, Michael Behe, the creator of the term Irreducible Complexity, also offered the example of a mouse trap. He asserts that together the five different parts of the trap function perfectly well. Yet, if one is removed the trap no longer functions. Similarly, we watched a video earlier in the semester of a preacher touring the Hall of Human Origins. The preacher offered the eye as an organ so complex it couldn’t have possibly have evolved from something simpler.

    While these statements might look solid on the surface, actual scientific evidence discredits this argument. Scientists have already proven that biological traits such as the eye can arise spontaneously and naturally. I think this article is also further evidence that Irreducible Complexity is not a sound argument. I encourage everyone to investigate the Wikipedia page for Irreducible Complexity. It’s a fascinating topic, and it illustrates common scientific responses that completely discredit it as an argument.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity#cite_note-Redundant_Complexity-7

    • The second episode of Cosmos (the Neil Degrasse Tyson version) deals with this very topic. It is very interesting to watch if anyone gets the chance. It is on Netflix now.

    • greyelephant1 says:

      waterbottle19, it is interesting you added a link to get to know more about Irreducible complexity to the discussion. My understanding of the topic is much clearer! As for what you said and that this concept is not a sound argument for the evidence that has been produced, I agree for the most part. I can understand the logic behind the ideas, but I do not think the evidence is convincing enough. Maybe that is because I am personally an evolution believer and so I am a little biased. I think the evidence that the researchers at Harvard found is very supportive of the idea and provides evidence that is hardly refutable. However, as you mentioned that it is true that random traits an occur, I am not sure that could explain the genitals difference on the mammal and the reptiles.

      • greyelephant1 says:

        I’m sorry I was not clear. I meant to say that I think that the evidence is valid, however I’m not sure whether it is persuasive enough. I also did not mean to make it seem like I thought the article was providing evidence for Irreducible complexity

    • gwuw2014 says:

      The eye has been the go-to organ for creationists ever since Darwin’s time. It was often cited as a “perfect organ” – despite its many imperfections that have since been used to understand its evolution. For instance, the eye’s retina is not attached to its lining and can therefore tear with age. Additionally, the optic nerve connects through a hole in the retina, creating a blind spot in our vision. If an organ were to be designed on the basis of irreducible complexity, each of these parts would have to work perfectly in tandem – and they don’t. I think it’s interesting that despite our knowledge of these flaws, the eye is still being used as “evidence” by creationists today.

  4. regan1984- I simply do not see the connection between a creator, the watchmaker per say, and the mutation of genitals. Touching on something mentioned by pigfish1116, when it is mentioned that organisms were created by an all powerful individual, God, the idea is that he created the organism and, in current church doctrine, evolution took its course. What I mean to say by this is that if an organism was created by God, God would no longer have a say in what happens to that organism since evolution and natural selection would come into play. This would be when genetics and point mutations come into play. As stated in the article, “despite these differences, developing genitalia of both types involves the same basic genetic programs and signaling cascades.” In this case, it may be the same gene but it may act different upon each organism. These genes are known as Hox genes. Here is an interesting video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voQQ1dhCqZg

    • regan1984 says:

      I’ll grant you that maybe my initial interpretation of the genitals argument might be somewhat confusing. What I am trying to get at is, assuming that genitals can be considered a irreducibly complex organ, given the research by Harvard scientists that has proven that some forms of reptile genitalia are produced randomly from a set of genes that originally produced hind legs or tails, do we now have evidence of an irreducibly complex organ that has appeared by random chance. If this assumption proved to be true, than referring back to Darwin’s quote at the top of the blog post, we would have a situation where a complex organ exists that has not developed from numerous, successive, slight modifications. I incorporated the watchmaker analogy as the inference we would have to then assume to be true, that the only explanation for the random appearing of said irreducibly complex organ would be God. Does this help?

    • pigfish1116 says:

      Hey californiarepublic79, I appreciate the stance you are taking. Am I interpreting it right: that God could e the initial creator of all but from there nature takes its course and organisms have become more complex? This could be seen as a revision of Paley’s irreducible complexity theory.
      If in current church doctrine, God has no say in how organisms evolve, how can he still be called the “supreme being”, omnipotent and controlling everything? I understand the church is trying to conform as much as it can to scientific findings but is it trying to distance itself from the overarching teaching in the bible of God as creator of all?

      • pigfish1116- yes, your interpretation of my stance is correct. He is still referred to as the “supreme being” because of his “ability” to create. It is true that the church is trying to find common ground with science, thus is why the church cannot take the stance of God being the “inventor and controller” of life. Like I have stated before, if we were to use the Bible as a source of information regarding creation, the Bible would contradict itself. Being that there is two different places in the Bible that talk about the moment of creation. One dealing with God making the universe and organisms in seven days. In that, God creates men and women at the same time. Contradicting that, the other deals with the creation of Adam, from which he then created eve, the women. So which is it? The Bible was written by men, not God.

    • lumastan says:

      While you make a good point concerning the the involvement of god in the evolutionary process, i think the stance is that while god did not directly influence the course of evolution, the church says that he allowed the universe and life to evolve under the laws of nature and psychics which God created, so in a way, you could say that God held a refereeing job in how evolution took course.

  5. waterbottle19 says:

    I apologize for the second post, but I can’t believe I forgot to bring this up in my main post. Below is a link to a news arcticle outlining the finding of the first fish to switch from reproducing by spawning to reproducing through sex!

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29661446

    I think the article is extremely relevant to this post as it shows the evolution of sexual reproduction almost 400 million years ago.

    • collegeblogger19 says:

      Cool article, waterbottle19! The article was very relevant to the topic; the point at which reproducing through sex occurred. It adds to and supports the scientific evidence for evolution!

    • gatorade15 says:

      Really interesting article waterbottle19! This helps shed light on the idea of external genitalia as a means of reproduction. In on of the articles posted by regan1984, it talks about how water dwelling organisms had to find another means to reproduce when they began living on land. This example of Microbrachius dicki shows that the mutation for this method of reproduction was present in water dwelling organisms before they even came to land, but this new method of reproduction was not yet helpful to these organisms. What do you think was the downfall of this specific fish’s method of reproduction?

    • thinkbrush says:

      Wow, I think this article provides really interesting context for the idea of reproduction as a whole and shows the biological evidence the scientific community has been able to uncover to better understand our origins. I think it’s another sign that the physical evidence the orthodox religious community claims as supportive of their own mission is perhaps not easily explained but eventually justified by legitimate scientists using the scientific method. I wish more evolution-skeptics would look at the bigger picture as suggested by this story on the BBC you posted, waterbottle19.

  6. arcanium82 says:

    Interesting article, regan1984. I’m not going to lie, the title threw me off for a second, but I get it now that I’ve read the post.

    It seems that Coyne addressed this argument (or one similar to it) in his book, “Why Evolution is True”. He says one of the arguments that Intelligent Design supporters constantly bring up is the “half a wing” argument (pg. 39): Paraphrased, the “half a wing” argument goes something like this: If evolution is true and organisms build on existing structures, how did the wing evolve since half a wing would be useless?

    Coyne debunks this argument by giving examples of animals that are currently in intermediary forms of flight. For instance, the flying squirrel. At present, it cannot really fly, but it can glide a long way and it is possible that maybe someday it will evolve the ability for true flight.

    It is true that the Bacterial Flagellum is harder to explain than the half a wing. However, Creationists are in a disadvantaged position when arguing about evolution because they rest the bulk of their argument on one example. In this case, it’s the Bacterial Flagellum. They interpret scientific lack of knowledge as a vindication of their point of view. Creationists find an example of an organism that cannot be explained by our current understanding of evolution and they proclaim victory. Show’s over. Turn out the lights, everybody go home. God wins.

    However, scientists take this lack of knowledge as a challenge. Instead of stopping at the unknown and giving up, scientists will continue to test, observe and learn. I have no doubt that, eventually, science will come up with a solution to the Bacterial Flagellum and Creationists will have to find another unexplained mystery to pin their hopes on.

    • greyelephant1 says:

      arcanium82, I think this is a very intelligent, insightful post. I had never thought about the idea of Creationists taking the gaps in science and using those as proof their ideas. I think that observation is very valid. But then scientists just use their arguments and research to find science to back it up. I think that scientists are on the way to solving another scientific mystery but there is more research and evidence needed. I believe this is evidence that there is an endless number of scientific mysteries, but this also shows how much science can do.

    • regan1984 says:

      That is indeed the issue, arcanium82. However, I would say that rather than necessarily pointing out our seemingly lack of knowledge to disprove evolution, I believe creationists aim more at the parts of the evolutionary tree that we have yet to figure out. Instead of pointing out that we haven’t reached a conclusion to how the existence of the bacterial flagellum came to be as well as other complex biological organisms, they chose to ask questions about evolution that we have yet to answer at all.

    • gatorade15 says:

      Great post arcanium82; I was thinking the same thing as I read the bit about Irreducible Theory. Creationists pointing towards undiscovered ideas as invalidity of evolutionary theory goes along with their central ideas, that there is one omnipotent creator who made everything we know of today, and thats it. End of discussion. There seems to be a lack of open-mindedness and ability to embrace and really think about conflicting views. On the contrary, scientists do this all of the time, enabling them to discover more and more revolutionary ideas and theories. For example, in scientific experiments, even if the results support a scientists hypothesis, they will say that the results “failed to reject the null (contradictory) hypothesis. Scientific method pushes people to dig deeper and learn more and to understand that there will always be more to an idea.
      So coming back to your post, arcanium82, I agree with you that scientists will discover evidence that supports all of the gaps in understanding that riddle the scientific community today. And I also believe that Creationists will continue to point at new gaps as fallacy of theory, because Creationists really only have one, stagnant source of information supporting there theory, while evolutionary theory proponents are constantly discovering more ideas and evidence.

  7. collegeblogger19 says:

    Interesting topic, regan1984. After reading about the Irreducible Complexity idea, I find it to be a somewhat superficial argument for Creationists. Organisms are very complex, so they argue that a supreme maker is needed. However, I find this to be very illogical–almost as if they are giving up on finding the answers to life. Science attempts to find the answers through scientific reasoning and experimentation. The theory of evolution and natural selection can prove how life adapts, but the idea of a supreme maker cannot actually be proven.

    • regan1984 says:

      But equally many creationists argue that the fundamental idea of a creator can’t really be disproven.

      • gwuw2014 says:

        Just because the idea of a creator cannot be disproven doesn’t mean that it’s true though. We can make claims about the far-off edges of the universe that humanity will never find the answer to, but just because we cannot prove them false doesn’t immediately make them true.

        • regan1984 says:

          Yes, and I agree but it is good enough reason for creationists to continue fighting for their beliefs. So in terms of the debate, both sides remain fundamentally at square one.

          • pianokid123 says:

            regan1984, I would not consider over a century of raw empirical data that unifies the entire field of biology into a cohesive science vs baseless “hunch” that Jesus created everything 6,000 years ago at square one with eachother.

      • graduallychanging says:

        Regan1984, it is interesting for you to mention the creationists’ strategy. The atheists could argue, in the same manner, that a flying spaghetti monster lives somewhere in the universe. When a being,that we cannot see, is said to exist, why should the burden of proof be on the people that do not believe in its existence?

    • moneytrees3001 says:

      I get confused whenever people try to prove the existence of God. Isn’t it called “faith” because no one can prove it to be true? This moral high ground is taken when scientists use evidence to prove God’s lack of influence in the natural world, but the moment the data swings over to support them, they are ready to use it to prove that their God is real. Taking the existence of anything on faith is a risky choice, but at least do it without the double standard

  8. sunny2018 says:

    In answer to whether or not IR is randomly produced or not, I’d say that all evolutionary processes are random. Evolution is a non-teleological process–that is to say, random and non-goal oriented. Taking that logic even further, one could say that evolution is not a god-driven process. Yes, organisms are complex, but this is due to millennia of evolution. Paley’s argument entirely dismisses the fact that evolution is non-teleological. Therefore, I would say that Paley’s argument is not viable, as it does not take into account what evolution really is.

    • pianokid123 says:

      I find the IR complexity argument so immature. It all boils down to “it is too complicated for me to understand, so obviously it was the work of an anonymous creator.” I love how they personify this mysterious force (natural selection), in the first place. It is clear they are referring to God, (or perhaps Jesus or Allah) and it is clearly just another rehashing of Creationism in a different form. My entire trial Kitzmiller v Dover was based on this silly argument, and I would like to refer back to our class discussion on the “new age of Creationism,” and how it might manifest itself. This is it. Beware.

      • sunny2018 says:

        I absolutely agree with you–it’s just an attempt to make evolutionary theories fit with certain religions. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when they erase the science and certain pieces of evidence, it becomes problematic.

    • thinkbrush says:

      Sunny2018, I think this is a really good point about the goals or lack thereof maintained by the process of evolution and how that relates to this watch matcher explanation that seems to be so popular among creationists. I would say that there has to be an answer to the question “why?” as much as or more than “how?” when evaluating the evolution of life on Earth through a religious sense. I don’t think one could make an argument that it’s based on the fact that it happens to be IR without explaining or justifying why it is so.

  9. serrobert says:

    So Sunny2018, you think that even a millennia of evolution is good enough to evolve traits that were potentially disadvantageous in the organism to something that is advantageous? I think there is something missing. What in evolution would drive an individual and its subsequent generations to keep an extra organ that provided nothing and could even potentially be another risk. This seems to contradict survival of the fittest, yet these organisms survive long enough for that organ to evolve into a fully functional lung allowing them to breath in the air. How does evolution explain such events such as these?

    • gatorade15 says:

      Interesting point serrobert, Im going to play devils advocate here. There are varying levels of some organ or component of an organism being detrimental to its survival. Just because a trait CAN be harmful, doesn’t mean it will wipe out any organism containing that trait. In response to your second point, evolution can’t be turned on or off. These random mutations occur, well, randomly. Refer back to one my previous comments on pigfish1116’s comment. You can sustain many mutations over time leading to proteins of varying functionality, ultimately leading to some beneficial organ or trait.

      • serrobert says:

        But doesn’t evolution seem to suggest that a trait that is harmful will be eradicated from the organism after several generations as the ones born without it have a better chance of survival and therefore reproduction. Therefore a group of individuals would need to go against the tendencies of evolution long enough for the trait to develop into something useful.

        • gatorade15 says:

          It all depends on the trait in question. The higher the degree of mortality linked to a specific trait, the more likely that organisms containing that trait will perish, discontinuing the persistence of that trait. There are countless traits that are harmful to organisms, but not fatal, and are tolerable. As I posted earlier, a trait is a sequence of amino acids joined together into a functional protein that is expressed. You can’t just erase an entire protein code. It will stay with the organism (potentially undergoing some minuscule mutation) until it perishes.

  10. macnplease says:

    A fascinating set of developments, to say the least. The irony in Paley’s and ID belivers’ infamous “watchmaker” theory is that they are trying to help uncover the truth/validate faith when really they are undermining the legitimate scientific approach that could conceivably answer many of life’s big questions. Their endeavor to be helpful is their malignancy.

    I will not pretend to fully understand the connection between legs and genitalia, but seeing as a scientific approach was taken and a logical conclusion made from these findings, I will accept its potential legitimacy. I think IR has as much potential as any other evolutionary theory that supplements or contradicts it; there is no use in such drastic conjecture yet.

  11. gatorade15 says:

    Really compelling post, regan1984! I would like to address one of your closing questions regarding Paley’s watch analogy. Paley made this analogy a very long time ago, in the late 1700’s. There have been countless scientific discoveries since then adding more substance to evolutionary theory. Lets equate this “watch” with the modern day human. By looking at us in a three dimensional sense, yeah us humans look like we were created just a s we are today. But if you look at us four dimensionally, taking time into consideration, you can see how millions upon millions of small adaptations to a less complex organism led to the creation of the human beings we are today. These changes build up over vast periods of time, but if you take one point in time and scan it, as we naturally do as humans as we are always living in the present, then everything complex appears to have been created just as is.

    • regan1984 says:

      Very good analysis gatorade15! Yes, granted that Paley’s argument was made a very long time ago, in terms of the evolution of evolutionary theory, massive discoveries have been made since then to better substantiate scientific theory. It’s this type of understanding that opponents of creationism theory must use to both further the evolution v creationism debate and scientific theory as well.

  12. lumastan says:

    I think its an endlessly unanswerable question concerning the ultimate origins of life and the universe, because whether the scientific stance on the big bang is taken or whether a concept like what moneytree3001 says that even a supreme creator would need a creator itself, ultimately the source of both concepts is impossible to find. The complexity of a subject does not inherently mean it is made by wondrous means.

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