Simple logic escapes them


Some of you old-timers may recall the days of yore when creationists would show up and make their sad little arguments in the comments here, and get thrashed around rudely until they squealed. Maybe you wonder where they went. Maybe you wish you had more opportunities to bash your head against a brick wall. Well, I can tell you: they’re on YouTube. The comments sections there are so much friendlier to fools.

I have an example for you, from one of my videos. Let’s see if you can figure out who is the creationist, and which one is me.

Is the space shuttle an example of intelligent design ?
Well a single living cell encompasses far more integrated functional complexity….so much so that after 150 years and billion dollar labs we still haven’t reverse engineered a single cell, much less duplicated even a single one of its proteins abinitio.

Thats intelligent design.

I could have gone after the low-hanging fruit of his bad examples and mentioned Craig Venter’s minimal synthetic cell, or maybe, you know, insulin, but I tried to get to the core of his logic. It was a painful exercise in head-butting.

If there is one stupid argument that I could get out of the heads of creationists, it’s this one.

The argument is whether organisms were produced by design or by natural processes. We have natural processes that generate complexity, no design needed, so complexity is not a factor in discriminating between the two hypotheses. You want to know whether A or B is the cause for an orange being orange, and both A and B are capable of producing orange pigments, then announcing that the object being examined is orange in color does not allow you to say whether it whether it was produced by A or B. Do you even understand that elementary logic?

But there’s always the dull, dumb yokels who proudly declare “duh, the space shuttle is complicated, and it’s designed, therefore because cells are complicated, they are designed.” THIS IS NOT A VALID ARGUMENT.

But you guys keep trotting it out. I’m embarrassed for you.

PZ Myers
“The argument is whether organisms were produced by design or by natural processes. We have natural processes that generate complexity, no design needed, so complexity is not a factor in discriminating between the two hypotheses. ”

Thats a straw-man PZ.
I said “integrated functional complexity” not merely complexity.
Living organisms and space shuttles are analogous in that both are machines requiring well defined integrated functional complexity to utilize an external energy source to preform their mechanical function.

“You want to know whether A or B is the cause for an orange being orange, and both A and B are capable of producing orange pigments, then announcing that the object being examined is orange in color does not
allow you to say whether it whether it was produced by A or B. Do you even understand that elementary logic?”

Circular reasoning.
Pigmentation is a property of a functionally complex thing you are trying to say arrived by random chance.

You don’t get it. Adding more words doesn’t change the problem.

The space shuttle has “integrated functional complexity”, and is designed.

Organisms have “integrated functional complexity”, and are evolved.

You don’t get to use “integrated functional complexity” as a criterion for distinguishing designed from evolved.

“You don’t get it. Adding more words doesn’t change the problem.”

If ” I don’t get it “, explain it with logic rather than insults.

_

“The space shuttle has “integrated functional complexity”, and is designed.”

That’s correct.

_

“Organisms have “integrated functional complexity”, and are evolved.”

That’s what you need to justify with blind chance.

_

You don’t get to use “integrated functional complexity” as a criterion for distinguishing designed from evolved.

I am not, I am stating “integrated functional complexity is indeed a property of design, not natural process based on repeated observation.

If you can show an example of a system of integrated functional complexity, a unique property of machines produced by natural process, then I can take you seriously.

The question is whether “integrated functional complexity” is solely a product of design. You cannot demonstrate it by merely noting the existence of “integrated functional complexity”.

You are stating “integrated functional complexity is a property of design”. That’s the point in contention. The existence of “integrated functional complexity” (which, I note you haven’t even defined) is not sufficient evidence for its origin.

But if there’s anything I know about creationists, it’s that you won’t be able to comprehend the circularity of your claim and will just keep going around and around.

And that’s where I gave up. If any of you want to practice educating the uneducable, you know where to find them now.

Comments

  1. rpjohnston says

    Why bother trying to “educate the uneducable”. If they’re being deliberately obtuse to sneer and annoy you, punch em in the mouth. If they’re doing it to hurt people, break their arm. If you can be left alone, then leave.

    I spent most of my life trying to argue things with people, perhaps because of my literal and logic-oriented autistic mind. What I’ve learned is that people are inherently biased toward themselves, don’t give a flying fuck about what I think, and only give a fuck about reason, logic or evidence if contravening it will cost them (either materially or socially, e.g. looking like a damned moron to people they want to be on good terms with). In other words, winning an argument is about power; social power. And since you don’t have social power over Fuckbrain McGee here, nor do you have any sway with the people he gives a damn about, nor do you have an ability to pick his pocket or shed his blood, he will never, ever give a flaming shit what you or any of us think.

    He’s just another asshat to beat in elections and in making society better.

  2. nomdeplume says

    YouTube is a cesspit of clickbait titles and fundamentalist commenters. Nowhere is the old adage “don’t read the comments” more true.

    Interesting, I suppose, that the argument for complexity = designer has gone from using a pocket watch (as the most complex thing that could be imagined in the nineteenth century) to using a space shuttle. Not sure what this means except to suggest that the argument is completely subjective.

  3. Mark Jacobson says

    “Integrated functional complexity” is just complexity some asshat has subjectively decided is distinctly important for some reason. My bed is complex. It squeaks annoyingly. Lots of different parts involved in that. Some would consider that a design flaw. If you worship squeaking however, it’s unintended “integrated functional complexity” and my bed is a holy symbol.

  4. gijoel says

    So NASA invented the cell??? :P

    I kid, I kid. But that argument makes as much sense as the god-bother’s.

  5. raven says

    You can tell the creationist has zero understanding of what he is saying. He is simply stringing words together in a failed attempt at bafflegab.
    I found an error and lie in the second sentence so far.

    we still haven’t …much less duplicated even a single one of its proteins abinitio.

    This is false. Proteins were synthesized in the lab in vitro several different ways long before I was even born.
    For that matter, I was designing and synthesizing proteins using genetic engineering decades ago.

  6. raven says

    I said “integrated functional complexity” not merely complexity.

    Integrated functional complexity is a meaningless term. It’s just gibberish.
    He doesn’t define it and has no way to measure it.

    The rest of his arguments are the standard fallacy of crackpots.
    Assertions without proof or data.
    Which may be dismissed without proof or data.
    He is wrong.

  7. Silentbob says

    Again with the “blind chance” thing.

    It’s not “blind chance”. I know fuck all about biology, but even a dummy like me knows it’s chance & selection. If I roll a pair of dice until I get two sixes, and then move on to another pair of dice until I get two sixes, and so on until I’ve ten pairs of dice all showing two sixes, that’s not “blind chance”. It’s chance and selection. Obviously, in nature, the selection is not me liking sixes, but some configurations being more “fit to survive” than others.

  8. patricklinnen says

    Is placing blood vessels in front of the retina instead of behind and example of Intelligent Design?
    32 teeth and a jaw not large enough to hold them all, resulting in the third molars impacted and needing removal. Is that an example of Intelligent Design?
    Is routing the birth canal through the pelvic arch an example of Intelligent Design?

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    patricklinnen @10: You, and lots of others, seem to confuse Intelligent Design with your own notions of Optimal Design. Arguments based on the latter are neither relevant nor required.

  10. patricklinnen says

    Rob Grigjanis@11
    Optimal Design arguments are separate from Intelligent Design arguments. You have managed to neither argue for nor against either.

    My counter-factuals were counter to Intelligent Design. You have nothing but strawmen as your arguments. Show your work.

  11. Rob Grigjanis says

    patricklinnen @12: OMG. Thick as a Brick. Never mind, sunshine. Keep feeding us your “counter-factuals”.

  12. DanDare says

    Lack of optimal design is evidence for evolved rather than designed systems. Evolved systems have features that demonstrate the path of the evolution.
    A designed system will tend to occasionally undergo optimisation, eliminating the appearance of history from its functions.

  13. wzrd1 says

    @1, having read in Daily Kos about Proud Boys and listening to part of an interview with the quadrupedal version of excrement, your response is literally the same as the Proud Boys. Well, short of killing people.
    That used to be part of my military job, treating injured and sick being primary, but due to the nature of our specific duties, firing effectively with the team was also my job, as well as DMR operator.
    I quite enjoy being retired from that, as I loathed shooting at people that I rather agreed with, but was oath and contract bound to do so and enforced by federal law.
    Needless to say, you disgust me as much as the Proud Boys.

    PZ, shit dude, if you had only mentioned your desire to learn of the frustration, you need only have asked me and I’d have gladly given you a massive citation list and from that site and three others.
    Including one where I was doxed (I don’t make special efforts to hide my real name in some venues, but I also don’t talk about certain military things in those venues as well, for a very good reason) and the doxing individual went on to threaten to rape my wife, then kill her and everyone else in the house, then finish off by killing me.
    I replied, feel free to try. Only if I’m feeling charitable would I resort to the use of a firearm, otherwise it’s blunt and edged weapons and taking at least 16 hours.
    Idiot desisted.
    It took that much obscenity to drive such a willful rager away and honestly, considering that his IP was within commuting distance, was a very serious threat.
    I did manage to get the doxing removed at the host.
    My weapon of first resort and second (and third) is my mind, violence is always a last resort, in defense.
    Primary home defense is good locks and thorned foliage around windows. Second line of defense, bright exterior lights that light up when a human sized heat source passes within their overlapping detection sectors.
    Assorted objects in the path of someone unfamiliar with the home that will raise merry hell when brushed against.
    A bowling ball to be rolled down the hall to the head of the stairs and downward.*
    But, within my home and keep pressing, I will eventually move toward lethal force, as there is no other certain way that can stop a human intent upon harm that isn’t lethal.
    So, upon arrival, as improbably as it may be, requiring an entire infantry division, the door is breached and I pull my finger.
    Naw, they’d not get past the moat outside, filled upon alert with laser wielding sharks.
    Inner ring guarded by catzilla.
    Getting to the stairs, you run into my KY jelly mines…

    Hence, why I do my best to ensure that they desist early on, analyzing their responses and escalation curve and verbiage vs actual actions carried out in similar instances that is within a shared governmental database.

    *The installation bowling alley closed, I bought some of the redundant bowling balls and samples.

  14. vucodlak says

    @ patricklinnen, #10

    I don’t believe in intelligent design, but I’ve never found “poor design” a terribly convincing argument, any more than I found the arguments from “divine design” convincing when I was a Christian.

    Our bodies more or less work. They work well enough that there are over 7 billion of us. No “designer” is required for that, but the lack of perfection in life forms isn’t dispositive of a design either. Especially when a significant proportion of creationists ID proponents will simply argue that that lack of perfection is due to our “fallen state,” or some such rot.

    Even as a Christian I couldn’t make myself believe in ID, but I did try to fake it in hopes of not burning for all eternity. I remember one argument for ID that I heard in confirmation class, about how we must be intelligently designed, because ‘can you imagine how awful it would be if the skin on the soles of our feet were as sensitive as the skin of our eyelids?’ I laughed, because that was the stupidest fucking thing I’d heard all day. That probably contributed to my pastor eventually telling me that I was going to Hell (which I did believe).

    Also, my 32 teeth fit into my jaw just fine, thank you very much.

  15. KG says

    vucodlak@16,

    Especially when a significant proportion of creationists ID proponents will simply argue that that lack of perfection is due to our “fallen state,” or some such rot.

    As you say, it’s rot. THt they have to resort to such rot shows that “poor design” is a strong argument against the cdesign proponentsists.

    Also, my 32 teeth fit into my jaw just fine, thank you very much.

    Well lucky you. Many people are not so lucky.

  16. lumipuna says

    CN: hilarious conservative copypasta fearmongering on “trans ideology”

    https://twitter.com/roddreher/status/1053652817859276801

    “My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily”

    I’m sure PZ can tell us more about these impossibly strict pronoun demands that you can legally skip by being an ass and not using pronouns at all.

  17. rietpluim says

    There’s this cartoon where somebody makes a robot to deal with creationists’ circular arguments, and then it goes on for planes and planes and planes until the robots head explodes.

  18. Snoof says

    One thing I don’t really understand about the argument from complexity…

    What does that mean for things which aren’t complex? If complexity is a sign of God’s The Designer’s handiwork, does that mean The Designer wasn’t involved in the production of simple things like hydrogen clouds and particularly boring rocks?

    Or if The Designer also made simple things, then on what basis do they have for arguing that complexity can only come from The Designer, since apparently simplicity can also only come from The Designer? That just seems to reduce to “things can only come from a Thing-Maker”, which makes the entire complexity argument a pointless distraction.

    Or if everything is complex, then by what virtue do they argue that complexity requires a Designer? They have nothing to compare it to.

  19. Curt Sampson says

    lumipuna, there’s at least one tweet in that thread with good entertainment value:

    My workplace enforces gender ideology too—we had to memorize a list of 136 new genders or face summary execution. I just want to get on with my work of building stealth trucks for MS 13 members to cross the border but now I must live every day under threat from PC death squads— Cryptstopher (@BunchesOfBees) October 23, 2018

  20. says

    #20: I have witnessed a creationist arguing that all chemical bonds are irreducibly complex, and that therefore scientists are conspiring to conceal all knowledge of chemistry from their students. For real.

    It’s bullshit all the way down.

  21. says

    #18: I am a biology professor at an elite Midwestern university, and I hasten to assure you that I’m not at all related to Rod Dreher, and would be flipping hot dish from a spoon at him in family reunions if I was.

    I always want to ask these clowns who complain about student pronouns if they’re similarly irate that all their students have different names, and that you have to learn them in order to respect them as individuals?

  22. lumipuna says

    Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest (even jokingly) that the asshole brother is you, PZ. Instead I want to imagine your being subject to the same imaginary standards of professional conduct, because there’s no further specification than “biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest”.

    (Just for accuracy, it was a (likely imaginary) brother or one of the commenters on Dreher’s blog.)

    Now, if this brother were actually at your department, I could imagine you flipping coffee at him while he tries to exercise academic freedom in the coffee room, explaining human sexual biology with a suggestive use of finger and donut hole.

    (Just to clarify, the reply quoted by Curt Sampson is clearly a parody, while the OP clearly isn’t.)

  23. raven says

    https://twitter.com/roddreher/status/1053652817859276801

    “My brother is a biology professor at an elite liberal arts college in the Midwest. He uses no pronouns with his students, as the demands escalate and change daily”

    Rod Dreher is famous or rather notorious for coming up with an endless number of stories that aren’t believable and don’t have any evidence or facts behind them.
    He is simply a fundie xian liar.

    The chance of this being true is about zero.

  24. raven says

    #20: I have witnessed a creationist arguing that all chemical bonds are irreducibly complex, and that therefore scientists are conspiring to conceal all knowledge of chemistry from their students.

    Which means they have zero scientific background.

    Chemical bonds are simple and they teach them in high school chemistry and again in freshman college chemistry. Ionic bonds, covalent bonds, hydrogen bonds, Van Der Waals forces and so on.
    You can look these up in a few seconds using the Google search engine.

  25. rpjohnston says

    @15, wzrd1: Yes. I’m not going to martyr myself on the altar of preening self-righteousness; my rhetoric matches what my enemies are saying. So if anything, I’ll probably be even more savage as the Right degenerates further.

    “Killed lots of people”, “invaded other countries”, “toppled their government”, “dehumanized their enemies”, “said lots of mean things about their enemies” – are all descriptions of both the Nazis and Eisenhower and Patton. One side is considered to be villains, the other heroes. What matters is what the fighting is in service of.

    Violence is an extremely effective tool, which is why people use it. An immoral tool, but an effective one. Even the mere threat of it, without actually being exercised, can accomplish much, as you yourself said. I’d rather there be no violence, and I’ll avoid it where I can, but I’m not going to choose sanctimony over life; if they come for the blood of me or mine, I’ll do my damnedest to take theirs – and I’ll let them know that, so that hopefully, they don’t come. Pretty much, the same as what you said.

  26. answersingenitals says

    The irony here is that the space shuttle is not the first object that we put in orbit. It is based on earlier, simpler orbiting satellites which were based on earlier, sub-orbital rockets, which were based,……, which were based on gun powder stuffed tubes the Chinese launched a few thousand years ago. That is, the space shuttle is the result of an evolutionary process. As a (now retired after 30 years in the job) aerospace engineer, I can assure you that the evolutionary process for the space shuttle, and probably all technologic products, is to a large extent a Darwinian process with a lot of random experimental variations before a “Integrated functional complexity” result is achieved. Recall the early days of rocket/satellite development when most attempts were failures, each failure leading to certain selected improvements.

    The real fallacy of the ID argument is that it always winds up referring to human created designs as examples of complexity. As I have shown, those designs are the result of an evolutionary process. They should be arguing for Devine Designs which are purely de novo, unprecedented, history free. And in Devine Design the simplest object ever created, an electron perhaps, would be exactly as easy to create and have the exact same complexity as the most complex thing ever created – an aardvark. I. e., in Devine Design there is no measure of complexity.

  27. vucodlak says

    @ KG, #17

    As you say, it’s rot. THt they have to resort to such rot shows that “poor design” is a strong argument against the cdesign proponentsists.

    If your goal is to be smugly superior, “the design isn’t perfect!” is a great argument. It’s also incredibly easy to poke holes in it, which makes it useless for actually convincing anyone who could conceivably be convinced. It’s stupid, and it’s insulting.

    Well lucky you. Many people are not so lucky.

    My point there being that anyone who uses “extra teeth don’t fit” as an argument is just setting up another easy point for the creationists. Since they clearly fit for some people, they can just argue that “our bodies become less perfect the further we get from God.” Those of us for whom they do fit, they would argue, show that we were designed to have that many teeth.

    Most anyone who has been raised with ID, but might be questioning it, won’t find “design flaw” arguments even slightly convincing. They’ve already heard the counterarguments and, as they still believe in a creator deity, accept them. It’s not a good argument, because you’re granting their basic starting too much credit. They’ve been trained for that.

    An example:
    I was sick all the time as a child. I had no trouble believing my body was broken because I was a “wretched sinner.” My church, my parents, even my pediatrician all either implied or outright said as much, so why wouldn’t I believe my form was “imperfect” because I wasn’t a good enough person? I could easily believe there was a god who hated me for being a sinner and was punishing me, but not that this same god “lovingly” created me broken. Cognitive dissonance will only carry you so far.

    Arguments that show that a creator makes far less sense than life coming into being on its own and evolving into complex organisms are far more effective. That’s the sort of thing that instilled doubts about creationism in my head. Any arguments from imperfection would have been dismissed outright.

  28. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @32:

    Any arguments from imperfection would have been dismissed outright

    Yeah. My impression is that the main purpose served by such arguments is to give some atheists the opportunity to high-five each other.

  29. says

    Interesting. As someone who never believed in any deity of any kind, I haven’t got the foggiest idea what arguments might be effective. In my limited experience you cannot reason people out of position they did not reason themselves into and arguing with creationists is a vaste of time no matter how one goes about it.

    But I always assumed that Intelligent Design and Optimal Design are more or less synonymous. I think that pointing out imperfections in designs that were made by allegedly perfect and all knowing being is reasonable argument. That of course does not mean it is an effective argument.

    But I never understood how someone can believe in a god or a God in the first place. I still have trouble believing the evidence of my own eyes that people actually, really, honestly believe that silly stuff.

  30. vucodlak says

    @ Charly, #34

    The problem with that is that the creationist argument tends to be that the design started out perfect in the Garden of Eden, but has degraded over time because people keep sinning. They usually defend this as “scientific” by abusing physics, especially the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

  31. John Morales says

    Charly:

    But I always assumed that Intelligent Design and Optimal Design are more or less synonymous.

    Closely related to the fine-tuning argument; a teleological claim.
    ID is the belief that living things could not possibly have come to be by natural processes, so they must have been made, so they must serve a purpose.
    Thus Paley’s watchmaker analogy.

    Mark Jacobson, yes, for domain-specific applications; e.g. Kolmogorov complexity.

  32. John Morales says

    vucodlak @36, the very point of ID was that it was ostensibly a secular scientific enterprise, so no mention of the Garden of Eden in those claims, no appeal to perfection (merely to “irreducible complexity”).

    But yes, everyone now knows ID is plain and simple creationism dressed in pseudo-scientific rags.

    That initiative sure petered out.

  33. Mark Jacobson says

    @John Morales

    I figured rietpluim was interested in the actual answer instead of pedantism.

  34. patricklinnen says

    vucodlak & Rob Grigjanis; So when everything works the ‘Blind Watchmaker’ is a genius in Intelligent Design. And when there are mistakes, the perfect Intelligent Designer gets a pass because reasons. ID proponents win-win because then they can convince listeners that the Intelligent Designer is super-genius when things work and, at the same time, expecting perfection from a perfect Designer is unfair.

    @ vucodlak ; I agree what I asked were ‘gotcha’s.’ Do you have a better way to set ID proponents on their back foot? It is not like ID Gish Gallopers will willing read talk.origins pages.

    @ Rob Grigjanis; Yes, yes. I am the Thick Mayor Thick of Thicks-ville. I also note that you were the one to bring Optimal Design to the table. And also note that you attack me as opposed to arguing your case. But then I am Thick. Yes, yes.

  35. John Morales says

    patricklinnen, this expected perfection is supposedly an implication of the proposition made by ID and the proposition that ID is the same as creationism. It’s not a direct disputation of ID because it’s not a claim made by ID.

    So it’s a weak objection.

    (It’s very easily dismissed by goddists, too: God is ineffable and knows better than you do what is best)

  36. Rob Grigjanis says

    patricklinnen @40:

    And also note that you attack me as opposed to arguing your case.

    My case is simply that there is no need for ID, or gods, and there are no convincing arguments for either.

    For the record, I don’t really think you’re thick. I just get annoyed when I see, for the umpteenth time, what I consider to be a bad argument.

  37. vucodlak says

    @ patricklinnen, #40

    I agree what I asked were ‘gotcha’s.’ Do you have a better way to set ID proponents on their back foot?

    The problem with your suggestions is not so much that they’re “gotchas” as it is that that line of attack just doesn’t work. It won’t slow a Gish-Galloper’s gush for a second; they’ll pop off a quick-and-trite “fallen world” answer and steamroll right along. Believers who might possibly induced to doubt will accept that without even blinking, as it fits right in to the core of their beliefs. It’s as natural to them as saying water is wet.

    As for “setting ID proponents on their back foot,” you’re not going to convince fanatics, and you’re not going to beat them at their own game. I recommend not wasting your time. If, however, you have reason to suspect that someone involved in (or witnessing) the discussion might be convinced, then ask questions the ID proponent can’t answer, and point out that they’re evading the question every time they do so. Keep it as simple and basic as possible, and don’t let them bog you down with irrelevant tangents. That could shake the faith of the potential doubters.

  38. ikanreed says

    I always liked the Christmas light metafor for this:

    Designed: simple, ordered loops
    Undesigned, chaotic tangle from hell with more complexity than you could possibly understand

Leave a Reply