Friday, May 27, 2016

Regarding Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker

The blogger-troll self-appelled "IM Skeptical" is making assertions at another blog:

IM Skeptical:
"- I have read the entire book. [Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker] And I think you have entirely missed the point. Yes, people have an intuitive feeling that biological things are designed. But intuitions are often wrong. I suggest you read Coyne's Why Evolution Is True.[note 1] It describes many vivid examples of why that intuitive feeling doesn't bear critical scrutiny."
This person insists that speculation which is not testable or falsifiable is to be regarded as valid because it is loosely labeled as “science”. He says, “I’ll stick with science”, despite the failure of his sources to produce a single mote of objective knowledge in the form of empirical justification. The Dawkins book to which he refers is a splendid example of such sources. As shown below, Dawkins preaches rather than referring to falsifiable, testable concepts which are backed by empirical non-falsification.

Dawkins and the Eye
I love Dawkins assessment of the eye's development: What good is 5% of an eye? Dawkins spends 10 pages [p77-86] on the benefit of 5% of vision, assuming that there is a completely connected system, formed using 5% of the completed pathway. ”Without an eye you are totally blind. With half an eye you may at least be able to detect the general direction of a predator’s movement, even if you can’t focus a clear image.” It's like a bike path compared to a 12 lane highway, with both being complete and going to the same place. But that's, as David Berlinski points out, "the magician's age-old tactic of misdirection." The issue is not the percentage of an eye, it is the percentage of the entire sight systemic complex, from photon input to qualia of vision in the mind. Half and eye produces zero vision, unless there is a complete vision system from lens to qualia.

For example, five percent of an eye, then, would be an orb with a lens and nothing more; no receptors, to neural connections, no path to the brain, and most importantly, no qualia - no experience of sight. Or 5% of an eye might be the muscles and the movement of the orb, and nothing else; again no connection, no qualia, no sight.

I think Dawkins is not so stupid as not to understand this. I think the deception is purposeful sleight of hand – misdirection of an argument by arguing not about vision, but rather arguing only about part of the system. It is necessary to obscure the obvious conclusion that the development of the sight system cannot have happened one (not so simple) sub-system component at a time, accidentally and without purpose. A complete eye is useless without the other sub-systems which are absolutely necessary for any representative qualia to occur.

The facts surrounding negative mutations (which obliterate the probability of saved proto-beneficial mutations for individual components) are devastating to this simplistic argument. Those beneficial mutations would be nuked by negative selection of deleterious mutations long before a 100% complete vision system (even at 5% vision) would ever be produced.

On page 40, Dawkins compares the time allowed for evolution to produce an eye (actually a complete sight system) is “several hundred million years.” For comparison he notes the much quicker time in which humans have guided the evolution of dogs from wolves (falsified recently) into
“Pekinese, Bulldog, Chihuahua, and Saint Bernard. Ah but they are still dogs, aren’t they? They haven’t turned into a different kind of animal. Yes, if it comforts you to play with words like that, you can call them all dogs. But just think about the time involved.”
So Dawkins admits, grudgingly, that it is the Black and White Fallacy that he is invoking, but he goes ahead and does it anyway. There is no rational comparison between breeding wolves downward or upward within their own genome (micro-evolution within a species’ genome), and creating a brand new, highly complex vision system. The projected time of several million years is superficially a misdirection based in large numbers which relate to nothing which is pertinent.

This type of meta-narrative thinking is rampant in evolutionism. To make a simplistic, molecular-evidence-free speculation with less credibility than most science fiction allows the evolutionist to declare a “science”.

Bombardier Beetle

Another astonishing claim in Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker” is his assessment of the Bombardier Beetle [p87]. According to Dawkns, claims about the explosion chamber are false; there is no explosion when the two chemicals are added together. So there could be no “exploded beetles”. The real situation is that the chemicals do react violently in the presence of a catalyst. He concludes that since the two chemicals pre-exist in living creatures, then
“the bombardier Beetle’s ancestors simply pressed into different service chemicals that already happened to be around. That’s often how evolution works.”
And that’s it. That is the entire explanation Dawkins puts forth. It matters not that the complexity of the combination of chemicals, catalyst, and insulated fluid dynamic chamber with its jetted port and triggering mechanism has gone UP under his assessment. He has used misdirection again, and left the issue hanging as if he has solved it.

”Organized complexity is the thing we are having trouble explaining. Once we are allowed simply to postulate organized complexity, if only the organized complexity of the DNA/protein replicating engine, it is relatively easy to invoke it as a generator of yet more organized complexity. That, indeed, is what most of this book is about” [p141]
That is certainly true, in both cases. When you presuppose the existence of something which you cannot prove, cannot see, cannot test, and THEN base your hypotheses for your remaining career-making theory, including the deceptions in this book, why, nothing is too hard to explain any more. Just presuppose its Truth. And presuppose the Truth of your conclusion right there in the premise..And that is, indeed, the concept underlying the entire book.

The Weasel Routine
For another example presented in the “Blind Watchmaker”, Dawkins designed a computer routine which would randomly select letters to be fit into the spaces occupied by the phrase, “methinks it is like a weasel”. Dawkins then found that within only a few generations, the phrase had been created from the random inputs. [p46-50] It took only 41 iterations, and 11 seconds. Dawkins claimed that this is a case for “cumulative selection” [p49], “in which each improvement, however slight, is used as a basis for future building”. He continues,
”if evolutionary progress had had to rely on single step selection, it would never have got anywhere. If, however, there was a way in which the necessary conditions for cumulative selection could have been set up by the blind forces of nature, strange and wonderful might have been the consequences. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened on this planet, and we ourselves are among the most recent, if not the strangest and most wonderful of these consequences.”
The world of programmers, engineers and rational seven year old nerds immediately pointed out the obvious flaws in the “weasel” program. First, the computer routine is teleological, in that it knows the answer in advance. So when a letter matches the predetermined answer, that letter is kept because the selection criterion is previously determined. This progresses until all the letters turn up and the correct letter for each position is kept, and the desired phrase is formed. Second, the entire enterprise is intelligently designed. So this routine is another misdirection; it does not even represent actual theories of evolution, and in fact goes counter to them.

And the admitted necessity of accumulation of all the necessary components before they are asserted all together fails the test of rationality, first in the certain knowledge that the probabilities are so powerfully against this occurring, that they are effectively zero, because the creation of a series of interrelated organs requires many, many perfect information-bearing mutations to be absolutely correct and completely available. And most importantly, they would never survive long enough to accumulate due to modification by deleterious mutations which far outnumber any accidental organ-forming beneficial mutation.

If there were a smell test for evolutionary bull excrement, this would fail immediately.

For any of the claims in this book one might ask, “what is the material evidence which makes these claims into objective knowledge?” and the answer would be: none. Every claim is speculation without any hope of verification, validation or non-falsification. No claim is any more than the proverbial “Just So Story” which Stephen Jay Gould warned about. Bottom line, then, is that it is all imaginary, but is built up as a “rational case” for an unprovable hypothesis.

Thus it cannot succeed as representative of empirical science, because empirical science robustly provides the conditions for objective knowledge by providing testable, replicable, falsifiable deductive hypotheses which are independently verifiable, falsifiable and replicable with open data taken on the cause and effect being tested.

Evolution is a presumed effect of unknown causes (“mutation” is not a cause, it is a category of presumptive causes which are unknown) which cannot be objectively falsified, tested, or replicated. For example, creating all the phyla out of a single cell progenitor cannot be replicated, because the cause cannot even be estimated.

The real questions, those bearing on the actual, functional mechanisms regarding molecular-level changes are not addressed, because there is no knowledge to provide to the reader on that level. The entire thrust of evolution is couched in hierarchical meta-hypotheses, and never in specifics or particulars. There is nothing testable about Darwinian claims, nor about Dawkins’ attempt to justify them. Thus, not being falsifiable, the claims are found to be in the category of blind belief: fundamentalist religion.

Here are some issues and questions that should occur to any truly disinterested student of Darwinism and Evolutionism:
1.Mutations are subtractive [p169]. Modification of something which already exists necessarily deletes something which pre-existed. Some part of the genome is modified from A to B, eliminating or at least destroying the capability to produce A. So in this sense, all modifications are foremost destructive if they are not also additive.

2. Exactly what portion of the genome had to mutate, in order to produce an all new organ/system? I.e., where on the DNA did the modifications occur? Or is the information not in the DNA genome, and rather is contained elsewhere, as is much of the organism’s information?

3. How many bits of information are involved in the creation of the new organ? I.e., how much of the DNA had to be changed – correctly – and with correct intron/exons and other markers? If the information regarding the construction of a vision system is not found in the DNA, then where is it located?

4. What (exactly defined at the molecular level) was sacrificed in order to produce the new organ/system?

5. Evolutionist arguments are stuck at the level of the set of all possible mutations. And to the concept that DNA contains all the information, when it is known not to be the case. This set of all possible mutations is endowed with characteristics which are not measured or measurable, but are assumed for no reason other than science fiction. The invocation of “positive mutations” is undefinable at the actual level at which it supposedly occurs. The portion of the genome which was supposedly replaced is unknowable, since it is gone in the modern organism. It is more likely by far that the destruction caused by even a “positive mutation”, especially one of organic complexity, would outweigh the benefit of the “positive mutation”.

6. The proposed acquisition of multiple interdependent organic systems, along with their regulatory feedback systems and multiple language requirements for comprehensive control would mean a massive subtractive destruction of prior DNA. This makes the success of such an enterprise rationally impossible.
Further, the appropriate sudden acquisition of all the proper components of interdependent organ systems and their regulatory feedback systems with multiple appropriate languages which function together properly is rationally impossible. Further, any claims that gene-switching and epigenetic manipulations such as recombination [note 2] cause the creation of interdependent organic systems, feedback control systems, and multiple languages appropriate to each communication system are rationally impossible.

The standard response to this type of argument is the “Deep Time” plaint, which is made as if time were causal; time is not causal and the issue remains as the simultaneous creation of these organic systems due to build-up of saved beneficial mutations.

But, the deeper the time require to acquire and save these fortuitous mutations, the less probability that beneficial mutations, if they existed at all, would avoid annihilation by deleterious mutations.

The specific development of the interrelated cardio-vascular system, with the oxygenation and CO2 elimination function, and with the blood generation and filtration systems, along with the necessary metabolic and nutrient intake/waste output systems is massive complex. To believe that this all occurred due to saved up beneficial, correct information-bearing mutations to be expressed all at once is the concept which evolutionists must accept, as blind faith.

So this is the type of science which impresses IMS, and which he insists is valid and must be accepted; not to accept such irrationality has, in the past, caused IMS to go directly to Ad Hominem Abusive eptithets, such as science-denier, creationist, rather than to provide actual scientific, falsifiable, testable data in defense of the blind belief in evolution. And again, without such empirical justification, however conditional and fragile, the belief remains totally blind, blinded by science-fictional Just So Stories. If materialist evolution is to be believed, the argument for it must include, not more-meta narrative, but specifics of what happened at the molecular level (the effect), and the cause for that effect.

As it stands, there is neither a credible effect for evolution, nor any sign of a credible cause. It is merely a fantasy story built at the meta-narrative level, one which supports both many careers (with taxpayer funding) and the unprovable and falsified Philosophical Materialist worldview.


1. Coyne's fallacies are discussed HERE.

2. The following is a discussion of recombination:

“Whereas asexuals must move against selection to escape local optima, sexuals reach higher fitness peaks reliably because they create specific genetic variants that "skip over" fitness valleys, moving from peak to peak in the fitness landscape. This occurs because recombination can supply combinations of mutations in functional composites or 'modules', that may include individually deleterious mutations. Thus when a beneficial module is substituted for another less-fit module by sexual recombination it provides a genetic variant that would require either several specific simultaneous mutations in an asexual population or a sequence of individual mutations some of which would be selected against.”
This is found in a posting which purports to support recombination as a source of multiple mutation variation in a single step; Yet it does not explain how the “beneficial module” came into existence in the first place. Why should the expectation be that all the information for a working multi-organ system pre-exist in the genome, just waiting to be engaged in recombination? Even and especially if that involves some sort of shuffling action? So the recombination argument is not useful in defending Darwinism or any other form of evolutionary hypotheses.


JBsptfn said...

Stan, you should check these links out as well:

1. Skeptic Zone: The Lie That Never Dies-Christian Apologetics

2. Skeptic Zone: The Old Thermodynamics Canard

In the first one, IM Skeptical is having a long discussion about The Dark Ages and James Hannam's book God's philosophers. Hannam was invited over by Joe to counter some of dip crap's claims, and Victor Reppert (who banned IMS from his blog) came over to talk about an exchange that he had with some Freeman guy (someone who writes for the New Humanist).

In the second link, he actually insults you and Pogge, calling both of you propagandist. Then, I made a dig at him about propaganda (On Metacrock's Blog, he posted some links from RationalWiki and CSICOP, known materialist propaganda organizations), and posted some links from AtheistWatch and Michael Prescott's blog to show him that the Center For Inquiry and their related arms are about propaganda, not truth.

Stan said...

Thanks. I went there and created a ruckus.

JBsptfn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.