Sunday, April 20, 2008

Blinded by watchmaking.

Over in The Loom, the following quotation appears (excerpts):

This conclusion also flies in the face of the popular misconception among opponents of the evolutionary theory, who believe that the genetic code is irreducibly complex. ... Engineered devices are generally designed to work just above the point of failure, so that any tampering with their construction will result in catastrophe. In the event of failure, new clocks can be purchased or central processing units replaced. But nature does not have that option. To survive -- and so evolve -- organisms must be able to tolerate random mutations, deletions and recombination events.

I read this, and I came to precisely the opposite conclusion about whose face it flies into. Multiple, dynamic feedback loops that allow something to maintain its equilibrium is evidence of engineering on the highest level. Nuclear reactor, particle accelerator, Mars-landing engineering, not I-can-make-a-clock engineering. It takes far more "engineering" and thus far more intelligence, to make something that can withstand "random mutations, deletions, and recombination events." Let's chalk this up in the evolution is once again much less probable category.

1 Comments:

Blogger Noumenon said...

You might win the war here, but Zimmer wins his battle. His argument is specifically that organisms with multiple redundant systems are not irreducibly complex. That's practically a tautology.

The idea of irreducible complexity grabbed me when I read Darwin's Black Box, but I haven't seen it score a single win since and it comes down to argument from incredulity. I think the concept should be discarded.

7:02 AM  

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