Saturday, July 23, 2011

On De-Evolution and the Fall of Man

 Though it is not very common, there is an argument that stupid design is explained by the fall of man in Genesis. I tend to go to the trouble of showing how silly such ideas are by refuting them. It seems like a lot of work to refute a rather laughable claim, but why not? It's just a few thousand words and maybe you'll free a mind. As I bothered to write up a pretty good explanation elsewhere I'll repost it here, because it's awesome and I tend to look back here to find awesome things. Even if nobody read this blog, except for you (warning nobody might read this, but if that's true then its a safe statement because nobody read it), it still works as a great resource to save things.

While one could attempt to make that argument. The problem is that Pareto efficiency of the designs observed combined with an understanding of the evolutionary ancestry requirements producing better and specific assumptions, don't fit at all.

Allow me an example. There is a nerve in humans and in all mammals called the recurrent laryngeal nerve which travels from the brain to the larynx, via the heart. It travels down from the head, loops around the aortal arch and back up to the larynx. In the giraffe this is like twenty feet of unneeded nerve to travel a few inches. This is a largely inefficient design, but under your theory it would have had to have developed since the Fall of Man. That somehow the deterioration of the perfect design made all the recurrent laryngeal nerves of all mammals and all the four legged land critters (and a good number of the ocean critters, just not arthropods) suddenly lengthened and looped around the heart.for no reason.

Moving from one design to another would likely cause the larynx to fail. Basically what we have is a Pareto efficiency, it's not the best design, but it is one that any alteration would cause serious errors and thus cannot be changed (save gradually), and no set of gradual changes could get you to the more efficient design. But, the reverse is also true. You can't go from the efficient design to the inefficient one without also likely breaking the system completely.

However the evolutionary explanation is really straight forward. We are In fish the path the nerve takes is a straight line. It goes right through the heart there because that's the best and most efficient design. The problem is that through our evolution the heart has moved down in the torso the head has become more isolated and the larynx is not located much closer to the brain than to the heart. So once it developed in our evolutionary ancestor (and the ancestor of a all the rejiggered fish, read all four legged land animals and any of the water dwelling descendents thereof)  it couldn't be changed. In fact, it can't be changed. You can't get from the efficient design to the inefficient one or the efficient design to the inefficient one. Evolutionary the design was quite efficient  in our distant ancestors but doesn't work well for us, and as such, it is not only explained by evolutionary theory but such things are predicted by evolution and are only explained by evolution. You could say that that our eyes are so fantastic that they need an intelligence to explain how wonderful and intricate they are, however, you can't use that explanation to explain why all the blood vessels and nerves in the mammalian eyes (including ours) go forward towards light and not back towards the brain which is their final destination. Which requires that they be narrowed and made rather clear and that a large hole causing a blind spot exists in our vision.

You also cannot use some sort of de-evolution from the Genesis Fall of Man as an explanation. The designs are good, they are just wrong. They are well designed to cope with things like flawed design at the most basic level, but also it's impossible to go from the most basic design principles to the inferior ones without breaking the entire system. And even if you could,  you'd need an explanation for how good the system is at coping with the most basic errors.

The explanation you are offering fails to account for such designs.
The explanation you are offering could not allow a transition from a perfect design to the inferior but well coped designs.
The alternative explanation explains such specific mistakes.
The alternative explanation predicts these specific mistakes.
The alternative explanation gives the specific reasons why those mistakes should be very common.
The alternative explanation makes a wide swath of specific explanations which perfectly mesh with what we know. We know for example that evolutionarily fish are the first vertebrates and some of the systems would work fantastically for them.

So the explanation accepted by the science is one that explains all the data at hand, predicting a great deal of it, fits with known facts, and requires no unknown assumptions. Your explanation cannot account for the data at hand, does nothing to predict how things should turn out or if they are consistent with the assumptions, requires a great deal of unknown assumptions and is primarily based on iron age interpretation of Semitic mythology from late bronze age principly accepted by some of the nomadic goatherders of the time, and varied throughout the region.

I think when things are this clear you should seriously consider if you could be wrong. Taking into account things like the modern understanding that certainty is an emotion rather than reliable metric by which to judge the quality of the evidence, and that being wrong feels exactly like being right while it's happening.


Kay said...

All I can say is po giraffes.

rofl... that was pretty awesome indeed, and I read it all. Okay, so you know I got a lil lost here and there, but that has to do with me, not you.

Explain this for me if you will. The other day I saw a post from a creationist stating that the Theory of Evolution has to have some fault in it because there is no interbreeding of species. How in layman's terms did the first humans evolve from apes and then proceed to separate themselves from the apes? At what point did breeding with apes stop by humans?

Kay said...

Basically, would you be so kind as to debunk it for me? Thanks.

Tatarize said...

It's actually a pretty long post to explain such things.

The problem is with our ideas of species not the theory of evolution. We tend to think of species like these specific boxes of absolute things. But, evolution says everything is gradual and changing. And evolution is right. And species turn out to be arbitrary lines in the sand that don't matter one jot to reality or evolution.

Kay said...

lol... no frigg'n (working on cussing) kidding, it was long. The repetition was great not to mention the lay out.

Off to re-read it before I ask you another question.