on incompetent vs. intelligent design

Dr. James McGrath has an excellent post on the importance of accepting the basic scientific principle of human evolution through natural selection, especially for Christians.

If one allows that one may argue from evidence of design to a designer, then one opens up the possibility of arguing from shortcomings in design to an incompetent designer.

If you are a religious believer, and you refuse to accept evolution, then you have little choice but to blame God for the shortcomings seen in nature. You have little choice but to conclude that God wanted to leave us open to death by choking, when he made the routes for food and air converge on the same passage. And that is but one more of a very long list of examples of things that make good sense when considered the result of the slow adaptive processes of evolution, but which look ridiculous or even malevolent if considered the direct design of a divine Engineer.

Essentially, there are anatomical and physiological elements in every species that demonstrate vestigial anatomy and functionality. That is, there are things in our bodies that would never be a part of any “from scratch” blueprint of an intelligent designer. I’ve mentioned fingernails and the appendix and the optic disc (blind spot) before. Richard Dawkins discusses the laryngeal nerve as evidence of historical legacy in human anatomy.

Dawkins sums up:

A designer, an engineer, can go back to the drawing board, throw away the old design and start afresh with what looks more sensible. A designer has foresight. Evolution can’t go back to the drawing board; evolution has no foresight.

Thus, if a part of our anatomy appears vestigial and inefficient (like our appendix or blind spot or our laryngeal nerve), it probably is. It is the result of small changes over time. It cannot “go back to the drawing board” and start over like a designer. The fact that our laryngeal nerves descend into our thorax and then back up to our larynx is evidence that it was not designed (at least not intelligently) that way, but evolved that way (however inefficient it may be).

McGrath continues:

So don’t be surprised if other fellow religious believers, better informed about both science and theology, insist that you are demeaning rather than glorifying God through your refusal to accept evolution.

You are making God out to be an incompetent, not an intelligent, Designer.

70 Responses

  1. Now this is a subject I love to discuss. When I made the the career change from ministry to medicine and was immersed into the science of the human body my whole world changed. This topic will become far more popular/controversial in the days ahead for humanity and especially the church, as the evidence is overwhelming.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. The malaria-laden mosquito and flesh-eating bacteria do make “intelligent” design look difficult . . . unless we want to return to the time when Satan was only a messenger and every illness was God’s personal punishment for sin.

  3. […] the competency of the Creator God. Robert Cargill wrote a post supporting McGrath’s titled “On Incompetent vs. Intelligent Design”. For both it made me stop and think about the implications of what proponents of Intelligent Design […]

  4. How strange it would have to be for a Christian to believe that God
    does not create designed creatures (through dna).
    How then can there be a resurrection of the billions who have ever
    lived – will we have to wait billions of years for our new bodies to be
    All the miracles in the Bible would have to be discounted – eg cooked
    fish and loaves were instantly created not evolved.

    With no miracles and no resurrection where does that leave Christianity.

    Death and disease etc comes because the whole of creation is under
    a curse – this is in the Bible in many places.

    Mr Mcgrath seems to have a “form of religion but denies the power
    thereof” Timothy 3 (5)

  5. There are no vestigial organs – this has been disproved. Eg the
    appendix seeds the digestion with intestinal flora – although it is possible to live without it.
    Neither Prof Dawkins or any scientist has ever created even one single living living protein.
    The likelihood of a single protein molecule being arranged by chance
    is 1 in 10 to the power of 161. Since there are only 10 to the power 80
    atoms in the universe one would need 10 to the power of 81 universes
    for this one thing to happen – Dr James Coppedge (statistical probability expert)
    Living organisms have thousands of protein molecules – no chance
    of evolution.

  6. Kohelet is right again: nothing new under the Sun, here, in…debate!
    Do you both: biologists@ID sciencefictioners know the one true meaning of the term “to create”, i.e., of St.Thomas Aquinas+the methodology of sciences that of Aristotle/St.Thomas@ex. A.Tarski, Intro to Logic @ Meth.of Sciences, 1948 for high school

    What a Hell with this dumb world?

  7. what?
    carla, i’m just going to let people read your comment. just let them read your words. that will be my response.

  8. Krzysztof,
    no idea whatsoever what you just said. presuming it’s english with some sort of shorthand. can’t even tell if you agree or not. will let it be.

  9. In plain language: God is not fulfill “gaps:”the will of God”” in science!

    The methodology of sciences, ex. from On Trinity of St.Thomas Aquinas, 13 th cent.C.E must be taught by State Force. I assume most society learn to read….and not only to watch TV. Here, it is not space to teach basics, the difference between universals(ex. John, a stone,a photon, gene….)@trascendentals( ex.being,…truth,…) what failed University; K.Popper’s discovery of evolution’s definition as the survival of fittest as a logical tautology is known to many?
    Read it -as St.Paul taught his disciples

  10. Carla, here is some more information about vestigial organs. They can be called vestigial and still serve a purpose, no problem there.


    And just for fun an article about proteins worth a look.

  11. Krzysztof,
    Was Tom of Aquino the one who could levitate, or the one who argued that since a perfect being like God can be envisioned, he must exist?
    Was Aquinas the one who argued the planets and the sun revolved around the earth, and that the planets are kept spinning around on their axes by angels?
    THAT St.Thomas Aquinas?

  12. Krzyztof survival of the fittest is not evolution – the fittest say zebra
    remains a zebra albeit a fit one . Evolution is the gradual changing of
    the dna of one creature into the dna of another creature by random genetic damage – an impossibilty.

    Kyle – vestigial and still serve a purpose ? – what a contradiction.
    Talk Origins will go to any lengths to prove evolution.

    The whales “vestigial” legs are neccessary as muscle anchors.

    Do you not realise that “constructing” a protein is intelligent design
    just like building a car. No lab has ever constructed a living protein.

    Inserting amino acids into a LIVING cell is nowhere near creating
    life – the bacteria would use the amino acids as nutrients.

    It is similar to someone ingesting dead amino acids for body building
    – no lab has ever created life . Just headlines to get funding.

  13. McGrath’s argument is flawed. To reason that design implies a designer has nothing to say about the quality of the design. All that is necessary is to establish that design is present.

    And, by the way, the notion that Dawkins and others put forth that this reasoning from design raises the question of who designed the designer is a red herring. No one has ever detected the design of God; therefore, there is no basis for saying He has a designer.

  14. mike,
    you are more than welcome to argue for an imperfect design and designer, but i’m guessing that many theists would disagree with you. what are the differences between an imperfect design/er and a deist prime mover argument? (and are those differences important?)
    on the ‘designing the designer’ argument, i don’t think the question is about the design of god as much as it is about the notion that for some reason, the ‘designer’ argument suddenly stops at/with god.
    thanx for your comments. -bc

  15. Carla, lets try this one out as well.
    Science seems to be much closer than you give it credit for.

    In using the laws of nature to explain how cellular life exists and how complex it is, and how it must therefore have a designer why does that not also apply to God? Please don’t take my question as rude or trying to pick a fight. I am honestly seeking good answers about this topic. I appreciate all of your thoughts.

  16. Kyle – no life created just chemical reactions – I could make calcium
    phosphate then say I am close to making living bone which would be nonsense. It is a modern version of Millers amino acid experiment
    which came to naught. Life comes from God alone.

  17. Carla- I understand your point that life can come from God alone. Again I ask, what created God? Do the rules apply only to our world? I often hear others say, “evolution is false because nothing can come from nothing.” Then they turn around and say that God had no start, no creation, came from nothing. It is very confusing to me.

  18. Kyle – If an athiest can believe that the universe and all that it contains does not need a creator then why do they then say that God if he exists needed to have a creator.
    Yes I believe that God is eternal having no beginning or end.
    God created time which we live in .
    This is hard for our finite minds to comprehend ” I Am Who I Am.”
    Exodus 3 (14).
    In eternity we will understand. Carla

  19. Kyle my last reply was not posted so I can’t answer you

  20. Kyle – sorry it had been posted – must have been server or something

  21. Bob – most astronomers in Galileo’s time believed in geocentrism.
    Both heliocentric and geocentric calculations work to this day and are still used. This is due to the theory of relativity.
    Lots of astronomers and physicists still believe in the geocentric model. If you google up “Galileo was wrong the earth is not moving”
    there is a lot of debate. M. Sugenis and his Co author try to prove
    Geocentrism and have a website and book.

    There is a digital model showing how both systems work.

    Interestingly the Magisterium maintains geocentrism since it agrees with scripture . It has been looked at by the Popes who decided
    to leave it unchanged.

    Job 26:7 – “He stretches out the north over the void, and hangs the earth upon nothing.”

    Psalm 93:1 – “Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.”

    Psalm 96:10 – “Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved.”

    Psalm 19:5-6 – “In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes forth like a bridgegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and there is nothing hid from its heat.”

    Eccles. 1:5 – “The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.”

    Sir. 43:2 – “The sun, when it appears, making proclamation as it goes forth, is a marvelous instrument, the work of the Most High.”

    Sir. 43:5 – “Great is the Lord who made it; and at his command it hastens on its course.”

    Sir. 46:4 – “Was not the sun held back by his hand? And did not one day become as long as two?”

    There is a lot more scripture on the stillness of the earth.

    Galileo turned many away from the inerrancy of scripture.

  22. To bc:you mixed St.Thomas with his opponent, St.Anzelm whose ontological argument is a topic of present math logicians’ articles
    “On eternity of the world”+his argument: the movements of planets in sky could be explained by better theory (Than Ptolomey)- sys it all!

    CArla: you cannot ignore that 98% of genetical material with have common with aps, monkeys, dogs,…

  23. To Carla: gradual changing of DNA impossibility? Hm, Why does 98% of genetical material is the same in all living creatures?

    bc: you mixed St.Thomas with his opponent, St.Anzelm
    His scientific -astronomical views are more modern: he foresaw that the sky movements of planets could be explained by better theory than Ptolomey, he knew the Earth is round (after Greeks), “On Eternity of the World” fits all scientific speculations-it was 13 th century A.D!!!

    ps: the last post did no appear

  24. galileo turned away from the inerrancy of scripture. he did so because science and new information showed us that the bible (and just about every other religion up to that point) was incorrect about the earth being the center of the universe. the church punished him for it, but he was right. sure, some measurements (like the time of a day) are relative, so they work whether we think the earth or thee sun is the center of the universe. but one simple question: is the earth the center of the universe? does the sun revolve around the earth? if not, i don’t care how many times the bible gets it wrong, or how many verses you can show me that get it wrong, they’re still wrong. -bc

  25. Bob I am not an astronomer – but I know the Bible has never been proved wrong. Why not look at the many websites where physicists
    and astronomers state the case for geocentrism.

    What the Hubble quote implies is that rejecting general relativty (which allowed the “spatial curvature” and expansion) and redshift as expansion leads to an earth in a “unique position” (i.e., “centrally located”). an earth in a “unique position” is a “horror”, “intolerable”, etc., though “the hypothesis [of a unique position] cannot be disproved” (Davies and Hawking) and in fact “appears consistent with our astronomical observations” (Davies). So, rather than deal with an observationally (and also dynamically) viable option, so-called ‘objective Science’ chooses to “disregard this possibility”.

  26. krzys – If we have one Creator using the DNA code to create all
    living things then why would we not have genes in common.
    A jellyfish species had more than 50% of its genes in common with humans.

    A builder can build different buildings eg flats and houses using
    similar blueprints and materials but it does not mean that the flats evolved from the house.

    So common DNA does not prove evolution.

  27. I always love comments that begin with, “I’m not a _______ [insert name of professional qualifications required to comment in an educated manner on a particular scientific topic], but I know the Bible is inerrant.
    You’re essentially claiming that while you have no formal training in science, you’re smarter than all the scientists put together. They are wrong and you are right.
    The earth (or universe for that matter) was not created is six days. There was no worldwide flood. Donkeys and snakes do not talk. And no, the Earth is not the center of the universe. But in order to explain that to you, you’d need a basic understanding of science, at least beyond the simple “I’m not a scientist, but I know I’m right (about the Bible)” fallacy. Those who do not want to hear will not hear. Those who already know will never learn.
    Until you are willing to look at evidence objectively, in your mind, the Bible will “never be proved wrong,” because any evidence that does you will simply dismiss.

    But just for good measure…
    I’ll spare you the evolution and physics questions. How about just some internal Bible questions:
    How many animals were on the ark? (Hint: read Gen 6:19 AND Gen 7:2).
    Should we honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12) or hate them (Luke 14:26)?
    Is the earth set on pillars (1 Sam 2:8) or hung on nothing (Job 26:7)?
    Does a son bear the iniquity of his father? (Hint: read Ezekiel 18:20 AND Exodus 20:5)
    Bonus: When was Jesus crucified? (Hint: Read BOTH John 19:31 AND Mark 14:12. Note the day of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb ;-)

  28. About 35000 individual air breathing animals

    Hate means to turn away from. Jesus said to his mother that his
    family are those who believe in him and keep the commandments.

    This was meant to mean if your father tried to turn you from the gospel
    you should choose Jesus and turn away from your father.

    I took this to mean the surface of the earth eg the crystaline rocks
    and the mantle.

    This covenant was changed in Ezekiel. It was originally given to the
    Hebrews – it would encourage them not to sin – but for us – each man
    is responsible for his own salvation.

    He certainly was crucified – this is what our faith is based on.
    The old and the new testaments make this crystal clear – but it is up
    to the individual to believe it.

    We rejoice that his mother was a believer and Jesus wanted her cared
    for by John.

  29. welp, there you go.
    and i’m spent. -bc

  30. […] James McGrath asks if the type of evidence the field of history demands should be more like a civil or criminal trial.  Neil Godfrey, along similar lines, asks if history is like a trial.  James also states that YEC demean God.  And he wonders: Can Creationism be disproven?  And then brings up the Argument for Incompetent Design.  Peter Kirk responds.  Bob Cargill agrees with James McGrath. […]

  31. Doc Bob: Nice post.

    As for Carla, I often see that mentality when debating creationists, and from creationist sites like aig — who made the same mistake re the definition of vestigial. If it’s any consolation, I’ve had to inform a few atheists we have some excellent, very devout, evolutionary scientists.


  32. Hmmm, David posts Job 26:7; good luck reconciling an inerrant bible with the notion earth “hangs on nothing”.


  33. Thanks for the post. I’ve been struggling through this lately.

  34. Bc: very good points. People only “feel” Bible is “right” but they do not know – of the lack of any biblical studies: textbooks@ on the methodology of sciences,esp. the philosophy of science; they fail the command of 1Pet 3:15!

  35. To David:
    Bible is not a textbook for biology or astronomy; it is a specific interpretation of history: data@persons in Israeli@world history; written in 10th cent B.C-1st cent. C.E. is full of “scientific” mistakes; even Jesus@St.Paul seem to read OT literally that seem quite strange- an excuse: how would they know 20th century biblical hermeneutics? Well, in practice they knew how to use OT @not bend before Cesar, Priest@mob=1st command-Deut 6:5 (love God)
    ps.Tit 1:12 is cited by all logicians in discussion on Godel’s …eschatological theorem: sth is true but the language is too poor to prove it

  36. McGrath’s logic is faulty at its foundation. Just because I can discern that there is design does not mean I am therefore able to judge the design.

    For example, I can discern that a jet aircraft has been designed, and therefore that it has a designer. It would be huge leap, however, for me to, on that basis, say that I am able to decide which of its parts are truly necessary and which are merely vestiges of airplanes of the past.

    The argument that the presence of design implies a designer stands. Dawkins has attempted to refute it, but has clearly failed. Nonetheless, he has his lemmings.

  37. mike, that’s because on a modern jet airplane, there would be no vestiges of airplanes of the past. a designer/engineer has foresight, and can redesign the plane, eliminating old elements and replacing them with more efficient ones (lighter, stronger materials, better aerodynamics, more powerful engines, etc.). you’d be ridiculed or fired if you attempted to ‘design’ a jet engine on the wright bros’ original wings. and yet, that’s what we have with the human body: old, leftover, inefficient/unused parts on our modern bodies. designers can start over from scratch; natural selection cannot. it must use what is already there. so, we still have laryngal nerves that wrap around our aortas before ascending back up to our voice boxes, why we have fingernails (but not claws), eyes with blond spots (unlike squid), tails (internal, however some are still born with them), muscles in our ears (even though we don’t move them), the remnants of nictitating membranes in our eyes, whales have rear leg bones (internal), ostriches have wings (but cannot fly), etc. etc.

    your jet airplane analogy fails (as do all ‘pot needs a potter’ analogies) because designers know when to scrap unneeded parts.

  38. bc, I think you really do not see the logical error you are making. The airplane (or pot) analogy fails in your eyes only because you are altering the analogy. Of course I would be ridiculed if I attempted to design a jet engine on the Wright brothers model. But that’s irrelevant to my analogy because I’m not presenting myself as a designer. I’m merely saying I can recognize the presence of design, and therefore infer there has been a designer. I couldn’t tell the difference between good design and bad design of an airplane (or a pot, for that matter), much less design one myself.

    Yes, designers know when to scrap unneed parts. But I am not a designer of pots, airplanes, human beings, or creation in toto. I am only one who can recognize design when I see it. If you feel qualified to design any of these things, and therefore be able to pass judgment on what you see and say that “such and such a part is unnecessary, or no longer necessary,” fine and dandy. But that has nothing to do with my argument.

  39. mike,
    so we are agreed that we are not the designers. where we disagree is on the concept of ‘design.’ advocates of ‘intelligent design’ argue that the human body is indeed ‘designed’ and therefore in need of a designer. however, the innovation of darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is that things can reproduce and adapt/change/evolve over a great deal of time based upon their preexisting forms. that is, the line of fish with the longer fins develops legs over time, and the lineage of fish with adapted gills developed slowly lungs and became amphibians and then land dwelling, air breathing animals. had a ‘designer’ designed the animals we have today, there should not be the left over vestiges of the anatomical structures and physiological processes from earlier forms.

    that is, while the argument for a ‘designer’ requires a simplistic view of an individual organism, a dismissal of vestigial parts, and a creator (who, for some reason, did not need creation in his own right, even though the point of the argument is that all existing things need a creator), evolution via natural selection provides a process by which a diversity of animals of shared traits can evolve, explains vestigial structures, and explains the lack of apparent foresight/faulty design apparent in humans.

    the fact that i, as a male, have nipples should be enough to prove this point (especially if, as many people of faith argue, god hates homosexuality) no? ;-)

  40. Bob, the point of the argument is not “that all existing things need a creator,” but that all designs require a designer. Since God is invisible, no one can claim to have perceived his design and therefore no one can thereby claim that He requires a designer.

    As for organs that are vestigial, science changes its mind about what falls into this category. When I was a kid, everyone was having their tonsils taken out because they no longer served a purpose in the body. That’s obviously changed.

    There are certainly many things about this physical world that God allows us to discover. That Darwin – or anyone else – has theorized about some aspects of physical life is fine with me. But at the point when you say that your theory means design no longer implies a designer, you lose me – because it’s just not logical, nor has a scientific experiment been constructed that can demonstrate it.


  41. Since changes in the DNA would be required for “evolution” of the design how on earth would these DNA changes come about. Eg how
    would a fish’s DNA be changed into an air breathing land creature.
    This is a random process requiring millions of DNA code changes.

    Who is checking the design. Genetic damage cannot design a new
    DNA blueprint for a succesful species.

    Darwin , not having DNA knowledge , mistook ‘breeding’ for design evolution.
    Scientists can only change the DNA in a lab using “intelligent design”.

  42. actually… no.
    dna changes are random, and most are deleterious. and it is these that we mostly notice: genetic changes that cause disease, disfigurement, and death. we tend not to notice the genetic mutations that are selected for because the individual is simply considered ‘healthy.’ the healthy individual may be bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, with better hormonal balance and emotional control, but all we say about them is that they are ‘exceptional’ (or as my grandmother would say, ‘a nice young man” or “woman”).

    we don’t notice beneficial change in the human genome because they often take many generations to be pronounced, and we can only see our generation. (the lucky see their great-grandchildren.)

    but people are selected for/against based upon other factors besides their genes, including social status, wealth, and of course, who they know (and who knows them). but make no mistake, individuals from each new generation are adapting to their new environments, and that progress needs no designer, just people to be attracted to one another. ;-)

  43. mike, the first part of your argument is circular. god’s invisibility has not stopped theologians from telling us about the nature of god, his traits, etc. the fact that god is ‘invisible,’ if anything makes his nature more akin to a unicorn or santa.
    does the wind require a designer? how about gamma rays? how about souls? do they also not need ‘designers’ because they too are invisible?

    as for your tonsils, yes, science changes its mind all the time, based upon new evidence. lobotomies would fit your argument better. still, science is based upon new facts, and improves over time based upon its willingness to admit error and improve. why can’t religions do that? (of course, that’s a trick question: they do. ask anyone who has lived after the great schism, or the protestant reformation, or the american restoration). still, religious folks want to claim that god is unchanging, and see science’s willingness to follow the data as a weakness, when it is in fact its fundamental strength. the fact that science follows the best evidence, and rejects older, disproved conclusions is not a weakness.

    the fundamental point of natural selection (and to be fair, the most difficult to understand) is that living beings can adapt without ‘design’. remember, natural selection is not about an individual organism, but about competition between organisms. the best adapted (and luckiest) survive to reproduce, and the subsequent genetic recombinations are not the result of any foresight, but rather the result of an organism’s fitness in relation to its environment.

    (this is actually a pretty good conversation. others have emailed me saying they are learning from both sides of the argument by reading it. thanx for the comments. -bc)

  44. So what your saying Bob, is that the evidence really does demand a verdict?

  45. lol. worst. book. ever.
    (ok, well, maybe not ever, but still pretty bad. wonderful combination of irrational arguments and bad scholarship (if i can call it that).

  46. I agree…TERRIBLE.
    To bad we don’t teach children the scientific method from birth up–like we do Sunday school answers. “Yes Unicorns exist! They are right there in the King James!” (Isaiah 34:7)

  47. yep, there they are.

  48. Bob – there has always been adaptation (micro evolution)- survival of the fittest. But does this lead to a new “kind” ? Eg a long term famine
    might select those humans who could best survive – but they would still be humans . Darwin’s finches have genetics that can alter their beaks but they are still finches.
    It is the mechanism of evolution or its demonstration that is nonexistant. Dog breeding is micro evolution , adaptation but they are still dogs.

  49. Bob what do you think of this one on DNA :-

    Generation after generation, through countless cell divisions, the genetic heritage of living things is scrupulously preserved in DNA … All of life depends on the accurate transmission of information. As genetic messages are passed through generations of dividing cells, even small mistakes can be life-threatening … if mistakes were as rare as one in a million, 3000 mistakes would be made during each duplication of the human genome. Since the genome replicates about a million billion times in the course of building a human being from a single fertilised egg, it is unlikely that the human organism could tolerate such a high rate of error. In fact, the actual rate of mistakes is more like one in 10 billion.”
    (Miroslav Radman and Robert Wagner, The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication… Scientific America. Vol. 299, No 2 (August 1988, pp 40-44. Quote is from page 24))

  50. sure, as long as you are breeding dogs with dogs. but whence came dogs?
    the tradition definition of a species is organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. are there differences between wild wolves and domesticated dogs? can they breed? why is one lupus and the other canis?
    one species can reproduce and adapt and reproduce and adapt to such an extent that it differentiates from a different breeding line enough to constitute a different species with different traits, sizes, proportions, etc. it’s a phenomenon not unlike tigers/lion and cats. and then of course, there are primates… ;-)

  51. I believe there are differences between wolves and dogs due to breeding. Wolves and other dog kinds like hyenas can still breed.
    Breeding sometimes produces a loss of so much genetic information
    that the kind is no longer fertile.
    We can end up with a poodle which cannot be bred back into an alsation due to loss of genetic information.

    So (your not going to like this) but the original two dogs which would
    have enough genetic information for the whole family of dogs – came
    off the ark.

  52. that’s ‘kind’ speciation, and it’s a fallacious argument. you’re saying species can evolve forward, but it can’t be traced backward? whence came the proto-dog? and did proto-dogs not ‘speciate’ pre-ark?
    since you mentioned the ark, i need to save my keystrokes and let señor nonstamp respond:

  53. Bob, regarding your last response, you only see circularity in my argument because you’re misunderstanding it. If I observe an airplane, a pot, or a watch, I can recognize design and thereby infer that there was a designer. No person in his right mind – theologian or otherwise – would claim to have observed God. When people claim to describe God they are doing so based on some revelation, actual or supposed, that God has made about Himself. Invisible things are known by faith, not by observation. Therefore, the observation of design in invisible things is nonsensical. This is why no one can logically claim that God must have a designer.

    As for trial-and-error being a strength of science, rather than a weakness, I quite agree. However, in all its strength, science can never discover God, or disprove God, because God, being invisible, is beyond its realm. Whether one believes God is there, or believes He is not there, is a matter of faith. Each of us believes something about the invisible – it’s just a question of what.

    Natural selection is an interesting idea, and logical insofar as it goes. However, acceptance of this idea does not disallow a designer as evidenced by those who deem it an instrument of God’s design. The NFL is a place where we can see competition, adaptation, and survival of the fittest, but no one could say this proves that the league did not have founders. People who claim that evolution disproves God, or that it disallows supernatural explanations of creation, are on a(n) (a)theological, not a scientific, mission.

  54. Well I wouldn’t say they can evolve forward into a new “kind” but selection of the fittest does mean they can speciate like Darwin’s finches (but remain as finches). I don’t know if proto dogs speciated pre ark but the two ark dogs must have had enough genetic information for all the dog species of today.
    What I was trying to find out is what evolutionists think is a rational method of adding enough information to transform say a fish into a land air breathing animal. I just can’t even imagine this happening.

    “In most people’s minds, fossils and Evolution go hand in hand. In reality, fossils are a great embarrassment to Evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of Creation. If Evolution were true, we should find literally millions of fossils that show how one kind of life slowly and gradually changed to another kind of life. But missing links are the trade secret, in a sense, of palaeontology. The point is, the links are still missing. What we really find are gaps that sharpen up the boundaries between kinds. It’s those gaps which provide us with the evidence of Creation of separate kinds. As a matter of fact, there are gaps between each of the major kinds of plants and animals. Transition forms are missing by the millions. What we do find are separate and complex kinds, pointing to Creation.”
    (Dr Gary Parker Biologist/palaeontologist and former ardent Evolutionist.)

  55. The non stamp collector video is not in line with air breathing animals.
    Ants and other insects were not needed on the ark although billions
    could have been eg in the form of eggs. Insect eggs can last underwater no problem. The ark could have quite easily have held
    the number of air breathing kinds required . Noah did not decide what
    went into the Ark – the power of God brought the animals two by two.

    Although it is a matter of faith in the word of God I find that it can be backed up by logic.

  56. and i don’t. and how many animals were on the ark again?

  57. mike, it’s not that i don’t understand your argument, I do. I just adamantly disagree with it.

    let me amend one of your statements above: “When people claim to describe God they are doing so based on some revelation, actual or supposed, that God has made about Himself or that they themselves made up!

    your next comment, “the observation of design in invisible things is nonsensical,” is in itself circular. you are arguing that if something is invisible, then design cannot be observed, therefore it does not need a designer. i’d argue that if if something is invisible, it may not exist. but to argue that since god is invisible, he doesn’t need a designer, you leave yourself open to the argument that the wind and gamma rays do not need a designer, as they too are invisible.

  58. Bob – about 35,000 air breathing kinds which could be easily fed by a family of 8 especially if they are in hibernation (which is suggested) but
    not in the Bible. The average size of animals is about that of a sheep since most animals are small and the ark could quite easily hold them all – being slightly less than half the size of the Queen Mary.
    It took 400 man years to build (4men x over 100 years) .

    “… Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the power of 40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court …”
    (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space)

    However saying that evolution came from space does not solve the problem – using their own words they disagree with themselves.

  59. Oh my Oh my…starting with a minor point, hyenas are not dogs. nor could they breed with dogs.

    “…the trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the power of 40,000, an outrageously small probability…”

    That’s nice, but so what ? You’ve only ‘proved’ what isn’t claimed to start with.

    Next, the global flood is easily disproved. Dendrochronology and genetics disproves it…the fact diverse fields disprove it is an additional and powerful argument.

    The fossil record fully supports evolution, and we have LOTS of intermediate forms. More are found all the time; sometimes from fossils that were found, cataloged, stuck in a drawer…but not studied ’til years later.

    Lastly, I’ve never understood why anyone would think a watch or airplane is an analogy for anything supernatural, much less a disproof of evolution.

    Humans create airplanes, therefore god created the earth…connect those dots without using pre-suppositional arguments!

    Belated “hi”, doctor bob

  60. Jeffw – You are right hyenas do not mate with dogs but are more in the cat family seemingly- sorry .
    The original “kinds” from the ark speciate and many can no longer breed.

    “Eighty to eighty-five percent of earth’s land surface does not have even 3 geological periods appearing in ‘correct’ consecutive order … it becomes an overall exercise of gargantuan special pleading and imagination for the evolutionary-uniformitarian paradigm to maintain that there ever were geologic periods.”
    (John Woodmorappe, geologist) at family.

    A presupposional argument – circular reasoning :-
    “It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint, geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by the study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains of the organisms they contain.”
    (R H Rastall, Lecturer in Economic Geology, Cambridge University: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.10 (Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1956, p.168)

  61. Bob, I only said that you don’t understand my argument because your responses have been to perversions of it, and not the argument itself. I surmise it’s the conclusion to which the argument might lead you that has you in adamant disagreement.

    As to the phrase you would append to one of my statements, it would be superfluous since I’d already included “…actual or supposed…”

    The wind and gamma rays may be invisible in a narrowest sense, but they are both detectable and measurable by humans.  The same would be truly of all microscopic life.  All these things fall into the visible realm – defined broadly as that which can be ascertained by physical means.  Thus these all fall within the bounds of science because they can be observed (whether by an eyeball or an instrument).  God, being undetectable by any such means, does not fall within these bounds.  You are therefore quite within your rights to say that God, being undetectable by science, might not exist at all, but in saying so you would simply be making a faith choice, not a scientific one, just as I am making a faith choice when I say He does exist.

    You’ve been a good sport.  Thanks for the interactions.

  62. Jeffw – by chance primordial soup …………to evolution which
    evolved all living things. Can you connect the dots?

  63. Mike,

    Your analogy stated ‘invisible,’ not ‘detectable.’
    Now you are talking about ‘detectable,’ which of course, God is not. In fact, there is no evidence for his existence whatsoever, as he is, per your definition, ‘undetectable,’ and you stated undetectable beings need no creator.
    The only other invisible, undetectable beings I know of are imaginary.
    Per your words above, God is bothcompletely invisible and completely undetectable, leading us to the old line: “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.”

    To argue that God needs no designer because he is both invisible and undetectable, means you have categorized him with other never before (i.e., un-) created beings like unicorns and chimera. Why aren’t you arguing that unicorns and chimera are also uncreated creators, since the only time they are seen is depicted in artwork, like other suggested invisible, undetectable beings?

  64. Bob, you keep avoiding my argument, and altering it (perhaps subconsciously) into a straw man you can attack with greater chance of success.

    Again, the argument is that where I can observe design, it is reasonable to infer that there is a designer. This is applicable to airplanes, pots, watches, microbes, gamma rays, human beings, and creation in toto.

    It is invisibility (or the inability to detect, if you prefer) that precludes us from observing design in God. Thus there is no basis for inferring that He has a designer. As for imaginary things, the ability to observe design is irrelevant because we already know imaginary things have a designer – the person who imagined them.

    When I look at creation, I perceive design. I infer from this a Creator. I do not infer a unicorn. I cannot imagine anyone in his right mind who would.

  65. Yegads, from hoyle to woodmorappe ? What’s next, ken hovind and carl baugh ??

    Hoyle at least was a real scientist who did lots of good work; though a bit tetched about some subjects. His big number that you cite is utterly irrelevant as no one in the field advocates that kind of single step, simple chemicals to life model. In addition, iirc, his calculations assume sequential trials vs many concurrent trials.

    A real, though wildly over simplified hypothesis might look something like this:

    simple chemicals -> polymers
    -> replicating polymers
    -> hypercyle
    -> protobiont
    -> first bacteria

    As anyone can readily see, that’s quite different than the hoyle model of ‘simple chemicals -> life’.

    As for Rastall, I know diddly about him but I can say this: either he’s being misquoted; which is probable if the quote is culled from a creationist site, or he didn’t understand index fossils and how they come to be index fossils.

    I’ve seen this odd proposition before, that evolution is false up to the time of the mythical global flood, after which there’s some kind of turbo charged evolution to arrive at todays extant lifeforms.

    I don’t think woodmorappe is a geologist; far as I know without looking it up, the only geology he’s done is quote mining. Look David, you’ve been consistently courteous, but really, it looks like you’re quoting the quote miners.

    The sad fact is for many creationist writers, quote mining is a stock in trade. One of the most famous, which I saw invoked again just the other day, is the famous misquote of Darwin and the eye. One litmus test for any creationist site is if they at least correctly define evolution.

    And with that, the other half is calling.


    ps – had to take a minute to lookup something about woodmorappe, here’s the link:



  66. 1) who could perceive a unicorn? try job 39:9-12; psalm 22:21, 29:6; and 92:10; isaiah 34:7; numbers 23:22; deuteronomy 33:17. it seems imagined beings are popular in this book.
    2) if you see design when looking at humans, then the difference is what you view as ‘designed’ (which is distinct from ‘intelligent’ design). all objects can be said to have a design. but this does not mean all object had a designer. you keep referring to airplanes and watches and pots, but these show evidence of foresight. the human body does not. this explains vestigial organs and inefficiencies within human physiology. the entire point of evolution by natural selection is that the human body is the result of adaptive fitness over hundreds of thousands of generations. there is no designer (and certainly not an intelligent one), there is only the result of natural selection. today, now that many of the historical claims made in the bible have been thoroughly debunked and disproved, many people of faith posit god as a far removed ‘intelligent’ designer, almost foreign to the God described in the Bible. But this is done out of necessity.

    3) once again, your argument that because god does not have an observable design, and therefore is in no need of a designer, is hopelessly circular, as the same can be said about any imaginary creature. For, “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”


  67. Bob,

    1) You missed the point. I was not suggesting that it was impossible for someone to imagine a unicorn. Obviously, people do. Rather, I was pointing out that no one would observe design and infer a unicorn. That would be a non sequitur. In other words, your invocation of unicorns is a red herring in our discussion. I understand that crying “Unicorn!” in a building crowded with atheists may be a tactic your weak position tempts you to use, but I’m sure your better angels wish you’d resist the temptation.

    2) If someone seats me at a dinner table with fine linen, silverware with multiple forks and knives, and several glasses of different shapes and sizes, I may conclude that only one of the forks, one of the knives, and one of the glasses was necessary. Doing so, however, would only demonstrate my limited knowledge of fine dining. As we learned with tonsils, what looks superfluous to science today will not necessarily look superfluous to it tomorrow.

    3) Again, imaginary creatures are designed by those who imagine them. Therefore, the discovery of their design is moot and off topic. As for your assertion that my argument that no one can observe God’s design is circular, since you made it without evidence I hereby dismiss it without evidence.


  68. Mike,

    1) You still have not distinguished between an invisible and undetectable God and a non-existent being (or for that matter, other invisible, undetectable gods like Wotan and Ahura Mazda. Certainly, your argument of an invisible, undetectable God is not limited to YHWH? Cannot the same argument be used to ‘prove’ other gods as well?

    2) Again, you are appealing to crafted objects, not living organisms. Has anyone designed a living organism (from scratch, not simply replacing a gene here and there?) If we could, then why posit that only God can create life. And if we can’t, why is an argument from ‘perceived design’ without any evidence (other than your perception and declaration of design) any better than an argument from natural selection, which has the benefit of evidence (including extraneous and vestigial anatomical parts)?

    3) As for your last sentence, I couldn’t have said it any better: “Imaginary creatures are designed by those who imagine them.” Amen to that!

    For the record: I’m with you on the argument for a Prime Mover. But any attempt to draw a line from that to an active designer/creator (beyond the cosmological event of setting it all in motion), or further to the singular, Iron Age god YHWH, and him alone (no other gods) will fall short. The evidence and the arguments aren’t there. But this has been a great discussion illustrating that.



  69. I have to reject Matt’s ‘silverware analogy’ as invalid. A vestigial is internal to the organism, Matt has made it external; he’s mis-defined the system. This extra silver/glasses isn’t vestigial to Matt, they would be vestigial to the hostess, or the table, etc.

    I also reject the notion that because tonsils or adenoids are no longer considered vestigial, therefore vestigials don’t exist. What’s happened is an increase of our knowledge base has refined what’s vestigial and what isn’t.


  70. Intelligent Design explained in 4 easy steps: (1) Some things are so dramatically complex that we don’t have an explanation for how they came to be. (2) Man does not understand everything that exists in the universe. Therefore, (3) the only possible explanation is that God did it. And (4) by “God” we mean YHWH.

    There. Now we can throw away all those bulky science books.

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