Friday, November 6, 2009

The Ultimate Proof of Creation - Chapter 1 - Section 2

This is a book by Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis (AiG). Here is a short background on him posted on Amazon's page for this book.

"Dr Jason Lisle is a research scientist and speaker with Answers in Genesis Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master's degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Dr Lisle is currently planetarium director at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, and written a number of books and journal articles, as well as the programs currently being used in the planetarium."

I was able to see his talk on this same subject while visiting the Creation Museum in Kentucky run by AiG. I know PZ has covered the first chapter but I wanted to take a shot at, especially after hearing Lisle's speech. Chapter 1 of his book is available online here. I will be using part of this book in accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Laws within the United States of America.

Section 2 is all about Irreducible Complexity.

"Another argument that is often waged against evolution concerns the incredible complexity found in living things. Darwin could not possibly have anticipated the astonishing intricacy of even the “simplest” single-celled organism. Every living cell of every organism contains a host of complex biochemical machines, each cooperating with the others to enable the survival of the entire cell. The parts of the cell are interdependent; if any one of them malfunctions, it can lead to the death of the entire cell. In multi-cellular organisms, the cells themselves are specialized, each performing a different task to contribute to the survival of the whole organism. Hearts, kidneys, and lungs all work together — without one the others could not survive."

Because no one believes that cells evolved. Instead that cells have always been the same throughout history (/sarcasm).

We can just look at one of his examples. Hearts there are several animals that have no heart, instead they use locomotion to move the blood cells around in their body. Likewise, there are animals, like some worms, that don't have a heart but have some muscles around one part of a blood vessel that squeeze the blood vessel making blood flow through the body. In other words, a precursor to a heart. We can see the evolution of the heart just in comparative anatomy of animals today. This is what Charles Darwin did with the eye in explaining how it could have evolved.

"Interdependent parts challenge the idea of particles-to-people evolution. Evolution is supposed to happen in a gradual, stepwise fashion.One by one, mutations are supposed to gradually change one kind of organism into another. So we must ask the question: which evolved first — hearts, kidneys, or lungs? Each is useless without the other two. A stepwise evolutionary process for any interdependent system would seem to be impossible at the outset."

Really, this is all you got? I just pointed out there are animals without hearts. Only a few fish have lungs, and several animals don't use blood for the dispersal of oxygen anyway. I can show examples of animals without one or two of these organs, so his statement that each is useless without the other two is just blatantly false.

"Even within a single living cell, how could the various parts have come about in a gradual fashion? Each part cannot survive without the others. Such a system is said to be “irreducibly complex” because its complexity cannot be reduced without destroying functionality. Any irreducibly complex system cannot have come about by an evolutionary process, since every piece requires all the other pieces at the same time."

What parts? Name some. Of course you won't do that will you? That would mean someone could come along and prove your statement to be false. Instead using amorphous terms you can never been pinned down on exactly what you mean and thus can never be proven wrong. Unlike what you did with the heart, lung and kidney example.

"Many machines made by human beings are also irreducibly complex. A car does not work unless all of its essential parts are functioning. Since many of the parts of a car are irreducibly complex, it would be logical to conclude that a car is not made by an evolutionary process. It is skillfully planned and made by people who have designed every part to function with all the others. Likewise, living beings have been designed by a Master Planner who has skillfully prepared every part to
function together with all the other parts."

Actually we know a car is made because, it can't reproduce on its own, we can go and see it being made in a factory and the manufacturer usually puts a stamp on it saying it was made, by whom it was made and where it was made. None of it has to do with irreducible complexity.

The other thing about the car example is that there is coworker of mine that has a Harley Davidson poster in his office. The poster is the evolution of the Harley Davidson. It starts with motorized bicycles and goes all the way to present day motorcycles. You can see the gradual changes in design that over a long time accumulated into something that looks nothing like the original. Changing these parts that Lisle is calling irreducibly complex, which are necessary now, but not in the past on some of the first bikes. So even his example is not of irreducible complexity.

That is all Lisle has on irreducible complexity and it is quite weak. His argument is basically one giant argument from personal incredulity, I don't see how it can happen so it must not have happened. This is a logical fallacy, which Lisle spends an entire chapter of this book on logical fallacies and how to identify them. I find it telling that he then also uses so many fallacies himself. It reminds of a passage of the bible:

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:3-5

Dr. Ken Miller's page on irreducible complexity of the Flagellum as described by William Dembski. A very good read and deconstruction of irreducible complexity.


Whateverman said...

I recently listened to an audio book version of "A Brief History of Nearly Everything" (Bill Bryson). Although he points out where scientific understanding conflicted with theistic understanding (and that science inevitably won), he's effectively neutral on the question of design. He mentions several items I thought ID proponents should latch onto, one of which might be described as "the improbability of the simultaneous 'evolution' of DNA and the related proteins".

This a tangent (sorry), but it's roughly equivalent to Lisle's simplified hearts/lungs/kidney argument. Why people like Lisle stop at philosophical conundrums when they should be diving into hard science (biochemistry et al) is beyond me.

A cynic might suggest Lisle isn't really interested in answering the questions he raises...

BeamStalk said...

I wouldn't consider myself a cynic, but I would suggest that very thing, WEM.

I have already shown he is lying in his description of how science works. Normally I would say the person is misinformed but Lisle has a PhD in Astrology and has to have taken many science courses while in college. There is no way he could have not known his view of science was a straw man. Then considering he devotes a chapter to logical fallacies in this very book, he would know that a straw man is a lie about the opponents stance. Yet he continues to do it.

Thus I would say he is just raising the questions as a form of personal incredulity and doesn't want to dig into the answers. Thus suggesting that his questions can't be answered, he will even build on this premise throughout the rest of this chapter. That is not he work of an honest man.

Then he wants you to believe what he says about the Bible after spewing such obvious lies. Even if he is correct about the Bible his credibility is nonexistent. He is the boy who cried wolf, except I still see no evidence of his wolf.

Whateverman said...

Thus I would say he is just raising the questions as a form of personal incredulity and doesn't want to dig into the answers. Thus suggesting that his questions can't be answered, he will even build on this premise throughout the rest of this chapter. That is not he work of an honest man.

Agreed. I wish people like him would simply be honest about their beliefs (ie. there are some questions they believe they've answered, and are not curious about whether the answers are correct or not).

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Normally I would say the person is misinformed but Lisle has a PhD in Astrology and has to have taken many science courses while in college.

Normally I would just laugh at this statement, but since Lisle's Ph.D. comes from my school, I feel obligated to point out the possible Freudian slip (though I suspect it is intentional). Lisle's Ph.D. is in astrophysics, not astrology.

His BS, however, is another thing entirely. It also wouldn't surprise me to find that CU would like to disown Lisle... I may inquire with one or two of my instructors this week to find out.

Lisle is a Class-A douche, and aside from his apparent world-class education (hey, it's my school, too), all he's got going for his 'arguments' is ignorance-perpetuating rhetoric.

If I may reappropriate the term so recently redefined by South Park, Lisle is a fag.


BeamStalk said...

Sorry yes astrophysics, I was typing fast again when I typed astrology, correction coming.

I totally agree, Stan, Lisle is a fag.