MS Fowler - 1/19/2005 6:11 AM
OK, while acknowledging that I am not a scientist; not even a botanist, nor have I played one on TV, here is one problem:
Darwin postulates that change takes place over time. This change produces benefits to the organism. We seem to see this on a historical basis. i.e. man, horse, etc.
However, the problem lies on the micro-molecular level. Cells are incredibly complex machines, yet in most cases, they are irreducibly complex. Meaning that no matter how complex they are, how specialized the function, they cannot be altered and still function. An example of this woule be a bicycle; it is somewhat complex; many parts. But all parts are required for it to function. Changing any individual part would make it a failure as a bicycle. For instance, 2 wheels, complete with rims, spokes, tube, tire, bearings and bearing races. Add to this the frame, seat, chain, sprockets, seat and brake. All these parts function as a machine to propel a person. Removing any one part makes for a defective bicycle.--An evolutionary deadend. One could also look at a motorcycle and postulate that the motorcycle "evolved" from the bicycle--similar appearance, and function. However, simply adding a motor to a functioning bicycle does not produce a motorcycle. There must be a mount for the motor, some sort of drive mechanism, speed control etc. Yet by the priniciples of gradual evolution there would have to be a bicycle with only a mount for the non-existant motor prior to the appearance of the motorcycle. Yet this extra appendage would not be of any benefit to the original bicycle.-- or a bicycle w/o the mount, but with the motor, or with a huge motor, too heavy for the wheels-- or a motor with the shaft facing the wrong way, or turning the wrong direction. Most of the changes would be detrimental to the bicycle, w/o producing anything close to, and useable as a motorcycle.
Thats a short illustration--I hope you at least understand the point. Evolution looks good in the big picture; its problems lie in the tiniest of details.
As for "time". I know the popular understanding is that adding sufficient time allows for many small changes. However, exactly how does time help? If the mathmatical odds for something happening are 1 in 10^50, ( to pick a number) that number does not change with the mere passage of time. We seem to believe that eons of time improve the odds; truth is, eons of time are simply eons of time.
If you would apply the same skepticism to evolution as you do toward ID, perhaps you'd see some of its problems.
Some of the mechanisms you don't consider in this analogy is the fact that there probably are many errors in the path of evolution that don't survive. We have no record of all of them but we can witness them routinely. In animals we usually classify changes that make a visible difference a "deformity" unless the deformity gives the animal an advantage in its fight for survival. The typical complex organisms that have two sexes also typically have a built-in selection mechanism, a competition for the right to pass on DNA to the next generation, which assures any changes that make the chances better are selected for further development and the ones that are detrimental do not. Humans have the same mechanism, but it is a bit more complex, and equally effective. We can change our criteria for survival success based on our social structure. But the same mechanisms apply. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was an ugly bastard. But, if he was endowed with a means to be king because of his hunchback, there would be a lot humans with hunchbacks today.
Yeah, the changes happen at a molecular level. So does our behavior. Stand back and look at the overall pattern. When it is consistent with the molecular basis of the theory, it is more likely than not the pattern or model of the mechanism involved is approaching the target.
I also think it is arbitrary and outlandishly self centered for religious types to assume God did not engineer evolution. The presumption is we are at the end of the evolution process, we are the best God could do. What basis is there for that? I thought he was infinitely capable. We still eat each other on parts of the world. We kill each other by the hundreds of thousands. I don't think he is done by a long shot. Jim