Daily Archives: June 14, 2010

Fallout from a False Dichotomy

So what is the consequence of Avise’s false dichotomy?  The bulk of his paper is a detailed exploration of the “outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent.”  While this is an argument that works against design that is coupled to special creation, it fails against design that is coupled to evolution.  To see this, let’s pick one of the outlandish features that Avise explores – introns. I chose this example simply because I have already written about it.

Avise’s core argument is as follows:

There are good reasons to think that cells might be better off without introns, in an ideal world.

Let me now add to this argument with the following point:

There are good reasons to think that evolution might be worse off without introns.

In other words, if introns are an “outlandish features of the human genome,” we might also point out that without this outlandish feature, there is no evidence to think that evolution would have cobbled together a human, or human-like, genome.

Recall that I have used the teleological perspective of front-loading to propose a testable hypothesis about introns – they have facilitated the emergence of metazoan-type complexity – that is supported by evidence (here, here, here, and here) and has been successfully defended.  (If you have not read these essays, then what follows below will not make much sense to you).

If the design objective is to nudge the emergence of metazoan-type complexity, and not to ensure that cells would be “better off,” then we can see that Avise’s core argument has collapsed.

Nevertheless, let’s have a look at Avise’s reasons.

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