Garrett (garote) wrote,

The warp and the woof

In arguments between biologists and creationists, over whether a given object is evidence of "irreducible complexity" or whether it evolved, the subject of debate is usually a part of a body, and the aim is usually to describe the suitability of that body part to some task, in such detail as to overwhelm the ability of the evolutionary biologist to explain how it could have arisen.

What I find most interesting about these arguments is the question that must immediately follow all of them.

Take the example of the human eye. In the design versus evolution argument, the biologist needs to show that the eye consistently conveys some kind of advantage, whatever that advantage may be, all the way back through a series of intermediate forms until the eye no longer resembles an eye in function or complexity. In this way, the biologist links the current, later form of a body part with some earlier form in the past.

Of course, a creationist wants to show that no such series of intermediate forms can plausibly exist. But here's the part that's interesting to me: Let's assume that they are somehow able to prove this. Somehow they are able to conclusively prove that the human eye could not have evolved.

The question that pops immediately into my mind is this: "So why is the human eye shaped the way it is, complexity and all, and not some other equally complex way? Perhaps, even, a more perfect way?"

The process of evolution described by the biologist contains within itself an elegant answer to this question. The eye doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough to be a relative advantage. It also has the particular form that it does because of the particular path it took through evolution. Our eyes are not made of un-scratchable diamond, for example - even though that would be pretty handy - because there was no consistently advantageous and biologically possible path from the earlier forms to an un-scratchable diamond eye.

It's not just "how did it get this way?". It's a much more compelling question than that. It's "why is it this particular way and not some other way?". The creationist must still account for the question - and how can the creationist even begin to account for it without starting right down the road towards "survival of the fittest"?

They say that science cannot answer questions of "why", but in this case, they are wrong. Evolution actually explains why. I find that fascinating.
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