Ashwin and Rumraket on Design and Designers

This seems to be more of a metaphysical claim than a scientific one.
How do you know the ATP synthase is an example of design without a designer?
It’s basically methodical naturalism turning into philosophical naturalism.

It says something about scientists that they talk about design being possible without a designer.

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I think the point of this thread is to try to come to understand that it does not. Words can have more than one meaning, and more than one implication.

We can simply decide to understand that the word can have that other meaning too, design without agency.

We obviously don’t, but that isn’t the point. The point is that we know of a mechanism of design that doesn’t involve a conscious intelligent designer. That this mechanism, this blind physical process, can ultimately produce complex and functional entities and adaptations without some designing agency behind it being necessary for such an outcome.

Yeah that they understand the value of parsimony in scientific inference, and that they know about and understand the process of evolution. Just like they don’t talk about gravity-fairies in explaining rainfall. Do we really truly know that there are no invisible fairies pulling drops of water to the ground? No. But do we need that hypothesis to explain rain? No.


There is a difference between saying you dont need a God as an explanation, and saying God isnt the designer.

That’s stepping from methodological naturalism to philosophical naturalism.

I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists came out of the closet in this regard.

Can we?
Why not use words that reflect the concept better…
such as molecural machines, or natural contraption?
Design without a designer implies scientists know there wasn’t a designer.
Is that a claim you want to make as a scientist?

This would thrill ID guys for sure

Which process is that?
Optimisation programmes are not an example of design without a designer.
It’s just a process with the designer one level removed from the optimised product.

As to biological evolution… the objection above applies.

Sure, but I’m not aware of anyone who claims that science has shown that some deity isn’t secretly hiding behind the scenes making stuff happen. Anyone, even the most strident Arch-evolutionist you can think of, would probably concede that point if asked.

Yes. I’ve understood that the Danish word “kost” can mean either a broom, or diet, since I was like 4 years old.

The problem here is that by referring to an object someone would say is a “design” by another term just provokes the charge that scientists are somehow afraid of using the word “design”, or afraid to admit that it “has the appearance of design”. Or innumerable similar types of silly accusations.

Either way, there is going to have to be an argument. Whether a semantic argument(what do we mean by"design"?) or an argument about whether something is that(is the eye a “design”? in which case we again have to determine what we mean by “design” so we can assess whether the eye qualifies?).

The people who are hellbent on taking the word “design” to imply intelligent design, are also hellbent on claiming biological entities are designs. You gain nothing by referring to these things by another term, in the eyes of these people. You are manifesting such a person in this discussion. If I refer to the eye as a natural contraption, do you feel like I have avoided the question of whether the eye could come to exist without intelligent design? Obviously not.

So the question can’t be avoided. In that case, the most sensible thing to do, at least in my experience, is to just grab the bull by the horns and agree that we should call some structure, or system, or other type of complex functional entity, a design. And then once we have agreed to just call them that, we can proceed to discuss what that implies about how it came to exist.

Here the job of biologists is to explain how evolution works to produce “designs” without any apparent “intelligent agency” being required to facilitate this result.

Evolution by natural selection.

I don’t think any program is relevant to the point I am making.

Then you’re simply begging the question if you’re going to claim evolution had to be designed. An objection that consists of nothing more than a blind assertion isn’t a very good one.

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How much of biodiversity do you think this explains?

All of it.

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But I thought Darwinism has been dead since the 1960s?

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Depends on exactly what you mean by biodiversity. If you mean merely the existence of all known species on Earth, then I think evolution can explain all of it in principle.

If you think every single attribute of all known life, then I would say almost everything. While I think there is good evidence that consciousness is a physical phenomenon, we currently still don’t seem to understand anything about how it works. As such, I think an evolutionary biochemical explanation for the origin of consciousness is currently missing.

But consciousness the only thing I can think of for which I can’t give a good in-principle evolutionary explanation.

There are other things in biology I don’t think are evolved attributes, but are due to more fundamental physical facts that the process of evolution cannot influence. Things that are due to physics, like the atomic weight of carbon and stuff like that of course. Mutation and selection cannot change the fact that electrons are negatively charged.


What is your starting point for the creation of all the diversity.

We can all try to guess what exactly you mean by Darwinism. If you mean to say all attributes of all living organisms are due to natural selection, then I would disagree with that. When I say I think evolution explains all biodiversity, I’m not referring to some sort of hyperadaptationism. I mean to say something more broadly that encompasses more than just natural selection and vertically transmitted mutations in DNA sequences. Population mechanics, nearly neutral theory, horizontal gene transfer and so on and so forth.

Not sure what you mean by starting point. Are you asking about the last universal common ancestor?

For instance @swamidass mentioned Haldane’s dilemma’s. That thesis starts from functional working populations of multicellular animals.

So you are asking at what stage in the history of life my potential explanation for all extant biodiversity, begins?

It begins from a population of somewhat simple(though still much more complex than for example viruses), free-living prokaryotic cells. From a time considerably before even the last universal common ancestor. Evolution from that point on can in principle explain the total diversity of life currently known on Earth.

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What do mean by explaining “in principle”?

That’s to set it apart from “in practice”. It just means the theory encompasses explanatory mechanisms that can account for whatever it is we are seeking to explain.

Is it valid to say that you believe that universal common descent and the variation in the inheritance process explains in principle all biodiversity starting with a single living cell?

What do you mean by “explaining”?

I am working w Rum’s working definition of an explanation " in principle".

If by “variation in the inheritance process” just means mutations owing to replication errors, then no. I think we also have to include things like endosymbiosis, horizontal gene transfer and so on. But otherwise yes that would not be an unfair characterization.

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