Best arguments against Design (refreshed)

I follow that logic George. I have been trying to point out that this is not what I am suggesting. When a change arrives, the environment is altered to suit it and encourage more change along that line so long as the environmental modifications are not unlike something they could encounter in nature. This should be vastly more powerful than what nature does- throw out changes randomly and if one suits the environment then it may or may not help that creature survive and reproduce better if one of a million other random events don’t negate the newfound genetic advantage.

If that kind of experiment can’t demonstrate that intelligent design is not needed to explain things, then the side saying differently has a problem. Maybe not one they are willing to admit to, but a problem.


You are using a script intended to refute an Atheistic view of Evolution. Here, the view is that God guides the evolution of humanity, as well as all the other creatures. It appears random from one view, but it is intentionally guided from a divine perspective.

You use a very odd sentence: “When a change arrives, the environment is altered to suit it and encourage more change along that line so long as the environmental modifications are not unlike something they could encounter in nature.” In other words, if I understand you correctly, you propose changing the environment of, say, a test population of fruit flies, every time there is a mutation.

If the population is big enough, there is a mutation (somewhere in the population) most every generation. And while we now have the technology to determine that there has been a genetic change in some sub-groups, but not others, we are certainly not in a position to know what the ultimate affect of a mutation might be. And without knowing that, we would not be able to design a new environmental factor that would leverage the importance of this or that mutation.

In the natural state, populations “store” genetic changes… with a little luck, the mutation doesn’t wipe out it’s owner… and after dozens or hundreds of generations, the mutation might still only exist in a small portion of the population. Over time, there are multiple overlapping configurations of mutated genes scattered throughout the population. And when an eco-crisis occurs (temperature, food sources, water supply, predation pressures and so forth), it is a “lever” that is applied to the entire population.

The closest I’ve seen to replicating this kind of natural selection and spontaneous mutations was recorded in this now famous laboratory video made by Harvard School of Medicine.

You can literally see where increased concentrations of toxic anti-biotics are blocking the progress of bacterial expansion… for a while. But because of the “imperfection of genetic replication” inherent to bacteria reproduction, suddenly we see a center of new growth and expansion … right into the toxic environment that had been killing off generations of unprepared bacteria.

Unfortunately, from your viewpoint, we start with bacteria and we end with bacteria. But to the global explorers of the 1500’s, a distant troop of gorillas looked just like a hairy tribe of humans. The remaining step with the bacteria is to run a sustained loop of these evolutions, over and over, and test how compatible the different bacterial clusters are with each other.

I would not be surprised if one group of “hyper survivor” bacteria was not only quite a different kind of bacteria than the population that started out in this experiment… but also quite different from other “hyper survivor” strains on the other side of the table!

Behold… and be amazed.

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OK I am confused. Does it require “literally the entire planet” or will Australia suffice? Maybe it requires the whole planet because it is far from certain that all the marsupials in Australia originated from a single species. Even if they did, I noticed that they never changed sub-class. None of the marsupials ever became placental mammals during that lab experiment for example. Or anything else besides a beautiful and diverse array of marsupials.

I would suppose… Let me suggest a few that are common:

  1. Special creation: Organisms created in groups as ‘kinds’.
  2. Genetic insertions: Specific regions of the genome inserted to enable particular traits.

It would be helpful for ID advocates to chime in. I know, for instance, that Paul Nelson has an affinity for studying ORFans. This is akin to scenario #2.

I think what we’d expect to find is that for Design scenarios running closer to mechanisms that piggyback on common descent (e.g. directed mutation), the less we’d expect to rule out natural mechanisms in favor of Design.

Or, perhaps one could work backwards. For example, what models of Design would be impacted the most by the general observation of common descent? What if we see what could be molecular precursors for systems (judges via similarity and cladistics), for systems that an ID theorist might propose was created instead?

Is there literature in the ID discipline where these concerns are discussed and evaluated?

This is probably correct. Phenotypic traits, however, can be quantified and have been. Lengths of beaks and the timing of reproductive cycles are some examples where measurements are possible and useful. Variations can have a significant effect on the evolution of species. However, we do have a hard time linking phenotypic change to genotypic change in any sort of proportional way. We can say that the raw mutation rates are sufficient to account for the number of genetic changes acquired.

I am afraid that I am the moderate in a world full of extremists. I acknowledge I am the odd duck on this one. My view is that this universe is designed to be a place where God’s will does not have to be done, at least in any given point. I agree that He guides evolution,but I also think that the universe sometimes still needs His help to do His will- just like us. I think we need to decide what that phrase about 'guided evolution" means though if we are going to use that language. Maybe it should be its own thread.

The atheist may say “Evolution can be and is responsible for everything we see”. I think you and the good Dr. would say “Yes because He designed it that way”. I am saying that is what creation is trying to do, and largely does, but it can’t pull it off in this realm without His further help.


@anon46279830, you are not arguing this is detected, or that scientists are lying to us, etc. You are not, for this reason, taking a Design position, has @argon laid out.

Honestly, we need to probably end this thread, and start considering individual arguments one at a time. That would be more helpful for curious people.


I presume you understand that this does not mean that we have no way to quantify an overall rate of genetic change.

We just aren’t at the stage where we can say “alleles for lungs mutate at x rate, while alleles for aging mutate at y rate”…

1] When I wrote “literally the entire planet”, I had forgotten that there is a way to use the natural history of Australia as a virtual laboratory.

2] I didn’t say Marsupials originated from a single species. I said that there were a limited number of “founder populations” of marsupials on Australia… and they make an excellent test-bed for the questions you are asking.

Note: Your constant challenging of millions of years of fossil evidence doesn’t exactly give me the warm and fuzzies about you being an Old Earther. The physics and chemistry involved in fossil dating and preservation are exactly the same in geology as they are in interpreting fossil stacks. There is really no credible way to accept an earth that is billions of years old, and then turn around and throw dust in the air over the fossil record. You are going to be hearing an awful lot about primate evolution over the course of the next year… are you emotionally prepared for that?

3] As far as I recall, marsupials and placentals diverged from an older population. I’ve never noticed anyone saying placental’s “evolved” from marsupials. Opossum populations did not become placental racoons.

4] These comments reveal an incredibly superficial interpretation of my comments: “Maybe it requires the whole planet because it is far from certain that all the marsupials in Australia originated from a single species. Even if they did, I noticed that they never changed sub-class. None of the marsupials ever became placental mammals during that lab experiment for example.”

5] You were asking about rates of change, and how long to become one kind of animal to another kind of animal. With a limited number of founder populations… it means you can measure the dispersion and speciation of each founder population… .and then compare your averages of each founder group against the averages of another founder group.

This is exactly what you had been asking about earlier. The Wiki article below seems to have been written SPECIFICALLY for you!

Here are the major sources of marsupial diversity found in Australia (with a few extinct exceptions I believe):

As you can see in the article’s list of Contents:

1 Anteater-like
2 Cat-like
3 Groundhog-like
4 Mole-like
5 Rhinoceros-like
6 Panther like
7 Squirrel-like
8 Canine-like
9 Wolverine-like

There are 9 different [ forms / niche-occupants /phenotype-categories ] to compare. Different diets, different looks, different social strategies, different role in the ecosystem.

This is not 9 different kinds of puppies. This is not “all the same animal because they all have pouches”.
This is the laboratory you’ve been begging for … so now you have it. I recommend catching up on how far they’ve come with genome analysis.

I have no idea, however, how related the founder populations were to begin with. Obviously if they founder populations were very different, then you are going to have 9 sets of descendant populations that continue to be different from each genetically.

I’d be very interested in knowing what you find out about these cute little guys…

You can thank me later…

No George, I described the laboratory I have been “begging for”. It was one where initial conditions were known, variables which could affect the experiment were controlled for, and outside intervention in the evolutionary system carefully monitored and recorded.

Look this thread was about people who accept that intelligent design (beyond setting up the parameters of evolution) occurred giving what they would consider their best argument against intelligent design. I did that. Your thread-clogging posts about diversification of marsupials in Australia is just rehashing old ground that people have been arguing about for years. I was asked what I would consider the best argument against design and I gave it.

I am thinking about switching it onto its own thread and if I do that I would appreciate you taking that 2nd opportunity to stay on topic rather than tell me that what I say I want is not really what I want, but rather what you say I want is what I want. Thank you.

Is there any system where this is even remotely possible? How do you carefully monitor and record Gods intervention.

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Until the one you described can be invented, Australia is the next best thing.

You write:
“Your thread-clogging posts about diversification of marsupials in Australia is just rehashing old ground that people have been arguing about for years.”

Wow… really? The difference is… we now have the ability to track the genome changes from group to group, and within each group. You asked about rates of change… and you asked about significant changes in phenotype… instead of just getting a red squirrel when before you had a white squirrel.

The “laboratory” you conceive of in your mind is a “fictional war club” with which you are attempting to beat Evolution into a pulp. You seem inclined to reject Evolution until someone can produce the “laboratory of your mind”. I have already showed you that the premises upon which your fantasy laboratory are built are not valid understandings for how Evolution works.

But hey… do what you want. It’s pretty clear that while you accept Earth as billions of years old - - you have no grasp for how molecular chemistry would work within those billions of years.

If we are talking about sending information at the quantum level to augment an evolutionary process which he previously designed to fill the earth then we can’t with our present level of tech or any we are likely to get anytime soon. But that is not what I mean. I think that happens, as I think you do, and I think we can’t detect it.

But the question is whether or not something else ever happens. A change in protein folds that is hyper-unlikely. Several rare gene changes that are very difficult for known random processes all appearing out of nowhere at once. IOW changes that look more like what happens when our genetic scientists cut-and-paste genes or make designer genes. So we know what intelligent design can occur and what it looks like because we have started doing it.

If fruit flies can become something else without any such “anomalies” occurring then the underlying evolutionary system does not need any extra intervention to produce changes of that magnitude. OTOH if we keep running the tests decade after decade and nothing much happens, it does not prove divine intervention caused the stuff that did happen, but it surely would indicate that known evolutionary mechanisms have failed to achieve in the experiment the sorts of results attributed to them in nature.


I have explained why fruit flies will most likely never spontaneously turn into something else. I thought the fancy term for this was “Genetic Drift”… but it seems the Wiki article is more interested in the changes in a sample due to “sampling”… so I’m not sure it applies very well to your fruit fly exemplar.

Raising up generation after generation of fruit flies in a laboratory is an exercise in a KIND of “Drift” because there has not been any interest in creating an environment that changes after “x” many generations. So it will not likely produce any new creature (at the macro-visual level of detection) .