How does Design Theory deal with this?

When one looks at the above insect, it is easy to understand why the evolutionary process would produce such a phenomenon: The insect’s camouflage allows it to more readily evade predators, and therefore increases its likelihood of successfully reproducing.

There remain a number of people, however, who insist that these traits are the result of intentional “design”. It seems to me there are some insuperable problems with this position. These arise from the fact that, while beneficial to the insect, the camouflage presents problems for the predators that would feed upon the insect and make it less likely that the predator will successfully reproduce. This requires that the designer provide these predators with their own set of adaptations, e.g. a more keen sense of vision, to offset the difficulties presented by the insect’s convincing mimicry of a leaf.

Now, if one hypothesizes an enormous number of “designers” each competing against the others, then this may not present a problem. However, enthusiasts of the “design” model almost invariably conflate their hypothesis with belief in one of the traditional monotheistic faiths. This necessitates that they view the biosphere as one single complex system, conceived of and executed by a single “designer.”

This raises the question, then, of why such a “designer” would deliberately create one part of a system that actively works against another part of the system and prevents it from fulfilling its function. It would be as if the designer of an automobile included a device that cut the line connecting the fuel tank to the engine. He would then have to design another device that either reconnects the fuel line, or disables the device that cuts it. However, he then re-designs the device that cuts the line so that this 2nd device is ineffective, leading him to improve the design of the device that reconnects the line, and so on in a never ending cycle of changing one part of his design to overcome the problems he has unnecessarily created, and in which one part of his design is actively working against the goals that the design was meant to achieve.

Now, if we imagine this designer is some sort of mad genius, then we could perhaps understand this behaviour. But, again, most adherents of Design Theory view the “designer” as a competent and benevolent being, and not as deranged and capricious.

So I am interested in hearing how proponents of Design Theory deal with these problems. Thanks in advance.


A mind using magic can explain it.

Checkmate evos! :wink:


Oh well. I thought it was an interesting question.


I think YECs would explain it exactly the same as mainstream science in this case. Wouldn’t they @Joel_Duff?

OECs, in contrast, may ironically take a more special creation view on this.

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I would not call this a “problem” for the design side. I would rather think that the designer would have created things in such a way that there was balance in each ecosystem. Something slow would benefit from camouflage. It would not be impossible to catch, but it would also not be eradicated because it was too easy to catch, thus ruining the balance in the ecosystem.

Again, I don’t think that the design folks get into the identity nor the nature of the designer at all.

I did too!! :rofl:

…or armour, or spines, or unpleasant taste, or invisibility, or larger size, or repellent spray, or telekinesis, or weighted tail, or horns, or sting cells, or electrical organs, or teleportation, or Batesian mimicry, or stealth, or rapid reproduction, or living underground, or parasite carrying, or massive claws, or the predators being equally slow.

Camouflage is completely unnecessary for creating a balanced ecosystem. In fact all the above defences are completely unnecessary for creating a balanced ecosystem - there are ecosystems that lack each of them. A designer would not need any of them. Food/energy availability and predator/prey dynamics suffice.

That’s because they’re dishonestly and unsuccessfully pretending that the designer isn’t their deity.


This doesn’t explain all the evidence we have for evolution “arms races”. Cases where predator and prey are locked in a positive feedback loop when defense is constantly evolving to stay ahead of offense and offense is constantly improving to overcome the defense.

Evolutionary Arms Race

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There may be balanced ecosystems containing species that do not use camouflage. But it does not follow that camouflage cannot assist to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Are you suggesting that when species develop camouflage that the ecosystem becomes imbalanced, favoring the species with camouflage? If not, then how can you conclude that camouflage is completely unnecessary for maintaining a balanced ecosystem? Maybe it is vital to doing so?

This is dealing with others’ unspoken opinions and motives. It’s not good conversation and it is the kind of topic that we try to avoid. Let’s talk about science.

100% agreed. And I did not say that it did. @Faizal_Ali posed a topic. No one from the design side replied, so I suggested what someone from that camp might say regarding the OP. How does design theory deal with this?



Once, in Indonesia, I had the privilege of being at the end of a pier over a reef, with a shaded viewing area. There I saw one of those very venomous, well camouflaged stonefish, half buried in the sand. If it was so well camouflaged, how did I spot it? Easy. The reef was teeming with fish, darting all over except for about a three foot radius centered on you know who, where no fish ventured. He wasn’t fooling anybody that day.


Hahaha… Well played Timothy. Not what I meant, though. I was not being critical of a group of people who were EDIT: (not present) to defend themselves. In fact, I was a member of the layperson population. :slight_smile:

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No, not least because camouflage wouldn’t develop quickly enough.

Because there are many many species that use other means of avoiding predators, and because there are ecosystems in underground caves and abyssal depths where there is no light and camouflage is completely useless.

Ok, but I was responding to your comment on that topic.

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You forgot the context. It was design. No delay, just poof.

Again, that is addressing all ecosystems. What about some ecosystems? You can conclusively say that camouflage doesn’t assist to maintain balance in some ecosystems?

True that you were. Just be more charitable. Some things need not be said. That’s all.

Context restored and emphasised:

“When species develop camouflage” is not design.

If you want to talk about what would happen if a species gained or lost camouflage via the “poof” mechanism, then yes, that could unbalance the ecosystem. That’s what tends to happen when an environment changes so that previous camouflage no longer works - cf the temporary decrease in Biston betularia populations.

But why are you invoking a “poof” mechanism? That’s not science.

I can conclusively say that camouflage is unnecessary for maintaining a balanced ecosystem because there are balanced ecosystems where camouflage has no effect. Obviously camouflage is useful in most ecosystems, but there’s no reason to think it is vital.

But couldn’t the analogy also be the accelerator and the brake? In other words, a designer may use competing forces if what they need is a flexible system that they control.

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Wouldn’t that analogy include the designer improving and reducing the camouflage periodically? Better to use an elevator braking mechanism or a pipe valve as an analogy maybe.

I think that balance in nature is via feedback rather than feed forward, so such tweaking is not required. Also, balance is dynamic, not steady state. There are oscillations in natural populations.

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Consider the example I gave of an internal combustion engine. This also requires a fine balance and coordination between its various working components. However, this is not achieved by having each components performing activities whose sole function is to impede the functioning of the other components, which then require more elaborate and complicated design interventions in these other components. Correct?

However, from the evolutionary viewpoint, such a system would be expected because the “design” of each component (organism) is only working for the benefit of that individual organism.

IOW, this is just another rather commonplace observation that is easily accounted for by evolution, but not by “design.”


That’s not quite the same thing. In that case, it is two opposing functions that are needed in order for the car to function. However, there will not be modifications made to the brake whose sole function is to impede the proper functioning of the accelerator until further modifications are made to the latter.