Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute (intelligent design collective) wrote this article in response to how some new evidence suggests that the prevailing idea as to what Endogenous Retroviruses are still around for.
Endogenous Retroviruses are derived from ancient infections of germ cells in humans and animals such that their proviruses are passed on to the next generation and now remain in the genome. It is also widely assumed that they place a role in driving the evolution of their host. So, it could already be said that they have a ‘function’. According to Luskin:
“ID predicts function because the basis for ID’s predictions is observations of how intelligent agents design things, and intelligent agents tend to design objects that perform some kind of function.”
In response to this I’ll simply quote David Sloan Wilson in his book ‘Darwin’s Cathedral’:
“Thinking about an object or an organism as if it has a purpose can be called functionalist thinking. Functionalist thinking can be highly effective when applied to things that actually have a purpose, but in other contexts it can be misleading. Wondering about the purpose of your neighbor’s behavior can help you discern his intentions, but wondering about the purpose of the moon leads only to a folk tale.”
To identify function in a sense that something functions for the sake of something else one must know it was created or altered by that which it is functioning for. This thing is arranged top-down in order to function to the extent it was intended to.
When considering ourselves intelligent agents that have designed things to perform some kind of a function it seems like it is easy for some to superimpose this on everything they see. The ID people do this to uphold their belief in a god who created everything. They claim that their central prediction is that everything has a function. However, every time something that seemed functionless at first turns out to have some sort of a function they wish to claim this as evidence to their idea. In this article, Luskin focuses on the possibly newly found function for ERVs which have been considered ‘junk’ functionless DNA. What Luskin mentions then ditches immediately is that there is still the prevailing hypothesis that”if we find the same ERV’s in the same genetic loci in different species of primates, Theobald concludes they document common ancestry.”
There are thousands of adaptations which proved useful over time and thus survived natural selection. They were not created, they developed. These things that developed generally are considered the ‘processes of nature conflicting with design’. The example commonly used is a truck with rust on it – we designed the truck but the rust is of a natural process. However, one could assert that the function of the rust is to destroy the truck to make more room for people. As it can be understood, we could superimpose function on both the natural stuff and the stuff that has been deemed designed. So where does the distinction lie?
The most used (and now used up) idea is complex specified information (CSI). The basic idea is that if anything with a less than 1 in 10150 chance of occurring naturally. However, this number was assigned almost arbitrarily by William Dembski (ID advocate). The idea has been rejected by the scientific and mathematical community. Although Dembski is very well informed and smart, his belief in a designer (god) leads him to make very simple logical mistakes and the overuse of rhetoric. So, I guess whether he truly is informed or smart is up to you.
Furthermore, assuming the CSI were true, it must be admitted that the designer must be more complex than its design, because within the designer must exist the capacity to think about the design as well as be complex enough to create it, or create the means to create it. Then this designer, being as complex as it is must have had its own designer which was even more complex…….ad infinitum.
I’m getting too far into ID and I need to cut this off now. Basically, ID people are creationists in a new suit who are using rhetoric and weak philosophy that does not stand up even to simple logic to push their religious beliefs into the education system under the guise of science.