This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← disproving intelligent design with a mouse trap

disproving intelligent design with a mouse trap - Comments

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 1 by Philoctetes

I love it when simplistic non-rational beliefs are trashed with such simple elegance.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:06:41 UTC | #892619

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat

I've always felt that irreducable complexity was an irreducably stupid argument for design. Indeed, irreducable complexity goes against the very meaning of 'design'.....insofar as the whole basis of designing anything is doing so from constituent parts. Something that is too complex to have evolved is by definition also too complex to have been designed....duh !

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:23:08 UTC | #892622

mysticjbyrd's Avatar Comment 3 by mysticjbyrd

I have seen this video before. Still good though.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:57:43 UTC | #892634

brighterstill's Avatar Comment 4 by brighterstill

I recall an ID proponent trying to argue with PZ Myers that a carbon atom was irreducibly complex because if you take any protons away, it's no longer a carbon atom.
PZ essentially face-palmed, it was awful.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 18:05:09 UTC | #892637

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 5 by keyfeatures

The proponents fluffed it by making the I stand for intelligent. Now if they'd gone for idiot they may have lasted longer. Conscious idiocy. I give you the appendix.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 18:29:52 UTC | #892640

Perfect Tommy's Avatar Comment 6 by Perfect Tommy

Comment 4 by brighterstill :

I recall an ID proponent trying to argue with PZ Myers that a carbon atom was irreducibly complex because if you take any protons away, it's no longer a carbon atom. PZ essentially face-palmed, it was awful.

Oh wow. That's really, really bad. Hell, we can then use that argument about every single component of mass in the known universe. Sometimes the more I hear about what people believe, the more misanthropic I become. It's really hard to have a positive view about people in general when I hear about a lot of these things.

Calgon, take me away!

ps, brownie points to the first one who get's that last phrase ;)

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 19:12:23 UTC | #892645

Layla's Avatar Comment 7 by Layla

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

I've always felt that irreducable complexity was an irreducably stupid argument for design. Indeed, irreducable complexity goes against the very meaning of 'design'.....insofar as the whole basis of designing anything is doing so from constituent parts. Something that is too complex to have evolved is by definition also too complex to have been designed....duh !

No, because if it's designed you can take a bunch of non-functioning individual parts, stick 'em all together and then blow magic dust on it or whatever and voila, it works whereas with evolution you need to keep all of your parts functioning and surviving during the "design" process. They don't understand how you can evolve one part without any of the others yet and still function and survive. So clearly the only rational explanation is that some indescribable, incomprehensible, mystical... thingy... just magically did something or other (that we could never understand with our puny human minds) which ended up resulting in those creatures existing (i.e. intelligent design).

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 19:51:22 UTC | #892654

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 8 by Neodarwinian

The alternative function I like is the " wickedly functional spit ball launcher! "

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 20:28:12 UTC | #892657

Joepublic's Avatar Comment 9 by Joepublic

I'm afraid it seems to me that the all the argument proves is that the mousetrap has been intelligently redesigned to become a tie clip. If any of the parts of the (now) tie clip were removed it would no longer function as such! I'm not convinced the case is made.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:03:53 UTC | #892661

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 10 by Mr DArcy

"Irreducible complexity"? More like "Christians clutching at straws". Complete bollocks from beginning to end.

To take a different field from biology, anyone who has been watching the current Euro - zone currency fiasco knows it's irreducibly complex, therefore God must have done it! You go and buy your Greek government bonds promising x% return over x time. When you come back after x years and put your hand out for the money, - you find your fingers caught in a mouse trap!

Therefore.........(sigh)

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:16:40 UTC | #892662

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 11 by The Jersey Devil

Calgon, take me away!

ps, brownie points to the first one who get's that last phrase ;)

Bubble bath commercial, natch.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:22:07 UTC | #892663

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 12 by Stafford Gordon

This man's post Dover trial lecture was my first encounter with RDFRS, and I'm grateful to him for it; but remain puzzled about his "other" mind set. Any thoughts?

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:23:55 UTC | #892664

Quine's Avatar Comment 13 by Quine

Irrefutable Perplexity: "What I say is right because you can't show it is wrong, and what you say is wrong because I don't understand it."

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:42:22 UTC | #892665

Andres Heredia's Avatar Comment 14 by Andres Heredia

I've always wondered, why does he belief in God?

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 21:50:11 UTC | #892667

brighterstill's Avatar Comment 15 by brighterstill

Comment 9 by Joepublic :

I'm afraid it seems to me that the all the argument proves is that the mousetrap has been intelligently redesigned to become a tie clip. If any of the parts of the (now) tie clip were removed it would no longer function as such! I'm not convinced the case is made.

I see your point, but in this case the intelligent designer (of the mousetrap or tie-clip) is incidental - after all, the mousetrap actually was intelligently designed. The allusion is to structures in natures which arose through natural selection. A structure or process which has multiple parts, none of which do the final job on their own, can still have arisen without a designer as each part can still have served a useful purpose on its own (and therefore have been selected naturally), independent of its final role as a part of the final multi-part process. The combination of two or more existing (naturally selected) structures or processes to form a larger, "irreducibly complex" structure or process which is overall more beneficial to the organism follows the same rules of natural selection.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:06:00 UTC | #892672

digofthedump's Avatar Comment 16 by digofthedump

This is a very reasonable rebuttle of Behe's argument...Behe's argument is wrong on a technicality (although I accept that technicalities are what counts in philosophy and science).

But the value of Behe's argument is that it demonstrates a biological feature that essentially cannot evolve by tiny incremental "baby steps" as the basic mechanism of evolution demands...the changes here require a mutation to bring the component parts together and then be selected for despite a complete change in function.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:18:35 UTC | #892674

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 17 by gr8hands

Reminds me of how someone made a batch of adhesive that ended up not being very adhesive. Which wasn't very good, seeing as they worked for a company that made adhesives.

But, rather than being thrown out as worthless garbage, it was salvaged as . . . post-it notes. Which is just what evolution does. It takes stuff you already have and uses it in sometimes new and different ways.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:31:49 UTC | #892677

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 18 by Rich Wiltshir

I remain amused that we talk about this thinking process, specifically this example, as a rebuttle of ID. There is not rebuttle of ID because ID has made no case for any of it's claims.

It is, however, an entertaining example of a failed thinking process that illustrates the self-reinforcing ignorance of the ID mindset. So, in this sense clips like this serve to equip, entertain and inform an increasing number of people who see through the lies of IDers.

Great clip; love it to bits.... (and the bits work, unlike ID)

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:14:11 UTC | #892683

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 19 by Red Dog

Comment 2 by Schrodinger's Cat :

I've always felt that irreducable complexity was an irreducably stupid argument for design. Indeed, irreducable complexity goes against the very meaning of 'design'.....insofar as the whole basis of designing anything is doing so from constituent parts. Something that is too complex to have evolved is by definition also too complex to have been designed....duh !

So by your argument a Cray supercomputer or the Large Hadron Collider could result from evolution?

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:35:27 UTC | #892685

Explorer's Avatar Comment 20 by Explorer

Comment 9 by Joepublic

"I'm afraid it seems to me that the all the argument proves is that the mousetrap has been intelligently redesigned to become a tie clip. If any of the parts of the (now) tie clip were removed it would no longer function as such! I'm not convinced the case is made."

No but it would still function as mousetrap even without the spring clip.

Take the wooden base in one hand and hold it over the mouse. Bring it down firmly and swiftly on to the mouse with full force. Mouse dead, and job done!

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:36:15 UTC | #892686

Quine's Avatar Comment 21 by Quine

So by your argument a Cray supercomputer or the Large Hadron Collider could result from evolution?

They both did. (extended phenotype)

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:39:58 UTC | #892687

ridelo's Avatar Comment 22 by ridelo

Face palm. Why, oh why couldn't I think of this? Oh yes, a little bit of genius is required. At least I can enjoy it. That's a consolation.

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:44:19 UTC | #892689

EbeneezerGude's Avatar Comment 23 by EbeneezerGude

If you removed one little bit of god.....?

Comment 6 by Perfect Tommy :

Comment 4 by brighterstill :

I recall an ID proponent trying to argue with PZ Myers that a carbon atom was irreducibly complex because if you take any protons away, it's no longer a carbon atom. PZ essentially face-palmed, it was awful.

Oh wow. That's really, really bad. Hell, we can then use that argument about every single component of mass in the known universe. Sometimes the more I hear about what people believe, the more misanthropic I become. It's really hard to have a positive view about people in general when I hear about a lot of these things.

Calgon, take me away!

ps, brownie points to the first one who get's that last phrase ;)

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 00:00:31 UTC | #892693

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 24 by Alan Canon

Comment 21 by Quine :

So by your argument a Cray supercomputer or the Large Hadron Collider could result from evolution?

They both did. (extended phenotype)

Well played, Quine!

Paley should be more thoughtful about the origins of things he pitches his foot against out on that heath. It's a bit of an aside, but even the watch was designed by refinement of simpler antecedents (for example, the pendulum clock, with no spring escapement.) Complex things have simple beginnings. How on earth people can't "get it," I can't understand. Even though I remember being perplexed by the problem myself when I was younger (being raised by creationists) I'm with Charles Lyell: "How very stupid not to have thought of that."

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 00:23:05 UTC | #892700

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 25 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 19 by Red Dog

So by your argument a Cray supercomputer or the Large Hadron Collider could result from evolution?

Er.....they did do.

My point was that 'design', in terms of how the word originates, invokes time and the planning and assembly of constituent parts. Design is not instantaneous......the very word implies a process.

Thus the 'Intelligent Design' lobby have created a total oxymoron with ' irreducable complexity'....insofar as irreducable complexity implies instantaneous creation without any design process. Whatever numbskull thought up irreducable complexity did not seem to grasp that in negating the process of design it negates design....period.

In fact it's worth pointing out that intelligence is also a process. Intelligence is what intelligence does. The idea of an 'intelligent being' sitting there in the void is nonsensical meaninglessness....its like arguing my PC is intelligent when it is swiched off. So to argue that an intelligent being crceated everything is absurd......because before there was 'anything' there was nothing for any such intelligence to act upon and therefore no process whatever by which intelligence could exist or be manifest.

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 01:07:53 UTC | #892705

DaveUK9xx's Avatar Comment 26 by DaveUK9xx

It saddens and frustrates me that we even have to debate the validity of evolution which is as certain a fact as gravity and that the earth goes round the sun. To not believe in it is I think more than just a simple choice of belief systems, it's a wilful refusal to admit the existence of something that can actually be seen in action in inumerable situations by anyone who cares to look.

I often wonder what intelligent aliens would think of us as a species if we were fortunate enough to have them visit. Assuming they had long since abandoned such childish notions as religion they'd think that half the population of this planet were complete morons. Mad as a box of frogs. Blind to what was staring them right in the face if they could only open their eyes and minds for even the briefest of moments.

How can anyone not understand that every domestic dog species has evolved (albeit by human intervention) from a single ancestor species, that food animals have been bred over many generations to optimise their design and meat yields, that bacteria can be seen evolving in a laboratory in just a matter of days and Italian wall lizards changing in just a few decades.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution.html

How can anyone not see (pun intended) that the vertebrate eye is a disaster in design terms with the blood vessels at the front and photo receptors at the back of the retina or that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is an absurdity that no supremely intelligent being could ever possibly create intentionally.

If God really made human beings in his image and given how old he must be by now it's no wonder we never actually see or hear anything from him. He's sitting in a bath chair crippled with arthritis, he's had a bad back for millenia, his knees have given out and he can't read anything closer than 50 feet away because his corneas have lost all their elasticity. He had to have his appendix out back in our stone age, he's long since lost all his teeth, he used to be white skinned but there are now so many liver spots covering his body he looks brown. His nose and ears have continued to grow to the point he looks a bit like a cross between a rabbit and an eagle and don't even get him started on the nose and ear hair that suddenly erupted in his middle age. Tweezing and clipping is a full time job for a small team of minor angels who tend him constantly just to try and keep him looking even vaguely presentable.

Intelligence is clearly a relative thing but if the species on this planet, and we humans in particular, are really the product of intelligent design then it's only by a designer with an IQ remarkably similar to their shoe size who bodged the job badly and should be banned from the workshop in future for the safety of both himself and everyone around him.

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 02:17:21 UTC | #892711

Cents's Avatar Comment 27 by Cents

god had the movie Idiocracy made as a portent for the future. It's his latest update to revelations.

The idiots are coming! the idiots are coming!

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 02:43:42 UTC | #892715

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 28 by Rodger T

Irrefutable Perplexity: "What I say is right because you can't show it is wrong, and what you say is wrong because I don't understand it."

Sheer Awesomeness, Quine.

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 03:42:05 UTC | #892717

alf1200's Avatar Comment 29 by alf1200

Irreducible complexity? In the bacteria flagellum?

How about if the flagellum is shorter? It still operates, just not as well..

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 07:23:30 UTC | #892725

alf1200's Avatar Comment 30 by alf1200

Another way to use the mousetrap with only one part, the base.

Smear some peanut butter to the base. Hold it in the air about one foot.

When the mouse tries to reach the peanut butter, WHAM! You caught your mouse. (my apoligies to all the mice that are reading this. I would rather do that to creationists than mice)

Thu, 24 Nov 2011 07:29:34 UTC | #892727