2 comments

  • Pedro Guedues

    Nice comic. Did you draw it? I like your style.

    But it makes a few mistakes. Part A is not just hypothetical. Evolution predicts its appearance. The adaptation of individual parts that work together is also not just hypothetical; it’s predicted. Every step is unlikely, but predictable and has shown to happen in small scales. They are real. Over the course of billions of years the chance that all of this will happen in sequence much more higher.

    The creator, on the order hand, is not predicted. That’s the difference.

    • Brett MIler

      Thanks for your comment. I drew all the cartoons on the site.

      The idea for the cartoon came from several different arguments I’ve seen where hypothetical components were used as examples against irreducible complexity.

      The problem with predictability is when its separated from probability it predicts everything. For instance, if you have a single die, rolling any number 1-6 is predictable and is also equally likely. If you add more dice, certain combinations, like 7, are more likely, but all the possible combinations, 2-12 are still predictable. The fact that evolution predicts A is meaningless apart from likelihood.

      How likely is a real sequence comparable to A to be assembled by changes in the genetic code? How likely is B to be assembled by changes in the genetic code? Or that B would be incorporated into the system by a subsequent mutation? Followed by another mutation which causes the failure of A? It’s impossible to determine this based on hypotheticals. But we do have real studies that show many real genetic combinations are very unlikely, multiple mutations that lead along a specific path are even less likely. Systems in biology require many of these unlikely combinations. The argument for evolution is very much a probability problem, since all genetic combinations are equally predictable if probability is not a factor.

      There are a few situations in biology that follow the hypothetical situation closely, but they are not the norm. As is pointed out in the last panel, the fact that some small-scale adaptations are real does not explain all of biology, nor does it account for large scale differences.

      Creation also predicts the appearance of A. We know that creators exist and have many examples of created things. The idea that nature cannot create a feature is a prediction for a creator. This premise is used all the time in science as we compare the likelihood of natural causes as opposed to those initiated by intelligence, like in an arson investigation. Evolution is at its core an argument against a Creator. The prediction evolution makes is that everything can be explained by numerous small-scale changes to biological systems, but that prediction also includes the idea that the small-scale changes are likely.

      A billion years doesn’t increase the odds of a correct sequence being stumbled upon. In the same way that the odds are the same for rolling a one on a single die. No matter how many times you roll it the chance is always 1 in 6, given a single roll or a billion rolls. But the genetic sequences in biology are exponentially larger, and genetic sequences store mistakes as readily as they would a step in a useful direction. If individual sequences were simple this might be a lesser problem, but since they are not simple, getting off the ground with any new sequence is very improbable, especially in a system that is designed to guard against and correct mistakes.

      The other problem is billions of years is far too generous a time period for what is believed about the fossil record. For example, many complex features show up in the Cambrian in a period of only a few million years, about 1/100th of the time you suggest, without any record of the supposed steps that lead up to them. The number of required changes in the short periods allowed by the fossil record are far too small for evolution to have overcome the probability problem.

      So, I would say that the cartoon accurately portrays the problem as far as the cartoon examines the subject.

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