Friday, September 28, 2007

How Does Ateleology Generate Foresight?

At times a comment at Telic Thoughts brings up a broader issue than the subject matter of the comment itself. This occurred recently with respect to this comment. Quotes from the linked comment follow (appearing in red letters). My responses are in blue.

Genetic hotspots may evolve due to inherent advantages in rapidly changing and stressful environments. Any mutations still appear to be random with respect to fitness. There have been a few results that suggest directed mutations may occur in some situations, but these results are ambiguous at best. Research continues.

Results are not "ambiguous at best." I posted a comment in the same thread citing one of several studies indicating discernable genomic patterns evident with respect to mutations. Genomes are not equal opportunity mutation sites. Not only is a genomic region relevant, so too is the mutation rate which is known to vary. All of this affects the phenotype that might result from a mutation\selection process.

The insistence on randomness with respect to fitness despite data indicating a contrary conclusion is not surprising. Old habits and entrenched viewpoints die hard. The issue of randomness does not challenge a process. However, it does affect teleological considerations which ID critics are loathe to allow. More from the cited Telic Thoughts comment:


Keep in mind that even if directed mutations were shown to exist, this would not falsify evolution generally, but only the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. Furthermore, Intelligent Design, as normally construed, will be supported only if there is evidence of foresight due to an outside agency. Genomes can be very "intelligent" and still have spontaneously evolved by incremental adaptation.

Evidence of foresight due to an outside agency? Foresight has qualities that are intrinsically intelligent in nature but how would one determine that foresight is generated by incremental adaptation? If adaptation is linked to environmental pressures and foresight entails the perception of events that have not yet occurred then what is the external event that generated foresight? Intelligent design fits foresight enabling mechanisms like the proverbial glove. But how does an ateleological process lead to an intrinsically teleological property like foresight?

If a bias toward non-randomness or teleology was present at the origin of life then an inferential bias toward intelligent design would exist. All the more so since alternative non-design explanations lack a natural selection criteria. Genomes indeed do appear "intelligent." But that only suggests that there may be something to intelligent design after all.

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