Tuesday, July 08, 2014

All creatures great and small

Physicists have a reputation for being the smartest scientists. Smarter than biologists. That's ironic since biology is far more varied and complicated than physics, so–if anything–you'd expect great biologists to be smarter than great physicists.
One of the putative evidences for evolution is the functional and structural similarity between otherwise diverse organisms, &c. Darwinians chalk this up to common descent. Mind you, that inference is tricky even on Darwinian assumptions inasmuch as Darwinians attribute some functional or structural similarities to convergent evolution rather than common ancestry. 
Anyway, they contend that if God really is the Creator, and more so if natural kinds originated in divine fiats of special creation, then we'd expect more diversity in how organisms are designed. 
But suppose, for the sake of argument, that God went back to the drawing board for each type of organism. In that case, the world would be far less comprehensible to man. The life sciences would be basically impossible.
Take a veterinarian. In a way, it's harder to be a vet than a doctor. That's because a vet must be competent to treat a variety of pets and farm animals, whereas a doctor only has to know about the human body. Human diseases. What is good or bad for humans, in terms of food, medicine, toxins, &c.
Even so, I imagine that in a pinch, a vet could operate on a human while a doctor could operate on a dog. If, however, every kind of organisms had a fundamentally different design, you couldn't be a vet. There'd be way too much to master. 
Likewise, you couldn't be a marine biologist if every marine species had a fundamentally different design. Admittedly, a marine biologist usually has a specialty, like dolphins or whatever. But a marine biologist is probably expected to know a lot about one (or maybe a few) species, and a little about a lot of species. Fish in general have a lot in common. That's what makes them fish. Marine mammals have a lot in common. 
But if God designed each type of organism from scratch, so as to share very few functional or structural similarities, then the natural world would be pretty incomprehensible to man. There'd be far too much to sort out. 
Or take something as "simple" and basic as yeasts. Essential to life. But imagine if every kind of yeast was radically dissimilar to every other type of yeast. Where would that leave us?
That, in turn, would make it basically impossible for man to adapt natural organisms to human use. Lacking any common frame of reference, it would be too complex to figure out.
It's beneficial to humans to live in a world that's understandable. That's something we can take advantage of. That's a sign of God's benevolence. 


  1. Thanks for this post, Steve. On a somewhat similar note, I'm wondering what you think about the implications of reproduction on naturalistic evolution. What I mean is that male and female organisms had to evolve complementary reproductive organs apart from each other. Apparently, significant mutations take thousands of generations, so how would these organisms reproduce in the meantime? And how likely is it that they could evolve completely functioning reproductive organs in isolation from each other? Do you think a reasonable argument could be salvaged from this premise?

    I've heard it said that perhaps the DNA from the organism that male and female species came from maybe had a blueprint for this kind of reproduction, but that would introduce teleology into the process, which most naturalists won't abide.

    1. That's the old evolutionary conundrum of viable intermediates. They can't evolve unless they can reproduce, but if they can't reproduce unless they evolve...