Article re: Intelligent Design


Staff member
Site Owner
May 30, 2000
In this esoteric article (for me, anyway), the author explores evolution and looks at the question that's been raised here before... How is it that cephalopod eyes and human eyes seemed to have evolved on completely different paths, yet are so similar? The approach of this article (which debunks the notion of creationism) actually makes the point that there is at least one significant difference...

Neither Intelligent nor Design
All relatively sound, but... I still don't get how ceph eyes are so similar to human eyes, notwithstanding the fact that we don't have eyes on the sides of our heads... which would be kinda cool, btw...

:cyclops: (
Cornea, iris, lens, retina. Same basic structures doing the same basic jobs, but no common ancestor of cephs and vertebrates could've had anything remotely like a complex eye of this type. There are still tons of differences in the details, of course.

Agreed... you might say the devil's in the details! :mrgreen:

I still marvel at how we're symmetrical... split us down the middle, we're the same on both sides... two feet, two eyes, two lungs, kidneys, all that.. but liver and appendix and pancreas, not so symmetrial... heart... kinda, but not quite...

Weird stuff that I don't have much education on.
That is very interesting, isn't it? I've been trying to catch up on the 9 years of biology I missed so that I can understand that kind of stuff. That, and how those pesky chromatophores evolved.

tonmo said:
Agreed... you might say the devil's in the details! :mrgreen:

My two cents:

Reading this article made me realize that the subject of Mississippi vs. Scopes is still very much an issue here in the ‘States. It also sadly demonstrates the lack of knowledge in what religion and science each are, and their roles in our world.

I know this will provoke ire, but it should be noted that arguments of “intelligent design” and “scientific creationism” tend to do a disservice to both the sciences and religions.

The focus of science is to discover empirical truths; i.e. that which can be quantified or otherwise measured by scientific means (the scientific method). It is a tool for the gathering of knowledge, despite any consequences or moral implications. Religion, on the other hand, is based in faith. Most religions are tools for the moral or ethical path of life and thus are based on philosophies not based in science. Though these esoteric concepts of ethics, love, and good and evil clearly exist, they are best defined by nonscientific means. Boiling the concept down to its base components, faith is about in what one believes and cannot prove. Religion is faith in action.

Certain creation-vs.-evolution-based religious arguments say that science says that there is no creator, or god. Such statements are ridiculous. By its very definition science cannot make that statement because the existence of the metaphysical cannot be proven by scientific means, and therefore it falls outside the realm of science. And it should be noted that science cannot prove nor disprove the validity of religious beliefs, so the realm of “scientifically based atheism” is, in an interesting twist of fate, a belief system. In the end it’s a faith to believe that a given religion or religions are wrong.

Oh, and out the octopus eye thing? It’s just the way things are. Similar needs, similar tools. Believe what you will, but keep in mind that certain “designs” are favored whether by evolution, God, or both.

Sushi and Sake (proof of the divine Inari)

As long as we avoid anything remotely approaching theocracy, I'll be happy.

John's absolutely right. Obviously, since our ignorance is unbounded, faith is going to enter into the picture at some point, whether we're talking about science or religion. Science, ideally, allows faith to be more fluid than does religion. If God is proven to exist, then science will forbid atheism. Atheists choose not to believe in the unproven (which is no fun). Actually, they should call themselves agnostic (like me) if they claim their views are based on science.

What bothers me is when "creationists" attempt to justify rejection of evolution on similar grounds. OK, so maybe you can't "unequivocally" prove evolution (in the broadest sense) unless you find a way to keep records for a really long time. To say that there is not enough evidence to teach it as scientific fact in schools is silly. Let's take certain born-again governors of certain bible-belt states who've had no problem allowing scores of executions. The folks on death row have not, in general, been proven guilty as thoroughly as evolution has been proven true. Nobody would ever concede that the condemned were sentenced to death based on simple faith in their guilt. There was no reasonable doubt, right?. If, as a religious society, we are going to live by that rule in the arena of dispensing with human life, then I think it should also apply in the classroom.

What really bugs me is that creationists don't see how evolution would actually be a stronger testament to the unfathomable greatness of God. It's so much more elegant and interesting than, "Presto! Here is a blue whale I have just pulled out of my hat."

ID is largely based on 'The Arguement by Disbelief' i.e. it usually invovles the statement "I can't believe" and follows that up with things like "such a complex structure could evolve by chance", etc.

A good overview of the evolution of the eye is in Richard Dawkins' "Climbing Mount Improbable" in Chapter 5 'The Forty-fold Path to Enlightment' (which touches on the evolution of cephalopod eyes, along with a wide range of other animals).

Regarding my cranky pre- :coffee: post above, I do believe that science should always be presented as providing (or attempting to provide) the best available interpretation of nature, given the input data. Evolution, for example, should not simply be presented as an unqualified fact. Dogmata of any sort should not be nurtured. So, not only should I be tolerant of creationism, I should welcome its challenges. Healthy science needs its exercise.

Blah, blah, blah... :)
Yo, great post John! I'm glad I read that, that's the logical clarity I couldn't bring front-of-mind on this issue!

Emps, thanks much for the reference, sounds like good reading. :read:

Um..., I myself would find it quite interesting to see someone pull a blue whale out of a hat. :shock: :D
tonmo said:
Agreed... you might say the devil's in the details! :mrgreen:

I still marvel at how we're symmetrical... split us down the middle, we're the same on both sides... two feet, two eyes, two lungs, kidneys, all that.. but liver and appendix and pancreas, not so symmetrial... heart... kinda, but not quite...

Weird stuff that I don't have much education on.


Did you know that there was going to be an article related to the development of asymmetry in vertebrate embryos in the current issue of Nature (427), or is this just one of those spooky coincidence-type things? I tried to read it, but it's all gobbledegook. What I did gather from it, though, is that it isn't yet clear what initially causes symmetry breaking. The article deals primarily with events that fix the asymmetric pattern of gene expression so that it can propagate through later stages of development (I think).

Just thought I'd let you know you were in excellent company. :)

Raya, A. et al. Notch activity acts as a sensor for extracellular calcium during vertebrate left–right determination. Nature 427, 121-128 (2004) :bonk:

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