Evolution / Intelligent Designer . . . whatever

From the language used by Nicholas Wade, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between evolution and an Intelligent Designer. Consider his characterization of evolution (almost a person, not merely a process) in his recent mini-review of a book about moths:

Every feature of a butterfly or moth, throughout its life from egg to adult, has been shaped over millions of years of evolution for specific purposes.

A moth on which evolution has lavished a remarkable degree of protective care is Oxytenis modestia.

As an adult, the Oxytenis moth resembles a leaf, but even here evolution’s inventiveness is not an end.

The distance between “specific purpose” and “design” in my mind is not very great, if not nonexistent. (Is Wade secretly an IDer?)

Other times, though, Wade speaks as if the variations seen on moths are not due to evolution at all, but rather to a conscious decision or effort of the moth:

Many butterfly and moth species try to pretend they are the least nutritious objects in the forest. This generally means imitating a piece of bird excrement if one is a caterpillar, and a dead leaf when one reaches adulthood.

Several butterflies practice a clever combination of camouflage and conspicuousness.

I’ve been trying hard to grow claws and wings for some time. Maybe I just don’t have a sufficiently moth-like drive to succeed?


One Response to “Evolution / Intelligent Designer . . . whatever”

  1. Rich Says:

    Wade’s style of writing intends to capture your attention without compromising the scientific aspecits of the subject. Sometimes, the show tends to stray a little far. Still, there is a substantial difference between evolution and design. Evolution does not have a specific end result with respect to the the characteristics of the organism. If the result is the survivorship of the being, that is all that matters. Design on the other hand would be concerned with the characteristics, as well as the survivorship of the beings themselves.

    To distinguish between these two hypotheses is fruitless except at the scale of selection. One doesn’t need to have selection forces in place for design, though selection could be important for the designer, sort of like a marketing scheme would be for Gucci. In this case, one wouldn’t be able to distinguish the process of design from evolutionary thought at all except at the conception.

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