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Functional integration indicates design (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Functional integration indicates design (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CI130:

Design is indicated by functional integration, which is multiple parts working together to produce a particular function or end.

Source: Lumsden, R., quoted by B. J. Alters, 1995. A content analysis of the Institute for Creation Research's Institute on Scientific Creationism. Creation/Evolution 15(2): 1-15.

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Functional integration can be produced naturally. Parts come together all the time and, with the addition of energy, act on each other. It is inevitable that sometimes such workings will create an end that someone or something considers functional. An example of such functional integration occurring naturally is climate (which has even been proposed as evidence of intelligent design; Morton 2001). Climate is produced by the interactions of terrain, trade winds, bodies of water, and latitude. These can occur arbitrarily, but they are bound to produce some kind of functional climate.

The argument presupposes that climate is not intelligently designed. According to General Intelligent Design it would be designed and not arbitrarily.

2. Functional integration is what we would expect from evolution. Evolution requires units that reproduce. "Units" implies at least some amount of integration, and reproduction is a function. (And natural selection will favor innumerable other functions that help with survival and reproduction.)

This is Begging the Question since it presupposes that Evolution can produce functional integration, despite the fact that the claim is questioning that assertion.

3. Biological systems often include imperfections and jury-rigging that argue against intelligent planning of their integration.

This assumes at least three things that are based entirely on Evolutionism:

  1. That there is no purpose in the systems being as they are.
  2. That the imperfections and "jury-rigging" are not a result of deterioration from a perfect design. In such cases, the "jury-rigging" would result from an organism compensating for the affects of deterioration. Such compensation is itself evidence of design.
  3. That human knowledge in both design and in biology is perfect and complete.

There have been many instances in which evolutionist biologists declared a design as useless, or vestiges from previous evolutionary stages in the organism, that later were found to have vital and indispensable purposes.

  • DNA sometimes includes a "wrong" sequence that, if not edited after the DNA is transcribed, would be fatal. For example, a gene involved in mouse neurons contains a codon specifying glutamine. In normal mice, an enzyme edits the RNA that is transcribed from the DNA, so the codon will specify arginine. Mice die if this editing enzyme is disabled. But mice that are genetically engineered with DNA for arginine in the first place are healthy even without the editing enzyme.

This looks like a perfect example of an organism compensating for the effects of deterioration. The original gene probably encoded for arginine, but a mutation occurred that ruined the gene, but as a result of embedded design the mice produced an enzyme that corrects for the mutation, and such compensation suggests advanced planning which strongly argues for design.

  • In men, the urethra passes through the prostate gland. When the prostate gets infected and swells, as it is prone to do, it causes problems not only with reproduction but also with the excretory system.

Talk Origins is not considering the affects of deterioration. The noted prostate infection is a result of deterioration, resulting from Man's Fall.

It also needs to be noted that for any design that is declared as "imperfect" by a biologist there may be unknown considerations that make for a superior design. Mankind has no idea as of yet how to program any computer that can reach the intricate self-maintaining, self-correcting, and self-reproducing systems that comprise all of life, beginning with the DNA code itself.

  • Although baleen whales are toothless as adults, their fetuses grow teeth that are resorbed as they mature.

The teeth of the baleen whale fetus guide the correct formation of the whale's massive jaws and after that job is done the whale no longer needs them since they feed in different manner. This shows economy in design, once they have done their job they make way for the structures the whale needs to feed.

4. Functional integration is not a necessary part of design. It does not exist in simple designs without multiple parts, for example.

This is irrelevant since life is extremely complex with multiple parts.

Since evolution always produces functional integration but design does not, functional integration is evidence more for evolution than for design.

This is not only baseless, but it is also Begging the Question. It presupposes that Evolution can produce functional integration, despite the fact that the claim is questioning that assertion.