Seashells and God

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Dave Matson's picture
Seashells and God

Seashells! Magnificent, coiled seashells! How beautiful their designs are! How unusually strong they are. How durable. And, it doesn't stop there.

"Many of these shells have spectacularly complex shapes--logarithmic spirals bedecked with fractal spines or other ornaments, all executed with near-perfect mathematical regularity."
(Derek E. Moulton, Alain Goriely, and Régis Chirat, "How Seashells Take Shape," Scientific American, April 2018)

I have bad news for those who naively cling to the idea that a Great Designer created those lovely structures. It turns out, as shown in the Scientific American article, that the fabulous "designs" of coiled seashells follow from very simple rules. A Master Designer is not needed!

How many other fabulous "designs" are out there that can, if examined closely, be traced to very simple rules well within the grasp of Mother Nature? And, we haven't even considered complex "designs" that arose via intermediate evolutionary stages, such as the eye! What if God isn't needed for any of life's designs? What about incompetent designs nicely explained by evolution? What about insidious or "evil" designs also nicely explained by evolution? Looks like we have a hole in the design argument big enough to accommodate an 18-wheeler!

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algebe's picture
These apparently designed

These apparently designed shapes are based on the golden ratio and Fibonacci numbers. They're everywhere in nature, from spiral galaxies to spider webs. They are fundamentally very simple.

The coiled seashells we see today are but a pale shadow of the magnificent ammonites that used to swim in the oceans. Unfortunately the intelligent designer made a mistake in their design, and they all went extinct.

In fact, over 99% of all species that have ever existed are extinct, so if there's a designer he really isn't very intelligent. His failure rate is close to 100%.

wgusapukc's picture
Excellent thread.

Excellent thread.
The thing you have to understand is that your education and gained and honed knowledge sees a mollusk shell as not a miracle but a mathmatical/natural order evolved in millions of years. If you however believe that a flash of god's brilliance could only create complexity such as a simple shell it doesn't mean you are wrong or even stupid but instead that the limitations in your experience and knowledge utilized in critical thinking to make your way around the world is not as complete as it could be. I am a guitarist and I could easily see that you who are not have missed the boat that I so enjoy riding upon. This doesn't make you worse or less than if you can't do what I can within my experience and knowledge.
Facts are only constructed theories we stand upon in our lives and though correct and true to those that carry them. If you question ocean waves and don't possess the ability to understand such a concept's reasoning to say god made waves is not wrong it is saying that in your experiences and drives to gain understanding has hit a wall of a lack of understanding.
Again if I play my guitar in an amazing way and you are impressed one person will see it as "boy, he must have practiced for thousands of hours" to get to that point while another would see it as gods good grace which gave me the talent.
For those 2 both are facts trying to make their understanding complete enough to get along. Both are correct to the thinker, facts.
What's more, if the one who believes it is god, picks up a guitar and tries to play it and can't immediately play "Purple Haze" could either see it as god not giving the talent and put it down. If however they are taught the cost of things they admire and the work which goes into it they may well begin practicing. This could start a para-dime shift in the life of the believer.
Great work keep on wondering with your fantastic brain!

algebe's picture
@wgusapukc: Facts are only

@wgusapukc: Facts are only constructed theories we stand upon in our lives

Facts are what you discover by making observations, forming hypotheses and sifting evidence. If that process becomes too tiresome, you can surrender and say god did it, but that path leads to beliefs, superstitions and myths, never facts.

Cognostic's picture
Just because something has

Just because something has the appearance of design, does not mean it is designed. First, there is a distinction between "designed" and "occurring naturally."

People make things that are designed. These things are made from the elements and materials around us and are the result of our labor.

Things that occur naturally are the result of natural biology, chemistry and physics acting on the chemicals, molecules, and other substances that we find in our environment. Life is a naturally occurring event. I would suggest that any design you find in it is the result of your thinking process and not intent. Things that are designed need a designer. Things that occur naturally are the result of naturally occurring processes.

Sheldon's picture
Anyone mention snowflakes yet

Anyone mention snowflakes yet?

The theistic position is that countless billions have suffered in agony and anguish, then die without being presented a shred of evidence for a deity, and so are damned to be tortured forever. All the while an omnipotent and omniscient creator of everything busies itself making each unique snowflake from scratch.

Their problems of course increase when the absurdity of that idea is exposed. As the fact that each snowflake has a unique and highly complex structure is proof that random events can and do produce enormous complexity. This fact destroys the fallacious teleological argument on its own for me, as the alternative is the initial and absurd claim that a deity takes the time to create each snowflake individually, but can't or won't stop the ubiquitous suffering inherent in its design.

Snowflakes I love, deities are just absurd.

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