Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catholic girls are such teases, aren't they?

Over at one of her 7,126 blogs, Catholic wingnut and Canadian IDiot proponent Denyse O'Leary prepares to dazzle you with irrefutable evidence of a supreme designer:

The Fibonacci series and intelligent design: Returning to grass roots...and stems

(Editor's note: Robert Deyes offers this reflection on intelligent design and natural occurrences of the Fibonnaci [sic] series.)

Um ... some advice, Denyse -- you might have a bit more credibility if you learned how to spell "Fibonacci" correctly but, no matter, the rest of the piece is by one Robert Deyes, with whom Denyse seems suitably impressed. So ... to business:

The mathematical progression known as the Fibonacci series has in recent years become a focus for research primarily because it occurs frequently throughout nature. Named after the Italian mathematician Fibonacci, who first discovered the progression in the 13th century, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers in the series. Thus the first ten numbers of the Fibonacci series are


Biologist Amar Klar has written one review outlining how this numerical sequence is found in the arrangement of seeds on the top of a sunflower (Ref 1).

OK, we can guess where this is going -- nature produces Fibonacci sequences; Fibonacci sequences are inherently complex or something like that; therefore, Fibonacci sequences require an Intelligent Designer. All right, then ... convince me:

As my father and I have seen on recent walks through fields in southern Wisconsin, pine cones are similarly ordered in clockwise and anti-clockwise spiral arrangements in which the number of spirals conforms to the same Fibonacci progression. Likewise for the arrangements of plant shoots on the stem of a plant (Ref 1). Such well-defined patterns are examples of phylotaxis (from the Greek 'phyllon' meaning leaf and 'taxis' meaning order). The question that arises is why should the Fibonacci progression be so ubiquitous throughout nature?

An excellent question. I mean, it's not like there's any possible natural explanation, is there? Oh, wait ...

According to Klar, for plants at least the answer lies simply in the way that cells divide at the tips of plant shoots (Ref 1). A mass of cells form a structure called the primordium and these divide extensively as new plant organs and tissues are formed. Somehow, either through biochemical fields or tissue mechanics, phylotaxic patterns, such as the Fibonacci progression are formed.

Klar proposed an explanation based on what he refers to as asymmetric cell division (Ref 1). In his view, cell division might result in a mature cell that can further divide and a juvenile cell that must go through a further round of the cell cycle before it can divide. According to Klar, each event of cell division would thus eventually result in a number of cells that steadily increases through the Fibonacci progression via successive divisions (Ref 1).

Um ... you know, given that this appears to be a perfectly reasonable explanation for Fibonacci sequences in nature, it's not clear where Denyse's hero Deyes is going here, but let's not jump to conclusions. Perhaps he's holding back for a big finish. Onward:

The late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould asserted that the presence of the Fibonacci pattern,"emerges automatically in any system of radiating spirals built by adding new elements at the apex" (Ref 2).

Uh ... OK, just more naturalism here and there's not much blog post left so I'm still not sure where Deyes is going with this ... ahhhh, here we go:

Yet as philosopher William Dembski points out, while we might have a viable explanation for the purely naturalistic origin of a mathematical pattern such as the Fibonacci series, we are still left wondering how the cells from which these patterns arise came into existence (Ref 3).



So, if I read this correctly, the lesson here is that Fibonacci sequences in nature quite probably have a simple, non-supernatural explanation, but if we suddenly move the goalposts to talk about something totally different instead, we can continue the debate. Tell me I read that wrong.

As we have seen, Klar explained the origin of the Fibonacci pattern in nature through a process he called asymmetric cell division. And yet it is with the discovery of the cellular world that we have unraveled the hallmarks not of purposeless naturalism but of intelligent design. Indeed, our emerging knowledge of cellular biology and biochemistry has opened up a realm of very small, contrived machines that give every indication of having been designed with a purpose in mind (Ref 4).

Nope -- apparently, I read that just fine: Let's talk about Fibonacci sequences. They can occur naturally. Therefore, cells require an Intelligent Designer. Is that about right? Am I representing that fairly? Is Denyse O'Leary really that depressingly stupid?

Just answer "yes" -- it'll save us all a pile of time.

AFTERSNARK: Rather than bludgeon you over the head with it, I'm going to throw this out as a thinking exercise: What is the fundamental flaw to suggesting that the Fibonacci series is just so gosh-darned cool that finding it in nature suggests the presence of an Intelligent Designer? Give it some thought, it'll come to you.

Well, except for you, Patrick. Because you're an idiot.


LuLu said...

Catholic girls are such teases, aren't they?

Heeeeyyyyy, I'm a (lapsed) Catholic girl and I'm no tease. When I say I'm gonna kick ass, I follow through.

I expect your apology forthwith ;-)

M@ said...

CC, it's quite simple. If the process is designed, it requires a designer. If it's a natural process, then that natural process of course must have been designed, and therefore must have a designer. And that sits on the back of an even bigger turtle.


thwap said...

Tryin' ta slip something pat me 'eh?

The noive!

Mentarch said...

IDiots never fail to fall back on their one, single premise: irreducible complexity.

Which, of course, has been thoroughly and utterly debunked scientifically.

Nevertheless, IDiots parochially cling desperately to their beliefs in miracles and magic - shamelessly twisting any scientific fact (at least, of what little they manage to understand) to comfort themselves in their quaint beliefs.

So what else is new?

KEvron said...

denyse has, in pointing out the ubiquitous phenomenon of fibonacci sequences found in nature, done a fine job in promoting the notion of a common ancestry for various species. darwin would have been proud....


KEvron said...

"What is the fundamental flaw to suggesting that the Fibonacci series is just so gosh-darned cool that finding it in nature suggests the presence of an Intelligent Designer?"

the number 23?


CC said...

No. But keep trying.

Mentarch said...

Fibonacci's series constitute, in short, an *observation* of nature.

Just like discovering pi, the laws of thermodynamics, the laws of genetic inheritance, or the double-helix nature of DNA - as but few examples.

In short - not because a sentient mind "discovers" a law of nature, or a behavior of nature, does it imply at all that some "intelligent design" was behind it.

IDiots simply "project" their own sentience (as such as it may be considered) into natural "laws".

Same thing as when our primitive ancestors "believed" there was sentience in the wind, in animals, rocks, mountains, fire, etc.

Same kind of primitive projection indeed ...

Frank Frink said...

I'm no mathematician, just a dumb hick musician - and yes, I do know there's a lot of math in music- but...

Many other mathematical sequences and ratios other than Fibonacci's can be found in nature.

You will not always find the Fibonacci numbers in the number of petals or spirals on seed heads etc., although they quite often come close to the Fibonacci numbers. Same with music, art, architectural design etc.. not everthing is based on a 'golden ratio' or 'golden sequebce'.

So, if you only accept evidence of Fibonacci's sequence where it appears and ignore the evidence of where it doesn't appear it's really easy to claim that this was all by specific, purposeful design.

Frank Frink said...

And I see Mentarch posted the answer while I was struggling with my thoughts (and typing)... and there you have it.

Mentarch said...

frank fink: ah, but you nevertheless nailed it with your own answer - with regards *specifically* to Fibonacci's series as not necessarily being applicable to any growing/sprouting tissular structure.

But I suspected (perhaps wrongly) that CC's "homework" related to the overall question of ID ...

So, kudos to you as well, my friend! ;-)

LuLu said...

Boys ... think they're soooooo much mathier than everyone else.

Behold my mathy excellence. Listed price $100 USD + shipping and handling. What LuLu paid - $26 CDN (taxes in). Now figure out my discount. Go on ....

LuLu said...

P.S. Mine are red ....

mikmik said...

It's like all those messages hidden in the text of the bible. Until you realize that every text has hidden messages - you just have to create an appropriate algorythm (acchh!) and you can 'find' anything.

What would be astounding is if there were never any coincidences anywhere.

Frank Frink said...

So I see you've lapsed on the Catholic but not the schoolgirl.

What was the question again? ;-)

KEvron said...

i'll take another shot: because instances where no such sequence is observed would have to indicate, by deynse's logic, the opposite conclusion?

is this gonna be on the final?


liberal supporter said...

Of course the Fibonacci series is proof of an Intelligent Designer.

In this case, the Designer's name is Fibonacci.

What is the fundamental flaw to suggesting that the Fibonacci series is just so gosh-darned cool that finding it in nature suggests the presence of an Intelligent Designer?

God, by definition, must be outside of and beyond physical laws. Indeed, one usually requests divine intervention in cases that would otherwise play out in a predictable way.

The fact that we can observe nature following laws that are never violated gives no evidence that there is a being that can violate them.

Heathen Mike said...

I was going to blog about that post of hers, but in the end it was so droolingly fucking large-tongued Down's Syndrome retarded that I couldn't bring myself to spend more time thinking about it or her.

So thanks for doing it.

Sheena said...

You have totally offended and repulsed me with that comment, heathen mike.

Cameron Campbell said...