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.