Foresight in Prior Fitness

            The foresight that is an integral component in the concept of prior fitness as applied to the natural living world, can be divided into three main realities.

            The first reality is the physical environment such as the African savanna plains.

            The second reality is the architectural body-plans and accompanying life-style habits of living organisms.

            The third main reality is the innate instinctual behaviors that specifically define for each living organism the essence of what they are, and equally important what they are not.

            The point of this essay is to suggest that the coordination of these three independent realities is far too complex to self-assemble through the mindless, accidental, unguided, and trial-and-error process of incremental progressive development.

            This concept of foresight integral within prior fitness applies to every phenomenon in the natural living and non-living world, and thereby makes an open-and-shut case for the need for an intelligent designing agent as the causal explanation for the physical universe and everything we study through scientific exploration.

            Let’s break this down into more detail.

            Lions hunt as a group on the African savanna plains.  They crouch low in the knee-high grass on the flat ground of the plains to hide themselves while large herds of zebras run past, searching for a particular zebra to chase, catch, kill, and eat.

            Other prey for lions is the water buffalo, wildebeest, old or sickly giraffe, and stray elephants separated from the herd. 

            Lions do not chase Thompson’s gazelles on the open plains because lions cannot run fast enough to catch them, and because gazelles are too small to provide lions with enough meat to feed the entire lion pride.

            Lions instinctively know the limits of their prospective prey within an uncanny coordination of the external environment and the broad assortment of other living creatures inhabiting the African savanna.

            We observe today as scientific, fact-based evidence that each of these three main realities are all at their mature, well-defined, end-point essences at the same point in time.

            None of these realities are in progressive development toward a fuller-defining, future iteration.

            We do observe oscillating weather patterns that produce temporary changes in the geography and plant-life, resulting in fluctuating population numbers for many living species, like the famous Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands.

But in the large mammals on the African savanna plains, we do not observe the appearance of innovative character traits for adaptation to changing geographies and weather patterns.

Looking briefly at the other two big cats on the African savanna plains, unlike lions the cheetah and the leopard hunt alone.

The cheetah can easily out-run and catch a zebra, but like the dog running after and catching the car driving down the street, once a cheetah catches-up with a zebra the cheetah knows instinctually that this prey is too large to bring down, kill, and eat.

The cheetah not only needs to know this reality of prior fitness upfront instinctually as a cheetah, but in order to survive the cheetah needs in place as prey the Thompson’s gazelle, but also needs a flat running surface to be able to run safely up to 70 mph at top-speed to catch the equally swift-running gazelle.

Move this coordinated, three-component reality of architectural body-plan, instinct, and physical environment instead into the Amazon rainforest, and it doesn’t work.

All three realities of prior fitness must be in-sync and intelligently coordinated for full function to be achieved.

The foresight in prior fitness needed to produce function, also precisely exists for the leopard.

The leopard could not survive on the open savanna like lions and cheetahs, without the presence of the occasional large tree, rock out-cropping, and small sections of trees and foliage interrupting the flat plains.

The leopard rests alone up in the shade of a large tree during the daytime, waiting for the unsuspecting gazelle to stop and feed below this tree, but mainly goes out in the cool of the night to stealthily do most of its hunting.

One point that is easily missed here is that it is not only that the positive pieces of the puzzle must be in-place, but that other things must be absent.

The African savanna plains cannot accommodate the presence of the saber-toothed tiger as a competing predator hunting prey along with and beside the other three big cats.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur would create havoc within the fine-tuned ecological balance of the African savanna plains today.

The living cell that progresses from DNA to amino acid folds to proteins to cell-types to developmental gene regulatory networks to the growing embryo to birth, cannot have any deleterious chemicals, faulty molecular machines, or adverse reactions along the way.

Complete prior fitness at each successive step must be in-place and operative for function to cascade forward to reach its well-defined, end-point outcome in living cells.    

The existence of these three main realities involving prior fitness are not mysteries known only by professional zoologists, ecologists, and biologists.

The recognition of these realities is easily accessible today to the non-scientist layman through the plethora of nature documentaries as full-length movies or weekly programs on cable television.

What is also easily recognizable once a person sees it, is that this concept of prior fitness is universally applicable in every aspect of the natural living and non-living world.

The explosive nature of this realization is that this involves the coordination of three or more independent systems of information, each on its own comprising organized complexity on a scale that eliminates any materialistic explanation for how these realities could coalesce into a functioning whole at a same point in time.

Our natural world today exhibits no such progressive movement towards future end-point outcomes.

I am not a biologist or molecular biochemist. 

But the layman can easily recognize the mathematical improbability of 3.5-billion bytes of sequentially coded information, using the four-letter alphabet of the chemical parts adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine to formulate deoxyribonucleic acid…commonly known in its shortened form as DNA.

If my mathematics is correct, the probability of DNA reaching coherently integrated function is one chance in 4 to the 3.5-billionth power, or 4 multiplied by 4, 3.5-billion times.

This produces one chance out of a number inconceivably large, and unimaginatively beyond any system of self-organization or chance assemblage to reach function.

Again, in the living cell, layers upon layers of successive prior fitness are required to go from DNA genes to amino acid folds to proteins to different cell-types to the development gene regulatory networks that tell each cell where to go and what function to perform in the developing embryo, to eventually become an elephant and not a giraffe.

The philosophical conclusion here that points towards the need for intelligent design is not magic-based, or an illusion, or theological, or empirically non-scientific.

This is an inference to the best explanation based upon the evidence that has been the product of the scientific method of research, and is a valid conclusion to draw from empirical, fact-based evidence.

At the same time, the truth of the foresight needed to sustain the universality of the concept of prior fitness integral within the natural world, now excludes the falsehood of the worldview of naturalistic materialism that is no longer viable as a working hypothesis for reality.

From Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

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