The Darwinist and the computer programmer
|November 5, 2013||Posted by niwrad under Darwinism, Informatics|
Actually the available hardware computing power is enormous and the software technologies are very sophisticated and powerful. Given the above fortunate situation about the technological advance of informatics, many phenomena and processes in many fields are successfully computer simulated. Routinely airplane pilots and astronauts learn their job in dedicated simulators, and complex processes, as weather forecast and atomic explosions, are simulated on computers.
Question: why Darwinian unguided evolution hasn’t been yet computer simulated? I wonder why evolutionists haven’t yet simulated it, so to prove us that Darwinism works. As known, experiments of evolution in vitro failed, then maybe experiments in silico would work. Why don’t evolutionists show us in a computer the development of new biological complexity by simulating random mutations and selection on self-reproductive digital organisms?
Here I try my answer, then you are free to provide your own. I will do it in the format of an imaginary dialogue. Let’s suppose a Darwinist who meets a computer programmer to ask him to develop a simulation program of Darwinian evolution.
Programmer (P): “What’s your problem? I can program whatever you want. What we need is a detailed description of the phenomenon and a correct model of the process.”
Darwinist (D): “I would like to simulate biological evolution, the process thanks to which a species transforms into another species, by means of random mutations and natural selection”.
P: “Well, I think first off we need a model of an organism and its development, or something like that”.
D: “We have a genotype (containing the heritable information, the genome, the DNA) and its product, the phenotype”.
P: “I read that the DNA is a long sequence of four symbols. We could model it as a long string of characters. String of characters and operations on them are easily manipulable by computers. Just an idea.”
D: “Good, it is indeed unguided variations on DNA that drive evolution.”
P: “Ok, if you want, after modeling the genome, we can perform on the DNA character strings any unguided variation: permutations, substitutions, translations, insertions, deletions, import, export, pattern scrambling, whatever you like. We have very good pseudo random generators to simulate these operations”.
D: “Cool. Indeed those unintelligent variations produce the transformations of the phenotypes, what is called ‘evolution'”.
P: “Hmm… wait, just a question. There is a thing not perfectly clear to me. To write the instructions to output the phenotype from the genotype I need also a complete model of the phenotype and a detailed description of how it arises from the genotype. You see, the computer wants anything in the format of sequences composed of 0s and 1s, it is not enough to send it generic commands”.
D: “The genotype determines the genes and in turn the genes are receipts for proteins. The organisms basically are made of proteins.”
P: “Organisms are made of proteins, like buildings are made of bricks, aren’t they? It seems to me that these definitions are an extremely simplistic and reductive way of considering organisms and buildings. Both are not simple “containers” of proteins/bricks, as potatoes in a bag. It seems to me it is entirely missing the process of construction from proteins to organisms (while it is perfectly known in the case of bricks and buildings)”.
D: “To be honest I don’t know in detail how the phenotype comes from the genotype… actually no one on earth do.”
P: “Really? You know, in my damn job one has to perfectly specify all instructions and data in a formal language that doesn’t allow equivocations. It is somewhat mathematical. If you are unable to perfectly specify the phenotypic model and the process driving the construction of the phenotype from the genotype, I cannot program the simulation of evolution for you. What we would eventually obtain would be less than a toy and would have no explicative value compared to the biological reality (by the way I assure you that, differently, all computer games are serious works, where everything is perfectly specified and programmed, at the bit and pixel level, believe me)… Sorry… I don’t want to be indiscreet, but how can Darwinists claim with such certainty that variations in a process produce certain results if they know little of the models and nothing of the process involved in the first place?
The above short dialogue between the Darwinist and the programmer shows us a thing. There are two worlds: the world of informatics where all instructions/data must be perfectly specified and have to pass checks, otherwise the business doesn’t work; and the world of the just so stories, where the statements may be equivocal and even inconsistent and have to pass no check. Evolutionism pertains to the latter kind of worlds. As the programmer politely noted, evolutionism pretends to claim that variations on a process produce specific results when the process itself is unknown and unspecified. In other words, why – to put it a la Sermonti – from the genome of a fly arises a fly, not a horse? If they cannot answer that basic question, how can they claim that unguided variations on genomes produced even the 500 million past and living species?
This fundamental incoherence and simplism can “work” in the Darwin’s world, but stops at the outset in the logic world of informatics. This is one of the reasons why a convincing and complete computer simulation of Darwinian evolution has not yet been performed far now, despite Darwinians would like to get it.
P.S. Thanks to Mung for the suggestion about the topic of this post.