Home » Intelligent Design » Commenter Apparently Believes that Only Part of Darwinian Evolution is “blind/mindless/unguided.” Maybe, if We Ask Nice, He Will Enlighten Us Poor Benighted ID Slobs About Which Part is “Seeing, Mindful and Guided.”

Commenter Apparently Believes that Only Part of Darwinian Evolution is “blind/mindless/unguided.” Maybe, if We Ask Nice, He Will Enlighten Us Poor Benighted ID Slobs About Which Part is “Seeing, Mindful and Guided.”

In the comment section to a prior post commenters “Joe” and “AVS” are having a tussle over whether Darwinian evolution is blind, mindless and unguided.  It is fascinating and instructive.  Let’s see.

First, Joe asked: “How does one test anything wrt unguided evolution?”

To which AVS responded:  “The fact that you call it “unguided evolution” tells me everything I need to know about you. One of those things is that trying to talk to you about science would be like trying to talk to a wall.”

This is an interesting response, because some of the leading Darwinists in the world have noted that evolution is a blind unguided process.  One would have thought that the proposition that Darwinian evolution is unguided was uncontroversial, and Joe responded as by posting the following quotes:

Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity—it is mindless and mechanistic. UCBerkley

Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Dawkins in “The Blind Watchmaker”?

AVS responds with the inevitable “quote mining” accusation when Darwinists are quoted to support a proposition:  “SO you mash two quotes up from two unrelated people and repeat them completely out of context?”

Joe asks:  “How are the quotes out of context?”

AVS responds to my question about why he believes Joe took the quotes out of context:

I’m saying that evolution has both random, or blind/mindless/unguided processes as Joe here likes to call them, as well as having non-random processes. You need both parts,and it’s the second part that you and your friends here like to ignore apparently.  Maybe you can explain to Joe why he’s so clueless.

In summary:

1.  Joe says that Darwinian evolution is blind, mindless and unguided, and he quotes, among others, Dawkins, to back that up.

2.  AVS says Joe does not know what he is talking about and that he mined the Dawkins quote.

3.  When asked to demonstrate how the Dawkins quote has been taken out of context, AVS says that evolution is part random and part non-random.

Let’s evaluate AVS’s argument, such as it is:

He asserts that Darwinian evolution has a “random” component and a “non-random” component, and that is true enough.  The random component is the random changes that occur in the genome through, for example, random genetic mutations.  The non-random part is, of course, natural selection, which takes the random changes in the genome and “selects” for those that increase fitness.

Here’s where AVS falls overboard.  He characterizes only the “random” component of Darwinian evolution as “blind, mindless and unguided.”  Apparently, he believes that the non-random component (i.e., natural selection) is not “blind, mindless and unguided.”

But that is just Joe’s point.  BOTH parts of the Darwinian evolution equation are blind, mindless and unguided.  That is Dawkins’ point as well when he says that even natural selection (the non-random part AVS) is blind.  By blind, mindless and unguided, Joe (and Dawkins) mean that Darwinian evolution does not have foresight.  It cannot plan for distant goals.  It has no purpose.  They do not mean that it is entirely random.

To the extent that AVS denies that any part of Darwinian evolution is blind, mindless and unguided, he must mean that some part of it is seeing, mindful and guided.  But that is obviously false.  AVS has mistakenly equated “non-random” with “not blind, mindless and unguided.”

In summary, therefore, AVS owes Joe an apology on two counts:  (1) for falsely accusing him of taking the quotes out of context; and (2) for ridiculing him when he himself is the one who is obviously wrong.

The irony, of course, is that even in his obvious error AVS plays the typical blustering Darwinist – serenely confident in his own intelligence and rectitude even when he is glaringly wrong.  I will leave you with this:  AVS compares his knowledge to Joe’s and says  he, AVS, is the “person who has forgotten more biology” than Joe will ever know.  Pathetic?  Laughable?  Both?  I will let the readers decide.

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168 Responses to Commenter Apparently Believes that Only Part of Darwinian Evolution is “blind/mindless/unguided.” Maybe, if We Ask Nice, He Will Enlighten Us Poor Benighted ID Slobs About Which Part is “Seeing, Mindful and Guided.”

  1. Awwww, you guys shouldn’t have.
    Let’s think about the word “selection” for a little bit, ok guys?
    Hmmm…selection…selection. Now let’s put it together with non-random…..
    Non-random…selection….hmmmmmm it is starting to sound like this process has a little guidance.
    Here’s how I tried to explain in the post before:
    You see evolution as a blind man lost in a mall, I see evolution as a blind man with a white cane and a seeing-eye dog.
    Here’s a site I ran into to give you guys a bit of an education, just the basics of evolution

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/home.php

  2. I don’t know if natural selection is non-random. Natural selection is non-random in that whenever you have differential reproduction due to heritable random variation(s), you have natural selection. However when it comes to what survives to reproduce, it is still whatever is good enough. And that is as non-random as the spread pattern from a sawed-off shotgun shooting bird shot, measured 25′ away.

    Natural selection is just differential reproduction DUE TO random heritable variations. It is an output with 3 inputs. The variation part is totally random. Heritability is not guaranteed that also has a bit of chance in it. And reproduction requires finding a suitable mate- more randomness.

    3 inputs- 1 totally random with the other 2 containing random components.

  3. Nature doesn’t select, AVS. Darwin was trying to clever and fool people- well he fooled you.

    You see evolution as a blind man lost in a mall, I see evolution as a blind man with a white cane and a seeing-eye dog.

    Your view of evolution differs from the leading evolutionary experts. When you get your PoV published we will take notice. Until then it is meaningless.

  4. Great, AVS links to the site that I quoted from and tells us to read it. LoL!

  5. Wow, ok then apparently you are simply in denial or you simply have no idea what you are talking about. Cmon people its called SELECTION.
    What does “whatever is still good enough,” when it comes to reproduction, even mean? Is that the kind of sciency talk they tech you in the seventh grade now?
    Species fill their ecological niche, overfill it, those that can best adapt will survive to reproduce. That’s as simple as I can make it.
    Yes the variation is random, but the selection from the variations is not completely random, it is guided. Is this really that hard to grasp people?

  6. “Darwin was trying to clever and fool people”
    Really? Seriously, I think I overshot when I said 7th grade.
    I’m glad your friends here called attention to your absolute lunacy.
    Congratulations ladies, thank you for doing my work for me.

  7. AVS is totally ignorant, and it shows. Blind and mindless can’t select anything,

    The Origin of Theoretical Population Genetics (University of Chicago Press, 1971), reissued in 2001 by William Provine:

    Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push, or adjust. Natural selection does nothing….Having natural selection select is nifty because it excuses the necessity of talking about the actual causation of natural selection. Such talk was excusable for Charles Darwin, but inexcusable for evolutionists now. Creationists have discovered our empty “natural selection” language, and the “actions” of natural selection make huge, vulnerable targets. (pp. 199-200)

    Thanks for the honesty Will.

  8. Ah, now we are making the claim that natural selection does nothing? Hmm, that’s strange because some of your friends on here would disgree with you and say that it is capable of small changes. You should be careful about from where and what you pull your BS from, Joe.

  9. I didn’t make that claim. However what does it do and what is your evidence?

  10. Strange, I quote a leading evo and AVS sez that I am making the claim. You are just an ignorant troll, AVS

  11. Chapter IV of prominent geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti’s book Why is a Fly Not a Horse? is titled “Wobbling Stability”. In that chapter he discusses what I have been talking about in other threads- that populations oscillate. The following is what he has to say which is based on thorough scientific investigation:

    Sexuality has brought joy to the world, to the world of the wild beasts, and to the world of flowers, but it has brought an end to evolution. In the lineages of living beings, whenever absent-minded Venus has taken the upper hand, forms have forgotten to make progress. It is only the husbandman that has improved strains, and he has done so by bullying, enslaving, and segregating. All these methods, of course, have made for sad, alienated animals, but they have not resulted in new species. Left to themselves, domesticated breeds would either die out or revert to the wild state—scarcely a commendable model for nature’s progress.

    (snip a few paragraphs on peppered moths)

    Natural Selection, which indeed occurs in nature (as Bishop Wilberforce, too, was perfectly aware), mainly has the effect of maintaining equilibrium and stability. It eliminates all those that dare depart from the type—the eccentrics and the adventurers and the marginal sort. It is ever adjusting populations, but it does so in each case by bringing them back to the norm. We read in the textbooks that, when environmental conditions change, the selection process may produce a shift in a population’s mean values, by a process known as adaptation. If the climate turns very cold, the cold-adapted beings are favored relative to others.; if it becomes windy, the wind blows away those that are most exposed; if an illness breaks out, those in questionable health will be lost. But all these artful guiles serve their purpose only until the clouds blow away. The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang.

    Everything that disassembles, upsets proportions or becomes distorted in any way is sooner or later brought back to the type. There has been a tendency to confuse fleeting adjustments with grand destinies, minor shrewdness with signs of the times.

    It is true that species may lose something on the way—the mole its eyes, say, and the succulent plant its leaves, never to recover them again. But here we are dealing with unhappy, mutilated species, at the margins of their area of distribution—the extreme and the specialized. These are species with no future; they are not pioneers, but prisoners in nature’s penitentiary.

    Not such a powerful designer mimic after all.

    But there is one thing it can do- it can undo what artificial selection has done.

  12. Wow you really are BA-lite. Do you guys share notes around the kool-aid cooler? Seriously Joe, why are you still talking about biology?
    You know nothing about it.

  13. LoL! Obvioulsy I know more than you do.

  14. So AVS can’t support any of its claims and can only spew false accusations and cowardly innuendos.

    Typical…

  15. Well, Joe, I have to say, you got suckered into that with your eyes open! You should have said right at the start.

    ‘There, there.. AVS. You’re absolutely right. I bow to your superior knowledge. Pardon me while I drift of from our little dispute, to see if I can find a simpler subject. Feel free to enlighten my benighted colleagues, won’t you? They could sure do with your input.’

  16. Sorry axel, you can’t fix stupid.

  17. AVS admits that it is unfixable and stupid.

  18. So AVS shows up here, again, with all of its bluffing bluster and runs away like the typical coward once its ignorance and dishonesty is exposed.

  19. Methinks AVS thought he was going to make a point to show us fools the wise ways of evolution but instead backed himself into a corner. So, instead of quietly exiting stage left, he is making a fool of himself. I think Jerry Coyne would be proud!

  20. It has to be embarrassing for an evolutionist when IDists prove they know more about evolution than they do.

    Lizzie, et al., just deny they don’t understand evolution and refuse to budge even in the face of references that refute their PoV wrt evolution.

    Strange how that works- IDists produce reference after reference supporting their claims wrt evolution and evos still say that we don’t understand it even though it is clear that we understand it better than they do.

    Gotta love it

  21. Why do you guys keep feeding that troll?

  22. Natural selection is about as guided as the weather.

    Also, great quotes by Sermonti. I have to get back to finishing that book. Yes, it is obvious natural selection is effectively a stabilizer, keeping a species fluctuating around their normal wild-type. There is absolutely nothing that even remotely suggests some “environmental niches” are going to come along and propel an organism into some novel evolutionary progression. Complete nonsense, the stuff of sci-fi.

    It’s funny how such reasonable, observation based conclusions will amount to heresy, just because they contradict an imagined idea about something nobody can see or test that supposedly happened millions of years ago. Truly bizarre that some nutty 19th century pseudo-science will discourage people from pointing out redundantly obvious aspects of natural processes.

  23. Hi there everyone.

    Whatever genetic sequences are key to survival of an organism ( that are of course, expressed and do not undergo changes that render them useless) will be passed on to the next generation. Is this a guided process? No, I agree. But it can’t be called entirely random because the results yield that which is key to the survival of the organism. If it was completely random, then the results would be a mish mash of useless and and even less useless traits.

  24. 24

    Cassie, read the OP again. No one is calling Darwinian evolution “entirely random.”

  25. We have a name for guided natural selection. It’s called artificial section.

  26. BA (attn. AVS):

    And here we see the rhetorical power of that oh so cleverly crafted phrase, “natural selection”; crafted by way of direct comparison with “artificial selection” — e.g. for pigeon breeding. (And yes, I am pointing fingers directly at a certain famous pigeon fancier who wrote a rather influential book or two that pivot on that argument by imagined analogy.)

    Let us never underestimate the power of connotations and context to subtly shape perceptions of meaning.

    The truth is, the only actual claimed information source in the various proposed darwinist mechanisms is chance variation. Loss of less successful or lucky varieties due to differential reproductive success on the ground, SUBTRACTS varieties from the population. This is held to be the source of onward incremental descent with modification, thence onward branching tree micro and macro evolution and thence the darwinist tree of life:

    CV – DRS –> IDWM –> BTm&ME –> DTOL

    We need not underscore that such mechanisms have not been empirically shown as capable of anything beyond micro variations and adaptations; mostly by loss of function. We need not emphasise here that FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 of so bits, is not credibly the result of a blind, non-foresighted process as we are just seeing. We need not highlight that by the simple requisites of well-matched, multiple parts in proper arrangement and coupling, specific config dependent function will come in deeply isolated rare islands in the space of possible configs, leading to there being no path based on differential function and reproductive success between islands [0 function - 0 function = 0 difference] so that such a process only credibly explains adaptation within such an island. And more.

    All that is needed is to underscore that unless there is an immediate difference in function and the like (with a significant bit of luck involved) then there is nothing based on different information content as expressed that makes a difference in success. So, there is no way for filtering by incremental superiority to point uphill, save for isolated minor adaptations within islands of function. (Where the real problem all along is how to get to the islands of function. [See why the Darwinist objectors have fought t so long and hard to try to get us not to talk about that little problem of finding shorelines of islands of function for differential reproductive success based on incremental superiority to kick in? And, why they are so hot to get us not to point to the capital case on such, malaria and sickle cell, as analysed by Behe? And wasn't there a case of Tom Cods too along much the same lines where the variety that succeeded in the polluted Hudson waters was not able to take over in nearby Long Island waters? As well as the point that the varieties of bugs that have survived in hospitals because of drug resistance are not well adapted to the wider environment? And more?])

    And, so we see yet again, the problem of gross, empirically and analytically unwarranted extrapolation and ungrounded analogies being used to try to create the false impression that the darwinist mechanisms have succeeded in explaining the world of life.

    In this case, it looks like the attempt is being made to use the connotations of “selection” to lead us to imagine that the above process of chance variation less eliminated varieties that in local env’ts were unlucky or unsuccessful, suffices to be a foresighted guide, and oracle for development.

    If so, simply show us a case within OBSERVATION that demonstrates 500 – 1,000+ bits of successful addition of functional genetic information, that creates a material change in body plan. For, we should not entertain mere speculations but only candidate causes shown to have relevant capabilities in our observation. (And such will have to also address the bridge of generation times, breeding pop numbers, realistic mutation rates and time to fix a new variety.)

    KF

    PS: Jaceli123, you will want to see how that works out. Cf here for a discussion in a vid for the case of whales by Sternberg. Ewet et al here raise interesting observations also.

  27. AVS:

    Just a simple question. What has “random” or “nor random” to do with “guided” or “unguided”? They are completely different categories and meanings.

    You are perfectly right if you simply state that NS is “not random”, whatever it can or cannot do. NS is a necessity algorithm.

    But you are perfectly wrong if you state that NS is not “unguided”. It is, like any other necessity mechanism, “unguided”, unless you mean that it is guided by the laws of nature, which would be true for practically everything.

    A clear answer would be appreciated.

  28. PPS: Cf here on for a101 level backgrounder on astronomy and cosmology leading to the design inference on fine tuning.

  29. Oops, the PPS is an unintended cross-post. Pardon.

  30. Natural Selection is not a single mechanism but the term for the results, (which are) those things that were sufficiently fit in the problem landscape that is the natural world.

    If someone says “guided” then it generally means guided by agency but (excluding pantheism), nature is not in itself an agent. But nature clearly steers organisms e.g. the amount of light or the temperature creates a problem landscape that organisms have to traverse.

    The geology of the Earth’s surface is what guides a naturally forming river. A man-made drainage channel or flood defence can also guide a river. There is never an issue with using “guide” in both cases as agency is implied with the man-made structure and is not a concern in the natural water-flow case as the politics of ID have not yet hit civil engineering.

    Water doesn’t randomly flow from mountain to sea but it is guided by natural water courses. Are those natural water courses designed ? Not obviously.

    Whilst we can see the river flow, we have no seen the earlier river cut the path, nor have we seen the land heave or plate or fault movements. Where rivers have changed then they remain a micro-change in the same river. As an analogy with life then we have the same problem; we have not seen life form. We observe small changes in today’s life. We are uncertain as to the exact pathway to get to today’s living things.

    Will we ever know ? Yes in so as much as empirical science allows so asymptotic to any truth.

  31. For once I agree with Barry and Joe. Surely “guided” is the wrong term for natural selection. “Guided” implies some kind of target. Even the water courses are guiding the water towards something (the sea). Natural selection has no target and this is an important point as much of the ID literature talks about targets.

  32. LP: Nature as understood by evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers, does no “steering,” a term that implies purpose and intelligently directed contingency. If you mean instead to assert something like panentheism, kindly be explicit. Natural forces and circumstances may constrain or influence a process, object or phenomenon etc, but that is a different thing. KF

  33. Mark Frank-

    ID talks about targets because Intelligent Design Evolution’s main mechanism is a targeted seach ala genetic algorithms which employ a goal-oriented targeted search.

    And contra Lizzie that means that GAs dso NOT mimic darwqinian evolution.

  34. BTW people, not all rivers flow to the sea…

  35. When “Chance” somehow succeeds in creating viable life forms it faces a formidable opponent: the grim reaper aka “Natural Selection” – the madman who heaves away on what lives against all odds.

  36. KF,

    that’s the problem; it is just the words are insufficiently nuanced. You said “Natural forces and circumstances may constrain or influence a process, object or phenomenon etc, but that is a different thing.”

    “constrain” can mean agency, “influence” can mean agency too.

    So guide, steer, constrain, influence can all mean agency. But slapping un- in front of those isn’t what is meant either.

    Rivers are not un-guided by geology, they very much follow a path that is guided by geology but there is no agency (there can be if man has built something to do this).

    I obviously don’t mean Panentheism any more than I mean Pantheism.

  37. box,

    nope natural selection isn’t anything and it is not a single mechanism but the term for the results, (which are) those things that were sufficiently fit in the problem landscape that is the natural world. It’s what makes chance work at all.

  38. Lincoln- natural selection eliminates the less fit. And that is not a designer mimic mechanism.

    “Natural selection is the result of differences in survival and reproduction among individuals of a population that vary in one or more heritable traits.” Page 11 “Biology: Concepts and Applications” Starr fifth edition

    “Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view.” Dawkins in “The Blind Watchmaker”

    “Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity—it is mindless and mechanistic.”- UC Berkley on Evolution

    Natural selection- The process by which in every generation individuals of lower fitness are removed from the population- Mayr “What Evolution Is”

    The first step in selection, the production of genetic variation, is almost exclusively a chance phenomenon except that the nature of the changes at a given locus is strongly constrained. Chance also plays an important role even at the second step, the process of elimination of less fit individuals. Chance may be particularly important in the haphazard survival during periods of mass extinction. Ibid

  39. For LP”

    I don’t know if natural selection is non-random. Natural selection is non-random in that whenever you have differential reproduction due to heritable random variation(s), you have natural selection. However when it comes to what survives to reproduce, it is still whatever is good enough. And that is as non-random as the spread pattern from a sawed-off shotgun shooting bird shot, measured 25? away.

    Natural selection is just differential reproduction DUE TO random heritable variations. It is an output with 3 inputs. The variation part is totally random. Heritability is not guaranteed that also has a bit of chance in it. And reproduction requires finding a suitable mate- more randomness.

    3 inputs- 1 totally random with the other 2 containing random components.

  40. KF #26: Loss of less successful or lucky varieties due to differential reproductive success on the ground, SUBTRACTS varieties from the population.

    Indeed, so it follows that “natural selection” opposes “chance” – it just throws up more obstacles. Hence adding natural selection to the alleged evolutionary algorithm makes the existence of life less likely than if “chance” was acting alone.

  41. Joe, good to see you are back and well.

  42. Lincoln Phipps on natural selection:

    LP #37: It’s what makes chance work at all.

    Nope, it just throws up more obstacles for chance.

  43. LP: Constraint and influence are commonly used in science in a non-agency context. Think of how Le Chetalier’s principle that allows evaluation of the direction of a chemical reaction is phrased. Guide is not so used. We are speaking in a scientific context. And, in general usage — as Joe aptly highlighted — differential reproductive success leading to loss of less lucky or successful varieties [aka natural selection . . . now you know why I spell it out], is meant not to be foresighted, it will only affect present performance or non-performance, or the happenstance we call luck. For instance if an improved clutch of eggs in a nest gets blown tot he ground and the eggs break, tough luck. KF

  44. Onlookers: See how we are debating definitions again in a context where the matter should otherwise be obvious? See why I call definitionitis — thanks NW for that term — a fallacy? And, one of distraction, yet another red herring running away from the track of the substantial issue? KF

  45. PS: Where simply from Dawkins’ book title on Blind Watchmakers, it should be obvious what is going on.

  46. Box,

    no you don’t understand genetic algorithms.

    Start….
    1 – Mutate at random.
    2 – Eliminate what is unfit
    3 – Copy survivors.
    4 – Repeat (1…)

    Without the step 2 then it is just endless mutate and there is never any selection of fit mutations.

  47. LP: Nope, you have left off the usually implicit use of targets and oracles that point to targets. For instance that is what uphill pointing nice-behaved fitness functions do. The problem faced by blind chance and necessity approaches is to FIND and get to shorelines of islands of function in seas of configurations that are overwhelmingly non functional and of scales beyond the search capacity of the solar system or observed cosmos. Dawkins’ Weasel and his easy back slope up Mt Improbable beg big questions. Cf my remarks at 26 above for starters. This is most easily seen in the context of OOL, where the usual distractor NS is off the table, or rather is one of the things that has to get started. And nope, OOL is the ROOT of the tree of life so you cannot rule an arbitrary datum line along the lines of a neat little definition of what Evolution covers, to avoid dealing with it. The tree of life is the first and foremost icon of evo, and has a root, address it. No root, nothing beyond. KF

  48. Mr. Phipp’s and exactly who gets to determine what is fit in the algorithm?

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW – William Dembski – Robert Marks – Pg. 13
    Excerpt: Simulations such as Dawkins’s WEASEL, Adami’s AVIDA, Ray’s Tierra, and Schneider’s ev appear to support Darwinian evolution, but only for lack of clear accounting practices that track the information smuggled into them.,,, Information does not magically materialize. It can be created by intelligence or it can be shunted around by natural forces. But natural forces, and Darwinian processes in particular, do not create information. Active information enables us to see why this is the case.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    Information. What is it? – Robert Marks – lecture video (With special reference to ev, AVIDA, and WEASEL)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7seCcS_gPk

    Conservation of Information Made Simple – William A. Dembski – August, 2012
    Excerpt: Biological configuration spaces of possible genes and proteins, for instance, are immense, and finding a functional gene or protein in such spaces via blind search can be vastly more improbable than finding an arbitrary electron in the known physical universe. ,,,
    ,,,Given this background discussion and motivation, we are now in a position to give a reasonably precise formulation of conservation of information, namely: raising the probability of success of a search does nothing to make attaining the target easier, and may in fact make it more difficult, once the informational costs involved in raising the probability of success are taken into account. Search is costly, and the cost must be paid in terms of information. Searches achieve success not by creating information but by taking advantage of existing information. The information that leads to successful search admits no bargains, only apparent bargains that must be paid in full elsewhere.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63671.html

    Before They’ve Even Seen Stephen Meyer’s New Book, Darwinists Waste No Time in Criticizing Darwin’s Doubt – William A. Dembski – April 4, 2013
    Excerpt: In the newer approach to conservation of information, the focus is not on drawing design inferences but on understanding search in general and how information facilitates successful search. The focus is therefore not so much on individual probabilities as on probability distributions and how they change as searches incorporate information. My universal probability bound of 1 in 10^150 (a perennial sticking point for Shallit and Felsenstein) therefore becomes irrelevant in the new form of conservation of information whereas in the earlier it was essential because there a certain probability threshold had to be attained before conservation of information could be said to apply. The new form is more powerful and conceptually elegant. Rather than lead to a design inference, it shows that accounting for the information required for successful search leads to a regress that only intensifies as one backtracks. It therefore suggests an ultimate source of information, which it can reasonably be argued is a designer. I explain all this in a nontechnical way in an article I posted at ENV a few months back titled “Conservation of Information Made Simple” (go here). ,,,

    ,,, Here are the two seminal papers on conservation of information that I’ve written with Robert Marks:
    “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher-Level Search,” Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics 14(5) (2010): 475-486
    “Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A, Systems & Humans, 5(5) (September 2009): 1051-1061
    For other papers that Marks, his students, and I have done to extend the results in these papers, visit the publications page at http://www.evoinfo.org
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70821.html

    “The mechanical brain does not secrete thought “as the liver does bile,” as the earlier materialists claimed, nor does it put it out in the form of energy, as the muscle puts out its activity. Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.”
    Norbert Wiener created the modern field of control and communication systems, utilizing concepts like negative feedback. His seminal 1948 book Cybernetics both defined and named the new field.
    http://www.informationphilosop.....ts/wiener/

    John Lennox – Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? (Semiotic Information) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6rd4HEdffw

    “Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source — from a mind or personal agent.”
    (Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2):213-239 (2004).)

    “A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor). It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. ,,,there is no known law of nature and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter. Werner Gitt 1997 In The Beginning Was Information pp. 64-67, 79, 107.”
    (The retired Dr Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the Head of the Department of Information Technology.)

  49. From what I have read so far on this thread Lincoln Phipps has described natural selection correctly. We been down this road before hundreds of times.

    Natural selection never produces anything new of consequence which is why it is a non-factor in evolution. That is the issue.

  50. The term “fit” is a meaningless term. It is circular. What is fit, those that survive. Given different boundary or initial conditions a different population skew of heritable characteristics survives.

    We are still left with the problem of no new information of consequence.

  51. Even if a mutation gives an animal some kind environmental benefit, say increased fitness with regards to the climate.. it’s predators are not going to be bothered by it. Selection by predation will continue in an essentially random process.

    In other words, a mutation that increases fitness on one selection landscape, is still effectively neutral on a myriad other selection landscapes. You could call this “fitness noise”. Therefore the vast majority of even beneficial mutations would only fixate by chance.

    This is why darwinists are always showing people pictures of moths that changed color. It’s one of the rare examples of selection that actually makes sense. (and facilitated by a mere cosmetic variation)

    But very few fitness benefits can be conceptualized in the context of a predator-prey scenario. What can really potentially improve in a shrimp genome to give it an edge on a passing whale gobbling up dozens at a time?

    The only darwinist response I’ve seen to this problem is hand-waving, claiming it will all “average out” over time, with no further explanation.

    If someone can point me to even one neo-darwinist openly dealing with this issue I would be surprised.

  52. LP #46:

    1 – Mutate at random.
    2 – Eliminate what is unfit
    3 – Copy survivors.
    4 – Repeat (1…)

    Translation:

    1 – Chance creates viable organisms against all odds.
    2 – Natural selection steps in and heaves away like a madman.*
    3 – Copy survivors of the bloodthirsty madman.
    4 – Repeat (1…)

    * Among other things “eliminate what is unfit” means, killing off what is perfectly fit under different circumstances. IOWs natural selection just throws up obstacles for chance.

    I disagree with Jerry (# 49) who claims that natural selection “is a non-factor in evolution”. Natural selection is a destructive force which makes the likelihood of the existence of life considerably less likely than under chance alone.

  53. I think an evolutionist emphasizing that natural selection is not random is
    Iike a Trekkie arguing that Klingon is a real language. Both are technically correct but their entire edifices rest upon fantasy.

  54. bornagain77,

    you asked who gets to determine what is fit ? I don’t know what the temperature is where you are but go outside and see how long you last if it is cold.

    Now who determined that temperature ? The methodological naturalism view is that we assume that the natural environment is of a materialistic cause.

    That outside temperature is just one example of what is determining what is fit.

  55. Lincoln,

    LP #46: Without the step 2 then it is just endless mutate and there is never any selection of fit mutations.

    Do you happen to mean “(…) there is never any selection of viable mutations” – as in capable of living?
    If so, I don’t think the view of natural selection as a filter for überhaupt viability of organisms is correct. In my book natural selection acts on a priori viable organisms offered by chance.

  56. Now who determined that temperature ? The methodological naturalism view is that we assume that the natural environment is of a materialistic cause.

    That is the ID position too!!!!

  57. lifepsy

    no, selection by predation is not a random process but a selective process. The lion doesn’t close its eyes, open its mouth and run in a random direction and hopes to snag an antelope. The lion seeks the slow, the injured, the young, the old and the weak.

    Even the large scale consumption by a whale leave gaps that can be exploited, such as different depths and different times of the year.

    These are non-random pressures and so the distribution of changes in a genome would find the gaps and are then selected… by not being eaten.

  58. Jerry,

    well then why don’t you point this out to bornagain77 ? You know that within the people that post here there will be atheistic-Darwin through to atheistic-ID through to Theistic-ID through to YEC. Now where do you think bornagain77 sits ?

  59. That outside temperature is just one example of what is determining what is fit.

    This is a trivial non-controversial example. No one disagrees with that.

    But what may survive in sub-zero temperatures may not survive in hot dry temperatures. The term “fit” is often a misnomer and really adds very little to the evolution debate.

  60. Now where do you think bornagain77 sits ?

    I do not know. You will have to ask him. I do not want to suggest what another person believes and adheres to.

    I know he is not an atheist but presents evidence that would be consistent with believing in an old earth and old universe. I know he doubts the power of natural forces producing anything of consequence in terms of new information which is essential for any significant change to an organism. I have rarely seen him make a claim that I disagree with though I do not read everything since some of the comments are quite extensive.

    None of your classifications describes me. I am neither a theistic ID nor a YEC and certainly not an atheist.

  61. Jerry,

    “fit” and “fitness” are correct terms and it adds a lot to the debate. It is not a misnomer.

    Copying Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_%28biology%29

    “If differences between alleles of a given gene affect fitness, then the frequencies of the alleles will change over generations; the alleles with higher fitness become more common. This process is called natural selection.”

  62. “fit” and “fitness” are correct terms and it adds a lot to the debate. It is not a misnomer.

    This is trivial stuff. It adds nothing to the debate because it never leads to anything of consequence. If you think it does then I suggest you provide the evidence. We have never seen it and are probably familiar with nearly everything ever written on the subject.

    What may be fit today may not be fit tomorrow so the term is not very descriptive. As I said it is circular. What is fit? It is what survives. Why does something survive? Because it is fit. The term adds nothing to the debate.

  63. I should have said:

    The term adds nothing to the debate. And neither does the concept of natural selection of which we are quite familiar and have been discussing all it nuances for years.

  64. Box,

    You asked “Do you happen to mean “(…) there is never any selection of viable mutations” – as in capable of living?”

    … I used “fit” as it is the best term. As NS doesn’t act per se it doesn’t know the viability of the mutations before they happen.

    What we see as observers is that what exists is what persists and what persists is what is fit so when we observers look at what exists then we call that process, natural selection.

    It is like comparing a sieve with a picker: the sieve lets through objects of a certain size and works well if randomly agitated whereas something that picks out objects of a certain size has to have a heuristic and mechanism to select.

    The end result is the same. Someone else will never know if something has been sieved or picked.

  65. Mr. Phipp’s I asked you, since you were talking about genetic algorithms,:

    Mr. Phipp’s and exactly who gets to determine what is fit in the algorithm?

    and then you, instead of being honest to the question I asked, (knowing that it would give you the answer you wanted) shorten my question to,,

    you asked who gets to determine what is fit ?

    and then you go on about the temperature. And ask,,

    Now who determined that temperature ?

    That is just being dishonest Mr. Phipp’s for you to not directly answer the question I asked you and to shorten it and try to go off topic!,,, But anyways, since you want to play on the ‘methodological naturalism’ turf (an absurd position is there ever was one of assuming your conclusion beforehand), then if you believe Global Warming alarmists, apparently it is us to some exaggerated extent who control the temperature :). But if you believe in Theism and that God sustains the universe through the non-locality of quantum mechanics, as I do (and have evidence for), Then God controls the temperature as well. But even if we assume that God merely sustains the universe and that then let’s nature ‘run its course’ so to say, then even the entropic randomness at the base of temperature fluctuations is bounded by a constant that limits the effect of ‘randomness’ on temperature (Boltzmannn, Planck)! so thus once again, even if we assume a ‘secondary cause’ mode, God still initially selected the random ‘fitness function’ for temperature.

    As Well, I’m sure I could find some rapid epigenetic variations due to temperature fluctuations that are not amendable to Darwinian processes. Who selected for that ‘temperature function’ in such epigenetic changes Mr. Phipps?

    For instance The mechanism for polar bear ‘sub-speciation’ was rapid:

    Post details: Polar bears and mammalian speciation – May 2010
    Excerpt: “Recent genetic studies have shown that polar bears evolved from within brown bears, and that a genetically unique clade of brown bear populations that live exclusively on the Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof (ABC) islands of southeastern Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago are more closely related to polar bears than to other brown bears.” “The stable isotope data, phylogenetic analysis, and the geological and molecular age estimates of the Poolepynten specimen indicate that ancient polar bears adapted extremely rapidly both morphologically and physiologically to their current and unique ecology within only 10-30 ky following their split from a brown bear precursor,,,
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....speciation

    Thus we are warranted to postulate some epigentic, ‘evironmental clue’, mechanism as for the rapid adaptation. Yet it must be kept in mind that even though the speciation from brown bears was rapid, that the speciation also came at a cost of the genetic information that was already present in the brown bear population:

    Genetics – Polar Bear
    Excerpt: microsatellite data that can be compared suggest there may be less genetic variation among populations of polar bears than among populations of black bears and brown bears (Paetkau et al. 1995, 1999). Paetkau et al. (1999) also found genetic distances among polar bear populations were at the lower extreme of the distances reported for the gray wolf (Canus lupus), another widely distributed carnivore.

    Evidence from patterns in mtDNA also may hint at somewhat less genetic variation among polar bear populations than among populations of other bears. Cronin et al. (1991) reported only one basic polar bear mtDNA lineage, whereas black and brown bears each have two very divergent lineages. The older species (black and brown bears) appear to have more genetic variation across their ranges than the more recently derived polar bears.

    Greater morphological variation among populations of brown bears (e.g., very large individuals, such as those living on Kodiak Island and coastal Alaska, vs. smaller interior or arctic bears) also appears to reflect more genetic variation than is present among polar bears (Stirling and Derocher 1990; Talbot and Shields 1996a, 1996b). Morphological variation among polar bears is minimal throughout their range. Paetkau et al. (1999)
    http://www.polarbearsinternati.....e/genetics

    additional Note:

    Global Warming Expedition to Prove Antarctic Ice is Melting Trapped by Ice – Dec. 30, 2013
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/20.....ed-by-ice/

  66. correction (knowing that it would NOT give you the answer you wanted)

  67. LP #64

    What we see as observers is that what exists is what persists and what persists is what is fit so when we observers look at what exists then we call that process, natural selection.

    Yeah, it all means the same thing doesn’t it: “exist”, “persist”, “fit”? Tautological meaninglessness. As David Berlinski says:

    What survives, survives.

    Whatever escapes the onslaught of NS, escapes the onslaught of NS.
    It follows that NS is a destructive force which makes chance’s impossible job even harder.

  68. LP:

    no you don’t understand genetic algorithms.

    Start….
    1 – Mutate at random.
    2 – Eliminate what is unfit
    3 – Copy survivors.
    4 – Repeat (1…)

    Without the step 2 then it is just endless mutate and there is never any selection of fit mutations.

    That is false. GAs are designed with a goal in mind, ie a solution to some problem. Dawkins’ “weasel” is a simplified version- the original sequence(s) are mutated and selected for- actual selection- depending on how well they match the target.

  69. We GAs we have the initial conditions, the required resources, the specified result (ie what you are trying to accomplish) and then the algorithms to make it all happen.

    It’s design all the way down…

  70. Fitness, wrt biology, means reproductive success- it’s an after-the-fact assessment. And with natural selection the less fit get eliminated. Whatever is good enough gets to try to reproduce.

  71. Phipps, 57

    no, selection by predation is not a random process but a selective process. The lion doesn’t close its eyes, open its mouth and run in a random direction and hopes to snag an antelope. The lion seeks the slow, the injured, the young, the old and the weak.

    I didn’t mean the act of predation itself is random. (it’s hard to call hunger random) I meant that fixation of beneficial mutation that does not mitigate predation, typically would be random.

    Even the large scale consumption by a whale leave gaps that can be exploited, such as different depths and different times of the year.

    Exactly, they would have to be mutations that mitigate predation. Otherwise they are effectively neutral. There is no hierarchy of phenotype selection when it comes to hanging out in a group that will either disappear into a whale’s stomach or not. Survival of the luckiest, not fittest. Equivalent scenarios of fitness noise are found throughout the plant and animal kingdom.

    The whole idea of environmental niches sailing in and evolving populations is just Darwinist poetry and “selection-dunnit” hand-waving. Always has been.

  72. 72

    The notion that selection can construct organic machines isn’t science, it’s bad metaphysics. What is the ontological link between molecular machines and fitness landscapes? What necessary correlation is there between motors, signaling systems, error correction, information translation and hot/cold, wet/dry, feast/famine? There is neither a metaphysical nor empirical relationship that can be demonstrated via logic or experiment between the environment — niches and all — and the construction of nano-scale molecular machines.

  73. He asserts that Darwinian evolution has a “random” component and a “non-random” component, and that is true enough. The random component is the random changes that occur in the genome through, for example, random genetic mutations. The non-random part is, of course, natural selection, which takes the random changes in the genome and “selects” for those that increase fitness.

    The whole issue would be a lot clearer to everyone if people would stop talking as though natural selection does something. It doesn’t. It isn’t a force. It has no power. It doesn’t do anything. All natural selection is is a rhetorical label attached to the stochastic results of underlying processes that — in common vernacular — are entirely “random,” and (unfortunately) rarely ever specified.

    Furthermore, we can look at the alleged evolutionary results and quickly ascertain that natural selection, even if it were some kind of actual force, has no particular direction. Larger organisms? Sure. Smaller organisms? Why not. Faster? You bet. Slower? Well, OK. Eyes? Definitely. Except when creatures don’t get them. More offspring? Absolutely! Except for those creatures with frighteningly few offspring and long gestation periods. Land dwelling or water dwelling, plain-colored or wildly-colored, this or that, up or down, roll the dice on and on . . .

    Evolution — even granting the intellectually-illegitimate personification of natural selection as some kind of “non-random” selection “power” — provides absolutely zero direction or indication of what will occur in the future or what could have occurred in the past. The whole thing is an absolute crapshoot.

    Finally, if anyone thinks natural selection provides some kind of meaningful “non-random” direction to the state of affairs, then please tell us exactly what that non-random direction is? What does it lead to? How strong is its force and how is it applied? How can it be calculated? We quickly realize there is nothing there to identify and nothing there to calculate.

    When we strip away all the fancy rhetoric and look at the actual underlying explanation of evolutionary theory, it all boils down to one thing — the Great Evolutionary Explanation:

    Stuff Happens.

  74. Eric Anderson #73,
    You stress that natural selection doesn’t do anything. What is your comment on Stephen Meyer’s sheep example? From ‘Darwin’s Doubt’:

    In the Origin, Darwin argued that this process, natural selection acting on random variations, could alter the features of organisms just as intelligent selection by human breeders can. Nature itself could play the role of the breeder.
    Consider once more our flock of sheep. Imagine that instead of a human selecting the woolliest males and ewes to breed, a series of very cold winters ensures that all but the very woolliest sheep in a population die. Now again only very woolly sheep will remain to breed. If the cold winters continue over several generations, will the result not be the same as before? Won’t the population of sheep eventually become discernibly woollier?
    This was Darwin’s great insight. Nature—in the form of environmental changes or other factors—could have the same effect on a population of organisms as the intentional decisions of an intelligent agent. Nature would favor the preservation of certain features over others—specifically, those that conferred a functional or survival advantage upon the organisms possessing them—causing the features of the population to change. And the resulting change will have been produced not by an intelligent breeder choosing a desirable trait or variation—not by “artificial selection”—but by a wholly natural process. What’s more, Darwin concluded that this process of natural selection acting on randomly arising variations had been “the chief agent of change” in generating the great branching tree of life in all its variety.

  75. Chance, 72

    What is the ontological link between molecular machines and fitness landscapes?

    Simple. Since natural selection can fixate the color of a moth’s wing, that clearly demonstrates selection also made the moth.

  76. Joe,

    GA are not design all the way down and I’ll explain as many people miss this essential point; GA is used when you don’t know how to design a solution. GA is “Ignorant Design” at best.

    The evolved antenna is the perfect example of this. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_antenna )

    RF design is very mathematics heavy and beyond most people. By the use of GA though it is possible to “design” an antenna without the need for expert RF design. An expert RF designer could reverse engineer the resultant design and ask “Who designed this ?” but there is no one like them that designed the evolved antenna. There is also no RF design coded into the GA that an expert would use. It is a cycle of mutate, test for fitness, and then copy the fittest and delete the unfit results. In that case the genome is wirelengths and locations for bends. In effect the blind watchmaker with side-cutters and pliers.

    Apply that same routine to a genome and you can ask the same questions “Who designed this ?” but there is no one like them that designed the evolved genome.

    Sure just like the expert RF designer they could reverse engineer the solution and claim just how hard it is but its not hard for the GA, it is just repetitive.

  77. Did he just bring the antenna up?

  78. Lincoln Phipps, you seem to be under the impression that we have not seen that argument dozens of times before. It doesn’t work for what you want it to prove (unguided Darwinism) for the simple reason that a human mind designed the program with the specific goal of designing an antenna in the end. It all boils down to this,,,

    “Captcha” Breakthrough by AI (Artificial Intelligence) Illustrates Biomimetic Design – November 26, 2013
    Excerpt: Since intelligent design presupposes a mental act directed toward a purpose, AI is a misnomer. It should more properly be described as “artificial execution of human-designed algorithms.”
    This is really a story about biomimetics — a form of intelligent-design science. The engineers looked to the way a brain solves a problem and tried to imitate it. It took human intelligent design to design the computer. It took intelligent design to write the software. It took human ID to test it, tweak it and perfect it till it succeeded. It requires human intelligence to see a good design. It takes ID to formulate a purpose. Then it requires human intelligence and will to move things in a preferred direction for that purpose. Nothing is left to unguided processes. Even selection from random trials (falsely called “Darwinian” algorithms) employs human purposeful choice.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....79551.html

    Moreover,,

    Applied Darwinism: A New Paper from Bob Marks (W. Dembski) and His Team, in BIO-Complexity – Doug Axe – 2012
    Excerpt: Furthermore, if you dig a bit beyond these papers and look at what kinds of problems this technique (Steiner Tree) is being used for in the engineering world, you quickly find that it is of extremely limited applicability. It works for tasks that are easily accomplished in a huge number of specific ways, but where someone would have to do a lot of mindless fiddling to decide which of these ways is best.,, That’s helpful in the sense that we commonly find computers helpful — they do what we tell them to do very efficiently, without complaining. But in biology we see something altogether different. We see elegant solutions to millions of engineering problems that human ingenuity cannot even begin to solve.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....58591.html

    Moreover no more functional information is being generated in the successful search than what was pre-existent in the computer program! i.e. Conservation of Information!

    Mr. Phipp’s it SHOULD send up a huge red flag to your Darwinian beliefs that you are having to use intelligently designed computer programs to try to prove that Darwinism is feasible. Why is this? Why can’t you point to biological evidence to prove your point? Well, there is a very good reason. It is impossible for purely material processes to generate functional information. i.e. a mind is ALWAYS required!

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin?
    And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.
    In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires.
    Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.”
    -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas G. Robertson – 1999
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomenon: the creation of new information.
    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  79. AVS,

    I think you have implicitly conceded that non-random, in the sense of natural selection, is not mindful and not seeing. That is, in the way that Joe obviously (I think) used the terms as they regard to foresight.

    In that same context, as I explained here that Joe seems to have used it, do you [still?] think non-random is similar to guides? … Or will you concede that the way you use ‘guides’ does not employ foresight of any kind?

  80. Box @74:

    Thanks, that is a great question.

    My response is really twofold.

    1. As I have noted for a long time, from a rhetorical debating stance many evolution critics (whether arguing for ID or not) take a pragmatic approach and assume for purposes of argument (as does Meyer) that natural selection is real and is meaningful.

    This is a reasonable approach in many debating circumstances, because even if we grant that natural selection does something, and even if we grant that natural selection inevitably leads to an increase in survivability (in that sense, it becomes a useless tautology, but let’s be generous for the time being) — even if we grant all those things, the real problems still exist: namely, how did the remarkable variation, built as it is on functional specified information, come about in the first place.

    Note that Meyer isn’t really arguing for any great power of natural selection. Rather, he brings it up as a foil to introduce the real issue: the massive increase in information content. Meyer is saying, in effect, “Look, even if we take Darwin as gospel, and even if he was spot on, it still doesn’t answer the $64,000 question: where did all the information and all the wonderful variation come from?” As one writer quipped: “Darwin explained the survival of the fittest, but not the arrival of the fittest.”

    So I suppose that if I were in Meyer’s shoes writing a major book about information in the cell or writing another major book about information content in the Cambrian Explosion or giving a lecture at a university, I would probably not spend a lot of time quibbling over the exact definition of natural selection. I would probably not be as coddling to Darwin’s ideas as he and other ID proponents typically are, but I might well decide that the better part of valor is to concede, for purposes of discussion, that natural selection does all the wonderful “selecting” and “preserving” it is alleged to do, and then spend the bulk of the time talking about the fact that natural selection still doesn’t answer any of the real interesting questions.

    2. My point about natural selection not being a force or not actually doing anything is more of a technical nuance than we typically get into, but let me try for a moment. Specifically, we need to understand that natural selection is not a force and is not a cause — not in any sense in which we understand the forces and causes in nature. If we want to really get down to it, we have a pretty good handle on what the major natural forces are (gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces). And subsidiary forces/causes can be explained in terms of their relationship with those forces of nature. So, for example, when we look at biochemistry, we understand that biochemical reactions take place due to the interactions of those forces and we can explain, with a fair amount of precision, what those forces are and how they behave.

    Natural selection isn’t anything like that. It is not a force. It is not a cause. We cannot explain in any meaningful sense its relationship to the 4 fundamental forces. We cannot say what it will “do” or what it will “cause” in a given instance. There simply is not a force of nature called “natural selection.”

    Furthermore, in so many cases, our use of the term is just a shorthand surrogate for ignorance. We look at a population at point A in time. We look at the population later at point B in time. The population has changed in some respect. What caused that? Well, natural selection, of course, we proclaim! Natural selection in action!

    But what does that really mean? What caused the change in the population?

    Let’s take a really simple example: a mixed population of bacteria exposed to an environment without oxygen. Prior to being deprived of oxygen we have a mix of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, but after being deprived of oxygen we come back some time later and, ta-da, only the anaerobic bacteria have survived. Natural selection in action!

    And yet, in this obvious case we know exactly what caused the aerobic bacteria to die. It was the lack of oxygen. And we know why the anaerobic bacteria survived. Indeed, that is why they are called “anaerobic bacteria.” So all we have really “learned” from the observation is what we already knew in the first place: anaerobic bacteria can survive without oxygen and the other kind can’t.

    And we can — and this is the crux of the issue — based on the evidence, based on our understanding of the bacteria in question, based on our understanding of the environment — we can say exactly why bacteria A died and bacteria B survived. And we can make that determination, and draw that conclusion, and explain in great detail what occurred in the population without ever once invoking the term “natural selection.”

    Now, yes, we could step back and attach a rhetorical label to the process of aerobic bacteria perishing in the absence of oxygen, and we could use the words “natural selection” as a shorthand expression so as to avoid having to get into the details. But in doing so, we will have explained precisely nothing additional, we will have added precisely zero additional insight into the actual causes and forces at work by attaching such a label. Indeed, unfortunately in virtually all cases, the addition of the term “natural selection” simply obscures the matter. Worse, when we then get into the habit of using natural selection as the ‘explanation’ for this or that phenomenon, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we have some meaningful understanding of the real forces and processes at work, when in fact all we have done is apply a blanket rhetorical label to the results of processes poorly understood.

    So the ironic upshot of all this is that (a) when we know what really went on we can explain the situation quite nicely without ever invoking the term “natural selection,” and (b) in those many more numerous cases in which we don’t actually know what happened — on the ground, in the environment, at the molecular and informational level — proclaiming that “natural selection” did such or thus is really just a confession of ignorance coupled with a faith pronouncement about this amazing “force.”

    —–

    Well, that is way too long already.

    In summary, I believe it is possible to use the term “natural selection” as a convenience label on occasions when we don’t want to get into all the details. That is fine as far as it goes and as long as we are extremely careful not to deceive ourselves or others. Regrettably, however, experience has shown that all too often the term is used as though it were some kind of real explanation for what occurred or as though it were some kind of actual force of nature, moving things in a particular direction. It is neither. It is a convenience label only, and — unfortunately — one that more often obscures than enlightens.

  81. LP @76:

    As per the antenna — we’ve talked about that several times before. My prior comment on another thread was (and remains):

    Alan Fox @16:

    Yes, we’ve looked at this antenna before. No-one doubts that trial-and-error approaches can be useful for looking at simple problems, particularly where the constraints and parameters — as in this case — were carefully input into the original conditions and the outputs were carefully selected in a steady march toward a very specific goal. The whole process could have been done by an engineer in a lab; computers are just helpful to speed up the process in this kind of simple case.

    Incidentally, the Wikipedia claim that the process mimics Darwinian evolution (which by definition has no constraints, parameters, goals or desired outcomes), is silly propaganda.

    GA’s are simply not impressive as examples of “evolution” in action. When they employ purely Darwinian principles nothing interesting happens. When they arrive at something interesting it is invariably because they employed principles beyond those available to Darwinian evolution.

  82. GA’s are the equivalent of a hacker doing a brute force attack looking for a password, in that they(GA’s) are directed and looking for a particular target.

    Indeed, an utterly impotent analogy for Darwinian processes.

  83. bornagain77,

    you’ve got a number of problems. Firstly information is measured in bits. The greater the unexpectedness then the higher the information content. So no, a mind is not needed to generate bits of information as a random stream of bits is information rich. Computers are poor at generating random numbers unless they have a hardware feature to do this. The matter of nature is a very good source of randomness.

    Deny the evidence all you want but the fact remains that no mind designed the antenna. The design for the antenna was the combination of random mutations and a fitness function. The fitness function is a measure of power output/sensitivity. When the algorithm was running then no human chose the genome of that antenna.

    There are no red flags with using technology to prove science problems. Many fields use technology to isolate systems for study.

    Humans combine elements in labs every day. Just because we can do this doesn’t mean that they can only happen in a lab. We all know that the end-of-days for a lot of anti-Evolution will be abiogenesis but we also know that there will be just as many people claiming that as the process happened in a lab then it is still “design”.

    I get that you think a mind is involved with these processes but for you that also means that everything from plagues to parasites are the results of that mind. Pass on the message; Gee thanks.

  84. JGuy,

    no GA’s are NOT “the equivalent of a hacker doing a brute force attack looking for a password,”

    That’s just silly; a logon system doesn’t indicate if you are getting warmer !

    Have another go OK ?

  85. Eric Anderson,

    GA are not trial and error. The Wikipedia entry is correct. It is Darwinian.

    The “genome” was not carefully selected. The system does not also know the goal. It knows what is fit but not the solution.

    Yes, a expert could also “have been done by an engineer in a lab” but that’s the whole point – the result looks like it has been created by an expert but no expert was involved. There is a heck of a difference in skills in the heavy maths of RF design and bending wires at random until it works.

    You do the math.

  86. LP @ 85

    You have a point on the analogy. I’ll concede mostly. However, the password being cracked could then be anything that is warmer (i.e. warmest unlocks). Granted, not a lot of force required for such a check, but the computer algorithm is looking for a defined target/direction.

  87. Lincoln Phipps you claim (per Shannon)

    you’ve got a number of problems. Firstly information is measured in bits. The greater the unexpectedness then the higher the information content. So no, a mind is not needed to generate bits of information as a random stream of bits is information rich.

    Yet contrary to your simplistic notion that a random stream of bits is ‘information rich’ (i.e. Shannon Information), it is now known that,,,

    Mutations, epigenetics and the question of information
    Excerpt: By definition, a mutation in a gene results in a new allele. There is no question that mutation (defined as any change in the DNA sequence) can increase variety in a population. However, it is not obvious that this necessarily means there is an increase in genomic information.,, If one attempts to apply Shannon’s theory of information, then this can be viewed as an increase. However, Shannon’s theory was not developed to address biological information. It is entirely unsuitable for this since an increase of information by Shannon’s definition can easily be lethal (and an increase in randomness increases Shannon ‘information’).
    http://creation.com/mutations-.....nformation

    The Evolution-Lobby’s Useless Definition of Biological Information – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: By wrongly implying that Shannon information is the only “sense used by information theorists,” the NCSE avoids answering more difficult questions like how the information in biological systems becomes functional, or in its own words, “useful.”,,,Since biology is based upon functional information, Darwin-skeptics are interested in the far more important question of, Does neo-Darwinism explain how new functional biological information arises?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ss_de.html

    As well it is found that Claude Shannon’s work on ‘communication of coded information’, i.e. ‘channel capacity’, actually fully supports Intelligent Design as is illustrated in the following video:

    Shannon Information – Channel Capacity – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5457552/

    i.e.

    “A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor). It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. ,,,there is no known law of nature and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter. Werner Gitt 1997 In The Beginning Was Information pp. 64-67, 79, 107.”
    (The retired Dr Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the Head of the Department of Information Technology.)

    But back to differentiating a random string of bits (Shannon information) from functional information (i.e. from information that actual does something useful in the cell):

    Functional information and the emergence of bio-complexity:
    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak:
    Abstract: Complex emergent systems of many interacting components, including complex biological systems, have the potential to perform quantifiable functions. Accordingly, we define ‘functional information,’ I(Ex), as a measure of system complexity. For a given system and function, x (e.g., a folded RNA sequence that binds to GTP), and degree of function, Ex (e.g., the RNA-GTP binding energy), I(Ex)= -log2 [F(Ex)], where F(Ex) is the fraction of all possible configurations of the system that possess a degree of function > Ex. Functional information, which we illustrate with letter sequences, artificial life, and biopolymers, thus represents the probability that an arbitrary configuration of a system will achieve a specific function to a specified degree. In each case we observe evidence for several distinct solutions with different maximum degrees of function, features that lead to steps in plots of information versus degree of functions.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/suppl.1/8574.full

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995236

    Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins – Kirk K Durston, David KY Chiu, David L Abel and Jack T Trevors – 2007
    Excerpt: We have extended Shannon uncertainty by incorporating the data variable with a functionality variable. The resulting measured unit, which we call Functional bit (Fit), is calculated from the sequence data jointly with the defined functionality variable. To demonstrate the relevance to functional bioinformatics, a method to measure functional sequence complexity was developed and applied to 35 protein families.,,,
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/4/1/47

    Intelligent Design: Required by Biological Life? K.D. Kalinsky – Pg. 11
    Excerpt: It is estimated that the simplest life form would require at least 382 protein-coding genes. Using our estimate in Case Four of 700 bits of functional information required for the average protein, we obtain an estimate of about 267,000 bits for the simplest life form. Again, this is well above Inat and it is about 10^80,000 times more likely that ID (Intelligent Design) could produce the minimal genome than mindless natural processes.
    http://www.newscholars.com/pap.....rticle.pdf

    Of semi related note:

    “a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.” – R. C. Wysong

    Here is a paper of particular importance as to clearing up you misconception Mr. Phipps:

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC).,,, Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).,,,

    Testable hypotheses about FSC

    What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1
    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2
    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3
    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4
    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

  88. Moreover, functional information in life is found to be ‘context dependent’ thus exponentially exasperating the problem for neo-Darwinists

    (A Reply To PZ Myers) Estimating the Probability of Functional Biological Proteins? Kirk Durston , Ph.D. Biophysics – 2012
    Excerpt (Page 4): The Probabilities Get Worse
    This measure of functional information (for the RecA protein) is good as a first pass estimate, but the situation is actually far worse for an evolutionary search. In the method described above and as noted in our paper, each site in an amino acid protein sequence is assumed to be independent of all other sites in the sequence. In reality, we know that this is not the case. There are numerous sites in the sequence that are mutually interdependent with other sites somewhere else in the sequence. A more recent paper shows how these interdependencies can be located within multiple sequence alignments.[6] These interdependencies greatly reduce the number of possible functional protein sequences by many orders of magnitude which, in turn, reduce the probabilities by many orders of magnitude as well. In other words, the numbers we obtained for RecA above are exceedingly generous; the actual situation is far worse for an evolutionary search.
    http://powertochange.com/wp-co.....Myers_.pdf

    In the following video, Winston Ewert speaks on how functional information is measured in proteins:

    Proposed Information Metric: Conditional Kolmogorov Complexity (Ewert) – July 2012 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm3mm3ofAYU

    Of related interest, in the preceding video the short sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is calculated to contain 1000 bits of algorithmic specified complexity, and to thus exceed the Universal Probability Bound (UPB) of 500 bits set by Dr. Dembski and To clarify as to how the 500 bit universal limit is found for ‘structured, functional information’:

    Dembski’s original value for the universal probability bound is 1 in 10^150,

    10^80, the number of elementary particles in the observable universe.
    10^45, the maximum rate per second at which transitions in physical states can occur.
    10^25, a billion times longer than the typical estimated age of the universe in seconds.

    Thus, 10^150 = 10^80 × 10^45 × 10^25. Hence, this value corresponds to an upper limit on the number of physical events that could possibly have occurred since the big bang.

    How many bits would that be:

    Pu = 10-150, so, -log2 Pu = 498.29 bits

    Call it 500 bits (The 500 bits is further specified as a specific type of information. It is specified as Complex Specified Information by Dembski or as Functional Information by Abel to separate it from merely Ordered Sequence Complexity or Random Sequence Complexity; See Three subsets of sequence complexity)
    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    What does all this mean for the layman? Well the following article gets the point across very clearly in plain English:

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

    Moreover, (as if all that was not bad enough for the determined Darwinist), functional information can be further refined into prescriptive information, which makes the problem far, far, worse for atheists/materialists

    Dichotomy in the definition of prescriptive information suggests both prescribed data and prescribed algorithms: biosemiotics applications in genomic systems – 2012
    David J D’Onofrio1*, David L Abel2* and Donald E Johnson3
    Excerpt: The DNA polynucleotide molecule consists of a linear sequence of nucleotides, each representing a biological placeholder of adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T) and guanine (G). This quaternary system is analogous to the base two binary scheme native to computational systems. As such, the polynucleotide sequence represents the lowest level of coded information expressed as a form of machine code. Since machine code (and/or micro code) is the lowest form of compiled computer programs, it represents the most primitive level of programming language.,,,
    An operational analysis of the ribosome has revealed that this molecular machine with all of its parts follows an order of operations to produce a protein product. This order of operations has been detailed in a step-by-step process that has been observed to be self-executable. The ribosome operation has been proposed to be algorithmic (Ralgorithm) because it has been shown to contain a step-by-step process flow allowing for decision control, iterative branching and halting capability. The R-algorithm contains logical structures of linear sequencing, branch and conditional control. All of these features at a minimum meet the definition of an algorithm and when combined with the data from the mRNA, satisfy the rule that Algorithm = data + control. Remembering that mere constraints cannot serve as bona fide formal controls, we therefore conclude that the ribosome is a physical instantiation of an algorithm.,,,
    The correlation between linguistic properties examined and implemented using Automata theory give us a formalistic tool to study the language and grammar of biological systems in a similar manner to how we study computational cybernetic systems. These examples define a dichotomy in the definition of Prescriptive Information. We therefore suggest that the term Prescriptive Information (PI) be subdivided into two categories: 1) Prescriptive data and 2) Prescribed (executing) algorithm.
    It is interesting to note that the CPU of an electronic computer is an instance of a prescriptive algorithm instantiated into an electronic circuit, whereas the software under execution is read and processed by the CPU to prescribe the program’s desired output. Both hardware and software are prescriptive.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content.....82-9-8.pdf

  89. LP:

    Pardon, but drumming out a fallacious talking point over and over does not make it any more accurate or warranted the umpteenth time than the first.

    GA’s are goal-directed, foresight driven and rest on intelligently designed algorithms. At best, they mimic some aspects of incremental hill climbing optimisation, maybe with a module to jump away from a too local peak.

    Chaitin:

    . . . we present an information-theoretic analysis of Darwin’s theory of evolution, modeled as a hill-climbing algorithm on a fitness landscape. Our space of possible organisms consists of computer programs, which are subjected to random mutations. We study the random walk of increasing fitness made by a single mutating organism. [p.1]

    You have been led to believe that the world of life as a whole fits this framework leading to a branching tree development pattern [you probably do not know of the chaos of the TOL model as diverse molecular trees stand in mutual contradiction and with the traditional one from gross anatomy etc], and have been led away from the overwhelming evidence that wiring diagram assembly, matching, coupling etc are all crucial to function in a context of specific organisation to achieve such. This leads to what has been called islands of function in seas of non function. The problem being to drift blindly to islands.

    You have also not been properly briefed on how hard it is to fix variations in populations and how long it would take, even on the incrementalist model, once we are talking reasonable parameters. For relevant body plan transitions, easily hundreds of millions of years or more, several orders of magnitude beyond the arguably available.

    As for the actual state of the fossil record on sudden appearance in layers, stasis across layers and gaps in a context where there should be a domination by transitionals, that speaks for itself. Note, after 150 years of diligent global effort, over 1/4 million fossil species, millions of examined collected specimens and billions more of the like seen in the ground. (E.g. Barbados, where I have lived for years is in large part cubic miles of fossil corals, etc. Just walk along the rods and look at construction sites and you can account for billions just there! The first fossils I saw and personally handled — mollusc shells that I showed my bio teacher — were on my grandparents’ farm in Jamaica.)

    And, as someone with a working knowledge of information, the notion that large quantities of functionally specific especially coherent algorithmic info would accumulate by incremental filtering of noise, functional all the way, cannot pass the giggle test. Body plan level info, credibly requires 10 – 100+ mn functionally specific bits dozens of times over.

    In the background of this is the homology fallacy, exposed aptly by Berra’s blunder. Yes, Corvettes from the 1950′s to 70′s and beyond can be arranged in a line of descent with modification and homology. Yup, nested hierarchy even, and this can be extended to the world of vehicles. But all of that ignores the common design, library of technologies and parts, multiple inheritance and so forth as technological design strategies. Homology — question-begging redefinitions notwithstanding — does not prove common descent on incremental blind chance variation and filtering off by differential reproductive success. Not, without begging big questions at the outset.

    Questions highlighted by Philip Johnson in reply to Lewontin’s infamous a priori materialism imposed on origins science and even more fallacious notion that science is the only begetter of truth:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” [Emphasis added]

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    And, in that context I have found it highly significant that in dismissing Paley’s watch in field argument on oh reproduction changes everything, the following is as a rule never addressed, from Paley in Ch 2:

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself — the thing is conceivable; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use.

    It is time for a re-think.

    KF

  90. As well Mr. Phipps,

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information
    William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    ,,,Encoded ‘classical’ information such as what Dembski and Marks demonstrated the conservation of, and such as what we find encoded in computer programs, and yes, as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘transcendent’ (beyond space and time) quantum entanglement/information by the following method:,,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy. Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    ,,,And here is supporting evidence that quantum information is also ‘conserved’;,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    Moreover, this conserved ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum entanglement/information, of which classical information is ‘merely’ a subset, is now found to be in life as well:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/

    i.e. It is very interesting to note, to put it mildly, that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints (Bell, Aspect, Zeilinger), should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy space/time) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as neo-Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the energy/matter particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘specified’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!
    ,,,To refute this falsification of neo-Darwinism, one must overturn Alain Aspect, and company’s, falsification of local realism (reductive materialism)! I wish them good luck with all because they will need it since the non-locality of entanglement is now verified to 70 standard deviations:

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt: The new research, conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Communication in Austria, closes the fair-sampling loophole,,,
    requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    footnote:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

  91. Lincoln Phipps:

    GA are not trial and error. The Wikipedia entry is correct. It is Darwinian.

    Wrong again. GAs have a goal, darwinian processes do not.

    GAs have NOTHING to do with darwinian evolution.

  92. Lincoln Phipps:

    Deny the evidence all you want but the fact remains that no mind designed the antenna.

    Of course a mind created the antenna. A mind conceived of the problem and wrote a GA to solve it.

    Only a desperate imbecile would equate GAs with darwinian evolution.

  93. Lincoln Phipps:

    GA are not design all the way down and I’ll explain as many people miss this essential point; GA is used when you don’t know how to design a solution. GA is “Ignorant Design” at best.

    Wrong! GAS are used as a DESIGN TOOL. DESIGNERS programmed the computer, gave it the initial conditions, the GOAL/ TARGET, the resourse and algorithm to make it happen.

    There is no way the program could construct the proper antenna if the program didn’t have the target.

    GAs are a goal-oriented targeted search. Darwinian evolution is NOT a search at all.

    You can blab all you want, you will NEVER be able to make a case that GAs are darwinian evolution.

  94. bornagain77,

    firstly it is reasonable to state that the chemical actions in the cell happen spontaneously i.e. it doesn’t need the finger of an ID to be telling the cell what to do like some manager.

    But humanity doesn’t actually fully understand how this works though given the vast amount of content put out by ID/creationists you would think they knew exactly how these chemicals function down to the quantum scale.

    They don’t. No one does. It is the ID bluff and in the gaps in our knowledge they start claiming it’s all impossible except by .

    They trip over themselves to race to what they consider to be impossible through chance but they all have a fundamental flaw and that is that they not only do not know how life formed, they are convinced that it did not form by chance. By ignoring differential survival rates they create a self-fullfilling prophesy. They assume proteins are a certain size but skip over what possible functionality exists from the current life proteins to small polypeptides. They skip over this because they don’t know how functional those chemicals are. They skip over co-evolution of small polypeptides and nucleic acids. They assume DNA (or RNA) bursts into life from nothing to hundreds of thousands of bases through a random event. They don’t consider the events from the pre-biotic Earth to the first cell because they don’t know how this happened. It is nothing and then bazinga, a cell. In effect they are slapping a probability on a creation event, claim it can’t be chance and thus creation. They haven’t shown how a cell could form and they do not know how a cell could form gradually. From that lack of knowledge though they are certain it can’t be nature on its own.

  95. LP:

    firstly it is reasonable to state that the chemical actions in the cell happen spontaneously i.e. it doesn’t need the finger of an ID to be telling the cell what to do like some manager.

    Ummm THAT is what the debate is about. YOU don’t get to just baldly assert that what happens in a cell is spontaneous.

    And hey, if you don’t like ID all you have to do is step up and demonstrate the power of natural selection- yet you can’t, no one can.

  96. Mr. Phipps you would like to believe:

    firstly it is reasonable to state that the chemical actions in the cell happen spontaneously i.e. it doesn’t need the finger of an ID to be telling the cell what to do like some manager.

    Yet despite what you would prefer to believe Mr. Phipps, ‘mere’ chemistry cannot even begin to explain finding non-local, beyond space and time, quantum entanglement/information in molecular biology (on a massive scale no less):

    Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight – 2009
    Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.
    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_.....ave-t.html

    Quantum Entanglement Holds DNA Together, Say Physicists – June 28, 2010
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....hysicists/

    Here Quantum Action is confirmed to be in DNA by direct experiment;

    DNA Can Discern Between Two Quantum States, Research Shows – June 2011
    Excerpt: — DNA — can discern between quantum states known as spin. – The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104014.htm

  97. Joe,

    try really thinking about it; the programmer has no idea how to design an antenna i.e. they have no idea about the mathematics of RF design and more importantly neither does the GA.

    After they run the GA they still remain clueless as to why the shape is what it is. All they know is that it is probably fit.

    There is a vast difference between understanding “fit” and RF design.

  98. Lincoln, I have thought about it. I have used, debugged and programmed GAs. They are design all the way down. The programmer doesn’t need to know how to construct the antenna- he designed a program to do it.

    Again, if someone designs a program to do something, and it does it, then it did it by design. Period, end of story.

  99. bornagain77,

    you have just confirmed what I have said as I mentioned the “quantum scale”. ‘mere’ chemistry has a quantum element given it involves electrons.

    My point was that humanity doesn’t actually fully understand how this works but many ID say it can’t be nature but something else.

  100. Joe,

    you said “Ummm THAT is what the debate is about. YOU don’t get to just baldly assert that what happens in a cell is spontaneous.”

    OK so what happens in a cell that is not spontaneous ?

  101. For starters, transcription and translation. Error correction requires knowledge- what to fix and how to fix it.

  102. My Phipps you claim in regards to finding quantum entanglement/information in DNA:

    My point was that humanity doesn’t actually fully understand how this works but many ID say it can’t be nature but something else.

    Actually Mr. Phipps, as was made abundantly clear previously, ‘humanity’ does have a very good understanding that quantum entanglement/information requires a non-local, beyond space and time, cause in order to explain its effect (Bell, Aspect, Leggett, Zeilinger). The people who do not understand this, indeed as you are now clearly demonstrating, the people who WILL NOT understand this are determined Darwinists of the atheistic mindset who refuse to accept any ‘spooky action at a distance’ into their thinking. They are stuck in 19th century view of physics that has been overthrown. Its time for you to join the 21st century classical physics Mr. Phipps and throw off you quaint, but ludicrous, notions that there are no beyond space and time actions worth considering. Of note;

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    also of note:

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time ….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    In fact Mr. Phipps, despite your prior commitment to allowing only within space and time material causes to be considered ‘science’ (i.e. methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that outside space and time causes are now found in all sorts of different places within the field of molecular biology. For instance, protein folding belongs to the world of quantum physics, not classical physics:

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    As well we find this ‘spooky action at a distance (Einstein) to be present within photosynthesis as well:

    Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis: Algae Familiar With These Processes for Nearly Two Billion Years – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: “We were astonished to find clear evidence of long-lived quantum mechanical states involved in moving the energy. Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once — a quantum superposition state, or coherence — and such a state lies at the heart of quantum mechanical theory.”,,, “It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics nearly two billion years before humans,” says Scholes.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131356.htm

    At the 21:00 minute mark of the following video, Dr Suarez explains why photosynthesis needs a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause to explain its effect:

    Nonlocality of Photosynthesis – Antoine Suarez – video – 2012
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ge#t=1268s

    etc.. etc…

    footnotes:

    Michael Denton: Remarkable Coincidences in Photosynthesis – podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201....._coin.html

    Fine Tuning Of Universal Constants, Particularly Light – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491552

  103. correction: Its time for you to join the 21st century QUANTUM physics Mr. Phipps and throw off you quaint, but ludicrous, notions that there are no beyond space and time actions worth considering in physics.

  104. Bornagain77,

    huh ? It is you that is limiting what you think is natural to what looks to be Newtonian physics !

    Quantum mechanics are very much part of the natural world and so part of nature and well within the scope of naturalism.

    You need to try another strawman. That one fell apart.

  105. Mr. Phipps you claim:

    Quantum mechanics are very much part of the natural world and so part of nature and well within the scope of naturalism.

    Well Okie Dokie, I’m glad you finally agree that God is ‘natural’, see you at church Sunday for your baptism! :)

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality verified to 80 orders of magnitude)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Because of advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)(Of Note: Max Planck Planck was a devoted Christian from early life to death, was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God.

    Verse and Music:

    Colossians 1:17
    “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    Alison Krauss – Down in the River to Pray
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VLKngHexeU

  106. My guess is that the analogy of the antenna with Darwinian processes is flawed in many ways. The most basic flaw is that the process was designed by an intelligence with a specific objective unless one wants to make the claim that the Darwinian process was designed (I do but for very limited objectives).

    The major flaw is that the desired outcome for the antenna is built into the process but there is no specific outcome built into the Darwinian process. This is obviously the most basic flaw in the analogy. From the Wikipedia article

    These are then evaluated to determine how well they fulfill the design requirements

    A somewhat analogous process to Darwinian processes might be to change the fitness evaluation each time. One time it might be rf based and another it might be flexibility based and a third time it may be whether it can withstand heat or cold. A fourth might be an aesthetic judgment by person A while a fifth could be an aesthetic judgment by person B. A series of fitness criteria could be developed that would vary by trial. My guess is that the antenna would never approach much that is very useful as the shape shown in the Wikipedia article

    has a complicated asymmetric shape that could not have been found with traditional manual design methods.

    It would fail the aesthetic criteria in some cases and in other cases might not be best in the heat or the cold or flexibility and the examples that might be best for rf purposes would be discarded and none would appear in future iterations. It wouldn’t be long before we had a mishmash.

    The antenna example is like WEASEL in the sense that it has the final design criteria built into the selection. But in Darwinian evolution there is no design criteria by definition. Or is there?

    Another flaw is that the changes are preselected from appropriate parts. There are no twig branches or pieces of cloth or plastic spoons or pieces of biological matter that are randomly made part of the design. This is like having already appropriate proteins available for the process when we know that the real issue is how do these proteins or gene sequences arise in the first place let alone an appropriate protein.

    There would have to be a separate process that took fundamental parts such as pieces of metal, cloth, plastic, wood, biological matter etc and in a separate process construct the parts to be added. What would be the fitness for these parts? How would they be selected and which of the many possible fitness criteria would be used for the selection.

    No the antenna analogy if done like Darwinian evolution would lead to a dog’s dinner not a chef’s haute cuisine.

  107. Barry Arrington – in reply to your comment which is the 24th one:

    So if no one is calling NS completely random, then what exactly is the argument?

    AVS made the statement that as NS is not entirely random, it is guided. Is this the point being refuted?

  108. Cassie,

    NS is blind and mindless. How can a blind and mindless process be guiding?

    NS is “guided” by the surviving reproducers.

  109. I happen to believe that the Darwinian process is an example of excellent design. The cell is an amazing collection of complementary systems all working together for a variety of objectives. Part of this are regenerative processes of transcription and translation and recombination. The purpose of the design is survival through variety which enables the species to adapt. This is the Darwinian process.

    The gene pool has been given an extensive set of tools (variety of alleles) that allows it to adapt to various environments. The environment will affect which set of tools or alleles gets used. But the tools are built in and do not evolve/change in any but trivial ways. That is the fundamental problem with this useful but limited process.

    The Darwinian process is not about evolution but about adaptation and the mistake starting with Darwin is thinking that these two processes are the same. There is no evidence that there ever was any evolution through the Darwinian processes of adaption but there is evidence that there has been survival through this adaption.

    This adaption carries with it a risk, namely extinction. As organisms adapt they loose alleles which means that the gene pool is getting narrower, not expanding. Natural selection is a culling process, not an expansive one. Thus, the more a species adapts the more likely it will face a new environment that it will not be able to survive.

    This process is obviously built in and in the short run will keep the species going but in the long run it has problems.

    Mutations are real but a side show. It is blithely thought that mutations expand the gene pool but do they? Where are the examples? The ones pointed to are all trivial. Of course there is deep time but even deep time should leave evidence.

    Darwinian processes are excellent design for adaptation but not for evolution. For that we have to look elsewhere. But no one has found anything else except for one possibility. But that possibility is anathema for many.

  110. Is there any evidence that darwinian processes are good for adaptation? Could you please reference it?

  111. On another note- the swamp (atbc) has taken noticve of this thread and typically have nothing to say except to attack me for my alleged ignorance, even though what I say is in line with the high priests of evolutionism.

    And it is very telling that not one of them has anything to refute what I posted.

    Nice job guys.

    And Richie, since you are reading this, a positive case for ID has been made. Again your willful ignorance is not a refutation. OTOH you can’t make a positive case for your position and it is clear you don’t know what a positive case entails.

  112. Hi there Joe. Yes NS is blind and mindless. But what exactly do you mean my NS is guided by the surviving reproduces?

  113. Cassie:

    But what exactly do you mean my NS is guided by the surviving reproduces?

    Sarcasm- That is all evolution is- one genration giving rise to another, slightly modified generation. In order to do that individuals have to A) survive and then B) reproduce

  114. LP @84:

    you’ve got a number of problems. Firstly information is measured in bits. The greater the unexpectedness then the higher the information content. So no, a mind is not needed to generate bits of information as a random stream of bits is information rich.

    And thus, folks, we see a large part of LP’s confusion. Until LP takes time to think through what information is and isn’t, the whole discussion is probably a waste of time.

    Hint: LP, we are interested in functional specified information, not the so-called “Shannon information” which is really not information at all, but a measure of information carrying capacity.

  115. Is there any evidence that darwinian processes are good for adaptation? Could you please reference it?

    It is amazingly hard to find examples. The best that is offered is microbes because of the rapidity of new offspring. Apparently not too much has actually been investigated and definitively pointed to as due to changes in the genome caused by a new environment. Polar bears are offered up as an example.

    Maybe we should leave it to our Darwinian friends to find the examples. There are changes when a species moves to a new environment but it is hard to say that this is definitely adaptation. It could be random changes.

    I will have to re-read Dawkins to see what he offers.

    Interesting conundrum. The process exists and is obviously designed so what is the purpose? Just variety? Then what is the purpose of variety?

  116. 117

    Eric #115

    Not to mention the undisputed universal observation that information does not exist anywhere in nature without massive pre-existing organization as a precondition of its existence.

    …and a symbol system with material protocols

    …and a physical translation apparatus

    …and discontinuities

    …and relationships

    :)

  117. Jerry- read- please- “Not BY Chance” by Dr Lee Spetner. Mutations may not totally darwinian… IOW evolution is designed and darwinian evolution messes it up and intelligent design evolution, ala DrSpetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues” is the real mechanism for adaptations.

  118. jerry:

    The antenna example is like WEASEL in the sense that it has the final design criteria built into the selection.

    Exactly.
    (Though with the antenna something of a stochastic goal than a fixed goal.)

    Anyone who takes time to think through the antenna situation will realize that it had the following key characteristics that have nothing to do with Darwinian evolution:

    (i) very specific goal in mind, and against which everything was measured
    (ii) design constraints and parameters for the ultimate outcome (overall weight and size constraints, for example)
    (iii) specific constraint on materials to be used

    Those are the real kickers. To that we could probably brainstorm and come up with a few more, such as perhaps:

    (iv) relatively simple, isolated selection criterion (meaning, able to home in on a single trait)
    (v) essentially perfect selection (because, again, it is measuring against a very targeted end goal)
    (vi) general lack of competing targets (contrast this with the situation in nature, where a single trait could be both positive and negative, depending on the environment, or where a single trait could be competing against a dozen others in the same environment)

  119. Eric Anderson #81,

    When you state that natural selection is not being a force or is “not actually doing anything”, you obviously don’t mean to say that a drop in temperature due to a series of cold winters doesn’t have an effect on sheep. Neither are you saying that an environment without oxygen doesn’t kill aerobic bacteria.

    If I understand you correctly your main argument is that since there is no coherency between those environmental factors there is no warrant for bundling them in the concept of “natural selection”.

    Epigenetics, on the contrary, can legitimately be named a “force” – because there is an apparent coherency between the distinct parts.

    Earlier in this thread you have stressed the incoherency of “natural selection”:

    EA #73: Larger organisms? Sure. Smaller organisms? Why not. Faster? You bet. Slower? Well, OK. Eyes? Definitely. Except when creatures don’t get them.

    Environmental factors have no coherency, they have no shared goal, so there is no ground for adding them all up and call it a force.

  120. Well, Mr Phipps, bornagain77 has shown you that scientism can be a tyrannical master, when it is not in the service of an infantile troll. I hope you have made enquiries about a suitable church in your area you might attend.

    In the UK, we have a Catholic Truth Society, which publishes a course on the faith, in instalments. Perhaps you have the same in the US.

  121. ‘Its time for you to join the 21st century QUANTUM physics Mr. Phipps and throw off you quaint, but ludicrous, notions that there are no beyond space and time actions worth considering in physics.’

    Don’t bully Mr Phipps, Philip. The early part of the 20th century will do just fine. Little steps to begin with. The scientific proof of theism, virtually a hundred years ago, may stand out to UDers, but it doesn’t to impress itself on the scientismificists at all.

  122. Jerry- read- please- “Not BY Chance” by Dr Lee Spetner. Mutations may not totally darwinian… IOW evolution is designed and darwinian evolution messes it up and intelligent design evolution, ala DrSpetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues” is the real mechanism for adaptations.

    I will re-read it but it has been a few years.

    I was going to offer up the Darwin Finches (all one species) but the morphological changes in the variants may be epigenetic and not genomic. I don’t think they really know.

  123. OK- Spetner would say that if the variation is due to point mutations then it is likely darwinian. That is all he gives the NDE/ modern synthesis, point mutations. All else is in dispute with leanings toward intelligent design evolution or what he calls a “non-random evolutionary hypothesis”- it has elements of front loading.

    The overall point being is we may be too quick to give darwinian processes any credit except for messing things up. And the reason we do not witness Sanford’s genetic meltdown is because we are a world dominated by intelligent design evolution, meaning organisms were A) designed to evolve and B)evolved by design, with darwinian processes doing their best to muck things up.

  124. OK so Mayr said that natural selection is a process that eliminates the less fit- as opposed to selecting for the most fit.

    GAs operate by actually selecting for the most fit , with the most fit being determined by an artificial selection coefficient.

    If darwinian evolution operated as GAs do, we definitely wouldn’t have to wait thousands to millions of generations to see novel body plans using novel body parts appear. Anyone see that movie “Evolution” with Fox Mulder ;)? That was directed evolution.

  125. Joe @125:

    OK so Mayr said that natural selection is a process that eliminates the less fit- as opposed to selecting for the most fit.

    GAs operate by actually selecting for the most fit , with the most fit being determined by an artificial selection coefficient.

    This is a crucial distinction. Indeed, natural selection does not care about the fittest but about the least fit. The survival of the fittest claim is pure BS. This means that the theory of evolution could possibly not have selected for this amazing peacock spider, for example.

    I have always said it. Darwinian evolution is for morons.

  126. Last night I watched a recording of Person of Interest from the previous night. In it there was a sequence where one of the super programmers said he developed a GA to find the solution to his failed program. It was only after billions of iterations by his GA till it found the right code.

    Highly intelligent and highly designed.

  127. Mapou- Mayr goes over the diffeence in “What Evolution Is” page 118. It seems selecting for the most fit would put a severe strain on the surviving population because too many would be eliminated:

    Do selection and elimination differ in their evolutionary consequences? This question never seems to have been raised in the evolutionary literature. A process of selection would have a concrete objective, the determination of the “best” or “fittest” phenotype. Only a relatively few individuals in a given generation would qualify and survive the selection procedure. THat small sample would be only to be able to preserve only a small amount of the whole variance of the parent population. Such survival selection would be highly restrained.

    By contrast, mere elimination of the less fit might permit the survival of a rather large number of individuals because they have no obvious deficienies in fitness. Such a large sample would provide, for instance, the needed material for the excercise of sexual selction. This also explains why survival is so uneven from season to season. The percentage of the less fit would depend on the severity of each year’s environmental conditions.

    The question isn’t raised in the vo lit so they equivocate, fool themselves and fool other under-educated chumps

  128. LP:

    Ir will help to make a differentiation.

    Shannon’s metrics assess info carrying capacity in light of the statistics of symbols and will assign a maximal valu8e to flat random noise. As he stated, his metric has to do with transmission and channel capacity, not content and funciton as such.

    But as you can easily discern from a CD or DVD that turns coaster, functional information that depends on specific config, is distinct from gibberish. When you see a file size of say 197 kB, that is about functionally specific info filling up that much capacity.

    In dealing with info in the context of design theory, we are mostly interested in metrics of functionally specific info, and we have metric models that will work, starting from slightly refined versions of 197 kB, as a type XXX file.

    The easiest way to understand that is to think of a string of 500 fair coins, and imagine them tossed at random. The overwhelming bulk of configs from such tosses will be in no particular order or organisation or coded pattern, and pretty near 50-50 H-T, per the binomial distribution.

    If however you were to see such fair coins all H, or alternating H and T or expressing the ASCII code for the first 72 characters for this post, that would be very different and it would not be hard to see that it is maximally implausible that such would occur by the happenstance of a toss of 500 fair coins. From such, we can easily see that the best explanation would be design; by one of many possible routes.

    And in a nutshell, I have just given you a simple picture of how the explanatory filter works: when we have narrow specific target zones in a set of possible configs that are so large as to overwhelm atomic resources and time available to explore the contingencies, dominated by gibberish, and we find something that is contingent, specific and complex in that sense, the best explanation is design.

    The same basic idea extends to more complicated cases.

    Where also as the text code example shows, random document generation by monkeys at keyboards exercises would be a simple empirical test of the inference.

    One already undertaken, with result that so far up to 24 ASCII characters in recognisable English have been found by chance. That is successfully searching 1 in 10^50, but the result is a factor of 10^100 short of the threshold of complexity we have used for not plausibly resulting from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity.

    KF

  129. Box: the point of differential reproductive success across varieties that is not obviously imposed by an agent, is that it is all after the fact, whoever survives, survives and the unlucky or less fitted get subtracted. That’s an effect not a force despite its clever name. It is also perilously close to being a circular, uninformative tautology. It certainly does not ADD information or variation, it removes it. KF

  130. Joe – yeah I’ve noticed that insults and sarcasm are the foundations of most discussions here. Shame. But all that aside, the processes of NS lead towards traits that help the organism to survive. Yes, the products of the proposed mechanisms are not as easy to attain as most evolutionists would like most to think it is, but the term ‘guidance’ is in reference to the process leading to stable ‘life sustaining’ traits.

    But I agree the word should not be used here. By definition, it is no correct.

  131. Cassie,

    Natural selection is a process of elimination. It has more to do with what doesn’t kill the organism than it does with what helps the organism better survive.

  132. Example Joe?

  133. kairosfocus – I’m no going to pretend to be a mathematical whizz, lol because I’m certainly not. My major is in bio medical science. But do you have examples of where these mathematical explanations are being applied to the real world. e.g the chances or forming the simplest functional RNA catalyst in pre bio tic conditions etc

  134. On the PBS special “Evolution” they discussed AIDS, along with bacterial infections. With AIDS you have variations- some pils kill some type, some another, etc. However there always seesm to be one very deficient variation left. Deficient in that without the selection pressures from the pills they would be very much the minority and hardly noticeable because they are out competed at every step. But they manage to survive.

    They are just good enough to hang on…

  135. KF #130,

    the point of differential reproductive success across varieties that is not obviously imposed by an agent, is that it is all after the fact, whoever survives, survives and the unlucky or less fitted get subtracted. That’s an effect not a force despite its clever name.

    Surely you agree that environmental factors {e.g. temperature (see #74), lack of oxygen} do have force. However, since these factors are incoherent and undirected, there is no ground to suggest that they are interconnected by naming them ‘natural selection’.

  136. Joe – You chose an odd example as it doesn’t deal with NS, but rather controlled elimination of an infection.

    So – though over simplified – say you have twins. one is born with a genetic heart defect and the other is not. Now the baby with the defect dies leaving the one without it to live on. Here we would say, the baby with the traits fittest to survive will have a chance to pass on his genes.

    So you would call this a process of elimination. Fine. But it doesn’t change the fact that the combination of genes in the fit baby, enabled that baby to survive. That’s the basis on NS.

  137. * the basis of NS

  138. Cassie- what is “fit” is relative. Sickle-celled anemia allows a person to live in malaria infected areas and not get the disease. However SSA people are far from healthy.

  139. Cassie:

    Hi, here’s some of what they are not telling you about OOL speculations — an exchange between leading researchers, proponents of genes first and metabolism first:

    [[Shapiro:] RNA’s building blocks, nucleotides contain a sugar, a phosphate and one of four nitrogen-containing bases as sub-subunits. Thus, each RNA nucleotide contains 9 or 10 carbon atoms, numerous nitrogen and oxygen atoms and the phosphate group, all connected in a precise three-dimensional pattern . . . . [[S]ome writers have presumed that all of life’s building could be formed with ease in Miller-type experiments and were present in meteorites and other extraterrestrial bodies. This is not the case.

    A careful examination of the results of the analysis of several meteorites led the scientists who conducted the work to a different conclusion: inanimate nature has a bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life . . . .

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, normally carried out in water at temperatures observed on Earth . . . .

    Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA . . .

    [[Orgel:] If complex cycles analogous to metabolic cycles could have operated on the primitive Earth, before the appearance of enzymes or other informational polymers, many of the obstacles to the construction of a plausible scenario for the origin of life would disappear . . . .

    It must be recognized that assessment of the feasibility of any particular proposed prebiotic cycle must depend on arguments about chemical plausibility, rather than on a decision about logical possibility . . . few would believe that any assembly of minerals on the primitive Earth is likely to have promoted these syntheses in significant yield . . . . Why should one believe that an ensemble of minerals that are capable of catalyzing each of the many steps of [[for instance] the reverse citric acid cycle was present anywhere on the primitive Earth [[8], or that the cycle mysteriously organized itself topographically on a metal sulfide surface [[6]? . . . Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own . . . .

    The prebiotic syntheses that have been investigated experimentally almost always lead to the formation of complex mixtures. Proposed polymer replication schemes are unlikely to succeed except with reasonably pure input monomers. No solution of the origin-of-life problem will be possible until the gap between the two kinds of chemistry is closed. Simplification of product mixtures through the self-organization of organic reaction sequences, whether cyclic or not, would help enormously, as would the discovery of very simple replicating polymers. However, solutions offered by supporters of geneticist or metabolist scenarios that are dependent on “if pigs could fly” hypothetical chemistry are unlikely to help.

    Alonso Ricardo and Jack Szostak weigh in, c. 2009:

    Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium, teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist. As they incessantly shake or spin or crawl around the cell, these machines cut, paste and copy genetic molecules, shuttle nutrients around or turn them into energy, build and repair cellular membranes, relay mechanical, chemical or electrical messages—the list goes on and on, and new discoveries add to it all the time.

    It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines, which are mostly protein-based catalysts called enzymes, could have formed spontaneously as life first arose from nonliving matter around 3.7 billion years ago. To be sure, under the right conditions some building blocks of proteins, the amino acids, form easily from simpler chemicals, as Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey of the University of Chicago discovered in pioneering experiments in the 1950s. But going from there to proteins and enzymes is a different matter . . .

    Berlinsky, also:

    At the conclusion of a long essay, it is customary to summarize what has been learned. In the present case, I suspect it would be more prudent to recall how much has been assumed:

    First, that the pre-biotic atmosphere was chemically reductive; second, that nature found a way to synthesize cytosine; third, that nature also found a way to synthesize ribose; fourth, that nature found the means to assemble nucleotides into polynucleotides; fifth, that nature discovered a self-replicating molecule; and sixth, that having done all that, nature promoted a self-replicating molecule into a full system of coded chemistry.

    These assumptions are not only vexing but progressively so, ending in a serious impediment to thought. That, indeed, may be why a number of biologists have lately reported a weakening of their commitment to the RNA world altogether, and a desire to look elsewhere for an explanation of the emergence of life on earth. “It’s part of a quiet paradigm revolution going on in biology,” the biophysicist Harold Morowitz put it in an interview in New Scientist, “in which the radical randomness of Darwinism is being replaced by a much more scientific law-regulated emergence of life.”

    Morowitz is not a man inclined to wait for the details to accumulate before reorganizing the vista of modern biology. In a series of articles, he has argued for a global vision based on the biochemistry of living systems rather than on their molecular biology or on Darwinian adaptations. His vision treats the living system as more fundamental than its particular species, claiming to represent the “universal and deterministic features of any system of chemical interactions based on a water-covered but rocky planet such as ours.”

    This view of things – metabolism first, as it is often called – is not only intriguing in itself but is enhanced by a firm commitment to chemistry and to “the model for what science should be.” It has been argued with great vigor by Morowitz and others. It represents an alternative to the RNA world. It is a work in progress, and it may well be right. Nonetheless, it suffers from one outstanding defect. There is as yet no evidence that it is true . . .

    KF

    PS: You may want to listen to the lecture here.

  140. In my opinion, to much attention is given to NS, as this process doesn’t refute or support ID or the origin of life from unconscious processes( Darwinism). The crux of the matter – as i think some others here are trying to address – is the ‘likelihood’ of life sustaining genetic sequences ( that work with others) arising by chance over time.

    An even more potent question is, ” When the processes involved in gene ‘expression’ are taken into account, how likely is it getting the desired proteins for life to be expressed? The mere existence of a sequence does not mean it will be expressed.

  141. kairosfocus last comment not to you,but joe. Reading yours now.

  142. Joe –

    //Cassie- what is “fit” is relative. Sickle-celled anemia allows a person to live in malaria infected areas and not get the disease. However SSA people are far from healthy.//

    Come on. This is not a good example. In my example of the twins, are you honestly going to tell me that what was ‘fit’ in that example was relative? No. The combination of genes that promoted survival was passed on. simple.

  143. kairosfocu – Its a shame, I don’t think what you showed me actually addresses my questions from an angle of mathematical probability. It just seems to put out quite general ( not all untrue) ideas that don’t take into account some discoveries regarding RNA. I think the paper below sheds some less light on the current status of the RNA world hypothesis in more academic circles.

    http://www.biologydirect.com/c.....0-7-23.pdf

  144. Cassie:

    In my example of the twins, are you honestly going to tell me that what was ‘fit’ in that example was relative? No. The combination of genes that promoted survival was passed on. simple.

    That happens in the absence of natural selection. And passing on genes that promote survival in one environment won’t necessarily promote survival if that environment changes. simple. It definitely ain’t a designer mimic mechanism.

  145. Box @120:

    If I understand you correctly your main argument is that since there is no coherency between those environmental factors there is no warrant for bundling them in the concept of “natural selection”.

    1. The lack of direction and coherency should certainly raise a red flag as we consider what kind of “force” we are dealing with.

    For example, evolutionists love to compare their theory to gravity, so let’s oblige them for a moment. With gravity, we can calculate very clearly how strong the force is, how it will be applied, how it varies with distance and so on. And it won’t help the evolutionist’s argument to complain, “But we don’t know what really causes gravity.” That is true enough, but we know it exists and is real. Every single person on the planet observes literally millions of confirmations of gravity every single day, 24/7, and we can calculate gravity with great precision, out to more than 10 decimal places. We have nothing at all like that with natural selection. We have no idea what “force” is being applied. We can’t say with any certainty what impact it will have in any given situation.

    So at the very least we should be very suspicious about this strange kind of force — one that sometimes is applied one direction and at other times in a completely opposite direction; sometimes with a particular strength and at other times with a very different strength. A strange force indeed. This on its own might not yet lead us to entirely abandon the concept, but to the thoughtful observer the nagging doubts should begin to grow.

    2. More fundamentally, however, we can examine whether natural selection even is a force at all. Let’s take the classic example of a population with two phenotypes. For purposes of discussion, let’s assume that phenotype A is going to eventually die out and phenotype B is going to survive.

    Now at the beginning of our observation of the population we have both phenotypes present, A and B. Now we can ask: “What kind of force or influence is exerted by natural selection on phenotype B to cause it to survive?” and “How is that force exerted on B? Where is it applied, how strong is it, and in what direction does it exert the force?”

    As soon as we utter these simple questions — questions that would be perfectly reasonable to ask about any other force in nature — we quickly find ourselves squirming uncomfortably in our chair and muttering, “Wait a minute. That’s not what we mean by natural selection; that’s not how it works.” But why not? Pondering that for a moment can be instructive.

    Natural selection doesn’t exert any kind of force or influence over phenotype B. Indeed, natural selection doesn’t do anything. It sits there like a mute and dumb observer, waiting to see what will happen with the population, and then when phenotype A dies off natural selection jumps in and raises its hand, surreptitiously taking credit for having “selected and preserved” phenotype B. Rather like the annoying co-worker who doesn’t lift a finger to do any actual work, but when the time for work has passed and management starts handing out accolades quickly raises his hand and takes credit for the project.

    Furthermore, if we are looking at the population for signs of what happened to cause the change in phenotype ratios, our observations will quickly lead us to phenotype A, not B. In phenotype A we can, if we know enough, identify some flaw or failure or breakdown or stroke of bad luck that resulted in A dying off. Thus, to the extent there is any action or outside influence applied to the population is it A that is the object of that force, not B. The whole mental image of natural selection “selecting” B is, at best, completely backwards. Additionally, if we know what caused A’s demise, we can explain it perfectly well without ever invoking natural selection, because our explanation essentially amounts to the wholly valid, but rather pedestrian, observation that if a creature is not well suited for its environment it may not long survive in that environment. We don’t need to invoke any special force nor do we need to unnecessarily multiply entities to explain that.

    So, no, natural selection isn’t a force. It doesn’t do anything. It is simply a rhetorical label attached after the fact, after all the real work has been done. A label that neither explains nor enlightens nor instructs.

    3. Darwin’s stroke of genius (rhetorically, not intellectually or scientifically) was to personify natural selection as a benevolent agent “daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world . . . rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good.” He subsequently toned down the personification and reminded readers that this was but a metaphor. Yet, the image of natural selection as some kind of ever-present beneficent force remains.

    As a result, to this day much of the disconnect between skeptics and true believers in Darwinism is that the latter hold an unjustified and almost magical opinion of natural selection, viewing it as some kind of wand that can be waved over the random chaos of nature to produce wonderful and intricate functional designs. It is not and it does not.

    It is just a label. And a label that teaches us essentially nothing beyond the idea that . . . Stuff Happens.

  146. Eric Andersen #146,

    EA #146: More fundamentally, however, we can examine whether natural selection even is a force at all. Let’s take the classic example of a population with two phenotypes. For purposes of discussion, let’s assume that phenotype A is going to eventually die out and phenotype B is going to survive.
    Now at the beginning of our observation of the population we have both phenotypes present, A and B. Now we can ask: “What kind of force or influence is exerted by natural selection on phenotype B to cause it to survive?” and “How is that force exerted on B? Where is it applied, how strong is it, and in what direction does it exert the force?”

    I regret to say that I don’t get your point. Please bear with me and allow me to return to Meyer’s sheep example. Phenotype A has little wool and phenotype B has lots of wool.
    It seems to me that in this case one can answer your questions: Natural selection’s relevant force is low temperature. This is exerted on both phenotypes. We can also answer the question where it is applied and how much degrees Fahrenheit. The direction may be toward even more wooliness.

    EA #146: Natural selection doesn’t exert any kind of force or influence over phenotype B. Indeed, natural selection doesn’t do anything.

    Natural selection’ does exert equal pressure on phenotype B, by means of low temperature, however the wooly phenotype B can take it.

    EA #146: Furthermore, if we are looking at the population for signs of what happened to cause the change in phenotype ratios, our observations will quickly lead us to phenotype A, not B.

    Why is this an important observation?

    EA #146: In phenotype A we can, if we know enough, identify some flaw or failure or breakdown or stroke of bad luck that resulted in A dying off.

    Yes, too little wool to withstand the drop in temperature.

    EA #146: Thus, to the extent there is any action or outside influence applied to the population is it A that is the object of that force, not B.

    It seems to me that both phenotypes were subjected to low temperature. Phenotype A became its victim.

    EA #146: The whole mental image of natural selection “selecting” B is, at best, completely backwards.

    Why can we not say that low temperature selects sheep with a lot of wool; i.e. phenotype B?

  147. Joe – //That happens in the absence of natural selection.//

    What are talking about? That is how NS works. That is the point of my example.

    //And passing on genes that promote survival in one environment won’t necessarily promote survival if that environment changes. simple. It definitely ain’t a designer mimic mechanism.//

    I’m not saying it is!

    Can I just ask what’s level of knowledge do you have regarding biology. I not trying to be rude, i would just like to know.

  148. big typo errors, i know

    *Can I just ask what level of knowledge do you have regarding biology. I’m not trying to be rude, i would just like to know.

  149. Box, thanks for sticking with me to see if we can flesh this out a bit.

    Natural selection’s relevant force is low temperature.

    So natural selection causes low temperature? And here I thought it had to do with solar insolation, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, altitude, local topography, air pressure differences and the like. :)

    I’m kidding with you a bit, I know, but bear with me. Natural selection isn’t characterized by anything particular. In your example we have low temperature. In another example we might have high temperature. We could have lots of moisture or an arid climate and so forth. And all of those things are the way they are due to some underlying actual physical phenomenon, not because of “natural selection.”

    Now if we take a label, such as the two words “natural selection,” and say that whatever characteristic we happen to focus on (in this case, low temperature) is a “force” of natural selection, all we are doing is applying a label. And the label is no more substantive than saying “whatever the temperature is, it is.” Indeed, there are many characteristics that would exert their influence in any given situation, not just temperature, but precipitation, sunlight, predation, humidity, disease, weather changes throughout the year and so on. And saying that the result of all these factors is “natural selection” is no more meaningful than saying “whatever happened happened.”

    Natural selection’ does exert equal pressure on phenotype B, by means of low temperature, however the wooly phenotype B can take it.

    No it doesn’t. The environment does. Natural selection is meaningless until the final outcome, after all the work is done. Consider a situation in which, in addition to low temperature, we have predation, but the predators love to eat wooly sheep. So we don’t know beforehand whether temperature will be the deciding factor in which phenotype survives. Indeed, we never know until after the fact.

    And when we do know what caused the situation we can fully explain it, in great detail, without ever invoking natural selection. In stark contrast, we can’t explain it without invoking temperature or the predators, as the case may be, because they are the actual cause. Natural selection isn’t anything but an after-the-fact label that says “Whatever the environment was, it was; whatever the real causes were, they were; and whatever forces they brought to bear; they did.” Sorry, but I’m not too impressed with that as a concept for enlightenment.

    It seems to me that both phenotypes were subjected to low temperature. Phenotype A became its victim.

    Why can we not say that low temperature selects sheep with a lot of wool; i.e. phenotype B?

    Sure all creatures in an environment are subject to the conditions of the environment. And some creatures won’t survive in that environment, not because of some vague concept of natural selection, but due to very concrete physical, physiological, molecular factors.

    The problem with focusing on the survivors (phenotype B) is two-fold.

    1. What if there are no sheep with a lot of wool and the entire population dies out. In that case, what did natural selection “preserve” or “select”? Nothing. And yet something happened with the population, right? How to explain that? Well, we could say that low temperatures killed them. Exactly. We can provide an explanation, based on actual physical factors, without ever once invoking natural selection as a “selecting” force.

    2. Natural selection cannot create anything; it cannot see the future; to the extent it does anything (destroying the unfit), it is a destroyer of information, a destroyer of variety. I think it is important to keep the focus on this point. Again, Darwin’s great rhetorical trick was to paint natural selection as though it were operating on the positive side of the equation, carefully preserving and selecting and adding up “all that is good.” To the extent that we buy into this personification of natural selection, we drop our guard and allow ourselves to be lulled into thinking that natural selection is a productive force, a creative force, a builder of information, a design substitute. It is not. It simply waits around to see what the real forces in nature do and then proclaims that the result is “due to natural selection.”

    Again, I don’t begrudge someone carefully using the two words “natural selection” as a shorthand way to refer to the stochastic result of a change in a population. But it needs to be done carefully and the limitations and assumptions need to be acknowledged front and center.

    Unfortunately, all too often natural selection is invoked as a catch-all ‘explanation’ for this or that result, masking the lack of understanding of the real physical phenomena involved and leading the gullible to think that an actual scientific explanation has been offered. Worse, when the siren song of natural selection’s great powers becomes strong enough, many imagine that natural selection is capable of producing, building, creating, designing. That was Darwin’s great rhetorical move, and one that is still claiming many intellectual victims today.

  150. Cassie @141:

    An even more potent question is, ” When the processes involved in gene ‘expression’ are taken into account, how likely is it getting the desired proteins for life to be expressed? The mere existence of a sequence does not mean it will be expressed.

    Excellent point.

    There is a naive tendency among supporters of traditional evolutionary theory to talk as though if some potentially useful sequence happens to arise in DNA it will automatically (i) get expressed, (ii) be expressed in a way that is helpful to the organism, (iii) the product of the expression will be integrated into the right molecular machine, (iv) the product of the expression will be integrated at the right time, and on and on.

    A sequence coding for a protein, important thought may be, is about as relevant to the organism as that long-forgotten program on my hard drive that I never open and have forgotten how to use is relevant to may daily work routine.

    There is so much more involved than just mere storage of a new sequence on the hard drive of DNA.

  151. Cassie, Organsisms survive and reproduce in the absence of NS- think genetic drift. NS is responsible for less than 1% of the variation within a population (Larry Moran).

    My biology knowledge? High school and college biology- along with reading hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and many more popular books on the subject- about 40+ years looking into biology.

  152. One more funny thing about genetic algorithms- evos really think they have something to do with genetics because they are called genetic algorithjms. And when I tell them that there isn’t any genetics involved because genetics refers to biological organisms, they get all huffy and puffy and start spewing stuff and pointing to the name genetic algorithm.

    And they think that just because GAs were invented with someone’s misconception wrt natural selection, that they mimic natural selection- well most evos seem to think that natural selection actually selects, well, because of its name!

  153. Eric Anderson #150,

    EA #150: Indeed, there are many characteristics that would exert their influence in any given situation, not just temperature, but precipitation, sunlight, predation, humidity, disease, weather changes throughout the year and so on. And saying that the result of all these factors is “natural selection” is no more meaningful than saying “whatever happened happened.”

    Whatever happened happened by (a cacophony of ) unintelligent forces of nature. That in itself is meaningful when you are arguing against theistic explanations for animal form. Did God gave polar bears white thick fur? No, says Charles D., it happened by “natural selection” – unintelligent forces of nature.
    Isn’t “natural selection” – designed by nature – about as meaningful, imprecise and diffuse as “intelligent design”? When we say “intelligent design” aren’t we saying “whatever happened happened by an intelligent designer”?

    EA #150: And when we do know what caused the situation we can fully explain it, in great detail, without ever invoking natural selection.

    We know that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, so we don’t have to invoke “intelligent design”?

    Box #147: Natural selection does exert equal pressure on phenotype B, by means of low temperature, however the wooly phenotype B can take it.

    EA #150: No it doesn’t. The environment does. Natural selection is meaningless until the final outcome, after all the work is done.

    My definition, in the context of this discussion, of the diffuse force of natural selection is “the natural environmental influence on an organism”. This influence is extremely complex and variable, but real nonetheless. Unfortunately I’m not able to grasp your concept of natural selection. Please give me your definition, so I can reread what you have written.

  154. Hey Box- FYI, the polar bear fur is transparent. It just looks white due to the way the light bounces off the space between the fur/ hair

  155. Box @154:

    When we say “intelligent design” aren’t we saying “whatever happened happened by an intelligent designer”?

    In a sense, yes. But there is an important nuance here. Design is its own independent cause. Identifiable, observable. We can examine an artifact and see whether it contains the characteristics of design, and if so, our inference of design has independent meaning. Natural selection has no independent meaning, it has no independent characteristics we can examine, it just means whatever happened in the environment happened.

    The equivalent to your above sentence would be “whatever happened by natural selection happened by natural selection.” Natural selection, however — by your own definition, now that we’ve dug deeply enough — simply means “the natural environmental influence on an organism.”

    I’m fine with that as a working definition of natural selection. So let’s now examine what the implications are. Natural environmental influences (by nearly everyone’s admission) are essentially random. There is no way to predict or calculate or anticipate what will happen. Furthermore, we don’t know how strongly the various factors will affect things in any given situation. Finally, there are so many factors that it is virtually impossible to say with any degree of certainty what did happen or what will happen.

    I think we are on the same page up to this point.

    So, given that, my points are very simple:

    1. People should stop talking about natural selection as though it is something in addition to all these random environmental factors — as though it were some additional, independent force. It isn’t. It is just a label applied to the random environmental outcome. So natural selection doesn’t take away the randomness inherent in the theory. Evolutionists regularly acknowledge that variation and the environment are essentially random, but then try to argue that there is some force, some property of natural selection, that minimizes or takes away or selects out of the randomness. There isn’t. It is randomness all the way down.

    2. Natural selection is often put forward as an ‘explanation’ for something, when so often it just masks our ignorance of what really happened. I say, let’s stop doing that. When we say that natural selection did something, all we are saying is that a bunch of random unnamed environmental factors occurred. I want to pin people down who try to foist natural selection off on us as though it were an actual scientific explanation for the results. Again, it is not. It is just a label; one that is invariably applied after the fact. If we don’t know what caused x, then let’s admit so. If we do know, then let’s identify it directly, without obscuring it with another unnecessary label.

    3. Now that we have arrived at your definition (the natural environmental influence on an organism), we can put forward two possible summaries of evolutionary theory:

    (a) There was a self-reproducing single-celled organism. Over time it was subject to the random environmental factors in its environment. As a result of that process, eventually it turned into a human.

    (b) There was a self-reproducing single-celled organism. Over time natural selection carefully ‘scrutinized and rejected all that was bad and preserved and added up all that was good.’ As a result of that process, it eventually turned into a human.

    Which is more believable?

    The second of course. And why? Because natural selection is personified as an extra force, an extra influence, a careful selector and preserver of “all that is good.” I’m just trying to make sure we don’t fall for this rhetorical imagery that is so often used to try and sneak an extra force into nature, to try and posit some kind of designer substitute.

  156. Box, incidentally, I was thinking about your sheep example last night.

    What actually caused the wooly sheep to survive the cold temperatures? Well, (at a high level) there is specific coding in the sheep’s DNA, which is expressed at a certain time, which is expressed in a certain amount, which is shepherded to the right location, the result of which is integrated into the correct molecular machines, which is then integrated into a larger structure, and so on. That is the real cause.

    What caused the non-wooly sheep to perish? There could be any number of reasons. A breakdown or missing portion of any part of the above chain, for example.

    To say that natural selection had some influence or exerted some force in the outcome is to simply ignore the underlying causes.

    Furthermore, if we step back from biology for a moment, the point becomes more stark. What caused the first successful flight of the Space Shuttle? Natural Selection? No, it was the several million integrated and functional parts and their careful coordination that made the flight successful. In contract, what caused the Challenger disaster? It was the failure of one of those parts.

    The same exact situation exists with living organisms, and it makes about as much sense to say that natural selection “preserved and selected” the wooly sheep and “rejected” the non-wooly sheep, as it does to say natural selection “preserved and selected” STS-1 and “rejected” Challenger.

  157. EA: Do I dare say the magic word . . . REIFICATION . . . ? KF

  158. Greetings,

    Eric, I think below is more precise:

    (a) There was a self-reproducing single-celled organism. Over time, some lineages of the organism were subjected to the random environmental factors in its environment. As a result of that process, eventually a particular lineage of its descendants turned into a human.

    (b) There was a self-reproducing single-celled organism. Over time natural selection carefully ‘scrutinized and rejected all that was bad and preserved and added up all that was good’ in some lineages of the organism. As a result of that process, a particular lineage of its descendants eventually turned into a human.

    But I see very well what you are saying on the natural selection aspect.

  159. seventrees:

    Thanks, you are correct, of course. I’m not suggesting that a single organism lived the entire time. I thought of wording it similarly to what you expressed, but decided to just leave it simple for the illustration.

    As a related thought, however, there has to be an unbroken chain of parent-child relationships from me all the way back to LUCA, right?

    Evolutionists love the wiggle room of saying that there just needed to be a change sometime, somewhere in nature. Actually every single change had to have been in my specific lineage (whether it originated there or was incorporated at some specific point in some generation or through the oft-cited gene-swapping, HGT, and the like). So although we often use the whole of nature as the playground for the variations and to boost up the probabilities, the fact is that for any given organism alive today, their specific lineage had to have experienced either a direct change or an incorporated change at a real moment in time in the past for every single characteristic they possess. Not that we need any more piling on to the materialist creation myth, but it is important to remember we are dealing with a finite set of ancestors when we think about the probabilities.

    Anyway, a bit OT, but your comment reminded me of that point.

    Thanks,

  160. Eric Anderson #156,

    EA #156:
    1. People should stop talking about natural selection as though it is something in addition to all these random environmental factors — as though it were some additional, independent force. It isn’t. (…) Evolutionists (…) argue that there is some force, some property of natural selection, that minimizes or takes away or selects out of the randomness. There isn’t. It is randomness all the way down.

    I agree, there is nothing outside random environmental factors what can be called natural selection.

    EA #156:
    2. I want to pin people down who try to foist natural selection off on us as though it were an actual scientific explanation for the results. Again, it is not. It is just a label; one that is invariably applied after the fact. If we don’t know what caused x, then let’s admit so. If we do know, then let’s identify it directly, without obscuring it with another unnecessary label.

    There are arguably cases in which we know which environmental factor(s) caused the extinction of a certain phenotype. If I understand you correctly you are saying that from these observations we cannot extrapolate the concept that for every property of an organism there is an environmental cause. That is simply a hypothesis based on a certain dubious metaphysical belief.
    Eric, thank you very much for explaining your profound view. That was most helpful.

  161. Eric at 160

    As a related thought, however, there has to be an unbroken chain of parent-child relationships from me all the way back to LUCA, right?

    My question regarding your comment will seem ignorant. But the question is this: Considering that passing on quality genes is the metric of survivability, why do lineages from the LUCA differ? What advantages do new body structures, internal organs, and even sexual reproduction confer to our lineage (and other lineages which have these features) to the various environments when it has been noticed that at least certain bacteria species can survive in various environments? Where we are, various bacteria species are. Where we are not, the probability of finding certain bacteria species are higher than finding other organisms.

    This was asked before, and it is better I ask again. It is more reason why I share your thoughts on the unbroken lineage of the LUCA.

  162. 163

    Box #161:

    If I understand you correctly you are saying that from these observations we cannot extrapolate the concept that for every property of an organism there is an environmental cause. That is simply a hypothesis based on a certain dubious metaphysical belief.

    It’s not a metaphysical belief that explains why random environmental factors can’t create CSI, it’s the Law of Conservation of Information. Read this paper to see why:

    http://evoinfo.org/papers/ConsInfo_NoN.pdf

    The upshot is that in order for a fitness landscape to generate CSI, that CSI had to have been explicitly encoded in the fitness function. And explaining how the CSI got into the fitness function is always more difficult than explaining how CSI got into the artifact itself.

    For example, assume I see a pattern of text impressed in the sand on a beach. But I believe a natural force caused it so I hypothesize that a boulder rolled down the beach and created the marks. But that hypothesis doesn’t simplify the problem of where the CSI came from in any way, it only makes it worse, because now you have to explain how the pattern got into the boulder, in addition to how the boulder got there, how it started rolling, etc. You’ve moved the source of the information somewhere else and now you require additional information to fully explain the final state of the system.

    Adding a random noise source (such as environmental variation) only makes the problem worse because the noise is just as likely to mess up CSI as it is to create it. In the context of life, let’s say a baby tadpole receives a mutation that would generate a super frog. Over 99% of tadpoles die before reaching adulthood due to random environmental factors, so odds are that super frog will die before his mutation can be selected. The point is that to the extent the environment could preserve positive changes, it is even more likely to destroy them. In the context of OOL, the environment clearly favors diffusion and destruction of the components that form life over gathering and assembling.

    To believe that environmental variation created the variety we see in life, you’d need a fantastically complex fitness landscape. You need an infinite regression of just-so stories where the environment changed in ridiculously precise ways, like the just-so stories that flight evolved from animals running downhill flapping, implying there was a specific environment with lots of hills where that was enough of a selective advantage to matter in a life or death sense. It’s comical to think about, almost like a Dr Seuss cartoon, but that’s what evolutionists have to believe. On a molecular level, you must believe without evidence that functional proteins are dense in sequence space, and the smallest of incremental protein changes are selectable above the noise level.

    The antenna example is not a good one because that fitness landscape is dense in functionality, with no gaps to cross, and the fitness function can be evaluated with mathematical precision. The argument ID makes is that the fitness landscape of the natural environment doesn’t in any way resemble the fitness landscape of any genetic algorithm. In fact, the natural environment opposes creation of information at every turn.

    –NetResearchMan/Guy

  163. Box:

    You’re a good sport to hang in here that long and thanks for the thoughtful questions!

    For those interested in the concept of natural selection, may I recommend a couple of readings:

    The first two are mine from a decade ago and, if I may, are still worth the 10 minutes required to read them. They focus more on the tautology aspect than what we have been discussing on this thread, but still relevant.

    My initial short essay:

    https://app.box.com/s/remni9q88iqjo0nb0xny

    . . . and a slightly longer and more detailed reply to several critics:

    https://app.box.com/s/cfgwvri2wo0ekeklrsi4

    Finally, anyone interested in natural selection — indeed anyone interested in evolution at all — owes it to themselves to read David Berlinski’s wonderful tongue-in-cheek, but ever so insightful essay, The Deniable Darwin, available in various locations, including here:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/130

  164. Box @161:

    If I understand you correctly you are saying that from these observations we cannot extrapolate the concept that for every property of an organism there is an environmental cause.

    Well, I’m not sure that was my main point, but OK. :)

    I do think we have to be a bit careful with how we use the word “environment” in any particular discussion. We’ve been using it in our exchange rather broadly and also because we were talking about things like temperature, lack of oxygen, etc.

    I’m sure evolutionists would object to the idea that everything is caused by the “environment.” After all, there are things that might not be quite so easy to pin on the “environment” — internal things like copying errors, point mutations, and the like.

    Arguably, however, even those things are caused by the environment, if we’re willing to think of matter and energy interacting at the molecular and even sub-atomic level. So to the extent that we can consider the “environment” to be the matter and energy interacting in a particular space and time, then, yes, everything is caused by the environment, so says the materialist creation myth. Because that is all there is — matter and energy interacting; there is no other cause available, certainly no intelligent agency involved.

  165. seventrees @162:

    That is an excellent question. And one that, despite protests to the contrary by true believers in the evolutionary storyline, has not been properly answered.

    The answer that will be offered is that organisms evolve to fill available niches, or some such proposition. However, a moment’s reflection for the individual of even average intelligence will be sufficient to realize that there are many available niches that have not been filled. Why are some filled and others not? No answer is forthcoming.

    Furthermore, as you note, it is very difficult to argue with a straight face that, say, humans, are more fit than bacteria. If the lauded goals of evolution, fitness and reproduction, are the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ — if the laughable idea of “selfish genes” is really the sum of life, then why would life move in a relatively constant march toward more complexity, toward less fitness in many cases, or toward expenditure of precious resources on everything from sexual reproduction, to brains that can write the words of Shakespeare, to fingers that can reproduce the works of Mozart?

    The uncomfortable answer is that evolution has no cogent answer. Some stuff worked; other stuff didn’t. Some things happened in some lineages; and not in others. Some creatures filled some niches; other niches remained unfilled.

    Stuff Happens.

    The theory really is no more substantive than that.

  166. NetResearchGuy:

    Excellent points, and well said.

    —–

    We might add that it is also the case that the GA’s and trial-and-error design approaches are often carefully designed to lead toward a specific goal, with rather tight constraints set on possible outcomes. In the antenna example, in particular, that was very much the case.

  167. Alan Fox sez (about my comment 155):

    Great to see he is learning new facts. I wonder where he got this snippet?

    So what I learned 50 years ago = I am learning new facts? Is Alan really that much of a bloviating arse? BTW I got the snippet from my memory…

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