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www.4truth.net

About a year ago I was asked to commission and collect 30 or so articles on science for an apologetics website run by my denomination, the SBC. The URL for this apologetics website as a whole is www.4truth.net and for the science section is www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.786349/k.CAAC/Science.htm.

I want to call your attention to two particularly insightful articles, written by two world class engineers (one on faculty at UCDavis, the other at Baylor University):

Intelligent, Optimal, and Divine Design” (go here)

Evolutionary Computation: A Perpetual Motion Machine for Design Information?” (go here)

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6 Responses to www.4truth.net

  1. Inclusive (left-wing liberal) vs. Exclusive (right-wing conservative) Apologetics

    Evolutionary ID is to Darwinism what Christian Universalism is to Fundamentalism.

    Darwinism is the stronghold of the conservative scientific establishment of the West. It is authoritarian and hard-line – that line being the Darwinian Narrative. You must confess Evolution (specifically Natural Selection) in order to be accepted. Otherwise you are a fraud and discredited.

    Fundamentalism is the stronghold of the conservative religous establishment of the West. It is authoritarian and hard-line – that line being the inerrant Word of God. You must confess God (specifically Christ) in order to be accepted. Otherwise you are a heretic and discredited.

    ID seeks to split the conservative scientific establishment, via the re-interpretation of the hard-line, in order to establish its own authority. It is considered fraud by the Darwinists.

    Universalism seeks to split the conservative religous establishment, via the re-interpretation of the hard-line, in order to establish its own authority. It is considered heresy by the Fundamentalists.

    Left and right wing establishments are crucial to civilizing the troubled world through which we must pass. For every mile of road, there are two miles of ditches. Reconciling the left and right is not possible, nor is it desirable. Get rid of a ditch, and the road quickly disappears. We must recognize the extremes of Religion and Science, in order to preserve civilization itself.

    There is no idea more hard-hearted than Darwinism – it is literally the Law of the Jungle and inherently uncivilized. Its proponents are easily offended and retaliatory. ID allows the necessary dual – a sovereign intelligence above the law to keep us from becoming the wretched beasts which we would otherwise believe ourselves to be.

    Similarly there is no religion more hard-hearted than Fundamentalism. Its proponents are easily offended and retaliatory. Universalism allows the necessary dual – a sovereign intelligence above the law to keep us from becoming the wretched beasts which we would otherwise believe ourselves to be.

    I write this simply to speak to both sides of the issues which appear on this blog. Neither side is going to win or lose. They are inherently codependant and are necessarily opposed. Offending the other side is counterproductive and threatens the very civilization both sides seek to preserve, and will preserve.

    In closing, may I offer a cryptic observation a lumberjack made to me over a beer:

    “I never saw an eagle fly with two left wings” – I assume he never saw the exclusively right-winged variety in flight either.

    Or was it “I never saw an eagle fly with a crow before?” – I don’t reckon it matters.

  2. You mean opposites attract? I never saw an eagle fly without wings either! Yet I saw an eagle fly with a crow before, but they were fighting in mid-air! I have never talked to a lumberjack though, especially not over a beer! (drinking Alcohol is bad for you; no its not; shut up voices in my head) ;) I must say, I agree with a lot of things you wrote.

  3. I did a fair number of my own printed circuit board layouts back in the 1980′s working for tiny companies where I had to wear many hats. These are incredibly challenging to optimize and the financial incentive huge. The oldest method, and one I used a couple times on fairly dense PCBs, uses black masking tape on clear mylar on a light table blown up to several times actual size. We’d then photographically reduce the tapeups to get a mask used to produce the circuit boards. On dense designs there are several layers to the PCB, each layer having its own copper “traces” and plated holes “through holes” connecting the layers together. More holes spelt more production cost and more layers spelt WAY more production cost. Finer features (closer spacing between traces and smaller through holes) meant more production defects.

    Needless to say, when you’ve laid down thousands of lines and through holes by hand on several carefully aligned sheets of clear mylar a light table and you run into a brick wall where you’ve got additional routes to make and no room to make them, you either add a layer, break the self-imposed feature size rule, and/or rip up hundreds of carefully laid routes and start over trying for a layout with greater efficiency.

    The first great invention to aid this process was the CAD system replaced tape on mylar with graphical drawings on a computer. Now you could use a mouse or digitizing tablet to place your routes instead of sticking tape on mylar. The computer could help out by keeping features aligned to a grid and simple automated tasks like moving groups of routes around en masse. The obstacle was computing power. In the early days to get enough graphical resolution and quick redrawing time meant hundreds of thousands of dollars for state of the art engineering workstations. In the mid-80′s the price dropped precipitously as higher end PCs could do an adequate job. Another huge advantage is the computer could produce a list of routes that, given a schematic circuit diagram, it could compare the layout to the schematic for faithful translation which was a tedious error-prone, two-man job with tape & mylar.

    The next great breakthrough has more to do with this article and that’s having the computer do the layout rather than just be an electronic easel and canvass. So called evolutionary algorithms were required, but we didn’t call them that back then as there was no compelling reason (i.e. not fashionable) to fit the word “evolution” into everything we did. We just called such algorithms “trial and error” back then. A computer’s huge advantage was in speed of trial. Human advantage was intuition that reduced the number of trials required. Trying to codify intuition is where the rubber met the road for the routing software programmer. Even with massive computing power the task was daunting and the computer couldn’t come close to outperforming a top-notch PCB architect (except in speed & cost of producing a layout). For prototype and low volume PCB production there was no reason to use a human anymore. For high volume work a human design still paid off. Intuition is a difficult thing to codify. That’s basically what Dembski is attempting to do with ID theory – turn an intuitive recognition of design into a codified method of recognizing design. I don’t envy him the task – codifying human intuition can be difficult to the point of practically impossible.

    I didn’t get much face-time on the routing software as right when it was falling down into the PC world where my small companies could afford the hardware was around the time I left the small companies where I wore many hats to work for Dell where I only wore a few hats, none of which were PCB architect. I have no idea where the state of the art is now in automated PCB layout but I’d be willing to bet even money the best humans still have an edge over computer generated designs.

  4. 4
    GlennJ - Houston

    bigtalktheory wrote:
    “There is no idea more hard-hearted than Darwinism – it is literally the Law of the Jungle and inherently uncivilized….Similarly there is no religion more hard-hearted than Fundamentalism. Its proponents are easily offended and retaliatory.”

    Wow, bigtalk.

    I agree with you about the Darwinism. I think the record is clear: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, PolPot….

    But, to equate Christianity–you call it “fundamentalism”–with Darwinism as a source of “hard-hearteness” and “intolerance” is, well, rather hard-hearted and intollerant, if I may say, not to mention it being a real stretch. Such a statement is not very “universal” I suggest.

    Simple Christianity definitely is that which confesses Christ: without the confession, it isn’t Christianity. And that the scriptures are “the inerrant Word of God” is very definitely a Christian doctrine, historical, in fact, predating Christianity, in fact, back to some of the earlist written documents of all mankind.

    But the same people who confess Christ and who assert the inerrency of the Word of God are the very same people who have been in the forefront of the development of modern science–Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton–founders of free nations, builders of hospitals and defenders of liberty around the world. They are missionaries carrying health care, literacy and economic development to the poor; they run pregnancy resource, adoption centers and homeless shelters. On and on and on goes the list of good works that confessing Christian believers throughout two millinia.

    This is certainly not to say that everyone who ever claimed to be a Christian was as pure as the wind-driven snow. But when abuses occur, they are Christians who are out there with the loudest censures.

    I think it’s fair to say that where Darwinism rules, abuse is the rule and freedom is the exception; where Christianity rules, freedom is the rule and abuse is the exception.

    As for universalism….the most you can say for it is that it is uninfluential.
    Universalism is a good place to stand if what you want to do is pat yourself on the back for having “good ideas” without actually having to do anything.

  5. It seems to me that If it can be shown that an ID is valid to any degree, then Darwinism would be disallowed its claim on validity by its own parameters. If this is true then ID and DM/NS are mutually exclusive truth claims. No middle road between such propostions, what confirms one disconfirms the other.

    Americans are a species which loves to run to the middle, lest we be accused of being convinced of something. However, the world is full of mutually exclusive claims out of which we must be diligent to choose the good, or risk living in the mutual admiration society of do/believe-nothings that GlennJ mentioned.

  6. [...] Richard Spencer makes much the same point, with apparent blessing from Dembski himself. “Given that God uses secondary agents to bring about physical structures, we can expect to see certain patterns and processes repeated in many places and used in different ways even though the design may not be optimal for each individual application.” Intelligent, Optimal, and Divine Design [...]

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