Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Robustness untangles ‘Evolution’

(it’s designed to) These are some thoughts prompted by the recent article Arrival of the Fittest: Robustness and flexibility are basic design principles. We design modules so that they are robust against minor damage, bad inputs and changes in other parts of the code. This aids ‘evolvability’ of the whole by untangling the knots so that parts of the design can be worked on independently. Think of Dawkins’ METHINKSITISLIKEAWEASEL parable. The string of text can evolve because each letter is selected independently. The system is designed to evolve. By contrast, in an undesigned bag of chemicals or genes you would have all kinds of cross interaction which means a change in one chemical could have wide-ranging unpredictable effects. The chemical/genetic Read More ›


After my recent exchanges with Larry Moran, I read some of the comments on his blog posts. I wont be doing that again. It was generally just depressing; hatred (I really don’t understand why they waste their lives responding to us if they have such a low opinion) – not much edifying or thoughtful. In amongst those there was one in particular who berated for hypothesising something and ‘being too lazy’ to test it. He had a point in a way. But the reason I suggested the hypothesis was to make the point that intelligent design yields scientific leads that Darwinists don’t think of (clearly he thought it was idiotic); it was just ‘brainstorming’ ideas out and I don’t know Read More ›

Failure to Educate? Failure to Persuade.

Larry Moran replied to my latest post with an admission of failure. He thinks he has failed to educate, but I think rather he is confusing the word ‘persuade’ with the word ‘educate’. He thinks I am rationalising junk DNA with a pile of ‘what-ifs’. But the fact is that most of my ‘what-ifs’ are already known to have some basis in reality. I am not denying any obvious reality. Indeed, the basic machinery of life looks like design, far more than when Paley was around. Yes, there could also be a great deal of junk. That’s why I have said a number of times that ID is not committed to the idea that there is no junk. Yet, from Read More ›

Getting me an Education

Larry Moran has decided to educate me about junk DNA. I appreciate the level of detail he has provided. I am not an expert in this field. I do however have a brain and, as a physicist, a vastly superior brain (I joke, sort of). I am not an IDiot, nor am I a larey moron (nor is he), and I like to see clear careful thought. I do not see this in a lot of the anti-ID polemics on the internet, nor in general presentations of evolution in the media. Thus, Larry’s latest posts are much more edifying to read. However, I still don’t agree with all the reasoning, and I don’t think he has told both sides of Read More ›

(More and more) Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE

Larry’s ‘reply’ (to my first post) appears to have replicated and evolved into a real reply (to my second post) with some real information. Well, a little information. When I say information, I don’t just mean grammatically correct and unambiguous English text, I mean things that offered ‘surprisal’ and improved my ability to understand the world and to function better in this debate. I learnt three things: firstly, some people have known since the mid 70s that most DNA is transcribed into RNA, but sat on it because apparently they didn’t realise its significance; secondly, where DNA is transcribed but a function is not known, it is generally transcribed only relatively rarely; and thirdly, that RNA polymerase (RNAP) binds at Read More ›

(More) Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE

I need a picture of a small, hot-blooded mammal taunting an irritable dinosaur. An animation would be even better: the dinosaur would have a tic which makes him roar ‘IDiot’ constantly. Maybe make that several small mammals, becoming dozens and then hundreds. Singing something witty to the hamster dance. Or maybe not that last bit. Larry Moran has sort-of replied to my previous blogpost but disappoints with only one substantive point. And even that one point is wrong: ID is not committed to the idea that individual genomes be well-designed; that is just an expectation some of us derive based on belief in a designer which is established on other evidence. ID would still be true if only globular proteins Read More ›

On the Origin of Multi-level Selection

More myth telling, this time by a famous Darwinian evolutionary biologist. The clear agenda is that this is a religion to replace other religions. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/the-riddle-of-the-human-species/ But note in contrast how poorly the story is supported by science. Yes, we observe that humans are complex social creatures. We also observe that groups that cooperate best together, do better together than other groups. But this is not evidence for Darwinism, this is the data that needs to be explained by evolution, otherwise Darwinism is not true  (note: here the word ‘Darwinism’ will be used in the popular sense of a grand design-free origin story). What explanation does he give? Multi-level selection. And why do we believe in multi-level selection? Because of overwhelming Read More ›

Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE

There is no better title for this post than the very title some Darwinists chose for themselves: On the immortality of television sets: “function” in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE Darwinists are still struggling to come to terms with the idea, from the ENCODE project, that 80% of the genome is functional. Whatever Dawkins now says, according to their model, only about 10% should be subject to natural selection, leaving 70% unexplained. This cannot be! Apparently, ENCODE are to be criticised for using an ‘evolution-free’ definition of function. Yep, you heard that right. You thought that function was function was function, but oh no, you must use a evolution-y definition or you will not get the Read More ›

Are pseudogenes evidence of code libraries? (a speculative suggestion)

Intelligent Design is relatively new in its present form. Proponents often argue that there are features of biology that look like engineering, and in particular, that the programming of life, the DNA software that goes along with the cellular hardware, is analogous to the programming of computers. However, we haven’t yet been able to fully unpack the implications of that, partly because both computer science and genomics are developing disciplines. The following is merely  a speculative suggestion in the hopes of inspiring further investigation: Could it be that the designer(s) of the genomes of living organisms made use of code libraries in order to do so, as is done in computer software engineering? A code library is a suite of Read More ›