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Baylor, Marks, Faust, and Selling One’s Soul


There is an ancient legend about a man named Faust, who sold his soul for temporal selfish gain and self-aggrandizement. Although the immediate but ephemeral rewards were intoxicating, the ultimate consequences were hideous.

The legend of Faust has inspired much art, music, and theater over the centuries. The reason is obvious: There is a fundamental truth and lesson to be learned.

In the Marks case, Baylor has sold its soul for temporal selfish gain and self-aggrandizement — the antithesis of what its Baptist tradition teaches.

For those who are interested in the arts and the legend of Faust, check out:


and download the Chopin and Liszt album, for a recording of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz (his most famous, and infamous, work for the piano), which is a programmatic musical composition about the legend of Faust and the selling of his soul to Mephistopheles. Program notes are also available at the URL.

I am no expert, but I think the first sentence is the interpretation. The pre-determined design of the program and its data structures went 90+% of the way in achieving the desired result and the evolutionary tinkering during the execution of the program, which is supposed to be where the impressive results that illustrate the power of undirected evolution to create new information are, had only a little work to do. Dr. Dembski, have you wondered whether they simply sand-bagged the evolutionary search to make it take longer and give the impression of accomplishment, shifting focus away from the smuggled information? landru
WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE intrepret the above for me and others who might not have sufficiency in this discipline? alan
The Wiki article comments that the name Faust has come to stand for a charlatan alchemist whose pride and vanity lead to his doom. Random variation and natural selection as a universal explanation for all of life strikes me as a form of charlatan alchemy. The irony is that Marks is doing real science, debunking the alchemists. This is the real reason Baylor wants to disown him. See this article http://web.ecs.baylor.edu/faculty/marks/T/ev2.pdf in which Marks and Dembski debunk an evolutionary algorithm called ev.
We show that ev is able to evolve binding site locations only because it is prestructured to do so. The difficulty of the problem is 131 bits. The perceptron search structure adds about 122.2 bits of information, leaving only about 8.8 bits to the search procedure. Although the perceptron structure smuggles in an enormous amount of information, ev squanders it with the evolutionary search. The evolutionary algorithm in ev required over 45,000 fitness queries to achieve success. Based on query count, repeated random queries outperform the evolutionary algorithm by over 10,000%.
Do they teach Christian Ethics or any kind of ethics at Baylor? This might be an interesting case study for the students there---assuming, of course, that it did not generate anonymous complaints. russ
Gil, thanks for the music! tribune7
Well said. Jehu
So true! or What shall it profit a (university) if it gain the whole world and lose its own soul? Chemfarmer

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