Evolutionary biology Information Randomness

Eric Anderson: Why randomness is “the wrong tool for the job”

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Author and design theorist, Eric Anderson, clarifies the limitations of randomness in producing biological novelty.

Randomness is an important topic, true.  But not because it has, in and of itself, some deep substantive value or because it is going to help explain biological form and function.  It is important to the evolution-ID debate, primarily because it has been historically offered by evolutionary proponents as the fodder for change, the grist of the mill from which Darwin’s theory can operate, and we need to point out in the debate that this is a fool’s errand.

What does “random” mean in terms of mutations within evolutionary theory?

Despite the exciting headlines of several recent papers, it has nothing to do with whether there is some non-equal distribution across the genome, whether there are hot spots, or even what the actual cause of these mutations is behind the scenes.  That is not what we are talking about in terms of evaluating “random” mutations for evolutionary theory.

More critically, for purposes of intelligent design, we needn’t get into deep and esoteric discussions or hand wringing about what randomness actually means in some esoteric sense, whether anything in the universe is ever truly random, or even whether there is some underlying order that allows the randomness to be manifest.  And we needn’t all go back to get our PhD’s in mathematics or study number theory in depth in order to understand the issues.

For purposes of ID, the two corollary issues we need to appreciate are very simple:

First, randomness (specifically, random mutations for purposes of evolutionary theory), simply does not have the creative power to generate the biological novelty required to explain living organisms.  This has been discussed extensively in the ID literature….

Second, and more focused on the current discussion, we need to recognize that even if randomness isn’t truly random in some mathematical definitional sense, even if what appears random to us is governed by some underlying larger principles or follows discernible patterns, it still has no ability to generate the biological novelty required to explain living organisms

Law-like processes, by their very nature, are too general and generic to ever provide the specificity required to produce something like, say, the bacterial flagellum.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the four fundamental forces or some underlying “order” to the universe that governs things.  It doesn’t matter how far under the hood you look–law-like forces or processes simply cannot ever provide the creative purchase required for the functional, coherent, information-rich systems we see in biology. 

Therefore, in terms of explaining biological systems, any proposed underlying order or principle or force or process that either produces what we perceive as randomness or that acts as a backdrop against which randomness is manifest, simply cannot explain what needs to be explained.  It is the wrong tool for the job.

—– Lastly, if what someone is really talking about is a guided process, then they are talking about purposeful activity–intelligent design.  Occasionally confusing terminology is put forth, such as guided evolution, or guided randomness, or God working behind the scenes to influence quantum interactions, and so on.  Let’s be clear.  If it is guided, then it isn’t evolution as proposed by Darwin, as accepted within the modern academy, or as defined in the biology textbooks.  If it is guided, then we are talking about design.

152 Replies to “Eric Anderson: Why randomness is “the wrong tool for the job”

  1. 1
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    If God wanted to create companions, why create frail, imperfect creatures like us?

    Wouldn’t he create more gods? He could at least have meaningful conversations with other gods.

  2. 2
    Nonlin.org says:

    Atheists always make fools of themselves when they try to second guess God. Dogs must be smarter since they don’t ask their masters dumb questions.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    He could at least have meaningful conversations with other gods

    Another incredibly stupid comment.

    Extremely common lately. This site is attracting people critical of ID that are incoherent. The question is why?

    Are there not any smart ones out there? Maybe not.

  4. 4
    relatd says:

    Jerry at 3,

    People who scoff and mock surprise you? They are mentioned in the Bible. But back to ID, it makes the most sense. But it will be ridiculed since it points to an intelligent agent.

  5. 5
    EDTA says:

    If we are the inferior creatures, which I take to be the case here, then we should expect the reasons for why we are here, why things are the way they are, etc., to be partly inscrutable to us. God could easily have purposes for our existence which we cannot even comprehend.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    1- Read “Not By Chance”, Spetner, 1997

    2- The mutations are random as in they are accidents, errors or mistakes. They are not planned and not in response to any stimuli. This is the FIRST step of natural selection.

    3- The second step of natural selection is non-random in that not every variation (variant) has the same probability of being eliminated (Mayr). For some reason, ie wishful thinking, evolutionists claim that this non-random component is what produces the appearance of design without a designer. They don’t grasp how trivial this non-random component is. They fell in love with the narrative-> natural selection is a ratcheting mechanism aka “cumulative selection” (even though natural selection is a process of elimination).

    So, as soon as any evolutionist read this post, you know they went off on your misunderstanding of natural selection. Even though they refuse to acknowledge how trivial the non-random component is.

  7. 7
    relatd says:

    ET at 6,

    Too often, evolution is presented as having some goal. Enough creatures have the probability of mutating, which requires not only a gain of information but creating some new feature that is useful. Why don’t we see animals with 6 or 7 tails for example? The change must also be heritable, meaning it can be successfully passed on to its offspring. There are too many ways for this not to go right, but it’s presented as if living things can and do self-upgrade into better and better versions of the original.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    Really? I have never heard of evolution being presented as having some goal.

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    it’s presented as if living things can and do self-upgrade into better and better versions of the original

    But this cannot happen or else the species will eliminate itself.

    The concept of Evolution by small changes and natural selection is self refuting. If it ever happened, the species would disappear.

    What we see is only species that are deficient on several characteristics but strong enough on others to survive in the ecology. Becoming more efficient would actually destroy the ecology and the species.

  10. 10
    Fred Hickson says:

    Jerry

    This site is attracting people critical of ID that are incoherent. The question is why?

    Are there not any smart ones out there? Maybe not.

    The smart people are getting on with their lives and careers, happily ignoring “Intelligent Design” which has added nothing to the sum of human knowledge since its conception. You just get sad old timers like me, filled with nostalgia for the old days when there was still a controversy.

    What also strikes me is the lack of female voices now Denyse has retired from UD. Nothing from Ann Gauger. Viola Lee left. Why is “Intelligent Design” the preserve of aging white males?

  11. 11
    chuckdarwin says:

    FH/10
    Old white guys, like us, are perhaps emblematic of or a metaphor for the ID movement–drifting off into senile irrelevance. I’m here mostly for the laughs and abuse. Now and again, there will be something of substantive interest, but even that is getting scarce.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson:

    The smart people are getting on with their lives and careers, happily ignoring “Intelligent Design” which has added nothing to the sum of human knowledge since its conception.

    How would you know? You are a willfully ignorant troll.

    ID’s concepts of evolution are useful in the form of genetic algorithms. On the other hand, no one uses evolution by means of blind and mindless processes for anything.

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    I’m here mostly for the laughs and abuse

    Proves my point.

    It means you have nothing relevant to say. But we knew that.

  14. 14
    Fred Hickson says:

    A couple of old white guys complain! 🙂

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The old guys here don’t realize that the younger generations do not use comboxes on blogs as their #1 means of communication.
    Try YouTube, for example. Here’s Gunter Bechly vs Joshua Swamidass on Intelligent Design.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN0NkYgB4rk
    471 comments – almost entirely pro-ID. Dr. Swamidass did not have a good showing.
    The anti-ID guys here are totally out of touch. ID is gaining support and Darwin is losing it.

  16. 16
    Laszlo says:

    I don’t think the question, “Why didn’t God create other gods so he could have more meaningful conversations than he can have with humans?” is a stupid question. I think its intriguing and meaningful. it has made me ponder. Scripture indicates that God has created a horde of spirit beings called angels. Apparently throughout history some of these have been confused with gods. What sorts of conversations can God have with angels? I have no idea. Yet, as great as angels are in the scheme of things, humans are destined to judge them. So angels must not be in that category called “gods.” Perhaps, we humans are as close as God can come to creating fellow gods. After all he somehow managed to endow us with free will which is perhaps the most godly of powers. And we are made in His image. We may be as good as it gets when it comes to creating gods.

  17. 17
    relatd says:

    Laszlo at 16,

    Jesus gives us a good idea of who we are compared to angels. The Son of God became a man so He could teach us to believe in Him. To spread the Gospel: To tell others why He died on the cross. To tell others about salvation. As far as other Gods, that possibility is excluded.

    Exodus 20: 2, 3 and 4

    …2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3You shall have no other gods before Me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters beneath.…”

    God consists of three persons: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

    Free will is not a power. We were not made to be robots but to freely choose to do right and to not choose to do wrong.

  18. 18
    chuckdarwin says:

    SA/15
    Out of touch? How could I be out of touch? I get the most cutting edge science there is available from my two main sources, Answers in Genesis and Creation Today. They leave Evolution News and Mind Matters eating dust. I am truly offended…..

  19. 19
    Eric Anderson says:

    ET @6, thanks for your comment.

    It isn’t really germane to my quote provided, which was addressing the idea of active tinkering behind the scenes to turn the random into the non-random, but let’s talk about this natural selection idea for a moment. 🙂

    You are quite right that evolutionists love to imagine that natural selection somehow makes evolution non-random, that it provides directionality. This is a very common claim. Yet we shouldn’t just accept this claim on their word without examining it critically.

    Can you share with me how the elimination of the unfit provides directionality to evolution?

    (Hint: Generic references to “fitness” or “producing more offspring” or “differential reproduction” don’t work and are nothing more than circular statements, robbing natural selection of any explanatory power.)

    So, let’s hear it, Mayr, Dawkins, or anyone else: What directionality does the death of most organisms provide to a species? What directionality does it provide, and where is it going?

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    EA, one of the suppressed issues is getting TO shorelines of function to enable hill climbing. How does one differentially eliminate between non functional variations, starting at OoL? KF

  21. 21
    chuckdarwin says:

    EA
    Natural selection is not directional, at least not in the “teleological” sense that you are using the term. NS is opportunistic. In fact, opportunism is the basis for exaptation. There is a limited statistical phenomenon in NS called “directional selection” (sometimes called “negative selection”) which deals with a shift in the distribution of phenotypes within a given population, but this has nothing to do with your discussion of “directionality.”

    I don’t quite follow your comment “that evolutionists love to imagine that natural selection somehow makes evolution non-random, that it provides directionality. This is a very common claim.”

    Common among whom? While there is an ongoing debate within the evolutionary biology community as to whether it is even useful to discuss “evolutionary progress” (which is really what you are talking about), I’m not aware of any credible biologist that claims that evolution is “directed” towards some end. Moreover, non-randomness and “directionality” are not the same thing. American biologist and Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman put it most succinctly:

    Evolution works by selection, not by instruction. There is no final cause, no teleology, no purpose guiding the overall process.

  22. 22
    relatd says:

    CD at 21,

    Of course evolution is marketed as being directed. “Life finds a way” or an organism “adapts” to some new, even hostile environment. To do so, there must be a gain of information resulting in a useful change in the organism. The claim that early sight consisted of a light sensing spot to an eyeball shows this constant upgrade directionality. A human eyeball contains cones and rods which came from where? By itself, it’s useless. It needs an optic nerve and it needs to be connected to the ‘right’ part of the brain for those signals to be read.

    So, “no purpose” resulted in human beings? Nonsense.

  23. 23
    Eric Anderson says:

    Chuckdarwin, thanks for your response.

    I am not talking about teleology. Edelman is quite right about the fact that evolution (as normally understood) includes “no final cause, no teleology, no purpose.”

    The issue here isn’t purpose in some teleological sense, and it isn’t “evolutionary progress” (which is not at all what I’m talking about). The issue is the claim that natural selection makes evolution a non-random process. As ET said, “this non-random component [NS] is what produces the appearance of design without a designer.”

    I’m simply asking, what is this non-random component? If it isn’t random–and if it is driving a population, or affecting a population, or moving a population, or whatever other term we want to use–then there has to be directionality. Dawkins imagined that natural selection would drive a population up the slope of Mount Improbable, producing wonderful biological systems, and claimed that natural selection takes what would otherwise be a random process (i.e., random mutations) and makes it non-random.

    It’s great to have an imagination, but I’m asking for some actual content to this non-random directionality that Dawkins (and many others) say NS has.

    Closer to my question, in your first paragraph you say, “NS is opportunistic… deals with a shift in the distribution of phenotypes within a given population.”

    Would you say that this shift provides a non-random direction to evolution or are we still dealing with an essentially random process?

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    The term evolution and natural selection are being used interchangeably. Natural selection by definition favors some variations over others. Natural selection leaves behind more offspring with a certain characteristic because the new variation makes is superior in some way. So in the sense it is directional in that it will lead to a more robust organism in the ecology in which it exists.

    But what happens when the organism becomes too robust? That is the variation leads to an organism that not only leaves more offspring but starts to destroy its ecology because it can dominate it with the new characteristic. It will destroy itself because it will destroy its ecology.

    Please explain why this will not happen every time unless the process of natural selection is limited to what it can lead to. In other words natural selection must be limited. In other words it cannot explain Evolution.

    Besides DNA has nothing to do with Evolution and natural selection only operates on DNA.

  25. 25
    Fred Hickson says:

    Would you say that this shift provides a non-random direction to evolution or are we still dealing with an essentially random process?

    Of course there has to be a non-random element to evolution (which is selection – differential reproductive rates within populations) otherwise adaptive change would not happen. The environment designs, or rather interaction between species and their niche environment is the non-random element that leads to adaptive change.

  26. 26
    relatd says:

    FH at 25,

    Statements do not drive physical adaptation. A useful change requires the creation of information in the organism that leads to a useful function. It is fictional to believe that given enough organisms plus time, that something like this would happen. Further, the change must be heritable to be passed on to offspring.

  27. 27
    Fred Hickson says:

    Besides DNA has nothing to do with Evolution and natural selection only operates on DNA.

    Wrong, Jerry. Selection only acts on phenotypes. Genomes that produce fitter phenotypes make it through into the next generation more often on average as passengers in individual organisms within the population.

  28. 28
    Fred Hickson says:

    Your choicece what you believe, Relatd.

  29. 29
    relatd says:

    FH at 28,

    Getting factual answers is my goal. Not math. Organism X Time = New, useful function that can be inherited. Where does the new information to make that useful function come from?

  30. 30
    Fred Hickson says:

    Where does the new information to make that useful function come from?

    For sexually reproducing organisms, apart from novel genes that change due to imperfect copying, the process of meoisis, where existing genes are shuffled and half discarded when reproduction occurs results in new combinations in genomes constantly.

  31. 31
    Silver Asiatic says:

    New, specified functional information is created by copy-errors in the replication process.

    That’s starting with sexual reproduction which is “the queen of all evolutionary problems” according to a paper posted here last week.
    The copy-errors occur randomly within a functional information system.
    All that is required is a model. Randomize some elements of a string of information and observe the results. If the information becomes non-functional during the randomization, the organism dies.

  32. 32
    relatd says:

    FH at 30,

    Constant random churn results in a lucky hit? More fiction, driven, it appears, by wishful thinking.

  33. 33
    relatd says:

    SA at 31,

    Copy errors? So given enough copy errors, something goes right?

  34. 34
    jerry says:

    Wrong, Jerry. Selection only acts on phenotypes. Genomes that produce fitter phenotypes make it through into the next generation more often on average as passengers in individual organisms within the population.

    You do realize that you just agreed with what I said.

  35. 35
    Fred Hickson says:

    @ Silver Asiatic

    It is not mere conjecture that genomic variation exists within populations. Since genetic sequencing became fast and cheap, it is a demonstrable fact. And mutations can be lethal, yes. Until the consequences of variation are tested by the environment (assuming non-lethality during development) no-one can say whether any genomic change is advantageous or deleterious. The niche environment decides.

  36. 36
    Fred Hickson says:

    You do realize that you just agreed with what I said.

    I think you should read what I said a little more carefully. Selection acts on phenotypes directly. Genomes (whole genomes) sink or swim in their phenotype vehicles. Selection does not act on DNA sequences.

  37. 37
    Silver Asiatic says:

    relatd

    Copy errors? So given enough copy errors, something goes right?

    Yes, but the errors can maim or kill the organism first. You have to watch out for that. Because if the species is killed off or damaged by mutations, then it’s not going to be able to reproduce.
    But yes, in just the same way as if you were building an automobile (which is not as complex as a cell), when machine-engineering the parts for the wheel assembly or engine, for example, you don’t want precision and corrections and low tolerance for error.
    Instead, you want as many errors as possible because they will eventually build up and create the new features needed. Since it works very well for nature, creating self-replicating organisms of immense power and complexity through copy-errors, we would use the same process.
    I mean, that’s what we’re told to believe.
    Even in simpler terms, when writing legal or medical documents, it’s best to use a randomization program for your words because they’ll eventually come up with an intelligible solution – over a few million years or so. They might, that is.
    Monkeys typing Shakespeare. Over what is more than the age of the universe, good old randomization came up with half of an intelligible sentence.
    So, that’s pretty good. All we’d need is a universe about a million times older than ours and we’d really have something.

    I haven’t found the evolutionary-materialist story convincing yet, but I get the basic idea they’re trying to communicate.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    FH

    And mutations can be lethal, yes.

    Yes. The overwhelming tendency of random mutation is to degrade genes.

    The niche environment decides.

    The niche environment is an output of several highly randomized variables. So no one can say whether the genomic change that is advantageous for a present environment will remain so for random changes to the niche. Not only are the mutations potentially lethal, but the niche can be lethal also.

  39. 39
    Fred Hickson says:

    That’s a poorly-built strawman, SA.

  40. 40
    relatd says:

    An automobile? Parts have to have a certain tolerance or they won’t work properly. Try fitting a part that looks close a a replacement. If it’s off slightly, it will fail.

    “features needed”? Needed by what? The organism? The environment? Evolution is not directed?

    You are right. None of that is convincing in the slightest.

    I tried to accept the evolutionary-materialist story until I realized that the level of complex interaction requires the right “errors” and millions of years or more.

    If that’s the “basic idea” then I remain firmly with Intelligent Design, not random randomness that hits on a solution at some random time but often enough. Or so they say.

  41. 41
    Eric Anderson says:

    Jerry @24:

    “Natural selection leaves behind more offspring with a certain characteristic because the new variation makes is superior in some way.”

    Meaning, of course, that it is more “fit,” in evolutionary parlance (though not in rational functional terms). In any event, great, now we have an organism that is more fit. Now, take the next step in the analysis. What makes the particular characteristic more “fit” in that particular case?

    It isn’t natural selection that makes it more fit. Natural selection is not a causal force, so it doesn’t do anything. The only reason a particular characteristic can be seen as “fit” in a particular environment is because of the particular characteristics of the environment that, by chance, and wholly unrelated to the needs of the organism, happen to exist at that particular moment in time. Now what happens when the environment changes? The characteristic might not be fit anymore.

    So far, so good. Under evolutionary theory, we can see that the environment is the determinant of which organisms survive, as Darwin clearly preached.* Modern evolutionists follow this view, talking about “environmental pressure” and similar ideas.

    So let’s now bring it full circle. Given that the environment is the real determinant, not some esoteric “force” of natural selection, we’re left to look to the environment for some directionality to evolution. Can we find it? In any long term sense? In any specific sense? It’s easy to talk about natural selection and “selection pressure” and “differential survival” and so forth in vague and generic terms. Yet when we start to look at specific instances, it becomes much less clear what substantive content such words actually have.

    * Note that, as a causal matter, Darwin had it exactly backwards. It is the internal capabilities of the organism that determine an organism’s characteristics and its survival. But that is a discussion for another time. Here, we’re just drilling down into what this vague term “natural selection” could possibly mean, even under evolutionary theory.

  42. 42
    Eric Anderson says:

    Fred @25:

    No. The fact that there is change does not make it non-random.

    “The environment designs, or rather interaction between species and their niche environment is the non-random element that leads to adaptive change.”

    Great, so now think through what causes a particular environment to exist. Hot today, cold tomorrow. One predator this year, but gone the next year. A particular pathogen sweeps through half of the environment, but not the other. A great food source this month, but absent the next. And on and on… And absolutely all of it occurring utterly independently from the needs of the organism (the evolutionary definition of random, by the way), and without any particular directionality in the way the wind blows.

  43. 43
    Eric Anderson says:

    SA @ 38:

    “The niche environment is an output of several highly randomized variables. So no one can say whether the genomic change that is advantageous for a present environment will remain so for random changes to the niche.”

    Exactly.

    The so-called directional non-random driver of evolution–the “selecting” capability of “natural selection”–turns out to be the environment, which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be numerous other random variables.

    Look, I understand why Dawkins and others desperately want to argue that evolution is non-random and that natural selection provides some directionality to evolution that can mimic purposeful design. After all, if Darwin had claimed that everything in biology came about by just a bunch of random events, no-one would have taken it seriously. So there is a critical rhetorical need within the theory (which Darwin skillfully employed) to pretend that there is this thing called “natural selection” somewhere out there “daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving or adding up all that are good…”

    This natural selection, it is hoped, can rescue evolution from being a purely random crapshoot, and provide directionality, moving the organism inevitably up the backside of Mount Improbable… transforming the proverbial amoeba into the elephant.

    Unfortunately, on closer inspection, it is randomness all the way down.

  44. 44
    relatd says:

    The last few comments point to the flaws. Organisms change at random, but somehow, make a few “useful” changes along the way. The environment is part of the driving force. Driving to where? As in “certain organisms occupy certain niches.” So, if the niche/environment changes on a particular day or year or even 10 years, it’s not enough time for any organism there to change with it.

    Again, it appears that the primary driver of evolution is wishful thinking, or “Trust us. That’s how it happened.” I have no good reason to.

  45. 45
    chuckdarwin says:

    EA/23 & FH/25 & in passem

    Would you say that this shift [in phenotype] provides a non-random direction to evolution or are we still dealing with an essentially random process?

    This shift provides a non-random change in the dominant phenotype within a population, not necessarily a change in “direction.” That’s what I meant when I stated that non-randomness and directionality are not the same thing. Change in phenotype to adapt to a given ecological niche is one of Darwin’s greatest observations. The concept has become so commonplace that we forget how significant this observation was.

    FH @ 25 explains as well as I can the “non-random” aspect of NS. I agree with everything in his statement except use of the phrase “the environment designs” (I don’t think the environment designs anything):

    [I]interaction between species and their niche environment is the non-random element that leads to adaptive change.

    Here’s one of my favorite descriptions of NS from theoretical physicist, Paul Davies, which tracks FH’s description very closely:

    Notice that although variations may be random, [natural] selection is far from random, so that it is not true to say, as is sometimes quipped, that Darwinism attributes the organized complexity of the biosphere to nothing more than random chance.

  46. 46
    relatd says:

    CD at 45,

    Adapt? Why? Why doesn’t it just die off? Strangely, as in a fiction story, organisms can persist in their niche for millions of years but for no particular reason, since the “random” aspect of the story needs to be preserved. It’s impossible that the organism was designed to live in that particular niche. Any addition like that to the story means that the whole story gets rejected.

    “Adaptation” makes way too many assumptions. Far too many that probability is stretched beyond the alleged age of the Universe. The right change in the right environment is a far more complicated idea than it appears. Everything is random so it’s like trying to hit a certain billiard ball on multiple tables of billiard balls. If you miss, the organism dies or if you hit, the organism survives unless there is a change to the environment. If any change occurs during the lifetime of any given organism that it cannot handle, it dies.

    Mutations are mostly neutral or harmful, and rarely useful. So a mutation does not have to be something the organism actually needs to survive. Or it may be needed a hundred, thousand or more years from the present. The organism has no way of knowing.

    I recently saw a close-up of an insect trapped in amber. It had no extraneous features. It had wings and legs and compound eyes. All due to random everything? I don’t think so.

  47. 47
    chuckdarwin says:

    EA
    I tried to edit my comment, but it didn’t go through. As to the question whether “directional selection” provides “non-random direction to evolution,” I think we are mixing categories. Evolution is a huge umbrella, and we are talking about a very specific part of the process. Directional selection is also called “negative selection” because it allows formerly sub-optimal phenotypes to become dominant, but it is completely contingent on the environment available to the population. So, within the larger process of “evolution,” randomness is still a huge part of the game.

  48. 48
    relatd says:

    EA at 43,

    Well said. The opposite of randomness is direction, intelligent direction. But such an idea is forbidden. The narrative must include the term “natural” selection as if every “new/modified” organism automatically removes the previous, unmodified version from circulation. It outcompetes the other version. Not convincing.

  49. 49
    jerry says:

    Eric,

    You are missing what I am saying. I understand what natural selection is.

    I am saying that the process by which a new variation leaves more offspring (by whatever description you want to call it – it’s actually variation plus inheritance) will end up destroying its ecology if the slightly different organism ever became too robust. Otherwise, what will limit the number of offspring?

    The new variation is getting better in some way and that is why the organisms with the variation are leaving more offspring but what limits the number of offspring.

    The change must be very limited and not affect the ecology. If the variation is too strong it will end up destroying the ecology in which it resides as the offspring proliferate thus eventually destroying the ecology and the species.

    So the process of variation and inheritability can not leave any changes that are major. The accumulation of small changes would eventually become major and the organism would then out compete what’s in its environment. So this is out too.

    In other words the process of variation and inheritance is inherently limited and can never explain Evolution.

    We are also talking about a DNA based process and there is lots of evidence that Evolution is not based on changes in DNA.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    chuckdarwin says:

    Relatd/48

    The opposite of randomness is direction, intelligent direction. But such an idea is forbidden.

    No-the opposite of randomness is organization. Or in the parlance of physics, low entropy.

  52. 52
    Fred Hickson says:

    I agree with everything in his statement except use of the phrase “the environment designs” (I don’t think the environment designs anything)…

    Well, I don’t think ID proponents have exclusive rights on the word “design” and I’m agnostic on teleology. I allow the possibility that the Creator of the Universe designed the unfolding of the parallel, series and nested environments so that life evolved in all its diversity (and dead ends) due to the over-arching plan of the Creator. Of course that is not a scientific view, nor one that appeals to me personally. I just can’t rule it out.

  53. 53
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson- evolution by means of blind and mindless processes is not a scientific view. Saying that nature produced itself is not a scientific view. I doubt that you can tell us a scientific explanation for our existence.

  54. 54
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson:

    The environment designs, or rather interaction between species and their niche environment is the non-random element that leads to adaptive change.

    Just because you can keep saying that doesn’t make it true. There comes a time when you have to actually present some evidence for it. And you have failed to do so. And I will side with Ernst Mayr as to what the non-random element is.

  55. 55
    ET says:

    Again, according to Ernst Mayr in “What Evolution Is”, natural selection is nonrandom in that not all variants have the same chance of being eliminated. Period. That’s it.

  56. 56
    chuckdarwin says:

    FH/52
    You are right about use of the word “design,” of course. But on this blog the word has become a talisman with (literally) supernatural power and the source of endless “gotcha” comments. You are describing a quasi-deist view, which, despite its shortcomings, is vastly more palatable than the full-on evangelical Christian assault on evolutionary theory that defines the ID movement.

  57. 57
    ET says:

    Wow. What imbeciles. The reason why the word “intelligent” is before “design” in intelligent design, is to differentiate between apparent design and optimal design. Also, ID does not require the supernatural.

    Only the willfully ignorant think that ID attacks evolution. ID is an argument against evolution BY MEANS OF BLIND AND MINDLESS PROCESSES. So, please, stop with the cowardly equivocations, already.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, last I checked, young earth creationists are comfortable with adaptive radiation and see roughly the family level, cats vs dogs, as roughly where their kind threshold is. The issue is origin of life and of main body plans; ool needs 100 – 1,000 kbases and oobps 10 – 100 millions, there is no blind naturalistic process that can plausibly account for such, especially constrained to be functional all along the way and given lifespan of cosmos to date. The search resources of the sol system are overwhelmed at 500 bits and those of the observed cosmos at 1,000. All of the posturing and talking points above are in effect red herrings led away from the pivotal points. KF

    PS, just to scotch another barbed talking point, intelligent design is about intelligently directed configuration, detected from observable reliable signs. Evidence supporting design is adequate to hold it plausible a designer was present at relevant points. For life a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter is enough. It is a cosmos fine tuned for life in many ways that requires an extracosmic, powerful and capable designer. Notice, objectors seldom address fine tuning substantially and cogently, so they are setting up and knocking over strawmen.

  59. 59
    ET says:

    From the Talmud and the Midrash it was determined that there was a necessity for animals to evolve.

    He [the Designer] indeed seems to have “carefully crafted” information in His species giving them the ability to respond to environmental stimuli to alter their own genome to adapt to new environments. He then evidently let them wander where they will with the ability to adapt.- Dr. Lee Spetner “the Evolution Revolution” p 108

  60. 60
    relatd says:

    “He then evidently let them wander where they will with the ability to adapt”

    What rubbish.

    Let’s imagine the first single-celled organism appearing in a pool of water. The “environment” has nothing for it to eat. It dies.

    Or, that first organism does not contain the internal machinery to metabolize anything floating around it as food. It dies.

  61. 61
    chuckdarwin says:

    Compare

    Also, ID does not require the supernatural.

    with

    It is a cosmos fine tuned for life in many ways that requires an extracosmic (sic), powerful and capable designer.

    So, which is it, gentlemen?

  62. 62
    hnorman42 says:

    Eric Anderson @40-43
    A couple of years ago I wrote a comment on a post of yours where I mentioned Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini’s book “What Darwin Got Wrong.”
    I’m still not going to claim to understand most of that book. Some of the arguments are mind bending and it would seem that they argue against some trivial examples of natural selection that should work.
    However, the book did talk about natural selection as involving an intensional fallacy and I found it very interesting. The confusion between the idea that adaptive traits are “selected” and the idea that something is “selected for” its adaptive traits.

    As I understand it the difference is like that between picking out the best TV on a shelf and picking out the parts that that you can use to make that TV. The latter case requires selection with foresight. The authors say that a theory of “selection for” would be necessary to explain adaptation. Given the emphasis they put on supporting counterfactuals, that would be quite a theory indeed – if it were possible to make one.

  63. 63
    Fred Hickson says:

    The “environment” has nothing for it to eat. It dies.

    There are organisms around today that eat iron. They may have been around for a very long while.

    ETA also bacteria can eat sulfur!

    ETA2 What do plants eat? Sunshine!

  64. 64
    Fred Hickson says:

    The confusion between the idea that adaptive traits are “selected” and the idea that something is “selected for” its adaptive traits.

    Both group selection and selection at the level of the gene have been largely rejected. Modern evolutionary theory has settled on selection acting on individual phenotypes. We don’t hear much about extended phenotypes these days, either.

  65. 65
    Eric Anderson says:

    CD @ 45 & 47:

    Thanks. As to this “interaction between species and their niche environment is the non-random element…”

    Where is the non-randomness? The environment can, and does, change. Other organisms come and go, climate fluctuates, food sources rise and fall, and on and on. We can’t simply proclaim, as a matter of fiat, that an “interaction” means non-random or, as Davies does, that “selection is far from random.” Based on what? The only causal mechanism evolution can point to is the environment, which is claimed to exert “pressure” to shape and mold the organism. But the environment is itself an essentially random situation.

    “I think we are mixing categories. Evolution is a huge umbrella, and we are talking about a very specific part of the process.”

    Are there other non-random causes in evolutionary theory? So far, we don’t seem to be getting any traction from natural selection (which was supposed to be the great saving principle to help avoid randomness).

    Here is part of what I think is going on. A Darwinist will look at a specific environment, in a given moment and say, just to give an example, “The environment has turned colder, so those organisms that can better survive in a colder environment will be more likely to survive. Ta da! The organisms are changing in a non-random manner. Therefore, natural selection provides direction to evolution.” But they fail to see that the environment is just another random factor. If we have random mutations, subjected to the random vagaries and hazards of the environment, that just means that we’ve got another layer of randomness, not that we’ve avoided it. If we are looking narrowly at only the immediate shift and not the broader picture, we fail to see that it is randomness all the way down. Of course any particular change must go in a particular direction, otherwise it wouldn’t be a change! That isn’t the issue. The question is whether the changes are leading somewhere–in some identifiable direction toward increased functional capabilities, as Darwin and Dawkins claimed.

    —–

    “Change in phenotype to adapt to a given ecological niche is one of Darwin’s greatest observations. The concept has become so commonplace that we forget how significant this observation was.”

    Let’s not overstate Darwin’s role here. People have observed for millennia that organisms are well adapted to their environments and that organisms can change in small adaptive ways. Some posited that this was due to their ability to adapt within their created kind. So let’s not overstate Darwin’s contribution in making this observation. Darwin didn’t write a book called, “How Organisms Vary Slightly, but Don’t Really Fundamentally Change.” No, Darwin was trying to piece together a larger creative narrative from these modest observations. Darwin’s claim, Darwin’s contribution, if you will, was that he thought he perceived in the mundane observation of small-scale changes some grander story. He claimed that these small-scale changes people had been observing were really a process of the organism turning into a completely different kind of organism. That was Darwin’s contribution to the discussion. And that claim, unfortunately, has never been observed or demonstrated.

    —–

    “… “negative selection” …is completely contingent on the environment available to the population. So, within the larger process of “evolution,” randomness is still a huge part of the game.”

    Agreed. Now what I’m trying to pin down is how this “huge part” of randomness suddenly becomes non-random (as Dawkins, Davies, and others have claimed), just because we slap the label “natural selection” on it. So far, I haven’t seen anything at all convincing from anybody on that front.

    Look, it’s OK if it is all randomness. Then evolution can just come clean that it is relying on sheer dumb luck (which, ultimately, it has to do anyway) for all the creative capabilities. The smoke and mirrors is brought in with the idea of natural selection. The idea of natural selection performs two rhetorical functions: (i) it provides a false impression of some creative capacity (anthropomorphizing the environment as a creative agent), and (ii) it effectively distracts people from looking at the underlying causes for the change in the first place. Pronounce that some observed change in the organism occurred because of “natural selection,” and people tend to just nod and pat each other on the back and think they’ve provided some answer to the actual cause of the change.

    (BTW, it isn’t just me, as a critic of evolutionary theory, who has noticed these things. A number of evolutionists have had very frank things to say about the shortcomings of natural selection and even questioning whether it has substantive explanatory value.)

    Apologies for the length

  66. 66
    Eric Anderson says:

    Jerry @49:

    I fully understand what you’re saying. You are pointing out a very important aspect of ecology, as well as the fact that the underlying idea of Darwin’s theory–a Malthusian fight to the death in the struggle for existence, at all costs, and without consideration for anything else in the biosphere–does not hold up in light of observations. There are very few examples of organisms that reproduce headlong, and even bacteria colonies have controls over when and how much they reproduce. Further, there are many, many examples of cooperative behavior in the biosphere. There are good design-based ways to view this cooperative behavior, as well as the limits to organismal change to keep things within bounds.

    That’s all good. I’m just pressing on the concept of natural selection here, at a fundamental level.

    Lastly, I appreciate that almost everyone thinks they know exactly what natural selection is. 🙂 My experience is that, when pressed, it is incredibly difficult to come up with any precise definition, and even more difficult to come up with any substantive content to the concept.

  67. 67
    relatd says:

    FH at 63,

    Plants eat sunshine? Is that why they need soil, water and nutrients?

    Let’s say the first organism could metabolize iron or sulfur. Next, tell me how it could reproduce.

  68. 68
    relatd says:

    EA at 65,

    There is no “climbing Mount Improbable.” There are no throws of the dice over millions of years that happen to come up with the right organism in the right environment.

    In other words, it’s the theory of sheer, dumb luck (trying) to hold the whole thing together.

    Consider:

    The first organism appears. From where? The lucky combination of dead/inorganic chemicals?

    Let’s say it happens. Now what? Is this organism capable of eating anything around it? How did it acquire the machinery to metabolize anything? How did it acquire the ability to reproduce?

  69. 69
    relatd says:

    EA at 66,

    I’m the first organism. I have no predators. I eat everything around me in my little pool of water. I run out of food. I die.

  70. 70
    Fred Hickson says:

    Let’s say the first organism could metabolize iron or sulfur. Next, tell me how it could reproduce.

    By binary fission, I imagine. RNA can store information, act as catalysts and will self-replicate.

  71. 71
    Eric Anderson says:

    Fred @ 52:

    “I allow the possibility that the Creator of the Universe designed the unfolding of the parallel, series and nested environments so that life evolved in all its diversity (and dead ends) due to the over-arching plan of the Creator. Of course that is not a scientific view, nor one that appeals to me personally. I just can’t rule it out.”

    Thanks, Fred. This actually goes back to part of the point of the OP, which relates to whether there is some behind-the-scenes way of driving toward a specific outcome. If we’re talking about initial conditions setup, with law-like processes attaining from thence forward, then I think we can rule it out. At least if we’re talking about a hands-off approach since the initial conditions setup.

    (One could of course propose a deep, sophisticated form of front-loading that would play out over time, but that is very different than just an initial conditions setup.)

  72. 72
    Fred Hickson says:

    As I said, Relatd, you have no need in your daily life to worry about this at all. The biological sciences manage very well without your input (or mine, for that matter).

  73. 73
    Fred Hickson says:

    One could of course propose a deep, sophisticated form of front-loading that would play out over time, but that is very different than just an initial conditions setup.

    Maybe, though I wonder where the front-loading stuff lives till it is needed and what switches it on when it is needed.

  74. 74
    relatd says:

    FH at 70,

    Sorry. I don’t believe that can be proven.

    “It has been proposed that the first “biological” molecules on Earth were formed by metal-based catalysis on the crystalline surfaces of minerals. In principle, an elaborate system of molecular synthesis and breakdown (metabolism) could have existed on these surfaces long before the first cells arose. But life requires molecules that possess a crucial property: the ability to catalyze reactions that lead, directly or indirectly, to the production of more molecules like themselves. Catalysts with this special self-promoting property can use raw materials to reproduce themselves and thereby divert these same materials from the production of other substances. But what molecules could have had such autocatalytic properties in early cells? In present-day cells the most versatile catalysts are polypeptides, composed of many different amino acids with chemically diverse side chains and, consequently, able to adopt diverse three-dimensional forms that bristle with reactive chemical groups. But, although polypeptides are versatile as catalysts, there is no known way in which one such molecule can reproduce itself by directly specifying the formation of another of precisely the same sequence.”

    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26876/

  75. 75
    Eric Anderson says:

    Fred @70:

    I’m hesitant to drift OT, but just FYI, there is no such thing as a self-replicating RNA, or any other self-replicating molecule, for that matter.

    (Merely catalyzing a reaction is not, and will never be, the same thing as selecting specific small molecules or atomic constituents from the environment and building a copy of a functional enzyme in the real world. Essentially all the hyped papers and news headlines derive mileage from conflating these very different processes.)

  76. 76
    relatd says:

    FH at 72,

    This isn’t about biology, it’s about worldview.

    1) Are you just another animal?

    2) Will you do whatever you want based on this view?

    THAT is the problem here.

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If those who speak for biology are causing unjust harm to people, then we should be concerned.

  78. 78
    Fred Hickson says:

    If we’re talking about initial conditions setup, with law-like processes attaining from thence forward, then I think we can rule it out.

    I dunno, I’m not a strict determinist, so I don’t think initial conditions set up a clockwork universe. The fact of quantum uncertainty rules out determinism for me. And an uncertain universe is so much more fun. Of course this means the Creator is throwing dice but what’s wrong with that? Multiverses – multiple dice throws!

  79. 79
    Fred Hickson says:

    If those who speak for biology are causing unjust harm to people, then we should be concerned.

    Why apply it only to biologists? You might have a word with Vladimir Putin.

  80. 80
    Fred Hickson says:

    This isn’t about biology, it’s about worldview.

    1) Are you just another animal?

    2) Will you do whatever you want based on this view?

    THAT is the problem here.

    Are you making some sort of religious argument? ID is supposed to be science, no?

  81. 81
    Eric Anderson says:

    Fred @73:

    “Maybe, though I wonder where the front-loading stuff lives till it is needed and what switches it on when it is needed.”

    Yes, I am very skeptical about that too. I think the switching on would be the easy part. But I just don’t know that there is evidence, or reason to believe, that, for example, an early bacterium had all the genetic information for an elephant buried somewhere in its genome.

    I’m keeping an open mind about deep front-loading, particularly since we still don’t know where all the information for organismal form is located, how much is required, and many details of other processes, such as transfer of genetic information.

    But I currently view it as unlikely.

  82. 82
    jerry says:

    Eric,

    Thank you for the reply. It provides more arguments to my thesis that Darwin’s ideas are self refuting.

    As far as natural selection is concerned, there are good examples such as light skin color and the need for vitamin D in northern climates. This is an example of a physical environment shaping a characteristic. Then there is the idea of a culture shaping a characteristic such as successful warriors being given more wives and passing on characteristics that made them better warriors. Or the interaction of culture with environment such as trading and local availability of rivers leading to passing on mental skills that are good for merchants

    How you best define that, I am not sure but the idea is easy to understand.

    Aside: this is not Lamarckism as the traits are assume to be random and certain traits lead to success and get passed on. The blacksmith may develop big arms but one with big arms to begin with is more likely to be a successful blacksmith.

  83. 83
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    ET
    ID does not require the supernatural.

    If nothing natural can account for emergence of life then must be something super-natural. Unless you know a 3rd option.

  84. 84
    relatd says:

    FH at 80,

    Why ignore the questions? They are scientific. Are you just another animal? If so, why do you believe that to be true?

  85. 85
    relatd says:

    Jerry at 82,

    Better warriors automatically had more wives? What is that based on?

  86. 86
    Fred Hickson says:

    Why ignore the questions? They are scientific. Are you just another animal? If so, why do you believe that to be true?

    In the biological sense, Relatd, all people are animals. We belong in the clade Deuterostomia, which means we are doughnuts, topologically speaking.

  87. 87
    relatd says:

    FH at 86,

    Oh yes. I have that picture on my wall showing an ape as my relative and another showing a fish as my relative. Rubbish.

  88. 88
    ET says:

    LCD:
    If nothing natural can account for emergence of life then must be something super-natural.
    Telic processes. Natural processes didn’t produce Stonehenge, telic processes did. Heck, natural processes only exist in nature and because of that could not have produced it.

  89. 89
    Seversky says:

    Wikipedia –

    Deuterostomia (/?dju?t?r??sto?mi.?/; lit.?’second mouth’ in Greek)[2][3] are animals typically characterized by their anus forming before their mouth during embryonic development.

    “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

  90. 90
    Fred Hickson says:

    Oh yes. I have that picture on my wall showing an ape as my relative and another showing a fish as my relative. Rubbish.

    No problem. If separate creation and human exceptionalism sits better in your psyche, fine by me. I’ve long since realised we humans, for all the power of our intellect, are ruled by our emotions.

  91. 91
    relatd says:

    FH at 90,

    A truly civilized human being is civil.

  92. 92
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson:

    If separate creation and human exceptionalism sits better in your psyche, fine by me. I’ve long since realised we humans, for all the power of our intellect, are ruled by our emotions.

    If universal common descent via magical processes sits better in your psyche, fine by me. I’ve long since realized we humans, for all the power of our intellect, are ruled by our emotions.

  93. 93
    hnorman42 says:

    F Hickson @ 64
    Do any of these forms of “selection” have a mechanism for selection with foresight?

  94. 94
    Fred Hickson says:

    If nothing natural can account for emergence of life then must be something super-natural.

    You are so binary, ET! There is the answer that nobody has thought of yet. Not to mention the equivocation over the antonyms to “natural”.

    ETA which also presupposes we are intelligent enough to be able to come up with a more accurate answer.

  95. 95
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson:

    The biological sciences manage very well without your input (or mine, for that matter).

    Manage? Biologists don’t even know what determines biological form. They don’t know of any naturalistic mechanism capable of producing the diversity of life.

  96. 96
    ET says:

    Fred, LCD said that. I corrected him. My blockquote must have had a typo.

  97. 97
    Fred Hickson says:

    Do any of these forms of “selection” have a mechanism for selection with foresight?

    How would that work? I mean trying something to see if it works and if it doesn’t try something else is an effective way to trace a fault. Change one thing. If performance improves, tweak it more, if not, tweak something else.

  98. 98
    ET says:

    Telic processes. Natural processes didn’t produce Stonehenge, telic processes did. Heck, natural processes only exist in nature and because of that could not have produced it.

    Telic processes. ID just requires telic processes. We don’t know if they were from a supernatural source or not. That is irrelevant.

  99. 99
    ET says:

    Fred:

    How would that work?

    Built-in responses to environmental cues. Spetner 1997

  100. 100
    Fred Hickson says:

    So what’s a telic process? And can we focus on biological processes?

  101. 101
    ET says:

    Buy a dictionary. Look up the word “telic”. Genetic algorithms exemplify evolution by means of telic processes. And built-in responses to environmental cues is such a biological process.

    Genetic algorithms are goal-oriented programs that utilize a targeted search to solve problems.

  102. 102
    Fred Hickson says:

    Built-in responses to environmental cues.

    Frontloading? Where is the information stored? What unlocks it at the appropriate moment? Parsimony?

  103. 103
    Fred Hickson says:

    @ ET

    Give me an example of a “telic process” then. Can’t be too hard. In the biological arena, preferably.

  104. 104
    ET says:

    Front loading of a sort. Not the type that would lead to universal common descent. The information permeates the cell. And it would work via sensory, just as technology works to respond to environment cues.

    Read 59 above.

  105. 105
    Fred Hickson says:

    just as technology works to respond to environment cues.

    So we agree “suck it and see” is a valid engineering approach.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    CD, logic and context. The world of life can plausibly be explained on a molecular nanotech lab as was specifically stated so you are — predictably — setting up and knocking over a strawman. Next, the physics and parameters of the cosmos set it to a fine tuned operating point that enables c chem, aqueous medium cell based life. By basic logic of being the cosmos cannot create itself or come from utter non being and by the supertask it cannot have traversed a transfinite physical, causal temporal past. That requires extracosmic, necessary being designer. And we note you don’t have a cogent substantial reply on the point. In that context taking a lab as a plausible context the issue is who ran it. KF

  107. 107
    ET says:

    Fred:

    Give me an example of a “telic process” then. Can’t be too hard. In the biological arena, preferably.

    Nylonase appears to be from those built-in responses to environmental cues. The same with trichromatic vision.

  108. 108
    ET says:

    Fred:

    So we agree “suck it and see” is a valid engineering approach.

    That sounds like what you do, Fred. But you aren’t an engineer

  109. 109
    Fred Hickson says:

    I doubt anyone is going to attempt a cogent reply to your 106, KF.

  110. 110
    ET says:

    Fred Hickson is unable to provide anything cogent.

  111. 111
    Fred Hickson says:

    That sounds like what you do, Fred. But you aren’t an engineer

    No, I’m retired. But I do fix things. And my approach is generally effective. So, how do you fix things, if not by trial and error, trying one thing at a time?

  112. 112
    relatd says:

    OK folks, let’s have it.

    The intelligent cause/agent in ID is:

    1) God.

    2) Aliens.

    3) Transdimensional beings or other science-fiction concept.

  113. 113
    Fred Hickson says:

    That’s not an exhaustive list, Relatd.

  114. 114
    ET says:

    Well, Fred, I definitely do NOT “suck it and see”. And I usually can identify the faulty part, straight away. Ya see, fixing things, the proper way, has been my life’s work. I even got to travel the world because I was so good at it.

  115. 115
    ET says:

    Relatd- we just don’t know. And that is one reason why ID is not about the Designer.

  116. 116
    Fred Hickson says:

    So how do you spot the faulty part: intuition, experience, burn marks?

  117. 117
    Fred Hickson says:

    There’s a reason suppliers refuse to take back circuit boards. Boards fail and boards fail due to upstream faults.

  118. 118
    relatd says:

    FH at 117,

    You obviously lack knowledge of circuit boards. “upstream faults” is a fictional term. In my experience, there are reasons boards fail – and no fictional terms are used.

  119. 119
    Seversky says:

    Pretty prescient designer who foresaw that the waste-products from nylon manufacture would be a handy food source for bacteria billions of years before bacteria or nylon existed.

  120. 120
    relatd says:

    Hey everybody, while Fred isn’t looking, I have an announcement.

    Secret meeting for ID proponents who believe God is the intelligent agent.

    The usual place.

    The usual time.

    Absolutely no admittance to those who do not know the secret handshake.

  121. 121
    Fred Hickson says:

    You obviously lack knowledge of circuit boards. “upstream faults” is a fictional term. In my experience, there are reasons boards fail – and no fictional terms are used.

    Next time my neighbor’s aircon plays up; I’ll call you. There was indeed a reason why the board failed. The heat dissipation was inadequate due to the installer not applying thermal conductive grease.

  122. 122
    relatd says:

    ET at 115,

    ID is not about the Designer? So, who or what went around and designed everything?

  123. 123
    ET says:

    Fred:

    So how do you spot the faulty part: intuition, experience, burn marks?

    By understanding the function of the system and the components that make it. Burn marks help. But then what caused that?

  124. 124
    Fred Hickson says:

    Pretty prescient designer who foresaw that the waste-products from nylon manufacture would be a handy food source for bacteria billions of years before bacteria or nylon existed.

    And how was the front-loading switched on in 1935? It is a mystery!

  125. 125
    ET says:

    Earth to seversky- How to get at the carbon is all that is needed. Meaning how to break apart chemical bonds to secure the nutrients required, is that forethought involved.

  126. 126
    Fred Hickson says:

    I’m out for the rest of the day and maybe tomorrow.

  127. 127
    ET says:

    Relatd- Intelligent DESIGN is about the- wait for it- DESIGN! We don’t even ask about the who or how until AFTER intelligent design has been detected. ID is about the detection and study of [intelligent] design in nature.

  128. 128
    ET says:

    Great. The moron twins are doing unsightly things to a strawman.

  129. 129
    relatd says:

    ET at 127,

    If something – anything – was designed, who designed it? So you detected design – who made it?

  130. 130
    ET says:

    We may never know. Reality dictates that in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the who or how, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    Do you think we could get to the Wright Brothers by studying planes? What would even be the point?

  131. 131
    relatd says:

    ET at 130,

    The point is this:

    You are not an accident, OK? You are not related to an ape, OK? There are those hovering around here that know some who see the evidence for ID immediately tie in their beliefs. The designer is God. Period.

    You can say ID and religion/God/beliefs are not connected all day, but some people make the direct connection.

  132. 132
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    ET
    LCD:
    If nothing natural can account for emergence of life then must be something super-natural.
    Telic processes. Natural processes didn’t produce Stonehenge, telic processes did. Heck, natural processes only exist in nature and because of that could not have produced it.

    🙂 Congratulation, there is no difference between you and materialists!

  133. 133
    ET says:

    I cannot prevent people from believing God did it. Which God? Why yours? I know nature didn’t do it- produce life.

  134. 134
    ET says:

    LCD:

    Congratulation, there is no difference between you and materialists!

    Telic processes are not reducible to matter or energy. Information is not reducible to matter or energy. Life is not reducible to matter or energy. Materialistic processes did not produce life. Minds are not reducible to physics and chemistry.

    Clearly there is a HUGE difference

  135. 135
    kairosfocus says:

    And what does nylon resemble chemically?

  136. 136
  137. 137
    chuckdarwin says:

    KF/106
    For some reason you seem to read much more into some of my comments than is there (and you invariably read in a “strawman” regardless of what my comment says). In this instance, my comment at @61 was simply that ET claims @57 that “ID does not require the supernatural.” In the very next post (58) you claim that ID “requires an extracosmic, powerful and capable designer.”

    I don’t see any difference between “supernatural” and “extra-cosmic.” So, I’m faced with contrary claims about ID from two of the most vocal ID proponents on this blog. It is impossible to take seriously a self-proclaimed science in which its devotees cannot even agree upon its most basic tenet.

  138. 138
    ET says:

    Well, chuck, Drs Behe and Minnich testified, under oath, that ID does not require the supernatural. And extracosmic does not mean supernatural

  139. 139
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Chuckdarwin
    It is impossible to take seriously a self-proclaimed science in which its devotees cannot even agree upon its most basic tenet.

    Look at you , you believe that atoms have magical powers .

  140. 140
    chuckdarwin says:

    ET/138
    Well there you have it……..

  141. 141
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Supernatural is a theologically oriented term that speaks of God.

    The Supernatural Order is the ensemble of effects exceeding the powers of the created universe and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the rational creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny.

    Extra-cosmic is a term that physicists use to speak of something outside of the universe but not carrying a theological meaning:

    Physicists have proposed extra cosmic ingredients that could explain the faster-than-expected expansion of space
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-is-the-universe-expanding-so-fast-20200427/

    In other words, just like ID – they don’t identify a designer. They’re talking about a “state of being” that is inferred as outside the universe. Just as ID infers an intelligence as the designing agent.

  142. 142
    Silver Asiatic says:

    CD

    It is impossible to take seriously a self-proclaimed science in which its devotees cannot even agree upon its most basic tenet.

    That would make evolution a self-proclaimed science that is impossible to take seriously.

  143. 143
    ET says:

    Intelligent design requires neither a meddling God nor a meddled world. For that matter, it doesn’t even require there be a God.- Wm. Dembski

    “Darwinism does not mandate followers to adopt atheism; just as intelligent design doesn’t require a belief in God.” – Guillermo Gonzalez

  144. 144
    relatd says:

    “Dembski notes that atheists use mindless evolution to provide a God-free explanation for life and the universe. Intelligent design checks that move, showing that blind material processes couldn’t have created many things in nature, much less the cosmos itself. Intelligent design is the better explanation. What about the idea that an alien created, say, the first life on Earth (intelligent design without the need for God)? Dembski says that idea–one that some atheists have suggested as a fallback explanation—is a poor explanatory substitute for an immaterial intelligent designer.”

    Source: https://idthefuture.com/1595/

  145. 145
    kairosfocus says:

    CD, brazen doubling down as you snipped out of my comment to make up and knock over a strawman.

    Rolling tape:

    CD: 61 >>chuckdarwin
    June 7, 2022 at 9:59 am

    Compare

    Also, ID does not require the supernatural.

    with

    It is a cosmos fine tuned for life in many ways that requires an extracosmic (sic), powerful and capable designer.

    So, which is it, gentlemen?>>

    Where, if you clipped out that sentence you surely should have recognised what preceded it:

    KF, 58 >>just to scotch another barbed talking point, intelligent design is about intelligently directed configuration, detected from observable reliable signs. Evidence supporting design is adequate to hold it plausible a designer was present at relevant points. For life a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter is enough. It is a cosmos fine tuned for life in many ways that requires an extracosmic, powerful and capable designer. Notice, objectors seldom address fine tuning substantially and cogently, so they are setting up and knocking over strawmen.>>

    Where, CD, 137:

    CD, 137: >>For some reason you seem to read much more into some of my comments than is there (and you invariably read in a “strawman” regardless of what my comment says). In this instance, my comment at @61 was simply that ET claims @57 that “ID does not require the supernatural.” In the very next post (58) you claim that ID “requires an extracosmic, powerful and capable designer.”>>

    In short, you proceeded to do precisely what I spoke of in advance in 58, and now want to pretend that I am reading into the matter what is not there,

    Brazen.

    KF

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    PS, overnight, I think 106 is also relevant:

    KF, 106: >>CD, logic and context. The world of life can plausibly be explained on a molecular nanotech lab as was specifically stated so you are — predictably — setting up and knocking over a strawman. Next, the physics and parameters of the cosmos set it to a fine tuned operating point that enables c chem, aqueous medium cell based life. By basic logic of being the cosmos cannot create itself or come from utter non being and by the supertask it cannot have traversed a transfinite physical, causal temporal past. That requires extracosmic, necessary being designer. And we note you don’t have a cogent substantial reply on the point. In that context taking a lab as a plausible context the issue is who ran it. >>

    This of course also sets context for relatd’s cite from Dembski.

    The point is, Venter et al put molecular nanotech lab on the table, and that cannot be simply dismissed. The issue becomes whose lab and how it works. For instance a computational, cybernetic facility with depth of knowledge of polymer science and the cell/organism under contemplation could write the d/rna and protein on parallel tracks, then fab them using a built in Drexler nanotech assembler that implements a von Neumann kinematic self replicator. Thus both the chicken and its egg would be coeval. We could imagine a supercomputer based Drexler fab facility, but equally that raises whose lab, and why is our world amenable to life based on such technologies.

    That takes us to fine tuning and the inference that physics of the cosmos was intended to foster life.

  147. 147
    Seversky says:

    Kairosfocus/146

    The point is, Venter et al put molecular nanotech lab on the table, and that cannot be simply dismissed. The issue becomes whose lab and how it works.

    So you are allowing that the originators of life on Earth could have been some form of advanced alien intelligence. That’s fine as far as it goes but who created the alien intelligence and what was the origin of life itself?

    That takes us to fine tuning and the inference that physics of the cosmos was intended to foster life.

    The parameters which allow the cosmos to exist may have been finely tuned but it’s hard to see that they were tuned for life to exist given that the Earth appears to be a tiny oasis of life in a Universe that is otherwise overwhelmingly hostile to it.

  148. 148
  149. 149
    ET says:

    seversky:

    So you are allowing that the originators of life on Earth could have been some form of advanced alien intelligence. That’s fine as far as it goes but who created the alien intelligence and what was the origin of life itself?

    You are clearly ignorant of science. One step at a time, duh. And your personal incredulity is not an argument.

  150. 150
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, our observational base is life on earth. Science starts with observation. So, it is enough to first address what we observe. Next, the claim that the cosmos as a whole is hostile to life is a misrepresentation. Yes, life sites will be local, in a cosmos mostly vacuum, but the physics of the cosmos, the stellar fusion furnaces, the supernovas, the spiral galactic structures and framework for life hosting sol systems are all setting the stage so cannot rightly be deemed hostile to life in general. Yes, the processes have extremes but so do steel, petroleum, electricity generation etc industries. Do we hold that industrial society is mostly hostile to industrial products? No. So, our thinking needs rebalancing. KF

  151. 151
    ET says:

    seversky, an article from 2004 does not rebut an article from 2017.

  152. 152
    kairosfocus says:

    Just to move forward, I clip ET’s link:

    Research published since my 2003 paper4 has vindicated my argument that the main nylon-degrading enzyme did not arise ‘presto’ from a frame-shift mutation. Recent reviews acknowledge that the gene, nylB, that codes for the main nylon-degrading enzyme under discussion (nylB, figure 1) came from an existing gene (nylB’) that codes for a protein that had some existing enzymatic activity for degrading nylon compounds. The enzyme was a carboxylesterase that had a particular [beta]-lactamase fold that could grab hold of and degrade nylon naturally. Because nylon is a man-made fibre, it was thought that no natural enzyme would be able to attack it. However, the basic amide bond of nylon [–> a join of NH2 to COOH, pulling out H2O] is common in living things (figure 3), so it is not surprising that an existing enzyme can degrade nylon to some extent.

    The popular science media tried to find a way to put an evolutionary spin on this, but the initial explanations, based on incomplete knowledge and evolutionary assumptions, were completely wrong. Even the anti-creationist Wikipedia as early as 29 June 2011 stated: “A 2007 paper that described a series of studies by a team led by Seiji Negoro of the University of Hyogo, Japan, suggested that in fact no frameshift mutation was involved in the evolution of the 6-aminohexanoic acid hydrolase.”5
    ________

    4 Batten, D., The adaptation of bacteria to feeding on nylon waste, TJ (now Journal of Creation) 17(3):3–5, 2003; creation.com/nylon. Return to text.

    5 See also Truman, R., Nylon-eating bacteria—part 2: refuting Ohno’s frame-shift theory, J. Creation 29(2):78–85. Return to text.

    Clips help carry forward the exchange. Especially when suitably annotated.

    KF

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