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Evidence of natural selection is not evidence against design, the Designer made NS

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The ID-friendly version of Natural Selection was pioneered by the creationist Blyth. I have also argued that there is credible evidence that Darwin plagiarized and distorted Blyth’s work.

I view Natural Selection as itself a design feature of optimization and search. Whereas Darwinist view natural selection as a mechanism of design, I view natural selection as feature of design. This essay was also partly written to correct and clarify some of my earlier choice of words in Same pattern, different implementations.

When we find designs that cannot be implemented via selection, I consider that strong evidence of design. However, finding possible evidence that selection is a feature of a biological system doesn’t automatically imply there is no Designer. In fact, NS might actually be a design feature. The best example I can think of is in Royal Truman’s essay B Cell Maturation. But here is the gist of his arugment:

Proposed evolutionary processes which supposedly produced first bacteria and eventually humans are assumed to not have been driven by intelligent guidance. We must clearly distinguish between true randomness and a purposeful algorithm to cover a search space to converge on an intended goal.

(A) Where fired shotgun pellets actually impact is only in an incomplete sense “random”. The gun barrel, triggering mechanism, explosive mixture, size and number of pellets, etc. are organized to solve a class of problem. Although the specific target need not be known in advance, the topology of desired outcome (in time and space) is part of the shotgun design. The design covers a constrained range of possibilities: it cannot kill bacteria nor whales (area), nor destroy satellites (distance) and needs a triggering mechanism (time). This permits a non-random outcome, such as killing a bird at a specific time and place with a high probability, with little risk of collateral damage.

The designer of the apparatus need not specify the exact picometer each pellet will end up at. It suffices to ensure within a high probability that when used in the correct context and manner, the “random” behavior of the ensemble of pellets is within the intended tolerance.

(B) Construction workers sometimes throw debris down a chute when repairing a building. One cannot predict the precise trajectories nor final location of every object thrown down. Nevertheless, the range of outcomes is constrained by the design which ensures bystanders aren’t killed.

13 Replies to “Evidence of natural selection is not evidence against design, the Designer made NS

  1. 1
    NeilBJ says:

    I have always had a problem with the phrase “natural selection.” Selection implies that there is a selector, but there is no active selection process in nature.

    Both Richard Dawkins and David Berlinski have summarized the concept as “What survives, survives.”

    To say that natural selection is a feature or mechanism of design does not make sense. The fact that animals die for one reason or another is a fact of life, so to speak. I see no active or conscious mechanism at work.

    Differential survival is a better phrase, but alas, we are stuck with natural selection, but not in the sense that you have used it.

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Pre-programmed adaptive strategies is a better phrase than Natural Selection, and it is far more accurate.

    It is more accurate, but it just won’t fly in the current culture because “pre-programmed” and “strategy” are metaphysically suggestive of a designing intelligence, and the last thing Darwinist would want to see is their supposed best argument against ID was in fact a design feature!

  3. 3
    NeilBJ says:

    I would agree that pre-programmed adaptive strategies is a better phrase than natural selection and that it is suggestive of a designing intelligence.

    However, if the designer is still depending on random mutations as the input to the pre-programmed adaptive strategy, I don’t see what is being accomplished. Are not the random mutations that result in a functional protein still just as improbable? And this is only part of the problem. Until the problem of epigenetic information is solved and scientists fully understand how the information in the cells controls the construction of a body, we will not have a fully informed theory of life’s development.

    The designer has to provide the necessary, highly specific information at the beginning of the “evolutionary” process and not wait for the design information to show up randomly.

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    Could built-in adaptive mechanisms (BAM) explain the Galapagos finch story that got extrapolated to a very known controversial theory?

  5. 5
    scordova says:

    However, if the designer is still depending on random mutations as the input to the pre-programmed adaptive strategy,

    I liken an adaptive strategy as similar to someone taking an off the shelf computer and customizing it to his needs. There are limits to how much change can be effected, and most of the functionality had to be front loaded by the computer manufacturer or software authors.

    I think selection is a design feature for allowing creatures to fine tune things like:

    1. color
    2. height
    3. weight
    etc.

    I don’t think it can evolve radically new proteins or body plans.

  6. 6
    Joe says:

    Natural selection doesn’t do anything. If something was designed (in biology) natural selection didn’t do it.

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    Natural selection can only “select” from the genes already in existence in the genome. Mendel clearly showed there is a limit to the amount of change that can be generated in a particular genome.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    tjguy @ 7

    Natural selection can only “select” from the genes already in existence in the genome.

    So how did we get the genes to begin with? Also through natural selection of the potential components? How did that work? Thanks.

  9. 9
    aqeels says:

    “Natural Selection” as a phrase has never really bothered me. If you have a population of organisms where some are better suited to survive, then guess what, they will on average survive. So in this sense there is a type of “selection” that is happening, but it’s more to do with the innate abilities and genetic makeup of the organism rather than some outside “selective” agent working it’s magic. In fact I would say that “natural selection” as a concept would be able to explain the diversity of life if the following were true: –

  10. 10
    aqeels says:

    1. “Natural Selection” as a phrase has never really bothered me. If you have a population of organisms where some are better suited to survive, then guess what, they will on average survive. So in this sense there is a type of “selection” that is happening, but it’s more to do with the innate abilities and genetic makeup of the organism rather than some outside “selective” agent working it’s magic. In fact I would say that “natural selection” as a concept would be able to explain the diversity of life if the following were true: –

    1) If we had a few more billion years for life to evolve
    2) If mutations were truly random
    3) If mutations were on average neutral or advantageous, i.e. they did not impact the organism adversely
    4) If IC did not really exist and there were smooth paths for organisms to grow in complexity

    Sadly none of the above are realistic and certainly don’t represent what we see in the natural world, and this is why NS acting on RV fails to explain how you get from molecule to man, not because the underlying principle of NS + RV cannot generate complexity or novel functions.

  11. 11
    Joe says:

    Lest we forget- Natural selection eliminates. Whatever is good enough survives to get a chance at reproduction.

  12. 12
    Breckmin says:

    I used to ask if natural selection should be designated as some sort of law within populations decades ago. Survival of the fittest clearly can’t be useful so pre-designed or pre-programmed adaptive strategies would be a disputed creationist term…but “who” is employing the strategy?

    It’s funny when I think about it…because I almost want to go rhetorical and go with “selective selection”

    Natural selection is clearly a principle in creation.

  13. 13
    Breckmin says:

    Clearly that was redundant instead of “rhetorical.”

    I typed the wrong thing… it was supposed to be survival
    as in “selective survival” or SS instead of NS.

    We could call Natural Selection “Designed SS” or Adaptive Selective survival or several other creationist possibilities

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