Intelligent Design

Programming and the development of life

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When you really analyze them, most of the strongest arguments against ID as an explanation for the development of life are of the form: “this just doesn’t look like the way God would have created things.” Perhaps not, but we are finding more and more that it does look very much like the way “we” design things. As far back as 1985, in my first book about PDE2D here and more recently in a Mathematical Intelligencer article here , I pointed out that life developed much the way software “develops”: minor improvements are made in small increments, but major improvements always involve one or more large irreducibly complex steps, and appear suddenly (in the fossil record, or in software releases).

This similarity is impressed upon me everytime I make a major improvement to my PDE-solver, PDE2D , which I have been working on for over 30 years now. I recently decided to make another major improvement (a GUI), and I alway dread making the big changes, because they involve adding hundreds of lines of code, which cannot even be tested until well advanced, because the individual lines make no sense independently of each other. I have to sit down in front of my computer for days before I can even run the first meaningful tests. I compared these major changes to new orders, classes and phyla in my articles, which always appear suddenly in the fossil record, and for good reason, if you think about the changes involved.

Now, of course if you carefully analyze the changes made during one of these periods you may find that the whole thing wasn’t really one big irreducibly complex step; that if I were more clever I could have done it in somewhat smaller useful (and thus testable) intermediate steps. But the idea that one could make major improvements to software–or to living things–through very tiny minor improvements is something only an evolutionary biologist could imagine.

5 Replies to “Programming and the development of life

  1. 1
    shaner74 says:

    “When you really analyze them, most of the strongest arguments against ID as an explanation for the development of life are of the form: “this just doesn’t look like the way God would have created things.””

    My experience in arguing ID vs NDE with people in the “real” world is that sooner or later, the Darwinist resorts to bashing some form of God to prop up his beloved theory/belief. I usually answer with “who said anything about God? I’m only concerned about design.” Boy do they hate that.

  2. 2
    MatthewTan says:

    “But the idea that one could make major improvements to software–or to living things–through very tiny minor improvements is something only an evolutionary biologist could imagine.”

    What other choices do evolutionary biologists have? None. They are stuck into a paradigm (i.e. nature-god), and they can only box themselves in the way their nature-god works.

    That the atheists believe it is no surprise. What surprises me more is so many theist evolutionists believe that God has to act the way the atheist nature-god works.

  3. 3
    DarwininianIgnorance says:

    “I pointed out that life developed much the way software “develops”: minor improvements are made in small increments”

    Are you suggesting that as life progressed and developed on earth, that the designer periodically added new information?

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    I suggest those who are interested watch a video available on ITunes U. It a little over an hour and is free and is about how someone foresees programming and re-programming life in the near future. He is a young engineer named Andrew Endy and is talk is called

    “The Implications of Synthetic Biology”

    There are several implications in what he plans to do for ID versus Darwinism. At 40 minutes into the talk he discusses the concept of making life that can and cannot evolve. He thinks eventually and not too far distant this will be a reality.

    This fellow is young and an assistant professor at MIT and his background is engineering.

  5. 5
    GilDodgen says:

    Here is the source code for the tree-search engine of my checkers program. This is a small sampling of more than 65,000 lines of C and C++ that make the program do what it does, and it doesn’t include many more lines of code that were required to generate, compress, and access the endgame databases.

    You can download a free minimal version of the program here (the full version requires 12 gigabytes of disk space and is also free, but not from me).

    Of course, this program is trivial child’s play compared to the program that runs even the simplest biological cell. Good luck convincing me that the cell arose by random mutation and natural selection.

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