Baylor computer science prof Robert Marks comments on Texas science standards at Dallas Morning News:

There’s a battle over evolution education in Texas right now. The latest round is coming up soon in Austin, with the State Board of Education hearing testimony on both sides of the controversy. There is a tug-of-war between those who want to teach only their corner on truth and those who would prefer to include critical analysis and discuss developments that challenge neo-Darwinian dogma.

This is unfortunate, because at least in areas of my specialization, using computers and mathematics to model evolution, the problems are fascinating and would be both fun and instructive to teach.

Gregory Chaitin, arguably the greatest and most creative mathematician of my generation, lays out the stakes: “The honor of mathematics requires us to come up with a mathematical theory of evolution and either prove that Darwin was wrong or right!” More.

Maybe the honor of mathematics is to get things right but the honor of the Darwin lobby is to shove in the world’s face the fact that it can compel a download of tax money by unleashing an End-of-Science! rent-a-protest at every meeting on the subject.

The rest follows as night follows day: The lobby cows bureaucrats, proclaims victory, and cashes in.*

Maybe Texans are rich enough to pay for all that landfill. Still, they could buy their students a better education if they insisted on more up-to-date stuff. Ja think?

But here’s a real problem: If the Texans *don’t* agree to be shaken down, we’ll all have to live through the Death of Science in pop media until the next shakedown opportunity arises.

Better think this one out, readers, unless—like a growing number of news consumers—you only use pop science media as litterbox liner these days.

*No discussion of the public education Slush Fund for Darwin would be complete without reference to the fact that the Darwin lobby is still marketing the leftovers from two decades ago. See Jonathan Wells’s Zombie Science for details.

*See also:* Gravy train wreck: No Free Lunch for Darwinism in Texas? *(Cue Dark Ages …. )*

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“to come up with a mathematical theory of evolution and either prove that Darwin was wrong or right”

Um, why would a mathematical model of a biological system (or system of systems) be preferred over some actual Biological testing and documentation?

If the Biologists can’t explain what’s going on, then it is IMPOSSIBLE to name all of the factors in the mathematical model AND impossible to accurately assign weights to the factors.

The Drake Equation still works just fine. What’s changed since 1961 are the values assigned to the factors. And so the modern argument is about how DISMALLY LOW those factors now seem to be.

No experiment with living organisms (e.g., Fruit Flies, orchids, dogs, pigeons, etc., etc.) has EVER produced a new species. This should then logically mean either:

A) It is not possible for organisms in the wild or humans in a lab to produce a new species. Only The Designer can do that.

B) After 150 years, we still have NO IDEA how a new species arises.

Throwing math models at a system you don’t understand is generally done when you have a customer (e.g., US DoD) who has more money than he knows what to do with. DoD has funded HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS, of wargame models. But the track record for a model correctly “post-dicting” (the counterpart of “pre-dicting”) any broad selection of actual battles is awful.

mahuna @ 1 – Chaitin is a mathematician, not a biologist. Note he says “The honor of mathematics requires us…”, I assume there he’s referring to mathematicians.

FWIW, other mathematicians

havecome up with a mathematical theory of evolution, do he’s a bit late.Bob –

Not in the sense that he is speaking. He is talking about whether neo-Darwinism is capable of building up complex structures. There are no models for that. There are things like population genetics, which models gene flow, and things like Avida, which attempt to model mutation+selection, but is not able to build up complex structures (in fact, the one complex structure in an Avida organism is actually designed).

If you know of a model that answers the general questions Chaitin is trying to ask, I would love to hear it.

Ah, johnnyb, a more specific question. How about the evolution of the eye work?

I’m not sure how you would answer the general question generally. Doesn’t it depend on the specifics of the biology? But given the biology, can’t we use population genetics, and perhaps some phylogenetic models?