Intelligent Design Detection

  1. Design is order imposed on parts of a system. The system is designed even if the order created is minimal (e.g. smearing paint on cave walls) and even if it contains random subsystems. ‘Design’ is inferred only for those parts of the system that reveal the order imposed by the designer. For cave art, we can analyze the paint, the shape of the paint smear, the shape of the wall, composition of the wall, etc. Each one of these separate analyses may result in separate ‘designed’ or ‘not designed’ conclusions. The ‘design’-detection algorithm shown in the attached diagram can be employed to analyze any system desired.
  2. How do we know something is not random? By rejecting the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”. This method is well established and common in many fields of research (first decision block in diagram). If we search for extraterrestrial life, archeological artefacts, geologic events, organic traces, etc., we infer presence based on specific nonrandom patterns. Typical threshold (p-value) is 0.05 meaning “the outcome observed may be due to randomness with a 5% or less probability”. The actual threshold is not critical, as probabilities quickly get extreme. For instance, given a 10-bit outcome (10 coin toss set), the probability of that outcome being random yet matching a predetermined sequence is 0.1%, well below the 5% threshold. A quick glance at biological systems show extreme precision repeated over and over again and indicating essentially zero probability of system-level randomness. Kidneys and all other organs are not random, reproduction is not random, cell structure is not random, behavior is not random, etc.
  3. Is a nonrandom feature caused by design or by necessity? Once randomness has been excluded, the system analyzed must be either designed as in “created by an intelligent being”, or a product of necessity as in “dictated by the physical/scientific laws”. Currently (second decision block in diagram), a design inference is made when potential human/animal designers can be identified, and a ‘necessity’ inference is made in all other cases, even when there is no known necessity mechanism (no scientific laws responsible). This design detection method is circumstantial hence flawed, and may be improved only if a clearer distinction between design and necessity is possible. For instance, the DNA-to-Protein algorithm can be written into software that all would recognize as designed when presented under any other form than having been observed in a cell. But when revealed that this code has been discovered in a cell, dogmatic allegiances kick in and those so inclined start claiming that this code is not designed despite not being able to identify any alternative ‘necessity’ scenario.
  4. Design is just a set of ‘laws’, making the design-vs-necessity distinction impossible. Any design is defined by a set of rules (‘laws’) that the creator imposes on the creation. This is true for termite mounds, beaver dams, beehives, and human-anything from pencils to operating systems. Product specifications describe the rules the product must follow to be acceptable to customers, software is a set of behavior rules obeyed, and art is the sum of rules by which we can identify the artist, or at least the master’s style. When we reverse-engineer a product, we try to determine its rules – the same way we reverse-engineer nature to understand the scientific laws. And when new observations infirm the old product laws, we re-write them the same way we re-write the scientific laws when appropriate (e.g. Newton’s laws scope change). Design rules have the same exact properties as scientific laws with the arbitrary distinction that they are expected to be limited in space and time, whereas scientific laws are expected to be universal. For instance, to the laboratory animals, the human designed rules of the laboratory are no different than the scientific laws they experience. Being confined to their environment, they cannot verify the universality of the scientific laws, and neither can we since we are also confined in space and time for the foreseeable future.
  5. Necessity is Design to the best of our knowledge. We have seen how design creates necessity (a set of ‘laws’). We have never confirmed necessity without a designer. We have seen that the design-necessity distinction is currently arbitrarily based on the identification of a designer of a particular design and on the expectation of universality of the scientific laws (necessity). Finally, we can see that natural designs cannot be explained by the sum of the scientific laws these designs obey. This is true for cosmology (galaxies/stars/planets), to geology (sand dunes/mountains/continents), weather (clouds/climate/hydrology), biology (molecules/cells/tissues/organisms), and any other natural design out there.
  6. Scientific laws are unknowable. Only instances of these laws are known with any certainty. Mathematics is necessary but insufficient to determine the laws of physics and furthermore the laws of chemistry, biology, behavior, etc., meaning each of the narrower scientific laws has to be backwards compatible with the broader laws but does not derive from the more general laws. Aside from mathematics that do not depend on observations of nature, the ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’ attributes attached to the scientific laws are justified only as simplifying working assumptions, yet too often these are incorrectly taken as indisputable truths. Any confirming observation of a scientific law is nothing more than another instance that reinforces our mental model. But we will never know the actual laws, no matter how many observations we make. Conversely, a single contrary observation is enough to invalidate (or at least shake up) our model as happened historically with many of the scientific laws hypothesized.
  7. “One Designer” hypothesis is much more parsimonious compared to a sum of disparate and many unknown laws, particles, and “random” events. Since the only confirmed source of regularity (aka rules or laws) in nature is intelligence, it takes a much greater leap of faith to declare design a product of a zoo of laws, particles, and random events than of intelligence. Furthermore, since laws and particles are presumably ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’, randomness would be the only differentiator of designs. But “design by randomness” explanation is utterly inadequate especially in biology where randomness has not shown a capacity to generate design-like features in experiment after experiment. The non-random (how is it possible?) phantasm called “natural selection” fares no better as “natural selection” is not a necessity and in any case would not be a differentiator. Furthermore, complex machines such as the circulatory, digestive, etc. system in many organisms cannot be found in the nonliving with one exception: those designed by humans. So-called “convergent evolution”, the design similarity of supposedly unrelated organisms also confirms the ‘common design’ hypothesis.
  8. How does this proposed Intelligent Design Detection Method improve Dembski’s Explanatory Filter? The proposed filter is simpler, uncontroversial with the likely [important] exception of equating necessity with design, and is not dependent on vague concepts like “complexity”, “specification”, and “contingency”. Attempts to quantify “specified complexity” by estimating ”functional information” help clarify Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but still fall short because design needs not implement a function (e.g. art) while ‘the function’ is arbitrary as are the ‘target space’, ‘search space’, and ‘threshold’. Furthermore, ID opponents can easily counter the functional information argument with the claim that the ‘functional islands’ are linked by yet unknown, uncreated, eternal and universal scientific laws so that “evolution” jumps from island to island effectively reducing the search space from a ‘vast ocean’ to a manageable size.

 Summary

  • Design is order imposed on parts of a system
  • A system is nonrandom if we reject the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”
  • Current design detection method based on identifying the designer is circumstantial hence flawed
  • Design is just a set of ‘laws’, making the design-vs-necessity distinction impossible
  • Necessity is Design to the best of our knowledge
  • Scientific laws are unknowable. Only instances of these laws are known with any certainty
  • “One Designer” hypothesis is much more parsimonious compared to a sum of disparate and many unknown laws, particles, and “random” events
  • This Intelligent Design Detection Method improves on Dembski’s Explanatory Filter

Pro-Con Notes

Con: Everything is explained by the Big Bang singularity, therefore we don’t need Intelligent Design.

Pro: How can a point of disruption where all our knowledge completely breaks down explain anything? To the best of our knowledge, Intelligent Design is responsible for that singularity and more.

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514 thoughts on “Intelligent Design Detection

  1. phoodoo: I say evolution is accidental, and the evolutionists have apoplectic seizures.

    That’s because we are in awe of your ability to be impressed with your own rhetoric, despite the actual complete lack of an argument. You don’t establish the falsity of evolution by using particular labels for aspects of the process. Merely calling mutations “accidents” do not show that there’s some sort of problem.

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  2. Tom English: Dembski and associates have always identified natural selection as the “creative force” of Darwinian evolution.

    If you think that Dembski posits natural selection as a creative force you are sorely mistaken.

    Anyone who is making any effort whatsoever to understand the argument would of course know that these folks think that only a designer can be a “creative force”.

    peace

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  3. Rumraket: Merely calling mutations “accidents” do not show that there’s some sort of problem.

    If we were talking about anything else, occasional accidents plus the obvious reality that the environment is unforgiving toward structures that stick out is not the sort of explanation that would garner a lot of confidence.

    peace

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  4. fifthmonarchyman: If we were talking about anything else, occasional accidents plus the obvious reality that the environment is unforgiving toward structures that stick out is not the sort of explanation that would garner a lot of confidence.

    I’m still waiting for an actual argument. As in something that shows that there is a problem. What you feel like (the extent of your confidence) is neither here nor there. I’m continually amazed how much of anti-evolution arguments from IDcreationists of their various stripes essentially just come down to a fanciful way of saying “I don’t believe it”.

    We can all toss out assertions about how we see things yut they have zero power of persuasion.

    Suppose I was to say “I’m absolutely convinced that evolution is true”. Does that move you, at all? I suspect not.

    Just know that exactly the same way you feel when you read me making an assertion like that, is how I feel when you talk about what inspires confidence. Or when phoodoo regurgitates the accidents label for the umpteenth time.

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  5. fifthmonarchyman: If you think that Dembski posits natural selection as a creative force you are sorely mistaken.

    Anyone who is making any effort whatsoever to understand the argument would of course know that these folks think that only a designer can be a “creative force”.

    Yes, it is clear that these days, the Dembski/Ewert/Marks argument is that the Designer may have acted by assigning fitnesses to genotypes. Then evolution does the rest.

    That of course smacks of theistic evolution. It also seems to assume that fitnesses can be arbitrarily assigned to genotypes in any old way (by the Designer) independent of the biology, physics, and chemistry of the situation.

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  6. Joe Felsenstein: That of course smacks of theistic evolution.

    ID is not anti evolution.

    I never cease to be amazed at the blatant misconceptions after all these years.

    peace

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  7. Allan Miller: You appear to be describing erosion.

    erosion and natural selection are comparable in that neither is a process that can build or create anything.

    All they do is remove structures that are less accordant with the environment all things being equal.

    peace

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  8. Neil Rickert: it is clear that anti-evolution is the very core of ID

    Only if you equate Darwinism with evolution. They are not the same thing

    peace

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  9. fifthmonarchyman: If you think that Dembski posits natural selection as a creative force you are sorely mistaken.

    You misunderstood me. Try taking context into account when you need to disambiguate. According to phoodoo, Darwinists attribute creation to random mutation. According to Dembski and (later) Marks, Darwinists attribute creation to natural selection.

    Dembski and Marks (joined later by Ewert) indeed do posit the efficacy of natural selection. There would be no need to argue for “conservation of information” in the “search for a search” otherwise. Positing the efficacy of natural selection does not mean accepting that evolution by natural selection actually does account for biological complexity.

    You regularly play it fast and loose with ID. I can step in under an alias any time I like, and do a vastly better job of arguing for ID than you do. That’s because I’ve worked hard to get my adversaries’ arguments right — much harder than you’ve worked to understand what your predecessors have said.

    You need to understand that I’m not cranky, as you put it. I’m particularly annoyed with you and Jon because your “arguments” are such trash. You don’t do anything to clarify anyone’s position. You’d be eminently ignorable, were you not contributing to the dumbing-down of the rubes.

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  10. Neil Rickert: The ID proponents routinely equate evolution with Darwinism.

    As I said above, ID proponents are all over the map. However, they love to ignore that fact about themselves. When an IDist tells you what IDists say, he’s invariably telling you what he thinks all IDists ought to think.

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  11. Neil Rickert: The ID proponents routinely equate evolution with Darwinism.

    You might be right there.
    I would say that is is because the Darwinists have done a good job in framing the discussion that way.

    In what way would you say that evolution is different from Darwinism?

    In other words if Darwinism was eliminated what would evolutionary theory look like in your opinion?

    peace

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  12. Mung: Did you just say that Of Panda’s and People was a science textbook?

    Yeah, and I attributed “one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration” to Alexander Graham Bell. I’m having a bad head day.

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  13. Tom English: I can step in under an alias any time I like, and do a vastly better job of arguing for ID than you do.

    I don’t often argue for ID. I’m not a partisan in that way.

    I’m much more interested in exploring ideas related to ID when it comes to things like artificial intelligence

    I do wish that folks would have a little more of an open mind and not just reject it out of hand because it’s associated with people you don’t like.

    Tom English: I’m particularly annoyed with you and Jon because your “arguments” are such trash.

    What arguments are those and who exactly is Jon? I generally am very careful before I present an argument. i don’t recall making one here lately.

    I think that you might be confusing my efforts at discussion and attempts to clarify my own beliefs with argumentation.

    peace

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  14. Allan Miller: The analogy is not with ‘creation’, but with differential preservation of a random input. You still struggling with this? It’s dead easy.

    I am not struggling at all with the fact that natural selection creates nothing. I am pleased to see you finally admitting it.

    Its dead easy.

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  15. Tom English: As I said above, ID proponents are all over the map.

    Yet when it suits you you act as if ID is a disciplined organized monolithic movement to sneak God into the public science classroom.

    Why the duplicitousness?

    peace

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  16. A number of YECs are, in the words of Mung, “evolutionists on steroids.” I think that’s a great way of putting it. My way of explaining it: Ark Encounter impresses on you the fact that the hugest of wooden boats makes for a small zoo. YECs have to account for huge proliferation of forms of terrestrial animals over quite a brief period of time.

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  17. Tom English: According to phoodoo, Darwinists attribute creation to random mutation.

    Wrong, wrong. I am saying Darwinists try to hide from random mutations doing the creating, and instead flip flop all over the map, sometimes calling evolution natural selection, sometimes calling it natural selection plus “some other mechanisms that we prefer not to name”…

    Just look at Rumraket trying to run down the street hiding from the word accidents like its a flesh eating zombie about to get him.

    At least Allan is finally getting it, NS creates nothing- its dead easy. Now if Allan will finally realize he is admitting it, we might be getting somewhere. But don’t worry, I suspect he will be back obfuscating that soon enough.

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  18. fifthmonarchyman: Yet when it suits you you act as if ID is a disciplined organized monolithic movement to sneak God into the public science classroom.

    Why the duplicitousness?

    I can’t think of any time when I’ve described ID as something other than a big-tent socio-political movement. For Reagan Republicans like Bruce Chapman and George Gilder and Phillip Johnson, disciplined and organized meant quite the opposite of monolithic.

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  19. Tom English: According to phoodoo, Darwinists attribute creation to random mutation.

    phoodoo: Wrong, wrong. I am saying Darwinists try to hide from random mutations doing the creating, …

    Yes, you’re right. Somehow I got confused in the middle of writing that comment. I understand what you’re saying.

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  20. Alan Fox: Randomly in the sense of not predictable.

    You miss the point. Look at the definition, it’s also “having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely”. The samples themselves need not be random.

    Not that it matters much for this topic.

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  21. Corneel: So your entire paragraph #2 is a rather involved way of saying that we start off with a pattern? OK, that seems a reasonable start to detect design.

    What took you so long? I know… a Pavlovian disagreement? 🙂

    But it’s not just a pattern. It’s one that is very improbable to be randomly generated.

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  22. phoodoo: Wrong, wrong. I am saying Darwinists try to hide from random mutations doing the creating, and instead flip flop all over the map, sometimes calling evolution natural selection, sometimes calling it natural selection plus “some other mechanisms that we prefer not to name”…

    Here’s a question for you.

    I strike a key on the piano keyboard. That causes a hammer to strike the string resulting in random vibrations. The resonance of the string then selects the vibrations of a particular pitch. The result is the piano note. It takes both the random part and the selection part.

    My question for phoodoo — how are you going to explain the piano note without the random vibrations? Or how will you describe it without the selection?

    Note to fifthmonarchyman: my way of describing it would be to emphasize the resonance.

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  23. Tom English: chance and regularity are not mutually exclusive.

    Yes. Hence the need for a better filter as proposed here:
    ” ‘Design’ is inferred only for those parts of the system that reveal the order imposed by the designer. ”
    and
    “Each one of these separate analyses may result in separate ‘designed’ or ‘not designed’ conclusions. “

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  24. Neil Rickert,

    I have no idea what you mean by a random vibration.

    I see the problem for evolutionists. You struggle mightily to find some kind of metaphor for evolution. One that can show how accidents can build organized sophisticated structures, without intelligent input. So you make up things like sieves, and the alphabet, and each time the analogies fall flat on their face, because we know of nothing that can build sophistication without intelligence.

    Accidents causing intelligence. That’s a tough car for your side to sell. That’s why you have so many lemons sitting on your lot.

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  25. Joe Felsenstein: The people who say that there is no process called natural selection are just like people who say that there is no average tendency for rivers to smooth out rough edges of rocks.

    No. It is not the same.

    And rivers are not the ultimate cause of “smooth out rough edges”. There’s hydrology, gravity, sun heat, etc. etc.

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  26. Allan Miller: If you pass sand through a sieve, the grain sizes had already been determined before you started. The sieving process does nothing … and yet, you have a sieve full of the larger grains, and a bunch of the smaller ones below. Somehow, you have made the random nonrandom (in some senses of the word). Entirely, you would have it, ‘by accident’.

    Every time YOU do something, you’re the designer. A fable said: “If you count your donkeys while riding one, don’t forget to count yourself too.”

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  27. Nonlin.org: Allan Miller: If you pass sand through a sieve, the grain sizes had already been determined before you started. The sieving process does nothing … and yet, you have a sieve full of the larger grains, and a bunch of the smaller ones below. Somehow, you have made the random nonrandom (in some senses of the word). Entirely, you would have it, ‘by accident’.

    I thought this one was of the more humorous analogies they have tortuously tried to make.

    You have separated small grains from big ones. You have used a device to do it. You have created nothing. You STILL have both smalls grains and big ones. There is nothing random about it whatsoever, and THIS is supposed to tell us something about evolution.

    Their brains are steaming.

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  28. Tom English: But what else would we expect of engineers who pronounce on evolution, evidently without reflecting on the fact that they’re just as ignorant of evolutionary biology as evolutionary biologists are of their particular fields of engineering?

    Engineering is consequential. “Evolutionary biology” is not. Instead, it is just bad philosophy. Everyone is an expert.

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  29. Tom English: What makes phoodoo’s line particularly annoying for me is that Dembski and associates have always identified natural selection as the “creative force” of Darwinian evolution.

    If true, Dembski is wrong about that. No one is perfect.

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  30. phoodoo:
    I see the problem for evolutionists. You struggle mightily to find some kind of metaphor for evolution. One that can show how accidents can build organized sophisticated structures, without intelligent input. So you make up things like sieves, and the alphabet, and each time the analogies fall flat on their face, because we know of nothing that can build sophistication without intelligence.

    Not one of the metaphors has fallen flat on their face. It’s your lack of interest in understanding the point that has stood in the way.

    The accidents produce the variation necessary for building the “organized sophisticated structures,” but they accomplish the task because of their combination with natural selection, just like breeders don’t “create” the variability, yet get to select from the variation and end up with “sophisticated” breeds. None of the variation was made by the breeder, it was selected from what mutations did. So, if evolution wasn’t possible, then breeding would not be possible either. Yet, there we have lots of varieties of corn, wheat, cows, pigs, dogs, cats, pigeons, etc, etc.

    You want to ignore natural selection, yet you’d be unable to ignore the selection going on in breeding, even though the background “materials” are the very same. By your “reasoning” then accidents do the “creating” in breeding too. Then no amount of explanations about how filtering that variation can lead to things we would not expect from looking at the original population should convince you that it’s not just the “accidents.” You’d ignore the role of the breeder again and again.

    Oh, but of course you have double standards, don’t you? If there’s a breeder, then somehow the background variation must be what? Magic?

    Of course, your recourse will be to ignore the origin of the variation (“unguided” variation, “accidents”) and concentrate on the breeders. Intelligence! Intelligence! But for evolution even accepting the possibility for natural selection? Nah! There it’s just the variation (“unguided” variation, “accidents”) doing the “creating,” and let’s ignore natural selection because, well, because it’s not convenient for you, that’s why. This way you can claim that those ridiculous “evolutionists” can’t get to terms with this “reality,” that it’s just “accidents” doing the “creating,” blah, blah, blah.

    Your position is so pathetic that it requires hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cowardice in order to be defended. Your comments are a prime example of this fact.

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  31. Neil Rickert (to phoodoo): Here’s a question for you. …

    After all those attempts you think that phoodoo will get it this time? Phoodoo just doesn’t care, even if that makes her/him look ridiculously stupid.

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  32. Neil Rickert: He doesn’t want to get it.

    You only say that because you lack interest.

    You are ignoring all the facts. Your position is so pathetic that it requires hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cowardice in order to be defended. Your comments are a prime example of this fact. Do you know how ridiculously stupid that makes you look?

    Of course by your double standards you will just ignore, ignore, blah, blah…

    You are just farting impotence Neil.

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  33. newton: Ever seen Delicate Arch?

    Oh yes. Highly sophisticated. Aside from actually being able to predict stock market trends 5 years in advance, Delicate Arch can convert the sun’s ray into magnetic pulses that can divert predators and attract suitors to its location. It also is very good at translating sign language.

    Oh, wait, do you mean the rock with a hole in it?

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  34. I actually have a small crack in my foundation of my house, that was probably caused by water. So nature can create some things for sure.

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  35. phoodoo: Accidents causing intelligence. That’s a tough car for your side to sell. That’s why you have so many lemons sitting on your lot.

    What is the actual problem? Try making an argument that shows that there is a problem with random mutations and natural selection.

    “Accidents causing intelligence is a tough car to sell” is not an argument. That’s an opinion couched it rhetoric.

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  36. Mutation is the mechanism that creates new alleles from old ones.
    Natural selection is the process that creates particular distributions of alleles in a population.

    It really isn’t difficult to describe evolution as a creative force.

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  37. phoodoo:
    I actually have a small crack in my foundation of my house, that was probably caused by water.So nature can create some things for sure.

    Indeed it can. Oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, continents, planets, solar systems, asteroid belts, rings around planets, galaxies, galaxy clusters, neutron stars, black holes, globular clusters, atmospheres and complex meteorological systems, convection currents in molten rock, large underground caves full of beautiful crystals and stalactites, Widmanstätten patterns, diamonds and so on ad infinitum. Of course biospheres are just one among countless phenomena created by nature.

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  38. fifthmonarchyman: erosion and natural selection are comparable in that neither is a process that can build or create anything.

    All they do is remove structures that are less accordant with the environment all things being equal.

    peace

    So sculpture is not creative.

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