Taking “ID is science” out of the ID/Creation argument

I have committed the unpardonable sin of promoting ID as theology and arguing ID is not science. ID is the lineal descendant of Paley’s natural theology (as in contrast to “revealed theology”). I’ve publicly disputed the use of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as a general argument in favor of ID/Creation, and I’ve been mildly critical of the concept of specified complexity and its successors. I’ve suggested ID is most appropriately taught in college/seminary theology and philosophy departments. When I published a 2005 exchange between myself and Eugenie Scott of the NCSE regarding the appropriateness of ID being taught in college religion and philosophy departments, Eugenie was much kinder to me than some in the ID community who insist “ID is science.” See: Correspondence between Salvador Cordova and Dr. Eugenie Scott

To that end, in conjunction with university professors, deans of Christian and secular colleges (who are favorable to both Intelligent Design and belief in Special Creation), I’m helping build out the electronic component of courses that teach ID and concepts of Creationism for such venues.

The first order of business in such a course is studying Paley’s watch argument and modern incarnations of Paley’s watch. But I’ve found compartmentalizing the pure science and math from the theological issues is helpful. Thus, at least for my own understanding and peace of mind, I’ve considered writing a paper to help define terms that will avoid the use of theologically loaded phrases like “materialism”, “naturalism”, “theism”, and even “Intelligent Design”, etc. I want to use terms that are as theologically neutral as possible to form the mathematical and physical foundation of the ID argument. The purpose of this is to circumvent circular arguments as best as possible. If found what I believe are some unfortunate equivocations and circularity in Bill Dembki’s definition of Design using the explanatory filter, and I’m trying to avoid that.

VJ Torley was very kind to help me phrase the opening of my paper, and I have such high respect for him that I’ve invited him to be a co-author of the paper he so chooses. He of course is free to write his own take on the matters I specify in the opening of my paper. In any case, I’m deeply indebted to him for being a fellow traveler on the net as well as the example he has set as a meticulous scholar.

Here is a draft opening of the papers which I present here at TSZ to solicit comments in the process of revising and expanding my paper.

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Multiverse or Miracles of God?
Circumventing metaphysical baggage when describing massive statistical or physical violations of normative expectations

Intro/Abstract
When attempting to set up a framework for expressing the improbability of phenomena that may turn out to have metaphysical implications, it may be helpful to isolate the metaphysical aspects of these phenomena from the actual math used to describe them. Additionally, the probabilities (which are really statements of uncertainty) can be either observer- or perspective-dependent. For example, in a raffle or a professional sporting league, there is a guaranteed winner. Using more formal terminology, we can say that it is normative that there is a winner, from the perspective of the entire system or ensemble of possibilities; however, from the perspective of any given participant (e.g. an individual raffle ticket holder), it is by no means normative for that individual to be a winner.

With respect to the question of the origin of life and the fine-tuning of the universe, one can postulate a scenario where it is normative for life to emerge in at least one universe, when we are considering the ensemble of all universes (i.e. the multiverse). However, from the perspective of the universe in which an observer happens to be situated, the fine-tuning of that particular universe and the origin of life in that universe are not at all normative: one can reasonably ask, “Why did this universe turn out to be so friendly to life, when it could have been otherwise?” Thus, when someone asserts that it is extremely improbable that a cell should arise from inanimate matter, this statement can be regarded as normative from the perspective of human experience and experimental observations, even though it is not necessarily normative in the ultimate sense of the word. Putting it more informally, one might say that abiogenesis and fine-tuning are miraculous from the human point of view, but whether they are miraculous in the theological or ultimate sense is a question that may well be practically (if not formally) undecidable.

The objective of this article is to circumvent, or at least minimize, the metaphysical baggage of phrases like “natural”, “material”, “supernatural”, “intelligent,” when formulating probabilistic descriptions of phenomena such as the fine-tuning of the universe and the origin of life. One can maintain that these remarkable phenomena are not explicable in terms of any accepted normative mechanisms which are known to us from everyday experience and scientific observation, and remain well within the realm of empirical science. However, whether fine-tuning and the origin of life are normative in the ultimate sense, and whether they are best explained by God or the multiverse, are entirely separate issues, which fall outside the domain of empirical science.

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662 thoughts on “Taking “ID is science” out of the ID/Creation argument

  1. Allan Miller,

    Yes, I was going to say similar. People seem to think they have a handle on the probability of a process whose details are completely unknown.

    I am talking about the process that is of record, random genetic change.

    You know tornado in a junk yard and all that stuff 🙂

    We can calculate and estimate of the combinations required and it is exceeding unlikely it is less than 10^50. No empirical data I am aware of would support a smaller number.

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  2. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    I am talking about the process that is of record, random genetic change.

    You know tornado in a junk yard and all that stuff

    We can calculate and estimate of the combinations required and it is exceeding unlikely it is less than 10^50.No empirical data I am aware of would support a smaller number.

    You still seem to be assuming you know what happened and how. You talk about “the combinations required” without knowing either the combinations or the requirements. For example, you talk about genetic change. Why do you assume the OOL started with genes at all, much less genes as we know them? I think OOL researchers are giving most serious consideration to some sort of feedback process, which need not have even been biological at first.

    I don’t think anyone here would disagree with you that the probability of what is “of record” today, occurring by random chance from simple molecules, is essentially zero. You may as well argue that today’s airplanes MUST be divine miracles, because proto-bacteria 4 billion years ago could not possibly have become airplanes. Surely nothing noteworthy has happened since, right?

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  3. colewd:
    I am talking about the process that is of record, random genetic change.

    No, you’re not.

    colewd:
    You know tornado in a junk yard and all that stuff

    See? You’re not talking about random genetic change, you’re talking about tornadoes in a junkyard.

    colewd:
    We can calculate and estimate of the combinations required and it is exceeding unlikely it is less than 10^50. No empirical data I am aware of would support a smaller number.

    Of course, if you want random genetic change to mean that each time some organism reproduces everything in their genetic material randomizes, then you’re not talking about random genetic changes, you’re talking about something that doesn’t happen.

    When organisms reproduce they do contain a few random genetic changes, but they are very far from getting a completely randomized genome from their parents.

    Life forms contain genomes that are the result of lots of processes, none of which is a complete randomization of their genomes. They thus contain genetic molecules that have withstood rounds and rounds and rounds of selection across eons of time.

    Life forms, obviously, contain versions of successful genomes that differ slightly from each other, and that are, thus, witnesses that success is possible and that we have a lot to learn as to how and why. Equating such long histories, with their twists and turns, the abundance of failures leaving little to no trace of their existence, the enormous cost in failures, the chemical and physical phenomena involved, the energetic flows, etc, as if all of it was pure randomization shows very little observational skills. Do you really think that if all was mere randomness scientists would be looking for answers? Performing further research? Investigating the properties of amphipathic molecules? Self-organizing chemicals? Energy flows? The properties of clays? Inheritance? Catalysis? What for all of that research, and more, if we were already convinced that it’s all mere randomness “tornado in a junk yard and all that stuff”?

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  4. Entropy:
    Of course, if you want random genetic change to mean that each time some organism reproduces everything in their genetic material randomizes, then you’re not talking about random genetic changes, you’re talking about something that doesn’t happen.

    When organisms reproduce they do contain a few random genetic changes, but they are very far from getting a completely randomized genome from their parents.

    Life forms contain genomes that are the result of lots of processes, none of which is a complete randomization of their genomes. They thus contain genetic molecules that have withstood rounds and rounds and rounds of selection across eons of time.

    As I recall, someone wrote a WEASEL program intended to illustrate the amazing power of selection, over simple random chance. And as I also recall, creationists have never yet quite grasped the lesson the WEASEL program was written to teach. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

    Even the idea is incomprehensible that if there were billions of tornados and those pieces that just happened to get put together just right were retained after each one, by golly eventually something useful and wildly nonrandom would evolve. And after it did, creationists would mock anyone who attributed this useful result to tornados.

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  5. ‘Tornado in a junkyard’ is a particularly poor analogy. How did the components get into the junkyard in the first place? And if one thinks one could, instead, assemble a working jumbo from these components, forgive me if I decline a test flight.

    The problems become more acute when one considers that the components of this ‘jumbo’ are actually atoms (eta: ‘Gotcha!’ opportunity noted!’). Things happen very differently on that scale. You’re just strolling past, whistling, with a bit of joystick in your hand, when – whump! It flies out your hand and sticks to a bit of fuselage. You grab it, both-fisted, brace your feet against the bulkhead but still it won’t budge. It’s welded. And all the while there’s this aviation fuel sloshing around, which you are trying to shepherd into the tank you’re trying to assemble from fragments that disintegrate in the presence of oxygen …

    ‘Design’ solves it. Yeah, sure it does.

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  6. Flint: As I recall, someone wrote a WEASEL program intended to illustrate the amazing power of selection, over simple random chance. And as I also recall, creationists have never yet quite grasped the lesson the WEASEL program was written to teach. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

    From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

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  7. Allan Miller,

    Allan, you say creation answers nothing, you want to know what is the poof moment. But I assume most reasonable creationists don’t look at it this way. It’s more like, if there is a teleological nature to cell formation and development, then we don’t require extraordinary luck for things to combine in just the right way in just the right time. If things are destined to move towards more complexity, it doesn’t require that one assumes crazy low probabilities for everything the way the materialist random way would.

    If we already know actually the laws of physics that perform the way they do because they follow rules, how much of a stretch is it to assume living things also follow rules?

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  8. CharlieM: From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

    If you don’t believe there is a static target, then why do you keep describing evolution as a progression towards higher consciousness?

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  9. CharlieM: From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

    Too bad you still stand willingly blindfolded outside of the House of Worship, with Goethe & Steiner also outside with you, gnawing on your ear, as you take the advice of foxes instead of hedgehogs. Goethe, according to Berlin was, as you know in your heart, a fox. I take you as closer to Tolstoy; a fox who believes in being a hedgehog.

    “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” – Archilocus (in Berlin’s “The Fox & the Hedgehog”)

    So many foxes at TSZ!

    STC is one of the few in this conversation that is a hedgehog (so it seems) who believes in being a fox. His ‘IDism outside of science’ claim is both late to the stage & unworthy. He operates too clumsily outside of ‘science’ to be able to deliver a ‘religion & philosophy’ ID course that isn’t merely frantic ideological propaganda for YECism & IDism. Yet it seems STC has disowned himself from the IDM & doesn’t affiliate with any of the main YECist or OECist organizations: DI, RTB, AiG, BioLogos, instead preferring a one-man track.

    Only those deceived by ‘gambling-style’ apologetics & a frantic ‘gotcha’ approach to science, philosophy & theology/worldview discourse would be interested. Maybe a few protestant non-mainline church pastors who feel stuck by their flock caught on evolution(ism) vs. creation(ism) would subscribe. But that’s what BioLogos is for & they do it much better & professionally than STC.

    There are trust levels of discourse above STC’s that are available & open already. He’s currently getting crushed on this same topic over at PS, avoiding questions & badgering people with his ideologies. We’ll see what Swamidass does with him, as a similarly clumsy heavy-handed moderator there.

    Many people have rejected the scientificity of IDT. They did it before STC, still do it their own way & most do it better than STC does. There is very little coherence in what he is offering that could be taught in a philosophy or religion course at university. One would first have to sit down in the middle of the room with the students, leaving STC listening on the margin, and unpack the whirling contradictions and inadequacy in much of his writing. Much better and more coherent bodies of work on this topic are available, however Sal avoids or leaves out those persons, that work and those ideas, even though they are held by credible scientists and mature Abrahamic monotheists.

    The subtitle of his polemic title question “Multiverse or Miracles of God?” shows what’s needed that this isn’t a serious proposal. Anyone who would treat this “ID is most appropriately taught in college/seminary theology and philosophy departments,” as a credible or worthy option, surely hasn’t surveyed what else is available. For a person not trained in either philosophy or theology to suggest ‘good professors’ should teach their IDist/YECist ideology in philosophy or theology classes, the pride & incredulity of another ideological creationist is again noted.

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  10. CharlieM: From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

    I think you knew it’s easier to hit a visible stationary target than an invisible moving target long before you heard of the weasel.

    And I know you didn’t learn that from the weasel because the weasel does not compare the difficulty of those two tasks.

    It compares the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple independent series of random steps each beginning at the starting point with the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple series of random steps each beginning at the starting point, with each series stepping from the best location in the previous generation.
    And what the comparison tells us is that selection from random changes increases the likelihood of improved fitness being found over random changes alone.

    Imagine an infinite checkerboard with 5 checkers stacked on one square, the starting point. Imagine the target is one thousand squares to the northeast. The five checkers take independent random jumps to squares A, B, C, D, and E. E is closest to the target.

    Without selection each checker jumps randomly again from its first landing spot.

    With selection each checker moves to E and then jumps randomly from there.

    Repeat until a checker lands on the target space.

    Repeat the whole thing a thousand times.

    How many times will each method have hit the target first? My intuition tells me selection will dominate, like 999-1 depending on the distance from starting point to target. What do you think?

    If you agree with me you accept the lesson of the weasel. If not, can you tell me why?

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  11. phoodoo,

    It’s still a matter of extraordinary luck that the universe should come furnished with a Creator who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. Resolving some perceived difficulties with ‘randomness’ by postulating ‘bloke in sky’ lacks a certain something, imo.

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  12. phoodoo: Allan, you say creation answers nothing, you want to know what is the poof moment.

    For you ,a list of the physical steps was miraculous, what was the poof moment for you then?

    But I assume most reasonable creationists don’t look at it this way

    I assume most creationists use faith not reason.

    .

    It’s more like, if there is a teleological nature to cell formation and development, then we don’t require extraordinary luck for things to combine in just the right way in just the right time.

    How does a reasonable creationist calculate that a Being with the necessary capabilities choose to do something sometime somehow is more likely than “combining in the right way in the right time” alternative? Wouldn’t one need to understand the supernatural realm pretty well to calculate that?

    If things are destined to move towards more complexity, it doesn’t require that one assumes crazy low probabilities for everything the way the materialist random way would.

    Why and how does a creator destine something move to complexity? Why not create it that way the first place? How does one calculate the probabilities of that destiny is somehow the cause of an event? Cancer, destiny or low probability luck?

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  13. phoodoo:
    Allan, you say creation answers nothing, you want to know what is the poof moment.But I assume most reasonable creationists don’t look at it this way.It’s more like, if there is a teleological nature to cell formation and development, then we don’t require extraordinary luck for things to combine in just the right way in just the right time.If things are destined to move towards more complexity, it doesn’t require that one assumes crazy low probabilities for everything the way the materialist random way would.

    What makes you think that “materialists” assume “crazy low probabilities for everything”? I’m a “materialist” (rather a physicalist, more as a conclusion than as a starting point, though there seems to be no other starting point available), and I don’t assume such a thing. Aren’t you mistaking “materialists” for creationists? Because it’s creationists who assume crazy low probabilities and mere randomness (therefore god-did-it). What I assume that I don’t know how everything works. Yet so far we have learned that things work in ways other than mere randomness, and thus, things would be explainable by a bunch of phenomena, rather than randomness alone.

    phoodoo:
    If we already know actually the laws of physics that perform the way they do because they follow rules, how much of a stretch is it to assume living things also follow rules?

    Since you know about “laws of physics,” then why do you insist on that “crazy low probabilities for everything” crap? Planet orbits are not random. We even have equations that describe them pretty well. Materialists (physicalists), know this. Therefore, no materialist/physicalist would think that everything has crazy low probabilities.

    “Laws of physics” don’t actually “follow rules.” They’re descriptions of the way some phenomena work. Things work according to what they are (their “nature”). They don’t think, oh, I should follow this rule. Planets don’t follow elliptical orbits because they read in a “following-your-orbits” manual that they should do so. They’re trapped in those orbits, as far as we know, because of the way mass interacts with space-time.

    Of course living things also act according to what they are. They work out of the way their components interact. My hair doesn’t grow according to some rule it reads in the “how-to-behave-like-hair” manual, it grows because of the way all the interacting components behave.

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  14. CharlieM: From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

    I think you illustrate my point, since WEASEL teaches none of those things. WEASEL illustrates the cumulative power of selection.

    Now, granted WEASEL starts with a predetermined, static target. The purpose was to show that selection is extremely powerful, and do it so simply even a creationist might grasp the key notion of selection. And as you make clear, WEASEL failed at this.

    Realistic genetic algorithms like AVIDA teach the same lesson, but do so in a much more complex way. Nobody really expects a creationist to understand the lessons AVIDA teaches — that there may be no limit to the number of targets, that any step in any direction might lead toward any one of them, that every step actually IS a target, and subsequent steps produce (by reaching) more targets.

    Evolution has no targets, because it’s not a search algorithm. All organisms are today, and always have been, interim solutions lying between past and future solutions. The future is never reached.

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  15. Flint: I think you illustrate my point, since WEASEL teaches none of those things. WEASEL illustrates the cumulative power of selection.

    Yep. Charlie illustrated your point.

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  16. Flint,

    As I recall, someone wrote a WEASEL program intended to illustrate the amazing power of selection, over simple random chance. And as I also recall, creationists have never yet quite grasped the lesson the WEASEL program was written to teach. Try as they might, they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

    Flint, The Weasel program was written over 30 years ago and it is the only simulation I know of that shows that you can find a target sequence through a search. It requires a sequence so it demonstrates an intelligently designed algorithm to find a specified target. Any other interpretation is spin. Evolution began to die when we started to understand the complexity of the cell.

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  17. Flint,

    Evolution has no targets, because it’s not a search algorithm. All organisms are today, and always have been, interim solutions lying between past and future solutions. The future is never reached.

    This is the fable that would become a hypothesis if you could model this. Once we observed long sequences the possibility of this fable becoming a real hypothesis was over. This essentially is what Weasel was telling you. Get the program and try to get 10 letters to find a target sequence without the target in the program. Here is the program. Test a ten letter word against the random search algorithm.https://www.evoinfo.org/

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  18. colewd: This is the fable that would become a hypothesis if you could model this. Once we observed long sequences the possibility of this fable becoming a real hypothesis was over. This essentially is what Weasel was telling you. Get the program and try to get 10 letters to find a target sequence without the target in the program

    Bill I know it’s hard for your tiny Creationist brain to process but the only “target” evolution had was/is “survive and reproduce one more generation”. That’s it. That’s why there have been an estimated billion different species which have existed on the Earth in the last 3.8 billion years. There is no one “correct” target which evolution is searching for anymore than each raindrop which falls has a specific spot on the ground as its “target”.

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  19. Adapa,

    Bill I know it’s hard for your tiny Creationist brain to process but the only “target” evolution had was/is “survive and reproduce one more generation”.

    If you believe that is responsible for the diversity of life you go for it.

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  20. colewd:
    Adapa,

    If you believe that is responsible for the diversity of life you go for it.

    Me and 99.9% of the professional scientists who work in the fields associated with evolutionary biology. You enjoy your pretend scientist pals Ken Ham and Stephen Meyer.

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  21. colewd:
    Adapa,

    If you believe that is responsible for the diversity of life you go for it.

    It must be (partly) responsible for some of life’s diversity, surely? Unless you think every species and subspecies was created exactly as they are now.

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  22. Adapa: Me and 99.9% of the professional scientists who work in the fields associated with evolutionary biology.

    That’s a completely made up stat. Why are you scientists so unscientific?

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  23. Entropy: Planet orbits are not random

    Right. Almost nothing is random. And yet materialists would love you to believe it all arose from random chaos. Funny that.

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  24. Corneel: If you don’t believe there is a static target, then why do you keep describing evolution as a progression towards higher consciousness?

    Because organisms do not aim towards higher consciousness. We can look at their physical makeup and determine how they express consciousness. Nervous systems are intimately linked with consciousness. If the evidence for evolution is to believed then physical life as we perceive it began without any nervous systems and much of life still exists without such a feature. Consciousness developed as individual organisms developed more sophisticated sense organs and central nervous systems. At the present time humans have the highest form of consciousness we can perceive on earth and the most sophisticated combined sense and nervous system.

    It is not the aim of life to produce consciousness. There is a natural process whereby consciousness condenses to the point where it gets expressed in individual organisms. Consciousness, like life is never static.

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  25. Gregory: Too bad you still stand willingly blindfolded outside of the House of Worship, with Goethe & Steiner also outside with you, gnawing on your ear, as you take the advice of foxes instead of hedgehogs. Goethe, according to Berlin was, as you know in your heart, a fox. I take you as closer to Tolstoy; a fox who believes in being a hedgehog

    Goethe was an admirer of Spinoza but I am more interested in the way he went about studying nature with his “gentle empiricism” than his attitude towards religion.

    Steiner is the only person whose interpretation of the Bible and Christianity, that does not have the contradictions that I find in most organised forms of Christianity. He places Christ at the centre of, the turning point, of evolution.

    I’m sure we all have mistaken beliefs in some respect, but I think the way we live our lives is more important than any beliefs we hold.

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  26. Walter Kloover:

    CharlieM: From WEASEL I learn about intentionality and targets, and how much easier it is to hit a static target in plain site, than a dynamic constantly shifting target whilst wearing a blindfold.

    I think you knew it’s easier to hit a visible stationary target than an invisible moving target long before you heard of the weasel.

    And I know you didn’t learn that from the weasel because the weasel does not compare the difficulty of those two tasks.

    It compares the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple independent series of random steps each beginning at the starting point with the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple series of random steps each beginning at the starting point, with each series stepping from the best location in the previous generation.
    And what the comparison tells us is that selection from random changes increases the likelihood of improved fitness being found over random changes alone.

    You make a good point. Weasel didn’t teach me something I didn’t already know. But it does show that it is important for the system to have a complete, overall knowledge of what it is that is going to be the final outcome. the whole is determining the activity of the parts.

    I’m out of time. I’ll have a closer read of this reply and any other replies to my post tomorrow if and when I get a chance.

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  27. phoodoo:
    Right. Almost nothing is random. And yet materialists would love you to believe it all arose from random chaos. Funny that.

    Funny that you insist despite I explained to you that “materialists” do not believe such a thing, and why.

    As I said, I’m a physicalist (previously called materialism), more as a conclusion than as a foundational philosophy, and I surely wouldn’t love anybody to believe that it all arose from “random chaos” (chaos is not random by the way, other than in a colloquial use of the term). I could not be more direct.

    Now, tell me, did you understand it this time around? Is there a point in trying to explain things to you?

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  28. colewd:
    Once we observed long sequences the possibility of this fable becoming a real hypothesis was over.

    Really? Care to explain why in no ambiguous terms? I ask because I’ve read the [original] relevant articles, and those long sequences confirmed divergences from common ancestral sequences. The fitted, despite they didn’t have to fit (if evolution didn’t happen), into evolutionary histories. Not with perfect beauty, because evolution is somewhat messy, as we should expect from natural phenomena, but they fitted. So what’s your take and why?

    colewd:
    This essentially is what Weasel was telling you.

    Nope. It wasn’t telling us any such thing. It was telling us that selection makes a huge difference when coupled to a background of random “mutations.”

    colewd:
    Get the program and try to get 10 letters to find a target sequence without the target in the program.

    So try it without selection? Why? The purpose of the program is to show the effects of selection. Why would we remove it?

    colewd:
    Here is the program. Test a ten letter word against the random search algorithm. https://www.evoinfo.org/

    Obviously you did not understand the point of the program. The target sentence is there to represent the “environment.” To show the effects of selection in accumulating successful variants through generations. Of course, this is way too specific to really represent evolution, but, again, it’s not a simulation of evolution, it’s a demonstration that selection and reproduction of successful variants makes a huge difference compared to mere randomness. It shows that we’re not talking about randomness alone and why.

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  29. CharlieM: He places Christ at the centre of, the turning point, of evolution.

    So did Pierre Teilhard de Chardin & Thomas Berry. And in some sense, so does Francis Collins now via BioLogos, though in a much less ideological way than either Steiner or Teilhard. ‘Life’ here isn’t a mere synonym for ‘evolution.’

    Why bring Spinoza in as if that were a credit when he is a fox too? Is this anti-organisation CharlieM’s coming out as a fox, rather than as a hedgehog?

    Surely beliefs impact even how CharlieM sometimes acts, contrary to what the final paragraph of empty virtue-signalling above seems to indicate.

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  30. CharlieM: Because organisms do not aim towards higher consciousness.

    phoodoo says that there are in built rules that drive life towards greater complexity. Or there might be, he’s not sure. Do you disagree with him there?

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  31. OMagain: phoodoo says that there are in built rules that drive life towards greater complexity. Or there might be, he’s not sure. Do you disagree with him there?

    Gould wrote a book on the subject.

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  32. Entropy,

    Oh I see. You are another one of those atheists for directed worlds that aren’t directed. It’s sort of like the third way evolutionists, they believe in some other way… Sort of like don’t ask don’t tell.

    Your kind loves driveller’s vehicle technology, it’s like a metaphor for your worldview. It’s not random, it’s being driven but no one is driving. You form a loose strategic alliance with the non-teleological teleologicalists. Your favorite charity is causes without a cause. And borders without borders.

    It’s a caricature I tell you!

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  33. phoodoo:
    Oh I see.You are another one of those atheists for directed worlds that aren’t directed.

    Directed? When did I say that? I said non mere randomness. The false dichotomy is all yours.

    The thing you don’t understand is that before anybody could “direct” anything, things would have to respond nonrandomly. Otherwise “directing” would not be possible. A nature that has a minimal determinism is necessary for “directors” to exist and to be able to “direct” phoodoo. There cannot be directors without a nature that supports them and their directing. You have it backwards.

    phoodoo:
    It’s sort of like the third way evolutionists, they believe in some other way… Sort of like don’t ask don’t tell.

    I’ve explained myself many times over phoodoo. You just happen to read too selectively and ignore everything else, lest you understand my position.

    phoodoo:
    Your kind loves driveller’s vehicle technology, it’s like a metaphor for your worldview. It’s not random, it’s being driven but no one is driving. You form a loose strategic alliance with the non-teleological teleologicalists. Your favorite charity is causes without a cause. And borders without borders.

    As I said, you’re position is backwards. Cart-before-the-horse, and I’m starting to doubt that you’ll be able to understand something that simple.

    phoodoo:
    It’s a caricature I tell you!

    It’s you who thinks that intelligence is independent of a nature to support it. It’s therefore you who thinks that mere randomness is behind your intelligent designer’s “being.”

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  34. Walter Kloover: I think you knew it’s easier to hit a visible stationary target than an invisible moving target long before you heard of the weasel.

    And I know you didn’t learn that from the weasel because the weasel does not compare the difficulty of those two tasks.

    It compares the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple independent series of random steps each beginning at the starting point with the difficulty of hitting a stationary and visible target by multiple series of random steps each beginning at the starting point, with each series stepping from the best location in the previous generation.
    And what the comparison tells us is that selection from random changes increases the likelihood of improved fitness being found over random changes alone.

    Imagine an infinite checkerboard with 5 checkers stacked on one square, the starting point. Imagine the target is one thousand squares to the northeast. The five checkers take independent random jumps to squares A, B, C, D, and E. E is closest to the target.

    Without selection each checker jumps randomly again from its first landing spot.

    With selection each checker moves to E and then jumps randomly from there.

    Repeat until a checker lands on the target space.

    Repeat the whole thing a thousand times.

    How many times will each method have hit the target first? My intuition tells me selection will dominate, like 999-1 depending on the distance from starting point to target. What do you think?

    If you agree with me you accept the lesson of the weasel. If not, can you tell me why?

    Yes I can see that. WEASEL teaches us about the stabilising effects of natural selection. The species can either stay in tune with the environment or be eliminated. The target is dynamic stability and this aligns with my view that natural selection is a stabilising force.

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  35. Flint: I think you illustrate my point, since WEASEL teaches none of those things. WEASEL illustrates the cumulative power of selection.

    Now, granted WEASEL starts with a predetermined, static target. The purpose was to show that selection is extremely powerful, and do it so simply even a creationist might grasp the key notion of selection. And as you make clear, WEASEL failed at this.

    Realistic genetic algorithms like AVIDA teach the same lesson, but do so in a much more complex way. Nobody really expects a creationist to understand the lessons AVIDA teaches — that there may be no limit to the number of targets, that any step in any direction might lead toward any one of them, that every step actually IS a target, and subsequent steps produce (by reaching) more targets.

    Evolution has no targets, because it’s not a search algorithm. All organisms are today, and always have been, interim solutions lying between past and future solutions. The future is never reached.

    I have argued that natural selection keeps a species in tune with the environment. But take as an example endothermy. Exothermic animals are more in tune with the environment than their endothermic cousins. They go with the flow of temperature fluctuations. Endothermic animals shield themselves somewhat from environmental effects. How did this ability evolve? What evolutionary forces brought about this isolation from the environment?

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  36. phoodoo:
    Did you write this whilst stranded on the gish gallopagos islands?

    I’ve said you’re unable to read for comprehension, and there you go making my point.

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  37. Gregory: So did Pierre Teilhard de Chardin & Thomas Berry. And in some sense, so does Francis Collins now via BioLogos, though in a much less ideological way than either Steiner or Teilhard. ‘Life’ here isn’t a mere synonym for ‘evolution.’

    Why bring Spinoza in as if that were a credit when he is a fox too? Is this anti-organisation CharlieM’s coming out as a fox, rather than as a hedgehog?

    Surely beliefs impact even how CharlieM sometimes acts, contrary to what the final paragraph of empty virtue-signalling above seems to indicate.

    I didn’t mention Spinoza to defend Goethe, I mentioned this just as a fact about Goethe. I wasn’t looking for approval of Goethe, just understanding.

    Of course my beliefs have an effect on my actions. It’s very easy to delude ourselves. I might not get very far in my attempts, but I do try to follow the advise, “know thyself”.

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  38. CharlieM: I have argued that natural selection keeps a species in tune with the environment. But take as an example endothermy. Exothermic animals are more in tune with the environment than their endothermic cousins. They go with the flow of temperature fluctuations. Endothermic animals shield themselves somewhat from environmental effects. How did this ability evolve? What evolutionary forces brought about this isolation from the environment?

    By now, you will have Googled “evolution of warm bloodedness”.

    What did you learn?

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  39. Entropy,

    Nope. It wasn’t telling us any such thing. It was telling us that selection makes a huge difference when coupled to a background of random “mutations.”

    Selecting against what specifically? Selecting agains a target sequence does not simulate testing against the environment. Having the information available is what’s required. Thats why the design argument has a growing seat at the table.

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  40. colewd:
    Selecting against what specifically?

    Against whatever Bill. In this case against some target sentence. The point is the selection bit. Focus. The point is that the demonstration is about the power of selection when coupled against a background of random “mutations.”

    colewd:
    Selecting agains a target sequence does not simulate testing against the environment.

    I said this already. Didn’t you read what I wrote? It doesn’t matter. It is still selection on randomly varying sequences, showing that despite a random background variation, successful sequences can accumulate and get where mere randomness wouldn’t.

    colewd:
    Having the information available is what’s required.

    Information is what we get from the coupling of things Bill. the environment is the “information” that takes sequences somewhere. that serves as a target, only a much less specific one. One that can be “matched” (rather survived), in a wide variety of ways, which makes evolution easier than hitting a very specific target, like a particular sentence.

    colewd:
    Thats why the design argument has a growing seat at the table.

    No, it doesn’t. You’re mistaking our conceptual ways of describing things, with the particular ways in which intelligence works. The “design argument” has huge foundational philosophical problems, which is needs to overcome before being taken seriously. It certainly cannot gain any footing by making categorical mistakes like the ones you insist on portraying by claiming that the WEASEL program proves design. You’re missing the point of the program, and confusing yourself with the concept of information.

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  41. Against whatever Bill. In this case against some target sentence. The point is the selection bit.

    The only way it works is with the target (information). You can’t make it work using a simulation of the environment as the target. The target is information that the program requires. You have validated the design argument using Weasel.

    Genetic information requires a mind to generate it is the design hypothesis and unless you can show another way you’re hypothesis fails.

    Entropy, it’s time to rethink your worldview. Maybe you were right the first time 🙂

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  42. colewd: Genetic information requires a mind to generate it is the design hypothesis and unless you can show another way you’re hypothesis fails.

    Does a mind contain information? What generated that?

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  43. colewd: Thats why the design argument has a growing seat at the table.

    What evidence do you have for this statement? I can link you to any number of places where the number of ID related publications is declining over time, not increasing.

    Where are you seeing this growth? Can you be specific?

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  44. colewd: You have validated the design argument using Weasel.

    What, specifically, is the design argument? Is it written down anywhere? Is there a canonical version?

    Or are there as many design arguments as there are design proponents?

    Is your design argument the same as phoodoos? You both think the existence of atoms is evidence of a designer.

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  45. phoodoo: Did you write this whilst stranded on the gish gallopagos islands?

    I’m interested to know how you go from “the supernatural exists” to “computers can never be conscious, only specific types of organic being with specific types of networks can be”.

    What is the link there? You make fun of people asking for evidence that the supernatural exists or who ask something about it but you apparently know enough to be able to decide what particular things that supernatural lawyer is capable of granting consciousness to.

    Feel free to ignore these questions, as you ignore responses to the questions you “ask”.

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  46. OMagain,

    What, specifically, is the design argument? Is it written down anywhere? Is there a canonical version?

    That what’s being observed (DNA etc) is best explained by a mind as the cause. There are other variations but this is the basic theme.

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