The Mysteries of Evolution: 1. Darwinian evolution is a non-random process

During my research on consciousness I have come across more than a few of the so-called mysteries of evolution mainly uttered by Richard Dawkins who seems to have no problem at all that science has not been able to explain them in terms of evolutionary processes… (More of them in my upcoming posts).

What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago?

But this is not the best part of the video I’ve linked. Watch carefully how Dawkins is treading lightly to avoid the obvious connection that can be and should be made between non-random process and purpose of evolution, because that could implicate that life could have been intelligently designed…

So, this must be one of those mysteries of evolution where (Darwinian) evolution, although being non-random, lacking purpose and forethought, is still mysteriously able to create beautiful living things Dawkins can’t doubt anymore they are and reluctantly acknowledges it…

However, by Dawkins claiming that unintelligent and yet on-random processes with no purpose are able to design and create living organisms that intelligent humans can’t even dream about replicating, he ascribes god-like-creative powers (much, much superior to humans) to nature.

It’s mind boggling how devious this man is. If there was a hell, he would be burning his ass there for his deceit.

However, what we mustn’t forget is the fact that the popularity of atheism-driven-evolution of life by whatever processes popularized by Dawkins and many others is induced by the need and demand for such a set of beliefs, whether they are true or not.

Why?

As I have said it many times before, we live in a post-fact, post-truth society where the truth for many (and more and more every day) no longer matters.

Many people couldn’t careless what the truth is, and simply put, just don’t want to her it.

So, they are looking for ideas that suit their own personal needs and wants. Dawkins and others are just simply filling the void.

Here is one of my favorite quotes that relates well to the post-fact, post-truth society we live in today.

If you have read it too many times and are already tired of it, don’t read it!

It’s a quote from the movie The International.

Agent Eleanor is desperately trying to nail a bank and expose the banking system for what it really is – crooked and dishonest.

But her boss is trying to prevent her as he sees that this would stir a lot of problems as there are many powerful people and institutions who benefit from the dishonest operations of the banking system… The kerfuffle could shake up the society’s trust in the banking system,  which is built on the propaganda that it is clean and trustworthy…

The persistence in the belief in the illusionary and unfounded ideas in some sense applies to the many avenues of our society today including the atheism-driven-evolutionary belief system.

Many people want dishonesty and lies to continue because they don’t want to change their views and lifestyle. They don’t want to hear the truth because this means inconvenience and accountability.

They just want to hear what suits their views and lifestyle.

Here is the quote:

“Eleanor Whitman: We are just trying to get to the truth!

New York D.A.: I get it! But what you need to remember is that there’s what people want to hear, there’s what people want to believe, there’s everything else, THEN there’s the truth!

Eleanor Whitman: And since when it’s that OK? I can’t even believe you are saying this to me! The truth means responsibility, Arnie!

New York D.A.: Exactly! Which is why everyone dreads it!”
– The International film 2009

92 thoughts on “The Mysteries of Evolution: 1. Darwinian evolution is a non-random process

  1. I take it this is the post you wanted publishing. I added a “more” tag to save wear on reader’s scroll wheels.

  2. Regarding J-Mac’s question:

    Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago?

    He was certainly saying so in 1986. In The Blind Watchmaker (Chapter 3) he explains the power of non-random selection with his “Weasel” program.

  3. And that has been what evolutionary biologists have been saying for 150 years, at least. So why is it a revelation when they say it again?

    Creationist debaters have often tried to argue that natural selection is just making random changes. Many of Dawkins’s explanations are aimed at correcting that.

  4. Disregarding the drooling gibberish that is J-mac’s post and focusing only on the video, I suspect the cardinal was actually trying to convey that most evolutionary biologists think there’s more to evolution than just natural selection (such as genetic drift) and that this component is largely random. Which is of course true, but ironically completely irrelevant to whatever point he was trying to make.

  5. J-Mac:

    What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

    Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago?

    He did. From The Selfish Gene, published 41 years ago:

    Just as whole boats win or lose races, it is indeed individuals who live or die, and the immediate manifestation of natural selection is nearly always at the individual level. But the long-term consequences of non-random individual death and reproductive success are manifested in the form of changing gene frequencies in the gene pool.

  6. It doesn’t matter greatly for understanding the processes, but the portrayal of drift as random and selection as non-random has been criticised. It depends on the sense of that multi-purpose word intended. Selection is a bias in a random process and, certainly to a mathematician (disclaimer: not a mathematician!), bias does not stop something being random (subject to a probability distribution).

    If one type produces an average 1000 offspring to another’s average 1001, both of those figures are the centres of a distribution. The second doesn’t produce a thousand random offspring and one non-random one. Then again, the second doesn’t increase in the population ‘at random’.

  7. J-Mac,

    As I have said it many times before, we live in a post-fact, post-truth society where the truth for many (and more and more every day) no longer matters.

    Many people couldn’t careless what the truth is, and simply put, just don’t want to her it.

    And that person is you.

  8. J-Mac,

    It’s mind boggling how devious this man is. If there was a hell, he would be burning his ass there for his deceit.

    Or you’ve fundamentally misunderstood something crucial.

    Random internet poster vs academically published evolution populariser.

    Ever strike you you are limited to posting your opinions on random boards and not publishing books for a reason J-Mac?

  9. I bought a die and on the packet it said it’d give me a random number when thrown but instead I just got numbers between 1 and 6 every time.

  10. J-Mac,

    So, this must be one of those mysteries of evolution where (Darwinian) evolution, although being non-random, lacking purpose and forethought, is still mysteriously able to create beautiful living things Dawkins can’t doubt anymore they are and reluctantly acknowledges it…

    Perhaps you can answer this question then. Loa loa filariasis presumably has a purpose and was created with forethought and is a beautiful living thing created by your designer. The adult Loa loa filarial worm migrates throughout the subcutaneous tissues of humans, occasionally crossing into subconjunctival tissues of the eye where it can be easily observed.

    What is it’s purpose?

  11. OMagain:
    I bought a die and on the packet it said it’d give me a random number when thrown but instead I just got numbers between 1 and 6 every time.

    Who designed the 1-6 in the universes die?

  12. phoodoo: To exist, what’s the problem?

    Last week you did not know what the plan was, only that there was a plan but it could not be known in this lifetime. Now it seems you know what the plan is and it’s trivial. “To Exist”.

    Did the Loa loa filarial worm evolve, or was it designed?

  13. phoodoo: Who designed the 1-6 in the universes die?

    Why should I even acknowledge your questions about who designed what when you are too scared to answer mine?

  14. Rumraket: That you made it up on the spot.

    And it tells us nothing whatsoever. No need to change how we are, what we do or what we do to others. Just existing is “the plan”.

  15. What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

    “non-random” is just a shorthand way of saying natural selection is stochastic but with a non-uniform probability distribution for different genetic variants in the population. Not every individual with a mutation which gives greater reproductive fitness will reproduce, not every individual with lower reproductive fitness will fail to reproduce, but on average across the whole population that is what will happen.

    It’s the same reason casinos win money at roulette. The green 0 and 00 numbers give the house a 5% edge in its probability distribution over other bettors. Each spin of the wheel is “random” i.e. stochastic, individual bettors can win money on any individual spin, but over the long run the house will always see its 5% advantage realized.

    I wonder how many millions of times this simple concept has been explained to Creationists over the decades and they still don’t get it.

  16. Alan Fox: He was certainly saying so in 1986. In The Blind Watchmaker (Chapter 3) he explains the power of non-random selection with his “Weasel” program.

    LoL! no one doubts the power of intelligent selection to make things that appear to be designed. Take your own post, for example. You had many different characters you could have chosen from and at press of the key you chose a specific letter and look what they accumulated into. Another PRATT!

    Have you no shame, Alan?

  17. Many people want dishonesty and lies to continue because they don’t want to change their views and lifestyle. They don’t want to hear the truth because this means inconvenience and accountability.

    They just want to hear what suits their views and lifestyle.

    That’s certainly true of white right-wing evangelical “Christians” in the US. They’d vote for the anti-Christ if he pandered to their racism and homophobia*.

    * that is, vote for him again.

  18. Kantian Naturalist: That’s certainly true of white right-wing evangelical “Christians” in the US.

    I certainly agree that the OP would have been much better off leaving out that part. Unless that was the entire point of the OP. If it’s not the point of the OP it only serves to distract from whatever that point is.

  19. Mung: LoL! no one doubts the power of intelligent selection to make things that appear to be designed. Take your own post, for example. You had many different characters you could have chosen from and at press of the key you chose a specific letter and look what they accumulated into. Another PRATT!

    Have you no shame, Alan?

    Really don’t know what you are trying to say here. You are welcome to think Darwinian selection is nonsense. That’s your choice. But J-mac is misrepresenting Dawkins who has consistently made the case for non-random selection. That was what I was pointing out.

  20. Alan Fox: But J-mac is misrepresenting Dawkins who has consistently made the case for non-random selection. That was what I was pointing out.

    By referring to Weasel. About which Dawkins said, “Life is not like that.” Weasel is not an examplar for how evolution is not random. #ZombieScience

  21. Alan Fox,

    Really don’t know what you are trying to say here. You are welcome to think Darwinian selection is nonsense. That’s your choice. But J-mac is misrepresenting Dawkins who has consistently made the case for non-random selection. That was what I was pointing out.

    Why do you think he is mis representing Dawkins?

  22. Joe Felsenstein,

    Creationist debaters have often tried to argue that natural selection is just making random changes. Many of Dawkins’s explanations are aimed at correcting that.

    Is natural selection doing anything more than fixing random changes into a population?

  23. Mung: I certainly agree that the OP would have been much better off leaving out that part. Unless that was the entire point of the OP. If it’s not the point of the OP it only serves to distract from whatever that point is.

    I took the point of the OP to be the same old anti-atheist propaganda: that people choose to be atheists because they don’t want to be held responsible for their actions.

    This claim is not even false — it’s just bullshit*. It was bullshit when it was invented by 17th-century anti-materialists and it’s still bullshit today.

    I can sort of understand why someone could believe this if they’ve never met an atheist and all they knew about atheists is what they were told in church, but J-Mac has been coming to TSZ for a few months (at least). He is without excuse.

    * I mean “bullshit” in Harry Frankfurt’s sense: “The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether or not their listener is persuaded”

  24. Joe writes:

    Creationist debaters have often tried to argue that natural selection is just making random changes. Many of Dawkins’s explanations are aimed at correcting that.

    colewd responds:

    Is natural selection doing anything more than fixing random changes into a population?

    …thus demonstrating Adapa’s point:

    I wonder how many millions of times this simple concept has been explained to Creationists over the decades and they still don’t get it.

  25. During my research on consciousness….

    You mean the mushrooms you’ve obviously been ingesting in great quantities?

  26. Mung: By referring to Weasel. About which Dawkins said, “Life is not like that.” Weasel is not an examplar for how evolution is not random.

    Of course Weasel was not intended to do anything other than illustrate the power of biased selection over purely random selection. But Dawkins wanted to demonstrate clearly the non-random bias of selection. You confuse “evolution” with an important element of evolution – non-random selection.

  27. Joe Felsenstein,

    Joe Felsenstein:
    And that has been what evolutionary biologists have been saying for 150 years, at least.So why is it a revelation when they say it again?

    Creationist debaters have often tried to argue that natural selection is just making random changes.Many of Dawkins’s explanations are aimed at correcting that.

    What else is natural selection doing and how does that apply to Dawkins’ statement about non-random processes being able to create things beautiful?

    Why would natural selection make things beautiful if they are not necessary for survival? Is hairy, good looking man more likely to get laid and reproduce than a bald, ugly man?

  28. Rumraket:
    Disregarding the drooling gibberish that is J-mac’s post and focusing only on the video, I suspect the cardinal was actually trying to convey that most evolutionary biologists think there’s more to evolution than just natural selection (such as genetic drift) and that this component is largely random. Which is of course true, but ironically completely irrelevant to whatever point he was trying to make.

    This is what my next post was going to be about–random genetic drift. Many, many evolutionists have been very outspoken about the impotence of natural selection in creating new body plans, organs and so on… Is it not what the Royals Society Meet was all about last November?

    My point is simple; Dawkins and his supporters can foam their saliva all they want when someone questions their beliefs. But instead of speculations, and fairy-tales, they should come up with some experimental proof to shut up the inquiring minds like mine…
    Unfortunately, we all know already that if there was such evidence, we would be tired of hearing it…So, until Darwinists come up with so sort of proof, we are going to have to hear their science fiction stories… lol

  29. J-Mac: Many, many evolutionists have been very outspoken about the impotence of natural selection in creating new body plans, organs and so on… Is it not what the Royals Society Meet was all about last November?

    No, it was not.

    See here for abstracts of the papers presented there. One can also listen to the talks as mp3 files.

  30. OMagain:
    J-Mac,

    And that person is you.

    Oh yeah? So l will let you explain the truth how Darwinism got from this point written by Darwin himself:

    “”There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved”.

    …to what it is today? How the Creator was eliminated and substituted by random mutations and drift with non-random natural selection?
    If the Creator breathed life into few forms of life or just one, as Darwin believed it, how did it became materialistic evolution that doesn’t even mention what Darwin wrote? Let’s see if you care about the truth and if you can handle it!

  31. OMagain:
    J-Mac,

    Perhaps you can answer this question then. Loa loa filariasis presumably has a purpose and was created with forethought and is a beautiful living thing created by your designer. The adult Loa loa filarial worm migrates throughout the subcutaneous tissues of humans, occasionally crossing into subconjunctival tissues of the eye where it can be easily observed.

    What is it’s purpose?

    Have you ever heard of adaptation?
    Why do raccoons learn how do open latches and get into garbage? Because they adapt. The environment is a mess.
    Raccoons in the wild run away from people and don’t even approach them because they have plenty of food and water.
    Just because a living thing doesn’t act according to the purpose it was design with, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed with a certain purpose.

    Humans were not designed to live in stress why can’t they evolve and adapt?

  32. colewd:
    Joe Felsenstein,

    Is natural selection doing anything more than fixing random changes into a population?

    It is suppose to do more…unfortunately it doesn’t and that is why we have meets like the the royal society meet they they try to find a new mechanism for evolution
    without implementing God or ID…

  33. colewd:
    Alan Fox,

    Why do you think he is mis representing Dawkins?

    All you or Dawkins can do is provide evidence for his claims… I can question them all I want…You and him can provide evidence rather then speculations…
    Until that happens, I will continue to say that Dawkins is deceiving the public by his unfounded claims… It is science-fiction and fairy-tales and definitely not science…

  34. J-Mac: How the Creator was eliminated and substituted by random mutations and drift with non-random natural selection?

    There’s nothing about evolution that eliminates the creator. Whether or not there was a creator has to do with origin of life, and that is prior to evolution. There are many evolutionary biologists who are theists.

  35. Unlike Dawkins and his supporters, I claim that whatever changes that happen within organism are predesign; there are certain limits to randomness.
    All you have to do is prove me wrong! 😉

  36. J-Mac: Unlike Dawkins and his supporters, I claim that whatever changes that happen within organism are predesign; there are certain limits to randomness.
    All you have to do is prove me wrong!

    Oh. Well then I claim that all that happens in the entire universe is due to my subconscious will and desire.

    All you have to do is prove me wrong!

  37. J-Mac: How the Creator was eliminated and substituted by random mutations and drift with non-random natural selection?

    If the Creator breathed life into few forms of life or just one, as Darwin believed it, how did it became materialistic evolution that doesn’t even mention what Darwin wrote? Let’s see if you care about the truth and if you can handle it!

    You’ve just been reading the wrong books, mate. Materialistic evolution isn’t the only game in town. Theistic evolution is alive and kicking. For starters, there’s Finding Darwin’s God and The Language of God.

    And of course there’s BioLogos.

    Here’s the problem: it’s really important for the Uncommon Descent crowd that Dawkins be held up at the paragon of All Things Darwin. (And of course Dawkins is all too happy to claim that title for himself.)

    But in doing so, Dawkins has done unconscionable damage to popular understanding of science. (It’s hard for me to express how very badly I despise Richard Dawkins.)

    Dawkins has conflated, whether deliberately or not (I don’t care), the empirical claims that can be made on behalf of evolutionary theory with the metaphysical claims about the existence or non-existence of God. (Also, his arguments against the existence of God are simply childish.) The result of these conflations, and his immense popularity fueled by a remarkable power of self-promotion, has resulted in a situation where it can easily seem that to accept evolution is to accept atheism, and that conversely, one can only retain religion if evolution is false.

    These are simply false, and indeed, the falsity of Dawkins’s entire schtick has been amply pointed out by Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Alastair McGrath, David Bentley Hart, Terry Eagleton, and a quite a few others.

    To quote Michael Ruse’s endorsement of the McGraths’s The Dawkins Delusion, “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why”.

    But — and this is just as important — it’s crucial to the Intelligent Design movement that Dawkins and Alex Rosenberg be held up as exemplars of where evolutionary thinking leads. Never mind more reasonable, less extreme views such as those of Kenneth Miller or Philip Kitcher! Miller and Kitcher are far too reasonable and nuanced for them to be the enemies that Intelligent Design requires in order for its culture war mythology to make any sense.

    The more anyone plays into this antagonism between Dawkins and Dembski, the more confused and muddled one’s thinking will be, especially when it comes to understanding that science and metaphysics are just not the same thing at all.

  38. OMagain:

    Does the “1” indicate this is merely the first in a series?

    J-Mac:

    I got 13 so far but I’m working on more though 😉

    Allan:

    And they’re all different?

    Yes. The next one will be #2, and the one after that will be #3.

  39. J-Mac: Just because a living thing doesn’t act according to the purpose it was design with, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed with a certain purpose.

    I see. A few questions then, if I may.

    How do you know this is not the purpose it was designed for?
    What was it’s original purpose?
    What previously took the part of unsuspecting animals in that part of it’s lifecycle?
    Why did it change from the purpose it was designed for?

    J-Mac: Because they adapt.

    Are these limits to this adaptation you talk about?
    If so, what are they? How do you know?
    What were the biological changes involved in the adaptation to using animals as part of the lifecycle? Were they complex? If they were complex, did they evolve? If so, does that mean complex things can evolve?

    I’ll have a few more no doubt if you get through a couple of those.

  40. J-Mac: All you or Dawkins can do is provide evidence for his claims.

    We can also correct your misrepresentation. Remember you claimed he didn’t consistently make it clear that Darwinian evolution has a non-random element, usually referred to as (natural, artificial, sexual) selection.

    I can question them all I want…You and him can provide evidence rather then speculations…
    Until that happens, I will continue to say that Dawkins is deceiving the public by his unfounded claims… It is science-fiction and fairy-tales and definitely not science…

    Well there’s a limit to how much repetition of evidence-free claims in the face of contrary evidence that this site tolerates.

  41. J-Mac: If the Creator breathed life into few forms of life or just one, as Darwin believed it, how did it became materialistic evolution that doesn’t even mention what Darwin wrote? Let’s see if you care about the truth and if you can handle it!

    As it happens I’ve quoted that part to people who claim that Darwin’s book was about the origin of life. The reason “materialistic evolution” does not mention what Darwin wrote is that “materialistic evolution” is a fever dream of yours that does not reflect much about the reality based communities understanding of how we got here. That reality based community gratefully acknowledges Darwin’s masterwork, but is not beholden to its every detail.

    And in any case, the point is that however life came about the book was about what happened after that.

    So yes, I care about the truth and, yes, it appears I can handle it. We shall see if the same can be said about you!

    You can make “non-materialistic evolution” a thing simply by demonstrating how scientists, driven by actual results as they are, can do their thing better by adding in your secret non-materialistic sauce. If you can demonstrate a more productive way, sign me in. Sign us all up.

    But I suspect that you are just another person who has deluded themselves into thinking attacking X supports Y in some way.

    As I have said it many times before, we live in a post-fact, post-truth society where the truth for many (and more and more every day) no longer matters.

    Do you want to talk about what it means if Darwinian evolution is a non-random process? If you really want to do so, please simply see my comment here: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/the-mysteries-of-evolution-1-darwinian-evolution-is-a-non-random-process/comment-page-1/#comment-178769

    For the sake of argument, let’s all agree that evolution is non-random! If so, apparently things can adapt so much, according to you, that something that did not crawl around your eye at some point “adapted” to crawl around your eye as part of it’s lifecycle. The world seems to have been around a long time. How do you know what is adaptation and what is original? How long do adaptations take? How do you know you are not looking at adaptation upon adaptation? Where does the “designer” come in in that case?

    And so on and on. It’s why phoodoo is scared to talk about what it means that these eye parasites were designed, if evolution can only do minor things. And adaptation to use humans as part of a lifecycle hardly sounds “minor” to me.

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