What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.

“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/

Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated.

The topic “design is history” nevertheless enables an obvious point of contact between “evolution” and “design”. They both have histories that can be studied. Present in the above meaning of “design” are the origin, processes and agent(s) involved in the “designing”. This differs significantly from the Discovery Institute’s version of “design theory”, when it comes to history, aim, structure and agency, since the DI’s version flat out avoids discussion of design processes and agent(s). The primary purpose of the DI’s “design theory”, meanwhile, is USAmerican religious apologetics and “theistic science”.

The quotation above likely didn’t come from an IDist, and it isn’t referencing “Intelligent Design” theory as a supposed “scientific theory”. The “designer” in the quotation above is a (more or less intelligent) human designer, not a Divine Designer. This fact distinguishes it “in principle” from the Discovery Institute’s ID theory, which is supposed to be (depends on who you’re speaking with in the IDM) about first biology, then informatics, and statistics. The DI’s ID theory is not actually focused on “designing by real designers”, but rather on apologetics using “design” and informational probabilism.

The Discovery Institute’s failure to distinguish or even highlight the differences and similarities between human design and Divine Design, and instead their engagement in active distortion, equivocation, double-talking, and obfuscation between them, are marks of its eventual downward trend to collapse.

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1,486 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. CharlieM: Yes, with a suitable vehicle around me I can fly.

    via extension metal can fly, cardboard boxes can fly, little liquor bottles can fly (full or empty), suitcases can fly, JetA can fly, plastic can fly, water can fly, dogs can fly, ect., etc. Your stance disassembles to absurdity, CharlieM.

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  2. CharlieM: Me: Ach, Talbott, Noble, Jablonka … should I just dump the collected works of Richard Dawkins on you; save either of us having to type anything?

    Charlie: I’d be happy to discuss any Dawkins quotes you post. It’s up to you whether you ignore, dismiss out of hand, or provide more detailed comments on any quotes I post.

    I’m simply not keen on Debate By The Words Of Others. It is a distinctive ID trait: Debate By Proxy; Debate By Glove Puppet. My default mode when encountering a lengthy text dump is to skip straight over it.

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  3. CharlieM: Me: The genotype. RNA polymerase, the ribosome, tRNA – all extracted from genotype (by RNA polymerase, the ribosome, tRNA…). The latter two, indeed, are direct template-copies of genotype.

    Charlie: Where in these templates are the metal ions that play a vital role in the processes?

    The capacity to bind other atoms and molecules results from the charge pattern of the folded protein. It’s not directly encoded – but then, do you think that gene-centrists are saying that genes produce enzymes that can’t bind anything?

    Me: I’d see mine as more the product of education than belief, but what the hey!

    Charlie: A good education will provide you with knowledge of current beliefs. But beliefs are like living forms in the course of evolution, they are constantly changing.

    Any sign of yours changing?

    It is interesting that IDists latch onto the latest notions – epigenetic inheritance, for example – without first troubling themselves to get a grip on the dominant paradigm. Anyone perceived as ‘revolutionary’ (this belongs in the ‘Third Way’ thread) is bigged-up to the nines. Those staid evolutionists, huh? Revolution’s a-comin’! Produced by … well, not IDists, that’s for sure.

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  4. CharlieM: The simplicity that you assume does not match the real complexities involved. The person I have become is shaped a good deal by my life experiences. I doubt the individuals known as Rowan Atkinson and CharlieM would be recognisable from the product of this procedure.

    You would be as different from Rowan Atkinson as Rowan Atkinson’s identical twin. Such experiments have been performed (not on humans, for ethical reasons …). In all cases, the genomic component has determined what arises. The breed of Dolly the Sheep, for example, was that of the nuclear mother, not the cytoplasmic donor nor the embryonic surrogate. Of course (you will protest) there is more in a nucleus than ‘just genes’, but it certainly narrows things down somewhat. See also: sperm.

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  5. A handy cut-out-and-keep guide to things gene-centrism is NOT saying:

    1. Genes appear naked, exerting their effects directly.
    2. Genes cannot be dependent on other genes for their activity and replication.
    3. Environmental or cultural effects do not generate any aspect of phenotype: it’s all genes.
    4. Gene-centrism is the preferred stance for comprehension of physiology (take that, Denis Noble!).
    5. Genes act independently.
    6. Every decision taken by an organism is the direct result of a gene ‘for’ doing that thing.
    7. Every atom in an organism has been placed there by a gene.
    8. Genes act in a fully deterministic manner.

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  6. Allan Miller: 8. Genes act in a fully deterministic manner.

    This one. Especially this one. The idea of genetic determinism is so wide spread, even among people who should know better.

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  7. CharlieM: Weismann’s experiment was totally needless as thousands of years of Jewish boys being born with foreskins would have told him the same thing without him having to mutilate mice.

    So true. Let’s learn from history here:

    Weismann was aware of the limitations of this experiment, and made it clear that he embarked on the experiment precisely because, at the time, there were many claims of animals inheriting mutilations (he refers to a claim regarding a cat that had lost its tail having numerous tail-less offspring). There were also claims of Jews born without foreskins. None of these claims, he said, were backed up by reliable evidence that the parent had in fact been mutilated, leaving the perfectly plausible possibility that the modified offspring were the result of a mutated gene. The purpose of his experiment was to lay the claims of inherited mutilation to rest.

    So it turns out there were lots of silly people around then who stubbornly refused to accept well accepted and perfectly obvious conclusions in the face of overwhelming supporting evidence. Some of them even were so attached to these false notions that they put their trust in fake stories. Can you believe that?

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  8. CharlieM: [snip lotsa quantum woo]

    Are you channeling J-Mac?

    Instead of showering me with quantum mysticism, could you engage with the argument please: a mutation of the DNA gets inherited, a mutation of a body part does not. Heritable variation is overwhelmingly encoded in the genome, hence this is the place to focus for evolutionary biologists.

    CharlieM: No matter what grotesque form they end up in, they remain dogs.

    Dogs did not exist 50,000 years ago and in 50,000 years there will be dog types that have never existed before. You are masquerading completely novel shapes as old hat, but that’s a misrepresentation.

    CharlieM: And regarding alien life forms. What attributes do you think they would need to possess to get to a point where they could observe life in a separate region of the universe?

    I imagine they need to be able to shoot fire from their bums and be able to hold their breath really long.

    Not what you meant? That’s because you are not really thinking of aliens, but of intelligent, dexterous and technologicaly advanced creatures, i.e. humans.

    CharlieM: We don’t know how either of the zygotes would turn out, assuming that they stayed viable until adulthood.

    Answered by Allan. You are in denial now, Charlie. Nuclear transfer experiments have been performed, and we have a pretty good idea how they would turn out in humans.

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  9. Welcome back Allan. Hope you enjoyed your short break.

    Allan Miller:

    CharlieM
    Whether they are male or female sex genomes, they are never separate or isolated from the cell that contains them.

    Over multiple generations, cells fall by the wayside.

    Over multiple generations all the physical substance falls by the wayside to be replaced by fresh material.

    Especially somatic ones, and sperm. Indeed, with crossover, most of any given gene instance’s genome-fellows are lost too. What remains, like a Cheshire-cat smile, is the genotype, biased towards those fragments from ‘the best’ ancestors.

    What do you mean, ‘best ancestors’? All ancestors must have been successful reproducers

    So genotypes remain, but not the same genotypes. The longer the line of descent the more the genotype changes. How would a Cheshire cats genome compare with the genome of the last common ancestor of vertebrates?

    Cells have wonderful ways of transferring materials without compromising their outer barriers and fertilisation is no different.

    Genomes have evolved wonderful ways of preserving their sequence through indefinite copying cycles.

    I am coming round to your way of thinking. Let’s agree that the genome is primal. Now all we have to do is come to an agreement of what the genome actually is.

    The genome is in a large part made up of DNA. I am sure you believe that DNA consists of nothing but microscopic particles. But, as I have said, this is only half of the story. When the necessary quantum effects are included, the genome must have a peripheral, field like aspect to it.

    Living forms come about through a combination of forces from both these directions. The centrifugal forces produce radiating form as generally observed in plant shoots and the like. The centripetal forces produce planar surfaces such as generally observed in leaves. And a balanced combination of the two will result in spiralling helical forms. DNA is a good example of this balance between the peripheral and the central forces.

    A good example of this spiralling type of movement can be seen from around the two minute mark of this video of a developing drosophila embryo.

    So from the perspective that sees the genome as having this dual aspect, we can understand that its pointwise aspect makes the substances available and from its planewise aspect various forms are realised.

    Quantum mechanics id revealing a genome which is boundless in space. This is what I would call its etheric nature.

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  10. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:And so the chicken and egg cycle rolls on.

    It’s not chicken and egg. The sequence of all enzymes is in the genotype. It’s not the other way round. If (say) our RNA polymerase is required before an enzyme can be made, then clearly the sequence of this RNApol enzyme cannot temporally precede the sequence of this RNApol gene.

    Nonetheless it is perfectly possible that this particular activity was performed by RNA formerly, being subsequently replaced by a protein enzyme. It is noteworthy that several parts of translation are still performed by RNA, including the formation of the peptide bond, a vital step in formation of protein enzymes.

    Your speculations are based on the assumption that life emerges from non life. I make the opposite assumption.

    Your version of evolution traces a path from matter to life to consciousness. (In the beginning was lifeless matter). My version of evolution is from consciousness to life to matter. (In the beginning was the Word). Matter is a condensate of mind

    The only way out of this impasse is if a mind is involved.

    Oh, riheally?

    When we envision minds do not have to restrict our thought to individual human minds. These are just one species of mind. The creative wisdom of the natural world is better explained by governing minds than by the separate workings of discrete physical and chemical forces somehow combining to produce higher unities.

    I believe that only in humans the single mind has reached a stage where it become confined to the individual organism. In other life forms the unified mind works through the group. Commonality is a major factor of the group. All the members of of specific groups are, in their essential nature, of one mind. This is hardly the case with humans.

    Some research is going in this direction. Such as indicated by this report: Bee Swarms Work Like Giant Brains, Where Each Bee Is a Nerve Cell

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  11. CharlieM:
    Welcome back Allan. Hope you enjoyed your short break.

    Yep, ta. Yomping round the perimeter of the Lake District, wild camping.

    Me: Over multiple generations, cells fall by the wayside.

    Charlie: Over multiple generations all the physical substance falls by the wayside to be replaced by fresh material.

    And what remains is genetic sequence: genotype. That is the consistent currency of heredity. The material of the cell, first level phenotype, is generated afresh from it, continually. As you’d find if you consumed Death Cap fungus. For a few hours, you’d feel absolutely fine, as your existent store of translated proteins carried on doing the business. But having turned off the conversion of genotype into phenotype, by inhibition of RNA polymerase ll, the stemming of that conversion is rapidly fatal. (RNA polymerase ll itself, of course, is also produced from genotype).

    What do you mean, ‘best ancestors’? All ancestors must have been successful reproducers

    OK, you got me. ‘Best among the ancestral population’, I think I meant.

    So genotypes remain, but not the same genotypes. The longer the line of descent the more the genotype changes. How would a Cheshire cats genome compare with the genome of the last common ancestor of vertebrates?

    Different, of course. We see a generational drip of mutation due to already-discussed mechanisms – copy errors, damage/repair errors, mutational effects around crossover sites. There may be something more, but even without that ‘something more’ we would expect to see a relationship of difference to number of generations of divergence.

    I am coming round to your way of thinking.

    Yippee!

    Let’s agree that the genome is primal.Now all we have to do is come to an agreement of what the genome actually is.

    The genome is in a large part made up of DNA. I am sure you believe that DNA consists of nothing but microscopic particles. But, as I have said, this is only half of the story. When the necessary quantum effects are included, the genome must have a peripheral, field like aspect to it.

    Yes, it’s a bit ‘wibbly’ round the edges (to indulge another cat metaphor, like the distinctive graphic style of the Roobarb and Custard cartoons). This is partly responsible for some of the misreads.

    Living forms come about through a combination of forces from both these directions. The centrifugal forces produce radiating form as generally observed in plant shoots and the like. The centripetal forces produce planar surfaces such as generally observed in leaves. And a balanced combination of the two will result in spiralling helical forms. DNA is a good example of this balance between the peripheral and the central forces.

    Hmmm. The spiral nature of DNA/RNA is almost entirely due to the electrostatic force. There is something quite profound about it – the 4 bases complement each other in pairs. This has two effects: any strand precisely specifies its complement, and single strands wrap around themselves permitting complex 3D structure in RNA. Thus, the same property allows both replication and enzymatic activity.

    Stacking these pairs one above the other involves a slight offset each time, giving a helical turn in longer runs of complementary sequence. There are many hypothetical bases that could be monomers in a single strand, but only a limited subset has that extra property of complementarity. This subset is mutually self-selecting. But equally important is the role of that subset in cellular energetics. ATP and GTP are widely used as energetic intermediates. Not only that, but variants of ATP also appear in other vital components of the energetic system: Coenzyme A, NADH, FAD for example all contain adenine – the planar molecule that sticks out as one of the ‘half-rungs’ of the DNA ‘ladder’.

    This role in both energetic and informatic processes is, I think, quite fundamental. Any theory of origins needs to get over that transition. If something preceded a nucleic acid system, we’d need to explain how complementary bases arose, and how they also became so deeply embedded in cellular energetics. My nucleic acid-centric prejudices circle around this fundamental relationship, spiralling out to the nature of evolutionary change.

    I should confess that some other biochemists, people who made a career out of it rather than PhD dropouts like me, think RNA world and gene-centrism are a crock. Larry Moran, for example.

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  12. dazz: I think he favors metabolism first vs the RNA world

    When I discussed it, he seemed to retreat to a semantic point about the definition of ‘metabolism’: that in order to have RNA monomers, you’d need a pre-life analogue of biosynthesis. Which is entirely true, but does not of itself pull the rug out from under RNA world. “Metabolism First” seems to imply much more than that basic point: that something quite ‘lively’ preceded nucleic acid-based forms.

    ‘Proteins first’ is a variation on that theme, but has the massive problems of repeat specification and of transition to nucleic-acid encoding. For someone who is quite hot on correct application of Crick’s ‘Central Dogma’ – sequential info never flows from protein to nucleic acid – Proteins First sails dangerously close to a violation, although technically might not be depending on the transitional scenario to modern encoding envisaged.

    , but in what sense does Larry reject gene-centrism, Allan?

    ETA: Oh, OK: https://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-problems-with-selfish-gene.html

    The title “Die, Selfish Gene, Die!” gave me a hint as to his antipathy! 😃

    (eta – I see I stuck my oar in in comments to your link!).

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  13. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    Welcome back Allan. Hope you enjoyed your short break.

    Yep, ta. Yomping round the perimeter of the Lake District, wild camping.

    Sounds wonderful. My best mate and I spent two glorious weeks during the heatwave of ’76 camping in the lake district. When I took the family back a few years later there was a high fence with a ‘no camping’ sign between the car park opposite the Ship Inn and the pitch and putt course in Bowness-on-Windermere. The moral of the story is, don’t put off finding somewhere to pitch your tent until after you have staggered out of the pub at closing time in the dark. We thought that we had found the perfect grassy spot. 🙂

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  14. Allan Miller:

    Then there is no need to look for causes and effect between the parts. The whole appears as a unit, condensed out of a mind in a similar way to which a physical invention can be seen as a condensation from mind to matter. The cause is not in the material.

    If you are insisting that this specific mechanism of RNA polymerisation is the only one that works, how does a mind cause the contemporary occurrence of a genetic sequence whose translated sequence allows translation and a ‘starter’ protein with the same sequence? Where does the mind come from, given the apparent restriction of minds to physical substrates subject to your paradox? Your answer to the chicken and egg paradox is another chicken and egg paradox, or the invocation of a special case: a nonphysical mind.

    RNA polymerase is indeed assembled from amino acid sequences that match DNA sequences. So this DNA has an obvious purpose. The purpose of the arrangements are to provide the correct sequences so that the polymerase can be assembled.

    This is much like the purpose of a mould is to produce a casting. Cause and effect are somewhat temporally reversed in these cases. The finished product is the reason for the existence of the mould or template.

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  15. Allan Miller:

    You are treating phenotype in a very rigid way. Phenotypes come in all shapes and sizes and they are whole. A bit of a phenotype is something which is within the whole organism. Do you not think that prokaryotes have phenotypes?

    Yes. Phenotype is everything about an organism beyond its raw genetic sequence (genotype).

    Good. So chromosomes belong to the phenotype.

    Our phenotype is in a constant state of change. The phenotype consists of the whole body of the organism at any and every stage of its development.

    No it doesn’t. A phenotype is any observable characteristic. This could include an enzyme, or a subcellular structure, a cell, a tissue, an organ, a whole organism, a behaviour, a product.

    In other words the phenotype is all inclusive and dynamic.

    Do you think that only the adult form of an organism is entitled to be called its phenotype? Why?

    No. Whatever gives you that idea?

    The way you describe the zygote. So is a zygote a phenotype or a bit of phenotype?

    The organisational activity involved protein complexes, RNA and DNA and other associated elements. All of these are vital components of cellular activity.

    You don’t say.

    Yes I do. All part of one dynamic, coordinated, self-sustaining whole.

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  16. Allan Miller: CharlieM:
    Their thinking might not be teleological but their activities certainly are. There is a purpose to animal reproduction even if they are unaware of it. Why should it be necessary for animals to have the incentive of the feeling of pleasure in order to produce the next generation?

    Why indeed? Why do I experience a curious tendency to gawp, possibly a stirring in my loins, when a pretty girl walks by? What strange magic is this, when it’s all about me deciding if I want kids or not?

    I suspect it’s because my male ancestors had similar urges, passed genetically through both sperm and eggs, rather than because my zygote was a cell with some ‘processes’ in it.

    You have been granted the freedom to decide what to do with your sperm. Plants do not have this freedom. Both plants and humans have been equally successful at remaining in existence. Why do we have this greater individual freedom yet equally successful organisms do not? The conventional view of evolutionists is that there is no reason. That is just the way things have turned out.

    Some of us think that there is more to be discovered from this observation.

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  17. CharlieM: Some of us think that there is more to be discovered from this observation.

    When does this turn from talk into action then? Predict something?

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  18. CharlieM:
    RNA polymerase is indeed assembled from amino acid sequences that match DNA sequences. So this DNA has an obvious purpose. The purpose of the arrangements are to provide the correct sequences so that the polymerase can be assembled.

    It has a reason for persistence – that is, by performing such a central templating role, it avoids degradation by mutational processes (which are blind to function) due to negative selection of ‘damaged’ variants. Whether one would call this ‘purpose’ is the $64,000 question.

    But my main point there is that one cannot assume that protein is the only way to make an RNA polymerase. RNA ribozymes have been discovered (by random variation and selection!) that catalyse all of the basic reactions – a mere half dozen basic types – performed by protein enzymes.

    This is much like the purpose of a mould is to produce a casting. Cause and effect are somewhat temporally reversed in these cases. The finished product is the reason for the existence of the mould or template.

    My mum once picked up a flat pebble in Crowden Brook, eroded from Carboniferous gritstone. Don’t know what made her do it, but she took it home and kept it with her other pebbles. One day she jabbed a fingernail into a crack in its side, and it split to reveal a perfect part and counterpart of a fossil shell. I could, if I chose, use the counterpart to make copies – but that is not its ‘purpose’ till I make it so.

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  19. CharlieM: You have been granted the freedom to decide what to do with your sperm.

    Sure. But the very fact of producing sperm is outwith my control, likewise the kinds of response pretty girls engender in me. It is a conditional free will that we experience.

    Plants do not have this freedom. Both plants and humans have been equally successful at remaining in existence. Why do we have this greater individual freedom yet equally successful organisms do not? The conventional view of evolutionists is that there is no reason. That is just the way things have turned out.

    To get to the stage of having a perception of freedom, our lineage must, one supposes, have passed through numerous generations that were more ‘plant-like’, or instinctive, in their propagation. It would seem hubristic to suppose we have completely transcended that ancestry, and would likely put a cap on our lineage if we ever did.

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  20. Did we ever get an answer to the question posed in the OP?

    What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

    It seems that no such mixture is possible, at least until Charlie publishes ;P

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  21. Allan Miller:

    The sperm carries protein complexes which are vital to reproduction.

    Mostly, it contains genome. It is an example of extreme reduction. Despite the massive asymmetry, though, the zygote develops with a roughly 50/50 contribution from each parent. This alone is evidence that the ‘phenotype’ present in gametes is not part of development, but is there for gene expression, and it is the latter which determines form etc.

    The sperm and egg are prime examples of the polarity found throughout nature.

    The sperm reduced to the minimum, elongated, point-wise, outward radial movement, built to actively explore the space around it.

    The egg much larger, spherical, planar, receptive, ready to incorporate the invading material in order to begin a further cycle of regeneration.

    The zygote is a complete being containing everything it needs for regeneration provided it is nurtured by the life in which it is embedded. And in turn that life, the mother, needs the living world that encompasses her. The whole reflected in the parts.

    Ask a seed potato, life can only progress by means of the polarity of growth and decay.

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  22. Allan Miller: CharlieM: You may marginalise everything but the genome but nothing you say alters the fact that new life begins with a complete cell and all its inner processes of which genomes are a vital part.

    Marginalise everything but the genome? How so? It doesn’t marginalise the downstream consequences of gene expression to call them downstream consequences. It just recognises the advances made in understanding the structure of process over the last 70 years or so.

    In complex networks of activity the concept of overall control being upstream and downstream is a poor guide to understanding. There is a continuous interweaving of processes working within the unified whole. In the beginning was the cell.

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  23. Allan Miller:

    Genomes change throughout the species but the basic processes remain the same. It is these processes that are the constant feature of living systems.

    Sure, there are some fundamental processes, recognised by the constancy of their genetic sequences across the surviving eukaryote clade. This does not necessarily indicate that the early eukaryotes had these, of course – they may well be extinct, so we can’t tell.

    Recognised by observing the similar processes.

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  24. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: You imply that I should stick to the actual phenomena and then you tell me that nest building activity has its source in the genome.

    No, be fair, I hedged somewhat. The presence of a particular feature common to a clade is a strong indicator of an ultimate genetic basis, not proof. If the colouration of a bird is genetic, or the shape of its beak or whatever, then the consistent shape of its nest – or the fact it builds a nest at all – are equally legitimately assumed to have a genetic basis. Birds of a nest-building species that don’t build nests don’t pass on their genes. If nest-building relied on repeat ‘creativity’, I’d say genetic nest-builders would probably come to dominate the population.

    Having a genetic component does not mean that it has to have a genetic basis.

    With birds the ability to construct a specific type of nest is common to the group whereas with humans individual abilities vary a great deal more. Yet I cannot see genetic variation within a bird species being much different to variation between humans. This would imply there is more to it than just genetics.

    In my opinion individual abilities between single humans are equivalent to differences between between bird species or kinds. In other words the ‘personality’ is at the group level.

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  25. Allan Miller:

    You don’t give any details as to how specific genes translate into nest building activity.

    Which would be a better criticism if your counterargument didn’t involve wafting your hands and saying “it’s something else in the zygote … or the intelligence of nature … or summink”. If you’re all about the detail, give me some detail.

    It’s you who is relying on the details. I have a more holistic approach. The ego is a unity. To talk of parts is to reduce it to physical substance. I do not believe it consists of physical substance.

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  26. Allan Miller:

    We don’t witness genes building nests, we witness birds building nests. To take this to the extreme when an architect creates a magnificent building do we heap our admiration on the person or on their genes?

    Ah, the return of the bad analogy. If we all built buildings to house our young, and they tended to adopt a consistent form that distinguished our buildings from those of – say – chimps, I would not be giving prizes to anyone claiming originality and creativity.

    And that is why I see originality and creativity eminating from the group level in animals and less in the individual as in humans.

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  27. OMagain: Did we ever get an answer to the question posed in the OP?

    What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

    It seems that no such mixture is possible, at least until Charlie publishes ;P

    No, we did not receive an answer. I do not know whether such mixture is possible, but it is certainly highly improbable IDers will adopt it. Every single one of them seems to be reluctant to address the when, how, where and why, what Gregory call “design history”.
    I never understood that. Suppose that Intelligent Design would succeed as a scientific theory. Then that would automatically make the Designer subject to scientific research. If you don’t like that, then why push ID as a scientific theory?

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  28. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: The other day I went to the local shop. I considered whether to take the car or to cycle. I decided to cycle. In doing this I had effectively increased my metabolic activity. I would say that the source of this metabolic change was a conscious decision. Or do you think that my genes made me do it?

    What the genes indirectly ‘made you do’ is breathe faster in response to stimulus – CO2 concentration increasing in response to breakdown of carbohydrates in generating ATP*** to supply energy to muscles. You do all this instinctively, thanks to genes shared widely among animals.

    The genes did not suddenly decide to do express themselves. The initial cause of this burst of genetic energy was the result of my conscious decision.

    ***ATP is particularly interesting. Not only is it a standard means of energy transfer, it’s an RNA monomer – as is GTP, performing the same role in protein synthesis. Their energetic and informatic roles are not obviously linked.

    Yes AMP/ADP/ATP in combination with its associated molecules is a very interesting and a very complex living entity. Just like all of us higher life forms this living complex cycles matter and converts energy. We covert chemical energy into kinetic energy and we also store energy, and this complex does the same thing on a different level. The whole reflected in the parts.

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  29. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM,
    So can you give me an example of a form of life that does not begin from a minimum of a single cell?

    Do I need to?

    You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do.

    Gene centrism does not require that genes ever appear without any phenotype around them. Their generation of this phenotype is, indeed, a reason for their persistence.

    Genes persist because they play a vital part in producing the substances needed to build and maintain the organisms in which they reside. Water also persists within organisms for similar reasons.

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  30. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    It can happen that component parts are isolated for the sake of analysis and then occasionally it is forgotten that these component parts are meaningless outwith the whole to which they belong.

    It’s not forgotten, not even for a moment, except by a gene centrist of your imagination.

    Well if not forgotten, marginalised.

    Me: All of which derive from the genome. All of it. How many times do we need to spin this record?

    Charlie: The most abundant material in a cell is water. Is this derived from the genome?

    I frequently exclude ‘small molecules’ specifically to head off this dodge, but may occasionally forget to do so.

    Excluding them is to ignore them.

    No, water isn’t derived from the genome. Although control of its ingress and egress are.

    The activity of cells is a dynamic balance of a host of interdependent factors. Genes are expressed or silenced as required. There is no central control. That is a mechanistic fantasy.

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  31. Allan Miller:

    And the modern replicator is the whole cell. Relatively simple life forms still exists. Prokaryotes are thought to have replicated the same way for the billions of years in which they are supposed to have existed.

    That doesn’t preclude the possibility that they outcompeted yet more primitive forms. Sweeping up after itself is the very essence of an evolutionary process, so the present absence of ancestral forms is no strike against it.

    I do not believe that we have outcompeted bacteria or archaea.

    To imagine that there were any more basic replicators prior to prokaryotes is just speculation.

    Guffaw! “There was this mind, see, and it just ..”

    Matter is condensed energy. The only physical evidence of the earliest stages of earthly life are the forms that are condensed enough to leave a trace. We have no clue as to what forms might have existed. Forms that had not condensed sufficiently to leave evidence that would persist.

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  32. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Whether we are discussing maize or dogs all that human interference is doing is releasing the potential already inherent in the type and taking them to their extremes in many cases.

    CharlieM: In other words it is not the genes but the way genes are ‘reconfigured’ that correlates with various phenotypes. The configuration is there in potential waiting to be realised.

    Now you are making excuses. The Mona Lisa was “in potential” in the paints before Leonardo da Vinci applied them to the canvas, but still I wouldn’t deny the bloke was creative. Analogously, the novel configurations weren’t established until selection was applied.

    This pinpoints an important difference between living and non-living matter. The creativity that produced the Mona Lisa came from a person not the paint. The creativity is extrinsic to the material. In the case of maize or canines the creativity is intrinsic to the living entity. The living potential is restrained by the environment and external circumstances. Remove that restraint and the living entity is free to reach its extreme limits.

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  33. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Me: Would you object to the definition of “creativity of life” as “the ability to make novel functional forms”? That would be a bit more inclusive, don’t you agree?

    Charlie: I have no problem with that.

    Good. In that case, I maintain that the combination of mutation and natural selection is able to achieve what you call the creativity of life, for the reasons given above.

    You have great faith in the power of chance events to produce the variations that are selected from.

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  34. Corneel:

    CharlieM: You have given examples of extreme cases.

    There appear to be dozens of “extreme cases”. Those pesky birds just can’t seem to behave.

    The differentiation into a wide range of forms is ubiquitous in life at many levels.. A single zygote or seed produces a multitude of cell types. Within higher taxonomic levels species differentiate and radiate from the general form. The whole reflected in the parts.

    Ratites are similar to blind cave fish in that specific organs or structures have become somewhat vestigial. Goethe’s notion of compensation can be seen when studying the morphology of organisms, “nothing can be added to one part without subtracting from another”. Ostriches by gaining power in their legs have lost it in their wings. This does not stop us from recognising them as birds.

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  35. PeterP:

    CharlieM: Yes, with a suitable vehicle around me I can fly.

    via extension metal can fly, cardboard boxes can fly, little liquor bottles can fly (full or empty), suitcases can fly, JetA can fly, plastic can fly, water can fly, dogs can fly, ect., etc. Your stance disassembles to absurdity, CharlieM.

    None of those things fly with the intention of being airborne and moving through the atmosphere.

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  36. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Me: Ach, Talbott, Noble, Jablonka … should I just dump the collected works of Richard Dawkins on you; save either of us having to type anything?

    Charlie: I’d be happy to discuss any Dawkins quotes you post. It’s up to you whether you ignore, dismiss out of hand, or provide more detailed comments on any quotes I post.

    I’m simply not keen on Debate By The Words Of Others. It is a distinctive ID trait: Debate By Proxy; Debate By Glove Puppet. My default mode when encountering a lengthy text dump is to skip straight over it

    Feel free to read or ignore whatever takes your fancy. Judging by your participation here it seems to me that you find enough to discuss with respect to
    the content from my own personal contributions.

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  37. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Me: The genotype. RNA polymerase, the ribosome, tRNA – all extracted from genotype (by RNA polymerase, the ribosome, tRNA…). The latter two, indeed, are direct template-copies of genotype.

    Charlie: Where in these templates are the metal ions that play a vital role in the processes?

    The capacity to bind other atoms and molecules results from the charge pattern of the folded protein. It’s not directly encoded – but then, do you think that gene-centrists are saying that genes produce enzymes that can’t bind anything?

    No but these molecules do need to be present and made available to be incorporated. Materials and processes, both intracellular and extracellular, need to be coordinated and tightly organised and this includes activity centred around the genomes.

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  38. CharlieM: In the case of maize or canines the creativity is intrinsic to the living entity. The living potential is restrained by the environment and external circumstances. Remove that restraint and the living entity is free to reach its extreme limits.

    You know, for a holist you are pretty anxious to avoid looking at the complete picture. Excluding natural selection from the history of living organisms is like excluding Leonardo da Vinci from the history of the Mona Lisa. In a sense, you are heaping praise on the painting for becoming so pretty while completely ignoring the artist.

    CharlieM: You have great faith in the power of chance events to produce the variations that are selected from.

    Faith has nothing to do with it, nor do I believe in “the power of chance events”. I simply maintain that mutation and natural selection suffice for generating what you have called the “creativity of life”, since their combined effects result in novel functional forms. I have even provided you with supporting examples. If you disagree, then you’ll have to explain why.

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  39. CharlieM: Ratites are similar to blind cave fish in that specific organs or structures have become somewhat vestigial. Goethe’s notion of compensation can be seen when studying the morphology of organisms, “nothing can be added to one part without subtracting from another”. Ostriches by gaining power in their legs have lost it in their wings. This does not stop us from recognising them as birds.

    No, but it does stop us from perceiving the statement “Birds have a passion for flying” as a profound insight, since it shows that we are confounding ability to fly with desire to fly.
    “Birds have a passion for flying, except the ones that don’t fly” doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

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  40. Corneel,

    Faith has nothing to do with it, nor do I believe in “the power of chance events”. I simply maintain that mutation and natural selection suffice for generating what you have called the “creativity of life”, since their combined effects result in novel functional forms. I have even provided you with supporting examples. If you disagree, then you’ll have to explain why.

    Population Genetics models start from the place where the innovation (flight, sight etc) is in place. Why is this? When you look at the models of creations and evolutionist they are in fact pretty similar.

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  41. colewd: Population Genetics models start from the place where the innovation (flight, sight etc) is in place.

    False. Population genetic models have no inherent starting points, it is up to the modelers to define the starting conditions. If flight is inferred to require the origin and fixation of multiple mutations, leading from no flight to flight, that can in fact be modeled using population genetics.

    So no, what you said is wrong.

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  42. If flight is inferred to require the origin and fixation of multiple mutations, leading from no flight to flight, that can in fact be modeled using population genetics.

    How exactly would a population genetics model do this without knowing what mutations can lead to flight?

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  43. colewd: How exactly would a population genetics model do this without knowing what mutations can lead to flight?

    They wouldn’t have to know that in population genetic models. One can model that over a wide range of parameters. From extremely rare to very common mutations, from highly deleterious, through neutral, to strongly beneficial fitness effects of those mutations. There’s nothing that prevents one from modeling such scenarios. Other than the complexity of the required calculations for a very detailed model.

    You could imagine flight required 100 mutations, or 1000 mutations, or whatever. That it evolved in a tiny, or small, or large, or ginormous population. One with changing size that fluctuates. That there is density-dependent selection. That there are multiple populations with migration between them. You could imagine selective effects anywhere on the spectrum for any of the individual mutations. And so on and so forth. And then just model how this affects the evolution of the trait in question.

    “Suppose we assume 1 in X mutations are deleterious…”
    “Now suppose we assume 1 in 100X mutations are beneficial…”
    “Now suppose there’s a population of 100k diploid individuals…”
    Etc. etc.

    That’s how modeling works. Try a wide range of parameters, plug them into the equations, or simulate it on a computer, to see how the model behaves in response.
    This is how modeling and simulation work is done in science in general. Take your equations, adjust the parameters, calculate the results. Plot them in some way to visualize how the magnitudes of different parameters affect the results. Whether you are modeling the movement of particles in a fluid under high or low velocity, high or low pressure, high or low temperature, yadda yadda yadda. You take your physics equations, adjust the values of the parameters, and calculate results.

    This is really not that mysterious.

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  44. Corneel: Suppose that Intelligent Design would succeed as a scientific theory. Then that would automatically make the Designer subject to scientific research.

    Non sequitur. Your conclusion does not follow.

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  45. Corneel: I simply maintain that mutation and natural selection suffice for generating what you have called the “creativity of life”, since their combined effects result in novel functional forms.

    Mutation alone produces novel functional and non-functional forms. No natural selection needed. Occam’s Razor suggests that natural selection is superfluous..

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  46. Mung: Occam’s Razor suggests that natural selection is superfluous..

    Not to me. Selection working on variation is evolution’s only weapon.

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  47. Rumraket,

    You could imagine flight required 100 mutations, or 1000 mutations, or whatever. That it evolved in a tiny, or small, or large, or ginormous population. One with changing size that fluctuates. That there is density-dependent selection. That there are multiple populations with migration between them. You could imagine selective effects anywhere on the spectrum for any of the individual mutations. And so on and so forth. And then just model how this affects the evolution of the trait in question.

    I could imagine you being part of a population that eventually evolves flight but it’s equally hard to model. Until we know the origin of complex adaptions we have to just assume they exist in our models. Looks like Genesis 1 may be right 🙂

    n physics we assume atoms exist in our models. We could “imagine” there is a model for their origin but there is enough to do with out spinning our wheels here.

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