Re: Web Page Nonlinear dynamics

Glenn Morton (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 20:02:42 -0600

At 07:24 AM 2/18/97, wrote:
from your website. I am impressed with it. > I'll go along with your formulas
>and results since I do not have the training to do anything else. I agree
>that your figures are beautiful. I regret I could not print them in color.
> But I did print them in black and white and they turned out quite well. I
>estimate I used up about 5 bucks worth of toner doing so.
Sorry about the 5 bucks. You could download the program and run it on a pc
and make all the pictures you want anytime you want.

>I have some questions and comments. First about the selection program you
>used. You said on p. 1, "Selection is a program which mimics the process of
>natural selection. When the program starts, one can select the type of
>geometric form you want to select for." Here's the problem as I see it.
> Your selection program does not really mimic the process of natural
> Natural selection does not look ahead to some distant goal or target (which
>in your program is a chosen geometric form). Natural selection, a la Darwin,
>operates on the criterion of immediate survivability, adaptation, and/or
>increased reproductive success. If the phenotype has an edge over others in
>survivability, etc., it is selected by the environment.

My program does exactly that. It compares the form of the screen "critter"
with the geometric form chosen before hand. If the phenotype of the
"critter" is closer to the selected form than the previously closest
phenotype, then that genotype gets to reproduce. The old one "dies".
Survivability in thr computer is based upon closeness to the geometric form.
There is no Goal in the program. I can not predict what phenotype a given
'genome' for my screen 'critters' will produce. Thus I can not force a goal
onto the program or onto the screen 'critters'. I randomly mutate the
genome and let the closeness of the match determine survivability.

You say,
> Natural selection does not look ahead to some distant goal or target (which
>in your program is a chosen geometric form).

This is exactly what selection for resistance to antibiotics has done for
bacteria. In the 30's when penicillin was discovered, bacteria could not
handle it. The random mutations in the bacteria eventually gave rise to a
resistant form. Resistance began to be noticed in th 50s but it wasn't
until the 80s that it began to become a real problem. While selection didn'
t'look ahead' to that sequence o fdna which conveys resistance, the fact
that bacteria which were closer to that sequence had an increased ability to
survive forced the population in that direction. Today we hardly have any
antibiotics which do what penicillin used to do.

Darwin wrote,
>"individuals having any advantage, however, slight, over others, would have
>the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind. Only those
>variations which are in some way profitable will be preserved or naturally
>selected" (p. 81, 119, Everyman's Library edition).
>What you have used, in my opinion, is the process of *artificial selection*,
>or investigator intervention, as Thaxton, et. al. call it. Darwin also used
>artificial selection of pigeons and dogs as his analogy of natural selection.
> The target was some ideal distant target-form that the breeder chose.

Then would you say that antibiotic resistance is "artificial selection?" In
pointof fact, the environment that the bacteria inhabit has drastically
altered due to antibiotics. They have responded exactly like Darwin said
they would. The ideal target we human "bacteria breeders" have chosen is a
bacterium which can live on antibiotics. We kill every bacterum which is
not able to so live.

If plants learn to live in a hotter climate with more CO2 in the air, is
that artificial selection? We are choosing that ideal target for plant
life. Under this definition, everything humans do can be called artificial

But, are the Beetles which carry the fungus which kills Elm trees engaged in
artificial selection? The ideal target the beetles are choosing for Elm
trees is a tree immune to Dutch elm disease. Why should artificial
selection be limited to humans?

> Dawkins, used the human eye as his selecting agent in his computer
>simulations of natural selection. He said, "The human eye has an active role
>to play in the story. It is the selecting agent. It surveys the litter of
>progeny and chooses the one for breeding" (Blind Watchmaker, p. 57). By
>employing an external intelligent being to provide a distant target all three
>of you have missed the heart of natural selection, which is that selection
>has no distant guide, it operates only for *immediate* survival and
>Then you went on to run a program with no selection at all. On p. 3 you
>said, "There is one final option and that is to have no selection at all."
> I am puzzled by this option. What has it to do with natural selection?

No selection merely lets the genome vary with no constraint. What is so
puzzling about that? It is instructive to know that the "genomes" which
match the shapes are very rare and are almost never seen without selection
involved. Just like antibiotic resistence was extremely rare in bacteria
until selection drove the genome toward that solution.

>Underlying your computer programs is what I perceive to be a willingness on
>your part to accept almost any change or pattern generation as an example or
>analogy of natural selection. I agree with Thomson, "Scientists can always
>do themselves a great service by being scrupulously precise about the nature
>of their statements" (Amer. Sci., Sep.-Oct, 1982). Natural selection is a
>very precise term. As I see it you are using it so loosely that almost
>anything goes.
>Secondly, I appreciate the comment you made on the third page, where you
>wrote, "One final thing. I do not want this to be taken as an attack on the
>Bible. I believe that God Created the world, and the design of mathematical
>systems such as these nonlinear systems are evidence of that. Belief in
>evolution does not preclude belief in the God of the Bible."

Thank you. Far too often people think that evolution is equivalent to a
rejection of the Scripture. This simply is not true.

>I for one have never questioned your commitment to the God of the Bible. But
>here is my comment: I do not see you actively trying to *integrate* your
>belief in God with your scientific pursuit of evolutionary theory. I see you
>running your computer simulations, with no mention of God, and then assuring
>us later that you are committed to the God of the Bible.

You were kind enough to have bought my book. You didn't see me trying to
integrate my faith and scripture there? One simply can't say everything
that will please all people in a 3 or 4 page document outlining a computer
model of evolution. You think too highly of me.

>To be sure, God
>created the nonlinear systems, as you say, and all the other initial
>conditions and laws of the universe. Don't deists believe the same? I
>think we need to go beyond that. For instances, do you think God enters into
>the process of natural selection and if so, where and how?

God entered the system prior to the creation of the nonlinear system. That
is what I tried to explain to you concerning the phase space of a genome.
God knows that my genome will produce me. He made the phase or sequence
space of DNA to be that way. He made the sequence of my cat's DNA produce
her. He knew this before the foundation of the world. Why is this a view
whcih excludes God's foreknowledge? How does God control the direction of
travel in the phase spaces? I don't know. he hasn't told me.

> Does God see to
>it that certain desired mutations occur? Does God roll the dice?

I view it as God having rigged the dice before they were rolled. His
control of the world was at the creation not as it is occurring.

> Is God the
>Selective Agent, working through the environment to see that certain desired
>phenotypes survive?

see above.
>Those are my questions and comments on your paper, Glenn, which I repeat is a
>most interesting and impressive piece of work.

Thank you.


Foundation, Fall and Flood