Re: The NABT controversy

Christopher Morbey (
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 11:23:08 -0800

Moorad Alexanian wrote:

> Dear Loren,
> In quantum mechanics there is a dynamical theory that indicates the possible
> outcomes of given experimental measurements and the associated probabilities
> for such outcomes. Can someone tell me what is the dynamical theory that tells
> us what are the possible outcomes and the associated probabilities in
> evolutionary theory? Any theory that uses the notion of randomness must makes
> such issues clear; otherwise, it is not a scientific theory and are mere
> words--on the same status as Genesis vis a vis the question of origins.

Dear Moorad:

You have put your finger on an interesting point.

The greatest part of my whole scientific career has been making models of
astronomical or astrophysical processes, then comparing how observations fit
these models. Even though I don't do those sorts of things now I can't help but
think back to what I actually did. In every case I was interested in showing how
much the observations were different from random. In fact, most of the science
with which I am familiar tries to extract what is not random out of the
observations. We calculate significance levels based on certain hypotheses,
always hoping to convey a quantitative estimate of how much our observations
differ from that which is random or that which has no deterministic influence.
What is deemed to be random is deemed to convey no information.

There is some irony to be pointed out. Some scientists spend their livelihood
trying to diminish the randomness that confounds their observations. They want
to show that their data are worth something, that their conclusions have some
authority. Other scientists, or even the same ones will go to extreme lengths to
prove that science over eons can only proceed by means of purposeless and random
mechanism. It's quite odd, I think.

Then there are those who claim that philosophical and religious statements are
irrevelent to actual scientific theory. They forget that the very words they
speak or statements they write are based on basic assumptions of information
transfer and understanding.

I would LOVE to read about significance tests with respect to "evolutionary"
randomness. Imagine. Trying to extract something random out of the confusing
perfections conjured in a perfect mind! This is the stuff of comedy or

Christopher Morbey