Re: The NABT controversy

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 10:56:25 -0500 (EST)

At 04:17 PM 2/17/98 -0600, George Andrews wrote:
>Christopher Morbey wrote:
>> Moorad Alexanian wrote:
>> > Dear Loren,
>> >
>> > In quantum mechanics there is a dynamical theory that indicates the
>> > outcomes of given experimental measurements and the associated
>> > 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
>> > 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
>> 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
>> What is deemed to be random is deemed to convey no information.
>I believe a word of caution is needed here. The ubiquitous Monte Carlo
technique of
>simulation, based as it is upon assumed randomness, affords tractability to
>otherwise intractable physical models. Hence, randomness ought not to be
>as necessarily adverse to or even devoid of information. In fact, it is the
>assumption of randomness inherent in nature that provides cognition to the
>theory via the Copenhagen interpretation. Hence, it provides the most
>comprehensible - therefore positively informative - point of view. Statistical
>mechanics provides another example, for it was Gibb's genius in introducing the
>statistical ensemble approach - with its a priori assumption of equally
>states - that afforded thermodynamics its theoretical grounding. Additionally,
>modern complexity theory provides the next logical step in attempting to
>reformulate the foundational laws of nature to include irreversibility. Thus,
>randomness (at least its assumption) is actually an integral part to our modern
>understanding of nature providing us with a wealth of information.

Dear George,

The examples you provide are typical where the laws of chance are used to
describe systems with either many particles and/or many degrees of freedom.
The archetype in the theory of chance is a die that is not loaded and "has"
no memory. Nevertheless, the die has to designed beforehand it is subjected
to throws with outcomes which are still random events. Who designed the die
which gives the outcomes in evolutionary theory? One cannot talk of random
processes without dies. It is vacuous to do so. Witness then great
contribution of Gibbs, which is applicable even to quantum systems, where
equilibrium states are characterized by his statistical ensemble.

>> There is some irony to be pointed out. Some scientists spend their livelihood
>> trying to diminish the randomness that confounds their observations. They
>> 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
>> mechanism. It's quite odd, I think.
>Again, it is the creative tension between physical law and random fluctuations
>that make the complexity paradigm so attractive; it explains how observed
>in the data can result from the inherently intractable interactions affecting

One can get nothing from random processes unless there is a dynamics which
underlies it. The mere use of words like random mutations and natural
selection is nothing else but words. Where is the dynamical model? I have
never even heard anyone bringing in a purely mathematical model which would
simulate the claims of evolutionary theorists.

>> 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.
>While I would agree that we all are products of our times, and even with
>Dooyeweerd's assertion that all theoretical thought is inherently religious
due to
>the human condition, I again feel the need for caution. To some degree or
at some
>point religious statements are irrelevant to actual scientific theory. For
>can we imagine any scientific theory or procedure that would produce or even
>corroborate such notions as redemption, the existence of Nirvana, or Israel's

The difficulty is to know the nature of a question. For instance, is the
question of origins a scientific question? If not, then the answer can never
come from science.

>> 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
>> balderdash.
>> Christopher Morbey
> While I do not know what "evolutionary randomness" is, I suspect you mean
>mutations. Complexity notions of random fluctuations (mutations) exploring (at
>least but probably actual) infinite sequence or state space, only to be
>via self organization and reproduction (autocatalysis), in fact not only afford
>explanation for evolutionary concepts, but provide - at least the
beginnings of -
>a foundational mathematical formulation for its dynamics.
>Besides, randomness is scriptural.
>Take care.
>George A.

I like to see the mathematical model which will give rise to the dynamics
purported in evolutionary thought. I am afraid that is a monumental task. We
cannot even deduce from theory the numerical values of the masses of
particles and the numerical values of the coupling constants in physics.
These problems are much simpler than those posed by evolutionary theory. Any
physicist that can produce a theory which explains such numerical values
would get an immediate Nobel prize.

Take care,