Re: Evolution of proteins in sequence space

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Fri Aug 03 2001 - 19:49:29 EDT

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    Bert Massie writes:

    > Look, let me take the position that information came into the universe
    > from God. Now, the information was not in the form of a text book. It
    > was in the form of an entity such as a cell with DNA.
    > But, this is more than just information it has to be a cell that is
    > alive etc and it is a physical entity.

    OK, it appears that you have taken a position that places your picture of
    God's creative action in a category that includes supernatural intervention
    -- God's action breaks the continuity of the creaturely system of cause and
    effect. The cell you propose appears solely as a consequence of a divine act
    in which God either (1) coerces atoms into a new arrangement that they were
    unable to actualize by the use of their own formational capabilities, or (2)
    brings the first cell into being ex nihilo.

    > Now, many years later, actually
    > maybee 3.8B years, we are sitting here trying to determine how this
    > information became more complex, and how the organisms became more
    > complex and ecologically placed. That is, each organism must have an
    > ecology of eat and be eaten.
    > Looking backwards, let posit two Models, labeled A and B.
    > Model A
    > The initial conditions were set just right so that the laws of nature
    > plus these initial conditions would lead to us.
    > OR
    > Model B
    > The initial conditions were set appropriately but along the way God
    > introduced additional organims and information which lead to us.
    > Now Howard, the question is, how can be tell the difference between
    > Model A and Model B?

    Three comments:

    1. I'm not sure what you mean by "initial conditions." Perhaps you could
    give an example or two so that I know what kinds of parameters God "set."

    2. Since your concept of God's creative action already includes supernatural
    intervention, as noted above, there would be no theological basis for
    preferring A over B. Furthermore, if "setting initial conditions" involves
    additional acts of supernatural intervention (a form of _coercive_ divine
    action, in Griffin's vocabulary), then A and B are theologically equivalent.
    Both would include irruptive intervention.

    3. Given the uncertainty regarding what you mean by "initial conditions" and
    given no further information about the sort of "additional organisms and
    information" that you envision God introducing "along the way," we have no
    basis for knowing how to "tell the difference between model A and Model B."

    Empirical evidence favoring my proposal that the Creation has a robust
    formational economy might favor Model A, but your proposal for the
    supernatural insertion of a first cell makes a robust formational economy

    What's the point you're driving toward?

    Howard Van Till

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