Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch

From: Rich Blinne (richblinne@hotmail.com)
Date: Mon Sep 16 2002 - 13:27:52 EDT

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    ----Original Message Follows----
    From: Craig Rusbult <craig@chem.wisc.edu>
    To: asa@calvin.edu
    Subject: Re: Critique of ID & No Free Lunch
    Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 08:34:48 -0500

            Terry wrote:
    >>Now if you're going to say, as Mike does, that if it
    >>evolved then it apparently wasn't irreducibly complex,
    >>then you're just being tautological. [...]

            and Tim responded,
    >I don't think that is a tautology; "confused" would be a better
    >description. Systems are determined to be IC (v1.0) on the basis
    >of extant, physically determinable properties, independent of
    >any considerations about their origins. Behe's work was to show
    >that IC-ness is a reliable indicator of design.

    >Yes, and people within the ID community (including Behe) agree that --
    >especially in the original definitions in his book -- Mike didn't do a very
    >good job of clearly defining IC and distinguishing between the two
    >different questions that Loren calls inter-locking complexity and
    >non-evolvability.

    >As pointed out by Terry, there is strong evidence that some currently-IC
    >systems have evolved, so a claim that ALL IC-systems are non-evolvable is
    >falsifiable and is (at least at a level that seems reasonable) falsified.
    >But a claim that "SOME (one or more) currently-IC systems could not have
    >evolved" is scientifically interesting and worthy of serious consideration
    >and investigation.

    Once there is a single counter-example against IC you are in trouble. The
    counter-example proves that what you thought was IC is not after all. The
    missing piece in my opinion is whether the interlocking steps are reversible
    or not. As time goes on, more and more reversible biological processes are
    found. For example, the reversible RNA aptamers for coagulation factor IXa
    were found recently (Nature September 5, 2002, pp. 90-93). In order to
    prove non-evolvability for an interlocking complexity system, you need to
    prove non-reversability of the respective steps. This is proving a negative
    and would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

    Where should the proponents of ID go in my opinion? First of all, they
    should drop IC and the attempt to disprove evolution and go on to show that
    the evolutionary system itself is designed! This appears to me to be an
    altogether easier task. Now I am an engineer by trade and design is my
    business. Engineers have a word for IC, it is called a "kludge". When I
    look at biological systems I see adaptive control systems with error
    correction. Ths last part comes from a recent discovery that the genomic
    "code" is an even parity Hamming code (cf. Science Sep 13 2002: 1789-1791).
    I think part of the allure of IC is because the lack of familiarity that
    enigneers use random processes all the time to get around algorithmic
    complexities. Multi-variate optimizations in large problem spaces are
    O(NP-complete). This means that they never finish because they are not
    bound to deterministic polynomial time. These problems show up all the
    time. So, how do engineers get around this problem? We use random number
    generators. If we always take the option which minimizes the cost function,
    we will hit a local minimum. At the start of the process we apply a random
    number generator and some of the time we take the "illogical" choice. With
    time the random number generator is made smaller and smaller and we arrive
    at a solution. This is based on the physical analog of annealing. Here
    the "random" motions of the molecules are higher for higher temperatures and
    then the temperature is slowly lowered until we crystalize the substance.
    The point of this example is to show that random processes and design are
    not mutually exclusive categories. When I look at biological systems I see
    the same kind of thing going on when I design in so-called random processes.

    Where does ID go from here? Our present understanding of biological systems
    shows they preform quite well at optimizing for the environment. A
    potential avenue is to not look at the optimization system itself but the
    sole cost function available to the atheistic evolutionist. Does natural
    selection explain all the conserved attributes of biological systems? For
    example, what about ageing? That there is an issue is noted in the
    following quote from 29 August 2002 Nature, p. 921,

    "August Weismann suggested that ageing functions to rid the species of worn
    out and decrepit individuals so as to reduce competition for resources with
    younger ones. The most obvious problem with this idea is that it is circular
    because it assumes the existence of the trait whose occurrence it is aiming
    to explain. The circle could be broken by viewing the inevitable
    accumulation of damage during a lifetime as an intrinsic trait that has
    evolved to increase the death rate of the elderly."

    Or put another way, ID should stop being a rear guard against evolution but
    rather it should be a vanguard of showing that the heavens declare the glory
    of God.

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