Re: Evolutionary rate

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Thu May 08 2003 - 19:30:16 EDT

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    In response to the article on "Digital organisms" someone posted:

    > Discussing this with a friend, he summarized the designer role:
    > "An interdisciplinary team of scientists at Michigan State University and
    > the California Institute of Technology, with the help of powerful
    > computers, has used"
    > In other words, "a bunch of us deliberately set out to design a system in
    > which certain things would happen, when they happened, we announced that
    > our role in the process was unnecessary"

    I consider that to be an unfair caricature that misses the point of ID's
    Designer role.

    Once again, it seems that the character of the ID thesis is lost in a sea of
    ambiguity. The question once again is what does it mean to say that "X was
    intelligently designed"?

    Was there, in the experiment cited, the action of mind? Yes, of course, in
    the purposeful conceptualization of a system (computer + program) intended
    to accomplish the purpose of the experiment (one whose particular outcome
    was not predetermined). The effectiveness of that mental action is not at

    Furthermore, the experimenters had the capacity to "give being" to the
    system first conceptualized (not to give being ex nihilo, but to give being
    in the limited sense of acquiring and programming a computer to carry out
    the experiment).

    In this experiment, the equivalent of Intelligent Designer action posited by
    the ID movement would have been quite different:

    1) The Experimenter would have particular outcomes planned.

    2) Then, noticing that the computer + program to which the Experimenter had
    first given being was unable to achieve these particular outcomes (either
    for lack of foresight or by deliberate choice), the Experimenter would need
    occasionally to interrupt the computer + program and manually insert
    whatever adjustments were needed to actualize some particular desired

    3) At some later time, inquisitive observers would then be able to determine
    empirically that occasional episodes of outcome-ensuring interventions
    (called acts of "intelligent design") had been performed, leading to the
    conclusion that there exists an unidentified extra-computational
    Experimenter who occasionally performed such interventions on a system
    incapable (inadequately designed?) of accomplishing certain outcomes.

    Reminder: In ID-speak, to say that "X was intelligently designed" is
    effectively to say that "X was actualized in a way that required occasional
    episodes of non-natural, non-energetic, non-miraculous, form-conferring
    intervention by an unidentified, unembodied, choice-making agent."

    ID is not about the mental action of design, it is about non-natural,
    hand-like assembling action.

    Howard Van Till

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