Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: Cornelius Hunter <>
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 16:19:20 EDT

Jim, Terry and Dick:

Jim, you wrote:

> Re: "...the idea that the search is not random is non evolutionary."
> Ah, but is this not precisely where the elegance of the selection process
> manifests? The process of "exploration" does not proceed randomly in any
> mathematical sense. With each extension into the space, the conditions of
> the evolutionary " exploration" change. Some paths may simply form the
> foundation for a subsequent evolutionary extension (the basic algorithm
> for eventually exploring the entire space). But selection (testing), when
> and in whatever form it may impose itself, alters that algorithm
> profoundly. The selection action is in itself virtually cannot be random
> because its affect is shaped by the particular circumstance - the
> configuration of the DNA and its contexts, both structurally and ambient.
> A substantially deficient result places that particular development path
> at risk or even results in its termination. On the other hand, a
> substantially advantageous result outcompetes one or more of less
> beneficial (whatever that might mean) alternatives from the same branch
> point. The whole calculus of outcomes is also very dependent upon whether
> there is a single or many similarly satisfactory (in the eyes of the
> Creator) courses of action and outcomes.
> All of this is precisely the means by which that the entire space need not
> be explored at all, and in fact may be continuing to be explored because
> the potential of the space has not necessarily been exhausted.
> -JimA

Jim, the fact that natural selection acts to winnow the search experiments
does not help evolution. Yes, the action of natural selection changes the
conditions of subsequent testing as, for instance, some individuals or
species are now absent from the environment. And of course there are fewer
"experiments" taking place.

Neither of these necessarily helps the evolutionary search process.
Furthermore, the main effect of NS, with regard to the search, is that it
further hampers the search. Not only does the search have to find tiny
islands of functional designs in an astronomical design space, but also,
instead of being able to search the DNA sequence space freely, all searches
must follow only pathways that are always functional. So random, unguided
biological changes must find and then follow these pathways. NS does not
help these random changes to occur.

Terry, you wrote:

If so, then what does such divine action look like empirically? In
the fossil record, in the genetic record, etc?

How about a code?

Dick, you wrote:

Some aspects of evolutionary theory can be considered "facts," descent with
modification, genetic drift, the molecular clock. Some aspects can be
considered simply theory such as whether genetic changes are totally random
or can be affected by environmental factors (that gets my vote). And some
aspects of the total picture of evolutionary thought could be called
conjecture such as Darwin's idea that change was continuous and gradual
versus Gould who adhered to punctuated equilibrium (my favorite too).

Unfortunately, we all take shortcuts and just say "evolution," which is such
a wide and encompassing term that you could say almost anything for or
against and get a chorus of amens.


Dick, no one is making this confusion. Of course evolution has sub theories
that are not claimed to be facts. But the overarching idea, that
naturalistic processes are sufficient to explain all the species, is
essentially universally claimed to be a fact.


> Cornelius Hunter wrote:
>> Randy:
>> Your descriptions below are nice and symmetric, but I think there is more
>> to the story. For instance, if TE is not breaking the link between God
>> and creation, and God can accomplish his will via the evolutionary
>> process, then why must the detection of divine action be out of bounds?
>> And why is evoluiton a fact? I would be delighted if this were merely a
>> misunderstanding, and if I am guilty of imposing a particular view of
>> what "evolution" means.
>> We discussed the problem of evolution searching the DNA space and
>> creating new species. You mentioned that it is probably likely that this
>> would happen, with the justification that "We certainly know that the
>> full design space doesn't need to be tested and that any such 'testing'
>> is not at random."
>> Actually, the idea that the full design space need not be searched is
>> weak, and the idea that the search is not random is non evolutionary. The
>> only way I know that the full design space would not need to be searched
>> would be if that space was largely filled with useful, functioning
>> designs. But this clearly is not the case. It certainly is true that
>> there is flexibility in known genomes. One can make all sorts of changes
>> and still have a functioning genome. But this should not be confused with
>> any idea that functioning genomes are common in the DNA space. Quite the
>> opposite. The bottom line is a search through the DNA space would have to
>> cover the majority of the space before obtaining appreciable
>> probabilities of hitting on functioning genomes.
>> --Cornelius
>>> Cornelius,
>>> I think this is a very pertinent paragraph in the sense of
>>> understanding the fundamental difference between ID and TE. Do I
>>> understand the issue correctly as follows?
>>> ID perspective:
>>> In common usage among scientists and laity, evolution refers to
>>> the development of species through random, purposeless, unguided events
>>> rather than by any type of divine action. As such, evolution is
>>> inherently antithetical to any orthodox view of creation. In response
>>> to the specific retort of TE folks that that this combines a
>>> metaphysical interpretation of meaning and guidance (or the lack
>>> thereof) with the science and is not truly core scientific evolution,
>>> the ID community responds, "indeed, but that's just the
>>> point--scientists have combined scientific and metaphysical views into a
>>> single concept called evolution and that is what we oppose."
>>> TE perspective:
>>> The "common usage" is wrong and evolution can and should be
>>> divorced from the "random, purposeless, unguided.." metaphysical
>>> interpretation. Then it can be possible to harmonize with various views
>>> of creation. In response to the specific retort of ID that this is not
>>> how evolution is discussed and taught in practice, the TE community
>>> responds "indeed, but that's just the point--evolution is too commonly
>>> taught with a metaphysical atheistic flavor and we should oppose that
>>> error rather than agree with the fusion and oppose evolution
>>> altogether."
>>> So I do think you are correct that many people (though not all!) use
>>> "common descent" and "evolution" to mean "as opposed to any divine
>>> influence". The ID community chooses to accept the definition and fight
>>> the terms while the TE community chooses to accept the terms and fight
>>> the definition.
>>> Randy
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Cornelius Hunter"
>>> <>
>>> To: <>; <>
>>> Sent: Monday, September 26, 2005 4:25 PM
>>> Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution
>>>> Clearly there is a conflict between evolution and orthodoxy, so I don't
>>>> think that the conflict view is "simply false." A way to avoid this
>>>> would be to remake the theory of evolution such that it is considered
>>>> to be merely God's deterministic creation tool, but of course this is
>>>> not evolution as we know it. The point is not whether common descent or
>>>> evolution, *per se* can be viewed as orthodox. Of course they can when
>>>> the additional evolutionary thinking is not attached. But this is not
>>>> what is meant by these terms. Common descent and evolution are used to
>>>> refer to the idea that there is a break in the link between God and
>>>> creation, such that designs in creation do not represent divine will.
>>>> How can this be orthodox?
>>>> --Cornelius
Received on Thu Sep 29 16:28:15 2005

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