Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 17:51:31 EDT

You have not answered Terry's question. I begin to wonder whether you can or
want to.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Cornelius Hunter" <>
To: "ASA" <>
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 9:19 PM
Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution

> 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
>> 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 17:54:12 2005

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