Re: It's the Bible or evolution

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 20:52:11 EDT

Well, I'm certainly taken aback with the idea that natural selection
does not help evolution. But there are other

What constitutes "success" for any interation/extension is a relatively
local criterion and may have little or no direct connection to a desired
ultimate outcome. That factor alone expands the space beyond what I
think you are describing

Cornelius Hunter wrote:

> 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.

Well, I guess we agree on this (sorta). It is much more, one key
mechanism by which it occurs.

> 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.

Only to the extent that it determines the shape of the future of the
"survivors". It redefines the candidate platform for future change,
altering not only the structure itself, but its context as well. There
is every reason to think that business as usual no longer applies to
this changed structure. A baby step has happened. If the new
configuration preferentially survives for any reason connected with its
new configuration, and if the new configuration is passed along to
subsequent generations, it was an evolutionary step by definition.

> Furthermore, the main effect of NS, with regard to the search, is that
> it further hampers the search.

Another way of saying that it has an effect on its direction(s).

> Not only does the search have to find tiny

Who says these must be tiny? That may be our perspective because we
assume our existence to be the only possible or desirable outcome. That
is no given.

> 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.

Ye-e-s-s-s, and isn't that a description of an evolutionary course of
development? [Note again that "functional" may not necessarily conform
to our limited understanding of what the word means.]

> So random, unguided biological changes must find and then follow these
> pathways. NS does not help these random changes to occur.

No, it causes them.

Or so it seemeth to me. JimA

> 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 20:52:59 2005

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