Re: [asa] How big a deal is homology?

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Thu Mar 29 2007 - 08:22:26 EDT


After a few days delay, I'd like to respond to the charge below

I think we may be talking at cross-purposes a little.

Suppose I have a large section of code in my computer program that computes
some variables by a different model under certain circumstances. It's a
costly section of code to compute. I want to see if any overall differences
happen to the results by disabling that section of code. In terms of the
most efficient solution to the problem, the easiest thing to do is to put
some construct around it (such as a conditional that is never satisfied)
that means it never gets executed. Suppose now that I find that without
this section of code, the results are pretty much the same (or maybe there
is an advantage because it goes faster). Now, if I just left the temporary
hack in place so all that active code was in my executable program but never
got executed, then I'd rightly get criticised as a bodger. But in the
initial case, when it was an experiment, I would probably have done the most
efficient thing.

So we find that software proceeds by short periods of evolution (small
changes) followed by periodic refactorings to get rid of the junk, improve
maintainability etc. So God-as-software-engineer could be criticised as a
bodger as no refactorings take place and lots of redundant non-functional
code (pseudo-genes) get left in.

But suppose God designed it all to work via evolution. Then this mechanism
of evolution by switching in and out blocks, is an extremely elegant
solution. It's amazing how well it all works considering that if you
continue to evolve a computer code without periodic redesigns, you end up
with an unevolveable, unmaintainable nightmare. In my previous company one
manager described it as "you can't change one thing without affecting 25
other things that you didn't even know existed". Ironically, the new
completely redesigned platform was codenamed "Genesis".

And you could well argue that God designed it all as fit for purpose - that
sentient beings capable of having a relationship with him, and being saved
by the Suffering Servant God, could have arisen naturally from what Darwin
described (last page of "Origin") as "the properties impressed on matter by
the Creator". And that is what I find mind-bogglingly amazing.


On 3/27/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> *Neither of these really correspond to the God I worship. But to pull
> of a trick like defining the laws and constants of the universe so that
> everything assembles itself automatically - now that's really impressive!
> *
> But it assembles itself in what seems to be a messy, haphazard way.
> 99.99% of the time stuff doesn't assemble into anything new and useful,
> and more often than not when the code changes through a mutation really bad
> things happen. And even when things sort of work out, you end up with
> things like eyes that are wired upside down and such.
> So, if God is a bodger of a programmer or artist, he's also a bodger of an
> engineer -- his self-assembly machine doesn't work terribly efficiently or
> well. This kind of argument is as good for the gander as it is for the
> goose, which is why I think TE's shouldn't use it against the ID goose.
> On 3/27/07, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > On 3/27/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> > >
> > > *For this reason, though I once thought that software-module re-use
> > > was a good explanation (and several creationists I've tried to argue with
> > > have made such arguments as Jim presents below), I no longer do so.
> > > *
> > > This is one thing that bothered me about Collins' book. He certainly
> > > establishes beyond doubt the genetic relationships that tie all of life
> > > together and that fact that the human genome has changed over time. But I
> > > still think there's a big leap between those facts and a complete
> > > evolutionary story that necessarily elides any acts of progressive creation.
> > >
> > >
> >
> > To be sure there are gaps, but it is the job of science to fill the
> > gaps, and not really to give up and say that God is in the gaps.
> >
> >
> >
> > >
> > >
> > > And also, computer code is only one metaphor for creation. We could
> > > also think of God as an artist working on a canvas, striving for sweep,
> > > grandeur, and pure expression, rather than a computer engineer striving for
> > > the most parsimonious code. If we were to examine a master
> > > painting carefully with x-rays and such, we'd be able to see early sketches,
> > > foundational color layers, and the like, which were part of the creative
> > > process, but which aren't all directly functional in the finished work. We
> > > might even find bits of whimsy -- "easter eggs" and graffiti -- that have no
> > > functional relationship to the finished work at all. Whether we view these
> > > things as wasteful mistakes, or as flashes of creative spirit, depends on
> > > how we approach the artist and his work.
> > >
> >
> >
> > I don't really find the artist metaphor any more convincing than the
> > computer code one. It's not a question of early sketches being found under
> > the layers. The pseudo-gene that is a working gene in other species is not
> > beneath the surface - it's directly in the code. It is as if your artist
> > had clumsily scribbled over a bit of the picture that you're now supposed to
> > ignore. I think your illustration merely replaces an incompetent computer
> > programmer with a bodger of an artist. Neither of these really correspond
> > to the God I worship. But to pull of a trick like defining the laws and
> > constants of the universe so that everything assembles itself automatically
> > - now that's really impressive!
> >
> > Iain
> > ----

After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
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Received on Thu Mar 29 08:22:40 2007

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