Re: [asa] ID question?

From: Dave Wallace <>
Date: Thu Oct 29 2009 - 17:36:59 EDT
Gregory wrote:
You are against 'evolution' as a totalizing metanarrative. Hurrah!!! Yet it seems you are hesitant to take this view any further because you don't want to be seen as a 'creationist' by Americans. Is this accurate?
I do not want to be seen as a 'creationist' in North America because the word almost always carries the implication of a young earth creationist!  Maybe not in BC but in many churches in Ontario where I live.  However, I have no problem in being seen as an 'evolutionary creationist' by which I mean a creationist who also accept that God used the process of common descent to create life.  I DO NOT mean to include all of the things that Dawkins claimed for evolution in his book 'The Selfish Gene' and in fact I reject much of what he wrote.  Don't ask me exactly which of his claims I reject since I decided that reading all of his book was not worth my time.  Some altruism probably has survival value and likely can be considered as related to biological evolution. 


Gregory Arago wrote:
Again, the issue is: "What are TEs 'limit' the meaning of 'evolution'?"
Or, further, as I believe is the approach taken by many TEs, is there 'no limit' to the meaning of 'evolution,' i.e. does it function as something of a GUT since it is tied so intimately together with their/your theologies?

Ted replied:
Rather, they challenge what it means to "explain" something.  I'll close with this pithy little sentence from Polkinghorne, "Belief in God in an Age of Science," p. 18: "Did Oskar Schindler take great risks to rescue more than a thousand Jews from extermination because of some implicit calculation of genetic advantage?"

I see no indication here, Gregory, that evolution is effectively unlimited in Polkinghorne's understanding of it.  None.
Gregory replied:
Human-made things *don't* 'evolve' into being (or having become). Why not accept this *reality*? Say it out loud, Ted, because that IS the way things are!!!
Fine, let me describe a process that I have described before to you:

1. something exists and functions.  Often initially, but not necessarily, in a very rudimentary fashion

2. mostly relatively small changes/mutations to the existing entity occur  (note that the effect of small changes may well be massive and possibly fatal and that numerous changes can occur almost simultaneously in some instances)

3. some fitness goal/specification... exists that validates the changes made in step 2

Steps 2 and 3 occur repeatedly

An  example is the complex programs called compilers that I designed and wrote before I retired:

1.The compiler initially functions by running a very simple program usually referred to as "Hello World", which simply prints out a message saying "Hello World", although very often simpler test cases are used initially.

2. Small changes occur day by day, week by week by the development teams and are integrated into the shared code base.

3. The compiler is tested on a regular basis to see if it conforms to its specification.  Frequently massive nightly/weekly/monthly test runs occur against industry test cases or test cases written from the specification.  A mature product typically has many tens of thousands of individual test cases some trivial and some that execute for hours and days.

About 24 to 36 months later a shippable product results and typically the process is repeated for future releases but with a shorter time scale.  Sometimes after a decade or two the original code base is determined to be at the end of its useful lifetime and needs to be abandoned or have new development based upon the old code base terminated by some date.  Thus a wholly or partially new code base is created, usually after much gnashing of teeth by management and senior designers as the costs can easily be in the millions of dollars.

So would you argue:

1. What I described above is not how we developed products?

2. That what I described above is not a good way to develop products?

3.  Merely that the choice of the descriptive word evolution is less than optimal or has evil connotations?  Of course within the field we know that describing the above process as evolutionary is just a meta fore and that in actuality what is going on has nothing to do with the kind of thing that Dawkins describes in 'The Selfish Gene'. 

Let me be very clear, when I say that I am an EC, I do not accept some/most of the extensions into psychology, anthropology...  I think that both Ted and George made the same thing clear.  Frankly I think that most such extensions are bogus but since they do not interest me I tend to ignore them and do not educate myself about them, see below.   

The paradigm of 'evolution' (via natural selection) created by Darwin (and Wallace) and constructed by Huxley, Dobzhansky and others simply *DOES NOT* take into account human intention, choice, free will, decisions; teleology and action. Do you accept this or not?! We can speak much more freely if you see/hear this.
In general yes although there may be some limited effect on the areas ( human intention, choice, free will, decisions; teleology and action) you mentioned.  For example I notice that both my dog and I react in more or less the same way when we touch a hot surface.  We both jerk our hand/paw away.  Maybe you don't jerk your hand away by instinct but think about it prior to moving your hand or alternatively don't accept that human action in such a case is the result of our biological evolution?   I suspect that the boundary of such reactions between human thinking etc and inbuilt biological reactions is fuzzy, but that happens quite a bit, including in  the purely physical eg exactly what is the shoreline length of a lake using a measuring stick .1mm long.  

Dave W

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