Bill Cole's Case For Design

@T_aquaticus, @swamidass

If we agree on the prior point (and I don’t know if we do or not) then when you say this:

The process that allows people to win the lottery is the selection of the correct numbers. The number of other ticket holders (possible evolutionary pathways) has no effect on the probability (or lack of such) that this one person chose the right numbers. It is still utterly unlikely that this one specific person won the game whether no one else played, or a billion people played.

The lottery vs. a drawing is a very good analogy for this situation, I think. Because, as @colewd mentions:

With a lottery, the unlikely selection of the right combination results in a winner. With a drawing, if one purchases a ticket, one wins. In the case of the drawing, all players have an equal chance to win. In a lottery, only the one(s) with the right combination will win. If one person plays Bill’s game above, they will not win. Unless they know how to select for the right combination, which has astronomical odds.

To swing this analogy over to the current discussion is going to be hard, because so many words and ideas have been shared, but I will try. Hopefully you can help me through with translating the analogy.

Herein is where two different perspectives meet head on. The trilobite eye, from my perspective, is akin to a specific lottery ticket. There is a specific combination that was chosen (gross oversimplification) that resulted in the eye.

When you point to this (development of the eye) potentially being less statistically unlikely because of the number of other lottery players (alternative evolutionary pathways), this does not follow in my mind. To me, pointing to the winning ticket and saying that it was not miraculous because a billion others played is wrong. Those others had no effect on whether or not the right combination was selected… I hope that you can see what I mean.

Another point to be made is if the sequence space is 20^500 and there are one billion combinations that can form an eye this is still a highly unlikely outcome. About the same as if there is only 1 chance for an eye or 100 billion billion billion possible way to make an eye. The enormous sequence space trumps the even astronomically large functional space.

At the end of the day conscious intelligence is required for the eye producing DNA code.

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For goodness sakes please stop making pronouncements like this. Your math is just wrong here.

If your goal is to argue for ID that is out of scope for this forum. We are trying to find a better way forward.

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Please explain why. Given the huge sequence space of these proteins this seems obvious so I am expressing my view.

Let’s step back and see the big picture.

Biology is non intuitive. Probability is non intuitive. Mathematical biology is doubly non intuitive.

The ID movement has leaders that are putting forward a host of mathematical biology arguments, all is which (except 1 in population genetics) has been rejected by almost every mathematician, biologist and computational biologist in the field, includigg Christians like myself.

You guys are not adding anything to these arguments at all, except revealing a lot of confusion we wouldnt expect from one of the principles. Even if you were to convince @T_aquaticus it myself you are right this will do nothing to change the gridlock ID faces in science.

So what is a rational goal in this situation.

  1. If you want to understand why we reject these arguements we are happy to explain. You don’t have to agree but at least make understanding the basics a goal instead of trying to convince us. I’m fine if you disagree, but I’m not interested in arguing about it endlessly.

  2. Invite the principles like Dembski, Durston, Axe, Behe, and Marks to join us here to make there case. If you work hard at #1 you might even be able to follow the conversation. They might have a better chance of convincing us of something than you; this much should be certain.

  3. Find ways to work around the predicament ID is painted into so you are not limited by the strength of their arguments. Find a better way forward.

  4. Figure out why ID has not retracted any of their falsified arguments.

In the end you don’t have to agree with us, but let’s at least choose to use our time productively. I’ve delayed in a promised exchange with @EricMH that will be far more enlightening, and he was a PhD student of Marks, and is much better qualified than you guys to make progress. Don’t you want to see that exchange?

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A post was merged into an existing topic: The Big Picture on ID and this Forum

Lotteries are designed to be won. There are only two possible options. It’s a very simple system. And becUse of the way lotteries are designed, someone has to win.
It’s a miracle for the person who won. Buy it’s not a miracle that someone won!
As to what this has to do with eye evolution… you will have to ask @T_aquaticus. Unless he is referring to evolution as a designed process with the specific objective of someone in a big population ending up with an eye…The analogy is not valid.

There are no “correct” numbers in a lottery drawing. There are simply the numbers that are drawn. Given enough players there is a good probability that someone will have a match.

In the same way, there is no “correct” evolutionary adaptation. There is simply the adaptation that is found. This is why we see different adaptations in different lineages, such as the different wings found on birds and bats and the different eyes found in vertebrates, squid, and insects. The lineages we see now are the winners, but there were also a lot of losers, some of which are found in the fossil record. There are also lineages that never evolved eyes, or have a simple eye that never evolved the ability to produce a focused image (e.g. planaria).

The point is that given all of the organisms that existed the evolution of something as advantageous as an eye is inevitable.


If we wanted to we could use lightning strikes as our analogy. Given the number of lightning strikes and the number of humans it is inevitable that a human will be struck by lightning, even if the probability of any single person being struck is very low. I guess you could argue that weather is designed to strike people with lightning, but that seems ancillary to the main argument.


Do you have any math to support this claim? Or is it your intuition.

The evidence is all of the lineages where eyes evolved independently.


Thanks very much for your response. You are always very gracious in your responses and I do appreciate your time. I can really see the difference you previously noted between the “top-down” vs “bottom-up” views. I may truly be stuck in one paradigm and that may be causing the lion’s share of difficulty in understanding.

But, thank you again for explaining. I think I’ll just leave things as is and acknowledge the fact that I may not have the capacity to see things the same way that you see them. I’ve been giving it an honest effort, but I may simply not be able to do so. But one compelling takeaway for me (from these conversations here) is that this discussion is inherently challenging because of perspective. You may have gotten the impression that I was simply arguing for the sake of argument, but that’s not so. I now have a better understanding of your perspective, as well as what challenges are impacting the conversation itself. You are very much to credit for that, so your efforts have not come up empty!

I do think the top-down vs. bottom-up is the big difference in perspective here. You may be viewing evolution as having an end goal in mind and then nature tries its hardest to reach that goal. Biologists view it quite differently, at least within the limits of the scientific method. Evolution can only see one generation ahead. The only thing evolution favors is increased fitness no matter how that increase in fitness is achieved. This results in some really strange adaptations that would not otherwise happen, such as the dolphin fin looking superficially like a shark fin, but looking much more like the human arm or bat wing when you look at the bones underneath the skin. Why? Because the mammal forelimb is what evolution had to work with. Evolution couldn’t scrap the entire limb and start fresh to attain some end goal.

In biology this is called contingency. Evolution works with what it has and increases fitness for the immediate environment. Future adaptations are contingent on the evolutionary history of the lineage.


This is very close… I’m actually looking from even further away, observing what is seen and trying to wrap my brain around how it came to be… But, again, I greatly appreciate your explanation. I can better see how it is that we sometimes use the same words but mean very different things. I’ve learned quite a bit about that in recent days, so now I must try to sort it out and make sense of it all from another perspective.

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The timescales involved in that approach are huge!

But read up on Ring Species and it comes very close to answering your target complaint.

The thing to remember that the core of speciation is reproductive compatibility. And incompatible types can be made just by re-arranging existing genes… without any NEW genes at all!

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I find that “blind chance” actually means “I do not understand” or “I can’t be bothered to explain properly”. It tend to get slung around around as if it proves something.



Here… the only fellers who talk about blind chance are the atheists.

Color me as agnostic statistician. I’m too far behind to catch up on this discussion, but tag me next time. :slight_smile:

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We want to use language we possible that allows for theological flexibility. Rather than merely saying “blind” chance it might be better to qualify that with “from a scientific or human point of view”.

As I’m sure you’d agree, God if He exists may not be blind to chance, and might even be excercising choice in what looks like chance to us.