Side/Comments on What if Design is Compatible with Evolution

Maybe we should confirm that @Rope actually intends to participate in a discussion here, or if that one comment is all he intends to say.


Given time zones, I don’t expect him to respond again today. We have time to consider responses, so we may as well use it.

I do find myself, while watching this attempt to redeem the irredeemable solely by application of polite deference, thinking better and better of Mencken’s words:

“The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.”

My review of Kojonen’s dissertation revealed this astonishing bit:

“Based on my own reading of the ID material and interaction with some ID proponents, I have gotten a strong impression that the ID theorists do value truth. So, I will not side with the conspiracy theorists.”

Conspiracy theorists! So the people who say peptidyl transferase is a ribozyme? Conspiracy theorists, all. The people who say mammals didn’t pop up abruptly in the Eocene? Likewise, conspiracy theorists. The people who point to Behe omitting data from tables to make his case, the people who point out that Doug Axe is lying when he says that biologists think evolution has stopped, the people who point out that Dembski’s strange notions just don’t actually work, at all – conspiracy theorists.

And those, of course, are the dividends of polite deference to superstition.

Mencken! Thou shouldst be living at this hour…


What makes this all the more amusing, is that I’m finding hard to find any substance to Kojonan’s thesis beyond it simply being Tone-policed Intelligent Design.

Indeed, there’s not a lot of substance there. I am reminded of Mencken again, in his marvelous summary:

Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: What if Evolution is Compatible with Design After All?

Philosophy is like trying to search an unlit coal-mine for a black cat that isn’t there.

Theology is like claiming to have found it.

@Roy, playing by my own rules, here are my thoughts, please quote or steal as you see fit.

That statement is incorrect. GAs always produce results, but often not the result desired by the programmer. Expertise is needed to corral them into a particular task, but this presumes a programmer. Rope is making a prior assumption of design, not following evidence to design. I might comment for myself on this Bayesian angle.

Never in ID literature is the incredible efficiency of GAs considered “Big O of N*log(N)”, thanks to massively parallel processing. [I will find a citation for that]

There are more recent results for GAs being used to create computer code that should be cited - I’ll look for that too.

@Roy , nevermind, I think you nailed it in your reply.

I’ll still get you those citations.

No need - I’ve already seen them (one is linked from the article Rope cited).

Btw, Rope’s statement is incorrect, but not for the reason you give. The expertise needed to get GAs to produce useful results (in little time) isn’t expertise in design, but expertise in the relevant field that allows one to narrow down the GA’s solution scope without excluding successful outcomes.

For example, when I implemented a GA for finding multi-dimensional Steiner trees, I was able to improve the GA’s output not by changing the design of the GA, or the fitness function, but by changing the nature of the ‘organisms’ to not have direct connections between the fixed nodes. This reduced the GA’s tendency to get stuck on solutions that were suboptimal in some problems, without eliminating them as solutions in the cases where they weren’t suboptimal. Expertise in evolution helps too.

Maybe there is indeed some misunderstanding or a language / terminology barrier here, because I would understand what you describe yourself as doing as “design” in the sense of purposefully arranging stuff. I would see the nature of the organisms as part of the GA’s design. Perhaps we are talking past each other here.

Why does this show the statement to be incorrect in your opinion? Not that I did not write about results generally, but about “interesting results”. I guess it depends on what you mean by “interesting”. I will grant that if you set the bar for “interesting” sufficiently low then you can disagree.

I’d classify it not as design (or manufacturing) but as selecting parameters - which from experience is often as hard or harder than implementing the GA. Building a car and changing gear while driving it can both be described as “purposefully arranging stuff”, but the latter isn’t design.[1][2]

  1. Nor is the former, really - it’s manufacturing. ↩︎

  2. Unless using a different definition of ‘design’, i.e. purpose rather than process. ↩︎

@Rope I set up this thread as a sort of pre-screening area for comments in the main thread. You may participate here if you wish, but I will lose all control of the discussion which @swamidass asked me to moderate carefully. Perhaps that control is not necessary as you seem perfectly capable of defending yourself. :slight_smile:

@Roy I am holding on approving the comment below for the present, in hopes you might expand it to more than a one-liner.

There’s no need to imagine it. That’s what our cosmos was like a billion years ago.

I will add this in main thread, correcting myself :slight_smile:

A fair question, but can you please ask that in the main thread? My response, briefly, is that you are applying a sort of Bayesian thinking with a strong prior for design to conclude design. Now that you know this, I expect an even better question from you. :slight_smile:

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7 new comments in the queue and I must get back to work. Please be patient.

Post made longer and less impactful by containing explicit rather than implicit impacts.

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approved. Maybe the original too, I can’t keep track! :laughing: -)

I do appreciate your efforts in curating the discussion, so I will stay out of this thread after this. I just thought we were pretty close to clearing up the terminological confusion :slight_smile: .

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