Friday, December 23, 2011

Hear, Hear

Gil Dodgen:
Something that must be kept in mind is that, if proponents of the creative power of the Darwinian mechanism are correct, every aspect of every biological system in every living thing that has ever existed — from functional proteins, to the flagellum, to the human mind — must be approachable in a step-by-tiny-step fashion through the accumulation of random errors. This should strike reasonable people as belief in something that can only be described as a miracle.

InVivoVeritas adds in the comments (in response to a detractor of the original post):

Your high priestly sermon on science sounds pompous and at places ridiculous.

For example, it appears that you strongly advocate in one paragraph the usage of random number generators for their creative power in writing program code. So, it might be no surprise that you are a fervent advocate of evolution and its mysterious creative resources.

To summarize your lengthy peroration, I would enumerate only the following three salient points I found worth discussing:

• The intuition is an enemy for the practice of science.

• The usage of common sense for acquiring knowledge and manifesting discernment is a bad and dangerous habit
• You will never hire programmers that do not know how to harness the creative power of random number generators to write code (enough on this topic by now)

You should not be too concerned with the first two points above. It appears our public schools and many of our higher learning institutions comply more or less with your thesis and, I don’t know how much the generations of graduates are marked by these academic practices but definitely a lot of professors were seriously damaged by them.

In contrast with your style, GilDodgen’s text is short, persuasive and ‘on the money’.

Let’s read and simplify one of his main statements:

“… screwing up complex, functionally integrated, information processing systems…” with random changes will always (except in very rare cases) will make such systems less functional or significantly damaged.

Let’s try an exercise and see, if I intentionally ignore your stated “science practice guidelines” enumerated above, we can make some common sense and intuitive inferences about the topic at hand: believing in the miracles and the evolution.

Let’s proceed also by using analogies – which I believe represent a reasonable method of inquiry.

The engineered artifacts are among the few things (if not the only ones) that have certain resemblance with living organisms.

It is well known (here the common sense snake rises his head) that random changes in such engineered systems are in most of the cases reasons for partial or total failure.

Change randomly a line in the source code of a program or a sequence of bytes in the binary code of that program and you will get a “bug” (a program malfunction) with a degree of severity dependent only on your luck.

Make a physical change in a gear of a car transmission system: hit it with a hammer, or drop in a nail or washer, and you will get most probable a gripped transmission and a damaged car.

Add randomly a wire connection between two randomly selected wires in the electrical system of a car or of your house, or just cut randomly a wire in such a system and you have a good chance to get a short circuit, a fire, but never a better car or a more secure house.

All the above are logical, defensible analogies of what someone can expect from a random change (mutation) in a living thing. There might be a difference: the living things may have more sophisticated sub-systems than our engineering artifacts to protect themselves against such random changes and to continue to work somewhat unaffected – by correcting or avoiding the induced change.

This is the logical equivalent of a random mutation or random change in a living organism. It will most likely be detrimental or even compromising for its continued function.

Here is the essence of the myth of evolution and of its “creative power”. It is a religion that requires tremendous amounts of unfounded faith from its adepts or defenders. Such defenders must come with sophisticated thesis like the intuition is anti-scientific and common sense is an enemy of knowledge and understanding to maintain the flame of faith in evolution among the trusting believers.

The simplest single cell organism is machinery with an exceptional degree of autonomy and internal complexity- all at a miniature, nano scale. The “technology” inside the simplest living cell is well beyond the most advanced human engineering artifacts from many points of view: number of interconnected systems, complexity of controls, energy efficiency, scale, speed of manufacturing and autonomy. To BELIEVE that such a complex system was “created” ONLY by a long chain of random changes is TO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES. And this was Gil Dodgen’s thesis.

To believe that macro evolution can create a more sophisticated organism from a simpler one (or from NOTHING) requires the following:

- to abandon your intuition
- to throw away your common sense
- to incessantly praise the unlimited creative powers of random changes

In short, only a miserable religion can ask his believers to obey such dubious commandments.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. When it comes to origins, science, which is what can be repeated or observed, is of limited use. I don't have a theory of origins, only some educated guesses based on the knowledge that scientists get things wrong more than they get them right. I am skeptical, and the self-confidence of rationalists in their own metaphysics is laughable.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Matteo.
You managed to cut to the core of the issue with a sampling of the arguement. Excellent.
The hat is also off to Veritas.
Good stuff, gents!

The whole truth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matteo said...

Whole Truth,

Take your bigotry and evident personality disorder somewhere where it might be better appreciated.