Cheating The Salem Hypothesis

Richard Dawkins is the world-famous science entertainer who masquerades as a scientist. Today, a shining example of how he uses sleight of hand to fool gullible people and build his tribe.

cheating_robin_corpsDawkins offers a simulation of evolution in his famous book The Blind Watchmaker. He entered the following random string of letters into a computer program:

WDLTMNLT DTJBKWIRZREZLMQCO P

One letter at a time, his program evolved the string of letters.

After only 43 iterations, by randomly changing letters and deleting results it didn’t want … the program achieved its goal of the following sentence:

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL

Gibberish to English in only 43 steps. Wow. Evolution!

The astute person will notice: Dawkins began with his desired sentence already programmed in to his code from the outset, so the program always knew what it was looking for.

Well my goodness, isn’t that clever! Wow Richard Dawkins, I am so impressed!

(Please don’t forget, ladies and gentlemen, the point of Dawkins’ entire body of work is: evolution does NOT have goals.)

Yet his evolutionary computer program starts with…

A Goal!

His fans don’t notice he’s cheating. He walks with one lover while holding hands with another. Just like in the picture.

But you know who does see the con?

Engineers. Computer Science people.

Engineers and Computer Scientists are consistently skeptical of Darwinian evolution. This has been verified in studies.

There’s a term for this. It’s called “The Salem Hypothesis.” It’s named after a frustrated devotee of Darwin’s obsolete theory, Bruce Salem. Salem complained that “An education in the Engineering disciplines forms a predisposition to Creation/ID viewpoints.”

Well it’s not just engineers, Mr. Salem! It’s also as dentists and MDs. Personally I’d also add: entrepreneurs and generally most people who build and create for a living.

Why is this so???

Because when you do something for a living, you know that you know that you know certain things. Engineers know what Richard Dawkins also knows but won’t admit to himself: That you can never build successful systems unless you start with a goal. Evolution requires purpose. Evolution is true and it’s possible because living things re-engineer their own DNA.

In my book Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design, I devote an entire chapter to “Genetic Algorithms” – computer programs that simulate evolution.

Some of these programs do work. Some are quite useful for doing certain jobs.

But all GAs that actually work start with goals.

No exceptions.

Really effective GAs further employ versions of what I call “The Evolutionary Swiss Army Knife.” Modular tools that re-arrange parts of the system and connect them in clever ways. These programs don’t just randomly break stuff. There’s a formula.

In other words, if you want to evolve things with software, you MUST employ a non-Darwinian version of evolution. Otherwise you end up with garbage.

Nobody has ever demonstrated evolution software that works without sneaking purpose into the experiment.

If you disagree, post one counterexample in the comments below. Show me one evolutionary program that achieves anything useful without someone sneaking design into the experiment.

This confirms what engineers, computer scientists, dentists and MDs have known all along: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Good Stuff In, Good Stuff Out. Nature is purposeful.

So if you always suspected that evolution was true… but thought maybe there was more to it than what the Darwinians always told you… evolutionary software will happily confirm your suspicion.

In fact… real evolution is actually more like Dawkin’s WEASEL program than it’s like the way he claims evolution works in his Blind Watchmaker book.

This notion of purposeful evolution made PZ Myers angry in our recent debate. PZ groused, “Perry thinks this is engineering.”

Yessir, PZ. Eyes, ears, limbs, body plans… ALL of it is engineering. Engineers know making millions of damaged copies of stuff is not a continuous improvement program. We know: if it doesn’t work in the real world, it doesn’t work in Darwin’s theory either.

That’s why Darwin’s theory is now being replaced by a post-Darwinian model.

So today, to celebrate Salem’s correct hypothesis, I add the Salem Corollaries:

Salem Corollary #1: A lack of education in engineering predisposes people to obsolete theories of evolution that have never been shown to work.

Salem Corollary #2: People who use purely random, purposeless Darwinian methods to build things must either cheat like Dawkins did… or get fired from their jobs.

 

78 Responses

  1. Michael Altarriba says:

    A fitness function is not the same thing as a goal.

    A fitness function assigns some quantitative value to a program state / set of variables, with the function generating a higher or lower value as that program state / set of variables reach some desired state.

    In this program, we have a specific string of letters. The point is not that an evolutionary program can satisfy this particular end state, but rather how quickly that state can be achieved without the algorithm being given a particular pathway towards that desired state.

    So, no, evolutionary algorithms do not somehow demonstrate that they must be “front loaded” with the desired conclusion.

    Evolution is just fine as it is… it needs no “2.0”, much less one trying to justify a belief in Creationism.

    • And now the man who has been conned is defending the con man.

      Is Dawkins paying you to do this?

      Are you suggesting that “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” (which was programmed into the code before the algorithm was run) is not a goal?

      • Michael Altarriba says:

        “And now the man who has been conned is defending the con man.”

        Your mind reading helmet appears to be faulty.

        “Is Dawkins paying you to do this?”

        LOL…

        “Are you suggesting that “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” (which was programmed into the code before the algorithm was run) is not a goal?”

        It’s a demonstration of what a process with cumulative selection can do versus simple random selection.

        For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weasel_program#Overview

        • Michael says:

          I understand your point but just a question though : Is the Natural Selection the only mechanism that made that today, we have the current diversity ? With other words, are all the species we see today are there because they all had an fitness advantage ? The reason why I’m asking, the Evolution textbooks also mention the random drift, molecular evolution, dominance and also hardy-weinberg rule when no forces are in action.

          I actually heard a lot about other elements, like evolutionary convergence (eye evolving on several lines, the ancestor of which did not have an eye) and also the mutation rates increasing as a response to increasing “selection pressure”, like in bacteria, etc.

          I also wonder the effect of the epigenetics in the whole evolution history, as it seems the activities of a generation could influence the ones that come after on many ways.

          Are those topics are familiar to you ? And do you think they have an importance to our current state of things, as much (or more) as the natural selection ?

      • Bryan Maleckar says:

        This may not be the best example to use to show evolution by natural selection of random mutations. However, you COULD start with many more letters, and by randomly moving them around, eventually arrive at many permutations of many different sentences that DO make sense, albeit with some extra letters tagged on that serve no useful purpose, which happens all the time. And during the process, some letters might disappear at random, and different letters might be added on. THAT is how evolution works. There are MANY combinations of DNA molecules and even some genes in the human genome that serve no known purpose, but are leftovers from some previous permutation. Dawkins is obviously not trying to explain the full process of evolution, but simply showing how randomness can eventually serve a useful purpose in coming up with a viable end product.

        • Bryan Maleckar says:

          And don’t be so sure that evolution doesn’t have a built in goal. In fact all evolution is driven by the same goal: Survivability. Any mutation, or in this case, permutation of letters, that does not meet the goal of survivability is non-viable and will be tossed in the dustbin. For example, when all animal life was confined to the sea, there was a HUGE niche open for exploitation: Land!
          Now, there was no driving force, or ‘goal’ forcing any animal to the land. But IF a mutation occurred that allowed a particular animal to be able to survive on land, and it made it to land, and was viable in all other ways, surely it would take advantage of that niche, and eventually further develop through natural selection to make it even MORE viable and survivable on land. There was no ‘goal’ to start with, no driving force. All it took was a mutation that opened up a niche in which a particular random mutation made that niche survivable, that survivability determined by natural selection. And one ancestor can go through many different permutations in subsequent generations to create a number of different species to fit that same niche, some more viable than others, as determined by natural selection.

        • “However, you COULD start with many more letters, and by randomly moving them around, eventually arrive at many permutations of many different sentences that DO make sense, albeit with some extra letters tagged on that serve no useful purpose, which happens all the time.”

          Prove it.

        • little hugger says:

          Sounds like the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”

          “The relevance of the theorem is questionable—the probability of a universe full of monkeys typing a complete work such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time hundreds of thousands of orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe is extremely low (but technically not zero).”
          I found the quote on Wikipedia, under ‘Infinite Monkey Theory” which has been around a long time, because like Darwinism, it sounds plausible. The article gives the chances of one goal, a six letter word, “banana” and does the math. One in 15 billion.
          Yet creation, life, morality, consciousness, “just happened dude!” A miracle to explain what they cannot. Sounds like a faith based theory to me.

          • Michael Altarriba says:

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have yet to encounter someone who (a) denies the basic validity of modern evolutionary theory, and (b) is in possession of an accurate understanding of that theory.

            No one who actually understands evolutionary theory (or hypotheses concerning abiogenesis, for that matter) is suggesting that the simple cells just popped into being when the right atoms happened to collide together. That “747 assembled by a tornado in a junkyard” idiocy is nothing more than an indication of some combination of ignorance and dishonesty.

            The relevant concept is cumulative selection, and not random assembly.

          • Richard Morgan says:

            Throwing natural or un-natural selection into your probabilities changes everything.
            One monkey types “b” as the first letter. That is selected and kept. How long before another monkey types “a” in second position? And another monkey hits “n” in third position?
            And concerning the one in 15 billion chance of accidentally coming up with the entire word? Well, one in 15 billion is still better than zero.

        • Ted Malone says:

          As I understand evolution, it says that we started with zero – nothing living – and we got to the place where we are now. So that string of letters – something – turning into a variety of sentences is not an example of evolution but rather an example of adaptation or selection. If that string of letters – without programming features to cause this – turned into a sentence in another language, that might be an example of evolution. But in both cases you start with the outside force of the programmer who designed the experiment. There is no scientific way to prove evolution – you cannot go back to zero and see what happened. You cannot test and observe the process because the process happened before there was anyone to test and observe it. It is a widely accepted theory but it is not proven by scientific method and can never be proven by scientific method.

          • Robert Gruder says:

            Well, to follow your logic Ted the Earth came into existence as a planet before anyone was around to witness it. So therefor the fact that the Earth exists is only a theory but “can never be proven”. But wait – we have EVIDENCE that the Earth exists! Well, it’s exactly the same with Evolution.. we have tons of evidence that the theory is correct. As for “starting evolution” it would naturally get started when we have self replication. Self replication CAN exist from ordinary chemistry (no designer needed) – chemical self replication is known as autocatalysis.

      • Robert Gruder says:

        No… it is NOT a goal. It is a criteria of how well adapted one particular generation of solution measures to survive successfully. Saying it is a “goal” is stupid. It would be the same as saying that the ability of a cheetah to run faster is a “goal” rather than an adapted advantage.

        • Have you ever actually used a genetic algorithm? Have you ever established a fitness function so that the program knew what it’s supposed to converge to?

          If you can get ANY genetic algorithm to work without pre-programming a goal in advance, I’ll believe your story, Robert. Please provide proof that this is possible.

    • The Wikipedia entry for “fitness function” contains a smoking gun that’s just absolutely delightful: (emphasis mine)

      “The reason that genetic algorithms cannot be considered to be a lazy way of performing design work is precisely because of the effort involved in designing a workable fitness function. Even though it is no longer the human designer, but the computer, that comes up with the final design, it is the human designer who has to design the fitness function. If this is designed badly, the algorithm will either converge on an inappropriate solution, or will have difficulty converging at all.

      “Moreover, the fitness function must not only correlate closely with the designer’s goal, it must also be computed quickly. Speed of execution is very important, as a typical genetic algorithm must be iterated many times in order to produce a usable result for a non-trivial problem.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_function

      It’s a hoot listening to Dawkins’ gullible followers, who not only gave him their hard-earned money, they spent their precious time that they can never get back reading his dreck, and are now trying to explain that it is I who have misunderstood Dawkins er, uh, analogy.

      Joke’s on you, Michael. You could have read an author who accurately explains the science of evolution. Instead you read the work of a propagandist, a man skilled in the art of legerdemain.

      It reminds me of what geneticist Mae-Won Ho said: “There is no inspiration with neo-Darwinism, it dulls the mind.”

      “Teleology is a mistress without whom no biologist can live, but with whom none wishes to be seen in public.” -J.B.S. Haldane

      • Michael Altarriba says:

        Yes, fitness functions require careful design, lest the algorithm produce a solution which fits the function given, but doesn’t produce a solution with the necessary set of characteristics.

        This is not a smoking gun. It is not news. It is a well known issue with adaptive algorithms, particularly evolutionary algorithms.

        We see this with evolving hardware: http://hackaday.com/2012/07/09/on-not-designing-circuits-with-evolutionary-algorithms/

        This is something I don’t get about those who deny the validity of modern evolutionary theory: Do they believe that the entire scientific community has made repeated, fundamental errors in basic science for hundreds of years (which have somehow been caught by a tiny number of mostly non-scientists), or that they are engaged in some profoundly secret conspiracy, successfully, over all non-scientists?

        • The issue at hand here is purpose. Evolution only happens because cells work like genetic algorithms and not like the theory of neo-Darwinism. There is no genetic algorithm on earth that actually works which operates according to strict neo-Darwinian rules.

          There are thousands of scientists who have pointed out the fact of purpose in biology. This is in literature stretching back to the 19th century. This discrepancy has been known for over a century.

          Repeating what I said in the article:

          Nobody has ever demonstrated evolution software that works without sneaking purpose into the experiment.

          Michael, if you disagree, post a counterexample.

        • Bill Cole says:

          Michael
          “This is something I don’t get about those who deny the validity of modern evolutionary theory: Do they believe that the entire scientific community has made repeated, fundamental errors in basic science for hundreds of years (which have somehow been caught by a tiny number of mostly non-scientists), or that they are engaged in some profoundly secret conspiracy, successfully, over all non-scientists?”

          This point amazes me also but I believe Perry’s thesis that noise destroys information or sequences is valid. Requiring targets on GA’s validates this. The harsh reality is that there has not been an established mechanism that has been experimentally validated. This theory was originally established on the weak scientific standard of inference to the best explanation and not the scientific method. So the current status of the theory of evolution: No viable mathematical model and no experimental validation= an untested hypothesis.

          • Eduard says:

            Michaël first you don´t give prove for your statement as Perry and many other well thinking scientists or engineer asks when you make a statement and certain when you rebuke the
            statement of someone else. Instead you play the man instead of the ball.
            Scientific history is full off examples where the leading scientist are countered by new young scientists or amateurs.
            One recent example: Leading scientist beleaved for centuries that the universe existed etarnaly in the past. When a Belgian amateur astronomer concluded ‘The universe had a beginning’, Einstein used his fame to ridicule the man in the scientific world until the hard data arrived. Einstein was humble enough to admit his mistake.
            Other examples of mistakes among many, mány others: The earth is flat, the earth is the center of the universe. This were realy not only Hindoes or Roman Catholics! And almost every renewer recieved a lot of resistance. (Science is passion)

      • Robert Gruder says:

        Fitness functions are not “designed”… they are SELECTED – a very big difference. The fact that the solution converges on a SELECTED fitness, whatever that is, is absolute PROOF that evolution works. If an evolutionary algorithm is used for instance in designing an airplane wing a fitness function would include LIFT. An engineer does not “design” what lift is – it’s a physical property that matters. In nature it is nature itself that provides the fitness attributes and they are NOT designed!

        • A fitness function is a particular type of objective function that is used to summarise, as a single figure of merit, how close a given design solution is to achieving the set aims.

          Emphasis mine.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_function

          • Robert Gruder says:

            No – a fitness function is a parameter of the solution environment that influences the solution. It is just there in the physics of the system. It is NOT designed
            By your ridiculous definition GRAVITY is “designed”

            • Robert,

              In a software program the fitness function always has to be designed, and in most cases it’s a pretty exacting task. I’ve never seen software that would evolve simply using “the environment” around it as a fitness function. Do you know of any exceptions? Please employ extremely specific examples.

              • Michael Altarriba says:

                “In a software program the fitness function always has to be designed, and in most cases it’s a pretty exacting task.”

                True… *because we are trying to solve a particular problem, and not engage in running simulations to directly test the validity of modern evolutionary theory.*

                That said, there are plenty of researchers in the field of ‘artificial life’ who do run simulations which employ a more biologically-oriented implementation of evolutionary processes.

                “I’ve never seen software that would evolve simply using “the environment” around it as a fitness function.”

                You’re welcome to go see what’s going on in the field of artificial life research, but I somehow doubt you’ll find the results sufficient to satisfy you.

                The reality is this: we know that evolution happens. We have a scientific theory – modern evolutionary theory – which is consistent with all the evidence, with no contradictory evidence to be found.

                Meanwhile, we have all sorts of teleological beliefs when it comes to modern evolutionary theory which cannot accept the idea of evolutionary processes producing structure and function without the need of a “Designer”, beliefs which have no basis in fact, and are supported only by personal incredulity and the refusal to let go of the belief that a Designer simply must have been involved.

                • If your theory is correct, Michael, it should work equally well in software as it does in biology. (If not better; after all, Darwinian evolution is said to be a universal principle that applies not only to living things but multiverses etc.)

                  Can you show us ANY genetic algorithm that has solved ANY available problem, that did so without a person having to first define a fitness function for that particular problem? Please come forward with evidence.

              • Robert Gruder says:

                NO… I repeat again – a fitness function is selected, not “designed”. The genetic algorithm (just like evolution) tests a population of possible solutions, culls the poorer solutions, and interbreeds the more successful ones – in this way the best adapted solution for the physical environment is produced. When we select the parameters of solution we DO NOT know what solution will be produced (will EVOLVE). If we knew what that solution would be BEFOREHAND we could call it designed, not otherwise!

                • Show me one software program anywhere, in any industry, written in any language, for any application, where the outcome was selected and not designed.

                  • Robert Gruder says:

                    Well Perry, there is a huge class of software implementations that meet the criteria of “selection but not design”. These are called SIMULATIONS. How do these programs work? We study nature – we study the physics of what happens in nature – we find the mathematics that seem to be at work within this physics. We create a MATHEMATICAL MODEL of that physics. To play around with the model, to see what the mathematical model predicts in different circumstances we change some of the parameters of the model. As a computer is a “mathematics machine” we can encode the model on the computer to do this work. But this is not design, it is modeling – we don’t really know if the model is correct but we think it is. Evolutionary algorithms go one step further. They model the world of life, of EVOLUTION. They spawn arbitrary (NOT DESIGNED!) possible solutions to breed and survive under the conditions of the model – to determined best adapted solutions existing under the model. What we are doing is creating a SIMULATION of how the world works and seeing what will result. WE ARE MERELY OBSERVERS, NOT DESIGNERS. We don’t DESIGN the things that result. We don’t know what THEY will be. Knowing what it will be, and making it so, is DESIGN – and this methodology is NOT design, it is EVOLUTION.

                    • Robert Gruder says:

                      Just to get a flavor of software simulation as used to create a “virtual world” and of how creatures can evolve WITHOUT DESIGN you might enjoy the following video:
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fUHhu_F4Zs
                      Cheers

                    • This has a fitness functions built in. The body plans are pre-designed and the contest to get food has implicit fitness functions. Mutations are allowed to happen in SOME parts of the code and not OTHERS. Natural Selection is done against pre-defined criteria.

                    • A conversation about computer simulations of various physical processes is one topic. A conversation about whether software can evolve itself without anybody defining a fitness function is a completely different topic.

    • Lee Geiger says:

      But don’t you see, Michael, that survival of the fittest IS a goal that has been programmed into the computer that…….

      Sorry. Whenever I try to wade into anti-evolutionary malarky, I always get mired down.

      No, computer simulations prove nothing about what really has happened or what really will happen. Nor is “Darwinism” a valid field of study: modern biologists are not following and believing Darwin like religionists follow and believe Moses.

      If Perry Marshall is trying to prove that Charles Darwin is not a real prophet, he’s preaching to the choir whenever he addresses scientists. Likewise Albert Einstein (who was never a divinity student).

      If Perry Marshall is trying to prove that Charles Darwin was a false prophet, let him talk to people who believe what prophets write, not to scientists or engineers.

    • Andy holland says:

      Any computer program is built on logic and gating – Word upon Word. Any system of weights requires someone to intelligently assemble the gates and weights. All of the coin tosses since time began are less than 10 to the 120th power in the visible Cosmos. You can’t “evolve” a computer program without prexisting intelligence and Word – Logos – Logic as “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was like unto God…..”

      • Michael Altarriba says:

        Yes, computer programs are built.

        No, this isn’t somehow evidence against evolution.

        A system of weights can be evolved… happens all the time in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

        Your comment about coin tosses was mere word salad, as was the rest of your post.

        You really should put down your Bible and pick up a good introductory text on artificial intelligence… and then, of course, read it for understanding.

        • Richard Morgan says:

          A free word of advice from a copy editor: “Beware the passive voice.”
          “A system of weights CAN BE EVOLVED”.
          The passive voice always raises the question, “By whom?” This question needs to be answered in order for the text to make sense.

          You’re right – “this isn’t somehow evidence against evolution.” But what on earth does that have to do with the price of sugar?

      • Robert Gruder says:

        Nonsense. A computer program is nothing but a mathematical entity. Mathematics is a feature of reality. You don’t need a god to make Pythagoras Theorem “work”. It just does.

  2. jim Golding says:

    Awesome.

  3. Robert Papy says:

    Any scientific theory should hold up under rigorous self-scrutiny. Neo-Darwinists seem loathe to let the process play out.

    • Michael Altarriba says:

      “Neo-Darwinists seem loathe to let the process play out.”

      The process *has* played out, and modern evolutionary theory has demonstrated itself to be consistent with all the evidence we have, with no contradictory evidence to be found.

      I must wonder where you’ve been getting your information.

  4. Dave Wisker says:

    Frankly, you sound like you didn’t even read Dawkins’s book. METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL was used only to illustrate the power of cumulative selection over single step selection. Nothing more. Selection by itself is not evolution: the very first line in R.A. Fisher’s classic “The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection” is:

    “Natural Selection is not Evolution”.

    Dawkins knows this, but apparently you don’t. You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

  5. Rene J.Kirchheimer says:

    This comment I warn you all is not scientific, just applying some “logic”. For example if you have hydrogen and oxygen and the “right” conditions occur; you get water. (And vice versa). This all occurred randomly in the universe, that’s why we here on earth have rivers, oceans,lakes, rain and life as a result. That’s what elements do, to make a long story short that’s how evolution got to where it did. So there necessarily does not have to be an “intelligent creator” behind the “miracle” of life. As a popular saying goes: “Shit happens”. What we call “Laws of nature” make things happen and they exist; such as “gravity”,”inertia”, “centrifugal force” , etc.Also the process of “mutations” exists (not just a theory); so what’s so amazing that given the right environment and conditions, that things turned out as they did resulting in our existence? We as a society need a code of behaviour, laws and rules in order to co-exist; ancient civilizations saw fit to invent religion to establish these. However let us not forget that this “man made” it did not come from nature, rather it was the ignorance on how things function in nature that gave way to “animism” attributing to “divinities” natural occurrences that they had no idea what was happening ( why did it rain?, THUNDER & LIGHTNING, floods, volcanoes, etc.) “Oh we must appease the Gods”. Hey, we know better now, it’s the 21st century remember? So why confine ourselves to “dogma” dictated thousands of years ago. We are but “leaves in the wind”, wherever we’re headed for the distant future is to be seen and inevitable. “everything will come to pass”. Remeber: “Shit happens”.

  6. Dan Vasii says:

    The random evolution of the universe is like assuming that if you throw together metal, sand, clay and wood and subject them to fire and different shaping at different temperatures, all parameters random!!! you will finally obtain a beautiful building, with glass windows, piping, etc… Absolutely and utterly absurd!!!

    • Sly says:

      An all knowing intelligent designer could do this.All that is required is a goal or purpose. At least that is what this sites blogger seems to think.

    • Michael Altarriba says:

      “Absolutely and utterly absurd!!!”

      It *is* absurd!

      Fortunately, the rhetoric you used has nothing at all to do with actual cosmology, hypotheses of abiogenesis, or modern evolutionary theory.

      Honestly, people should be ashamed to drag out Paley’s watchmaker or the “tornado through a junkyard assembling a 747” analogies at this point… it just makes one look ignorant at best, and willfully ignorant at worst.

  7. John Graves says:

    I am not a scientest but I remember being taught that science says, there are canals on mars and that neandrethal man is one of our evolutionary predecessors, Now scientists are pretending that science never said these things. I am not saying I don’t belive in evolution, I am just saying that we do not as yet have the whole picture. Saying we do sounds like religious zealot dogama. I like to say “if you don’t evolve you die, if you don’t repent you go extinct.” For the scientests I would like to say “keep working and get it right.” Persistence of Vision doesn’t work well for you

  8. m. s. says:

    Throwing in some random letters and getting “methinks it is a weasel” does not impress me. I’ve spent to many Saturday mornings in front of the news paper playing word jumble to be impressed by that. When one considers the complexity of DNA in even the most simple celled organisms what needs to happen is that hundreds of trillions of random letters get dumped in and the library of congress needs to be the end result. And that needs to happen without a computer program guiding the results. You should just dump all of them letters in a wood chipper and have a library come out the other end.
    Another thing that bothers me is that with them finding prehistoric microorganisms in the ice that contain even more complex DNA than modern microorganisms it almost seems that things are devolving instead of evolving. I’ve always thought that about some of the so called evolutionary leaps. If evolution is supposed to be ever improving system then how is going from a dinosaur to a pidgoen an improvement? And if you look at the rise in hereditary diseases, the increasing violence in the world, the increasing number of low IQ’s, etc. It doesn’t look like humanity is improving from where I sit. Our technology is getting better, but I question whether humanity is getting better. Perhaps it is like the movie idiocracy where only the stupid people are having children and all of the smart people aren’t so IQ steadily goes down until they reach a point when it is unlikely that the human race can survive its own stupidity.
    You know if I buy a new car and it comes from the manufacturer brand new and without defects. Now lets say hypothetically that I am a rich high tech redneck so I take that car and I start modifying it. You could say that the car is evolving. I modify the tires and put giant tires on it. I put a huge mural on each side of the car with an American flag, wrapped around an eagle holding a pair of six shooters that are shooting down a missile from North Korea and I say look the truck is evolving. Then I add really loud pipes and I modify the engine so that it only gets 4 mpg and I say look it is evolving. And as I’m driving around in this really loud obnoxious clown car that all my friends are to embarrassed to ride in it starts to rust and fall apart and I say look it is evolving.
    Hopefully this ridiculous analogy has proved my point. Peace

    • You make a great point that change over time does not mean forward progress.

      • Michael Altarriba says:

        “You make a great point that change over time does not mean forward progress.”

        It is very true that change over time does not *necessarily* mean forward progress (e.g. genetic drift). It is also true that selection is neither purely random nor does modern evolutionary theory rely on change over time, in and of itself, always leading to movement along some gradient.

    • SG says:

      M.S.
      Humans are still evolving, we have just removed the ‘Natural Selection’ element from the equation. Improvements in technology. particularly in medicine, mean that most humans that are born will survive with all their defects and will pass on these defects to their offspring. For example, where women with narrow hips used to die in childbirth along with their baby because the pelvic opening was too narrow for the baby to be born. With the increased use of Cesarean Section, these women and babies are surviving and perpetuating the genes that produce this defect. As a result, there are more narrow hipped women in the population and Cesareans become more and more common.

  9. Don Smith says:

    “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL”
    One problem with Dawkins’ scenario is the lack of decay and extinction with the letters.
    What is the retaining element in his scenario? How far would his experiment go if the lifespan of his characters were one minute before being erased?

    The other day I was writing and drawing on a whiteboard with my three year old son. As I try to write a word, he was more interested in erasing what I was trying to do. In the end we only had a whiteboard.

    In real life life got started once and ever other life form is an unbroken continuation of that original life. Once something goes extinct it’s no longer a part of the equation. So the lowest common denominator for life is what we’re really dealing with. What is it?

  10. cj says:

    Isnt the more interesting question to ask how the “system” knows when to stop, why not do another iteration to produce a language that we don’t know? The idea of knowledge itself having meaning points me away from a simplistic evolutionary stance

    • The “Evolution physical intelligent guiding principle” (above link) highlights a possibility of a new evolution theory grand synthesis. The grand synthesis includes James Shapiro’s natural genetic engineering mechanism as substitute to Darwinian random mutational changes. According to natural genetic engineering evolutionary change is a cell active process. Moreover natural genetic engineering is underpinned by quantum information biology which provides the driving force and target criterion for phylogenetic evolution. In this perspective the grand synthesis is a necessary development to overcome intelligent design and Evolution2 valid critique to Darwinian theory.

  11. Doron says:

    “Engineers and Computer Scientists are consistently skeptical of Darwinian evolution. ”
    I was a programmer and computer specialist and I am skeptical, too. But none of my colleagues (engineers) were. None of them was busy in the realm of computing, though.
    I believe one needs to experience a stubborn computer over a certain period of time to realise how important a functional code is and how damaging errors are.
    In all of my career there was not a single event in which an error of mine would have improved any of my programmes.
    All my errors were damaging to the intended purpose of the code.
    I can’t believe any more that a sensible code could come into exististence without an intelligent mind behind it.
    Just saying.

    • Michael Altarriba says:

      As someone with a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, I am embarrassed by the seeming frequency with which engineers are represented within the population of Evolution Deniers. I guess they didn’t pay enough attention during their required science classes…

      • John Leonard says:

        I wonder if you could become any more obnoxious and condescending with your remarks if you tried really hard.

        I’d bet you could.

        Your MS in EE might impress some people, but as a developer with more than 20 years of experience and about 10 years of reading crap by Dawkins, PZ Myers, Christopher Hitchens, and their ilk, I’ve concluded that indeed, natural selection and evolution (as it pertains to origin of species) are two vastly different things, and while there is indisputable evidence for natural selection, the evidence for “evolution” is woefully inadequate, and typically overhyped by blowhards who don’t know nearly as much as they think or bloviate.

  12. John Legion says:

    Why are you trying to make other people as ignorant and misinformed as you are?
    What do you gain by making other people scientifically illiterate?
    Man has evolved; there was never any “God of Creation”!
    Evolution is corroborated by paleontology, geology, biology, biochemistry, genetics, organic chemistry,
    molecular biology, and anthropology.
    The transitional fossils of Ardipithecus Ramidus, Australopithecus Afarensis, Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Homo Naledi and Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo ergaster, Paranthropus Obustus, Homo Gautengensis, Homo Rudolfensis, Orrorin Tugenensis, SahelanthropusTchadensis, Ardipithecus Kadabba, Australopithecus Deyiremeda are all pre-humans and that totally disproves the biblical Adam and Eve Creation B.S. Story!
    Do you really think that the fossil evidence was secretly planted by Satan to take your eyes off of the Lord?
    Because man evolved, there was never a “Creation Event”, Adam and Eve, Talking Snake, and consequently no “Original Sin”.
    “Original Sin” is the reason Christians believe that we need to be saved by Jesus because we were “Born Sinful” (Every Christian believer thinks we are all “Born into Sin”.)
    Christians believe that the purpose of Jesus was to reestablish the covenant between man and God that was originally broken by Adam in the Garden of Eden.
    Because there was never an Adam or “Original Sin” Jesus had no purpose, and the entire Christian religion is based on a lie and is invalid.
    Your delusion has been scientifically proven to be NULL and VOID!
    We evolved, we were not created, and that is the bottom line of reasoning when you look at the actual verifiable evidence!
    Lies are the only way to make a God of Creation seem plausible, and you are a very accomplished and well polished liar!
    What is truly tragic is that you are such a convincing liar that some people will actually believe you, as if you possessed a rational mind!

    • I don’t think you read the article very closely. I wholeheartely endorse evolution. I just reject Neo-Darwinism.

      • Robert Gruder says:

        You endorse evolution and yet believe in an intelligent design agency? That’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one. I’m afraid Perry, that what you are is a creationist in sheep’s clothing. I’m curious though about one thing, how do you get from a belief in and intelligent agent to the certainty that Jesus is that agent. Now THAT is an amazing non-evidential leap of faith! Why not Zeus?

        • You can read the articles on the site if you want to explore my theology.

          Meanwhile what we know is that cells re-engineer their own genetics and that every evolving entity we know, whether software or biology, uses cognition to do so. It does not happen by accident.

          If you wish to reject the idea of design in biology you have to explain how you get from chemicals to code. Nobody has done so to date. If you can solve it, I have a $3 million prize. Specification is at http://www.naturalcode.org.

          • Robert Gruder says:

            Where to begin? Your arguments are so incorrect in so many different places. For a start, your argument that DNA “encodes” structure (this forms the basis for your “information theory arguments”). TOTALLY WRONG. There is no such “encoding”. DNA is, in reality, a TEMPLET -a totally different sort of information structure. The templet manufactures protein based structures. This produces a phenotype. The phenotype is then tested for adaptiveness. Competitive success sustains the genotype. Mutation in this arrangement is a very effective mechanism to produce the testing of adaptiveness – for there is a tremendous difference between information content represented in the phenotype structure itself, versus the required changes of information content in the templet that produces such a phenotype. This totally undermines your “need for a designer”

            • Robert,

              Flaming atheists have failed for ten years now to try to tell me DNA is not a code. They might as well be trying to take science back to the 1940s. DNA as a literal encoding / decoding system is thoroughly established in all scientific literature since the 1960s. See 7+ years of debates here:

              http://cosmicfingerprints.com/dna-atheists/

              There is no point for you in attempting to push this point. If you don’t believe me go to scholar.google.com and search

              shannon DNA information code

              or similar terms. Read Yockey’s 2005 book. All the literature and the entire field of bioinformatics is against you, sir.

              • Robert Gruder says:

                Please read what I said. I said DNA “did not encode STRUCTURE”.
                DNA is a TEMPLET. It TRIGGERS the building of protein structure, it does not encode the complexity of what is effected by or in that structure. Proteins are fundamentally complex in THEIR OWN NATURE and even more complex in the properties of the arraignments they can form. Structure is thereby EMERGENT from this process – a byproduct. Information that describes the STRUCTURE is orders of magnitude greater than the information withinin the template itself. Your examples, your “arguments from incongruity” are in essence the oldest form of creationist trickery which argue at the information level of a fixed structure turning into a different fixed structure e.g. “you can’t get get a giraffe from a deer” without design. Well you can, if changes are incrementally done at templet level and are then “tested” for adaptiveness at structural level.
                But I don’t think that you care to understand this. You start with the intention of “proving” design and twist the arguments and facts to try to prove what you want to believe – even if that “proof” is bogus. You use false science and false argument to reassure the flock that what they hear from science doesn’t undermine their desperation to believe their own made up story. It is unworthy of someone who claims to be scientific.

                • Robert,

                  I have provided a rigorous, step by step explanation for why DNA is literally and not figuratively a code based on exact definitions from engineering communication theory here:

                  http://cosmicfingerprints.com/dna-atheists/dna-code/

                  Yes, you may be able to think of DNA as a template but it’s also a digital encoding / decoding process. It’s code.

                  You seem to be so angry and emotional and offended at what I am saying (seemingly driven by anti-religious prejudice) that you may not have been amenable to patiently tracing the logic of why the genetic code is in fact a literal code. All of biology has understood this as a foundational fact since the early 1960s.

                  • Robert Gruder says:

                    Well Robert, at least we agree that DNA is a templet and that it contains information. This information however is NOT the information that DESCRIBES the phenotype produced (let’s say a giraffe) it instead describes a set of catalytic process (a “manufacturing” done from the templet level). DNA is thus an amalgam of chemical triggers which make up the overall templet. These chemical triggers are contained in this long-chain molecule.
                    NOW, for encoding. The giraffe is not “encoded” in the DNA chain. The giraffe is manufactured. Its own complexity, the information that describes it, is a function of the properties of the protein structures that form it. The information “in the giraffe” is NOT the information in the templet. Unlike coded information you could not reverse the encode/decode process.

                    So now let us examine a templeted process in particular. A number 6 drill bit generates a a number 6 hole in a sheet of metal. The drill bit is not an ENCODING of the number 6 hole… the nature of the drill bit only triggers the MANUFACTURING of a number 6 hole. The ESSENCE of the hole is NOT ENCODED. When we talk of chemical reactions, we do not talk of “coding”. Hydrogen and Oxygen do not “encode” water. Without a doubt the effect of all this chemistry is amazingly sophisticated. But how it came about is simple. An information rich templet of great “content potential” triggers the production of a chemical structure. But there is a feedback loop involved – and positive feedback at that! If the structure is successful at reproduction, survival and competing against alternate structures the templet survives to continue further manufacture. Improvements happen randomly in the cycle, non-improvments are culled. Great chemistry – BUT NO INTELLIGENCE whatsoever.

                    • Robert Gruder says:

                      Perry -apologies for calling you Robert.

                    • Robert,

                      You can explain your preference for the word “template” but you still do not understand why the pattern in DNA (not to be confused with the molecule itself) is literally and not figuratively a code. You do not understand the meaning of the word “code” as it is used in biology or information theory.

                      This article all by itself should lay to rest any notion that the information encoded in DNA is anything but a code:

                      https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/dna-could-be-the-future-of-data-storage

                      And if that’s not enough read Yockey’s book (Cambridge press 2005).

                      The atheists lost this argument here and on Infidels ten years ago and you can trace every bit of logic in the links that I have provided. It is also clear that you are not reading the posts that I direct you. You are wasting my time.

        • John Leonard says:

          I must assume that you are ignorant of the work and reputations of Drs. Francis Collins and Ken Miller, both of whom are Christians and advocate something called theistic evolution.

          We can leave Zeus out of this, for the record.

          Perry is most certainly not a creationist, but I am — though I don’t wear sheep’s clothing. ID is NOT evolution theory; it’s much closer to creationism than evolution.

          Just sayin’

  13. Robert Gruder says:

    Again I must emphasise the real difference between a code and a templet (which DNA is). Firstly there are a number of essential properties for something to be a code.
    In a code:
    1. Information that describes something is contained in a symbolic representation – it is ENCODED
    2. The Code transports the information so that later it will be DECODED (represented back in it’s original form)
    3. From Information Theory it is impossible for more information to exist in the DECODED information than was originally ENCODED
    4. Coding and Decoding are entirely REVERSIBLE, that is, it is possible to reproduce the Encoded version back from the decoded version.

    None of these things are true with DNA. The phenotype produced in a MANUFACTURING process is not represented by the same information as the information contained in DNA. DNA is NOT DECODED – it is involved in a catalytic manufacturing process. There is more information content in the phenotype than is contained in the DNA. The process is NOT reversible.
    Just because it takes a group of catalysts to trigger production of a protein does not mean the group represents a code. Some people do use the term “genetic code” but that usage is not only sloppy, it is quite incorrect.

    Now for templets. I am actually in the field of Computer Sciences myself Perry. Templet based production of self-replicatiing entities is a very well studied area in our field. Coding is not a relevant aspect of such replication. Templet based production (exactly like catalyst based production) is what is relevant. Do get yourself a copy of “Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines” by Freitas. You should note the cellular automation models of templeted reproduction and autocatalyic networks therein. This is what DNA does, and no coding is involved.
    I think your wishing to believe there’s in an intelligence behind our existence twists your thinking Perry. It’s hard to accept that we are alone in the Universe, but we are. All the more reason for us to look after each other – nobody else will.

    • Robert,

      If you read anything I posted – or any of the well respected references – you would already know that DNA transcription / translation does all of those four things. In fact this is the very first item that the Evolution 2.0 Prize Specification addresses (www.naturalcode.org), and it is based on Yockey’s bioinformatics work. I have based a $3 million technology prize on this so I’ve done my homework on this quite thoroughly. You have not.

      Do not post again until you can demonstrate adequate comprehension of the relevant material, or your posts will be deleted.

      • Robert Gruder says:

        I don’t mean to be rude Perry but you really are terribly wrong.

        Let’s focus on Yockey’s bioinformatics that you put so much reliance on. Now I have stated repeatedly that I AGREE that DNA contains INFORMATION ( ANYTHING that has variation in forms of content has information). I just showed you that this is NOT CODED INFORMATION… it is information in the form of a templet. Yes, we can use information theory to analyze some of the tempelets information properties. That’s what Yockey does. Yockey’s main thesis is simply that we can’t track back present complex information from its simpler antecedents. The odds, he says, are against this. This has been strongly contested in alternative papers, citing errors both in Yockeys mathematics and his logic. Furthermore Yockey completely ignores a “bottom up” reconstruction. This is presently being done in “RNA-world” research.
        However he does not propose an intelligent agent in all this.
        If you think that Yockey will help in your arguments Perry, I’m afraid you’re horribly wrong – I include just a few Yockey quotes here:
        ”..there are no ‘irreducibly complex systems’ in biology and there is no need for an Intelligent Designer in evolution”
        “I have no doubt, that if the historic process leading to the origin of life were knowableit would be a process of physics and chemistry,”
        And even if Yockey were correct – so what? Difficulty in obtaining a history in no way proves that “God must have done it”. This is God-of-the-gaps argument of the worst sort.

        You seem to have two threads to your overall argument – first that any code MUST have been created by an intelligence. Exactly how can you prove this? It is a blind assertion. Proof that you are wrong exists for example in cellular automata where simply inherent encrypted behaviours (codes) are created and encapsulated in arbitrary combined cellular structures. (see Conway’s Game of Life mathematics).
        Then you have the “3 Million Dollar prize challange”. But who is the judge and jury of this challange.??? YOU ARE. No matter how much proof is exhibited you can say “it’s not enough” This, in debate, is called “the argument from endless Denial”. And it’s a cheap trick. Now I could say that I can offer a $100 Million prize that YOU are wrong. So what?

        The second of your arguments is that DNA is such a code. We have gone over this ground already – NO-it is a TEMPLET

        Why are you doing this Perry? Well, you are obviously very religious. You seem worried that scientific discover undermines the arguments for there being a God (you are totally right on this matter). So you attempt to protect the innocent layperson from the religious doubt that science creates. To do this you pervert the science to make people think you’ve proved an INTELLIGENCE. But, at the end of the day, what kind of intelligence is this? It is a totally materialistic intelligence of no spiritual value whatsoever. It has no connection to gentle Jesus that you assert is the one true god – there is absolutely no logical connection. It accepts evolution – which inherently encapsulates incredible cruelty (from a human point of view) in its process of culling and survival of the fittest. It does not answer the problem of evil- it endorses evil. Don’t you realise that the only defence of religion that works is mysticism and raw faith.? This is what your own scripture says. You are instead “lying for Jesus”. From my understanding of the Christian religion this is a sin.

        • Robert,

          Thank you for reading Yockey. However you are only partway there. You quoted his unsubstantiated statements and ignored the statements that are easily verified.

          For example you have ignored figure 5.2 where he shows beyond any question that DNA transcription and translation are isomporphic with Shannon’s encoding/decoding system:

          http://cosmicfingerprints.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/dna_isomorphic.jpg

          You are claiming that DNA does not have coded information. In saying this you not only are at odds with Yockey’s entire book (it’s his very thesis after all) but you’re also at odds with the entire field of bioinformatics and the discovery of the genetic code itself.

          Information in DNA is encoded into messenger RNA and decoded into amino acids.

          Biology is full of irreducibly complex systems. We know that cells make irreducibly complex genome edits and adaptations all the time. Every transposition / horizontal gene transfer / epigenetics / symbiogenesis event involves spectacular complex modular re-arrangements of genomes. Meaning that none of these changes simply happens one gradual copying error at a time filtered by millions trials of natural selection. A protozoan can re-arrange its DNA in 100,000 pieces in 12 hours. That is ipso facto reducibly complex.

          The fact that vast numbers of species share a relatively small number of genes is another example of irreducible complexity. Organisms for the most part treat each gene as a complex whole.

          Yockey never showed an example of a code that’s not designed. And neither has anybody else. That doesn’t prove DNA is designed; we don’t know. But science does not leave us inference to any other currently available explanation.

  14. Atheism Fails says:

    Any argument for “Evolution did it” that begins with abiogenesis is really not a rational, reasoned argument — it is an emotion-based choice to deny the reality of the designed universe we observe. Romans 1:18-22 explains the rest.

  15. Atheism Fails says:

    Information without design and order has a name: it’s called nonsense.

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Darwin Bad
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Rub 2 rocks together and create a cell with DNA... that's evolution, right?
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