Francis Collins weakens Intelligent Design's argument

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Francis Collins weakens Intelligent Design's argument

This claims to be Francis Collins views on evolution by natural selection being a completely legitimate way for life to have evolved.

 

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

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Yes, it is him.

Yes, it is him.

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*applause*

*applause*


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So his theism is based on

So his theism is based on wishful thinking, and ambiguous morality dilemmas.  I can understand and respect someone like that, as long as they reduce their belief to a personal "feel" they are being intellectually honest.

 

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Ktulu wrote:So his theism is

Ktulu wrote:

So his theism is based on wishful thinking, and ambiguous morality dilemmas.  I can understand and respect someone like that, as long as they reduce their belief to a personal "feel" they are being intellectually honest.

 

And as long as they don't try to base moral decisions and ideas about the nature of reality on such beliefs, in contexts where we do have a real empirical basis for understanding.

IOW, our empirically, scientifically gained understanding of reality, including of our own nature, must take precedence over wishful/intuitive/instinctive thinking.

Thankfully, despite justifiable concerns expressed by Sam Harris and others about the possibility of Collins' decisions in his role at the NIH being unduly affected by such beliefs, he appears to have maintained his scientific integrity.

 

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BobSpence1 wrote:IOW, our

BobSpence1 wrote:
IOW, our empirically, scientifically gained understanding of reality, including of our own nature, must take precedence over wishful/intuitive/instinctive thinking.

I've only been saying this since forever. You've apparently held and promoted this stance, too, but for even longer.

 

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Ktulu wrote:So his theism is

Ktulu wrote:

So his theism is based on wishful thinking, and ambiguous morality dilemmas.  I can understand and respect someone like that, as long as they reduce their belief to a personal "feel" they are being intellectually honest.

I do respect him for his honesty and integrity to concede, but not for being blatantly irrational.

It just goes to show no matter the level of intelligence, it's still quite possible for humans to hold 2 completely incompatible views and standards.

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

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Aha, he joined medicine. The

Aha, he joined medicine. The least logical and most emotional field of science that exists today. I have yet to read a medical journal that didn't mention gods or other mysticism somewhere within. I'm so glad psychology is making major strides alongside medicine. Maybe in a few more decades they'll be real sciences, that stop assuming self contradictory forces unrelated to the field.

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Vastet wrote:Aha, he joined

Vastet wrote:
Aha, he joined medicine. The least logical and most emotional field of science that exists today. I have yet to read a medical journal that didn't mention gods or other mysticism somewhere within. I'm so glad psychology is making major strides alongside medicine. Maybe in a few more decades they'll be real sciences, that stop assuming self contradictory forces unrelated to the field.

These 'pseudosciences' just happen to keep most of us alive, many of us functional, and some of us (in America) filthy rich for enabling the previous collective acts. It isn't quite Voodoo, and it may not approach whatever metaphorical zen you may have in mind for Physics, but it does work. That quite a bit of theism creeps into these fields of study (Biblical references like crosses and snakes entwining a staff) is ultimately irrelevant. Theists work in and make opinions about physics- and paleontology-related professions, too.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Your misrepresentation of my

Your misrepresentation of my post suggests you didn't understand it.

I never said anything about medicinal sciences being pseudoscience. I implied they have been corrupted by theism, and they have. If you have evidence to the contrary feel free to present it. If not, take into consideration that until the 1900's, almost all healthcare was provided or sponsored by religion, and religion has been the driving force of medicinal discovery throughout the ages as a result. At least half the hospitals in Canada were built by and run by christians. Many still are.

It is not that there is a problem with medicine being a science, it is that theists have been on the forefront of the industry since before it was an industry. And that theists are much less rigorous in their elimination of factors than most scientists. As such, instead of seeing "unexplainable phenomenae" in a medical journal, you're much more likely to see "god" or "prayer" or "supernatural".

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Oh!! I am totally convinced

Oh!! I am totally convinced now.  Just the other day, the transmission randomly copied and fell out of my car. It rolled across the garage floor, rolled over an old bike inner-tube and crashed into an old fan. (That was siting there because it had previously copied itself and I didn't need two fans inside.) The whole thing then spun around and became a hover-craft. It was awesome!!!!  I just have to keep a bunch of spare parts around and I can end up with anything.  Smiling


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^ Wasn't paying attention.

^ Wasn't paying attention.

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joe_2007 wrote:Oh!! I am

joe_2007 wrote:

Oh!! I am totally convinced now.  Just the other day, the transmission randomly copied and fell out of my car. It rolled across the garage floor, rolled over an old bike inner-tube and crashed into an old fan. (That was siting there because it had previously copied itself and I didn't need two fans inside.) The whole thing then spun around and became a hover-craft. It was awesome!!!!  I just have to keep a bunch of spare parts around and I can end up with anything.  Smiling

As long as those parts are really capable of copying themselves - you have machinery like that? Wow! - and you are prepared to set up an environment for them that will favour the thing you want, and wait for a million generations or so, maybe.

Consciously designed things like cars, car parts, and watches, etc, usually don't do that kind of thing. Only things which reproduce can evolve, and that would be an unnecessary complication in the design.That's one of the signs that life was NOT intelligently designed.

Evolution is much better at that kind of thing, although it tends to be very slow, because it can only make small changes at each point, and there are some things it can't do that a designer would find trivial, like swapping which side of the throat a nerve goes. Poor giraffes, stuck with a nerve which has to go all the way down its neck and back again, just because it originally formed in animals with no neck at all.

On the plus side, because it has a random element, it can find solutions which a conscious designer may not think of. This has been applied in computer-aided design - 'genetic algorithms' - which mimic the random mutation + non-random selection of evoltion to come up with novel 'designs'.

Nothing in evolution ever gave birth to something entirely different.

 

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Actual question

joe_2007 wrote:

Oh!! I am totally convinced now.  Just the other day, the transmission randomly copied and fell out of my car. It rolled across the garage floor, rolled over an old bike inner-tube and crashed into an old fan. (That was siting there because it had previously copied itself and I didn't need two fans inside.) The whole thing then spun around and became a hover-craft. It was awesome!!!!  I just have to keep a bunch of spare parts around and I can end up with anything.  Smiling

 

Okay, before everyone flames me for being a jerk, which I was, sorry, I have an actual question.  If cars could replicate themselves, how would the above scenario be any different than having 30 of the right proteins just lying around, copies "presumably" since the others would be needed elsewhere, suddenly come together in the proper sequence and in the proper configuration to make a flagelum?

 

Maybe Bob Spence could answer how such an assembly process would happen where none had been there before. And where are the assembly instructions stored? DNA hold the component sequences, but what about the assembly?


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Assembly Instructions

BobSpence1 wrote:

As long as those parts are really capable of copying themselves - you have machinery like that? Wow! - and you are prepared to set up an environment for them that will favour the thing you want, and wait for a million generations or so, maybe.

 

Bob, Thanks for answering before I even asked. Smiling   How does the biological system "set up an environment for them that will favour the thing [it] want[s]" or needs?

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

Consciously designed things like cars, car parts, and watches, etc, usually don't do that kind of thing. Only things which reproduce can evolve, and that would be an unnecessary complication in the design. That's one of the signs that life was NOT intelligently designed.

That's why  I said "Assuming the car could reproduce".  I think your logic here is circular. You assume it was not designed to reproduce, so then you use the fact that it reproduces as evidence that it wasn't designed?

 

 

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

Evolution is much better at that kind of thing, although it tends to be very slow, because it can only make small changes at each point, and there are some things it can't do that a designer would find trivial, like swapping which side of the throat a nerve goes.

But even given millions of generations as you stated above, each creating a new component, the assembly of any such system would have to happen with in a single cell, (over a very short span of time). I should wait for your next response, but where are the assembly instructions stored, and how would the assembly instructions of such a complicated system with pieces from different sectors get created at all?

BobSpence1 wrote:

On the plus side, because it has a random element, it can find solutions which a conscious designer may not think of. This has been applied in computer-aided design - 'genetic algorithms' - which mimic the random mutation + non-random selection of evoltion to come up with novel 'designs'.

True, but those applications are done under very controlled circumstances with limited variables.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Nothing in evolution ever gave birth to something entirely different.

But that is what they are saying. No flagelum becomes a flagelum.

 

Thanks for your responses.

Joe

 


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joe_2007 wrote:joe_2007

joe_2007 wrote:

joe_2007 wrote:

Oh!! I am totally convinced now.  Just the other day, the transmission randomly copied and fell out of my car. It rolled across the garage floor, rolled over an old bike inner-tube and crashed into an old fan. (That was siting there because it had previously copied itself and I didn't need two fans inside.) The whole thing then spun around and became a hover-craft. It was awesome!!!!  I just have to keep a bunch of spare parts around and I can end up with anything.  Smiling

 

Okay, before everyone flames me for being a jerk, which I was, sorry, I have an actual question.  If cars could replicate themselves, how would the above scenario be any different than having 30 of the right proteins just lying around, copies "presumably" since the others would be needed elsewhere, suddenly come together in the proper sequence and in the proper configuration to make a flagelum?

 

Maybe Bob Spence could answer how such an assembly process would happen where none had been there before. And where are the assembly instructions stored? DNA hold the component sequences, but what about the assembly?

For a start, evolution is NOT about things "suddenly coming together". It is a gradual, step-by-step process, where each change must still lead to a viable organism that can reproduce itself. There have been tons of papers showing the various paths by which the flagellum could have formed, by progressive changes - again, no sudden changes required. What IDers don't get is that, precisely because there is no intelligent purposeful 'design' involved, many bits of cellular 'mechanism' form by adaption of existing bits that have quite different functionality, but have forms which with small changes can work as part of a quite different mechanism.

And of course genes often get 'copied', or duplicated, this is observed in studies of DNA, and you are right, that is what allows new genes to come from older ones without losing the old ones' functionality.

The assembly is built into the amino acids chemical affinity for each other. The whole cellular mechanism which manages the 'assembly' evolved along with DNA from the first self-replicating molecules. Unlike 'designed' mechanisms, there are no separate 'assembly instructions', its all built-in to the properties of the various chemicals involved, and how they interact with each other. Again, more evidence of evolution rather than design.

The possibility of self-replicating molecules, RNA, forming spontaneously, has already been demonstrated, and that is all you need to allow evolution to get going.

DNA is not a design spec, it is a recipe for various proteins.

If a car could genuinely, independently, reproduce itself, then given enough generations, it may well evolve into many other things, but not necessarily anything we might find useful.

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It doesn't set up an

It doesn't set up an environment for itself, that is the point of natural evolution, it adapts to the environment it 'finds itself' in.

My comment about setting up an environment was about what YOU would have to do if you wanted your self-copying machinery to evolve into something YOU wanted.

A car is clearly not designed to reproduce, so comments based on that 'analogy' are quite irrelevant.

Only molecules and systems which happened to be capable of reproducing - I pointed out in my next post that we already have experiments which are showing how this can happen - will perpetuate.

No 'design' required, just the possibility of molecules which can replicate, and enough time. Billions of years and billions (at least) of different planets, only needs to have happened once, so the odds are pretty good.

The assembly itself evolves, with bits being added and subtracted and being modified, as long as the assembly serves some function at each point, not necessarily anything to do with the ultimate function we see.

The genetic algorithms are indeed being selected for the intended function, but otherwise the mutations themselves are random. My main point is that randomness is the core of creativity, otherwise you are limited to designs which are clearly related to existing designs.

They are saying that something quite similar in structure to a flagellum, but not functioning as a flagellum, can become a flagellum by relatively small changes.

No dramatic or 'sudden' change in structure required.

Nowhere, repeat nowhere, does evolution involve sudden dramatic changes of structure. It would be able to 'solve' many quite unnecessarily messy aspects of our design if it could. These defects are evidence of the absence of an intelligent design process.

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Possibilities

BobSpence1 wrote:

The possibility of self-replicating molecules, RNA, forming spontaneously, has already been demonstrated, and that is all you need to allow evolution to get going.

 

Can you provide a link?  The white papers that I have show hundreds of man-hours put in by a team of scientists, and has upwards of 100 bases that had to be systematically matched at both ends to get the replication to work.

I am looking for my link now.

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

The assembly is built into the amino acids chemical affinity for each other.

But chemical affinity wold produce millions of possible, non-working, assembly patterns.  If not, how would you account for the massive odds against one protein evolving with the 'right' sequence to match the sequence that is needed for it's location in such a complicated assembly?

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

DNA is not a design spec, it is a recipe for various proteins.

If a car could genuinely, independently, reproduce itself, then given enough generations, it may well evolve into many other things, but not necessarily anything we might find useful.

I would say the same about biological proteins.  It is very unlikely that 'useful' combinations would be found.  I would very much like to continue this discussion, maybe a another 'discussion' where we could take some time to go threw some points. Can you set that up? I know that i can't.

 

Thanks again,

Joe


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Technology isn't a good

Technology isn't a good analogy. Fact is that misunderstanding of evolution is depicted in the scenario given. Evolution isn't like assembling a car from nothing. It's more like you've got a rock that's semi-spherical bouncing down a rubble strewn hill. Some of the gravel will get smushed into the rock, but most of it attaches briefly before being thrown aside. Some pieces of the rock will even chip off when colliding with other rocks.
At the bottom of the hill (though there isn't a bottom of the hill in evolution), the rock has picked up a few elements it didn't have before the roll, and lost a few others it did have. Its shape and size are no longer what they used to be, but it's still recognisable as the original rock when you look at it closely enough.

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Rocks

Vastet wrote:
Technology isn't a good analogy. Fact is that misunderstanding of evolution is depicted in the scenario given. Evolution isn't like assembling a car from nothing. It's more like you've got a rock that's semi-spherical bouncing down a rubble strewn hill. Some of the gravel will get smushed into the rock, but most of it attaches briefly before being thrown aside. Some pieces of the rock will even chip off when colliding with other rocks. At the bottom of the hill (though there isn't a bottom of the hill in evolution), the rock has picked up a few elements it didn't have before the roll, and lost a few others it did have. Its shape and size are no longer what they used to be, but it's still recognisable as the original rock when you look at it closely enough.

 

Vastet,

  I am a little confused by your analogy. Is the rock supposed to be DNA? Picking up bits as it goes? Then by your analogy, at the bottom of the hill, the rock would contain the instructions on how to build a bridge, not just random pieces of dirt. The accumulation becomes information relevant to things outside of itself. 

 

Thanks,

Joe


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That's just it, there is no

That's just it, there is no destiny or plan, it's just a compilation of elements.
Life didn't start with DNA, it started with self replicating molecules (the rock). DNA came later, when self replicating molecules combined with other elements. DNA is nothing more than a few chemicals that bonded to each other, much like how tape bonds paper together. The debris the rock collects and discards isn't planned, it was merely a result of the activity of rolling down the hill. If the rock had bounced here instead of there, there'd have been more iron instead of more copper.
If anything drives change, it is the environment around the rock, not the rock itself. The rock is changing as it rolls because the environment is impacting it. Not because the rock is trying to change.

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/r

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222162009.htm

RNA formation.

All the rest of your comments are basically answered by natural selection, which applies to the whole organism - as long as there is some intermediate path of small but still viable changes, all the assemblies and mechanisms can start from the simplest elements, and go through intermediate stages which don't in any way have to follow a simple linear progression toward a 'specified' 'goal'.

There is a fundamental aspect of probability and statistics you don't quite grasp, related to your assumption that specific complex structures have an extremely low probability of just 'suddenly' forming.

Take a simple example. If a sequence has ten elements, each of which can be one of four possibilities, the probability of that specific sequence arising in one step from a random combination is 4^10, which is 1/1,048,576.

You would have to try nearly a million times to have a better than 50% chance of getting the wanted sequence.

If you choose one element at a time randomly, the average number of times you have to make a random choice to get the wanted element out of 4 is 4.

So it will take you an average of 40 trials to get the wanted sequence if you try step-by-step, which is much closer to the way evolution works, generation by generation, each generation being tested non-randomly for the best survivors.

Even for such a small sequence, 10, the difference between the chances of getting a special sequence all at once vs working up to it step by step is the difference between 40 and half-a-million.

Then allow for the fact that for any complex structure, there will be more than one workable sequence.

So you have to get this 'all of a sudden', idea of evolution, dramatic changes happening in a generation, out of your head. Its like the silly 'crocoduck' example of Ray Comfort.

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Yeah, the crocoduck is like

Yeah, the crocoduck is like the epitome of misunderstanding evolution. Well, so was the banana, but coming from Comfort, it's not surprising that he's tied with himself for number 1 on the top 10 most idiotic caricatures of evolution.

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Try this out. It evolves

Try this out. It evolves better and better 'cars' from an initially random population. From http://boxcar2d.com/ :

Look at 'em go!

 

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Let's continue

Bob,

I apologize for the extreme delay in responding. Life get's in the way. I finally remembered to respond on a day that I actually have a few seconds to do so. So here it goes... Smiling

 

 

 

 



Thank you, Bob.   I read through this and saw nowhere that this was a self-replicating RNA strand. I was impressed that this RNA strand, such a short RNA strand, could accomplish... well, I really did not see where it said what the ribosome actually does other than the general statement of "catalyzing chemical reactions."




BobSpence1 wrote:


There is a fundamental aspect of probability and statistics you don't quite grasp, related to your assumption that specific complex structures have an extremely low probability of just 'suddenly' forming.

Take a simple example. If a sequence has ten elements, each of which can be one of four possibilities, the probability of that specific sequence arising in one step from a random combination is 4^10, which is 1/1,048,576.

You would have to try nearly a million times to have a better than 50% chance of getting the wanted sequence.

If you choose one element at a time randomly, the average number of times you have to make a random choice to get the wanted element out of 4 is 4.

So it will take you an average of 40 trials to get the wanted sequence if you try step-by-step, which is much closer to the way evolution works, generation by generation, each generation being tested non-randomly for the best survivors.

Even for such a small sequence, 10, the difference between the chances of getting a special sequence all at once vs working up to it step by step is the difference between 40 and half-a-million.


Bob, it's not that I don't understand probability, or that I did not consider your scenario. It is that your scenario is simply incorrect. What you describe is a "step-by-step", in your words, systematic approach to the validity of each nucleotide on a digit by digit basis. This only works in the movies and TV when the punk kid uses his home-made code breaker to by-pass some bank or CIA security, with each digit "locking in" as the correct one is found. This doesn't even work with real-life code-breakers because there is no way of knowing what each digit is until the door opens, when ALL the digits are found. There is no way of testing individual sections of the sequence, because you don't know what you're test against.

The same goes for an RNA sequence in the pre-biotic soup bowl. A random set of chemicals forms a sequence. Does it do anything useful, yes or no? Yes? Woohoo. No? Then it just floats around. Maybe random interactions change random bases in the sequence. Does it do anything now? No? Keep floating.  There is no mechanism for validating each base. There is no mechanism for constraining, or "locking-in" the "good" bases. There is no mechanism for randomly replacing the "bad" bases with the other three nucleotides to see if they work instead. There is no mechanism for your systematic step-by-step process. If you still think there is, then please explain, but in another thread, I think you have already agreed with me on this point.

BobSpence1 wrote:

The people arguing for micro vs macro evolution need to post their 'evidence' for the existence of a mechanism which limits  change in any species from going too far from some 'standard'.

Where is this 'reference model' for each species encoded and kept perfectly constant over all time?

This would require some very special biological mechanism which science has found no hint of.

Plenty of evidence for mutation of all kinds, but no point where the mutation is tested against some reference. The only 'test' we see is whether the mutation allows the creature to survive and pass the change on.

(Sorry, for not grabbing the reference to the thread.)

This would go for chemicals in a puddle, even more so than for the reproduction process in an organism. Now in an organism, there is still no mechanism to check each base and try a different one in a 'bad' location. Changes get made to DNA through random mutations, not a "check-this to see if it works better" algorithm. If the random mutation manifests itself in some useful way to the organism, then the organism may have some advantage in producing more offspring and passing on that mutation. But now you have to account for how often mutations happen. What are the odds that another mutation would happen to that particular section of code, enhancing the mutation, as it is copied, relative to the billions of bases that organisms have. (Humans have about 3 billion base pairs.)



BobSpence1 wrote:


Then allow for the fact that for any complex structure, there will be more than one workable sequence.

So you have to get this 'all of a sudden', idea of evolution, dramatic changes happening in a generation, out of your head.


I do allow for more than one working sequence, but you have to account for the fact that there are far more non-working sequences. Say you have an assembly of magnets, that all line up to fit together to nicely to fit some function, and you take it apart and put the pieces in  a tub of water. Do you honestly think it is going to self assemble back into the working configuration? There are thousands of combinations where all the parts would just clump together on the bottom. The same goes for any biological structure that is assembled though chemical affinities.

 



I also read the article at http://www.creationtheory.org/Probability/Page03.xhtml, which was referenced in another thread and prompted me to get back here and respond to you. This is the same argument that you used above.

website wrote:

"Did you try it? How long did you wait? At 2 rolls per second and
more than sixty million combinations (since the widget keeps the
dice in order), you might get lucky in roughly ... one year.
Assuming you don't want to wait that long, hit the
"Stop" button and try this new widget, which does the
same thing but does it one die at a time
instead of trying to get
them all at once



This is a blatant lie, or at least shows complete ignorance about that which he is expounding as an expert. The first one rolls ten random die. The second, which matches your scenario, rolls one die. It then uses intelligence to test if the right number came up. If not, it rolls again, and tests again until the 'right' number comes up. It then moves on to the next die. If you think that probability of random generation is too low unless this kind of system is used, then you have just made an excellent argument in favor of intelligent design. I say that because only intelligence can see 'potential' usefulness. Only intelligence can say whether each die, or each amino acid, is the 'right' one when the rest of the system is not in place yet. Natural selection works on usefulness, not 'potential usefulness'.


Thank you, and again I apologize for the delayed response. I will try not to let it languish so long this time.

Joe


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 Quote:This is a blatant

 

Quote:

This is a blatant lie, or at least shows complete ignorance about that which he is expounding as an expert. The first one rolls ten random die. The second, which matches your scenario, rolls one die. It then uses intelligence to test if the right number came up. If not, it rolls again, and tests again until the 'right' number comes up. It then moves on to the next die. If you think that probability of random generation is too low unless this kind of system is used, then you have just made an excellent argument in favor of intelligent design. I say that because only intelligence can see 'potential' usefulness. Only intelligence can say whether each die, or each amino acid, is the 'right' one when the rest of the system is not in place yet. Natural selection works on usefulness, not 'potential usefulness'. 

 You're misunderstanding the process again. As bob says, you have to get the idea of an all or nothing approach out of your mind - evolution can test its mutations.

when mutations occur, they can be:

  • detrimental
  • neutral
  • beneficial

...to the species within which the mutation has arisen. organisms with detrimental mutations may live slightly shorter lives, or be slightly less healthy, and so are slightly less likely to breed, and pass their genes on to the next generation. Those with a beneficial mutation may breed more, by similar reasoning, and pass this mutation on to several members of the next generation. The mutation then becomes more common.

Most mutations are neutral (but may lead to something beneficial or detrimental when occurring with another mutation).

So nature 'tests' the mutations by allowing ones that are useful to spawn more organisms that may contain this mutation, while negative mutations tend to die out. The 'intelligence' in real life scenarios is how suited the organism is to its environment. It's not someone or thing 'choosing' the best options, it's simply that the best options tend to last longer, breed more, and become more common over several generations.

To summarise:

  1. Beneficial mutation occurs (dice rolled and shows a 6)
  2. Over several generations this mutation becomes more and more common in the population (because the best offspring will have the mutation) until it becomes a standard gene (keep that dice as 6 in future games- don't reroll it)
  3. another beneficial mutation occurs (out of the remaining dice, another one comes up as 6)
  4. mutation becomes common (keep the dice on 6- don't reroll)
  5. process continues (until all dice are 6 - in that simplified scenario).

This process will get you a full set of dice showing six a LOT faster to if you just roll all of them randomly each time.

Of course in reality it's more complex (mutations may be only useful in certain contexts) - but I'm trying to keep it as simple as I can for this example.

I hope this goes some way to clearing up your misunderstanding.