Member # 262
posted 07. April 2003 10:01
In another thread, Dr. Dembski, offered an argument that, I suggest, can be paraphrased as "IF evolutionary change by ‘small steps’ can be eliminated as an explanation, and IF it can be shown that evolutionary change by chance is extremely unlikely or complex, THEN it can be concluded that evolutionary change is the result of intelligent causation or an external designer." It will be noted that all the discussion about specified complexity and ID becomes meaningless and irrelevant if it is possible to explain any and all evolutionary change in terms of small, reproducible, verifiable, steps.
It is interesting to note that Darwin, unlike some modern theorists, recognized that his theory would fail in the absence of verifiable ‘small step’ explanations. [Based on quote someone presented last week.]
It can be agreed, I believe, that the ‘mechanistic basis’ for evolutionary change is Aristotle’s variation-selection process. Dembski’s argument for eliminating the possibility of ‘small step’ evolutionary explanations is based on interpreting variation-selection as random variation and natural selection. One of the basic flaws with both Dembski’s argument and with neo-Darwinian evolution is the assumption that variation-selection is limited to random variation and natural selection.
Evolutionary change, no matter how complex or unlikely, can be reduced to small steps if 1)the change is separated into a set of parallel component changes, 2)non-random variation is employed, and 3)multiple selection processes other than natural selection are recognized. [ As has been discussed elsewhere, applied GA systems find highly improbable solutions in very large fitness landscapes by abandoning random variation and natural selection. Put another way, if you build a system that adheres rigidly to purely random variation and ‘whole system natural selection’, it has only a very limited and very slow ability to find improbable solutions in large fitness landscapes. ]
As support for the existence of selection other than natural selection, it will be noted that in most instances human problem solving is not based on dying and/or selective reproduction.
Note that the Dembski/Behe complexity argument collapses if ‘small step’ explanations can not be eliminated. If one accepts the possible existence of parallel processing, non-random variation, and selection processes other than natural selection associated with evolutionary change, then it becomes impossible to eliminate small step explanations for even the most complex evolutionary change.
The acceptance/rejection of non-Natural Selection small steps creates a more complex issue for conventional evolutionary biology. If the narrow definitions of random variation and natural selection are used, then an easily falsifiable theory results. If you avoid the narrow definitions, it is not clear what if any conventional predictive theories can be produced.
If, I propose, one starts with Aristotle’s concept of purposeful or teleological change produced by the interaction of variation and selection, (as opposed to change produced by random variation and natural selection) then ‘small step’ scientific explanations can not be eliminated, and the ‘complexity implies intelligent causation’ argument becomes irrelevant.
[ 07. April 2003, 10:24: Message edited by: Moderator ]