Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Testing Selection Models: Part Two

Wedge with iDesign@UCI has posted a message entilted 'On Evolutionary Explanations.' I've included the last two paragraphs for the purpose of adding commentary. This is the second of two posts on this subject. Wedge's remarks are italicized. Mine are in standard form.


I'm not convinced. You see, I'm a computer scientist. I'm used to looking at incredibly complex, interdependent systems at a high level of abstraction and implementing modifications at the very lowest level. There is very rarely a correlation, even in the most well-designed systems, between what changes appear straightforward at a high level of abstraction and what changes are actually straightforward to implement (by "straightforward" I mean changes which do not require a large number of compensatory changes to other parts of the system). There is not enough detail in the above model (or in most evolutionary models) to evaluate whether or not natural selection is sufficiently powerful to get the job done.

Agreed. The only means of evaluating natural selection's role is through the type of testing used to determine the viability of scientific hypotheses.

This raises an interesting question: How specific does a model have to be to be convincing? That is, how small do the proposed changes have to be to render it likely that natural selection could have filled in the gaps? I don't know of any formal answer to this, but whatever the answer might be it must be able to test natural selection, not merely assert its ability to move between hypothetical intermediate forms described at a high level of abstraction. Ironically, the only people who seem to be interested in doing this sort of thing are design theorists.

That might be because Darwinists have everything to lose and little to gain by testing natural selection. They have succeeded in establishing a role for it based on logical arguments. It is the cornerstone of evolution. Show that the hypothetical intermediate forms do not result from a selection process and you have cut the heart out of Darwinian theory.

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