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Author Topic:   Doesn't Natural Selection lead to Specified Complexity?
PaulK
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Message 3 of 138 (614714)
05-06-2011 7:50 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peter
05-06-2011 6:07 AM


In the broad sense that is pretty much correct, assuming that beneficial mutations that build complexity occur. Natural selection does act as a filter, which can be seen as specification.

Using Dembski's special (and misleading) definition, that is not true, since all sources other than design must be ruled out before a thing may be called specified complexity.

As a result I see quite a lot of equivocation over the definitions - ID supporters need to use the broad sense whenever they want to claim that specified complexity is found in nature, and Dembski's sense whenever they want to claim that it supports ID.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
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Message 5 of 138 (614964)
05-09-2011 12:56 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Peter
05-09-2011 9:20 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
Dembski does TRY to be rigorous with his "complexity" measure (which is really an improbability measure) and I think that he does a bit better than you give him credit for (doubtless due to lack of explanation in the article). However, it does still have subjective elements.

The real problem is that actually following Dembski's method is impractical in many cases - including all the biological features Dembski would like to use his method on, to support his creationist beliefs.

I also don''t like the idea that natural selection should be seen as entirely deterministic. It is the outcome of a statistical process, and while some aspects of evolution may be nearly as inevitable as a casino making a profit many details of the outcome are not.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 7 of 138 (614974)
05-09-2011 1:28 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Peter
05-09-2011 1:08 PM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

By deterministic I meant that given the same set of 'genes', the same 'environment', and the same 'mutations' the outcome would be the same.

Unless you define "the environment" as a complete and fully detailed description of every event that occurs in the relevant time period, you would be wrong. A beneficial mutation will give an overall advantage, but it is perfectly possible to encounter situations where the advantage does not come into play or is inadequate or even where the mutation is a disadvantage. A beneficial mutation is quite vulnerable in the early stages when it is present in only a few individuals and could easily be lost.

Equally drift can cause even weakly deleterious mutations to spread, overcoming natural selection. As you would expect with a statistical outcome the effect is strongest when the population is small, and chance can cause proportionally greater variations in the outcome.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
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Member Rating: 2.8


Message 9 of 138 (615152)
05-10-2011 6:19 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Peter
05-10-2011 9:15 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

That IS how I define 'the environment'.

Changes within the environment (even restricting it to the Earth's bio-sphere) are not random, they are the result of interactions of such a vast array of variables that we are unable to accurately predict the changes -- but that's out limitation not a fundamental feature of 'the environment'.


The problem is that by doing so you essentially make natural selection unimportant. All you have is a deterministic system working out it's course and you make no useful distinction between selective events and events which just happen to preserve or eliminate a particular allele.

quote:

The 'process' of natural selection operates at a fairly simple level, but has vast numbers of variables with unclear interactions.

It would appear that the necessary precision of the starting point may be lower than 'absolutely the same' or else the evolution-loss-re-evolution of features (at the level of the individual) would not be seen, nor would we see squid-eyes and mammal-eyes sharing so much common structure.


And this is why other approaches are preferred. We should not count an event as natural selection unless genetic variations actually in the population affect the outcome, and unless the event affects enough individuals to have a significant affect on fitness. ANd since we can't predict everything exactly why not use statistical modeling - which works well - rather than throwing up our hands and giving up ?


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 12 of 138 (615209)
05-11-2011 12:37 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Peter
05-11-2011 5:49 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

Treating the environment as non-random (which it isn't, it's just too intricate for us to model accurately) does not make natural selection unimportant.

Of course, you are missing the point I am making, which is that your view relies on ignoring the distinction between selection and drift. The events that correspond to drift may be deterministic in an absolute sense, but they still aren't natural selection. (Or they may not be - to the best of my knowledge determinism is still unproven).

quote:

All I am saying is that that process is NOT random. In fact, it is deterministic (in the computing sense) in that setting the same initial conditions and letting the process run will result in the same outcome.

And since you have to assume complete determinism to get to that conclusion, it is utterly trivial and tells us nothing about natural selection. In a deterministic universe, everything is deterministic - we need not know anything about natural selection to reach your conclusion. Meanwhile, models where natural selection is the outcome of a statistical process are both more practical and more informative.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 13 of 138 (615210)
05-11-2011 12:45 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Peter
05-11-2011 7:10 AM


Re: The 'Specified' Bit.
quote:

Hang on .... so natural selection can be viewed as providing the 'specified' bit ... but there is some question over the 'complex' bit?

IF you are using "complexity" in the ordinary sense of the word, then natural selection does not directly contribute to complexity. It may (and probably does) work to allow complexity to build up, but the complexity has to come from the processes that produce variation, not the process which whittles it down.

If you use Dembski's sense then natural selection has to be included in the probability calculations, so it can't affect the "complexity" at all - in fact it makes things that seem more "complex" than they really are. Just one way in which Dembski's "complexity" differs from the usual sense.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 16 of 138 (615305)
05-12-2011 7:14 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Peter
05-12-2011 6:55 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

By 'drift' do you mean 'neutral genetic change'?

In order to determine the dererminism (or not) of natural selection one has to 'fix' the inputs ... so drift becomes irrelevant.


Except that it is not an input, so you can't fix it. It happens and affects the outputs so it isn't irrelevant. So where does it fit into your view ?

quote:

If we narrow the environment to a petry dish, and the gene set to a single (at first) bacterium I'm pretty sure we could 'rig' the environment to get a particular genetic change to fix in out petrie dish population.

Assuming that the gene was in the population, and you could rig the environment to give the particular allele you wanted a strong selective advantage then you could do that. But being able to rig things is not enough, especially if you need special conditions to do it.
In a more hostile environment, even that might not be enough.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
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Member Rating: 2.8


Message 18 of 138 (615311)
05-12-2011 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by Peter
05-12-2011 7:05 AM


Re: The 'Specified' Bit.
quote:

Doesn't that imply that specified complexity just means 'intended outcome' ... and backs round to not helping at all in detecting 'intelligence'?

There's a bit more than that. It's something that seems intended even after you consider all the other possible explanations. And by "consider" I mean calculating the probability that the explanation would give that outcome, and find out that it is mind-bogglingly improbable.

quote:

If we observe a pattern after-the-fact in which natural selection 'formed' the pattern or an 'intelligence' formed the pattern what difference would there be from Dembski's view point -- nothing I would suggest.

That would depend on the outcome of the probability calculations. Using Dembski's method you are supposed to eliminate natural selection as a possible explanation by showing that it is way too unlikely to produce the observed pattern.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 19 of 138 (615316)
05-12-2011 8:11 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Peter
05-12-2011 7:22 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

Genome Distribution Within a Population = Natural_Selection(Genetic Mutation, Environment) + Drift(Genetic Mutation)

Making drift independent of natural selection as a process/function.


But ignoring the facts that drift is also a product of the environment (as you have defined it) and also that the genetic distribution is part of the input to both natural selection and drift. This is an iterated process and the results feed back to influence events.

quote:

As for the bacterium thing, the assumption is not necessarily that the gene is there, but that there is a finite probablility of that gene entering the genome (i.e the original bacterial cell doesn't need the resistance provided one of it's successors does -- assuming it lives long enough to reproduce of course).

In which case the result is not guaranteed. If the mutation does not occur, it cannot be selected.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 23 of 138 (615475)
05-13-2011 11:49 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Peter
05-13-2011 6:20 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
I think you mean that drift is not a function of the environment as it is usually defined. Unfortunately, that is not the case when using your definition.

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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 26 of 138 (615750)
05-16-2011 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Peter
05-16-2011 7:47 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
Because you define the environment as everything that happens. Thus any event which affects reproductive success is a part of the environment as you define it. Even if it is a freak accident -which would be excluded under the more usual understanding.

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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 28 of 138 (615758)
05-16-2011 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Peter
05-16-2011 11:49 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
What you mean to ask is "how does the fact that the events that produce drift are part of the environment mean that the environment is a factor in causing drift". Which pretty much answers itself.

quote:

If we were to view natural selection (as I do) as a process which acts iteratively on a set of environmental effects & a set of genetic mutations (within a population of interest) then that process must be deterministic, else it is not a process at all.

Then, it seems the problem is in your view of what a process must be. Perhaps dropping the arbitrary demand of determinism would be better than adopting non-standard definitions that bring more problems.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 34 of 138 (615835)
05-17-2011 11:53 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Peter
05-17-2011 4:48 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

In what sense are the events that produce drift part of the environment?

Have you forgotten that you defined the environment to include ALL events occurring in the relevant time period? You're asking in what sense events are events, another of those self-answering questions.

quote:

If a process isn't deterministic, how can it be a process?

How does a stochastic process fail to be a process? Your question doesn't make any sense to me.

quote:

Are you saying that if one could set up an eco-system identical to the earth of 65,000,000 years ago control every environmental sequence to happen exactly as it did, and trigger exactly the same mutations you would get a different result to what actually happened?

Of course not - not that that question has any relevance to my post at all.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 40 of 138 (615924)
05-18-2011 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Peter
05-18-2011 6:34 AM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

Yes. I separate mutation itself as a separate variable ... because that's how I define my 'mental model'.

Trying to change the subject? The point was that the environment as you define it causes drift. And it does so when the course of events favours one allele over another without regard to the effects of that allele.

quote:

There is no such thing as a stochastic process -- there are simply processes which we can only model stochastically because we are unable to accurately model the vast number of variables involved.

If this is your assumption of universal determinism again it is trivial and only acts to undermine your point. If it is intended to make a more serious point then it is in need of clarification and support.

quote:

In which case the process is deterministic.

I think you mean the PROCESSES because you are including drift and selection in there. Both contribute to the outcome.


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PaulK
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Posts: 15812
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 49 of 138 (615970)
05-18-2011 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Peter
05-18-2011 2:42 PM


Re: So: 'If it was designed intelligently then it is the product of intelligent design.'
quote:

Not changing the subject. Events in the environment do not cause drift


You were definitely trying to change the subject, which was how events that cause drift are part of the environment as you defined it. Why you chose to dispute that, when you stated that ALL events are part of the environment, I suppose I'll never know.

And since I explained how events in the environment can cause drift I suggest that you deal with the point rather than digging yourself even deeper by making more false assertions.

quote:

Genetic mutations happen, largely at random (and possibly from environmental factors like radiation or chemical mutagens), but that aspect is segregated into 'genetic mutation' as a separate/isolated variable.

Obviously you don"t understand drift, which is all about how the new alleles created by mutation rise and decline in frequency, apart from selection.

quote:

In what way does it undermine my point?


Because given that view, there is nothing special about being deterministic. Everything is. Even freak accidents.

quote:

I cannot see drift as a process.

Nevertheless, it is, and it is in there, lumped together with selection.


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