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Sep 08, 2005


Tom Welsh

The discovery of complex organic compounds, including many of the necessary precursors to cellular life, have been found by NASA in comet Tempel 1. The following article gives some details:


Amusingly enough, it is from the Christian Science Monitor - although I believe those people are smart enough to see through ID.

It is gratifying to see the theories of people like Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe being vindicated after so much narrow-minded criticism.


Francisco Gutierrez

Maybe playing with genetic algorithms should be required in learning biology. I had a similar experience of biological enlightment when I played with GAs for the first time. I learned more about evolution via genetic algorithms than I did via biology classes.

I don't think that it is the place of biology teachers to talk about intelligent design because it is simply not science, nor could it ever be on philosophical grounds. Postulating an intelligent designer only pushes the explanation problem under the rug, and creates a bigger problem, where did the intelligent designer come from? Discussing intelligent design in the biology classroom would give that so-called "theory" more respectability in the eyes of the students than it deserves, and it would undermine the teaching of real science.

However, it would be a perfect topic in a philosophy, or philosophy of science course. There it could be looked at in the context of all explanations people have ever invented on how things happen, for example the caloric, the ether, lamarckian evolution, group selection in biology, etc.

Patrick Calahan

I understand and even sympathize with the complexity argument. My main complaint, though, is that I have never heard a convincing description of a metric for complexity.

If life is "too complex for evolution," how much complexity *could* be explained by evolution? Where is the threshold at which you need to pull in ID? How is complexity being measured in the first place?

Stephen Wolfram makes similarly questionable arguments about complex emergent behaviors. When asked why a behavior is complex (and therefore significant), he says "Well, just look at it! it looks pretty complex to me." (Almost a direct quote).

Patrick Logan

I don't care for dichotomies. For example...

"Because let's face it, if evolution can't explain it, then the Intelligent Design theory is correct and there must have been some kind of other force behind the scenes."

This is not an either/or situation. Maybe there are other theories or expansions on evolution that we have not discovered yet.

I am all for questioning scientific results. That *is* science. A problem with Intelligent Design is that it is indistinguishable from magic. If something cannot be explained without magic that does not imply there is no better explanation. Putting magic and science-as-we-know-it on the same level footing is not good science, and should not be taught as good science.

Graham Glass

Hi Patrick,

I'm going to update my blog entry to make my teaching suggestion a bit clearer.


Harris Reynolds

I always find these discussions interesting and couldn't resist a counter point available here:


Hope things are going well!

p.s. do trackbacks work for your blog?

Graham Glass

Hi Harris,

I think that trackbacks work, but I haven't tested them.

As far as the answer to the ultimate question goes - where did the universe come from - physicists are definitely trying to figure that one out. Assuming that there are some basic rules from which everything else derives, if the choice was between something super-low-level such as "there is a quantum froth" versus "there is a super-powerful mega-being", I think the principle of Occam's razor would choose the first option.


Christopher St. John

Karl Sims's block creatures are a fun way to introduce people to evolutionary computation:


Check at the bottom of the page for a link to an mpeg video, or google for "Karl Sims".

The first thing most people say on seeing the videos is "that can't possibly be right, he cheated". He didn't. After that, people say something like "ok, maybe he didn't cheat, but random chance alone can't have produced that behavior, there's more to it", and they're right, and that's where you hit them with DNA-as-computational-machinery and blow their mind with the realization that the world is a lot more complicated and wonderful than they thought it was.


Have you considered that evolution can be a part of, or can occur within, Intelligent Design?

Since your genetic algorithm can simulate an “evolution process”, why couldn’t another intelligent being (God) have designed our universe, parts of which evolve in an evolutionary process?

- Taiwo

Dr Umesh R Bilagi

link http://umeshbilagi.blogspot.com/2007/04/intelligent-design-vestigial-organs.html
Intelligent Design & Vestigial Organs
Dr Umesh R. Bilagi
Associate Prof of Medicine
KIMS Hubli


Topic :-Vestigial organs not necessarily proof of evolution for Darwin

I would postulate that it is possible to have a vestigial organ
[ananatomical structure in organisms in a species, thought to have
lost its original function through evolution] without the process of
evolution. Let me illustrate this idea using an analogy drawn from
popular computer software.

Assuming, I have a reasonable amount of storage space on my computer
hard disk, if I first create an unformmated document using
Microsoft(MS) Word, and then a second MS Word document that I format
very rigorously, I do so because I consider MS Word software to be the
best option for my purposes, as opposed to using, say, the less
sophisticated Notepad software, where little formatting of documents
is possible.

Now, if you argue that there is a vestigial structure to the first MS
Word document (the capacity - in this case, unused - for
formatting)and that this only became functional in the second
document,ultimately concluding that the first document evolved from
the second document, you would be incorrect, since I am the creator of
both documents.

Similarly, I would argue that vestigial organs do not necessarily
confirm evolution; they only point to what tools - improvable overtime
- the creator used while making the species. This same principle is
seen even in electronic gadgets today.

Most probably, such an explanation did not occur to Darwin given that,
in his time, there were no common tools to carry out varied,
complex,seemingly disconnected jobs. So he concluded that unless a
creator planned to mislead us, vestigial organs should not have

It is tendency of creators of to make some useful common tools, which
can be used to carry out multiple jobs (or to make machines). so by
virtue of this common tools (if tools get fitted into machines),
vestigenesity will come up.

Vestigial organs can be classified in to vertical & transverse ones

Vertical ones are like appendix which are inherited from ancestor to
next species

Transverse one are in which one sex has functional capacity & in
opposite sex it is vertiginous

Vertiginous Male breast can be better explained tools of intelligent
design than Darwin evolution now look at male nipple which are
functional in female. Male & female have come much before mammals, so
presence of male nipple in mammals can be explained by theory of tools
of intelligent design better than Darwin evolution.

I want answer few common questions, I came across from this link

Why there is no perfect making from intelligent designer?
It is unwise jump to conclusion that intelligent designer has to make
things with perfection he makes things as per his wish, with his
requirement, (like, life for humans for 100years)

Why there are support systems (Immunity)in living beings? & it is
foolish have them.
Now regarding support system when we consider that we make good
intelligent soft ware programmes, there are viruses which can attack
them, for that we have (support system) antivirus Now don't call
software programmers foolish

Common embryo genesis of both sexes?
Male nipple points towards common embryo genesis i.e. common tools
which I am mentioning

Who created the creator?
Now, answer for creation of creator. It is like asking what was there
before big bang, Stephan Hawking will answer you that time began then
& there no time before this event or even if it was, it has no effect
on us. Answer for, who created creator, will come from birth of

ID Boater

I was googled here by ID, Theory of Evolution, and Object Oriented. I am surprised that the party who taught Genetic Algorithms does not mention the stunning relationship or similarity between OOAD programming and results, vs. the results of the Theory of Evolution and finally how that is linked to Intelligent Design.

A study of current genetics research, the various DNA patterns, including "re-use" of DNA code, show a remarkable similarity to Object Oriented Analysis and Design approaches. Subsequently, both ID and the TofE fit into the same design model, esp. if the DNA is founded in OOAD.

Finally, for those who poo-poo (scientific term for those who blindly accept TofE), run the following extrapolation. Number of base-pair in a human cell DNA (3 billion, give or take), x number of cells in a human (approx 100 trillion- wrong figure?, then please post a correction of the correct value).

Now, compare that computed total of a single human's DNA base pair to the current computer storage attached to all computers in the world today, PC's, servers, and mainframes. Stunningly, just to store a single human's base pair would require approximately 20,00 times more storage than exists in the world today.

I work in very large scale computers that routinely store trillions of bytes (terabytes) and sometimes thousands of trillion bytes (petabytes). The complexity of a single human DNA and systems dramatically exeeds that of all complex computers today.

So on that basis of complexity alone (the massive complexity of a single human), I find it baffling that well trained, but very narrowly so, scientists are opposed (very fearful of?) Intelligent Design. Probably the God thing turns them off. But on a scientific design basis, it is a challenging area worthy of serious review!

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