Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Evolution IS Intelligent Design

Evolution IS the Intelligent Designer. The DNA code is the physical manifestation
of open-ended evolutionary design as a heuristic genetic computational algorithm.

See also:
(1)  Holy War Against Science
(2)  Celebrating Immortality: A Manifesto
(3) The Future of Human Evolution
(4) Stripping God Naked: The Cosmology of Apocalypse

I have already written an extensive posting on the contradictions of intelligent design and the religious assault on science but having been plagued by an intelligent designer for the last week I thought it would be good to take some light relief in how others see this attack on the sanctity and creative potential of life, the scientific pursuit of knowledge, and of course, the integrity of education in the face of religious subversion.

So here goes for a mix of cartoon humour and a short statement of the tragic fallacy of intelligent design. But first let me point out the blatant deceit of the proponents. If you check the Wedge Document you will find that the ID movement has intentionally set out to pretend to be scientific and to disguise their strategic religious deceit in scientific scepticism about evolution pleading academic freedom. Here is a typical example: Jeffery Tomkins is a born again Christian becoming a scientist only to advance his religious agenda, and a flag member of the Institute for Creation Research, but you will find his genetics and evolution website Designed DNA is pretending to be pure science. You can only find he is a wolf in sheep's clothing by looking his name up independently on Google which takes you to the truth - strategic religious creationism. Anyone accessing the DNA site would think it is a genuine scientific resource which it isn't!

The tragedy of intelligent design is that it robs us of understanding the most important, complex, creative and exciting processes in the universe - life, consciousness and intelligence. All of these processes owe their complexity to their self-generating adaptive anticipation. They are not fixed by their design, they do not run down but upward into more complexity and consciousness. Were they designed they couldn't have become what they are and they would have no open-ended future either.

However there is one respect in which evolution is clearly and unambiguously its own intelligent designer. Anyone who looks anywhere in the universe to try to find out the designer of complex life has to come to the realization that the most complex and efficient computer known in the universe is the collective genomes of the biota on Earth.

This computer is functionally in the process of weaving evolutionary adaption through the modular architecture of genes, sexual recombination, mobile genetic elements in our genomes, horizontal transfer of genetic information between organisms and species, through the immense parallel computing capacity of its genetic algorithms and the fact that it is a parallel computer on a truly molecular level, which is open to heuristic adaption through occasional mutational change, the collective genome is precisely adapted to be the intelligent designer of evolution.

The fact that it doesn't have a central computational system like the brain in no way means it lacks the functional capacity to generate new and more complex forms of adaption. In fact a brain-like form of centrally organized designer is nowhere nearly as suited at solving the dispersed adaption problem of discovering new 'degrees of freedom' in ecological and environmental niches as the massively parallel distributed genome is.

To give a very rough idea of the computing power of the combined bacterial genome alone, taking into account bacterial soil densities (~10^9/g), effective surface area (~10^18 cm^2), genome sizes (~10^6), combined reproduction and mutation rates (~10^-3/s) gives a combined presentation rate of new combinations of up to 10^30 bits per second, roughly 10^13 times greater than the current fastest computer at 2 petaflops or about 10^17 bit ops per second. Corresponding rates for complex life forms would be much lower, at around 10^17 per second because they are fewer in total number and have lower reproduction rates, but they are still vying with the computation rates of the fastest supercomputer on earth.

Moreover they are physically manifest in the right place at the right time, unlike the hypothetical ephemeral external 'intelligent designer', which is nowhere in sight anywhere in the physical universe. The modular architecture of the genome combined with all its symbiotic mobile repetitive elements provides exactly the substrate to enable this open-ended process to generate life's complexity and we can see this in action in any of a host of studies of genetic sequence relationships in evolutionary trees, running from the dawn of life to the relationships between chimps, neanderthals and humans - the transition most abhorred by the religious.

(Left) Archaean genetic expansion around 3.3 billion years ago generated most critical genes common to life (David and Alm 2010)
(Right) Evidence of ubiquitous horizontal transfer of genes between bacterial species at different trigger levels (Dagan et. al. 2006).

The Tree of Life: Tangled Roots and Sexy ShootsTracing the genetic pathway from the first Eukaryotes to Homo sapiens
Chris King
26 July 2011 Genotype 1.1.7

About a week after first writing this blog, one particular evolutionary tree was published which gives a great deal of insight into this supercomputing process and confirms the idea actually happened surprisingly early on Earth. This shows that the major genes catalysing the central metabolic pathways emerged in a burst called the Archaean Expansion around 3.3 billion years ago - six times longer ago that the Cambrian radiation. It confirms the idea that genetic creativity occurred very rapidly supported by horizontal transfer of genes and that it essentialy solved the intractable protein folding problem of forming the 3-D conformations that make protein enzymes the potent catalysts they are.

Two views of the intelligent design proponent as degenerate evolution
BBC Article: Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true? July 2011 Attempts at 'scientific investigation' by intelligent design proponents to establish that God created each type of animal (e.g. cats) with only minor mutational change since, by looking at the fossil record, look like they are proving evolution to be true because of the large scale interconnectedness of dinosaur evolutionary fossil record.

We understand our brains are encoded by our DNA. We can't put a designer into the argument because it is not evolution taking place, but the genetic program of embryogenesis which, despite its complexity, is structurally stable, so that the vast majority of the time we develop into humans, rather than still-borns or mutant monsters. Nevertheless the brain is far from a fixed program. It develops dynamically during the growth of the fetus, through chaotic excitations of its neurosystems, starting from the retina and ending with the cortex, and the brain retains neural plasticity into adulthood, so that brain regions for seeing can become adapted for spatial hearing in blind people. It is clear the same genetic algorithms that can generate the brain of our offspring in nine months based on our own genetic codes, are also a mutable and adaptive process, fully capable of presenting new genetic combinations which can adapt to and take advantage of emerging niches.

Research in the cosmological basis of the conscious mind:

Evolution is not just a theory but how the cosmology of nature comes about

When coming to how replicative life emerged and the evolution of complex life, we are dealing with the most complex generative process in the universe. The emergence of life from the chemical soup is slowly becoming understood and is the final interactive result of cosmic symmetry-breaking in molecular complexity. It is thus as complex as the cosmological TOE, or physical theory of everything, to unravel.

Research in the cosmological foundations of biogenesis:
Biocosmology a Research overview of the cosmological origins of life

Three wise monkeys can't be wrong
Evolution looks simpler to understand (and criticize) being based on replication, mutation and selective advantage, and occurs over long time scales, but this doesn't mean it is just a theory, or an alternative to a religiously inspired shadow of an archaic God, in the form on an 'intelligent' designer making dead end products like we make machines.

Intelligent design is a product of human industrial design

It is the tragic fallacy of Christianity that it keeps trying to demolish the wonder and generative power of life's future by subjugating it to the feudal, jealous totalitarian designs of a Hebrew watchmaker from a time when only sundials existed.

Deceitful pretense that the agenda is not religion

A quid pro quo. If intelligent design is to be taught in school, evolution should be taught in church.

Fingers in the pie of religious contradiction. If God created the intelligent design - which God?
See: Intelligent design: Devilish or Divine?

I would take a position about intelligent design that it is like incest. It's a fundamental anti-life perversion of sexuality in the name of an Oedipus complex with a fantasized creator who we love because of our fear.

No it's not. People espousing this cause are committing a form of celestial incest subjugating
the exogamous nature of sexual evolution to an incestuous relationship with God the father.

Understanding the science is one thing but the maths is another!


Ben said...

What about progressive evolution of design, as evidenced by the theory of evolution,but by advanced science and not nature, over a relatively shorter period of time? This would be against a backdrop of our planet being extremely old and a sort of 'living machine, upon which there have been many humanities, which have disappeared for the self-evident reasons we can well understand today

Dhushara said...

I don't have any evidence for other 'humanities' at this point although I agree that humanity is currently putting itself in jeopardy of its future survival. Scientific selection and genetic modification is a new phenomenton, but its hard for it to keep up with the seething rate of bacterial mutations and sexuality. I just added a paragraph on this in the current blog. There are also cultural pseudo-genetic notions like 'memes' although I don;t think these really satisfy evolutionary principles even though Dawkins might.

Oroboros said...

I just finished Michael Dowd's book Thank God for Evolution and I like it. He argues that evolutionary forms of Christianity (and Judaism, Islam, etc) will inevitably arise and that as a result they will recognize:

* God is nothing less than a holy name for all of existence

* Facts are God's native tongue.

* The New Atheists are God's prophets

* The public revelations of science provide a much more compelling and satisfying understanding of God than private revelations

* Creation wasn't a one-time event but an ongoing process

* We are the universe becoming aware of itself

* The nested emergent nature of divine creative expression is how God continues to talk to us today

* We have responsibility for all the smaller holons that compose us, and all the larger holons that we are part of and this is what wholey-ness is about.

He argues for a new understanding of God and Science that he calls Creatheism. He wants to bring the awe of religious expression to science as much as he wants to bring the reason of science to religion.

(I think the religionists need the reason more than scientists need the awe, but I'm probably prejudiced).

Chris the D said...

Although my illustration about I.D. has been re-used many times (usually, as here, without the attribution required by the Creative Commons License under which it was originally published), your attached description comes closest to what I was trying to achieve, so thanks for that. Just so you know, the site to which you've linked the graphic is not the correct source; he just borrowed it. Here is the link to my original, created for Tom Foremski's

---Chris Dichtel, graphics editor,