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Monday, 28 November 2005

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Cheers David, I'll try & look this one out. I'm a huge and perhaps indiscriminating fan of chaos theory, & totally agree with whoever it was said "It is the third great paradigm shift of the 20th century." We're very privileged to have lived through it, I think.

Hilary,
I'm sure you will find it fascinating. I look forward to reading your views in due course.

"...and the (relatively) short time that complex life forms have taken to evolve."

Relative to what?

HA HA for a miunte I thouht you where takling about you're PENIS!!!!

I think that was the idea, Tim. It was a bit of harmless misdirection. Calm down.

"...and the (relatively) short time that complex life forms have taken to evolve."

So you admit that complex life-forms are products of evolution then.

I'm certainly not averse to the idea that chaos theory can enormously broaden and deepen our understanding of evolution, but I do object to the suggestion this means "he has blown Darwinism out of the water".

Im all for it too so logn as they do the reseaerch. Thats my prolbem with Inteligent Deisgn -- there's no resarch just a lot of talkign about muosetraps and litle spaceships in the e coali virus and all that wierd stuff like they left all their test tubes athome r somehting. do some resaerch guys!!!!!

Terence - relative to both the age of the earth, and the amount of time needed for the complex forms we see about us to have evolved by classical Darwinian methodology, ie, tiny incremental changes.

Larry, do buck up! Of course living things evolved, the argument is how? And, if you are a Darwinian, how did they do it in such a 'relatively' short time? Iteration *may* be a more convincing explanation than tiny incremental changes. Buy the book, Larry, because whether or not you agree with it, you will enjoy it enormously.

Just to put this 'time' thing to bed, let me quote from Bird's book and please note that thanks to 'Larry Teabag', I will indicate, say, 10 to the power of 6 by writing "10^6", also, any emphasis is mine:

"If we assume that mutations [in the genetic code] are the agents of evolutionary change, the question becomes how to account for mutations of an adequate number and variety to bring about the observed rate of evolution. [He pointed out earlier that most mutations are either deleterious or non-inheritable.] The difficulty is that, if mutations are unsystematic, how can they have resulted in such a well-patterned outcome? The legendary monkeys at their word-processors could not write the works of Shakespeare just by chance. In the *history of the world* they would not complete even a single line.

Mutation *rates* would have to be directed in some way in order to produce creatures like those presently observed. On the face of it, there are far too many possibilities that might arise in unpatterned mutation. [S.W.] Ulam [1] has calculated that, if achieving a significant advantage, such as the human visual system, requires 10^6 changes, then it will take 10^13 generations in a population of 10^11 individuals for the change to become established. If there is *one generation per day*, this means several *billion* years. Other attempts to calculate the rate at which changes need to occur for mutations by themselves to become effective have also yielded enormously long times. Chance mutations will not suffice; mutation must be in some way controlled, directed, or patterned if it is to do the job required of it."

Note 1: S.W.Ulam, "How to Formulate Mathematically Problems of Rate of Evolution?" in P.S.Moorhead and M.M.Kaplan, eds., "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution"; OUP 1993.

No, no, no. You write 10 to the power 6 "10^6".

"10/6" means 10 divided by 6.

Thank you, Larry, I knew that a "/" meant division but I didn't know how to express "to the power of".I shall edit my post accordingly. You never stop learning!

I suppose I'll have to read the book at some time, but a couple of
things put me seriously off: "fractal", while a perfectly respectable term in
itself, is these days a strong signal of loonship; and a google search
shows that Spankee Johnson is also a great fan.

Pending that (which, looking at my in-stack, is going to be some time)
I'll just observe that I don't see that Bird's thesis is necessarily
in conflict with the standard theory.

All the "mathematically impossible" arguments against evolution I've
seen founder on bad biology - straw man arguments that assume that
vast changes are required, then show that such things are impossible.
Natura non facit saltum! From what I can tell by a cursory googling,
"Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of
Evolution" seems to be within this tradition - incidentally the
publication info should be "Wistar Institute Press, 1967", and I
presume that's S _M_ Ulam?. This book also contains a proof that
evolving computer programs is impossible.

Larry Lamb (to distinguish you from Larry Teabag), I sympathise with the size of your in-stack. I have similar problems but at least you appear to have the advantage of understanding these sort of books which I do not. This means I have to take them very, very slowly so that my particular stack hardly seems to diminish!

Please do not take my mathematically illiterate summary to be an accurate translation of Bird's propositions, which may be right or wrong, but Bird, himself, is anything but a 'loon'. The whole point of Bird's theory is the exact opposite of "Natura non facit saltum" because he maintains that the historical processes in which the genetic code is passed through the generations is equivalent to dynamic equations being iterated and thus producing, very quickly and apparently from nowhere, new, unexpected and extra-ordinary forms. Given the sorts of figures required for population, number of increments and the resulting time needed even on a rate of one generation per day (see quote in my post above), for the propogation of a useful eye, along the lines described by Darwin and Dawkins, you can understand my extreme doubts as to its viability as an explanation. When you add in the fact that no-one has ever seen a new species evolve by means of tiny incremental changes, and no-one has ever seen any physical evidence of it, either, then you will understand my leaning towards Bird's explanation which can be replicated mathematically on a computer.

But please read the book (when you can) and come back with your thoughts - I will gladly re-open the subject if this thread has ended. I have no fixed idea on this complex subject except my dis-satisfaction with Darwin's hypothesis which, I should add, I share equally with theories of an intelligent designer.

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