Dependency Graph and Common Design vs Common Descent

In a recent paper published in BIO-Complexity, Winston Ewert extends his previous work with a dependency graph model. In his original paper on this subject the term “common design” appears 13 times. In his most recent paper the term “common design” does not appear at all.

My personal opinion is that “common design” is scientifically vacuous. Has Winston Ewart reached that same conclusion?

Does Ewert’s recent work give additional support to those who think that “common design” is a better explanation than common descent? If so, how so?

Regrettably, the abstract gives “support” to opponents of common descent with the seriously inaccurate claim that “not because convergence is known to be evolutionarily feasible, but because this preserves the presumed phylogenetic tree”. Not only is convergence extremely evolutionarily feasible and a strong expectation of evolution, but also the slander that scientists are claiming convergence just to prop up evolution is not going to make any evolutionary biologist happy with him. This doesn’t make me want to read the whole paper.


I ended up going back to the biologos article on descent vs design. Phone screen is too small to read the text…

The real problem in all of this is summed up in the question i see in the biologos article “why would God make it this way?” and therein lies the entire problem with a theietic evolutionary search for answers…

God didnt design flawed mutations where humans and guinea pigs cant synthesis vitamen c…that is not evidence in support of the biologos view, it is almost certainly a consequence of sin.

Not a single statment in all the research in these articles even bothers to try to blend the philosophical notion of sin into the equation and this is exactly why i know biologos is 100% wrong on this and is teaching its followers to run a fools errand.

First and foremost as Christians we must overcome the huge problem of the Creation narrative in Genesis.

It reads like a literal event, lots of other bible references and narratives are intimately linked to the Genesis account, indeed the entire biblical account relies on Creation as written. For example, a literal reading of Creation best explains sin, sickness, suffering, and physical death and this forms the basis of the entire redemptive theme of the bible…restoration. Christ isnt coming to save those who have mutated out of sin…he is coming to save from the destructive affects of sin…the bible clearly teaches us, He (Christ) did not design or build it this way…period!

If we turn the creation narrative into an allegory, we must be able to adequitely explain:

  1. the wages of sin is both physical and spiritual death (an allegory only allows for spiritual death)

  2. That the sacrifical system demonstrated physically what the messiah would do in order to make atonement for sin

  3. Chrsit died physically as atonement for sin…this is a huge problem for the fall of Adam and Eve being an allegory

  4. That fact Adam and Eve existed at all…if allegory then they did not really exist…(that is theological suicide)

  5. The second coming of Christ is not only predicted in both Daniel and Revelation but described in great detail and this event is the fulfillment of the prophecies surrounding how God would restore his literal Creation back to its former sinless state. One thing evolution cannot do is explain the restoration of man at the second coming and the new heavens and new earth in Revelation.

To put it simply…Christ died for all the wages of sin. His death was spiritual and physical. Redemption is a two part outcome. Teism ignores the physical theolgical dilemma of Christs death as atonement for sin and yet strangely spends all its time ignoring the spiritual when supporting Darwinian theory…it is absolutely absurd.

Unless the debate about design vs common descent can maintain harmony with the notion that mutations are a demonstrarion of a physicial consequence of sin enterring this world and corrupting Creation (“weeds and tares”) its unlikely that one can even answer this question as a Christian…one is answering as a non Christian because the very explaination God has given us in His Word (Christs inspired writings), is being completely ignored!

Only to those who think that an English translation is definitive of the actual scriptures, ignoring the fact that the Creation narratives were written in an ancient language using ancient literary types and an ancient worldview.

That’s not true – a number of church Fathers read the Creation accounts as allegory and from that explained both physical and spiritual death. Besides that, if allegory excludes an explanation for physical death it also excludes an explanation for spiritual death because both physical and spiritual are actual.

Not true. An allegory, as Paul demonstrates in his explanation of several Old Testament passages, can explain actual events/realities quite well.

Again incorrect – see above.

This is actual non-sense: you’re trying to make science do theology just as you continually try to make theology do science.

Genesis has no scientific intent or even content, and science has no theological content at all. Please stop confusing them.


And then there is the metaphorical aspect of apocalyptic literature.

A story with a talking snake, a man named Man, a woman named Living, a tree whose fruit gives knowledge of good and evil, another tree whose fruit gives eternal life, and a god who walks around in a garden – this reads to you like a literal account? Holy smokes.


Metaphor, myth, hyperbole, numerology, symbology . . . .

1 Like

To be precise, a talking “Shining one”, a term for a heavenly being.

I love some rabbinic discussions on this; one of my favorite strains is that it was not the tree or fruit that gave knowledge but the act of disobeying the command to treat that tree differently even though in itself it was no different than any other tree in the garden.

I think he was more referring to the first account – though Adam considers the two very different stories to be a single account, which is pretty astounding since they are mutually contradictory as well as being very different types of literature.


Since in this post he was talking primarily about the Fall, that’s the account I referenced.

Got it.

I haven’t studied that chapter in depth, but my guess is it’s the same literary type as the second Creation account, though the presence of the “shining one” makes me less than certain of that.


It is feasible! It is logical! It is the only answer that fits the theory (Not necessarily the facts)

And anyone who dares to suggest Design is shouted down.


A good criticism of anything must accurately represent the position being criticized. Convergence is expected in evolution; claiming that it is a problem for evolution is badly wrong.

That does not prove that evolution is true, but it does show that the criticism of evolution is not good.

Also, it’s important to clarify what is being asserted. In particular, “this does not prove X” and “this proves that X is completely false” are quite different levels of proof. “Convergence, therefore evolution is false” is a bad argument. “Convergence is happening more than expected under a standard evolutionary model” might be a good argument if it were true. “This does not demonstrate that no intervention-style design could have occurred” is almost certain to be true.

In other words, although claims that “This proves design!” are generally not reliable (in part because they generally make the error of thinking that design is the opposite of evolved and in part because they aren’t often careful to be scientifically accurate nor to accurately represent the expectations of an evolutionary system), “This proves lack of design” is likewise generally unreliable.


Can you say more one this? It seems to me that he reason that convergence is expected in evolution is because it is thought to have taken place often enough to require an explanation. But that’s hardly the same as being expected. And if it happens often enough that it requires an explanation that seems to me to mitigate against it being expected under evolution.

Why is convergence expected under evolution and a strong expectation of evolution?

Evolution is about what works. If something works for one kind of organism, there’s a good chance that it will work for something else. For example, with longer legs you can take bigger steps and run faster. An easy way to effectively make your leg longer is to tiptoe - walk on the toes, and use the length of the foot as part of the leg. This is found in dinosaurs and birds, in horses, in cows, in dogs, in thylacines, and in cats, for example. Another example is streamlined shape for fast swimming. Squid, many kinds of fish, ichthyosaurs, turtles, and whales are some types of animals that all adopted a streamlined shape. Moles, golden moles, marsupial moles, and mole crickets have similar sturdy, shovel-shaped front limbs. What else would you have for digging?

Additionally, if organisms evolve from a common ancestor, they are working from the same basic toolkit, and are particularly likely to arrive at similar results under similar circumstances.

Again, a designer could make use of such patterns, and for that matter could use evolution; the problem is claiming that convergence is a problem for evolution.


Form and function. Given a specific type of environment, the optimal forms and features for a species living in distinct instances of that environment type will ultimately be the same; thus a given function will result in convergent forms.

1 Like