New Article: Common Descent vs. Common Design: 4 Examples Explained Better by Descent

Context, T., context. God/Nature know that it was not practical to have atmosphere throughout the universe, so God made it so an atmosphere would surround only planets, etc. As I said before, gravity creates air pressure, my friend.

Are you saying that if molecules were not designed to move randomly that nature/universe would not work.?

I did not say that molecules did not move randomly. They do, but you indicated that this random motion directly created air movement, which is untrue. Instead this random movement, which is thermal energy creates differences in density, which causes air movement.

What causes differential reproductive success?

Form follows function, my friend. The hands of monkeys, apes, and humans are different from the wings of birds and bats are different from the paws of cats and dogs are different from the fins of dolphins are different from the hooves of horses and elephants.

Insects have a very different body plan, a segmented body and an exoskeleton. They adapt to the environment in their own way.

Epistasis and contingency are two big factors in talking about variation and the role genes play in evolution. That aspect of evolution is well known, but you, and Gould have a serious problem with natural selection, so that is the focus of my inquiry.

If evolution is strictly contingent why do we have old world monkeys and new world monkeys, different and yet the same? Why do marsupials adapt to Australia much the same way mammals do in the rest of the world?

You and Gould have failed to why the environment plays such a big role in extinctions, which are very important evolutionary events, but not in evolution itself.

Finally there is an important study that indicates that evolutionary change does not take place, when ecological change does not.

Perhaps one of the clearest and best analogies to faith in evolution I have ever heard.

The observable facts in front of us, to follow the analogy, are that we have humans in California, we have humans in Hawaii, and we are able to observe that humans are indeed able to swim, although we have never witnessed them swim more than around 100 miles max. Of those basic facts, no one disputes.

But my friends say, "well then, that is all we need to explain the presence of humans in Hawaii, we need invoke no further mechanism. Humans are clearly able to swim, and if we "use imagination", we can see that "somehow" (?!?) another swimmer must have started where the previous one left off, over and over again, and thus, swimming is an entirely sufficient explanation for how humans got from California to Hawaii.

You will forgive me for remaining a bit incredulous, and thus keeping my mind open to alternative explanations that posit alternative mechanisms. either in this example or in biochemistry.

A reminder to everyone here for the 1,463rd time… ID formally makes no claim about the identity of the designer.

Neither do I even as an ID-sympathizing Christian theist. i have no idea what means, or secondary causes, God may or may not have used in his purposes.

Did he utilize angels perhaps who may have had more limitations than he might have himself? Did he choose to limit himself to utilizing certain forces of nature that themselves were limited, just as is behind many recorded miracles (like the strong wind that pushed back the waters of the red sea)? i have no idea, nor do i claim anything about God himself just because i recognize design in biology. ID makes no claim about who the designer was, and neither do I, as a Christian theist, insist that God was the immediate or direct cause of the design I recognize in nature.

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The necessity of imagination was invoked there to help the analogy fit the situation. That any analogy must fall short and needs help is no surprise - and just the nature of analogies. Evolution itself does provide much more detail (and plausibility) for how it works, and while it never fills in every gap, nonetheless, plausible mechanisms seem to be in play. Don’t make the category mistake of thinking a deficient analogy necessarily means a deficiency of theory.


Sorry, but i think your analogy extremely apropos. we have prokaryotic cells, and we have eukaryotic cells, and a gap between them in complexity of new organelles and interworkings of the machinery as wide as the Pacific. and actual observation demonstrates no changes in prokaryotes any more significant than an analogous 10 mile swim from California, and every other difference and gap between the two classes of cells are filled in with absolutely nothing more than pure speculation and imagination.

I will remain thankful for a brilliant analogy.


You are the exemplar of humility here! It was your analogy I was trying to build on.

Well, there ya go, then.

The longest distance ever swum without flippers in open sea is 225 km (139.8 miles)

An analogy is a three-legged horse.

A basic problem with ID arguments in general, and parts of the discussion here in particular, is that the basic point being argued is often not spelled out. Is the question “does the scientific evidence give strong basis to infer a designer?” or “does the scientific evidence give strong basis to infer the absence of a designer?” or “does the scientific evidence fit well with a model of evolution via natural selection (plus various other physical causes)?”


The problem about death is not evolution, but theology that insists on keeping additions to the Bible as dogma. Biblically, death was never called a curse or that sin formed a rift between God and man. The creation was never called perfect nor was Adam called immortal. No biblical prophet mourned the loss or used those ideas in their sermons. These are Christian additions.

So, death happened from the beginning of life. It was part of the good design that included evolution by genetic modifications. I doubt we can determine how much or how little God manipulated that process. He claims responsibility for it all as the Creator of all. He did say that he would make human-kind different. Those modifications are described in the events within the garden and in what God told Adam and Eve. Humans suddenly had the choice to be good or evil. Only by having that knowledge were they like God, His image (Genesis 3:22). If they had never eaten, could humanity have become like God? Not according to the story. This was an important element in our evolution. It still is.

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Yes, I’m sympathetic to all you say here. But also, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). I don’t think it follows from this that God created the world without death. But it does create some tensions (even the problem of evil!).

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Does death cause tension? Oh, yes. But that is because death is a natural occurrence that all life faces and does not want. Even an ameba will turn from danger.

God tells humans not to fear, even death. Spiritual life is so much better because it overcomes death. However, Christians have intertwined death and evil in unbiblical theologies. These teach us that death is punishment for sin, even the sin of being born human (Original Sin theology). We overemphasize death, which distorts God’s basic nature. His judgement starts and ends in love. His mercy and forgiveness flows freely. He begs us to repent and stop sinning. Spiritual death comes to the sinner, yes, but spiritual life comes to the repentant. God immediately cleans the stain.

We should fear only God. That does not mean groveling. It means to fear his wrath. Avoiding his wrath is easy. Be like him. Follow his ways. Show love to everyone. Give mercy to your enemies. Forgive as you are forgiven. These three things contain no evil. The tension only comes when we do not follow his good ways.

The generation of a novella in a single pass of a random letter generator is of course practically impossible. It’s also a completely inapt analogy for biological evolution, and I do not understand why you think the analogy is apposite. The theory of evolution includes features such as iterative and incremental changes over an inherited genetic code and natural selection. These are quite impossible to represent in “monkeys sitting at typewriters” analogy.

A more apt analogy would be the universal approximation theorem in the field of artificial intelligence. The UAT states that any nonbounded, continuous function that maps between two Euclidean spaces can be approximated by a sufficiently wide, single-layer neural network with a non-linear activation function.

Another way of stating this would be: wherever a function manifests itself in a sufficiently large data set, a neural network can find and approximate that function.

The beauty of neural networks is that even though you can start with a neural network that is randomly initialized and unable to approximate anything, you can by incrementally and iteratively applying backpropagation to a loss function arrive at the neural network’s approximation of the underlying function.

The process of training a randomly initialized neural network so it eventually approximates a meaningful function is strongly analogous to biological evolution. Here’s how the two processes map to one another, IMO:

Neural Network Biological Evolution
Loss function Natural selection
Backpropagation Inheritance
Incremental change Genetic mutation
Training epochs Deep time

Have you worked in the field of artificial intelligence, Daniel? If so, I think you will recognize the power of this analogy.



Here, let me fix that for you:

we have humans in California, we have humans in Hawaii, and we are able to observe that humans are indeed able to swim build and operate boats. aAlthough we have never witnessed them swim more than around 100 miles max navigate a boat all the way around the globe without making stopa, we have strong evidence that they are able to divide a journey into several smaller stages. This strategy allows them to reach a destination that would be impossible in a single journey with no stops. Of those basic facts, no one disputes.


We have gray whales off Sakhalin Island, we have gray whales 7000 miles away in Cabo San Lucas, and we are able to observe that gray whales are indeed able to swim, although we have never witnessed them swim more than 100 miles max in day. Of these basic facts, no one disputes.

Quite unlike land-lubbin’ humans – but very much like the perpetuation of generations in an evolving population – gray whales are able to continue a journey because they are able to gather resources along the way.

We can therefore infer that, given sufficient time, a gray whale should be able to complete the 7000 mile journey from Sakhalin Island to Cabo San Lucas. And then return to Sakhalin Island.


@jstump, I would love to have sat in one of your philosophy courses!

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@Chris_Falter, how does “loss function” train neural networks?

That is the question. We cannot say they are analogous until we know how.

I would’ve loved to sit through one of your philosophy courses too!

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missed your reply at the time.
One does not understand evolution if one calls it a random meaningless process, particularly when claiming it to be governed by survival fitness. some people still confuse that with survival of the strongest or outcompeting of others whilst it really is about integration leading to higher complexity

If I understand you correctly, are you saying that the ‘meaning’ behind ‘evolution’ is that of generating higher complexity. The generating of more complex life forms is what drives it.

If is the true meaning then where is this ‘meaning’ located and can it be observed?

Is this ‘meaning’ a natural law which exists alongside that of say, gravity for example?

Has this ‘meaning’ been observed or is it merely deduced? Because if only deduced it isn’t science but philosophy.

How does this particular premise of the true ‘meaning’ of evolution square with that of the law of entropy which is observable?

Is the generation of higher complexity an end in itself i.e. the ultimate ontological end if not then what is?

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Good point. Also, bacteria are fit for their environments, less complex than we are, and, one could argue, more successful. So complexity is not a goal, one might say.

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