New insights on defining "biblical kinds"!

Hello everyone,

I’m a computer programmer in the field of genetic algorithms and artificial neural networks and a hobbyist computer musician. I programmed a genetic algorithm to control synthesizers using the MIDI protocol to actually breed sounds out of different kinds of synthesizers. What I noticed to my surprise was that different synthesis methods could generate exactly the same sounds, hence their variation potentials overlapped. This discovery later led me to the idea that, what has been established as “analogous evolution”, could actually be a by-design effect of that overlap of variation ranges due to recombination and epigenetics - completely without mutations at work.
Please read my hypothesis and give it some feedback.
Thank you.

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Welcome to the forum. Interesting ideas your have here. After a quick skim here are my immediate h the thoughts.

Personally, it would be good to have a bit more detail about your methodology. Why did you choose this experiment? How did it work (in detail)? Why you think programmed MIDI synthesisers were a good analogy for evolutionary processes? Etc. Etc. Does that make sense?

More may thoughts to follow once I’ve digested it a bit.

As an aside, I think you are (genuinely) courageous to post this on the forum and get some opinions from those who think differently. A word to the wise though, brace for impact, some people here (including professional biologists) will likely not hold back (though will hopefully respond graciously). So long as you are ready for a robust defence of your paper, this should be a very helpful process for you.

May as well get straight to it. I whole “kinds” taxonomy I believe to be pseudo-scientific. However, I want to make the point before getting into the genetic weeds that, up front, this suggestion is also pseudo-Biblical. So in attempting to build a scientific case for the “kinds” paradigm, one is not defending Biblical truth. Such proposals are not motivated by curiosity but rather by the mandate to come up with an explanation for nature which complies with a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis, but there is noooooo justification for ancestral prototype interpretation of the Biblical kinds. Zip. The eisegesis is no less invented than the biology.

For centuries, even millennia, before the modern origins debate, a horse was a horse and a donkey was a donkey, a lion was a lion and a leopard was a leopard, and surely I need not go on further. There isn’t any scriptural support for the idea of kinds as some ancestral wellspring of all these creatures the Hebrews already had specific names for. What happened to “plain reading”? What do you think the original readers of Genesis to understood after its kind to mean? Where is the comment by church fathers supporting this? So why twist genetics into pretzels to defend a young earth with some quasi-heretical conception of kinds for which is not even good Biblical hermeneutics. What is the point then? It is not the Bible being preserved here, it is some strange world building exercise that has become untethered and free floating from the Biblical account. Even in the fundamentalist, literalist church of my youth, nobody ever talked about kinds in this way, and lions went all the way back to Eden.

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I think Augustine says something like this in his commentary on genesis creation in confessions. He is the opposite of a creationist since he thinks creation was instantaneous, and genesis describes a logical ordering. If memory serves, Augustine claims God creates all the Platonic prototypes of living beings, which would be similar to the creationist notion of ‘kinds’. All this to say ‘created kinds’ thinking does show up in church fathers.

I also think there are people who believe in kinds for philosphical and empirical reasons, e.g. Platonism, who aren’t creationists or even Christian. I believe Michael Denton is of this sort.

So OP’s investigation finds support outside of creationist circles.

OK, so let me make some points to begin with.
What I did was, I implemented the Mendelian Laws Of Inheritance into a PureData patch that sends out MIDI data to controlle synthesizers (hardware as well as software). It’s like a genetic MIDI controller, so to speak.
Synthesizers have a limited potential of generating sounds, so they span a finite search space for my MIDI controller to operate on.
The genetic algorithm is setting the synthesizer’s sound manipulating parameters to random values, first. And this 8 times for one population of sounds.
It’s kind of like Richard Dawkins’ “Biomorphs” program - only with sounds instead of graphics.
Biomorphs are phenotypic representations of certain combinations of parameter values, as you can see here:
biomorph with genes
All sliders controlle certain visual aspects of the graphical structure of Biomorphs.
8 random Biomophs have 8 random sets of parameter values for their 9 parametric genes.
Synthesizers depict parameters in the same way, as you can see here:
phadiz synth
So it’s obviously possible to use a genetic algorithm to controlle synths the same way like Biomorphs - and that’s exactly what I did.
The genetic algorithm is now suggesting a couple of phenotypes to the user, out of which he can now select those of interest and breed further by combining the earlier selected (parent) sounds with new random sounds - generating offspring sounds. Some parameters are inherited from that parent sounds and some are inherited from a selected mating partner sound. The offspring sound is therefore a certain combination of both parent sound and mating partner sound.
The way the parameter values are inherited is either by dominant-recessive inheritance or intermediate inheritance. Dominant-recessively inherited parameter values stay unchanged - either they come from parent sound or mating partner sound. Intermediately inherited parameter values are an interpolation between the respective values of the parent or the mating partner sound.
The offspring sound is a complex combination result of both.
Now, what’s obvious is, that no new parameters are generated. There won’t be any new parametric genes generated by the algorithm. The synthesizer stays the same, of course, but by recombination and selection alone, the algorithm forces the sounds to adapt to the user’s selection criteria.
As the synthesizers can of course be exchanged, different synthesizers will have differently formed search spaces for the algorithm to look for sounds in.
If I now set the search criterion to the most brilliant periodic sound, the algorithm will soon find sounds that are pretty comparable - no matter what synthesis method I use.
See the following spectra:


Different synthesis methods - same sounds. All without new parameters generated. Only the parameter values of each synthesizer have been changed.
This shows: Different genotypes can generate same or at least similar phenotypes without adding new information to the synthesizer’s source codes.
Hence, you don’t need mutations to explain phenotypic similarity.
All it takes is recombination of already available parameters in parameterized systems.
Now, I am convinced that life forms are equally parameterized systems.
All sexually reproducing life forms adapt according to the Mendelian Laws Of Inheritance in connection with epigenetic reactions to the environment.
The a-sexually reproducing life forms vary due to epigenetics alone.
The question arising from that insight is, if mutations are really needed for any kind of empirically observable adaptation.
My answer would be, No.
The reason why I think so, is, that the fundamental precondition for evolution to be possible is a continuity from species to spiecies - without any limits. The evolutionist perspective is, that mutations are the driving force of evolution, as far as I know, right?
But how could one actually prove that claim?
What my algorithm shows is, that adaptation can be caused by recombination alone in finite parameter search spaces. So, if there were no mutations at all, for argument’s sake, animals could only adapt within certain limits - by recombination and epigenetics alone.
To evidence evolution, though, you’d have to find an animal phenotype that would not have been genetically encoded within these limits. But if you don’t know where exactly these limits are; how will you be able to determine a phenotype that’s positioned >outside< of these limits?
You cannot possibly tell! Why? Because variation is not only caused by recombination of monogenetic traits, but also by polygenetic traits and epigenetic reactions to the environment - expanding the limits into the unknown. Additional to that, genetically hereditable traits are molecular-biologically not even clearly definable, so where do you draw the line between phenotypes encoded within the limits set by recombination and epigenetics and phenotypes beyond that limits? And how do you determine where the variation range of one taxonomic family ends and where that of another animial’s taxonomic family begins?
Say you found an animal that you definately know to be not encoded in the variation range of a certain taxonimic family. What if it is part of another animal’s taxonomic family that’s neighboring it?
You could not possibly tell if any animal phenotype is the result of recombination + epigenetics or mutation! Therefore, you cannot prove a continuity of species.
Hence, the major precondition for evolution is - well… not scientifically provable. It’s just an assumption taken by belief.

I hope, I could express myself understandable, anyhow…

Regards.

Isn’t this just a different way of smuggling mutation in? If you are starting with different randomly-generated patterns, and breeding with a random sound, you have many sources of random variation. That is what generations of inherited mutations provide in the real world.

I hear that a lot, actually, but these random values in genetic algorithms are actually randomly chosen coordinates in a finite multi-dimensional search space corresponding to the gene expression of different mating partners of the very same kind.
In other words:
If you change the parameter values of a subtractive synthesizer randomly, you may get different sounds produced by a subtractive synthesizer, but you won’t be able to get a sound only possible to be generated by a physical modeling synthesizer or an additive synthesizer, for instance.
Random parameter changes are not to be mistaken with new information to arise from scratch.

I actually wrote a paper on exactly this topic.

Regardless, they are “mutations” that provide variety that your algorithm can then select/adapt in various ways.

No, they are not. That’s what I show in the paper, actually.
Think about it this way:
Say you have a shop for custom puppets.
They sell bodies, legs, arms, heads, faces, accessories, etc. .
The algorithm selects all kinds of different parts together and makes a puppet out of it that you can select from, afterwards.
The random parameter values are assigned to different body parts to be put together, but all the parts are already in the shop to select from. There’s no new kind of body part being built from scratch. All is already there from the beginning.

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That’s an interesting idea, but genomes are far more complex than a series of sliders for every conceivable (see what I did there?) feature. That may be what some models of evolution look like, but it would be a mistake to confuse that with actual genomes.

Stepping back a bit, can you explain why you think mutations are the part of evolution that needs to be challenged? Most young-earth creationists I’ve talked to accept mutations, even while they disagree with evolution on other grounds. The observed evidence that mutations happen is pretty hard to dismiss outright. Each of us has a few dozen mutations not in either of our parents. And without that variety, accumulated over generations, selection can’t do much. There are no sliders to nudge.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t challenge mutations at all. They happen, of course. That’s not the point I’m making.

I say two things:

  1. Morphological similarity (shared traits) between life forms can be achieved by recombination and epigenetics alone. Their explanatory power already suffices, so to say.
  2. to prove evolution >by mutation<, you would have to find a life form exceeding the variation range (caused by recombination and epigenetics) of its taxonomic family and that of all neighboring taxonomic families’ variation ranges. And that’s impossible. Hence, an accumulation of information by mutation is nothing but an assumption.

Actually, there are sliders to nudge in the genome! That’s exactly what methylation does, in fact.

If this is what you’re saying, I don’t see how your simulation helps. It is not recombination and epigenetics alone because you also include random variation.

You seem to be assuming the variation range within a family is entirely due to recombination and epigenetics, even though you do agree that mutations happen. What leads you to assume that inherited mutations played no role in building that variation?

Yes, I can see how things like epigenetics can be viewed like sliders. But many variations are demonstrably due to different DNA, not different expression. Epigenetics is interesting, but it can’t be made into the whole-meal-deal that makes the rest of evolution unnecessary.

Ironically, this was Mendel’s interest in genetics. He wanted to see if animals were capable of unlimited variation, or if the variation was constrained by fundamental building blocks, i.e. genes. Funny thing is his theory is now used to promote the opposite!

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Though not related, and I’m not completely sure why. Initially I thought your name was some kind of play on Haeckel’s name.

You clearly get me wrong. This isn’t random variation. It is random selection of mating partners that already exist encoded in the polyvalent genome of a synthesizer. Think about it as different dogs encoded in the genetic code of wolves.

Well, as I said: I think that because every phenotype we see - even in the fossil record - could be achieved by recombination + epigenetics alone! So where exactly do we see mutation at work? Mutation scrambles up existing information and causes disabilities - not variation.

I highly doubt that. Mutations are always tied to negative side effects. Which examples would you give for mutations to have caused any variation or at least variation that couldn’t have been caused by epigenetics, as well?

Essentially your belief is that in the beginning when God created everything he made a bunch of original animals that contained a wide range of genetic makeups within them and that as they bred and adapted overtime it resulted in all the animals we have now and may not have taken a long time
Because the “parts” were already all there?

Sort of like he made some cats and within those cats were the genes already for small African and European cats that we get domesticated ones from
( since we have several breeds that vary greatly) to lions, saber toothed and cheetahs and so on. That these original animals quickly produced offsprings of all kinds?

Exactly. You got it. I don’t know what quickly means in that case, but certainly not more than a couple of generations.

Recombination and epigenetics are sufficient evidence for what has been established as ‘baraminology’. A synthesizer could be understood as a genotype for a certain bunch of sound-phenotypes belonging to the baramin defined by that synthesizer. I think that it’s the same with life forms.

So, in your model, some proto-ape would have been grandpa and granny to chimps, humans, and maybe a few other modern apes?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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