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Reply to a creationist using a peculiar definition of random.

Post of the Month: June 2013


Subject:    | The logic of natural selection (for Roger)
Date:       | 16 Jun 2013
Message-ID: |

Ray Martinez (a creationist) opens by presenting his position which appears to be built on the idea that random events cannot have a goal.
> These comments clearly indicate that you don't understand the issue at hand.
> Since the overall selection process is admittedly non-designed and fully
> material, even from a metaphysical standpoint, the term "non-random"
> contradicts the non-teleological admission and several other major concepts
> used to describe natural selection. The collective evo inability to understand
> this basic point of conceptual contradiction is the real issue here.

Bill Rogers begins his post of the month which includes separate replies to other comments by Ray.
Ray, I want to be sure I understand your idiosyncratic use of language. You seem to be saying that anything that lacks a goal is random. Is that correct? If so, you might want to notice that that is NOT the common usage of the term random. That's OK, we can readjust the language to suit you, as long as you are clear about what you want.

So, what does it mean for something to be teleological? To have a goal? Can we say that an object moving in a gravitational field has the "goal" of minimizing the integral of the difference between its kinetic and potential energies throughout its motion? Can we say that a dropped stone has a teleological goal of falling to the earth? If you say yes, that's fine, we just know that the goal of every object is to follow the laws of physics. Fine. That's not what many people mean by a goal, but we can use the word that way in talking with you if you like.

On the other hand, if you say no, you don't want to say that, for example, a dropped stone has the goal of falling to earth, then your use of "random" is quite unusual. If all those things following the laws of physics do so without having a goal (ie non-teleologically) and if you want to call non-teleological processes "random," then you will be left with a huge set of phenomena which are entirely predictable, but which you want to call random. We can adjust to that, too, if you like, and use the word that way, as long as you are consistent. By consistent I mean that if you want to use "random" to mean "non-teleological" then you have to avoid using the connotations of "unpredictable" that are associated with more traditional definitions of "random." If you are going to use you own special definitions of words, just tell us, and then stick to them consistently.

Stick to them consistently, as in the case of "illogical." We now know that when you say something is "illogical" you mean that it goes against your intuition. That's fine. We can adapt to your definition. It's just that you cannot let yourself forget that with your new definition of illogical, it is quite possible for "illogical" things to be true.

> I would say that some evos present do indeed understand but since evo
> authorities are on record as saying the process is non-random the description
> must be defended----no matter what. These authorities employ "non-random"
> almost always in conjunction with attempts to defeat the dreaded criticism
> that says diversity and human beings were produced by chance.

What dreaded criticism? Diversity and human beings were produced by evolution, a process that combines chance and necessity.

> Since teleology is not involved in the production of life, past and present,
> the theory of evolution does indeed claim that we are the products of chance,
> error and accident.

No evolutionary biologist that I know denies that chance plays a great role in evolution. Note that "plays a great role" is not the same as "plays the only role."

> Therefore the "non-random" claim is a tool that belongs to the propaganda
> department of evolutionary theory. Since no Designer exists Atheists most
> certainly do believe that life was produced by chance alone every step of the
> way.

Well, if you redefine "random" to mean non-designed, then the evolution of life was produced entirely by randomness. But then you have to remember that when "evos" talk about chance and randomness they are not using your definitions.

> The insertion of "non-random" within the evo cause-and- effect scheme
> contradicts all other surrounding concepts; cause: random mutation,
> *non-random,* mindless, unguided, undirected, unintelligent selection;
> effects: organized, ordered, complex); OR the propaganda scheme; cause: random
> mutation, mindless, unguided, undirected, unintelligent, *non-random*
> selection; effects: organized, ordered, complex.

> Note that *non-random,* in the propaganda scheme, precedes concepts relating
> effects that do not contradict, but contradict preceding terms relating
> causation. So the term "non-random" serves to not only defang the criticism of
> chance, but to make the scheme appear logical. But since the entire scheme is
> admittedly non-designed the appearance is false.

Your problem seems to be that evolutionists have had the audacity to use words without regard to Ray Martinez's special definitions. Yes, we agree that evolution is non-teleological. We are not trying to hide that. You only think we are trying to hide it because we say that evolution is not entirely the result of chance. That's because we define "random" in such a way that predictable natural laws, non- teleological as they are, are not random. But it's all a word game; as long as you define your words and stick to a single definition we can explain things to you. Just remember to stick to a single definition.

That's what seems to give you trouble.

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