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October 01, 2013


the response seems simplistic
The response is simplistic.
the video relies on the Galapagos finches as proof
The word used in the video is 'example' not 'proof'.

This is at the heart of the part of the creation/evolution debate that centers on the variability of the genetic code. (I'm taking spontaneous generation to be a different issue.)

Speciation isn't in question here since both sides agree that speciation occurs. The Darwinists' argument that extensive speciation yields new families of organisms is based on the assumption that speciation is concurrent with genetic errors that assume alternate functions and yield radically different morphological structures. Yet this has never been demonstrated to even be possible.

In fact, speciation is observed to occur only where genetic structures remain intact. We know that duplication does occur, such as in the difference in genetic structures of horses and donkeys. However, the structures and their functions remain the same.

It's interesting that Darwinists, necessarily naturalists, who claim evidence-based science as epistemically necessary, would make an assumption void of evidence to support an unfounded conclusion, only to claim that it is scientific.

Beginning at about the 9 min mark in the video, they explain how new species are formed. My question is this:

How does a new species of finches form when each species (parent) *always* gives birth to the same species? Is the new species somehow formed *after* birth?


When the worm diggers and the seed crackers (which are all descended from members of one species) become so great that they are no longer able to mate with one another, they are no longer one 'species'.



When the differences between the worm diggers and the seed crackers (which are all descended from one species) become so great that they are no longer able to mate with one another to produce fertile offspring, they are no longer one 'species'.

A species is a group that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring.

Jim Pemberton,

Speciation isn't in question here since both sides agree that speciation occurs.

Do they?

I thought the video was excellent. For pedagogical purposes it is simplified. The reality is more complicated that this video shows. For example, it doesn't mentioned gene flow (migration), genetic drift, or sexual selection. But the basic idea is presented in a easily understandable way. The Darwin finches are simply one example among many that could have been used to demonstrate evolution. The video mentions that 14 species of finch have developed in a couple of hundred years. I don't know how long ago those finches arrived on the Galapagos islands, but 14 species in a few hundred years is quite impressive. Considering that multi-cellular life has existed on this planet for over 600 million years, this rate of evolution is more than fast enough to explain the existence of all the diverse forms and species of life that exist today. Our minds cannot comprehend how vast a sum of time this is. If we compare the time that life has existed on this earth to the length of Manhattan Island (approx. 2 miles) then in the time it took for the domestic dog to evolve from the wolf, we would only have moved 1 millimeter. Think about it.

The Goat Head says:

Time is the evolutionists "God of the Gaps". Whenever a giant change in morphology occurs the "millions of years" sauce is mixed in.

Never mind that cockroaches have resisted speciation for an incredibly long time.

And RonH.....it depends on precisely what is meant by "speciation". Geographically separated but very similar types of creatures? No arguments. Goo to you by way of the zoo? You are correct. No agreement at all.

Goat Head 5

"Never mind that cockroaches have resisted speciation for an incredibly long time."

There are over 4,000 species of cockroaches.

How and when did the genetic programming code evolve?

How and when did the mathematical underpinnings of the universe (descriptively called laws of physics) evolve?

How and when did the 118 elements of the periodic table and their inherent properties evolve?

How and when did the laws of logic evolve?


All "4000 species" of cockroaches are pretty much morphologically identical. Haven't really "evolved" much in millions of years. The magic evolutionary sauce hasn't had much effect.


Goat Head 5

That's nice.

So do you concede you misspoke when you said cockroaches have "resisted" an even which appears to have in fact occurred to them several thousand times? And will you endeavor to correct others who make this same innocent error, whenever you hear it made in your presence?

The video is good but I think I found an error in it.

The video says the ancestor of the finches arrived in the islands 'a few hundred years ago'.

But it seems it was actually more like about 2.3 million years ago.

That's not how long the speciation took; that's just when it began.

Jim Pemberton,

void of evidence to support an unfounded conclusion

What do you mean by 'evidence'?



A little about the diversity of cockroaches.

If a "new species" is as you have defined it above then I'm not all that impressed with the term. The way people toss the term "new species" around you'd think there was more to it than the inability to mate and produce fertile offspring.

Not very interesting nor worth arguing over. What's interesting to me is that the term "new species" doesn't have anything to do with what many people WANT the term to mean.

Oh NO! I "misspoke"!

Regardless of how granular we make speciation, the fact remains that after many millions of years of the magic evolution sauce, the little creatures remain basically the same. Haven't turned into fish, or birds, or chimps, or anything other than cockroaches.

Puzzling. And it supposedly took only a fraction of that time for us to evolve from primitive mammals.

Amazing! Takes an amazing amount of faith and "evolution of the gaps" to believe that.

Goat Head 5


First, it's not my definition; it's standard.

Second, it doesn't matter if you are impressed.

What matters is this.

Generation after generation, interbreeding limits the genetic distance between any two members of a species.

Suppose a species splits into two groups that cannot interbreed. Now interbreeding is no longer available to limit the genetic distance between the two groups.

Therefore, if you want to say the genetic distance between two non-interbreeding groups is still limited, then it is your burden to show a plausible mechanism for the limit and show a plausible argument that your mechanism might exist.

Or better yet, show evidence of your mechanism in action.

Your proposal must be this tall to ride: counter all the fossil and genetic evidence that indicate there is no such limit.



For cockroaches to 'turn into' fish, there would need to be a reason. Evolutionary changes occur because of evolutionary' pressures - environmental gradients.

In any case, the evidence is that, even if the particular changes you demand (cockroach->fish, etc.) haven't occurred, many equally radical changes have occurred.

I don't understand your point of a breeding limit, or lack of one. What problem does this pose for either side of the evolutionary debate?


Try wikipedia on 'gene flow'.

Interbreeding between two groups causes gene flow between them. That maintains their ability to interbreed and limits the 'genetic distance' between them. If a mutation arises in one group it will spread to the other - unless it disappears altogether.

Once two groups stop interbreeding there's no way for mutations to spread from one group to the other keeping them genetically 'close'. The genetic distance between them will accumulate without limit. Mutations don't stop. And each group now gets its own set of mutations.

As long as each group is acted on by different selection pressures - and they will be if they are different environments - the two groups will become less and less alike.

Roughly speaking, the two groups will evolve apart at a rate proportional to the difference in their two environments.

If you want to say there's STILL a limit to how different two groups can get even after being genetically separated and moving into different environments, then you have to explain WHAT keeps them the same in the face of endless mutations and their differing environments.

That's the denier's burden.


Why is it only the denier's burden to prove that there is a limit to how different two groups can get?

How do you know that they are limitless?

Should't we say the limits or lack thereof are specified in the underlying genetic programming code?

Have we fully reverse-engineered that code?

And how did that code come about?


Roughly speaking, the two groups will evolve apart at a rate proportional to the difference in their two environments.


If you want to say there's STILL a limit to how different two groups can get even after being genetically separated and moving into different environments, then you have to explain WHAT keeps them the same in the face of endless mutations and their differing environments.

I would never argue for SAMENESS. I still don't see how these differences are a problem for anyone. We're all different, yes.

Is there a limit to the differences? Not sure. I'm also not sure what constitutes a meaningful difference. How do you measure this? For example: there are a lot of genetic differences in humans - and yet we are still all humans. Some humans might be genetically closer to a chimp (less differences). What does this prove about evolution? I have no idea.


DNA is not 'programming code'; it is chemistry.

How do you know that they are limitless?

They? What 'they' do you refer to? Might be mutations. Might be the two groups I spoke of. Which?


You would never argue for sameness? Yes you do. You deny macro evolution. Right?

we are still humans
And as long as we all interbreed we always will be. If we separate into two groups that live in two different environments and that don't interbreed, then we will start to evolve apart. To the extent that the two environments are different the genetic distance between them will grow because the only thing known or even suspected to limit a genetic distance between two groups subject to mutations and environmental diffreences is interbreeding.

They = mutations.

On DNA as a programming language: http://ds9a.nl/amazing-dna/

Also this:
On May 2, 2011, Professor Gregory Chaitin, a world-famous mathematician and computer scientist, gave a talk entitled, Life as Evolving Software. Excerpts:

"[P]eople often talk about DNA as a kind of programming language, and they mean it sort of loosely, as some kind of metaphor, and we all know about that metaphor. It’s especially used a lot, I think, in evo-devo. But it’s a very natural metaphor, because there are lots of analogies. For example, people talk about computer viruses. And another analogy is: there is this sort of principle in biology as well as in the software world that you don’t start over. If you have a very large software project, and it’s years old, then the software tends to get complicated. You start having the whole history of the software project in the software, because you can’t start over… You … can try adding new stuff on top…

So the point is that now there is a well-known analogy between the software in the natural world and the software that we create in technology. But what I’m saying is, it’s not just an analogy. You can actually take advantage of that, to develop a mathematical theory of biology, at some fundamental level…

Here’s basically the idea. We all know about computer programming languages, and they’re relatively recent, right? Fifty or sixty years, maybe, I don’t know. So … this is artificial digital software – artificial because it’s man-made: we came up with it. Now there is natural digital software, meanwhile, … by which I mean DNA, and this is much, much older – three or four billion years. And the interesting thing about this software is that it’s been there all along, in every cell, in every living being on this planet, except that we didn’t realize that … there was software there until we invented software on our own, and after that, we could see that we were surrounded by software…

So this is the main idea, I think: I’m sort of postulating that DNA is a universal programming language. I see no reason to suppose that it’s less powerful than that. So it’s sort of a shocking thing that we have this very very old software around…

So here’s the way I’m looking at biology now, in this viewpoint. Life is evolving software. Bodies are unimportant, right? The hardware is unimportant. The software is important…"

How does digital code evolve?

If it's not code, but chemistry, how does chemistry evolve?

"If it's not code, but chemistry, how does chemistry evolve?"

Exactly Francesco, I questioned whether or not anything could evolve or change in a framework of unrelenting law...like chemical reactions are subject to.

Supporting your thinking on DNA, I was reading this from Uncommon Descent last night. Take note of comment #16. Here is a short copy/paste:

"Let us consider some facts: the carriers of genetic information, the nucleic acids, are built up from four classes of nucleotide, which are arranged in the molecules like the symbols of a language. Moreover, genetic information is organised hierarchically: each group of three nucleotidesforms a code-word, which can be compared to a word in human language. The code-words are joined up into functional units, the genes. These correspond to sentences in human language. They in turn are linked up into chromosomes, which are higher-order functional units, comparable to a long text passage. As in a written language, the “genetic text” includes punctuation marks, which label for example—the beginning and end of a unit to be read. Last but not least, the chemical structure of the nucleic acids even imposes a uniform reading direction."
According to the poster, "Steve-O", the source is from a book supported by evolutionists, not doubting that DNA is a language.


You would never argue for sameness? Yes you do. You deny macro evolution. Right?

Huh?? We aren't all genetically the same, even as humans. I explained this. See Wiki.


And if I deny macro evolution does that mean I'm arguing for sameness across all humans, all species, all life? No.

Your imagination is working overtime, RonH.

Brad B,

You also seem to want to steer away from 'Natural Selection and Mutation' or the linked video. I understand.

OK. I'll respond to your comment instead of guiding you back on topic.

You are arguing by analogy - a form of induction.

So, you need to argue for some similarities between language and genetics.

Do you mean to say the passage you quote makes such an argument?
Get out your copy of Tactics and read about 'Rhodes Scholar'.

Is the analogy meant to be between genetics and natural or formal/computer language?
It's hard to say. We've already seen both claims here.

For natural language:

Nucleotides are claimed to be analogous to letters.
But letters represent sounds while nucleotides represent ... what?

A letter is an abstract thing that can have any number of physical representations.
A nucleotide is a physical thing, it is always the same thing, and it is not arbitrary in the sense that it needs to polymerize with the other nucleotides.

A codon is claimed to be analogous to a word.
But (again) codons are physical things while words are abstract symbols with (completely arbitrary) physical representations.

The gene is claimed to be analogous to a sentence.
With a straight face?

Chromosomes are claimed to be analogous to 'long text passages'.
With a straight face?

So the claimed similarities dissapear.

Once you do have some similarities, you need to supply reasons why your particular list of similarities actually supports the similarity you want to claim.

This similarity you want to claim is a very strong one - tantamount to identity.



how does chemistry evolve?

That's a legitimate question and I think I see why you want to change the topic given your position.

But it seems like a challenge in disguise: chemistry can't evolve.

OK, I suppose I'm partly to blame for taking us off topic since I responded to your 'programming' comment instead reminding you of the topic - 'Natural Selection and Mutation' or the linked video.

Anyway, here we are so please defend your claim - that chemistry can't evolve.

Please take into account that the early universe had no atoms - let alone molecules.

Remember that before there were atoms there was not even the potential for chemistry.

So, the very existence of chemistry evolved.

The formation of the first molecule set the stage for countless other reactions that formed more new molecules.

Each of those in turn multiplied chemical possibilities.

At some point, the first catalyst appears.

Then the catalytic cycle -

So, why do you claim chemistry does not evolve?

"The very existence of chemistry evolved"

If by evolution, you mean a process of development in stages, sure.

Once atoms are formed, the rules of chemistry apply. No atoms, no need for chemistry.

That's however not what we usually mean by evolution.

If by evolution we mean a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex form through unguided, random changes (because no intelligence is allowed), then I'd be curious to know how the rules of chemistry randomly evolved.

Once the first atoms form, by what rules do they form and bind? How did those rules come about?

Were the rules of interaction between protons, neutrons, and electrons randomly developed through trial and error during the nuclear period of the radiation era? How did the atom-binging nuclear forces randomly develop? How did the strong and weak nuclear forces evolve through trial and error? The electromagnetic force? Gravity? Was this, in every case, the result of random changes in the underlying principles of chemistry? Trial and error?

And why are all these forces and underlying principles stable now?

If you say life is not coded by natural digital software, but by chemistry, you still have to account for the unguided origin of the rules of chemistry.


That's however not what we usually mean by evolution.

But it is sometimes. Physicists use the word evolution to talk about motion.

I assumed that you asked the question knowing full well that nobody thinks evolution (with variation, differential reproduction, and heredity) was at work before anything - not even chemicals - reproduced. I guess I was wrong.

You are asking great questions so, again, I'll respond in spite of the fact that we're going farther still off topic.

I'd be curious to know how the rules of chemistry randomly evolved

I wouldn't say they did - and wonder if you ask this question charitably.

But where did the rules come from?

I don't know. Nobody knows.

Reductionism is an option (but not the only one).

On reductionism, the properties of sub-atomic particles dictate that atoms will form when things cool enough. The properties of these atoms are determined - according to reductionism - by the properties of the subatomic particles.

There's been some success with reductionism here. You can calculate or 'predict' some things about atoms from the properties of subatomic particles. Where you can't, the difficulty is with solving the math - not setting it up.

How did the strong and weak nuclear forces evolve through trial and error?

I wouldn't say they did - and wonder if you ask this question charitably.

But where did they come from?

I don't know. Nobody knows.

If I had an answer X for the the origin of the forces of nature and offered it, what you ask me then, hmm?

How did X evolve through trial and error?

Every attempt to explain one thing in terms of another has the problem of infinite regress - yours included. You offer an end - an uncaused cause. But that doesn't mean you are right.

OK. Are you willing now to return to the topic?

Can we agree that the topic is summarized by the OP's final sentence

Natural selection is at work in nature, and mutations are, too. But the two provide only an explanation of variety in species, not the wide variety of many species.

Can we agree that this claim should be defended without changing the subject?

If mutation and natural selection produced 'variety in species', what supposedly prevented them from producing 'wide variety of many species'?


My questions about evolution and chemistry were tongue-in-cheek, of course, but they did have a connection with the claim of the OP:

Until we fully understand and reverse-engineer the digital software that codes for the hardware of life, your guess about what the software can do is as good as that of the OP.

It might be that this digital software has hard-coded rules that prevent the generated hardware from evolving beyond predetermined boundaries (e.g. taxonomic genus).

Or it might be that the software doesn't have such hard-coded limitations, and could be manipulated to produce variation even between taxonomic phyla and kingdoms.

Even if the latter case is true and could be achieved in the future, it does not mean that that's what happened in the past. It might be that, to achieve such result, you have to mess with the code at a level that is artificial and not natural (i.e. not naturally occurring without intelligent input in changing the parameters of the code).

My off-topic questions had a point. I wanted to shift the attention from the visible output (evolution) to the underlying digital software that codes for that output. That software is complex and had to exist before life could evolve. That code, as well as other principles like the rules of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and logic appear to be embedded in the fabric of the universe and cannot evolve. They are just there.

Now, I happen to take a teleonomic view of things and say that such rules point to a mind. In my view, no mind, having taken the trouble of creating a matrix with such elegant and sophisticated rules and code, would then turn to a gross method such as random evolution over billions of years to create all life forms; it would, however, create highly sophisticated code that would allow all created living forms to adapt to their environment.

So, going back to the OP, our underlying digital software can code for some amazing variation, yet naturally limited within certain taxonomic boundaries.


You can repeat your claim that genetics is 'digital software' or 'programming code' as many times as you want.

But repeating a claim is no argument.

And repetition in the form of assumption is still repetition.

You are pointing to an argument by analogy.

But you are not making any argument.

Like Brad, you need a list of similarities between genetics and language.

Maybe you are looking for a different list since you seem to want to compare genetics to a formal/computer language rather than to a natural language.

Those similarities, if you find any that you really want to make and defend, will need to stand up to at least a minimum of scrutiny.

You know, the way Brad's didn't.

Then, were your similarities to pass muster, you'd need to successfully argue that your list of similarities had sufficient length and relevance to justify concluding the similarity you claim - namely that genetics IS a language (a product of intelligence) and not just similar to one in a few ways.

Then, were you to get that far, you'd need an argument - some evidence - for the claim that this software actually 'codes for variation but only limited variation'.

You owe that too.

It's quite a project, but that's what you need to do to justify going round saying things like

our underlying digital software can code for some amazing variation, yet naturally limited within certain taxonomic boundaries.


Hi RonH, I think you a being a little sensitive what with all the topicality policing. I dont think Francesco has driven the conversation away from the OP significantly and he's defended that legitimately, and I certainly didn't make any first move. Your statement that DNA=chemistry made that first move and although I knew, as you stated since then that "noboby knows", that this assertion was empty. The attempt to establish evolution in chemical evolution is an obvious dodge, equivocating on evolution. And, with what is known with operations within the cell, it is obviously not observed that chemical laws alone are guiding the processes. Your assertion may need defending, as it is, you dismiss my cited, quoted input with sarcasm, yet you've done much less with this random rabbit hole statement that you admit later is unknown to everyone.

Going back to "with at straight face?" comment....I guess you would argue then that you are superior in your knowledge of DNA to the contributors of the book where the quote came from[?], of those, university department heads, phd's, professionals in the field etc...? I only linked to the post to let Francesco know his thinking isn't isolated, but I dont have to wonder for a second whether you or they are more qualified to call DNA code "language". It is not my fight, maybe you'd want to join in the discussion at UD, it's up to 162 posts as of now and your innovative insight might set a lot of people straight and save everyone some time. Some pretty legitimate participants there in my observation...like I said, it's not my fight, but I know bs when it see it and smell it.

For Francesco, in my opinion, you dont have to apologize for anything. Also, to support your contention that DNA code limits variation, you might find this UD post interesting or helpful in among other things, exposing the now refuted necessity of "junk DNA" hijacking for the support of the Darwinian schema in hopes to help it survive inspection...of course once again Darwinian evolution fails again once more light is exposed on it.

Brad B,

Please explain how a gene is like a sentence and how a chromosome is like a long text passage, etc. And please explain how to read the limits of evolution in the programming language of DNA.

If the explanation comes from the book you quoted, that's fine. I'm sure I'm impressed by the qualifications of the contributors. I just want to know the reasons for their claims - assuming they claim the same things you claim.


I didn't think that what I said about digital DNA and the analogy of genetics and a computer programming language was so controversial.

It depends of course how far you want to push the analogy, but as I mentioned above, this programmer does a fairly good job at showing that there are some analogies.


Also Chaitin here (0.51.00 on)

An interesting bit on DNA as digital storage

I'm not sure I would push the analogy between genetics and a natural human language (not that there haven't been attempts, see G. Forti), but I'm quite comfortable with an analogy with a computer language.

If genetics is a programming language, then the question, asked even by Chaitin (0:58.50 in the link above) is, where does it come from?

Ciao Francesco,

What you are really after is the designer right - not the language.

The language is a means to an end.

The language is meant to be evidence that a designer is required.

However, if you were to find the language in genetics, it would be an option for me to say the language evolved.

(That is not what I'm doing. You haven't shown me a language. In fact, you are now (sensibly) talking of 'analogy' and 'how far you want to push it' and 'if genetics is a programming language,...'.)

Maybe the evolution of a language sounds unreasonable to you, but there are programs that generate working algorithms by starting with a population of random seed algorithms.

These programs find a solution to a given problem by simulating evolution.

You may object: a program that evolves algorithms was written by SOMEONE.

But consider:

The evolution simulator itself is a rather simple program involving 1) variation, 2) inheritance 3) differential survival/reproduction.

Yet it can generate an unlimited number of algorithms.

The algorithms evolved are not written by anyone.

There are no limits, in principle, to the complexity of the problems solved or the algorithms evolved.

At least one patent has been granted for an evolved algorithm.

In particular, the problems addressed and the evolved solutions can be far more complex than the simulator itself.

And, the problems addressed by these evolved algorithms can be as dissimilar as you please.

Abiogenesis - the thing corresponding to the writer of the evolution simulator - requires simple chemistry that exhibits 'reproducers' with 1) variation, 2) inheritance, 3) differential survival/reproduction.

After that, the system will evolve variants that solve all kinds of environments - just as the evolved algorithms solve all kinds of problems.

The complexity you see in genetics today after 4 billion years of life on earth is like one of these evolved algorithms.

A presto.

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