Researching Creation

December 31, 2008

Information Theory / Randomness in Creation Biology


After a year and a half of waiting, my paper on randomness and Creation Biology has finally been published in the current CRSQ!  The paper is titled "Statistical and Philosophical Notions of Chance in Creation Biology".  The main points of the paper follow:

More Than One Meaning for Random

There are different notions of chance and randomness which have very different implications, but we tend to lump them all together.  This causes sloppy thinking and can blind the way we look at things.  This is true in both Creationary and Evolutionary literature.

One type of randomness is statistical randomness.  A process is statistically random if events in that process occur with fixed percentage frequencies over every "normal" infinite subset of those events.  Another type is philosophical randomness.  A process is philosophically random if it occurs outside the constraints of a system.  The state of a slot machine after pulling its lever is the result of statistical randomness.  The state of a slot machine after being hit by a meteor is the result of philosophical randomness.

Statistical randomness is often used in engineering to great benefit.  It offers a way of counteracting unknowns.  I'll probably devote a post to statistical randomness at a later date.


The Luria/Delbrück and Lederberg experiments (which are normally used to prove the randomness of mutations) are not by themselves evidence of an unplanned process.  Another possibility explored in the paper are that many of these are pre-adaptive mechanisms.

Basically, I think that many "spontaneous" mutations are actually the result of a process to increase a population's future fitness.  Basically, it forces alternate biochemical configurations into the population at a controlled rate, so that a catastrophic environmental change does not wipe out the entire population.  If a cell uses a statistically random process to create these alternate configurations, the population can keep fixed percentages of alternate configurations without any individual cell needing to know how many of each configuration are already in the population.

Therefore, I think that many (but not all) of the "spontaneous" mutations we see are not haphazard just because they occur in the absence of selection, but instead are planned mechanisms to introduce alternate biochemical configurations into the population (which are likely less fit in the current environment) to prepare for extreme changes to the environment in the future.

Testing for Whether Mutational Hot Spots are Planned or Haphazard

Mutational "hot spots" within the genome may be either the result of a planned mutational mechanism or just the happenstance physical interactions of biochemistry.  I proposed that the proper test for this would be whether or not mutations within the hot spot are more or less likely to be biologically meaningful than a statistically random mutation with uniform probability over the entire genome.  Based on Dembski's work, if a hot spot repeatedly gives us biologically meaningful mutations more frequently than statistically random mutations over the whole genome, then this is evidence that the hot spot is part of a designed mechanism.