Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Add to the spellcheck “epitranscriptome”

From ScienceDaily: Paper. (paywall)Our genome is made up of 6,000 million pieces of DNA that combine four “flavors”: A, C, G and T (Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine). It is our Alphabet. But to this base we must add some regulation, just like the spelling and grammar of that alphabet: this is what we call Epigenetics. “In epigenetics, there there are “accents,” called DNA methylation, which means having a C or a methyl-C. The first one usually means that a gene is expressed and active, while the second one implies that a gene is silent and inactive. Our DNA “speaks” when it produces another molecule called RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). Until very recently, it was believed that this molecule was only Read More ›

Metaphysics and ID

I have just been re-reading R. G. Collingwoods “Essay on Metaphysics”, and am now more that ever convinced that Collingwood’s perspective is incredibly important to the ID debate. Collingwood was a mid-20th Century British Philosopher who was WaynFlete Professor of Metaphysical Sciences at Oxford University, and who worked himself to death. He published many works – all of them in style that is incredibly easy to read, but very challenging to the reader. Unlike many philosophers he was very interested in the natural sciences, and documented the course of Western science in his “Idea of Nature”. Yet, in his last days he warned that natural science, as now conceived in the West, will ultimately destroy Western Civilization. And this would Read More ›

The Climate Audit Paradigm

One of the interesting aspects of Climategate is that the website Climate Audit (www.climateaudit.org) has become a lot more prominent. For instance, here is a excerpt from an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. “This September, Mr. Mann told a New York Times reporter in one of the leaked emails that: “Those such as [Stephen] McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted.” Mr. McIntyre is a retired Canadian businessman who checks the findings of climate scientists and often publishes the mistakes he finds on his Web site, Climateaudit.org. He holds the rare distinction of having forced Mr. Mann to publish a correction to one of his more famous papers.” (“Rigging a Climate Read More ›

Decoding D’Arcy Thompson – Part 1

When I was a Zoology undergraduate at Oxford my teachers often referred to D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s book “On Growth and Form”. They acknowledged it as a work of undoubted erudition, but somehow they evaded any impact it might have on our studies. That was reserved for Darwin, and Darwin alone. Returning to “on Growth and Form” after several decades it is possible to better comprehend what Thompson was trying to say. In his own words: The fact that I set little store by certain postulates (often deemed to be fundamental) of our present day biology the reader will have discovered and I have not endeavored to conceal. But it is not for the sake of polemical argument that I have Read More ›

Ockham’s Razor is a Modern Myth

I realize this is slightly off-topic, but it is related to the spirit of Uncommon Descent. It turns out that Ockham’s Razor is nothing more than a modern myth, and this was proven by William Thornburn in a brilliant and devastating paper he published in Mind 27 (1918), pp345-353. Ockham’s Razor states that “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem”, which is often translated as “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”. In other words, do not invent more things to fit the facts than are needed. William of Ockham (c. 1288 – c. 1348) himself was a medieval logician, known as the “Singular and Invincible Doctor” (many medieval logicians had street names like this). He was very famous in his own Read More ›

Fred Hoyle – An Atheist for ID

Fred Hoyle was an atheist, but also a freethinker who embraced intelligent design. I have just been re-reading his 1983 book, The Intelligent Universe, and I think Hoyle’s viewpoint deserves a more honest consideration than it usually receives. Hoyle was a very famous Cambridge (UK) physicist, astronomer, and cosmologist. He supported the idea of an eternal universe and worked out how it might be possible – a theory called The Steady State. He did not like the idea that the universe had a beginning, a notion he famously deprecated in public using the term “Big Bang”. The name stuck. Eventually, so much evidence accumulated for the Big Bang that Hoyle was left almost alone in holding to the idea of Read More ›

“Ilities” – Judging Architecture and Design

Sometimes we seek to infer from a design what its requirements might have been, and in ID thought this question comes up. As a practitioner in the architecture of large scale computer environments (the composite set of applications, databases, and communications networks) in major enterprises, I wonder if some of the principles my profession uses in design could be useful in understanding what is going on in biology. First a little background. What I am describing applies, in my opinion, to architecture and I would submit there is a rather considerable tension between architecture and design. But I am not going to get into that now, so let’s assume they are the same and call them “architecture”. Next, in my Read More ›

Harvesting – An Alternative to Natural Selection

Natural selection is posited as the only mechanism to lead to differential survival among individuals of varying fitness. However, if selection pressures cause mortality to occur in individuals who would soon be dead anyway, then natural selection is not really operating. The hypothesis of the Harvesting Effect in epidemiology leads to this conclusion. I think this has so far only been explored in respiratory epidemiology, but hats off to them for bringing it up. If the Harvesting Effect is real, then Darwinists must differentiate its effects from that of natural selection. So far this issue has not been addressed. Harvesting or the Harvesting Effect is a hypothesis in epidemiology. It occurs when an agent causes death in an individual who Read More ›

Hegel Denies Evolution (But Dies 28 Years before the Origin of Species)

Our friends over at www.Marxists.org are perplexed about Hegel’s views on evolution. I am not quite sure where Hegel sits in the Communist Pantheon, but apparently he has some degree of importance. In 1816 Hegel published his Philosophy of Nature (Part 3 of his Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences). Steven Houlgate has written on this book and has posted his critique at Marxists.org. Hegel states the following: “it is a completely empty thought to represent species as developing successively, one after the other, in time…. The land animal did not develop naturally out of the aquatic animal, nor did it fly into the air on leaving the water.” And also “even if the earth was once in a state where it Read More ›

Is ID Going Mainstream in the Popular Culture?

ID often seems to be a perspective that is associated with science, philosophy, academics, and people who deal in ideas for a living. For its supporters it can sometimes feel like a lonely road, and for its opponents it can appear as an irritating, but minority view. But is it possible that ID is breaking out of these confines and becoming an idea that is being echoed elsewhere in the popular culture? By the term “popular culture”, I do not mean the entertainment industry, or opinions propagated via media outlets. I mean the real, serious, fabric of our civilization. Here are a couple of straws in the wind. I am not sure how many readers of UD work on Wall Read More ›