Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Self-Org. Theory

Robustness untangles ‘Evolution’

(it’s designed to) These are some thoughts prompted by the recent article Arrival of the Fittest: Robustness and flexibility are basic design principles. We design modules so that they are robust against minor damage, bad inputs and changes in other parts of the code. This aids ‘evolvability’ of the whole by untangling the knots so that parts of the design can be worked on independently. Think of Dawkins’ METHINKSITISLIKEAWEASEL parable. The string of text can evolve because each letter is selected independently. The system is designed to evolve. By contrast, in an undesigned bag of chemicals or genes you would have all kinds of cross interaction which means a change in one chemical could have wide-ranging unpredictable effects. The chemical/genetic Read More ›

Rube Goldberg Complexity Increase in Thermodynamically Closed Systems

A thermodynamically closed system that is far from equilibrium can increase the amount of physical design provided it is either front loaded or has an intelligent agent (like a human) within it. A simple example: A human on a large nuclear powered space ship can write software and compose music or many other designs. The space ship is closed but far from equilibrium. But complexity can still increase because of the human intelligent agent. Consider then a robot whose sole purpose is to make other robots like it or even unlike it in a similarly thermodynamically closed system. It can do this provided the software is front loaded into the robot. Can the robot make something more irreducibly complex than Read More ›

Origin of life: Is RNA world overlapping with self-organization theory (because it is otherwise impossible?)

The big question in origin of life is really “Can we wring information from matter -- shake the bit out of the it?” Or is it the other way around, as the great physicists would have it: The bit creates the it. But can that happen without an existing intelligence? Read More ›

New challenge to Darwinism? Further to “Scientists, shut up and …

It sounds like Louis is trying to conjure the rabbits from the hat with math around variation rather than with selection. It doesn’t work, of course, but it's a change from the usual. Read More ›

(More) Function, the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE

I need a picture of a small, hot-blooded mammal taunting an irritable dinosaur. An animation would be even better: the dinosaur would have a tic which makes him roar ‘IDiot’ constantly. Maybe make that several small mammals, becoming dozens and then hundreds. Singing something witty to the hamster dance. Or maybe not that last bit. Larry Moran has sort-of replied to my previous blogpost but disappoints with only one substantive point. And even that one point is wrong: ID is not committed to the idea that individual genomes be well-designed; that is just an expectation some of us derive based on belief in a designer which is established on other evidence. ID would still be true if only globular proteins Read More ›

A Designed Object’s Entropy Must Increase for Its Design Complexity to Increase – Part 2

In order for a biological system to have more biological complexity, it often requires a substantial increase in thermodynamic entropy, not a reduction of it, contrary to many intuitions among creationists and IDists. This essay is part II of a series that began with Part 1 The physicist Fred Hoyle famously said: The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein. I agree with that assertion, but that conclusion can’t be formally derived from the 2nd law of thermodynamics (at least those forms of the 2nd law that are stated in many physics and engineering text Read More ›

A Designed Object’s Entropy Must Increase for Its Design Complexity to Increase – Part 1

The common belief is that adding disorder to a designed object will destroy the design (like a tornado passing through a city, to paraphrase Hoyle). Now if increasing entropy implies increasing disorder, creationists will often reason that “increasing entropy of an object will tend to destroy its design”. This essay will argue mathematically that this popular notion among creationists is wrong. The correct conception of these matters is far more nuanced and almost the opposite of (but not quite) what many creationists and IDists believe. Here is the more correct view of entropy’s relation to design (be it man-made or otherwise): 1. increasing entropy can increase the capacity for disorder, but it doesn’t necessitate disorder 2. increasing an object’s capacity Read More ›