Culture Darwinism Media Naturalism Science

Is social media killing Wikipedia?

Spread the love
File:Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg
Creative Commons

From Hossain Derakhshan at Wired:

Wikipedia has never been as wealthy or well-organized. American liberals, worried that Trump’s rise threatened the country’s foundational Enlightenment ideals, kicked in a significant flow of funds that has stabilized the nonprofit’s balance sheet.

That happy news masks a more concerning problem—a flattening growth rate in the number of contributors to the website. It is another troubling sign of a general trend around the world: The very idea of knowledge itself is in danger.

Now the challenge is to save Wikipedia and its promise of a free and open collection of all human knowledge amid the conquest of new and old television—how to collect and preserve knowledge when nobody cares to know. Television has even infected Wikipedia itself—today many of the most popular entries tend to revolve around television series or their cast. More.

<em>Teapot</em> Cobalt Blue Well, like we’ve said before, when a king cobra mixes it up with a giant sidewinder, it’s hard to know which side to back…

We think naturally of Wikipedia “disappearing” paleontologist Gunter Bechly and diminishing engineering prof Walter Bradley. Social media can, of course, also zap whoever the employees anticipate that Mark Zuckerberg and cronies don’t like. But they don’t pretend to be reference sources.

Wikipedia’s lofty goals were conceived in apparent ignorance of the usual ways human beings behave. One could be getting the opinions of experts, however motivated by the politics of a discipline, as with all encyclopaedias throughout history. But, in a new development, one could just be getting the opinions of trolls —information landfill. Some of it may be salvageable but who’s going to go to the trouble of digging in deep to find out?

Also: At “Wikipedians diminish another high achiever sympathetic to ID,” a commenter writes “Larry Moran isn’t in Wikipedia” (either). News replies,

ET at 3: The fact that Larry Moran isn’t in Wikipedia is not a good defence for that source. He has been quite active in recent evolution discussions. He was in Forbes in 2015 on that very topic, just for example.

If one wants to know what is happening, Wikipedia is not the place to look. But if a kid wants to sloven through homework in a failing school system and that’s okay with the folks at home, it’s ideal.

Note: Hossein Derakhshan (@h0d3r) is an Iranian-Canadian media analyst who was imprisoned in Iran from 2008 to 2014.

See also: Wikipedians diminish another high achiever sympathetic to ID. Yes, there is sometimes useful information in Wikipedia. But one can say that of the supermarket tabloids as well. It’s a question of how likely that is, relative to stuff we can’t evaluate or should avoid, averaged against the value of one’s time sorting it out.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

129 Replies to “Is social media killing Wikipedia?

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    News, let a little reality in please, this post is slightly less well researched than an AIG science piece.

    1) English articles to date; 5.5 million, and growing.
    2) Spanish 1.4 million, and growing.
    3) German 2.1 million, ” “.
    4) French 2.0 million, ” “.
    5) Portugues 1.0 million, ” “.
    6) Chinese 1.0 million, ” “.
    7) Japanese 1.0 million, ” “.
    8) Russian 1.5 million, ” “.
    9) Italian 1.4 million, ” “.
    10) Polish 1.3 million, ” “.

    News, the title of this post is; “Is social media killing Wikipedia?”

    No, it’s not, can’t you see that?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, your habit of using invidious comparisons to Creationists not present to defend themselves is doubly offensive. First, the invidious comparisons, which send a not so subtle message of pushing ID into a boat in which even the same Creationists recognise it does not belong — yet another case of your speaking in insistent defiance of regard for truth you know or should know (and for correction). Second, it is an utter disgrace to do drive-by smears of those not present to defend themselves, regardless of how you may view them. I suggest that it is high time that you stop such behaviour, especially as it is part of the toxic trifecta of fallacies: red herrings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems, to set them alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion. In the case of Wikipedia, it is a clear case of radical relativism at work on the domain of knowledge and reveals that the attitude might and manipulation make ‘truth,’ ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘knowledge,’ etc is an open invitation to domineering, amoral, nihilist factions who then entrench themselves and ruthlessly oppress those they target; through agit prop tactics and the underlying cultural marxist agenda to wreck our civilisation. It is a capital public manifestation of the failure and bankruptcy of evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers. KF

  3. 3
    MatSpirit says:

    KF: “First, the invidious comparisons…”

    What? Comparing an AIG science piece to a News post is invidious?

    Ok, if you say so, but who’s getting maligned here?

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, piling on is a form of doubling down. There is a substantial issue which News has put on the table. Let me refocus by clipping from 2 above:

    In the case of Wikipedia, it is a clear case of radical relativism at work on the domain of knowledge and reveals that the attitude might and manipulation make ‘truth,’ ‘right,’ ‘rights,’ ‘knowledge,’ etc is an open invitation to domineering, amoral, nihilist factions who then entrench themselves and ruthlessly oppress those they target; through agit prop tactics and the underlying cultural marxist agenda to wreck our civilisation. It is a capital public manifestation of the failure and bankruptcy of evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers.

    It is high time we woke up to what is happening to our civilisation, and to why.

    And, if one makes a crooked yardstick one’s standard of straightness and accuracy, then one will reject what is genuinely straight and accurate. Worse, if one then refuses to heed the message of a plumb-line as to what is out of order, one locks in folly. And, sadly, Wikipedia has long since proved its lack of soundness as a system. On topics that are not ideologically loaded there may be much useful material, but on too many topics, it is severely wanting, biased, even a manifestation of agit prop.

    And, this is more and more typical of institutions across our culture, media, education, political, legal and more. Including, perhaps most of all, the implications of evolutionary materialistic scientism being entrenched in halls of power in science. If you doubt me on this, at least listen to Lewontin:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . ] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    I am frankly a lot less than sure if we still have time to stop the lemming march, but silence in the face of ruinous folly is not good enough, regardless of the likelihood of actually turning back the march.

    KF

  5. 5
    MatSpirit says:

    KF “the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .”

    Then you must know of a reasonable test it doesn’t fail?

    Try to keep it under a page in length.

  6. 6
    timothya says:

    KF:

    “Second, it is an utter disgrace to do drive-by smears of those not present to defend themselves, regardless of how you may view them.”

    A case in point: R.C. Lewontin.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    TA, I have provided a commentary on a longstanding published article (I have neither taken out of context nor distorted meanings etc etc), which can be justified step by step. Indeed, it is worse, for Lewontin has by adverting to “demons” {echoing Sagan} actually implied a lot about ethical theism and ethical theists which is outrageously false and out of order. This is not a smear, it is a critique. Above, RVB8 simply implied the assumption that the label Creationist was instantly to remove beyond the pale. Big difference, kindly learn it before trying the turnabout accusation fallacy again. KF

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, apparently you do not realise that ethical theism is a well-founded, well-grounded worldview adhered to by millions including people of high education, intellect and character. If you imagine that such a worldview can fairly be characterised as Lewontin/Sagan did, as a “demon haunted world” is not a reflection on the state on the merits, it is a reflection on you. Indeed, it points to ignorance and hostility beyond any responsible warrant; a characteristic pattern of the so-called new atheists and fellow travellers. KF

    PS: I suggest you may want to start here on, to begin to rethink: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu

  9. 9
    MatSpirit says:

    KF, thank you for the blessedly brief response, but you forgot to mention any of those reasonable tests that materialism fails.

    Perhaps your difficulties are caused by your habitual violation of God’s oldest and most important rule:

    Don’t learn the difference between right and wrong!

    To see what I’m getting at, read Genesis 3:5 where the serpent tells Eve the true purpose of the Forbidden Tree:

    “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    In Genesis 3:22,23 God confirms the serpent: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.”

    As you can clearly see, God doesn’t want us to know the difference between good and evil and He kicked Adam and Eve and all of their descendants (us!) out of the Garden of Eden for learning it.

    It’s no wonder we can’t get back into the Garden with misguided individuals like yourself trying to teach us to be good when God has made it VERY clear that he wants us ignorant. Honestly, it’s no wonder He’s constantly strafing your island with hurricanes and volcanos when you run around teaching your children about is-ought, it from bit, do-good morality!

    God wants you and every other believer in the world to renounce Original Sin once and for all and just take off your clothes and be amoral.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, if you had taken time to read at the linked you would have seen why evolutionary materialistic scientism is self referentially incoherent. Cf Here on for a shorter summary. KF

    PS: JBS Haldane is a good place to start:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    PPS: Your scripture-wrenching efforts above do not put you in good light; I suggest you learn to read in context, coherently, with a modicum of respect for the text in front of you instead of erecting village atheist-level strawman caricatures.

  11. 11
    MatSpirit says:

    KF, again I thank you for your brevity.  I read the Nicene Creed piece, which opened at the “turtles all the way” down section.  This gave me a smile because as we all know, there’s really only the one turtle, A’Tuin the Great.  Read any of the Discworld books for details.

    As far as grounding our views in “First Plausibles”, cosmology, physics and the rest of science seem to be converging on the view that this universe was very simple at the Big Bang, with very low information content, and all or most of that content having random values.  Subsequent complexity (stars, galaxies, planets, people etc) was generated materialistically, powered by the ultra low entropy at time zero.  “Big Bangs” are suspected to occur frequently, but with only a tiny fraction of the universes produced being suitable for life.

    With the low initial information content of this universe, whatever generated it doesn’t have to be complex.  A chaotic meta universe that occasionally spits out a random Big Bang will do fine.  There’s certainly no need for anything so supremely complex (and hence supremely unlikely) as a Being capable of thought.

    Haldane wrote “When I am dead” in 1927.  If he was aware of the advances in brain and mind science that have been made since then, I think he would realize he was mistaken and would say so, at length.

    Believe it or not, science is well aware that the human mind is fallible.  That’s why comparing theories against the world is THE vital heart of science.  At least half the effort in science is used for guarding against errors and estimating just how accurate our data is.  Philosophy and especially theology would do well to copy that.  

    It’s interesting that Christianity shies away from some of the implications in the Forbidden fruit story.  All the sermons and Sunday school lessons talk about the Forbidden fruit, disobeying Gods orders, and the consequences but they seldom mention what the fruit actually does.  Not too surprising, since knowing good from evil is generally considered to be a Good Thing.  We never teach our children to be amoral animals, yet God seems to have wanted just that.

  12. 12
    rvb8 says:

    “Is Social Media Killing Wikipedia?”

    No! Why not? Simple, people find Wikipedia useful, and there are no adds.

    Is Wikipedia flawed? Certainly, and those flaws are well documented; on occasion, poor editing; on occasion, personal views and opinion; on occasion, lack of peer review.

    However these flaws are weighted against the vast volume of free, generally good information, and resource materials.

    It is a resource I encourage my students to use. And unlike Kairosfocus who believes the morality of the world is imploding, I believe, as witnessed by Wikipedia’s growth, the opposite is true.

    Man’s morality is evolving and improving, as witnessed by international treaties governments actually adhere to.

    Unlike Moses’s covenant with God, which both sides relentlessly ignored, climate change deals, arms deals, and border deals, are remarkably robust, aside from some infractions.

    It appears Man, is far more a reliable partner than God; and Wikipedia is a useful tool in that armoury of information.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, your reconstruction of the BB is rather simplistic, and fails to understand what a deeply isolated operating point in a field of possible configs would do to hoped for occasional popping up of a fine tuned cosmos. The usual way to put it is to ask why we do not instead experience the vastly more likely Boltzmann Brain pops up world. Besides, BB theory and fine tuning have v little or nothing to do with what was discussed. Haldane was and is right, advances in brain etc studies only deepen the mystery, and do utterly nothing to break out of the inherent gap between blind mechanical necessity and/or equally blind chance and responsible, rational freedom. You may need to know that I am qualified in science myself. As for your further attempt to double down on a hostile, strawman caricature misreading, I just note it; further noting that it is distractive for both UD and for the linked discussion. Those who are serious may go find a good commentary discussion which is readily accessible online. The focal issue is still there, that ethical theism is readily seen to be a responsible worldview, and those who project in the way Lewontin and Sagan did are doing a disservice. KF

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, you may find it useful to attempt to ground morality on your evolutionary materialistic scientism, showing us a bridge from IS to OUGHT that does not fall apart on closer inspection or reduce to might and manipulation make right etc. As for Wikipedia, it is patent that it has been taken captive by ideologues. And, the ongoing million victims per week holocaust and its enablers shows the true state of our civilisation. It is high time to wake up and stop the mad cliff-march. KF

  15. 15
    ET says:

    Mat Speirit:
    /

    KF, thank you for the blessedly brief response, but you forgot to mention any of those reasonable tests that materialism fails.

    Are there any that it passes?

  16. 16
    ET says:

    rvb8:

    It is a resource I encourage my students to use.

    Thankfully you are not a teacher around here. Wikipedia is loaded with nonsense. For example the article on genetic algorithms says GAs model natural selection yet GAs are guided towards solutions whereas NS is not. That is just lame.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On the failure of evolutionary materialistic scientism via self-referential incoherence. Pardon, it is time to lay out a summary in-thread:

    First, some materialists actually suggest that mind is more or less a delusion, which is instantly self-referentially absurd. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. For, there is a very good reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally. We thus see inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism. But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. (An audio clip, here, by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga’s argument on this in a nutshell, is useful as a quick reference.)

    This issue can be discussed at a much higher level, but it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way for blog level discussion:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    In short, evolutionary materialistic scientism simply is not a live worldview option. Never mind how it is pushed by dressing it up in the lab coat thus kidnapping the prestige of Big-S science.

    KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: And laying aside the scientism, evolutionary materialism was exposed as utterly bankrupt and destructive 2350+ years ago:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Materialism fails the information test:

    “Information is information, neither matter nor energy. Any materialism which disregards this, will not survive one day.” Norbert Weiner

  20. 20
    MatSpirit says:

    ET, information has no mass because all information is encoded in the arrangement of matter, i.e. in the arrangement of ink on a page, the timing of pulses of light or bursts of radio waves, the arrangement of electrons in a RAM chip, of chemicals in brain synapses, the polarity of the magnetic domains on a hard drive, etc. 

    Norbert Weiner was right.  If you try to weigh information or feel it or smell it, you’re barking up the wrong tree.  You have to examine the material that encodes the information and figure out what the information is by examining its patterns.

    If you doubt this, try to think of even one example of information that exists without matter.

  21. 21
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 13, 

    Do you agree that there was very little information present at the Big Bang?  No planets, stars or pine trees, not even any hydrogen, just energy compressed into a very tiny place and maybe some low information laws?  This is important because if that’s how it was then we don’t require any intelligence to create the universe.

    What’s your opinion on learning right from wrong turning out to be the  Original Sin?  Do you think learning morals is still a sin?  Do you think people should give their children moral instruction?  Do you instruct yours?

    You write, ” MS, your reconstruction of the BB is rather simplistic, and fails to understand what a deeply isolated operating point in a field of possible configs would do to hoped for occasional popping up of a fine tuned cosmos.”

    Your phraseology is a little confusing, but I think you’re saying that liveable universes would be extraordinarily rare in a multiverse scenario and that the overwhelming majority of all randomly configured universes would be wildly unfit for life.

    If that’s what you meant, I agree with you.  But if theres a meta-verse punching out new universes every once in a while then it probably didn’t start doing it last Tuesday.  In fact, if such a meta-verse exists, it has probably always existed and if it has always existed then it has already produced an infinite number of universes.  And that’s a hard, actual infinity.  We can’t have a real infinity of things in our finite universe, but a meta-verse isn’t subject to those limitations.

    As a man of science, you know from reading Kantor that infinity divided by any number, no matter how large, gives infinity.  This means that no matter how rare liveable universes are, there are an infinite number of them.  (Along with a much bigger infinity of chaotic universes, but nobody lives in them, so who cares.)

    Another point to consider is how likely is it that a chaotic meta-verse not only exists but has always existed?  I don’t know, but a chaotic universe is a low information universe .  An intelligent Being, on the other hand, has to contain an extraordinarily large amount of highly ordered information in order to even be able to carry on a conversation, say from a burning bush.

    That means an intelligent Being would be extraordinarily less likely to exist than a low information chaotic multi-verse.  Less likely even than a Boltzman Brain.

  22. 22
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 14, I don’t think Wikipedia has been taken over by ideologues.  The Discovery Institute, on the other hand, started out as a civic minded Seattle organization whose first concern, if I remember rightly, was regional transportation.  They were conventional enough to attract donations from Microsoft.

    Nowadays the DI is an extreme right wing religious ‘think tank’ and hardly anybody donates to them, as you can tell from last year’s layoffs of Dembski and Luskin

  23. 23
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @17 & 18, Well, I guess I can’t thank you for your brevity this time.  I’ll have to read these and reply tomorrow.

  24. 24

    Information has no mass because all information is encoded in the arrangement of matter, i.e. in the arrangement of ink on a page, the timing of pulses of light or bursts of radio waves, the arrangement of electrons in a RAM chip, of chemicals in brain synapses, the polarity of the magnetic domains on a hard drive, etc.

    Norbert Weiner was right. If you try to weigh information or feel it or smell it, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    So you are saying that any arrangement of matter that encodes information must be interpreted to actualize it. Welcome to the world of IC.

  25. 25
    ET says:

    MatSpirit:

    You have to examine the material that encodes the information and figure out what the information is by examining its patterns.

    And yet without the Rosetta Stone we never could have done so with Egyptian hieroglyphs.

    If you doubt this, try to think of even one example of information that exists without matter.

    Try to think of an example of matter existing without information.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, this is not a theology forum and you have already been advised that there are fora that can help you with such. More on topic, do you begin to understand how much precise, coherent organisation — aka fine tuning — has to be in place to get to a BB that gives rise to a world fitted for C-chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet and galactic habitable zone based, cell architecture life? Do you really imagine that the physics of a cosmos is a low functional information/ organisation entity? I suggest, start with what it takes to get to water. KF

  27. 27
    MatSpirit says:

    Upright, most of the information in the universe is ‘encoded’ in the physical arrangement of atoms and works directly, without being ‘decoded’. An example would be a protein molecule that works as a catalyst by capturing two atoms in adjacent depressions in its 3D surface and holding them there until they join together into a molecule. No decoding necessary.

    ET, for us to understand what information is encoded in intelligently designed hieroglyphics, we need to know what code the writer used to encode the information.

    In the case of the catalyst, we have to study it at work to discover that two target atoms snuggle into two depressions until they join together.

    You’re right that all matter encodes at least some information. The atoms in that catalyst encode information in their physical locations relative to each other that produce a molecule with those two depressions that hold the atoms so they can join together.

    Even a single atom floating in space encodes some information in its 3D location, information that would enable you to find it, for example.

    The concept of information isn’t inherently difficult to understand, but there are traps for the unwary that can be confusing. The difference between intrinsic and symbolic information is one example and thinking that any encoding / decoding scheme must be designed by an intellect would be another.

  28. 28
    ET says:

    MatSpirit-

    My point is there wouldn’t be any matter without information. It took information to make matter.

  29. 29
    MatSpirit says:

    ET- And you would be right. Don’t think you’re going to surprise science by pointing out that without information, the matter of the world would be mush.

    When you see a believer trumpet something about the importance of information (even on this very blog), be aware that they got that idea, directly or indirectly, from science. We’re just trying to help the trumpeter understand what they’re saying.

  30. 30
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 26 – Do I understand how much precise, coherent organisation — aka fine tuning — has to be in place to get to a BB that gives rise to a world fitted for C-chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet and galactic habitable zone based, cell architecture life?

    Yes. Did you understand that no matter how unlikely that would be, when you divide it into infinity, the answer is infinity?

    Do you realize that ANY number goes into infinity an infinite number of times?

    Do you realize that a chaotic meta-verse that has always existed and which has been occasionally spitting out universes all that time will produce an infinite number of universes?

    Finally, do you realize that a low information chaotic universe that has always existed is a LOT more likely than a fantastically fine tuned conscious being that has always existed?

    The laws that operate our “fine tuned” universe don’t require many bits of information to specify. If it takes a hundred constants to specify this universe and each constant is fine tuned to twenty decimal digits, thats only 2000 decimal digits. Thats only 8000 bits if they’re written in inefficient binary coded decimal, fewer in straight binary.

    Multiply that by one hundred just to be conservative and you’re still only talking eight megabits to fine tune the universe. That’s paltry! You can’t even take a good picture with eight megabits, but it’s more than enough to specify the fine tuning of this universe!

    Now compare that to a Being that has always existed. How complex does that have to be? Well, to start with, a Being is something that can think. What kind of Artificial Intelligence program can you write with eight million bits? Remember, that’s only ONE MEGABYTE! How many Gigabytes do you need to write an AI program that’s even of human intelligence? Could you even do it in gigabytes? I think it would be in the terrabyes for human quality intelligence.

    But the Christian God is supposed to be as far above a human’s intellect as a mountain is above a grain of sand.

    Let me know when you figure out how complex your always existing God would have to be and then we’ll compare that to how simple a chaotic multi-verse would have to be and you’ll be much closer to understanding why so many people don’t think your God exists.

  31. 31

    Matt,

    Upright, most of the information in the universe is ‘encoded’ in the physical arrangement of atoms and works directly, without being ‘decoded’. An example would be a protein molecule that works as a catalyst by capturing two atoms in adjacent depressions in its 3D surface and holding them there until they join together into a molecule. No decoding necessary.

    You are equivocating on two entirely different physical phenomena, giving them the same name and pretending they are in some way equivalent to one another.

    In your previous post, you mentioned several types of encoded information (writing, radio waves, electromagnetic impulse, computer code, etc). We can take any of them to demonstrate your equivocation, say, ink on paper for example.

    If I write the word “apple” in ink on a piece of paper, we can then describe this supposed example of “information” as consisting of atoms that make-up pressed and bleached wood pulp fibers, along with a specific concoction of ink dyes and resins on it. We can then describe it further to say the ink is perhaps blue or black in reflected color spectrum, and the paper is 3 inches by 5 inches, etc, etc, etc. We can even describe the temperature of the paper and ink, and pin how how much atmospheric moisture is retained in the paper, its pH level and specific gravity, etc, etc, etc.

    Or, we can simply say that an “apple” is the pomaceous fruit of a malus tree that makes a heck of a tasty cobbler.

    What you want to do is deliberately conflate these two entirely different physical processes, which have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You do this for the express purpose of obscuring the (already known, fully described, and verified) semantic nature of genetic translation — which has, again, absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with the reified, anthropocentric, physicalist definition of information you want to conflate it with. You just did this, for anyone to see. You even put the words “encode” and “decode” in scare quotes, signifying some distinction … a distinction that you needn’t make in the writing of a mere word like “apple” on a piece of paper. You betray your own equivocation.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    I have a question for you:

    In order to organize the proteins of a heterogeneous living cell, there must be the capacity to specify an object among alternatives and encode that specification in a heritable medium of information.

    Nature is entirely unambiguous about how this is accomplished. For each object to be specified, the system uses one arrangement of matter to serve as a representation within the medium, and a second arrangement of matter as a constraint to establish what is being specified. These two objects are well documented inside the cell; the codon in DNA and the aaRS in the translation machinery.

    How many objects does it take to specify something from a medium of information?

  32. 32

    It is important to emphasize this epistemic necessity of the complementarity of laws and measurements since it is often ignored. Reductionists try to avoid the epistemic cut and take an entirely objective, unified, or reified view of information as if it exists in the structures of the physical world independent of an organism or observer. Such a view is possible only because formal or structural information measures can, in fact, be applied to any physical structure without regard to its epistemic function in construction, measurement, prediction, or control. That is, structural information measures need have no relation to fitness, function, or meaning. This gratuitous use of structural information measures, while it may be made formally consistent with physical theory, simply has no significance for the naturally selected semantic information in biological systems and for predictive information used in control systems.

    HH Pattee – The physics of symbols and the evolution of semiotic controls
    Department of Systems Science
    State University of New York at Binghamton

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, empirical evidence for a quasi-infinite multiverse? NIL. Then, even were such the case, there is a big challenge to account for Leslie’s lone fly on a patch of wall swatted by a bullet, instead of a fly-carpet zone elsewhere. In other words, you are posting up imaginary quasi-infinite resources to get to a probabilistic miracle in order to protect a prior commitment to evolutionary materialist scientism and/or fellow travellers; a serious worldviews telltale. Besides, the evo mat stance cannot credibly account for mindedness governed by conscience — responsible, rational freedom and logical consequence vs blind mechanical and/or chance driven causal chains; it ends in self-referential incoherence. Going beyond, you are categorically confusing location in a space etc with the organisation and coherence that frames the physics for a cosmos amenable to life such as we enjoy. That’s another telltale. There’s more, but this is enough for starters. KF

  34. 34
  35. 35
    daveS says:

    “quasi-infinite”? 😮

    Is there such thing as “quasi-pregnant”?

  36. 36
    Origenes says:

    Upright Biped @32

    Would you say that the following statement is correct?:

    Thanks to translation, information embedded in DNA sequence is able to control physical effects — specify a thing among alternatives.

    If so, would you agree that the follow-up question is: who or what controls the information embedded in DNA?

    Two possibilities:

    (1) If blind particles are in control, whence cometh the coherence of the organism? IOWs why is the information applied coherently?
    (2) If higher-level information is in control, then what controls that information? Higher-higher-level information? Do we escape an infinite regress?

  37. 37

    Hello Origenes

    Thank you for the interesting question, I am just now seeing it. I’m trapped in other things right now, but will return later to answer it. Again, thanks.

  38. 38
    MatSpirit says:

    Upright @ 31: “You are equivocating on two entirely different physical phenomena, giving them the same name and pretending they are in some way equivalent to one another.”

    And you win the UD reading incomprehension award. I wasn’t talking about the transmission of information as symbols, but the far more important fact that ALL information is embodied in the arrangement of matter. SOME information is transmitted symbolically by embodying it in ink or pulses of light or what gave you, but MOST of the information in the universe exists solely in the physical arrangement of its atoms.

    Let me give you what I hope is a simple enough example for you (and maybe even KF and the rest of the UD crew) to understand.

    Remember that protein I mentioned that holds two atoms in depressions in its surface until they can combine into a molecule? I hope you know that there are hundreds of kinds of this type of catalyst in every living organism.

    Ok, let’s construct a series of short proteins by randomly joining amino acids together. We do so and eventually, lo and behold, one of the proteins we make has two depressions in its surface that capture and hold two atoms until they join together to make a molecule we need. Hooray, we’ve got a catalyst!

    But we want more catalytic molecules just like that one, so how do we make more? We can’t find the section of DNA that specifies the RNA that specifies the sequence of amino acids in the protein molecule because we never had any. We built that catalytic molecule by randomly joining amino acids together.

    WE DON’T HAVE ANY DNA OR RNA OR ANY OTHER SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION OF THE AMINO ACID SEQUENCE THAT MAKES UP THAT PROTEIN!

    Now did you notice that last sentence? Did you read it? Do you comprehend it? Let me restate the situation, because you seem to have a little problem with comprehension:

    We have a useful protein molecule and we’d like to make another copy of it, BUT WE HAVE NO DNA OR RNA OR ANY OTHER SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION. Got that?

    Now, one more very important fact: WE’RE IN EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION AS EARLY LIFE BEFORE DNA WAS AVAILABLE FOR STORING SYMBOLIC INFORMATION!

    So what do we do? What does early life do? We want to copy a protein, but we have no DNA. Is it even possible to make a copy without DNA and the symbolic information it contains? Where do we get the information to specify the sequence of amino acids in our new protein molecule?

    Well, we’ve got the original protein molecule! It has the amino acids joined together in exactly the right order!

    WE HAVE THE INFORMATION THAT IS BUILT INTO THE PHYSICAL POSITIONS OF THE AMINO ACIDS THAT MAKE UP THE PROTEIN AND WE CAN USE THIS INTRINSIC INFORMATION TO DUPLICATE THE ORIGINAL PROTEIN!

    AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE!

    NO DNA! NO RNA! NO SYMBOLIC INFORMATION! NO CYBERNETIC CUT!

    I hope you comprehend this. I hope you realize that the scores of pretentious messages you’ve written about how the famed cybernetic cut makes life impossible were based on your basic misunderstandings of what information is and how it works. I hope you’ll comprehend this explanation and go on to be a better man.

    But, realistically, I expect some wise acre answer and another 300 messages claiming the cybernetic cut poses an insoluble difficulty to early life, evolution and materialism in general.

  39. 39
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit: NO CYBERNETIC CUT!

    Are you sure?
    How about an epistemic cut?

    MatSpirit: WE HAVE THE INFORMATION THAT IS BUILT INTO THE PHYSICAL POSITIONS OF THE AMINO ACIDS THAT MAKE UP THE PROTEIN AND WE CAN USE THIS INTRINSIC INFORMATION TO DUPLICATE THE ORIGINAL PROTEIN!

    AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE!

    HOW??

  40. 40
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 33: Christian theologians claim that this universe originates in God and that God has always existed. Unfortunately for their argument, they also claim God is a Being and a being is something that has a mind.

    Unfortunately for those Christian theologians, they had absolutely no idea of the incredible amount of information that is required to make even the simplest mind. Even a lowly human mind requires megabytes of information from its DNA to construct it and then many more megabytes are acquired from the environment as a new born baby interacts with the world, figures out how to control its body, learns a language, etc.

    The sum total of information a human mind needs to operate is at least in the megabytes and probably much more.

    A God-like brain would require much more. (Much much more if you claim God is omniscient.)

    So Christianity has inadvertently bet that the cause of this universe is a Being that contains megabytes or more of highly ordered information.

    Science is converging on a view that this universe and many many others wss created by a chaotic multi-verse that contains very little or even no information and imparts very little information to the universes it creates. Our own universe is known to have had very little information at the Big Bampng. Certainly less than a megabit and that may have been just random noise.

    So we have two possibilities for the source of our universe. Christian theologians say the Prime Mover was a Being that contains a large enough quantity of well ordered information to have a mind and that this Being just happens to have always existed.

    Science says that, looking at how simple this universe was at the Big Bang and how little information it contained at the BB, it could have been generated by something simple, low information and even chaotic that just happens to have always existed.

    Simple, low information chaotic things are more likely to exist than complex.

    That makes God extremely unlikely compared to chaos, even more unlikely if you claim God is all-knowing.

  41. 41
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes, sorry. Substitute “epistemic cut” for “cybernetic cut” in my message. My mistake.

  42. 42
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes again:

    Me: AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE!

    O: HOW??

    Show me what early life was like and I could answer.

    If it was me doing it today, I’d stretch the original protein out straight and then I’d build a new one right next to it, making sure each amino acid I put down was identical to the one next to it.

    Upright seems to think this would be impossible without DNA and codes and stuff.

    You also asked, “1) If blind particles are in control, whence cometh the coherence of the organism? IOWs why is the information applied coherently?”

    Because life started out extremely simple and then built complexity (including DNA and the whole DNA based reproductive system) very slowly, rejecting any change that interfered with reproduction.

    Again, give me samples of early life during this period and I’ll tell you the exact steps.

  43. 43
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit: Unfortunately for those Christian theologians, they had absolutely no idea of the incredible amount of information that is required to make even the simplest mind.

    Do you seriously think that Christian theologians ponder the possibility that God is made — or should consider that as a possibility? The argument that Christian theologians continually make is that God (nor His mind) is not made. God is the First Cause.
    There is no information, matter or anything fundamental to God. God is simple — a unity.

  44. 44
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit: AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE! [copy a protein]

    O: HOW??

    MatSpirit: Show me what early life was like and I could answer.

    So, your claim is empty. You don’t know what early life looks like, but, nonetheless, you are willing to claim that it can make proteins without translation.

    MatSpirit: If it was me doing it today, I’d stretch the original protein out straight and then I’d build a new one right next to it, making sure each amino acid I put down was identical to the one next to it.

    And how is that relevant to what blind undirected chemistry can do?

    MatSpirit: Upright seems to think this would be impossible without DNA and codes and stuff.

    What is your alternative? Some protein copy making machine? You understand that this produces only one specific protein right? A copy machine cannot specify a protein among alternatives.

  45. 45

    Matt at #38, my reading of your posts is spot on, demonstrated in your own words, recorded on this very thread for all to see. In your earlier post, you talked aboout how information is held in an arrangement of matter, and gave several examples of mediums of information, thus arranged. But when reminded that all mediums of information (DNA included) must be interpreted, you immediately switched to an anthropocentric/physicalist reification of “information” in order to cover your bases.

    The remainder of your post doesn’t warrant a response, but you might ask yourself why Stozak, Lincoln, Joyce, Venter, Sullivan, Koonin, etc., etc., etc., don’t follow your logic.

  46. 46

    If it was me doing it today, I’d stretch the original protein out straight and then I’d build a new one right next to it, making sure each amino acid I put down was identical to the one next to it.

    Egads, this guy actually doesn’t see the flaw.

  47. 47

    Origenes,

    I’ve thought a bit about your question, and wonder if I am just over-thinking it, or don’t get exactly what you are asking, or perhaps confused about the frame of reference. I really have a good deal of respect and admiration for your contributions here, so I must say that I am a little embarrassed to be puzzled by your question.

    I believe the coherence of an organism comes from a prior designing intelligence that implemented a semantically-closed information system — where there is a functional relationship between the portion of the medium that describes the interpretive constraints within the system, and the remaining medium that establishes the specific conditions by which that medium is read and actualized. (all of that operating under physical law).

    I apologize in advance if I’ve misunderstood your question.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    MS,

    First, you seem obsessed with theologians.

    The existence of God is a worldviews issue and thus a matter of philosophy antecedent to any religious tradition. It would be appreciated if you will address the worldviews issue under the correct department.

    Second, you are simply assuming that mindedness is essentially computational. This runs into the basic problem that, inherently, no computational entity spontaneously rises above blind mechanical processing and/or blind chance events, to actually responsibly and rationally free inference, decision, thought, belief, warrant and knowledge etc. GIGO, on steroids. Computation is inherently a mechanical process and thus is dependent on input organisation, programming etc. It does not explain itself nor is it autonomous. Leibniz put this on the table nigh on 400 years ago in Monadology, through his analogy of the mill.

    Third, you have an existing population of the evidently responsibly and rationally free. Us. This is so on pain of the disintegration of responsible rational discourse towards truth, prudence and the right.

    Next, we have evidence of finely tuned, carefully organised physics and initial circumstances that set up a world fitted to our kind of life, c-chem, cell based, aqueous medium on terrestrial planets.

    Where, said life is morally governed (= responsible) and rational. Thus, governed by ought. Which requires that ought be bridged to from IS. Which, no blind material world-root can do. And, world-roots is the only level where the IS-OUGHT gap can be bridged, after that level it invariably pops back up.

    There is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    If you doubt, simply put up another candidate at world-root level which will meet the triple test of factual adequacy, coherence (the truths of a world must all be so together) and balanced explanatory power: neither simplistic nor ad hoc.

    Lastly, you have no basis for binding information to arrangements of matter. Arrangements of abstracta are a perfectly valid cluster of possibilities. Start with the von Neumann construction of numbers and extend to the continuum and complex numbers to see this. Where, no world is possible absent distinct identity thus two-ness bound up in A vs ~A, etc. which gives rise to the inevitability of the first three core principles of right reason as binding on any world. Also, such two-ness is a necessary being; thus eternal — without beginning or possibility of end. Uncaused. And more.

    Which already suggests mind as prior to matter in the ontological sense.

    KF

    PS: Science is converging on no empirically grounded, observationally rooted view that we are part of a multiverse. What we have is ideological imposition of evolutionary materialistic scientism in the teeth of what the evidence does point to: cosmological fine tuning. But if one posits a quasi-infinite multiverse one can at least imagine there is enough resource to get rid of probabilities, or rather utter improbabilities. Which is a cure far worse than the disease. E.g. why do we not observe a Boltzmann brain world instead of what we see?

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, quasi avoids the assertion of empirically warranting an actual infinite material cosmos. As in, yes we may see something vast but actually infinite? Whole ‘nother kettle of fish. KF

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On Boltzmann brain worlds: https://winteryknight.com/2017/03/11/what-are-boltzmann-brains-and-what-challenge-do-they-pose-to-the-multiverse-hypothesis/ . . . lone fly on a wall-patch swatted by a bullet vs bullets hitting a section carpeted with flies. Local fine tuning is sufficiently challenging. KF

  51. 51
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes @ 43:

    O: The argument that Christian theologians continually make is that God (nor His mind) is not made. God is the First Cause.

    RIGHT, they SAY that God is not made. No other evidence or authority, just their say-so.

    O: There is no information, matter or anything fundamental to God. God is simple — a unity.

    Again, they SAY God is simple. They SAY that God contains no information.

    But they also SAY that God has a mind, that He can think, that He can listen to your prayers, etc. They could get away with that until a few centuries ago when we began to understand what a mind is and how much well-ordered information is necessary to have a mind, or think, listen to prayers, etc.

    You can’t be simple and unchanging and still be able to understand a prayer. And if you can’t understand a prayer, then you’re not the God Christians worship.

    But the more complex you are, the less likely you are to exist.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    MS,

    it is clear that, first, you have not seriously examined and reflected on the already linked worldviews introduction survey; where such is needed in an age where our education leaves huge unexamined gaps in our understanding of the world.

    In particular, the logic of being: non-being (a true nothing) vs being, possible vs impossible, contingent vs non-contingent (aka necessary and thus eternal). Linked, questions of cause and sufficient reason for being.

    It turns out that there must be a world root, as non-being has no causal powers. Such a root is framework to a possible world existing, and there are aspects that are framework to ANY world existing, e.g. distinct identity as pointed out last evening.

    Inasmuch as — on pain of the collapse of responsible, rational discourse, we are responsible and rationally significantly free, this actual world constrains thought on world roots. In particular, OUGHT (moral government) is real and so the IS-OUGHT gap must be satisfactorily bridged, post Hume’s guillotine argument. This can only be done at world-root level, and we may make and compare grand inferences as to which candidate world-root best accounts for reality.

    I have pointed out already that the only serious candidate — after centuries of debate — is the inherently good creator-God, a necessary (thus eternal and world-framework), maximally great (thus supreme) being. One worthy of our loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    This is not an arbitrary assumption, the explicit invitation is to put up an alternative that we can then compare on worldview level difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power (elegantly simple but not simplistic, and not an ad hoc patchwork). Your offer is: ________ , and it passes the triple test as: ________ .

    I suggest, you are going to find it extremely difficult to put up a successful alternative, but feel welcome to try.

    Further, I must point out that a serious candidate necessary being has a peculiar property: impossible or else actual. That is, it has mutually contradictory core characteristics like a square circle and would be impossible of being, or else it is possible. That is, existing in some possible world. But as we speak of what is framework, in all worlds including our own.

    So, if you would dismiss the reality of God, your job is to show not a serious candidate or else to show an impossibility. Neither of these strategies succeeds on the scale of centuries of attempts. For the first, God is simply not in the class of pagan super-beings, nor is God comparable to the ill-informed flying spaghetti monster parody that has been a favourite rhetorical ploy of the new atheists. Appeals to such simply show ignorance. For the second, post Plantinga’s free will defense, the proposed incoherence in the idea of God has collapsed, leaving on the table the challenge to account for the good and for morality including moral government of our very rationality.

    Likewise the evolutionary materialist scientism dressed up in a lab coat that lies behind the appeal to prestige of science rendering God as little more than a fairy tale superstition fails. First because — as shown in outline above — it is self-referentially incoherent and so not a serious worldview option. Second, it cannot account for responsible, rational freedom, a requisite for doing science, math etc. Third, it is inherently amoral and a gateway to nihilism.

    So, there are serious issues on the table.

    KF

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Appeal to simplicity runs into the gap between what is simple but adequate and what is simplistic. Where what is to be explained includes the prior fact of our own existence as responsible, rational, significantly free beings in a world adequate to sustain us, which is also seen to be fine tuned from its physics on up. No world-root that fails to answer to this will be explanatorily adequate. The framework you just put up and appeals to improbability you make, run into serious difficulties here.

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: You need to also look at the inherent limits of computational entities, contrasting with minds. Where you seem to be making an idiosyncratic use of “information” that locks it down to only physical instantiation on some modulation or encoding scheme. That needs to be reassessed, including i/l/o evidence of an actually finite past observed world and the challenges implicit in suggesting a quasi-physical world that is infinite in the past and has descended by finite stage causal succession to our world today. Proposed or implied traversal of endlessness by finite stage succession, for one, is an evident futility. Nor does suggesting that at any given world stage an infinite prior past has already been traversed succeed in doing more than begging the question at stake. Indeed, the world-root is arguably finitely remote in causal stages.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    BTW, on the OP, by definition Wikipedia is itself a form of social media pivoting on the notion of a collective effort producing a planetary knowledge base. Predictably, given the power of making a crooked yardstick the standard for straightness and accuracy, nihilistic ideologues manipulated it to seize power over what they were interested in, self-appointing themselves as the new magisterium. Then, if crookedness is now the institutional yardstick, what is really straight and accurate will NEVER pass the crooked test and will be rejected. To solve this we need plumb-line truths that are naturally straight and truly vertical, which can then expose crookedness. But those who are entrenched in power and profit from perpetuation of the crooked yardstick system will fight the breaking of their power tooth and nail. As is ever so evident from too many Wikipedia horror stories. A post modern world is a world in which folly clothes itself as wisdom and insists on leading a global march straight over the cliff. And that is a challenge that another social medium, a blog with forum elements, faces. KF

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A capital example of unintended irony in the cited article; regarding encyclopedias as reflecting and perhaps helping shape radical secularist agendas . . . while missing out the notorious evidence on where the case in point ended up:

    In Europe, the quest to compile a modern encyclopedia started with the Enlightenment in the 18th century. (Immanuel Kant coined a fitting Latin motto for the movement: “Sapere aude,” or “Dare to know.”) French Enlightenment thinkers like Francis Bacon and Denis Diderot began compiling ambitious encyclopedias, inspiring others throughout France, Germany, England, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The religious ruling class’s discomfort with the effort only helped its financial feasibility; there was an obvious market for these massive collections, often published in numerous volumes, for an increasingly secular middle-class. The first volume of Encycopedie was sold in 1751 to 2,000 subscribers, who would go on to receive the entire twenty-eight-volume set. Notable revolutionary thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu were involved in the editing of the work and several even ended up in prison. Only 17 years after the publication of the last volume in 1772, the French revolution began, leading to perhaps the most secular state in human history.

    That trend toward rationality and enlightenment was endangered long before the advent of the Internet.

    I see you one French Revolution and raise you one guillotine. Multiply by a generation of expansionist wars under colours of liberty, equality, fraternity. Not to mention, modern Dictatorship as pioneered by Napoleon.

    KF

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: All of which was foreseen in Plato’s Republic, through the parable of the Ship of State. KF

    PS: FYI, the parable:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N Z: I should observe on divine simplicity, that the point is that God is not made up of component parts assembled together in some pattern that then results in God. Such a composite entity is inherently contingent and cannot be a necessary being. This, BTW, is one reason why the flying spaghetti monster parody is rooted in deepest ignorance. KF

  59. 59
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit @51

    MatSpirit: RIGHT, they SAY that God is not made. No other evidence or authority, just their say-so.

    There is compelling logic behind it, relating to First Cause arguments. Also, obviously, if God was made, He would not be the (true) God.

    MatSpirit: Again, they SAY God is simple.

    Again, there is compelling logic behind it. For instance:
    (1) God, as a first cause, is fundamental (to everything).
    (2) If God is divisible in the sense that he is constituted from parts, then those parts are fundamental to God.
    Therefore,
    (3) God is simple.

    MatSpirit: They SAY that God contains no information.

    Do they? I would expect them to claim that God is fundamental to information and not vice versa. There is a difference.

    MatSpirit: But they also SAY that God has a mind, that He can think, that He can listen to your prayers, etc. They could get away with that until a few centuries ago when we began to understand what a mind is and how much well-ordered information is necessary to have a mind, or think, listen to prayers, etc.

    Here thoughts and perceptions should be regarded as aspects of the indivisible unity that is God, rather than separable modules; comparable to parts of the human brain.
    Note that the same mental unity is observable in yourself. Plotinus (204-270 AD) was well aware of it:

    It is clear from the following that, if the soul were a body (soma), there could be no perception. . . . If something is going to perceive anything, it must itself be one and must take hold of it in one act, both if several impressions are [perceived] through many sense-organs, or many qualities [are perceived] in one object, or if one senseorgan [perceives] a complex object, for example, a face. For there isn’t one [perception] of the nose, and another of the eyes, but one identical [perception] of all of them together.
    And if one [sense-object] enters through the eyes, and another through the hearing organ, there must be some one thing to which they both go. Otherwise, how could we state that they are different from each other, if the sense-objects did not all come together to one and the same [percipient]? Therefore, this [unified percipient] must be like a center point, and the perceptions coming from all places, like the lines coming from the circumference of the circle, must terminate there. And what takes hold of these must be of this kind, truly one.
    [Plotinus]

    More broadly:
    (1) Unification of representations takes place.
    (2) Only a simple, unified substance can unify representations.
    Therefore,
    (3) The human soul or mind is a simple unified substance.

  60. 60
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I will interpret “quasi-infinite” as “vast or infinite”. Will that do?

    This, BTW, is one reason why the flying spaghetti monster parody is rooted in deepest ignorance. KF

    I think it’s comically absurd by design, not necessarily due to ignorance.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, yes, with no commitment to a physical actual infinite. KF

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The notion that one can compare God with an inherently composite material entity is where the ignorance problem lies. And if one knows better but then uses this for rhetorical effect that is even worse: deceitful manipulation.

  63. 63
    daveS says:

    KF,

    PS: The notion that one can compare God with an inherently composite material entity is where the ignorance problem lies. And if one knows better but then uses this for rhetorical effect that is even worse: deceitful manipulation.

    The whole thing is supposed to be ridiculous. It’s a joke.

  64. 64
    Origenes says:

    Upright Biped @47

    Thank you for your kind words. Allow me to rephrase my question.

    The cell can make hundreds of different proteins, but what is it that makes the decision on which particular protein must be produced? What is it that controls/chooses which of the many DNA sequences is up for translation into proteins? What selects? What is the “first cause”?

    That’s what I meant when I asked in #36: “who or what controls the information embedded in DNA?”

    HH Pattee is a naturalist, so, obviously, he believes that there is a naturalistic answer to this question. It seems to me that there are two possibilities, more or less, consistent with naturalism.

    (1) If blind particles are in control, whence cometh the coherence of the organism? IOWs why is the information applied coherently?
    (2) If higher-level information is in control, then what controls that information? Higher-higher-level information? Do we escape an infinite regress?

    IOWs either blind particles decide which proteins are produced and which not, or there is another (higher) layer of information doing the choosing, which leads to the question “and what controls that?”

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, there is a lurking categorical error which I have noticed in cases where the example has been used to dismiss serious arguments by in effect caricaturing them — a far too common tactic, almost a standard rebuttal. That strawman tactic should not stand unremarked. KF

  66. 66

    Ahh, thanks Origenes, I needed the frame of reference.

    Your question is indeed weighty. The short answer is that I have no answer. I keep a fairly narrow focus on the symbolic requirements to start the heterogeneous cell. Of course, there is now a good deal of information on subjects such as the role that miRNAs and other small molecules play in development and cell maintenance, but as you suggest, this only pushes the question up a notch. I think that infinite regress may be an inevitable part of the territory — if materialists refuse to consider acts of intelligence, then both infinite regress and non-falsifiability will naturally fall out from the forcing of materialist ideology into the observations. Dynamics can’t explain the measurement function, or control. Only in the OoL would anyone suggest such a thing.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, decisions may be mechanised — as algorithms show — but in the end a true decision implies a choosing mind, which is self-moved. KF

  68. 68
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, there is a lurking categorical error which I have noticed in cases where the example has been used to dismiss serious arguments by in effect caricaturing them — a far too common tactic, almost a standard rebuttal. That strawman tactic should not stand unremarked. KF

    Do you have examples? I don’t know if I have seen anyone use the spaghetti monster seriously in that way.

  69. 69
    Origenes says:

    Upright Biped: Of course, there is now a good deal of information on subjects such as the role that miRNAs and other small molecules play in development and cell maintenance, but as you suggest, this only pushes the question up a notch.

    Indeed, many epigenetic factors are being identified. How do they work and how do they work in concert? Only God knows.

    Take the mysterious histone for example:

    After a few histone tail modifications were found to be rather distinctly associated with active or repressed genes, the forlorn hope arose that we would discover a precise, combinatorial “histone code.” It would provide a kind of fixed, digital key enabling us to predict the consequences of any arrangement of modifications. But this was to ignore the nearly infinite variety of all those other factors that blend their voices in concert with the histone modifications. …
    Each histone tail modification reshapes the physical and electrical structure of the local chromatin, shifting the pattern of interactions among nucleosome, DNA, and associated protein factors. …
    Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that the collaborative process mentioned above involves not just one table with “negotiators” gathered around it, but countless tables with countless participants, and with messages flying back and forth in countless patterns as countless “decisions” are made in a manner somehow subordinated to the unity and multidimensioned interests of the organism as a whole.
    [Talbott]

    Upright Biped: I think that infinite regress may be an inevitable part of the territory — if materialists refuse to consider acts of intelligence, then both infinite regress and non-falsifiability will naturally fall out from the forcing of materialist ideology into the observations.

    A materialist ideology they defend tooth and nail. It doesn’t matter to them that they cannot come up with a coherent view on life. They are holding the fort one day at a time.

  70. 70
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus: … decisions may be mechanised — as algorithms show — but in the end a true decision implies a choosing mind, which is self-moved.

    WRT mechanized (or automated) decisions I often think about driving a car. A lot of my actions are automatic, but I am in control. In fact, because a lot of my actions are automatic, my control is enhanced.

    I fully agree with what you say.

    Just out of curiosity a question:
    Do you think that the self-moved choosing mind is external to the organism — which would imply that the organism is an automaton?

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I have seen atheistical panel show videos that do just that. To find such now, though may be a prob. KF

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, that i do not know; though to some extent the body is a cyber-controlled system. KF

  73. 73
  74. 74
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 50: Sorry I’m late replying to you, but I followed your link to Wintery Knight’s blog and found an interesting example of quote mining in action.

    Here’s the payoff out-of-context quotation, attributed to Shawn Carroll:

    “So the reductio ad absurdum of this scenario is that the overwhelming majority of intelligences in this multiverse will be lonely, disembodied brains, who fluctuate gradually out of the surrounding chaos and then gradually dissolve back into it. Such sad creatures have been dubbed “Boltzmann brains” by Andreas Albrecht and Lorenzo Sorbo….”

    Wow!  What a direct refutation of the multi-verse!  The problem is that I’ve read a lot of Shawn Carroll and he’s nowhere near dumb or ignorant enough to say anything like that.

    So I looked at the article more closely.  First, Wintery isn’t quoting Shawn directly, she’s quoting an article from About.com.  So I followed the link to About.com and found somebody named Andrew Zimmerman Jones quoting from Shawn Carroll’s “From Eternity to Here”.

    Well, I have that book in my Kindle so I did some text searching and quickly found the quoted section.

    And it turns out that Carroll was talking about the cosmology that Boltzmann proposed over a century ago, which is totally chaotic, with atoms zipping around at random until they v e r r y occasionally  slam  into each other and stick together to make the universe we see around us.

    As others pointed out a century ago, a human brain is much simpler than the huge universe we see around us and consequently should be much more likely to pop into existence than the entire universe.  Thus for every universe we see, there should be an enormous number of Boltzmann’s brains floating around and we don’t see that, so Boltzmann’s cosmology was refuted over 100 years ago and Carroll’s quotation has nothing to do with the multi-verse proposed today

    Well, as Wintery says elsewhere, “I am a firm supporter of intelligent design,” and this kind of multi-level quoting out of context is absolutely typical for creationists of all stripes, so nothing is surprising here, including your falling for a third hand quote mine.

    I didnt see anything about bullets hitting flies though.  Could you tell us more about that?

  75. 75
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes @ 44:
    MatSpirit: AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE! [copy a protein]

    O: HOW??

    MatSpirit: Show me what early life was like and I could answer.

    O: So, your claim is empty. You don’t know what early life looks like, but, nonetheless, you are willing to claim that it can make proteins without translation.

    No, I claim that without the DNA based replication system in place, any copying must have been done directly.   It’s kind of a logical thing:

    1: Early life had no translational based copying system.
    2: Yet copies were made.
    3: Therefore, the copying was done directly.

    Now 3 doesn’t actually follow from 1 and 2.  There could have been some other system in place, such as an immortal, all-powerful, omniscient all-loving supernatural Being at work in the mud, jiggering with the atoms.  In fact, thats basically ID’s claim, so show us the details or your claim is empty and we win. 

    Kind of an annoying tactic, isn’t it?

    We have an interesting situation with early life.  It happened billions of years ago, all the action was in sub-microscopic molecules and, so far as we know, left no fossils.  Nobody on either side of the debate knows the details of early life because we don’t have those fossils.  Yet creationists think that demanding their opponants produce exact details of early life is a show stopper if those details can’t be produced.  Demanding those details is thus a clever tactic, unless it’s used on you, then it becomes a “turn-around” tactic, which apparently is bad, according to KF.

  76. 76
    MatSpirit says:

    Upright @ 46

    Me: If it was me doing it today, I’d stretch the original protein out straight and then I’d build a new one right next to it, making sure each amino acid I put down was identical to the one next to it.

    UB: Egads, this guy actually doesn’t see the flaw.

    No, I don’t. From past experience reading your exposition, I doubt if you do either, but maybe I’m wrong. Please describe my error in detail and light on the jargon.

  77. 77
    MatSpirit says:

    I see that I’ve fallen several hundred thousand words behind KF. It’s been a long day, I’ll read his messages tomorrow.

  78. 78

    Matt: If it was me doing it today, I’d stretch the original protein out straight and then I’d build a new one right next to it, making sure each amino acid I put down was identical to the one next to it.

    UB: Egads, this guy actually doesn’t see the flaw.

    Matt: No, I don’t.

    Yikes.

    You would “stretch out” the protein and then look at it in order to specify the amino acids that it contains, and then you would assemble other amino acids in the right order. Hello? You would be doing the job of the DNA/RNA/translation apparatus — all that useless complexity you say the system doesn’t need. Don’t you remember, that was your point! The existing protein has all that “information” you say it has, just because it exist. But the funny thing is, having all that (anthropocentric, physicalist, reified) “information” you say it has ain’t making it duplicate itself, is it Matt?

    Now let’s take you out of the system.

    We can still give you the benefit of the doubt, and we’ll assume not merely a protein appears, but a whole damn organism miraculously forms. Just think of it; it would have all that “information” you say it has, and it still wouldn’t have the semantic information that is required to reproduce and maintain itself. The moral of this story, of course (just as Pattee would suggest) is that your materialist projection of “information” in the structure of the system is an anthropocentric illusion that stems from your ability to measure the structure of that system and calculate its trajectory based on physical law (just as Pattee said in his quote).

    Matt, The capacity to specify the sequence of amino acids in a protein (and all that complexity that comes with it) is not merely incidental to the capacity to replicate that protein; it’s the only way to replicate that protein. This is the fact, even if you don’t like it. Your outburst are not going to change anything.

    🙂

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, the implication that on a multiverse and chance bubbling up hyp we are far more likely to have a Boltzmann brain sub cosmos than one like ours, or even just an isolated sol-like system is the substantial issue you have ducked; I am too busy just now to chase down your strawman claims, which are inherently unlikely to be relevant as the direct issue of the lone fly on a section of wall swatted by a bullet vs the fly carpet is decisive. I suggest that this is the well warranted challenge of any attempt to eliminate fine tuning by suggesting an imaginary, quasi-infinite expansion of physical resources. For, our observed cosmos sits in a DEEPLY isolated operating point in the config space of the associated physics. In short, the imaginary expansion of resources is a vastly inferior explanation to the one that simply notes the fine tuning phenomena then points out that there is no guarantee that all possibilities will be found on an empirical sampling of a space of possibilities so if we are in a very special zone that is deeply isolated as an operating point, that is a credible mark of design. KF

    PS: John Leslie on the fly on the wall, long before recent exchanges popped up:

    “One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning?” [Our Place in the Cosmos, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, 1998 (courtesy Wayback Machine) Emphases added.]

    AND:

    “. . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.” [Emphasis his.]

    PPS: Your several hundred thousand words gross rhetorical exaggeration clip is little more than a rude way to duck addressing a cluster of substantial issues your side brought up as a largely distractive matter. Yes, it is easy to toss rhetorical bombs, but much harder to address substantial worldview-level cases; FYI, full bore works on that subject tend to make one main point per 50 pp or so chapter, and on the extended issue of systematic theology a 1,000 pp book is going to be an introductory survey. I won’t even bother to speak of history or the like, for which the quip is, you came to READ for a degree. Your latest talk-point line only manages to indicate that you have not seriously engaged the case.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: I should note, another way of seeing this is to take apart an ill-advised way to put the million monkeys typing out Romeo and Juliet-type claim. So long as the monkeys freely type whatever they do, there is by definition no constraint forcing them to ever get to a particular text or class of text. So, we are forced instead — this is now statistical thermodynamics — to look at comparative statistical weights of clusters of microstates. In this case, the gibberish cluster is utterly overwhelming and that is what we expect. A good way to see is to go to bits, thus the binomial distribution: overwhelmingly dominated by gibberish near the 50-50 H-T or 1-0 peak. Next, we inject the anthropic constraint that we are in fact present as observers, so the issue is now how so. On a multiverse type hyp, the point of the extension of the Boltzmann brain type case is that that is a far less special and complicated world so it should carry much higher statistical weight than a sol system alone type world which in turn is vastly more abundant than the sort of full orbed cosmos we see. So, a statistical fluctuation type hyp would overwhelmingly expect that observers would be isolated brains, then isolated sol like systems. Thus, we do not have a PLAUSIBLE explanation for what we do see. Thence, we should be looking at explanations that do routinely produce functionally coherent, organised, information rich entities of high complexity; where high is 500 – 1,000 bits plus. Namely, intelligently directed configuration. The constant resort to the utterly implausible to the point of being appeal to statistical miracle in order to avoid what is empirically very well warranted, that FSCO/I is a well warranted and analytically highly plausible sign of design, speaks volumes.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Back to the OP, clipping 55 above:

    BTW, on the OP, by definition Wikipedia is itself a form of social media pivoting on the notion of a collective effort producing a planetary knowledge base. Predictably, given the power of making a crooked yardstick the standard for straightness and accuracy, nihilistic ideologues manipulated it to seize power over what they were interested in, self-appointing themselves as the new magisterium. Then, if crookedness is now the institutional yardstick, what is really straight and accurate will NEVER pass the crooked test and will be rejected. To solve this we need plumb-line truths that are naturally straight and truly vertical, which can then expose crookedness. But those who are entrenched in power and profit from perpetuation of the crooked yardstick system will fight the breaking of their power tooth and nail. As is ever so evident from too many Wikipedia horror stories. A post modern world is a world in which folly clothes itself as wisdom and insists on leading a global march straight over the cliff. And that is a challenge that another social medium, a blog with forum elements, faces

    KF

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: Do objectors understand that constant appeal to statistical miracle undermines responsible, rational freedom? As in your and my comment posts are far more plausibly explained on statistical fluctuations accompanied by the delusion of having reasoned them out, than on reasoned thought leading to rational dialogue. That’s part of J B S Haldane’s insightful point that was cited way up. KF

  83. 83
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 79, first of all, thanks for the link to “Our Place in the Cosmos”. Not only is it an excellent article, but if you click on “Articles” at the top of the page, there’s Mary Midgley’s famous article where she did a complete face plant over selfish genes plus the article by J.L. Mackie she was reacting to, Mackie’s answer to her and right below tharpt, Dawkin’s answer to her. Its fun to see a pretentious know it all like Midgely get her due.

    But then there’s more! Two articles by David Stove, Australia’s Worst Philosopher Ever, including his classic, “So You Think You are a Darwinian”, followed by Simon Blackburn’s, “I Rather Think I Am a Darwinian” and James Franklin’s, “Stoves Anti-Darwinism”. I’m looking forward to re-reading Stove and then seeing how a couple of professional philosophers handle his twaddle.

    With all these articles and more, I’ll be reading till Christmas! Thanks again.

    As for “Our Place in the Cosmos”, I’m at a loss to know why you offer it since it supports my position. I’m thinking we might have another example of the reading comprehension problem that plagues this blog.

    Let’s start with, “Had the early expansion speed been a trifle slower, perhaps by less than one part in a billion, then gravity would have pulled everything into a Big Crunch very quickly, our universe remaining immensely hot throughout its brief career. An equally minor increase in the expansion speed would soon have resulted in very cold, very dilute gases unable to form any life-giving stars.”

    One in a billion.  That’s nine decimal digits.  But let’s be conservative and say it’s twenty.  And we’ll be more conservative still by using binary coded decimal notation which uses four bits per decimal digit or 80 bits total to specify the expansion speed of the universe.

    Next, “it is thought that the two main forces controlling the centre of the atom – the weak nuclear force, that is to say, and the strong nuclear force – had to fall inside very narrow limits if there were to be any long-living, steadily burning stars.”

    Okay, give them each a very conservative 80 bits each.  We’re now up to 120 bits.

    Next, “The same is true of the strength ratio between gravity and electromagnetism: a divergence from the actual ratio by less than one part in a billion would apparently have made sun-like stars impossible. ”

    Okay, another ultra conservative 80 bits and now we’re up to 320 bits.

    Next, we have “chemistry, which is essential to life as we know it, seemingly demanded very precise adjustment of the masses of the neutron, the proton and the electron. And so on, down rather a long list.”

    Okay, another ultra conservative 80 bits each for the masses of the neutron, proton and electron.  Our total is up to 560 bits.

    Let’s go hog wild and allow a thousand more bits for the “rather long list” … no, to heck with caution, let’s allocate EIGHTY thousand more bits for that long list!  Maybe there are a thousand numbers in that list and we need to specify every one of them to twenty decimal digits accuracy.

    What’s our total now?  Hmmm, only 80,560 bits.  Enough for a fairly good .jpg picture.

    Now let’s compare that to a Being who can understand and speak Hebrew, as from a burning bush.  How much information does that require?  XKCD has a delightful cartoon describing the Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo 11 to the moon and back, written in the most common 1,000 words in English: https://xkcd.com/1133/  Lets give God a break and assume he used only the 1,000 most common Hebrew words when he spoke to Noah.

    I don’t read Hebrew, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume the 1,000 most common Hebrew words have about the same informational content as their English counterparts.  Ten bits would let us distinguish between 1024 different things, so God would have to know 10,000 bits of information just to specify one word from the other 999. 

    But that wouldn’t do anything to define those words.  Here things get a bit murky.  How many bits to define a word?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Let’s be  conservative again and say it’s only 1000, a number that is far too low.  That still bumps up God’s required knowledge to over one million bits, far exceeding the 80,560 bits needed to fine tune a universe.  And we still haven’t covered the rules of grammar or the other words that will be needed to define the first 1000, let alone all the other information needed to understand basic Hebrew.

    And that’s just language.  If God designed us, then he has to know how we work!  Just imagine the shelf full of books that would be required to explain how the human body works, never mind the mental aspects.  He’d also have to understand how every other organism on earth works, from the lowliest virus to the fleeting horse and the eagle soaring overhead (so include aerodynamics, I guess).

    Let’s just say that God would require far, far, far more information to have even a child’s comprehension of Hebrew than is required to specify the universe we live in and let it go with that.

    Thanks for telling us about this article, although I still don’t know why you find it.

    Oh yeah, those flies. Re-read that section again.

    “Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.”

    He’s saying it doesn’t matter if there’s more than one set of fine tuned constants that would provide a viable universe. Whether there’s one fly on the wall or many, if you hit a fly with a bullet, it can mean that you’re a marksman or just a poor shot who fired lots of bullets. God or a multiverse. The multi-verse is much more likely.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, you clearly are unfamiliar with the cumulative nature of the fine-tuning evidence. I suggest that you take time to read Barnes: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647.pdf As for attempts to side-track into tangential debates over biblical exegesis etc, I have already repeatedly pointed out that that is not the proper focus for this forum and have suggested where you could go for serious answers. Trying to project the typical new atheist problems with reading in context with a modicum of respect for the integrity of the text is not going to help either. I wonder whether you have ever built or analysed the construction of a precision item that needed to be exact to one part in a thousand, much less a million or a thousand million. A single gear embeds enough FSCO/I to be decisive. The cumulative precision of the op point of our observed cosmos is well beyond 1 in 10^100. Indeed there are numbers on order1 in 10^ (10^123) that have come up. KF

    PS: Your attempted rewriting of Leslie’s famous analogy speaks inadvertent volumes. A lone fly on a patch of wall hit by a bullet speaks of marksmanship and of a tack-driver of a rifle. Hitting another section carpeted with flies implies that odds of hitting some fly or other were much higher. LOCAL fine tuning is all that is needed, and we have it.

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Barnes, pp. 60 – 61 (and kindly read the preceding para — symbols likely won’t reproduce):

    The discovery of another life-permitting island in parameter space potentially creates a
    problem for the multiverse. If the other island is significantly larger than ours (for a given
    multiverse measure), then observers should expect to be on the other island. An example is
    the cold big bang, as described by Aguirre (2001). Aguirre’s aim in the paper is to provide
    a counterexample to what he calls
    the anthropic program
    : “the computation of
    P
    [the prob-
    ability that a randomly chosen observer measures a given set of cosmological parameters]; if
    this probability distribution has a single peak at a set [of parameters] and if these are near
    the measured values, then it could be claimed that the anthropic program has ‘explained’ the
    values of the parameters of our cosmology”. Aguirre’s concern is a lack of uniqueness.

    A bit of a different problem, but it highlights the issue of relative statistical weight. We should be seeing a sol system only sub-cosmos, or even far more “likely” a Boltzmann brain cosmos (including the case of a hallucination of a larger sub cosmos). We should not be where we credibly are, were this a part of a quasi-infinite multiverse.

  86. 86
    MatSpirit says:

    KF @ 84 : “MS, you clearly are unfamiliar with the cumulative nature of the fine-tuning evidence.”

    As a man who’s familiar with math, I’m sure you realize that when you concatenate binary numbers as I did throughout my message, you are in effect multiplying them, just like the real life factors.

    KF: “PS: Your attempted rewriting of Leslie’s famous analogy speaks inadvertent volumes. A lone fly on a patch of wall hit by a bullet speaks of marksmanship and of a tack-driver of a rifle.”

    A single shot would, but we’re talking about multiple shots. Remember, We’re talking about a real infinity of universes here. Infinity devided by any number is infinity, remember?

    KF @ 85: “If the other island is significantly larger than ours (for a given multiverse measure), then observers should expect to be on the other island.”

    Oh yes. Observers in Hawaii should expect to be on the mainland. The pronnlem here is that he’s talking about a Boltzmann like chaotic universe in which patches of order occasionally form out of the chaos and then fade back into chaos.

    We don’t live in that kind of universe. Our’s was produced as one tiny piece and it’s been expanding as a unitary piece ever since.

    Forget Boltzmann’s universe. He was wrong, it doesn’t exist. Forget Boltzmann’s Brains. They just bring you embarrassment.

    For instance, people on this blog are in near 100% agreement that a brain alone can not think. You believe something non-material is also needed for thought.

    Yet here you are postulating huge numbers of Boltzmann Brains popping into existence, each a fully conscious observer and complete with fake memories of a non-existant past. C’mon!

  87. 87
    MatSpirit says:

    Upright BiPed, I’m going to run through two ways to make a protein in hopes of showing you how two different kinds of information work.

    First, we’ll use the method our modern cells use.  When you want to make a protein:

    First, find the section of DNA that contains the information that specifies the order of amino acids in the protein.  DNA specifies each amino acid with a triplet of base-pairs.  There’s also some junk mixed in.

    The DNA is copied to messenger RNA, where the amino acids are represented as triplets of codons.  The junk is also removed and the mRNA is exported out of the nucleus into the outer cell.

    A ribosome wraps around the mRNA and begins to create the protein, one amino acid at a time.  It does this by uncovering three of the mRNA’s codons at a time. 

    Brownian motion starts to slam molecules of transfer RNA against the exposed codons.  Each tRNA molecule is a rod that has three anticodons on one end and an amino acid on the other.  These anticodons will pair up with only one codon triplet.  The amino acid on the other end is the one specified by that triplet.

    tRNAs are continually slammed up against the exposed codons and thrown away if they don’t fit.

    When one is found that does fit, the amino acid it’s carrying is added to the protein and the ribosome steps down the mRNA and exposes the next three codons.

    This process continues until a codon triplet is uncovered that marks the end of the protein and synthesis stops.

    Now in this system, the data specifying protein sequence is stored first in the DNA, with the amino acids encoded by triplets of base pairs.

    Then the information is passed to the messenger RNA, where it is encoded as triplets of codons.

    Then the mRNA is passed to the ribosomes where transfer RNA decodes the codon triplets into amino acids and assembles them into a protein.

    So our data is first stored in DNA, then transferred to mRNA and finally decoded into amino acids by tRNA.

    Any questions?

    Ok.  Now let’s copy a protein the way cells had to make copies before DNA.  Since I have no idea what copying machinery existed pre-DNA, and neither do you, we’ll have you do the job manually.

    I’ve already stretched the protein out so you can get at it easily.

    Step 1) See what the topmost amino acid is.  Let’s say it’s lysine.

    Step 2) Select a lysine molecule out of your jar of assorted amino acids and plunk it down on the slide.

    But wait a minute!!  How did you know that first molecule was lysine?  You didn’t get that information from the DNA because there is no DNA.  You didn’t get it from the mRNA because there is no mRNA.  And you didn’t have anything decoded by tRNA because there is no tRNA and besides, you dont have anything coded that needs decoding!

    Instead, you got the data from the protein you’re copying.  It’s intrinsic data, like I’ve been talking about for the last couple of days.

    No semantics, no epistemic cut, no symbols, no codes, no coding or decoding, no DNA, no translation, no nothing.  Just the raw data.

    Got it now?

  88. 88
  89. 89
    MatSpirit says:

    How did you know the first amino acid was lysine? Where did that piece of information come from?

  90. 90
    Mung says:

    incredible

    The incredible intelligent protein builder!

    Surely using one amino acid as a template for the same amino acid to create another polypeptide was the first thought that came to mind when scientists were trying to figure out how proteins come to exist in a cell.

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, empirical evidence actually observed for a quasi-infinite multiverse? Nil. You are exerting ideological faith and simply refuse to attend to the implausibilities implied by relative statistical weight. Which was the point of the Boltzmann brain issue. KF

  92. 92
    MatSpirit says:

    The extremely low information content of the universe and the low (nearly zero) entropy at the Big Bang is exactly what we’d expect from the chaotic multi-verse and also the re-inflating universe. The existence of virtual particles appearing from empty space is more evidence for re-inflation.

    I’d be interested in seeing some empirical evidence for God. Not the things that Paul talks about, which we now know to have natural causes, but real evidence like people consistently getting cured when they’re prayed for. Of course, rather well designed scientific experiments have been conducted looking for just such evidence, but the results were null.

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Upright Biped to tell us Where the information came from to specify lysine as the first amino acid in #87. It sure didn’t come from “incredible”.

  93. 93
    MatSpirit says:

    Oh, and you still dont understand Boltzmann Brains. They defeat only Boltzmann’s universe, where an incredibly complex, high information universe suddenly appears out of nothing, not our universe which was extremely simple at its beginning.

    In our universe, we compare the probability of a low information, low entropy universe suddenly appearing vs a very high information brain suddenly appearing.

    The Big Bang always wins that comparison.

    And have you figured out yet why Boltzmann Brains have memories and thoughts, but human brains need a supernatural component to function?

  94. 94
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit,

    WRT a Boltzmann Brain world. In short, the point is that our universe is not explained by the observer self-selection effect — a Boltzmann Brain world is far more likely.

    IOWs the multiverse idea was that it was likely that we would find ourselves in a universe such as the one we are in. That is not the case, instead, most observable worlds will be Boltzmann Brain worlds.

    In other words, the observer self-selection effect is explanatorily vacuous. It does not suffice to show that only finely tuned worlds are observable. As Robin Collins has noted, what needs to be explained is not just intelligent life, but embodied, interactive, intelligent agents like ourselves. Appeal to an observer self-selection effect accomplishes nothing because there is no reason whatever to think that most observable worlds are worlds in which that kind of observer exists. Indeed, the opposite appears to be true: most observable worlds will be Boltzmann Brain worlds.
    [Craig]

    – – – – –

    MatSpirit: And have you figured out yet why Boltzmann Brains have memories and thoughts, but human brains need a supernatural component to function?

    You do understand that the whole line of reasoning is conducted under the (highly dubious) assumption that naturalism is true?

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, You are simply doubling down by repetition. It has already been pointed out that the physics of the observed (don’t forget: fine tuned at a deeply isolated operating point) universe is patently hugely informational — there is a reason why physics is the hardest of the sciences.Then, the attempt to dismiss fine tuning by asserting a quasi-infinite (unobserved) multiverse and a selection effect runs into the utter implausibility of seeing this sort of cosmos rather than — yes — a Boltzmann brain world that popped up out of the underlying sub-world. Where, BTW, explaining a cosmos “bakery” that throws up coherent worlds is itself a deeper level of fine tuning problem, as Robin Collins long since pointed out. KF

    PS: The Boltzmann brain world is within the circle of “for sake of argument” we take it that a brain somehow tosses up a mind if sufficiently complex.

  96. 96
    MatSpirit says:

    Well, I think this conversation has pretty well wound down. Upright Biped seems to have flounced off. If I ever see him talking about epistemic cuts or saying reproduction without DNA, translation, etc is impossible again, I’ll post my example of protein copying and ask him if hes figured out where the data comes from. Maybe he’ll answer me.

    By the way, KF, you’ve quoted some famous physicist whose name ive forgotten several times about the four things that are necessary to copy something. I forget the details, but I trust that if you post that again, you’ll mention that if you have the original protein to examine, then it contains all the information necessary to specify the duplicate so you don’t need an external store of data such as DNA. That will reduce some of the ID confusion.

    By the way, I found out where Roger Penrose got that 10^ (10^123) figure from. Thats Penrose’s figure for the likelihood of the entire observable universe fluctuating into existence at once from a disordered state. I assume he did that calculation to show how unlikely Boltzmann’s theory is compared to the origin of our universe, which appeared as a very low information state and attained it’s present complexity over billions of years. Whatever his reason, Penrose remains an atheist.

    Origenes and KF, Boltzmann Brains rule out only Boltzmann’s universe. Our Big Bang was so low in information compared to a Boltzmann Brain that we would see uncountable gazillions of Big Bangs before a single Boltzmann Toenail popped into existance. The fact that Craig disagrees with this is a reflection on Craigs lack of understanding of the whole Boltzmann Brain issue.

    Origenes, a material brain that is capable of intelligent thought is fully compatible with theism, just as a material heart that pumps blood is theistically possible.

    KF, since it is essential to your argument that a Boltzmann Brain is intelligent enough to be an observer, I’ve made a copy of message 95 so that I will always remember that you will make a proposition that you believe is false if you think it will help you win an argument.

  97. 97

    Matt, I don’t answer your question because, like the last exchange we had, you refuse to respond to the content of what is being said to you. Simply repeating what you’ve already said (which is exactly what you did) is not a response that interest me in the least. The fact is, I can tell you exactly where the information comes from in your make-believe scenario. Unfortunately, it would not make one iota of difference to you. That’s how you operate. You are a person who simultaneously (totally) misunderstands the issues involved, yet you are absolutely certain of yourself.

    You started out talking about material mediums that contain encoded information. I reminded you that all encoded mediums of information (like the genome) require interpretation by systematic constraints (i.e. they are undeniably IC). To avoid this fact, you immediately equivocated to a reified anthropic projection of “information”, suggesting that (given this projection of structural “information” in a protein) nothing else is needed, and therefore all that the complex translation machinery is unnecessary. I then reminded you that your anthropocentric projection of “information” in the structure of a protein does not cause that protein to replicate itself. Does that fact even slow you down? Does it give you even a moment of reflection? Nope. Facts make no difference to you. Now you’ve asked a question you think should somehow trip me up – where the answer is so obvious it hurts. Yet, you undoubtedly just don’t get it.

    It’s complete lunacy.

  98. 98
    MatSpirit says:

    How did you know the first amino acid was lysine? Where did that piece of information come from?

  99. 99

    You want me to answer that? Sure, but you answer it first. Be specific.

    EDIT: Then you can tell me what this has to do with supporting you position.

  100. 100

    You say …

    Where do we get the information to specify the sequence of amino acids in our new protein molecule?

    Well, we’ve got the original protein molecule! It has the amino acids joined together in exactly the right order!

    WE HAVE THE INFORMATION THAT IS BUILT INTO THE PHYSICAL POSITIONS OF THE AMINO ACIDS THAT MAKE UP THE PROTEIN AND WE CAN USE THIS INTRINSIC INFORMATION TO DUPLICATE THE ORIGINAL PROTEIN!

    AND SO COULD EARLY LIFE!

    NO DNA! NO RNA! NO SYMBOLIC INFORMATION!

    Just in case you forgot.

  101. 101
    MatSpirit says:

    I’ll go with what you’ve quoted in 100.

  102. 102
    MatSpirit says:

    I think I may have spotted your misunderstanding:

    “I then reminded you that your anthropocentric projection of “information” in the structure of a protein does not cause that protein to replicate itself. Does that fact even slow you down?”

    Of course mot. Why should it. I’m not talking about translation machinery. I don’t know what the first self-reproducer looked like and neither do you or anybody else. It happened billions of years ago at the sub-microscopic molecular level and it left no fossils.

    What I’m asking is where does the INFORMATION needed to duplicate the protein come from? I answered that in # 38 and I know you’ve seen it because you quoted me in # 100.

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    MS,

    With all due respect, it is clear WHY conversation is breaking down, and onlookers can see it: you are being unresponsive to facts, evidence and cogent argument.

    For instance your manufactured objection to the issue of relative statistical weight speaks volumes on lack of understanding due to refusal to engage issues. Likewise, you simply refuse to engage the structure of information systems, which are in fact antecedent to the existence and function of cell based life forms, which require them for key metabolic and reproductive processes.

    The resulting deadlock speaks volumes on what happens when you make a crooked yardstick the standard of reference for straightness and length.

    Namely, that what is genuinely straight and accurately to length cannot ever pass the test of conformity to the crooked. Then, that leaves the plumbline test on the table: the naturally straight and plumb. Your reaction above shows that you are insisting on a crooked yardstick in the teeth of the testimony of plumbline tests such as the exposed utter incoherence and thus self-refuting nature of evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    Perhaps, one day you will realise how you have made yourself into a poster-child of what is going wrong far and wide in our civilisation and which must be fixed if we are to turn back before the cliff collapses underfoot.

    If we don’t, we are headed into civilisational collapse as Plato witnessed with Athens and took time and effort to make a record that should have warned the ages. Sadly, by and large, ours is utterly disinclined to listen.

    If we continue like this, we doom ourselves to repeat some of the saddest passages of history ever.

    KF

  104. 104

    UB: I then reminded you that your anthropocentric projection of “information” in the structure of a protein does not cause that protein to replicate itself. Does that fact even slow you down?

    MS: Of course mot. Why should it.

    Well, that’s a real problem for you Matt, after all, that was your whole point. You say that no symbolic information is necessary (along with its translation machinery) because the protein contains all the information it needs, just because it exists.

  105. 105
    MatSpirit says:

    KF: “For instance your manufactured objection to the issue of relative statistical weight speaks volumes on lack of understanding due to refusal to engage issues.”

    I’ve been giving the wildly inappropriate “facts” and statistics coming my way all the respect they deserve, namely very little. Why do you throw Boltzmann Brains into the argument? It’s because none of you seems to understand what they’re all about. They are only meaningful if you think the universe as we see it spontaneously appeared from thermodynamic equilibrium – if all the particles in the universe just suddenly slammed into each other in such a way that they produced the stars, planets, galaxies, living creatures, etc that we see around us. Penrose calculated the odds against that happening at 10^(10^132), BUT THAT’S NOT HOW THE UNIVERSE STARTED, so that figure is meaningless to this discussion.

    ID, YEC and all the other forms of creationism positively thrive on giant numbers that reflect only their fanciful view of reality. Only God can make life and you have the numbers to “prove” it.

    KF: “…you simply refuse to engage the structure of information systems, which are in fact antecedent to the existence and function of cell based life forms, which require them for key metabolic and reproductive processes.”

    That’s what Upright says. Every creationist I’ve ever heard of insists that the first living thing was as complex as a modern cell. The scientific world disagrees. They think the first living thing was so simple it couldn’t do anything but copy itself with the materials and energy at hand.

    I’m trying to show Upright that information necessary to copy a molecule is in the molecule being copied and we don’t need information stored externally in DNA. He’s been telling us we do for at least a year, loudly and at length, and if he now agrees that we don’t, he’s going to be mighty embarassed.

  106. 106
    MatSpirit says:

    UB “…that was your whole point. You say that no symbolic information is necessary (along with its translation machinery) because the protein contains all the information it needs, just because it exists.”

    Yes, the molecule contains all the INFORMATION needed to duplicate it. It doesn’t need an external store of symbolic information and the machinery to translate that non-existant store of symbolic information into anything.

    I’ve told you, nobody knows what the first self reproducer looked like or how it managed to copy itself. But we do know where the INFORMATION necessary to make the copy came from – from itself.

    And your ego is going to take a big hit if you ever let yourself admit that, or even understand it.

  107. 107

    Matt, the “information” you say a protein contains (because it exist) doesn’t cause it to replicate itself.

    So you jump in yourself to create the information to specify the protein (“do the job manually” #87), then stand back and yell “See!”

    What a complete idiot.

  108. 108
    MatSpirit says:

    UB: “What a complete idiot.”

    There’s your ego, kicking in. ‘You MUST be right. You CAN’T be wrong. There’s GOT to be an answer… AHA! You CREATE the information to specify the protein! What an idiot for not seeing that.’

    Sorry, the information is in the original protein. I just copied it over to the new one. Keep trying.

    Oh, another reminder. I’m not talking about the machinery that does the copying, just the necessary information and where it comes from.

  109. 109

    Matt, you do atheism proud.

    I asked you upthread why you reckon those silly OoL atheists (like Szostak, Koonin, Venter et al) didn’t follow on your supreme logic. Not a single one of them!! I bet it’s because they figured a physical organization that could know to “stretch out” a protein and start at one end sensing and recognizing each amino acid in the sequence (then go out and find the same amino acids to bind in the same order) was just way too complex of an organization to come about by chance. I bet they even figured something organized like that would require its own explanation. But that’s just because they are the stupid atheists. You’re the smart one.

    Brilliant.

  110. 110
    MatSpirit says:

    Thats it, forget information, that gambit isn’t working too well. Concentrate on the copying mechanisms, which I freely admit nobody, including you, knows about.

    And escalate! Claim that three prominent scientists, Szostak, Koonin and Venter also disagree with me (and thus agree with you – quite an ego boost there).

    Are you saying that Szostak, Koonin and Venter don’t believe that the information needed to copy a molecule is in the original molecule? I think you’re wrong. Give me some quotes confirming that claim please.

  111. 111

    You aren’t particularly familiar with OoL scenarios are you? All the researchers I mentioned are information-first guys. I actually don’t know of anyone who thinks existing proteins were copied to create the gene system.

    Except you.

  112. 112
    MatSpirit says:

    And I just used a protein as an example. Could’ve been any molecule. No fossils, so we don’t know.

    Looking for those quotes.

  113. 113

    You want quotes for the rebuttal of something so incoherent that almost no one who is familiar with the issues even considers it? And you want this so that you can be convinced you are mistaken? Perhaps it would be more instructive for you to find a quote from a successful research program that actually supports your logic.

    And if you just have a general problem with situational awareness, Matt, perhaps it would help you to realize there are likely far more ID researchers than atheists who think pre-biotic proteins formed and then measured themselves. That should be more than embarrassing for a snappy cat like you.

  114. 114
    MatSpirit says:

    No, quotes that would indicate the first self copier needed external information would do. Special bonus points if they say DNA is necessary. Multiplier points if they mention decoding or epistimic cut.

    Since you say these gentlemen disagree with me, you should be able to scare up some quotes to back that statement up. A link would to be fine too.

    Tell you what, it’s 2:55 am here and I have to get up at the crack of noon. Post the quotes tomorrow evening.

  115. 115

    Sorry, I’m not your research assistant. If you want quotes, read some books and papers. That’s what the rest of us have to do.

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, as just a note, the replication process of a living cell is a novel system architecture and requires a sound explanation as to origin. You cannot simply say oh under certain conditions — which BTW in observation have to be very carefully set up — molecules will replicate, no problem there. In particular, you need to address coded information, translation and execution machinery that effects the architecture. None of these is a trivial problem. KF

    PS: Maybe you need to simply go back upthread and actually read what was already pointed out:

    13: your reconstruction of the BB is rather simplistic, and fails to understand what a deeply isolated operating point in a field of possible configs would do to hoped for occasional popping up of a fine tuned cosmos. The usual way to put it is to ask why we do not instead experience the vastly more likely Boltzmann Brain pops up world. Besides, BB theory and fine tuning have v little or nothing to do with what was discussed. Haldane was and is right, advances in brain etc studies only deepen the mystery, and do utterly nothing to break out of the inherent gap between blind mechanical necessity and/or equally blind chance and responsible, rational freedom.

    26: More on topic, do you begin to understand how much precise, coherent organisation — aka fine tuning — has to be in place to get to a BB that gives rise to a world fitted for C-chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet and galactic habitable zone based, cell architecture life? Do you really imagine that the physics of a cosmos is a low functional information/ organisation entity? I suggest, start with what it takes to get to water.

    33: empirical evidence for a quasi-infinite multiverse? NIL. Then, even were such the case, there is a big challenge to account for Leslie’s lone fly on a patch of wall swatted by a bullet, instead of a fly-carpet zone elsewhere. In other words, you are posting up imaginary quasi-infinite resources to get to a probabilistic miracle in order to protect a prior commitment to evolutionary materialist scientism and/or fellow travellers; a serious worldviews telltale. Besides, the evo mat stance cannot credibly account for mindedness governed by conscience — responsible, rational freedom and logical consequence vs blind mechanical and/or chance driven causal chains; it ends in self-referential incoherence. Going beyond, you are categorically confusing location in a space etc with the organisation and coherence that frames the physics for a cosmos amenable to life such as we enjoy. That’s another telltale. There’s more, but this is enough for starters.

    48a: First, you seem obsessed with theologians.

    The existence of God is a worldviews issue and thus a matter of philosophy antecedent to any religious tradition. It would be appreciated if you will address the worldviews issue under the correct department.

    Second, you are simply assuming that mindedness is essentially computational. This runs into the basic problem that, inherently, no computational entity spontaneously rises above blind mechanical processing and/or blind chance events, to actually responsibly and rationally free inference, decision, thought, belief, warrant and knowledge etc. GIGO, on steroids. Computation is inherently a mechanical process and thus is dependent on input organisation, programming etc. It does not explain itself nor is it autonomous. Leibniz put this on the table nigh on 400 years ago in Monadology, through his analogy of the mill.

    Third, you have an existing population of the evidently responsibly and rationally free. Us. This is so on pain of the disintegration of responsible rational discourse towards truth, prudence and the right.

    Next, we have evidence of finely tuned, carefully organised physics and initial circumstances that set up a world fitted to our kind of life, c-chem, cell based, aqueous medium on terrestrial planets.

    Where, said life is morally governed (= responsible) and rational. Thus, governed by ought. Which requires that ought be bridged to from IS. Which, no blind material world-root can do. And, world-roots is the only level where the IS-OUGHT gap can be bridged, after that level it invariably pops back up.

    There is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator-God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    If you doubt, simply put up another candidate at world-root level which will meet the triple test of factual adequacy, coherence (the truths of a world must all be so together) and balanced explanatory power: neither simplistic nor ad hoc.

    Lastly, you have no basis for binding information to arrangements of matter. Arrangements of abstracta are a perfectly valid cluster of possibilities. Start with the von Neumann construction of numbers and extend to the continuum and complex numbers to see this. Where, no world is possible absent distinct identity thus two-ness bound up in A vs ~A, etc. which gives rise to the inevitability of the first three core principles of right reason as binding on any world. Also, such two-ness is a necessary being; thus eternal — without beginning or possibility of end. Uncaused. And more.

    Which already suggests mind as prior to matter in the ontological sense.

    48b: Science is converging on no empirically grounded, observationally rooted view that we are part of a multiverse. What we have is ideological imposition of evolutionary materialistic scientism in the teeth of what the evidence does point to: cosmological fine tuning. But if one posits a quasi-infinite multiverse one can at least imagine there is enough resource to get rid of probabilities, or rather utter improbabilities. Which is a cure far worse than the disease. E.g. why do we not observe a Boltzmann brain world instead of what we see?

    50: On Boltzmann brain worlds: https://winteryknight.com/2017/03/11/what-are-boltzmann-brains-and-what-challenge-do-they-pose-to-the-multiverse-hypothesis/ . . . lone fly on a wall-patch swatted by a bullet vs bullets hitting a section carpeted with flies. Local fine tuning is sufficiently challenging

    79: the implication that on a multiverse and chance bubbling up hyp we are far more likely to have a Boltzmann brain sub cosmos than one like ours, or even just an isolated sol-like system is the substantial issue you have ducked; I am too busy just now to chase down your strawman claims, which are inherently unlikely to be relevant as the direct issue of the lone fly on a section of wall swatted by a bullet vs the fly carpet is decisive. I suggest that this is the well warranted challenge of any attempt to eliminate fine tuning by suggesting an imaginary, quasi-infinite expansion of physical resources. For, our observed cosmos sits in a DEEPLY isolated operating point in the config space of the associated physics. In short, the imaginary expansion of resources is a vastly inferior explanation to the one that simply notes the fine tuning phenomena then points out that there is no guarantee that all possibilities will be found on an empirical sampling of a space of possibilities so if we are in a very special zone that is deeply isolated as an operating point, that is a credible mark of design. KF

    PS: John Leslie on the fly on the wall, long before recent exchanges popped up:

    “One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning?” [Our Place in the Cosmos, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, 1998 (courtesy Wayback Machine) Emphases added.]

    AND:

    “. . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.” [Emphasis his.]

    80: another way of seeing this is to take apart an ill-advised way to put the million monkeys typing out Romeo and Juliet-type claim. So long as the monkeys freely type whatever they do, there is by definition no constraint forcing them to ever get to a particular text or class of text. So, we are forced instead — this is now statistical thermodynamics — to look at comparative statistical weights of clusters of microstates. In this case, the gibberish cluster is utterly overwhelming and that is what we expect. A good way to see is to go to bits, thus the binomial distribution: overwhelmingly dominated by gibberish near the 50-50 H-T or 1-0 peak. Next, we inject the anthropic constraint that we are in fact present as observers, so the issue is now how so. On a multiverse type hyp, the point of the extension of the Boltzmann brain type case is that that is a far less special and complicated world so it should carry much higher statistical weight than a sol system alone type world which in turn is vastly more abundant than the sort of full orbed cosmos we see. So, a statistical fluctuation type hyp would overwhelmingly expect that observers would be isolated brains, then isolated sol like systems. Thus, we do not have a PLAUSIBLE explanation for what we do see. Thence, we should be looking at explanations that do routinely produce functionally coherent, organised, information rich entities of high complexity; where high is 500 – 1,000 bits plus. Namely, intelligently directed configuration. The constant resort to the utterly implausible to the point of being appeal to statistical miracle in order to avoid what is empirically very well warranted, that FSCO/I is a well warranted and analytically highly plausible sign of design, speaks volumes.

    82: Do objectors understand that constant appeal to statistical miracle undermines responsible, rational freedom? As in your and my comment posts are far more plausibly explained on statistical fluctuations accompanied by the delusion of having reasoned them out, than on reasoned thought leading to rational dialogue. That’s part of J B S Haldane’s insightful point that was cited way up.

    84: you clearly are unfamiliar with the cumulative nature of the fine-tuning evidence. I suggest that you take time to read Barnes: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647.pdf As for attempts to side-track into tangential debates over biblical exegesis etc, I have already repeatedly pointed out that that is not the proper focus for this forum and have suggested where you could go for serious answers. Trying to project the typical new atheist problems with reading in context with a modicum of respect for the integrity of the text is not going to help either. I wonder whether you have ever built or analysed the construction of a precision item that needed to be exact to one part in a thousand, much less a million or a thousand million. A single gear embeds enough FSCO/I to be decisive. The cumulative precision of the op point of our observed cosmos is well beyond 1 in 10^100. Indeed there are numbers on order1 in 10^ (10^123) that have come up. KF

    PS: Your attempted rewriting of Leslie’s famous analogy speaks inadvertent volumes. A lone fly on a patch of wall hit by a bullet speaks of marksmanship and of a tack-driver of a rifle. Hitting another section carpeted with flies implies that odds of hitting some fly or other were much higher. LOCAL fine tuning is all that is needed, and we have it.

    85: Barnes, pp. 60 – 61 (and kindly read the preceding para — symbols likely won’t reproduce):

    The discovery of another life-permitting island in parameter space potentially creates a
    problem for the multiverse. If the other island is significantly larger than ours (for a given
    multiverse measure), then observers should expect to be on the other island. An example is
    the cold big bang, as described by Aguirre (2001). Aguirre’s aim in the paper is to provide
    a counterexample to what he calls
    the anthropic program
    : “the computation of
    P
    [the prob-
    ability that a randomly chosen observer measures a given set of cosmological parameters]; if
    this probability distribution has a single peak at a set [of parameters] and if these are near
    the measured values, then it could be claimed that the anthropic program has ‘explained’ the
    values of the parameters of our cosmology”. Aguirre’s concern is a lack of uniqueness.

    A bit of a different problem, but it highlights the issue of relative statistical weight. We should be seeing a sol system only sub-cosmos, or even far more “likely” a Boltzmann brain cosmos (including the case of a hallucination of a larger sub cosmos). We should not be where we credibly are, were this a part of a quasi-infinite multiverse.

    91: empirical evidence actually observed for a quasi-infinite multiverse? Nil. You are exerting ideological faith and simply refuse to attend to the implausibilities implied by relative statistical weight. Which was the point of the Boltzmann brain issue.

    95: It has already been pointed out that the physics of the observed (don’t forget: fine tuned at a deeply isolated operating point) universe is patently hugely informational — there is a reason why physics is the hardest of the sciences.Then, the attempt to dismiss fine tuning by asserting a quasi-infinite (unobserved) multiverse and a selection effect runs into the utter implausibility of seeing this sort of cosmos rather than — yes — a Boltzmann brain world that popped up out of the underlying sub-world. Where, BTW, explaining a cosmos “bakery” that throws up coherent worlds is itself a deeper level of fine tuning problem, as Robin Collins long since pointed out. KF

    PS: The Boltzmann brain world is within the circle of “for sake of argument” we take it that a brain somehow tosses up a mind if sufficiently complex.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Walker and Davies throw out a significant side-light:

    In physics, particularly in statistical mechanics, we base many of our calculations on the assumption of metric transitivity, which asserts that a system’s trajectory will eventually [–> given “enough time and search resources”] explore the entirety of its state space – thus everything that is phys-ically possible will eventually happen. It should then be trivially true that one could choose an arbitrary “final state” (e.g., a living organism) and “explain” it by evolving the system backwards in time choosing an appropriate state at some ’start’ time t_0 (fine-tuning the initial state). In the case of a chaotic system the initial state must be specified to arbitrarily high precision. But this account amounts to no more than saying that the world is as it is because it was as it was, and our current narrative therefore scarcely constitutes an explanation in the true scientific sense.

    We are left in a bit of a conundrum with respect to the problem of specifying the initial conditions necessary to explain our world. A key point is that if we require specialness in our initial state (such that we observe the current state of the world and not any other state) metric transitivity cannot hold true, as it blurs any dependency on initial conditions – that is, it makes little sense for us to single out any particular state as special by calling it the ’initial’ state. If we instead relax the assumption of metric transitivity (which seems more realistic for many real world physical systems – including life), then our phase space will consist of isolated pocket regions and it is not necessarily possible to get to any other physically possible state (see e.g. Fig. 1 for a cellular automata example).

    [–> or, there may not be “enough” time and/or resources for the relevant exploration, i.e. we see the 500 – 1,000 bit complexity threshold at work vs 10^57 – 10^80 atoms with fast rxn rates at about 10^-13 to 10^-15 s leading to inability to explore more than a vanishingly small fraction on the gamut of Sol system or observed cosmos . . . the only actually, credibly observed cosmos]

    Thus the initial state must be tuned to be in the region of phase space in which we find ourselves [–> notice, fine tuning], and there are regions of the configuration space our physical universe would be excluded from accessing, even if those states may be equally consistent and permissible under the microscopic laws of physics (starting from a different initial state). Thus according to the standard picture, we require special initial conditions to explain the complexity of the world, but also have a sense that we should not be on a particularly special trajectory to get here (or anywhere else) as it would be a sign of fine–tuning of the initial conditions. [ –> notice, the “loading”] Stated most simply, a potential problem with the way we currently formulate physics is that you can’t necessarily get everywhere from anywhere (see Walker [31] for discussion). [“The “Hard Problem” of Life,” June 23, 2016, a discussion by Sara Imari Walker and Paul C.W. Davies at Arxiv.]

  118. 118
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit: … quotes that would indicate the first self copier needed external information would do. Special bonus points if they say DNA is necessary.

    Maybe you can start here:

    Koonin: Origin of life is a chicken and egg problem: for biological evolution that is governed, primarily, by natural selection, to take off, efficient systems for replication and translation are required, but even barebones cores of these systems appear to be products of extensive selection. The currently favored (partial) solution is an RNA world without proteins in which replication is catalyzed by ribozymes and which serves as the cradle for the translation system. However, the RNA world faces its own hard problems as ribozyme-catalyzed RNA replication remains a hypothesis and the selective pressures behind the origin of translation remain mysterious.

    Despite considerable experimental and theoretical effort, no compelling scenarios currently exist for the origin of replication and translation, the key processes that together comprise the core of biological systems and the apparent pre-requisite of biological evolution.

    Under this model, a full-fledged RNA world, with a diverse population of replicating RNA molecules but without translation, was not a stage in the origin of life on earth.

    … even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region is P < 10^(-1018).

    link

  119. 119
    ET says:

    MatSpirit:

    ID, YEC and all the other forms of creationism positively thrive on giant numbers that reflect only their fanciful view of reality.

    Clueless. The ONLY reason for those numbers is because you and yours don’t have a methodology to test your claims. If you had such a methodology then those numbers would be moot.

    You want a replicating molecule then demonstrate one can arise without our intervention. Then there is Spiegelman’s monster to contend with once you get a replicating molecule- well first you need the resources to replicate that molecule.

    How did you know that first molecule was lysine? 

    You said it was. BTW there isn’t any evidence that proteins replicate. So you are living in some fantasy world, as usual.

  120. 120
    Origenes says:

    MatSpirit: And it turns out that Carroll was talking about the cosmology that Boltzmann proposed over a century ago, which is totally chaotic, with atoms zipping around at random until they v e r r y occasionally slam into each other and stick together to make the universe we see around us.
    As others pointed out a century ago, a human brain is much simpler than the huge universe we see around us and consequently should be much more likely to pop into existence than the entire universe.

    Not quite, the idea is that an observed universe is much more likely to be a ‘Boltzmann Brain World’ — a chaotic universe with a single brain — then the universe we find us in. It’s simply about probabilities.

    MatSpirit: Thus for every universe we see, there should be an enormous number of Boltzmann’s brains floating around …

    No, that’s not the argument at all. For an observed universe one brain suffices. Mat, you are offering very confused thoughts …

    MatSpirit: … and we don’t see that , so Boltzmann’s cosmology was refuted over 100 years ago and Carroll’s quotation has nothing to do with the multi-verse proposed today.

    ?? Excuse me, Boltzmann’s cosmology is refuted 100 years ago, because we don’t see other universes with brains? What?

    MatSpirit: Why do you throw Boltzmann Brains into the argument? It’s because none of you seems to understand what they’re all about.

    Stop with your nonsense interpretation of the argument. It’s about the ’observer self-selection effect’ — see #94.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, one of the most revealing things about MS arguing in bad faith is that he insists on falsely terming ID a form of creationism despite correction. At this stage, he has made himself a poster child of what is wrong with evolutionary materialism and fellow travellers, by showing utter contempt for truth. Of course, when we point out the amorality involved in evo mat and implications (as were pointed out by Plato 2350+ ya), adherents and fellow travellers tend to resort to the how dare you tactic. But, as MS again demonstrates, they keep on demonstrating how inherently amoral ideologies corrupt conscience and thus reason which needs to be guided by conscience towards truth, right etc. Sad, really. KF

  122. 122
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Again, Plato’s warning:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

  123. 123
    kairosfocus says:

    MS: I think you would be well advised to heed the corrective just above. KF

  124. 124
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, well said. Sadly, MS seems to specialise in a form of the ever so common fallacy trifecta: red herrings led to strawman caricatures soaked in to the man contempt in his case. Set alight through dismissive rhetoric and the issue is lost in the fog of confusion and subtle form polarisation rooted in contempt. Such then self-reinforces, as the means of correction is being pushed aside and distracted from. KF

    PS: One of the attempts to dismiss the point is to suggest that slight changes in the cosmology would drastically shift the result of finding observers who are BB’s. Actually, this is a half-story, it implies but does not address the Robin Collins point.

    Namely, exporting fine tuning to the next level.

    That is, you face the issue of a fine-tuned “cosmos bakery” that spits out observer-permitting worlds as a well set up bakery spits out well formed loaves. Set it off a tad and burned hockey pucks or doughy half baked messes result. So, what fine tunes the sub-verse, the source of claimed — notice, not one whit of actual observation! (That is, strictly philosophy not science . . . ) — sub cosmi that bubble up with at least one being like ours.

    Where, instead of the far more statistically weighted case among observer worlds of a BB with say a delusion of a cosmos, we have good reason to believe we live together in a common world. One with deeply isolated physics that sets us to a lone fly on the wall operating point swatted by the bullet of actual empirical observation. Why this instead of the fly carpeted patches of, first, non-observer permitting worlds? [In short, THAT observers are present, on what we know of the physics that would apply to a blind chance and mechanical necessity blind domain of reality is in itself highly remarkable.]

    Then, secondly, we have reason to see that BB type worlds — as a generic type of single observers with delusions of worlds or even just “brain in a vat” self-awareness — would be vastly more common on such a metaphysical model than even the single sol system world. In turn, that is of far higher statistical weight than the sort of cosmos we observe. So, on the same logic of relative statistical weight that undergirds things like the second law of thermodynamics, we ought not to observe what we do on a metaphysics of blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    So, we must take seriously the alternative metaphysics of a world that is designed and exhibits fine tuning because it was tuned for life. Look, just yesterday I was forcibly reminded of just how hard it is to set up a smoothly and correctly functioning door closer.

    Already, on grand inference to best cosmological explanation, fine tuning is far more plausible than the sort of multiverse schemes that in the end must appeal to a cosmos bakery that happens to be set just right to spit out observer permitting worlds.

    Then, as we are in comparative worldviews analysis — we got there when unobserved multiverses were slipped in as explanatory constructs — we must address all the evidence.

    Including that we are evidently responsibly and rationally significantly free, just to be able to have a real discussion where actors self-move to new views on the abstract mental force of argument. So, a world with morally governed, rational observers is a constraint.

    What best explains observers who are morally governed, responsibly and rationally significantly free? (Where to deny this is to instantly plunge into self-referential absurdities like implying that the discussion is part of a delusion spewed up by grand blind chance and/or mechanical necessity all the way back to the sub-verse.)

    We face the IS-OUGHT gap in a context where this is germane as the multi-verse idea is inherently a phil speculation until there is adequate observation to ground it as empirical fact. After decades, there is no such observation.

    So, we are dealing with comparative difficulties.

    And with the phenomenon where arguments against cosmological fine tuning commonly simply export the fine tuning to the next level. Here the sub-verse cosmos bakery.

    So too we face the Hume guillotine, only world root level can bridge the is-ought gap. Where, there is just one serious candidate: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of loyalty and the responsible, reasonable service of doing good in accord with our evident nature.

    To challenge this, simply put up a serious alternative that is coherent, as well as factually and explanatorily adequate: ______ .

    Prediction: on years of challenge, no successful alternative will be forthcoming.

    And yes, I am compressing a library shelf into a comment PS.

    Going on, generic ethical theism, in effect the God of Philosophy, is on the table as the best worldview level explanation. Which lends great plausibility to the Judaeo-Christian tradition which is now so despised and mocked in our civilisation that — as last weekend demonstrates — the unhinged now distill permission from the toxic brew of post-Christian defiantly apostate amoral culture and linked dominant messages to massacre people at worship in churches.

    All of this points to a need for those resorting to multiverse speculations to avoid the force of fine tuning to face the implications of exporting fine tuning to the cosmos bakery level.

    Not that most who take up populist skepticism are likely to be inclined to seriously think through worldview alternatives and the verdict of comparative difficulties.

    But, a finger pointing the way is always needed.

    Or is that, calling out to the invisible remnant on the verge of a day of wrath against a willfully apostate culture that has turned its back on what it knows or should know?

    PPS: Ever since Paul went to Mars Hill AD 50 and summarised the core C1 creed five years later in a letter to the Corinthians, cf Ac 17 and 1 Cor 15, the actual core warranting case of the Christian gospel is the coming of Messiah as prophesied who suffers as lamb of God and rises from the dead with 500+ witnesses, cf: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....#u1_witnss

  125. 125
    kairosfocus says:

    MS: I suggest you examine the just above, esp the PS, the PPS and the linked. KF

  126. 126
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes at 118: ” Koonin: Origin of life is a chicken and egg problem: for biological evolution that is governed, primarily, by natural selection, to take off, efficient systems for replication and translation are required, but even barebones cores of these systems appear to be products of extensive selection. The currently favored (partial) solution is an RNA world without proteins in which replication is catalyzed by ribozymes and which serves as the cradle for the translation system. However, the RNA world faces its own hard problems as ribozyme-catalyzed RNA replication remains a hypothesis and the selective pressures behind the origin of translation remain mysterious.”

    Thanks for the quote.  (Upright, that’s how it’s done.)  I had heard that some prominent  physicist had declared that a multiverse was necessary for first life, but I didn’t realize it was Koonin.  He seems to think that the DNA-RNA translation system had to form randomly – except that he also says, “… even barebones cores of these systems appear to be products of extensive selection” which implies that they evolved.  He thinks the RNA world has problems, but then he says, “the selective pressures behind the origin of translation remain mysterious”, which again makes it seem like he thinks translation evolved.

    If he thinks the DNA-RNA-translation system formed randomly in one fell swoop, then he’s right, it would probably take a multi-verse to give enough tries for that to happen, but you’ll notice that nobody is lining up behind him.  Most OOL people just don’t think first life was that hard and evolution took it from there.

  127. 127
    MatSpirit says:

    Origenes @ 120,

    I’ll try to explain Boltzmann and Boltzmann Brains one last time.

    In the nineteenth century, Boltzmann basically invented the modern version of entropy.  Something bothered him, though: how come the universe we observe has such low entropy?  We see order everywhere; vast expanses of empty space studded with incandescent balls of gas, planets, moons, and incredibly complex living creatures.  Statistically, we should see burnt out stars, frozen planets and the dust of long gone organisms.

    He proposed (and I don’t know how serious he was) that perhaps the universe had been thermodynamically dead – just a thin gas swirling around, with no stars, planets or organisms of any kind.  Then, all the atoms swirling around at random just happened to crash into each other and form the stars, planets, living organisms and everything else we see in one glorious statistical burp.

    Needless to say, such an occurrence would be rather rare.  Roger Penrose recently calculated the odds against such a thing happening at 1 in 10^ (10^123).  That number is so big that there aren’t enough atoms in the universe to write it on, even if you wrote one digit on every atom in the universe.

    But people in the 19th century spotted an even worse problem.  The universe included lots of people and every one of those people had a brain.  Even then, people knew that brains were incredibly complicated, but they also knew that each brain was only a tiny part of the universe and therefore, complex as it was, it had to be much, much, much simpler than the universe.

    That means that spontaneously forming a brain would be much more likely than spontaneously forming a universe and that therefore you should see a lot more brains floating all alone in the chaos than a universe that also contained brains.

    People in the 19th century also knew that brains were observers, although KF kindly requests you ignore that today because a good non-materialist doesn’t believe that a purely material brain can observe anything.  Nevertheless, the 19th century people believed that if Boltzmann’s hypothesis was true, then the average observer should be a naked brain floating in the chaos instead of one of us walking around on a planet and therefore Boltzmann’s hypothesis for the formation of the universe as we see it today in one fell swoop was wrong.

    I agree with this reasoning (and so does everybody else), but it doesn’t apply to the universe as we know it today.  We know now that the universe didn’t pop into existence exactly as it is today.  Evidence nobody had in the 19th century shows that this universe popped into existence as a bit of undifferentiated energy crammed into an incredibly small space with none of the detail we see today.  No stars, planets, galaxies, humans or even hydrogen atoms.  Those all formed after the Big Bang.

    In message 30, I did a very back of the envelope calculation of the information / complexity of the infant universe and its measured in megabytes at the most.  A few constants, a few laws, a few types of sub-atomic particles with a few ways they can form atoms – there wasn’t much.

    A brain that can be an observer, on the other hand, has to contain a huge amount of information.  The lowest estimate I can find is one terabyte, which is 1,000 megabytes.  Most estimates are between 10 and 100 terabytes.

    Now the odds are completely reversed.  You’ll get thousands of Big Bang infant universes popping into existence,  each containing a few megabytes of information, before you’ll get a single brain popping into existence containing terabytes of information.  And the one infant universe we know of has grown up and produced billions of brains, with more being produced as we speak.

    Now none of that probably convinces anybody here, but I’m tired of the subject and the postman delivered about a hundred bucks worth of Banggood goodies today and yesterday, so I’m done for now.

    See you all later.

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, side-track. The BB issue as is discussed in recent times was developed on the issue of a quasi-infinite multiverse comprising sub-cosmi arising through fluctuations of what we could consider an underlying sub-verse. (As in, a quantum foam or the like popping up fluctuations is not non-being, a real nothing.) Fluctuations of quantum character [which already moves us well beyond Boltzmann, who died was it 1906, unfortunately at his own hand]. The issue, as you should have noted above but chose to sidetrack from, is that on such a model of reality — and it is put forth on a case where there are no actual observations beyond the cosmos that surrounds us — a sol-like system only world should be far more common than what we see. And, indeed, a sub-cosmos constituting a BB that pops up by quantum fluctuation from the underlying sub-cosmos is yet far more likely. So, we see that the subset of observer containing worlds has in it two patches of Leslie’s wall that are carpeted with flies. The second is even far more big than the first. On this, it is utterly implausible that we should see instead a case of a cosmos that is at a deeply isolated operating point, as we credibly see. So, a superior explanation is that we see a fine tuned cosmos, the lone fly swatted by a bullet from a marksman and a tack-driver of a rifle. Which last raises the further point you have ignored, that projecting to a cosmos bakery simply pushes up the fine tuning to the next level, as the issue of producing well-tempered sub cosmi vs the equivalent of doughy half baked messes or burned hockey pucks arises also. the red herring chase to a strawman rhetorical game fails. KF

    PS; Trying to suggest that a world with a BB is far more informational than one with a cosmos like ours ignores the information content of the physics of such a well-tempered cosmos. Which is precisely the issue at stake on this tangent to a discussion that should be on Wikipedia, but has run on tangents since you put several up above. That has been pointed out already but has been studiously ignored. The suggestion that this type of cosmos is less informational than a BB world and so reverses the odds, drastically fails.

  129. 129

Leave a Reply