Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Whoever writes the tech column at Breitbart has noticed …

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that Yale computer whiz David Gelernter has blown clear of Darwinism:

Gelernter argues that intelligent design, the notion that life on earth was designed by a higher power, is an “absolutely serious argument.” Gelernter cautions his peers in academia against using anti-religious bigotry to justify their dismissals of the theory of intelligent design.

Gelernter was injured in 1993 when he opened a package addressed to him from Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. “My first thought was along the lines of: Bombs must be going off all over campus this morning,” Gelernter wrote in a book published in 1997. “It didn’t occur to me that I could possibly have been singled out as a target. I was not in a murder-prone line of work; I had no personal enemies, on account not of being lovable but of being obscure.”

Yale Computer Scientist David Gelernter Abandons Darwinism” at Breitbart

Costly insights in his case but he may need them on the road ahead. Darwin doubt has destroyed many a career. But maybe time’s up. As science, it is becoming unsustainable.

And who made Darwinism the universities’ state religion anyway? Why is it even news?

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

See also: Jeffrey Shallit also holds forth on Yale’s David Gelernter.

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BO'H: Yes, one may argue just about anything one pleases esp if there is an implicit underlying imposition. The notion that cell based life is inevitable echoes that. It is without empirical foundation of actual observation. Further to this, cell walls and system boundaries protective of the internal organised system may be necessary for viability but are nowhere near adequate causal process. That such would be seriously suggested -- "the events that ‘take place within the spatial boundary of a living organism’ [1] may arise from the very existence of a boundary or blanket, which itself is inevitable in a physically lawful world" -- is itself a sign of how much trouble the paradigm is in. Notice, what is conceded shortly thereafter: "Clearly, a full account of the emergence of life would have to address multiple (evolutionary, developmental and functional) timescales and the emergence of DNA [--> recall, an information-storing molecule that uses a digital code thus language], ribosomes and the complex cellular networks common to most forms of life." Then we see how the central issue is side-stepped to indulge a speculation: "This paper focuses on a simple but fundamental aspect of self-organization" and the further telling concession revealing the eye of materialistic faith in action: " . . . that may provide a metaphor for behaviour with different timescales and biological substrates" All of this is a sadly familiar tale and does not even come near to undermining the issue of required functional organisation and associated information and the trillion member observational base on the reliable source of such. KF kairosfocus
Bob O'H:
But biology is much bigger than those parts, so being a computer scientists doesn’t give you authority to speak about biology in general.
Biologists don't even know what determines what type of organism will develop. So even their knowledge of biology is limited. And evidence, not narratives, drive science, Bob. And your linked papers don't have the evidence. ET
johnnyb - yes there are aspects of biology where computer science will be helpful, and computer scientists should be listened to. But biology is much bigger than those parts, so being a computer scientists doesn't give you authority to speak about biology in general. Also, my experience with non-biologists coming into biology is that the ones who do best are the ones who learn biology first. kf - Information theory has been used to suggest that life is not "maximally implausible", rather it "is an inevitable and emergent property of any (ergodic) random dynamical system that possesses a Markov blanket". And whilst trying to find that paper, I also came across this one, which uses information theory to model the evolution of complexity. Bob O'H
PS: Here is Wiki's admission on informational thermodynamics as of some years past (2011):
At an everyday practical level the links between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy are not close. Physicists and chemists are apt to be more interested in changes in entropy as a system spontaneously evolves away from its initial conditions, in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics, rather than an unchanging probability distribution. And, as the numerical smallness of Boltzmann's constant kB indicates, the changes in S / kB for even minute amounts of substances in chemical and physical processes represent amounts of entropy which are so large as to be right off the scale compared to anything seen in data compression or signal processing. But, at a multidisciplinary level, connections can be made between thermodynamic and informational entropy, although it took many years in the development of the theories of statistical mechanics and information theory to make the relationship fully apparent. In fact, in the view of Jaynes (1957), thermodynamics should be seen as an application of Shannon's information theory: the thermodynamic entropy is interpreted as being an estimate of the amount of further Shannon information needed to define the detailed microscopic state of the system, that remains uncommunicated by a description solely in terms of the macroscopic variables of classical thermodynamics. For example, adding heat to a system increases its thermodynamic entropy because it increases the number of possible microscopic states that it could be in, thus making any complete state description longer. (See article: maximum entropy thermodynamics.[Also,another article remarks: >>in the words of G. N. Lewis writing about chemical entropy in 1930, "Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more" . . . in the discrete case using base two logarithms, the reduced Gibbs entropy is equal to the minimum number of yes/no questions that need to be answered in order to fully specify the microstate, given that we know the macrostate.>>]) Maxwell's demon can (hypothetically) reduce the thermodynamic entropy of a system by using information about the states of individual molecules; but, as Landauer (from 1961) and co-workers have shown, to function the demon himself must increase thermodynamic entropy in the process, by at least the amount of Shannon information he proposes to first acquire and store; and so the total entropy does not decrease (which resolves the paradox).
JB, the same obtains for a fair amount of statistical thermodynamics and I here again draw attention to the informational school of thought which uses information theory results. Of course, the basic answer to the proposed origin of information-rich, complex coherent, configuration-based functional systems by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity on gamut of sol system or observed cosmos alike is the same. Maximally implausible. When it comes to life based on cells, we must note the presence of digital code and associated support and execution machinery using molecular nanotech. That is, the presence of LANGUAGE is duly noted. Such, for very good reason is immediately diagnostic of design by language using intelligent agent. But, that is maximally impolitic in an age where the academy is dominated by self-referentially incoherent evolutionary materialistic scientism. Until that ill-founded domination by the necessarily false is broken, the manifest force of the evidence will not be allowed to tell. KF kairosfocus
What most people don't understand about computer science (as a science, not just programming) is that computer science actually *does* have at least some authority in biology. This is because computer science studies, in the abstract, how codes map to function. To the extent that they deal with this in a *particular* setting (i.e., a particular programming language or style) it may not necessarily transfer. However, there is a lot in computer science about the general mathematics code (mapping of code to function, information transfer, information identification, etc.), being essentially just math, applies equally to biology as to anywhere else. An example of an application of this is Voie's Biological Function and the Genetic Code are Interdependent. Also, Tom Schneider's Information Content of Binding Sites on Nucleotide Sequences. johnnyb
...and PavelU is a nobody commenter on a blog. Why in God's name would I believe what he says? It's not like he has a degree in blogology or anything. Andrew asauber
The Darwinists are fascinating creatures. They demand everyone in the field of academia bow down to their altar, regardless of background. When one dares cross their precious line, they don't matter unless they are biologists. Academia is not about education and hasn't been in a very long time. It has become little more than propagandists to force their unscientific beliefs on unsuspecting students. They want drooling masses to follow drooling masses as they pat each other on the back and say science be damned. So what if they have no actual evidence, since they don't care about actual evidence. They use the same links to reinforce their circular arguments, which shows circular reasoning. Evolutionists believe in evolution for no other reason than they feel it to be true and like to spread their misery to others. Darwin allows them to justify anything they wish and, as was the case with Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Robespierre, etc., can never really call evil by its name. If man is nothing more than animals, then you cannot judge anyone for acting like animals. BobRyan
I would bet that there are more computer scientists and mathematicians studying evolutionary biology than rejecting it. I have to agree that mathematicians are brighter than biologists, if only because I don't want to be defenestrated in the department meeting at lunchtime. Bob O'H
Computer scientists and mathematicians tend to be much brighter than biologists, so it's no surprise that they'd be able to comprehend things the latter can't. Biologists aren't smart enough to see just how dumb Darwinism is. Jammer
If that is the standard that we hold everybody to then why does Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne have an opinion on anything religious, why did Steven Hawkins think that he had an opinion on philosophy? There are many people that step outside of their professions and voice they’re very unprofessional professional opinion on subjects Maybe when Richard Dawkins makes his comments he tries to tie them to some forms of biology making him seem like his opinion is valid and therefore he’s not overstepping his bounds however you can do the same with computer science as well and this is a very common tactic for trying to explain the human brain Try describing the human brain without the IP metaphor Even neurologists can’t do that very well and they’re supposed to be experts in the brain. Interesting given the fact that computer science and computers did not proceed the brain But I did digress, My point is just because you can draw parallels to one subject doesn’t make you an expert in it and it also doesn’t qualify your opinion So I would agree that people should not step outside their professions, it’s really too bad that most of them do Finally, experts can also be very wrong in the things that they are supposed to be experts about and their opinion would be invalid this is happened for centuries and it’s one aspect in how science works So don’t write off somebody’s viewpoint or perspective because they’re not supposedly an expert in the field and less you hold everyone to that standard and if you do good AaronS1978
And argument from authority is devoid of substance and irrelevant. Also it should be easy to refute what he says, seeing he doesn't know anything... ET
Yale professor Gelernter is a computer scientist, not a biologist, hence his opinion on biology-related issues are devoid of authority and irrelevant. PavelU

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