Darwinism Education Evolution Intelligent Design Science

INTELLIGENT DESIGN BOOK DELIVERS BLOW TO DARWIN; CRACKS AMAZON.COM BEST SELLER LIST IN SCIENCE

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Anika Smith, of the Discovery Institute, brings us exciting new information:

SEATTLE, WA – Despite Darwinist’s attempts to suppress the debate over evolution, a new book about the controversial theory of intelligent design made Amazon.com’s list of the year’s Top 10 bestselling books in science, just as the world marks 150 years since Charles Darwin published his own theory in his landmark book On the Origin of Species.

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne) by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer is entering its fifth printing in as many months, and continues to sell strongly both online and in stores, reports the book’s publisher. According to Amazon.com, books on its 2009 list of best sellers are ranked according to customer orders through October. Only books published for the first time in 2009 are eligible.

“Darwin is mistakenly thought to have killed the design argument in science,” said Robert Crowther, director of communications at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, which is the intelligent design research program directed by Dr. Meyer. Now, here’s a book about the science of intelligent design that shows how the design argument is being revived with powerful new arguments relevant to our culture.

By using the same method of reasoning that Darwin himself used, Dr. Meyer explains how intelligent design can be formulated as a rigorous scientific argument. In Signature in the Cell Dr. Meyer shows that the digital code embedded in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence and helps unravel a mystery that Darwin did not address: how did the very first life begin?

59 Replies to “INTELLIGENT DESIGN BOOK DELIVERS BLOW TO DARWIN; CRACKS AMAZON.COM BEST SELLER LIST IN SCIENCE

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    What a coincidence! I just put up a video of Dr. Meyer:

    The Scientific Basis For the Intelligent Design Inference Dr. Stephen Meyer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krxij8OvsYM

    further note from video descript:

    Here Is A Site Where You Can Order Dr. Meyer’s New Book: Signature In The Cell (Amazon Top Ten Best Seller)
    http://www.signatureinthecell.com/

    It should be clearly pointed out that we know, for 100% certainty, that Intelligence can generate functional information i.e. irreducible complexity. We generate a large amount of functional information, which is well beyond the reach of the random processes of the universe, every time we write a single page of a letter (+700 Fits average). The true question we should be asking is this, “Can totally natural processes ever generate functional information?”, especially since totally natural processes have never been observed generating functional information from scratch (Kirk Durston).

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – David L Abel and Jack T Trevors:
    Excerpt: Genetic algorithms instruct sophisticated biological organization. Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC). FSC alone provides algorithmic instruction…No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization…It is only in researching the pre-RNA world that the problem of single-stranded metabolically functional sequencing of ribonucleotides (or their analogs) becomes acute.
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/c.....2-2-29.pdf

    Ben Stein – EXPELLED – The Complexity of the Cell – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yibucli2drc

    10 Ways Darwin Got It Wrong
    Excerpt: As molecular biologist Jonathan Wells and mathematician William Dembski point out: Its true that eukaryotic cells are the most complicated cells we know. But the simplest life forms we know, the prokaryotic cells (such as bacteria, which lack a nucleus), are themselves immensely complex.,,, There is no evidence whatsoever of earlier, more primitive life forms from which prokaryotes might have evolved (How to Be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or Not), 2008, p. 4). These authors then mention what these two types of cells share in terms of complexity:
    • Information processing, storage and retrieval.
    • Artificial languages and their decoding systems.
    • Error detection, correction and proofreading devices for quality control.
    • Digital data-embedding technology.
    • Transportation and distribution systems.
    • Automated parcel addressing (similar to zip codes and UPS labels).
    • Assembly processes employing pre-fabrication and modular construction.
    • Self-reproducing robotic manufacturing plants.
    So it turns out that cells are far more complex and sophisticated than Darwin could have conceived of. How did mere chance produce this, when even human planning and engineering cannot?
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-wrong.htm

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blogspot.com/

  2. 2

    Congrats to Dr. Meyer!

    I finished reading the book a week or so ago. It was very informative and a delight to read.

  3. 3
    howard says:

    That is, indeed, superb news. It really touches on something that I’ve thought for the last decade – that the real debate is only just beginning; there is a great deal more to be realized, so the ramifications may take another generation to begin to seep into many of the key fields of our society.

  4. 4
    JDH says:

    Just finished the main portion of the book and have the epilogue and apendixes to go.. which I will complete tonight.

    What a great book. It is an easy read and ( from my biased point of view ) has no holes in its arguments. All of the attacks I have seen against it stink of ad hominem ad nauseum. They just can not defeat it on substance.

  5. 5
    Retroman says:

    I bet this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Undoubtedly this will bring down the edifice that is the theory of evolution once and for all!

  6. 6
    CannuckianYankee says:

    I think much can be said of the positive demeanor and civility with which Dr. Meyer has presented his case for ID, in addition to his exquisite expertise in the area of origins research, which appears to be producing a dramatic shift in scientific interests (as this list suggests). Let’s hope the momentum continues, and that others (on both sides of the debate) learn from his example.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    I’m reading this intelligently written book on my intelligently designed Kindle.

  8. 8
    Granville Sewell says:

    My congratulations to Dr. Meyer also. It’s an excellent book.

  9. 9
    JGuy says:

    Retroman. In reference to your sarcasm.

    Even though evolution is criticised often here, it is done so as a matter of convenience to reference particular kinds of evolution.

    ID doesn’t oppose evolution per se, it opposes the kinds of unguided evolution that lack foresight – like Darwinian evolution.

    Read the title of the posting carefully.

  10. 10

    Dr. Meyer’s book is confined virtually entirely to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of prokaryotic cellular structure and function. Virtually all of the empirical evidence indicates that this happened between 4.5 and 3.9 billion years ago, and left absolutely no trace in the geological record.

    Ergo, regardless of the outcome of the debate over Dr. Meyer’s book, it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code, nor is it very likely that we will ever have direct empirical evidence either verifying or falsifying Dr. Meyer’s hypotheses.

    In other words, even if one grants Dr. Meyer’s arguments (which I do not), they don’t affect evolutionary biology at all, as it is based on observations of things that are either already alive or were once so.

    Even my loyal opponents from the Cornell IDEA Club (now sadly defunct) admitted that this was the case at the conclusion of our “evolution and design” seminar in the summer of 2006. And we all agreed (including all but one of the most ardent ID supporters) that Darwin’s theory (as presented in the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man did not include a proposed hypothesis about the origin of life, or the origin of the genetic code, or the origin of cellular structure and function (which was virtually unknown in Darwin’s time).

    As a writer, I congratulate Dr. Meyer for his accomplishments — writing a book is not easy, and writing a best-seller is even harder. As an evolutionary biologist, however, I question its relevance to any branch of modern evolutionary biology.

  11. 11
    Gods iPod says:

    Excellent, hopefully this will mean an audio version will be forthcoming.

  12. 12
    Retroman says:

    I wasn’t being sarcastic. I want to read this book.

  13. 13
    Arthur Hunt says:

    Having grown up scientifically in the third decade of the post-W&C era, and been taught by the generation that discovered the nature of heredity and gene expression, I found Meyer’s account of these developments to be, um, interesting. I think autobiographical historical fiction is a good description of this book. (I’ve got news for the IDsts here – design, God, and religion were not much, if at all, in the thoughts of the people who unraveled the nature of genetics. To insert ID into the history of biology as Meyer does is to re-write this history so much as to end up with a piece of fiction.)

    Not surprisingly, Meyer totally ignores a body or work (search term – Yarus) that refutes quite completely his (otherwise unsupported by any manner of scientific evidence) claims about the nature of the genetic code.

    Meyer is also quite blessedly ignorant of the field of protein structure, function, and evolution. There is much, much more to this field than the work of Axe (who Meyer relies on very heavily, even though Axe’s work does not support the ID party line) and Behe. Many other studies that refute the ID claims in no uncertain terms.

    It’s quite ironic that Meyer waxes in admiration of the so-called “RNA code” in the Epilogue. As I have explained in another thread here, regulation by small RNAs is the very antithesis of ID, in that it makes many macroevolutionary processes quite accessible (moreso even than the friendly-to-evolution landscape of protein functionality) to random and natural processes. (Some of the basis for this statement may be found here.)

    It’s also revealing to see how Meyer ignores what is arguably half (or more) of the whole of gene expression and regulation. For someone who tries to pass himself off as a serious scholar, this omission is a bit troubling. (I’ll be coy and leave it to the audience to figure out what I am talking about.)

    Other than these facts (that pretty much make the whole book irrelevant when it comes to biology and evolution), it was interesting to read about the reality that exists in Meyer’s mind.

  14. 14
    deric davidson says:

    Unintelligent, undirected, chance processes have produced intelligent results (rational, creative humans for starters) according to Darwinism. Can anyone give me examples of this from their experience of the natural world? This takes as much “faith” as belief in God does it not?

  15. 15
    faded_Glory says:

    Once I was but a fertilised egg, now I am a fully grown human and hopefully somewhat rational and creative. To the best of our knowledge, the process that got me from there to here is unintelligent, unguided other than by the laws of nature, and to some extent subject to chance (as in stochastic processes).

    Will this do for you?

    fG

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    fG, you stated:

    Once I was but a fertilised egg, now I am a fully grown human and hopefully somewhat rational and creative. To the best of our knowledge, the process that got me from there to here is unintelligent, unguided other than by the laws of nature,

    I have to ask you, since no one really has a clue where Body Plan (ontogenetic) information is stored, or coming from, within the genome how can you make such a sweeping statement as to the nature of it?

  17. 17
    lcd says:

    Excellent summary of the book.

    I was wondering what to get a few of my nieces and nephews on both mine and my wife’s side of the families.

    Now they can start to study the other side of Darwin.

  18. 18
    mynym says:

    I bet this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Undoubtedly this will bring down the edifice that is the theory of evolution once and for all!

    There is no theory of evolution. Evolution is generally rooted in unspecified hypothetical goo which is as unfalsifiable as other creation myths. To the extent that it has been specified in the Darwinian “theory” of evolution, which is to say very little*, it has been both verified and falsified.

    *

    Charles Darwin surely ranks as the most genial of history’s geniuses-possessing none of those bristling quirks and arrogance that usually mark the type. Yet, one subject invariably aroused his closest approach to fury-the strawman claim, so often advanced by his adversaries, that he regarded natural selection as an exclusive mode of change in evolution. (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen J. Gould :147)

    Or perhaps Darwin did not have the temperament of a genius because he was not a genius. The equivalent is Newton specifying his theory of gravity by asserting, “But sometimes it does not apply.” Of course it may not apply but if it does not then that is a falsification. Unfortunately with Darwin we’re a long way from genius so his “theory” was generally as soft as his personality. That’s why despite his specification of the theory of natural selection he spends much of his time, perhaps the majority, on pseudo-science combined with theological and philosophical arguments in “one long argument” about creation myths. There is no theory of evolution in the first place, therefore it cannot be “brought down” based on science.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    fg:

    Once I was but a fertilised egg, now I am a fully grown human and hopefully somewhat rational and creative.

    Now this is an interesting comment.

    Now you are a “fully grown human.”

    This seems to acknowldge that you were a human when you were but a fertilized egg.

    If not, when did you make the transition from non-human to human such that you could begin the process of becoming a fully grown human.

  20. 20
    waterbear says:

    Well done to Dr Meyer and long may his work remain in the bestseller lists. I’ve just ordered 4 copies for Christmas gifts, which should help.

  21. 21
    DLH says:

    At Amazon Myers Signature in the Cell is ranked:
    #1 in Books > Science > Physics > Cosmology

    #1 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Creationism

    #2 in Books > Science > Astronomy

    Now how do persuade Amazon to rank this under “Intelligent Design” rather than “Creationism”?

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    To insert ID into the history of biology as Meyer does is to re-write this history so much as to end up with a piece of fiction.
    I didn’t get the sense that Meyer was re-writing history to turn Watson, Crick, etc. into nascent design theorists.

    Unless you mean that implying that someone wasn’t guided by evolutionary theory in coming up with the structure of the DNA molecule is tantamount to fashioning them into a design theorist.

  23. 23
    Tim says:

    Allen @ 10,

    Dr. MacNeill, I was wondering if you would care to comment about the content of the book, not all that you are comfortable with surrounding, but not part of, what Dr. Meyer wrote about.

    For example, you wrote,
    Ergo, regardless of the outcome of the debate over Dr. Meyer’s book, it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code, nor is it very likely that we will ever have direct empirical evidence either verifying or falsifying Dr. Meyer’s hypotheses.

    In other words, even if one grants Dr. Meyer’s arguments (which I do not). . .

    in which you mentioned his hypotheses and arguments. I am curious to know which inferences drawn by Dr. Meyer you find to be unpersuasive. Also, where in the book has he gone wrong in argument or hypothesis that caused his inference to be lacking? I am glad you took the time to read the book. However, it just seems lame to me (on your part) to write about a lack of “direct empirical evidence” as if that ends Dr. Meyer’s argument.

    While it is technically true that there is currently no direct empirical evidence from that part of the Earth’s history, a lack of direct empirical evidence hasn’t stopped us from “trusting” in atoms, quarks, and other very very smallish little thingies that apparently hold us together (not to mention a host of biological constructs). To borrow your phrase, “in other words,” it is not exactly a showstopper.

    Why argue against the inference he drew in this way? It is indirect. I am “a suck”(sic) at biology but found his explanations to be straightforward and to lead inexorably to a reasoned inference. Thus, I didn’t find your comments about what he didn’t examine to be very helpful in moving the conversation forward. You participate here to sharpen us, no?

    Again: Where, IN the book, did he go wrong?

    Hunt @13

    Your statement belies a most confused understanding of God and religion in Meyer’s account of his personal journey concerning intelligent design vs. his account of the development of genetic theory. As I have previously mentioned, I “am suck!”(sic) at biology, but even I could tease apart the philosophical from the scientific as Dr. Meyer proceeded.

    As for Yarus, proteins, and RNA, spell it out!! Move the conversation forward. I am glad that you also carefully read the book; I bet Dr. Meyer is, too. He seems like an honest guy who’d like mistakes fixed in the second edition. Based on how it is selling. . . looks like there will be one.

    Gentlemen,

    CLARITY!!

  24. 24
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Mung,

    I’m pretty sure that Mr faded_Glory was human as an egg! 😉 But even if he was a chicken, his process of development seems to have been inexorably natural.

  25. 25
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Arthur Hunt,

    “I found Meyer’s account of these developments to be, um, interesting. I think autobiographical historical fiction is a good description of this book. (I’ve got news for the IDsts here – design, God, and religion were not much, if at all, in the thoughts of the people who unraveled the nature of genetics. To insert ID into the history of biology as Meyer does is to re-write this history so much as to end up with a piece of fiction.)”

    First of all, my and your knowledge of what went through the minds of the people who unravelled the nature of genetics is probably lacking any verifiable evidence except for perhaps what they wrote.

    I didn’t perceive Meyer as attempting to interject a religious POV into the minds of any of these people. He writes merely about his own speculations on the matter of origins, while relying on the evidences that others had discovered. I.e., he made inferences based on research from a number of areas, but did not assume that those doing such research agreed with ID. If I’m reading you correctly, you’re suggesting just the opposite.

    Allen MacNeill,

    Hello again. You stated,

    “Dr. Meyer’s book is confined virtually entirely to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of prokaryotic cellular structure and function. Virtually all of the empirical evidence indicates that this happened between 4.5 and 3.9 billion years ago, and left absolutely no trace in the geological record.

    Ergo, regardless of the outcome of the debate over Dr. Meyer’s book, it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code, nor is it very likely that we will ever have direct empirical evidence either verifying or falsifying Dr. Meyer’s hypotheses.”

    I’m not certain if you are correctly identifying the major point of Meyer’s book. He’s arguing that Darwinian theories must consider the origin of complex specified information and the probabilities of it arising by chance and necessity, or by chance, necessity and selection alone. He accurately points out that Darwinian theories do not touch on this issue, yet insist on the chance necessity and selection alone argument without empirical evidence. He strongly argues that Darwinian theorists beg the question – they take for granted the prior existence of this complex information without asking how it arose in the first place.

    Meyer then gives a strong argument for design as the best explanation based on what we already know about how complex structures arise artificially.

    I find it interesting that Darwinian theorists use artificial computer models in an attempt to demonstrate Darwinian processes, while at the same time ID theorists take those same models as a prime example of design. Who is right here? Any guesses?

    It’s easy to dismiss the issue by stating that because it happened so long ago, and because we have so little empirical evidence, we will never know. I can’t help thinking that this is a cop-out for refusing to consider a legitimate argument for design.

  26. 26
    johnnyb says:

    Allen –

    “Dr. Meyer’s book is confined virtually entirely to the origin of life, the origin of the genetic code, and the origin of prokaryotic cellular structure and function…Ergo, regardless of the outcome of the debate over Dr. Meyer’s book, it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code”

    The problem with this statement is that most evolutionary theory assumes that the origin of life is simple, and that complexity came later. This is an assumption for which there is little evidence. Trilobites are quite amazing creatures. They probably developed by molting and had an overall amazing anatomy. The only reason to consider these (or any other creature – including single-celled organisms) as primitive is because of our view of the origin of life.

    If, instead, we view the origin of life as being designed, there is no longer any reason to hold on to the assumption that it was simple. This means that the possibilities for how the plethora of organisms developed from that have now increased.

    If we no longer have the assumption that the information had to have developed (since it could have been designed). It could be that phylogeny is actually a planetary ontogeny from an initial organism.

    As you can see, when you remove the assumption that the beginning was simple, it opens up a HUGE set of possibilities that were previously unconsidered, because our thinking was needlessly constrained by an assumption of what the origin of life was like.

  27. 27
    Arthur Hunt says:

    CannulianYankee @ #25:

    I didn’t perceive Meyer as attempting to interject a religious POV into the minds of any of these people. He writes merely about his own speculations on the matter of origins, while relying on the evidences that others had discovered. I.e., he made inferences based on research from a number of areas, but did not assume that those doing such research agreed with ID. If I’m reading you correctly, you’re suggesting just the opposite.

    I’m not saying that Meyer was injecting any religious POV into those who unraveled the nature of genes and gene expression, but rather that he is inventing a backdrop – a tension between design and no design – where none existed. For example, he does this by conflating the meanings of the word information. As used by biologists, it is a colloquial and informal term that has nothing to do with information theory, and especially nothing to do with the ID usage of the word. Thus, for biologists, the nature and origins of genetic information are matters of chemistry, and there has never been the dichotomy that Meyer repeatedly implies.

    Tim @ #23, I have spelled out my ideas and objections re: proteins, RNA, and the origins of the genetic code. The links I provided are a good starting point; it’s much better to use this tool than cut and paste lengthy essays into comment boxes here.

  28. 28
    Frost122585 says:

    Meyer’s book is the best ID book written to date. I ma so happy that lots of people are reading it because it clears up all of the fallacious philosophical and scientific objections by militant, ignorant and closed minded atheists and materialists.

  29. 29
    JDH says:

    I for one am sick and tired of evolutionary biologists dodging the issue of origin of life.

    Allen, I respect your erudite and calm tone, but how do you expect to get away with statements like

    Ergo, regardless of the outcome of the debate over Dr. Meyer’s book, it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code, nor is it very likely that we will ever have direct empirical evidence either verifying or falsifying Dr. Meyer’s hypotheses.

    And then dismissing the entire book with a simple “(which I don’t)”.

    The origin of life debate has everything to do with evolutionary biology. Let’s face it, evolutionary biology is basically a long standing argument that somehow complex information can be built up without guidance or intelligent input. However, if there was an enormous amount of intelligent input right at the very beginning, then it is very difficult to separate out what in evolution is due to unguided chance, and what is still an effect of the incredible amount of information that was injected into life at the beginning.

    First, is it possible that so-called evolution is just the natural effect of the initial information dump playing itself out over millions of years? Then it can hardly be called “unguided”.

    Second, if an intelligence dumped a lot of information into life at the beginning, then how come he can’t do it at several key points in time also.

    Keeping that party line going the “evolution has nothing to do with origin of life” is just baloney.

  30. 30
    JDH says:

    JDH –

    Shorter analogous version of the above. Given a differential equation, what has more effect on the current trajectory of the solution, the parameters in the equation or the initial conditions? I think the proper answer is “it depends”. But what does it depend on… “the initial conditions”.

    Stop saying the initial conditions do not matter. How important they are depends on what they are.

  31. 31
    Collin says:

    Allen said: “it has virtually no bearing on the evolution of life since the origin of living cells and the genetic code,”

    Are you saying that the origin of life has no bearing on the evolution of life later? That the question of how life began and in what manner, has no bearing on how it evolved later?

  32. 32
    Innerbling says:

    I haven’t read the book but I do agree with some of the Hunt’s criticism in part that it’s too early to tell whether the namespace of genetic code is plastic or not to produce functional folds. Pattern search algorithms that work by using induction tells us that to draw conclusions from too little data will lead astray.
    But what Hunt forgets is that it’s not enough to produce ANY functional fold but a specific functionality of replication, resource consumption, dna repair etc has to be found all at the same time. Until it’s shown that major part of the namespace of genetic code produces replication functionality etc. that is needed for the first life to emerge the improbability problem remains.
    And if biologists really think that origins research is only chemistry and has nothing to do with information generation they will never have any hope for rigorous theory or even hypothesis. I really don’t understand Hunt’s statement on post 27.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    Art:

    I’m not saying that Meyer was injecting any religious POV into those who unraveled the nature of genes and gene expression, but rather that he is inventing a backdrop – a tension between design and no design – where none existed.

    This tension has existed for ages. Art’s position is, that if the scientist does not formally acknowledge the tension, it doesn’t exist. Well, that’s just absurd.

    What we can be sure of, is that no principle of evolutionary biology led to these discoveries. It is convenient to say that “design” had nothing to do with it, but that is disingenuous.

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    Art:

    As used by biologists, it is a colloquial and informal term that has nothing to do with information theory, and especially nothing to do with the ID usage of the word. Thus, for biologists, the nature and origins of genetic information are matters of chemistry, and there has never been the dichotomy that Meyer repeatedly implies.

    And this is simply false.

    Most biologists, when they use the term “information” don’t even consider how their usage of it relates to “the ID usage of the word.” (As if the “ID usage” is somehow different.)

    So biologists use the term as “a colloquial and informal term” and this is different from “the ID usage of the word.” Pray tell, how? Biologists use it “unscientifically” whereas ID uses it “soientifically”? LOL!

    When biologists use the term “information,” they do so in order to communicate a certain concept. Now, to be sure, there are certain “scientific” usages of a term which are not the same as the colloquial usage, but I fail to see how Art has made his case that the usage of “information” is one of them.

    So what, and I think we are entitled to ask this, do biologists mean to communicate when they use the term “information”?

    When Arthur Hunt claims that “the nature and origins of genetic information are matters of chemistry,” what on earth is he talking about?

    And when Art goes on to claim that for all biologists, “the nature and origins of genetic information are matters of chemistry,” does he provide any evidence that this is indeed the case? Does he give us any reason/b> whatsoever to believe that his pronouncements are true? No.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    I just can’t let this go, yet.

    Arthur Hunt would have us believe that biologists, when they use the term “information,” do so for no good reason.

    I cannot believe this, and I suspect that the biologists who use the term would also reject the claim that they do so for no good reason.

    Art is mistaken to think that a “colloquial and informal” usage of a term, by some weird stretch of the imagination, makes the term meaningless, and that those who use the term in a “colloquial and informal” manner intend thereby, that the term be meaningless.

    Lacunae: Arthur Hunt implies that biologists, when they use the term information, mean it in a “colloquial and informal” way.

    What Art fails to tell us is what biologists do mean, when they use the term “information”.

    I’m not ashamed to say that I think the “oversight” is intentional. I don’t think that Art has a clue what biologists mean when they use the term, and is thus reduced to claiming that they use it in a ” “colloquial and informal” way, whatever taht means.

  36. 36
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Mung,

    I think you could have skipped the high dudgeon and gone straight to asking Dr Hunt for examples.

  37. 37
    Mung says:

    I think you could have skipped the high dudgeon and gone straight to asking Dr Hunt for examples.

    But why rob me of my fun? 😉

    I don’t bother asking Art for examples because I know that he has none. Why don’t you ask him for examples?

    Seriously, instead of composing a post to me, asking me to request examples, why not ask him yourself? Afraid of being labeled a creationist?

    How should we frame this request?

    Art, please provide us with examples of biologists using the term “information” along with the evidence which substantiates the claim, that in each case in which they have employed the term, they meant it only in a “colloquial and informal” way.

    OK, Arthur Hunt, biologists use the term “information”, but when they use the term, they only mean to use it in an informal and colloquial sense.

    Present your case.

    p.s. Nakashima, he wont. he cant.

  38. 38
    Voice Coil says:

    In comment #18 mynym quoted Gould:

    Charles Darwin surely ranks as the most genial of history’s geniuses-possessing none of those bristling quirks and arrogance that usually mark the type. Yet, one subject invariably aroused his closest approach to fury-the strawman claim, so often advanced by his adversaries, that he regarded natural selection as an exclusive mode of change in evolution. (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen J. Gould :147

    mynym concludes:

    The equivalent is Newton specifying his theory of gravity by asserting, “But sometimes it does not apply.” Of course it may not apply but if it does not then that is a falsification.

    It is worth reproducing the balance of the passage from Gould (all contained in a footnote, BTW):

    Darwin, who understood so well that natural history works by relative frequency, explicitly denied exclusivity and argued only for dominance. So frustrated did he become at the almost willful misunderstanding of a point so clearly made, that he added this rueful line to the 6th edition of the Origin (1872b, p. 395): “As my conclusions have lately been much misrepresented, and it has been stated that I attribute the modification of species exclusively to natural selection, I may be permitted to remark that in the first edition of this work, and subsequently, I placed in a most conspicuous position – namely a the close of the Introduction – the following words: ‘I am convinced that natural selection has been the main, but not the exclusive means of modification.’ This has been of no avail. Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.”

    The apt analogy vis Darwin and Newton is to mistakenly attribute to Newton the assertion that events in the natural world exclusively reflect the operation of gravitation, and then claim that the discovery of further lawful physical relationships “is a falsification” of his mathematical description of gravitation. Newton did not assert such exclusivity, a fact that did not diminish the importance of his contribution. Nor did Darwin assert that natural selection was exclusive, a fact that similarly did not diminish the importance of Origin, and in fact strengthened his essential contribution. Indeed, this theoretical plurality, and Gould’s extension of it, is absolutely the the central theme of the 1,400 page Structure of Evolutionary Theory. It’s hard to miss.

    “Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.”

  39. 39
    Arthur Hunt says:

    Three comments in one block:

    I agree with the sentiments here that are critical of Allen for dismissing discussion of the OOL. Meyer’s book is wanting in this respect, since it is a disappointing combination of “we don’t know, or the experiment has not been done, therefore design” and of actual misinformation (Hmm… did I just do a sort of pun…..???) I apologize for the lack of specifics in this comment, but it’s going to be long enough. Post a request on my blog (maybe using the following link) and I would be glad to elaborate. That way, Clive doesn’t have to hover over his computer screen all weekend to keep this discussion moving.

    Innerbling, I would agree that one or more of the first biomolecules would have to have some sort of ability to be replicated. However, as I discuss this essay, I am not sure that self-replication is necessary. One idea of mine is inspired by this paper, and the interesting realization (unrelated to the linked paper) that nucleotidyltransferases may be little more than a couple of carboxyls that coordinate divalent metal ions. Along these lines (but not directly – I’m disclosing some unpublished ideas here, so you have to be able to connect them on your own), an intriguing Pubmed search term is GADV.

    Mung, go to Pubmed, search for “genetic information”, and then tell me how many of the 5000+ studies you find use the term information in the ID sense – that is, equating it with CSI, FCSI, Shannon information, or any other strictly mathematical manifestation. Please relay to us your results (as a percentage – how many abstracts or papers you read, whether they were randomly selected, and how many use the term as do IDists). I maintain that the percentage will be in the low single digits.

    Finally, an apology. CannuckianYankee, as you can see from my earlier response to you, typing is not a strength (or even a skill) of mine.

  40. 40
    Joseph says:

    Allen MacNeill,

    The origin of life and the genetic code has a direct bearing on this debate for the simple reason that if living organisms did not arise from non-living matter via blind and unguided processes then tnere would be no reason to infer the subsequent diversity arose solely due to blind and undirected processes.

  41. 41
    Joseph says:

    Arthur Hunt,

    Through all your whining you still cannot produce any evidence of mutations accumulating in such a way as to give rise to new and useful protein machinery nor new body plans.

    The best you have to offer is genetic engineering and a malfunction brought on by artificial selection.

    Also it appears that you still don’t understand the debate.

    You are just a sad state of affairs and you appear to be proud of it.

  42. 42
    Joseph says:

    Arthur Hunt’s strawman:

    This is the best way to appreciate that this one pillar of ID thought, that new protein-coding genes cannot arise by “natural” means, is an illusion.

    Too bad ID doesn’t say that Art.

    ID says that existing CSI can give rise to other CSI.

    Dembski stated exactly that in “No Free Lunch”.

    As for gene duplications- well Dr Spetner addressed that in 1997.

    Perhaps you should actually learn about something BEFORE trying to refute it.

  43. 43
    Joseph says:

    Voice Coil-

    Darwin should understand misrepresentation- he did exactly that by claiming the “opposition” adhered to the fixity of species.

  44. 44
    Joseph says:

    I would add the following to what Arthur Hunt posted:

    Go to PubMed and search for “genetic information” and then tell me how many of the 5000+ studies you find demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it.

    Also had Art read “Signature in the Cell” he would have read that Dr Meyers does not use “information” in any strictly mathematical sense.

    He uses the standard and accepted definition right out of a dictionary:

    the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects

    See page 86 og Signature…

  45. 45
    Voice Coil says:

    Joseph said:

    Darwin should understand misrepresentation- he did exactly that by claiming the “opposition” adhered to the fixity of species.

    In the Preface of the sixth edition of Origin we find the observation that “Until recently the great majority of naturalists believed that species were immutable productions, and had been separately created. This view has been ably maintained by many authors.”

    However, this is followed by an extensive review of the history of the notion that species change, and therefore do not exhibit “fixity.” Darwin summarized the views (all pre-Origin) of Aristotle, Lamark, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, W.C. Wells, W. Herbert, Grant, Patrick Matthew, Von Buch, Rafinesque, Haldeman, d’Halloy, Owen, Saint-Hilaire, Freke, Herbert Spencer, Naudin, Keyserling, Schaaffhausen, Lecoq, Powell, Von Baer, Huxley, and Hooker. All advocated the idea of change and sometimes descent with modification, and several, Darwin explicitly noted, identified natural selection as an engine of that change.

  46. 46
    Joseph says:

    Voice Coil,

    That is the point. Darwin was confused.

    He was arguing against something- the fixity of species- that was not adhered to by his time. Look up Carolus Linnaeus.

    Also Blythe wrote about natural selection well before Darwin did.

  47. 47
    Voice Coil says:

    Joseph said:

    That is the point. Darwin was confused.

    You’ll have to make yourself more clear. I see no confusion, nor misrepresentation, in Darwin’s prefatory exposition.

    Here’s a link to the Preface of the 6th edition of Origin. In which passages do you find confusion, or misrepresentation?

    http://www.literature.org/auth.....eface.html

  48. 48
    Mung says:

    Mung, go to Pubmed, search for “genetic information”, and then tell me how many of the 5000+ studies you find use the term information in the ID sense – that is, equating it with CSI, FCSI, Shannon information, or any other strictly mathematical manifestation. Please relay to us your results (as a percentage – how many abstracts or papers you read, whether they were randomly selected, and how many use the term as do IDists). I maintain that the percentage will be in the low single digits.

    Art, are you telling us that in over 5000+ papers you cannot find a rigorous definition of information and that in each and every one, when the term “information” is used, it is always used as “a colloquial and informal term”?

    Let’s not forget that I did write:

    Most biologists, when they use the term “information” don’t even consider how their usage of it relates to “the ID usage of the word.”

    I guess Art agrees.

    The point is, which 5000+ papers can only support, is that when the term is used in biology, it is used for a reason, and that reason is that the term communicates something to the reader.

    Information in biology is real and therefore requires an explanation.

  49. 49
    faded_Glory says:

    Mung and Nakashima, I am both human and chicken, and will therefore not pursue this side conversation for fear of where it might lead.

    fG

  50. 50
    Innerbling says:

    Let me be more specific what I mean by improbability problem. Even if hypothetical scenario of emergence of conglomerated protocells would be proven to happen in the wild all the time from non-living matter this would only provide a platform for a blind search trials for the first working and DNA based cell.
    Because it’s a blind search IMHO only options for finding a credible origins theory for DNA based life are:

    1)Namespace of DNA is filled with working arrangements or “life sequences”
    2)The basic functionality or “life sequence” can be reached from a relatively short namespace
    3)There are enough trials to go through the namespace in less than 1B years
    4)Self-organization by some physical law
    5)Intelligence

  51. 51
    Mung says:

    I am both human and chicken,

    Finally we have a completely rational explanation for all the eggs you lay here.

  52. 52
    Mung says:

    Also, Art, the use of the term “information” as used in biology is in no way limited to that which is in the genome.

    There are information-processing systems, signals, signal transduction pathways, etc.

    If biology is ever to join the true sciences, biologists better get busy in the field of information theory.

    As far as your prior claim, look up Hubert Yockey. I’d think you’d be aware of him.

  53. 53
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: If biology is ever to join the true sciences, biologists better get busy in the field of information theory.

    Bioinformatics and Computational Biology are well-developed fields of research. How do you think they process all the new genomic data? Just finding a parsimonious phylogenetic tree is a huge computational task. Bioinformaticians work very closely with mathematicians and computer scientists to utilize the most advanced methods of information analysis.

  54. 54
    Joseph says:

    Zachriel:

    Bioinformatics and Computational Biology are well-developed fields of research.

    So what?

    Can either of them account for the software (in living organisms) that controls the hardware (that make up living organisms)?

    IOW can either of those “well developed foelds of research” demonstrate that biological information is reducible to matter, energy, chance and necessity?

    And if they did how did they do so?

    Or are you just/ still posting things that don’t support your claims as if they support your claims?

  55. 55
    Joseph says:

    VC:

    I see no confusion, nor misrepresentation, in Darwin’s prefatory exposition.

    And I see no reason to explain things to you that are undisputed history.

  56. 56
    Mung says:

    Bioinformatics and Computational Biology are well-developed fields of research.

    Yes, they are. But they aren’t what you apparently think they are either.

    It is debatable whether bioinformatics and the discipline computational biology, literally “biology that involves computation,” are the same or distinct. To some, both bioinformatics and computational biology are defined as any use of computers for processing any biologically-derived information, whether DNA sequences or breast X-rays. Therefore, there are other fields, e.g. medical imaging / image analysis, that might be considered part of bioinformatics. This would be the broadest definition of the term. But, in practice, the definition used by most people is even narrower; bioinformatics to them is a synonym for computational molecular biology: any use of computers to characterize the molecular components of living things.
    here

    Over the past few decades, major advances in the field of molecular biology, coupled with advances in genomic technologies, have led to an explosive growth in the biological information generated by the scientific community. This deluge of genomic information has, in turn, led to an absolute requirement for computerized databases to store, organize, and index the data and for specialized tools to view and analyze the data.
    here

    You might say, it’s information about information.

    Bioinformatics is the application of information technology to the field of molecular biology.
    here

    Information technology, not information theory.

    I’m looking for the theoretical basis for this stuff they are studying that they call “information.”

    What is it, how is it generated and lost, where does it come from, what is it capable of, how is it transmitted, received, processed and what are the general principles and laws that apply to it. You know science

    “Informal and colloqiual” isn’t an excuse for not doing science.

  57. 57
    Mung says:

    Here’s some publications that Art claims do not exist:

    Publications by Hubert P. Yockey, Ph.D.

    Books

    Yockey, Hubert P. (2005) Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life. Cambridge University Press.

    Yockey, Hubert P. (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, Cambridge University Press.

    Yockey, Hubert P.; Platzman, Robert P.; and Quastler, Henry, eds. (1958) Symposium on Information Theory in Biology, New York, London: Pergamon Press.

  58. 58
    Voice Coil says:

    Joseph said:

    And I see no reason to explain things to you that are undisputed history.

    OK. Some things just can’t be explained.

  59. 59
    Mung says:

    fg:

    Once I was but a fertilised egg, now I am a fully grown human and hopefully somewhat rational and creative.

    fg:

    I am both human and chicken, and will therefore not pursue this side conversation for fear of where it might lead.

    Are you a fully grown chicken, or one still in the process of development?

    Is it the chicken in you that makes you rational and creative?

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