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Lawrence Krauss’ Monumental Blunder(s)

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In tonight’s “What’s Behind It All? God, Science, and the Universe,” debate, the topic of protein evolution induced a long sequence of blunders. Lawrence Krauss attempted to compare a protein to a snowflake. If snowflakes spontaneously arise, then why not protein-coding genes? When Stephen Meyer called him on his absurdity, Krauss doubled down, making the ludicrous claim that there is “a lot of information” in a snowflake, and that Shannon’s information theorem would tell you that.  Read more

47 Replies to “Lawrence Krauss’ Monumental Blunder(s)

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    I knew it was going to be a fantastic debate when Krauss started out by making sure the audience knew he was lured there under a false pretext, that he never would have agreed to debate with Meyer or anyone else from the Discovery Institute, and that he could not take either of his debate partners seriously.

    What a poster child for science (so called).

  2. 2

    Krauss has already debated someone from the DI. Berlinski.

    Maybe others as well.

  3. 3

    Krauss says a snowflake contains information. Here is a sought-after American spokesperson, a professor of an American university, and he is completely clueless about the topic.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    UB, I think maybe you should clarify. A snowflake does have information. It’s the information that dictates the snowflake’s design and configuration. The problem is that no snowflake ever contains new information. Why? Because information is always conserved. At least, this is the way I understand the problem.

  5. 5
    jimmontg says:

    The information a snowflake contains is simple and repetitive. It is simply like saying the same sentence over again. Just the same thing over and over again. It doesn’t know what to do to replicate itself or even maintain itself. It is a crystal and I for one am tired of hearing that it is the equivalent of a single cell constructing itself from chemicals floating around in a mythical soup or undersea vents where a protein could never form on it’s own, let alone build a membrane around itself and come up with DNA/RNA and all the other things that exist in the simplest of cells.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    If that was not enough, Krauss followed this with the equally absurd claim that the Sun’s energy fuels protein evolution. “Fortunately we have the Sun,” concluded the religiously-driven atheist.

    a few notes:

    Ultraviolet Light Illuminates More Problems for Chemical Evolution – March 17, 2016 – By Dr. Fazale Rana
    Excerpt: For the origin of life to have occurred via chemical evolution, an efficient energy source must be identified. Most origin-of-life investigators assume that solar UV radiation would have provided that energy. Thus, they routinely employ UV radiation in prebiotic simulation studies. Yet, as the CfA scientists have shown, early Earth’s water and carbon dioxide would have frustrated a number of critical prebiotic reactions. Plus, the use of single-wavelength UV sources in laboratory simulation studies is unrealistic and raises questions about relevancy.
    http://www.reasons.org/article.....-evolution

    Nobel Prize 2015: What the chemistry winners taught us about the fragility of human life – Julia Belluz – October 7, 2015,
    Excerpt: Lindahl’s co-winner, Aziz Sancar, later built on this work, mapping the mechanism that cells use to repair the most common type of assault — UV damage — a technique called “nucleotide excision repair.” Basically, our cells can cut out sections of DNA that are damaged by UV light and replace them with new DNA. Meanwhile, Paul Modrich discovered yet another repair mechanism: Cells can correct replication errors through a process called “mismatch repair.”
    The upshot of these discoveries is that cells are constantly working to repair DNA damage. “Every day, [these processes] fix thousands of occurrences of DNA damage caused by the sun,,,
    http://www.vox.com/2015/10/7/9.....-about-the

    Researchers discover how key enzyme repairs sun-damaged DNA – July 2010
    Excerpt: Ohio State University physicist and chemist Dongping Zhong and his colleagues describe how they were able to observe the enzyme, called photolyase, inject a single electron and proton into an injured strand of DNA. The two subatomic particles healed the damage in a few billionths of a second. “It sounds simple, but those two atomic particles actually initiated a very complex series of chemical reactions,” said Zhong,,, “It all happened very fast, and the timing had to be just right.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news199111045.html

    DNA Optimized for Photostability
    Excerpt: These nucleobases maximally absorb UV-radiation at the same wavelengths that are most effectively shielded by ozone. Moreover, the chemical structures of the nucleobases of DNA allow the UV-radiation to be efficiently radiated away after it has been absorbed, restricting the opportunity for damage.
    http://www.reasons.org/dna-soaks-suns-rays

    Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage – Sept. 19, 2014
    Excerpt: researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting the DNA from the ultraviolet rays of the Sun.,,
    The researchers have now used a combination of femtosecond infrared spectroscopy – a technique which employs ultrashort pulses of infrared light (a femtosecond lasts for a millionth of a billionth of second) to probe the dynamics of excited molecular states – and bioorganic chemistry to elucidate a new function of base-pairing: it protects DNA from photodamage.,,,
    After photoexcitation of this DNA with short laser pulses of UV light, the researchers discovered that the hazardous excited states, which can form in any of the bases, are deactivated by an unexpectedly simple mechanism: Each excited pair – whether it be a G-C or an A-T pair – decays into the ground state in a concerted manner. “Thus, the Watson-Crick base-pairing mechanism itself controls the dissipation of the absorbed UV energy.,,
    Watson-Crick base pairing acts as a natural “sunscreen” and is of fundamental importance in enabling organisms to survive exposure to UV radiation.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2014-09-b.....na-uv.html

    Fine tuning of Light, Atmosphere, and Water to Photosynthesis (etc..) – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1136462999699965/?type=2&theater

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    Mapou @1

    I knew it was going to be a fantastic debate when Krauss started out by making sure the audience knew he was lured there under a false pretext, that he never would have agreed to debate with Meyer or anyone else from the Discovery Institute, and that he could not take either of his debate partners seriously.

    After that performance, who could blame him for not wanting to debate anyone from the DI?

    He will win no converts with the kind of arguments he tried to make. The only people who will receive his claims positively are those who are already believers and are willing to grasp anything to help them defeat this argument about information.

    It’s only going to get worse for them though as science proceeds. Pretty soon I think their arguments will begin to seem absurd even to some of their own people.

    A snowflake = a protein?

    What a fine example of rational thinking and atheistic logic!

  8. 8
    nkendall says:

    Snowflakes form from deterministic causes based on temperature and humidity which is precisely the opposite of what is needed for creating information which is never deterministic except by chance. Not sure why Krauss stopped there…why not propose that an avalanche of snowflakes is a further higher level of information. As an aside…my theory is that human flakes form from deterministic causes in academia. I offer Lawrence Krauss’ comments in the debate as exhibit A to support my theory.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    ‘Krauss has already debated someone from the DI. Berlinski.

    Maybe others as well.’

    Who better to teach him not to debate with those above his pay-grade !

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    I am sure future generations will marvel that relatively highly-accredited scientists could be so wilfully blind as to, for instance, claim that minds are created by matter !

    Nor have they been able to explain how their materialistic determinism would not render their own thought-processes worthless.

  11. 11
    nkendall says:

    Axel, Maybe Krauss’ mind is made purely of matter…that might explain things.

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    If there is information in a snowflake, what is that information about?

  13. 13
    nkendall says:

    Okay after having listened to most of the debate I can offer the following comments:

    There was only one relevant point made throughout the entire debate. And that was the point made by Stephen Meyer about the origin of information, the indeterminate alignment of information along the spine of the DNA molecule and the associated point about the diminishingly small set of functional segments compared to the vast set of nonfunctional segments. Neither Krauss nor Larmoreux touched that point. Krauss attempted to with his snowflake idea and Lamoreux with his nylon yarn which was a begging of the question. Snowflakes are the result of deterministic laws which are precisely the opposite of what is needed to produce information which is creative.

    Furthermore, both Krauss and Lamoreux appear to be about 20 years behind in their science. Orphan genes, overlapping genes, epigenetics, RNA editing and splicing and a whole host of other recent findings are entirely at odds with any naturalistic process of biological evolution. The gaps are not being closed as Lamoreux and Krauss assert; they are widening. I don’t think any serious evolutionary scientist who is familiar with the most recent research believes that natural selection plays much or any positive role in evolution at all.

    Moreover, the ubiquity of convergent evolution at all levels, molecular, tissue, organism is entirely at odds with a stochastic process even if aided by some sort of selection. When you couple the recent findings about the far greater degree of complexity of living systems with convergence any reasonable person would have to assess that there is teleology lurking in the evolutionary process somewhere, somehow.

    The information problem is not going away it is getting wider. And as I have pointed out on this forum before, the information problems related to the human mind are far more confounding than the unsolved and probably unsolvable information problems in evolutionary biology. The mind, each and moment, produces a stream of novel, related, complex specified information spontaneously and it does so instantaneously and unfailingly. For materialism to be true, this would mean that the neural firing patterns which are purported to explain consciousness and thought would have to align themselves in precise series of arrangements that they have never arranged themselves into before, to produce any coherent idea—such as relativity or Krauss’ silly notion that the universe could pop out of nothing. And the brain would have to arrange itself in these coherent ways over and over again for each and everyone one of us.

    Dreams are perhaps the best way to envision the difficulties of the information problem related to the human mind. Dreams, result from the emulation of the five senses—which itself is inexplicable in terms of a naturalistic process—but dreams also exhibit vast amounts of novel complex specified information in the form of imagery, sound, tactile sensations all of which are somehow integrated and synchronized with one another and with the thoughts that lead the dreams and then presented to our sleeping consciousness—somehow. The belief that the neurons would just happen to fire in precisely the right way to produce this rich, creative “poor man’s theater” every night is pure foolishness. No one knows, nor will anyone ever know how that happens if they are limiting themselves to naturalistic causation.

    Stephen Meyer, who was obviously struggling with a migraine—made the excellent point about information and he got snowflakes in return. That type of response might have given me a migraine as well.

  14. 14
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall: I don’t think any serious evolutionary scientist who is familiar with the most recent research believes that natural selection plays much or any positive role in evolution at all.

    For reference, can you name a prominent biologist who doesn’t recognize the importance of natural selection in evolution?

  15. 15

    Hello Mapou, #4

    UB, I think maybe you should clarify. A snowflake does have information. It’s the information that dictates the snowflake’s design and configuration.

    The kind of “information” that Krauss is talking about is what some might call “physical information” – the anthropocentric notion that information is in everything. Physical information is basically equal to the state of an object, or as you suggest, the information that ‘dictates the snowflake’. On the other hand, the information contained in genes is what others describe as “meaningful information”, which is an arrangement of matter (a medium) that (when translated) creates the unambiguous function found in the living kingdom. In fact, it is the thing that organizes the function found in the living kingdom.

    These two conceptions of information have nothing in common, and it is entirely gratuitous (and either uninformed or deceptive) of Krauss to suggest equivalence between them. In every possibly relevant way, they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The “physical information” that determines the elementary state of a snowflake (and a gene) tells you everything about a snowflake, but it tells you nothing whatsoever about the information a gene contains (by virtue of its arrangement). In other words, the meaningful information in a gene isn’t derived from the “physical information” of the gene. This demonstrated fact is only the tip of the iceberg of dissimilarity between them. One might suspect that a trained physicist like Krauss would grasp the distinction; after all, the distinction has been made explicit within the literature (for at least the last half century). One could also hope that Krauss would choose not to be deceptive and misleading to the public on the issue. But Krauss is an ideologue who has become modestly famous for his ideology. He realizes that he is being sought-after because he’ll present his ideology as science. He’s doing what profits him. It comes with the territory.

    (hey Larry, I know you are busy, so let me be your secretary: Bibliography).

  16. 16
    nkendall says:

    James Shapiro, Denis Noble, Eugene Koonin and most of those quoted in the book, The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry.

  17. 17
    EvilSnack says:

    Whatever information there may be in a snowflake makes virtually no difference at all. This is certainly not the case with proteins, where the slightest difference in structure can make all of the difference in a protein’s properties and function.

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    UB @15,

    Thanks for the clarification on the difference between translatable information (as in genes), and physical information (as in snowflakes). You are right, of course.

  19. 19
    Mapou says:

    Natural selection is a joke for many reasons, one of which being that it is powerless against the combinatorial explosion. And, of course, it does not explain replication (OOL) and the observation of beauty in nature. It’s crappy science from the minds of cretins.

  20. 20
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall: I don’t think any serious evolutionary scientist who is familiar with the most recent research believes that natural selection plays much or any positive role in evolution at all.

    nkendall: James Shapiro, Denis Noble, Eugene Koonin

    A cursory search shows that Shapiro’s views on natural selection have been subject to extensive criticism from “serious evolutionary scientists”. Noble and Koonin accept a significant role in evolution for natural selection.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    The abject failure of Natural Selection on two levels of physical reality – video (2016)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1135217836491148/?type=2&theater

  22. 22
    Mapou says:

    “Serious evolutionary scientist” is an oxymoron. All “evolutionary scientists” are con artists by nature.

  23. 23
    nkendall says:

    Zachiel,

    Darwinists are not going to fold up the tent under any circumstances. The fact that you can cite some critics of Shapiro or anyone else means nothing. The point is, are those critiques valid in light of the evidence.

    You are mistaken about both Koonin and Noble. Here is a quote from Koonin:

    “Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity. …. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic super-groups; and animal phyla. In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal “types” seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate “grades” or intermediate forms between different types are detectable.”

    Change driving by natural selection would not be abrupt nor would it produce fully formed organisms. Furthermore, he includes eukaryotic cells in his list which are known to have arisen as the result of multiple symbiogenesis events, none of which involve natural selection other than in the negative sense.

    Let’s cut to the chase here…pick one of the following topics and explain in detail how they could have arisen by Neo-Darwinian processes:

    Overlapping genes.

    Epigenetics – Let me make it easier for you…just focus on those aspects of epigenetics that were “upgraded” for humans. Here I am not referring to the now established fact that an animal’s form is not specified by genetic programs—it is epigenetic (another mortal blow to Neo-Darwinism). I am referring to how the environmental effects on the soma cells can work their way into the germ cells thus violating the Central Dogma and the Second Law (the Weisman barrier) both of which every biologist in every university around the globe, just 15 years ago, would have sworn up and down was an established fact (like they have been saying about natural selection by the way). So with regard to epigenetics… let’s refer to epigenetics as an “application”. That application would have had to have been upgraded to account for the new and different human features, would it not? Explain how all the new non-coding RNAs that implements epigenetics could have arisen in such a short time with so few individual samples to work with—you know, long breeding cycles and sparse populations of hominids . Feel free to use selection if you like but it would be of no help given the rapidity with which this upgrade must have occurred.

    Splicing – Explain how the spliceosome arose. Again let me make it easier…just focus on the upgrade that would be required of the spliceosome to produce the RNA modification capabilities suitable for the human genome.

    Dreams – Explain how the ability of the mind to emulate the five senses arose and how the mind, during a dream, produces novel, coherent imagery, auditory content and tactile sensations, then locates these content, synchronizes them, integrates them and associates them with the dialog that goes on and with the thoughts that occur. I will give you a pass on the obvious problem of how the “upgrade” of human consciousness arose and how abstract thoughts could even be represented in the physical brain let alone the “hard problem” of consciousness (which is really one of the easier problems) which relates to our recognition of sensory content. Again focus on those changes from ancestral ape to human.

    I will give you a pass for now on de novo genes, transposons, horizontal gene transfer, symbiogenesis, etc.

  24. 24
    Mapou says:

    We must all note that Lawrence Krauss is the crackpot physicist who does not know that, as Karl Popper and others have noted, Einstein’s spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens. In this YouTube video, he claims that Einstein’s physics allows time travel, even though every physicist worth his/her PhD should know by now that nothing can move in Einstein’s spacetime:
    Is Time Travel Possible? Lawrence Krauss Tells all

    Go figure. Krauss is also the proud author of “The Physics of Star Trek“. What we have now in the physics community is a bunch of high falutin crackpots like Krauss, Hawking and Co spending billions of the taxpayer’s money on Star Trek voodoo physics.

    PS. In that YouTube video, Krauss claims that we are traveling in time toward the future all the time. This is the dumbest thing that a physicist can say. There is only the changing present. Time travel in any direction, forward or backward, is cretinous nonsense because it introduces an infinite self-referential regress.

  25. 25
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall: Darwinists are not going to fold up the tent under any circumstances.

    That directly contradicts your previous statement that no “serious evolutionary scientist who is familiar with the most recent research believes that natural selection plays much or any positive role in evolution at all.”

  26. 26
    J-Mac says:

    Krauss is my favorite clown; well next to Larry Moran. Both of them prove that blind faith can make people crazy. There is no more to say. Both have proven their blind faith to be exposed…

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Information in senses relevant to ID should not be conflated with [physical] state. Functionally specific complex organisation reflecting high contingency and dependency on particular configs to achieve function is much more like it. The information can then be teased out as coded description or statement. Snowflakes in the star form have dendrites on arms that could work like prongs on a Yale type lock’s key which would be informational in the relvant sense but would require a lot of design to get things to work. I notice a lot of resistance too to the issue of deeply isolated functional specificity of proteins as folding and functioning in particular bio contexts but there is evidence pointing not to 1 in 10^11 but more like 1 in 10^70 in the space of AA chains. As for snowflakes, try: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/k.....m#strmsnow also http://www.icr.org/article/3555/ (note remarks in the first linked) KF

  28. 28
    nkendall says:

    J-Mac,

    Your comment is interesting…”my favorite clown.” Watching the debate and seeing Meyer in the middle, reminds me of a song by 70s band Steelers Wheel and specifically the line one of their songs that goes: “Clowns to the left of me jokers to the right, here I am…”

  29. 29
    nkendall says:

    Zachriel,

    No contradiction in my comment, “Darwinists are not going to fold up the tent under any circumstances.

    These folks are not serious in the sense that they are not being intellectual honest or they are not familiar with the recent science. Shouldn’t it be the case that when you have so many new findings that directly contradict one’s theory (I will list them in a moment), that one would expect a bit of humility and reticence about any further pronouncements pertaining to their theory? I certainly would expect that. If they had any honor or respect for the truth at all, they would fall on their swords and quietly exit the public forum. But they don’t; they persist.

    Darwinists, never stop to consider that they may be wrong. No soul searching, no pause of thought when confronted with the steady bombardment of bad news for their theory: the fossil record, the understanding that life systems are far more complicated than ever imagined and yet arose over diminishing time intervals. The vast number of convergences of extraordinarily complex structures at all levels including things like molecular machines. The finding that there is a back channel for adaptation by enabling the environment to tag the genome for gene control in just the right way—epigenetics. The massive editing that goes on between transcription and translation. The failure to find a genetic algorithm to account for animal forms and instead evidence that the information resides somewhere else in the cell. The sudden appearance of new genes—orphan genes or de novo genes that exist in all organisms and appear out of the dark matter of the genome like magic. The occurrence of overlapping genes, where you have multiple levels and starting points for reading the DNA to produce different protein products. That there is a diminishing small set of DNA sequences that yield viable proteins—not a single protein of any molecular machine could reasonably be stumbled upon given the age of the earth. That of all the myriad ways in which a protein could fold, they just happen to fold in the proper fashion. That there are things called transposons that have the uncanny ability to ferry DNA fragments around the genome that just happen to produce new features. That viral fragments can be incorporated into the genome through an extraordinarily complex process and that these viral genes just happen to code for useful proteins. The ability of one cell to swallow up another and make a new cell that just happened to facilitate the entire animal kingdom and it goes on and on.

    All these things were unexpected surprises—a series of shocks really—for Neo-Darwinists and directly contradict their theory; yet they never stop to reconsider.

  30. 30
    Splatter says:

    I haven’t watched this yet but when people blithely say “Shannon information in a snowflake” I wish they’d clarify what they mean with a mathematical model otherwise it’s just a word salad. The whole point of Shannon’s contribution to mathematics was that it allows one to formalise such things and remove ambiguity!

    Unless someone talks in terms of a code – for example, posting bit-string bearing notes into a neighbouring room that allows the neighbour to reconstruct a partucular snowflake from the set of all snowflakes, using a decoding procedure that is chosen on the basis of a probability distribution over the snowflakes -there’s no point in raising the ghost of Shannon.

    Given that there is a great number of unique snowflakes it stands to reason that the Shannon information is great, provided that they are relatively uniformly distributed. So taken in isolation, Krauss’ statement is correct. But who cares?

    Snowflakes don’t serve to code anything. If I understand anything about ID (and I think it’s fair to say it shifts about a bit), there is at least one common thread: it’s that the configuration has to be both rare and specified. An individual snowflake is a rare enough event, but it belongs to a very wide class of “all snowflakes”. If a particular snowflake were decoded by a machine, which read the configuration of water crystals and decoded them into a blueprint from which it built a robot, and the robot was exquisitely functional (if not perfect), and it spoke to me and said, “Was the snowflake I was constructed from designed?” — that would be a better analogy.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    Splatter:

    …using a decoding procedure that is chosen on the basis of a probability distribution over the snowflakes -there’s no point in raising the ghost of Shannon.

    Someone who gets it.

  32. 32
    Me_Think says:

    10^19 molecules of water has to be arranged precisely to form the snow flake design. For plate form, the temperature has to be near -2C, for columns and needles the temperature has to be -5C, For thinner plates the temperature has to be near -30C. The sharp edges are sharp up to a micron. The ratio of Crystal Size along ‘a’ axis/The size of plate (equal to plate thickness) has to be close to 100. The width of the facet surface on the edge of the plate should be 40a (a is the molecular step height).Snowflake mechanics is not simple. There are lots of paper puzzling over snow flake formation. You can’t dismiss snowflake as simple physics.

  33. 33
    Mapou says:

    @32,

    A snowflake has intelligent design written all over it. Heck, every particle of matter down to the lowly photon has intelligent design written all over it.

  34. 34
    Robert Byers says:

    This was a terrible debate. Krauss ruined it. You can’t beat the evolutionist etc etc if he is not worrth beating.
    He was weirdly malicious. Long winded. Rambling . Making common trivial points. Why would he have any awards? I suspect he’s usefull for fughting creationism and not about science education.
    What has, or could he, accomplished in real discovery/invention in science???
    Posture and white shoes and jumping around looked absurd.
    Yes very arrogant and more to that.
    He is totally unpersuasive on every level.
    People like him help ID/yec talkers.
    Thousands of lower lever evolution teachers on the internet are so much better then him.
    I feel sorry for him. Something is wrong with this person.
    I do not easily question people on intelligence and character but he is someone to be fired by evolution incorporated.
    Why help them? I can’t help but help and creationists need worthy opponents or the victory is not worthy.

  35. 35
    Me_Think says:

    Mapou @ 33

    A snowflake has intelligent design written all over it.

    Right.It should be included in the ID literature alongside improbability of Protien folds.

  36. 36
    jerry says:

    there is “a lot of information” in a snowflake

    There is a lot of information in a rock too. To completely describe a certain rock or rock formation would require a lot of data. The position of each type of molecule in the rock is not trivial. But it all happened as a result of the four basic forces of physics, primarily gravity. It is only natural to get some very complex entities solely with the four basic forces.

    The information in DNA is quite different. One could imagine an arrangement of a sequence of nucleotides that were constructed from the four basic forces but this particular type of information when in DNA points to something completely outside of itself. Nothing in a rock or snow flake does this. So Krauss’s use of this example was an admission of intelligent design. If he had something better, he would have used it.

    So the conclusion is that Krauss must be a stealth ID supporter.

  37. 37
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall: These folks are not serious …

    Ah, for certain definitions of “serious”. For certain definitions of leg, dogs have five legs.

    nkendall: Darwinists, never stop to consider that they may be wrong.

    Of course they do. Natural selection has been under constant scientific skepticism since Darwin. However, waving your hands in the direction of “It’s too complex to have evolved” is not an example of scientific skepticism.

  38. 38
    Mung says:

    “It’s too complex to have evolved” is not an example of scientific skepticism.

    Actually, it is.

    Compositional Evolution

    You’re wrong again, Zachriel.

  39. 39
    nkendall says:

    Zachriel,

    Okay, my friend…my claim is that any molecular machine is too complex to be created in the time allowed. Molecular machines are made up of protein complexes and in some cases, RNAs. The best data available is that for a single 150 residue protein the odds are 1 X -10^74 against stumbling on any single protein (note that many proteins are composed of much greater than 150 residues). Even if that figure is off by about 30 orders of magnitude you still can’t come close to finding even one of the many dozens of proteins that makeup these molecular machines. This is the fundamental information problem that Meyer was asking and neither Krauss nor Lameroux addressed it head on. Instead we got snowflakes and nylon seasoned with a lot of obfuscation and hand waving but no substance. Show me the error of my ways. Sketch out a plausible pathway to get a molecular machine with supporting evidence.

  40. 40
    nkendall says:

    Zachriel,

    Here is another one that I have mentioned a few times. Give this one a try. This one will not allow you to hide behind the fog of this or that research study or time or chance. I assume you are a materialist, correct? Okay so in your view then the brain must account for everything in our subjective conscious experience. I am not going to ask you how consciousness arose or how it works or how self-awareness arose or even how abstract thoughts are represented in the brain or how we even recognize the color red for that matter. I am going to give you something really straight forward.

    I assume you have dreams, right? And that you remember at least some of them. Now I am not going to ask you how the ability of the certain areas of brain tissue somehow acquired the ability to emulate the 5 senses which is what happens during a dream. Nor am I going to ask you how all the imagery and auditory and tactile content is integrated and synchronized together. These problems are hopeless intractable; can’t even get your brain/mind around them. But what I am going to ask you is how just the imagery content gets generated. So for now forget about the auditory and tactile and the thoughts that go along with a dream. And actually I am not even going to ask you to tell me how you can get multiple “frames” of imagery to account for the motion that we experience in dreams whether it be relative motion (because we move our viewing perspective), or absolute motion resulting from some object in the dream moving across our image plane. I am only going to ask you to tell me how the brain can produce just a single novel image frame of content—it is a variant of the information problem. Just one image frame; that’s all.

    If materialism is true then it must be the case that there is a precise neural firing pattern that underwrites this imagery. Now note that each distinct image element (analogous to a pixel in video) has to be precisely what it is (one in about 16 million colors at least) to produce any human artifact or natural thing that appears in our dreams. For example let’s take a dream where you are just sitting out on a picnic table with a cup of coffee and looking out at a forest. So there would be multiple neurons to produce all the little distinct elements that a coffee cup is comprised of. But the coffee cup is part of the larger context with a picnic table and that is in the foreground against a background of the forest. All this imagery has to be precisely what it is to produce this coherent image, right? How do the precise neural patterns arise to sketch out an image like this—even a static image? And finally note that dreams always produce novel images which would require that the underlying neural firings were novel and therefore could not be the result of some programmatic process.

    A rough and quite frankly charitable (charitable to you) calculation would be that there are at least 8 million distinct image elements and each image element could be one of at least 16 million color values for any image frame. And there would probably be oh, let’s say 1000 image elements for the coffee cup alone. So just for the cup, the calculation would be something like 16,000,000^1000–just for one cup in one image frame of one dream, of one person, in one evening. Pretty amazing.

  41. 41
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: “It’s too complex to have evolved” is not an example of scientific skepticism.

    Mung: Compositional Evolution

    So you point to a book on how complexity evolves.

    nkendall: The best data available is that for a single 150 residue protein the odds are 1 X -10^74 against stumbling on any single protein (note that many proteins are composed of much greater than 150 residues).

    But only 1 in 10^11 for proteins of length 80 or so.

    nkendall: If materialism is true then it must be the case that there is a precise neural firing pattern that underwrites this imagery.

    Dreams are not known for their precision.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    MT re 35: Ponder the cluster of unusual properties of water, the abundances of the first four most abundant elements (H, He, O, C), links to core cosmological parameters and the functionality of water in cell based life. Cosmological fine tuning and design issues will leap out at you. So, yes, the snowflake points to design and helps bridge the two major domains of design theory. KF

  43. 43
    nkendall says:

    Zachriel,

    Of course dreams are precise. Think about the imagery…better than ultra HD which is very precise.

    Regarding molecular machines…”But only 1 in 10^11 for proteins of length 80 or so.” Spliceosomes have nearly 300 proteins and several RNAs. I am going to guess that each protein is greater than 300 residues. So you are only about 1000 orders of magnitude shy of where you need to be for just this one molecular machine. That’s not much to hang your hat on is it?

  44. 44
    Me_Think says:

    KF @ 42,
    So you agree that snowflake is improbable and requires designer intervention and should be included in ID Literature as something equivalent to protein folding?

  45. 45
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall: Of course dreams are precise. Think about the imagery…better than ultra HD which is very precise.

    Studies of dreams indicate that dreams are often strongly emotive, but people can usually only recall vague images. In any case, even at best, they are no more “precise” than ordinary experience.

    nkendall: ”But only 1 in 10^11 for proteins of length 80 or so.” Spliceosomes have nearly 300 proteins and several RNAs. I am going to guess that each protein is greater than 300 residues. So you are only about 1000 orders of magnitude shy of where you need to be for just this one molecular machine.

    What it means is that your maths are faulty. More particularly, once you have a working protein, they can evolve into longer forms.

  46. 46
    Zachriel says:

    nkendall (from above): my claim is that any molecular machine is too complex to be created in the time allowed.

    Keefe & Szostak is a direct refutation of your claim. Moving the goalposts doesn’t change that your original statement was incorrect.

    Few scientists doubt that, once a protein comes into existence, it can evolve into more complex forms. However, it can’t begin this process until it has a selectable function. Keefe & Szostak answer this question, a hypothesis they formed based on theories of abiogenesis.

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