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Richard Dawkins and Ray Comfort


Richard Dawkins takes Ray Comfort out of context:

Dawkins says he doesn’t debate Creationists, yet he debates what Creationists say quite often. Should Dawkins avoid debating Creationists when they are the subject of his lectures and speaking engagements?

07, "Yes, I think the arguments are essentially the same. It looks designed so it must be. Motivated of course by the same underlying belief in God." As I suspected you think the arguments are the same. First, you are operating on a basic assumption that theists necessarily assume God. Second, it is quite reasonable to extrapolate that if something looks designed, it may be in fact designed. To suggest that it isn't is to interject a metaphysical assumption that is not warranted by the evidence. So who really is begging the question here? If the IDist is able to demonstrate reasonably that there are certain parameters, which indicate design, that is not the same as to say "well this banana has similar features to a Coke can, so it must be designed." They are not the same argument. ID theorists have singled out certain conditions, which are not currently explained by the predominant theory. Furthermore, they have theorized as well as demonstrated that the probability factors involved in OOL scenarios make any kind of naturalistic mechanism so highly unlikely as to be impossible. Assumptions aside (and everybody starts with them - Darwinists are no exception), one has to go where the evidence leads. If the evidence begins with the appearance of design, and the reasonable theorist begins with that observation, it doesn't seem reasonable to me to go in the opposite direction because one's a priori assumptions don't allow one to go where the divine foot meets the door. CannuckianYankee
BA: No, there is no violation of Dembski's law. If you look at the quote from Dembski, it says: "Any search that proportionately raises the probability of locating a target by q/p with respect to blind search requires in its formation an amount of information not less than the active information I+ = log(q/p)." (Emphasis mine) In my example, the probability of locating the target is not "raised" in any way. The functional three letter words can be found because their natural probability of being found is high enough that they can indeed be found, given enough probabilistic resources. That's because they are simple sequences. IOWs, the word "has" has in my model about 1:2*10^6 probability of coming out in a single random attempt. That's a low probability, but if the system makes millions of random attempts in a limited time (and a computer certainly can do that), the word "has" has very high probability to be generated. No active information is needed for that, because we are not "raising" the probability of locationg the target thorugh any special algorithm: we are just doing the basic random work which can find that kind of target through pure probability laws. If the target is 150 bits complex, however, the probabilistic resources necessary to find it through simple probabilistic laws become so huge to be unrealistic on our planet, and if you shift the limit to 500 bits, the necessary probabilistic resources exceed the probabilistic resources of the whole universe, as Dembski has well shown. In those cases, you can locate the target only through "smart" models or algorithms, which are introducing "active information" about the target in the search system, in direct or indirect ways, as again Dembski and Marks have brilliantly shown. IOWs, you are "raising" the probabilities of locating the target through design procedures, target conscious procedures, IOWs intent. That's the meaning of Dembski's law, at least as I understand it. gpuccio
Hi all. I love yo us much as anyone never has loved you, Believe me. It's my last ADVICE. You must LEAVE that YET. and YET is YET. Time is closed. All that you need to know is knowed. You are seeking in the wrong side. You dont know nothig, and when I say nothing is NOTHING about human mind. You think you are greatest thinkers by yourselves, but dont use your only and TRUE recurse: the LIGHT. It is said: "I'm the LIGHT". You dont have in mind nothing, that is, your minds are empty. Only a little Light you allow light is inside you, you'll see ALL. Only is a ONE Truth, a ONE God, a ONE Live: if you want lose your lifes you remain here. But if you want to see the Light and dont lose your life for ever, then go to home, pray, pray as much are you able to pray and then, when all is finished, I assure you, that all that you never has seen and is impossible to see here is completed vieable, and you'll be very happy because have made the correct way. That's all people. Time is not Time, All you see is what you dont see. All you make without God is nothing, because God is Who is, and is the ONLY Who that is itself. And he ever has want that you are inside Him. But you never seen in the right direction and this has provocated a thousand, and a thousand of a thousand and many more killed man. It's your las opportunity: if you dont cry your evils YET, then it's no MORE TIME. It's my last WORD. All is said now, then after, dont say that I don have said it totally clear to everibody. If you dont believe me your lifes are all losts for ever. "I love you as never ONE has never loved you", It had be said, and it's all I have to said to you. Pray, Pray all that you can make, because Time is over. I said. Obriton (Silav) CL&J A Amen Obriton
gpuccio, I completely agree in how you handle computation of information that is present as being a very, very, VERY, effective way to clearly show Darwinists the utter futility of material processes ever generating any significant levels of functional information (or any dFSCI whatsoever in particular) but, (pardon my ignorance in this matter), but doesn't Dembski and Marks's Law of Conservation of Information negate even the short 3 letter sequences that you've alluded to as arising from purely material processes??? 7 The Law of Conservation of Information Laws of science are supposed to be universal in scope, hold with unfailing regularity, and find support from a wide array of facts and observations. We submit that conservation of information is such a law. It may be formulated as follows: The Law of Conservation of Information (LCI). Any search that proportionately raises the probability of locating a target by q/p with respect to blind search requires in its formation an amount of information not less than the active information I+ = log(q/p). http://evoinfo.org/papers/ConsInfo_NoN.pdf bornagain77
BA: I suppose we perfectly agree about the ‘monstrous ravine’. Abel is obviously right, as usual. In a sense, "information" is a concept pertaining to the conscious sphere. In that sense, no non conscious process can really create information. But when I deal with dFSCI, I am not dealing with philosophy, but with an objective tool which evaluates objective formal properties of strings. So I am not judging what information really is, but only which strings have the properties which I have defined as dFSCI. We have to be honest about that. If we use a tool, we have to use impartially in all cases. According to my tool, dFSI can arise in a random system, without any contribution of a conscious agent. But dFSCI cannot. Let's make a very simpe example. Let's say that we have a random ascii string generator which outputs a great number of random three letter words. And we define as function: a three letter word which has meaning in english. Well, this result is definitely in the range of the random system. Indeed, the probabilities of a specific english three letter word (such as "has") coming out are not extremely low. A standard Ascii table has 128 values, so the search space of any three letter combination is 128^3, that is about 2x10^6, or 21 bits. If the system can accomplish a sufficient nuber of searches, the probability of having "functional" three letter words is very high. Has the system "created functional information"? It depends what you mean with that phrase. In a sense, no true information has been created because nobody has "thought" those words and outputted them willingly. There is no design implied. But from the point of view of the definition of dFSI, some functional information has been created: we have in our output functional words, that was our functional request, and our functional request is satisfied. So, in each word which has english sense we find about 21 bits of functional information, according to my definition. Obviously, that is not dFSCI. If anyone repeats the experiment with a functional requirement of 150 bits, he will soon discover the difference. The search space of any functional 150 bits string is about 10^45. Enough to discourage any computation. gpuccio
gpuccio, I know the point is 'quibbling', but this minor point of clarification as to the effect of ALL mutations as to the loss of overall functional information that was within the parent species genome, is actually a very important point to maintain as to clearly illustrating, the 'monstrous ravine', as Abel puts it, between the material processes of this universe and functional information that we find in the genomes of life. It is of no small concern to ID either to maintain this clear distinction between material processes and the overall information we find in any system (biological or computer) as Dr. Dembski states here: LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW - William Dembski - Robert Marks - Pg. 13 Excerpt: Simulations such as Dawkins’s WEASEL, Adami’s AVIDA, Ray’s Tierra, and Schneider’s ev appear to support Darwinian evolution, but only for lack of clear accounting practices that track the information smuggled into them.,,, Information does not magically materialize. It can be created by intelligence or it can be shunted around by natural forces. But natural forces, and Darwinian processes in particular, do not create information. Active information enables us to see why this is the case. http://evoinfo.org/publications/lifes-conservation-law/ bornagain77
BA: I can agree with you in essence but I need to specify one thing. Using my definition of dFSCI, resistance to an antibiotic can be defined as a function as much as any other function. In the case of rifampicin resistance, a mutation of 4.32 bits creates functional information relatively to that defined function. Therefore, I could not literally say that "purely material processes have never been observed generating ANY functional information", if I want to use my definition of function and of functional information. Because my definition of functional information is relative to a specifically defined function, and not absolute. I have been using this approach for some time now, and I am convinced that it works very fine, and that it allows a truly effective way to deal with dFSCI. I suppose that your statement can be true if we accept an absolute definition of function, but I am not aware of one which can be operatively used in defining dFSCI. So, I stick to my "relative" definition. But again, I can see no problem in that. That simple random events can rarely generate some modifications which can confer some relative functionality in a particular environment, even if at the cost of other more general functionalities, is a simple fact easily understandable, and perfectly in line with ID theory. I don't think that it contradicts the principle of genetic entropy, too. Why should it be a problem? gpuccio
gpuccio, It seems, from all evidence I have seen thus far, and as somewhat illustrate in the Axe rebuttal, that even in the rare cases that a 'microevolutionary' event 'tweaks' an existing protein, this 'tweaking' always come at a cost of the overall functional complexity/information of a micro-organisms genome. Thus staying well within the principle of Genetic Entropy and Conservation of Information. Moreover the tweaking comes from a 'preprogrammed evolutionary algorithm" within the genome itself. Thus that is why I feel more than comfortable when I say this statement, purely material processes have never been observed generating ANY functional information. bornagain77
BA: thank you for the link. The Axe link is as usual very good, and I will read the other one later. The example of rifampicin resistance is very clear. The fact is that, if a molecule is really greatly optimized, it is not easy to change its conformation without altering in some way its function. And biological molecules are indeed very, very optimized. They are apparently at the absolute peak of their functional island. Still, there is the possibility that in some rare cases a mutation may still "tweak" an existing function so that it is a little better, at least in the present environment. Those cases are probably rare, but they could exist. Again, the important points are: a) The transitions in all known microevolutionary cases are simple. That's why we call them microevolutionary. b) In no case those transitions appear to be "additive": IOWs, they definitely do not represent functional steps towards some future macroevolutionary event. These two points are very important, and should always be considered in any discussion about darwinian theory. gpuccio
Hi bornagaim77. I'm very happy to see you now here. I have to say you some little things and one more a little stronguest. But in general are goods for you. Creationist, althoug as many people thinks are wrong, are the least wrong that are stated. Because in some sense, there be a little bit of macroevolution in the process, but they have mantained Faith in God and this is the most important thing a man can make here, in his wrong loved Earth. The time is near, and you must know that now is important that anyone put him in front of Light and that you see for the Light,because the puzzle is almost to be solved, and the better now is to see the Light. I have to advice you and others that anyone knows the TRUE TRUE but God, and God Loves all, dont want any disputes among man, and that if you at the most as possible loves Him, then He will say you what you need to know to make good things, and only He is Who can judge to anybody, because Him is the Lord, and nobody can speak for Him scept that are authorized perfectly for His Real Hierarchy. Then pray as much as you can because He will help you with more forze than can you imagine. Dont waste time because anymore is needed to know than we all can known now. A very loving hugh in Christ, Obriton (Silav) CL&J A. Obriton
gpuccio, this might be of great interest for you: Fruit Flies Not Evolving (after 35 years of trying to force them to evolve) Excerpt: A long-running experiment trying to get fruit flies to evolve has failed. A research team forced selection on the flies to explore the limits of natural selection. Only minor changes were detected after 600 generations. The research team was disappointed and surprised; there was even less evolution in these sexual organisms than in similar experiments with microbes, like bacteria and yeast. And all this was under ideal lab conditions. Success is even less likely in the wild.,,, Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles. This is notable because in wild populations we expect the strength of natural selection to be less intense and the environment unlikely to remain constant for ~600 generations. Consequently, the probability of fixation in wild populations should be even lower than its likelihood in these experiments. This suggests that selection does not readily expunge genetic variation in sexual populations, a finding which in turn should motivate efforts to discover why this is seemingly the case. ,,,This experiment was begun in 1975. After 35 years and 600 generations, accelerated by artificial selection, the net evolution (in terms of adaptation and improvement in fitness) was negligible if not nil. http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev201009.htm#20100930a bornagain77
gpuccio and Jurassicmac, you guys may find this article from Dr. Axe interesting, since it bears semi-directly on what we were discussing:,,, Biologic Institute's Doug Axe has just responded to SMU lecturer John Wise's attacks on the presentations at last week's 4 Nails in Darwin's Coffin event. A Word to the Wise -- Biologic's Response http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/09/a_word_to_the_wise_--_biologic038731.html bornagain77
BA: well, M theory and RNA world... Best candidates for best fairy tale theory of all times? I remember that it was in one of Penrose's books (maybe The Emperor's new mind) that I first found a general classification of different levels of scientific theories. That concept has remained with me. Not all scientific theories are born equal. gpuccio
CY @ 55: Yes, I think the arguments are essentially the same. It looks designed so it must be. Motivated of course by the same underlying belief in God. zeroseven
gpuccio, here is the money quote from the Roger Penrose in critique of Hawking's new book, at the 15:11 minute mark of the audio: What is referred to as M-theory isn't even a theory. It's a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It's not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It's not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science. - Roger Penrose - former close colleague of Stephen Hawking - in critique of Hawking's new book 'The Grand Design' http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable bornagain77
07 at 30, "Ok, who of the ID supporters here does not think the banana was designed? If you think it was designed, why do you think Ray Comfort’s argument is silly or weak?" The banana may indeed be designed. In fact the modern banana that Comfort uses in his illustration has been biologically engineered. But the point being made here is that to use the banana to make an argument for design overlooks the best examples - which were not biologically engineered, such as the bacterial flagellum, the eye, the blood clotting cascade, fSCI in DNA, etc. Thus, Dawkins himself overlooks the best arguments for design, and prefers to challenge the weaker ones. It's far simpler to make an assumption that a banana is the product of random variation and natural selection than is complex information found in DNA. We can't fault him for challenging the Paley argument for design when he did, but design arguments have "evolved," and he still prefers to attack the peasants, who have nothing to do with the real battle rather than challenge head on the soldiers in the field. And this is why I'm a little surprised by JM when he can't seem to differentiate between the scientific arguments for design coming from Behe and Meyer, and non-scientific arguments coming from Comfort. Do you also think they are the same? CannuckianYankee
jurassicmac: I don't think you have correctly described what BA was saying, but it is not my role to interpret what my friends are saying, so I will ask you a favour: I do like straightforward questions, but could you please ask me straightforward questions about me, and not others? I do believe that in rare cases material processes can generate new functional information, with the limits described by Behe (one or two aminoacids in most cases, a few bits). I can agree with BA that, in most known cases, the positive function acquired is a slight tweak of some existing function, and can be associated to some functional loss. But that is not really important, for me. For me the important point is that only isolated microevolutionary events are in the range of unguided evolution. You say: Perhaps you could clarify this for me: is your position that there is a certain amount of FCSI (be it 500, or 1,000 bits, or whatever) that can, within the realm of probability, be added at one time, or is you position that only a certain amount that can be added at all? As I have said other times, maybe even to you, dFSCI is computed for one function, and for one molecule or system which expresses that function. It expresses the functional information which is necessary if we want to find that island of functionality form an unrelated state. If we start from a partially related state, than we have to compute the dFSCI of the transition. My position is simply that generations ex novo, or transitions, of more than 150 bits of functional information (computed for a single function and for a single object or system) are empirically impossible through a random search, in a realistic biological context. If there is something not clear in those statements, please ask. gpuccio
Okay think this fixes it. andrewjg
gpuccio, is bornagain77 correct? Is he accurate in saying that you both agree that "material processes have never been observed generating any functional information whatsoever above that which was already present in the parent bacteria’s genome?" jurassicmac
Excuse me JM, but until you rigorously pass the fitness test,,, Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 ,,, I am well within my 'scientific' rights to say purely material processes have never been observed generating any functional information whatsoever above that which was already present in the parent bacteria's genome. ,,, This test has been shown to hold for even the infamous nylon example, since once nylon is removed/detoxified from the environment, the parent strain quickly out competes the nylon strain. But even if you say that you don't need to pass the fitness test to prove 'vertical' evolution, which I adamantly insist that you do have to pass to test to make your case for generating functional information, gpuccio still has you on the functional information limits that are established for what we can expect from the entire material processes of the universe over the entire history of the universe. Thus though you may think I am incohesive to gpuccio's method, the fact is that I am perfectly in line with gpuccio's methods. bornagain77
gpuccio @ 47, Thanks for the straightforward answer. I suspected that Ba77 was speaking out of turn when he said that natural processes can't add any information to the genome. The problem is, saying that natural processes can add 'some' information, but not a 'lot,' is like saying very small steps can add some distance between you and your starting point, but not a 'lot'. Perhaps you could clarify this for me: is your position that there is a certain amount of FCSI (be it 500, or 1,000 bits, or whatever) that can, within the realm of probability, be added at one time, or is you position that only a certain amount that can be added at all? jurassicmac
jurassicmac, Aleta: Please, feel free to ask any straightforward question, and I'll do my best to give simple straightforward answers. gpuccio
jurassicmac (#38): That's easy. Yes. A small transition in functional information, certainly. Not a complex one, certainly. I have maybe some problems with the word "gain". I would say it is a gain only if the same function is objectively improved, or if a reproductive gain is achieved through the transition. Anyway, if the new condition after the transition cab be functionally defined in a different way, that is certainly a transition in functional information relatively to the new functional definition. The complexity of the transition can be easily computed if we know which mutations were necessary to achieve it. What is the problem? gpuccio
BA: Not yet started: too many things to do... Anyway, I am a big Penrose fun. I don't agree with everything he says, but his Godel argument has been a fundamental step im my intellectual education about these problems. gpuccio
gpuccio, yes I'm fairly excited also about listening to the podcast later today,,, also of note,,, I ordered the 'Hidden Light' book that Dr. Sheldon blogged on,,, are you finding the book a worthwhile read? bornagain77
BA: thank you really for the link. I was just wondering if Penrose had entered the discussion about the new Hawking book. I will listen to the audio track as soon as possible. gpuccio
correction to link: http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable bornagain77
This may be of interest to some; Penrose, who worked alongside Hawking in the 70's, was on Premier Radio this week discussing Hawking's new book: Hawking, God & the Universe - Sir Roger Penrose and Alister McGrath http://www.premierradio.org.uk/listen/ondemand.aspx?mediaid={320D8898-A8F0-4433-8934-D64DDEB8A21C} bornagain77
JM, no it is not absurd because of the fitness test to bacteria,, that is the threshold test you must pass!!! You cannot simply say that material processes generated functional information when in fact the preexisting information in the genome could very well, and most likely, is calculating responses to stressful situations.,,, It simply does not follow for me to presuppose material processes have the capability to generate functional information on their own! bornagain77
Aleta, seriously, as far as how I approach the matter, evolutionists must pass the fitness test, against the most ancient parent strain, before I will even grant that they could have possibly generated functional information that was not already present in the parent genome and then if the test is passed, which I've never seen any evidence that it has been passed, the functional information must pass a threshold of 140 functional bits. But even then it does not help neo-Darwinian evolutionists in the least since the foundation of reality is shown to be Theistic, not materialistic in its basis: Also of concern for the Darwinian framework is that as Dr. Behe and others have pointed out, it is fairly easy to get one mutation that will confer an advantage in a stressful environment, but once you get to needing two coordinated mutations to confer an advantage you will start to encounter severe roadblocks. ,,, There may be hill climbing scenarios that get you a little further than that but not by much,,, thus the extremely low threshold of 140 bits as set by Durston, and I believe gpuccio also, is the ring that seems to be forever out of Darwinian grasp ,,, If you want far more specifics gpuccio is far more qualified on this topic and I can give you the references for Durston. notes: For a broad outline of the 'Fitness test', required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles: Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? - 'The Fitness Test' - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria - 2008 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v2/n1/darwin-at-drugstore Thank Goodness the NCSE Is Wrong: Fitness Costs Are Important to Evolutionary Microbiology Excerpt: it (an antibiotic resistant bacterium) reproduces slower than it did before it was changed. This effect is widely recognized, and is called the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance. It is the existence of these costs and other examples of the limits of evolution that call into question the neo-Darwinian story of macroevolution. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/03/thank_goodness_the_ncse_is_wro.html List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria: http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp As Professor Henry, of John Hopkins, has pointed out, it has been known since the discovery of quantum mechanics itself, early last century, that the universe is indeed 'Mental', as is illustrated by this quote from Max Planck. "As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter." Max Planck - The Father Of Quantum Mechanics - (Of Note: Max Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every, if not every, founder of each major branch of modern science also 'just so happened' to have a deep Christian connection.) Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology - Kirk Durston - short video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995236 bornagain77
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