Extraterrestrial life News

SETI as sci-fi’s ID?

Spread the love

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

A friend wonders how SETI would know if a signal comes from an intelligent source.

Can’t nature just produce intelligence via natural selection acting on random mutations?

Well, don’t they use the same criteria for detecting intelligence as ID?

From SETI@home, criteria such as narrow-band, pulsed radio patterns, that intelligent intention easily explains but natural causes would not:

If our stellar friends are trying to put actual information on their signal (very likely), the signal will almost certainly be pulsed. We’ll be looking for this too.

He also found us this, from Evolution News & Views, answering a reader’s query about “methodological naturalism”*:

Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.

MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.

*Methodological naturalism is, in my view, just the scam that Christian Darwinists and like-minded folk use to keep their jobs at Bible colleges. See, the idea is that science must assume that nature is all there is, irrespective of evidence. Hardly any philosophy or religion except new atheism teaches that, so they can’t come right out and say it. But we can, so we’ll help.

Oddly, SETI doesn’t like ID, for what sound like confused reasons:

The way this happens is as follows. When ID advocates posit that DNA–which is a complicated, molecular blueprint–is solid evidence for a designer, most scientists are unconvinced. They counter that the structure of this biological building block is the result of self-organization via evolution, and not a proof of deliberate engineering. DNA, the researchers will protest, is no more a consciously constructed system than Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Organized complexity, in other words, is not enough to infer design.

If it is self-organization, what is the “self” that is doing the organizing?

But the adherents of Intelligent Design protest the protest. They point to SETI and say, “upon receiving a complex radio signal from space, SETI researchers will claim it as proof that intelligent life resides in the neighborhood of a distant star. Thus, isn’t their search completely analogous to our own line of reasoning–a clear case of complexity implying intelligence and deliberate design?” And SETI, they would note, enjoys widespread scientific acceptance.

Actually, SET doesn’t enjoy widespread scientific acceptance; it just isn’t worth attacking, a different proposition.

They should really come to the What Is Information? meet this coming weekend. A serious look at the nature of information might be far more fruitful than simply avoiding a cave full of bawling Darwin trolls.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

3 Replies to “SETI as sci-fi’s ID?

  1. 1

    Hi SETI, say hello to an actual argument for design.

  2. 2
    bornagain says:

    as to their claim that:

    “DNA, the researchers will protest, is no more a consciously constructed system than Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.”

    Funny that Francis Crick himself, co-discoverer of DNA, thought otherwise and posited a highly advanced civilization planted life on earth exactly because of the design he saw in DNA.

    “Life did not evolve first on Earth; a highly advanced civilization became threatened so they devised a way to pass on their existence. They genetically-modified their DNA and sent it out from their planet on bacteria or meteorites with the hope that it would collide with another planet. It did, and that’s why we’re here. The DNA molecule is the most efficient information storage system in the entire universe. The immensity of complex, coded and precisely sequenced information is absolutely staggering. The DNA evidence speaks of intelligent, information-bearing design.
    Complex DNA coding would have been necessary for even the hypothetical first so-called’ simple cell(s). Our DNA was encoded with messages from that other civilization. They programmed the molecules so that when we reached a certain level of intelligence, we would be able to access their information, and they could therefore — teach” us about ourselves, and how to progress. For life to form by chance is mathematically virtually impossible.”
    Francis Crick – Life Itself – September 1982

    Some researchers have apparently taken Crick’s suggestion to heart that, “Our DNA was encoded with messages from that other civilization”, and they now claim to have detected the extraterrestrial ‘WOW signal’ in DNA

    In the Planetary Science Journal Icarus, the “Wow!” Signal of Intelligent Design – March 12, 2013
    Excerpt: “The ‘Wow! signal’ of the terrestrial genetic code.” Their paper has been accepted for publication in the prestigious planetary science journal Icarus, where it’s already available online.
    Their title comes from a curious SETI signal back in 1977 that looked so artificial at first, a researcher wrote “Wow!” next to it.,,,

    Even Dawkins himself at one time admitted that ETs could have planted life on earth (though he soon backtracked from that claim since his fellow militant atheists gave him a very hard time for even admitting that possibility for ID)

    BEN STEIN: “What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?”
    DAWKINS: “Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.”
    – Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview (3:18 minute mark)

    Of related interest, here is a humorous video clip from a SETI special:

    Tyson: “Their (SETIs) goal is the ultimate prize in the life finding game. Someone out there we can talk to.”
    Shostak: “Nothing to do but sit here and wait for them to call.”
    (And exactly at that moment the phone rings right behind Shostak).
    Shostak: “And on cue they’ve called.”
    – quotes as stated at 11:22 minute mark – Where are the Aliens Origins Nova Neil Degrasse Tyson – video –

    Hmmm, perhaps SETI researchers should be looking a little higher than the stars of heaven for that ET communication?

    The following video gives us a small insight as to what it would be like to exist in a higher dimension:

    Dr. Quantum in Flatland – video
    of note: The preceding video is the lead off video on the outreach page of Dr. Anton Zeilinger’s quantum group in Vienna:

    Verses, Quote and Music:

    Psalm 115:16
    The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

    “All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.”
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

    Stairway to Heaven – Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart) – video

  3. 3
    Box says:

    However, there is one result that SETI scientists could produce that would immediately end all objections. This would be the case if SETI not only received a narrow-band carrier signal, but was also able to retrieve and translate the encoded message within that signal. In order to accomplish this, the researchers would have to isolate the representations within the signal medium and they would have to decipher the protocols that translate those representations into meaning. SETI researchers have already anticipated this exact opportunity; suggesting that even if the message was not decipherable, they would analyze it by other methodologies, perhaps (for instance) to determine how much information the message contained.

    As a matter of brute fact, it would be the discovery of this semiotic content within the signal that would immediately end all questions as to its intelligent origin. Its authenticity would become unquestionable based squarely upon the presence of that semiotic content. It simply cannot go unnoticed that the very observation that would make the SETI results unquestionable is the very observation already made within the genome of every living thing on earth. And just as it is in the case of narrow-band radio signals, there is simply no rational conceptualization whereby inanimate forces come together to create a system of spatially-oriented representations, as well as the rules to translate those representations into meaningful effects. Such things are, in fact, a distinct and reliable artifact of design.


    A semiotic code is the ultimate proof for an intelligent origin of the narrow-band carrier signal that SETI is looking for. How very ironic!

Leave a Reply