Intelligent Design

A clarification from (and a sincere apology to) Professor Richard Norman

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In a recent post, I incorrectly identified Richard Norman, Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Kent and a Vice-President of the British Humanist Association, as the author of an article on body fluid salinity, written by a Professor R. Norman. I have since been informed that Richard Norman was not the author of the article in question, and that he had nothing to do with it.

I would therefore like to offer my sincere apologies to Professor Richard Norman. I should have checked my sources more carefully, and I will be more vigilant in future.

12 Replies to “A clarification from (and a sincere apology to) Professor Richard Norman

  1. 1
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ

    I know you accept common descent. Do you think it more likely that life originated in the sea or the land?

  2. 2
    Joe says:

    Why would anyone accept Universal Common Descent? The premise is untestable. Heck no one knows what makes an organism what it is.

    If people accept universal common descent they do so for non-scientific reasons.

    Life originated exactly where the intelligent designer wanted it to originate…

  3. 3
    nightlight says:

    “Heck no one knows what makes an organism what it is.”

    It’s always ‘parent’ organism that designs and constructs the new organism. Whether it’s human, animal, bacteria, cells,… ‘elementary’ particles,… There is plenty (infinite) of room inside for any level of complexity and intelligence to build bottom up.

    Intelligence to design and build new organism always comes from inside. You were constructed by the super-intelligent cellular biochemical networks in the fertilized egg that started you.

    And, anticipating next question — no, there is no “first” organism. The science of the 18th and 19th centuries considered these cellular networks to be random blobs of proteins, just some dead, dumb matter. As science found out later, they’re anything but a dead, dumb matter. These networks know unimaginably more about molecular scale design and bioengineering than all the chemists, biochemists, molecular biologists and all other human experts put together. Fundamental physics is presently in the same position of ignorance regarding ‘random, dead, dumb matter’ we call ‘elementary’ particles and quantum fields.

  4. 4
    computerist says:

    nightlight,

    If matter itself is super-intelligent and self-organizing, then perhaps the universe is really the mind of God/designer? That seems to be what you’re implying.

  5. 5
    bFast says:

    Joe, “Why would anyone accept Universal Common Descent? … If people accept universal common descent they do so for non-scientific reasons.”

    I accept UCD, albeit with an open hand. I do so primarily because of one piece of scientific information, if you can truly demolish the validity of this one piece of data, I will have to reconsider my position.

    That one piece of data is that there are about 80 known individual disease producing mutations shared between human and chimp. Ie, if a person inherits the mutation, they get the disease. Chimps can inherit the identical gene with the same mutation at the same place.

    To me, the easiest explanation by far is that the common ancestors of human and chimp both carried around these 80 mutations in their gene pool. When separation was complete both communities (the one that went human, and the one that went chimp) carried these mutated alleles.

    Please understand, Joe, I buy into common descent, I do not come close to buying into variation + selection = all of it.

  6. 6
    bFast says:

    Computerist, “perhaps the universe is really the mind of God/designer?”

    This is exactly what I have been hypothesizing lately. The activity of the quanta is so, well, weird. Sometimes the quanta seems to have mind. So, could it be that the quanta, all of it, is one big mind. If so, then all matter is made out of this quanta; all matter is part of the mind of God so to speak.

    This conjecture in a strange way unifies science, monotheism and monism (the belief that all is God).

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    bfast:

    That one piece of data is that there are about 80 known individual disease producing mutations shared between human and chimp. Ie, if a person inherits the mutation, they get the disease. Chimps can inherit the identical gene with the same mutation at the same place.

    How many different nucleotides are there? I would think given enough generations each nucleotide could be sampled at the respective loci. And seeing that both populations share a common design I would expect similar defects to arise on occasion given similar genetic changes.

  8. 8
    nightlight says:

    @computerist #4 “then perhaps the universe is really the mind of God/designer? That seems to be what you’re implying.”

    Any scientific system or model is always incomplete since you have take its postulates as givens i.e. they correspond ontologically to the required frontloading of the reality as understood from given system.

    My view is that much less and much simpler kind of frontloading (computational kind) is required, provided it starts at small enough scale so it can compute and construct smarter, more complex systems at the next larger scale. In this perspective, the intelligence comes from inside out, rather than as the intelligent intervention from heavens on the dead dumb matter, as the Discovery Institute’s ID suggests.

    The ‘intelligent designer’ of DI’s ID is a part time deity, a rephrased god of gaps, jumping in out of its creation to clean up here and there any mess that the ‘dumb nature/matter’ plus ‘laws of nature’ produced, to hand it down its ‘irreducibly complex’ designs, then let it go alone via ‘natural laws’.

    It is a childish, anti-scientific and logically incoherent position damaging ID prospects more than anything neo-Darwinists are doing with their heavy handed, Stalinist methods.

  9. 9
    computerist says:

    bFast:

    This is exactly what I have been hypothesizing lately. The activity of the quanta is so, well, weird. Sometimes the quanta seems to have mind. So, could it be that the quanta, all of it, is one big mind. If so, then all matter is made out of this quanta; all matter is part of the mind of God so to speak.

    Yes, this is one of the reasons I personally do not believe in “matter” in the “physical” sense. The universe to me seems to be “instantiated”.

    This conjecture in a strange way unifies science, monotheism and monism (the belief that all is God).

    I also think this would not conflict with ID and would very much unify many types of belief systems relative to teleology.

    If the universe is the mind of God, then this makes it more of a personal designer than ever, IMHO.

  10. 10
    computerist says:

    Nightlight,

    I see, so minimal front-loading based on predefined computational rules will propagate more complex systems. But seems if you deny ID you still have yet to explain the rules and the initial necessity to compute, or is this sort of like the Stephen Hawkings view with gravity that once you have gravity the universe will inevitably come into existence, except in your view computation is the gravity in this case and therefore given this computation the universe will exist, am I correctly interpreting your view?

  11. 11
    nightlight says:

    @computerist #10 But seems if you deny ID

    I actually hold classical ID perspective, but not the capricious, part time (yet with infinite frontloading) ‘intelligent agency’ of Discovery Institute’s neo-ID. Hence, I don’t believe that the ‘intelligent agency’ jumps in and out at its whim to shuffle few molecules into some ‘irreducibly complex’ designs that ‘natural laws’ failed at, but rather it operates everywhere at all times, computing (and thus upholding) all of our physical reality continuously. What we call ‘natural laws’ are merely few outer regularities we managed to grasp so far of this much more subtle underlying computation.

    you still have yet to explain the rules and the initial necessity to compute

    No scientific system can explain its own postulates — they are by definition the part taken in a particular system of knowledge for granted, representing the initial frontloading of universe as seen by that system of knowledge. Of course, some newer system may replace those postulates and explain them as consequences of some other set of postulates, but then the latter set of postulates is taken for granted, too.

    Hence, the question is not whether a system of knowledge can explain everything or not (that’s not possible), but rather how much it takes for granted as the initial frontloading. The infinitely intelligent frontloading of DI’s ID is a non-starter regarding the economy of assumptions.

    Computational approach (advocated by Stephen Wolfram in his NKS, the SFI Complexity Science, Fredkin’s digital physics etc) on the other hand requires very little and very simple frontloading — basic computational elements with additive intelligence i.e. intelligence that grows as the simpler computing elements connect and build more advanced computing technology at the next scale (just as our cells do in building us, or as we do in building our technological societies).

    If one starts at small enough scale with such hierarchy, the most elemental computing blocks at the bottom can be as simple as binary (2 state) cellular automata, yet produce arbitrarily intelligent computing technologies in the layers above.

    There was a long thread at UD on this perspective and a hyperlinked TOC is given in the second half of this post.

  12. 12
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Mark Frank,

    In answer to your question: the oldest known evidence of microbial land-based life dates back to between 2,700 and 2,900 million years ago, but there may have been land-based microbial life as early as 3,400 million years ago (see http://www.ecologicalprocesses.com/content/2/1/1 ). And it has even been suggested that life itself may have arisen in geothermal volcanic pools, on land (see http://www.scientificamerican......mal-pools/). So at the present time, I think it pays to keep an open mind.

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