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A note on why people profess belief in the obviously false…

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PHIL Image 9875In the comments box at Miller’s Mendacity, Barry Arrington asks

It is getting to the point that refuting the nonsense is almost beside the point. No one believes it, least of all those who say they do. As you’ve been saying for some time now, the really interesting story here is the psychological story. Why do people profess belief in the obviously false?

Okay: Why do people profess belief in the obviously false? A couple notes:

– The belief that randomness produces information (central to Darwinism) is obviously false. It’s never been demonstrated because it can’t be. It is assumed.

It is assumed for the same reasons as the existence of a multiverse or a naturalist explanation for consciousness are assumed. And often spelled out: Any other approach raises the spectre of design.

Why? The unwillingness to confront something that appears dreadful often forces people to indulge beliefs known to be false (or unfalsifiable).

Let’s say a person has a skin itch that needs scratching. But he doesn’t want to consider what it might mean. What does he do? First, he drops a wad on over-the-counter symptom relievers. Then he goes on the internet, and embraces and discards various medical theories.

He won’t go see a skin specialist precisely because the specialist might identify the problem correctly, forcing a choice: Do I really want this situation to get better or not? Am I prepared to make the needed changes?

If the answer is no, he will typically not only continue to embrace the obviously false theory but try to enforce it. That’s the basis of the Darwin lobby’s finely honed enforcement skills and dramas around evolution.

– Some people also attempt to divert attention to a separate question: “Why do people profess belief in things that are not obviously true”? Hence various sludge theories in evolutionary psychology about why people believe in God.

Notice that the same people never focus the equivalent type of attention on questions like “Why do people believe in democracy?” or “Why do people believe in saving the whales?”

Because they know as well as anyone else that most matters in life stop short of incontestable proof, such as can be had in simple mathematics. Most of the time, we make do with “balance of evidence” rather than “beyond reasonable doubt.”

And that is just the problem. Naturalism and its creation story Darwinism are anomalous in that they are among the few beliefs that are false beyond reasonable doubt, but highly profitable to their purveyors. Especially because they must go on believing it themselves. Or pretending to. Or, more usually, something in between, always hoping …

Prediction: On that account, we will see much more crazy stuff in the near future.

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50 Replies to “A note on why people profess belief in the obviously false…

  1. 1
    Indiana Effigy says:

    This is a very good argument except that it is based on a false (and repeatedly falsified) assumption.

    The belief that randomness produces information (central to Darwinism) is obviously false. It’s never been demonstrated because it can’t be. It is assumed.”

    Although you are misrepresenting evolution by just referring to randomness alone, I will leave that oft repeated false creationist meme alone. The literature is full of examples of randomness creating the information (variation) that is acted on by selection. Nylonase, Lenski, AIDS, the flu virus. Or do you think that changing the flu vaccine every year is a conspiracy by the drug companies?

  2. 2
    News says:

    As Indiana Effigy at 1 knows, by “information,” one means here complex, specified information, produced in vast interlocking patterns on a regular basis.

    Thanks for enabling me to clarify that without having to introduce it into the body text. There it confuses the new reader, who is used to the simpler language of science writer-approved naturalist assumptions.

    Most people understand what is said above. Giving themselves permission to take in the implications is a different matter.

  3. 3
    Indiana Effigy says:

    As Indiana Effigy at 1 knows, by “information,” one means here complex, specified information, produced in vast interlocking patterns on a regular basis.”

    Are you suggesting that nylonase is not a complex, specified information, produced in a vast interlocking pattern?

    Every small change in a gene is a change in information. at no time does the theory of evolution say that evolution must result in an increase in information.

    Nylonase is a new protein with a unique function. As such, it meets your definition of increased complex functional information. Lenski’s experiments show an increase in complex functional information. The flu virus changes quite frequently and obtains new function. This is also an increase in complex functional information. The previous strain does not die when a new strain evolves. As such, information has increased.

    As I said previously, examples of information increases as the result of selection working on random mutations (and other sources of variation) surround us.

    Btw, will the winter in Ottawa never end?

  4. 4
    RexTugwell says:

    And Behe has shown the prodigious amounts of information malaria can produce with a population of 10^20. In fact, not much at all. AIDS mutates ten thousand times faster than most other organisms. If that were a good thing, why isn’t that the mutation rate for the rest of the biosphere?

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    I think evolution is random, accidental, no design in it at all.

    – B.F. Skinner

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Indiana Effigy claims it is randomness that creates information, but then later admits it’s a result of selection.

    So which is it?

  7. 7
    Neil Rickert says:

    The belief that randomness produces information (central to Darwinism) is obviously false. It’s never been demonstrated because it can’t be. It is assumed.

    Whenever you login to your bank site, or whenever you shop at Amazon, you are using randomness to produce information. The encryption technology depends on it, and it works very well.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    not that you will ever listen, but anyways for onlookers:

    Debate Debrief: The Two-Prong Canard Demonstrated Within 24 Hours – The Curious Case of Nylonase – March 20, 2016 – Cornelius Hunter
    Excerpt: Such adaptation to nylon manufacture byproducts has been repeated in laboratory experiments. In a matter of months bacteria acquire the ability to digest the unforeseen chemical. Researchers speculate that mechanisms responding to environmental stress are involved in inducing adaptive mutations.
    That is not evolution. In fact it refutes evolution.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....anard.html

    Character and Theology Aside, What About Denis Lamoureux’s Science? – David Klinghoffer – March 21, 2016
    Excerpt: Lamoureux mentioned the discovery of Nylon-eating bacteria as empirical proof that evolution can create new complex specified information and new proteins (nylonase enzyme) within only 40 years of time.,,
    Newer research by Negoro et al. (2007) has shown that the nylonase enzyme did not evolve by gene duplication and frameshift mutation as originally assumed, but arose from a pre-existing carboxyesterase enzyme, which already had some capacity to degrade nylon oligomers. In other words: Nylonase is NOT new information (also see here)!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....02708.html

    Even Wikipedia as of January 2016, which is notorious for its bias against Intelligent Design, admits that nylonase ‘most probably developed as a single-step mutation’, thus the adaptation is well within what Dr. Behe has set for the ‘Edge of Evolution’:

    Nylon-eating bacteria – Mar. 2016
    Excerpt: There is scientific consensus that the capacity to synthesize nylonase most probably developed as a single-step mutation that survived because it improved the fitness of the bacteria possessing the mutation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....n_teaching

    Richard Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiments with E. coli and the Origin of New Biological Information – September 2011
    Excerpt: The results of future work aside, so far, during the course of the longest, most open-ended, and most extensive laboratory investigation of bacterial evolution, a number of adaptive mutations have been identified that endow the bacterial strain with greater fitness compared to that of the ancestral strain in the particular growth medium. The goal of Lenski’s research was not to analyze adaptive mutations in terms of gain or loss of function, as is the focus here, but rather to address other longstanding evolutionary questions. Nonetheless, all of the mutations identified to date can readily be classified as either modification-of-function or loss-of-FCT.
    (Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4) (December, 2010).)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51051.html

    A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism
    The numbers of Plasmodium and HIV in the last 50 years greatly exceeds the total number of mammals since their supposed evolutionary origin (several hundred million years ago), yet little has been achieved by evolution. This suggests that mammals could have “invented” little in their time frame. Behe: ‘Our experience with HIV gives good reason to think that Darwinism doesn’t do much—even with billions of years and all the cells in that world at its disposal’ (p. 155).
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    A new look at an old virus: patterns of mutation accumulation in the human H1N1 influenza virus since 1918 – John Sanford – R. Carter
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content.....2-9-42.pdf

  9. 9
    reverendspy says:

    Oh didn’t you know?
    The party line goes like this
    “Evolution is a process for which there is, literally, mountains of evidence. It is predictive, it is falsifiable (but has never been falsified in 150 years), and it is supported and confirmed by all new discoveries in genetics, paleontology, ecology, etc. It is the antithesis of “creationism” which is based on NO evidence other than biblical text, which is laughably wrong”

    I think it’s because very few people actually stop and think for themselves, and because the implications of one day standing before a Higher Power and having the secrets of your heart revealed and judged before all, IS well kind of frightening.

  10. 10
    RexTugwell says:

    In Darwinian thinking, the only way a plant or animal becomes fitter than its relatives is by sustaining a serendipitous mutation. If the mutation makes the organism stronger, faster, or in some way hardier, then natural selection can take over from there and help make sure its offspring grow numerous. Yet until the random mutation appears, natural selection can only twiddle its thumbs.
    Michael Behe
    The Edge of Evolution

  11. 11
    Indiana Effigy says:

    Mung @6: “Indiana Effigy claims it is randomness that creates information, but then later admits it’s a result of selection.”

    It is random mutations (amongst other things) that create the variation in the population that selection works on.

    So which is it?

  12. 12
    News says:

    Neil Rickert at 7: As you realize, if randomness was all that was available, there would be no currency or bank machines at all.

    Randomness does not produce complex, specified information but, as readers will realize, intelligent agents can harness randomness for a purpose (the lady who turns the crank on the bingo ball dispenser at my father’s retirement home will attest to that).

    But her system was set up by intelligent agents to create randomness to achieve a specified goal.

    One assumes that this is not the best you can offer.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    “It is difficult (if not impossible) to find a genome change operator that is truly random in its action within the DNA of the cell where it works. All careful studies of mutagenesis find statistically significant non-random patterns”
    James Shapiro – Evolution: A View From The 21st Century – (Page 82)

    Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century – James A. Shapiro – 2009
    Excerpt (Page 12): Underlying the central dogma and conventional views of genome evolution was the idea that the genome is a stable structure that changes rarely and accidentally by chemical fluctuations (106) or replication errors. This view has had to change with the realization that maintenance of genome stability is an active cellular function and the discovery of numerous dedicated biochemical systems for restructuring DNA molecules.(107–110) Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome. These natural processes are analogous to human genetic engineering,,, (Page 14) Genome change arises as a consequence of natural genetic engineering, not from accidents. Replication errors and DNA damage are subject to cell surveillance and correction. When DNA damage correction does produce novel genetic structures, natural genetic engineering functions, such as mutator polymerases and nonhomologous end-joining complexes, are involved. Realizing that DNA change is a biochemical process means that it is subject to regulation like other cellular activities. Thus, we expect to see genome change occurring in response to different stimuli (Table 1) and operating nonrandomly throughout the genome, guided by various types of intermolecular contacts (Table 1 of Ref. 112).
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.ed.....0Dogma.pdf

    Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology – Denis Noble – 17 MAY 2013
    Excerpt: The ‘Modern Synthesis’ (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection.,,, We now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual.,,,
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.....4/abstract

    also of note:

    Body Plans Are Not Mapped-Out by the DNA – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meR8Hk5q_EM

    Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism – Jonathan Wells – February 23, 2015
    Excerpt: humans have a “few thousand” different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,,
    The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It’s called genomic mosaicism.
    In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,,
    ,,,(then) “genomic equivalence” — the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA — became the accepted view.
    I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common.
    I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93851.html

  14. 14
    JDH says:

    @Neil Rickert @4

    Whenever you login to your bank site, or whenever you shop at Amazon, you are using randomness to produce information. The encryption technology depends on it, and it works very well.

    I love it when people talk about a field they obviously do not know to analogize something that they desperately want to believe. It tends to show the emptiness of their arguments.

    Neil – when I perform a bank transaction, I am not using “…randomness to produce information…” I am using randomness to hide information. The pseudo random numbers used in the encryption algorithms do not produce any information. They obscure the information from those who don’t know the random secret.

    BTW – the thinking and planning that when into the design of the encryption algorithms that enable a bank transaction to occur over the internet demonstrate intelligent design.

  15. 15
    JDH says:

    Do all the people that believe that randomness can create information understand that all randomness can do is create a fluctuation? Without an intelligent agent purposely guiding the flow of actions in a definite direction, there can be no increase in one direction that can not be undone by another random action. IOW there exist no natural ratchets on information. What can be randomly assembled, must be able to be randomly disassembled.

    BTW – I don’t think the best argument is so much that Darwinism is obviously false. What I think is a better argument is that the statement:

    “I am an intelligent advocate for Darwinism.”

    can not possibly be true.

    1. Assume you think Darwinism is false. Then the statement above is false. You could not think Darwinism is false and intelligently advocate for it.

    2. Assume you think Darwinism is true. Then you must realize that your advocacy of Darwinism is not because you used your intelligence to conclude it to be true. The fact you think Darwinism to be true must be just the result of random changes over time to the DNA which created your brain by processes which are unguided and can not possibly come to an intelligent conclusion because by its random nature it could have just as easily come to a different conclusion.

    So, if you believe Darwinism to be false, the statement must be false.
    If you believe Darwinism to be true, the statement must be false.

    There are no other possibilities – hence the statement is false. QED

  16. 16
    Neil Rickert says:

    I love it when people talk about a field they obviously do not know to analogize something that they desperately want to believe.

    JDH then talks about a field that he obviously does not know, so that he can promote something that he desperately wants to believe.

    The irony is delicious.

    Neil – when I perform a bank transaction, I am not using “…randomness to produce information…” I am using randomness to hide information.

    Randomness is used to produce the encryption key. The encryption key is the information that controls the encrypted communication for that session. The encryption key must first be communicated to the other side of the connection. It is shared information between the two parties (the server and client). Communicating the encryption key uses a different kind of encryption (public key encryption).

    If the encryption key needs to be communicated, it is information. If there were no information in the key, then you could do the encryption without the key. Since you cannot do the encryption without the key, it must be false that there is no information.

    As far as we know, the encryption key is random, rather than pseudo-random. Modern operating system make use of apparently random events to build up a pool of entropy (randomness) that can be used to generate encryption keys.

  17. 17
    Indiana Effigy says:

    BA77: ““It is difficult (if not impossible) to find a genome change operator that is truly random in its action within the DNA of the cell where it works. All careful studies of mutagenesis find statistically significant non-random patterns””

    Nobody has said that mutations were random with respect to location on DNA strand. Just that they are random with respect to fitness. Which has been demonstrated repeatedly. Scientifically and statistically.

  18. 18
    JDH says:

    @Neil Rickert

    Hi Neil. I love your claim that I don’t know anything about encryption. Obviously, you don’t know that I am a senior software engineer that works for a leading cyber security vendor. But I would’t expect you to know that.

    Producing a random key does not create information. If it did, the content of the key would matter. i.e. if the 100 bit was on in the key it would be different than if the 100th bit was off. This is not true. The only information that is there, is that the key is sufficiently random as to not be hacked in finite time. This information was present when the algorithm was implemented.

    Please do not respond with another inaccurate ad hominem attack. I humbly submit, that in at least this area, know what I am talking about.

  19. 19
    Neil Rickert says:

    Obviously, you don’t know that I am a senior software engineer that works for a leading cyber security vendor.

    That doesn’t actually matter. For all I know, you might have been a student in one of my cryptography classes. I go by what you write, not by the credentials that you claim.

    Producing a random key does not create information. If it did, the content of the key would matter. i.e. if the 100 bit was on in the key it would be different than if the 100th bit was off. This is not true.

    This is nonsense.

    Try changing one bit of the encryption key at just the receiving site, in the middle of the connection. See if the communication can continue. Or record all of the data sent in an encrypted session, and see if you can read it with a different key.

    Those won’t work.

    The problem is that you are confused about “information”. You want to use “information” only for that which directly and immediately informs you. Except you also want to use “information” for an amino acid sequence in DNA which does not directly and immediately inform you. You cannot have it both ways.

  20. 20
    JDH says:

    Neil,

    We need to be clear about what we are arguing about. Since now I know you teach cryptography, and you know I am a software engineer in cryptography, maybe we can stop believing that this has to do with ignorance. I apologize for assuming you did not know about cryptography.

    But having gotten that out of the way, you have to be able to see my position.

    The initial argument is about whether randomness can create information. The sub-argument was not about whether a random key contains information. It does in the sense that it records a series of almost random events ( a bit 1 or 0). The sub-argument was about whether producing a random key “creates” information. It does not. Here is the reasoning for the clear difference.

    1. The exact content of the key does not matter. It could have 1’s or 0’s in any of its bits. Once it is created, intelligent beings can use the fact that it is a random sequence to do tasks with it like secure a connection. But the creation of the random sequence itself if not creation of information by randomness.

    2. The program that produces the key, labels this key in a cert and passes it to the programs that need it and all of the infrastructure to do this is where the information is created. It took many intelligent engineers to design a system so that transactions could be done over the internet. These intelligent being created information in that they made the choice to create an algorithm to generate n-length random key to secure the transaction.

    The net of the above points is that this is not an example where information is created from randomness. It is an example where intelligent beings can use the fact that something is random, to accomplish a task.

    Furthermore, by its nature, a random process can not create information. The very definition of randomness means that an event does not have any causal connection with the previous events.

    I agree the exact sequence of random events that has occured IS information. It is information because it is a sequence of events that have to be produced in an order. It is not information produced by randomness because the memory of the order of the events is what is information, not the sequence itself.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Failed Darwinian Prediction – Mutations are not adaptive – Cornelius Hunter – 2015
    Excerpt: In the twentieth century, the theory of evolution predicted that mutations are not adaptive or directed. In other words, mutations were believed to be random with respect to the needs of the individual.,,,
    But that assumption is now known to be false.,,,
    (References on site)
    https://sites.google.com/site/darwinspredictions/mutations-are-not-adaptive

    also of note:

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Fully Random Mutations – Kevin Kelly – 2014
    Excerpt: What is commonly called “random mutation” does not in fact occur in a mathematically random pattern. The process of genetic mutation is extremely complex, with multiple pathways, involving more than one system. Current research suggests most spontaneous mutations occur as errors in the repair process for damaged DNA. Neither the damage nor the errors in repair have been shown to be random in where they occur, how they occur, or when they occur. Rather, the idea that mutations are random is simply a widely held assumption by non-specialists and even many teachers of biology. There is no direct evidence for it.
    On the contrary, there’s much evidence that genetic mutation vary in patterns. For instance it is pretty much accepted that mutation rates increase or decrease as stress on the cells increases or decreases. These variable rates of mutation include mutations induced by stress from an organism’s predators and competition, and as well as increased mutations brought on by environmental and epigenetic factors. Mutations have also been shown to have a higher chance of occurring near a place in DNA where mutations have already occurred, creating mutation hotspot clusters—a non-random pattern.
    http://edge.org/response-detail/25264

    Non-Random and Targeted Mutations (Environmentally induced changes to the level of DNA, 6:34 minute mark of video) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTChu5vX1VI

  22. 22
    Seversky says:

    Okay: Why do people profess belief in the obviously false?

    Because they don’t believe it’s obviously false? Look up the number of candidates in the current presidential election who have claimed it was God’s will that they run. Even though they are politicians, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they all believe what they say to be true. Unless you think God has a mischievous sense of humor, they can’t all be right, in spite of their belief.

    – The belief that randomness produces information (central to Darwinism) is obviously false. It’s never been demonstrated because it can’t be. It is assumed.

    The Darwinian version of evolution holds that mutations that are apparently random with respect to the survival of the individual can nonetheless be benefical or detrimental depending on the environment in which they occur – in other words it is random mutation and natural selection that can lead to advatageous adaptations. To think of information as a property of objects is to confuse the map with the territory. Information is better understood as a property of the models intelligent beings such as ourselves create to represent the world in which we find ourselves. It is a property of the model not the thing being modeled.

    It is assumed for the same reasons as the existence of a multiverse or a naturalist explanation for consciousness are assumed. And often spelled out: Any other approach raises the spectre of design.

    Standard disclaimer: multiverse is a speculative explanation in cosmology not biology. It may well be true that there are some people who prefer naturalistic explanations because because they slam the door on the Divine Foot. It is also more likely to be true that naturalistic explanations are preferred simply because there are no credible alternatives – and because they have been found to work.

    Why? The unwillingness to confront something that appears dreadful often forces people to indulge beliefs known to be false (or unfalsifiable).

    That’s right. That’s why people believe in benevolent – or even malevolent – gods if they offer the hope of a better life after death, for example. The prospect that all we face is a brief and purposeless life in a largely hostile and purposeless universe followed by personal annihilation is something that is intolerable to many.

  23. 23
    Indiana Effigy says:

    BA77, none of your copy pasta conclude that the mutations are non- random with respect to fitness.

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    Well, I guess if your okay with the central dogma of the modern synthesis (i.e. neo-Darwinism) being completely undermined, and with molecular machines of the cell inducing mutations to DNA in order to deal with environmental stress, then that is just further proof of your self imposed blindness to the evidence at hand.

    I’m done with you. Adios.

  25. 25
    Indiana Effigy says:

    BA77: “Well, I guess if your okay with the central dogma of the modern synthesis (i.e. neo-Darwinism) being completely undermined, “

    I must have missed the paper you referenced that showed the coding of DNA by the proteins.

    I’m done with you.”

    If you can’t respond to the simplest of criticism, I can see why you would want to run away.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    While local issues occupy focus, I passed by a moment:

    Look up the number of candidates in the current presidential election who have claimed it was God’s will that they run.

    This is different from, God has foreordained that candidate X wins. Very different. God may purpose to give humans a test that reveals the secrets and intents of hearts and/or is an opportunity for soul-making. In the further context of say Ac 17, where God is seen as influencing the course of history through people, place and the kairous . . . hinges of history.

    In that context a sobering thought for me is that the NT portrays two telling “elections.” In the first, the people chose a brigand, insurrectionist and murderer over Jesus of Nazareth. In the second — a referendum in miniature on a policy decision — in Ac 27, despite the known dangers of late sailing, people went with the bought and paid for technico and the Mr Moneybags over the man who we know separately had already survived three shipwrecks.

    Yes, Jesus lost an election, to a thief and murderer. Paul, to a march of folly.

    A sobering lesson on the difference between popular will and soundness, thus on our individual and collective responsibility. Under God.

    KF

  27. 27
    Neil Rickert says:

    JDH: The initial argument is about whether randomness can create information.

    The example of cryptography shows that it quite clearly can.

    The problem here, is that there are different meanings of “information”. The arguments that ID proponents use, seem to depend on conflating different meanings.

    I use only Shannon information. I used to think that I would need a different meaning for studying human cognition. But, after spending some time going down false trails, I’ve come the realize that Shannon information is what matters even in that case.

    You used to be able to buy a “white noise” machine. Maybe you still can. This would blow a gentle stream of air, with a light sound of rushing air. That was white noise. And white noise is really just random vibrations of air molecules.

    Now take the output of that white noise machine, and feed it into an organ pipe. The result will be a nice tone at the pitch of the organ pipe.

    So lets suppose that randomness does not create information. Then where does that nice tone come from? Is there a invisible intelligent designer sitting in the organ pipe, to inject music (but only when the white noise is blowing in)? I say that the tone originated in that random white noise, and the strong selection due to the resonance of the pipe then transformed it into an nice note.

    Most music instruments work in a similar way. The violin bow creates random vibrations, and this is followed by strong selection due to the resonance of the violin string. Striking a piano key causes a hammer to strike the string and induce random vibrations, which is followed by strong selection due to the resonance of the piano string.

    It’s true that, most of the time, randomness produces useless uninteresting information. That’s why our music instruments depend on a subsequent strong selection due to resonance. But useless uninteresting information is still information. And selection, applied to apparently useless information, can lead to highly useful information.

    I picked cryptography in my original reply, because in that case the randomness is generating highly useful information. So it’s a far clearer counter example than the music instruments.

  28. 28
    JDH says:

    Neil,

    First of all:

    I don’t find your examples illuminating at all and I don’t think they advance your case. The musical instruments create the pitches they do because of the set laws of physics of vibrations. There is not, “…invisible intelligent designer sitting in the organ pipe…”, but there certainly was a human designer who carefully specified how to mill the metal and shape it, and cut it to the precisely needed length.

    Musical instruments produce music precisely because they are intelligently designed. The reason we have the trumpet, flute, piano, etc. is because many people found intelligent ways to make pleasing sounds from vibrations. Please consult any book on musical theory and you will see how complicated the equal tempered scale is.

    So back to your bank example.

    You claim the random process which creates a shared secret key contains information. Let’s examine what types of information it contains.

    Does it contain any intrinsic information. Well very little.

    It is a certain length ( 256 bits for example ). But the reason it contains 256 bits is because that is the length of random key the programmers chose. That is not an example of a random process generating information. This is an example of intelligent designers, the programmers, choosing a design option.

    Now does the order of the bits contain any intrinsic information. If the designers did a good job, it certainly does not. As a matter of fact, let’s assume that the key does contain some intrinsic information. Let’s assume that because of a bug in the software used by The First Bank, the first 32 bits of every shared secret are specified to be

    0xBADBADEE

    This would be a serious bug in an encryption program.

    A 256 bit key that started with 0xBADBADEE would carry the information that it was probably the shared secret for a transaction from The First Bank

    Hopefully, programmers would not create a bug like this.

    The only information an encryption key should have is its external information. The information that it provides because of its context. This context is that this 256 bit random pattern is a shared secret guarding this transaction.

    You claim that a random process creates information when a shared secret is generated. Well, yes, the series of bits is information, but it is not being created to fit any specification. As a matter of fact, if the resultant key contains any intrinsic information ( i.e. if adheres to some specification like the first 32 bits are 0xBADBADEE so we know if probably comes form The First Bank) then the intelligent designers of the bank software have failed at their job and their software is less secure than it should be.

    It remains that a random process can only create a fluctuation from the norm. An unguided process, can not achieve a specification except as a chance occurrence. But, even if this specification is achieved, there is no guarantee in a random process, that it will move to some next step in some information building process. It has just as much chance of cascading down to white noise, as it has to stepping up to a more recognizable pattern. This is just the cold hard facts of what it means that a process is random.

    So please, no more bad examples, because in reality, each of your examples point to the need for intelligent design ( builders of musical instruments, software programmers ) rather than bolstering the idea that information ( usually classified as functionally specific complex information ) can be created by a random process. I hope you see that.

  29. 29
    Neil Rickert says:

    You have now changed the entire issue from “information” to “intrinsic information”. This switcheroo requires precise definitions.

    Personally, I don’t believe that there is any such thing as “intrinsic information”. Of course, you can call some things “intrinsic information” if you want. But, in that case, why not say that the encryption key is the intrinsic information that makes this particular communication session possible?

  30. 30
    JDH says:

    Hi Neil,

    Intrinsic information (my term, but I have seen others use it the same way) is information that is contained in the item and has a meaning irrespective of its external context.

    For example, living cells have a complex genome necessary for creation of the next generation of cells. Competent scientists trying to ask, “What is the sequence of nucleic acids in this cell and what is it for?” would all come to the same conclusions eventually. This is because the information contained inside of a living cell contains intrinsic information.

    Likewise an organ pipe manufactured to play a given note has the information that its length was designed to get resonance at a certain pitch. You don’t have to have any context to communicate to an observer what pitch the organ pipe is tuned to, this information was locked in when it was designed. Any competent observer will come to the conclusion that the organ pipe is tuned for the same note.

    It is precisely for this reason that a random shared secret should have no intrinsic information. A shared secret which gives away where and when it was created is not good. The software designers have failed if the key contains intrinsic information. Since the shared secret is a random series of events – which creates a random pattern of n 1’s and 0’s – it is specifically by design not supposed to have intrinsic information. It only has information because of the context in which it was received, usually in some handshake procedure between two machines.

    Please be smart enough to realize this. No one would like to use a shared secret for a transaction, that gave away information. This is why the shared secret is random. No other key will ever be produced like it. It is entirely useless after the transaction is done and no one can tell by looking at the key what transaction it was for, when the transaction occurred, or what will be the next key for another transaction.

    The point is that production of the key by a random process does not produce anything like a musical instrument or like a living cell. It produces a memory of a series of events that allow the communication of sensitive data encrypted by a shared secret. Outside of its use of a shared secret, this sequence of 1’s and 0’s has no use. You can not call it the intrinsic information of the communication session. It is just a shared secret- an extremely improbable event that only contains information in the context it is used. I hope that is clear and you don’t come back with another analogy that does not help your cause.

  31. 31
    Me_Think says:

    Encryption is not random. Encryption uses Prime numbers because Prime factorization of large numbers is difficult.It makes no sense to say randomness has no information. It is random fluctuations in Quantum field that creates virtual particles, it is random fluctuation in empty space that created the universe.

  32. 32
    RexTugwell says:

    Oh boy! Here we go. Me_Think, what is your definition of nothing and what exactly was fluctuating?

  33. 33
    Me_Think says:

    RexTugwell @ 32

    Oh boy! Here we go. Me_Think, what is your definition of nothing and what exactly was fluctuating?

    Energy,of course. All QM systems fluctuate about their zero point energy (which is their energy in ground state). If you want the exact definition of empty space/ nothing it is the eigenstate of energy operator with the lowest possible energy.
    If you want to debate whether the QM term ’empty’/ ‘nothing’ is really nothing or something, you can search for such threads all over UD. In fact, it is one of the favorite topics at UD.

  34. 34
    RexTugwell says:

    Fascinating. So prior to all space, time, matter and energy, it was random fluctuations (implying time) of energy (when there was no energy) in empty space (when there was no space) that created the universe.

    Pray tell, Me_(Don’t)_Think, what in your opinion was the mechanism that is responsible for gathering and containing all of this nothingness into a singularity of 10^80 baryons before it Banged into our universe?

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    Cosmology: A Religion For Atheists? | William Lane Craig critiques “The Theory Of Everything” movie (Standard Big Bang model and Hawking’s Quantum ‘no boundary’ Model both, contrary to popular thought, imply a definite beginning for the universe)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i08-gCue7Ds

    also of note:

    A Matter of Considerable Gravity: On the Purported Detection of Gravitational Waves and Cosmic Inflation – Bruce Gordon – April 4, 2014
    Excerpt: Thirdly, at least two paradoxes result from the inflationary multiverse proposal that suggest our place in such a multiverse must be very special: the “Boltzmann Brain Paradox” and the “Youngness Paradox.” In brief, if the inflationary mechanism is autonomously operative in a way that generates a multiverse, then with probability indistinguishable from one (i.e., virtual necessity) the typical observer in such a multiverse is an evanescent thermal fluctuation with memories of a past that never existed (a Boltzmann brain) rather than an observer of the sort we take ourselves to be. Alternatively, by a second measure, post-inflationary universes should overwhelmingly have just been formed, which means that our existence in an old universe like our own has a probability that is effectively zero (i.e., it’s nigh impossible). So if our universe existed as part of such a multiverse, it would not be at all typical, but rather infinitely improbable (fine-tuned) with respect to its age and compatibility with stable life-forms.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....84001.html

    Fine Tuning, Pink Unicorns, and The Triune God – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1145151962164402/?type=2&theater

    Does a Multiverse Explain the Fine Tuning of the Universe? – Dr. Craig (observer selection effect vs. Boltzmann Brains) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb9aXduPfuA

  36. 36
    Zachriel says:

    JDH: Likewise an organ pipe manufactured to play a given note has the information that its length was designed to get resonance at a certain pitch.

    Natural pipes exist in nature, such as reeds, which can produce a sweet tone in a breeze, or even wind blowing through a canyon.

  37. 37
    Me_Think says:

    RexTugwell @ 34

    Fascinating. So prior to all space, time, matter and energy, it was random fluctuations (implying time) of energy (when there was no energy) in empty space (when there was no space) that created the universe.

    There is no time – there is only arrow of time. Time is something that humans created. Arrow of time is just entropy, which is created with the virtual particles which – as you would have heard often times- pops in and out of existence with Quantum fluctuations. What do you mean by ‘there was no space?’. Before our universe was created, what was there? empty space? Fields? Energy? Nothing? Can you define the nothing of ‘before universe’?

    Pray tell, Me_(Don’t)_Think, what in your opinion was the mechanism that is responsible for gathering and containing all of this nothingness into a singularity of 10^80 baryons before it Banged into our universe?

    What do you mean by gathering of baryons? Singularity didn’t contain any baryons nor bosons! Universe didn’t bang into existence , it expanded into existence (inflation). What do you think Quantum fluctuation of meta stable false vacuum is about, if not exponential inflation?

  38. 38
    RexTugwell says:

    nothing n. – what rocks dream about

    Of course for the atheist nothing has to be something. Even the most ardent atheist knows that something can’t come from the absolute absence of being.

    Universe didn’t bang into existence , it expanded into existence (inflation).

    I see pedantry is the order of the day. I know the difference between a bang and inflation. Let’s try this again: What expanded / inflated?
    (and don’t say the universe)

  39. 39
    Me_Think says:

    RexTugwell @ 38

    nothing n. – what rocks dream about

    I want a scientific answer.

    I see pedantry is the order of the day. I know the difference between a bang and inflation. Let’s try this again: What expanded / inflated? (and don’t say the universe)

    The true vacuum bubble.

  40. 40
    RexTugwell says:

    Thank you, Me_Think. You want a scientific answer; proving my point that for the atheist nothing has to be something. And from that nothing (absolute nothing not the fairy tale nothing of the equivocating atheist) came the universe (or multiverse if you’ve got that much faith).

  41. 41
    PaV says:

    Neil Rickert:

    I use only Shannon information. I used to think that I would need a different meaning for studying human cognition. But, after spending some time going down false trails, I’ve come the realize that Shannon information is what matters even in that case.

    I think you’re way off the mark here, Neil. Shannon Information is simply Boltzman’s measure of entropic disorder. It’s a statistical mechanics equation, which is, more or less, the same field as thermodynamics.

    When we deal with entropy, let’s remember the notion of Maxwell’s Demon: this attempt to overcome the 2nd Law. And how does that work?

    Well, you posit an entity that examines each particle separated by a permeable barrier, and Maxwell’s Demon then allows one kind of particle–let’s say of a higher momentum–to pass, but then disallows the other type particle (low energy/momentum) from passing. We then have a disequilibrium condition contrary to laws of thermodynamics.

    Well, what does the Demon do? It examines and chooses–just like intelligent beings do!!!

    Thermodynamics tells us that Maxwell’s Demon doesn’t exist. And if the “Demon” doesn’t exist, then Boltzman’s entropic description of disorder lacks any intelligent element to its process, and is simply a process that cannot “search,” since “search” is an intelligent process, but is, rather, what we would call ‘blind search’: a process where things just bang into one another at random.

    There’s no way that Shannon Information can be a substitute for intelligence. It’s no more than blind search: a process where things just bang into one another at random.

    I think here, at UD, we should uniformly term Shannon Information as “Unintelligent Search,” and hammer that home with our intellectual adversaries.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://irafs.org/irafs_1/cd_ir.....enrose.pdf

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    “The ‘accuracy of the Creator’s aim’ would have had to be in 10^10^123”
    Hawking, S. and Penrose, R., The Nature of Space and Time, Princeton, Princeton University Press (1996), 34, 35.

    Fine Tuning, Pink Unicorns, and The Triune God – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1145151962164402/?type=2&theater

    Cosmic coincidence spotted – Philip Ball – 2008
    Excerpt: One interpretation of dark energy is that it results from the energy of empty space, called vacuum energy. The laws of quantum physics imply that empty space is not empty at all, but filled with particles popping in and out of existence. This particle ‘fizz’ should push objects apart, just as dark energy seems to require. But the theoretical value of this energy is immense — so huge that it should blow atoms apart, rather than just causing the Universe to accelerate.
    Physicists think that some unknown force nearly perfectly cancels out the vacuum energy, leaving only the amount seen as dark energy to push things apart. This cancellation is imperfect to an absurdly fine margin: the unknown ‘energy’ differs from the vacuum energy by just one part in 10^122. It seems incredible that any physical mechanism could be so finely poised as to reduce the vacuum energy to within a whisker of zero, but it seems to be so.
    http://www.nature.com/news/200.....8.610.html

    Astronomers Lie About Star Formation – June 20, 2015
    Excerpt: “Cosmic Confusion: Talk of Multiverses and Big Errors in Astrophysics.” Mario Livio recently confessed to the public some severe embarrassments in his field. “With three other prominent astrophysicists on the panel, Livio delved into one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics,,,, He described how astronomers are off on their estimate for the vacuum energy of the universe by 120 orders of magnitude.
    “This is a large number even in astronomy,” Livio said. “Especially for a discrepancy.”
    One of the panelists, Josh Frieman, drove home how alarming this error is.
    “To make a math error that big you know you really have to work hard at it. It’s not easy,” said Frieman, who is a senior staff scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the current director of the Dark Energy Survey.
    http://crev.info/2015/06/astro.....formation/

  43. 43
    PaV says:

    I ended my last post saying this:

    I think here, at UD, we should uniformly term Shannon Information as “Unintelligent Search,” and hammer that home with our intellectual adversaries.

    I should add this:
    Dembski’s use of Shannon Information can be interpreted this way: when the level of information needed via “unintelligent” search reaches a certain extreme, then we can safely conclude that “intelligence” was used in arriving at this level of information.

    It all makes perfect sense.

  44. 44
    Neil Rickert says:

    Me_Think Encryption is not random. Encryption uses Prime numbers because Prime factorization of large numbers is difficult.

    No, sorry, that’s wrong.

    You are thinking of public key encryption. However, in typical use, public key crytography is used only briefly, to exchange a random key (the session key) between the two sides. Thereafter, the encrypted session use symmetric encryption based on that random key.

  45. 45
    Neil Rickert says:

    PaV: Shannon Information is simply Boltzman’s measure of entropic disorder.

    Firstly, you are confusing Shannon information with Shannon’s measure of information. Secondly, you are confusing “entropy”, as used by Shannon, with the entropy from thermodynamics. The two share the same name and a mathematical formula. But, apart from that, they are quite distinct.

  46. 46
    Neil Rickert says:

    Replying to JDH:

    I won’t continue this. You are changing the topic as we go along (usually called “moving the goalposts”).

  47. 47
    Mung says:

    PaV: I think here, at UD, we should uniformly term Shannon Information as “Unintelligent Search,” and hammer that home with our intellectual adversaries.

    I’m not sure I could get on board with that. I think of Shannon’s Measure more like the value you obtain by maximizing information per query by using an intelligent search.

    If you want to locate a coin hidden in one box out of eight, you can do so in three yes/no queries if you use the optimal strategy. By some miracle of mathematics that’s log2 8. 2x2x2 = 2^3 = 8.

  48. 48
    Me_Think says:

    Neil Rickert @ 44

    No, sorry, that’s wrong.
    You are thinking of public key encryption. However, in typical use, public key crytography is used only briefly, to exchange a random key (the session key) between the two sides. Thereafter, the encrypted session use symmetric encryption based on that random key.

    Yes I was thinking RSA encryption but it is not random. Algorithm chooses 2 primes. Then it is multiplied. Next the totient of the product is taken, the co-prime of the totient of product is taken. Next modular multiplicative inverse is calculated. Public Key is the totient of the product and co-prime to the product. The private key is the modular multiplicative inverse of co-prime.

  49. 49
    JDH says:

    @Neil Rickert

    No Neil, I don’t keep changing the goal posts, you never understood really what I was arguing about. I am really sorry that I can’t come up with the words to make you see that what you believe is obviously false. I am sad because you will be justly judged by God for this very thing. Not because God did not make Christ available to you, but because you used the gift of free will and intelligence that he granted you to pile up an enough obfuscation and falsehoods to allow you to feel righteous about rejecting Him. You lose. I am sorry for you.

    P.S. I am just so curious, if you don’t believe that God granted you free will and intelligence. Where did your free will and intelligence to carry on this latest argument come from?

  50. 50
    Phinehas says:

    I say that the tone originated in that random white noise, and the strong selection due to the resonance of the pipe then transformed it into an nice note.

    This just messes around with the meaning of “originated.” I don’t think it is particularly surprising that information would arise from “strong selection,” especially where that strong selection has been designed for via intelligence. The information flow is most naturally understood to flow from the designer to the pipe to the tone. It should be pretty obvious that the pipe’s designer is a better explanation of where the information originated than the white noise machine blowing random noise into it. That this would be skipped over in favor of a protected-belief-reinforcing view speaks volumes as to the veracity of the OP.

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