Intelligent Design

A succinct case for Intelligent Design

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Recently, I’ve been reading Dr. Stephen C. Meyer’s excellent book, Darwin’s Doubt (Harper One, 2013). Towards the end of the book, I came across a paragraph that struck me as the best case I’ve ever seen for Intelligent Design, in 200 words or less.

“This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the origin of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.” (pp. 410-411)

For the benefit of readers who may be unfamiliar with the concept of epigenetic information, Dr. Meyer provides a helpful, concise explanation in an earlier chapter:

“In addition to the information stored in individual genes and the information present in the integrated networks of genes and proteins in dGRNs [developmental gene regulatory networks – VJT], animal forms exemplify hierarchical arrangements or layers of information-rich molecules, systems, and structures. For example, developing embryos require epigenetic information in the form of specifically arranged (a) membrane targets and patterns, (b) cytoskeletal arrays, (c) ion channels, and (d) sugar molecules on the exterior of cells (the sugar code)… Much of this information resides in the structure of the maternal egg and is inherited directly from membrane to membrane independently of DNA…

“…This information at a higher structural level in the maternal egg helps to determine the function of both whole networks of genes and proteins (dGRNs) and individual molecules (gene products) at a lower level within a developing animal.” (pp. 364-365)

Finally, in his earlier book, Signature in the Cell, Dr. Meyer provides an in-depth treatment of the difficulties attending the modern scientific view that life arose via an unguided process. Here, the cardinal difficulty, in Meyer’s own words, is that “explaining the origin of life requires – first and foremost – explaining the origin of the information or digital code present in DNA and RNA.” Contemporary naturalistic theories, which rule out Intelligent Design, all “fail to account for the origin of the genetic information necessary to produce the first selfreplicating organism.” Once again, Dr. Meyer’s summary of his case is admirably succinct.

So, here are two questions for my readers.

First, a challenge: can anyone locate an even more succinct (but no less comprehensive) statement of the case for Intelligent Design in the literature?

And for skeptics of Intelligent Design: how would you attempt to rebut Dr. Meyer’s case, in 200 words or less?

85 Replies to “A succinct case for Intelligent Design

  1. 1
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ

    And for skeptics of Intelligent Design: how would you attempt to rebut Dr. Meyer’s case, in 200 words or less?

    I hope you see the irony of you, of all people, asking for a concise response 🙂

  2. 2
    Jim Smith says:

    It’s succinct but it requires a lot of background to understand in depth. I don’t think it will convince the average person who believes in evolution to change his mind. It also doesn’t say why ID is the best explanation, it only says why Neo-Darwinism is inadequate.

    I don’t think succinctness is as important as understandability to the layperson. The best one can hope for is to help those who are open minded to understand the issues or at least investigate whether the evidence really supports Darwinist claims.

    Explanations I like are:

    In the fossil record we see the exact opposite of what neo-Darwinism predicts: Many phyla appeared in a brief period of time. The phyla arose without ancestors. There were very few species at that time. No phylum has ever diversified enough to form another phylum. Yet all of these phenomenon are predicted by intelligent design.

    An evolutionary tree can be made by comparing the same gene in different organisms, but different genes produce widely divergent trees. This is better explained by designed reusable components than by common descent. Homologous genes that regulate the development of analogous structures are also better explained by designed reusable components.

    The evidence claimed to prove macroevolution is either misleading or false, at best it demonstrates microevolution (like the differences between breeds of dogs) which is not in dispute.

    Theories of intelligent design are based on an analysis of scientific evidence and they try to show that intelligent design is a better explanation of the evidence than natural explanations. It is not necessary to identify the designer or explain how the designer arose. Just as the gravity of an unseen mass can be inferred as the cause of observed perturbations of the orbits of planets, an unknown intelligence can be inferred as a cause of information, cybernetic systems, irreducibly complex systems, and mathematical fine-tuning in nature.

    The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution by Casey Luskin. No Viable Mechanism to Generate a Primordial Soup … Unguided Chemical Processes Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code … Random Mutations Cannot Generate the Genetic Information Required for Irreducibly Complex Structures … Natural Selection Struggles to Fix Advantageous Traits into Populations … Abrupt Appearance of Species in the Fossil Record Does Not Support Darwinian Evolution … Molecular Biology has Failed to Yield a Grand “Tree of Life” … Convergent Evolution Challenges Darwinism and Destroys the Logic Behind Common Ancestry … Neo-Darwinism Struggles to Explain the Biogeographical Distribution of many Species … Neo-Darwinism has a Long History of Inaccurate Darwinian Predictions about Vestigial Organs and “Junk DNA” … Bonus Problem: Humans Display Many Behavioral and Cognitive Abilities that Offer No Apparent Survival Advantage

    It would take more than 100 million years for a small functional change involving two mutations to occur naturally in humans. The entire primate line has existed for less than that length of time and there are many more mutations that separate humans from apes.

    Naturalism is an extraordinary claim. The laws of nature seem to be relatively simple mathematical relationships. How is it that just by chance simple natural laws working alone would include or produce all the factors necessary for life: the 20 or 30 cosmological fine tuning factors, at least 15 factors needed to produce habitable planets, at least 20 chemical factors needed for complex life? How is it possible that simple undesigned natural laws could produce the complex machinery of cells and the information needed for simple life and macroevolution? How could such finely-tuned complexity arise at every scale from the atomic to the cosmic from simple undesigned unguided natural laws? If you wanted to design such a complicated system from simple mathematical relationships, it would require a huge amount of intellectual effort. How could it happen just by chance? (A multiverse, for which there is no evidence, couldn’t explain it.)

    The genetic code is finely tuned for efficiency (it is not random) and it is unlikely this efficiency could have arisen through evolution because any change in the code would affect every protein in the cell which would be catastrophically fatal.

    Differences in early embryonic development provide evidence that the animal phyla did not share a multicellular common ancestor.

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/p/6.....rlife.html

    Natural processes that produce biomolecules don’t produce proteins and RNA or DNA, they produce tar.

    Simple self-replicating systems mutate toward simplicity not complexity because competition for resources favors reduced resource requirements.3 A self-replicating molecule would not lead to the development of metabolism, it “would self-optimize its self-replicative function to the exclusion of other potentially metabolic functions and consume all resources.”

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/201.....tural.html

    DNA codes for proteins yet proteins are needed for their own production. How could such a system arise naturally? “It evolved from something simpler through mutation and selection” is a nice story but there is no good explanation of how it happened.

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    As JS says I think it is possible to rebut Meyer’s 200 words in 20 words:

    He explains perceived weaknesses in his understanding of evolutionary theory but gives no reason why design is a better alternative.

  4. 4
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Mark Frank and Jim Smith:

    You both correctly point out that in the short paragraph I quoted, Dr. Meyer doesn’t explain why Intelligent Design is a better alternative. Actually, Dr. Meyer explains this elsewhere in his book, but I can sum it up in two words: causal adequacy. Intelligent Design can do the job; all the unguided mechanisms that we know of cannot.

  5. 5
    vjtorley says:

    While we’re talking about the explanatory superiority of Intelligent Design, I might also add that living things exhibit certain features (such as digital code, functional specified information and top-down organization) which are the hallmark traits of intelligent agency.

  6. 6

    Mark Frank wrote:

    He explains perceived weaknesses in his understanding of evolutionary theory but gives no reason why design is a better alternative.

    Exactly. His understanding of evolutionary theory is weak, and actual evolutionary theory is a better alternative.

  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ 4 and 5

    This is old and much disputed territory. I think you know the standard responses:

    * Intelligent design without any description of the designer’s powers and motivations is causally adequate for everything and becomes nothing more than a god of the gaps. It is no more an explanation than saying an unknown chance mechanism did it.

    * The supposed features are actually hidden ways of describing that certain chance hypotheses are not adequate. They are not signs of design.

    But hey – let’s not do that all over again.

  8. 8

    Mark Frank

    Intelligent design without any description of the designer’s powers and motivations is causally adequate for everything and becomes nothing more than a god of the gaps. It is no more an explanation than saying an unknown chance mechanism did it.

    It doesn’t even require Gaps. Intelligent Design by an omnipotent and omniscient power could also adequately explain a universe for which we also had a complete and consistent non-design account.

    In fact “Intelligent Design”, where the Designer can be omniscient and omnipotent is not an explanation at all, because it does not explain “why this and not that”, which is what renders scientific hypotheses testable.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mark Frank @ 7:

    Mark, this “I’m just so weary of it all” response has become all too typical of your comments here at UD. Desist. If you are so weary of the debate, by all means move along to something you find more refreshing.

  10. 10
    Box says:

    Lizzie: His [Stephen Meyer’s] understanding of evolutionary theory is weak, and actual evolutionary theory is a better alternative.

    Admittedly, my understanding of evolutionary theory is also weak. Moreover I don’t understand how an ‘actual evolutionary theory’ could be a better alternative.

    Could you please enlighten me?

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Torley as to:

    “For example, developing embryos require epigenetic information in the form of specifically arranged (a) membrane targets and patterns, (b) cytoskeletal arrays, (c) ion channels, and (d) sugar molecules on the exterior of cells (the sugar code)… Much of this information resides in the structure of the maternal egg and is inherited directly from membrane to membrane independently of DNA…”

    Ontogenetic/Epigenetic information is a much more of a devastating problem for ‘bottom up’ neo-Darwinian explanations than even that succinct excerpt from Meyer’s book indicates.
    The fact that ‘form/shape’ is not directly reducible to sequences of biological information was recently admitted in the following evolution friendly article:

    The Strange Inevitability of Evolution – Philip Ball – Jan. 2015
    Excerpt: Naively, you might expect RNAs with a similar shape, and thus presumably phenotype, to share a similar sequence, so that a map of the possible sequences—the sequence space, which can be represented as a many-dimensional space where each grid point corresponds to a particular sequence—is divided up into various “shape kingdoms” (See Not a Patch, a). But that wasn’t what Schuster found. Instead, RNAs with the same shape could vary very widely in sequence: You could get the same shape, and therefore potentially the same kind of catalytic function, from very different sequences.
    http://nautil.us/issue/20/crea.....-evolution

    The insurmountable problem of ‘form/shape’ for neo-Darwinian explanations has now been demonstrated by a couple of different methods.
    That proteins have ‘non-sequential’ quantum information determining the ‘form/shape’ of a protein, residing along the entirety of the protein chain, is demonstrated by the following:

    Proteins with cruise control provide new perspective:
    Excerpt: “A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.”
    http://www.princeton.edu/main/...../60/95O56/

    The preceding is solid confirmation that far more complex information resides along the entire protein chain than meets the eye.
    The calculus equations used for ‘cruise control’, that must somehow reside along the entire protein chain/structure is anything but ‘simple’ classical information.
    For a sample of the equations that must be dealt with, to ‘engineer’ even a simple process control loop, like the ‘cruise control loop’ found to be along a entire protein structure, please see this following site:

    PID controller
    Excerpt: A proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID controller) is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller) widely used in industrial control systems. A PID controller attempts to correct the error between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint by calculating and then outputting a corrective action that can adjust the process accordingly and rapidly, to keep the error minimal.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PID_controller

    As well, here is a paper that found ‘quantum information’ along the entire protein structure:

    Classical and Quantum Information Channels in Protein Chain – Dj. Koruga, A. Tomi?, Z. Ratkaj, L. Matija – 2006
    Abstract: Investigation of the properties of peptide plane in protein chain from both classical and quantum approach is presented. We calculated interatomic force constants for peptide plane and hydrogen bonds between peptide planes in protein chain. On the basis of force constants, displacements of each atom in peptide plane, and time of action we found that the value of the peptide plane action is close to the Planck constant. This indicates that peptide plane from the energy viewpoint possesses synergetic classical/quantum properties. Consideration of peptide planes in protein chain from information viewpoint also shows that protein chain possesses classical and quantum properties. So, it appears that protein chain behaves as a triple dual system: (1) structural – amino acids and peptide planes, (2) energy – classical and quantum state, and (3) information – classical and quantum coding. Based on experimental facts of protein chain, we proposed from the structure-energy-information viewpoint its synergetic code system.
    http://www.scientific.net/MSF.518.491

    Moreover, to further highlight the fact that form/shape of a protein is not reducible to sequential classical information, the profound mystery of how a protein folds so quickly is now found to belong to the world of quantum information, not to the world of classical information. (of note: I personally hold that quantum computation is heavily implicated in protein folding).

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

    As well, it is found that the ‘form/shape’ of DNA itself is determined, in large measure, by quantum information, not by sequential classical information:

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours. “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    That ‘non-local’ quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints (Bell, Aspect, Leggett, Zeilinger, etc..), should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, in every DNA and protein molecule, is a direct empirical falsification of Darwinian claims, for how can the ‘non-local’ quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy) cause when the quantum entanglement effect falsified material particles as its own causation in the first place? Appealing to the probability of various ‘random’ configurations of material particles, as Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the material particles themselves to supply!

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons – Jun 11, 2013
    Excerpt:– requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-06-b.....otons.html

    etc.. etc..

    In other words, to give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘special’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Another method of determinging that ‘form/shape’ is not reducible to ‘bottom up’ Darwinian explanations is by noting that the ‘form/shape’ of many proteins is determined, not by its sequential information but, by the overall context in which the protein is residing:

    The Gene Myth, Part II – August 2010
    Excerpt: “It was long believed that a protein molecule’s three-dimensional shape, on which its function depends, is uniquely determined by its amino acid sequence. But we now know that this is not always true – the rate at which a protein is synthesized, which depends on factors internal and external to the cell, affects the order in which its different portions fold. So even with the same sequence a given protein can have different shapes and functions. Furthermore, many proteins have no intrinsic shape, (intrinsically disoredered proteins), taking on different roles in different molecular contexts. So even though genes specify protein sequences they have only a tenuous (very weak or slight) influence over their functions.
    ,,,,So, to reiterate, the genes do not uniquely determine what is in the cell, but what is in the cell determines how the genes get used. Only if the pie were to rise up, take hold of the recipe book and rewrite the instructions for its own production, would this popular analogy for the role of genes be pertinent.
    Stuart A. Newman, Ph.D. – Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....rt-ii.html

    Biology’s Quiet Revolution – Jonathan Wells – September 8, 2014
    Excerpt: In 1996, biologists discovered a protein that does not fold into a unique shape but can assume different shapes when it interacts with other molecules. Since then, many such proteins have been found; they are called “intrinsically disordered proteins,” or IDPs. IDPs are surprisingly common, and their disordered regions play important functional roles.,,,
    So it is not true that biologists know all the basic features of living cells and are merely filling in the details. Nor is it true that Darwinian evolution is a settled scientific “fact,” as its defenders claim. Huge unanswered questions remain, and they will only be answered by going beyond the discredited myth that “DNA makes RNA makes protein makes us.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89651.html

    podcast – Dr. Jonathan Wells: Biology’s Quiet Revolution – September 17, 2014
    “We are talking about 1/3 of the proteins in our body, (could be Intrinsically Disordered Proteins)” – Jonathan Wells
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....evolution/

    Another method to demonstrate that form/shape is not reducible to ‘bottom up’ neo-Darwinian processes is by noting that it is the ‘bioelectric code’, not the genetic code, that dictates what the basic ‘form/shape’ an organism will be during embryological development:

    podcast – Jonathan Wells: Is There Biological Information Outside of the DNA?, pt. 3 – Bioelectric code
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....5_52-07_00

    An Electric Face: A Rendering Worth a Thousand Falsifications – Cornelius Hunter – September 2011
    Excerpt: The video suggests that bioelectric signals presage the morphological development of the face. It also, in an instant, gives a peak at the phenomenal processes at work in biology. As the lead researcher said, “It’s a jaw dropper.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VULjzX__OM

    The face of a frog: Time-lapse video reveals never-before-seen bioelectric pattern – July 2011
    Excerpt: For the first time, Tufts University biologists have reported that bioelectrical signals are necessary for normal head and facial formation in an organism and have captured that process in a time-lapse video that reveals never-before-seen patterns of visible bioelectrical signals outlining where eyes, nose, mouth, and other features will appear in an embryonic tadpole.,,, “When a frog embryo is just developing, before it gets a face, a pattern for that face lights up on the surface of the embryo,”,,, “We believe this is the first time such patterning has been reported for an entire structure, not just for a single organ. I would never have predicted anything like it. It’s a jaw dropper.”,,,
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....-seen.html

    Here is another facsinating method by which it was clearly demonstrated that form/shape is not reducible to ‘bottom up’ neo-Darwinian processes:

    What Do Organisms Mean? Stephen L. Talbott – Winter 2011
    Excerpt: Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin once described how you can excise the developing limb bud from an amphibian embryo, shake the cells loose from each other, allow them to reaggregate into a random lump, and then replace the lump in the embryo. A normal leg develops. Somehow the form of the limb as a whole is the ruling factor, redefining the parts according to the larger pattern. Lewontin went on to remark: “Unlike a machine whose totality is created by the juxtaposition of bits and pieces with different functions and properties, the bits and pieces of a developing organism seem to come into existence as a consequence of their spatial position at critical moments in the embryo’s development. Such an object is less like a machine than it is like a language whose elements… take unique meaning from their context.[3]“,,,
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....nisms-mean

    But perhaps the clearest demonstration that ‘form/shape’ is not reducible to the ‘bottom up’ material explanations of neo-Darwinism is the fact that the ‘form/shape’ of an organism is almost immediately lost upon the death of an organism:

    Rabbit decomposition time-lapse (higher resolution) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6sFP_7Vezg

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    In regards what is organizing the billion, trillion, protein molecules of the human body into a single cohesive whole (form/shape) for precisely a lifetime, Talbott asks this very important question about the sudden loss of cohesiveness at death for an organism.
    Specifically he asks, “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Stephen L. Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    ,,, the question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?
    Despite the countless processes going on in the cell, and despite the fact that each process might be expected to “go its own way” according to the myriad factors impinging on it from all directions, the actual result is quite different. Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”
    picture –
    http://cdn-4.spiritscienceandm.....ardd-2.jpg

    Well, where does the biological information, specifically the quantum information, that was keeping the organism alive for ‘precisely a lifetime’, suddenly go upon the death of an organism? Neo-Darwinists would hold that the biological information simply completely disappears from reality upon the death of an organism (since they hold information to be ’emergent’ from a material basis). But the fact of the matter is that the quantum information, the information that was in fact ‘holding life together’ for precisely a life time, is ‘conserved’ and does not simply disappear from reality:

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    Information Conservation and the Unitarity of Quantum Mechanics
    Excerpt: “In more technical terms, information conservation is related to the unitarity of quantum mechanics. In this article, I will explain what unitarity is and how it’s related to information conservation.”
    http://youngsubyoon.com/QMunitarity.htm

    Black holes don’t erase information, scientists say – April 2, 2015
    Excerpt: The research marks a significant step toward solving the “information loss paradox,” a problem that has plagued physics for almost 40 years, since Stephen Hawking first proposed that black holes could radiate energy and evaporate over time. This posed a huge problem for the field of physics because it meant that information inside a black hole could be permanently lost when the black hole disappeared—a violation of quantum mechanics, which states that information must be conserved.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-04-b.....sts.html+/

    Besides providing direct empirical falsification of neo-Darwinian claims as to the generation of information, the implication of finding ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, and ‘conserved’ quantum information in molecular biology on a massive scale is fairly, and pleasantly, obvious.
    That pleasant implication being the strong validation of the Theist’s contention that we, as distinct ‘persons’, are ‘souls’ that merely live in a material body and that we are not ‘persons’ who are co-terminus with our material bodies:

    “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
    George MacDonald – Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood – 1892

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    As to specifically where this ‘conserved’ quantum information goes, well there are ‘theories’ in that regards as well. ‘Theories’ that are much more well supported than these evidence free ‘bottom up’ conjectures of atheistic materialists as to how body plans are formed in the first place:

    Special Relativity, General Relativity, Heaven and Hell
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_4cQ7MXq8bLkoFLYW0kq3Xq-Hkc3c7r-gTk0DYJQFSg/edit

    John 8:23-24
    But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) – poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Verses and Music:

    Psalm 139:13
    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

    Mark 8:36-37
    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

    Building 429: “Where I Belong” – Official Music Video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he32vwlKQPY

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    supplemental note:

    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

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    His understanding of evolutionary theory is weak…

    LoL. Even if this were true, which we shall not grant even for the sake of argument, it’s irrelevant.

    He was looking at the evidence, not the theory.

    p.s. which evolutionary theory?

  17. 17
    phoodoo says:

    6
    Elizabeth LiddleMay 10, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Mark Frank wrote:

    He explains perceived weaknesses in his understanding of evolutionary theory but gives no reason why design is a better alternative.

    Exactly. His understanding of evolutionary theory is weak, and actual evolutionary theory is a better alternative.

    ———————————————————————–

    Lizzie, Can you name one person whose understanding of evolutionary theory is strong?

    Is your understanding of evolutionary theory strong?

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    #16 Mung

    Wonderful knock-about stuff, Mung. This is one of the funniest, LOL threads for a while. Wait till Joe ways in on your question! Finally BA77 comes along to blind them with long screeds of actual, unanswerable, quantum-mechanical science!

  19. 19
    Barry Arrington says:

    phoodoo,

    As I demonstrated in this post, no one has a strong understanding of evolutionary theory; nor can anyone, in principle, have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory in the sense one can have a strong understanding of the theory of general relativity. Why? Because there is no such theory. There are lots of competing speculations, and the speculators in each camp believe the speculators in all the other camps are wrong. But there is no central core to the theory about which there is general agreement.

  20. 20
    Axel says:

    Mark, this “I’m just so weary of it all” response has become all too typical of your comments here at UD.

    Your #6, Barry.

    I understand Mark, Barry. I used to feel just the same until I grasped how to do quadratic equations. Then the other day I found out on here that there are much more difficult types of quadratic equations, which was even more dispiriting.

    It’s a hard row Mark and I are hoeing. Isn’t that right, Mark? Marks says he’s going to show Elizabeth how to do them, once he’s grasped this business about what I think he (and Dickie D) would prefer to call, ‘Chimerical Design’.

    If it turns out it really is ‘chimerical design’, imagine all the expensive recalls they’ll have to implement for all the biomimetic designs they thought they’d managed to adopt!

  21. 21
    phoodoo says:

    Barry @19

    Well, I hope Lizzie will give a sincere reply on whether she believes she has a strong understanding of the theory, or if not her, then who?

  22. 22
    Seversky says:

    The succinct case against intelligent design is as follows:

    First, if it is just the proposition that an unspecified intelligent agent was responsible for the creation of life on Earth, as I’ve argued before, it is a claim about ‘who’ not an explanation of ‘how’ so it is not in direct competition with the theory of evolution. It is comparing apples and oranges.

    Second, if ID is held to be a research program whose purpose is to discover evidence of the involvement of unspecified intelligent agents in the emergence and evolution of life on Earth, it still tells us nothing about origins. Even if we find such evidence, how can we tell whether they created all life or just life on Earth or just seeded the planet it with pre-existing life or just intervened in the course of life that was already present here?

  23. 23
    Andre says:

    His understanding is weak is just another way that the materialist tries to tell us that they are somehow more intellectual.

  24. 24

    MF said:

    Intelligent design without any description of the designer’s powers and motivations is causally adequate for everything and becomes nothing more than a god of the gaps. It is no more an explanation than saying an unknown chance mechanism did it.

    This is one of those places where self-deception manifests as an obfuscation of the obvious and an attempt to obscure a simple definition; ID theorizes the same thing that SETI theorizes as that which can be inferred to be a necessary cause for some phenomena: intelligence. ID theorizes the same thing that other sciences employ: intelligence. If SETI finds it’s narrow-beam transmission, will they suspend a finding of “most likely caused by ETI” until they examine aliens for mental capacity, interrogate them to find out their motives, and insist they explain exactly how they did it?

    Is it MF’s position that a finding of “causation by intelligence” is irrelevant to the kind of investigation that is conducted after such a finding?

    What unmitigated, blithering, obvious nonsense. It is only when their ideological commitments are in peril do they start babbling on about definitions of intelligence, god of the gaps arguments and start insisting that intelligences be identified and interrogated before any finding of “causation by intelligence” is logged into the books.

    It’s really not much of a step up from the prior “no real scientists believes in ID” and “ID produces no peer-reviewed, published papers” nonsense that reflected sheer denialism in the past.

    Perhaps we feel victorious that the argument and evidence for ID has pushed them from being able to con themselves via sheer denialism and ad hominem to having to construct such elaborate webs of semantics and sophistry to hide behind.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    …each of the features of the Cambrian animals and the Cambrian fossil record that constitute negative clues – clues that render neo-Darwinism and other materialistic theories inadequate as causal explanations – also happen to be features of systems known from experience to have arisen as the result of intelligent activity. In other words, standard materialistic evolutionary theories have failed to identify an adequate mechanism or cause for precisely those attributes of living forms that we know from experience only intelligence – conscious rational activity – is capable of producing. That suggests, in accord with the method of historical scientific reasoning elucidated in the previous chapter, the possibility of making a strong historical inference to intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of those attributes.

    Darwin’s Doubt, p. 358

    We can’t know it but we can’t doubt it either! (HT: Barry)

    A mechanistic theory without a mechanism. An objective truth.

  26. 26
    Carpathian says:

    Barry Arrington:

    But there is no central core to the theory about which there is general agreement.

    The central core of evolutionary theory is:
    1) Organisms mutate without any specific goal in mind.

    2) Not all mutated organisms survive to reproduce.

    3) Those that do may have an advantage over other members of their populations.

  27. 27
    RexTugwell says:

    @Carpathian
    Your 1) is where the rubber meets the road and empirical evidence for it continues to fail to impress. Lenski? Yawn

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    1) Organisms mutate without any specific goal in mind.

    Given that most organisms have no mind, this is a real yawner.

    2) Not all mutated organisms survive to reproduce.

    That not all organisms survive is a fact.

    3) Those that do may have an advantage over other members of their populations.

    May have an advantage?

    This isn’t evolutionary theory you’re giving us.

    No wonder people think Stephen Meyer is weak on evolutionary theory.

  29. 29
    Carpathian says:

    Mung:

    Carpathian: 1) Organisms mutate without any specific goal in mind.

    Mung: Given that most organisms have no mind, this is a real yawner.

    Carpathian: 2) Not all mutated organisms survive to reproduce.

    Mung: That not all organisms survive is a fact.

    Carpathian: 3) Those that do may have an advantage over other members of their populations.

    Mung: May have an advantage?

    Looks like we’re in agreement.

  30. 30
    harry says:

    Seversky @22,

    First, if it is just the proposition that an unspecified intelligent agent was responsible for the creation of life on Earth, … it is a claim about ‘who’ not an explanation of ‘how’

    If it is the proposition that an “unspecified intelligent agent” was responsible for life on Earth, then it is not a claim about ‘who.’ It is instead precisely a claim about ‘how’: intelligent agency.

    Intelligence is known to be a reality and is known to be a causal factor for many phenomena coming into being, most certainly for phenomena exhibiting significant functional complexity and based on digitally stored information.

    In the same way it is legitimate for an archaeologist to determine that an object is an artifact and not something that occurred mindlessly and accidentally without knowing who fashioned the artifact, it is legitimate science to point out the overwhelming indications that life is an artifact, in the sense that it is obviously the result of intelligent agency, primarily due to several facts:

    — it consists of digital-information based nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond our own

    — there are no instances of significant functional complexity that are known to have come about mindlessly and accidentally

    — every instance of significant functional complexity known to us — certainly those based on digitally stored information — are known to have come into being via intelligent agency.

  31. 31
    Popperian says:

    “This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the origin of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.” (pp. 410-411)

    Even if any of these things were true, which I’m not suggesting, it’s unclear what makes this a “A succinct case for Intelligent Design”. This is because ID, as a theory, doesn’t explain the origin of the knowledge that the designer supposedly put in organisms. It just pushes the problem up a level without improving it. Nor would the failure of neo-Darwinsm be an argument for ID.

    “In addition to the information stored in individual genes and the information present in the integrated networks of genes and proteins in dGRNs [developmental gene regulatory networks – VJT], animal forms exemplify hierarchical arrangements or layers of information-rich molecules, systems, and structures. For example, developing embryos require epigenetic information in the form of specifically arranged (a) membrane targets and patterns, (b) cytoskeletal arrays, (c) ion channels, and (d) sugar molecules on the exterior of cells (the sugar code)… Much of this information resides in the structure of the maternal egg and is inherited directly from membrane to membrane independently of DNA…

    “…This information at a higher structural level in the maternal egg helps to determine the function of both whole networks of genes and proteins (dGRNs) and individual molecules (gene products) at a lower level within a developing animal.” (pp. 364-365)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but “maternal eggs” are not actual present until 20 weeks after conception. As such, they would be constructed from raw materials just like the rest of a female human being. This process is controlled by a complex sets of genes. So, again, what is the origin of that knowledge? Saying it was located in one place (a designer) then moved to another (an organism) doesn’t actually explain the origin of that knowledge. It’s like someone pushing the food around on their plate, and claiming they’ve ate it. Yet, it’s still right there staring them in the face.

    Furthermore, that assumption that “design” is the best explanation assumes we have not make any progress about designers and knowledge, such as the ability to classify knowledge as explanatory or non-expiatory, etc. It treats “design” as if it is an immutable primitive that we cannot make any progress on. Yet, we have made progress. So, such objections implicitly deny that progress can and has be made.

    People, which would include human designers, are universal explainers. That is, we can create explanatory theories about how the world works designed to solve specific problems, which we then test for errors. That is the growth of explanatory knowledge.

    However, when human beings find themselves in a vitamin-c deficient environment, their cells to not “fix” the broken gene that allows us to synthesize vitamin-c? Why? Because, noting in our cells contains an explanatory theory about how genes result in synthesizing vitamin-c, which allows us to survive in vitamin-c deficient environments. If your gene were to be fixed under those conditions, it would be because you were a geneticist who possessed the explanatory knowledge of how specific genes could be modified to repair our ability to synthesize vitamin-c.

    We can say the same about a tiger. When introduced into an environment in which its coat makes it stand out more, instead of less, it does not change the shape and color of its stripes. Nor would this be inherited if for some reason it did. This is because nothing in the tiger knows what stripes are for in an explanatory sense. So, how would any such mechanism know how having slightly more or less stripes would improve its food supply? In addition, how would it have known how to synthesize pigments and to secrete them into its fur in just the right way to create strips with a design that did allow it to better into its environment? All of this would be explanatory knowledge, which much greater reach.

    Rather, the knowledge in organisms is non-explanatory. It’s what we call a useful rules of thumb, which solve problem in absence of an explanation. As such, it has limited reach. For example, imagine if I found myself stranded on an island. While trying to pick a coconut, I accidentally drop it and it opens on a rock. The bare knowledge that dropping a coconut from that tree to a rock will open it non-explanatory knowledge. I did not propose that dropping the coconut would open it. In fact, I wasn’t even trying to solve that problem at all.

    However, I can use explanations about physics, inertia, mass, etc to invert the process and hit a coconut with a rock on the ground, rather than bringing all coconuts to that same tree and dropping each one on the same rock to open them. And I could use the same explanation beyond coconuts to use rocks defend myself against attacking animals by striking their skulls. Or beyond rocks by using cannon balls or an anchor, etc. Explanatory knowledge has much grater reach.

    However, the knowledge in a tiger’s genes that produces its stripes is non-explanatory in nature. It does nor contain the explanatory knowledge that would provide enough reach to blend into a vast number of other environments, thus improving its food supply, etc.

    IOW, it’s not that we failed to consider design. Rather, the arguments presented failed to consider progress that we’ve made about designers, knowledge, etc. It grossly underestimates the role that knowledge plays.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Does evolutionary theory explain heredity, or does it just assume it (take it for granted)?

  33. 33

    Well, I explained one of Meyer’s fundamental errors here and there have been many other commentaries on it elsewhere, including TSZ.

  34. 34

    Mung:

    Does evolutionary theory explain heredity, or does it just assume it (take it for granted)?

    Mechanisms of heredity are part of the body of evolutionary theory, yes, and biologists understanding of them is increasing rapidly.

    Darwin had to take as an observation (not “for granted” – he observed that it happened) of course. Things have moved on since then.

  35. 35

    Barry:

    As I demonstrated in this post, no one has a strong understanding of evolutionary theory; nor can anyone, in principle, have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory in the sense one can have a strong understanding of the theory of general relativity. Why? Because there is no such theory. There are lots of competing speculations, and the speculators in each camp believe the speculators in all the other camps are wrong. But there is no central core to the theory about which there is general agreement.

    This is simply not correct, Barry. There is most certainly a “central core to the theory”, and it was articulated by Darwin. I usually write it as something like: “When self-replicators reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success, variants that reproduce most successfully will become more prevalent”.

    There are other succinct versions, but that gets most of it in, and that’s the basic mechanism Darwin proposed for adaptive evolution. One major development has been the role of drift – we now know that variants can also become highly prevalent even if they do not contribute to reproductive success, and this actually makes Darwin’s mechanism even more successful, because not every variant needs to be reproductively more successful than the competition to stand a chance of propagating through the gene pool.

    But of course evolutionary theory is now much larger than that, and no longer consists of a single theory, but an entire body of consilient sub-theories, including specific theories about different mechanisms of speciation, the role of horizontal gene transfer as well as longitudinal; mechanisms of variation production; the evolution of evolvability; non-genetic vectors of inheritance; sexual selection; mechanisms of genetic shuffling; etc.

    But these are elaborations, not contradictions of the core of Darwin’s theory which was the near-syllogism that I have articulated above.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    Those who produce more, produce more than those who produce less.

    Not just true in biology.

  37. 37
    phoodoo says:

    Lizzie 235,

    And yet you STILL can’t just answer a very simple and direct question. Do YOU have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory? If not you, then who?

    Does this question require five paragraphs of obfuscation and deciding what terms mean?

    You make an accusation that someone doesn’t know what they are talking about, and then in response, you give this convoluted mess about what the theory supposedly is or isn’t (its an entire body of consilient sub-theories!).

    Surely even you realize what a great example this is of your typical obfuscation.

  38. 38
    phoodoo says:

    Barry @19

    I think Lizzies answer to you is a perfect example of how she doesn’t truly wish to have serious discussions here. When she is cornered on direct questions, she reverts to this typical scrambling of words to just drown out any semblance of an answer.

    Is this accidental or intentional?

    If its intentional its an example of trolling behavior. But how can it be accidental, on such a simple point?

    She has no problem making accusations of people lacking knowledge on a subject (Stephen Meyer) then when asked to defend that comment? “Evolution is an entire body of consilient sub-theories….” wtf?

    So I really can’t go along with William’s assumption that Lizzies intentions are honest and admirable.

    She is just another guerrilla skeptic mouthpiece.

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    EL:

    When self-replicators reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success, variants that reproduce most successfully will become more prevalent.

    You obviously did not follow the link I provided. If you had you would have seen that I demonstrated in the linked post that the formulation of the core theory that you give is hotly disputed by many proponents of evolutionary theory.

    EL, just because you confidently spew something into a combox does not make it true. Indeed, based on my experience with you, that is reason to conclude at least provisionally that it is false.

  40. 40
    Cross says:

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 35

    “There is most certainly a “central core to the theory””

    That’s good, what is it?

    “When self-replicators reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success, variants that reproduce most successfully will become more prevalent”.

    Sounds simple, does it work?

    “One major development has been the role of drift – we now know that variants can also become highly prevalent even if they do not contribute to reproductive success, and this actually makes Darwin’s mechanism even more successful, because not every variant needs to be reproductively more successful than the competition to stand a chance of propagating through the gene pool.”

    That would be No, we had to come up with another excuse.

    “But of course evolutionary theory is now much larger than that, and no longer consists of a single theory, but an entire body of consilient sub-theories,”

    So it really didn’t work!

    “including specific theories about different mechanisms of speciation, the role of horizontal gene transfer as well as longitudinal; mechanisms of variation production; the evolution of evolvability; non-genetic vectors of inheritance; sexual selection; mechanisms of genetic shuffling; etc.”

    Ok, so is this meant to explain evolution or explain away the problems?

    “But these are elaborations, not contradictions of the core of Darwin’s theory which was the near-syllogism that I have articulated above.”

    Keep the faith Lizzie.

    Cheers

  41. 41
    phoodoo says:

    Cross,

    I like when she says this line:

    …and this actually makes Darwin’s mechanism even more successful, because not every variant needs to be reproductively more successful than the competition to stand a chance of propagating through the gene pool”

    Hm, this makes Darwinian evolution MORE successful because even gene variations which reproduce LESS can get passed on. Get it?? See how that strengthens it? By allowing thus that reproduce less to have a better chance at survival.

    Isn’t it perfect. If you have good fitness that is good. if you have bad fitness? Also good! Its strengthens it!

    Magic!

    And don’t forget, Lizzie has a strong understanding of the theory! Or at least she is very good at identifying those who don’t. Perhaps she is like a sports analyst that doesn’t know sports?

  42. 42
    Cross says:

    phoodoo @ 41

    Indeed, darwinian evolution is always right, except when it’s wrong, but then in hindsight, with the addition of a “consilient sub-theory” it was right all along!

    Heads I win, Tails, you lose.

    Cheers

  43. 43

    Barry:

    just because you confidently spew something into a combox does not make it true

    Indeed.

  44. 44

    phoodoo

    And yet you STILL can’t just answer a very simple and direct question. Do YOU have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory?

    Yes, for a non-evolutionary biologist, I think I probably do, phoodoo.

  45. 45
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Good OP by VJT as usual – and good thread following.

    Darwin’s Doubt is a masterpiece. I read it last year and want to read it again. Meyer has a gift for clarity. With others, however, I think the case for design also includes the fact that design fits best with the evidence.

    JS @ 2. Nice summary. Casey Luskin’s Top 10 is superb.

    Seversky:

    First, if it is just the proposition that an unspecified intelligent agent was responsible for the creation of life on Earth, as I’ve argued before, it is a claim about ‘who’ not an explanation of ‘how’ so it is not in direct competition with the theory of evolution. It is comparing apples and oranges.

    I can understand the need to re-write the ID proposal in order to attack it, but why not look at what ID actually says? It’s “the proposition that there is evidence of intelligent design in nature”. In SETI research, the statement, “there is evidence of intelligent communication emanating in space” should not be re-written as “an unspecified agent is communicating”. The proposal is not making a statement about the “who”. It is not a statement that that the agent is “unspecified”. It is making a positive statement about the cause which can be inferred. The question of ‘who’ (an individual or a group of people an unknown being) is a separate question.

    It’s also not a question of “how”. The signal shows evidence of intelligent design. We do not need to know how it was produced or broadcast.

    I think you’ve seen this argument before, so if you just ignore it and continue to re-write the ID proposal in order to attack it as a straw-man, that only strengthens the ID argument.

    Second, if ID is held to be a research program whose purpose is to discover evidence of the involvement of unspecified intelligent agents in the emergence and evolution of life on Earth,

    See what you did there (as a bolded the text)? Again, it’s “evidence of intelligent design” in nature (not merely in biology).

    Even if we find such evidence,

    Ok, wait a second right there … we found evidence. Without going any farther, what conclusions are necessarily drawn here?
    1. Everybody who said there was no evidence is wrong.
    2. The entire evolutionary claim about blind, unintelligent forces is wrong.
    3. The research project needs to extend out to possible intelligent agents.

    how can we tell whether they created all life or just life on Earth or just seeded the planet it with pre-existing life or just intervened in the course of life that was already present here?

    Well, we’ve been discussing modern ID theory for about 30 years (maybe less). It has taken this long (in your hypothetical that “we found evidence of design”) just to convince people that there is, indeed, evidence of design in nature. Now, give it another 30 years to convince a majority of the biological community that Darwinism is wrong.

    Then we haven’t even started to delineate the possible nature of the designer – what capabilities are needed to either create or seed design.

    So, I’d just suggest – don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s impossible to understand what designers did before any real research has been done on the question.

    I think we’d have to imagine that quite a lot of good ideas would emerge if the scientific community actually put work into researching the ID proposal, under the acceptance that it’s primary tenet (there is evidence of design) is correct.

  46. 46
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Cross & phoodoo:

    EL explaining evolutionary theory: “When self-replicators reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success, variants that reproduce most successfully will become more prevalent” … [and] not every variant needs to be reproductively more successful than the competition to stand a chance of propagating through the gene pool

    Hm, this makes Darwinian evolution MORE successful because even gene variations which reproduce LESS can get passed on. Get it?? See how that strengthens it? By allowing thus that reproduce less to have a better chance at survival.

    LOL

    Evolution predicts that variants that reproduce more successfully are more prevalent. And variants which reproduce less successfully are more prevalent.

    I guess that’s “actual evolutionary theory” which works a lot better than just the regular theory.

  47. 47
    NetResearchGuy says:

    EL: When self-replicators reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success, variants that reproduce most successfully will become more prevalent.

    The problem with EL’s understanding of evolution is that it completely lacks any sort of quantitative basis. For example, what if all heritable variance was negative (I.e. all mutations are harmful)? Clearly in that case, the evolutionary mechanism would simply have the effect of culling out all mutants, and have no ability to add information to significantly increase complexity. I’m not saying it’s true that all mutations are harmful, but it is known to be true that the vast majority are harmful, and that most of the experimentally observed beneficial ones represent context specific loss of information (I.e. Irreversibly breaking an existing gene).

    Besides that, there is an issue that many phenotypic beneficial mutations would require coordinated genotypic changes. It would take far too much time for these to evolve. As I’ve said before, for evolution to work, it would have to do countless failed phenotypic experiments, and extant organisms should show evidence of these ongoing experiments (lots of vestigial parts), which we don’t see.

    Most evolutionists claim in response that the genes were already there, and it just requires a few gene expression switches to cause macro mutations. I’ve never seen an attempt to prove this, or give any experimental evidence to support this. Instead they’ll say “well in the past, organisms did things with a lot of generic genes, and became more specialized over time. We don’t have the ancestral organisms which had magic powers to change into 20 different body plans with a couple switches to do experiments on.”

    Which brings us to a key aspect of evolutionary theory: all proposed mechanisms are unobservable in the present. Ancestral organisms generated many forms from a common set of genes — unobservable! Ancestral organisms used simpler proteins — unobservable! Ancestral proteins could evolve new functions more easily — unobservable! Ancestral proteins served multiple functions — unobservable! Information increasing beneficial mutations — unobservable!

  48. 48
    Seversky says:

    Silver Asiatic @ 45

    Good OP by VJT as usual – and good thread following.

    Dr Torley doesn’t make any better case – succinct or logorrheic – for Intelligent Design than those that we have seen before.

    As with all such claims, long or short, it still reduces mostly to attacks on the alleged insufficiency of the theory of evolution to account for the origins and current state of life on Earth, with much less said about an unsubstantiated claim concerning signs of intelligent design in nature – with the putative designer carefully unspecified – and strongly-criticized arguments concerning the improbability of life emerging by unguided natural processes.

    I can understand the need to re-write the ID proposal in order to attack it, but why not look at what ID actually says? It’s “the proposition that there is evidence of intelligent design in nature”. In SETI research, the statement, “there is evidence of intelligent communication emanating in space” should not be re-written as “an unspecified agent is communicating”. The proposal is not making a statement about the “who”. It is not a statement that that the agent is “unspecified”. It is making a positive statement about the cause which can be inferred. The question of ‘who’ (an individual or a group of people an unknown being) is a separate question.

    If you read my post you will see I dealt with the more limited claim concerning signs of ID in nature in my third paragraph.

    And it is disingenuous, to put it mildly, to pretend that ID is only concerned with signs of design in nature and has no interest in the nature of the designer. Leading lights in the movement have not been so reticent.

    William Dembski:

    Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory

    Philip Johnson:

    Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.

    Jonathan Wells:

    Father’s [Rev. Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.

    The Intelligent Design movement is, and always has been, about promoting Christian creationism as the true explanation of origins and it is only the legal decisions that have gone against them which has made them so coy about admitting it.

    And, yes, both the SETI and ID claims could be stated more precisely by formulating them so as to make it clear that they are not making any inferences about the nature of the intelligent agency in either case. In other words, for whatever reasons it is most certainly unspecified, whether or not that is actually true in the case of ID.

    It’s also not a question of “how”. The signal shows evidence of intelligent design. We do not need to know how it was produced or broadcast.

    If you want to infer from those alleged signs an explanation of origins then you most certainly do need to know how it was produced.

    Second, if ID is held to be a research program whose purpose is to discover evidence of the involvement of unspecified intelligent agents in the emergence and evolution of life on Earth,

    See what you did there (as a bolded the text)? Again, it’s “evidence of intelligent design” in nature (not merely in biology).

    You’re hairsplitting. ID is not concerned with the appearance of design in nature. It couldn’t care less about finding evidence of design in a volcano or a river or a desert. It’s concerned about finding evidence of design in living things. That’s biology.

    Ok, wait a second right there … we found evidence.

    No you didn’t. What you found were structures in living things that – in some respects – look like artefacts that human beings design – such as the eye looking a bit like a digital camera. You argued that such structures were too complex to have been produced by natural processes and must therefore, have been designed. Those observations are evidence only of the claim that such things have the appearance of design, not that they were designed.

    1. Everybody who said there was no evidence is wrong.

    If I say I saw a flying saucer hovering over my house last night is that evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial spacecraft? According to WJM, it is. Even if there is no way to know whether I’m telling the truth or lying. I say that is rubbish, such unverified and unverifiable claims are worthless as evidence.

    If someone says that the eye resembles a digital camera in some respects I would agree. Is that observation evidence that it was designed? No it’s not.

    2. The entire evolutionary claim about blind, unintelligent forces is wrong.

    The theory of evolution has for more evidence to support it than does ID.

    3. The research project needs to extend out to possible intelligent agents

    IF ID wants to make progress as a scientific project then, yes, it does.

    Well, we’ve been discussing modern ID theory for about 30 years (maybe less). It has taken this long (in your hypothetical that “we found evidence of design”) just to convince people that there is, indeed, evidence of design in nature. Now, give it another 30 years to convince a majority of the biological community that Darwinism is wrong.

    By all means, give it your best shot. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    So, I’d just suggest – don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s impossible to understand what designers did before any real research has been done on the question.

    I would agree but the problem is that the ID movement seems to be carefully and deliberately avoiding even speculation about the nature of the designer. It needs to be more honest.

  49. 49
    Zachriel says:

    NetResearchGuy: The problem with EL’s understanding of evolution is that it completely lacks any sort of quantitative basis.

    See Fisher, Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, Clarendon 1930.

  50. 50
    Seversky says:

    harry @ 30

    If it is the proposition that an “unspecified intelligent agent” was responsible for life on Earth, then it is not a claim about ‘who.’ It is instead precisely a claim about ‘how’: intelligent agency.

    No, it is a ‘who’ – an unidentified or unspecified ‘who’, to be sure – but still a ‘who’. It is not a ‘how’ because that would be an explanation of the cause-and-effect chain between the initial cause – the designer – and the final effect – the completed creation. The theory of evolution tried to provide such a chain from the earliest to the latest living things, both by providing an account of the natural processes that are involved and, where possible, observational evidence of at least some links in that chain. ID does none of these things.

    Intelligence is known to be a reality and is known to be a causal factor for many phenomena coming into being, most certainly for phenomena exhibiting significant functional complexity and based on digitally stored information

    Human intelligence is known to be a reality as are the artefacts we design. As yet, we have no evidence of any other extraterrestrial intelligence equivalent to our own so we have no way of knowing what are the common properties of our own and any other designs.

    I also think it is misleading to think of information as a property of living organisms or even non-living phenomena. Information is what resides in the models and modeling languages we use to represent the objective reality beyond us. It is no more a property of the external world than redness is a property of the red car I can see in the parking-lot. That car is reflecting electromagnetic radiation of roughly 620-750 nm wavelengths. The ‘redness’ is how that narrow band from the visible spectrum is represented in our internal models. To say that red is a property of the car is to confuse the map with the territory, the model with the thing being modeled. To put it another way, if I call up an image of that car on my computer, that image is created from what is essentially a string of ‘0’s and ‘1’s. That doesn’t mean the car itself is necessarily somehow created from ‘0’s and ‘1’s a la Matrix. Unless, of course, we really are all living in a computer simulation.

    In the same way it is legitimate for an archaeologist to determine that an object is an artifact and not something that occurred mindlessly and accidentally without knowing who fashioned the artifact, it is legitimate science to point out the overwhelming indications that life is an artifact, in the sense that it is obviously the result of intelligent agency, primarily due to several facts:

    It is legitimate to note the similarities between natural phenomena and human artefacts and technology but that is only arguing that one is analogous to the other. The problem with analogies is the danger of cherry-picking only the similarities which suit your beliefs when they are more properly evaluated by weighing both the similarities and differences.

    – it consists of digital-information based nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond our own

    Asserting that it is “digital-information based nanotechnology” is begging the question, assuming to be true the thing that has yet to be proven.

    there are no instances of significant functional complexity that are known to have come about mindlessly and accidentally

    We observe a great deal of “functional complexity” which was not designed by us nor anyone else as far as we know, so far.

    – every instance of significant functional complexity known to us — certainly those based on digitally stored information — are known to have come into being via intelligent agency.

    Yes, that intelligent agency being us. We have no persuasive evidence as yet of any other.

  51. 51
    Phinehas says:

    Sev:

    First, if it is just the proposition that an unspecified intelligent agent was responsible for the creation of life on Earth, as I’ve argued before, it is a claim about ‘who’ not an explanation of ‘how’ so it is not in direct competition with the theory of evolution. It is comparing apples and oranges.

    If by “evolution,” one means that man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind, then we are indeed comparing apples to apples. Or at least apples to not apples.

  52. 52
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Seversky @ 50

    Asserting that it is “digital-information based nanotechnology” is begging the question, assuming to be true the thing that has yet to be proven.

    You’re saying that life does not consist of digital-information based nanotechnology? That has yet to be proven?

    If so, you clearly couldn’t draw a design inference from life if you don’t accept that point first.

  53. 53
    Carpathian says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    You’re saying that life does not consist of digital-information based nanotechnology? That has yet to be proven?

    I see life based on chemistry which we have applied labels to.

    Something is not digital simply because of the terminology we use.

  54. 54
    Phinehas says:

    Carpathian:

    I see life based on chemistry which we have applied labels to.

    Something is not digital simply because of the terminology we use.

    Are you sure?

    Two apples plus two apples is four apples.

    “I see life based on chemistry which we have applied labels to.

    Two plus two is not four simply because of the terminology we use.”

    Actually, it kind of is, isn’t it?

  55. 55
    tjguy says:

    Carpathian @53

    Something is not digital simply because of the terminology we use.

    I can see how it might be beneficial/advantageous for materialists to avoid this term, but I think there is a good reason that scientists use this term. Life is based on software, on information coded be the genomic code that controls the organism and tells it how to build new proteins, etc.

    So, it is not like scientists just picked this word out of the air and made a vacuous comparison, but rather they picked this terminology for the very reason the it strongly resembles and functions as digital information based nanotechnology.

    But, feel free to withhold your decision on this matter until more is learned. One word of caution though, I wouldn’t count on things getting simpler, but rather more complicated – this has been the clear trend over the past 150 years since Darwin, so I doubt time will let you off the hook. As I see it, time is NOT on your side because of the trend.

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian: Digital denotes discrete state (as opposed to continuous) and the 4-state per base D/RNA chain qualifies. It further qualifies as manifesting codes based on discrete state elements, and as encoding algorithmic, step by step goal directed instructions . . . a form of prescriptive information. The system it is a part of is a discrete state control system, and it is in addition a communication system. Those terms describe objective states of affairs familiar from the world of technology, not mere ideas projected onto the outer world. KF

    PS: In one of his descriptions of a self replicating kinematic automaton, von Neumann described a prong height code, which is in turn similar to braille code, Yale type lock keys and punched paper tapes. And indeed that is exactly how R/DNA codes information using side chains to provide the prong heights. The real full-up chemical bonds are involved in the backbone chaining, at 90 degrees to the coded info.

  57. 57
    mike1962 says:

    “Digital” comes from “digit” which comes from the Latin meaning “finger” or “toe.” We refer to computer numbers as digital because they have discrete states, like humans have discrete fingers.

    Each nucleotide can be one of four chemicals, a discrete number of possibilities. Then arranged into groups of three, for a one-in-64 “codon” which are interpreted by the ribosomes to construct amino acids. (So-called “junk DNA” may have random values.) So of course, DNA nucleotides are rightly called digital for the same reason that computer bits are. DNA nucleotides are digital.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    M62, That’s because of course that is how the Romans counted, so we had I, II, III, IIII, V, the last for the Vee of the spread out fingers. X is two V’s back to back. Things like IV and IX came later I am told. The generalisation to discrete state is obvious. And we can talk of octal, duodecimal, hexadecimal and of course the sexagesimal system that we still recall with our clocks. My students always giggled when that one was called in the first lecture in digital electronics. BTW, I used a rope vs a ladder to show the difference between discrete and continuous state entities, as in there is no defined position between the rungs. KF

  59. 59
    Carpathian says:

    Phinehas:

    Two plus two is not four simply because of the terminology we use.”

    You are talking of scalar values here, not labels.

    Labels are a different story as you could never add “digital plus digital” and get a value.

    We could still re-label the scalar value of 2 as “five” and the scalar value of 4 to “three”.

    It would then be appropriate to say, “five plus five equals three”.

    While the labels would have changed, the scalar values would not have.

    In the case of describing as something chemical as being digital, I would have no problem with that if that labeling was simply for descriptive purposes.

    That’s not the case though when those labels are then used as a means of concluding function.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian, it is not labels but observed code and algorithm based organised, specific function — e.g. in Ribosomes that assemble proteins step by step based on use of the coded strings — that is driving the conclusion. Refusal to acknowledge something so foundational to modern molecular biology (and with a Nobel Prize or two earned in elucidating it) is revealing. KF

  61. 61
    Carpathian says:

    mike1962:

    So of course, DNA nucleotides are rightly called digital for the same reason that computer bits are. DNA nucleotides are digital.

    That is a very good description and I agree with you.

    What I don’t agree with is then using that label of digital code and implying that there must therefore be a designer of said code.

    As a description digital code is fine provided we realize it is simply a good description of what we see, not why it is there.

  62. 62
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    A very good description.

    Again, my problem is with first labeling something and then using the label to draw a conclusion.

    Life is chemical first, regardless of the label applied.

    We cannot say that after we have labelled something as “code” there must be a “coder”.

  63. 63
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    Refusal to acknowledge something so foundational to modern molecular biology (and with a Nobel Prize or two earned in elucidating it) is revealing. KF

    I have no problem with how we describe biological functionality but that doesn’t mean our labeling leads to a conclusion based on that labeling.

    We could describe the entire process as it actually happens chemically.

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian, essentially everything around you is atomic and interactions that are within the energy ranges of the valence band electrons are in large part chemical or electrical. That does not prevent them from also being used to create a code based on 4-state chained string data structure elements, that is used algorithmically to effect protein synthesis for one. To describe a fact and to recognise what it instantiates is not word magic. And in fact, save in this sort of no concessions or we are lost context this is not even controversial. So, ironically, we can take the fact of the sort of selective hyperskepticism that surfaces when this is pointed out, to show just how strong the argument really is. KF

  65. 65
    mike1962 says:

    Carpathian: As a description digital code is fine provided we realize it is simply a good description of what we see, not why it is there.

    Right. And if SETI finds coded information in a signal from deep space they have no reason to plausibly infer an intelligent source, right?

    How do you know if you’ve detected an intelligent, extraterrestrial signal?

    The main feature distinguishing signals produced by a transmitter from those produced by natural processes is their spectral width, i.e. how much room on the radio dial do they take up? Any signal less than about 300 Hz wide must be, as far as we know, artificially produced. Such narrow-band signals are what all SETI experiments look for. Other tell-tale characteristics [of intelligence] include a signal that is completely polarized or the existence of coded information on the signal.

    We cannot say that after we have labelled something as “code” there must be a “coder”.

    Something invented the DNA/ribosome coding system. The question is whether or not it is more plausible that an intelligence did it, or blind chemical forces. All this has been hashed out in previous threads. I suggest you peruse them.

  66. 66
    Carpathian says:

    mike1962:

    Something invented the DNA/ribosome coding system. The question is whether or not it is more plausible that an intelligence did it, or blind chemical forces. All this has been hashed out in previous threads. I suggest you peruse them.

    I agree with most of what you say and I’ve been following the threads for years.

    Blind chemical forces is not a quite accurate description though of the way nature works.

    Blind chance is not allowed by nature. You could never have two magnets fall on the floor and end up in a configuration where the two north poles are together.

    There is no evidence that life was designed though there is a lot that quite rightly indicates that it is highly improbable to have occurred through blind chance.

    That is why the blind chance argument is not plausible and is not being made by evolutionists.

  67. 67
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    To describe a fact and to recognise what it instantiates is not word magic.

    That is what I have an issue with.

    The actual workings of biology are chemical.

    We describe those processes as digital and it is a great analogy.

    We cannot however then take that analogy and claim the analogy to be a factual process.

    Gene splicing works because of chemistry, not by downloading new “digital codes”.

    If someone could show me a device that can load data into a cell like a PROM programmer burns data into a chip, I would be more inclined to agree there is a designer.

    The reality however, is more mechanical.

  68. 68
    mike1962 says:

    There is no evidence that life was designed

    A coded system like the DNA-codon/Ribosome system is a strong indicator of intelligent design. Blind chemical forces are not known to produce such a system. Intelligence is. That’s why SETI is looking for coded information.

    That is why the blind chance argument is not plausible and is not being made by evolutionists.

    I didn’t say anything about “evolutionists.”

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian:

    Oddly, it seems you may have fallen into word magic.

    Valence shell electron interactions typically several eV tend to be involved in electrical, optical and chemical interactions, as well as elastic behaviour etc. The atoms are blind to the labels we attach and in fact these factors can readily mix and match, e.g. rusting is chemical but stress and electricity contribute, etc.

    The atoms don;t care about labels.

    Now, what happens in /DNA chains is the chaining is a covalent bond, and the informational content is essentially prong height that leads to key-lock fitting (similar to a zipper) and weaker interactions. That comes out in the two complementary chains of DNA, and in codon-anticodon fitting in the ribosome.

    The 3-letter codon-anticodon bond allows a loaded tRNA to add its amino acid to the elongating protein.

    But here is the trick: the tool tip end that holds the AA is universal, it is CCA. Which AA is fitted is NOT chemically determined. That depends on what for simplicity we can term the loading enzyme that detects the tRNA conformation and puts in place the right AA. (This has been used to modify what certain tRNAs do, to create artificial proteins.)

    So, the AA to be loaded in sequence using the CCA tool tip of a tRNA depends on a code assignment, not on the varying chemistry of the CCA-AA bond.

    So, we see codes that depend on the particular states from 64 possibilities of three four-state elements, i.e. 4^3.

    Now, too, many people who are not technically educated concerning digital systems imagine that digital is practically synonymous with binary digital. Not so, digital strictly means discrete state, as I already outlined. For instance in the USSR, 3-state digital computers were implemented, and I just now pulled from my shelf, my copy of S I Yablonski’s Intro to Discrete Math, Mir, which inter alia develops the mathematics of k-valued logic.

    That R/DNA uses a 4-state logic and codes based on that is an instantiation of k-valued logic, not a mere analogy to common 2-valued logic. No, there is a whole Mathematics of k-valued logic out there that applies.

    So, please drop the dismissible analogy talking point.

    Similarly, a signal is some physical variable (broad sense) that based on possible configuration, can bear information.

    When the signal is continuous state it is analogue, when it is discrete state . . . k-valued in the general sense, it is digital. By chaining sufficient digital elements sufficiently quickly, any analogue signal can be reduced to a digital form. Discussion on digital elements in a world of digital signal processing is WLOG.

    And some things are inherently digital, alphanumerical symbol strings and the like for instance such as we use for text in English in this blog thread. The 1’s and 0’s of object code, machine language is like that also.

    And mRNA is machine code used to drive the NC process in the ribosome to synthesise proteins.

    Not, is analogous, INSTANTIATES.

    Now, you may find this hard to swallow, but that is not even seriously controversial unless the issues of its implications for OOL and OOBP are on the table because we are talking of complex algorithms that make exactingly specific functional elements at the heart of cell based life.

    To give you a picture of just how much this is code not chemistry, there are variant forms of the protein code for diverse life forms and notoriously, there is a distinct mitochondrial code right there in the same cell. That is there are different codes running in different parts of the same living cell. (E.g. Note 25 listed variants here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genetic_codes )

    And of course, deterministic chemistry would precisely undermine the configurational flexibility required to store information.

    So, we are dealing with digitally coded, functionally specific information — dFSCI — in protein synthesis that is algorithmic and based on a four-state base element, usually represented as GCAT/U.

    It is a key part of a discrete state controlled process, and is also part of a communication system.

    And trying to side-step that only inadvertently highlights just how powerful and telling that is.

    KF

  70. 70
    Querius says:

    Carpathian,

    If someone could show me a device that can load data into a cell like a PROM programmer burns data into a chip, I would be more inclined to agree there is a designer.

    Actually it’s the other way around. EPROMS are many trillions of times less complicated than a cell. And epigenetic information does indeed respond to the environment.

    Ask yourself what it would take to convince you otherwise—simpler technology or more complex? Does it have to appear designed by the limited capabilities of humans? What would it take? A slightly advanced EPROM programmer embedded in the Permian?

    -Q

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian, reprogramming cells by injecting — literally — information from external devices is very common. Viruses. The computer ones were named by analogy. KF

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    Carpathian:

    That is why the blind chance argument is not plausible and is not being made by evolutionists.

    When it comes to the origin of systems capable of evolution what are they left with, other than blind chance?

    Carpathian:

    That is why the blind chance argument is not plausible and is not being made by evolutionists.

    So they appeal to blind chance plus what? Whatever it is, it’s no more plausible than blind chance and in many cases actually does reduce to blind chance.

  73. 73
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: That’s why SETI is looking for coded information.

    SETI is looking for a narrow-band radio signal emanating from a star system, based on knowledge of human evolution and technology.
    http://www.seti.org/faq#obs3

  74. 74
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    SETI is looking for a narrow-band radio signal emanating from a star system, based on knowledge of human evolution and technology.

    SETI is looking for evidence of design, from unknown, probably non-human designers, based on knowledge of and comparison with human design.

    We know you understand that.

  75. 75
    mike1962 says:

    mike1962: That’s why SETI is looking for coded information.

    Zachriel: SETI is looking for a narrow-band radio signal emanating from a star system, based on knowledge of human evolution and technology.

    That’s one thing they’re looking for. I quoted another, from the very same page you cited.

    Here it is again in case you didn’t see it:

    How do you know if you’ve detected an intelligent, extraterrestrial signal?

    The main feature distinguishing signals produced by a transmitter from those produced by natural processes is their spectral width, i.e. how much room on the radio dial do they take up? Any signal less than about 300 Hz wide must be, as far as we know, artificially produced. Such narrow-band signals are what all SETI experiments look for. Other tell-tale characteristics include a signal that is completely polarized or the existence of coded information on the signal.

    http://www.seti.org/faq#obs9

  76. 76
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: SETI is looking for evidence of design, from unknown, probably non-human designers, based on knowledge of and comparison with human design.

    They aren’t searching for a disembodied designer, but have based the search on the hypothesis that technological organisms evolved on planets orbiting stars, much as they have on Earth.

    mike1962: Other tell-tale characteristics include a signal that is completely polarized or the existence of coded information on the signal.

    Much as SETI would love to detect TV reruns from an alien civilization, what they are actually attempting is to detect narrow-band radio signals or optical bursts. If they ever detect such a signal, then they will certainly study its properties, including the possibility that it encodes some message.

  77. 77
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    They aren’t searching for a disembodied designer,

    ID is not searching for a disembodied designer – Yes, very good.

  78. 78
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel,

    I can understand why you might want to keep ignoring the bit about “existence of coded information on the signal.”

  79. 79
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: If they ever detect such a signal, then they will certainly study its properties, including the possibility that it encodes some message.

    mike1962: I can understand why you might want to keep ignoring the bit about “existence of coded information on the signal.”

  80. 80
    mike1962 says:

    Zachriel,

    Very well. We misread the end.

  81. 81
    Carpathian says:

    kairosfocus:

    Carpathian, reprogramming cells by injecting — literally — information from external devices is very common. Viruses. The computer ones were named by analogy. KF

    What you are injecting is chemistry.

    When I use the terms “download” and “program”, I mean information only.

    When I program a PROM or rewrite a FLASH chip, I inject nothing materiel into the chip, only the “data” changes.

    That is why I say that the analogy with intelligent computing devices is not accurate.

    When you load a new operating system on a computer you do not open the hard drive and physically replace the platter.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    Carpathian,

    more word magic on your part. Do you remember how viruses take over, hijack cellular mechanisms and reprogram them?

    Clipping Wiki, FYI:

    Viral populations do not grow through cell division, because they are acellular. Instead, they use the machinery and metabolism of a host cell to produce multiple copies of themselves, and they assemble in the cell.
    A typical virus replication cycle
    Some bacteriophages inject their genomes into bacterial cells (not to scale)

    The life cycle of viruses differs greatly between species but there are six basic stages in the life cycle of viruses:[93]

    Attachment is a specific binding between viral capsid proteins and specific receptors on the host cellular surface. This specificity determines the host range of a virus. For example, HIV infects a limited range of human leucocytes. This is because its surface protein, gp120, specifically interacts with the CD4 molecule – a chemokine receptor – which is most commonly found on the surface of CD4+ T-Cells. This mechanism has evolved to favour those viruses that infect only cells in which they are capable of replication. Attachment to the receptor can induce the viral envelope protein to undergo changes that results in the fusion of viral and cellular membranes, or changes of non-enveloped virus surface proteins that allow the virus to enter.

    Penetration follows attachment: Virions enter the host cell through receptor-mediated endocytosis or membrane fusion. This is often called viral entry. The infection of plant and fungal cells is different from that of animal cells. Plants have a rigid cell wall made of cellulose, and fungi one of chitin, so most viruses can get inside these cells only after trauma to the cell wall.[94] However, nearly all plant viruses (such as tobacco mosaic virus) can also move directly from cell to cell, in the form of single-stranded nucleoprotein complexes, through pores called plasmodesmata.[95] Bacteria, like plants, have strong cell walls that a virus must breach to infect the cell. However, given that bacterial cell walls are much less thick than plant cell walls due to their much smaller size, some viruses have evolved mechanisms that inject their genome into the bacterial cell across the cell wall, while the viral capsid remains outside.[96]

    Uncoating is a process in which the viral capsid is removed: This may be by degradation by viral enzymes or host enzymes or by simple dissociation; the end-result is the releasing of the viral genomic nucleic acid.

    Replication of viruses involves primarily multiplication of the genome. Replication involves synthesis of viral messenger RNA (mRNA) from “early” genes (with exceptions for positive sense RNA viruses), viral protein synthesis, possible assembly of viral proteins, then viral genome replication mediated by early or regulatory protein expression. This may be followed, for complex viruses with larger genomes, by one or more further rounds of mRNA synthesis: “late” gene expression is, in general, of structural or virion proteins.

    Assembly – Following the structure-mediated self-assembly of the virus particles, some modification of the proteins often occurs. In viruses such as HIV, this modification (sometimes called maturation) occurs after the virus has been released from the host cell.[97]

    Release – Viruses can be released from the host cell by lysis, a process that kills the cell by bursting its membrane and cell wall if present: This is a feature of many bacterial and some animal viruses. Some viruses undergo a lysogenic cycle where the viral genome is incorporated by genetic recombination into a specific place in the host’s chromosome. The viral genome is then known as a “provirus” or, in the case of bacteriophages a “prophage”.[98] Whenever the host divides, the viral genome is also replicated. The viral genome is mostly silent within the host; however, at some point, the provirus or prophage may give rise to active virus, which may lyse the host cells.[99] Enveloped viruses (e.g., HIV) typically are released from the host cell by budding. During this process the virus acquires its envelope, which is a modified piece of the host’s plasma or other, internal membrane.[100]

    They use chemical and physical phenomena but they are essentially invading and taking over information driven systems in host cells.

    KF

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: In describing the action of the digital circuitry and magnetic storage media, interface devices etc I could revert to a physical description that would obscure the material factors, which are informational. Your problem seems to be that the informational view is inconvenient to what you wish to head towards so in certain contexts you are selectively hyperskeptical about it, That does not prevent it from being real and relevant, and it actually inadvertently shows its power. One can describe a symphony as a collection of vibrations in the air triggered by various physical mechanisms — indeed, that is why we can reduce it to an MP3 file, but that does not remove the reality and relevance of the symphony. And BTW this directly builds on a remark by Einstein on much the same.

  84. 84
    Mung says:

    Carpathian:

    When I use the terms “download” and “program”, I mean information only.

    Something non-material then. What does the interface look like?

  85. 85
    sean samis says:

    The paragraph from Dr. Meyer’s book presents a poor case. Point (1) is not a necessary function of evolution. Points (2), (3), and (4) assert unproven claims. Like most pseudoscientific arguments against evolution, the underlying (and illogical) assumption Dr. Meyer makes is that anything which is currently unexplained is assumed unexplainable, all unresolved complexity is assumed irreducible, and any problem currently known is assumed insuperable.

    There you go; 66 words. And it’s at least as scientific as Dr. Meyer’s paragraph, if not much more so. You may object that it leaves a lot unexplained, but of course there’s only so much one can do within a 200 word limit, and Dr. Meyer appears to have preceded his paragraph with 400+ pages of typing.

    sean s.

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