Intelligent Design

Can we all agree on specified complexity?

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Amid the fog of recent controversies, I can discern a hopeful sign: the key figures in the ongoing debate over specified complexity on Uncommon Descent are actually converging in their opinions. Allow me to explain why.

Winston Ewert’s helpful clarifications on CSI

In a recent post, ID proponent Winston Ewert agreed that Elizabeth Liddle had a valid point in her criticisms of the design inference, but then went on to say that she had misunderstood what the design inference was intended to do (emphases mine):

She has objected that specified complexity and the design inference do not give a method for calculating probabilities. She is correct, but the design inference was never intended to do that. It is not about how we calculate probabilities, but about the consequences of those probabilities. Liddle is complaining that the design inference isn’t something that it was never intended to be.

He also added:

…[T]he design inference is a conditional. It argues that we can infer design from the improbability of Darwinian mechanisms. If offers no argument that Darwinian mechanisms are in fact improbable. When proving a conditional, we are not concerned with whether or not the antecedent is true. We are interested in whether the consequent follows from the antecedent.

In another post, Winston Ewert summarized his thoughts on specified complexity:

The notion of specified complexity exists for one purpose: to give force to probability arguments. If we look at Behe’s irreducible complexity, Axe’s work on proteins, or practically any work by any intelligent design proponent, the work seeks to demonstrate that the Darwinian account of evolution is vastly improbable. Dembski’s work on specified complexity and design inference works to show why that improbability gives us reason to reject Darwinian evolution and accept design.

Winston Ewert concluded that “the only way to establish that the bacterial flagellum exhibits CSI is to first show that it was improbable.”

To which I would respond: hear, hear! I completely agree.

What about Ewert’s claim that “CSI and Specified complexity do not help in any way to establish that the evolution of the bacterial flagellum is improbable”? He is correct, if by “CSI and Specified complexity,” he simply means the concepts denoted by those terms. If, however, we are talking about the computed probability of the evolution of the bacterial flagellum emerging via unguided processes, then of course this number can be used to support a design inference: if the probability in question is low enough, then the inference to an Intelligent Designer becomes a rational one. Ewert obviously agrees with me on this point, for he writes that “Dembski’s work on specified complexity and design inference works to show why that improbability gives us reason to reject Darwinian evolution and accept design.”

In a recent post, I wrote that “we can decide whether an object has an astronomically low probability of having been produced by unintelligent causes by determining whether it has CSI (that is, a numerical value of specified complexity (SC) that exceeds a certain threshold).” Immediately afterwards, I added that in order to calculate the specified complexity of an object, we first require “the probability of producing the object in question via ‘Darwinian and other material mechanisms.'” I then added that “we compute that probability.” The word “compute” makes it quite clear that without that probability, we will be unable to infer that a given object was in fact designed. I concluded: “To summarize: to establish that something has CSI, we need to show that it exhibits specificity, and that it has an astronomically low probability of having been producedby unguided evolution or any other unintelligent process” (italics added).

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that some readers had been interpreting my claim that “we can decide whether an object has an astronomically low probability of having been produced by unintelligent causes by determining whether it has CSI (that is, a numerical value of specified complexity (SC) that exceeds a certain threshold)” as if I were arguing for a design inference on the basis of some pre-specified numerical value for CSI! Nothing could be further from the truth. To be quite clear: I maintain that the inference that biological organisms (or structures, such as proteins) were designed is a retrospective one. We are justified in making this inference only after we have computed, on the basis of the best information available to us, that the emergence of these organisms (or structures) via unguided processes – in which I include both random changes and the non-random winnowing effect of natural selection – falls below a certain critical threshold of 1 in 2^500 (or roughly, 1 in 10^150). There. I cannot be clearer than that.

So I was heartened to read on a recent post by Barry Arrington that Keith S had recently endorsed a form of design inference, when he wrote:

To use the coin-flipping example, every sequence of 500 fair coin flips is astronomically improbable, because there are 2^500 possible sequences and all have equally low probability. But obviously we don’t exclaim “Design!” after every 500 coin flips. The missing ingredient is the specification of the target T.

Suppose I specify that T is a sequence of 250 consecutive heads followed by 250 consecutive tails. If I then sit down and proceed to flip that exact sequence, you can be virtually certain that something fishy is going on. In other words, you can reject the chance hypothesis H that the coin is fair and that I am flipping it fairly.

That certainly sounds like a design inference to me.

In a follow-up comment on Barry Arrington’s post, Keith S went on to point out:

…[I]n that example, I am not calculating CSI and then using it to determine that something fishy is going on. Rather, I have to determine that something fishy is going on first (that is, that P(T|H) is extremely low under the chance hypothesis) in order to attribute CSI to it.

To which I would respond: you’re quite right, Keith S. That’s what I’ve been saying and what Winston Ewert has been saying. It seems we all agree. We do have to calculate the probability of a system emerging via random and/or non-random unguided processes, before we impute a high level of CSI to the system and conclude that it was designed.

CSI vs. irreducible complexity: what’s the difference?

In a subsequent comment, Keith S wrote:

I think it’s instructive to compare irreducible complexity to CSI in this respect.

To argue that something is designed because it exhibits CSI is circular, because you have to know that it is designed before you can attribute CSI to it.

To argue that something is designed because it is irreducibly complex is not circular, because you can determine that it is IC (according to Behe’s definition) without first determining that it is designed.

The problem with the argument from IC is not that it’s circular — it’s that IC is not a barrier to evolution.

For the record: the following article by Casey Luskin over at Evolution News and Views sets forth Professor Mike Behe’s views on exaptation, which are that while it cannot be absolutely ruled out, its occurrence is extremely improbable, even for modestly complex biologically features. Professor Behe admits, however, that he cannot rigorously quantify his assertions, which are based on his professional experience as a biochemist. Fair enough.

The big difference between CSI and irreducible complexity, then, is not that the former is circular while the latter is not, but that CSI is quantifiable (for those systems where we can actually calculate the probability of their having emerged via unguided random and/or non-random processes) whereas irreducible complexity is not. That is what makes CSI so useful, when arguing for design.

Does Dr. Dembski contradict himself? I think not

Keith S claims to have uncovered a contradiction between the following statement by leading Intelligent Design advocate Dr. Willaim Dembski:

Michael Behe’s notion of irreducible complexity is purported to be a case of actual specified complexity and to be exhibited in real biochemical systems (cf. his book Darwin’s Black Box). If such systems are, as Behe claims, highly improbable and thus genuinely complex with respect to the Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection and if they are specified in virtue of their highly specific function (Behe looks to such systems as the bacterial flagellum), then a door is reopened for design in science that has been closed for well over a century. Does nature exhibit actual specified complexity? The jury is still out.

and this statement of his:

It is CSI that Michael Behe has uncovered with his irreducbly complex biochemical machines. It is CSI that for cosmologists underlies the fine-tuning of the universe and that the various anthropic principles attempt to understand.

I don’t see any contradiction at all here. In the first quote, Dr. Dembski is cautiously pointing out that the inference that the bacterial flagellum was designed hinges on probability calculations, which we do not know for certain to be correct. In the second quote, he is expressing his belief, based on his reading of the evidence currently available, that these calculations are in fact correct, and that Nature does in fact exhibit design.

Dembski and the Law of Conservation of Information

Keith S professes to be deeply puzzled by Dr. Dembski’s Law of Conservation of Information (LCI), which he finds “murky.” He is especially mystified by the statement that neither chance nor law can increase information.

I’d like to explain LCI to Keith S in a single sentence. As I see it, its central insight is very simple: that when all factors are taken into consideration, the probability of an event’s occurrence does not change over the course of time, until it actually occurs. In other words, if the emergence of life in our universe was a fantastically improbable event at the time of the Big Bang, then it was also a fantastically improbable event 3.8 billion years ago, immediately prior to its emergence on Earth. And if it turns out that the emergence of life on Earth 3.8 billions of years ago was a highly probable event, then we should say that the subsequent emergence of life in our universe was highly probable at the time of the Big Bang, too. Chance doesn’t change probabilities over the course of time; neither does law. Chance and law simply provide opportunities for the probabilities to be played out.

Someone might argue that we can think of events in human history which seemed highly improbable at time t, but which would have seemed much more probable at a later time t + 1. (Hitler’s rise to power in Germany would have seemed very unlikely in January 1923, but very likely in January 1933.) But this objection misses the point. Leaving aside the point that humans are free agents, a defender of LCI could reply that when all factors are taken into consideration, events that might seem improbable at an earlier time can in fact be demonstrated to have a high probability of occurring subsequently.

Making inferences based on what you currently know: what’s the problem with that?

Certain critics of Intelligent Design are apt to fault ID proponents for making design inferences based on what scientists currently know. But I see no problem with that, as long as ID proponents declare that they would be prepared to cheerfully revise their opinions, should new evidence come to light which overturns currently accepted beliefs.

I have long argued that Dr. Douglas Axe’s paper, The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds, whose argument I summarized in my recent post, Barriers to macroevolution: what the proteins say, demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that unguided mechanisms could not have given rise to protein folds that we find in living creatures’ body proteins, in the space of just four billion years. I have also pointed out that Dr. Eugene Koonin’s peer-reviewed article, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life (Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15) makes a very strong case that the probability of a living thing capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution – or what Dr. Koonin refers to as a coupled translation-replication system – emerging in our observable universe during the course of its history is astronomically low: 1 in 10^1,018 is Dr. Koonin’s estimate, using a “toy model” that makes deliberately optimistic assumptions. Finally, I have argued that Dr. Robin Collins’ essay, The Teleological Argument rules out the infinite multiverse hypothesis which Dr. Koonin proposes in order to explain the unlikely emergence of life in our universe: as Dr. Koonin argues, a multiverse would need to be specially fine-tuned in order to produce even one universe like our own. If Dr. Axe’s and Dr. Koonin’s estimates are correct, and if we cannot fall back on the hypothesis of a multiverse in order to shorten the odds against life emerging, then the only rational inference that we can make, based on what we currently know, is that the first living thing was designed, and that the protein folds we find in living creatures were also designed.

Now, Keith S might object that these estimates could be wrong – and indeed, they could. For that matter, the currently accepted age of the universe (13.798 billion years) could be totally wrong too, but I don’t lose any sleep over that fact. In everyday life, we make decisions based on what we currently know. If Keith S wants to argue that one can reasonably doubt the inference that living things were designed, then he needs to explain why the estimates I’ve cited above could be mistaken – and by a very large margin, at that.

Recently, Keith S has mentioned a new book by Dr. Andreas Wagner, titled, The Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution’s Greatest Puzzle. I haven’t read the book yet, but let me say this: if the book makes a scientifically plausible case, using quantitative estimates, that life in all its diversity could have emerged on Earth over the space of just 3.8 billion years, then I will cheerfully change my mind and admit I was wrong in maintaining that it had to have been designed. As John Maynard Keynes famously remarked, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

For that matter, I try to keep an open mind about the recent discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones (see here and here). Personally, I think it’s a very odd finding, which is hard to square with the scientifically accepted view that these bones are millions of years old, but at the present time, I think the preponderance of geological and astronomical arguments in favor of an old Earth is so strong that this anomaly, taken alone, would be insufficient to overthrow my belief in an old cosmos. Still, I could be wrong. Science does not offer absolute certitude, and it has never claimed to.

Conclusion

To sum up: statements about the CSI of a system are retrospective, and should be made only after we have independently calculated the probability of a system emerging via unguided (random or non-random) processes, based on what we currently know. After these calculations have been performed, one may legitimately infer that the system was designed – even while admitting that should subsequent evidence come to light that would force a drastic revision of the probability calculations, one would have to revise one’s views on whether that system was designed.

Are we all on the same page now?

360 Replies to “Can we all agree on specified complexity?

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    I’m afraid I think the answer to the post’s title will be ‘no’.

  2. 2
    Tamara Knight says:

    …and should be made only after we have independently calculated the probability of a system emerging via unguided (random or non-random) processes, based on what we currently know

    And therein lies the problem. We can experimentally determine the probability of “likely” events, but not the probability of “very unlikely” ones. So calculation is the only option, but what we most certainly cannot do is calculate the probability of an event unless we fully understand all its causes. Your argument boils down to a rephrasing of “We can’t see how it works, therefore ID did it”. Throwing in the towel on conventional scientific research would be the problem, not the solution.

  3. 3
    Me_Think says:

    I have long argued that Dr. Douglas Axe’s paper, The Case Against a
    Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds, whose argument I summarized in my recent post,
    Barriers to macroevolution: what the proteins say, demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt
    that unguided mechanisms could not have given rise to protein folds that we find in
    living creatures’ body proteins, in the space of just four billion years.

    I don’t know what Keiths argument will be, but here are some thoughts from Here :

    …Even if one cuts the search space down to the size of a domain, (average modern size ~ 100 amino acids), these numbers are astronomical, though Axe does not go into this correction in detail. But obviously, the origin of proteins at the dawn of life has never been hypothesized to involve the sudden appearance of 300 or even 100 amino acid-long enzymes for oxidative phosphorylation.
    This is a straw man from top to bottom Over in the actual scientific community, the origin of protein coding capacity is commonly assumed to have extremely modest beginnings, as an extension of the RNA world, when RNA had the primary replicative and catalytic ability. This modest catalytic ability might then have been abetted by tiny peptides, painfully assembled by a set of primitive RNA enzymes, and then extended to slightly longer protein chains, which eventually and competitively, through their vastly superior chemical abilities, relegated RNA to what is now its mostly informational role. Indeed, the protein-translating ribosome remains a thoroughly RNA machine, using strings of mRNA as the template code, tRNA- mounted amino acids as the building blocks, and a catalytic core of rRNA for polymerization. This sort of gives the game away right there, if one cares to look.

    The messiness of this genetic code, with some amino acids encoded by only one of the 64 codons, and others encoded by six, indicates some late additions and jerry-rigging to the
    system. And since the code’s establishment, more amino acids have come into use through chemical modifications, either before the amino acid is incorporated (selenocysteine), or afterwards (hypusine).
    Axe never recognizes such realistic accounts of the primitive origin of proteins, however. He also assumes that successful proteins have to approach modern levels of efficiency, making any path from one folded form to another folded form(there are an estimated ~2000 classified folds) impossible, none in between being likely to have a well-honed function.

    Axe cites experiments showing that proteins can switch readily between quasi-stable folds, an important precursor to these innovations.
    But he dismisses such cases as not competitive in the modern Darwinian landscape.
    When a novel function is at issue,however, how primitive is too primitive?

    All of phylogenetic analysis is based on the wide variation of sequences, to the point that functionally and structurally similar proteins may have no detectable similarity in their linear sequences. Axe notes that every organism harbors, in addition to critical genes that are highly conserved, a population of others with no detectable relationships.
    A bold hypothesis from his perspective would be that it is these proteins that are the most important.
    Another hypothesis is quite a bit more likely – These proteins are, in point of fact, the least important ones of the organism, prone to rapid mutation and divergence to the point of unrecognizability. These, in turn, might be exactly the kinds of proteins that generate new structures, folds, and functions, if they can outrun complete inactivation through mutation, yielding up the novel folds that the author seems so perplexed by.

    As for Wagner’s book, the genotype network on hyperdimensions reduces the search space drastically, making improbability argument look silly. It has been discussed in other threads.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    Me think, Unguided evolution is not a search

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    Tamara Knight admits that her position has nothing yet she thinks that is a problem for ID. Strange. She also doesn’t understand how design inferences work.

    No Tamara, archaeologists and forensic scientists do not just throw in the towel and say a designer did it. Design inferences are based on our KNOWLEDGE of cause and effect relationships, ie science. And to refute any given design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that necessity and chance can account for it.

  6. 6
    Me_Think says:

    Exactly ! Would you please inform your ID colleagues who keep believing that evolution is hunting for patterns and specifications ?
    Wagner’s ‘search’ is a random walk down the genotype network. he show how new phenotype can be discovered at hyperdimensions in a fraction of a step.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    Let me pause while I wait for people to wake up before hitting the phone.

    It seems to me that there are several issues here that need to be taken as balancing points:

    1: All significant scientific findings and especially explanations are inherently provisional, subject to correction or replacement on future analysis or findings.

    2: This holds for the design inference across chance and/or mechanical necessity vs design.

    3: We need to come to the prior evidence-led recognition of a basic commonplace fact of engineering, which can be summed up:

    a: Many systems are complex based on multiple interacting parts that

    b: are wired up on in effect a wiring diagram that imposes

    c: fairly tight constraints on configs that exhibit relevant function, vs a much larger number of other possible clumped or scattered configs of the same components. (That is, islands of function in much wider config spaces of possible but non-functional configs, are real. Contemplate the properly assembled Abu 6500 C3 reel vs a shaken up bag of its parts, if you doubt that the informational wiring diagram makes a difference.)

    d: The wiring diagram is highly informational, which can at first level be roughly quantified on the number of y/n q’s that are to be answered to specify acceptable configs (up to tolerances etc).

    e: This can be descriptively titled functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I.

    4: I am not satisfied that many objectors to the design inference on FSCO/I are appropriately responsive to the basic points just made, and it seems that there is a problem of selective hyperskepticism at work.

    5: From the emergence of evidence on biochemistry and molecular biology esp. from the elucidation of DNA from 1953 on, it became clear that FSCO/I and its subset, digitally coded functionally specific complex information, are present in the living cell. Thus by the 1970’s leading OOL researchers Orgel and Wicken went on record:

    ORGEL, 1973:

     . . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [[The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189.]

    WICKEN, 1979:

    ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems.  Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

    (Notice, very carefully, please: “Organization, then, is functional[ly specific] complexity and carries information.” This is the root of the descriptive term, FSCO/I.)

    6: That set of remarks must be understood in light of the context outlined above. The origin of biofunctional, complex specific, interactive, information rich organisation is at the root of the tree of life and its branching.

    7: As a simple comparison for strings of y/n q’s to specify states, 500 – 1,000 H/T coins have 3.27*10^150 – 1.07*10^301 possibilities as configs. The former overwhelms the number of search operations possible for the 10^57 atoms of the sol system each searching 10^14 attempts per second, for 10^17 s roughly as one straw to a cubical haystack as thick as our galaxy. For the latter, the haystack to be compared to one straw would swallow up the observed cosmos of some 90 bn LY across. Blind chance led needle in haystack searches of such stacks will be maximally sparse and unlikely to be successful. Matters not if you scatter a dust, carry our random walks or combine the two, etc. Too much stack, too little search.

    8: So, we have an observable phenomenon in life that, even without attempted explicit detailed precise quantification of improbability, is a formidable challenge to any mechanism that appeals to chance-led non foresighted processes as engines of innovation hoping to generate FSCO/I.

    9: Where OOL is pivotal, because all there is by way of plausible chance and necessity hyps is the physics, chemistry and thermodynamics of Darwin’s warm salty pond, or a volcano vent or a cold comet or a gas giant moon etc. And in particular, appeals to the magic of differential reproductive success in niches have to first account for the origin of code-using von Neumann self replicators [vNSRs] added to metabolising automata based on homochiral proteins in gated encapsulated cells, in reasonable environments, in a reasonable time and scope of resources on empirically demonstrated capacity of credible forces and materials of nature.

    10: Such simply has never been done.

    11: And, that is the ROOT of the evolutionary materialist tree of life.

    12: Where, there is only one empirically plausible, routinely observed, needle in haystack sparse search challenge answering known source of FSCO/I. Namely, intelligently directed configuration, aka design. (That’s what configured this comment post, as text strings in English. It is what designed and built the PC etc you are reading this on. It did the same for the Abu 6500 C3 reel, and more.)

    13: Without explicit calculations beyond the ones generally indicated, we are already in a position to see that FSCO/I is an inductively strong and reliable sign of design as cause. (FSCO/I as understood, does not require irreducible complexity, as redundancies may be involved, etc. IC is a subset but it is not the only one. And, by abstracting away from biofunction or even interactive functionality to define specification, we arrive at a superset, complex specified information. Where the possibility of interactive function is enough. Phone beats me to the bell.)

    14: Just to indicate a bit, consider a naively simplistic cell, of 100 proteins of average length 100 AAs, where instead of 4.32 bits per AA on the choice of 20 alternatives, let things be so loose — this is implausibly loose — there is but one y/n required to specify on average, maybe is this hydrophilic or hydrophobic; any h-phil or h-phob AA would do in the same locus on the chain. Such proteins do the work of the cell. Already that is 10,000 bits, which is vastly beyond the FSCO/I threshold. Recall, for each bit beyond 1,000 the config space cardinality W DOUBLES. 9,000 doublings here.

    15: In short design sits at the table for OOL, and therefore for everything beyond too, shifting the balance of reasonable plausibilities drastically.

    16: Where, if we need a particular reason to justify that, we may wish to consider the challenge of origin of thousands of protein clusters across AA space, constituting thousands of islands of function that are deeply isolated, as you pointed out in the OP.

    17: In this context, I do not buy the concept being pushed by objectors, that one must calculate probabilities, and especially must do so directly while putting up a list of arbitrary chance driven hypotheses that they refrain from offering.

    18: That is irresponsible burden of proof shifting. The normal empirically warranted explanation of FSCO/I is design. Indeed, it is a common-sense sign of design, used routinely in all sorts of circumstances. The objectors wish to dismiss that without showing empirically backed warrant, which is selectively hyperskeptical.

    19: Instead, I strongly suggest that once very sparse sampling is evidently on the table, and large config spaces confront FSCO/I, it is those who would put up an alternative who need to warrant on empirical evidence that they have mechanisms capable of creating FSCO/I without intelligently guided configuration. This is the vera causa test.

    20: There is no good reason to believe this test has been met by the objectors, and the fairly obvious defects in the many suggested counter-examples speak loud and clear on how weak their case is.

    21: Further, we have something else that is connected to probability, which is readily observed and/or estimated. Information content.

    22: Which, as outlined above plainly points to config spaces well beyond reasonable sparse needle in haystack search. Where also, apart from y/n q’s or the equivalent estimates (which are commonplace in information practice, including in Shannon’s original paper) we may make stochastic studies that bring out redundancies etc and give us informational estimates anchored in how the available set of possibilities has been used by whatever has emerged across time.

    23: Where also FSCO/I — a fact not a speculation — naturally comes in islands of function, for which we can observe empirical indications for biology in the cell based on distribution of proteins in AA sequence space. Constrained by requisites of folding and functioning in biological cellular environments.

    24: Where the above suffices to show that debate talking points and assertions of circularity are groundless. The improbability of finding islands of function deeply isolated in config spaces of very large size on blind search is not a matter of question-begging but of the nature of the configuration constraints imposed by function, vs otherwise possible clumped or scattered configs.

    25: Yes, one must be fairly careful in wording, but that is besides the point of the fundamental empirical issue at stake. Until I see signs of objectors taking the issue of configuration constraints to achieve organised interactive function seriously [and I find that conspicuously, consistently absent — for years], I see no reason whatsoever to entertain objections based on assertions of circularity, given what has been outlined above, yet again.

    KF

  8. 8
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 4

    Me think, Unguided evolution is not a search

    Exactly ! Would you please inform your ID colleagues who keep believing that evolution is hunting for patterns and specifications ?
    Wagner’s ‘search’ is a random walk down the genotype network. he show how new phenotype can be discovered at hyperdimensions in a fraction of a step.

  9. 9
    Joe says:

    Me Think- Thank you for admitting that unguided evolution is useless. BTW Wagner didn’t do anything but speculate.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Search is of course a metaphor, much as selection is in natural selection. What is going on is subsets of the config space of possible configs of atoms and molecules are being samples from moment to moment in Darwin’s pond or the like, and that can be analysed in terms of sampling from the set of configs W. Dynamic-stochstic processes can be used to assess that, blending chance and necessity, creating in effect random walks with drift. Think, air molecules moving about at random, within an air mass moving along as part of a wind. The tree of life metaphor is a grand narrative based on such a process imagined to incrementally access possibilities across the world of life seen as a vast continent of possibilities that are incrementally accessible. The problem is there is no good empirically anchored, observationally grounded reason (apart from impositions of a priori materialist schools of thought), to accept that such a continent is real, and that it is accessible from Darwin’s pond or the like. The scattering of protein clusters in AA sequence space within wider organic chemistry, is a capital example in point why that continent is not credibly there but instead a dust of islands.

  11. 11
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 9
    Quite a strange conclusion – on both counts! Have you read Wagner’s book to warrant the second conclusion ?

  12. 12
    Tamara Knight says:

    archaeologists and forensic scientists do not just throw in the towel and say a designer did it. Design inferences are based on our KNOWLEDGE of cause and effect relationships

    Indeed, I’ve seen much speculation from Egyptologists about how the Pyramids might have been built. All manner of possible constuction methods ahave been postulated based on our knowledge of what they knew about cause and effect relationships. I few cranks even claim they could not have had enough knowledge of the relevant cause and effect relationships, and visiting aliens must have helped them out.

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    Nothing strange about it. Unguided evolution has proven to be useless- it can’t even be modeled nor produce any testable hypotheses. And Wagner’s ideas are not published in peer-review. If his ideas had the evidence he would publish.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: An there are metaphors everywhere, that is part and parcel of language in the real world. And if you imagine this is absent from Mathematics, consider the use of Cartesian space and graph paper etc.

  15. 15
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @13
    The list of journals were related research was published is here

    160. Payne, J.L., Wagner, A. (2014) The robustness and evolvability of transcription factor binding sites. Science 343, 875-877.[link]

    159. Wagner, A. (2014) A genotype network reveals homoplastic cycles of convergent evolution in influenza A (H3N2) evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281, 20132763. [reprint request]

    158. Szovenyi, P., Devos, N., Weston, D.J., Yang, X., Hock, Z., Shaw, J.A., Shimizu, K.K., McDaniel, S., Wagner, A. Efficient purging of deleterious mutations in plants with
    haploid selfing. Genome Biology and Evolution 6, 1238-1252. [reprint request]

    157. Wagner, A., Rosen, W. (2014) Spaces of the possible: universal Darwinism and the wall between technological and biological innovation. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11, 20131190. [reprint request]

    156. Payne, J.L., Wagner, A. Latent phenotypes pervade gene regulatory circuits. BMC Systems Biology 8 (1), 64. [reprint request]

    155. Dhar, R., Bergmiller, T., Wagner, A. (2014) Increased gene dosage plays a predominant role in the initial stages of evolution of duplicate TEM-1 beta lactamase genes. Evolution 68, 1775-1791. [reprint request]

    154. Hayden, E., Bratulic, S., Konig, I., Ferrada, E., Wagner, A. (2014) The effects of stabilizing and directional selection on phenotypic and genotypic variation in a population of RNA enzymes. Journal of Molecular Evolution 78, 101-108. [reprint request]

    153. Barve, A., Hosseini, S.-R., Martin, O.C., Wagner, A. Historical contingency and the gradual evolution of metabolic properties in central carbon and genome-scale metabolisms. BMC Systems Biology 2014, 8:48. [reprint request]

    152. Wagner, A. (2014) Mutational robustness accelerates the origin of novel RNA phenotypes through phenotypic plasticity. Biophysical Journal 106, 955-965. [reprint request]

    151. Sunnaker, M., Zamora-Sillero, E., Garcia de Lomana, A.L., Rudroff, F., Sauer, U., Stelling, J., Wagner, A. (2014) Topological augmentation to infer hidden processes in biological systems. Bioinformatics 30, 221-227. [reprint request]

    150. Wagner, A., Andriasyan, V., Barve, A. (2014) The organization of metabolic genotype space facilitates adaptive evolution in nitrogen metabolism. Journal of Molecular Biochemistry 3: 2-13. [reprint request]

    149. Payne, J.L., Moore, J.H., Wagner, A. (2014) Robustness, evolvability, and the
    logic of genetic regulation. Artificial Life 20, 111-126. [reprint request]

    2013

    148. Barve, A., Wagner, A. (2013) A latent capacity for evolutionary innovation through exaptation in metabolic systems. Nature 500, 203-206. [reprint request]

    147. Sunnaker, M., Zamora-Sillero, E., Dechant, R., Ludwig, C., Busetto, A.G., Wagner, A., Stelling, J. (2013) Automatic generation of predictive dynamic models reveals nuclear phosphorylation as the key Msn2 control mechanism. Science Signaling 6, ra41. [reprint request]

    146. Szovenyi, P., Ricca, M., Hock, Z., Shaw, J.A., Shimizu, K.K., Wagner, A. (2013) Selection is no more efficient in haploid than in diploid life stages of an angiosperm and a moss. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30: 1929-1939. [reprint request]

    145. Payne, J.A., Wagner, A. (2013) Constraint and contingency in multifunctional gene regulatory circuits. PLoS Computational Biology 9 (6), e1003071. [reprint request]

    144. Dhar, R., Saegesser, R., Weikert, C., Wagner, A. (2013) Yeast adapts to a changing stressful environment by evolving cross-protection and anticipatory gene regulation. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30, 573-588. [reprint request]

    143. Sabath, N., Ferrada, E., Barve, A., Wagner, A., (2013) Growth temperature and genome size in bacteria are negatively correlated, suggesting genomic streamlining during thermal adaptation. Genome Biology and Evolution 5, 966-977. [reprint request] .

    142. Bilgin, T., Kurnaz, I.A., Wagner, A. (2013) Selection shapes the robustness of ligand-binding amino acids. Journal of Molecular Evolution 76, 343-349. [reprint request] .

    141. Bichsel, M., Barbour, A.D., Wagner, A. (2013) Estimating the fitness effect of insertion sequences. Journal of Mathematical Biology 66, 95-114. [reprint request]

    140. Wagner, A. (2013) Genotype networks and evolutionary innovations in biological systems. In Handbook of Systems Biology. Eds: Walhout, A.J.M., Vidal, M., Dekker, J., Academic Press, London, p 251-264. [reprint request]

    139. Wagner, A. (2013) Metabolic networks and their evolution. In Encyclopedia of Systems Biology; p 1256-1259; Dubitzky, W., Wolkenhauer, O., Yokota, H., Cho, K.-H. (eds) Springer, New York.

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    Right and his speculation is based on that. And nothing in those references refers to blind watchmaker evolution. They don’t even pertain to macroevolution.

  17. 17
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 16,
    You can’t judge that by title of the papers. You at least got to read the Abstracts !
    Unfortunately I can only lead the horse to the water…

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Geez Me Think, if you think I am wrong then please correct me. Your bluff has been called.

  19. 19
    centrestream says:

    Joe: “Design inferences are based on our KNOWLEDGE of cause and effect relationships, ie science. “

    True. That is how archaeology works. But it only works because we know the nature, capabilities and limitations of the designer (humans). But we are repeatedly told this subject, the nature and mechanisms used by the designer, is a forbidden subject for ID. How can you study cause and effect when we aren’t allowed to examine the cause? Saying “intelligent agent” is not a cause unless you have details on how this “intelligent agent” effects change. Fail.

  20. 20
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 18
    I can’t, because you are wrong on all counts !

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    But it only works because we know the nature, capabilities and limitations of the designer (humans).

    LoL! We know their capabilities by what they left behind for us to discover. We sure as heck cannot test those people to see if they actually had the capability.

    But we are repeatedly told this subject, the nature and mechanisms used by the designer, is a forbidden subject for ID.

    That is incorrect. They are separate questions just as you separate the OoL from evolutionism.

    You have no idea what you are posting yet you feel compelled to post anyway. Strange.

    In the real world we first determine design is present BEFORE we even attempt to answer those other questions. It is very telling that you don’t know how science works. Nice job.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    Me Think, your bluff is duly noted. I looked at the first ten papers and they do not support anything you have said.

  23. 23
    Tamara Knight says:

    In the real world we first determine design is present BEFORE we even attempt to answer those other questions.

    Which would be all well and good Joe if you actually determined design was present. But you don’t do you. You make “design is present” the default explanation. If you knew how Science works then you would see the correct default is “we don’t know (yet)”

  24. 24
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 22
    Ha, Ha ! At 5:47 you posted @ 17. By 6:03 @ post 22, you read 10 papers ? Allowing atleast 6 minutes for reading and posting comments in this and other threads, you read all 10 papers in 10 minutes ?

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    Me Think- You said to read the abstracts! Also I have read some of his papers before today.

    You’re bluffing and you know it.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    “we don’t know (yet)”

    does this mean Darwinism is not an established fact like gravity is?

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Tamara Knight:

    Which would be all well and good Joe if you actually determined design was present.

    We have. OTOH you still have nothing, not even a methodology.

    You make “design is present” the default explanation.

    That is incorrect and demonstrates ignorance on your part. How can design be the default if we actively consider other explanations FIRST?

    If you knew how Science works then you would see the correct default is “we don’t know (yet)”

    Yet you don’t do that. You say unguided evolution did it and thar ain’t no design!

    Your entire position = “we don’t know”

  28. 28
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 25,

    Also I have read some of his papers before today

    Joe,You’re bluffing and you know it !
    P.S: This is silly and non-productive, so either you can stop, or I will.

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    “If you knew how Science works”

    Tamara Knight, shouldn’t Darwinism be a ‘science’ first before we can see if it works as a science?

    Darwinism is a Pseudo-Science:

    1. No Rigid Mathematical Basis
    2. No Demonstrated Empirical Basis
    3. Random Mutation and Natural Selection Are Both Grossly Inadequate as ‘creative engines’
    4. Information is not reducible to a material basis
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oaPcK-KCppBztIJmXUBXTvZTZ5lHV4Qg_pnzmvVL2Qw/edit

  30. 30
    Joe says:

    No Me Think, I am not bluffing. Do you think you are the only evo who has referred me to Wagner’s work? Really?

  31. 31
    Joe says:

    And yes, your bluffing is silly and non-productive. But that is par for the course when evolutionists are involved.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    as to Wagner’s work:

    Arrival of the Fittest: Natural Selection as an Incantation – November 17, 2014
    Excerpt: “In Arrival of the Fittest, renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner draws on over fifteen years of research to present the missing piece in Darwin’s theory (funny how Darwinists admit that evolution has a ‘missing piece’ only when they think they can explain that ‘missing piece’). Using experimental and computational technologies that were heretofore unimagined, he has found that adaptations are not just driven by chance, but by a set of laws that allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take.”
    Once again, as with Avida and all the other computer models, we find that Wagner has snuck extra information into the system. As Dembski showed in No Free Lunch, no evolutionary algorithm is superior to blind search. Without design, there is no shortcut to the treasure (i.e. to new functional complexity/information).
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91261.html

  33. 33
    Adapa says:

    Me_Think November 18, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Joe @13: The list of journals were related research was published is here

    Joe November 18, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Me Think, your bluff is duly noted. I looked at the first ten papers and they do not support anything you have said.

    Wow Joe, that’s amazing! You read and understood 10 highly technical scientific papers in 30 minutes! One every 3 minutes!

    That’s just as believable as most everything else you post. 🙂

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    Adapa, Your inability to follow along is matched by your inability to form a coherent post.

  35. 35
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Which would be all well and good Joe if you actually determined design was present. But you don’t do you. You make “design is present” the default explanation. If you knew how Science works then you would see the correct default is “we don’t know (yet)”

    I hope you find yourself realizing that using random evolution to fill in gaps in our knowledge isn’t actually productive or scientific. ID is asking a question, the mainstream position has merely been trumpeting it’s conclusion without the necessary evidence to justify the assertions. If you really examine this, I think you’ll see that ID is the group that is doing science.

  36. 36
    Winston Ewert says:

    Great post! I hope that your right and we’ll see agreement on the idea of specified complexity, if not the actual measurements.

  37. 37
    Box says:

    BA77: Once again, as with Avida and all the other computer models, we find that Wagner has snuck extra information into the system. As Dembski showed in No Free Lunch, no evolutionary algorithm is superior to blind search. Without design, there is no shortcut to the treasure (i.e. to new functional complexity/information).

    Conservation of information is not a difficult concept and once it is understood, it becomes clear that evolutionary processes cannot create the information required to power biological evolution. Here an excellent article by Dembski.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    Yes Box, that is a good article,,, it also very good to have a proper understanding of how radical of a departure information is in its being that matter/energy are in their being:

    “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin?
    And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.
    In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires.
    Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.”
    -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

    Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8

  39. 39
    Moose Dr says:

    Hold the phone!

    Question, if it could be demonstrated that natural processes are capable of producing CSI, would it change the definition of CSI?

    I think it would not. Complexity remains to be measured by number of bits of data. Specification remains to be determined by the fact that it specifies some specific thing.

    I contend that CSI cannot reasonably be generated by random means. However, Dawkins is famous for demonstrating his wiesel program which is purported to produce CSI. We recognize that his program was painfully front-loaded. However, that fact does nothing to analyse the CSI of the expression “methinks that it looks like a weasel”.

    If we take “evolvability” off the table when defining CSI, then an agreement can be reached as to what CSI is. Only then can the real question “can RM+NS produce CSI” be properly discussed.

  40. 40
    phoodoo says:

    Sorry to disagree, but I think it is a terrible post.

    “CSI of a system are retrospective, and should be made only after we have independently calculated the probability of a system emerging via unguided (random or non-random) processes, based on what we currently know.”

    If this was the case, what would the point be of determining if something was complex and specified? If you are already saying the probability of something arising from unguided processes is extremely low, there is no point in determining its CSI. If that was really how Dembski framed his argument, of course it would be circular. Has anyone quoted Dembski as saying this?

    Obviously you would have to know if something is complex, and specific, before you could determine if it is unlikely to be created by an unguided process.

    And if Dembski really did frame it this way, he is simply mistaken. If something appears designed by virtue of its complexity, and specificity of its interrelated functioning parts- then certainly it is unlikely to be created by unguided processes. The more specific, and more complex, the less likely it becomes.

  41. 41
    phoodoo says:

    Furthermore, what is an unguided “non-random process?”

    In evolutionary talk, that is a contradiction in terms.

  42. 42
    phoodoo says:

    Moose,

    Dawkins program only shows that GUIDED evolution can produce something meaningful.

    We already know this.

  43. 43
    Fair Witness says:

    Adapa @33 – Astute observation

    bornagain77 @38 – I knew Meyer was an idiot, but your excerpt has him effectively equating information to the holy ghost. This is the fundamental fallacy that all information that we find “interesting” or “useful” must have come from a designer.

  44. 44
    Barry Arrington says:

    phoodoo @ 40 see my latest post. It addresses the issues you raise.

  45. 45
    centrestream says:

    Joe #21: “In the real world we first determine design is present BEFORE we even attempt to answer those other questions. It is very telling that you don’t know how science works. Nice job.”

    Really? Are you saying that archaeologists investigating a possible human artifact look at it with no understanding of human capabilities and limitations? If so, you are sadly mistaken and should do a little reading on the subject.

  46. 46
    Moose Dr says:

    Phoodoo, you totally missed my point. CSI does not cease to exist if it can be demonstrated that natural means can produce it! Even if neo-Darwinism were to work, were to be responsible for all of life, CSI would still be a phenomenon.

  47. 47
    centrestream says:

    Joe: “Adapa, Your inability to follow along is matched by your inability to form a coherent post.”

    Barry’s thoughts put into words: “Last Warning, we don’t need no stink’n Last Warning.

  48. 48
    phoodoo says:

    Moose,

    Yes, I see. I am simply saying we still have zero evidence to suggest random, sloppy, unguided processes can produce anything. Not even “methinks that it looks like a weasel”.

    Imagine how hard it would be to make something even moderately complicated.

  49. 49
    Moose Dr says:

    centrestream, I don’t know if you have “kick out” power or not, but uncommondescent has quite a reputation for kicking out critics. I have scanned recent posts by Adapa. They are on topic, and they are not vulgar. Whether they are well reasoned or not should be irrelevant. Please don’t support an uncommondescent that keeps individual critics around until someone dislikes them, then kisses them goodbye.

  50. 50
    Moose Dr says:

    Phoodoo, “I am simply saying we still have zero evidence to suggest …”
    My point is that by placing “not achievable by any natural means” in the definition of CSI you make it impossible for the NDEs to accept the definition. Lets agree on a definition without drawing such a fatal conclusion. Once we can see that some information is, well, not random, and has specificity (means something sensible), then we can ask the question of whether RM+NS is capable of producing such.

    I very strongly don’t think it can. However, I am willing to let the NDEs try to show me the error in my ways.

  51. 51
    centrestream says:

    Moose Dr., I apologize if you misinterpreted the intent of my comment. I was not being critical of Adapa. I was being critical of Barry’s dishonesty in not following through on banning Joe as he implied when he gave Joe his last warning.

    I agree that most commenters behave civilly, even though emotions may run high. But Joe is one of the few exceptions. He behaves like a spoiled little child whenever someone disagrees with him, and then blames his abhorrent behaviour on being provoked by others. That wasn’t an acceptable excuse when we were kids, why does Barry accept it as an excuse (at least in Joe’s case), here?

  52. 52
    Moose Dr says:

    Sorry for misunderstanding you Centrestream. Re-reading your post, I see that you were critiquing Joe, not Adapa.

    I say the same about Joe, however. His interactions may be putsy, but they are not vulgar, and they are on topic (or at least on a rabbit trail near the topic.) My vote is still for as broad of uncommondescent as possible — even if it requires putting up with the foibles of the less socially adapted.

  53. 53
    centrestream says:

    Moose Dr., I completely agree with you. I would only ban someone if they are inciting hatred. But that is not the practice at UD. People routinely get banned here, and they are almost always ID opponents. And in most cases the bannings are not the result of bad behaviour. I had hoped that things had changed with Barry’s amnesty, but the only thing that has changed is that the bannings are now performed silently, with no announcement.

  54. 54
    Joe says:

    centrestream:

    Are you saying that archaeologists investigating a possible human artifact look at it with no understanding of human capabilities and limitations?

    That doesn’t follow from anything I have said.

  55. 55
    Joe says:

    centrestream- your unsupportable diatribe and constant whining are duly noted.

  56. 56
    Moose Dr says:

    Joe, “centrestream- your unsupportable diatribe and constant whining are duly noted.”
    Please note that this is the kind of conversation that has been referenced when discussing your posting privelages.

    Centrestream is defending your right to be here! Don’t sabotage it.

    In interest of conversation, I searched your comments regarding “archaeologist”. I found the following:

    Joe (5) “And to refute any given design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that necessity and chance can account for it.”

    Agreed. Demonstrate that necessity and chance can account for something that vaguely resembles the class of CSI (as I define it in 39 above) that is found in biology and I will happily become a neo-Darwinist.

  57. 57
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr.

    I say the same about Joe, however. His interactions may be putsy, but they are not vulgar, and they are on topic (or at least on a rabbit trail near the topic.

    If you want to see vulgar just read some of Joe’s posts at ATBC or even at Joe’s own blog.

  58. 58
    Joe says:

    And more whining…

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    CS: On the contrary, there is a serious problem of abusive long term trolling here at UD, in a penumbra of attack sites and in too many Darwinist sites, that I will not name; that trollishness had sometimes become a significant distraction, and that is counter-productive and if unchecked would frustrate serious discussion such as is above — e.g. while I have paused to respond to this, I am well aware that this can become a pull off track on a red herring chase led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud a major issue that does need proper resolution on its merits. (Where too, projective turnabouts such as have become common in attempted defense of that behaviour are a well known defensive tactic for the indefensible.) I simply note on all this how pointelss it is, if there really were the sort of solid response on accounting per observed evidence for the tree of life from OOl to the utmost twigs by blind chance and necessity, there is a two years standing open invitation to host it, and it is patent that such would devastate the design inference based perspective on the world of life, and indeed BA has openly said that the production of CSI by such in a solid case would lead to his shutting down UD. So the challenge is on the table, show the cards to back your bets pardnuh. Nothing else really counts — save for patent continued inability to back your bets. As for Joe, He seems to be trying to reform, but he is obviously under serious probation and if he continues to slip will face consequences. KF

  60. 60
    bornagain77 says:

    Fair Witness at 43 you call Stephen Meyer ‘an idiot’ for observing, as I referenced in post 38, that information is a ‘massless’ entity that is fundamentally different than matter and energy. This is not a pie in the sky observation of Dr. Meyer’s but is in fact what we actually observe of reality. For instance, have you ever weighed the number 7? You can’t! The number 7 weighs nothing! When you think of the number 7 is it closer to your left ear or your right ear? ,,,, Neither the number 7 exists everywhere.,,, The number 7, like all information, exist in a realm that it is transcendent of matter and energy. Moreover, although we can represent the number 7 in an almost endless variety of material substrates, the ‘meaning and value’ of the number 7 never changes although the material substrate can drastically change. This should give any reasonable person a solid clue that information is primary to reality and material is secondary. Dr. Berlinski puts the situation between math and materialism like this:

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time ….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    Perhaps ‘idiots’. such as Dr. Meyer, are a lot smarter than you give him/them credit for Fair Witness?

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Before I go back to the crises of the day, let me re-emphasise by clipping:

    if there really were the sort of solid response on accounting per observed evidence for the tree of life from OOl to the utmost twigs by blind chance and necessity, there is a two years standing open invitation to host it, and it is patent that such would devastate the design inference based perspective on the world of life, and indeed BA has openly said that the production of CSI by such in a solid case would lead to his shutting down UD. So the challenge is on the table, show the cards to back your bets pardnuh. Nothing else really counts — save for patent continued inability to back your bets.

    I can be contacted via my always linked, and have been waiting for nigh on two years two months so far . . . KF

  62. 62
    Moose Dr says:

    Berlinski (from BA77) “human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.”
    I thought Berlinski was agnostic?

  63. 63
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa (57), “If you want to see vulgar just read some of Joe’s posts at …”
    ‘Only goes to prove that in the context of UD, Joe is being restrained. The fact that he is capable of vulgarity should not have him banned, rather the fact that he is capable of restraint should keep him on.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    Berlinski did not claim to have a relationship with God, he merely observed that “these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well”. Thus, as far as I know, he is still agnostic, although maybe not in ‘common usage’ way of being agnostic..

  65. 65
    Moose Dr says:

    Kairosfocus (59), “I am well aware that this can become a pull off track on a red herring chase led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems…”
    Slow down a minute KF. I am finding this red herring laden discussion to be informative. Please read and respond to my comment (39 above). I believe that we are getting nowhere because we have bitten off more than we should when defining CSI. If accepting the definition of CSI forces an a priori rejection of the mechanism we believe explains it, then CSI gets rejected. This lack of clarity on our (the IDers) part as to what CSI is produces red herring laden …

    Again, does CSI cease to exist if a natural mechanism for generating it is discovered? Does a gene with 500 bits of information which produces a truly functional protein cease to have CSI if NDE were proven to be able to produce it?

  66. 66
    JWTruthInLove says:

    Adapa: “If you want to see vulgar just read some of Joe’s posts at ATBC or even at Joe’s own blog.”

    Joe: “Joe Felsenstein, Proud to be an Ignorant Fatass”

    Joe: “RichardTHughes, Proud to be an Ignorant Asshole”

    Intelligent Reasoning is now my favourite blog! 😀

  67. 67
    keith s says:

    Moose Dr #39,

    Question, if it could be demonstrated that natural processes are capable of producing CSI, would it change the definition of CSI?

    Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.

    I think it would not. Complexity remains to be measured by number of bits of data.

    That is Dembski’s bait-and-switch. He doesn’t actually measure complexity. He measures improbability, but calls it complexity.

    I contend that CSI cannot reasonably be generated by random means.

    By definition.

    Please, people, does CSI cease to exist if it can be demonstrated that RM+NS is capable of making it? If so, why?

    More properly, anything that RM+NS can produce never exhibited CSI to begin with. By definition.

  68. 68
    centrestream says:

    KF #59, you claim that there is a history of long-term abusive trolling at UD, presumably by ID opponents. What I have repeatedly seen is yourself or Barry declare an ID opponent’s behaviour trollish simply because they are persistent in their arguments. And then the person is banned. Persistent isn’t the same as trollish.

    Yet when you see someone like Joe, who’s abusive trollish behaviour is there for all to see, and who’s abusive behaviour is self evident and beyond defence, he is permitted to continue commenting. The reason for this is obvious. He supports ID. If your cause is so thin on supporters that it must tolerate this type of behaviour, then your cause is already lost.

    The reason that I have been persistent on this subject is that nobody has been able to provide a rational explanation as to why Joe’s abusiveness is tolerated by UD, while ID opponents who remain civil are banned. Nobody is arguing that Barry and yourself don’t have the right to ban anyone you want, for any reason you want. It is your blog. But claiming that you encourage open and civil debate while having a different set of rules for those who disagree with you is simply dishonest. Do better.

  69. 69
    bornagain77 says:

    keith s, one molecular machine, as far as Behe and Dembski are concerned, would falsify ID, but theistic evolutionists would still have a beef with atheistic evolutionists,,,

    It’s Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T1v_VLueGk&list=UUV4Zy3ry9DrDCdxwyAxXs0g

  70. 70
    Moose Dr says:

    Keith S, I have been watching your claim that the definition of CSI is circular. It took me a while to truly understand you. When I did, I found it very clear that you are correct.

    If CSI is defined as “not able to be produced by natural means” then your contention is absolutely correct. The definition is circular.

    However, if we look at the term “Complex Specified Information” and seek a natural definition for it (not the overloaded definition that has been used here) we see a definition that has nothing to do with whether RM+NS is capable of producing it.

    Information: That ethereal sequence thing that has no dimension nor location, but that can be “stored” in a variety of mediums in a lossless way.

    Complex: Quantitatively defined as the number of bits of information.

    Specified: It defines something, whether it be a sequence of words that has meaning to the human hearer, or whether it defines a sequence of amino acids that produces a significantly functional protein. (The definition of “significant”, in this case is a little loose, but we have certainly seen the kind of functionality that proteins and groups of interacting proteins can produce.)

    Complex (as above), Specified (as above) information (as above) is a definition that is not contingent on how the information came to be.

    If we, the ID community, can get to this lighter definition of CSI, then people like you may be able to participate in a serious discussion of whether RM+NS is capable of producing it. Would you not agree?

  71. 71
    keith s says:

    Moose Dr,

    If CSI is defined as “not able to be produced by natural means” then your contention is absolutely correct. The definition is circular.

    Yes. And Dembski’s CSI is in fact defined that way. It contains a P(T|H) term which represents the probability that the target T arose by “Darwinian and other material mechanisms”, denoted by H.

    However, if we look at the term “Complex Specified Information” and seek a natural definition for it (not the overloaded definition that has been used here) we see a definition that has nothing to do with whether RM+NS is capable of producing it.

    Information: That ethereal sequence thing that has no dimension nor location, but that can be “stored” in a variety of mediums in a lossless way.

    Complex: Quantitatively defined as the number of bits of information.

    How will you determine the “number of bits of information” for something like the flagellum?

    If we, the ID community, can get to this lighter definition of CSI, then people like you may be able to participate in a serious discussion of whether RM+NS is capable of producing it. Would you not agree?

    Sure, if you can find some way of quantifying the complexity. That’s a big if.

  72. 72
    Moose Dr says:

    “Sure, if you can find some way of quantifying the complexity. That’s a big if.”

    The complexity does not need to be quantified, it needs to be qualified.

    I propose that it has the quality of complexity if:

    1 – it performs a function.
    > In an automobile, parts perform frequently critical functions. These parts are specified in the CAD program that defines them.
    > In human language, the words produce (relatively consistent) mental constructs in the mind of the hearer.
    > In biology, proteins perform specific functions, such as acting as a “stator” in a flagellum.

    2 – at many points, small changes would cause the information to cease to perform its function (ie, a mod in the DNA would cause a gene to produce a dysfunctional protein.
    > Note on “at many points”: Not necessarily all points, though for each of these points the total “complexity” of the information may be reducible.

  73. 73
    keith s says:

    bornagain77 #32,

    The EN&V review of Arrival of the Fittest is remarkably ineffective.

    There’s no byline. I wonder who wrote it.

  74. 74
    keith s says:

    Moose Dr,

    The complexity does not need to be quantified, it needs to be qualified.

    You’re contradicting yourself. You just told us that it needs to be quantified:

    Complex: Quantitatively defined as the number of bits of information.

  75. 75
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    “Sure, if you can find some way of quantifying the complexity. That’s a big if.”

    The complexity does not need to be quantified, it needs to be qualified.

    According to ID it needs to be quantified. The whole purpose of “CSI” was that you could roll up on some unknown object, objectively measure its “CSI”, then conclude the object was consciously designed if the CSI exceeded 500 bits. The huge problem with this is that it doesn’t take into account the history or processes that may have formed the object.

    To use Barry’s favorite poker example, say you walked into a room and you see four players each holding a royal straight flush. If you assume those hands were all dealt exactly that way you’d assume conscious manipulation due to a tiny probability. But if the folks were playing draw poker the probabilities would be different and be slightly higher. If they were playing a version of draw poker that allowed unlimited redraws the tiny probabilities would turn into almost certainties.

    The point being the current “CSI” of the hands tells you nothing about whether they were designed or not. You have to take into account the history and rules of the game. Dembski realized he made a big blunder with his one and only attempt at calculating the CSI for a protein so he stopped using the argument. The rest of ID didn’t get the message however.

  76. 76
    Moose Dr says:

    “You’re contradicting yourself. You just told us that it [complexity] needs to be quantified:”
    Sorry, you are correct. I provided a qualitative definition of specificity, not complexity.

    Complexity, however, is very easy to quantify. If we have a sentence, the CAD of an auto part, or DNA that defines the amino sequences of a protein, we have digital data. Quantifying the complexity is simply a matter of adding up the number of bits that make up this definition. This gets a bit more complex if we want to analyse whether any particular bit is relevant to the specification. (We note, for instance, that there are more than 1 DNA sequence designating a specific amino acid.) This, however, is merely an exercise in measurement. We can also conclude that for many particular aminos in a protein can be substituted with a subset of other aminos without loosing function — though the range of available substitution varied greatly, and in many cases there seems to be only one pattern that can work. (We see this exemplified, for instance, in ultra-conserved sequences.)

    We can get lost in nit-picking about the exact count of the number of bits that can be dismissed in any particular sequence. However, it becomes obvious at some point that many of the bits are very much required to produce the specification. As the number of bits required very quickly blows the doors off of the Universal Probability Bound, this argument is rather mute, don’t you think?

  77. 77
    Moose Dr says:

    “The point being the current “CSI” of the hands tells you nothing about whether they were designed or not. You have to take into account the history and rules of the game.”

    Yes! The amount of CSI says nothing about how the CSI got there. The Universal Probability Bound allows you to realistically rule out the chance hypothesis. However, CSI must be defined for what it is, not how it got there. As such, no hypothesis (except true random via the UPB) is rejected a priori.

    Now, we IDers contend (hypothesize) that the mechanism of RM+NS is not capable of producing CSI, let alone the buckets of CSI that is at the core of all life forms. This is our contention, but it cannot be embedded in the definition of CSI.

  78. 78
    OldArmy94 says:

    Multiverse.

    That single word tells you all you need to know about the frustration that Darwinists feel regarding their inability to build their body of work on a firm foundation. After years and years of crafting and spinning so many fables, they realize that the mound of fabrication is collapsing upon itself.

    Thus, whilst peppering us with machine gun rhetoric in an effort to divert our attention, they are quietly retreating to the promised land of infinite universes.

    Glory be to Darwin, we shall be free at last.

  79. 79
    bornagain77 says:

    keiths , And why does your opinion that ‘The EN&V review of Arrival of the Fittest is remarkably ineffective’ not surprise me in the least?

    I hate to break this to you keith s, but you are far from the most impartial judge in any matter dealing with ID. Shoot, Anthony Flew himself was far more impartial than any of you ‘new’ atheists are!

    “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
    Anthony Flew – world’s leading intellectual atheist for most of his adult life until a few years shortly before his death
    The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel (Nov. 25, 2012) – video
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/ee32d/

  80. 80
    keith s says:

    OldArmy94,

    After years and years of crafting and spinning so many fables, they [Darwinists] realize that the mound of fabrication is collapsing upon itself.

    The Ever-Imminent Collapse of Evolution

    The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism

  81. 81
    bornagain77 says:

    keith s, that’s right! As long as there are people who have a rebellious heart towards God there will always be those who prefer the *ABG hypothesis of Darwinism to anything that smacks of the slightest hint of Design.

    *Anything But God

  82. 82
    centrestream says:

    There is all this talk about whether or not natural processes can produce 500 bits of information. According to ID proponents, if science cannot demonstrate a natural step by step process that produced (not, can produce) this level of complexity, it fails and an intelligent agent (AKA the god of choice) is the most likely explanation. Even if we ignore the fallacious nature of this argument, I have never seen any ID proponent describe a step by step process that has produced (not, can produce) the same level of complexity. Therefore, are we to conclude that an intelligent agent (name your god here) is also not a viable explanation?

    This gets back to the biggest weakness of the ID proposition (which, for some reason, ID proponents think is a strength), the absolute refusal to propose the nature of the intelligent agent (OK, why don’t we just call it god) and the mechanism by which it functions.

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    MD:

    Please read my remarks at 7 above.

    You will notice that I have always emphasised functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I, which is what is directly relevant to the world of life, and is pretty directly observable, starting with text and technology.

    When objectors can bring themselves to acknowledge that observable phenomenon ant the linked constraint on possible configurations imposed by interactions required to produce functionality, then we can begin to analyse soundly.

    Orgel actually spoke in the direct context of biofunction, and Wicken used the term, as well as identifying that wiring diagram organisation is informational. Specified Complexity, in this context, is informational, and Dembski’s model is a superset based on abstracting specification to a generalised, independently and “simply” describable zone in a relevant configuration space, W.

    Unfortunately, such is fairly abstract and mathematical, in an era where the abstract is often misunderstood, twisted into pretzels, despised, dismissed.

    That is probably why GP has focussed down on a subset of FSCO/I, digitally coded, functionally specific coded information, dFSCI, such as we find in text, computer programs and D/RNA. But even this is stoutly resisted.

    I draw the conclusion that the problem is not CSI, or FSCO/I or dFSCI, but with where they point which is where many will not go.

    On observation, some objectors have been willing to burn down first principles of right reason and first, self-evident truths. Inductive conclusions and empirically grounded discussions will have no effect on such, until and unless — and here I have the Marxists in mind — their system crashes and burns.

    As to the the definition of CSI begs the question assertion, I say, fallacious.

    We have concrete cases, showing what CSI is about. The abstracted superset is reasonable in that context.

    As for, it cannot be empirically tested, that is false.

    Take the design inference process in hand — notice, how many objectors simply will not deal with design thought as it is, but persistently erect strawman caricatures — and examine an aspect of an object or phenomenon. If it shows low contingency regularity under similar initial conditions, then the reasonable explanation is mechanical necessity acting by law.

    Where there is high contingency under similar initial conditions, there are two known alternatives. As default, chance acting through stochastic contingency. As is well known from statistical studies, reasonable samples from a population of possibilities tend to reflect its bulk [the legitimate point behind the layman’s “law of averages”], but is unlikely to capture rare clusters such as the far-tails of a classic bell distribution. As samples scale up likelihood of picking up such rises.

    Indeed, this is the basic point behind Fisher’s statistical testing and the 5% or 1% far tails. Likewise, statistical process control and manufacturing quality management. (And yes, I recall astonishing ding-dong rhetorical battles with objectors who found every hyperskeptical device to try to dismiss this commonplace. Sad.)

    The design inference is linked to that point, as well as to the stat thermo-d concept of macroscopically identifiable clusters of microstates that are termed macrostates (and recall, that was the road I came to design theory from). The relative statistical weight of states tends to drive observability under reasonable chance driven contingency hyps. Indeed, that is the statistical underpinning of the second law of thermodynamics. But, again, I recall the ding-dong rhetorical battles when Professor Granville Sewell said the otherwise obvious thing that we do not expect to observe the stochastically utterly implausible when a system is opened up, save if something is crossing the boundary that makes it not implausible.

    It seems to me there is a policy of zero concessions to IDiots, that reminds me uncomfortably of Plato’s warning on the implications of radical relativism and nihilism that so often flow from evolutionary materialist ideology, then and now: “hence arise factions.”

    Sorry, but fair comment.

    Now, there are things such as FSCO/I, which are highly contingent but are stochastically implausible. Moreover, on the evidence of trillions of actually observed cases, such consistently results from intelligently directed configuration. Where this post is adding another case in point.

    So, on induction we are entitled to infer the best current explanation to be design. Not by begging questions or imposing circular definitions or the like, but by inductive reasoning. Where, “current” implues alternatives are considered, are classified and are addressed on the merits. And, that should future evidence say otherwise, the matter will be changed to reflect that.

    As in, similar to Newton in Query 31 in Opticks, which is probably the root source on the Grade School “Scientific Method” summary we are often taught:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis [–> inductive empirical analysis], ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [–> speculative] Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations

    Yes, Sci Methods, 101.

    Therefore, in looking at discussions as to how CSI is defined and the like, or how design inferences are made, that should be borne in mind. And, particularly, should FSCO/I be observed to reasonably reliably or just observably come from blind chance and mechanical necessity, then that would decisively undermine the design inference on FSCO/I.

    Not, that that is plausibly likely to happen. We are talking here of sparse blind search for needles in very large haystacks. For 1,000 bits, the search potential of 10^80 atoms for 10^17 s at 10^14 searches of configs for 1,000 coins per second each, stands as one straw picked to a cubical haystack that would swallow up the 90 bn LY across observed cosmos.

    Under these circumstances, we have reason only to expect to catch the bulk.

    Now, perhaps the best thing is to start from Dembski’s actual definition of CSI in NFL, as I have cited, including in the infographic I have been repeatedly posting for months which obviously is being studiously ignored by too many objectors:

    p. 148: “The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

    I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity, or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

    Biological specification always refers to function . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism’s subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole] . . .”

    p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”

    That should be quite plain enough, and has been highlighted and brought to attention enough times across years that there is no excuse for twisting it into strawman caricatures.

    He says, on the method of inferring design:

    We know from experience that intelligent agents build intricate machines that need all their parts to function [[–> i.e. he is specifically discussing “irreducibly complex” objects, structures or processes for which there is a core group of parts all of which must be present and properly arranged for the entity to function; which is a subset of FSCO/I], things like mousetraps and motors. And we know how they do it — by looking to a future goal and then purposefully assembling a set of parts until they’re a working whole. Intelligent agents, in fact, are the one and only type of thing we have ever seen doing this sort of thing from scratch. In other words, our common experience provides positive evidence of only one kind of cause able to assemble such machines. It’s not electricity. It’s not magnetism. It’s not natural selection working on random variation. It’s not any purely mindless process. It’s intelligence . . . .

    When we attribute intelligent design to complex biological machines that need all of their parts to work, we’re doing what historical scientists do generally. Think of it as a three-step process: (1) locate a type of cause active in the present that routinely produces the thing in question; (2) make a thorough search to determine if it is the only known cause of this type of thing; and (3) if it is, offer it as the best explanation for the thing in question.

    [[William Dembski and Jonathan Witt, Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy, pp. 20-21, 53 (InterVarsity Press, 2010). HT, CL of ENV & DI.]

    Meyer, who was denigrated by an objector above, in replying to a critic of his Signature in the Cell, noted:

    The central argument of my book is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form) [–> notice the terms he uses here]. Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . . .

    The central problem facing origin-of-life researchers is neither the synthesis of pre-biotic building blocks (which Sutherland’s work addresses) or even the synthesis of a self-replicating RNA molecule (the plausibility of which Joyce and Tracey’s work seeks to establish, albeit unsuccessfully . . . [[Meyer gives details . . . ]). Instead, the fundamental problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the large information-bearing molecules (whether DNA or RNA) . . . .

    For nearly sixty years origin-of-life researchers have attempted to use pre-biotic simulation experiments to find a plausible pathway by which life might have arisen from simpler non-living chemicals, thereby providing support for chemical evolutionary theory. While these experiments have occasionally yielded interesting insights about the conditions under which certain reactions will or won’t produce the various small molecule constituents of larger bio-macromolecules, they have shed no light on how the information in these larger macromolecules (particularly in DNA and RNA) could have arisen. Nor should this be surprising in light of what we have long known about the chemical structure of DNA and RNA. As I show in Signature in the Cell, the chemical structures of DNA and RNA allow them to store information precisely because chemical affinities between their smaller molecular subunits do not determine the specific arrangements of the bases in the DNA and RNA molecules. Instead, the same type of chemical bond (an N-glycosidic bond) forms between the backbone and each one of the four bases, allowing any one of the bases to attach at any site along the backbone, in turn allowing an innumerable variety of different sequences. This chemical indeterminacy is precisely what permits DNA and RNA to function as information carriers. It also dooms attempts to account for the origin of the information—the precise sequencing of the bases—in these molecules as the result of deterministic chemical interactions . . . .

    [[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information(especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents [[–> i.e. by blind, undirected forces of chance and necessity]. Indeed, the ribozyme engineering and pre-biotic simulation experiments that Professor Falk commends to my attention actually lend additional inductive support to this generalization. On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information. That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information—whether embedded in a radio signal, carved in a stone monument, written in a book or etched on a magnetic disc—and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process. Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence. This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know. It is based upon what we do know from our uniform experience about the cause and effect structure of the world—specifically, what we know about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information . . . .

    [[In conclusion,] it needs to be noted that the [[now commonly asserted and imposed limiting rule on scientific knowledge, the] principle of methodological naturalism [[ that scientific explanations may only infer to “natural[[istic] causes”] is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on. We see in the information-rich structure of life a clear indicator of intelligent activity and have begun to investigate living systems accordingly. If, by Professor Falk’s definition, that makes us philosophers rather than scientists, then so be it. But I suspect that the shoe is now, instead, firmly on the other foot. [[Meyer, Stephen C: Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell, SITC web site, 2009. (Emphases and parentheses added.)]

    Such have long been on record and have repeatedly been brought to the attention of objectors. I find little to show those who have insisted on setting up and knocking over strawman caricatures in any positive light.

    Not, after so much time and so many corrections and sources brushed aside to push a strawman tactic agenda.

    It is time for a fresh start on more reasonable grounds.

    Now, I better get back to other matters.

    KF

  84. 84
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I suppose we could agree on Specified Complexity but that’s not what ID arguments use. We’re missing something …

    Ahh, there it is. Notice the agreement is not on CS, but rather on CSI. A minor omission?

    Winston Ewert concluded that “the only way to establish that the bacterial flagellum exhibits CSI is to first show that it was improbable.”

    To which I would respond: hear, hear! I completely agree.

    I can’ understand this and I disagree. We’re talking about CSI and the most important term that (rendering the others almost redundant) is the “I”.

    So, to try the statement again in a slightly different manner:

    “the only way to establish that [something] exhibits [Information] is to first show that it was improbable.”

    No, obviously not. Information has certain characteristics that can be observed without knowing anything about the probability of its origins. Information communicates. We observe this Function of information. A communication or informational network has observable characteristics. Symbol, Coding, Sender, Medium, Translation, Receiver.

    Again, this has nothing to do with probability at all. We can observe information and we see it in a high-degree active in the bacterial flagellum (information communicated and organized through a variety of parts exhibiting a complex function).

    Probability studies are secondary.

  85. 85
    Silver Asiatic says:

    “can’t understand this”

  86. 86
    keith s says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Do you understand what P(T|H) is and how it fits into Dembski’s CSI equation?

  87. 87
    OldArmy94 says:

    This gets back to the biggest weakness of the ID proposition (which, for some reason, ID proponents think is a strength), the absolute refusal to propose the nature of the intelligent agent (OK, why don’t we just call it god) and the mechanism by which it functions.
    Answer me this: who designed Stonehenge?

  88. 88
    Moose Dr says:

    centrestream (82)”I have never seen any ID proponent describe a step by step process that has produced (not, can produce) the same level of complexity.”

    Centrestream, you seem unclear on the concept. The neo-Darwinian model is a “step-by-step” model. It is reasonable, therefore, to show a “step-by-step” pathway to significant CSI.

    ID is not a step-by-step model. It is, therefore, not a requirement that ID show development micro-step by micro-step as is required by Darwinism. In any case, we have a very well documented macro-step by macro-step log of the intelligent development of human designs. It is called the USPTO. The patents show, with high resolution, the process of a working intelligent design system. If Darwinists could get anywhere close to that resolution in their analysis, they would have made HUGE leaps forward.

  89. 89
    cantor says:

    2 Tamara Knight November 18, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Your argument boils down to a rephrasing of “We can’t see how it works, therefore ID did it”.

    … and your argument boils down to a rephrasing of “I can’t see how it works, but I believe the blind watchmaker did it anyway”.

  90. 90
    centrestream says:

    Moose Dr. “It is, therefore, not a requirement that ID show development micro-step by micro-step as is required by Darwinism. In any case, we have a very well documented macro-step by macro-step log of the intelligent development of human designs. “

    But that is the crux of the issue. The ID proposition is that the intelligent agent can’t be limited by human imagination of intelligence. But all of the analogies and comparisons it makes are to human intelligence and technological advance.

    Is the intelligent agent limited to human type intelligence? At least this hypothesis would be testable. But I have never heard an ID theory about this. And I don’t think I will. This is why hypothesizing about the nature and limitations of the designer is critical. It doesn’t mean that you are locked into that hypothesis. You can modify the hypothesis as evidence dictates. But ID is extremely hesitant, for whatever reason, to step out on the limb. But it is only by stepping out on the limb that it will be taken seriously as a science.

  91. 91
    Adapa says:

    OldArmy94

    Answer me this: who designed Stonehenge?

    Human beings, particularly nomadic tribes that inhabited England around 3000 BC to 2400 BC. There is some archaeological evidence they originated in Spain and colonized parts of northwest Europe and Great Britain after migrating northwards. They used standard stone carving tools and techniques known at the time and got their raw materials from a site in Wales some 140 miles away.

    Who designed the bacteria flagellum? When was it done, what tools were used, where did the raw materials come from?

  92. 92
    Mung says:

    Tamara Knight:

    We can experimentally determine the probability of “likely” events, but not the probability of “very unlikely” ones.

    You really need to read Dembski’s latest book.

    We can experimentally determine the probability of “likely” events…

    How?

    We can experimentally determine the probability of “likely” events, but not the probability of “very unlikely” ones.

    This is self-contradictory.

  93. 93
    Mung says:

    keiths:

    Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.

    And here I thought CSI was a measure. So keiths, on this view of CSI, is asserting that natural processes cannot be measured, even in principle. odd.

  94. 94
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    Centrestream, you seem unclear on the concept. The neo-Darwinian model is a “step-by-step” model. It is reasonable, therefore, to show a “step-by-step” pathway to significant CSI.

    This has been attempted before. One good example is Nilsson and Pelger’s breakout of approx. 2000 steps required in eye evolution. However as soon as the work came out ID Creationists started yelling it wasn’t detailed enough. They demanded a mutation-by-mutation listing.

    There was some suggestion that ID be renamed “IDID”, for “I Demand Infinite Detail!”.

    Tell me why ID should be allowed to demand such fine granularity from evolutionary theory but can’t provide even the simplest of details itself? Seems pretty hypocritical don’t you agree?

  95. 95
    keith s says:

    keiths:

    Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.

    Mung:

    And here I thought CSI was a measure. So keiths, on this view of CSI, is asserting that natural processes cannot be measured, even in principle. odd.

    Darth Vader: The logic is not strong with this Mung.

    Yoda: Janitors the Empire also needs.

  96. 96
    Mung says:

    keiths: “defend all my claims I can, or not.”

  97. 97
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa, “Tell me why ID should be allowed to demand such fine granularity from evolutionary theory but can’t provide even the simplest of details itself? Seems pretty hypocritical don’t you agree?”

    First, I do not know anything about Nilsson and Pelger’s work. I’ll google it in a few minutes.

    Second, in “Edge of Evolution” Behe presented published evidence that the granularity that neo-Darwinism requires is the individual mutation event. That’s how neo-Darwinism works. ID doesn’t work that way at all. The ID process is a process of complex synthesis by the intelligent agent. It is therefore expected that ID cannot produce a mutation by mutation account of the creative activity.

  98. 98
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa, “One good example is Nilsson and Pelger’s breakout of approx. 2000 steps required in eye evolution.” Hmmm, interesting. I just googled it quickly. It appears that what Nilsson & Pelger did was not much different from Dawkins “weasel” program. They did no analysis, as far as I can tell, on the genetic level. They just morphed shapes around in a computer. This is very far from what I would seek as evidence that NDE actually works.

    When I was in highschool (some decades ago) there was a lot of buzz about zapping fruit flies with radiation. It produced a lot of really strange, albeit all dysfunctional, bugs. However, it didn’t produce anything that was more suited for any particular environment, as far as I can tell. Experiments with bacteria have produced living organism simulations that involve more organisms and more generations than all of the mammals that have ever lived. What is the best they have done? Once or twice it looks like they have pulled of a two mutation (where neither alone is beneficial) mutation pair. Ooooh. I’m buyin’ into NDE right now — after all in real world simulations it so clearly works.

  99. 99
    Mung says:

    keiths:

    I can back up my claims.

    Please do so.

    Or was my argument too difficult for you to follow?

    keiths: CSI was never intended to be construed as a measure.

    That claim is inherent in your position against CSI.

    That natural processes cannot “produce” CSI is just so much nonsense.

    It’s like claiming that orange trees cannot produce ripe oranges.

  100. 100
    bornagain77 says:

    Moose Dr.

    DAVID BERLINSKI;

    In “A Scientific Scandal,” I observed that Dan-E. Nilsson and Susanne Pelger’s paper, “A Pessimistic Estimate of the Time Required for an Eye to Evolve,” was a critic’s smorgasbord. There are so many things wrong with it that even the finickiest of eaters could leave the table well-satisfied and ready for a round of Alka-Seltzer. But, in itself, there is nothing here that suggests a scandal. Dan-E. Nilsson is a distinguished scientist. Witness his discovery that the mysid shrimp, ptro-mysis pauciponisa an organism whose eyes are at once simple and compound (D. Nilsson, R.F. Modlin, “A Mysid Shrimp Carrying a Pair of Binoculars,” Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 189, pp. 213-236, 1994), or his precise work on the optical system of the butterfly (D. Nilsson, M.F. Land, J. Howard, “Optics of the Butterfly Eye,” Journal of Comparative Physiology, A 162, 341-366, 1988). Together with Susanne Pelger, he has simply written a silly paper. It happens. And in the literature of evolutionary biology, it happens very often.

    No, the scientific scandal lies elsewhere. Nilsson and Pelger’s paper has gained currency in both the popular and the scientific press because it has been misrepresented as a computer simulation, most notably by Richard Dawkins. Word spread from Dawkins’s mouth to any number of eagerly cupped but woefully gullible ears. Subsequent references to Nilsson and Pelger’s work have ignored what they actually wrote in favor of that missing computer simulation, in a nice example of a virtual form of virtual reality finally displacing the real thing altogether. This misrepresentation of scientific work is a species of fraud, no different in kind from plagiarism in journalism or the fabrication of data in experimental physics. It is the indifference to this fraud that I denounced as scandalous.

    Recognizing so many fond familiar faces among my critics—Paul Gross, Jason Rosenhouse, Matt Young, and Mark Perakh have replied to previous essays of mine in Commentary—I hoped that self-interest, if nothing else, might have prompted a moment of critical self-reflection. No very delicate moral sense is involved in determining that fraud is fraud. If Richard Dawkins is one of their own, all the more reason to apply to him the moral standards that Messrs. Gross, Rosenhouse, Young, and Perakh are accustomed to applying to their intellectual enemies.

    Reading their letters, I realize that they had no intention of saying boo. What could I have been thinking?

    Dan-E. Nilsson is persuaded that I wrote my essay because I am moved to reject “uncomfortable scientific results.” He is mistaken. The length of time required to form an eye is a matter of perfect indifference to me; had he and Susanne Pelger been able to demonstrate that the eye was in fact formed over the course of a long weekend in the Hamptons, I would have warmly congratulated them. As I have many times remarked, I have no creationist agenda whatsoever and, beyond respecting the injunction to have a good time all the time, no religious principles, either. Evolution long, evolution short—it is all the same to me. I criticized their work not because its conclusions are unwelcome but because they are absurd.

    The vertebrate eye, Nilsson and Pelger claim, emerged from a patch of light-sensitive cells. Climbing up evolution’s greasy pole, or adaptive peak, those cells got to where they were going by invagination, aperture constriction, and lens formation. In explaining the evolution of the eye in terms of such global geometrical processes, Nilsson and Pelger rather resemble an art historian prepared to explain the emergence of the Mona Lisa in terms of preparing the wood, mixing the paint, and filling in the details. The conclusion—that Leonardo completed his masterpiece in more than a minute and less than a lifetime—while based squarely on the facts, seems rather less than a contribution to understanding.

    It is hardly surprising, then, that while theoretical optics serves qualitatively to justify the overall connection Nilsson and Pelger draw between morphology and visual acuity, nothing in their paper and nothing in their references justifies the quantitative relationships they employ to reach their quantitative conclusion. To be sure, Mr. Nilsson denies that this is so. “Contrary to Mr. Berlinski’s claim,” he writes, “we calculate the spatial resolution (visual acuity) for all parts of our eye-evolution sequence, and the results are displayed in figure 1 of our paper. The underlying theory is explained in the main text, including the important equation 1 and a reference to Warrant & McIntyre (1993), where this theory is derived.”

    In fact, no underlying theory whatsoever is explained in Nilsson and Pelger’s main text, or in the legend to figure 1; and while they do assert that calculations were made, they do not say where they were made or how they were carried out. The burden of Mr. Nilsson’s denials is conveyed entirely by equation 1 and by his references.

    Let us start with equation 1, and with figure 1b that this equation is said to control. It is in figure 1b that aperture constriction takes over from invagination in getting an imaginary eye to see better. The graph juxtaposes aperture size against detectable spatial resolution. Having dimpled itself in figure 1a, Nilsson and Pelger’s blob is now busy puckering its topmost surface to form a pinhole in figure 1b.* In a general way, the curve they present is unremarkable. No one doubts that spatial resolution is improved in an eye when its aperture is constricted. But why is it improved in just the way that Nilsson and Pelger’s graph indicates?

    Equation 1 is of scant help in this regard, despite Nilsson’s insistence that it is important. Drawing a connection among visual acuity, focal length, light intensity, and noise, the equation specifies the local maximum of a curve, the place where it stops rising. In other words, it specifies a point; and it does nothing more. “We can now use this relationship,” Nilsson and Pelger nevertheless declare, “to plot resolution against aperture diameter.” They can do nothing of the sort, at least not in my calculus class. Knowing that a man has reached the summit of Mt. Everest, we still know nothing about the route he has taken to get there. What is needed if Nilsson and Pelger are to justify their graph is the equation from which equation 1 has been derived by differentiation. It is not there, just where I said it would not be.

    Similarly with Nilsson and Pelger’s references, which do nothing to support their argument. Quite the contrary. Three papers are at issue: (1) A.W. Snyder, S. Laughlin, and D. Stavenga, “Information Capacity of the Eyes” (Vision Research, vol. 17, 1163-1175, 1977); (2) A.W. Snyder, “Physics of Vision in Compound Eyes” (in Vision in Invertebrates, Handbook of Sensory Physiology, edited by H. Autrum, vol. VII/6A, pp. 225-313, 1979); and (3) E. J. Warrant & P.D. McIntyre, “Arthropod Eye Design and the Physical Limits to Spatial Resolving Power” (Progress in Neurobiology, vol. 40, pp. 413-461, 1993). Of these papers, the first is recapitulated (and corrected) in the second, and the second is summarized in the third. In what follows, references to Snyder are always to the Snyder of his second paper.

    As their titles might suggest, both ‘Physics of Vision in Compound Eyes” and “Arthropod Eye Design and the Physical Limits to Spatial Resolving Power” deal with compound invertebrate eyes. Nilsson and Pelger’s work is devoted to the evolution of the camera eye characteristic of fish and cephalopods. Theoretical considerations that apply to bugs do not necessarily apply to fish or octopuses, the more so since their eyes are structurally different, as are their evolutionary histories. Writing about the compound eye, Nilsson himself has remarked that “it is only a small exaggeration to say that evolution seems to be fighting a desperate battle to improve a basically disastrous design” (Dan-E. Nilsson, “Optics and Evolution of the Compound Eye,” in Facets of Vision, edited by D.G. Stavenga & R.C. Hardie, p. 3075, 1989). Whatever the desperate battle going on among the arthropods, there is no battle at all taking place among the vertebrates or the cephalopods. Nilsson and Pelger’s eye moves from triumph to triumph with serene and remarkable celerity.

    If the papers by Snyder and Warrant & McIntyre say nothing about fish or octopuses, neither do they say anything about evolution. No mention there of Darwin’s theory, no discussion of morphology, not a word about invagination, aperture constriction, or lens formation, and nothing about the time required to form an eye, whether simple, compound, or camera-like.

    The purpose of these three papers is otherwise. No less than any other system of communication, the eye represents a balance struck between signal and noise. There is the object out there in the real world—whether a point source like a star, or an extended source like a grating of light and dark lines—and there is its image trembling on the tips of the retina’s budded nerve cells. Slippage arises between what the object is and how it is seen. Noise occurs in the visual system as the result of the random nature of photon emission, and it also occurs as the result of inherent imperfections in the eye’s optical system. The theoretical optician abbreviates these limitations in one mathematical instrument.

    Imagine one of Nilsson and Pelger’s plucky light-sensitive cells, and then extend two flanking lines from the cell up past the constricted aperture and out into space, so that the cell and those two flanking lines form a cone with a flat top. In the center of the cone, where a cherry would sit atop the ice cream, there is a light source. The cherry moves to the sides of the cone in angular steps; the cell dutifully responds. The correlation between moving cherry and twitching cell constitutes the optician’s “angular-sensitivity function.”

    Equation B15 (p. 238) in Snyder’s “Physics of Vision in Compound Eyes” defines the signal-to-noise ratio of a hypothetical eye in terms of noise, modulation contrast (the difference in intensity between black and white stripes in a grating), and the modulation-transfer function, which is simply a mathematical transformation of the eye’s angular-sensitivity function (its Fourier transform). Lumbering in Snyder’s footsteps, Warrant & McIntyre split his equation into two of their own (equations 10 and 11 in Warrant & McIntyre, p. 430), the one describing the signal, the other the noise in a hypothetical visual system. They observe what is in any case obvious: whatever the parameters affecting visual acuity, signal and noise will always reach a point where the first is drowned out by the second and the system fails, a point evident enough to anyone trying to see in the dark.

    These equations lead by primogeniture to Nilsson and Pelger’s equation 1, which, as it happens, does not appear anywhere in their sources in the form in which they express it. But neither Snyder’s original equation nor Warrant & McIntyre’s bright bursting clones in any way suggest that the tipping point between signal and noise is unique. The ratio of signal to noise in an optical system depends on a host of factors, including head size and eye movement, most of which Nilsson and Pelger ignore. Nor, for that matter, do these equations taken in isolation justify any particular quantitative conclusions. Until the angular-sensitivity function is specified, whether theoretically or experimentally, its role is ceremonial.

    Such specification is no easy business. Determining the shape of the angular-sensitivity function is a little like trying to guess an astronaut’s weight in space. Scales are not likely to be of use. In an early paper dealing with this subject and devoted experimentally to flies, K.G. Götz noted that the angular-sensitivity function in Drosophila seemed to follow what is known mathematically as a Gaussian probability distribution (K.G. Götz, “Die optischen Übertragungseigenschaften der Komplexaugen von Drosophila,” Kybernetik, 2, pp. 215-221, 1965). It was an interesting idea, but one that led to very considerable computational difficulties.

    Looking Götz-ward, and understandably recoiling, Snyder adopted a different strategy. In assessing the weight of an astronaut in space, it is simpler to count the calories he consumes and the exercise he undergoes than to try to measure his weight directly. His weight, although unmeasured, follows inferential-ly. In just the same way, Snyder thought to consider the angular-sensitivity function indirectly by considering the structures that determined its shape. These, he assumed, were the eye’s retinal receptive field—area of the retina responding to signals—and its optical “blur spot”— the smeared image represented on the retina corresponding to the sharp object being seen. Let them both, he declared, be identically Gaussian. Why not? Both parameters had simple mathematical natures. The retinal receptive field is given as the ratio of the rhabdom’s diameter to its posterior nodal distance, the optical blur as the ratio of the wavelength of stimulating light to the eye’s aperture. From this the shape of the angular-sensitivity function followed.

    The result is known as the Snyder model. “The great beauty of this model,” Warrant & McIntyre remark (in words that they have italicized), “is that if one knows some very simple anatomical information about the eye” (i.e., the nature of its optical blur spot and retinal receptive field) “one has the ability to predict . . . the approximate shape of the angular-sensitivity function” (p. 434). In referring to Warrant & McIntyre, Nilsson and Pelger are, in fact, appealing to Snyder, the maestre behind their masters—for, like Snyder, they, too, assume that retinal receptive fields and optical blur spots are identically Gaussian (p. 54).

    But theory is one thing, and living flesh another. Staking their all on Snyder’s model, Nilsson and Pelger must live with its consequences. “Having considered the physical limitations to resolving power,” Snyder wrote, “in addition to the absolute sensitivity of eyes, we now apply our concepts to real compound eyes.” This is something that Nilsson and Pelger never do. And no wonder. For Snyder then added the rather important caveat that bringing theory to bear on life “requires precise knowledge [of various optical parameters] in the various regions of the eye” (Snyder, p. 276, emphasis in the original).

    If precise knowledge is needed in applying Snyder’s model, precise detail is what is lacking in Nilsson and Pelger’s paper. Precise detail? Any detail whatsoever.

    And for obvious reasons. When tested, Snyder’s model turns out to be false across a wide range of arthropods. As Warrant & McIntyre note glumly, “The model, on the whole, works best for those eyes for which it was originally formulated—apposition compound eyes functioning according to geometrical optics—but recent careful and sensitive measurements of angular sensitivity reveal that even in these types of eye, the model often performs poorly.” Readers may consult figure 34 (p. 441) of Warrant & McIntyre’s paper to see how poorly the Snyder model does. In studies of the locust Locustia, real and predicted angular-sensitivity functions do not even share the same qualitative shape.

    Responding to my observation that no quantitative argument supports their quantitative conclusions—no argument at all, in fact—Mr. Nilsson has thus (1) offered a mathematically incoherent appeal to his only equation; (2) cited references that make no mention of any morphological or evolutionary process; (3) defended a theory intended to describe the evolution of vertebrate camera eyes by referring to a theory describing the theoretical optics of compound invertebrate eyes; (4) failed to explain why his own work has neglected to specify any relevant biological parameter precisely; and (5) championed his results by means of assumptions that his own sources indicate are false across a wide range of organisms.

    In acknowledgments to their paper, Nilsson & Pelger thank E. J. Warrant for help with their computations; in the acknowledgments to their paper, Warrant & McIntyre thank Mr. Nilsson for critically reading what they have written.

    Schnapps all around, I am sure.

    I turn next to the morphological units that are missing from Nilsson and Pelger’s paper. It makes no sense to say of a ruler that it is one long. One what? When the “what” has been specified, a physical unit has been indicated: one inch, say, in the case of length, one pound in the case of weight. If one inch and one pound are units, length and weight are their dimensions. Only an origin in zero remains to be specified to complete the picture.

    In my essay, I observed that Nilsson and Pelger had not specified their unit of morphological change. Nilsson now asks me to consider again their remarks on p. 56 of their paper. There, he is certain, I will find the missing unit carefully explained. Here is what they write, and it is all that they write: “Our principles have been to use whole-length measurements of straight structures, arc lengths of curved structures, and height and width of voluminous structures.”

    Very well. These are the fundamental units. They are none too clearly explained—try estimating the volume of a donut by looking at its height and width—but I know roughly what Nilsson and Pelger are getting at. What they do not say is how these three separate fundamental units are combined in a single overall derived unit of change.

    A homely example may make this more vivid. Except for the fact that it cannot see, a Swedish meatball is rather like an eye. And plainly it makes no sense to ask of two Swedish meatballs, one of them twice as greasy but half as wide as the other, which of them is bigger—at least not until units of grease and length have been combined. But this is, in general, no easy task, not even when shape alone is under consideration. “It is important to keep in mind,” C.P. Klingenberg and L. J. Leamy write (“Quantitative Genetics of Geometric Shape in the Mouse Mandible,” Evolution, 55(11), pp. 2342-2352, 2001), “that shape is a multivariate feature and cannot be easily divided into scalar traits without imposing arbitrary constraints on the results of the analysis.” To see how difficult a conceptual problem Nilsson and Pelger have set themselves, readers may follow the trail of Klingenberg & Leamy’s references to the badlands of current work on geometric morphometrics.

    Operating perhaps on the principle that a difficulty disclosed is a difficulty denied, Nilsson and Pelger do mention this very point, citing an example of their own on p. 56 to show just how arbitrary can be the business of calculating combined or derived units. In then justifying their own procedure, which is never explained, they remark: “As we are going to relate our measure of morphological change only to general estimates of phenotypic variation—in visual acuity, “we will be safe as long we avoid unorthodox and strange ways of comparing origin and product.”

    Origin and product? I am sure they meant origin and unit. No matter. The remark speaks for itself.

    There is next the matter of random variation: the heart of the matter so far as I am concerned. Nilsson and Pelger’s paper is not an exercise in theoretical optics. It is intended to serve polemical purposes. Thus, they write: “In this context it is obvious that the eye was never a real threat to Darwin’s theory of evolution”(p. 58). By “this context,” they mean one in which only “eye geometry” and “optical structures” are up for grabs. But whether in this context or any other, it is as a defense of Darwin’s theory that Nilsson and Pelger’s theory fails most obviously.

    Let me review the chief steps in their argument. There is morphological change on the one hand, visual acuity on the other. As their population of light-sensitive cells alters its geometry—by means never specified—visual acuity perks up. In all, they assert, 1,829 steps are involved in tracing a path from their first patch to their final “product.”

    Just how do Nilsson and Pelger’s light-sensitive cells move from one step on that path to the next? I am not asking for the details, but for the odds. There are two possibilities. Having reached the first step on the path, the probability that they will reach the second (and so on to the last) is either one or less than one. If one, their theory cannot be Darwinian—there are no random changes. If less than one, it cannot be right—there is no way to cover 1,829 steps in roughly 300,000 generations if each step must be discounted by the probability of its occurrence.

    Demonstrating the existence of a path between two points in the history of life is in general not hard. What is hard is determining how the path was discovered. (This was the point of the linguistic example I offered in my essay.) If one assumes, as Nilsson and Pelger do, that probabilities need not be taken into account because all transitions occur with a probability of one, there is no problem to be discussed—but nothing of any conceivable interest, either. In responding to this obvious point by generously suggesting that I need to spend more time by the lamp with D.S. Falconer’s Principles of Quantitative Genetics, Mr. Nilsson has covered an embarrassment by addressing an irrelevance. Neither population size nor natural selection is at issue.

    A few minor matters. Falconer’s response variable R is a measure, all right: a measure of the extent to which the mean of some quantitative phenotypic character—snout length, crop yield, scab color, or scrotum size (examples from the literature, I am afraid)—rises or falls as the result of natural selection. Just what I said, just as I explained. Although I offered no definitions in my essay, the paraphrases I employed were harmless. Why not say “sensitivity to vision” instead of “visual acuity,” just to vary pace and prose? But in one respect, Mr. Nilsson is right: I did not distinguish between selection and intensity of selection. Neither does he. Neither does Falconer’s response statistic, which contains only one selectional parameter, and that one measuring the intensity of selection. Neither does anyone else in this context.

    His paper with Susanne Pelger, Mr. Nilsson writes, has never been criticized in the peer-reviewed literature. I am certain that this is so.

    Paul R. Gross takes the occasion of his current letter to assure readers that what he meant in his last letter he did not say and what he said he did not mean. Like golf, Mr. Gross suggested in the 1986 essay from which I uncharitably quoted in the March Commentary, science is rather a clubby affair, and just as a great many men prefer to cover the links sedately in the company of men like themselves—tassels on their shoes, alligators on their polo shirts—so scientists prefer to keep company with their own, men and women who share their tastes, point of view, outlook on life.

    These are sentiments so candid that I was surprised to find Mr. Gross expressing them. But he is now prepared to disown what he said. The club is just fine, and just look at those splendid greens! The admissions board is to be faulted only when, by accident or inadvertence, it excludes one of its own, a scientist who like L.V. Heilbrunn has published in the literature. Such men are entitled to wear the gold cufflinks with the crossed golf clubs; keeping them out would be irresponsible. But keeping out the others is not only good science but good sense. Ipse dixit.

    A few other points deserve comment. In offering Nilsson and Pelger the oil of his approval, Mr. Gross affirms that I have misunderstood or misinterpreted critical elements of their paper. In keeping with his longstanding policy of never documenting his discontent, he does not say which elements. As I keep reminding him, this is not sporting. Still, it is inconceivably droll to see Mr. Gross excusing Richard Dawkins’s misrepresentation of Nilsson and Pelger’s work by appealing to the fact that Dawkins expressed his views in a trade book. Mr. Gross apparently believes that outside the country club, a man can say anything he wants, a policy that he would not dream of applying to critics of Darwin’s theory.

    A few of Mr. Gross’s remarks suggest a need for remedial reading. I have never argued that ‘evolutionary theory cannot explain the eye.” How on earth would I know that? And explain what in particular? Its emergence, its structure, its physiology, its biochemistry? What I contended specifically is that Nilsson and Pelger’s paper is just nuts. Conspiracies and cover-ups are, in any case, not in my line, and I never suggested or supposed that evolutionary biologists who failed to criticize Richard Dawkins for misrepresenting Nilsson and Pelger did so as part of a conspiracy. Like droshky horses, they were only doing what comes naturally: turning a blind eye.

    If the burden of Nilsson and Pelger’s paper was to demonstrate the existence of “one possible evolutionary pathway to the geometry of a fish-like eye from a patch of photoresponsive cells,” as Mr. Gross writes, they have surely wasted their time. The existence of such a path is hardly in doubt. Every normal human being creates an eye from a patch of photoresponsive cells in nine months.

    I certainly agree that the “only explanation we have for the structure of the eye . . . is Darwinian evolution.” But neither an orchestra nor an explanation becomes good by being the only game in town.

    On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as “solid as any explanation in science.” Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?

    Finally, I would hardly dispute Mr. Gross’s claim that “with the discovery of the developmental regulatory genes, we have learned how subtle, how versatile, and yet how simple the mechanism can be for transforming one biological structure to another.” If he were to re-read the correspondence (Commentary, September 1996) following the publication of my “The Deniable Darwin” (June 1996), he could not fail to be struck by my reply to his own letter, in which I specifically called attention to work on regulatory genes and eye formation—the very work that he now suggests I am keeping from my readers. Subtle and versatile, those genes? Yes, indeed. Absolutely astonishing? That, too. But hardly a triumph of Darwin’s theory. For one thing, no Darwinian theorist had predicted the existence of these genes; for another, no Darwinian theorist has explained their emergence. The facts are simply far more fascinating than anything that poor drab Darwin, endlessly sifting time and chance, could possibly have imagined.

    Citing those ever useful but eternally anonymous “creationists,” Matt Young argues yet again, as he did in our earlier exchange, that Nilsson and Pelger have given the lie to creationist claims. If it was their computer simulation that originally lent ardor to his asseverations, now it is their paper itself. Mr. Young is a man plainly prepared to rely on an endless series of fallback positions. In the end, he may have to argue that his refutation is its own best friend, and that Nilsson and Pelger’s paper is itself superfluous.

    No one doubts that the eye has evolved. Not me, in any event. Fish have eyes; rocks do not. Those eyes came from somewhere—right?—and if coming from somewhere counts as evolution, count me among its champions. No one doubts, furthermore, that the “eye could have evolved in 350,000 generations.” As I remarked earlier, the eye could have evolved in a weekend. The issue is whether it could have evolved in 350,000 generations given the constraints of random variation and natural selection.

    I have absolutely no idea. Neither do Nilsson and Pelger. And neither does Matt Young.

    Arguing now from the last trench before the bunker, Mr. Young writes that Nilsson and Pelger’s paper deals with the development of invertebrate eyes, and triumphantly chides me for overlooking this point. On p. 56 of their paper, Nilsson and Pelger write: “After constriction of the aperture and the gradual formation of a lens, the final product becomes a focused camera-type eye with the geometry typical for aquatic animals (e.g. fish and cephalopods).” Fish are, of course, vertebrates, as anyone who has picked the flesh from a flounder knows. Perhaps I will be forgiven if I refer to this exchange as shooting fish in a barrel.

    Making the point that the emergence of even the most modest eye will require simultaneous and parallel evolutionary development, Mr. Young asks that I defend my claim that this process could not have taken place by quantitative steps. In the first place, I made no such claim, if only because its truth struck me as obvious. But were I to make such a claim I would observe, as Richard Dawkins does, that to the extent that simultaneous and parallel changes are required to form a complex organ, to that extent does the hypothesis of random variation and natural selection become implausible. It is one thing to find a single needle in a haystack, quite another to find a dozen needles in a dozen haystacks at precisely the same time. Surely the burden of proof in such matters is not mine. I am not obliged to defend such mathematical trivialities as the proposition that as independent events are multiplied in number, their joint probability of occurrence plummets.

    I have no idea what Mr. Young means when he writes that the number 1.00005 is not a percentage. Every number can be expressed as a percent, and every percent is a pure number. But he gets half credit for spotting a slip: the figure of 1.00005 between parentheses on p. 33 in my text should have been .005. Mr. Nilsson, who also spotted the slip, gets the other half. Me? I blame my editors.

    Finally, I did not fault the scientific community for failing to criticize Nilsson and Pelger’s work. I did the job of criticism myself. I faulted the Darwinian community—Mr. Young included—for failing to denounce scientific fraud, specifically the misrepresentation of Nilsson and Pelger’s work by Richard Dawkins. Now I see that Mr. Young feels I have manhandled him in these exchanges. Too bad. Commentary is not some academic mouse hole.

    Mark Perakh, a sensei of the “noted scientists say” school of self-defense, is right in one respect: the computer simulation missing from Nilsson and Pelger’s paper has no bearing on what they actually said and claimed. And right in a second respect: “The real question [is] whether an eye could have developed in a geologically short time via a Darwinian mechanism” (emphasis added). But then, although quite confident that I am wrong in my criticisms, he offers nothing by way of rebuttal. Like so many of these martial-arts types, he is too busy preparing himself to run from the field with honor to bother doing battle.

    Contrary to what Mr. Perakh asserts, not only can I imagine, I do not doubt, that “distinguished scientists,” many with a record of “substantial achievement,” can have an opinion different from my own. It happens all the time. I would not dream of accusing ten respected scientists of fraud simply because they passed on the opportunity to have a go at Nilsson and Pelger. The men and women I criticized earned my contempt the hard and dirty way, by saying nothing about scientific misconduct when it was right under their noses.

    Like Mr. Perakh and Paul R. Gross, Jason Rosenhouse regards Richard Dawkins’s misrepresentation of Nilsson and Pelger’s work as a “minor error.” Some minor, some error. What, may I ask, is the difference between inventing data out of whole cloth and inventing a computer simulation out of whole cloth? Should not evolutionary biologists be held to the same standards as physicists? Or even journalists? What part of the declaration that fraud is fraud does he fail to endorse? These are not semantic issues. If I claimed in print that Mr. Rosenhouse has four eyes, his denials would not turn on what I meant. Two eyes, I am sure he would say, are not there. Two eyes, and one computer simulation.

    Mr. Rosenhouse believes that Nilsson and Pelger made an important discovery: namely, “that there is a smooth gradient of increasing visual acuity linking a light-sensitive spot to a lens-bearing eye.” This is not their discovery, it is a restatement of their chief assumption. “The model sequence is made,” they write, “such that every part of it, no matter how small, results in an increase of the spatial information the eye can detect” (p. 53). Note: made, not discovered.

    To repeat, the flaw in Nilsson and Pelger’s work to which I attach the greatest importance is that, as a defense of Darwinian theory, it makes no mention of Darwinian principles. Those principles demand that biological change be driven first by random variation and then by natural selection. There are no random variations in Nilsson and Pelger’s theory. Whatever else their light-sensitive cells may be doing, they are not throwing down dice or flipping coins to figure out where they are going next.

    Mr. Rosenhouse’s conviction that the randomly occurring changes required by Darwin’s theory are nevertheless “plainly implied” throughout Nilsson and Pelger’s paper owes nothing to the facts and little to common sense. If changes in their model were really random, their temporal estimates would be apt to change by orders of magnitude, a point I made in my essay and again in my reply to Dan-E. Nilsson above. In my essay I also questioned Nilsson and Pelger’s decision to hold selection pressure constant over time. In this, I found myself echoing John Gillespie (The Causes of Molecular Evolution, 1991, p. 294). “[W]e must be concerned,” Gillespie writes, “with models of selection in variable environments. How could it be otherwise? Natural selection is a force adapting species to their environments. Environments are in a constant state of flux; selection coefficients must be in a constant state of flux as well.” What is good enough for Gillespie is good enough for me.

    In approving of the value chosen by Nilsson and Pelger for selection pressure, Mr. Rosenhouse writes that it is “ludicrously low for almost any environment.” Is it indeed? The figure that Mr. Rosenhouse calls ludicrous, Nilsson and Pelger term pessimistic, and Mr. Gross reasonable. The correct term is arbitrary—as in, it is anyone’s guess what the variance among a bunch of fish might have been a couple of million years ago. Studies of variance and heredity typically deal with tiny populations and small periods of time. Studying the collard flycatcher, Ficedula albicollis, Merilla, Kruuk, and Sheldon collected eighteen years of data for 17,171 nestlings in order to reach some quite modest quantitative conclusions (J. Merilla, L.E.B. Kruuk, and B.C. Sheldon, “Natural Selection on the Genetic Component of Variance in Body Condition in a Wild Bird Population,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14, pp. 918-921, 2001). Nilsson and Pelger’s imaginary population ranges over space and time in a way that could not possibly be disciplined by the data.

    Nick Matzke believes that Nilsson and Pelger provide a mathematical model for the development of the eye. Let us be honest: beyond a few finger-counting exercises, there is no mathematics in their model, and while their references do contain some legitimate mathematics (nothing beyond second-semester calculus, but also nothing to sneeze at), their references, as I have shown in patient detail, do not support their theory. The task of modeling the eye’s complicated geometry from light-sensitive cell to fully functioning eye is utterly and completely beyond our powers, as a glance at any textbook dealing with embryology would show.

    Mr. Matzke devotes the greater part of his otherwise interesting letter to doing battle with various “creationist straw men.” It is useful work, I am sure, the more so since the creationists are never named. But whoever they are, I am not among them. Quite the contrary, I am as eager to do right by the snails as he is: why should he think otherwise? It is only when he passes to matters of fact that we part company.

    Nilsson and Pelger’s theory is intended to encompass the evolution of the eye in fish and cephalapods. Fish indisputably have bones, an attractive skull, and for the most part two staring eyes. The cephalochordate Branchiostoma (Amphioxus in a now out-of-date system of nomenclature) is widely taken by paleontologists to be a very plausible ancestral model to the vertebrates. It has certain vertebrate features while lacking others. These others include bones, a skull, a brain, and paired sensory organs: in other words, it has no eyes. Mr. Matzke’s very confident assertion that cephalochordates have “primitive eyes” is simply untrue.

    Now that I have swept away a few straw men of my own, let us see what is left to clean up. In my essay I wrote that Nilsson and Pelger made no attempt to discuss the cost-benefit payoffs associated with an improvement in visual acuity. My aim in discussing the reconstruction of the fish skull was not to argue that eyes came first or that bones did. Paired sensory organs and bones are characteristics of the vertebrates. Plainly they evolved together. Plainly, too, one function of the bony skull in vertebrates is to provide protection for the paired sensory organs located on their heads. The protection racket, as every Mafia boss is aware, does not come cheap; but Nilsson and Pelger, in adding up the benefits of visual acuity, did not ever bother to consider the vigorish. This is such an unobjectionable point that I cannot imagine why Mr. Matzke found it fishy.

    I very much appreciate the letters from David Safir and Norman Gentieu.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/1509

  101. 101
    keith s says:

    Mung,

    After two years, do you still not understand what P(T|H) stands for in Dembski’s equation?

    I atill remember when you thought P(T|H) was a fraction with T in the numerator and H in the denominator.

    That was funny.

  102. 102
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    The ID process is a process of complex synthesis by the intelligent agent. It is therefore expected that ID cannot produce a mutation by mutation account of the creative activity

    No one has asked ID for a mutation by mutation account. We’d just like to see some detail, ANY detail. Like a timeline. Or a manufacturing mechanism. Or the number of Designer(s). Or the powers / limitations of the Designer. ANY detail.

    All ID has ever offered is “This looks designed to me”. That’s not much of a scientific explanation. In fact it’s no explanation at all.

  103. 103
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr.

    When I was in highschool (some decades ago) there was a lot of buzz about zapping fruit flies with radiation. It produced a lot of really strange, albeit all dysfunctional, bugs. However, it didn’t produce anything that was more suited for any particular environment, as far as I can tell.

    (facepalm) That’s not how evolution works, by zapping a bottle full of Drosophila with harmful doses of radiation. C’mon, you know better than that.

    Experiments with bacteria have produced living organism simulations that involve more organisms and more generations than all of the mammals that have ever lived.

    So? Bacteria aren’t multicellular animals. With multicellular animals we haven’t come withing a parsec of the time and population sizes evolution has had to work with. Even with that we have clearly identified the genetic mechanism for variation and have ample evidence the effects of such variations can be cumulative.

  104. 104
    centrestream says:

    Moose Dr.: “It is therefore expected that ID cannot produce a mutation by mutation account of the creative activity.”

    Why not? If you expect it from the opposing theory, why shouldn’t it be expected from the ID hypothesis?

  105. 105
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa, “We’d just like to see some detail, ANY detail. Like a timeline. Or a manufacturing mechanism. Or the number of Designer(s). Or the powers / limitations of the Designer. ANY detail.”

    Though I have published some of this detail on this site, I would say that you have a point. Part of the schtick is that ID is a big tent. It includes young earthers and common descenters (of which I am one.)

    I have personally sought, and to some extent found, answers to some of your questions.

    On number of designers — One. Definitely one (caveat, it could be a group working in concert.) It is clear that we have one life system. Even if you hold to a common design model, there is still one design style. As a software developer I have worked within the legal system to demonstrate ownership of software. Software, even on the compiled level, shows the style of the author. If there are multiple authors, that clearly shows up. DNA clearly has the style of a single author (or no author). If you hold to UCD, then you must recognize that the first life form must have come into existence. The fact that a single life form came into existence would indicate that it has a single designer (or none). The big bang, interestingly, is a single, singularity event. If it was caused by any, it was caused by one (or, of course a group acting in concert.)

    A time line — Unlike other IDers, I am quite convinced that the Intelligent agent twiddles with data frequently, at many points in time. I have considered this in light of the HAR1F rna gene. This thing took on 18 mutations somewhere between human and the last common ancestor. This thing should be a grand puzzle to NDEs, as it does not appear possible to have evolved the change by individual point mutations. The only way to have evolved the thing is with multiple truly simultaneous mutations, or a big cut and paste that included a bunch of identical nucleotides. It would appear to me most likely that this mutation happened at a single point in time — a miracle event.

    Let me put more body on this. For UCD to be true, each such “miracle mutation” must not cross the classic species barrier. Rather the organism (primate in this case) that received the lucky mutation must have been able to mate with its pre-mutated peers. The mutation miracle must then have floated up into dominance through the process of natural selection (possibly with the designer “protecting” the creatures containing the desired mutation).

    Another UCD possibility exists — that the mutation is given simultaneously to a male and a female — instantly creating a new species. This, however, presents evidential problems. The strongest case that I have seen for UCD (at least a common ancestor between human and chimp) is the fact that there are numerous disease producing point mutations that are shared by humans and chimps. For this to be so, there must have been a community that migrated to become human, rather than an individual human pair coming to be — even if by the injection of DNA modification.

    More generally on a timeline — I think that the science being done produces the timeline of individual mutational events, just as it does with NDE. The only differences between my position and that of NDE is that I allow for, and believe is necessity, multiple simultaneous mutations, and for these simultaneous mutations to have intention.

    I am sure that many IDers would disagree with me on the above. I am sure that many IDers could give their own “meat” on the bones of their personal ID compatible sub-theory. However, none of the above can possibly become part of the big tent of ID simply because of its big tent nature.

    Does that help?

  106. 106
    Me_Think says:

    Summary of Moose Dr @ 105
    One Designer creates entire life process. From time to time by unknown mechanism he inspects billions of species and billions of processes and jets around fixing whatever needs to be fixed. thanks for the ID explanation Dr.

  107. 107
    Moose Dr says:

    Me_think, “From time to time by unknown mechanism he inspects billions of species and billions of processes and jets around …”

    Think about this, think. This “designer” is presumed to be the same “designer” that engineered the big bang.

  108. 108
    Moose Dr says:

    centrestream (104) “Why not?”

    Let me help you out a bit. Consider that you find two people in a remote wilderness surrounded by high mountains. One tells you that he hiked to get there. The other tells you that he hired a plane and flew. It is reasonable enough to ask the person who hiked to show you some footprints, but unreasonable to ask the person that flew. (Maybe you would ask the person that flew or an invoice from the plane charter company.)

    Or consider that you met two snails. One said that he snailed his way there, the other said that he caught a ride on the back of a horse. It may be reasonable to ask to see portions of continuous track from the snailing snail, but from the riding snail, the only evidence you would expect are periodic footprints — not a continuous track.

    The bottom line is that each proposed method of transport (from no life to humanity in this case) should leave different kinds of evidence. It is reasonable to seek step-by-step evidence from a step-by-step process like NDE. To ask the same from a jump-by-jump process like ID is, well, ludicrous.

  109. 109
    Me_Think says:

    Moose Dr,
    Ok, Now the designer also is responsible for entire universe. Moose Dr, Why don’t you just come out and say you are making a case for God as the designer and that it is couched in scientific language ?

  110. 110
    Mung says:

    keiths:

    After two years, do you still not understand what P(T|H) stands for in Dembski’s equation?

    Yet another non sequitur.

    Let’s try again.

    1.) CSI was devised as a measure.

    2.) CSI was not devised as a measure.

    keiths:

    I can back up my claims.

    Or not.

    keiths:

    I can back up my claims.

    Mung:

    Please do so.

    Or was my argument too difficult for you to follow?

    keiths: CSI was never intended to be construed as a measure.

    That claim is inherent in your position against CSI.

    That natural processes cannot “produce” CSI is just so much nonsense.

    It’s like claiming that orange trees cannot produce ripe oranges.

  111. 111
    Mung says:

    Orange trees cannot even in principle produce ripe oranges.

    Any definition of “ripe” is circular.

    Therefore orange trees cannot even in principle produce ripe oranges.

  112. 112
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr.

    (I’ll play Devil’s advocate here. – A)

    On number of designers — One. Definitely one (caveat, it could be a group working in concert.)

    Why couldn’t if be two Designers working at cross purposes who both swiped a third Designer’s DNA intellectual property? After all we do see lots of predator/prey relationships with one species trying to kill and eat every member of another. Why would one Designer try to kill off his own creation?

    A time line — Unlike other IDers, I am quite convinced that the Intelligent agent twiddles with data frequently, at many points in time

    How do you tell external “twiddles” from naturally occurring genetic variations that cause morphological change? Especially over the last 500 million years?

    The mutation miracle must then have floated up into dominance through the process of natural selection (possibly with the designer “protecting” the creatures containing the desired mutation).

    What about the possibility of neutral drift? Drift can fix mutations in relatively few generations in small populations.

    The only differences between my position and that of NDE is that I allow for, and believe is necessity, multiple simultaneous mutations, and for these simultaneous mutations to have intention.

    How do you determine the “intention” of mutations?

    Does that help?

    Certainly fun to think about, thanks!

  113. 113
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    It is reasonable to seek step-by-step evidence from a step-by-step process like NDE. To ask the same from a jump-by-jump process like ID is, well, ludicrous.

    Wait, didn’t you just tell me ID is no different from NDE except with ID the Designer comes by every so often to “twiddle” a gene or two?

    If that’s so why can’t we ask for some specifics on the work of the Intelligent Gene Twiddler? 🙂

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    MD, 88:

    we have a very well documented macro-step by macro-step log of the intelligent development of human designs. It is called the USPTO. The patents show, with high resolution, the process of a working intelligent design system.

    Not only so, but there is an active theory of inventive problem solving rooted in study of patents and inference of underlying principles. That theory, TRIZ, addresses technological evolution by progressive inventions. Here’s Wiki’s intro:

    TRIZ (/?tri?z/; Russian: ?????? ??????? ???????????????? ?????, teoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadatch) is “a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature”.[1] It was developed by the Soviet inventor and science fiction author Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues, beginning in 1946. In English the name is typically rendered as “the theory of inventive problem solving”,[2][3] and occasionally goes by the English acronym TIPS.

    Following Altshuller’s insight, the theory developed on a foundation of extensive research covering hundreds of thousands of inventions across many different fields to produce a theory which defines generalisable patterns in the nature of inventive solutions and the distinguishing characteristics of the problems that these inventions have overcome.

    An important part of the theory has been devoted to revealing patterns of evolution and one of the objectives which has been pursued by leading practitioners of TRIZ has been the development of an algorithmic approach to the invention of new systems, and the refinement of existing ones.

    The theory includes a practical methodology, tool sets, a knowledge base, and model-based technology for generating new ideas and solutions for problem solving. It is intended for application in problem formulation, system analysis, failure analysis, and patterns of system evolution.

    There are three primary findings of this research. The first is that problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences, the second that patterns of technical evolution are also repeated across industries and sciences, and the third and final primary finding is that the innovations used scientific effects outside the field in which they were developed. In the application of TRIZ all these findings are applied to create and to improve products, services, and systems.[4]

    Forty-odd main principles, pivoting on constraints and common challenges to be moved from usual compromise tradeoffs to win win cases, where possible.

    KF

    PS: With gene modification an existing practice (and controversy on playing God), it seems gene twiddling is not merely theory but fact.

  115. 115
  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Notice, the significant role of reuse of a library of principles transferred across cases and disciplines, i.e. a library. This finds echoes in object oriented programming etc, and probably not by accident. All of this should sound quite familiar from the world of life also.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    Adapa, 102:

    All ID has ever offered is “This looks designed to me”. That’s not much of a scientific explanation. In fact it’s no explanation at all.

    A textbook example of continuing to repeat a strawman caricature in the presence of a corrective, cf. 83 above.

    Consider what that tells us about motives, approach to issues, and attitude to duties of care to truth, accuracy and fairness.

    KF

  118. 118
    vjtorley says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    We can observe information and we see it in a high-degree active in the bacterial flagellum (information communicated and organized through a variety of parts exhibiting a complex function).

    Probability studies are secondary.

    You have a valid point. However, insofar as CSI refers to something quantifiable (as it is supposed to do), then I can see no way to quantify it except by calculating the probability of its originating via unguided processes. If you’re going to make a non-quantitative design argument, then you can still validly argue as follows:

    (1) We see living things exhibiting informational properties (e.g. digital codes, programming languages).

    (2) The only cause known to be capable of generating those properties is an intelligent agent.

    (3) Therefore it is rational to infer (by abductive logic) that these informational properties of living things were designed by an intelligent agent.

    That’s perfectly fine, but it’s not a quantitative argument. If you want a quantitative argument that you can attach numbers to, then the way I see it, you need to calculate probabilities. I hope that helps. Thanks again.

  119. 119
    vjtorley says:

    Dr. Moose,

    You ask, “Question, if it could be demonstrated that natural processes are capable of producing CSI, would it change the definition of CSI?”

    I have already addressed this in a comment on Barry Arrington’s latest post, so I’ll reproduce what I said there.

    In response to your question: “does CSI cease to exist if it can be demonstrated that RM+NS is capable of making it?”, my answer is: not necessarily. But you would have to show that the initial conditions and/or laws in the universe where RM+NS produces this CSI were themselves very unlikely. In other words, RM+NS can generate astronomically improbable outcomes only in a highly rigged cosmos. That would then shift the argument up one level, from biological Intelligent Design to cosmological Intelligent Design (in other words, the fine-tuning argument, as applied to not only the universe’s laws and fundamental constants but also its initial conditions).

    You also write that by placing “not achievable by any natural means” in the definition of CSI you make it impossible for the NDEs to accept the definition. There’s nothing in the definition of CSI that says “not achievable by any natural means.” As I see it, CSI is just a measure of the probability of unguided natural mechanisms producing the pattern or structure in question. If the CSI is above 500 bits, then we infer design. There’s nothing question-begging about the definition here; a Darwinist might well agree to use it. What a Darwinist is most likely to disagree with is the calculated value for the CSI of a system which ID proponents claim is designed. A Darwinist will want to argue that in fact it falls below 500 bits. Hope that helps.

  120. 120
    vjtorley says:

    Keith S,

    You write: “Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.

    This, I have to say, is rubbish. As any ID proponent will tell you, natural processes are capable of producing up to 500 bits of CSI. What they cannot do is produce more. The reason is that owing to the finite size and duration of the observable universe, such a structure (or system) would not be expected to occur even once.

    You also write that “anything that RM+NS can produce never exhibited CSI to begin with. By definition.” This, once again, is incorrect. Anything with a concise specification that RM+NS produced can have CSI, but no more than 500 bits.

    Finally, you write: “How will you determine the “number of bits of information” for something like the flagellum?” As I’ve written elsewhere, while I’m willing to grant that this might be impractical for a flagellum, or even for a simple cell, there’s no good reason why biochemists couldn’t calculate the odds of a single molecule emerging – namely, for a 100-amino-acid protein.

    I must say I expected you to do better than this. I had hoped that my irenically worded post would elicit a rapprochement of sorts from you and from other commenters at TSZ. I see I was mistaken.

    I also note that while I have made some concessions in debating with you, you have not budged at all in your position. That is indeed regrettable.

    What would it take to convince you that proteins were designed? You can always appeal to “some unknown mechanism” that might be lying out there. But by so doing, you make your anti-design stance unfalsifiable.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    SA: Specified complexity (with reference to the relevant contexts where functionality based on configuration per a wiring diagram is involved) is informational. But then, after multiple cases of showing examples of such wiring diagrams and the fairly standard process of viewing them in light of being structured sets of y/n q’s that can be counted in bits, and noticing the studious ignoring and side tracking, it is obvious, sadly, that there is repeated plainly willful unresponsiveness or even resistance to patent facts on the part of too many objectors. KF

  122. 122
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    For the record, I’d like to pass on this link, which I just came across. It looks interesting, but I’d like to see some math. I think it merits a response by Dr. Axe:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....125550.htm

    (American Friends of Tel Aviv University. “A bird’s-eye view of the protein universe: First global picture of the evolutionary origins of proteins.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2014.)

  123. 123
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa, you asked, “No one has asked ID for a mutation by mutation account. We’d just like to see some detail, ANY detail.”

    I provided you with well reasoned detail. You responded with abject disrespect for my reasoning, throwing out silly responses.

    I began to give a reasoned response to your come backs, but as I did so, I felt anger growing in me. Read my response to your first question with a modicum of respect. Try to understand what I said. Come back sensibly and thoughtfully, or I will not continue this thread with you.

  124. 124
    Moose Dr says:

    Me_think, “Ok, Now the designer also is responsible for entire universe. Moose Dr, Why don’t you just come out and say you are making a case for God as the designer…”

    That’s what the evidence is saying. Must I declare the evidence to be wrong because it declares something that is taboo? The evidence is clear: one designer, the designer that designed life invoked the big bang. If this sounds like God to you, then maybe a good name for the designer is God.

  125. 125
    keith s says:

    I’m surprised at you, Vincent.

    You said:

    Keith S,

    You write: “Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.”

    This, I have to say, is rubbish. As any ID proponent will tell you, natural processes are capable of producing up to 500 bits of CSI.

    I have long considered you the most intelligent ID supporter at Uncommon Descent, but this is extremely sloppy of you.

    CSI never consists of less than 500 bits of specified information.

    Dembski writes:

    Alternatively, since a universal probability bound of 1 in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, (T,E) constitutes CSI because T subsumes E, T is detachable from E, and T measures at least 500 bits of information.

    No Free Lunch, p. 144
    [Emphasis added]

    What is going on around here? First I have to educate Barry about CSI, and now you, of all people?

    ID proponents: If you’re depending on the critics to teach ID to you, you’re doing it wrong.

    If you care about ID, then learn about it.

  126. 126
    Andre says:

    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!! ROFLOL

    Apparently, evolution took advantage of this property to design new proteins with novel functions.”

    Apparantly? LOL!!!!! ROFLOL!!!!!!!!

    Designed new proteins? LOL!!!!! ROFLOL!!!!!!!!

    Novel functions? LOL!!!!!! ROFLOL!!!!!!!

    I have not had such a good laugh in a while 🙂 apparently…..

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  127. 127
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Lose the argument belittle your opponent…. We know your modus oprandi!

  128. 128
    keith s says:

    Vincent,

    Regarding the rest of your comment:

    Finally, you write: “How will you determine the “number of bits of information” for something like the flagellum?” As I’ve written elsewhere, while I’m willing to grant that this might be impractical for a flagellum, or even for a simple cell, there’s no good reason why biochemists couldn’t calculate the odds of a single molecule emerging – namely, for a 100-amino-acid protein.

    You’re forgetting that P(T|H) includes “Darwinian and other material mechanisms”. It’s not enough to calculate the odds of a long protein assembling spontaneously.

    That was the mistake that Dembski made with the flagellum in No Free Lunch — treating it as a “discrete combinatorial object” instead of considering all possible evolutionary pathways to it.

    I also note that while I have made some concessions in debating with you, you have not budged at all in your position. That is indeed regrettable.

    It’s not a quid pro quo, Vincent. I don’t ask for you to concede anything that you do not believe is true. Likewise, I will not concede anything that I do not believe is true. It’s basic intellectual integrity.

    What would it take to convince you that proteins were designed?

    If design were a better explanation than unguided evolution, that would be enough. I almost certainly would have been a creationist had I lived in the 1700s, for example, because design would have seemed far more plausible at that time relative to natural causes. I was also a creationist in my youth, before I learned how evolution works.

    You can always appeal to “some unknown mechanism” that might be lying out there. But by so doing, you make your anti-design stance unfalsifiable.

    Don’t forget — I don’t depend on CSI to make my arguments for evolution, which means I don’t need to calculate P(T|H), which means I don’t face the problem of having to account for all relevant “Darwinian and other material mechanisms”. That is a burden that IDers take upon themselves if they embrace CSI, but it is not a burden faced by evolutionists.

  129. 129
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Are those Darwinian mechanisms the ones that have been identified as the stuff that kills organisms? the unguided ones?

  130. 130
    Me_Think says:

    kairosfocus,vjtorley

    There are billion species with trillions of process. How will an ID agent search for millions of process(protein folding, macro evolution,over 2 point mutations, metabolism etc)that needs to be fixed in this vast search space? The probability of sampling the target space will definitely be over the UPB.
    Even if the search is directed, the processes needing corrections or directions is still too large. Also note that the fixing/directing has to be repeated in a vast area of billions of species.
    This isn’t a flippant question. I am puzzled why you consider the ID intervention method more plausible if it is even more improbable than evolutionary process.
    If you believe ID agent front-loads everything, it is even more problematic because of the amount of information that needs to be frontloaded.

  131. 131
    Andre says:

    Billions of species?

    Really?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08......html?_r=0

    Hoe does a couple of million become a billion?

    Well…… How much information can a single human being store? Hope this helps;

    http://bitesizebio.com/8378/ho.....an-genome/

  132. 132
    Me_Think says:

    Andre,
    Ok.So it’s even more worse than I thought.
    If a single human has 150 Zettabytes (10^21), imagine how much data billions (actually trillion if we consider bacteria and other microorganisms – but let’s keep it manageable) of organisms (Yep I erred so I changed that to organism now- which should be the actual search space)will need – not accounting for interactions with environmental to be front-loaded. Wouldn’t that entitle a search probability (directed or otherwise) which overshoots the UPB ?
    So again why do you consider such a ID process more plausible than Evolutionary probability ?

  133. 133
    Andre says:

    Me Thinks

    Because nothing can’t add anything ……

    1 + 0 = 1

    There is just no evidence that evolution can increase information it can only delete and remove….. If anything NS and RM dumb things down as this recent paper of Fossils in the Cambrian highlight……

    http://phys.org/news/2012-09-e.....mplex.html

  134. 134
    Me_Think says:

    Andre @133
    As you know (having read the paper), that is not a general case with all organism. Your answer also indicates that you think ID agent works by front-loading information.
    Again, don’t you think it is improbable that all organisms and environmental interaction data can be front-loaded ?

  135. 135
    Andre says:

    Lenski’s e-coli prove that organisms lose information over time, so it is the rule not the exception.

    As for front loading, I think it is very probable if a designer built the entire system (universe and organisms) He would know the constraints of the system and program accordingly, similar to how you would write software for a computer system.

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    vjtorley

    Thanks for your reply. That does help, but I think the ID inference requires (or at least should use) both quantitative and non-quantitative arguments together.

    (1) We see living things exhibiting informational properties (e.g. digital codes, programming languages).

    (2) The only cause known to be capable of generating those properties is an intelligent agent.

    (3) Therefore it is rational to infer (by abductive logic) that these informational properties of living things were designed by an intelligent agent.

    I would say it like this:

    (1) Information has certain properties (communication, function, symbol, coding/decoding, organization, specification, complexity).

    (2)We see things exhibiting informational properties.

    (3)Therefore we observe information

    In cases where there is no evidence of information, there is no need to quantify the information present, because there is none.

    In cases where the information is questionable, it is necessary to identify that information is present first, before using techniques to quantify it. We identify information in doubtful sources through pattern recognition, reference matching (English language dictionary, for example) or other tests (does the observation have a relationship to something else, and does that relationship rely on communication somehow).
    That is how it is observed that plants communicate information.

    Then following the above:

    (4) We look for the probability that the observed information arose from chance using CSI calculations.

    So, we already observed information. CSI is a measure of what was observed, not the means of identifying that there is information present.

    So, we observe CSI first. Then we quantify it.

    You have a valid point. However, insofar as CSI refers to something quantifiable (as it is supposed to do), then I can see no way to quantify it except by calculating the probability of its originating via unguided processes.

    Ok, but that’s different than what I quoted and objected to:

    “the only way to establish that the bacterial flagellum exhibits CSI is to first show that it was improbable.”

    As above, we can establish that the BF exhibits information without probability analysis.

    If you want a quantitative argument that you can attach numbers to, then the way I see it, you need to calculate probabilities.

    Ok, but again, you need not calculate only the probability of origin by unguided processes. You can measure the quantity of information in reference to other known-designed sources (compare two texts).

    But eventually, yes, you would calculate the probability of the origin of information from unguided sources — but as I see it, ID research would not begin at that point in order to identify that there is information in a system.

    The CSI probability calculation is quantifying. It gives probabilities of the information arising from unguided or chance sources. But it is not the primary means of identifying whether there is information present.

  137. 137
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    Adapa, you asked, “No one has asked ID for a mutation by mutation account. We’d just like to see some detail, ANY detail.”

    I provided you with well reasoned detail. You responded with abject disrespect for my reasoning, throwing out silly responses.

    I began to give a reasoned response to your come backs, but as I did so, I felt anger growing in me. Read my response to your first question with a modicum of respect. Try to understand what I said. Come back sensibly and thoughtfully, or I will not continue this thread with you.

    I offered you honest criticism and pointed out potential flaws in your reasoning. If you can’t deal with critical review of your ideas to test them you don’t belong anywhere near a science discussion.

    I’ll wager you’ve never submitted a paper for critical peer review in your life, have you? The process can be absolutely brutal and humbling. But that’s how the good ideas are vetted and good science is done. Science doesn’t have an Affirmative Action program for unsubstantiated speculation. If that hurts your feelings, too bad.

  138. 138
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF:

    SA: Specified complexity (with reference to the relevant contexts where functionality based on configuration per a wiring diagram is involved) is informational.

    Yes, but that’s where it gets confusing. First, I think you’re saying “for example … a wiring diagram”, recognizing that there are hundreds of examples we can use.

    Beyond this, as you saY;

    Specified complexity … is informational.

    That seems unnecessarily confusing.

    How about this: “Information is complex and specified”?
    I would start with Information because the C&S are modifiers.

    Complexity: Not necessarily informational
    Specificity: Not necessarily informational (natural laws create mathematically specified patterns)
    Information: Necessarily complex and specified

    So, I think we use CS to modify information as a means of quantifying the amount of information in a string.

    But I believe we could try to determine the probability of any amount of information (code, translation, sender, receiver, medium, transmission, functional outcomes) via unguided processes.

    ID merely needs to offer a review of the evolutionary literature on the origin of biological information.

    But then, after multiple cases of showing examples of such wiring diagrams and the fairly standard process of viewing them in light of being structured sets of y/n q’s that can be counted in bits, and noticing the studious ignoring and side tracking, it is obvious, sadly, that there is repeated plainly willful unresponsiveness or even resistance to patent facts on the part of too many objectors.

    Right – we notice first the structured set, a hierarchy of relationships with information communicated through different notes of the diagram.

    So, we start with the observation of information (and function to some degree). We did not need CSI calculations to make that observation.

    After we have evidence of information, we can use CSI to count in bits and determine how much information is present, how complex and its probability of origin from a random source.

    I believe we can use mathematical analysis to quantify aspects of the function of the information we observed also.

    Once we observe information, all the tools of information science are available also.

  139. 139
    Adapa says:

    Moose Dr

    That’s what the evidence is saying. Must I declare the evidence to be wrong because it declares something that is taboo? The evidence is clear: one designer, the designer that designed life invoked the big bang. If this sounds like God to you, then maybe a good name for the designer is God.

    You say the Designer created the whole universe from the big bang including all life. But this same Designer with all that power is reduced to “twiddling” the genes of one or two individuals in a species then *hoping* the changes spread and get fixed. If the Designer wanted a gene mutation to be fixed in a population why didn’t he just “twiddle” the whole population’s genes at once?

  140. 140
    Moose Dr says:

    Adapa (137) “I offered you honest criticism and pointed out potential flaws in your reasoning.”

    (112) “How do you determine the “intention” of mutations?” Do I really have to explain this to you? You don’t know the difference between a random shot in the dark and a shot clearly aimed at a target? Target was there before the shot. After the shot the target had a hole in it. There wasn’t an infinite array of targets to shoot at.

    (112) “How do you tell external “twiddles” from naturally occurring genetic variations that cause morphological change? Especially over the last 500 million years?”

    This is the old “it happened so long ago, there isn’t enough resolution left to detect such a thing” argument. I hear this line most from young earthers. Study the details and you can see a lot more in that 500 million years than all that.

    Consider the HAR1F that I referenced earlier. It is absolutely impervious (with the exception of three nucleotides) to individual point mutations. Nature has proven over about 200 million years, and all mammal species that there is NO, 0 neutral or beneficial single point mutations in the HAR1F. If you look at the folding pattern of the HAR1F you conclude that it probably took at least 6 point mutations to make the folding shift that happened. (This is WAY outside the scope of what NDE is capable of!)

    Within humanity there is no evidence of change in the HAR1F. The natural conclusion is that all 18 changes happened completely somewhere between LCA and first human. This thing, with its ultra-conserved nature, appears to be rather fussy indeed. As multiple mutations are called for, most likely all 18 happened in a single event. This is the marker, the footprint, of an intelligent agent twiddling with the data in a way that is vastly beyond the scope of NDE.

    (139) “If the Designer wanted a gene mutation to be fixed in a population why didn’t he just “twiddle” the whole population’s genes at once?”

    He certainly could. He could have poof the whole thing into existence 6,000 years ago and made it look like it was old. It could be that I am a mind in a petri dish, and the whole universe is just a figment of my imagination. Lets not get lost in philosophical fantasizing.

    Biology (NS) clearly has the tools to move a beneficial mutation from single event to fixation. It would appear that this is part of the design. (I recognise that in the early stages of a mutation, beneficials are easily lost.) If this distribution system is an integral part of the design, doesn’t it make sense that the designer would use the tool he made for the purpose?

  141. 141
    Moose Dr says:

    vjtorly (119) “You also write that by placing “not achievable by any natural means” in the definition of CSI you make it impossible for the NDEs to accept the definition. There’s nothing in the definition of CSI that says “not achievable by any natural means.” As I see it, CSI is just a measure of the probability of unguided natural mechanisms producing the pattern or structure in question.

    VJ, you see a significant difference between “not achievable by any natural means” and “the probability of unguided natural mechanisms”?

    Please look at your position in light of the discussion. There is a community of folks who believe that genes are the product of unguided natural mechanisms. We contend that they are wrong. We begin by trying to define what is special about a gene that differentiates it from a blop of sand. Our position, in general, is: if you only understood “that something special” that differentiates a gene from a blop of sand you would recognize that your mechanism can’t build it. Many of these guys, however, know that genes are not a blop of sand, yet still cling to the fantacy that RM+NS can explain it. You then attempt to convince them otherwise by putting their mechanism into your proposed definition of the “something special”. This is an inappropriate logical leap.

    Please, VJ, provide me with a term/definition that describes the difference between a gene and a blop of sand which doesn’t preclude that the other guys are idiots for believing that their mechanism can produce it. Then a genuine discussion can be had as to whether RM+NS can produce that thing.

  142. 142
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    “Natural processes are incapable of producing CSI by the very definition of CSI.”

    No, that is not even close to being right. It would be like saying, “a poker player could ever draw twenty five royal flushes in a row and, indeed, we have never known it to happen, because the definition of a CSI precludes it. That makes no sense. Or, again, it would be like saying “we cannot reasonably expect that a million monkeys pounding aimlessly on a keyboard for a million years could ever produce a Shakesperian Sonnet because the definition of CSI precludes it.” Again, that makes no sense. On the contrary, CSI simply defines the meaning of the words,“reasonably expect or not expect.” Nothing more.

    Of course, none of this should matter to you because you stated on another thread that meaning, value, rightness, and correctness are not objective. According to you, all these things are subjective and “in” the perception of the beholder. As you put it, the question is not which position is right or wrong. The question is, “according to who(m)” is it right or wrong.

    By your standard, then, Dembski’s definition of CSI is right for him and wrong for you. Accordingly, and again by your standard, you are free to create your own meaning for Dembski’s ideas even though they are in conflict with his intended meanings. Such is your stated world view. You have even claimed that a can opener isn’t necessarily meant for opening cans even though that is what its creator “meant” it to be. You went on to insist that If a can opener had free will, it could reasonably create its own subjective purpose and find meaning as a ball-point pen. Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t matter whether or not the can opener could be used for writing. (I am not making this up. Our discussion can be found on the UD thread, “Answers to the Big Questions”)
    Now, all of a sudden, you think that meanings and definitions take on some kind of objective quality. Now you are saying that Dembski is flat out “wrong” and you are flat out “right.” Of course, that isn’t true, but never mind. What caused you to abandon your subjectivist philosophy and become a passionate advocate of objective truth? Why don’t you just follow your own philosophy and say that Dembski’s definitions and arguments are true for him.

    As a tribute to your subjectivist philosophy, and to show you how conciliatory and compassionate I can be, I will amend my earlier refutation of your illogical argument and give you a big, underserved break. Though clearly wrong and illogical from my perspective, your argument was, nevertheless, right and logical for you. How does that work for you?

  143. 143
    StephenB says:

    ..”a poker player could [never] draw”…

  144. 144
    Moose Dr says:

    StephenB “By your standard, then, Dembski’s definition of CSI is right for him and wrong for you.”

    Dembski’s definition, if accurately rendered in this thread, is wrong for me. It is a conversation breaker. It is unnecessarily burdened with a victor claim. While I hold solidly to ID, I also hold solidly with Keith S on this.

  145. 145
    StephenB says:

    Moose Dr.

    Dembski’s definition, if accurately rendered in this thread, is wrong for me. It is a conversation breaker.

    Obviously, you missed the point of the post, choosing to isolate one sentence from the broader context that frames it. There is a lot of that going around.

    While I hold solidly to ID, I also hold solidly with Keith S on this.

    In that case, perhaps you will answer my question that KeithS avoided. Is the following a circular argument?

    In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.

  146. 146
    wd400 says:

    On the contrary, CSI simply defines the meaning of the words,“reasonably expect or not expect.

    But to calculate CSI you need to know how likely the outcome is to begin with. In both your examples you name a specific chance hypotheis (randomly drawn cards, or typed letters), under which the specified outcome is unlikely.

    If CSI is calculated relative to “all natural processes”, then showing a natural process can reasonably find the “target” makes CSI evaporate. If it’s calculated relative to one particularly stupid chance hypothesis (tornado in a junk yard stuff a la KF) then only that chance hypothesis can be shown to be unlikely.

    So. What’s the point of calculating CSI.

  147. 147
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    The circularity lies here:

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.

    You already have to know that the object was probably designed before you can attribute CSI to it.

    Here’s how I put it to vjtorley:

    Vincent,

    I think we’re closer to agreement on this than you realize. What’s circular is an argument that says

    1. X exhibits CSI.
    2. Therefore we can conclude that X is designed.

    It’s circular because the calculation you do to determine that X exhibits CSI already shows that X is designed. To say that X exhibits CSI is an unnecessary afterthought, and it isn’t required in order to conclude that X is designed.

    The circularity is explicit here:

    1. Do the calculation that shows that X is designed.
    2. Conclude that X exhibits CSI.
    3. Since X exhibits CSI, conclude that it is designed.

    If you omit step 3 and use step 1 to infer design, then the argument is not circular. Are we in agreement?

    The problem is that many ID proponents want to use the established presence of CSI to conclude that something is designed. That is the circularity that Winston Ewert and I are complaining about.

    Even Dembski falls into the circularity trap, at least in his earlier writings.

    The circularity problem is easily fixed (though getting ID proponents to understand the problem is a completely different story!). Unfortunately, there are many other flaws in the CSI concept. I’ll be doing an OP at TSZ, hopefully tomorrow, that lists all the flaws of which I am aware.

  148. 148
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    The circularity lies here:

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.

    You already have to know that the object was probably designed before you can attribute CSI to it.

    You have it backwards. No such calculations or presuppositions are necessary. There are many different form of CSI, including Irreducible Complexity. Indeed, Dembski has stated that the two are “the same idea.”

    He also makes the following point:

    The irreducibly complex systems Behe considers require numerous components specifically adapted to each other and each necessary for function. On any formal complexity-theoretic analysis, they are complex in the sense required by the complexity-specification criterion. Moreover, in virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns independent of the actual living systems. Hence these systems are also specified in the sense required by the complexity-specification criterion.

    For that matter, even Charles Darwin argued that the existence of a single IC system (though he didn’t use that word) would falsify his evolutionary hypothesis:

    If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

    (I thank Peter S. Williams for researching some of the following points.)

    Did you know, KeithS, that Richard Dawkins, whose atheism burns with the same passion as yours—yes, the same Richard Dawkins that wrote about “Mount Improbable,” acknowledges that CSI is a good indicator for design? He writes:

    Of all the unique and, with hindsight equally improbable, positions of the combination lock [complexity], only one opens the lock [specification]. . . . The uniqueness of the arrangement. . . that opens the safe, [has] nothing to do with hindsight. It is specified in advance.

    According to Dawkins, the best explanation of an open safe is not that someone got lucky, but that someone knew the specific and complex combination required to open it. Directed Panspermia and “God

    Dawkins explicitly acknowledges that CSI is a valid criterion of design detection:

    specified complexity” takes care of the sensible point that any particular rubbish heap is improbable, with hindsight, in the unique disposition of its parts. A pile of detached watch parts tossed in a box is, with hindsight, as improbable as a fully functioning, genuinely complicated watch. What is specified about a watch is that it is improbable in the specific direction of telling the time. . . .

    Did you get that, KeithS. It is the specified Complexity of a watch that warrants a design inference.

    These same kinds of arguments are made by both cosmologists and biologists. CSI is, in no way, limited to the poker analogies or scenarios of monkeys pounding aimlessly on keyboards. For some, complexity means “unusual properties and specification means “anything that could make conscious life possible.” For others, basic features of the universe that are highly improbable are complex, such as cosmic fine tuning, while the necessary conditions of our own existence are specified, such as our “privileged planet.”

    There is a lot more to CSI that you ever dreamed of. One thing is sure, CSI is a strong indicator of intelligent design. We certainly don’t have to have our “H’s, “T’s, or P’s” calculated to make an inference to design from CSI. (Winston Ewert, please take note)

  149. 149
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    There is a lot more to CSI that you ever dreamed of. One thing is sure, CSI is a strong indicator of intelligent design. We certainly don’t have to have our “H’s, “T’s, or P’s” calculated to make an inference to design from CSI.

    So after all the blustering and hand-waving about CSI we’re right back to “this looks designed to me”.

    We all know how successful ID has been with that approach.

  150. 150
    Me_Think says:

    StephenB @ 148

    One thing is sure, CSI is a strong indicator of intelligent design. We certainly don’t have to have our “H’s, “T’s, or P’s” calculated to make an inference to design from CSI. (Winston Ewert, please take note)

    Then why have a concept like CSI at all ? Don’t you think without calculating H and T, CSI has no meaning even for IDers other than to show that some formula exists, never mind it’s usefulness ?

  151. 151
    Silver Asiatic says:

    We all know how successful ID has been with that approach.

    You spend a considerable amount of time on this site. It seems that ID has been successful enough to attract that much attention from you.

  152. 152
    Adapa says:

    Silver Asiatic

    You spend a considerable amount of time on this site. It seems that ID has been successful enough to attract that much attention from you.

    Some us feel the battle for scientific literacy against the anti-intellectual forces who would take us back to the scientific dark ages is a worthwhile pursuit.

  153. 153
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Adapa

    Some us feel the battle for scientific literacy against the anti-intellectual forces who would take us back to the scientific dark ages is a worthwhile pursuit.

    Again, it’s indicator of ID’s success that you engage in a prolonged battle to try to stop it.

    I’ll add also, I respect your answer much more than of those who will say “I just spend time here because I like to laugh at ID”, or something to that effect.

    Your response is more respectful of yourself and your opponents, as I see it.

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Some us feel the battle for scientific literacy against the anti-intellectual forces who would take us back to the scientific dark ages is a worthwhile pursuit.

    I get it. The informational and digital technology of the 21st Century represents the Dark Ages and the outdated 19th Century paradigm called Darwinism represents the more modern approach.

  155. 155
    StephenB says:

    Adapa, Me_think @149, 150. Since your comments have nothing to do with the argument or the information presented, I don’t think there is any need to respond.

  156. 156
    Adapa says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Again, it’s indicator of ID’s success that you engage in a prolonged battle to try to stop it.

    ID isn’t a threat to science. It’s actually pretty laughable. Neither are the laymen who have been taken in by ID’s pseudo-science. What is a threat are the “professional” ID pushers, the pack of propagandists and professional liars who are waging an ongoing campaign to have public school science standards gutted. This is so “alternate ideas” i.e Christian Biblical Creationism can be reintroduced to public science classrooms.

    Won’t happen on my watch.

  157. 157
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    I get it. The informational and digital technology of the 21st Century represents the Dark Ages and the outdated 19th Century paradigm called Darwinism represents the more modern approach.

    No. Rejecting proven scientific methodology with demands we allow unsupported supernatural oogity-boogity into science classes under the guise of “equal time” is the problem.

  158. 158
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Adapa, Me_think @149, 150. Since your comments have nothing to do with the argument or the information presented, I don’t think there is any need to respond.

    Since the empty rhetoric of “CSI” has nothing to do with science I suppose that’s fair.

  159. 159
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Since the empty rhetoric of “CSI” has nothing to do with science I suppose that’s fair.

    If its empty rhetoric, whey do scientists who are not involved with Dembski’s argue on that basis of CSI? What is your argument against IR as a form of CSI? What is your argument against atheists arguing on the basis of CSI? Is your argument by dismissal supposed to be persuasive?

  160. 160
    Silver Asiatic says:

    What is a threat are the “professional” ID pushers

    Professional ID pushers are a threat to science. They must be quite powerful. Could you name some of their names? They really must have enormous influence. I’d like to know who they are.

  161. 161
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Rejecting proven scientific methodology with demands we allow unsupported supernatural oogity-boogity into science classes under the guise of “equal time” is the problem.

    More empty rhetoric. Don’t you have an argument?

  162. 162
    StephenB says:

    Don’t you think without calculating H and T, CSI has no meaning even for IDers other than to show that some formula exists, never mind it’s usefulness ?

    No, I don’t think that.

  163. 163
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    If its empty rhetoric, whey do scientists who are not involved with Dembski’s argue on that basis of CSI?

    No one in the scientific community uses CSI. No one. You can’t find a single paper in the professional scientific literature where any value of CSI is even mentioned, let alone calculated.

    We just spent 2 weeks here and you guys can’t even agree on the definition.

    It’s a scientifically worthless concept only wielded by ID proponents as a propaganda tool. Nothing more.

  164. 164
    Adapa says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Professional ID pushers are a threat to science.

    Not to science directly but to science education. Pretty sure I already linked you to a list of the court cases where ID-Creationism is still trying to back door its way into U.S. public school science classes.

    Many of us in the scientific community care about the quality of science education our young people are receiving. You should too.

  165. 165
    StephenB says:

    No one in the scientific community uses CSI. No one.

    Plenty of scientists agree that it is legitimate and useful concept. Interestingly, you have not yet addressed either the argument or the claim that prompted it.

    It’s a scientifically worthless concept only wielded by ID proponents as a propaganda tool. Nothing more.

    Your partisan, biased, and narrow opinion about the worth of CSI does not qualify as a fact.

  166. 166
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Adapa,

    OK ID is a threat to science education. Sounds like quite a lot of people are committed to and convinced by ID.

    Yes I do care about the quality of the science education our young people are receiving.

  167. 167
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Many of us in the scientific community care about the quality of science education our young people are receiving. You should too.

    Translation: I want the educational system to shove the religious doctrine of unguided evolution down the throats of young children and isolate them from any new evidence that might cause them to question it.

  168. 168
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Translation: I want the educational system to shove the religious doctrine of unguided evolution down the throats of young children and isolate them from any new evidence that might cause them to question it.

    Teaching ID-Creationism’s pseudo-scientific oogity-boogity to children in the name of Jesus isn’t going to cut it.

    Science welcomes any new ideas, even ID, if they are willing to use proper scientific methodology in their hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification. Sadly ID as presented isn’t science but merely a political movement trying to make an end run around proper procedures to get their supernatural hooey forced into schools.

    It’s simple. If ID does some real science it can play in science’s realm. Otherwise it stays with the rest of snake oil salesmen and con men.

  169. 169
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Your partisan, biased, and narrow opinion about the worth of CSI does not qualify as a fact.

    It’s so worthy that there’s not a single paper in the professional scientific literature where any value of CSI is even mentioned, let alone calculated. Not one.

    That’s the only relevant fact.

  170. 170
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Science welcomes any new ideas, even ID, if they are willing to use proper scientific methodology in their hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification.

    More distractions. Since you will not address the subject matter of my post, I will assume that you cannot provide a substantive response.

  171. 171
    Edward says:

    Is this circular reasoning:
    Object A looks designed.
    I calculate object A’s CSI to be beyond some threshold.
    I conclude that object A is designed.

    Is this circular reasoning:
    Stain B looks like a blood stain.
    I perform a blood test on stain B.
    I conclude that strain B is a blood stain.

    Just curious.

  172. 172
    Me_Think says:

    Edward @ 171
    Is this circular reasoning:
    Object A looks designed.

    – I calculate object A’s CSI to be beyond some threshold.
    How? You have to calculate the probability of arrangement (specificity)of components of the design and don’t forget to eliminate the chance hypothesis by ‘Darwinism and other natural means’ before calculation !

    – I conclude that object A is designed.
    As discussed in various threads, CSI is about probability, and when you eliminate ‘H’ (chance hypothesis), it becomes circular. so I don’t know how you can conclude that.

    Is this circular reasoning:
    Stain B looks like a blood stain.
    I perform a blood test on stain B.
    I conclude that strain B is a blood stain.

    This is not circular. You are testing a property of the stain (blood). You are not testing design of stain here.

  173. 173
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    There is a lot more to CSI that you ever dreamed of. One thing is sure, CSI is a strong indicator of intelligent design. We certainly don’t have to have our “H’s, “T’s, or P’s” calculated to make an inference to design from CSI. (Winston Ewert, please take note)

    Then you are using a concept other than Dembski’s CSI. If you insist on calling your particular concept “CSI”, you’ll only cause confusion.

  174. 174
    cantor says:

    168 Adapa November 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Science welcomes any new ideas, even ID, if they are willing to use proper scientific methodology in their hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification.

    The above is, of course, historically verifiable nonsense.

    – bacterial origin of stomach ulcers

    – Boltzmann statistical mechanics, entropy, thermodynamics

    – Cantor’s mathematics of infinity

    – Alvarez Chixalub

    – plate tectonics

    – quasi-crystals

    – extremophiles

    – archae

    – junk DNA

  175. 175
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Is the following a circular argument?

    In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed

    Yes it’s a circular argument because you’re assuming your conclusion.

    How scientists think:

    1. Scientists observe the phenomenon of lightning coming from a cloud
    2. Science investigates, finds evidence of a natural causes – roiling air causes a large positive electric charge on the top of the cloud and a negative electric charge to form on the bottom. When the charge differential get too strong there is a discharge to the ground.
    3. The natural cause is confirmed.

    How an IDer thinks:

    1. IDer observed the phenomenon of lightning coming from a cloud.
    2. IDer was taught as a child that the God Thor causes lightning, decides to disprove the science.
    3. IDer reasons

    – In all known cases where large electrical discharges are produced and the causes are known (electric generator, Tesla coil) an intelligent agent was the cause.

    – Lightning from a cloud is a large electrical discharge

    – Therefore lightning and the cloud were intelligently designed.

    IDer then demands that his ideas be taught in public schools. When it’s pointed out that science has a perfectly good explanation that’s supported with positive evidence the IDer stats whining about how evil materialism is denying him his rights, how we should teach the controversy, etc. IDer writes propaganda book for the lay public claiming science is all wrong.

  176. 176
    Joe says:

    CSI is not circular unless one uses the evo definition of CSI.

  177. 177
    Adapa says:

    cantor

    The above is, of course, historically verifiable nonsense.

    All those ideas met resistance at first until they used proper scientific methodology to amass sufficient positive evidence for their case. When that happened they were accepted.

    ID refuses to use proper scientific methodology, has zero positive evidence so it stays a sham pseudo-science.

  178. 178
    Joe says:

    It is also worthy to mention that there isn’t any theory of evolution and there isn’t anything in peer-review that supports unguided evolution. The concept is useless and even worse it is an obstruction to science

  179. 179
    Joe says:

    Adapa doesn’t know what proper scientific methodology entails and it is definitely ignorant when it comes to evidence. ID uses proper scientific methodology whereas unguided evolution doesn’t have any

  180. 180

    StephenB said:

    Is the following a circular argument?

    In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed

    Adapa responds:

    Yes it’s a circular argument because you’re assuming your conclusion.

    Could you please point out where StephenB made an assumption? I must have missed it.

  181. 181
    cantor says:

    177 Adapa November 20, 2014 at 8:42 am

    All those ideas met resistance at first until they used proper scientific methodology to amass sufficient positive evidence for their case. When that happened they were accepted.

    The above narrative suits Adapa’s ideology but is, of course, historical nonsense.

    .

  182. 182
    Barry Arrington says:

    Adapa,

    When it’s pointed out that science has a perfectly good explanation . . .

    If the explanation to which you are referring here is Darwinism, this statement says more about you than it does about science. And what it says is that you have a very strong faith. Now a strong faith is not necessarily a bad thing. It depend on what you are placing your faith in. Here, I would suggest that you are placing your faith in a theory that since its beginning has been acknowledged to be full of gaping holes. I don’t know any real scientist that would say the theory is “perfectly good.” Some might say it is the best we’ve got; none would say it is perfectly good. That you say this indicates that your faith is not reasoned but of the “blind tenacious clinging in the dark” variety. Good luck with that.

  183. 183
    cantor says:

    180 William J MurrayNovember 20, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Could you please point out where StephenB made an assumption? I must have missed it.

    Prediction based on KS’s posting history: he will not graciously admit his error. He will move the goalposts, or resort to obfuscation.

    Here’s your one (and perhaps only) chance to prove me wrong, KS.

  184. 184
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    Could you please point out where StephenB made an assumption? I must have missed it.

    You miss a lot of things WJM. We’re used to it.

    The unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI. That’s the very thing he is trying to determine. Completely circular, but given your poor grasp of logic it’s no wonder you don’t get it.

  185. 185
    Adapa says:

    Barry Arrington

    Adapa,

    When it’s pointed out that science has a perfectly good explanation . . .

    If the explanation to which you are referring here is Darwinism, this statement says more about you than it does about science. And what it says is that you have a very strong faith. Now a strong faith is not necessarily a bad thing. It depend on what you are placing your faith in. Here, I would suggest that you are placing your faith in a theory that since its beginning has been acknowledged to be full of gaping holes. I don’t know any real scientist that would say the theory is “perfectly good.” Some might say it is the best we’ve got; none would say it is perfectly good. That you say this indicates that your faith is not reasoned but of the “blind tenacious clinging in the dark” variety. Good luck with that.

    Barry if you wish to believe Thor the Thunder God creates lightning go right ahead. That doesn’t bother either me or science in the least. You may have issues trying to convince others however.

  186. 186

    Adapa said:

    The unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI. That’s the very thing he is trying to determine. Completely circular, but given your poor grasp of logic it’s no wonder you don’t get it.

    I don’t see where he made that assumption. Can you point it out? In which line of his three-line argument does he assume that natural processes cannot produce CSI?

    1st Line: In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    2nd line: This object contains CSI,

    3rd line: Therefore, this object was probably designed

  187. 187
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Adapa

    IDer then demands that his ideas be taught in public schools.

    It’s good to know what’s driving your opposition to ID. You seem to have an intense fear.

    When it’s pointed out that science has a perfectly good explanation that’s supported with positive evidence the IDer stats whining about how evil materialism is denying him his rights, how we should teach the controversy, etc.

    I think I’ve got a good idea about how the conspiracy works now.

    When the scientific world proclaims “the perfectly good explanation that’s supported with positive evidence”, the IDer whines about materialism and writes a propaganda book which is read by millions of people in the lay public. The IDer claims science is all wrong and millions of readers, including many science educators, believe it merely because IDers tell lies that nobody in the general public is capable of discerning.

    We should be grateful for the heroic evolutionist who is the only one who knows that ID is just full of lying politicians who want to take over schools.

    The “perfectly good evidence” for evolution has been censured and banned in the public, apparently. You can’t find it on the internet. Even in academia, where they teach science educators, nobody has access to the “perfectly good evidence” supporting evolution and those wonderfully convincing arguments are outlawed, I guess. Only the evolutionary-science elect possess those great arguments, but unfortunately they can’t spread them in the public and nobody has access to them. All the public can do is read ID books full of lies.

    If only the public could learn the wonderful truth about evolution and how it has been established with so much certainty and credibility — the public would no longer be deceived by ID liars and con-men.

    But sadly, the public remains deceived. ID politicians are so powerful they are a threat to humanity.

    We have to fight and defend evolution from ID forces. We only have 100,000 evolutionary biologists in the US to fight this battle. We only have control of all the college and university programs in the country. We only control all the peer-reviewed science journals.

    But what is that against the power of lying ID forces that have deceived science educators? For some reason, we haven’t been able to convince enough people of the wonderful truths of evolution, no matter how hard we try to prevent ID ideas from infiltrating.

    As evolutionists, we know the general public is very stupid. We try to educate them, but they’re simply not as smart as we are, and natural selection made it that way. We, the evolutionary elite, were selected to be fully convinced by evolutionary arguments. The rest of the ignorant public, even after 12 years of public school indoctrination, is just too stupid to understand and they believe the lies of ID politicians and scam-artists.

    … ok, I think the conspiracy goes something like that.

  188. 188
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    I don’t see where he made that assumption

    Of course you don’t WJM. Glaring ID mistakes are invisible to you.

    Tell me why the ID logic I provided in my example is wrong and why we shouldn’t accept the intelligently designed cause of lightning.

  189. 189
    Adapa says:

    Silver Asiatic

    We should be grateful for the heroic evolutionist who is the only one who knows that ID is just full of lying politicians who want to take over schools.

    Er SA, sarcasm doesn’t work when your alternate ID position is waddling around with its pants around its ankles. Just sayin’…

  190. 190
    Box says:

    Adapa,

    Adapa:

    The unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI.

    WJM:
    I don’t see where he made that assumption. Can you point it out? In which line of his three-line argument does he assume that natural processes cannot produce CSI?

    1st Line: In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    2nd line: This object contains CSI,

    3rd line: Therefore, this object was probably designed

    Adapa: Of course you don’t WJM. Glaring ID mistakes are invisible to you.

    I would like to know as well. In which line (1,2 or 3) is the hidden unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI?
    Or don’t you understand the question?

  191. 191
    wd400 says:

    Science welcomes any new ideas, even ID, if they are willing to use proper scientific methodology in their hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification.

    The above is, of course, historically verifiable nonsense.

    – bacterial origin of stomach ulcers
    – Boltzmann statistical mechanics, entropy, thermodynamics
    – Cantor’s mathematics of infinity
    – Alvarez Chixalub
    – plate tectonics
    – quasi-crystals
    – extremophiles
    – archae
    – junk DNA

    These are all examples of things that were initially resited by parts of the scientific community, and later established by, you know, “hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification”.

    (Although, I suspect you have inlcuded junk DNA for the wrong reason. There’s very good evidence that most of our genome is junk, even ENCODE had quietly to back down from it press releases)

  192. 192
    Adapa says:

    Box

    I would like to know as well. In which line (1,2 or 3) is the hidden unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI?

    Line 1 is the unwarranted assumption.

    ” In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.”

    There is no basis for this claim since there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    Why don’t you take the WJM challenge and tell me why the ID logic I provided in my “lightning” example is wrong and why we shouldn’t accept the intelligently designed cause of lightning.

  193. 193
    wd400 says:

    Box,

    I would like to know as well. In which line (1,2 or 3) is the hidden unwarranted assumption is that natural evolutionary processes can’t produce CSI?

    It’s in the definition of CSI. In order to show something has CSI you need to show the probability of the target arising by “all relevant chance hypotheses” is vanishingly small. If you could show a sequence could arise by natural processes it would no longer have CSI.

    Thus CSI doesn’t seem to do anything at all.

  194. 194
    wd400 says:

    ( I should say, there is some value in the thinking that goes into CSI. Specifically, that you have to describe the target space for a given protein or whatever, which puts it one step ahead of tornado in a junk yard arguments or calculating the probability of protein sequences by calculating 20^{protein-length})

  195. 195
    Me_Think says:

    wd400 @ 194
    Yes, till you understand that like all cell mechanisms, protein folding too is not just probabilistic, but is aided by a other chemical and structural mechanisms. Some of those are Here

  196. 196
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Adapa

    your alternate ID position is waddling around with its pants around its ankles.

    Maybe you can use that argument/language to convince school boards that materialism is not evil and vulgar?

  197. 197

    Adapa said:

    Line 1 is the unwarranted assumption.

    ” In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.”

    There is no basis for this claim since there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    Adapa: your own words betray you. Even if we posit arguendo that there is plenty of positive evidence that natural processes “can” produce that CSI, it is not known that it did. It is a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.

    StephenB’s statement refers to known cases of CSI, where we actually observe it’s generation or know first-hand how it was generated. In all such cases, the only known commodity that instantiates CSI in the physical world are agents of intelligent design.

    You are making an equivocation between a known cause and a theoretical, historical, abductive inference.

    Can you point to any known, natural, unguided producer of CSI?

  198. 198
    Me_Think says:

    William J Murray @ 197
    Please be reasonable. CSI is a ID created criteria which insists on excluding all known Darwinian and natural process ( The chance hypothesis) before any calculation. How do you expect us to point to any known natural, unguided producer of CSI ?

  199. 199
    wd400 says:

    William J Murray,

    How would that be possible when the definition of CSI includes the probabilty of arising at the target by “all relevant chance hypotheses”. If you could prove a natural process create something it would no longer have CSI.

    The “argument” becomes.

    Things that can’t arise by natural processes don’t arise by natural processes
    This thing couldn’t have arisen by natural processes
    Therefore this thing didn’t arise by natural processes

    Which is… not actually an argument.

  200. 200
    Box says:

    WD400 and Me_Think, please read StephenB #142

  201. 201
    wd400 says:

    Replied to by me in 146 — those examples both have a specific chance hypothesis.

  202. 202
    Box says:

    WD400 #146: If CSI is calculated relative to “all natural processes”,

    As I understand the argument I would like to add “known”; If CSI is calculated relative to “all known natural processes”. It adds some modesty.

    WD400 #146: (…) then showing a natural process can reasonably find the “target” makes CSI evaporate.

    Of course. If some unknown natural force can create a Shakespearean sonnet, then indeed CSI is evaporated.

    WD400 #146: If it’s calculated relative to one particularly stupid chance hypothesis (tornado in a junk yard stuff a la KF) then only that chance hypothesis can be shown to be unlikely.

    Sometimes a tornado is all we can come up with. Monkeys banging away on type writers is another one.

  203. 203
    wd400 says:

    OK,

    And for biology we have natural selection, drift, speciation, gene duplication, mutation, recombination …

    How do we calculate CSI relative to those processes?

  204. 204
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    Adapa: your own words betray you. Even if we posit arguendo that there is plenty of positive evidence that natural processes “can” produce that CSI, it is not known that it did. It is a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.

    Wrong again. It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes. That you IDers choose to remain willfully ignorant and make false assumptions based on that ignorance is your problem.

    I notice that neither you nor Box were brave enough to address my “lightning” example and tell me if the logic was good or not. No surprises there either.

  205. 205
    Adapa says:

    Box

    As I understand the argument I would like to add “known”; If CSI is calculated relative to “all known natural processes”. It adds some modesty.

    Known by whom? If science knows of a natural process and IDers are ignorant of it then ID will come to the wrong conclusion every time. Indeed that’s exactly what happens.

  206. 206
    Alicia Renard says:

    Picking up on links to discussion of the CSI problem elsewhereProfessor Joe Felsenstein has made a blog post and several comments in the thread I’ve linked to.

    Here, for instance:

    What is interesting in all this is that yes, there are quite a few denizens of UD (Barry, Moose Dr., even Joe) who take their definition of CSI from Dembski’s No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence. And they interpret that definition as many of the rest of us did: CSI could be present even if natural selection has not been ruled out. I used the full title of Dembski’s work above because even the title seems based on the assumption that we need to figure out what can “purchase” CSI — that would make no sense if it was built into the definition of CSI that it could not be “purchased” without intelligence. The book would then be rather short.

    Other commenters there (including, I believe, KF) also declare that CSI is essentially the same as the concepts used by Orgel, by Hazen, and even by Kirk Durston. Correct me if I’m wrong, but none of those folks put a condition into their definition that it wasn’t specified information if it could be put into the genome by natural selection.

    What they haven’t admitted is that Dembski’s definition has changed away from theirs (or maybe that it has been clarified so that we all now see that we were mistaken). What seemed to be a useful definition which could lead to a proof that CSI could not arise by natural selection and mutation, is now an afterthought of no importance. Dembski seems to have given up on using his Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information to show that CSI cannot get into the genome by natural selection. Now he just doesn’t call it CSI if natural processes can get it there.

  207. 207
    cantor says:

    191 wd400 November 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    These are all examples of things that were initially resited by parts of the scientific community,

    parts? get serious.

    and later established by, you know, “hypothesis testing, critical review, and verification”.

    These new discoveries treated with, you (seemingly don’t) know, contempt and ridicule — and their supporters vilified — long after sufficient scientific evidence was available to make them worthy of respect and research. In many cases, the guardians of the old ways of thinking had to die off first.

    .

  208. 208
    Joe says:

    Strange that there isn’t anything in peer-review that supports Adapa’s spewage

  209. 209
    Joe says:

    wd400:

    And for biology we have natural selection, drift, speciation, gene duplication, mutation, recombination

    Natural selection and drift have proven to be impotent. How was it determined that gene duplication, and recombination are blind watchmaker processes?

  210. 210
    Joe says:

    Alicia, Joe F couldn’t support his claims if his life depended on it.

  211. 211
    Joe says:

    Adapa:

    There is no basis for this claim since there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    Where is this alleged evidence? It isn’t in peer-reviewed journals.

  212. 212
    cantor says:

    211 Joe November 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Where is this alleged evidence? It isn’t in peer-reviewed journals.

    .

    touche’ !

    .

  213. 213
    cantor says:

    204 Adapa November 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    You really need to widen your circle of reading. Seriously.

  214. 214
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Wrong again. It’s [natural processes can produce CSI] known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes. That you IDers choose to remain willfully ignorant and make false assumptions based on that ignorance is your problem.

    You appear not to understand that everyone here has called your bluff. We (and our Darwinist adversaries) know that your assertion is false. You (and KeithS) are now down to your last desperate gasp of a defense. So, it has come down to this: Either admit that you are wrong, or produce the evidence that a natural process has been known to produce CSI.

  215. 215
    StephenB says:

    SB: ” In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.”

    Adapa

    There is no basis for this claim since there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    No basis for the claim that humans are the only known cause for CSI? You don’t think that humans are the only known cause for the CSI found in language, machines, or computer programs? Your desperation grows more intense. Wouldn’t it be easier to just admit that you are wrong and move on.

  216. 216
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    What about whale songs? Seems like an example of CSI.

  217. 217
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7: Is that meant to argue whales are unintelligent? I think Shamu may have somewhat to say about that. Beavers, too. KF

  218. 218
    rhampton7 says:

    KF,
    No, it was in response to this comment:

    You don’t think that humans are the only known cause for the CSI found in language, machines, or computer programs?

    I mean to argue that humans are not the only empirically identifiable generators of CSI. Whales also generate CSI at a rate of a little less than 1 bit per second.

  219. 219
    Joe says:

    rhampton7:

    I mean to argue that humans are not the only empirically identifiable generators of CSI.

    You don’t to argue that point with me as I agree.

  220. 220
    Phinehas says:

    rhampton7:

    I mean to argue that humans are not the only empirically identifiable generators of CSI. Whales also generate CSI at a rate of a little less than 1 bit per second.

    I’d be very interested to hear that argument. Can you explain how you are calculating the CSI, since there seem to be a lot of folks around here who think such a thing cannot be done?

  221. 221
    rhampton7 says:

    Phinehas,

    Follow the link in #218. While Dempski’s CSI in not calculated, there is a mathematical analysis of the information carried in whale songs.

  222. 222

    Me_Think said:

    Please be reasonable. CSI is a ID created criteria which insists on excluding all known Darwinian and natural process ( The chance hypothesis) before any calculation.

    What part of CSI specifically excludes Darwinian and natural processes? How are they excluded?

  223. 223

    Adapa said:

    Wrong again. It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    Can you support this assertion? Link, quote?

  224. 224
    Phinehas says:

    rhampton7:

    I did read the article. I’m just curious about whether we are all admitting that a valid inference to some sort of intelligence is possible in the case of whale songs.

  225. 225
    Joe says:

    Our opponents are confusing the proof that blind watchmaker type processes with the definition which describes CSI irrespective of how it came to be. And apparently nothing in the world will change their minds.

    The strawman is strong with them. Anyone got a lighter? 😎

  226. 226
    Joe says:

    oops-

    Our opponents are confusing the proof that blind watchmaker type processes cannot produce CSI with the definition which describes CSI irrespective of how it came to be. And apparently nothing in the world will change their minds.

    The strawman is strong with them. Anyone got a lighter? 😎

  227. 227
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    You appear not to understand that everyone here has called your bluff. We (and our Darwinist adversaries) know that your assertion is false. You (and KeithS) are now down to your last desperate gasp of a defense. So, it has come down to this: Either admit that you are wrong, or produce the evidence that a natural process has been known to produce CSI.

    LOL! You guys are a scream! Jump up and down in your little pillow fort, slap each other on the back and tell each other how you beat the evil Evos! Meanwhile the world just keeps ignoring your ID folly.

    Here’s another question for you guys to cowardly run from. Please tell me if this logic is correct:

    1. In all cases where lawns were watered (lawn sprinkler, garden hose) and the cause is known, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    2. Rain clouds water lawns.

    3. Therefore rain clouds were intelligently designed.

    Have at you brave ID foot soldiers!

  228. 228
    Joe says:

    Adapa, your logic is not correct. However rain clouds are expected given the intelligent design of the system. Lightning, which produces nitrate that fertilize plants, is also expected given the intelligent design of the system. That does not mean each cloud was intelligently designed. It does not mean lightning requires an intelligent agency to intervene.

  229. 229
    Joe says:

    1. In all cases where lawns were watered (lawn sprinkler, garden hose) and the cause is known, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    Nope, rain waters my lawn. You lose, as usual.

  230. 230
    Joe says:

    In all cases that ID was misrepresented an evolutionist was involved.

  231. 231
    Adapa says:

    Joe

    Nope, rain waters my lawn

    From intelligently designed rain clouds. The ID logic is irrefutable.

  232. 232
    Joe says:

    No, the clouds weren’t intelligently designed. The system that produced them was. Your willful ignorance is irrefutable.

  233. 233
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Jump up and down in your little pillow fort, slap each other on the back and tell each other how you beat the evil Evos!

    I don’t know how evil you are, but I do know that you and KeithS were roundly refuted on this thread. At least five people have challenged you to provide evidence for your claims. You failed miserably. The same number have asked you to account for your logical errors. You headed for the tall grass. Would you like to review the points on substance one at at time? I didn’t think so. You don’t dare argue on the merits and we know it. Onlookers know it. You know it.

  234. 234
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    I don’t know how evil you are, but I do know that you and KeithS were roundly refuted on this thread. At least five people have challenged you to provide evidence for your claims. You failed miserably.

    I see you still can’t find the sack to address either the “lightning” or “rain cloud” examples. Since they both used your identical ID logic I can’t say I’m surprised you ran from them Oh well, keep telling yourself how you falsified dat mean ol debbil evilution and proved ID. You’ll probably sleep better at night.

  235. 235
    Adapa says:

    Joe

    No, the clouds weren’t intelligently designed.

    ID logic says they were Joe. Tell me why the ID logic is wrong.

  236. 236
    Box says:

    Is it immoral to ban a person because he is moronic?

  237. 237
    Adapa says:

    Box

    Is it immoral to ban a person because he is moronic?

    Why do you want to ban Joe? Sure he’s confused and obnoxious but he’s great comic relief.

    Don’t you get a chuckle every time he screams “THERE IS NO THEORY OF EVOLUTION!!!” 🙂

  238. 238
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Here’s another question for you guys to cowardly run from. Please tell me if this logic is correct:

    This should be entertaining.

    1. In all cases where lawns were watered (lawn sprinkler, garden hose) and the cause is known, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    False. There are known causes for a watered lawn that are not intelligent agents. Rain, for example, has been known to water lawns. So you are out of business before you even get started. But I don’t want to end the party prematurely.

    2. Rain clouds water lawns.

    The right statement in the wrong category. It belongs above. You are in deep intellectual quicksand with no hope if getting out.

    3. Therefore rain clouds were intelligently designed.

    This is really pitiful. What happened to rain as a cause? Suddenly, it has become the effect of another unknown cause. Step three not only does not follow from steps 1 and 2, it isn’t even related.

    Have at you brave ID foot soldiers!

    Frankly, I am starting to feel guilty for taking advantage of you. If you think that the above fiasco bears even the slightest resemblance to my three-step air-tight argument, then you are truly in a delusional state.

  239. 239
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    False. There are known causes for a watered lawn that are not intelligent agents. Rain, for example, has been known to water lawns.

    That’s intelligently designed rain from intelligently designed rain clouds. ID logic says so.

    My first premise says from known causes. According to WJM’s reasoning:

    “Even if we posit arguendo that there is plenty of positive evidence that natural processes “can” produce that rain, it is not known that it did. It is a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.”

    Maybe you and WJM should get your hand-waving excuses straight, you’re contradicting each other.

    Face it, you can’t refute my cast-iron ID logic!

  240. 240
    wd400 says:

    What part of CSI specifically excludes Darwinian and natural processes? How are they excluded?

    As Winston Ewert says at ENV “CSI is the method by which we test chance hypotheses”. It can only be calculated relative to a particular chance hypothesis (or a set of them).

    You can’t show that a evolutionary process creates CSI relative to an evolutionary hypothesis, because if it did there would no longer be any CSI.

  241. 241
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    I see you still can’t find the sack to address either the “lightning” or “rain cloud” examples.

    You would have been far better off if I had not addressed it. Now everyone knows that you are not capable of rational thought.

  242. 242
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Adapa

    I see you still can’t find the sack to address either the “lightning” or “rain cloud” examples.

    You would have been far better off if I had not addressed it

    You mean you would be far better off. Then you wouldn’t have show just how dumb and illogical the same line of reasoning is when you use it as your ID story. But you stepped in it big time, so thank you!

  243. 243
    StephenB says:

    SB: False. There are known causes for a watered lawn that are not intelligent agents. Rain, for example, has been known to water lawns.

    Adapa

    That’s intelligently designed rain from intelligently designed rain clouds. ID logic says so.

    Whenever your adversary is making a fool of himself, get out of the way and let him do it.

  244. 244
    Adapa says:

    Tell me StephenB, what’s the difference in logic between

    In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed

    and

    In all known cases where a lawn watering capability is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This rain cloud contains a lawn watering capability,

    Therefore, this rain cloud was probably designed

    Speak up, we can’t hear you. 🙂

  245. 245
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    SB: False. There are known causes for a watered lawn that are not intelligent agents. Rain, for example, has been known to water lawns.

    Why are you ignoring WJM’s reasoning that refutes your claim?

    “Even if we posit arguendo that there is plenty of positive evidence that natural processes “can” produce that rain, it is not known that it did. It is a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.”

    Are you claiming WJM’s reasoning is wrong?

  246. 246
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB #238

    LOL – don’t feel sorry at all. That was devastating and very enjoyable. 🙂

  247. 247
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB

    Whenever your adversary is making a fool of himself, get out of the way and let him do it.

    It’s especially true when efforts to correct him are rebuffed. The best thing he could do for his own cause is just shut up. But until then, we can just stand back and watch the show.

  248. 248
    Adapa says:

    Silver Asiatic

    don’t feel sorry at all. That was devastating and very enjoyable.

    SA doesn’t it ever embarrass you to be such a lickspittle to this gang of hopeless scientific incompetents? It should.

  249. 249
    Me_Think says:

    Silver Asiatic
    Just so you understand, Adapa said lawns [only]. Rain ‘waters’ everything it falls on, so in a way if lawns are to be specifically watered, you can’t depend on an isolated cloud to search and position itself on lawns.

  250. 250

    Adapa said:

    SA doesn’t it ever embarrass you to be such a lickspittle to this gang of hopeless scientific incompetents? It should.

    … says the guy that won’t even support his own assertions, and then blames others for how hard it would be to support them if he were to try.

  251. 251
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    says the guy that won’t even support his own assertions, and then blames others for how hard it would be to support them if he were to try.

    WJM you should talk to StephenB. He thinks your logic is stupid and that people using your methods are not capable of rational thought.

    Of course he’s not alone in that evaluation but still…

  252. 252
    Adapa says:

    Me_Think

    Silver Asiatic
    Just so you understand, Adapa said lawns [only]. Rain ‘waters’ everything it falls on, so in a way if lawns are to be specifically watered, you can’t depend on an isolated cloud to search and position itself on lawns.

    Actually I said only known sources of lawn watering are intelligently designed. WJM assures me that’s correct because even though we have lots of evidence for natural rain storms we don’t know they’re natural. It’s just “a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.”

    WJM tells me his logic is never wrong so why shouldn’t I believe him?

  253. 253
    Me_Think says:

    Adapa
    Sorry I didn’t read the thread propely

  254. 254
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Tell me StephenB, what’s the difference in logic between

    In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed

    and

    In all known cases where a lawn watering capability is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This rain cloud contains a lawn watering capability,

    Therefore, this rain cloud was probably designed

    My argument is logically and symmetrically constructed. Yours is disjointed at every level.

    Step 1 of my argument is based on a true claim and describes the effect or the thing produced (CSI) in relation to its cause (The Intelligent agent)

    Step 1 of your caricature is based on a false claim and describes the thing produced as both a potential cause (lawn-watering capability) and as an effect (the thing produced), which immediately turns it into a hopeless muddle.

    Step 2 of my argument is a concrete example of an element described in the first step (an object with CSI)

    Step 2 of your argument introduces a new factor (rain cloud) and is not, therefore, an example of the first step. Further, rain cloud is described as a potential cause or the power to do something (“contains water producing capability”)

    Step 3 of my argument follows from steps one and two as surely as night follows the day.

    Step 3 of your argument takes the rain cloud, which was described in level 2 as a potential cause, and elevates it to the status of an effect (“the rain cloud was designed.”) Also, step 3 doesn’t even come close to following from steps 1 and 2.

    Speak up, we can’t hear you. 🙂

    I don’t think a higher decibel level could help you.

  255. 255
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    My argument is logically and symmetrically constructed.

    Then so is mine since I followed your exact reasoning at every step. My claims have every bit the validity of yours. That means either we’re both correct or both very wrong.

    Why do you think your own argument is so putrid?

  256. 256
    cantor says:

    248 Adapa November 20, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    a lickspittle to this gang of hopeless scientific incompetents?

    The evolution of Adapa!

  257. 257
    Adapa says:

    Let me try more StephenB logic:

    My argument is logically and symmetrically constructed. Yours is disjointed at every level.

    Step 1 of my argument is based on a true claim and describes the effect or the thing produced (watered lawns) in relation to its cause (The Intelligent agent)

    Step 1 of your caricature is based on a false claim and describes the thing produced as both a potential cause (“CSI”) and as an effect (“CSI”), which immediately turns it into a hopeless muddle.

    Step 2 of my argument is a concrete example of an element described in the first step (an object that waters lawns)

    Step 2 of your argument introduces a new factor (CSI measuring) and is not, therefore, an example of the first step. Further, “CSI” is described as a potential cause or the power to do something (“create specified complexity”)

    Step 3 of my argument follows from steps one and two as surely as night follows the day.

    Step 3 of your argument takes the CSI, which was described in level 2 as a potential cause, and elevates it to the status of an effect (“the CSI was designed.”) Also, step 3 doesn’t even come close to following from steps 1 and 2.

    Hey, I’m picking up this “how to argue like an IDer” pretty good, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

  258. 258
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    Hey, I’m picking up this “how to argue like an IDer” pretty good, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

    Your last post showed marked signs of improvement. Keep it up.

  259. 259
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Adapa

    Hey, I’m picking up this “how to argue like an IDer” pretty good, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

    Your last post showed marked signs of improvement. Keep it up.

    Nah, I provided too much detail. The next real step is to declare myself the winner, claim your argument has been crushed, and have the dancing cockroaches crawl out from beneath their rock to sing my praises.

    Easy!

  260. 260
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Keith S,

    I’d like to respond to your comment #125. I’ve only got time for a short response now, as I’m in an Internet cafe. You wrote:

    CSI never consists of less than 500 bits of specified information.

    Dembski writes:

    Alternatively, since a universal probability bound of 1 in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, (T,E) constitutes CSI because T subsumes E, T is detachable from E, and T measures at least 500 bits of information.

    No Free Lunch, p. 144
    [Emphasis added]

    What is going on around here? First I have to educate Barry about CSI, and now you, of all people?

    ID proponents: If you’re depending on the critics to teach ID to you, you’re doing it wrong.

    If you care about ID, then learn about it.

    I’ve never read No Free Lunch, as I didn’t get involved with the Intelligent Design movement until around 2007. Most of what I’ve learned about ID has been online: books are a luxury item for me.

    I can however categorically state that you’ve got Dembski wrong.

    The term complex specified information (or CSI) is defined by Intelligent Design advocates William Dembski and Jonathan Wells in their book, The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems (The Foundation for Thought and Ethics, Dallas, 2008), as being equivalent to specified complexity (p. 311), which is then defined as follows:

    An event or object exhibits specified complexity provided that (1) the pattern to which it conforms is a highly improbable event (i.e. has high PROBABILISTIC COMPLEXITY) and (2) the pattern itself is easily described (i.e. has low DESCRIPTIVE COMPLEXITY). (2008, p. 320)

    Now, that might be regarded as ambiguous: you might interpret “high PROBABILISTIC COMPLEXITY” as meaning “over 500 bits” (the cut-off we use to infer design). But in an earlier book which I can access online, titled, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology (Intervarsity Press, 1999) Dr. Dembski is much clearer. Here’s what he says on p. 174:

    Selection and mutation operate with no memory of the past or knowledge of the future – there’s only the present organism with its ability to survive and reproduce given its environment. Consequently whatever CSI mutation and selection generate must be generated in a single generation.

    Never mind his argument – I don’t care whether you agree with it or not. The point is that Dembski clearly says that mutation and selection generate CSI. Hence it is false of you to claim that if something has CSI, then it is designed by definition.

    There’s more. On p. 178, Dr. Dembski writes:

    But the CSI of a flagellum far exceeds 500 bits. What’s more, selection, if operating for only one generation, merely kills off organisms that lack some feature (in this case, the flagellum). Selection operating for only one generation does not produce novelty – all the novelty is
    produced by random variation acting on inheritance.
    Whatever CSI the environment may hold, selection is therefore incapable of transmitting it in a single generation. Similarly, since selection is non-teleological, it can’t transmit CSI over multiple generations either. It follows that inheritance with modification has to produce a flagellum in a single generation. But this is infeasible.
    This is asking law and chance to produce over 500 bits of CSI. This would violate the law of conservation of information.

    Notice that Dembski says it would violate the law of conservation of information for law and chance to generate over 500 bits of CSI. The clear implication is that it would not violate the law of conservation of information for law and chance to generate 499 bits of CSI.

    One last point. Dr. Dembski says a flagellum has over 500 bits of CSI. Thus CSI is measured in bits. If something can have 500 bits of CSI, it must be able to possible for a thing to have 499. Thus it makes no sense to claim that CSI never consists of less than 500 bits of specified information.

    I hope you will retract your claim.

  261. 261
    vjtorley says:

    Me_Think,

    You write:

    There are billion species with trillions of process. How will an ID agent search for millions of process (protein folding, macro evolution,over 2 point mutations, metabolism etc) that needs to be fixed in this vast search space? The probability of sampling the target space will definitely be over the UPB.

    Even if the search is directed, the processes needing corrections or directions is still too large. Also note that the fixing/directing has to be repeated in a vast area of billions of species.

    This isn’t a flippant question.

    Quick answer: if the Designer is capable of creating a cosmos, He is surely capable of creating a record of species and their genes that He can search. The most efficient search method would probably be something like a binary search. Perhaps that’s why living things are ordered in ONHs – it cuts down on search time, Also, I see no need for the Designer to fix what He has made, but of course He can augment it. Finally, the Designer may be linked to the cosmos in such a way that He gets instant feedback if something goes amiss.

    Got to go now. Hope that helps.

  262. 262
    keith s says:

    Vincent #260,

    You’re making a huge mistake. You’re trusting Dembski not to contradict himself.

    I’m not surprised at the quotes you found. You’re confirming a point I made to Winston Ewert a few days ago:

    Winston,

    Don’t forget that Dembski is notorious for contradicting himself. His writings resemble the Bible in that respect. 🙂

    You found a passage that supports your claim, but there are many others that contradict it.

    He doesn’t just contradict himself between books — he even does so within books. He is astonishingly sloppy and undisciplined in his thinking and writing. If Dembski is considered one of ID’s “leading lights”, it’s no wonder that the movement is in such bad shape.

    Here’s the funniest part. Dembski writes this in the preface to No Free Lunch:

    The subtitle, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, refers to the form of information, known as specified complexity or complex specified information, that is increasingly coming to be regarded as a reliable empirical marker of purpose, intelligence, and design.

    That’s right. CSI, aka specified complexity, cannot be purchased without intelligence, according to Dembski’s chosen subtitle.

    The very cover of No Free Lunch contradicts the claim you just made about CSI.

    So no, I will not retract my claim. However, I am quite willing to say Dembski is an appallingly unprofessional and careless thinker, especially for someone with PhDs in math and philosophy.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  263. 263
    Moose Dr says:

    Keith S, “That’s right. CSI, aka specified complexity, cannot be purchased without intelligence, according to Dembski’s chosen subtitle.”

    Keith, on this one I am not convinced that you are right. I strongly agree with you that one cannot embed the ID conclusion in one’s definition of CSI. However, if Dembski makes a good case in NFL to show that CSI(md) cannot be gained via any unguided natural means, then the statement is valid. I have not had the luxury of reading NFL, but I would presume that Dembski has done exactly that. I also am quite convinced that such a case. (Going for “all unguided natural means” seems a bit rich for me, but claiming it to be so for RM+NS seems quite reasonable. I’d even except all known unguided natural means.)

    We both agree, I think, that “random” can be ruled out as a generator for CSI(md). If a case can be made, and I think it can, that RM+NS cannot produce CSI(md), and if no other reasonable candidate can be found (I know of none) then Dembski’s statement above is not unreasonable.

  264. 264
    Moose Dr says:

    Stephen B (145) “In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.”

    Stephen B, the above case strongly resembles the case that should be made. I would think, however, that one should specifically reference the candidate alternative source of CSI — RM+NS.

    However, to prove that RM+NS cannot produce CSI, you cannot define CSI as “information that could not have been produced by RM+NS”. Rather, the definition of CSI must reside outside of its cause so that the validity of the cause can be considered.

  265. 265
    keith s says:

    Moose Dr,

    Dembski isn’t talking about CSI(md). He’s talking about CSI(wad).

    And his claim is right there on the cover of the book: “Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence.”

    In the preface, he states that specified complexity and CSI are the same thing.

    Therefore, according to Dembski, CSI(wad) cannot be purchased without intelligence.

    We both agree, I think, that “random” can be ruled out as a generator for CSI(md).

    Probably, but could you supply a definition for CSI(md) so that I can be sure?

    If a case can be made, and I think it can, that RM+NS cannot produce CSI(md), and if no other reasonable candidate can be found (I know of none)…

    I think you’ll find it harder to make that case then you’re anticipating, but give it a shot (after defining CSI(md)) and I’ll offer my feedback.

    …then Dembski’s statement above is not unreasonable.

    I’m not saying that it’s unreasonable. I’m saying that it contradicts what vjtorley claimed about CSI, and it also contradicts what Dembski writes elsewhere.

  266. 266
    Mung says:

    keiths:

    The very cover of No Free Lunch contradicts the claim you just made about CSI.

    lol. That one is just too good to pass up.

    Have you read the cover of Wagner’s book lately?

  267. 267
    StephenB says:

    SB: Your last post showed marked signs of improvement. Keep it up.

    Nah, I provided too much detail.

    Yes, you copied my post word for word and didn’t try to say anything on your own. That was the improvement.

  268. 268
    keith s says:

    cantor #183,

    Prediction based on KS’s posting history: he will not graciously admit his error. He will move the goalposts, or resort to obfuscation.

    Here’s your one (and perhaps only) chance to prove me wrong, KS.

    You apparently didn’t notice that WJM was addressing Adapa, not me. After your expertise bluff, and now this, I’m beginning to doubt that you can do anything right.

  269. 269
    StephenB says:

    KeithS to VJT

    Here’s the funniest part. Dembski writes this in the preface to No Free Lunch:
    The subtitle, Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, refers to the form of information, known as specified complexity or complex specified information, that is increasingly coming to be regarded as a reliable empirical marker of purpose, intelligence, and design.

    That’s right. CSI, aka specified complexity, cannot be purchased without intelligence, according to Dembski’s chosen subtitle.

    The very cover of No Free Lunch contradicts the claim you just made about CSI.

    Clearly, you have a problem understanding the context of the quote you just cited. You can’t get details from summaries, which are not designed to answer every mindless objection that a Darwinst could possibly conceive, especially when it comes from one who reads an author as uncharitably as you do.

    There can be no doubt the CSI comes in degrees for the simple reason that complexity and specificity come in degrees. For Dembski, low CSI can be purchased by nature, but high CSI cannot. It is the threshold of 500 bits that draws the line between high and low. This is just common sense and should not even requite documentation.

    Nevertheless, the key quote from Dembski comes here:

    “In The Design Inference I justify a more stringent universal probability bound of 10^-150 based on the number of elementary particles in the observable universe, the duration of the observable universe until its heat death and the Planck time. A probability bound of 10^-150 translates to 500 bits of information. Accordingly, specified information of complexity greater than 500 bits cannot reasonably be attributed to chance. This 500-bit ceiling on the amount of specified complexity attributable to chance constitutes a universal complexity bound for CSI.” William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2001), p. 166

    If there is a 500 bit ceiling on the amount of specified complexity that cannot reasonably attributed to chance, then it should be obvious that there are “amounts” of specified complexity that fall below that threshold, which represents the amount of CSI that nature can produce. Again, this is clear from the fact that complexity and specificity come in degrees. Accordingly, it is easy for nature to produce 5 bits and almost impossible for nature to produce 499 bits.

    By the way, CSI not only comes in degrees, it can also be considered narrowly or broadly, as I explained earlier. Naturally, you ignored the point as you ignore all points that are not congenial with your inclinations. The solution to your problem is to read out of the text what is there (exegesis) and avoid reading into the text what you wish was there (eisegesis).

  270. 270
    Me_Think says:

    vjtorley @ 261

    The most efficient search method would probably be something like a binary search. Perhaps that’s why living things are ordered in ONHs – it cuts down on search time,

    Let’s say the binary search gives a list of billion process (a conservative estimate as ID feels pretty much every cellular process is improbable) which needs to be attended to in the next 10 minutes, now, some processes needs to be fixed with in seconds – like a protein fold which folds in seconds , some folds can wait for few minutes, so this list has to be searched again to find processes which require immediate attention.
    According to Demski’s Law of Conservation of information, only random search is best search:

    In general, conservation of information says that when a more difficult search gets displaced by an easier search, the probability of finding the target by first finding the easier search and then using the easier search to find the target is no greater, and often is less, than the probability of finding the target directly with the more difficult search.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63671.html

    So as you can see, the search space is very large and with random search, searching for priority process that needs to be fixed is beyond the UPB. Hence ID agent can’t act within ID law.

    Taking this further,the mimimum number of ID agents that can provide a 90% probability of getting service (attention to processes) for just 30,000 process is 3,069. IOW, Minimize the capacity required for Binomial Distribution with n = 30,000 p=0.1
    For a 99.9% ‘service’ probability, minimum 3,162 agents will be required. Imagine how much will be required for a billion process !

    Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process ?

  271. 271
    Joe says:

    No, the clouds weren’t intelligently designed. The system that produced them was.

    ID logic says they were Joe.

    In a way that is correct as rain clouds would not exist without the designed system that allows them to exist. However your 3 steps at reaching the inference are way off, as usual

  272. 272
    Joe says:

    herefore, according to Dembski, CSI(wad) cannot be purchased without intelligence.

    According to everything we know CSI cannot be purchased without intelligence.

    Did you have a point other than to support the claim? That is NOT the definition of CSI, that is the proof.

  273. 273
    Joe says:

    wd400:

    What part of CSI specifically excludes Darwinian and natural processes?

    Just everything we know- ie the same thing that prevents materialistic processes from producing Stonehenges.

  274. 274
    Joe says:

    And Adapa, Seeing that materialism can’t even account for water it definitely cannot account for rain clouds. 😛

  275. 275
    Joe says:

    Me Think:

    Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process ?

    It isn’t ironic because your nonsense exists only in your mind.

  276. 276
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 275

    It isn’t ironic because your nonsense exists only in your mind.

    Which calculation is nonsense ? Law of Conservation of information or the Service part ? If the later, that’s mathematically established calculation. If the former, you need to ask Demski or KF or VJT. The irony here is Law of Conservation of information is being used against Evolutionary search.

  277. 277
    Alicia Renard says:

    Moose Dr (November 21, 2014 at 12:52 am) writes:

    Stephen B (145) “In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.”

    Stephen B, the above case strongly resembles the case that should be made. I would think, however, that one should specifically reference the candidate alternative source of CSI — RM+NS.

    However, to prove that RM+NS cannot produce CSI, you cannot define CSI as “information that could not have been produced by RM+NS”. Rather, the definition of CSI must reside outside of its cause so that the validity of the cause can be considered.

    You seem to identified the circularity again, Moose Dr.

    But, in all the multiple posts and threads, nothing has addressed the problem with StephenB’s remark

    “This object contains CSI.”

    because we have been given no method on how to establish the “CSI” of anything, let alone something appropriate, like a biological organism or an aspect of a biological organism. Indeed, in a thread entitled “Can we all agree on specified complexity” the only obvious point to emerge is that there is no clear concept of what CSI might be let alone how to establish whether it resides in object A and not in object B.

    How do you (anyone) establish that an object has CSI?

    (Or is this moot since Winston Ewert agreed that CSI can only be considered after “chance and necessity” have been ruled out, making it a pointless exercise.)

  278. 278
    Joe says:

    We Think:

    Which calculation is nonsense ?

    Everything you said is nonsense.

  279. 279
    Joe says:

    Alicia Renard:

    because we have been given no method on how to establish the “CSI” of anything,

    Yes, you have. Why do you think your willful ignorance means something?

  280. 280
    Alicia Renard says:

    Wee, what do you know? I thought how long before a certain commenter responds to my question “we have been given no method on how to establish the “CSI” of anything,”

    with

    “Yes, you have.”?

    Three minutes. 🙂

    On the other hand, with no link or reference, I have to dismiss the bald assertion. Don’t tell me; show me!

  281. 281
    Joe says:

    Alicia I have provided plenty of links and references pertaining to CSI. As I said your willful ignorance means nothing here. But obviously you think that it does.

  282. 282
    gmilling says:

    AR: //”On the other hand, with no link or reference, I have to dismiss the bald assertion. Don’t tell me; show me!”//

    Actually, it is wise to simply ignore anything that Joe says. He is not just willfully ignorant, he seems to take pleasure in the fact.

    Ignoring g the fact that there is no agreed method to measure CSI, and the fact that in spite of repeated requests, nobody has provided an example for biology, the entire concept is a circular argument.

    Stephen B (145) “In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.”

    This argument is so circular that I get dizzy trying to follow the logic. Surely ID is not resting its hat on this type of logic.

  283. 283
  284. 284
    Joe says:

    gmilling is proud to be a projectionist. And just how is Stephen’s argument circular? Obviously you have no idea how scientific inferences work- talk about being willfully ignorant…

  285. 285
    Adapa says:

    gmilling

    Stephen B (145)
    “In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.”

    This argument is so circular that I get dizzy trying to follow the logic. Surely ID is not resting its hat on this type of logic.

    Yep. That’s why it was so hilarious watching StephenB and WJM flail and fall all over themselves when my “lawn watering” argument used their exact same logic.

    In all known cases where a lawn watering capability is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This rain cloud contains a lawn watering capability,

    Therefore, this rain cloud was probably designed

    CSI is their security blanket. Pointing out its fatal flaws only makes them clutch it that much tighter.

  286. 286
    Joe says:

    In no cases where a jungle watering capability is produced in an object, intelligent agencies are noticeably absent.

    Rain clouds contain jungle watering capability.

    Therefor rain clouds do not require intelligent agency intervention.

  287. 287
    Joe says:

    LoL! @ Joe!!!111!!

    In all cases where a jungle watering capability is produced in an object, intelligent agencies are noticeably absent.

    Rain clouds contain jungle watering capability.

    Therefor rain clouds do not require intelligent agency intervention.

    Why did I give up coffee?

  288. 288
    gmilling says:

    Joe: //”In no cases where a jungle watering capability is produced in an object, intelligent agencies are noticeably absent.

    Rain clouds contain jungle watering capability.

    Therefor rain clouds do not require intelligent agency intervention.”//

    See Joe. I had faith that you could see the obvious circularity in the CSI argument. With you on our side, I know our side will win.

  289. 289
    Joe says:

    gmilling is a little slow today. Well make that every day

  290. 290
    Joe says:

    BTW gmilling, there isn’t any circularity to the way science operates. And the argument for CSI being a design inference follows what science demands.

  291. 291
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 283

    Here ya go Alicia:

    Measuring CSI in Biology- a Repost

    Didn’t we discuss this Fit unit some time earlier ?
    Although it looks similar to you because it too derives from Shannon entropy, it is the difference in ground state and functional state. Moreover it measures:

    The Fit values obtained can be discussed as the measure of the change in functional uncertainty required to specify any functional sequence that falls into the given family being analyzed.

    What you don’t realize is that it helps in reducing the search space! :

    For example, if we find that the Ribosomal S12 protein family has a Fit value of 379, we can use the equations presented thus far to predict that there are about 10^49 different 121-residue sequences that could fall into the Ribsomal S12 family of proteins, resulting in an evolutionary search target of approximately 10^-106 percent of 121-residue sequence space.

    More to point :

    The measurement in Fits of the FSC provides significant information about how specific each monomer in the sequence must be to provide the needed/normal biofunction. The functional information measures the degree of challenge involved in searching the sequence space for a sequence capable of performing the function. In addition, Fits can be summed for every sequence required to achieve a complete functional biochemical pathway and integrated cellular metabolism, including regulatory proteins.

  292. 292
    Me_Think says:

    oops typo Although it looks similar familiar to you…

  293. 293
    Joe says:

    Me Think- evolutionism isn’t a search, so you lose. CSI wrt biology pertains to Crick’s definition of biological information and so does FSC.

  294. 294
    Me_Think says:

    Joe @ 293

    CSI wrt biology pertains to Crick’s definition of biological information and so does FSC.

    Why don’t you read any post before answering ? I have clearly stated what FSC is – not it is not Demski’s CSI or even Moose Dr. CSI !!

  295. 295

    Adapa said:

    there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    Still waiting for Adapa to direct us to where this “fact” has been established. Link and a pertinent quote, please, Adapa? Shouldn’t be hard for you to support a known scientific fact. Right?

  296. 296
    Me_Think says:

    and @ 278 you said :

    “Everything you said is nonsense”.

    not realizing that my post included Demski’s own Law of conservation of Information ! So please read before responding.

  297. 297
    Joe says:

    Me Think, What you have clearly stated ignores the facts that I have posted.

    And you misuse Dembski’s Law. Not my fault you cannot understand that simple fact.

  298. 298
    gmilling says:

    Joe #290: //”BTW gmilling, there isn’t any circularity to the way science operates.”//

    I agree. Which is why CSI can not be used scientifically to detect design in living organisms. I see hope for you young man.

  299. 299
    Me_Think says:

    you misuse Dembski’s Law. Not my fault you cannot understand that simple fact.

    Really? So what do you think Law of conservation of information is about ?

  300. 300
    Joe says:

    gmilling:

    I agree.

    Then you agree that CSI is not circular and can be used in a scientific setting. Thank you

  301. 301
    Joe says:

    Me Think- You are trying to make the argument, not me. Make your case as opposed to just repeating yourself. That is if you can.

  302. 302
    Me_Think says:

    Joe, that’s a neat escape. In any case, that post is for VJT. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.

  303. 303
    cantor says:

    268 keith s November 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

    After your expertise bluff…

    .

    Too funny! A citation bluff to his own post.

    Yes, I heartily recommend open-minded readers to follow that link, especially posts 32, 40, 41, 70, and especially 162. The offer still stands.

    .

  304. 304
    Moose Dr says:

    Alecia Renard (277) “the only obvious point to emerge is that there is no clear concept of what CSI might be”

    Actually it is my opinion that we cannot agree on CSI because the ID community (of which I am a member) has taken too large a leap when defining CSI. The result is that the Dembskian definition is circular. The question of how CSI is made must be separated from the definition of CSI. The step of proving that RM+NS must be a subsequent step, a subsequent case.

    “because we have been given no method on how to establish the “CSI” of anything”

    I have given a clear method of establishing the CSI of a thing — especially a digitizable specification such as is found in DNA. To establish the complexity, you begin by adding up the number of bits of data — simple enough. You then subtract all bits of data that are superfluous — if the status of the bit doesn’t functionally diminish the specification, its bit can be subtracted. We now have a digital value for complexity. Simple enough?

    As to specification — this is a qualitative analysis. An object that has been specified was built from the specification. Protein, for instance, is built from the DNA. The specification has a component of “precision”, it must be “just right” to work. There is often flexibility in what “just right’ means. Sometimes its a carpenter’s “just right” (+- 1/16″) and other times it is a machinists’s “just right” (1/10,000 “). However, for something to be specified it must have a quality of at some point being “not right”.

    By this definition a gene is CSI. The gene has measurable amount of digital data, and a gene produces a protein which could be produced “not right”. Right?

    The question of whether RM+NS can produce new genes that create proteins is a question that must be addressed subsequent to defining CSI. I believe that the answer, however, is that it cannot.

  305. 305
    cantor says:

    268 keith s November 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

    You apparently didn’t notice that WJM was addressing Adapa, not me.

    What I did notice is that Adapa appears to be your sock puppet.

    .

  306. 306
    keith s says:

    cantor,

    You’re really getting desperate.

    Your evidence for that assertion? That we’re both ID critics, so we must be the same person?

  307. 307
    Mung says:

    wd400:

    What part of CSI specifically excludes Darwinian and natural processes?

    CSI does not and cannot exclude Darwinian and other non-natural processes.

  308. 308
    Mung says:

    Me_Think:

    Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process?

    No.

  309. 309
    Alicia Renard says:

    Moose Dr (November 21, 2014 at 11:27 am)

    Alecia Renard (277) “the only obvious point to emerge is that there is no clear concept of what CSI might be”

    Actually it is my opinion that we cannot agree on CSI because the ID community (of which I am a member) has taken too large a leap when defining CSI. The result is that the Dembskian definition is circular. The question of how CSI is made must be separated from the definition of CSI. The step of proving that RM+NS must be a subsequent step, a subsequent case.

    Indeed. It is rather a problem.

    “because we have been given no method on how to establish the “CSI” of anything”

    I have given a clear method of establishing the CSI of a thing — especially a digitizable specification such as is found in DNA. To establish the complexity, you begin by adding up the number of bits of data — simple enough. You then subtract all bits of data that are superfluous — if the status of the bit doesn’t functionally diminish the specification, its bit can be subtracted. We now have a digital value for complexity. Simple enough?

    Yes, but what counting nucleotides doesn’t tell you is whether there is any useful information in a sequence. Any sequence of nucleotides will produce a protein sequence on transcription, translation and synthesis. A truly random sequence will have a stop codon appear on average every 21 triplet codons so you might include that in your calculation to detect non-functional DNA. But what if we skew the random generation to reduce the frequency of stop codes? I just don’t see how you can tell whether a DNA sequence codes for a biologically active and useful protein without comparing to a known sequence or investigating the properties of a novel protein after having synthesized it. Predicting functionality of a theoretical sequence is still out of reach.

    As to specification — this is a qualitative analysis. An object that has been specified was built from the specification. Protein, for instance, is built from the DNA. The specification has a component of “precision”, it must be “just right” to work. There is often flexibility in what “just right’ means. Sometimes its a carpenter’s “just right” (+- 1/16?) and other times it is a machinists’s “just right” (1/10,000 “). However, for something to be specified it must have a quality of at some point being “not right”.

    Not sure your analogies are apt but there is no way of predicting this currently. Durston, Axe (and KF) seem not to grasp that because a protein has not turned up yet in any organism, it must be non-functional. This is the cardinal error in probability assumptions about the richness of the domain of as-yet-unknown proteins.

    By this definition a gene is CSI. The gene has measurable amount of digital data, and a gene produces a protein which could be produced “not right”. Right?

    The question of whether RM+NS can produce new genes that create proteins is a question that must be addressed subsequent to defining CSI. I believe that the answer, however, is that it cannot.

    The evidence suggests otherwise. Mutations (and other sources of genetic variability) happen. Selection happens.

  310. 310
    Alicia Renard says:

    CSI does not and cannot exclude Darwinian and other non-natural processes.

    Indeed. A most pointless concept! 🙂

  311. 311
    StephenB says:

    SB: In all known cases where CSI is produced in an object, an intelligent agent was the cause.

    This object contains CSI,

    Therefore, this object was probably designed.”

    Moose Dr.

    Stephen B, the above case strongly resembles the case that should be made.

    Yes.

    I would think, however, that one should specifically reference the candidate alternative source of CSI — RM+NS.

    In this context, it isn’t necessary to even consider RM + NS. If, in the past, it was always the case that CSI was the product of an intelligent agent, then it follows that any future object that contains CSI is probably designed. It’s a clear, straightforward, non-circular argument. The conclusion about “this” object is not contained in the premise.

    However, to prove that RM+NS cannot produce CSI, you cannot define CSI as “information that could not have been produced by RM+NS”.

    I don’t need to prove that RM+NS cannot produce CSI. Remember, I began the argument with an scientific observation about intelligent causes, not an assumption or calculation involving natural causes. We have all observed humans building machines with CSI, languages with CSI, and computer programs with CSI.

    Rather, the definition of CSI must reside outside of its cause so that the validity of the cause can be considered.

    I am defining CSI or specified complexity as the presence of functional parts (complexity) combined into a unified whole (Specificity), such that all the parts are necessary for the function. The only known cause of that phenomenon is intelligent agency. In this way, we can draw a direct inference to design without passing through RV+NS.

  312. 312
    rhampton7 says:

    StephenB,

    You definition is too broad, as it would cover the creation of heavy elements by way of nuclear fusion in stars (no intelligent intervention required).

  313. 313
    Me_Think says:

    Mung @ 308

    Me_Think:
    Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process?

    Mung: No.

    No ? Is it because yours is an ideological stand or because you don’t agree with either Demski or Binomial calculation @ 270 which shows you would need thousands of ID agent for ID to function ?

  314. 314
    Mung says:

    Me_Think: Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process?

    Mung: No

    Me_Think: No ? Is it because yours is an ideological stand or because you don’t agree with either Demski or Binomial calculation @ 270 which shows you would need thousands of ID agent for ID to function ?

    Mung: No, because it’s not ironic.

    Mung: No, because no one knows what the “improbabilities” of evolutionary processes are.

    Mung: No, because your claim that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process is not something you can substantiate.

    Need more?

  315. 315

    Moose Dr:

    Actually it is my opinion that we cannot agree on CSI because the ID community (of which I am a member) has taken too large a leap when defining CSI. The result is that the Dembskian definition is circular. The question of how CSI is made must be separated from the definition of CSI. The step of proving that RM+NS must be a subsequent step, a subsequent case.
    …..

    I have given a clear method of establishing the CSI of a thing — especially a digitizable specification such as is found in DNA. To establish the complexity, you begin by adding up the number of bits of data — simple enough. You then subtract all bits of data that are superfluous — if the status of the bit doesn’t functionally diminish the specification, its bit can be subtracted. We now have a digital value for complexity. Simple enough?

    The most puzzling question is (still) how information is specified by DNA. Much depends on which chromosome territory a given gene is located, which in transposition can change location even to another chromosome (most easily after chromosomes uncoil then adjacents intermingle to reestablish necessary connections from one to another). More information:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-530765

    The ID community can be thankful that what it has are none the less pieces to a puzzle that antiquates the model the Darwinian community is stuck with. Besides, William Dembski (and faithful Salvador) got the UD ball rolling by stirring things up real good with even a Charles Darwin doll with their head in a vise and a fart noise Dover cartoon parody of Judge Jones and others. Oh I so well remember the early days of UD. But making UD a place mainstream academia had to keep an eye on is very valuable to have when over the years the level of discussion slowly leads to scientifically revolutionary theory. That’s sure one for the science history books. And its obligatory weird story is only a plus!

    The wacky history of cell theory – Lauren Royal-Woods
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OpBylwH9DU

    From what I can see KF and others all have useful ideas in one area or another of the overall problem that ends up wiring together a circuit to rival the intelligence of the human brain. Only difference is one has billions of years behind and likely ahead of it and works slowly, while the brain in our skull has to work faster for moment to moment actions that are made during one lifetime.

  316. 316
    StephenB says:

    rhampton7

    You definition is too broad, as it would cover the creation of heavy elements by way of nuclear fusion in stars.

    No, it would not. What observable and specific function to the heavy elements serve? How do those parts interact? What is relationship of the part to the whole? What would happen if one of the parts was missing?

  317. 317
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    Still waiting for Adapa to direct us to where this “fact” has been established. Link and a pertinent quote, please, Adapa? Shouldn’t be hard for you to support a known scientific fact. Right?

    Sorry William J Murray, my bad. I forgot you’re just an armchair philosopher and are too technically incompetent and/or lazy to research any science for yourself. Here, this should help

    Evidence for evolution

  318. 318
    kairosfocus says:

    MT, seems to be cross-threaded, I copy back here, the proper home. In any case, the random search on average result is about searching in W for isolated zones T with maximally sparse search. On the whole, given the blind search for [a golden] search challenge . . . which has to come from the set of subsets of W i.e. from the power set of cardinality 2^W . . . we have no right to expect to find a golden search blindly that drastically outperforms the overwhelmingly likely fail on a blind reasonably random sparse search of W. Of course if one may impose successive “halves” with elimination of target in one half, the search tries to success drops impressively. Unfortunately, the sparseness imposed by W: atomic and temporal resources of sol system or the observed cosmos preclude half-break partitioned successive search. Neither the random dust nor a random walk nor a combination offer any advantages.) KF

    PS: I am too busy RW to try to further engage here, I leave that to those already present.

  319. 319
    kairosfocus says:

    AR: This from 309? caught my eye:

    Durston, Axe (and KF) seem not to grasp that because a protein has not turned up yet in any organism, it must be non-functional. This is the cardinal error in probability assumptions about the richness of the domain of as-yet-unknown proteins.

    I note that to function as a rule a protein must fold and fit. Folding stability is the first criterion being applied.

    And, the objection you raise is therefore not a matter of assumptions. Folding or not is empirically tested and shown across the world of life. Remember prions and sickle cells as indicators.

    Next, the functionality challenge on origin of nes body plans involves proteins that must assemble and fold, activate and agglomerate chains to build nanomachines, or tissues, then organs then integrated systems. Folding is a lower complexity, least unlikely threshold criterion.

    And already, it highlights isolated islands of function facing sparse search on atomic and temporal resources.

    I hate to say it but you are beginning to sound like the Marxists with wheels on wheels till the main wheels fell off and the system collapsed at the end of the 80’s.

    KF

  320. 320

    Adapa said:

    Sorry William J Murray, my bad. I forgot you’re just an armchair philosopher and are too technically incompetent and/or lazy to research any science for yourself. Here, this should help.

    Adapa’s link goes to a google search “evidence for evolution”. That’s not what I asked for; I asked for evidence supporting his claim that evolution is unguided and that the unguided nature of evolution is considered a scientific fact.

    I also asked that he configure his response with links to actual scientific research AND pertinent quotes from such research (to avoid link and literature bluffing).

    Care to try again, Adapa?

  321. 321
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    Adapa’s link goes to a google search “evidence for evolution”. That’s not what I asked for; I asked for evidence supporting his claim that evolution is unguided and that the unguided nature of evolution is considered a scientific fact.

    Shame on you WJM. Not only are you still stupid enough to demand someone prove a negative now you’ve resorted to lying about what was actually said. Here’s my words

    Adapa: “there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    Nothing in there about unguided is a fact. You told a big fat lie to try and save face. Didn’t work. Seems it always comes to that with you when you get shown up.

  322. 322
    cantor says:

    306 keith s November 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    we’re both ID critics, so we must be the same person?

    There’s “mountains of evidence”.

    .

  323. 323
    cantor says:

    321 Adapa November 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

    You told a big fat lie

    I knew it! Adapa is a five-year-old child!

    .

  324. 324
    cantor says:

    192 Adapa November 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    204 Adapa November 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    321 Adapa November 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Nothing in there about unguided is a fact.

    .

    @WJM:

    Adapa is immume to logic. It is not possible to have a rational argument with him.

    The only way his comment makes any sense is if he is admitting that materialism is an a priori axiom and not a fact.

    .

  325. 325
    StephenB says:

    Here is the order of events.

    Adapa

    there is plenty of positive evidence natural processes can produce the complexity we see in living forms.

    It’s known well enough to be considered fact by the scientists who actually study and understand the processes.

    WJM

    Still waiting for Adapa to direct us to where this “fact” has been established. Link and a pertinent quote, please, Adapa? Shouldn’t be hard for you to support a known scientific fact. Right?

    Adapa

    Sorry William J Murray, my bad. I forgot you’re just an armchair philosopher and are too technically incompetent and/or lazy to research any science for yourself.

    This is the way Adapa always responds to an intellectual challenge. Evade and insult, evade and insult, evade and insult. That is the way he responded to me @254. He never engages on the merits of the argument—never.

    Adapa is simply incapable of rational thought.

  326. 326
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    Here is the order of events.

    When are you going to tell WJM his logic is all wrong? Why do you guys keep contradicting each other then running away when the contradictions are pointed out?

  327. 327
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    I am defining CSI or specified complexity as the presence of functional parts (complexity) combined into a unified whole (Specificity), such that all the parts are necessary for the function. The only known cause of that phenomenon is intelligent agency. In this way, we can draw a direct inference to design without passing through RV+NS.

    Stephen,

    Don’t call it CSI. That acronym is already taken. Come up with your own acronym, like gpuccio and KF. It’s a UD tradition.

  328. 328

    Cantor @324:

    It’s when they are immune to logic that you can get them to say the darnedest things!

    It’s like they’re programmed to respond in certain ways to certain key phrases, without regard to any kind of consistency or logical coherence. It’s easy to get them to contradict themselves or blunder into making the most ridiculous strings of statements.

    You caught a really good one there! I’m going to spread it around a little bit.

  329. 329
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    It’s easy to get them to contradict themselves or blunder into making the most ridiculous strings of statements.

    You mean like when you made this idiotic illogical claim?

    “Even if we posit arguendo that there is plenty of positive evidence that natural processes “can” produce that CSI, it is not known that it did. It is a historical, abductive, theoretical inference at best, an assumption at worst.”

    Or when you told this blatant lie?

    “Adapa: Science has conclusive demonstrated that evolution is unguided”

    Keep showing us how little honesty means to you WJM.

  330. 330

    Actually, with all due fairness, I can see where there could be confusion here (given charitable interpretations).

    Adapa has said that it is considered a scientific fact that unguided processes can produce CSI biodiversity; he isn’t claiming that it is a fact that it did, only that it can.

    What he doesn’t seem to realize is that this is all anyone is asking him to support. I’m not asking him (or any Darwinist) to prove ID wasn’t involved; I’m just asking him to support what he has claimed – that it is a conclusive, scientifically-demonstrated fact that unguided processes can generate CSI biodiversity.

    Proving that ID wasn’t involved in creating something is, of course, impossible. It’s hard to believe that someone could construe anything said here as having that meaning, but, principle of charity requires it.

  331. 331
    Axel says:

    ‘… but, principle of charity requires it.’

    That’s right, rub it in, William!

  332. 332
    Adapa says:

    William J Murray

    Actually, with all due fairness, I can see where there could be confusion here

    There’s no confusion. You got caught in a blatant lie.

    “Adapa: Science has conclusive demonstrated that evolution is unguided”

    You refuse to retract it so now you can deal with the consequences.

  333. 333
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    Don’t call it CSI. That acronym is already taken. Come up with your own acronym, like gpuccio and KF. It’s a UD tradition.

    I am defining CSI the same way everyone defines it in the context of the whole/part relationship, though it is in abbreviated form. There is nothing novel about it. Our FAQ describes it this way:

    “Namely, complex, specified information, shown in the mutually adapted organization, interfacing and integration of components in systems that depend on properly interacting parts to fulfill objectively observable functions. For that matter, this is exactly the same concept that we see in textual information as expressed in words, sentences and paragraphs in a real-world language.”

    GPuccio and Kairosfocus have done an excellent job of explaining some of the subsets of CSI.

  334. 334
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    Your definition of CSI clashes with Dembski’s. Pick a new acronym.

  335. 335
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    When are you going to tell WJM his logic is all wrong? Why do you guys keep contradicting each other then running away when the contradictions are pointed out?

    WJM’s logic is not wrong, nor do his statements contradict my statements. You just don’t understand what it means to assume “arguendo.” Your rational sensibilities are not very well developed.

    Meanwhile, you need to study the difference between my original argument and your irrational caricature of it. I laid it all out @254, complete with a list of all your logical errors. All you have to do is study and learn. Thankfully, it will require very intellectual exertion on your part.

  336. 336
    StephenB says:

    StephenB,

    Your definition of CSI clashes with Dembski’s.

    No, it doesn’t. Find another song to sing.

  337. 337
    Adapa says:

    StephenB you need to study the difference between your irrational original argument and my spot on caricature of it using your identical logic. I laid it all out @257, complete with a list of all your logical errors. All you have to do is study and learn. Thankfully, it will require very little intellectual exertion on your part.

  338. 338
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    you need to study the difference between your irrational original argument and my spot on caricature of it using your identical logic. I laid it all out @257, complete with a list of all your logical errors. All you have to do is study and learn. Thankfully, it will require very little intellectual exertion on your part.

    Poor Adapa, fearful of addressing any argument on the merits, is reduced to copying my post word for word and changing the characters around in a futile attempt to formulate a rational argument. He did the same thing in response to my detailed explanation @254, ignoring its substance, copying it word for word @257, and tacking on a smiley face at the end. This is what passes for intellectual sophistication in the merry land of Darwinists.

  339. 339
    Adapa says:

    Poor StepheB, fearful of addressing my argument on the merits, is reduced to waving his arms around in a futile attempt to formulate a rational argument. He did the same thing in response to my detailed explanation @257, ignoring its substance and merely repeating his same unfounded claims. This is what passes for intellectual sophistication in the merry land of logic-challenged IDers.

  340. 340
    StephenB says:

    I rest my case.

  341. 341
    Mung says:

    Now keiths is the CSI police. hilarious

  342. 342
    Adapa says:

    StephenB

    I rest my case.

    The jury has returned it verdict on your ID claims: GUILTY of brutally bad circular logic and assuming your conclusion!

    My apologies for misspelling your name in 339 BTW.

  343. 343
    Adapa says:

    Mung

    Now keiths is the CSI police. hilarious

    Troll.

  344. 344
    StephenB says:

    Adapa

    My apologies for misspelling your name in 339 BTW.

    Not even close to being a problem.

  345. 345
    Mung says:

    Mung: “Now keiths is the CSI police. hilarious”

    Adapa: “Troll.”

    And yet here is keiths in a different thread:

    Calling it CSI isn’t the problem.

    If that makes me a troll, so be it.

  346. 346
    cantor says:

    342 Adapa November 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    GUILTY of brutally bad circular logic and assuming your conclusion!

    This is just precious, coming from the mouth of the king of petitio principii

  347. 347
    Quest says:

    Me_Think wrote:

    “….Taking this further,the mimimum number of ID agents that can provide a 90% probability of getting service (attention to processes) for just 30,000 process is 3,069. IOW, Minimize the capacity required for Binomial Distribution with n = 30,000 p=0.1
    For a 99.9% ‘service’ probability, minimum 3,162 agents will be required. Imagine how much will be required for a billion process !

    Given that ID is based on ‘improbabilities’ of evolutionary process, isn’t it ironic that IDers are on a side which is far more improbable than Evolutionary + NS process ?”

    Let me get it straight before I comment or ask further questions: Are you suggesting the ID couldn’t have created life because the ID would require 3162 agents at the same time to take care of x number of processes at the same time…? And due to this marvels conclusion you have calculated that dumb luck running the evolutionary process is mathematically more likely to accomplish that…?

    Please tell me that I have misunderstood your intent or logic or I should say the lack of logic…

  348. 348
    gmilling says:

    Cantor 346: in reference to Adapa //”This is just precious, coming from the mouth of the king of petitio principii”//

    It must make you feel brave to insult someone you know can’t respond because he has been banned by Gordo.

  349. 349
    cantor says:

    348 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Cantor 346: in reference to Adapa //”This is just precious, coming from the mouth of the king of petitio principii”//

    It must make you feel brave to insult someone you know can’t respond because he has been banned by Gordo.

    And it must make you feel rather stupid, having said such a thing without doing the least bit of background checking, which would have revealed to you that I have been hot on his case ever since he made his first thinly-veiled trollish appearance on UD.

    .

  350. 350
    gmilling says:

    Cantor: //”And it must make you feel rather stupid, having said such a thing without doing the least bit of background checking, which would have revealed to you that I have been hot on his case ever since he made his first thinly-veiled trollish appearance on UD.”/:

    And since you have been hot on his case, you would have realized that Gordon (Kairosfocus) Mullings banned him. Again, criticizing someone who you know can’t respond is cowardly.

    Boy, I can get used to the bold font.

  351. 351
    cantor says:

    350 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Again, criticizing someone who you know can’t respond is cowardly.

    Getting yourself banned so that the foolish things you’ve said have to be defended by your sock puppets is cowardly.

    .

  352. 352
    gmilling says:

    Cantor: //”Getting yourself banned so that the foolish things you’ve said have to be defended by your sock puppets is cowardly.”//

    Nice try. But he was banned because Gordon (NoFocus) Mullings had a childish temper tantrum. And then he lied about banning him. So much for Gordo’s maturity.

  353. 353
    cantor says:

    352 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Cantor: //”Getting yourself banned so that the foolish things you’ve said have to be defended by your sock puppets is cowardly.”//

    Nice try.

    It’s not a “try”. It’s a fact.

    .

  354. 354
    gmilling says:

    Cantor: //”It’s not a “try”. It’s a fact.”//

    Really? Can you find any comment where I agreed with Adapa? Before you waste your time, I can tell you that you won’t find one. Because Gordon (LackofFocus) keeps blocking my comments.

  355. 355
    cantor says:

    354 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Cantor: //”It’s not a “try”. It’s a fact.”//

    Really?

    Yes, really. Like gravity and heliocentrism. There’s “mountains of evidence”.

    .

  356. 356
    cantor says:

    354 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    KF keeps blocking my comments.

    Try saying something constructive.

  357. 357
    kairosfocus says:

    GM, I have one minute, being fully occupied elsewhere. I see more — and on sad record of your ilk, unsurprising — willful and false accusations. I just note they are false for record, I don’t expect you or your ilk to respect accuracy, truth or fairness. And I suggest that onlookers ponder what ideologues like that would do if we are foolish enough to grant them ever increasing power. KF

  358. 358
    gmilling says:

    KF 357: but I have noticed that you have not denied that you blocked Adapa’s IP address from posting. That is very telling. In short, you are a liar. Do you deny it? If not? Please rationalize why blocking an IP address is not the equivalent of banning.

  359. 359
    cantor says:

    358 gmilling November 24, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    blah blah blah

    Stop your insufferable whining and post something constructive.

  360. 360
    Quest says:

    Me_Think,

    You omitted to provide an answer to my comment… You and Keith s have the same poor manners… you seem to ignore the fundamental comments but in other ways you seem to supplement each other on this blog 100% as if you were twins…

    There must be some evolutionary calculation to prove that…

    Barry…???

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