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Darwinian Fideism And Who is the Real Leaper


In my last post I noted that Darwinists can be proud fundamentalists too. And then a commenter who goes by “Evolve” kindly provided an example in the combox to this post. Evolve writes:

[All] of life’s processes can be reduced to chemistry. DNA is a chemical molecule whose components are present in nature. It is not a software program. . . . To deny the weight of our observations and evidence, and invoke imaginary designers requires quite a leap of faith.

But who is the real leaper here?

One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.

Hubert Yockey, “A Calculation of the Probability of Spontaneous Biogenesis by Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 67 (1977).

My dictionary defines “fideism” as the “reliance on faith rather than reason in pursuit of religious truth.” Evolve’s religion is Darwinism, and not just any Darwinism, but a stridently fundamentalist variety. Information cannot be reduced to chemistry. To suggest otherwise, as Yockey makes clear, takes a tremendous leap of faith. Evolve is happy to make that leap, because his religion demands it. It might come as a surprise to Evolve, but he is a fideist. He has elevated his religious faith over reason.

Irony alert: Evolve’s little jab at ID proponents regarding leaps of faith is truly ironic, coming as it does from an irrational religious fundamentalist whose fideism would make a medieval churchman blush.

More quotations on information:

Generation after generation, through countless cell divisions, the genetic heritage of living things is scrupulously preserved in DNA . . . All of life depends on the accurate transmission of information.” Miroslav Radman and Robert Wagner, “The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication

Scientific American 259 (August 1988): 42, 40-46.

[The information in a DNA cell] if written out would fill a thousand 600-page books.

Rick Gore, “The Awesome Worlds Within a Cell,” National Geographic (September 1976): 360, 354-95

Information theory can be applied to any situation involving messages. It follows therefore that the language of life, the genetic code written along the lengths of DNA molecules, in groups of three coding for the various twenty-two amino acids of proteins, can also be expressed in terms of a given amount of information.

Edmund Jack Ambrose, The Nature and Origin of the Biological World (New York: Halsted Press, 1982), 125.

After Watson and Crick, we know that genes themselves, within their minute internal structure, are long strings of pure digital information. What is more, they are truly digital, in the full and strong sense of computers and compact disks, not in the weak sense of the nervous system. The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers, nor an eight-level code as in some telephone systems, but a quaternary code, with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computerlike. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular – biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.

Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (London: Phoenix, 1996), 19-20.

It is perhaps clear to the reader that the genetic system is, in principle, isomorphic with communication systems designed by communications engineers. As a matter of fact, genetical systems have historical priority since organisms have been using the principles of information theory and coding theory for at least 3.8 x 109 years!

Hubert Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 7.

When I was in my twenties, I read James D. Watson’s ‘Molecular Biology of the Gene’ and decided my high school experience [regarding biology] had misled me. The understanding of life is a great subject. Biological information is the most important information we can discover, because over the next several decades it will revolutionize medicine. Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.

William H. (“Bill”) Gates, III, The Road Ahead, rev’d ed. (New York: Penguin, 1996), 228.

Axel, you are not alone ;) humbled
I believe the ultimate in irony reaches a level that is best classified as 'surreal'. Musing on the farcical claims of the self-described meat-heads, our atheist interlocutors (when our respective words don't go right past each other), to being the only logical, rational thinkers and honest truth-seekers, and the love of their adolescent acolytes of describing the evolution-rejecting beliefs of Christians, theists and deists, as the product of a belief in 'magic', mumbo-jumbo, etc, it suddenly dawned on me how utterly surreal that is: a total inversion of the truth. I'm sure I can't be the only one among us who is utterly baffled as to how anyone could even imagine random chance's being such an infinitely fertile and sophisticated creator of this universe in all its variety and majesty - indeed, just a single E-Coli cell; for that matter the aesthetic dimension of this creation just adding to the mind-bogglingly surreality of such a claim. And all of this in the teeth of the discovery more than 80 years ago of the pivotal role of the Observer! What excuse do they proffer for this 'neglect' to follow where the empirical evidence and its inherent mathematics leads? 'Oh. QM is real woo-woo; crazy stuff.' Axel
BA: feel free, stars of the first magnitude are the brightest -- Betelgeuse and Rigel in Orion spring to mind. Dimmer stars, in log steps, go 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. The last is barely visible to the dark-adapted human eye. So, a blunder of the first magnitude . . . KF kairosfocus
"blunder of the first magnitude" KF, I'm gonna steal that. Barry Arrington
F/N: DEFINITION OF ENGINEERING According to the US-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), in a very carefully parsed, deeply loaded and even elegantly eloquent definition:
ENGINEERING is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience, and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.
Thus, to focus on physico-chemical interactions as though that is all that is involved is a blunder of the first magnitude. KF kairosfocus
Mahuna, you compare to automobiles and steel work. The analogy also holds with computers, and pen and paper. Information is routinely stored in chemical reactions. DNA is data. Cells are little, amazing, computers. Moose Dr
tjguy, compare Kelvin with Francis Bacon: "a little philosophy* inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." *i.e., “natural philosophy,” which today we would call “science.” Barry Arrington
Peace & joy. Evolve is correct at the very low level where the rubber meets the run. I mean, automobiles are driven by simple chemical reactions, right? And so is the smelting of iron ore into steel: just a simple chain of chemical reactions. But in the case of both the automobile and the steel works and biological life, there is an Intelligence upstream of the low level chemistry that arranges for all those cute little chemicals to meet up under just the right conditions. As has been mentioned before, the best possible combination of raw chemicals to produce Life is... Dead Life. But do live field mice arise from the rotting corpses of dead field mice? No. And if you cut off all sources of insect eggs and mold spores, the dead field mouse will decompose into just a pile of chemicals. On a less drastic level, you can take a sterile saline solution and add some proteins. And again, this doesn't produce Life, it just produces dirty water. And as other commenters have noted, what both the rotting corpse and the saline solution lack is Information, properly coded, and a mechanism (a protein machine) to assemble a specific form of Life, since there ain't any "genetic Life". The Information and the Mechanism are "designed" to work that way. mahuna
You dirt worshipping fideist! I like the sound of that. Mapou
I think that the most interesting part of this article is the fear that the DNA/software comparison is valid. It clearly seriously challenges the current paradigm.
Agreed! And yet, it this comparison is allowed to go unchallenged, the game is over so they have to find ways to deny the obvious. Science really is interesting! We have nothing to fear from quality scientific research. Usually it is in the interpretation of the data, ie placing it into a materialistic framework to make sense of it, where the problem comes. Science can show us that we are literally are made up of chemicals, but it cannot test for a soul. If an evolutionists wants to say we are chemicals and nothing more, that is a metaphysical statement that cannot be proven. To say that we have a soul, that there is a real "I" in us, is also a metaphysical statement that cannot be conclusively demonstrated. But, in my opinion, the evidence fits best with this belief. We have consciousness, morality, spirituality, the Bible, our own personal experience, the whole idea of INFORMATION, etc. It's an exciting time to be alive! As Lord Kelvin said, "
“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.” “If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God.”
If he thought that back in his day, imagine what he would say today in light of the discoveries of micro-biology - DNA, multiple codes(some of which are embedded in other codes), information, nano molecular irreducible machines, etc! tjguy
I think that the most interesting part of this article is the fear that the DNA/software comparison is valid. It clearly seriously challenges the current paradigm. Let our mantra be DNA = data. Moose Dr

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