Darwinism Intelligent Design Science Science fiction

Kirk Durston: What do we do when Darwinism looks less like science all the time?

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It wasn’t always that way:

Poor science fiction contains preposterous bits that are so absurdly unlikely that it pretty much ruins the story. When Charles Darwin first proposed his theory of common descent in the mid 19th century, it was legitimately fascinating and worth considering. As experimental and observational science accumulated, however, we learned about molecular machines built from specific protein structures, molecular computers that calculate cell fate according to various signaling pathways10, and, as Craig Venter put it:

“All living cells that we know of on this planet are “DNA software”-driven biological machines, comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA.”

Even using the most optimistic extreme upper limits for the probabilities of blind and mindless nature coding the digital information for thousands of functional proteins necessary for an operating cell, including the required molecular machines, those probabilities are so infinitesimally small that if Eugene Koonin thought we needed an infinite number of universes to explain the origin of RNA translation, that is nothing compared to getting an entire cell up and running. So what possible explanations do we have? Kirk Durston , “On Fantasy in Modern Science” at Evolution News and Science Today:

Which brings us to… the multiverse! Or, as Durston would put it, to science fiction. Evidence-freefun cavorting in the clothes of science.

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See also: The multiverse is science’s assisted suicide

Kirk Durston: In Defence Of Experimental Science

and

Backing up the particle physicist who said there is baked-in bias in science.

5 Replies to “Kirk Durston: What do we do when Darwinism looks less like science all the time?

  1. 1
    Eugene says:

    While I completely agree that the most likely explanation at this point is that both the life on Earth and, most likely, this universe as well, have been designed by a mind, this idea is also tremendously depressing. The complexity of living cells, living organisms, human mind and the fine structure of time, space and matter is orders of magnitude beyond the abilities of human intelligence. And even the trivial progress we have so far been able to make towards understanding of the master “plan” is really only of value for our own, as the mind behind “the plan” already knows all this anyway (and then some). Our purpose and value is then reduced to either being the participants in some form of a large scale experiment, or possibly to even being an entertainment for the Designer.

    Sorry, I do not feel a need to worship the Designer. I just see this world as a highly sophisticated engineering marvel.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Perhaps Kirk Durston can answer the question, “who designed the designer”? Or does he proclaim an undesigned designer by fiat?

  3. 3
    Charles Birch says:

    Eugene:

    The Bard of Avon was of like mind:
    “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods:
    They kill us for their sport.”

    Seversky

    ‘Who created God?’ or ‘Who designed the Designer?’ is surely the oldest theological conundrum of all time.

    As I understand it from my layman’s viewpoint, there seem to be 3 answers:

    1) An infinite regress – either of designers or universes. Philosophers seem to think this is unlikely; I’m not sure why.

    Otherwise, if one accepts that one cannot explain one thing in terms of another ad infinitum, there are the two other options:

    2) Matter/Energy has always existed. It just IS. This I believe is the old theory of the ‘Steady State Universe’ beloved of Hoyle and Einstein.

    3) Mind has always existed. It just IS. (Whether this ‘Mind’ is the tribal God of the Bible is another matter entirely.)

    One assumes this Mind can either create or dream – or both. Astrophysicist Richard Conn Henry at Johns Hopkins, became a theist (not a Christian) after 40 years of studying and considering the implications of modern physics. And these implications, in Henry’s view, are clear: Mind is all that exists. He wrote “I have come to believe we are dreams in the Mind of God”.

    Perhaps this Mind was originally inchoate, and is itself evolving – and WE are the mechanism by which it evolves.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    seversky:

    Perhaps Kirk Durston can answer the question, “who designed the designer”?

    How do YOU know such a designer was needed? Why do you think your strawman means something?

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    First, pardon, but irrelevant. This is the primary matter on the table, from Durston:

    “All living cells that we know of on this planet are “DNA software”-driven biological machines, comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA.”

    Even using the most optimistic extreme upper limits for the probabilities of blind and mindless nature coding the digital information for thousands of functional proteins necessary for an operating cell, including the required molecular machines, those probabilities are so infinitesimally small that if Eugene Koonin thought we needed an infinite number of universes to explain the origin of RNA translation, that is nothing compared to getting an entire cell up and running.

    In short, designers that use language, codes and info systems that process same actually exist — us. Thus, such are possible of being. Further to such, codes, algorithms and related processing are known, strong signatures of design as causal process. So, the empirical observation of such phenomena warrants empirically grounded inference to design as process. Designs are known to require designers, and only intelligent language using designers are known or plausible sources of alphanumeric code using algorithmic information systems and the like. Where, Venter et al demonstrate beyond doubt that even relatively unsophisticated designers such as we now are can do the sort of molecular nanotech required for the systems we see in the living cell.

    Your question is not really about how plausible design is as a cause, or about whether blind chance and mechanical necessity in a Darwin small pond or the like could whip up codes, algorithms, molecular nanotech execution machinery etc. On trillions of examples we know the first is feasible. The second is utterly implausible on configuration space vs available time and atomic resources search challenge alone and has NEVER been observed to do what is needed. Those are readily confirmed facts.

    Your problem is, this is evidence of design as cause at a time and place that are inconvenient for evolutionary materialistic scientism, aka naturalism etc. That is, philosophical imposition on the institutions of science, science education etc is running into the force of actual evidence on the table for 50 – 70 years now. More than long enough for a fair trial.

    The answer is simple: it is time for materialist censorship to stop suppressing the true balance of the case on the merits of empirical investigation and linked analysis. The presumption of materialism is dead.

    Second, we have a logic of being fail.

    For, while origin of cell based life (given Venter et al) does not by itself necessarily point to designers more sophisticated than say Dr Venter’s grandson or great grand daughter working in a fancier lab a few generations hence, setting the challenge in the context of an observed cosmos — the only ACTUALLY observed cosmos — that is clearly fine tuned for C-chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet, cell based life raises a much bigger challenge. For, given the Boltzmann brain fiasco, a materialistic multiverse faces the grand delusion challenge.

    We are looking at a cosmos that exhibits signs of design, we are part of a world of cell based life forms that show further signs of design. Worse, even our inner minded lives are inescapably morally governed through undeniably known and binding duties to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness and justice etc. That is, on pain of absurdity on attempted denial, we do science and math etc as responsible, rational, significantly free, morally governed creatures. Thus, in our grand explanations, we have to resolve the IS-OUGHT gap, on pain of self-referential absurdity regarding our life of the mind. Such forces us to recognise that the only level where the gap can be bridged is the world root, where we need an adequately capable and powerful designer that is also capable of grounding ought.

    Where, as has been noted for years, non-being (the genuine nothing) can have no causal powers, so were there ever utter non-being such would forever obtain. As a world is, SOMETHING always was, something that is a necessary root factor for any world to exist. A necessary being in short, which is therefore beyond time. Especially, as it is clear that a quasi-physical causal-temporal succession of finite stages cannot span the transfinite.

    It is credible that the causal-temporal, entropy increase-driven order we inhabit is finite in the past, it is contingent, it had a beginning. And, it was caused, therefore. Where, as moral government (even of cognitive behaviour) is part of this world, the root cause has to also be morally adequate.

    We are looking at morally adequate, designing (thus intelligent and arguably minded), capable, necessary being world-root.

    Where, necessary being is the other kind of possible being that corrects the notion that everything is caused. As, some things are world-framing necessities for a world to be and are independent of other beings or entities. If you doubt this try to conceive of a world where elements of structure and quantity — such as two-ness — do not exist, or began to exist or can cease from being. Impossible. For, once a distinct possible world W is on the table, it must have some distinct identifying aspect A, that marks it apart from near neighbours say W’ and W”. So, we have a structured partition of core characteristics, W = {A|~A}, which exhibits two-ness, one-ness (both simple and complex), nullity (the partition is empty), and with them the whole cavalcade of structured quantities all the way to the surreals. Necessary being is conceivable and actual.

    Who designed the designer is a dead question.

    So, we need a morally and causally adequate world-root necessary being, once we ponder a world with biological, cell based code using life, in a cosmos fine tuned for such, containing intelligent morally governed creatures.

    There is one serious option, after centuries of debates. If you doubt, this is phil, so just provide a serious alternative _______ and answer the comparative difficulties relative to the candidate to beat: _______ . (Harder to do than might be imagined at first; but, phil is the study of hard, big, basic questions. Hard enough that there are no easy answers.)

    The candidate to beat is ethical theism: the world comes from and is sustained by the inherently good and utterly wise creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Who, is worthy of our loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good that accords with our manifestly evident nature.

    (Where, this last part grounds that there is a built in governing law of our nature as intelligent, creative, designing, language-using responsible, rational, significantly free, social, biological, sexually reproducing creatures whose offspring need long-term nurture in stable families and communities. )

    So now, what is your alternative? Why do you commend it i/l/o comparative difficulties?

    KF

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