Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Mathematics and the Creative Powers of the Blind Watchmaker


The burden of proof rests with BW proponents, not ID proponents.

For those with inquisitive minds, I suggest checking out David Berlinski’s comments here, starting at 41 minutes. As everyone with any sense knows, David Berlinski — a mindless, born-again, Christian religious fanatic — is masquerading as a secular Jewish mathematician while attempting to impose a theocracy and destroy the entire foundation of modern science.

I have, on several occasions at UD, proposed that simple mathematical analysis of the available probabilistic resources — even making unrealistically optimistic probabilistic assumptions at every turn — renders totally absurd the claim that the mechanism of random errors filtered by natural selection can account for what we find in living systems beyond the utterly trivial.

It took 10^20 reproductive events for malaria to evolve resistance to chloroquine with two randomly produced genetic variations (check out Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution). This is the empirical evidence concerning the creative powers of the Blind Watchmaker. Assuming that humans evolved from a primitive simian-like ancestor three million years ago, and assuming an unrealistically optimistic generation period of 10 years, and assuming an unrealistically optimistic average number of individuals at 10^7, we have 3×10^12 reproductive events for analogous Darwinian mechanisms to turn Lucy into Lucille Ball. That means that with 33 million times fewer random opportunities than malaria had to come up with two point mutations (that produced no new biological machinery or information), Darwinian mechanisms supposedly miraculously engineered modern humans from a pre-chimpanzee ancestor.

This is simply an absurd proposition on its face, completely unsupported by evidence or even the most trivial analytical or probabilistic scrutiny.

This is why, as David Berlinski comments, he and his mathematician friends consider Darwinism to be “nutty.”

Something Dembski and Marks do not begin to address is that there are different kinds of knowledge, and that some kinds are harder to come by, and thus are more valuable, than others. David Fogel moved from checkers to chess, and started out with a public-domain program that humans had been tweaking for years. After a couple days of computational evolution (again, evolution of the static board evaluator), the program had gone from master to grandmaster rating (370+ gain in rating, IIRC). Now, no one would say that Fogel didn't use any sort of knowledge in structuring the static board evaluator. But the knowledge he used was generic, and easily obtained. It was relatively "dumb" knowledge. The evolutionary process yielded, in a sense that has a precise operational definition, "smart" knowledge. Knowledge that makes a chess player a grandmaster rather than a master is something very special, at least in the estimation of humans. "Dumb input, smart output" is not a phenomenon that will be explained away by counting bits of "active" information. Sooner Emeritus
Gil Dodgen, Program a static board evaluator for checkers that performs as well as the evolved evaluator of Blondie24, i.e., with no increase in the depth of search in the game tree. The fact is that Blondie24 evolved to play a much stronger game of checkers than did its creators, ultimately rating higher than 99% of human competitors. (Another researcher repeated the study, but let the evolutionary program run longer, and obtained a higher rated player.) Furthermore, Blondie24 did so looking no further ahead in the game than humans commonly do. The fact is that, no matter your expertise in programming of checkers-playing programs, you have never managed to produce a static board evaluator that assesses game situations as "intelligently" as Blondie24 did. Why are you holding forth on the limits of what can be accomplished by iteration of reproduction-with-variation and selection in biological evolution, which you obviously understand poorly, when you have no answer to a challenge you do understand? Sooner Emeritus
bornagain77, Accusing someone of hypocrisy does not get you off the hook. Characterizing Matzke's analysis as opinion does not get you off the hook. You can get off the hook by providing a step-by-step refutation of Matzke's analysis. Adel DiBagno
Adel,,, and she can quote an "opinion" by Matzke and I can't quote Luskin to a source? Frankly your double standard is bleeding through Adel,,, you must try harder to conceal such hypocrisy of standard. bornagain77
bornagain77 @33: Your excerpt from evolutionnews is not a quotation from R Dawkins, but an opinion of Casey Luskin. Please address Cassandra's challenge, from which you have run away transparently. Adel DiBagno
Cassandra you may get Nick to write the Journal of Clinical Investigation also to correct their error, since that is where the 1 in 10^20 number is derived from in the first place: Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth Shies Away from Intelligent Design but Unwittingly Vindicates Michael Behe – Oct. 2009 Excerpt: The rarity of chloroquine resistance is not in question. In fact, Behe’s statistic that it occurs only once in every 10^20 cases was derived from public health statistical data, published by an authority in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The extreme rareness of chloroquine resistance is not a negotiable data point; it is an observed fact. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/10/richard_dawkins_the_greatest_s.html bornagain77
Cassandra: Behe has addressed all challenges to his book that have appeared in peer review: “The Old Enigma,” Part 1 of 3 http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK3FZ1XSIDBHP01 Do you suppose that Nick Matzke would mind so much as to have his groundbreaking insights published in peer review so as to stop this heresy of Behe's or do you think he is gun shy of Behe since he got burnt so bad last time he challenged him?? bornagain77
bornagain77 (28), If you ever decide to address the actual errors in Behe's calculations, do let me know. Until you or someone else does so, his conclusions are unsupported. Cassandra
GilDodgen: "The underlying theme of my post has been derailed into irrelevant minutiae." That's just about bound to happen if human beings are involved; and it's sure to happen when there are involved human beings who need to protect their intellectual-and-emotional commitments from rational scrutiny. Ilion
Mr Dodgen, If you'd like to discuss order of magnitude issues, try to address the issues of effective population size which I brought up, relative to Dr Behe's claims and calculations. Nakashima
cassandra, I do not find it ad hominem in the least when it comes to science. The man issued a peer-reviewed publication that was conclusively shown to be wrong within peer review, yet this phased him in the least and as far as I know he still pretends that his paper is correct. thus he is impervious to correction by even his own standards. Should the fact that I point this out be counted as a ad hominem. I think not for it is not a false attack in the least but is very accurate portrayal of how he has chosen to practice science. As for you to accuse me of hiding behind this this is ludicrous for you failed to get real in the first place as to this: Cassandra come on get real. Step back away a little from the rhetoric of Matzke (and others) and tell me exactly what you really have to show for far more replication/mutation events than have happened since the alleged mammalian from reptiles split 100 million years ago? You got a bug that is still a bug, that looks exactly the same under the microscope as the bug did years ago. Yet you expect me to swallow that a Ludwig Beethoven came from a Lizard Behemoth with far less mutational events?!? : Frankly Cassandra I find the real mystery to be,,”why do you not you yourself, as well as other evolutionists, approach this topic with even a little more skepticism than you are willing to grant?” Now if I could answer that mystery I think that would be something. Now cassandra as far as I'm concerned you guys have no leg to stand on and are blowing smoke as you have done for countless times before! You want to sit here and squabble over some obscure details I could care less about when you have in fact shown ZERO change of interest! I tell you what let's go back 250 million years and see how much evolution we can find in bacteria: Some bacterium spores, in salt crystals, dating back as far as 250 million years have been revived, had their DNA sequenced, and compared to their offspring of today (Vreeland RH, 2000 Nature). To the disbelieving shock of many scientists, both ancient and modern bacteria were found to have the almost same exact DNA sequence. The Paradox of the "Ancient" Bacterium Which Contains "Modern" Protein-Coding Genes: “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/19/9/1637 and this: Revival and identification of bacterial spores in 25- to 40-million-year-old Dominican amber Dr. Cano and his former graduate student Dr. Monica K. Borucki said that they had found slight but significant differences between the DNA of the ancient, 25-40 million year old amber-sealed Bacillus sphaericus and that of its modern counterpart,(thus ruling out that it is a modern contaminant, yet at the same time confounding materialists, since the change is not nearly as great as evolution's "genetic drift" theory requires.) http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/268/5213/1060 30-Million-Year Sleep: Germ Is Declared Alive http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CEFD61439F93AA25756C0A963958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 In reply to a personal e-mail from myself, Dr. Cano commented on the "Fitness Test" I had asked him about: Dr. Cano stated: "We performed such a test, a long time ago, using a panel of substrates (the old gram positive biolog panel) on B. sphaericus. From the results we surmised that the putative "ancient" B. sphaericus isolate was capable of utilizing a broader scope of substrates. Additionally, we looked at the fatty acid profile and here, again, the profiles were similar but more diverse in the amber isolate.": Fitness test which compared the 30 million year old ancient bacteria to its modern day descendants, RJ Cano and MK Borucki Thus, the most solid evidence available for the most ancient DNA scientists are able to find does not support evolution happening on the molecular level of bacteria. In fact, according to the fitness test of Dr. Cano, the change witnessed in bacteria conforms to the exact opposite, Genetic Entropy; a loss of functional information/complexity, since fewer substrates and fatty acids are utilized by the modern strains. Considering the intricate level of protein machinery it takes to utilize individual molecules within a substrate, we are talking an impressive loss of protein complexity, and thus loss of functional information, from the ancient amber sealed bacteria. Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? - "Fitness Test" - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 shoot let's go back 750 million years cassandra: AMBER: THE LOOKING GLASS INTO THE PAST: Excerpt: These (fossilized bacteria) cells are actually very similar to present day cyanobacteria. This is not only true for an isolated case but many living genera of cyanobacteria can be linked to fossil cyanobacteria. The detail noted in the fossils of this group gives indication of extreme conservation of morphology, more extreme than in other organisms. http://bcb705.blogspot.com/2007/03/amber-looking-glass-into-past_23.html cassandra I guess I just don't really care to put up with your lies anymore. I put the evidence out there, you can believe it or reject it, I really don't care. Now if you ever do have something of interest besides "chasing your tail in a circle" I will be more than happy to look at it. bornagain77
The underlying theme of my post has been derailed into irrelevant minutiae. As a teenager I remember my father telling me that, much to his dismay as a professor of physical chemistry at WSU, many college students had lost the ability to recognize mathematical errors that were clearly wrong by orders of magnitude. (That means wrong by 10 raised to exponential powers, not wrong by trivial decimal-point variations.) This is what Darwinists fail to consider or even recognize. Their assumptions about the creative powers of the Blind Watchmaker and the available probabilistic resources are not off by a few decimal points; they're off by orders of magnitude so huge that the exponents must be expressed with orders of magnitude. GilDodgen
bornagain77 (25), Once again you avoid addressing the evidence and arguments that demonstrate that Behe's calculations are incorrect and that his conclusions are therefore suspect at best. If you have such a visceral response to Nick Matzke, try replying to Blake Stacey's similar observations here: http://www.sunclipse.org/?p=133 The evidence stands on it's own, regardless of how many ad hominems you hide behind. Cassandra
Cassandra, I will fully address Matzke's concerns, to the best of my very limited ability, once Matzke is man enough to issue a public declaration that he was wrong in the Type Three Secretory System to Flagellum narrative he issued as peer review. Until then I see no merit for his concerns since he clearly places philosophical bias and personal prestige above searching for the truth. bornagain77
bornagain77 (8),
Cassandra come on get real. Step back away a little from the rhetoric of Matzke
Neither Matzke's post nor the second post I referenced are rhetoric. They both contain evidence and logical arguments. From those it seems clear that Behe's calculations are incorrect. That calls into question all of his conclusions drawn from those calculations. Do you intend to address the actual evidence and arguments? Cassandra
doomsday it is clear as day that since Tibetans have a mutation that prevents high red blood cell count and that extremely fit individuals have a high red blood cell count then it follows that Tibetans with this mutation have lost functional information. I really don't understand what is so hard about this. I'm not that smart and I can see it so Surely you are not that dense, so you must be unfairly biased in your consideration of this matter. Why is this doomsday? Do you not have enough integrity within yourself to honor the truth? bornagain77
off topic video: Barclaycard World Freerunning Championship 2009 Exclusive Highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2hdaPaIJQg PARKOUR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPIw3cv8Zls bornagain77
doomsday the passage states: "What's unique about Tibetans is they don't develop high red blood cells counts," said Prchal, also a senior author on the study who has done research in Tibet. "If we can understand this, we can develop therapies for human disease." ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, bornagain77
BA^77 @13: ",,,They are actually incorrect to imply that all high red blood cell counts found in humans are detrimental,,," Good thing they didn't try to imply that then, but rather were speaking about polycythemia, a diagnosis that requires abnormal hematocrit values. Again: did you just not read the article? Oh, and the article also says nothing about how well an extremely fit Tibetan would perform relative to an extremely fit non-Tibetan, so I have no idea why you think extremely fit individuals of any ethnicity are at all relevant. You may think they'd perform worse because they've lost "functional information", but that's all pure conjecture on your part and, again, not at all supported by the article. Also, what's with all the commas? Doomsday Smith
Mr Dodgen, I have, on several occasions at UD, proposed that simple mathematical analysis of the available probabilistic resources — even making unrealistically optimistic probabilistic assumptions at every turn — renders totally absurd the claim that the mechanism of random errors filtered by natural selection can account for what we find in living systems beyond the utterly trivial. Yes, and I've tried to point out on several of those occasions that what you are really doing is calculating the selection pressure operating on the populations in question. The selective advantage of the Lucy-Lucille mutations must have been much higher than the chloroquine mutations. But a long standing problem with Dr Behe's number is that it ignores issues of effective population size. The effective population of P. falciparum is not the number of cells in a sick person. It is the number of individuals that survive to reproduce. If a cell doesn't reproduce, it doesn't matter if it developed chloroquine resistance or not. According to this paper on the effective population size of the malarial parasite, that size has been a few tens of thousands for much of human history, and is now around 5 million. This makes sense - it can't be much more than a multiple of the number of infected humans. Nakashima
@casandra "-Logically, the burden of proof rests with whomever is making the positive claim" Very well then... Why don't we just go straight to the root of the problem. Can you prove materialism for us? above
Also more importantly to realize llion is that the evolutionists simply assumed it was a "random" variation that caused the Tibetans to consume oxygen more efficiently at higher altitudes, but as with the lactase (milk) persistence mutation that arose in several different populations, which is a more interesting detrimental mutation to look at than this one, I firmly believe it will be found to be a "calculated" detrimental mutation that arose from higher levels of functional information within the genome. i.e. the odds of just stumbling onto this solution in all the sequence space of the human genome is "Mount Everest high" to put it mildly. further note: In fact almost all "changes" in the genomes of bacteria, which are deemed to be "beneficial", are now found to be "designed" changes that still stay within the overriding principle of Genetic Entropy since the adapted bacteria never pass the fitness test: Revisiting The Central Dogma (Of Evolution) In The 21st Century - James Shapiro - 2008 Excerpt: Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome (not replication errors). (of interest - 12 methods of information transfer in the cell are noted in the paper) https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/central-dogma-revisited/ Scientists Discover What Makes The Same Type Of Cells Different - Oct. 2009 Excerpt: Until now, cell variability was simply called “noise”, implying statistical random distribution. However, the results of the study now show that the different reactions are not random, but that certain causes (environmental clues) lead to predictable distribution patterns,,, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090911204217.htm Bacteria 'Invest' (Designed) Wisely to Survive Uncertain Times, Scientists Report - Dec. 2009 Excerpt: Essentially, variability of bacterial cells appears to match the variability in the environment, thereby increasing the chances of bacterial survival, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102112102.htm Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? - "The Fitness Test" - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria - 2008 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v2/n1/darwin-at-drugstore bornagain77
llion, Yet if dilation is extended in "normalized" environment then it is detrimental: The Oxygen Dilemma: Can Too Much O2 Kill? “Many think oxygen doesn’t hurt and you can give as much as possible to make up for a deficiency. Our study shows this notion is wrong.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-oxygen-dilemma all in all it seems to be tweeking of highly choreographed processes that will all be found to be detrimental in general population. bornagain77
From the ScienceDaily article about the Tibetans: "The Tibetans also show higher levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that may help get more oxygen to tissues and prevent polycythemia." Other articles I saw said that the Tibetans have significantly more nitric oxide in their systems than other populations, and said that nitric oxide acts to keep blood vessels dilated, which dilation would work against developing hypertension in the blood vessels of the lungs. Ilion
BornAgain @ 10 ... my point (and hypothesis), exactly. Ilion
Well Doomsday, since,,,, Extremely fit individuals may have higher values—significantly more red cells in their bodies and significantly more oxygen-carrying capacity—but still maintain normal hematocrit values. http://wiki.medpedia.com/Red_Blood_Cells ,,,They are actually incorrect to imply that all high red blood cell counts found in humans are detrimental,,, Thus I'll stick to my assessment of it being a loss of functional information from the genome of humans. bornagain77
Oh, yeah, BTW BA^77: you do realize that what the genes are thought do is allow them to not overproduce red blood cells at those elevations, right? It says nothing about their blood cell counts being reduced at other elevations. Or did you just not read the article? Also, since they're more efficient at oxygen transport, they don't need as many red blood cells anyway. Still, the point stands: who cares about some other environment? They don't live there. Doomsday Smith
Good thing that the vast majority of them don't live in a "normalized" environment then. Doomsday Smith
to llion @ 4: Of Note: The new "beneficial mutations" found in Tibetans that allow them to survive in extremely high altitudes, with less oxygen, is actually found to result in a limit on the red cell blood count for Tibetans: Tibetans Developed Genes to Help Them Adapt to Life at High Elevations Excerpt: "What's unique about Tibetans is they don't develop high red blood cells counts," http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100513143453.htm Thus this is a loss of overall functional information, and fitness, for Tibetans since Tibetans will now be found to have less of a capacity to work, due to their now restricted oxygen metabolism, than will other humans in a "normalized" environment. bornagain77
I see this Cassandra shares more than just a name with her mythical namesake. Doomsday Smith

Leave a Reply