Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Mount Rushmore and the alien


Sorry if I return on a topic several times treated here. Imagine an extraterrestrial spaceship landing exactly before Mount Rushmore. An alien gets off the spaceship and sees the faces of the four US Presidents carved on the rock. The ET has of course a knowledge of the natural forces and the physical laws at least deep as humans (otherwise he couldn’t have designed his spaceship). While to recognize the patterns is easy for us because we see human faces everywhere, how can the alien infer design if he never saw a human being? In the following I will explain why, in my opinion, the ET concludes that the figuration he sees on the mountain cannot be due to long-term action of natural forces (erosion, weathering, fire, wind, rain, earth-quakes, geological movements, etc.)

Many centuries ago, in his “De Architectura”, Vitruvius said that any construction made according to the “rules of art” must meet three main specifications: “Venustas, Firmitas et Utilitas” = “Beauty, Strength and Functionality”. Note that, since in Latin “Utilitas” is not only functionality/utility but also the very reason of existence of a thing, the last term is related to the teleology of the construction (its final end). It is obvious that the Vitruvius’ statement holds also for the design of the living beings and the organization of their organisms, faces included. This is exactly what the biological realm shows us everywhere.

Of the three Vitruvian properties the alien before Mount Rushmore is facing only the first one, “beauty”. Beauty implies perfection, symmetry, order, proportions, smoothness, curvature, orthogonality, harmony, sleekness, etc. All these things are eminently shown on the faces magisterially made by the carvers of Mount Rushmore. Let’s analyze a little an human face with the help of the following figure. To simplify, the model will be two-dimensional. It is obvious that if the design inference is just true in my two-dimension simplified model, to greater reason it will be true for the real three-dimensional statues.

(1) There is a main central vertical axis of symmetry A, and secondary vertical axes b, b’, c, c’, d, d’ at its sides.
(2) There are three horizontal axes (eye, nose and mouth) orthogonal to the vertical axis. The vertical and horizontal axes form sort of scaffold for the overall drawing. The axes d, b, b’, d’ divide the eye line internal to the face in five equal parts (signed with “=” on the top).
(3) The right eye and the left eye are on the eye line and their positions are symmetrical relating to the A axis.
(4) The eyes are mirrored figures relating to the A axis.
(5) The nose has a symmetrical shape relating to the A axis, develops from the eye line to the nose line, and its base is large as the distance between the vertical axis b and b’.
(6) The mouth has a symmetrical shape relating to the A axis and is large as the distance between the vertical axis c and c’.
(7) All the elements of the face have shapes with many bends of different bending radius (curved shapes are more qualitative than square ones).
(8) All the face’s parts are made of finely levigated rock, of the same granularity.
(9) All the parts lay out on the same surface without discontinuity or screw dislocation.
(10) All parts are composed of harmonious alternation of “fill” and “void”.
(11) The ordered set of parts is centered inside an oval shape.

The key point is that all the above qualitative statements are topological specifications and are in an AND relation (logical conjunction). That is, the existence of the entire face implies that they hold together in the same time. This means that, if eventually a specification/element has a probability to occur p1 and another item has a probability to occur p2, the probability of both occurring in the same time is p1 multiplied p2.

The alien infers that something different from natural forces made the four faces mainly for three reasons:
(A) the experimental one: nowhere in the mountains of the Earth he was flying on (and likely the mountains in other planets) he saw the logical conjunction of the above complex specifications;
(B) the conceptual one: the natural forces, for what they are, are unable in principle to produce macroscopic configurations that meet all such properties in the same time;
(C) the probabilistic one: the probabilities to occur of the specifications/elements are just individually very small and the overall probability becomes even astronomically smaller when they are multiplied.

These three reasons together reinforce each other and give the alien the certainty that the top of Mt. Rushmore is an artifact. In a sense we could say that the tetrad of human faces, showing complexity and specifications, contain Complex Specified Information, of analogic/topological type. IMO this is a field of ID theory worth of further investigation, beyond the classic ID field of digital/combinatorial CSI.

OT: Kirk Durston - God and Science: Is There A Conflict? - video http://powertochange.com/students/kirk/videos/god-and-science-is-there-a-conflict/ bornagain77
Also, the alien--being advanced enough for space travel--must surely know much more about Intelligent Design science than we do. Therefore they'd probably be able to calculate the CSI/fSCOI/DFSC/IC of the faces on Mount Rushmore instantaneously. lastyearon
timothya #6
1. Are you proposing that facial recognition in animal species involves the individual following the geometric rules that you laid out (if so, I am surprised that any infant is able to recognise its mother before it learns trig)?
De facto almost all higher animal faces involve the geometric rules #1-11 or similar. An infant recognizes its mother intuitively, without need of reasoning.
2. You seem to be pre-supposing that “aliens” share the same beauty-recognition rules as humans do. So: granting the alien a sense of beauty, why do you propose that its aesthetic is based on sensing symmetry?
Before Mt. Rushmore the alien doesn't say "how beautiful humans are". For him, we not even exist. He argues: "there are 11 complex specifications implemented in the same time. Natural forces are just hardly able to implement one, go figure jointly. His inference is immune from anthropomorphism. niwrad
– Pi and natural log in Gen 1:1 and John 1:1 – video (of note: correct exponent for base of Nat Log found in John 1:1 is 10^40, not 10^65 as stated in the video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg9LiiSVaes bornagain77
Of related note: This following website, and video, has the complete working out for the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages respectively, for Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1: http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/ bornagain77
timothya you state:
Which suggests that an asymmetrical alien might recoil in horror from human faces, yet be emotionally drawn to lumpish objects similar to its own form. The point being that the design inference only works if it incorporates unexamined assumptions.
but alas timothya, your assumption is for asymmetrical objects, as well your assumption should be with a random process generating form for your hypothesis.,, Which brings me to a question I asked the other day. Why should a ‘random process’ generate a universe with a sphere shape instead of some other random shape? please note the centrality of the Earth within the 4-D 'sphere' of the universe in the following video,,
Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879 Planck satellite unveils the Universe — now and then (w/ Video showing the mapping of the ‘sphere’ of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation with the satellite) – 2010 http://phys.org/news197534140.html#nRlv Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe - Main result Excerpt: The microwave background is very homogeneous in temperature (the relative variations from the mean, which presently is still 2.7 kelvins, are only of the order of 5x10?5.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkinson_Microwave_Anisotropy_Probe#Main_result Proverbs 8:26-27 While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
As well why should the universe be 'flat' if it were created by some random process?,,,
Did the Universe Hyperinflate? – Hugh Ross – April 2010 Excerpt: Perfect geometric flatness is where the space-time surface of the universe exhibits zero curvature (see figure 3). Two meaningful measurements of the universe’s curvature parameter, ½k, exist. Analysis of the 5-year database from WMAP establishes that -0.0170 < ½k < 0.0068.4 Weak gravitational lensing of distant quasars by intervening galaxies places -0.031 < ½k < 0.009.5 Both measurements confirm the universe indeed manifests zero or very close to zero geometric curvature,,, http://www.reasons.org/did-universe-hyperinflate The curvature of the space time of the universe is 'flat' to at least 1 in 10^15 places of accuracy http://books.google.com/books?id=O_beAVEoR7sC&pg=PT88&lpg=PT88&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false Job 38:4-5 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Moreover, seeing that dividing a circle with a line results in the infinite number of pi, then that strongly indicates, at least to me, that Whomever, or whatever, brought this universe into being had infinite knowledge so as to possess knowledge of the infinite number of pi. Of note:
What pi sounds like (when put to music) - cool video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOQb_mtkEEE "Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy." Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’ Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
OT and bizarre:
Researchers use Moore's Law to calculate that life began before Earth existed - April 18, 2013 Excerpt: Linear regression of genetic complexity on a log scale extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life 9.7 billion years ago. http://phys.org/news/2013-04-law-life-began-earth.html
I have news for these guys, life not only existed before the earth began to exist but before the entire universe began to exist as well!
1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality. 2. If consciousness is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality. 3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality. 4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality. Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit
I have two questions from the original post. 1. Are you proposing that facial recognition in animal species involves the individual following the geometric rules that you laid out (if so, I am surprised that any infant is able to recognise its mother before it learns trig)? 2. You seem to be pre-supposing that "aliens" share the same beauty-recognition rules as humans do. So: granting the alien a sense of beauty, why do you propose that its aesthetic is based on sensing symmetry? It seems more reasonable to infer that symmetrical organisms are likely to attribute beauty to other symmetrical objects because they are recognisably self-similar. Which suggests that an asymmetrical alien might recoil in horror from human faces, yet be emotionally drawn to lumpish objects similar to its own form. The point being that the design inference only works if it incorporates unexamined assumptions. Inter alia, it is a common failing of reasoning among IDists that a data point of one (our experience of how humans do stuff) is in any way a reliable guide to how other entities behave. But anthropomorphism is an age-old mistake. timothya
If you are in central Texas, give blood tomorrow, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ROrpKx3aIjA Upright BiPed
Did you ever wonder why your computer makes you simultaneously push ctrl+alt+del to unlock it? I think it's because the person who designed that feature knows that it is very unlikely that an accident would cause those three buttons to be pushed at one time. In other words, it's likely to be ON PURPOSE (telelogical). I think that's similar to what niwrad is saying. The strength of mount rushmore is in the individual faces but it is also in the fact that there are four of them in close proximity. Collin
N: Great work as usual. Cf. my own discussions here and here on. The nodes-arcs mesh defining an object allows a numerical value of FSCO/I to be evaluated. KF kairosfocus
OT: Arguments for the Existence of God - Dr. J.P. Moreland - video https://vimeo.com/51608300 bornagain77
Very good post again niwrad! as to:
natural forces, for what they are, are unable in principle to produce macroscopic configurations that meet all such properties in the same time;
This is reminiscent of Sir Isaac Newton's argument from symmetries:
One principle in Philosophy is the being of a God or spirit infinite eternal omniscient, omnipotent, & the best argument for such a being is the frame of nature & chiefly the contrivance of the bodies of living creatures. All the great land animals have two eyes, in the forehead a nose between them a mouth under the nose, two ears on the sides of the head, two arms or two fore leggs or two wings on the sholders & two leggs behind & this symmetry in the several species could not proceed from chance, - Sir Isaac Newton
In fact there is a fairly unique symmetry to the proportions of man, as Leonardo Da Vinci pointed out in Vitruvian Man circa the year 1490, that bears witness to man being made in the image of God,,,
Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour – image http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg
And while that square circle symmetry of man is certainly a very interesting geometric proportion as to being a 'macroscopic configuration' that is certainly beyond the scope of 'natural forces, for what they are,',,,
The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories - Stephen Meyer "Neo-Darwinism seeks to explain the origin of new information, form, and structure as a result of selection acting on randomly arising variation at a very low level within the biological hierarchy, mainly, within the genetic text. Yet the major morphological innovations depend on a specificity of arrangement at a much higher level of the organizational hierarchy, a level that DNA alone does not determine. Yet if DNA is not wholly responsible for body plan morphogenesis, then DNA sequences can mutate indefinitely, without regard to realistic probabilistic limits, and still not produce a new body plan. Thus, the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations in DNA cannot in principle generate novel body plans, including those that first arose in the Cambrian explosion." http://www.discovery.org/a/2177
,,, It is interesting to also point out that there is now known to be a much deeper symmetry that goes beyond the 3-Dimensional geometric symmetries found in life that are so mysterious.
The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale with body size as power laws of the form: Y = Yo M^b, where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent. A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling. http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~drewa/pubs/savage_v_2004_f18_257.pdf 4-Dimensional Quarter Power Scaling In Biology – video http://www.metacafe.com/w/5964041/
And since, as Dr. Meyer pointed out, 3-Dimensional body-plans are beyond the scope and power of Darwinian processes, then clearly, as Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini point out, 4-Dimensional scaling parameters are completely inexplicable to Darwinian processes,,,
“Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
And although Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for 'random' Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the invariant scaling of the physiology, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications this 'four dimensional scaling' of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional transcendent information’ is more foundational to life, (and even to the universe itself), than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional 'expectation' for life, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework, which holds that information, and indeed even the essence of life itself, is merely an 'emergent' property of the 3-D material realm. Supplemental notes:
The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings - Steve Talbott Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary. ,,,Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-unbearable-wholeness-of-beings Many Parts, One Body - animation - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMLq6eqEM4 Human Anatomy - Impressive Transparent Visualization - Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - video http://vimeo.com/26011909 Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff - video (notes in description) http://vimeo.com/29895068
Music and Verse:
Live - Heaven (official video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff3NUP-xzqQ Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

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