Intelligent Design

Science’s Blind Spot

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A friend of mine likes to invest in stocks. He understands computer companies so he trades only those stocks. This limitation makes for a simple and straightforward investing strategy. Evolutionists also limit themselves. They investigate only those phenomena that are the result of strictly natural causes. This limitation makes for a simple and straightforward research strategy, though it does create a blind spot.  Read more

118 Replies to “Science’s Blind Spot

  1. 1
    William J. Murray says:

    Well, science is tolerant of non-natural (read: artificial) explanations in many areas, or else they’d still be searching for a natural explanation of stonehenge and many other ancient world artifacts, and forensic investigators could never come to a conclusion of murder or arson, unless someone confessed.

    It isn’t that scientists are unwilling to entertain non-natural (artificial) explanations; they are just unwilling to entertain them as explanations to problems in those areas of investigation which would represent a threat to their worldview.

  2. 2
    William J. Murray says:

    I think one could make a really great set of movies, along the lines of “The Invention of Lying”, such as “The Invention Of Intelligent Design”, where we show what civilization would be like without the capacity to reach a conclusion that anything was done artificially unless the artificer was there to claim his work;

    or, the Invention of Sufficient Cause, where we show what life would be like if people actually operated in the world with the conceptualization of infinite regress (imagine a trial with an endless regress of evidence);

    or the Invention of Free Will, which shows how society would be if people actually believed in determinism and acted and spoke as if it was true (although I suspect it would end up looking a lot like “the Invention of Lying”).

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: Spot on. We need more from you! G

  4. 4
    MathGrrl says:

    I think you have the logic reversed. The issue isn’t a preconceived commitment to methodological naturalism but that methodological naturalism is a required assumption in order for hypotheses to be testable. If anyone could come up with a way to objectively define and test non-natural phenomena, the scientific method could be used to investigate them.

  5. 5
    MathGrrl says:

    William J. Murray:

    Well, science is tolerant of non-natural (read: artificial) explanations in many areas, or else they’d still be searching for a natural explanation of stonehenge and many other ancient world artifacts, and forensic investigators could never come to a conclusion of murder or arson, unless someone confessed.

    You seem to be assuming that human beings are non-natural. Do you have a definition of “natural” that differs from the normally accepted one?

  6. 6
    Clive Hayden says:

    MathGrrl,

    You seem to be assuming that human beings are non-natural. Do you have a definition of “natural” that differs from the normally accepted one?

    If I may, William is very obviously claiming that humans have an ability of artifice, different than anything happening by wind and rain and corrosion, etc., in building something like Stonehenge. If you would like a good definition and history of the word nature, and how it has been used throughout the ages, I suggest reading C. S. Lewis’s work Studies in Words, he discusses the word nature starting on page 24.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    MathGrrl

    Re your:

    I think you have the logic reversed. The issue isn’t a preconceived commitment to methodological naturalism but that methodological naturalism is a required assumption in order for hypotheses to be testable. If anyone could come up with a way to objectively define and test non-natural phenomena, the scientific method could be used to investigate them.

    Please read (and watch) here. Also, examine how the design filter as presented here allows us to test hypotheses on “natural” [- chance + mechanical necessity] and ART-ificial causatrion per reliable distinctive empirical traces and consequences of such causal processes.

    Then, we can talk beyond the usual talking points.

    To start the ball rolling I excerpt from Lewontin’s revealing remarks in his 1997 article in NYRB:

    ________________

    >> . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [this is a PHILOSOPHICAL knowledge claim, so here L. is self-referentially inconsistent and by def’n irrational] . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [revealing, cf here on what real self evidence looks like] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world [note loaded language] rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [talk about having a a priori, question-begging worldview level ideological agenda that locks out otherwise credible possible explanatory causes for observed phenomena! And the onward rationale for such that a theistic worldview with miracles is chaotic, is rubbish. If L had even read so humble a commenter as C S Lewis, he would have seen that batted for six: for miracles (= signs) to stand out, and for us to be morally responsible, the general course of the world HAS to be orderly. And science studies the general course of the world, mostly. guess why Newton and a lot of other key founders of modern science were theists?]

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added. (NB: The key part of this quote comes after some fairly unfortunate remarks where Mr Lewontin gives the “typical” example — yes, we can spot a subtext — of an ill-informed woman who dismissed the Moon landings on the grounds that she could not pick up Dallas on her TV, much less the Moon. This is little more than a subtle appeal to the ill-tempered sneer at those who dissent from the evolutionary materialist “consensus,” that they are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. Sadly, discreet forbearance on such is no longer an option: it has to be mentioned, as some seem to believe that such a disreputable “context” justifies the assertions and attitudes above!)] >>
    ________________

    Sorry if this is a bit sharpish, but the talking point you cited is a notoriously loaded one, and has materially contributed to abuse of scientists who do not toe the now politically correct evolutionary materialist party line set by the materialist high priesthood in lab coats.

    GEM of TKI

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Onlookers, notice how the term non-natural now stands in for “supernatural” in the methodological naturalist rhetoric of strawman fallacy dismissal.

  9. 9
    William J. Murray says:

    Mathgrrl:

    The ID argument is based on two contrasting explanations; “natural” (which is defined as the product of necessity – natural law – and chance), and “artificial”, which is defined as the product of an intelligence manipulating materials and forces found in nature to produce results quantifiably distinct from those produced by “nature”.

    My well-grounded conclusion (and empirical fact) is that (human) intelligence artificially generates phenomena like stonehenge, or murder, or arson, and science has no problem making a finding that intelligent artifice is the best explanation, as opposed to natural (necessity or chance) explanations.

    However, when it comes to certain other candidates for intelligent artifice, the institutions of mainstream science use a bait and switch tactic and substitute “supernatural” for “artificial” as the contrasting category to “natural”, and claim that such theories are making claims of “the supernatural”.

    It is a clearly hypocritical activity to allow artifice as explanation for stonehenge, when we do not even know if the buiders of stonehenge were human (we assume it), and then to disallow artifice as even a potential explanation for the the flagellum.

    Artifice is either a scientifically allowed explanation, or it is not. Which is it?

    —-

    Thanks, kf.

  10. 10
    jurassicmac says:

    William J. Murray:

    “Well, science is tolerant of non-natural (read: artificial) explanations in many areas, or else they’d still be searching for a natural explanation of stonehenge and many other ancient world artifacts…”

    Sir, you are using a non-standard definition of natural. Human beings are natural agents – they are not supernatural. We know that Mount Rushmore was crafted by intelligent workers, yet if someone made the claim that the origin of Mount Rushmore was supernatural in nature, or that it was built by a supernatural agent, we could rightly tell them: “No, we have a natural explanation: It was built by humans.”

    ‘Artificial’ does not equate to ‘supernatural’ in any sense.

    We are able to ascribe agency to the construction of Stonehenge for two reasons:
    A. We know of agents that were present in the area at the time of construction, [humans] and B. We know those agents to be capable of building structures like Stonehenge, because we can directly compare it to other structures that are observed to have been built by humans.

    “It isn’t that scientists are unwilling to entertain non-natural (artificial) explanations; they are just unwilling to entertain them as explanations to problems in those areas of investigation which would represent a threat to their worldview.”

    Scientists are unwilling to entertain supernatural explanations in all areas of investigation; and that is why science works as an explanatory paradigm.
    And your phrasing suggests that you believe all scientists have a singular worldview; this is most decidedly not the case. There are many distinguished scientists who are also Christians like Francis Collins and Ken Miller, among countless others.

    “and forensic investigators could never come to a conclusion of murder or arson, unless someone confessed.”

    The reason forensic investigations are conducted in the absence of a confession or eyewitness in the first place is because methodological naturalism is assumed. It is assumed that the murder or fire has a non-supernatural cause; that it wasn’t perpetrated by demons or ghosts or fairies. The same thing is true in every branch of science. In medicine, when someone is diagnosed with epilepsy, the hypothesis that it is caused by an evil spirit isn’t entertained for a second.

    All of science works by presupposing methodological naturalism, not just biology.

  11. 11
    William J. Murray says:

    jurassicmac:

    Your straw man excursion into “the supernatural” has already been addressed by myself and others, and is addressed in the FAQ linked to on this page.

    You really should acquaint yourself of the FAQ, so you can have at least a basic understanding of the ID position and argument, if you wish to make the best possible contribution to debates here.

    I didn’t equiate artificial with supernatural; in fact, I specifically dilineated the difference. ID makes an argument about artifice, not “the supernatural”.

  12. 12
    Upright BiPed says:

    jurassic,

    Methinks you missed WJM’s point, by a long shot perhaps.

  13. 13
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac:

    If, as you say, “artifice” is a subset of “the natural”, then in your opinion it is completely and fully within the proper realm of science to theorize that DNA might be the product of intelligent artifice, just as it is proper for science to theorize that stonehenge is the product of intelligent artifice?

  14. 14
    Upright BiPed says:

    oops, I see that WJM was already on the mic.

  15. 15
    MathGrrl says:

    Clive Hayden:

    I suggest reading C. S. Lewis’s work Studies in Words, he discusses the word nature starting on page 24.

    Thanks for the link, Lewis is always fun to read. I don’t think that addresses my issue with William’s comment though. Let me see if I can clarify.

    Taking the example of Stonehenge, we know the capabilities of human beings. We know something of their motivations. We know something of their methods. All of their capabilities and methods to achieve their motivations are natural, e.g. rolling stones on logs, fashioning rocks into columns, etc. Referring to humans as non-natural is therefore incorrect.

    Distinguishing between natural and artificial, where artificial refers to the action of a human, must, to be useful, recognize that artificial effects, using this definition, are a subset of natural effects, not a disjoint set.

  16. 16
    gpuccio says:

    There are only two possible definitions of “nature” and “natural” which are really clear and consistent:

    1) All that really exists

    2) All that we can explain with our current map of what really exists

    I have no problems with 1), but I am afraid that 2) is the most common use of the word.

    Under 1), everything can be considered “natural”, even a god if it exists really. So, the word is in a sense a synonym of “real” or “existent”, not particularly useful indeed.

    Under 2), some unpleasant consequences appear. In particulart, any definition of “naturalism”, be ot methodological or not, is an encouragement to consider out map of reality as final and absolute. It is, definitely, an ecouragement to conformistic thinking.

    Because, obviously, our map of reality is not final and absolute, and never will be. Are the laws of physics really as we understand them today? What is dark energy? Can consciousness exist separate from a physical body? Does God exist? Can He interact with the physical world? Does free will exist? Is a satisfying Great Unification Theory possible? What is life? How did it originate?

    And so on. Everybody can legitimately believe that he has good answers for some or all of these questions, but for nobody it is legitimate to state that his answers are final and absolute, that they should be shared by all, or that they should necessarily be the foundation, methodological or not, of all science or, even worse, of all knowledge.

    So, I cannot find anything good in the concept of methodological naturalism: either it does not mean anything, or it means very bad things.

  17. 17
    MathGrrl says:

    William J. Murray:

    The ID argument is based on two contrasting explanations; “natural” (which is defined as the product of necessity – natural law – and chance), and “artificial”, which is defined as the product of an intelligence manipulating materials and forces found in nature to produce results quantifiably distinct from those produced by “nature”.

    My well-grounded conclusion (and empirical fact) is that (human) intelligence artificially generates phenomena like stonehenge, or murder, or arson, and science has no problem making a finding that intelligent artifice is the best explanation, as opposed to natural (necessity or chance) explanations.

    Thank you for the clarification. Please read my response to Clive where I note that artificial, in the sense you are using it, is a subset of natural rather than a disjoint set.

    I also note that you add the qualifier “(human)” to “intelligence” when talking about specific phenomena. This makes perfect sense since we have considerable knowledge of humans but no experience with other similarly intelligent agents.

    However, when it comes to certain other candidates for intelligent artifice, the institutions of mainstream science use a bait and switch tactic and substitute “supernatural” for “artificial” as the contrasting category to “natural”, and claim that such theories are making claims of “the supernatural”.

    It is a clearly hypocritical activity to allow artifice as explanation for stonehenge, when we do not even know if the buiders of stonehenge were human (we assume it), and then to disallow artifice as even a potential explanation for the the flagellum.

    I don’t think that is what is happening. In the case of Stonehenge and your other examples, we know that humans do such things and were around at the time. In the case of the bacterial flagellum (of which, I’m sure you know, there are many different types), we have no evidence for intelligent agents existing at the times the flagella appeared.

    Artifice is either a scientifically allowed explanation, or it is not. Which is it?

    Artifice by known agents for which there is strong evidence is always allowed. Claims of artifice by undefined agents for which there is no evidence are not. This is not a hypocritical position.

  18. 18
    jurassicmac says:

    WIlliam J. Murray:

    “Artifice is either a scientifically allowed explanation, or it is not. Which is it?”

    Artifice absolutely is allowed as a scientific explanation. (I assume that by ‘artifice’ you mean something along the lines of ‘intent’ by an intelligent agent.) I’m not sure how you got that anyone was arguing against that point.

    I assure you, I am quite familiar with the ID position; I held it myself for about 20 years.

    “It is a clearly hypocritical activity to allow artifice as explanation for stonehenge, when we do not even know if the buiders of stonehenge were human (we assume it),

    We do not ‘assume’ the builders of Stonehenge were human, we deduce that they were from ample archaeological evidence. That humans bot existed and lived in that area is known with an incredibly high degree of certainty. And again, with stonehenge we A: Know the identity of the agents, and B: Know the methods by which the agents acted to create the structure.

    “and then to disallow artifice as even a potential explanation for the the flagellum.”

    As a Christian, I’m all for allowing artifice as a potential explanation for the flagellum. But first, we do have to answer these questions:

    1. What known (testable, verifiable in some way) agent created the flagellum?
    2. By what methods did the agent create the flagellum? (again, as you’ve said, supernatural explanations need not apply.)

    Until those questions are answered, (not even to satisfaction, just at all) You are more than welcome to believe that the flagellum was designed to the same degree of certainty that Stonehenge was, but you just can’t call it science.

    I’m taking you at your word that ID isn’t about the supernatural. So what kind of non-supernatural agents or processes were at work? Any answer will suffice.

  19. 19
    William J. Murray says:

    MathGrrl and Jjurrassicmac:

    Since both of your positions seem to be that, under methodological naturalism, artifice should be an unobjectionable category of potential explanations, then we have no quarrel there.

    All we have done is disagree on whether or not “nature” and “artifice” are contrapositive claims, but that’s trivial because we both agree that such explanations can be fully scientific, making ID theory a fully scientific theory, since it does not posit anything “supernatural”.

  20. 20
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac:

    ID is a science of design detection, and doesn’t necessarily extend into “designer detection” or “manufacturing detection”, although both are obviously ares of future research warranted by the finding of design.

    Look at it this way: let’s say we find an artifact on an otherwise desolate and deserted planet. We determine that the object was most likely designed and manufactured by intelligent agents of some sort – aliens, let’s say. We have no idea what purpose it serves, how it got there, how it was manufactured, or what/who created it, but because of the wiring, girders, glass screens, buttons and levers, it is fairly obvious it is an artifact of intelligence of some sort.

    Now, after we find that the object is best explained as the product of ID, a different investigatory heuristic results; we no long attempt to explain the object in terms of erosion, gravity, vulcanism, etc.; we now start investigating the design concepts, the purpose, getting an idea of the users and designers, and manufacturing techniques from evidence found in the materials.

    However, none of that investigatory research that proceeds forward can do so unless there is a means of scientifically determining that the object is best explained from artifice, and not other natural causations.

    That is all that ID theory, stripped down to its bare essential, attempts to do: quantify when and why we should make the scientific call that something is best explained as the product of artifice.

    What ensues from there is additional investigatory methodology and directions based on the ID finding, but not necessary for that finding.

    Identifying the agent, or figuring out their manufacturing process, is not a necessary aspect of ID detection; indeed, such investigation can only come after ID has been confirmed.

  21. 21
    jurassicmac says:

    If the designer isn’t supernatural, then by definition it is part of the universe, and therefore, subsequent to the Big Bang. In that case, by what process did the designer arise?

    I’m not contesting the existence of an Intelligent Designer. I’m just asking how it (or ‘He’ wink wink) could be both natural, (read: un-supernatural) and not the result of some kind of evolutionary process. If He isn’t the result of some kind of evolutionary process, who designed him? And if He is the result of some evolutionary process, what reason is there to think that we’re not? That’s not a rhetorical question; what reason is there to think natural processes like NS are insufficient to explain the current diversity of life?

    I assure you, I’m not being combative, I’d just like to hear your thoughts on the above predicament.

    Personally, I find more convincing those who say “The ID is supernatural, and therefore undetectable; That’s why we’ve been unable to detect His presence or mechanism for design thus far.”

  22. 22
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrasic,

    We were not arguing about any supposed designer of the universe. However, once again, such speculation is premature to a finding that the universe is best explained as the product of design.

    There is either a way to scinetifically find that the universe is “best explained” as the product of artifice, or there is not. It is only after such a finding is made that one has license to pursue research into the nature of any designer.

    Let me ask you: since we know the universe to have “began” about 15 billion years ago, and since before that point no time, space, or “nature” existed (as we know it), doesn’t that make the “first cause” of the universe necessarily “supernatural” by definition, whether it was an intelligent designer or not?

    When you define “supernatural” in a way that doesn’t indict any “first cause” of the universe – intelligent or not – as definitionally “supernatural”, then you might have an argument here.

    Tell me, can you please offer up an example of a supernatural phenomena that cannot be pursued by science, and why it cannot?

  23. 23
    MathGrrl says:

    William J. Murray:

    There is either a way to scinetifically find that the universe is “best explained” as the product of artifice, or there is not. It is only after such a finding is made that one has license to pursue research into the nature of any designer.

    I’m afraid you are reifying “artifice” again. Without some knowledge, or at least working assumptions, about the nature of an agent, it is literally impossible to identify whether or not a particular phenomena is a result of action by that agent. In the case of human beings, we know a lot about motivations and capabilities. We know the kinds of things that humans create and we know the means by which they typically do so. More importantly, we know the restrictions under which humans operate.

    Without an understanding of the nature of the agent, we have no way to tell if a particular phenomena is designed by that agent. Literally anything could be a product of design by an unknown and unevidenced designer, but that’s not a productive scientific hypothesis.

  24. 24
    jurassicmac says:

    Let’s say we did find an artifact on a distant planet that had buttons, levers, glass screens, wiring and girders. knowing nothing else about it – purpose, origin etc, – we probably would determine that it was designed – do you know why? Because all of those things are associated with known designs and methods, and more specifically, known kinds of designers. (intelligent biological entities) You’re right, after something is determined to most likely be the product of design, then we can start to identify the precise identities and agents mechanisms involved in its origin. But in this example, we already know a little bit about both of those, because we have similar designed artifacts that we can directly compare it too.

    Lets say that a few feet from this little device, the space explorers find a large, calcium-like, mushroom shaped object with thousands of intricate markings around its surface, and repeating colored stripes running vertically along its base. Is it designed? Well, so far we can’t say for sure. Now if we were to come across a village of little green aliens with chisels and paint and other tools in the middle of constructing similar objects in various stages of completion, then yes, we could say it was probably designed, because we would have something to compare it to. Likewise, if instead, the space explorers saw a mushroom shaped calcium deposit break free from a geological formation, roll down a hill, and land right side up, then observe little bug-like creatures eating their way through the surface, leaving marks similar to the the ones on the first object, and they watch as reaction with that planet’s atmosphere causes the colored vertical stripes to appear. In that case, they would be right to conclude that the structures probably weren’t designed. (they watched one form naturally.)

    What we have in biology is like neither of these scenarios. We didn’t see the origin of life take place, and the Designer didn’t care to leave His ‘chisel marks’ in the DNA. (mammals with feathers or crocodiles with compound eyes would have done quite nicely.)

    Like in the case of the mushroom-rock, You simply cannot declare something as ‘designed’ unless you have a plausible candidate for the designer, or the artifact is similar to other artifacts that are known to be designed. (if the mushroom-rock were only ‘as complicated as’ the gadget, that still wouldn’t cut it for classifying it as ‘designed’)

  25. 25
    William J. Murray says:

    jurassicmac said: “… or the artifact is similar to other artifacts that are known to be designed.”

    Bingo. That is the entire ID argument, and that the “similarity” can be a well-defined, quantifiable commodity that simultaneously precludes all other known, natural processes, and also excludes “chance” (at least as “best explanation”).

    That quantifiable “similarity” is currently called functionally specified complex information, and the quantity necessary for a scientific finding of “similarity to what human ID produces” is 1000 bits.

  26. 26
    William J. Murray says:

    Mathgirl,

    So, there is no way to ever scientifically determine that an object found on another otherwise uninterestin, desolate, empty planet is the object of alien intelligent design?

    Like a crashed, alien, “unmanned”, automated cargoship that has been there for thousands of years?

    We’d be completely unable to distinguish it as an artifact of intelligence?

    It can’t be a productive scientific hypothesis that the object might be best explained as the product of intelligence?

    It’s best just to try to explain the object in terms of non-intelligent forces and materials intercting according to chance and necessity?

  27. 27
    William J. Murray says:

    BTW, jurrassic, could you explain how one marks the difference from “obviously designed by humans because of similarities” to “not apparent enough to warrant design-related research”?

    Where does the obviousness end, and “no warrant for such conclusion” begin? Is it scientific? Quantifiable? Nothing but intuition?

    Where do we draw the line, and how?

    I also notice neither of you have answered this question, which I asked above:

    Tell me, can you please offer up an example of a supernatural phenomena that cannot be pursued by science, and why it cannot?

  28. 28
    Petrushka says:

    Tell me, can you please offer up an example of a supernatural phenomena that cannot be pursued by science, and why it cannot?

    It might be interest first for someone to offer up an instance of a phenomenon known to be supernatural.

  29. 29
    jurassicmac says:

    William J. Murray:

    “Let me ask you: since we know the universe to have “began” about 15 billion years ago, and since before that point no time, space, or “nature” existed (as we know it), doesn’t that make the “first cause” of the universe necessarily “supernatural” by definition, whether it was an intelligent designer or not?”

    I accept that the universe began about 15 billion years ago and I believe that it was likely directly caused by God, (though it could have been that He just caused the event that led to the big bang, or whatever.) So, like you, I believe that the universe was ‘designed’ in the broadest sense, and that with God being omniscient, everything that then happens in the universe was ‘intended’ in some sense of the word. Those are my beliefs; I’m not hesitant to say who I think the ‘Designer’ is, but then, I’m not the one claiming ID “does not posit anything “supernatural”.” In my post to which you were referring to, I wasn’t talking about the origin of the universe, I was just pointing out the absurdity of claiming that the ‘Designer’ isn’t supernatural, because either he is, or he was designed himself, or he came about in some sort of evolutionary process within the universe.

    Where you and I seem to part ways is where that design took place. Every piece of evidence we’ve gathered over the past one hundred and fifty years is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis that all life evolved from a common ancestor via natural processes. Divine ‘tinkering’ doesn’t look to be necessary as an explanation. Yes, there are some points where we are still working out the details, but that has always been the case and will be for quite a while.

    Earlier you used the phrase “quantifiably distinct from those produced by “nature” in reference to design detection. That’s the reason why the scientific community hasn’t taken ID seriously yet; there is in fact nothing to ‘quantify’. I hear all day long phrases like ‘Complex specified information,’ or ‘functional information.’ but the problem is, without a way to quantify and measure those things, the terms are completely meaningless. Can you tell me how much CSI is in an apple? Or how about whether there is more CSI in a snowflake or a protein? It would be like me asking you to describe how much ‘yutsplatagh’ is in a gene.

    I’m all for ID establishing itself as a scientific discipline. It just has to do things like ‘present testable hypotheses’ and ‘test those hypotheses against quantifiable evidence’ and things like that; y’know, science stuff.

  30. 30
    MathGrrl says:

    William J. Murray:

    That quantifiable “similarity” is currently called functionally specified complex information, and the quantity necessary for a scientific finding of “similarity to what human ID produces” is 1000 bits.

    Could you please provide a reference to a mathematical description of “functionally specified complex information” and some examples of how it is calculated for real world biological systems?

  31. 31
    jurassicmac says:

    William J. Murray:

    “That quantifiable “similarity” is currently called functionally specified complex information, and the quantity necessary for a scientific finding of “similarity to what human ID produces” is 1000 bits.”

    Quantifiable, eh? Ok, so what if a random mutation causes a gene that is 1200 ‘bits’ to become duplicated? Has a natural process created new FCSI in excess of 1000 bits? My guess is that you’ll say “no”, as this has been observed and isn’t really controversial. So let’s say that in this new gene a point mutation occurs that changes only 1 ‘bit’ of ‘information’. Specifically, let’s simplify things and imagine that this gene results in an olfactory receptor, and this single point mutation allows this this new gene to enable the sense a slightly different smell, resulting in a very slight advantage of the host organism. My guess is that you’ll say we’ve only added one ‘bit’ so far. So, hypothetically, let’s imagine that this process keeps happening down through the centuries, being duplicated, one bit being changed in the new gene, and so on, until we’re a couple of million generations down the road and we have 1200 new genes, each only 1 or 2 or 3 ‘bits’ different from the one it was duplicated from. At that point, have natural process added more than 1000 bits of information?

    Why or why not?

  32. 32
    MathGrrl says:

    William J. Murray:

    So, there is no way to ever scientifically determine that an object found on another otherwise uninterestin, desolate, empty planet is the object of alien intelligent design?

    Like a crashed, alien, “unmanned”, automated cargoship that has been there for thousands of years?

    We’d be completely unable to distinguish it as an artifact of intelligence?

    Jurrasicmac answered this quite well in his post #24.

    Without knowing anything at all about the designing agent, even in principle, makes it quite literally impossible to determine if an artifact is designed. In the extreme, an omnipotent designer could create anything in any way.

  33. 33
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac & MathGrrl:

    You can find the information you ask about FSCI in the link on this page titled:

    Frequently Raised But Weak Arguments Against Intelligent Design

    MathGrrl:

    I thank you for your answer that there would be no way to determine if the object in question was designed. Just to be clear: even if we found what was obviously a derelict spaceship of some sort, with wiring, glass screens, girders, hatches, what looked like processed metal and plastic, dials, buttons, levers, etc.; with no bones or pictures or other direct evidence of the nature of the inhabitants, and nothing else of interest on the planet, it would be impossible to reach a conclusion that the thing was intelligently designed?

    Also, I have not argued about any omnipotent designer.

    jurrassicmac asked: “At that point, have natural process added more than 1000 bits of information?”

    “Information” isn’t at issue. Random processes can add considerable “information” to all sorts of physical phenomena. What is at issue is whether or not it can add over 1000 bits of functionally specified complex information.

    jurrassicmac & MathGrrl:

    Neither of you have answered my question, which I now ask for the third time:

    Can you offer up an example of a supernatural phenomena that cannot be pursued by science, and why it cannot?

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    jurassicmac@30 and perhaps mathgirl

    You conjecture of adding one bit at a time, until wa laa Beethoven, is the whole neo-Darwinian framework in a nutshell,, yet when tested for this hypothesis for building functional complexity one bit at a time we find that there are severe limits to “beneficial” mutations.

    What does the recent hard evidence say about novel protein-protein binding site generation?

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.” Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

    Nature Paper,, Finds Darwinian Processes Lacking – Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: Now, thanks to the work of Bridgham et al (2009), even such apparently minor switches in structure and function (of a protein to its supposed ancestral form) are shown to be quite problematic. It seems Darwinian processes can’t manage to do even as much as I had thought. (which was 1 in 10^40 for just 2 binding sites)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....hes_t.html

    The Sheer Lack Of Evidence For Macro Evolution – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023134

    jurassicmac, one of the reasons, among many, that material processes will never generate function complexity/information in life is because of what is termed polyfuctional constraint:

    Here is a brief outline of the problem:

    Poly-Functional Complexity equals Poly-Constrained Complexity

    The primary problem that poly-functional complexity presents for neo-Darwinism is this:

    To put it plainly, the finding of a severely poly-functional/polyconstrained genome by the ENCODE study has put the odds, of what was already astronomically impossible, to what can only be termed fantastically astronomically impossible. To illustrate the monumental brick wall any evolutionary scenario (no matter what “fitness landscape”) must face when I say genomes are poly-constrained to random mutations by poly-functionality, I will use a puzzle:

    If we were to actually get a proper “beneficial mutation’ in a polyfunctional genome of say 500 interdependent genes, then instead of the infamous “Methinks it is like a weasel” single element of functional information that Darwinists pretend they are facing in any evolutionary search, with their falsified genetic reductionism scenario I might add, we would actually be encountering something more akin to this illustration found on page 141 of Genetic Entropy by Dr. Sanford.

    S A T O R
    A R E P O
    T E N E T
    O P E R A
    R O T A S

    Which is translated ;
    THE SOWER NAMED AREPO HOLDS THE WORKING OF THE WHEELS.

    This ancient puzzle, which dates back to 79 AD, reads the same four different ways, Thus, If we change (mutate) any letter we may get a new meaning for a single reading read any one way, as in Dawkins weasel program, but we will consistently destroy the other 3 readings of the message with the new mutation.

    This is what is meant when it is said a poly-functional genome is poly-constrained to any random mutations.

    The puzzle I listed is only poly-functional to 4 elements/25 letters of interdependent complexity, the minimum genome is poly-constrained to approximately 500 elements (genes) at minimum approximation of polyfunctionality. For Darwinist to continue to believe in random mutations to generate the staggering level of complexity we find in life is absurd in the highest order!

    Notes:

    Simplest Microbes More Complex than Thought – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: PhysOrg reported that a species of Mycoplasma,, “The bacteria appeared to be assembled in a far more complex way than had been thought.” Many molecules were found to have multiple functions: for instance, some enzymes could catalyze unrelated reactions, and some proteins were involved in multiple protein complexes.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20091229a

    First-Ever Blueprint of ‘Minimal Cell’ Is More Complex Than Expected – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: A network of research groups,, approached the bacterium at three different levels. One team of scientists described M. pneumoniae’s transcriptome, identifying all the RNA molecules, or transcripts, produced from its DNA, under various environmental conditions. Another defined all the metabolic reactions that occurred in it, collectively known as its metabolome, under the same conditions. A third team identified every multi-protein complex the bacterium produced, thus characterising its proteome organisation.
    “At all three levels, we found M. pneumoniae was more complex than we expected,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....173027.htm

    Scientists Map All Mammalian Gene Interactions – August 2010
    Excerpt: Mammals, including humans, have roughly 20,000 different genes.,,, They found a network of more than 7 million interactions encompassing essentially every one of the genes in the mammalian genome.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142044.htm

    There is much much more that could be said against neo-Darwinism building information one bit at a time but this should give you a better understanding of what material processes are truly up against.

    As a side note; every time you write a post of over 500 functional bits you have in fact generated more functional information that can be reasonably be expected by the random processes of the entire universe over the entire history of the universe:

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

  35. 35
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac (and others, if you wish):

    I see I didn’t pose an earlier question correctly, which might be why you didn’t answer it. Let me correct my question:

    Since you agree that there could be an “obvious” case of ID (in the alien artifact example), could you explain how one marks the difference from “obviously designed by human-like intelligence because of similarities to human design” and “not apparent enough to warrant such a finding or any design-related research”?

    Where does the obviousness end, and “no warrant for such conclusion” begin? Is it scientific? Quantifiable? Nothing but intuition?

    Where do we draw the line, and how?

  36. 36
    jurassicmac says:

    MathGrrl, I’d add that you either have to know something about the designer, or the object in question has to be analogous to something else that we already know is designed to say for sure that it was designed with certainty. If we were to find a teapot in a place that we were absolutely sure that humans had never been before, we could safely say that it probably was designed without necessarily having to identify the designer not because we have a magic design detecting ray-gun, but because we know that things like teapots can be, and are designed. But you’re right, we do have to know something about the designer. Being that teapots are made by biological intelligences on one planet, it’s not unsound to speculate that biological intelligences on other planets could have arisen in the same way as which we did (whichever way that is) and are also capable of making teapots.

    A structure either has to have a plausible agent, or be analogous to a structure we know could be designed, to say for sure whether it is designed. Without one of those two things, saying ‘it looks designed’ doesn’t cut it, no matter how much it ‘looks designed’.

  37. 37
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac said: “A structure either has to have a plausible agent, or be analogous to a structure we know could be designed, to say for sure whether it is designed.”

    ID doesn’t make any “for sure” claims; it only pursues a finding of “best explanation”.

    Is there a scientific, rigorous methodology for establishing if something is “analogous” to a strucure “we know could be designed”, or is it just intuition?

    Also, how does one determine the “plausibility” of an “agent”?

  38. 38
    jurassicmac says:

    William J. Murray:

    “Can you offer up an example of a supernatural phenomena that cannot be pursued by science, and why it cannot?”

    Sorry about not getting to this sooner, I’ve been bouncing back between this and other work.

    I must admit, I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re asking. Do you mean a real world example of a supernatural phenomena, or a hypothetical one?

    If you mean real world examples, I’m not sure I could list any verified supernatural events, or ‘miracles’, because if they were verified, (by which I mean they could be tested and repeated) they wouldn’t be considered supernatural for long. So if you mean, “could we pursue things we think are supernatural by science,” then yes we could. If someone claimed to be psychic, or to have telekenesis, then yes, we could test those claims empirically. But if the events were one-time-only events, I don’t suppose we could test them scientifically, or at least not very thoroughly. The resurrection comes to mind. I’m not sure of a way to prove or disprove that claim in anything other than an historical sense, although, if we had access to a time machine we could, in principle, test it. but as it stands, we couldn’t test it to the degree that it would yield conclusive results, because one-time-only events (especially that one) don’t leave much physical evidence. If the origin of the first organism were supernatural, and naturalistic evolution proceeded from there, science could not demonstrate one way or the other that that was or was not the case. But of course, that doesn’t mean it would be rational to assume it was; absence of a current explanation does not mean it was supernatural by default; that’s a God-of-the-gaps fallacy. The correct thing to do would be to keep using methodological naturalism as the exploratory paradigm, and keep looking for evidence.

    If you mean hypothetical examples like, “Do pixies could temporarily alter gravity in certain spots?” I’m not sure we could scientifically investigate that much either. Our results would be terribly inconsistent, and that being the case, we would not be able to rule out equipment error, or confirmation bias, or many other little things like that.

  39. 39
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    It might be interest first for someone to offer up an instance of a phenomenon known to be supernatural.

    The virgin birth, walking on water, parting of the sea, resurrection, water into wine, healing blindness with spit and mud, multiplying the bread and fish, etc.

  40. 40
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac:

    I mean a real-world example of a supernatural thing that science cannot investigate. I believe your answer is that you cannot give me such an example, correct?

  41. 41
    Clive Hayden says:

    MathGrrl,

    Distinguishing between natural and artificial, where artificial refers to the action of a human, must, to be useful, recognize that artificial effects, using this definition, are a subset of natural effects, not a disjoint set.

    I have no idea what you mean by “disjoint set”. If you mean that humans are of the same set as wind, rain and corrosion, and therefore of the same “kind” as “nature”, I would, of course, disagree. Unless you apply a mind to nature at large, and therefore artifice, there are no “set” similarities except that they are both made up of physical stuff. Is that what you mean? Since both exist in a place we call nature, that there is no distinguishing between the two? I would suggest, since you like to read C. S. Lewis, that you read this essay The Empty Universe, to clarify the difference that is being made between humans and nature.

  42. 42
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive Hayden

    I have no idea what you mean by “disjoint set”. If you mean that humans are of the same set as wind, rain and corrosion, and therefore of the same “kind” as “nature”, I would, of course, disagree.

    I think that what she means by ‘not a disjoint set’ is that if you take ‘artificial’ as meaning ’caused by natural intelligence’ it still falls into the ‘natural’ category as far as explanations go.

    Imagine that you and a friend are staying overnight in a spooky house, when you both hear an eerie wailing noise from above. Your friend is convinced that it’s the ghost of the previous owner who was murdered in the room above, but you, being a little more rational and less superstitious, bet your friend $20 that there is probably a ‘natural’ explanation for the sound. You go upstairs to investigate, and it turns out that the wailing sound is coming from a hobo in the attic.

    Your friend says: “Ha! You were wrong, it wasn’t natural after all! It wasn’t the wind or the rain or anything like that; it was the doings of an intelligent agency. It wasn’t natural; it was artificial. Pay up!”

    “Wait a minute,” You say, “That’s not what I meant by ‘has a natural explanation,’ and you know it. If the intelligence is coming from a well known and verifiable source, it’s still a natural cause in that sense. And, even if we hadn’t stuck around long enough to actually see the hobo, he still would have made a more plausible, and therefore much better explanation that a ghost, which may exist, but which we have no confirmation of.”

    So in this sense Clive, humans, raccoons, robots and other verifiable intelligent agents certainly are in the same set as wind, rain, and corrosion, when dividing things between Natural(blind laws, physical intelligent beings) and the Supernatural(non-physical or non-verifiable intelligent beings).

  43. 43
    Petrushka says:

    The virgin birth, walking on water, parting of the sea, resurrection, water into wine, healing blindness with spit and mud, multiplying the bread and fish, etc.

    You believe the witnesses or you don’t. There’s nothing to investigate.

    I understand there have been lots of attempts to find historical evidence for some of them, but basically you believe or not.

  44. 44
    Mung says:

    If anyone could come up with a way to objectively define and test non-natural phenomena, the scientific method could be used to investigate them.

    If anyone could come up with a way to objectively define natural phenomena, the scientific method could be used to investigate them.

    But they can’t.

    So science continues to investigate supernatural phenomena and label it “natural” due to the lone fact that they can investigate it, and not because there is any scientific methodology which can distinguish the natural from the non-natural.

  45. 45
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac:

    I’m still waiting for some answers to the following questions:

    Is your answer that you cannot give me an example of a real-word, supernatural thing that science cannot investigate?

    Since you agree that there could be an “obvious” case of ID (in the alien artifact example), could you explain how one marks the difference from “obviously designed by human-like intelligence because of similarities to human design” and “the similarities not apparent enough to warrant such a finding or any design-related research”?

    Where does the obviousness end, and “no warrant for such conclusion” begin? Is it scientific? Quantifiable? Nothing but intuition?

    Where do we draw the line, and how?

    And in regards to your #36:

    Is there a scientific, rigorous methodology for establishing if something is “analogous” to a structure “we know could be designed”, or is it just intuition?

    Also, how does one determine the “plausibility” of an “agent”?

    MathGrrl: You have not answered the following question:

    Just to be clear: even if we found what was obviously a derelict spaceship of some sort, with wiring, glass screens, girders, hatches, what looked like processed metal and plastic, dials, buttons, levers, etc.; with no bones or pictures or other direct evidence of the nature of the inhabitants, and nothing else of interest on the planet, it would be impossible to reach a conclusion that the thing was intelligently designed?

  46. 46
    tribune7 says:

    MathGrrl — The issue isn’t a preconceived commitment to methodological naturalism but that methodological naturalism is a required assumption in order for hypotheses to be testable.

    And that is fine as far as it goes. The problem starts when it becomes assumed that what can’t be tested is insignificant or, perhaps, can’t exist.

    Then you have an inversion of priorities in the pursuit of truth and perversion of priorities in how one should live.

    (Natural) science is a very good thing, but all it can do is seek to define consistencies in nature.

    It can do nothing more.

    If it should seek to go beyond that it at best becomes a parody of what it claims to be i.e. objective study of material matters will on day explain how the universe was created, I have faith or at worst twistedly destructive.

  47. 47
    jurassicmac says:

    William J Murray:

    Since you agree that there could be an “obvious” case of ID (in the alien artifact example), could you explain how one marks the difference from “obviously designed by human-like intelligence because of similarities to human design” and “the similarities not apparent enough to warrant such a finding or any design-related research”?

    I’ll start with this one first. My answer may surprise you: There is probably nothing that doesn’t warrant some design-related research. Do all the research you like. Publish all the papers you like. Apply for as many grants as you like. Tell you what, apply for a research grant and I’ll personally chip in $50 bucks.

    Where does the obviousness end, and “no warrant for such conclusion” begin? Is it scientific? Quantifiable? Nothing but intuition? Where do we draw the line, and how?

    This is a variation of the first question. I already mentioned that I don’t think there’s anything with no warrant for further investigation. I honestly don’t think there is a definite line between “obviously” designed and “not designed”. And that’s the problem, it’s a gradient. There is no objective, quantifiable criteria for saying “this is definitely not designed.” On one end you have an iPhone with the identity of both the designer and manufacturer inscribed on the back, and on the other end of the scale you have roundish pebbles in a stream bed. There’s not a scale of a quantifiable design attribute where you could ascribe, say, a ‘0’ to the pebble and a ‘105,654’ to the iPhone. There’s no way we could say with absolute certainty that the pebbles weren’t designed; someone could have carved them all by hand and placed them in the stream. There’s no way to know. But, no one thinks it irrational to provisionally consider them not designed, because of one simple fact: We know of a plausible, unguided process that produces smooth pebbles: erosion. We know of no plausible, unguided processes that make iPhones. We do know of a plausible (nay, confirmed) unguided process that produces biodiversity: Natural selection acting on heritable variation via differential reproductive success. (call it ‘micro-evolution’ for now if it makes you comfortable)

    Is there a scientific, rigorous methodology for establishing if something is “analogous” to a structure “we know could be designed”, or is it just intuition?

    The first scientific discipline I think of when I hear the term ‘design detection’ is archaeology. Take arrowheads, for example. I once found I rock that looked to me like it very well could be an arrowhead, and I showed to an archaeologist who specialized in them. He showed me all the reasons it was just a rock. But he also brought out a genuine arrowhead and showed me all the features of the real deal, how the shape allowed it to fit into the end of a stick, the direction that the rock was flaked off, etc. He also showed me a more eroded one, that to my untrained eye, didn’t look much different from the rock I’d found. Though the flake marks were gone, the overall shape was nearly identical to the first one he showed me. To him, he could see that it was ‘analogous’ to the one that had the clear indications of design. All that to say, not being an archaeologist, I don’t know exactly what the specific methodology for identifying manmade pottery, tools, carvings, etc, from the surrounding area is, but I’d wager that it’s more than just ‘intuition’. He definitely had 1: Plausible mechanism, and 2: Plausible agent. Which brings us to:

    Also, how does one determine the “plausibility” of an “agent”?

    I would define ‘plausible’ as something along the lines of: “What most rational, unbiased observers agree is likely, and is objectively verifiable in some way, at least in principle if not in practice.” By this definition, a human agent is plausible to the max; someone is by definition irrational if they don’t accept the existence of humans. The existence of humans is also objectively verifiable. But there is also the matter of the limitations of the agency. Humans are not a plausible candidate for being the creators of the moon, for two reasons: temporality and capability. Humans are known to not have existed when the moon originated, and it is fairly certain that they are incapable at present, let alone in the past, of constructing a moon. However, there is a plausible candidate for the origin of the moon: Mathematical models show that the collision of a Mars-sized planetary body with the earth could have knocked enough debris into orbit around the earth to later form the moon. Humans are also not plausible candidates for the origin of DNA, for the same two reasons. An alien intelligence is somewhat plausible, because there are intelligent organisms on at least one planet, and there are many, perhaps countless trillions of planets, so it’s not unreasonable to think that they could have originated on their planets the same way we did on ours. (either by creation, or evolution.) If they existed, they would be verifiable, in principle. As a Christian, the existence of God is perfectly ‘plausible’ to me, but in the scientific sense, He doesn’t fit the bill for being a plausible agent, because I think we can all admit that His existence is not objectively verifiable to everyone. (If it were, there would be as little debate over His existence as there would be over the existence of Humans.)

    more to follow.

  48. 48
    second opinion says:

    Concerning the question of detectability of the supernatural (non-natural):

    To answer this question with respect to ID we have to speculate about the mechanism the intelligent designer used:
    If the designer would add whole sequences of base pares for example that would be a violation of the law of conversation of mass and thus a miracle. (Miracle being a violation of the laws of nature.) As such it would in principle be detectable.

    If the designer would just choose the next mutation in a favorable position than overall the mutations would still look random. Thus the influence would be undetectable. You would get a hint though if that happens often and is not compensated by directing other mutations because the likelihood of getting the needed mutations randomly within the available time would be smaller than that of directed mutations.

  49. 49
    tribune7 says:

    jurrasicmac – There is no objective, quantifiable criteria for saying “this is definitely not designed.”

    And nobody here is saying otherwise.

  50. 50
    Peepul says:

    I have some more questions about ID. Thanks to everybody who replied to my previous questions.

    Does ID accept the phylogenetic tree and common descent? If not, why not? (let’s leave aside HGT at the base of the tree – I accept that this occurs)

    At what level does design occur? Is every species designed? Or does design stop at higher level taxa and another process take over to generate diversity below that?

    Is design still occurring today? If not, when did it stop?

    thanks very much

  51. 51
    tribune7 says:

    Peepul, ID does not rebut directed evolution, it rebuts accidentalism — that random genomic changes fixed by natural selection adequately and definitively accounts for all biodiversity.

    There are prominent IDist who doubt common descent (Dembski) and prominent IDist who accept it (Behe).

    ID does not insist that every species is designed. It demands, though, to accept life to be.

  52. 52
    bornagain77 says:

    Peepul in response to your question,

    Dembski and Marks write:

    “LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information”:
    Excerpt: Though not denying Darwinian evolution or even limiting its role in the history of life, the Law of Conservation of Information shows that Darwinian evolution is inherently teleological. Moreover, it shows that this teleology can be measured in precise information-theoretic terms. http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    William Dembski Is Interviewed By Casey Luskin About Conservation Of Information – Audio
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....4_01-07_00

    Dr. Dembski has emphasized that the Law of Conservation of Information (LCI) is clearly differentiated from the common definition of Theistic Evolution since mainstream Theistic evolutionists, such as Ken Miller and Francis Collins, hold that the Design/Information found in life is not separable from the purely material processes of the universe, whereas Dembski and Marks are clearly saying the Design/Information found in life is detectable, can be separated from the material processes we see in the universe, and “can be measured in precise information-theoretic terms”. In other words, the Dembski-Marks paper shows in order for gradual evolution to actually be true it cannot be random Darwinian evolution and that a ‘Intelligent Designer’ will have to somehow provide the additional functional information needed to make gradual evolution of increased functional complexity possible. Thus now the theoretical underpinnings, of random functional information generation by material processes, are completely removed from Darwinian ideology.
    Yet even though God could very well have created life gradually, did God use gradual processes to create life on Earth? I don’t think so. There are many solid lines of evidence pointing to the fact that the principle of Genetic Entropy (loss of functional information) is the true principle for all biological adaptations and that no gradual ‘material processes’ are involved in the “evolution” a lifeform, to greater heights of functional complexity, once God has created a Parent Kind/Species. The main problem for evolution is that no one has ever seen purely material processes generate functional information.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work

    After much reading, research, and debate with evolutionists, I find the principle of Genetic Entropy (loss of functional information) to be the true principle for all ‘beneficial’ biological adaptations which directly contradicts unguided neo-Darwinian evolution. As well, unlike Darwinian evolution which can claim no primary principles in science to rest its claim on for the generation of functional information, Genetic Entropy can rest its foundation in science directly on the twin pillars of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and on the Law of Conservation Of Information(LCI; Dembski,Marks)(Null Hypothesis;Abel). The first phase of Genetic Entropy, any life-form will go through, holds all sub-speciation adaptations away from a parent species, which increase fitness/survivability to a new environment for the sub-species, will always come at a cost of the functional information that is already present in the parent species genome. This is, for the vast majority of times, measurable as loss of genetic diversity in genomes. This phase of Genetic Entropy is verified, in one line of evidence, by the fact all population genetics’ studies show a consistent loss of genetic diversity from a parent species for all sub-species that have adapted away (Maciej Giertych). This fact is also well testified to by plant and animal breeders who know there are strict limits to the amount of variability you can expect when breeding for any particular genetic trait. The second line of evidence, this primary phase of the principle of Genetic Entropy is being rigorously obeyed, is found in the fact the ‘Fitness Test’ against a parent species of bacteria has never been violated by any sub-species of a parent bacteria.

    For a broad outline of the ‘Fitness test’, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    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.or.....-drugstore

    Thank Goodness the NCSE Is Wrong: Fitness Costs Are Important to Evolutionary Microbiology
    Excerpt: it (an antibiotic resistant bacterium) reproduces slower than it did before it was changed. This effect is widely recognized, and is called the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance. It is the existence of these costs and other examples of the limits of evolution that call into question the neo-Darwinian story of macroevolution.

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    This ‘fitness test’ fairly conclusively demonstrates ‘optimal information’ was originally encoded within a parent bacteria/bacterium by God, and has not been added to by any ‘teleological’ methods in the beneficial adaptations of the sub-species of bacteria. Thus the inference to Genetic Entropy, i.e. that God has not specifically moved within nature in a teleological manner, to gradually increase the functional information of a genome, still holds as true for the principle of Genetic Entropy.

    It seems readily apparent to me that to conclusively demonstrate God has moved within nature, in a teleological manner, to provide the sub-species bacteria with additional functional information over the ‘optimal’ genome of its parent species, then the fitness test must be passed by the sub-species against the parent species. If the fitness test is shown to be passed then the new molecular function, which provides the more robust survivability for the sub-species, must be calculated to its additional Functional Information Bits (Fits) it has gained in the beneficial adaptation, and then be found to be greater than 140 Fits. 140 Fits is what has now been generously set by Kirk Durston as the maximum limit of Functional Information which can reasonably be expected to be generated by the natural processes of the universe over the entire age of the universe (The actual limit is most likely to be around 40 Fits)(Of note: I have not seen any evidence to suggest that purely material processes can exceed the much more constrained ‘2 protein-protein binding site limit’, for functional information/complexity generation, found by Michael Behe in his book “The Edge Of Evolution”). This fitness test, and calculation, must be done to rigorously establish materialistic processes did not generate the functional information (Fits), and to rigorously establish that teleological processes were indeed involved in the increase of Functional Complexity of the beneficially adapted sub-species. The second and final phase of Genetic Entropy, outlined by John Sanford in his book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, is when ‘slightly detrimental’ mutations, which are far below the power of natural selection to remove from a genome, slowly build up in a species/kind over long periods of time and lead to Genetic Meltdown.
    The first effect to be obviously noticed, for the Genetic Entropy principle, is the loss of potential for morphological variability of individual sub-species of a kind. This loss of potential for morphological variability first takes place for the extended lineages of sub-species within a kind, and increases with time, and then gradually works in to the more ancient lineages of the kind, as the ‘mutational load’ of slightly detrimental mutations slowly builds up over time. This following paper, though of evolutionary bent, offers a classic example of the effects of Genetic Entropy over deep time of millions of years:

    A Cambrian Peak in Morphological Variation Within Trilobite Species; Webster
    Excerpt: The distribution of polymorphic traits in cladistic character-taxon matrices reveals that the frequency and extent of morphological variation in 982 trilobite species are greatest early in the evolution of the group: Stratigraphically old and/or phylogenetically basal taxa are significantly more variable than younger and/or more derived taxa.

    The final effect of Genetic Entropy is when the entire spectrum of the species of a kind slowly start to succumb to ‘Genetic Meltdown’, and to go extinct in the fossil record. The occurs because the mutational load, of the slowly accumulating ‘slightly detrimental mutations’ in the genomes, becomes too great for each individual species of the kind to bear. From repeated radiations from ancient lineages in the fossil record, and from current adaptive radiation studies which show strong favor for ancient lineages radiating, the ancient lineages of a kind appear to have the most ‘robust genomes’ and are thus most resistant to Genetic Meltdown. All this consistent evidence makes perfect sense from the Genetic Entropy standpoint, in that Genetic Entropy holds God created each parent kind with a optimal genome for all future sub-speciation events. My overwhelming intuition, from all the evidence I’ve seen so far, and from Theology, is this; Once God creates a parent kind, the parent kind is encoded with optimal information for the specific purpose to which God has created the kind to exist, and God has chosen, in His infinite wisdom, to strictly limit the extent to which He will act within nature to ‘evolve’ the sub-species of the parent kind to greater heights of functional complexity. Thus the Biblically compatible principle of Genetic Entropy is found to be in harmony with the second law of thermodynamics and with the strict limit found for material processes ever generating any meaningful amount of functional information on their own (LCI: Dembski – Marks)(Abel; Null Hypothesis).

    As a side light to this, it should be clearly pointed out that we know, for 100% certainty, that Intelligence can generate functional information i.e. irreducible complexity. We generate a large amount of functional information, which is well beyond the reach of the random processes of the universe, every time we write a single page of a letter (+700 Fits average). The true question we should be asking is this, “Can totally natural processes ever generate functional information?”, especially since totally natural processes have never been observed generating any functional information whatsoever from scratch (Kirk Durston). This following short video lays out the completely legitimate scientific basis for inferring Intelligent Design from what we presently observe:

    Stephen Meyer: What is the origin of the digital information found in DNA? – short video
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....37271.html

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    JM @ 10:

    you are using a non-standard definition of natural. Human beings are natural [INTELLIGENT] agents – they are not supernatural.

    [–> How do you know that?

    –> And it is distractive from the issue: nature (= chance + necessity) vs art,

    –> cf. your friendly local supermarket shelf on natural vs artificial ingredients, all duly scientifically tested and attested]

    We know that Mount Rushmore was crafted by intelligent workers, yet if someone made the claim that the origin of Mount Rushmore was supernatural in nature, or that it was built by a supernatural agent, we could rightly tell them: “No, we have a natural explanation: It was built by humans.”

    [–> distractive equivocation: natural vs supernatural is not the only relevant contrast, WJM was right to point to nature vs art.

    –> Tell ATBC to go back to the drawing board on this latest talking point. (Onlookers cf here, where Mt Rushmore vs Old Man of the Mountain is the first example, of course there was no willingness to acknowledge that.)]

    By marking up like that, I am emphasising how distractive and distorting talking points loaded with ad hominem innuendos [as in “theocrats”] are being used to deflect an otherwise very obvious point.

    One that has been on the table since Plato in the Laws, Bk X. We routinely explain observed causal patterns by necessity, chance AND art [Techne].

    Worse yet, we routinely identify observable effects that act as signs pointing to causal patterns of necessity, chance and art.

    Including in many scientific contexts.

    And we do not call a sign defective if in its absence we are not inferring to what it does not indicate. That digitally coded, funcitonally specific, complex informaiton is a reliable sing of directed contingency as causal process, does not mean that in absence of dFSCI we may not use otehr signs. Similarly, that as a result we may know of a designt hat does not show dFSCI does not mean that that design is undetectable and dFSCI has no calue as a sign.

    On the contrary, Mt Rushmore is precisely a case where the function of close resemblance to Geo Washington leads to the possibility of observing the image and transforming it into a nodes and arcs 3-d pattern with sufficient specificity that we can see that this statue exhibits FSCI, though it is not inherently digitally coded.

    On that FSCI we can infer that the figure is designed, as there is no reasonable combination of natural forces of erosion etc that would give rise to it; precisely as opposed to something like the Old Man of the Mountain. (Vaguely face-like figures are very different from the specificity of the Mt Rushmore sculpture.]

    GEM of TKI

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Looks like it may be useful to excerpt Plato in The Laws, as we are nmeeting him on the way back:

    __________________

    >>Ath. [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature [phusis, standing in for necessity] and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

    Ath. Then, by Heaven, we have discovered the source of this vain opinion of all those physical investigators; and I would have you examine their arguments with the utmost care, for their impiety is a very serious matter; they not only make a bad and mistaken use of argument, but they lead away the minds of others: that is my opinion of them.

    Cle. You are right; but I should like to know how this happens.

    Ath. I fear that the argument may seem singular.

    Cle. Do not hesitate, Stranger; I see that you are afraid of such a discussion carrying you beyond the limits of legislation. But if there be no other way of showing our agreement in the belief that there are Gods, of whom the law is said now to approve, let us take this way, my good sir.

    Ath. Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods.

    Cle. Still I do not understand you.

    Ath. Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [[ = psuche], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body?

    Cle. Certainly.

    Ath. Then thought and attention and mind and art and law will be prior to that which is hard and soft and heavy and light; and the great and primitive works and actions will be works of art; they will be the first, and after them will come nature and works of nature, which however is a wrong term for men to apply to them; these will follow, and will be under the government of art and mind.

    Cle. But why is the word “nature” wrong?

    Ath. Because those who use the term mean to say that nature is the first creative power; but if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[The Laws, BkX. Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >>

    ___________________

    As long as we can distinguish unintelligent material causal factors such as chance and necessity from intelligent, artificial ones, we are good to go on scientific investigation of all three causal patterns. (Onlookers, observe how the process outlined, and as was previously linked, has as usual been distracted form not addressed.)

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    JM, @ 24:

    after something is determined to most likely be the product of design, then we can start to identify the precise identities and agents mechanisms involved in its origin. But in this example, we already know a little bit about both of those, because we have similar designed artifacts that we can directly compare it too.

    Very well said. Now let’s follow up.

    1 –> Do we know something about routinely and reliably observed cases and causes of digital codes and algorithms?

    2 –> Do we know something about routinely and reliably observed cases and causes of machinery that uses codes expressed as signals, and then executes algorithms given expression in those codes?

    3 –> Do we know something about routinely and reliably observed cases and causes of digitally coded, functionally specific complex information?

    4 –> Do we know something about routinely and reliably observed cases and causes of organised, functionally specific complex machinery and in particular nanomachines?

    _______________

    What, then should we think — on known and reliable causal patterns — of the crashed spaceship in our own bodies?

    As Denton said 25 years ago now:

    _________________

    >> To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .

    Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .

    [[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331. This work is a classic that is still well worth reading.] >>

    _____________________

    In the face of that, do you understand why we are not simply accepting the dictates of he a priori materialist scientific establishment? And why, onward we have an agenda to reverse engineer the technologies of life?

    GEM of TKI

  56. 56
    gpuccio says:

    Peepul:

    I have some more questions about ID. Thanks to everybody who replied to my previous questions.

    Does ID accept the phylogenetic tree and common descent? If not, why not? (let’s leave aside HGT at the base of the tree – I accept that this occurs)

    At what level does design occur? Is every species designed? Or does design stop at higher level taxa and another process take over to generate diversity below that?

    Is design still occurring today? If not, when did it stop?

    thanks very much

    My answers:

    1)ID is not directly implied in the problem of common descent, because it works fine both in a scenario of common descent and in other scenarios which avoid that notion. That is what we can say about the theory. The people in the ID field are more or less divided about that point. I have stated many times that I do accept common descent. Do does, explicitly, Behe. And many others here. But I am aware that many others don’t accept it, including maybe Dembski. Anyway, the reasons why individuals do not accept common descent have nothing to do with the ID theory in a strict sense (even if I can agree that, in a wider sense, the problem has to be addressed to better define future expansions of ID).

    2) Regarding the level at which design happens, opinions vary. My personal view is that design can (and must) be invoked any time we can prove that new dFSCI emerges. In practice, I do believe that each new species is designed, and so each new protein domain. Behe has tried to determine the edge of unguided evolution empirically in his book, and I agree with his points. I think that probably the lowest divisions (such as races) can be the fruit of simple diversity generated especially by sexual remix of alleles. Anyway, as the definition of species is rather flexible, I would remain flexible about the exact demarcation of what is certainly due to design, and what could be the product of unguided variation. Above the level of species, however, I have no doubt that design is the only possible explanation. But again, this is my personal opinion, not necessarily shared by all in ID.

    3) About the question if design is still occurring today, I think there is only one possible asnwer: we really don’t know. But maybe that, in time, we will discover.

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    gpuccio, I think a forceful argument can be made against the proposition of “Intelligently Designed Common Descent” by remembering the hierarchal pattern in which information is encoded into a genome. It is a “top down” design not a bottom up design.

    Splicing Together the Case for Design, Part 2 (of 2) – Fazale Rana – June 2010
    Excerpt: Remarkably, the genetic code appears to be highly optimized, further indicating design. Equally astounding is the fact that other codes, such as the histone binding code, transcription factor binding code, the splicing code, and the RNA secondary structure code, overlap the genetic code. Each of these codes plays a special role in gene expression, but they also must work together in a coherent integrated fashion. The existence of multiple overlapping codes also implies the work of a Creator. It would take superior reasoning power to structure the system in such a way that it can simultaneously harbor codes working in conjunction instead of interfering with each other. As I have written elsewhere, the genetic code is in fact optimized to harbor overlapping codes, further evincing the work of a Mind.
    http://www.reasons.org/splicin.....n-part-2-2

    ,,,,And seeing as genomes are indeed severely polyconstrained,,,,

    Poly-Functional Complexity equals Poly-Constrained Complexity
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....Zmd2emZncQ

    DNA – Evolution Vs. Polyfuctionality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4614519

    ,,,,It seems to me that it would be just as easy, if not much easier, for the Intelligent Designer to create each ‘kind of species’ de novo, than it would be for Him to figure out how to get from point a to point b, in a gradual teleological manner, in what appears to us to be a fantastically impossible path to accomplish in a incremental fashion as is inherently implied with the common descent model.

    notes:

    When we consider the remote past, before the origin of the actual species Homo sapiens, we are faced with a fragmentary and disconnected fossil record. Despite the excited and optimistic claims that have been made by some paleontologists, no fossil hominid species can be established as our direct ancestor. Richard Lewontin – Harvard Zoologist
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9961

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Tattersall, Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Definition of the genus Homo is almost as fraught as the definition of Homo sapiens. We look at the evidence for “early Homo,” finding little morphological basis for extending our genus to any of the 2.5–1.6-myr-old fossil forms assigned to “early Homo” or Homo habilis/rudolfensis.”
    http://arjournals.annualreview.....208.100202

    Man is indeed as unique, as different from all other animals, as had been traditionally claimed by theologians and philosophers. Evolutionist Ernst Mayr
    http://www.y-origins.com/index.php?p=home_more4

    “Something extraordinary, if totally fortuitous, happened with the birth of our species….Homo sapiens is as distinctive an entity as exists on the face of the Earth, and should be dignified as such instead of being adulterated with every reasonably large-brained hominid fossil that happened to come along.”
    Anthropologist Ian Tattersall
    (curator at the American Museum of Natural History)

    “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life,” New Scientist (January 21, 2009)
    Excerpt: Even among higher organisms, “the problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories,”,,,“despite the amount of data and breadth of taxa analyzed, relationships among most [animal] phyla remained unresolved.” ,,,,Carl Woese, a pioneer of evolutionary molecular systematics, observed that these problems extend well beyond the base of the tree of life: “Phylogenetic incongruities [conflicts] can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves.”,,, “We’ve just annihilated the (Darwin’s) tree of life.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

  58. 58
    gpuccio says:

    BA:

    Common descent is at present not a priority issue for me, and I really keep an open mind about it. But still I think that it is the best explanation for some of the facts we have.

    I appreciate the many references you give. Some of them I don’t see well how pertinent they are to the CD issue. For example, I agree that the various codes have been designe more or less contemporarily, and that I suppose took place at OOL. OOL os OOLO, and I don’t believe it was gradual, nor do I believe that life came form something else before it (well, obviously inorganic matter was used 🙂 ).

    My take about OOL is that it was designed more of less as we know it know, with prokaryotes more or less as modern prokaryotes as the first life which likely appeared. But again, I keep an open mind about that. Amd I look for any new empirical clue we may find.

    Another point I want to make is that, even if I accept CD, I absolutely don’t believe that ythe transitions were gradual. In the beginning I thought that it was possible, and that the design implementation after all could in some way resemble, at least in the time modality, the scenario which darwinists describe as due to RV+NS. But I con’t believe that any more, and the only reason why I have changed my mind are the facts. In that sense, as I have already said, I believe in a form of ID “a la Gould”.

    So, I do believe that all major ytransitions, especially that form prokaryotes to eukaryotes, and then the two explosions (Ediacara and Cambrian), and even the singular appearances of new species, must have been rather sudden. But with “sudden”, I am not really sure what I mean: if one million years, or one year, ot one day. That remains to be seen.

    So, what is the true difference between a CD scenario and a non CD scenario? I am not really sure.

    Cesrtainly, not the causal mechanism. That is design. That design is the origin of any new dFSCI that appears in the course of time, there can be no doubt. So, what is called “the tree of life”, is IMO the product of design, of common design.

    But, at the same time, I believe that design happpens in a context. That is rather obvious, IMO. The designer does not design “out of thin air”, so to say. He designs starting from what has already been designed. That’s one reason why, as you too probably believe, design is “poli-constrained”.

    The examples of design we observe in human artifacts are often of that kind, especially when they reflect the “evolution” of some idea or pattern. Think of the various implementation of a mtoter car model, or of a software, for instance.

    I absolutely agree that “common design” is an important, probably the most important factor to explain what we observe. But at the same time, I think that some facts are better explained if we accept also a continuity “of the hardware”, so to speak.

    In particular, the sequences of proteins which are the same in different species, but with variations in primary sequences, sometimes small, sometimes very big, which do not effect folding and function, can be explained well as the result of neutral mutations in time, while the function is preserved by negative selection. But that presupposes a physical continuity of the molecule through different species.

    I can agree with you that those differences are often non consistent with simple time models, and that darwinists are superficial and often arrogant in making bold deductions from them. And I agree that some of those differences can be due to functional constraints in different species, and so be attributed only to Common Design. I know well all these arguments and, as I have said, I really keep an open mind, and believe that the issue has to be solved exclusively on empirical grounds. Again, for me it has absolutely no ideological value, neither in one sense not in the other.

    But still, with what we know at present, I believe in a physical continuity between species, even if certainly not gradual, and maybe not universal. And, anyway, designed.

  59. 59
    gpuccio says:

    errata corrige:

    “OOL os OOLO” should obviously be: “OOL is OOL”, and not that strange crypted sequence which came out of random variation…

  60. 60
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    You believe the witnesses or you don’t. There’s nothing to investigate.

    I understand there have been lots of attempts to find historical evidence for some of them, but basically you believe or not.

    You asked for examples of the supernatural, so I gave them. Did you want different examples for some reason?

  61. 61
    Petrushka says:

    You asked for examples of the supernatural, so I gave them. Did you want different examples for some reason?

    This goes back a few posts, but someone asked for a reason why science doesn’t investigate supernatural phenomena.

    I think it’s fairly obvious that the number of undisputed supernatural phenomena and events is approximately zero. By undisputed, I mean that people of all religions and non-religions would agree as to their existence.

  62. 62
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    This goes back a few posts, but someone asked for a reason why science doesn’t investigate supernatural phenomena.

    Oh I see. what’s your personal take on it?

    I think it’s fairly obvious that the number of undisputed supernatural phenomena and events is approximately zero. By undisputed, I mean that people of all religions and non-religions would agree as to their existence.

    This seems opaque to my reasoning, can you restate it?

  63. 63
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    I think it’s fairly obvious that the number of undisputed supernatural phenomena and events is approximately zero. By undisputed, I mean that people of all religions and non-religions would agree as to their existence.

    Everything has been disputed, logic, existence itself, reason, numbers, life, death, you name it. The number of undisputed anything-at-all is approximately zero.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    Petrushka you ask for a ‘undisputed supernatural event’.,,,, though you are sure to ‘dispute’ this, none-the-less,, For evidence of the supernatural I submit your very own posts you are writing. Every time you write a single page of a letter (700 functional information bits (Fits) average; Durston) you are in fact generating more functional information than is possible for the entire natural processes of the universe over the entire history of the universe. Thus since it is beyond the natural material processes of this universe to account for the origination of the novel functional information coming from your very own hand then there must be, of necessity, a supernatural component to you that is in fact not limited to the natural material processes of this universe.

    reference:

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

  65. 65
    tribune7 says:

    Petrushka —
    I think it’s fairly obvious that the number of undisputed supernatural phenomena and events is approximately zero.

    I don’t know if you mean to be ironic but that is the same number as undisputed macro-evolutionary events.

  66. 66
    Petrushka says:

    I don’t know if you mean to be ironic but that is the same number as undisputed macro-evolutionary events.

    Disputing macroevolution is like disputing the orbit of Pluto because no one has seen a complete revolution.

  67. 67
    Petrushka says:

    Might I point out that even Ken Ham doesn’t dispute macro-evolution up to the level of biological family.

    His position will be mainstream just as soon as he realize the the progenitors of current families also had families.

  68. 68
    gpuccio says:

    tribune7:

    To be sincere, I am not even aware of the existence of disputed macroevolutionary events. I am not aware of the existence of macroevolutionary events at all (I mean, obviously, macroevolutionary events for which darwinists have proposed an explanation according to their same theory). How can one dispute what has never been proposed?

  69. 69
    tribune7 says:

    GP,

    IOW, it would the same number as disputed macro-evolutionary events as well 🙂

    And a good point, btw.

  70. 70
    William J. Murray says:

    The point to my question leads to this second question:

    If one cannot even provide a real-world example of a thing, how can anyone say science cannot investigate that thing, much less explain why?

    The is why inserting the canard “science cannot investigate the supernatural” is a red herring, consciously or unwittingly used to avoid the actual arguments being made.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    A brief note:

    f one cannot even provide a real-world example of a thing [the supernatural/ miraculous], how can anyone say science cannot investigate that thing, much less explain why?

    What are you talking about, mon?

    Maybe, you are not familiar with the many, many miracles doctors have routinely seen, across the years?

    Back in 1983, the British Medical Journal actually published an article by Rex Gardner on Bedan cases and parallels in modern records, many in a specifically medical context. Some4 have scoffed at it but I actually went to my Uni’s Med library and got a copy of the article.

    More directly and personally, I personally knew Shelly B, a Jamaica Scholar, ace med student, daughter of a bishop and all around lovely young lady, who in the mid 80’s was seen to have ovarian cysts with Bad C being raised. After prayer, they vanished, and he clinical records are there on the case, at the university hospital.

    The supernatural is eminently capable of being investigated scientifically, once it cuts across such matters.

    And, scientific investigations are not the sole guardian or begetter of what is credibly true; time to surrender an absurd prejudice. The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth with 500+ witnesses is a subject of history and it can be quite reasonably warranted. (BTW, science depends on credible accurate records, and so cannot be severed from history and its methods, just another stanza on the song sung by Feyerabend et al.)

    The transformation of millions of lives through living encounter with God in the face of the risen Christ is a subject of serious empirical investigation.

    And more.

    GEM of TKI

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, I may not be clear enough: I am saying you are right as rain. G

  73. 73
    tribune7 says:

    WJM — If one cannot even provide a real-world example of a thing, how can anyone say science cannot investigate that thing, much less explain why?

    Well, we can’t provide a real-world example of a macro-evolutionary event. How can anyone say science cannot investigate that thing much less explain why?

  74. 74
    jurassicmac says:

    William J. Murray:

    Is your answer that you cannot give me an example of a real-word, supernatural thing that science cannot investigate?

    This is a tricky question, because there doesn’t seem to precise, universally accepted definition of the word ‘miracle’, so the best I can do is answer according to my definition. I would say that a miracle is an event that cannot, even in principal, be explained via natural causes. If I were to be diagnosed with cancer, then pray for healing, then find that the cancer was gone at the next visit to the doctor, and upon further investigation, find that the cancer disappeared because I contracted a harmless but extremely rare virus that as a side effect creates an extremely rare antibody to fight the cancer, then this would not, by definition, be a miracle. It could, of course, still be the will of God and the answer to the prayer, but because natural mechanisms are sufficient to explain the event, it is neither a ‘miracle’, nor ‘supernatural’. (but it seems as though God often allows his will to be carried out by long chains of cause and effect.) So ‘miracle’ or ‘supernatural’ doesn’t mean ‘extremely unlikely’ because things that are ‘extremely unlikely’ happen all day long. As another example, take something like astral projection or telepathy. Currently, these two abilities would be considered by most to be ‘supernatural’ abilities. But it would also be agreed upon by most that these abilities haven’t been convincingly demonstrated to actually exist, because they never yield consistent, scientifically repeatable results. If however, a series of scientifically rigorous experiments detected a previously unknown phenomena of ‘transmittable brainwaves’ that would allow someone with an abnormal development in the prefrontal cortex to detect the thoughts of others via these electromagnetic waves, then the process would no longer be considered ‘supernatural’ but ‘natural’, because it can now be explained, in principle, by scientific investigative methods. In the same manner, it was once thought that communicable disease had a supernatural causal component; but now that we know about microorganisms, natural processes are sufficient to explain those diseases. Now, to your question: No, I cannot give you an example of a real-world, supernatural thing that science cannot investigate, because I cannot give you a concrete example of a real-world, supernatural thing. I’m not saying that miracles don’t occur, just that I’ve never personally run across across something that couldn’t possibly explained by natural processes, at least in principle. So that only leaves me with accounts of miracles. The problem with accounts of miracles, is that the account could be at worst inaccurate, or at best lacking in sufficient details to determine causality. And it doesn’t really even matter how well documented the event is. An example comes to mind of an event in 1917, in which 70,000 pilgrims in Portugal saw the sun ‘tear itself from the heavens and come crashing down upon the multitude.’ Now, it is extremely unlikely that 70,000 people could have a shared hallucination like that. But it is many, many, many times more unlikely that they actually saw the sun move from it’s place in the solar system. (our solar system is still here, by the way, and it doesn’t seem like the event was witnessed outside of this particular area) So even in the case of an event like the sun displacing itself and coming down to the surface of the earth without leaving a lasting effect, which would ‘clearly’ be a miracle in any sense of the word, we would probably be correct to say that is likely that there is a better, more plausible, ‘natural’ explanation for it. So to sum up, if an effect actually were supernatural in origin, science would not be able, even in principle, to explain it, but that wouldn’t stop anyone from trying.

    I hope I’ve answered your questions to satisfaction, and I would be happy to elaborate on any points that aren’t clear. I do feel that there are a few questions of mine that you’ve yet to answer, though I believe because I worded them poorly. I’ll rephrase:

    1. If there were a gene which contained 1,200 bits of Functional Specified Complex Information, and a random mutation caused a gene duplication, would that mutation have added more than 1,000 bits of FSCI to the genome?
    2. Why or why not?

    3. Additionally, if the gene were to be duplicated 1200 times, and random mutations changed at least 1 bit of FCSI in each gene (however many codons that would amount to) would those mutations have added more thatn 1,000 bits of FCSI information to the genome?
    4. Why or why not?

    You clearly refer to FCSI as quantifiable, so I have two additional questions:

    5. If you have a room with two dogs, does that room contain twice as much FCSI than that same room would have if it contained only one dog?

    6. If you have a room with a dog and a cat, does that room contain roughly twice as much FCSI than that same room if it contained only one of the two?

    Thanks in advance for the response.

  75. 75
    jurassicmac says:

    As an unrelated note, I must commend the editors of UD for removing the links to Cornelius Hunter’s latest series of articles, the third of which is currently titled “The Gene Myth.” The premise and arguments of the articles were ridiculous, and far inferior to his other articles. The arguments, even if true, were completely irrelevant to the evolution debate, and reflected badly on ID. I’m glad this was recognized and remedied.

  76. 76
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    Disputing macroevolution is like disputing the orbit of Pluto because no one has seen a complete revolution.

    I thought Pluto wasn’t a planet any longer.

  77. 77
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurassicmac,

    So in this sense Clive, humans, raccoons, robots and other verifiable intelligent agents certainly are in the same set as wind, rain, and corrosion, when dividing things between Natural(blind laws, physical intelligent beings) and the Supernatural(non-physical or non-verifiable intelligent beings).

    But this sense cannot be absolute, the person cannot be nothing more than particle movements resulting from physical laws. You should maybe read the same essay I directed towards MathGrrl by C. S. Lewis called “The Empty Universe“.

  78. 78
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive Hayden:

    I thought Pluto wasn’t a planet any longer.

    What word you apply to an object doesn’t affect its ability to orbit the sun; but besides thoroughly missing the point, the saddest thing about your comment is that Petrushka didn’t even refer to Pluto as a planet.

  79. 79
    jurassicmac says:

    Clive Hayden:

    But this sense cannot be absolute, the person cannot be nothing more than particle movements resulting from physical laws. You should maybe read the same essay I directed towards MathGrrl by C. S. Lewis called “The Empty Universe“.

    Of course it’s not absolute; that’s why it’s prefaced with the phrase “So, in this sense.” In some contexts, when I say “naturally occurring”, I do mean “absent intelligent input,” while in others, I use natural to mean “not supernatural”. Context is key.

    If you’re implying that consciousness itself is supernatural, and therefore anything consciousness causes is supernatural, then almost everything in our daily experience – computers, cars, roads, coke bottles – is supernatural, rendering the term meaningless.

    I will read that article when I have a free moment, Lewis is one of my favorite authors and perhaps one of the best apologetic minds of the 20th century.

  80. 80
    gpuccio says:

    jurassicmac (#74):

    If you allow it, I would like to try to give answers to your explicit questions:

    1) If there were a gene which contained 1,200 bits of Functional Specified Complex Information, and a random mutation caused a gene duplication, would that mutation have added more than 1,000 bits of FSCI to the genome

    No.

    2) Why or why not?

    One way to say it is that the Kolmogorov complexity of the string has not increased (if not for the bits necessary to codify: repeat this sequence twice).

    A simpler way to put it is that the duplication is not necessary to achieve a new specific function. If it was a protein coding gene, the information for the protein is already in the original gene, the duplication does not add anything. FSCI measures the complexity of the infromation necessary to achieve a function.

    3) Additionally, if the gene were to be duplicated 1200 times, and random mutations changed at least 1 bit of FCSI in each gene (however many codons that would amount to) would those mutations have added more thatn 1,000 bits of FCSI information to the genome?

    This is a little bit obscure. Let’s see. If you duplicate the same gene 1200 times, the CSI implied does not change, as already said. A single mutation in a single gene can have various effects: it can be neutral (function remains the same, CSI remains the same); it can impair the function. In that case, the protein may remain however functional enough according to the conventional threshold which has been established for that context, or not. In the first case, FSCI has not changed (the protein has moved inside the island of that functionality). In the second case, it has left the island, but because of the history of the events, it is still very near to it. Potentially, a single mutation can reintegrate the previous FSCI.

    Moreover, I have said many times that the concept of FSCI should be preferably applied to single well defined objects, such as one protein or one protein domain, with one well defined function, rather than to a complex system: the computation of FSCI for a complex functions creates many difficulties (defining a fucntion for the whole system, considering all the possible interactions of the various parts of the system, etc.) Computing the FSCI for a whole genome is certainly, at present, an impossible task.

    So, I cannot say how the FSCI of a whole genome would change in your bizarre scenario, and frankly I don’t see why that would be interesting to know.

    4) Why or why not?

    See above.

    5) If you have a room with two dogs, does that room contain twice as much FCSI than that same room would have if it contained only one dog?

    The answer is the same as for the duplicate gene. If two dogs are identical, assuming they represent a functional system (which probably they don’t), the FSCI of the system us practically the same of a single dog, plus the few bits to codify: take the dog twice. And I believe the room has nothing to do with all that.

    6) If you have a room with a dog and a cat, does that room contain roughly twice as much FCSI than that same room if it contained only one of the two?

    See what I said about computing the FSCI of a whole genome. Anyway, in a purely specualative context, if the dog and the cat could be considered a single functional system, with one well defined function, the FSCI inherent in that system would be at least the sum of the FSCI of each original object in the system which is necessary for that function (for instance, of all the different genes which are necessary for that), plus the quote, extremely difficult to treat mathematically, inherent in the complexity of all the possible interactions between those parts, and all the higher levels of organization in the system.

    But I have a question for you: why are you so interested in those bizarre scenarios, when the nature of the FSCI concept is much more clear and useful and manageable in the much simpler case of a single protein? And when almost every single protein exhibits FSCI?

  81. 81
    tribune7 says:

    Disputing macroevolution is like disputing the orbit of Pluto because no one has seen a complete revolution.

    Well, no. We can reasonably predict where Pluto is going to be on its orbit, 10, 20, 50 or 200 years from now. Can we using the theory of macroevolution predict what life will be like 10, 20, 50 or 200 years from now?

    We can, however, — another example of your wonderful sense of irony — predict that “since macroevolution doesn’t happen life will not be significantly different 10, 20, 50 or 200 years from now” 🙂

    BTW, I will return to your earlier point that the number of undisputed supernatural phenomena and events is approximately zero and note that you are incorrect.

    The creation of the energy/matter would be an undisputed supernatural event since its creation indisputably violates natural law.

  82. 82
    Clive Hayden says:

    jurassicmac,

    If you’re implying that consciousness itself is supernatural, and therefore anything consciousness causes is supernatural, then almost everything in our daily experience – computers, cars, roads, coke bottles – is supernatural, rendering the term meaningless.

    I see what you mean. I never claimed that the effects of consciousness are supernatural. And to be quite honest, the way nature and supernature are defined by different people seems very arbitrary to me. When you boil natural down to something being observable, and usually something repeated, etc., there are always other instances that can be brought up that are excepted from the criteria, such as the big bang that was neither observed nor repeated, and even if everything were, why does “observe and repeat” deserve such special regard to what is natural? Seeing two things connected physically does not connect them philosophically. And since I can see no philosophical necessity behind anything observed in nature, we cannot say that it really is a necessity, and cannot say why it couldn’t have been otherwise. And since we cannot say why something couldn’t have been otherwise, we cannot say that it cannot be altered or, on occasion, changed. We cannot say that it is an impossibility with anything supernatural, because we cannot say what is possible with regard to our “rule of nature”, because we cannot see the rule behind what we call natural. We cannot say that the natural world is objectively true because it repeats, for we cannot get behind the curtain and discern what makes it really objective, nor what makes it repeat. Repetition doesn’t provide a real rule discerned with our reason, only a rule of thumb discerned by observation. The universe is a place that we discovered, not that we invented.

  83. 83
    Petrushka says:

    We can, however, — another example of your wonderful sense of irony — predict that “since macroevolution doesn’t happen life will not be significantly different 10, 20, 50 or 200 years from now”

    True, because the radiation of new species generally happens after a major extinction event. We can be fairly certain that life will look different in 200 million years. (About one third the time since the Cambrian.) Assuming a mass extinction event.

    The creation of the energy/matter would be an undisputed supernatural event since its creation indisputably violates natural law.

    Mainstream physicists pretty much agree that the net energy content of the universe is zero (and that means the net mass is also effectively zero). Try Googling “net energy of universe”.

    At some point one might be justified in invoking supernatural creation, but the big bang is not necessarily that point.

  84. 84
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    At some point one might be justified in invoking supernatural creation, but the big bang is not necessarily that point.

    I reckon that depends on how you define nature and supernature.

  85. 85
    Petrushka says:

    I reckon that depends on how you define nature and supernature.

    Of course. My definition is simplistic, but I define nature as the realm of regular phenomena, those amenable to study by science.

    It is not certain whether the big bang fits in this compartment, but apparently everything after the first Planck division of time does.

  86. 86
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    Of course. My definition is simplistic, but I define nature as the realm of regular phenomena, those amenable to study by science.

    Fair enough. Not to change the subject, but how does mental phenomena play into being “regular”?

  87. 87
    Petrushka says:

    Fair enough. Not to change the subject, but how does mental phenomena play into being “regular”?

    I note that intact brains appear to be a prerequisite for mental phenomena, and that aging and damaged brains appear to have impaired mental phenomena.

    Other than that I have little idea how mental phenomena arise. I envy those who have figured it out.

  88. 88
    tribune7 says:

    We can be fairly certain that life will look different in 200 million years.

    We can fairly dispute that. Sharks and crocodiles and a lot of other species are presumed to have been around for 200 million years without significant change.

    Regarding the ones presumed not to have been you can’t point to the macroevolutionary event that caused them to come about nor can you predict how macroevolution will cause them to change nor when will it cause the change.

    The better predication would be to look at the fossil record and presume no significant change (see crocodile, shark) unless you count extinction as a change.

    But that wouldn’t be a marcroevolutionary event.

    Mainstream physicists pretty much agree that the net energy content of the universe is zero. Try Googling “net energy of universe”.

    And when I do I find this link indicating they don’t, and that even those sympathetic to the concept aren’t using it in the way you imply (i.e. energy coming into existence via natural law.)

    But I do think with this one it is safe to crown you the king of irony 🙂

    You believe it is very much unscientific to dispute the existence of macroevolution while feeling it is perfectly acceptable to do so with the First Law of Thermodynamics.

  89. 89
    Petrushka says:

    Regarding the ones presumed not to have been you can’t point to the macroevolutionary event

    Macroevolution is not an event, it certainly isn’t perceptibly different from microevolution, and it isn’t a cause.

    The inability to predict the products of evolution is no more mysterious than the inability to predict the weather a year in advance. Of course weather was once attributed to the whims of gods, just as some now attribute evolution to the whims of designers.

    I didn’t say that any net increase in energy is created by events such as the big bang. That is what is implied by the net energy of the universe being zero. I noted that the big bang is not entirely outside the scope of science, and may be a natural process in the ordinary sense of the word — part of the regular order of existence.

  90. 90
    tribune7 says:

    I noted that the big bang is not entirely outside the scope of science, and may be a natural process in the ordinary sense of the word — part of the regular order of existence.

    But The Big Bang is not exactly the same as the addition of energy. Somewhere along the line energy would have to come into existence and natural law prohibits it from doing so.

  91. 91
    Petrushka says:

    Somewhere along the line energy would have to come into existence and natural law prohibits it from doing so.

    The laws of thermodynamics are derived form observation and experiment.

    But even in our observable world, particles can come into existence momentarily. Our universe could be such a moment in eternity.

    I don’t bring these things up because I think they are necessarily correct, but because they illustrate how much we don’t know.

    I find claims by people who do know to be rather amusing.

  92. 92
    jurassicmac says:

    gpuccio, thanks for the reply. It still didn’t really answer my base question, but the blame is on me for not asking clearly. The statement that sparks my question was from William J. Murray:

    That quantifiable “similarity” is currently called functionally specified complex information, and the quantity necessary for a scientific finding of “similarity to what human ID produces” is 1000 bits.

    In this he states that FCSI is both quantifiable, and that 1,000 bits of it is similar to what human ID produces, (scientifically demonstrated, no less) with the implication that natural forces cannot plausibly create more than 1,000 bits of FCSI. Later he reinforces this by saying:

    What is at issue is whether or not [random processes] can add over 1000 bits of functionally specified complex information.

    …by which I’m guessing his answer is: “No, random processes cannot plausibly add over 1,000 bits of FCSI.”

    So, my questions (to anyone) are:

    1. Is it that natural processes [by which I mean undirected, like mutations] cannot plausibly create more than 1,000 bits of FCSI at all, or, at one time. This is a phenomenally important distinction.

    2. A large part of the issue here is with the statement that FCSI is quantifiable. For that to be the case, it has to be precisely definable. Can you explain in your own words the scientific definition of FCSI, or point me to a place that that defines it clearly?

    3. About the quantifiability itself. What are some real world examples of things with a measured amount of FCSI? Perhaps a cookie recipe that has something like 87 bits of FCSI, or a gene that has 6,784 bits of FCSI.

  93. 93
    William J. Murray says:

    jurrassicmac:

    1. If you begin with a thing that already has, let’s say, 1000 bits of FSCI, then unguided variants of say 20 bits of information that generate a novel function are not creating 1000 bits of novel function; the process created 20 bits of FSCI.

    For example, if a random error happened to change the sentence: “I have to eat my oatmeal cookies.” to “I hate to eat my oatmeal cookies.”, note that the random variance only changed one letter, and actually didn’t even add any FSCI to the string at all; but it did change the meaning of the entire string.

    The question isn’t if random processes can change the “v” to a “t” and in some lucky cases generate a string with a fully functional alternate meaning, but rather if the random (unguided) processes are capable of generating a functioning string of over 1000 FSCI in the first place.

    Generally speaking, though, random variations don’t add function; they usually detract from function. Take any 10 word sentence and start randomly changing letters without any target and see how long it takes to lose all coherent meaning, and then how long it takes to gain any coherent meaning back.

    2. The faq I and others have repeatedly directed you to on this page – the “weak arguments” faq – has a clear definition of FSCI.

    3. Every post on this blog represents well over 1000 bits of FSCI. If every potential letter in every space (including numbers, spaces and punctuation) were added up (let’s say 50 possibilities in each space), then you can see that FSCI adds up rather quickly.

    What differentiates FSCI from other kinds of information; it serves a specific function, which is why “it serves a function” is FSCI here, and “0*y@lGy.2-8 %vn[“qq7” doesn’t.

    I imagine that in this post I’ve probably exceeded the total brute computing capacity of the entire known universe if all I had to rely on was the product of unguided forces.

    The only phenomena we know regularly generates such strings of coded, complex, functionally specified information is what we rightfully call “intelligence”, and we find exactly the same kind of coded, complex, functionally specified strings of information DNA.

  94. 94
    William J. Murray says:

    “in DNA”, at the end there.

  95. 95
    gpuccio says:

    jurrassicmac::

    1) The bits of FSCI regard one object (or one system) and one function. FSCI is the number of functional information necessary to achieve one specific function. So, FSCI is not simply additive, as I have shown in my previous anser for you.
    The concept is that any single object or system performing a specific function which results from at least a certain number of Fits (functional bits) of information (and 1000 is really an upper level threshold: IMO, 150 bits is a much more appropriate threshold for all biological contexts) is an object (or system) exhibiting FSCI. All such objects, as far as we know, are products of design, and have never a non designed origin.

    The only exception is exactly the set of objects about which we discuss: biological objects, like genomes and proteomes.

    2) FSCI is quantifiable, especially in its digital form (dFSCI).
    I have discussed many times in detail the role of dFSCI in ID theory, and how it can be measured-
    Here is a recent link to a post of mine about the ID inference:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362111

    And this is anopther one from the same thread about its measurement.

    Please read them, if you are interested, and especially the linked paper by Durston et al. Then we can discuss any detail you like.

    3) See the previous point. For instance, according to the Durston paper, Ribobomal protein S12 has 312 Fits of functional information, P53 DNA domain 525 Fits, Paramyx RNA Pol 1886 Fits. You can find the results for 35 protein families in the Durston paper. According to my threshold for biological systems, 150 bits (which, believe me, is very very reasonable, and still highly generous), almost all of them exhibit FSCI.

  96. 96
    gpuccio says:

    Jurassicmac:

    Oops, I forgot to paste the link to my second post. Here it is:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362171

    The link to the Durston paper is in it, but I copy here just the same:

    “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins”

    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/4/1/47

  97. 97
    Petrushka says:

    note that the random variance only changed one letter, and actually didn’t even add any FSCI to the string at all; but it did change the meaning of the entire string.

    That’s a reasonable statement, and in fact it accounts for most of the differences between species.

    What do you make of the gradual changes of shape in the jawbones of mammals leading to the bones of the middle ear?

  98. 98
    Petrushka says:

    The concept is that any single object or system performing a specific function…

    That would have to be a fictional object, since biological obhects are intertwined in immensly complex networks. There are scarcely any genes that affects only one function.

    If there were, medicine would be much simpler, since we could find the gene or genes responsible for cancer, etc.

  99. 99
    Alex73 says:

    It is a bit late, but a few posts earlier Petrushka mentioned that evidence to supernatural events is reduced to witness accounts.

    A long while ago I had to realize that the wast majority of my scientific knowledge is actually believing eyewitness accounts written down in a publication of some sort. If I have the capacity, then I so some cross checking, like if there is an obvious contradiction with something I had previously believed to be true, but that is it.

    With other words, it is unlikely, that I will ever inspect the molecular structure of the flagellum, measure the spectrum of supernovae or create a protein from scratch. I could go on, but I also think that only a handful of scientists exists who indeed have taken the flagellum apart, crystallized the proteins, measured their structure using x-rays and based on evidence built the 3D molecular models. The rest of us just believe them. Even if ‘in principle’ we could replicate the same stuff, in practice we cannot. We do not have the equipment and the funding and the knowledge etc to become an eyewitness ourselves.

    Almost all that I know is actually faith. Now here is the point: if the modus operandi of science can rely on evidence that can be gathered 99% of the time by listening to reliable witnesses and cross checking them, I do not see why the same thing is not good enough with other, often one-off events in the past?

  100. 100
    Petrushka says:

    if the modus operandi of science can rely on evidence that can be gathered 99% of the time by listening to reliable witnesses and cross checking them, I do not see why the same thing is not good enough with other, often one-off events in the past?

    But that is not the modus operandi of science, which is why hoaxes and errors eventually get exposed.

    Nothing of importance in science depends on irreproducible results. Else our energy problems would have been solved years ago by cold fusion.

    Everything of importance must be supported by multiple lines of evidence — consilience — as well as independent verification of data.

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    Alex73: Excellent observation. If we did not build confidence in a body of knowledge and reports, science would be impossible. And, science is inseparable from other serious methods of inquiry. G

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    JM:

    I’d love to see your cookie recipe with 87 bits of functionally specific info: at 7 ASCII bits per letter, that is about 13 letters. COOKIE takes up 6 already! G

  103. 103
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    But even in our observable world, particles can come into existence momentarily. Our universe could be such a moment in eternity.

    I don’t bring these things up because I think they are necessarily correct, but because they illustrate how much we don’t know.

    I find claims by people who do know to be rather amusing.

    I find using a description of un-knowledge as knowledge, and therefore as a rule against other propositions, as rather amusing.

  104. 104
    tribune7 says:

    Nothing of importance in science depends on irreproducible results.

    Except the creation of new energy 🙂

    And life from non-life too, I suppose.

    Anyway you raise a good point in that science in pursuing its mission of finding consistencies in nature so these consistencies may used to solve material problems should quite appropriately limits itself to reproducible events.

    The problem comes, as I noted earlier, when one attempts to use science as the final authority of truth or denies the existence of non-reproducible events because they can’t be addressed by natural science.

  105. 105
    Petrushka says:

    The problem comes, as I noted earlier, when one attempts to use science as the final authority of truth or denies the existence of non-reproducible events because they can’t be addressed by natural science.

    I suppose what science does best is not proving or disproving specific events, but investigating whether they fall into the category of regular phenomena.

    What science tends to do over time is expand the realm of consistency.

  106. 106
    Clive Hayden says:

    Petrushka,

    I suppose what science does best is not proving or disproving specific events, but investigating whether they fall into the category of regular phenomena.

    It seems to me that science tries exactly to prove or disprove specific events. Every event is specific. It may happen again and again, but it is always specific. It is this tree or that brook that is studied by men practicing a methodology generally agreed upon and called science, not some abstraction of a tree or brook, and then, and only then, is it generalized to apply to other trees and brooks.

  107. 107
    Petrushka says:

    It is this tree or that brook that is studied by science, not some abstraction, and then, and only then, is it generalized to apply to other trees and brooks.

    There are always fueds in science between the data collectors and the theorists.

    There is no escaping the fact that science needs data, and that the personalities of data collectors and theorists are sometimes at odds.

  108. 108
    gpuccio says:

    Petrushka:

    That would have to be a fictional object, since biological obhects are intertwined in immensly complex networks. There are scarcely any genes that affects only one function.

    Not true, as usual.

    From Uniprot:

    P19367 Hexokinase-1:

    Catalytic activity:
    ATP + D-hexose = ADP + D-hexose 6-phosphate.

    P08237 6-phosphofructokinase, muscle type

    Catalytic activity:
    ATP + D-fructose 6-phosphate = ADP + D-fructose 1,6-bisphosphate.

    P30613 Pyruvate kinase isozymes R/L

    Catalytic activity:
    ATP + pyruvate = ADP + phosphoenolpyruvate.

    These are just three very important enzymes implied in glycolysis, each with a specific catalytic activity.

    Shall I continue?

  109. 109
    gpuccio says:

    Petrushka:

    There is no escaping the fact that science needs theorists, too.

  110. 110
    Alex73 says:

    Petrushka,

    I almost agree with you, although you slightly miss the point I was making earlier.

    What I want to say is that a scientific papers are written first hand accounts of observed phenomena. Apart from trivial things we can reproduce ourselves, you and me accept them if we think that there is good reason to believe the authors. The authors themselves also do the same with the vast majority of other papers, by the way.

    Our knowledge is in fact 99% well-organized beliefs of what we read or were told. Whether the observations are repeatable (like apples falling from trees) or non-repeatable (like gamma ray bursts or unusual supernovae) does not matter. They also may fall into a pattern (i.e. confirming a hypothesis) or not fall into a pattern (disproving a likely theory).

    This is the reason why I think e.g. that although the observation of someone being alive after he was brutally executed cannot be repeated in the labs, but if the witnesses of the phenomenon are proven reliable then their reports are as good as any (true) article in, say, the Nature. There is nothing that would render it inferior in any ways to other scientific papers.

  111. 111
    Petrushka says:

    …but if the witnesses of the phenomenon are proven reliable then their reports are as good as any (true) article in, say, the Nature.

    The motto of scientists regarding each other’s testimony is trust but verify.

    Even Newton apparently cleaned up some of his observational data in later years. I understand his earliest observations had a normal range of errors, but there was no routine mathematical way of dealing with them.

    Much of science, including the hardest sciences have to cope with observational errors. Not much survives without replication and verification.

  112. 112
    tribune7 says:

    I suppose what science does best is not proving or disproving specific events, but investigating whether they fall into the category of regular phenomena.

    Petrushka, put me down as a vote for this.

  113. 113
    tribune7 says:

    But even in our observable world, particles can come into existence momentarily. Our universe could be such a moment in eternity.

    Far out, Tommy Chong

    I don’t bring these things up because I think they are necessarily correct, but because they illustrate how much we don’t know.

    IOW, it should be perfectly acceptable to dispute macroevolution 🙂

  114. 114
    Petrushka says:

    Shall I continue?

    Just looking at your first example I see many articles discussing the effects of variants. The point of my comment was that variants have unpredictable effects on the entire organism.

    The problem gets tougher when you consider regulatory DNA, which accounts for most of the differences between species.

    Are you really asserting that variants don’t exist, or that when the variants are studied in detail, they won’t form a hierarchy nested by descent?

  115. 115
    gpuccio says:

    Petrushka:

    As it often happens, I don’t understand what you mean. You wrote:

    “There are scarcely any genes that affects only one function”.

    And I have given a few examples of enzymes with a very well defined function in the very well defined methabolic way called glycolysis. What do you mean with your discourse about “variants”? The same gene can have variants in different species, but they usually retain the same function trhough more or less different primary sequences. I have argued repeatedly that this is due mostly to random variation and negative selection.

    In the same species, we can find variants of one gene. It’s called polymorphism. Those variants are usually perfectly functional, and their fucntion is always the same as the function of the more common form of the gene. Other times, variant are less functional or non functional. The name for those cases is mendelian genetic diseases.

    So, what you mean with your mention of variants remains a mystery for me. Would you like to elucidate?

  116. 116
    Petrushka says:

    In the same species, we can find variants of one gene. It’s called polymorphism. Those variants are usually perfectly functional, and their fucntion is always the same as the function of the more common form of the gene.

    Or they might not be perfectly functional; variations may cause disease. Or one variant may work quite well in one organism and be detrimental in another.

    You cannot grade the variants without observing them in the whole organism.

  117. 117
    above says:

    “Disputing macroevolution is like disputing the orbit of Pluto because no one has seen a complete revolution.”

    Disputing macroevolution(in the materialistic darwinian sense) is simply saying that the current model propounded is incapable of producing the effects we see in the diversity of life. That’s what it means.

    -“ Mainstream physicists pretty much agree that the net energy content of the universe is zero (and that means the net mass is also effectively zero). Try Googling “net energy of universe”.

    First, that is just a guess. Second that merely signifies an extreme degree of balance and order not that nothing exists (as peter atkins so irrationaly claimed once). If that’s not where you were going with it simply ignore this comment.

    -“ At some point one might be justified in invoking supernatural creation, but the big bang is not necessarily that point.”

    That is an acceptable opinion by not a lot of people seem to share that with you. Even atheists when they realized what the big bang signified went immediately on the defensive and tried to ignore its implications ever since in faith of their promissory materialism.

    @alex
    -“ Almost all that I know is actually faith.”

    You see alex, this is the point that not a single positivist, not a single materialist, not a single atheist is willing to accept. Their beliefs – just like everyone else’s – is too based on faith. I would argue that they require tons more faith than a Theist of course but I think it’s best not to go there. Once they bring themselves to acknowledge what is blatantly obvious to every else, then I think it would be a good time to start a constructive dialogue.

  118. 118
    Petrushka says:

    Disputing macroevolution(in the materialistic darwinian sense) is simply saying that the current model propounded is incapable of producing the effects we see in the diversity of life. That’s what it means.

    OK, so what’s your take on the incremental change in mammalian jawbones, leading to the bones of the middle ear?

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