Darwinism Intelligent Design

Smart People With Dumb Ideas

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I’m currently rereading Bill Dembski’s No Free Lunch. On page 180 we read:

In The Fifth Miracle [Paul] Davies goes so far as to suggest that any laws capable of explaining the origin of life must be radically different from any scientific laws known to date. The problem, as he sees it, with currently known scientific laws, like the laws of chemistry and physics, is that they cannot explain the key feature of life that needs to be explained. That feature is specified complexity. As Davies puts it: “Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity.”

But then Davies puts blind faith in the notion that once a self-replicator appears, specified complexity (i.e., complex specified information) can mysteriously be had on the cheap, as though there are known laws that can account for this. Of course, there are no known such laws, and, in fact, such a notion is just as much a get-something-for-nothing scam as the origin of the first cell through chance and necessity is.

Even such a brilliant guy as Paul Davies has obviously fallen prey to Darwinian indoctrination (or, perhaps, fear of being labeled a creationist), so that he has uncritically accepted a completely unverifiable thesis.

Davies:

Random mutations plus natural selection are one surefire way to generate biological information, extending a short random genome over time into a long random genome. Chance in the guise of mutations and law in the guise of selection form just the right combination of randomness and order needed to create “the impossible object.” The necessary information comes, as we have seen, from the environment.

(Emphasis mine.)

One “surefire” way? Just the right combination? Information has come, “as we have seen”?

Absolutely none of this is surefire, or has been demonstrated, or has been seen. In fact, it all flies in the face of even the most trivial mathematical analysis concerning probabilistic resources and the barriers presented by combinatoric explosion, not to mention what is now known about the highly complex, functionally integrated, machine-like, information-processing, error-correcting nature of living systems, the sophistication of which exceeds the greatest modern human engineering feats by countless orders of magnitude.

Religious believers are often accused of parking their brains at the church door, but I believe that many “scientists,” even demonstrably smart ones with high IQ’s, could be accused of parking their brains at the Darwin door.

12 Replies to “Smart People With Dumb Ideas

  1. 1
    F2XL says:

    Yeah I remember reading that same exact passage, along with everything on conservation of information while on a trip in Seattle.

    But what was especially ironic was that I was on the same ferry service that Stephen Meyer had been on when he was interviewed for “A War on Science.”

    Didn’t notice it until I actually saw that sorry excuse for a documentary on google video:

    http://video.google.com/videop.....#038;hl=en

    Makes ID seem so badass though. 😀

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    These same people laugh at Young Earthers for basically saying the same thing i.e. the speed of light was different, the rate of radioactive decay was different.

    The difference is one of integrity (or sanity, maybe) — Young Earthers admit (or comprehend) they are being guided by faith, these guys refuse to, or can’t.

  3. 3
    rbullock says:

    Gil, you (and Dembski) are exactly right to point out this inconsistency. I saw the same thing in Davies’ book and dealt with it in the End Notes of my book (The Cave Painting). In a note using a “linch pin” metaphor, I wrote:

    [Picking up mid-Note with Davies’ discussing origin of life:] “Could a law on its own, without a huge element of luck (i.e., chance), do such a thing [i.e., biogenesis]? Can specific randomness be the guaranteed product of a deterministic, mechanical, lawlike process, like a primordial soup left to the mercy of familiar laws of physics and chemistry? No, it couldn’t. No known law of nature could achieve this—a fact of the deepest significance, as we shall see in the final chapter.” [Davies, Fifth Miracle, p. 120]

    “No, it couldn’t.” These are the words of an intelligent design theorist. The fact that no known law of nature can produce the information necessary for biogenesis (Davies’ immediate concern) is of equal importance to the production of information in general. However, although Davies agrees, he wants to believe there is an importance difference between the two types of information generation. For example, he states:

    “If you found the foregoing argument persuasive, you could be forgiven for concluding that a genome really is a miraculous object. However, most of the problems I have outlined above apply with equal force to the evolution of the genome over time. In this case we have a ready-made solution to the puzzle, called Darwinism. Random mutations plus natural selection are one surefire way to generate biological information, extending a short random genome over time into a long random genome. Chance in the guise of mutations and law in the guise of selection form just the right combination of randomness and order to create “the impossible object.” The necessary information comes, as we have seen, from the environment.” [Davies, Fifth Miracle, p. 120]

    Here the linchpin is pulled, and the wheels fall off of Davies’ otherwise flawless logic. Davies previously explained in concise, rational detail how and why law and chance alone cannot produce specific randomness, i.e., information. On what basis does he now rationalize that, given a miraculous starting genome, suddenly law and chance alone are sufficient to do just that, i.e., create more and more complex information? Is the chance and law of Darwinism somehow an exception to the general rule? If so, on what grounds? Chance and law are just that: chance and law, whether under the “guise” of something or not. Calling chance “mutations” and law “selection” renders neither suddenly able to do the miraculous. Even given a starting genome, there is no scientific basis for suddenly believing chance and law are transformed into a force sufficient to produce additional information. This fact can be shown logically (as Davies did) and mathematically, as well as empirically.

    Even Davies, perhaps too honest for his chosen theory, can’t help but believe that something more than law and chance are needed for Darwinian evolution. In the “final chapter” he referred to above, he considers:

    “[E]mergent laws of complexity offer reasonable hope for a better understanding not only of biogenesis, but of biological evolution too. Such laws might differ from the familiar laws of physics in a fundamental and important respect. Whereas the laws of physics merely shuffle information around, a complexity law might actually create information, or at least wrest it from the environment and etch it onto a material structure.” [Davies, Fifth Miracle, p. 259]

    Why should Davies concern himself with conjecture about laws that “differ from the familiar laws of physics” to power the Darwinian machine? Davies informed us earlier that these “familiar laws” are the “one surefire way to generate biological information.” Now we’re told that they “merely shuffle” information around. Perhaps Davies’ bold display of confidence earlier was a survival adaptation to his environment, surrounded as he must be by uncompromisingly fit Darwinists. But truth will find a way in honest minds, and Davies is close to the truth.

  4. 4
    GilDodgen says:

    The “War on Science” video inadvertently makes my point about smart people accepting dumb ideas. Ken Miller comments: “I truly regard America’s scientific soul to be at stake in this struggle. And losing that I think would be a great tragedy.” And Dawkins comments: “When one says that in America intelligent design is getting a hold, it is not getting a hold in the scientific community, in the intellectual community. It’s getting a hold only among those parts of the population who don’t know anything.”

    The first irony is that America’s scientific soul, at least in the biological sciences, has long since been sold out to the chance and necessity evolutionary mechanism, so that the evidence can’t be allowed to speak for itself. This is the real tragedy. Davies epitomizes the blinding power of Darwinian indoctrination, since he can easily see the information problem concerning materialistic abiogenesis but can’t seem to see that this problem doesn’t go away just because a self-replicator exists. On the other hand, as Roddy points out, Davies must at least be suffering from some degree of cognitive dissonance, which is a good sign.

    The second irony is that Dawkins claims ID is only getting a hold among those who don’t know anything. The exact opposite is true in my case (and, I suspect, in many cases). I accepted Darwinian claims hook, line and sinker when I didn’t know anything. Once I learned more about how biology actually works, and especially about the information problem, I quickly concluded that the Darwinian mechanism of random variation and natural selection was hogwash except as an explanation for the utterly trivial, and certainly an absurd proposition as an explanation for all of biology.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    Gil Dodgen: You have made the essential point that almost always gets lost: what is important about Darwinism is false, and what is true about it is trivial.

  6. 6
    bFast says:

    Dawkins:

    When one says that in America intelligent design is getting a hold, it is not getting a hold in the scientific community, in the intellectual community. It’s getting a hold only among those parts of the population who don’t know anything.

    “I’m smarter than you, I’m a scientist. I’m smarter than you, I studied biology.”

    Cocky *^%$^&@, What more need be said.

  7. 7
    tribune7 says:

    Dawkins fails to see that a lot of very, very poorly educated people hold a strong opinion that Darwinism is certain truth and their reasoning is often based mostly on some TV show they saw, or perhaps even a comic book they read.

    If one travels in academic circles he may not pick up on this but the one bloviating most loudly at the office or neighborhood barbecue about the truth of neoDarwinian evolution is usually the least informed in the group.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Off Topic video-
    A fairly good treatment on mutations;

    Genetic Mutations and Molecular Information – Genetic Entropy

    http://www.godtube.com/view_vi.....30fe8053e1

  9. 9
    F2XL says:

    The “War on Science” video inadvertently makes my point about smart people accepting dumb ideas.

    No joke man, it’s fantastic to see that public opinion in the UK on this topic had been put in such “skilled” hands with this documentary.

    To me “A War on Science” is my favorite way of introducing people to the opposition to ID simply because it shows from the very beginning just how scared they really are. At that first scene you have this ominous synth to it… and a few people who are interviewed saying how dangerous the idea supposedly is (kind of sounds like a pattern that happened shortly after scopes:D).

    But it’s perfect to show to any ID newbie simply because the arguments presented in the documentary are direct and simple. Whether it’s the statement that ID postulates a “supernatural” creator, Ken Miller’s love affair with the TTSS, or that deck of cards straw man that really doesn’t apply to any argument from any major ID proponent who discusses probability, you can rest assured that you can easily explain why each of the documentary’s claims are incorrect.

    It’s a perfect intro to someone who wants to know how to counter arguments made against ID.

    The first irony is that America’s scientific soul, at least in the biological sciences, has long since been sold out to the chance and necessity evolutionary mechanism, so that the evidence can’t be allowed to speak for itself.

    I guess you could say science as a methodology was hijacked over a century ago.

    It’s a shame many materialistic elitists have decided to bastardize the scientific method for their own metaphysical beliefs. And yes, in a more indirect sense that could include Ken Miller.

    The second irony is that Dawkins claims ID is only getting a hold among those who don’t know anything. The exact opposite is true in my case (and, I suspect, in many cases). I accepted Darwinian claims hook, line and sinker when I didn’t know anything.

    Count me in on that one. I recall back in 3rd grade when I earned the reputation of being the “smartest kid in class” and earned my reputation in science.

    Back then I just mindlessly read anything in a science book and took it to be true. I thought of Darwin as sort of a hero (go ahead guys, laugh) who was hated just for thinking differently.

    Now I know better, and it seems like “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds” should’ve been handed to me long before I entered middle school.

    Dawkins fails to see that a lot of very, very poorly educated people hold a strong opinion that Darwinism is certain truth and their reasoning is often based mostly on some TV show they saw, or perhaps even a comic book they read.

    Hey tribune7, I can think of one entertainment franchise which may have done exactly that…

    http://www.pokemon.com/

    I used to be such a fan of that stuff. The cards I had for it are probably collecting dust somewhere.

  10. 10
    Borne says:

    It’s getting a hold only among those parts of the population who don’t know anything.

    This is the kind of nonsense too many scientists like to fool themselves into believing.

    Scientists are not smarter than anyone else. Just more educated. And where biology is concerned, much of that education, being founded on the metaphysical roots of falsehood, is utterly worthless.

    The ‘elite’ are no different than anyone else except in the wallets. They simply want to control everyone else.

    If you can afford an higher education, just about anyone with an average IQ can get one.

    And some people with rather low IQ’s actually obtain Ph.D.’s – like evolutionary psychologists.

    Intelligence is not a function of what you ‘know’ but what you truly understand. It is not so much institutional education as the ability to teach yourself and understand the real nature of things.

    Some highly educated people cannot reason worth beans but will pass all the courses if they simply nod to the Darwin god on the exams.

    This reminds me of Michel de Montaigne’s

    I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    Borne, “Scientists are not smarter than anyone else. Just more educated.”

    Let me suggest a few realities:
    1 – People with Ph.D.’s, on average, are significantly more intelligent than the average bloke. So there is some truth in the suggestion that scientists are smarter than the average non-scientist.
    2 – There are a heck of a lot of people with Ph.D.s who are not scientists. Likely there are many more Ph.D.s who are not hard scientists than there are who are hard scientists (Mathemetitians, Physicists, Chemists, Biologists.) I would doubt if the Ph.D.s in the hard sciences are more intelligent than the Ph.D.s in the other disciplines. Your statement, “They are just more educated” does not hold to those who are just as educated, but in a different field than the hard sciences.

    Even we IDers somehow see science as the beginning and end of knowledge. There is so much more to know than the hard sciences have to offer.

  12. 12
    F2XL says:

    I just realized that on that particular trip to Seattle I just so happened to have visited key locations of the ID debate:

    1st, I ended up going to Seattle’s museum of flight, where they premiered “The Privileged Planet” on DVD.

    Then came the ferry trip where Meyer was interviewed for “A War on Science.”

    And on a lighter note, I actually saw a small restaurant called “The Dover.”

    No Free Lunch was a pretty good read throughout that trip.

    Oh, and by the way. After introducing an ID newbie to the war on science [sic] documentary, you can learn more about the enemy from Judgment Day: ID on Trial.

    http://video.google.com/videop.....qgPJh4iaBQ

    Nothing on this documentary that any of us haven’t already heard. But for someone just getting into the debate, this is surely a step up in preparation after you see (and understand the idiocy of) “A War on Science.”

    I’m wondering if we should ban the constitution from the classroom because it uses the word “creator…”

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