Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

# The common sense law of physics

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I was discussing the second law argument with a scientist friend the other day, and mentioned that the second law is sometimes called the “common sense law of physics”. This morning he wrote:

Yesterday I spoke with my wife about these questions. She immediately grasped that chaos results on the long term when she would stop caring for her home.

I replied:

Tell your wife she has made a perfectly valid application of the second law of thermodynamics. In fact, let’s take her application a bit further.

Suppose you and your wife go for vacation, leaving a dog, cat and a parakeet loose in the house (I put the animals there to cause the entropy to increase more rapidly, otherwise you might have to take a much longer vacation to see the same effect). When you come back, you will not be surprised to see chaos in the house. But tell her some scientists say, “but if you leave the door open while on vacation, your house becomes an open system, and the second law does not apply to open systems…you may find everything in better condition than when you left.”

I’ll bet she will say, if a maid enters through the door and cleans the house, maybe, but if all that enters is wind, rain and other animals, probably not.

This is an application of the main point in chapter 5 of my new book : “If an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering that makes it NOT extremely improbable.”

For a slightly more technical version of this story, complete with a mathematical analysis of the equations for entropy change, see my video .

(For those who don’t watch the video, or give up on it before the end, and thus don’t understand what this story has to do with evolution, I should include the punch line):

If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating a violation of the second law here. But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.

Comments
@nuallasalus #112 -“Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not “material”.” Can you provide me with a link to that? I would very much like to read it.above
August 3, 2010
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@aiguy One last thing. You keep talking about science proving this and that. What is your operational definition of science? The more I follow this discussion, the more I feel I am vindicated in asserting in my very first (maybe 2nd) post that science is not free of metaphysics and is theory laden. Is your definition of science free of metaphysics? If it isn’t – and I’m confident it probably isn’t – then your criticism applies to your own notion of science as well.above
August 3, 2010
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*every=everyoneabove
August 3, 2010
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I see aiguy has kept every busy here! @aiguy -“ Now THAT is an ontological assumption…[etc] is true!” I went to great lengths to specify that one’s prior assumptions serve as the underpinning of their perspective. For you to come here and accuse me of doing otherwise is just disingenuous. And it’s you that is doing the projection, not me. Sorry. And here is why… You said: “Under dualism, we have dual natures – one is our material body and one is our immaterial mind.” So I used that as a hypothesis. A typical “for the sake of argument” proposition(i.e. if this then that). There is a difference. So your accusations are undue and irrelevant. All that for what? So that you can divert attention elsewhere and refrain from commenting on the plethora of examples I gave you? What is to become of science without logical inference? Without abstract theorizing? Tell us. No, you should address it if you disagree then because the criticism applies to both paradigms (ID and darwinism). You can’t berate on ID and then refuse to comment on darwinism, especially since you disagree. Tell us then, when did your uniform and repeated experience observe randomness or a mindless materialistic cause giving rise to FSCI? - but it is confused to believe that evolutionary biologists – or anyone else – considers “chance” to be a cause, rather than a description of the independence of effects” What exactly do you mean by that? Independence of effects from what? And how does this fit into a materialistic ontology? Can you elaborate? -“ ID only makes sense if you adopt a particular metaphysical stance – one which denies physicalism.” More accurately: “ID makes sense if you adopt one of a plethora of metaphysical stances, namely those which deny materialism” Now let’s go back to what I said days ago in my first response to your objection: “I believe this will be a huge problem specifically for materialists and logical positivists but not so much for others who embrace a different metaphysic/epistemology.” Funny isn’t it?above
August 3, 2010
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aiguy, Oh, no, this isn’t true at all. What Meyer says he wants to show is that conscious mind is the best explanation for the first living cell, and he says so explicitly, over and over again. If you doubt me I will provide a dozen citations… but only if you promise to concede the argument totally once I go to the trouble. And you'll concede the argument totally to me if I provide a dozen citations of Meyer explicitly arguing against an unguided, unintelligent abiogenesis event? To hear you explain it, Meyer would regard powerful or successful arguments against an unguided abiogenesis event on earth as a defeat. I'm calling that ludicrous. In that case you’ve just changed his goal for him. What I’ve demolished is Meyer’s argument, not yours. Meyer argues that ID presents a known cause that could account for the first living cell. I’ve shown he is mistaken, which is what I set out to do. Changed his goal? I offered an argument that I explicitly said was a hypothetical response from Meyer - I at no time said Meyer was making the response. No surprise moves here. I pointed out Meyer could grant your criticisms for the hell of it, and still he'd be accomplishing much of what he wants to. You are the one saying that Meyer would regard successful arguments on the front mentioned as a defeat for him. I'm pointing out that's ridiculous. Either they’re talking about life forms (which are known, but can’t be the cause of the first living cell) or they’re not (in which case their cause isn’t known). And again, Dembski & company don't argue what the "Designer" is - and by their measure, they do not have to, because the particular identity (This or that particular designer) is irrelevant for their purposes. No, my response is that “life on Earth comes from pre-existing life” is not just an unpopular theory, but it is a bad theory because we have no evidence that it is true. As I’ve said, that is why these old ideas have never garnered much support. "No evidence"? Baloney. I went ahead and provided some - or are you going to say that tests regarding bacterial viability in space aren't evidence? Or possible empirical results indicating the possibility of simple/bacterial life on comets or on other planets aren't evidence? Insufficient evidence? Sure. No evidence? That's fantasy. ET-ancestor theory is distinctly not an ID method, because biological reproduction is not “design”, right (in the sense that organisms are not consciously designing their offspring). So if ET-ancestor theory is true, then ID is wrong. And if we imagine that ET life existed prior to life on Earth, why would ET-designer theory be commended over ET-ancestor theory? First, it's not that simple: Crick's directed panspermia - which I'm not arguing for here - relied on ET-ancestors as a method. That would be a midway point between the two. But that's just a technical point. Second, if ET-ancestor theory is true, ID isn't necessarily wrong. There are ID proponents who rely on panspermia and ET-ancestor theories - it would be partial confirmation of their views. And again with Meyer, it would be partial confirmation of his own views - even if life didn't originate on earth, it would skunk the abiogenesis views he has in his sights. Third, it would depend on what we uncovered about the earliest life on earth, or on there being no way to discern created life from ancestral life. To say nothing of the fact that putting panspermia on the table as an explanation for life on earth would have some serious repercussions across the board, since there's no way to accept it while at the same time regarding earth as a kind of hermetically sealed off environment where biological development takes place. For him to deny my argument would require him to claim that the first living organism could have been designed by another living organism (a logical impossibility) or that disembodied intelligence is part of our uniform and repeated experience (which isn’t true). That's an oversimplification, like saying that providing powerful reasons to believe that Neo-Darwinism is false/inadequate wouldn't be an ID success on the grounds that a negative argument itself doesn't demonstrate or strongly infer a designing agent. But there are arguments ID proponents sign on with that are negative arguments, just as there are positive arguments.nullasalus
August 3, 2010
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Null,
Actually, given this hypothetical reply, ID theory would still be doing exactly what Meyer aimed to do: Showing the inadequacy of accepting a non-intelligent, non-living cause for life on earth.
Oh, no, this isn't true at all. What Meyer says he wants to show is that conscious mind is the best explanation for the first living cell, and he says so explicitly, over and over again. If you doubt me I will provide a dozen citations... but only if you promise to concede the argument totally once I go to the trouble.
I’m pointing out Meyer can go right ahead and accept your criticisms, and his argument still retains force and accomplishes much of what he wants it to.
In that case you've just changed his goal for him. What I've demolished is Meyer's argument, not yours. Meyer argues that ID presents a known cause that could account for the first living cell. I've shown he is mistaken, which is what I set out to do.
As for Dembski, he explicitly accepts numerous possible explanations for FCSI, included “complex physical” intelligent agents. I can quote him saying this explicitly if you wish, right on this site.
I know he does, but he's in the same boat. Meyer and Dembski lump life forms & gods into one big ambiguous "intelligent agency" basket, so they can equivocate on what they mean... and then refuse to provide an operational definition that would allow us to identify what things actually belong in that basket and what things do not. All I've done is to unmask their equivocation. Either they're talking about life forms (which are known, but can't be the cause of the first living cell) or they're not (in which case their cause isn't known). QED
Here, among other places. Do you think “panspermia” means “omg spock”? If so, you don’t have a clue about the subject. Sorry to get mocking, but hey, just replying in kind.
Hey, null - I hope you know I like your thinking and respect your arguments. I was just trying to keep it light with you!
The fact that you’re falling back to “Well, okay, but I bet that would be unpopular!” screams that you don’t have a real response here.
No, my response is that "life on Earth comes from pre-existing life" is not just an unpopular theory, but it is a bad theory because we have no evidence that it is true. As I've said, that is why these old ideas have never garnered much support.
What’s more, every ID major ID proponent – Dembski, Behe, etc – concedes straightaway that ID doesn’t prove the existence of God or such, so the crack about people pushing their “theological ideas” is based on a misconception anyway.
I know both what major ID authors say and also what is true of the vast readership of their books. But let's just drop that part, OK?
aiguy: Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory… but it doesn’t matter anyway. null: I disagree on both counts – it would be one more way for life to originate and spread in the cosmos, and it would be an explicitly ID method.
I misspoke - what I meant to write was "ET-ancestor theory is more parsimonious then ET-designer theory". ET-ancestor theory is distinctly not an ID method, because biological reproduction is not "design", right (in the sense that organisms are not consciously designing their offspring). So if ET-ancestor theory is true, then ID is wrong. And if we imagine that ET life existed prior to life on Earth, why would ET-designer theory be commended over ET-ancestor theory?
I’m pointing out here that Meyer could accept your claims for the hell of it,...
For him to deny my argument would require him to claim that the first living organism could have been designed by another living organism (a logical impossibility) or that disembodied intelligence is part of our uniform and repeated experience (which isn't true).aiguy
August 3, 2010
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KF: I suppose it would be uncivil to point out that evolution and common descent require that offspring not vary much from the parent. No squirrels evolving directly from fish. But everyone already knows that. But while we're waiting to have all the gaps filled, it's interesting that the evolution of an actual self-replicating biological population can be modelled by software. And that the error catastrophe is a function of population size and mutation rate, not something inevitable in all populations. I find these things interesting.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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CJYman,
Aiguy, I just took your argument as granted and then argued that even if you are correct re: our uniform and repeated experience as it pertains to the relation between FSCI and intelligence, ID Theory does not end up lacking in any way at all. But apparently you completely missed that twice now. IOW, you were the one who did the explanation of the association that I am referring to and I merely explained how that association does not negate ID Theory as extrapolated by Meyers. It appears to me that you aren’t really reading what I’m saying.
I apologize if I missed your point or confused speakers here. My point remains that the designer of ID must either be a life form or not. If it is, then ID cannot claim to explain the first life form, as Meyer claims it does. Otherwise if the designer is supposed to be intelligent but not a life form, then ID cannot be offering a known cause as Meyer says it does. Either way, Meyer is wrong.
I am completely agnostic on the issue and I hope I explained well enough that it doesn’t matter to ID Theory what side of the metaphysical fence one takes. I merely pointed to Penrose and Hameroff as an example of bringing the study of consciousness or proto-consciousness (platonic qualities being as fundamental as matter and energy) into the realm of science as a possibility.
Yes, it is a possiblity.
Again, although I tend to side with Penrose and Hameroff and am completely unconvinced that mere complexity causes consciousness to emerge, this does not effect the ID debate as Meyers is presenting it.
I agree with you - on both counts (I'm not convinced of the details of Penrose/Hameroff but I've long thought something along those lines anyway).
“However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.” aiguy: “And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we’ve gone through this particular exchange.” When did I ever state that intelligence can not arise from physical cause?
That is how I interpreted "neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance". Materialists believe that the brain operates purely by law+chance and produces intelligent behavior and consciousness as a result.
In fact, I’m not even sure how you are defining “physical” and according to one definition, I see intelligence and FSCI as perfectly physical. I am not even, in principle, against intelligence being purely mechanistic. In fact, I lean more to that side.
OK then - I stand corrected regarding your position, apologies again. (My position is called "neutral monism", tending toward "mysterianism", which entails that I think that we don't know what we mean when we talk about "physical" or "material").
Do you mind responding to my actual argument re: the loop between intelligence and FSCI which is actually built upon the argument that you are providing here?
OK: I think "intelligence" is too ill-defined in this context to have a useful discussion about. Meyer talks about "conscious, rational thought", which I think is much more meaningful and specfic. I think consciousness requires particular physical mechanisms in order to exist. I have no theory about how those mechanisms came to exist in the first place, but I see no reason to suppose it had anything to do with the sort of conscious experience that human beings have. And finally I believe that consciousness is not causal. So that's what I think about all this... but none of my arguments here depend on the truth of any of that.
Yes, I have been agreeing with that the whole time. I have shown how this closed loop, based on our repeated and uniform experience, between FSCI and intelligence contributes to the ID argument. I’ve went over this a couple times already and you seem to be simply ignoring me or misunderstanding what I am saying.
I think ID requires that mind preceeds FSCI, which seems to violate your "closed loop" idea. It would appear you need to figure out a way for this loop to bootstrap?
And this does nothing to negate our repeated and uniform experience that FSCI requires intelligence and that intelligence required FSCI. The designer of ID could only potentially be the creator of physically complex FSCI rich systems that exist after that particular designer has already been in existence. The designer of ID may have required a previous designer or it may be eternal alongside matter and energy or some quantum structure, but that is a metaphysical issue (with the potential for some scientific investigation, IMO) which does nothing to influence our repeated and uniform experience of a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence in terms of causation. The main point that you need to address, based on our repeated and uniform experience is that either FSCI requires intelligence and vice versa or FSCI does not require intelligence and/or vice versa.
I don't think that we have good reason to believe that extra-terrestrial life forms were involved in consciously designing life on Earth. Nor do I think we have good reason to believe that something which is not a life form could consciously design life either. These are the only two possibilities ID presents, and so I don't think there is good reason to believe ID in any form at all. I have no theory as to how it got started.
Do you, aiguy, agree that we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present in order to investigate historical events in a scientific format?
Yes.
Of course, just as ID Theory appeals to our experience with utilizing our own foresight and inference of foresight being used by others to generate FSCI. This evidence is well known to our repeat and uniform experience.
I have studied artificial intelligence for more than three decades, and what we have learned is that we do not understand how human beings think. You call it "foresight", and you think you know what that means, but you don't know what that means. Our ideas come to us, somehow, and we become conscious of (some of) them. But is it our consciousness that causes these ideas to form? Perhaps huge numbers of ideas are constantly being generated at random in our brains, and through a selection process only certain ideas enter our conscious perception. In other words, our thoughts arise via "blind", random generation and selection. If this were true (and various scientists included Nobel-award-winning Gerald Edelman believe so) then reifying "foresight" as something which created FSCI is clearly mistaken; in this view, foresight is no more "intelligent" than Darwinian evolution!
But you may disagree, so I ask again: “Have you ever used your foresight to produce FSCI? Is there any foresight in these comments of yours?” Can you point to FSCI arising out of a system where it is known that there is no foresight in operation in that instance of FSCI’s causal chain. IE: coherent blog comments arising from random number generators.
Again, perhaps "foresight" is our name for physical processes operating via random generation & test - purely law+chance. Maybe so, maybe not... we don't know.
And I’m showing that ID Theory can be completely metaphysically neutral on the operation of foresight. All that needs to exist, for ID Theory to work, is a correlation between FSCI and foresight which you seem to have agreed exists as a causal loop earlier — at least based on our repeated and uniform experience. I’ve shown that FSCI appears to require intelligence and you’ve shown that intelligence appears to require FSCI and I’ve agreed with you and shown you a metaphysically neutral argument, based on the aforementioned causal loop, for ID Theory based on Meyers and Darwin’s criteria.
Again,I think Meyer's theory is completely counter to your idea regarding this closed loop. In his view, intelligence is something that stands outside of law+chance and creates FSCI, and so he claims that intelligence is a known cause of FSCI. In your view, intelligence may be nothing more than law+chance, and so any sort of law+chance process may be capable of producing FSCI - even law+chance processes that are not associated with conscious awareness. Do I have you right now?aiguy
August 3, 2010
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aiguy, The reason it is interesting to me is that in our hypothetical debate, Meyer has been forced to concede that ID theory cannot explain what Meyer claims it explains. In particular, it cannot identify a known cause of the origin of FSCI, and the origin of FSCI is the basis upon which he (and Dembski and others) argue for ID in the first place. Actually, given this hypothetical reply, ID theory would still be doing exactly what Meyer aimed to do: Showing the inadequacy of accepting a non-intelligent, non-living cause for life on earth. I'm pointing out Meyer can go right ahead and accept your criticisms, and his argument still retains force and accomplishes much of what he wants it to. As for Dembski, he explicitly accepts numerous possible explanations for FCSI, included "complex physical" intelligent agents. I can quote him saying this explicitly if you wish, right on this site. Calling proponents of panspermia a “crowd” is a bit of a stretch, no? These are interesting hypotheses, but they have indeed languished for lack of any evidence at all. If you disagree, please reveal the evidence that we have for the existence extra-terrestrial life (and I hope it does not include reference to “area 51? or links to “alien autopsies” on YouTube). :-) Here, among other places. Do you think "panspermia" means "omg spock"? If so, you don't have a clue about the subject. Sorry to get mocking, but hey, just replying in kind. What? Huh? Like I said, none of these “life comes from other life” theories have ever been much of a draw to anyone outside of Crick (for a while at least) and the Raelians I suppose. The fact that you're falling back to "Well, okay, but I bet that would be unpopular!" screams that you don't have a real response here. What's more, every ID major ID proponent - Dembski, Behe, etc - concedes straightaway that ID doesn't prove the existence of God or such, so the crack about people pushing their "theological ideas" is based on a misconception anyway. Explicit embracing of metaphysics has always been required to get anyone from ID to their theological ideas, so the modified argument would change nothing. Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory… but it doesn’t matter anyway. I disagree on both counts - it would be one more way for life to originate and spread in the cosmos, and it would be an explicitly ID method. And the fact that both methods would be much stronger and more rational inferences than what Meyer is arguing against would itself be quite a development. ID has the masses because the masses want ID to put the imprimatur of science on their (Christian) theism. Once that’s off the table and ID becomes the study of extra-terrestrial aliens, they will all abandon ID and return to good old fashioned Creationism. ID's proponents have always been justifiably restrictive with regards to what the success of ID could possibly show, as well as what it could not show. Neither Dembski, nor Meyer, nor Behe nor most of the others say that ID as ID gets one to God, much less the Christian God. I'm pointing out here that Meyer could accept your claims for the hell of it, and *still* his inferences go through. For those who accept given metaphysics, the options are even more broad - but they're no longer purely scientific. I have the sneaky suspicion few will care. But like I said - if this is all about secret hopes and fantasies for sociological trends, it's pretty uninteresting. I'm interested in the arguments, not numbers.nullasalus
August 3, 2010
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lethal mutagenesis could be an effective therapeutic strategy for RNA virus infections . . .
Yes, I believe I called your attention to that.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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One could go on and on; but the point should already be clear enough to the open-minded onlooker.
I'm sure you could and I'm sure it is.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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Null,
My hypothetical reply from Meyer takes that into account – it was admitting expressly that an origin for all FCSI in total was not being offered, but an origin for FCSI on earth. So this is uninteresting.
The reason it is interesting to me is that in our hypothetical debate, Meyer has been forced to concede that ID theory cannot explain what Meyer claims it explains. In particular, it cannot identify a known cause of the origin of FSCI, and the origin of FSCI is the basis upon which he (and Dembski and others) argue for ID in the first place.
aiguy: The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed. null: No evidence? That’s news to the panspermia crowd, the Bostrom crowd, and others.
Calling proponents of panspermia a "crowd" is a bit of a stretch, no? These are interesting hypotheses, but they have indeed languished for lack of any evidence at all. If you disagree, please reveal the evidence that we have for the existence extra-terrestrial life (and I hope it does not include reference to "area 51" or links to "alien autopsies" on YouTube). :-)
Not to mention, Meyer’s modified argument would arguably count as a strong inference itself if it’s claimed that life originated on earth – if that’s the case, we know of one and only one thing that can do the job.
What?
Sure thing, you can go the panspermia route – that’s entirely on the table. But that pushes the question back to the Big Bang. And a strong inference that life in some form has been present from the Big Bang onward is one hell of a thing.
Like I said, none of these "life comes from other life" theories have ever been much of a draw to anyone outside of Crick (for a while at least) and the Raelians I suppose. Anyway, if ID wants to switch to this sort of theory I will stop criticizing ID for equivocation and hidden metaphysical assumptions, and let it die a natural death due to (1) lack of evidence and (2) everybody who is behind ID in order to push their theological ideas will lose interest.
Not to mention that your “only cause of complex life forms” claim runs into serious trouble the moment life is created in the laboratory, or arguably the moment a proper simulation of life is made. Either development would bolster the modified view even further.
Even if we create life, then the ET-descendent theory will still be more parsimonious than the ET-ancestor theory... but it doesn't matter anyway. Once ID concedes that disembodied intelligence runs counter to our experience rather than represents a "known cause", and ID becomes mixed up with panspermia and the Raelians, I don't believe there will much left to debate.
Even if your claims are accepted for the sake of argument, Meyer’s arguments still have force. Speculative talk about how many adherents are left is uninteresting (If it was, then Meyer wins by default – ID in the broad sense has the numerical adherents.
ID has the masses because the masses want ID to put the imprimatur of science on their (Christian) theism. Once that's off the table and ID becomes the study of extra-terrestrial aliens, they will all abandon ID and return to good old fashioned Creationism.aiguy
August 3, 2010
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PS: maybe you would like to work out the implications of this, from the paper:
lethal mutagenesis could be an effective therapeutic strategy for RNA virus infections . . .
kairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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CJYman: "2. I’ve already explained how even though our uniform and repeated experience shows physical complexity to be associated with consciousness…" aiguy: "You may continue to explain things, but forgive me if I do not take your explanations to be settled science." Aiguy, I just took your argument as granted and then argued that even if you are correct re: our uniform and repeated experience as it pertains to the relation between FSCI and intelligence, ID Theory does not end up lacking in any way at all. But apparently you completely missed that twice now. IOW, you were the one who did the explanation of the association that I am referring to and I merely explained how that association does not negate ID Theory as extrapolated by Meyers. It appears to me that you aren't really reading what I'm saying. aiguy: "As far as most people are concerned, the mind/body problem has not yet been resolved by appeal to empirical evidence, and the philosophers who continue to debate these issues (as they have been for thousands of years) would be quite surprised to be informed that someone has figured it all out scientifically. Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person." I am completely agnostic on the issue and I hope I explained well enough that it doesn't matter to ID Theory what side of the metaphysical fence one takes. I merely pointed to Penrose and Hameroff as an example of bringing the study of consciousness or proto-consciousness (platonic qualities being as fundamental as matter and energy) into the realm of science as a possibility. Again, although I tend to side with Penrose and Hameroff and am completely unconvinced that mere complexity causes consciousness to emerge, this does not effect the ID debate as Meyers is presenting it. CJYman: "However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence." aiguy: "And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we’ve gone through this particular exchange." When did I ever state that intelligence can not arise from physical cause? In fact, I'm not even sure how you are defining "physical" and according to one definition, I see intelligence and FSCI as perfectly physical. I am not even, in principle, against intelligence being purely mechanistic. In fact, I lean more to that side. Do you mind responding to my actual argument re: the loop between intelligence and FSCI which is actually built upon the argument that you are providing here? aiguy: "In our uniform and repeated experience, only complex physical organisms generate FSCI." Yes, I have been agreeing with that the whole time. I have shown how this closed loop, based on our repeated and uniform experience, between FSCI and intelligence contributes to the ID argument. I've went over this a couple times already and you seem to be simply ignoring me or misunderstanding what I am saying. CJYman: "I don’t see how you can say that there is no known cause, accessible to our uniform and repeated experience, regardless of whether that known cause (foresight utilizing system) is above natural law or not from either a scientific or a metaphysical perspective." aiguy: "I take no stand on whether or not the generation of FSCI requires faculties that transcend physical cause. " Neither do I, which is why I explained the ID argument that Meyers utilizes works *regardless* of one's stance on the metaphysics of intelligence. aiguy: "If the designer of ID is a living thing (and I mean a physical entity rich in FSCI) then obviously it cannot be said to be the creator of the original living things." Of course not. And this does nothing to negate our repeated and uniform experience that FSCI requires intelligence and that intelligence required FSCI. The designer of ID could only potentially be the creator of physically complex FSCI rich systems that exist after that particular designer has already been in existence. The designer of ID may have required a previous designer or it may be eternal alongside matter and energy or some quantum structure, but that is a metaphysical issue (with the potential for some scientific investigation, IMO) which does nothing to influence our repeated and uniform experience of a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence in terms of causation. The main point that you need to address, based on our repeated and uniform experience is that either FSCI requires intelligence and vice versa or FSCI does not require intelligence and/or vice versa. aiguy: "Meyer agrees with Darwin that in order to investigate historical events we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present." Do you, aiguy, agree that we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present in order to investigate historical events in a scientific format? aiguy: "Cosmologists appeal to our experience of things in the present – such as the red shift and cosmic background radiation – in their quest to understand the history of the universe. Maybe they’re wrong in their analysis, but their evidence is well known to our uniform and repeated experience." Of course, just as ID Theory appeals to our experience with utilizing our own foresight and inference of foresight being used by others to generate FSCI. This evidence is well known to our repeat and uniform experience. But you may disagree, so I ask again: "Have you ever used your foresight to produce FSCI? Is there any foresight in these comments of yours?" Can you point to FSCI arising out of a system where it is known that there is no foresight in operation in that instance of FSCI's causal chain. IE: coherent blog comments arising from random number generators. CJYman: "I’ve never experienced anything remotely akin to either the Big Bang or past evolution. Have you or anyone else? Yet, we have all experienced, first hand, the generation of FSCI when we write comments like this. Thus, the connection between FSCI and foresight (regardless of the mode of operation of whatever produces foresight) is based on stronger evidence than anything that the Big Bang or past evolution from mud to consciousness or anything we can’t presently experience is based on." aiguy: "We experience conscious awareness of our “foresight”. " Agreed. And FSCI does not occur absent this foresight, and I utilize my foresight, or my foresight just does what it does, on a regular basis in order to generate FSCI. In order to provide further clarification, here is a link to a comment I've left for you a while back on Telic Thoughts: aiguy: "And so I do not discount ID because of my ideology or my metaphysics. Rather, I point out that it rests on metaphysical assumptions that may or may not be true, but certainly cannot fairly be said to be known to our experience, as Meyer and other ID advocates claim." Again, how is the connection [between a system utilizing its foresight and the FSCI it generates] not known to our uniform and repeated experience. Do you not utilize your foresight to generate comments on this blog? Does an engineer not utilize foresight to envision a future goal that does not yet exist and then harness matter and energy, law and chance to generate a route to that goal (FSCI)? Agreed or not? And I'm showing that ID Theory can be completely metaphysically neutral on the operation of foresight. All that needs to exist, for ID Theory to work, is a correlation between FSCI and foresight which you seem to have agreed exists as a causal loop earlier -- at least based on our repeated and uniform experience. I've shown that FSCI appears to require intelligence and you've shown that intelligence appears to require FSCI and I've agreed with you and shown you a metaphysically neutral argument, based on the aforementioned causal loop, for ID Theory based on Meyers and Darwin's criteria.CJYman
August 3, 2010
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Petrushka: You will first kindly observe that the issue of islands of function -- i.e. specificity of function on closely matched parts and/or on particular codes in a particular context -- so that chance perturbation soon enough disrupts function, is logically independent of and causally prior to the concept of genetic entropy. Though, GE builds on the implications of islands of function: organisms reproduce whole individuals, in a context where the majority of mutations are deleterious or neutral; so across generations, the cumulative impact is to add more and more noise-burden to the genome, leading to breakdown of function and extinction. That is GE builds on the well-known point that as signal to noise ratio falls, communication breaks down; in a context where genetic information is functional in the information systems of the cell. Communication across generations by genetic transmission is communication, and it is in fact true that beneficial mutations are rare; indeed, beneficial mutations of the order required to innovate a novel body plan HAVE NEVER BEEN OBSERVED. This is related to the observation that functional specificity and integrated organisation comes in specific zones of the relevant configuration space, but it is not equivalent to it. Now, you have played the old game of hurling the elephant, citing a paper as a whole by link and title as though it is a refutation to a cluster of key ideas. When I have pointed to the tangency of the paper to the issue , you have then resorted to ad hominems. Let me observe a few points in response: 1 --> Viri are dependent on and thus causally derivative of already existing and self-replicating life forms, but 2 --> we are dealing first with the origin of the first such forms [requiring 100_ k bases], then the production of novel integrated and embryologically feasible body ploans requiring leaps in excess of 10 mn bases; dozens of times over. 3 --> So, extreme extrapolations from viri and their impacts on living forms,regardless of "eloquence" [a euphemism for rhetoric] are simply irrelevant and tangential. 4 --> On looking into the paper, one soon finds that the discussion is on extrapolating fitness functions as though they spread across the configuration space of say a genome of 1 Million bases as a whole (typical of a simple unicellular organism). 5 --> But such a space has 9.8 *10^602,059 cells. 6 --> It is blatantly obvious that the vast majority of such a space is non-functional [just try out the at-random frequency of stop codons, where 3 of 64 codes mean stop . . . function critically depends on stops being in the right place, i.e. the issue of algorithmic halting -- which is directly tied to empirical knowledge not armchair philosophizing or bloviating -- utterly ad hominem loaded and uncivil language], i.e. 7 --> the figures in question in the paper plainly focussed on islands of existing function near the genomes of already existing organisms. Yes, viri can manipulate organisms, but they are thus varying near the genomic space location of the organism. 8 --> For instance right in the abstract we can see:
"diversity [of RNA viri] allows a viral population to rapidly adapt to dynamic environments and evolve resistance to vaccines and antiviral drugs. For the last 30 years, quasispecies theory has provided a population-based framework for understanding RNA viral evolution."
9 --> left out of the reckoning: viri work by living off existing cells, and so the viral evolution is on something that is a dependent quasi-organism [are viri alive in any meaningful sense, beyond being rogue programs in nature?], largely isolated from the challenge of getting to and sustaining a self-replicating metabolising entity. 9 --> So, the entire discussion is tangential at best, and is obviously part of the well known darwinist rhetorical tactic of red herrings drawn away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems ignited to confuse, cloud, poison and polarise the atmosphere, as can already be seen from the loaded language you are resorting to. 10 --> Going deeper we see subtle equivocations of key terms playing a key role:
The genetic organization of populations is often depicted using the concept of sequence space, a geometric representation of all possible sequences where physical distance reflects genetic similarity. For example, a given viral genome will undergo replication and generate hundreds of progeny that differ at roughly one position (Figure 1). Subsequent rounds of replication will generate a more complex mutant distribution with variants lying farther away from each other in sequence space. This ensemble of mutants forms a “cloud” of variants, or quasispecies, in which mutation generates a swarm of candidate genomes that is pruned by natural selection.
11 --> Whoa there. Viri are NOT self-replicating, they work by hijacking existing functional organisms, and in so doing they depend on the fact that something is stabilising the DNA-based systems of the living cells -- error correcting mechanisms and pretty harsh constraints on viability with modest variation. 12 --> That is, precisely the islands of function that you wish to dismiss. And, we can note how "clouds" is fairly similar to islands, but evades the issue of first having to get to thresholds of initial function on the beaches before climbing by variation and selection culling forces to reach optimal function. 13 --> It is therefore no surprise to see that the discussion then functions on starting from an island of function, completely missing the key issue of getting to such islands from arbitrary start-points, first in Darwin's warm pond, then from a unicellular ancestor that needs to move to multiple integrated body plans:
Viral populations evolve within a fitness landscape where the “ground level” is a representation of the range of genotypes in sequence space. The “altitude” at any given location is the fitness associated with that particular genotype. The environment and its selective pressures determine the contours of the corresponding landscape, and adaptation to an environment involves a mutational walk from one point in the fitness landscape to another (Figure 2A). In quasispecies theory, a network of mutationally coupled variants will span the corresponding peaks and valleys of the fitness landscape. A fast replicating population well suited to a given environment will inhabit a high and narrow peak in the fitness landscape, while a less fit but more genetically diverse population will occupy a lower, broader one.
14 --> This is of course precisely the same idea as the island of function, but it falls into circularity by reasoning from the island, instead of to it in the context of the actual broader config space dominated by the sea of non-function. 15 --> Thus, the key question is being begged again and again. 16 --> When it comes to genetic entropy issues [a secondary point], the article profits by focussing not on metabolising, self-replicating organisms, but on quasi-organisms that depend on and hijack species that are far more tightly constrained. ___________ One could go on and on; but the point should already be clear enough to the open-minded onlooker. Wheel and tun and get it right and come again (but lose the loaded language and ad hominems) . . . GEM of TKIkairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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aiguy, 1) Contrary to Meyer’s claims, his theory then fails to explain the origin of FSCI, or the origin of the first living cell, because the cause he is positing already contains FSCI and is already a life form. My hypothetical reply from Meyer takes that into account - it was admitting expressly that an origin for all FCSI in total was not being offered, but an origin for FCSI on earth. So this is uninteresting. 2) The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed. No evidence? That's news to the panspermia crowd, the Bostrom crowd, and others. Not to mention, Meyer's modified argument would arguably count as a strong inference itself if it's claimed that life originated on earth - if that's the case, we know of one and only one thing that can do the job. 3) Once Meyer posits the existence of life forms which pre-existed life on Earth, the most parsimonious explanation for life on Earth would be that we are the descendents of these prior life forms rather than the products of their advanced engineering efforts. After all, the only cause of complex life forms known in our experience is biological reproduction. Sure thing, you can go the panspermia route - that's entirely on the table. But that pushes the question back to the Big Bang. And a strong inference that life in some form has been present from the Big Bang onward is one hell of a thing. Not to mention that your "only cause of complex life forms" claim runs into serious trouble the moment life is created in the laboratory, or arguably the moment a proper simulation of life is made. Either development would bolster the modified view even further. Even if your claims are accepted for the sake of argument, Meyer's arguments still have force. Speculative talk about how many adherents are left is uninteresting (If it was, then Meyer wins by default - ID in the broad sense has the numerical adherents.)nullasalus
August 3, 2010
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null,
Say Meyer replies, “Sure, let’s accept your criticisms for the sake of argument. In that case if it’s determined life arose on earth, then a complex physical life form is best inferred as the cause of that arising. Even accepting your criticisms, the strong ID inference still goes through. Research continues: Maybe life has been present from the Big Bang, maybe the Big Bang itself was created by a complex physical life form. That’s an area for further research.” What would your reply be?
In that case, I would say 1) Contrary to Meyer's claims, his theory then fails to explain the origin of FSCI, or the origin of the first living cell, because the cause he is positing already contains FSCI and is already a life form. 2) The theory that life on Earth comes from other life forms has been around for a long time, but has never generated much interest, mainly because we have no evidence that extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed. 3) Once Meyer posits the existence of life forms which pre-existed life on Earth, the most parsimonious explanation for life on Earth would be that we are the descendents of these prior life forms rather than the products of their advanced engineering efforts. After all, the only cause of complex life forms known in our experience is biological reproduction. So all in all, if that was Meyer's response, I would say it would leave his theory without any adherents at all.
But among those “metaphysical problems science has not decided yet” would be whether anything “physical” really exists – whether idealistic monism is right, whether the universe is at base physical or not, etc. Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not “material”. In other words, if you’re arguing that basing an idea on a contestable metaphysical concept makes the idea illicit scientifically, you’re not just wiping out ID. You’re wiping out one hell of a lot of science (well, “science”) in the process. Unless you have a double standard, which I doubt.
Once again I remind you that I am not proposing any particular criterion for what is scientific and what is not. Rather, I am adopting the criterion proposed by Meyer. Meyer does not question whether or not an objective material reality exists and which we can study, and neither do I.aiguy
August 3, 2010
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aiguy, Thanks for the clarifications. No, I argue that ID posits a cause of life which must either itself be a complex physical life form or not (so much is true by the excluded middle). Further, I argue that if ID’s designer is a complex physical life form, then Meyer is wrong to claim that ID explains how the first complex physical life forms came to exist. And if ID’s designer is not a complex physical life form, then the cause ID posits is clearly not known to our uniform and repeated experience. Some comments. 1) Say Meyer replies, "Sure, let's accept your criticisms for the sake of argument. In that case if it's determined life arose on earth, then a complex physical life form is best inferred as the cause of that arising. Even accepting your criticisms, the strong ID inference still goes through. Research continues: Maybe life has been present from the Big Bang, maybe the Big Bang itself was created by a complex physical life form. That's an area for further research." What would your reply be? 2) You say... No, I argue that many metaphysical problems have not (yet) been decided by science. The mind/body problem is one of these (i.e. if mentality transcends physical cause, or if something which did not itself have a complex physical body could still have consciousness and interact with the world). But among those "metaphysical problems science has not decided yet" would be whether anything "physical" really exists - whether idealistic monism is right, whether the universe is at base physical or not, etc. Just yesterday I was reading yet more claims that our universe is at heart information, not "material". In other words, if you're arguing that basing an idea on a contestable metaphysical concept makes the idea illicit scientifically, you're not just wiping out ID. You're wiping out one hell of a lot of science (well, "science") in the process. Unless you have a double standard, which I doubt.nullasalus
August 3, 2010
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It's a fun article. It addresses genetic entropy in actual biologically reproducing things, and compares observed population genetics to simulations. It discusses the effects of changing mutation rates in real biological replicators. Worth at least 3228 words of assertions not based on data.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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I will be just as terse: the link, on RNA viri, is utterly irrelevant to the phenomenon whereby in a given environment only a certain fairly narrow range of tolerance is viable.
I suppose that is why all the ID journals die after a couple of postings. ID is allergic to actual research and actual data. Too bad, because this article directly addresses genetic entropy, even suggests it as a possible route to treating viral infections. http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.1001005 But despite all your bloviating, the issue of fitness space and its alleged sparseness will be settled by research, not by armchair philosophising.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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Petrushka: I will be just as terse: the link, on RNA viri, is utterly irrelevant to the phenomenon whereby in a given environment only a certain fairly narrow range of tolerance is viable. That holds for cars, for text and for mutagenic radiation alike. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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AIG: You are again distorting, I am afraid. There is a routine experience with design by intelligence which is a known causal pattern. And, to infer to design on signs of design is an inference within the empirical. Further, Inference to a designed origin of cell based life on earth, as was already pointed out, is not inference onthe ultimate origin of life. GEM of TKIkairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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PS: AIG, on a specific correction. Kindly observe that what I and many others have said is that intelligence causes things that are distinct from the causal patterns of undirected chance and mechanical necessity. In that observation, I am summarising something very commonly encountered: necessity leads to natural regularities, chance to stochastic distributions and intelligence often -- though not necessarily -- leads to functionally specific complex organisation and information that move so far away form the bulk of statistical norms that they are recognisable as purposeful; and/or to other signs of intelligence -- which has nothing to do with the actual possible natures of intelligence [and if you would have paused to examine my discussion of the Derek Smith model in the always linked before commenting, you would see that I am in fact open to all sorts of ultimate natures of intelligences: including both software/electronic AND spiritual . . . ]. I would appreciate it if you would kindly refrain from putting words that do not belong there, in my mouth.kairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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Reflect on why you cannot keep on substituting letters in a message or parts in a car at random, and on why people fear exposure to mutation-inducing radiation.
Your objections are specifically addressed by the article, with some eloquence (and some actual data).Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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Hi null,
If I’m interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations.
No, I argue that Stephen Meyer's claim that ID offers a cause that is known to our uniform and repeated experience as the explanation for the first living things is untrue.
You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science,
No, I argue that many metaphysical problems have not (yet) been decided by science. The mind/body problem is one of these (i.e. if mentality transcends physical cause, or if something which did not itself have a complex physical body could still have consciousness and interact with the world).
...and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific,
No, I haven't argued about what is scientific and what isn't. I am using Stephen Meyer's criterion for what is scientific - that any inferred cause must be known to our repeated and uniform experience.
...and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent.
No, I argue that ID posits a cause of life which must either itself be a complex physical life form or not (so much is true by the excluded middle). Further, I argue that if ID's designer is a complex physical life form, then Meyer is wrong to claim that ID explains how the first complex physical life forms came to exist. And if ID's designer is not a complex physical life form, then the cause ID posits is clearly not known to our uniform and repeated experience. QEDaiguy
August 3, 2010
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If I’m interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations. You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science, and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific, and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent
Sounds like a fair summary of what I might say if I could write as well as aig. The search for the absolute beginning of life might lead to some history that predates earth, but the search for a physical designer having less than omniscience is just pushing the problem back. And the same large numbers that ID proponents toss out to argue that evolution can't find gradients in fitness space are the same large numbers that make design impossible by any means other than evolution. Chemistry is and always will be faster than computation. Protein folding will always be faster than simulations of folding. Just as weather and climate will always unfold faster than simulations.Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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Petrushka: Reflect on why you cannot keep on substituting letters in a message or parts in a car at random, and on why people fear exposure to mutation-inducing radiation. In the case of metabolising, self-replicating cell based life, you need all not some of the key elements of a von Neumann replicator, and they have to be matched to each other, i.e there is a metaphorical island of coordinated function in the space of possible configurations -- some variation will work, but not beyond a rather restricted limit:
(i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, a Turing-type “universal computer”] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility; (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling: (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by (v) either: (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.
Islands is a metaphorical, descriptive term, but it speaks to a pretty serious reality, just as how we see talk of configuration and phase spaces etc. which is equally metaphorical. _____________ AIG: Some of your above stuff is misdirected to me. Beyond that, kindly note that the empirical ladder of inferences from patterns of cause to the empirically reliable signs of design has been pointed out to you and others more than adequately. You may insist on projecting a claimed metaphysical a priori all you want, but that simply underscores that you are exerting a fixed notion that makes up a convenient, caricatured strawman. Recall, the design inference is from empirical sign to its signified, design; on induction from well known patterns of cause and their resulting characteristics. No a priori commitment to the nature of a designer is involved in such an inference save that design is viewed as possible and designers are held to act purposefully and intelligently on empirically observable objects thus leaving markers of design as a cause; by way of definition based on observed exemplars. Sorry, enough has already been said to provide correction for those willing to listen, and I am not in the business of trying to correct fixed notions. And, your insinuations above are still very much out of order, lacing the strawman with an ad hominem; as I already observed. What I will say is that if you insist on such an ad hominem laced strawman caricature of design theory, you will in the end only discredit yourself and mislead those who look to you for intellectual leadership. __________ G'day GEM of TKIkairosfocus
August 3, 2010
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But the root of that challenge is a thermodynamics issue, as we know on both experience and analysis that when contingency spaces explode beyond astronomical size [as the 1,000 bit threshold guarantees] undirected trial and error by happenstance configurations and mechanical necessity are hopelessly inadequate mechanisms for finding islands of function.
I keep hearing about "islands of function" as if this is an established fact rather than a research topic. It doesn't seem to have any ties to reality at all, in the world of biology. http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.1001005Petrushka
August 3, 2010
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aiguy, Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person. If I'm interpreting you right, your prime criticism of intelligent design is that it cannot help but rest on metaphysical speculations. You further argue that A) Metaphysical speculations cannot be decided by science, and therefore any explanations which rely on this or that particular metaphysical premise is not scientific, and B) That ID specifically argues to a disembodied and immaterial agent. Am I getting you right? If not, by all means, clarify. It's been a long thread - lots of twists and turns to throw me off.nullasalus
August 3, 2010
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KF,
1. If Penrose and Hameroff’s theory — the most coherent one out there with an actual theoretical, testable, and potentially falisifiable construct — about consciousness is correct, then this brings the status of the study of consciousness out of philosophy and into science while at the same time placing consciousness at a level at least as fundamental as matter and energy.
Their theory is interesting but entirely speculative, and it is perhaps testable but not yet tested. Moreover, it most certainly does NOT make phenomenological consciousness (i.e. as experienced by humans) at a fundamental ontological level. Rather, it posits a "realm of universal platonic logic" which interacts with brain mechanisms to produce consciousness in the human mind.
2. I’ve already explained how even though our uniform and repeated experience shows physical complexity to be associated with consciousness...
You may continue to explain things, but forgive me if I do not take your explanations to be settled science. As far as most people are concerned, the mind/body problem has not yet been resolved by appeal to empirical evidence, and the philosophers who continue to debate these issues (as they have been for thousands of years) would be quite surprised to be informed that someone has figured it all out scientifically. Again, if you could actually explain how to empirically verify that mentality transcends physical cause you would be a very, very famous person.
That is completely correct, and the simple resolution is to identify the fact, from a scientific vantage point, that life may not be the *first* complex physical organism. The universe itself may be a complex physical organism and if Penrose and Hameroff are correct, may contain a type of proto-consciousness, detectable through the mathematics and experiments that would support their theory.
All very fine philosophical speculations, KF. These ideas are fun and interesting to talk about. None of this has anything to do with what we can know according to our uniform and repeated experience.
However, this does nothing to detract from what we *do* regularly experience — a closed loop between FSCI and intelligence. Thus, FSCI requires intelligence and intellgience requires FSCI. The two can not exist without each other — akin to the relationship between matter and energy — and neither FSCI nor intelligence are defined purely by law+chance without reference to FSCI or intelligence.
And again and again you claim to know that intelligence cannot arise from physical cause, which is a metaphysical claim that cannot be demonstrated within our uniform and repeated experience. This must be the ninth time we've gone through this particular exchange.
The first living thing is the first occasion of a self-replicating computational machine within our universe (not including the universe itself — read Seth Lloyd and Lee Smolin). As such, it can be defined in terms of FSCI. This brings us back to the question: “In our repeated and uniform experience, what generates FSCI?”
In our uniform and repeated experience, only complex physical organisms generate FSCI.
I don’t see how you can say that there is no known cause, accessible to our uniform and repeated experience, regardless of whether that known cause (foresight utilizing system) is above natural law or not from either a scientific or a metaphysical perspective.
I take no stand on whether or not the generation of FSCI requires faculties that transcend physical cause. My position is that the answer to that question is currently not amenable to scientific inquiry. If the designer of ID is a living thing (and I mean a physical entity rich in FSCI) then obviously it cannot be said to be the creator of the original living things. If the designer of ID is not a living thing, then obviously it cannot be said to be known to our repeated and uniform experience. There are no other possibilities, so ID fails to offer a cause which is capable of accounting for the creation of the original living things and is also known to our experience. CJYMan,
One other note. That quote of yours above is akin to stating that we can’t discuss the Big Bang, or past evolution as a scientific hypothesis because then we would be talking about something that is unknown to our experience.
Actually it is Meyer who invokes this concept of "uniform and repeated experience" - but he got it from Darwin himself. Meyer agrees with Darwin that in order to investigate historical events we must rely on our uniform and repeated experience of the present. Cosmologists appeal to our experience of things in the present - such as the red shift and cosmic background radiation - in their quest to understand the history of the universe. Maybe they're wrong in their analysis, but their evidence is well known to our uniform and repeated experience. Likewise, Darwin looked at three things in our experience that we can all clearly observe: variation, heredity, and competition. He may have been wrong to argue that these three things account for biological complexity (I think he was wrong) but again the causes he posits are well known to our experience. Meyer looks at "intelligence" as something we can all observe, but there is where his mistake occurs. We do not observe "intelligence" to be a thing-in-itself acting on the world; we observe instead that human beings (and other living organisms) act on the world, and we describe their abilities as "intelligence". Some people (metaphysical dualists) believe that "intelligence" (or "mind" or "res cogitans") exists as a thing-in-the-world apart from physical reality, but that is not a fact of our experience. Rather, it is a metaphysical speculation. What we know from our experience is that physical living things can create FSCI.
I’ve never experienced anything remotely akin to either the Big Bang or past evolution. Have you or anyone else? Yet, we have all experienced, first hand, the generation of FSCI when we write comments like this. Thus, the connection between FSCI and foresight (regardless of the mode of operation of whatever produces foresight) is based on stronger evidence than anything that the Big Bang or past evolution from mud to consciousness or anything we can’t presently experience is based on.
We experience conscious awareness of our "foresight". It may be that this is the result of neural processes in our brains that proceed according to the laws of physics. Or, it may be that something else (res cogitans? Penrose's universal realm of Platonic logic? who knows!) is involved. It may be that our consciousness causes our ability to think, or it is our ability to think, or it may be that our consciousness is our perception of the physical processes in our brain which is what thought really is. I have been thinking about these questions my entire long life, and I do not know the answers, and nobody else does either. People believe they know the answer, but if so they really haven't thought about the questions very much. Philosophers know that these questions do not have answers in our experience. Maybe someday we will answer them, but not yet. People like Penrose and Wegner and Libet and Stapp and many others are trying very hard to bring empirical science to bear on these ancient questions, and I anxiously await progress. Until then, I will point out that we do not know. And so I do not discount ID because of my ideology or my metaphysics. Rather, I point out that it rests on metaphysical assumptions that may or may not be true, but certainly cannot fairly be said to be known to our experience, as Meyer and other ID advocates claim.aiguy
August 3, 2010
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