Intelligent Design

The Evolution of Neural Crest Cells: Teleology Raised to the Power of Serendipity

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There is a reason why Aristotle’s ideas persisted for thousands of years—they advance fundamental themes in how we think. And no, those ideas did not become outdated with the rise of modern science, as the textbooks explain. Consider a recent paper on the flight of bats which stated that the bat’s specialized airflow sensors evolved in order “to guide motor behaviors” and that vertebrate nervous systems, in general, “have flexibly adapted to accommodate anatomical specializations for flight.” The infinitive form is the key. Evolutionary theory is supposed to have rejected teleology. Whereas Aristotle explained natural phenomena as a consequence of final causes, modern science, so the textbooks state, is free of such mysteries. After Bacon it was all about empiricism, mathematical descriptions and natural laws. There was no appeal to goals or end-directed action. Right? Wrong.  Read more

47 Replies to “The Evolution of Neural Crest Cells: Teleology Raised to the Power of Serendipity

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this quote of yours Dr. Hunter:

    “to guide motor behaviors” and that vertebrate nervous systems, in general, “have flexibly adapted to accommodate anatomical specializations for flight. The infinitive form is the key. Evolutionary theory is supposed to have rejected teleology.”

    1 a : the study of evidences of design in nature
    b : a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature
    c : a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes
    2 : the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose

    Dr. Hunter, your pointing out of Darwinists’s illegitimate use of words that express purpose and goals in life, (i.e. illegitimate use of words that express teleology), reminds me of this following article from Stephen Talbott in which he challenges biologists to describe the processes of molecular biology without using such words that invoke purpose

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.

    This working biologist states ‘we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them’:

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – Ann Gauger – June 2011
    Excerpt: I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on. – Matthew

    The impression of Intelligent Design in molecular biology is simply overwhelming. Of course, most neo-Darwinists, of the atheistic persuasion, do not like the overwhelming impression of Intelligent Design in life and try to counter that overwhelming impression of Design.

    Dr. Wells relates, in this following article from one year ago, how Darwinists, trying to counter the overwhelming impression of Design that the animation ‘Inner Life of the Cell’ had created, purposely tried, (with a new animation titled, “Inner Life of a Cell: Protein Packing”), to make the cell look as chaotic as possible,,

    Flailing Blindly: The Pseudoscience of Josh Rosenau and Carl Zimmer – Jonathan Wells April 17, 2014
    Excerpt: The new animation (like the old) also includes a kinesin molecule hauling a vesicle, but this time the kinesin’s movements are characterized (in Zimmer’s words) by

    barely constrained randomness. Every now and then, a tiny molecule loaded with fuel binds to one of the kinesin “feet.” It delivers a jolt of energy, causing that foot to leap off the molecular cable and flail wildly, pulling hard on the foot that’s still anchored. Eventually, the gyrating foot stumbles into contact again with the cable, locking on once more — and advancing the vesicle a tiny step forward. This updated movie offers a better way to picture our most intricate inner workings…. In the 2006 version, we can’t help seeing intention in the smooth movements of the molecules; it’s as if they’re trying to get from one place to another. In reality, however, the parts of our cells don’t operate with the precise movements of the springs and gears of a clock. They flail blindly in the crowd.”

    But that’s not what the biological evidence shows. In fact, kinesin moves quickly, with precise movements, to get from one place to another,,,

    “barely constrained randomness” is the key phrase in that excerpt.
    Dr. Wells goes on to state in his article that the kinesin’s actions are anything but ‘barely constrained randomness’

    Flailing Blindly: The Pseudoscience of Josh Rosenau and Carl Zimmer – Jonathan Wells – April 17, 2014
    Excerpt: Kinesin (a motor which hauls protein cargo around the cell) is considerably more energy efficient than man-made machines. It has been called “a stunning example of cellular nanotechnology” and “positive evidence for design.” ,,,
    kinesin moves quickly, with precise movements, to get from one place to another. A kinesin molecule takes one 8-nanometer “step” along a microtubule for every high-energy ATP molecule it uses, and it uses about 80 ATPs per second. On the scale of a living cell, this movement is very fast. To visualize it on a macroscopic scale, imagine a microtubule as a one-lane road and the kinesin molecule as an automobile. The kinesin would be traveling over 200 miles per hour!
    The fact that the cell’s cytoplasm is quite crowded makes this even more remarkable — like an automobile going 200 miles per hour through a traffic jam.

    Here are two more articles that directly contradict their claim that the kinesin’s actions are “barely constrained randomness”,,,

    Kinesin: What Gives? – Steven M. Block – Department of Molecular Biology – Princeton
    Excerpt: The kinesin motor is impressively fast,,, and is quite powerful,,, (Scaled up to our own dimensions, a motor with corresponding properties would travel at similar speeds and produce as much horsepower per unit weight as the ‘Thrust’ supersonic car, which recently broke the sound barrier)

    How Cellular Motors Prevent Traffic Jams – January 10, 2013
    Excerpt: Living cells have superhighways of microtubules, crowded with molecular machines that “walk” along them delivering cargo. Sometimes things get a bit crowded, but deliveries arrive on time — thanks to a unique strategy.
    In short, the machines hand off their cargo, one to the next, till it reaches the end of the traffic jam, something like the kid’s relay race game of passing a beach ball overhead down the line.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    In regards to the ‘barely constrained randomness’ that the Darwinists tried to portray the kinesin’s actions as, it is interesting to note this recent article on the myosin molecular machine. An article in which its actions were described as ‘anything but random’:

    Developments from the Study of Cells and Molecular Machines – April 28, 2015
    Yet the stiff-legged motion seemed awkward at first — something like a Monty Python “silly walk” sketch. But by filming the machines at 1000 frames per second, the Oxford scientists could see that the molecular machines’ motion is anything but random or silly (see the animation above). “The movement resembles the twirling of a dividing compass used to measure distances on a map,” chemist Philipp Kukura says. It’s a bigger feat than first appears. “Think of it being rather like trying to walk a tightrope in a hurricane whilst being pelted with tennis balls.”,,,

    If that loss of ‘barely constrained randomenss’ was not bad enough for the atheistic materialist who prefers chaos/randomness to be his god instead of letting God be his God, it is now found that mutations themselves are not random but are directed:

    How life changes itself: The Read–Write (RW) genome – James A. Shapiro – 2013
    Excerpt: Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs).

    Even the small minority ‘mutations/changes’ to the genome that are not being directed by highly sophisticated molecular machines, but are happening ‘accidentally/randomly’ as Darwinists had originally presupposed, are now found to not be happening in a mathematically random pattern, but are found to be happening in a non-random pattern:

    New Research Elucidates Directed Mutation Mechanisms – Cornelius Hunter – January 7, 2013
    Excerpt: mutations don’t occur randomly in the genome, but rather in the genes where they can help to address the challenge. But there is more. The gene’s single stranded DNA has certain coils and loops which expose only some of the gene’s nucleotides to mutation. So not only are certain genes targeted for mutation, but certain nucleotides within those genes are targeted in what is referred to as directed mutations.,,,
    These findings contradict evolution’s prediction that mutations are random with respect to need and sometimes just happen to occur in the right place at the right time.,,,

    WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? Fully Random Mutations – Kevin Kelly – 2014
    Excerpt: What is commonly called “random mutation” does not in fact occur in a mathematically random pattern. The process of genetic mutation is extremely complex, with multiple pathways, involving more than one system. Current research suggests most spontaneous mutations occur as errors in the repair process for damaged DNA. Neither the damage nor the errors in repair have been shown to be random in where they occur, how they occur, or when they occur. Rather, the idea that mutations are random is simply a widely held assumption by non-specialists and even many teachers of biology. There is no direct evidence for it.
    On the contrary, there’s much evidence that genetic mutation vary in patterns. For instance it is pretty much accepted that mutation rates increase or decrease as stress on the cells increases or decreases. These variable rates of mutation include mutations induced by stress from an organism’s predators and competition, and as well as increased mutations brought on by environmental and epigenetic factors. Mutations have also been shown to have a higher chance of occurring near a place in DNA where mutations have already occurred, creating mutation hotspot clusters—a non-random pattern.

    The fact that life IS NOT ‘barely constrained randomness’ is perhaps best illustrated in this following article. In the article, Talbott gives an overview of the ‘purposeful’ actions of the billion, trillion, protein molecules that make up a human body:

    Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,,
    Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling… and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained.
    The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?”
    The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary.
    Two systems biologists, one from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and one from Harvard Medical School, frame one part of the problem this way:
    “The human body is formed by trillions of individual cells. These cells work together with remarkable precision, first forming an adult organism out of a single fertilized egg, and then keeping the organism alive and functional for decades. To achieve this precision, one would assume that each individual cell reacts in a reliable, reproducible way to a given input, faithfully executing the required task. However, a growing number of studies investigating cellular processes on the level of single cells revealed large heterogeneity even among genetically identical cells of the same cell type. (Loewer and Lahav 2011)”,,,
    And then we hear that all this meaningful activity is, somehow, meaningless or a product of meaninglessness. This, I believe, is the real issue troubling the majority of the American populace when they are asked about their belief in evolution. They see one thing and then are told, more or less directly, that they are really seeing its denial. Yet no one has ever explained to them how you get meaning from meaninglessness — a difficult enough task once you realize that we cannot articulate any knowledge of the world at all except in the language of meaning.,,,

    To try to describe the preceding ‘miracle’ of a billion, trillion protein molecules, operating as a cohesive whole for precisely a lifetime, as ‘barely constrained randomness’ is to do an injustice to science and to the English language that is, in my honest opinion, on par with the crime of negligent homicide.

    Supplemental note:

    “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”
    picture –

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Stephen L. Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    ,,, the question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?
    Despite the countless processes going on in the cell, and despite the fact that each process might be expected to “go its own way” according to the myriad factors impinging on it from all directions, the actual result is quite different. Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.

    Verse and Music:

    Psalm 139:14
    I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

    Phillips, Craig & Dean – Throne of Praise (Official Lyric Video)

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    “barely constrained randomness” sounds a lot like “barely guided randomness”.

    Seems the interesting Science would be found in the “barely constraining” part of the process. Not in the random yawn. Go Science.

  4. 4
    leodp says:

    Kinesins walk along microtubule highways carrying building components for molecular machines. To what end? Clearly, barely constrained randomness. BA77 mentioned Psalm 139. But that’s 3 thousand years old. Some “God” knitting us together as though we were a product of purpose. We know better since Darwin, don’t we?

    Sunrise Psalm 139

    Where is your God?

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    FYI – biological cells are sufficiently ‘clever’ to avoid and solve problems:

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Indeed, Dionisio. Apparently with a God-like cleverness according to the descriptions in your link.

    And just to imagine that (barely) constrained randomness over a vanishingly short time in the Cambrian resulted in complexity that’s billions and billions and billions and billions . . . (rinse and repeat) . . . of times more complex than anything humans have ever designed, and that they self assembled by (barely) constrained chance is a miracle of the first order.

    Sounds of (barely) constrained laughter.


  7. 7
    Axel says:

    Spot on, Cornelius. Atheist science = Mr Magooology.

    Without wishing to push the barnyard metaphor too disparagingly, their sterility in terms of the major paradigms reminds me of the aphorism of an eastern sage, quoted by Aldous Huxley in his essay on comparative religion, The Perennial Philosophy, to the effect that pigs eat acorns and think neither of the earth that nourishes them nor the sun that enlivens them/gives increase.

    When evolution is such a miraculous, catch-all concept, it makes you wonder why they express continual astonishment, as each new discovery puts the kybosh on their cherished, putative, evolutionary insights. Forrest Gump’s chocolate-box gift that never stops giving.

  8. 8 says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever written on an ID site, and I admit I am no scientist. I’ve been following this story here (along with many other blog posts here), for days. It seems, along with recent “Lokiarchaeota” news, to be a big push for origins.

    I do not mean to come across as arrogant, or for that matter ignorant, but I wrote myself an email to respond here, including mostly my ‘big’ thoughts. I hope you don’t mind me posting it here:

    My whole life I’ve been a person of science, but have always felt that religion can give small, humble people what they need to survive tragedies and their own ignorance (I count myself among the small and humble). Religion can give comforting answers in times of desperation; for example, I’ve often listened to the Sermon on the Mount, and Buddhist writings, and Hindu writings, Greek, Shinto, Zoroastrian, well, you get the point, but I’ve never taken the gods as literal.

    And I’d like to thank Immanual Kant for teaching me the most important thing I’ve ever learned: that people are always ends, never merely means to ends; even if they are means to ends – they are always ends, and the means must fall under the ends: a person must always be treated well. So when some person in an ancient book gives a dictum on behalf of his god, I follow my own heart and ask, would this dictum hurt another? If yes, I ignore it. I actually didn’t need Kant to teach me that, I knew it as a child, but he put it so succinctly:)

    The current landscape has left a bitter taste in my mouth, as if religion is the cause of all evil. But some people, religious people with no ill-intent, need to be educated, too. I’m not sure how to approach Creationists, and children of religious people. I just want to educate people, and that includes people who believe in god but who are curious and are open to separating faith from fact. I have no problem with a god creating the universe; my problem is with religion. I see no god in the day-to-day workings of life, not today and not throughout recorded history, but that does not mean, maybe, that there was no God in the beginning – the problem is believing that god is relevant, is a lover of humans and does awesome things, has an effect in this universe, and offers ultimatums to human beings as regards their day to day doings and their place in the afterlife, at the expense of anyone who believes in a different god; such a god has no place (if evidence is key) in Evolution, or in this world in general, but that doesn’t mean there is no god. Evolutionary science has NEVER even spoken of god(s) except as corollary to appease various factions. God is irrelevant in that sense. Gods are only relevant in the inner sense of faith.

    But you can not deny the unconscious motives of the average, ignorant, small, defeatable person. We all want answers. Most of us are not scientists or spiritual gurus. The influence of others MUST be contained; each person MUST be able to traverse their own reasonable minds. The education systems of the world fall VERY SHORT of instigating this! Priests teach religion; teachers are underfunded or are under the influence of priests or their own institutions.

    Only when no answers are given to young people, just questions for them to explore, will the falsity of “religion”, and the value of scientific method, be universal. We all loved Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as children, but we soon learned that they were just fictions of human imagination, and we went on to ask why it hurts when we fall down. If only our questions could have remained so small!

    If one wants to believe in a god for reasons of self-assurance, then so be it (I have prayed to some part of my head when in great pain or when suffering a great loss, but I’ve never expected a goblin to come out of the closet as a result, or for my prayers to ‘actually’ change the future); believing in a god on a personal level will not affect anything but it will help that person get through a particularly bad event. And no one would deny a person the right to be human, as long as that person is able to separate his or her heart/emotions from what goes on in the objective world. But then, of course, you must step back and say, “Wow, I just begged a god I don’t believe in to help me through this”. And further: “If I believe that my prayers will be answered, then all I believe about science is moot”.

    God as a crux for hurting hearts – no problem.

    God as an influential being in the day-to-day universe. There is ZERO proof of that. I think the entire ID argument is completely irrelevant. If a god had a hand in this, it was only at the onset; Nature took care of the rest!!! Unless, of course, you take a teleological approach, and confine yourself to the straightjacket of complete automation. Hegel would be proud:)

    For that matter, if my own thoughts are to be included, then we need to admit that as a species, if there is even a species (or other species, or a sun or even a universe), no person has ever divided the subject/object barrier into anything comprehensible. Mind/matter? Same thing. But no sane person, even if they recognize these divides, can actually live according to them. We seem once we question to be caught living a life we can not believe in on any level, except on that level where we are able to trickle through the ages, through biological and ecological and developmental data, theses recreated all over the world many times, updated as new knowledge is again proven many times. It’s the closest we have to being able to satisfy a reasonable mind.

    I think we have a long way to go before we will truly be answering fundamental questions. However, I will be following science and reading those headlines, in hopes of feeling that we know more than we did yesterday. I won’t be following Hesiod, the Bible, the Mahabharata, or any other dust-bound book from a long-gone age (if ages, books, and other people exist).

    The question, however, then becomes one of boxes within boxes, and according to Occam’s razor, we defeat ourselves by postulating such un-endable first causes.

    I myself choose to believe in science, in scientific method, because it’s the one area where we have proof, as much proof as is possible, given that none of you may actually even exist.

    Having said all of this, you will see that, at 45 years old, and semi-educated in both realms, and with life in general, I have no answers.

    Shawn Gibson

  9. 9
    Upright BiPed says:


    ID isn’t about religion. Its about physical evidence of design.

    Also, look up the concepts of “assuming your conclusion” and “confirmation bias”.

  10. 10 says:

    Is it possible to believe in ID without believing in any god that has an influence on day-to-day human affairs? As I have said, I already admit that there may have been a designer, way back when.

    Assuming my conclusion, and confirmation bias, are both of course in accordance with me pleasing myself, going about my day in a manner I find acceptable, i.e. as opposed to believing in Big Foot, if that makes sense. I have always been completely permeable to new facts.


  11. 11 says:

    May I ask, please, if it is not religious, then from where comes the hatred between scientific folks and ID people? When I go to many sites, the scientific people have nothing but hatred for ID people, and see them as, if you’ll pardon the language, troglodytes (no offence to chimps). And on the other end, the ID people throw equally vitriolic arguments back. There’s never a middle ground.

    I don’t see science and ID as even being part of the same pursuit. ID is about what happened before life; Evolution is about what happened after life started.


  12. 12
    Joe says:


    Is it possible to believe in ID without believing in any god that has an influence on day-to-day human affairs?


    “Lokiarchaeota” – the organisms they found- are just as evolved as eukaryotes. They need the “Lokiarchaeota” of today to be vey similar to the “Lokiarchaeota” of hundreds of millions of years ago to have a case. And even then there is a huge hole to be filled to get to eukaryotes.

  13. 13
    Upright BiPed says:

    Is it possible to believe in ID without believing in any god that has an influence on day-to-day human affairs?

    Yes. Again, ID is not about religion. It’s about objective physical evidence of design. You need to separate your conclusions from the evidence.

    As I have said, I already admit that there may have been a designer, way back when.

    “Admitting” something in rhetoric for the purposes of denying it in practice is about the observer, not the evidence.

    Assuming my conclusion, and confirmation bias, are both of course in accordance with me pleasing myself, going about my day in a manner I find acceptable, i.e. as opposed to believing in Big Foot, if that makes sense.

    More than you apparently understand.

    I have always been completely permeable to new facts.

    Is that why you denigrate them with virtually every phrase you choose?

    No need to answer. It’s a given.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Shawn, science would be impossible if atheistic materialism were true. (See “Boltzmann Brain” and Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism”): Thus how is it possible for anyone to truly be a scientist if they are a atheistic materialist?

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True (Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”

    Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga – video

    of related interest to Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism:

    Quote: “In evolutionary games we put truth (true perception) on the stage and it dies. And in genetic algorithms it (true perception) never gets on the stage”
    Donald Hoffman PhD. – Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception – 7:19 to 9:20 minute mark – video

    “Boltzmann Brain”

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.,,, the evidence for string theory and its extension, M-theory, is nonexistent; and the idea that conjoining them demonstrates that we live in a multiverse of bubble universes with different laws and constants is a mathematical fantasy. What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video

    Here is the last power-point slide of the preceding video:
    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    supplemental note as to your reference of Kant:

    visible effects originate from invisible causes – God, Immanuel Kant, Richard Dawkins, and the Quantum – Antoine Suarez – video

    Also of note:

    The Universal Determinism Dichotomy (UDD) – David L. Abel – 2015
    Excerpt: In recent years, physicalistic philosophy has come under increasing scrutiny, even from within the scientific community.(1-8,14-43) Incorporation of metaphysical materialism into the very definition of science has been called into question, especially since the scientific method itself is non-physical. Other problems with philosophic physicalism include:
    1) Physicality seems to have had a beginning in time, along with time itself. This raises questions of what caused the effect of physicality, including the time dimension.
    2) The laws of physics themselves are mathematical (abstract, conceptual and formal rather than physical).
    3) Life is formally organized within even the simplest cell, not just self-ordered as we see in Prigogine’s “dissipative structures” of chaos theory.
    4) All known life is cybernetic. Subcellular processes are all meticulously programmed and processed by very sophisticated mechanisms, never observed to arise from Chance and/or Necessity.
    5) Representationalism, a purely formal phenomenon, is employed within living cells. Various Material Symbol Systems are used to communicate messages, program complex computations, and to regulate homeostasis.
    Prescription and its Processing are products of Decision Theory, not Stochastic (random) Theory. Stochastic Theory is merely descriptive. Only Decision Theory is known to be able to prescribe sophisticated function, and process it.

  15. 15
    Upright BiPed says:

    Shawn at 11

    The battle between science and ID is a manufactured war.

    Meanwhile, the facts remain.

  16. 16

    Shawn said:

    God as an influential being in the day-to-day universe. There is ZERO proof of that.

    When you understand the monumental problem with your own thinking such a statement represents, you’ll gain a mote of wisdom essential to effective critical thinking.

    “There is no proof/evidence of X” = “My mind is closed to the possibility of X”, because there simply is no way to support a universal negative claim. It can only be an assertion of a pre-existing bias.

  17. 17 says:

    “There is no proof/evidence of X” = “My mind is closed to the possibility of X”

    William, you assume too much. If you had read my original post, you would see that I question everything right down to the idea of subject/object; mind/matter. If I’m not even at an answer there, then I hope you can see that I am not denying anything based on lack of evidence. However, evidence (if by that we mean something provable to someone else as something that happened to someone) is absolutely critical in order to put ANY postulate forward in a manner that is to be accepted by the masses, should they even exist.

    Let me put this another way: I have this thing inside of me that feels something bigger than life (I call it “me”), but I have never been able to quantize it. It’s often in my heart, but I feel silly because I have never seen it outside of my own thoughts. I’ve worked with about 50 lawyers, for almost 20 years, and they would only say “LOL” to that.

    But then again, I know what my senses give me while I’m awake, and I can corroborate these senses with the words of others I seem to meet. (A friend went for a hotdog, I was not there; but I did see the hotdog in the elevator…so that is not a part of me, unless my own life is completely irrational). Remind me again how we are even in a position to state that we have the knowledge to be postulating god or no god? You see, I am not even there yet, but I do prefer facts because facts in essence are many instances of proof that something is. Facts, of course, are not mental recollections, but tangible reality; events witnessed by many and physical evidence of such events. If you are saying that things happen in the world that are not a part of ‘tangible reality’ then I think we are living in very different worlds, and admit very different phenomena as evidence that what we believe to have happened, really happened. I’ll believe in bigfoot when I see him, or when ‘credible’ evidence comes forth. But of course, the idea of credibility does not even exist now.

    So where do we go from here? Keep fighting, or for once try to find a middle ground? Seeing as neither of us knows the truth, nor do my science gods nor your non-science gods, we would be wise to be agnostic here.

  18. 18 says:

    I think your argument comes down to the old adage, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I agree (if I’m correct in my assumption?), and would never say that the universe was not created by a god of whatever fashion. But in 2015, such a thought is absolutely worthless to us, seeing as we can’t even put people on Mars yet. Such thoughts are for future generations, IMHO.

  19. 19 says:


    “Lokiarchaeota” – the organisms they found- are just as evolved as eukaryotes. They need the “Lokiarchaeota” of today to be vey similar to the “Lokiarchaeota” of hundreds of millions of years ago to have a case. And even then there is a huge hole to be filled to get to eukaryotes.

    I guess this was a case of scientific hyperbole. In an age when everything is get-it-out-first, I’m not surprised.

    I love, and believe in, evolution, because it makes sense to me, but even on a popular level, for example, we can not create, by dna, a monophyletic phylogeny between an extant ceolacanth and an extinct one because we have to rely only on morphology. If we could get the dna from a 250m old sarcoptergian, I’d be happy! And morphology is nothing more than “indirect evidence”. The fossilized coelocanth remains we have, appear to be similar to the 2 extant species, but we have no real way to really know. It ‘looks’ like it, ie morphology, is not going to cut it at the end.

  20. 20
    Joe says:

    ID is not anti-evolution.

  21. 21
    Upright BiPed says:

    Shawn, were you looking for “middle ground” in your post? Your implicit position is that those who don’t agree with your chosen perspective are small uneducated people clinging to dusty books to comfort themselves in times of despair. You’ve showed up on an ID blog and in the space of one post equated ID with the belief in Big Foot, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and goblins. You sell yourself with the shamelessly rhetorical admission that “nobody knows” then position any concepts outside your own as absolutely worthless. All this, while it is perfectly clear that you have no idea what ID is even about, much less any clear understanding of what the evidence is.

    Have you looked up confirmation bias yet?

  22. 22
    Upright BiPed says:


    If ID isn’t anti-evolution, and isn’t about religion, where does that leave your attack on ID?

  23. 23 says:

    I have no attack on ID. Religion, yes, ID, no. But let’s be clear: I have no problem with a higher being seeding the universe with all of the physical and chemical properties that could lead to biological diversity. However, I don’t think such an entity would create a closed system, i.e. ID and evolution in the popular sense. BOTH imply design. With ID, it’s obvious, but with darwin, maybe not so much. I think if, in the Ediacaran, for example, plans came together, it was very quick, and there is something to me which says, at the level of phyla, or even bigger, there are instructions to build parts.

    But those instructions DO NOT infer a god, or Darwin, for that matter.

    Do you think, a few billion years ago, which is a short time in the history of the universe, that something ‘miraculous’ happened…and suddenly life came about on Earth…by way of a god’s order? No, not possible. The universe, as we experience it, is not capable of such an outside intervener, not unless we could see him/her/it today WITHIN our world.

    On the other hand, we could merely be fleas to such a god, and I admit that; we would have no understanding, such as a cockroach does not see my impending foot. But that god would not be running our lives and saying do this or die; follow me or die, or we would see him/her/it.

  24. 24 says:

    Upright Biped – what is the position of ID, in your opinion? I have admitted I come here for the first time, and would be very happy if I could understand you.


  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    SG, I suggest you scroll up to the top of this or any UD page, where you will see a Reources tab. Kindly, click on it and read, especially the definition of ID and the weak argument correctives. Those will help a lot. KF

  26. 26 says:

    OK I will, kairosfocus. Thanks:)

  27. 27
    Collin says:

    Thanks for commenting Shawn. I look forward to your further comments. I’m wondering what you would consider evidence of ongoing design in nature.

  28. 28 says:

    Thanks Collin. I’ve learned a lot today. I always thought ID meant “religious creationist who thinks the world is 6000 years old”. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I am to be so wrong.

    When you say ‘ongoing’, what do you mean by that? If you look at the perfection of a crystal lattice, or a galaxy, or an organism, there is obviously an amount of complexity there, an amount of order, and in the bigger scheme, an amount of similarity with everything else (look at how gametes work, there many be variations, but when you consider how few ‘body plans’ there are, you must marvel at how succinct the blueprint of all life is, and indeed, how succinct the entire universe seems to be). There are PATTERNS in the universe, and these patterns traverse physics, biology, ecology, chemistry, and even mathematics…not that I am an expert in any of these realms. I do, however, see the patterns.

    I refuse, however, to think about WHY this is. It’s pointless. I honestly see no fracture between ID and the work that biologists and other life-science individuals do every day. The model of evolution seems correct, for example that monophyletic relations imply actual (if hypothetical) nature-modelling, and paraphyletic relations imply a lack of knowledge (we’re missing something here, oops), and that polyphyletic relations imply something that could not exist in nature unless there was some sort of spontaneous generation.

    But let’s get back to the core. Something as beautifully simple, yet exceedingly complex, as the difference between a Deuterostome and a Protostome, how can you not question the inherent order there? Yes, an ancestor split off and created two ways of being here, and yes that was natural, but did it occur according only to random chance, or is there some sort of order UNDERNEATH biological change?

    I have no answers, only questions.


  29. 29
    Mung says:

    Unraveling Descent is currently down for maintenance. We’ll be back soon.

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Is it possible to believe in ID without believing in any god that has an influence on day-to-day human affairs?

    Yes, it is possible to believe that.

    As I have said, I already admit that there may have been a designer, way back when.

    Or designers.

  31. 31
    Upright BiPed says:


    You say you want to understand my take on ID? Okay, I’ll give you the once over. Please take a quick look at these two images. It’s a dramatization that is intended to be illustrative of a key point in ID.

    You’ll notice something distinctly special about the image on the right. There is a heterogeneous structure there, which upon thorough inspection, is not wholly derivable from the dynamic properties of matter. Instead, it is in a class of things that can only be derived from an organization — a very specific type of system. The structure on the right is brought into existence by the translation of an informational medium.

    Translation is a physical process. It has very specific and well-defined physical requirements. First, it requires an arrangement of matter to serve as a medium; a representation of form within the system. Second, in order for a thing to serve as a representation, the system requires a separate arrangement of matter to physically establish what is being represented. And third, the organization of the system must preserve the natural discontinuity that exists between the representation and the thing it represents (upon translation). In short, this irreducible architecture creates relationships that otherwise wouldn’t exist. In the example given here, those relationships are what we now call the genetic code.

    However, the heterogeneous structure depicted in the image is an autonomous self-replicator, capable of Darwinian evolution. This places significant additional demands on the organization of the system described above. It requires physically-unrestricted memory, with the capacity to be copied among mediums. These additional demands are obtained only by using representations that are independent of the minimum total potential energy principle, which otherwise applies to all physical objects. In other words, the representations in the system are spatially-oriented patterns, which are inert to local thermodynamics. To accommodate the use of these patterns, the system requires a critical second layer of organization on top of what has already been described. This additional organization is itself undetermined by physical dynamics, yet without it, the system could not function. This is to say, without the arrival of this specific system, simultaneously encoded in the very information that it makes possible, an autonomous self-replicator capable of open-ended evolution would not exist on earth.

    So there you have it in three short paragraphs. And here’s the deal — this system, with its well-documented physical features, is exclusively identifiable among all other physical systems. It has been thus objectively identified. It can only be found in three instances anywhere in the cosmos. It is found in written language, mathematics…and in the genetic code. Can you think of a phenomenon more indicative of an act of intelligence than written language and mathematics?

    I can’t.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    By the way, it is not necessary to position people as uneducated troglodytes in order to confront their arguments. You might keep that in mind as you peruse the “hatred” your “scientific folks” have for ID proponents. The offense is not to the chimps; it’s to science itself.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Heya UPB,

    Consider adding a form allowing people to request access?

    Or is it invitation only? 😉

  33. 33
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mung, you can email me.

    As far as the site, it’ll be done when it’s done is the best I can say.


  34. 34

    Shawn said:

    William, you assume too much.

    I didn’t assume anything. I pointed out that the willingness to make unsupportable, blanket negative claims as assertions of fact (“there is no proof of X) indicates the belief that X doesn’t exist, and so there can be no proof of X.

    Otherwise, one would say merely that they are not currently aware of any convincing evidence for X – a much more modest claim.

  35. 35

    Shawn said:

    Do you think, a few billion years ago, which is a short time in the history of the universe, that something ‘miraculous’ happened…and suddenly life came about on Earth…by way of a god’s order? No, not possible. The universe, as we experience it, is not capable of such an outside intervener, not unless we could see him/her/it today WITHIN our world.

    Your posts are littered with apparently unexamined and unfounded assertions. It’s “not possible” that life came abut by “god’s order”? The universe is “not capable” of an outside intervener unless we see it today”?

    None of that is even remotely rationally coherent. It seems to me that you are here merely to offer some prose reflective of your personal views than attempt any logically rigorous examination of those views.

    What UB offers is conclusive, unambiguous proof (as much as anything is “conclusive proof” in the world of science) that intelligence must be responsible for the origination of self-replicating life. There is no other way to rationally interpret the physical facts of biosemiosis we find at the root of life in biology without appealing to an appallingly irrational, logic-destroying, science-destroying reservoir of infinite-multiverse chance.

  36. 36 says:

    Upright BiPed, give me some time to give your words the respect they deserve.

    William, I apologize, my wording was terrible.

    Of course it is possible that life came about by a god’s (or gods’) order, but that god either exists within, or not within, the universe that we live in. I have no problem with such a god existing outside of our universe, and I have no problem with such a god (i.e. a designer/designers) creating the order of the universe, from physics to biology to spacetime itself. A very practical example there (proof of a designer) would be convergence. When I hear about examples of convergence, I think “Why not another option, why not a completely different adaptation to deal with the demands of your life?”. That’s the basis of random mutation, is it not? How is it that a few basic patterns keep reappearing?

    However I do not see the point in trying to prove that this god/designer has spent even a moment within the universe, once it was created.

    Maybe you don’t either, I don’t know.


  37. 37 says:

    >>Do you think, a few billion years ago, which is a short time in the history of the universe, that something ‘miraculous’ happened…and suddenly life came about on Earth…by way of a god’s order? No, not possible. The universe, as we experience it, is not capable of such an outside intervener, not unless we could see him/her/it today WITHIN our world.

    What I meant by this is that no god entered the world a few billion years ago. I stand by that because we have zero empirical evidence of that (though we may be so small-brained as to not see it in front of our own eyes). The universe is apparently much older than the preambles of life on earth, or even our solar system, and so any laws created by a designer must have been in place long before life arose on earth. The point I’m failing so badly to make is, whatever order a designer brought to the universe, such order was brought long before life was sparked on earth.


  38. 38 says:



    “Lokiarchaeota” – the organisms they found- are just as evolved as eukaryotes. They need the “Lokiarchaeota” of today to be vey similar to the “Lokiarchaeota” of hundreds of millions of years ago to have a case. And even then there is a huge hole to be filled to get to eukaryotes.

    You’re asking for science to step back in time while at the same time you say “there is a huge hole to be filled” but do you recognize that hole yourself?

    Let’s step back to possible “pre-lokiarchaeota” and compare that to your argument. You, too, must admit that none of us are more than 100 years old, and that all we read or believe has no ontological proof.

    I’m reminded of Hume who said, we believe the sun will rise tomorrow because…that’s our experience…

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    Shawn wants to talk about God or gods.

    Why do the rest of you insist on talking about ID instead?

  40. 40
    Upright BiPed says:

    Thank You.

  41. 41 says:

    Mung and BP,

    That’s not true. As I’ve said a couple of times, this is my first time at an ID blog, and I have come from a place where MOST of the people who are not Darwinian are religious creationists.

    I’m an agnostic personally, and have no view of god, to be honest.

    You must forgive me for taking a few posts to remove religion and gods from my concept of design. It’s new to me.


  42. 42
    Mung says:

    ok Shawn.

    ID is based on inference. It is not a way to tell us whether God or gods were involved.

    ID stands in opposition to two claims:

    1) neo-Darwinian evolution can produce the appearance of design without the need for any designer

    2) Science has demonstrated that there is no place for design. The origin of the universe, of matter, energy, physics, chemistry, life, biology, consciousness, etc, can all be explained without reference to design or designers.

  43. 43
    Cross says:


    “I’m an agnostic personally, and have no view of god, to be honest.”

    Have you read your own posts Shawn, much of them is your view of God. Nothing wrong with having views about God, just don’t mix your views and facts.

    “I love, and believe in, evolution, because it makes sense to me”

    Careful Shawn, one definition of religion is “a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.”, maybe evolution IS your God and you are following it with “religious zeal”, something you accuse creationists of.

    Cheers and welcome

  44. 44
    Silver Asiatic says:


    You must forgive me for taking a few posts to remove religion and gods from my concept of design. It’s new to me.

    I’ll echo Cross’ words of welcome. I can only wonder why it seemed you were attacked by people here before you explained your view – (wow, I mean give the guy a break?).
    You seem open-minded. Ok, you admit that you oppose ‘religion’ but you can accept that some kind of god or gods could have existed to create/design things.

    You’re well on the path to seeing a broader view of life and origins than you will get with materialism alone.

    With that, I encourage you to keep researching and keeping an open mind. Your instincts seem good. You may not have had much religious teaching in your past – that’s not necessary to understand the ID inference.

    But for religious believers, I’ll ask that you not judge them as merely clinging to a superstition. You might want to look at testimonial evidence from religious believers which indicates their understanding that God (or a spiritual agent) has had a real effect on their lives.

    I’d just suggest, in fairness, it’s best to conclude that you don’t really know if God is active in the world.

    One way of learning more about God, is not only through education but by learning the spiritual practices – prayer mainly. That’s what many people do – they ask God for wisdom and understanding and knowledge.

    Anyway – as said already, ID is not a religious proposition at all. It’s a scientific project. I hope you’ll find the discussions here beneficial in your search.

  45. 45

    If you are really interested in understanding ID, I suggest you make use of the “Resources” tab at the top of the page and read through the information found there.

  46. 46 says:

    Thanks guys. William, I’ve been reading that. I actually read UD every morning for an hour on my way to work (on my phone). I read UD, Why Evolution is True, WTF, Evolution (not a lot of updates, but funny as hell) and some other random science and design sites.

    I’m also working my way through a plethora of books which must have Amazon going hahaha (for all the money I’ve spent lol). some are far beyond me (and I need to step back and take some biology courses), and some are a joy to read, like Arthur/ Evolution, a Developmental Approach, and Smith/Szathmary, The Origins of Life (I have the predecessor book to that, too, but it is far beyond me), Tree of life (2 books, one by Lecointre, one by Vargas), The Rise of Animals, Cambrian Explosion, Gaining Ground, Origin and Evolution of Mammals, Phylogenetics (Lieberman?), The Tangled Bank. I have one very disappointing book called Arthropod Brains. When I bought it I was very excited (because arthropod books are very hard to find, if you are looking for phylogenies), but indeed that book should have been called Hexapod brains, as it really offers nothing in the way of Arthropod/Ecdysozoa evolution.

    My reason for showing you what I am reading, is to show you that all of my efforts are based on science. Not ID (which I think is actually a sister to science, or maybe not even differentiated from science), or God (which is a shot in the dark, so to speak).

    Let me step back, please…

    Growing up, I read Darwin (Origin and Descent of Man and Sex in Relation to Sex) probably 10 times each. But my background, my mental meanderings are more philosophical. When I was young, I studied pretty much all the religion I could digest, all the science and history I could, and all the philosophy I could.

    And therein lies the rub. When I went to University, in my second year, one of the heads of my college introduced me to some famous MIT mathematician, and he said, “I’d like to introduce you to our brightest star”. A year later, he called me a dilettante. And he was right, I am incapable of focusing. I am also not particularly bright. But I have more resolve to find answers, answers to questions I have had my entire life, than anyone I know; call me stubbornly optimistic that in my ignorance I can still learn and die with that knowledge.

    It is probably an insurmountable error I made, long ago, to try and rectify this world I live in, in a singular manner, to see how everything is related, to believe that everything is part of a whole, and to try and find the particulars involved in that whole, from the smallest to the largest phenomena, to the most accessible (objective reality) and the least accessible (the self and that which lies beyond numbers).

    It is only recently that I took Evolution up again, and I seem to have failed in many ways:

    1) I don’t have a biology background.

    2) I don’t separate design (and yes, emphatically I see design in the universe – and in my ignorance I think that evo-devo might start to unravel random mutation as NOT BEING the sole mechanism of change) nor do I (as of yet) even know its arguments, as opposed to random mutation

    3) I inject god in an effort to remove god. In my youth, I studied most religions in order to be a ‘good person’; but of course, now, I do not need a god to make my decisions; my decisions come from within (right or wrong). I remove god with the caveat that such a god may exist OUTSIDE our universe’s boundaries, and may be responsible for our Laws. I scratch my head and say, every day, “I have absolutely no idea about god”.

    So you see, I still live, unfortunately, in my own head, and I apologize to all of you for having nothing objective to add. And of course, for offending, if I have. I’ve never meant to offend.


  47. 47
    Mung says:

    Hi shawn,

    Please focus on the post @ 31. No degree in biology required.

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