Intelligent Design

We Have a Backup Sense of Smell to Protect the Lungs

Spread the love

Our noses have specialized cells that give us a sense of the vapors around us by detecting the presence of chemicals and sending signals to the brain. New research is now explaining how our lungs also have such chemosensors. These sensors send signals not to the brain but to the nearby tissues causing a fast response, such as coughing and wheezing, when we inhale irritating or toxic vapors. Our lungs need this protection since they essentially are open to the external environment. As one evolutionist explained, “it makes sense that we evolved mechanisms to protect ourselves.” But such reasoning violates Occam’s Razor and reveals again how Aristotelianism lives on inside of evolution.  Read more

19 Replies to “We Have a Backup Sense of Smell to Protect the Lungs

  1. 1
    nightlight says:

    In this example of odor receptors in the lungs, there is no evidence that they evolved. Indeed, it is highly unlikely.

    How does it happen during the embryonic development from a fertilized egg which doesn’t have either lungs or odor receptors, yet it produces them within short time from fertilization to birth? Hence at least one natural process exists which starts with a single cell, without those sensory receptors, that divides and builds, purely from the organic molecules in the cell and its surroundings, an organism with lungs containing such receptor cells. Therefore one cannot declare flatly, as you appear to do (while having in something entirely different), that no natural process can produce those sensory cells from organic molecules available to the process.

    What is your alternative to evolution, which is merely assertion that an embryo developed some sensory cells during its unfolding from the fertilized egg (ontogeny) of the parents that didn’t have those sensory cells in their lungs? Give some sequence of events you have in mind, in which there are parents without sensory cells and offspring with them — did offspring form from fertilized egg in the womb of a parent or was it brought as an improved version from outside of mother? Did mother have fake pregnancy before that moment? Give your scenario.

    Is that trying to say that at some point, before or after the offspring was born, someone/some force or spirit descended from the heavens, brought down and surgically (or some other way) implanted those cells?

    How else did those cells end up in the lungs of a creature unless they were assembled during ontogeny from the organic molecules available to the developing embryo in the womb? And if the parent organism didn’t have such feature, then that’s all that the unqualified term “evolution” means. It says or implies nothing about “chance mutation” (which is what you really meant) — the latter is merely the neo-Darwinian theory as to how such transformations come about.

    We would have to believe that chance mutations caused odor receptors to be constructed at random locations around the body. And since these are chance mutations, we must also believe that other types of receptors would also be constructed.

    So what you were really trying to say with “no evidence that they evolved” is “no evidence that they evolved via random mutation which is quite different than what you wrote initially.

    Using the general term “evolution” while actually having in mind “evolution via chance mutation”, as you routinely do, disqualifies your statements as intelligent design on their face, since they appear like plain old creationism i.e. some divine entity dropped complete organisms from the heavens to Earth, literally as it appears to say it in the scriptures.

    Yet, from the followup, that’s obviously not what you meant. But your statements as written, lacking the proper qualification of “evolution” are completely open to, almost inviting, ridicule via quoting of your complete sentences or paragraphs, even of whole articles, followed by cheap dismissals as irrational, creationist, anti-scientific … nonsense, as caricatured in the previous section (and as the critics in your blog do every time).

    In short, by misusing and attacking the general term “evolution” you are needlessly muddying the waters which does more harm than help in clarifying the intelligent design idea and presenting it as a scientific hypothesis distinct from the anti-scientific positions, such as creationism. Blurring the boundaries doesn’t help distinguish between the two.

  2. 2
    Andre says:

    Nightlight

    Ja well now fine, evolutiondidit but let me ask you this question. How? Can you show me with observation and with the relevant data that verifies your claim evolutiondidit?

    Please point me to a place where I can verify for myself that what you say is true….

  3. 3
    nightlight says:

    @Andre #2 “Can you show me with observation and with the relevant data that verifies your claim evolutiondidit?”

    Taking general term “evolution” to mean transformation of traits of organisms across generations through natural processes (“traits” include the whole organism i.e. DNA, cells, tissues, organs…), then it is the only plausible conjecture. There is no plausible alternative and, as explained in #1, we already know that there is a natural process which can transform a single cell into a full organism (ontogeny), using the molecules in the cell and its surrounding.

    Hence, since we know that transformation of similar magnitude exist as a natural processes (that occurs within time frame of ontogeny of a single organism) the most plausible hypothesis is that another natural process was what led to transformation of organisms observed between generations.

    What is the alternative? Did the organism with those sensory cells in the lungs get put on Earth, ready to go, from outside or did it come from some parents via regular ontogeny?

    If it came from parents and if parents didn’t have those sensory cells, then they were created in the process of ontogeny i.e. this ontogenic step was simultaneously an evolutionary step for the species.

    We know ontogeny can produce such cells from a single cell which didn’t have those receptors (e.g. it did it for you and me as each of us went through our development from egg to full organism), provided there are suitable instructions encoded in the DNA of the original cell.

    Of course, the next question is how did such changes occur in the DNA of the original cell if they weren’t present in the DNA of the parents. Neo-Darwinists claim it was due to random mutation.

    I think much better explanation is that the DNA changes were computed by the cellular biochemical networks, which operate as a distributed self-programing computer, the same way your brain, which is mathematically a similar network except built of neurons, operates as distributed self-programming computer.

    This explanation is very close to what James Shapiro calls “Natural Genetic Engineering”, except that computational and algorithmic perspective is fundamental, deliberate and systematic (in Shapiro’s writings algorithmic language is an occasional metaphoric language he uses for biochemistry).

    What is your alternative to the above? I have yet to see an alternative scientific hypothesis as to how did the transformed (different from its parents) organism come into being, suggested either at UD or in Hunter’s blog or by Dembski or Meyer in their writings and talks. You are welcome to give your scenario as to how it could have happened.

    Note that the any “scenario” you might suggest, if it aims to serve as a scientific hypothesis, needs to be suitable for scientific research and verification i.e. the proposed “explanation” cannot be a proclamation of some final, unknowable “truth” tautologically or vapidly restating what needs to be scientifically explained (such as “intelligence did it, end of story as far as science goes, the rest is revealed in the scripture”).

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    nightlight:

    we already know that there is a natural process which can transform a single cell into a full organism (ontogeny), using the molecules in the cell and its surrounding.

    Except that we don’t know any such thing. WE don’t know if nature produced that or not. Therefor you cannot call it a natural process.

  5. 5

    nightlight:

    Is that trying to say that at some point, before or after the offspring was born, someone/some force or spirit descended from the heavens, brought down and surgically (or some other way) implanted those cells?

    Don’t be silly. You know very well that is not what the author meant, so you are arguing against a strawman.

    Everyone knows that an organism develops based on its internal programming, its epigenetic information, its normal pathways of development. That is quite obviously not what the author is discussing.

    By “no natural process” being able to produce the thing in question, the author is obviously referring to those natural and material processes that we see with chemistry and physics generally in nature, not to a process that is governed by, mediated by, and under the careful control of digital programming within the cell. The author obviously believes (as do you) that the latter can produce the sensors in question.

    So now that we have dispensed with your silly caricature of the argument, how do you address the author’s actual point? What evidence is there that these sensory receptors (as well as the whole process that produces them) could come about through purely natural and material processes, without any guidance or intervention? That is the substantive question.

  6. 6
    Box says:

    C.Hunter: New research is now explaining how our lungs also have such chemosensors. These sensors send signals not to the brain but to the nearby tissues causing a fast response, such as coughing and wheezing, when we inhale irritating or toxic vapors.

    Sounds like an independently functioning mechanism right? Not so!
    From: Craig Holdrege, “Do Reflexes Exist?”:

    Most of you probably can recall having a physical examination before the beginning of a school year. One of the procedures you were subjected to, and as a child probably never understood, was the doctor tapping your leg with a rubber hammer right below the knee. Your lower leg kicked forward. This odd response—which may have been slightly embarrassing, since you experienced your body as if from the outside doing something you weren’t in control of—is known as the patellar reflex and is a sign for the doctor that you have no spinal cord damage.
    The patellar reflex is a classic example of the reflexes one learns about when studying human or animal behavior and the nervous system. They appear to be the most simple, automatic responses.
    (…)
    It is true, however, that reflex-like movements comparable to the patellar reflex can be noticed in real-life activity. As Goldstein remarks,
    If you jump down a steep incline in such a way that you always touch the ground first with your heel, then the muscles located on the anterior [front] part of the lower segment of the leg and the quadriceps are first passively stretched and then contracted reflexively. This very sensible reaction seems to take place without any voluntary innervation and to be the consequence of a reflex process. It seems to happen without any relation to the organism as a whole.
    “But,” he goes on, “correct and plausible as such an explanation seems to be, it is not really so.
    This is to be seen by the fact that, under other conditions of the whole organism, we observe a totally different phenomenon during the same kind of abnormal tension of these muscles. If, as one walks, let us say, through a forest, one’s foot sticks fast behind an object, say a stone, the muscles we mentioned before are stretched. They do not contract, however, in response to that tension. On the contrary, they relax, and the opposite muscles—those of the back of the leg—contract, for only so can the foot be released and a fall be avoided. This reaction, too, takes place…reflexively; yet it is certainly not an innervation caused by the abnormal tension alone, but one determined rather by the condition of the organism as a whole.”
    If the reflex were truly an independently functioning mechanism as it is commonly portrayed, then the latter reaction would not have occurred. There is reflexive activity in our actions, but it is determined just as much by the state and needs of the whole organism as by the specific stimulation. Only in the context of the isolated experimental situation is the reflex an isolated, automatic, and stereotypic behavior.

  7. 7
    nightlight says:

    @Eric Anderson #5

    Don’t be silly. You know very well that is not what the author meant, so you are arguing against a strawman.

    As noted in that post, that was a deliberate caricature meant to bring to his attention how his articles sound to readers who haven’t followed his whole body of writings, where it becomes clear that when he says “B can’t evolve from A” what he really means is only that “B can’t evolve from A via chance mutations” (otherwise he has no problem with evolution as a process of change).

    To the uninitiated into his opus, the first form reads as the usual unscientific creationist position (with some supernatural being from heavens meddling into the natural laws every now and then to change the events that it set into motion to begin with), while the second one is the position of intelligent design, which is what Cornelius means.

    Attacking generic term “evolution” is like claiming flatly that Microsoft Windows 8 couldn’t have “evolved” from Windows 7, while actually meaning that Windows 8 couldn’t have evolved from Windows 7 via chance errors in copying of the source code of Windows 7, but required intelligent input from the programmers. Evolution occurs in all kinds of systems, be it software programs, cultures, languages, sciences,… or biological organisms, and rejecting general “evolution” (of any kind, which includes guided) between different versions of the systems in the face of huge similarity between the versions is irrational.

    If you believe it is rational to reject it for biological organism, provide a rational alternative scenario (which can serve as a scientific hypothesis) as to how it could have happened. How did organism B with new trait X arise from parent organism A that didn’t have the trait X? Did B materialize into existence as an infant in the physical vicinity of organism A and then A nurtured it as its own offspring? Or did B materialize as mature organism that didn’t interact or socialize with A? Or did the modified DNA of B materialize in the womb of A?… etc. What exactly is your scenario for the needed sequence of events, if you believe that statement “B did not evolve from A” is rational (assuming generic meaning of “evolution”, hence allowing for guided evolution)?

    Indeed Cornelius himself doesn’t think it is a rational rejection either and he is rejecting only the neo-Darwinian hypothesis that the difference/change of DNA required for the observed phenotypic difference/evolution is result of chance mutation. Hence, he is rejecting one conceivable scenario as to how it can happen, as being implausible (improbable). That’s perfectly fine, but that understanding doesn’t come through for anyone who hasn’t followed his writings to know that he is excluding only one specific proposal for its mechanism. To general reader, the flat out rejection of general “evolution” (of any kind) comes through as a non-scientific creationism. It is a needless weakening and squndering of otherwise interesting, valuable observations.

    I think the only rational hypothesis, alternative to the neo-Darwinism, is that organism B with new trait X developed from the fertilized egg in the womb of organism A which didn’t have trait X. In order for B to have phenotypic trait X, there had to be corresponding change/difference in the fertilized egg (genetic or epigenetic) responsible for new trait X of B.

    As to how did the egg (or sperm) get the genetic (or epigenetic) changes responsible for trait X, I essentially agree with James Shapiro’s answer, albeit using more coherent computational model than his “natural genetic engineering” — the changes in the egg (or sperm, genetic or epigenetic) responsible for the new trait X is result of the anticipatory (intelligent) computational process that sought to achieve trait X and chose (computed) particular genetic and epigenetic means to achieve it.

    Unlike Shapiro who uses the computational model for only some aspects of the biochemical processes (i.e. his is a ‘part time’ computationalist model), I believe that computation goes all the way down, underlying what we now understand as physical and chemical laws. Everything that goes on in the universe, at any point in space and time, is result of underlying computation. Our physical, chemical and biological laws (including origin of life & evolution) are not reducible to each other, but they are all merely different coarse grained regularities and patterns at different scales that we were able to perceive so far (via corresponding sciences), of the much more subtle, purposeful, omnipresent underlying computational process. Hence, from this perspective it is a hopeless dead end trying to derive origin of life from the laws of physics and chemistry of molecules.

    Note, though, that there is no violation or overriding of physical laws at any point in this perspective. Our fundamental physical laws are statistical at their core (quantum theory). Hence, they are analogous to identifying statistical patterns in economy (say some kind of “toy economic laws”). Such patterns don’t tell you what any particular individual will do, but merely give probabilities that he will spend money this or that way, work in this or that job, etc. As far as such toy economic laws go, what any particular individual will do is “random.” The only lawful aspect within such economic laws are the statistical properties of decisions aggregated across many individuals. Yet, each individual is doing particular job and spending his money for his own particular personal reasons which are both consistent with (i.e. ‘do not violate’) and are simultaneously invisible to the economic laws.

    Similarly, in the computational perspective on physics, what appears from our present level of knowledge as random events of particular quantum particles (for which our present physical laws make only statistical predictions, not individual ones), are events computed in each individual instance by some underlying anticipatory (intelligent) algorithms, having purposes that are not captured by our present physical laws.

    This is the same phenomenon as the above economic laws being unable to make prediction about the single individual’s economic decisions. In the case of the individual in economy, the underlying decision making computations are performed by the networks of neurons in his brain, while in the case of physical particles, the computations are done by the Planck scale networks (which are objects hypothesized in some pregeometry models of physical laws & space-time).

    Returning now to the biological level, the computations of the genetic and epigenetic changes needed to implement some phenotypic trait X are carried out by the cellular biochemical networks. Some of such computational and algorithmic mechanism behind these epi/genetic changes were labeled as “natural genetic engineering” by Shapiro and others pursuing computational approach (such as researchers from Santa Fe Institute for Complexity Science). These developments are still quite immature, but that’s the kind of models through which future biology will explain evolution. To explain the origin of life and fine tuning of the physical laws for life require stepping back to the lower level computational processes, those underlying what we now understand as physical laws (the statistical laws of quantum theory). This field is in some ways even less developed than the computational approach for biological systems, at least at the bridge between chemistry and biology, although at the ground level of Planck scale networks underlying the present physical laws and space-time, they are as advanced if not more.

    There are also general mathematical models (neural networks) explaining how networks with adaptable links can operate as distributed self-programing computers. Such models are mathematical abstractions, hence they apply to any network with adaptable links regardless of how the nodes and links, punishments and rewards of the network are implemented (using which hardware, e.g. as biochemical networks of molecules forming a cell or as networks of neurons forming a human brain).

    The mathematical models of such systems have identified various common algorithms that these networks spontaneously develop via maximization of their net ‘rewards’ – ‘punishments’.

    These algorithms internally model the network’s environment along with the “self-actor” (the internal model’s counterpart of the network itself). In order to make decision for the next optimal action in its environment, the network runs the internal model of its environment forward in model time (like virtual reality), trying out different initial actions by the self-actor, evaluating the outcomes, and finally choosing the action to perform in the real world, which within the model space corresponds to the action of self-actor yielding the maximum ‘rewards’ – ‘punishments’ sum.

    So, these computations work like chess player thinking ahead which move to play, by imagining a virtual chess board in his mind, playing virtual pieces there, trying out different lines of play, then based on the evaluation of these virtual lines within the mental model, picks which move to make over the real chess board.

    The mathematical theory of neural networks tells us that all abstract networks with adaptable links will develop and use that kind of anticipatory algorithms, with internal modeling and what-if game in their internal virtual/model space, no matter what they are made of — whether they are molecules of a biochemical network or neurons of a human brain.

    An earlier post here at UD describes general computational and algorithmic formulation of natural laws (the NKS perspective) with basic references to get one started. How this applies to biological topics was described in a series of posts (reponses to questions by other members) in a long thread at UD. The hyperlinked TOC of the key elements is given in the second half of this post.

  8. 8
    tjguy says:

    NIghtlite says:

    Taking general term “evolution” to mean transformation of traits of organisms across generations through natural processes (“traits” include the whole organism i.e. DNA, cells, tissues, organs…), then it is the only plausible conjecture. There is no plausible alternative and, as explained in #1, we already know that there is a natural process which can transform a single cell into a full organism (ontogeny), using the molecules in the cell and its surrounding.

    Just curious, but I’ve never heard of the word “plausible” used as a scientific term. It sounds very subjective to me. What criteria make something “plausible”? Who is the judge of this? Does “plausible” mean “actual” or “probable”? If not, how does it inform our science?

    So Nightlite, perhaps it is plausible to you. That’s great. Go ahead and believe in something you don’t even know exists. For some of us, we have a more plausible explanation. Chance random mutations seem woefully incapable of generating such a back up system to me. It is not “plausible” to me at all.

    So, given your lack of ability to give evidence for your “plausible” just so story, please allow me to believe what seems most “plausible” to me – “There is an Intelligent Designer who accomplished this.”

    You claim there is no other plausible alternative. Sure, if you limit your alternatives to totally natural processes. But, in all of human experience, we see intelligence behind the development of such systems so this is the grounds on which we infer the existence of a Creator.

    If you want to infer the existence of an unknown natural process, fine. It is very true that there is a totally natural process that transforms a single cell into a full organism,but what you are unable to show is that this natural process has a totally natural origin.

    No one is saying such a process does not exist. That is good hard verifiable every day science. We are continuing to learn more about it every day. But when it comes to the origin of such a process that involves codes, systems, reproduction, etc., you are unable to show us that it has a totally natural origin.

    Sure. If you want to believe that, you are free to do that. Just don’t pretend that only IDers have faith and don’t elevate yourself above those who believe in God. In the end, we all have faith! You guys have a “holier than thou” attitude and somehow think that your faith in natural processes is far better than anyone who believes in God.

    Again, you are welcome to your opinion.

    Whenever I hear the words “we already KNOW …”, I am suspicious because often it is not something that is really “known”, just something that is believed. And often times these things that are already known are proven to be wrong in the end so it begs the question of how you really know something to be true.

    If something you “know” to be true is later shown to be wrong, then really you were deceived. You only thought you “knew” it. This is the problem with science, especially science that deals with unobservable, unrepeatable, and untestable events that took place in history. How much can really be “known” about the past?

    I guess that is a matter of opinion.

  9. 9
    nightlight says:

    @tjguy #8 — the computational perspective is the only plausible alternative to neo-Darwinism in the sense that it can be formulated as scientific hypothesis i.e. it allows empirical falsification and also provides a path for further developments of science (e.g. reverse engineering of the programs and internal models of these networks).

    If you know of additional alternatives, explain how it could work, in principle at least. How could some abstract “inteligence” that is outside of matter-energy realm (supernatural) operate on molecules, arrange them at all, let alone just the right way for the initial life or its evolution?

    If you’re aiming at philosophical or theological essay, that’s fine, but a scientific hypothesis needs a specific interface/interaction with the realm of matter-energy (a way to do something to molecules), at least in principle. How would that work in your scheme?

  10. 10
    littlejohn says:

    Nightlight,

    What anticipatory computational processes are known to exist outside living systems, if any?

  11. 11

    nightlight:

    ID doesn’t posit anything “supernatural,” so no need to even go there.

    Furthermore, there is zero evidence that those intelligent agents we know exist (humans for example) act solely due to the interactions of matter and energy. Every individual acts as though they have choice, free will, an ability to choose between contingent outcomes, an ability to act from outside of the object of their creation. Even those people who like to deny this very obvious fact.

    Science is not limited to the physical and the material and never has been, no matter how loudly the methodological naturalists scream.

    ID poses a very simple and limited question. With respect to biology it can be asked this way: Is it possible that some living systems were designed, and if so, how can we tell? That’s it. Very simple for anyone who is not committed to an a prior philosophy that prohibits such a question.

  12. 12
    nightlight says:

    @littlejohn #10

    What anticipatory computational processes are known to exist outside living systems, if any?

    Any system which implements some simple ‘rules of the game’ (i.e. has mathematical properties) of abstract “neural network” will operate as a distributed self-programming computer executing anticipatory algorithms. For example cellular biochemical networks, human or animal brains, economies, cultures, languages, sciences, internet, social networks, pregeometry models of physics, etc.

    Some are live systems, some parts of live systems, some non-live, some not even made of matter-energy but exist in the abstract realms (e.g. languages, sciences, cultures, religions). See an earlier post that flesh out such examples and explain how such networks work.

  13. 13
    tjguy says:

    Nitelite says:

    If you’re aiming at philosophical or theological essay, that’s fine, but a scientific hypothesis needs a specific interface/interaction with the realm of matter-energy (a way to do something to molecules), at least in principle. How would that work in your scheme?

    I see. Well then you have to admit that science might not always lead you to the correct conclusion since you reject from the start any possibility of the involvement of non-natural things. It also means that there is no guarantee that there is an answer in science since you limit it to natural processes or computational processes.

    We don’t claim to be able to give direct evidence for a Creator, but the evidence we do have points to the involvement of some type of intelligence as opposed to random chance.

    Plus, I am not aware that computational processes can be used to give evidence for one time non repeatable events in history. How does that work?

    How can you show us how the moon came to be? You can invoke computational processes, but how do you use science to show that it actually happened like that or that your idea of how it happened is even viable?

    I don’t see much difference between the two. If you can’t test your computational processes, then what’s the difference?!

    The object of our faith might be different, but we both have faith and there is really no way around that when dealing with history.

    If you want to consider your faith to be superior to our faith simply because the object of your faith is a natural process and the object of our faith is an invisible deity, fine, but the point is, neither of us know if our ideas are really right or not. Hard solid experimental evidence is what makes something science. Without that, it is just conjecture no matter if you are dealing with computational processes or not.

  14. 14
    nightlight says:

    @Eric Anderson #11

    ID doesn’t posit anything “supernatural,” so no need to even go there.

    ID doesn’t, or it shouldn’t if properly expressed. The point was that Cornelius (the author of the article discussed in this thread), who holds ID position, formulates most of his statements, or even the entire articles on his blog, as a typical hard core young earth creationist railing against general “evolution” when in fact (when pressed to clarify what he meant as I did several times before) he is merely objecting to the inadequacy of neo-Darwinian theory about how the evolution happens.

    While he is doing great job of uncovering numerous interesting and thought provoking examples of irreducibly complex designs in cellular and evolutionary biology, he is immediaytely squandering it all by expressing them in the YEC-like language. I keep trying to clue him in as to how his YEC-like articles sound to someone who is not up on his entire opus, to know what he really meant (which is DI’s ID position).

    Perhaps as a result of my past critiques of his YEC-like formulations, he has improved a bit lately, so that at least somewhere within article, as he did in this one, he will note that he is actually only questioning the capability of ‘chance mutation’ to account for a given complex feature he is bringing to the readers’ attention. He is not questioning the fact that the mutation responsible for observed phenotypic change has actually occurred (since it demonstrably exists).

    Furthermore, there is zero evidence that those intelligent agents we know exist (humans for example) act solely due to the interactions of matter and energy. Every individual acts as though they have choice, free will, an ability to choose between contingent outcomes, an ability to act from outside of the object of their creation. Even those people who like to deny this very obvious fact.

    According to the present natural science (science of matter energy), everything that happens with matter-energy is modeled or described by the natural laws which don’t have any other quantities but those referring to matter-energy. There is no formula or quantity or unit of the “mind-stuff” in the present natural science.

    If you believe otherwise, show me scientific equation or algorithm which contains consciousness as a variable or parameter (in which units is it measured and how, which instrument?). There is no such equation or quantity or units in which it is measured, or even a procedure to merely detect it, let alone quantify it.

    Since ID seeks to gain a place in the natural sciences, it has only two ways to get there and one which is a dead end:

    1) — Easy, short way —

    Reformulate ID hypothesis in terms of matter-energy quantities, including ‘intelligent agency’ as a ‘computational process’ and ‘intelligence’ as ‘anticipatory algorithm’. This is what James Shapiro and researchers of Santa Fe Institute for Complexity Science are doing.

    2) — Hard, long way —

    a) extend present natural science to include the proper scientific (falsifiable and algorithmically effective, non-tautological and not vapid) model of consciousness or ‘mind-stuff’

    b) demonstrate that the present DI’s formulation of ID that includes ‘mind stuff’ and intelligence, provides an algorithmically and empirically non-sterile addition to the new, extended natural science from (2a)

    3) — Dead end way —

    Keep doing what you have been doing i.e. insist on the mind-stuff formulation of ID (like 2b), without providing the scientific basis for it via (2a).

    Science is not limited to the physical and the material and never has been, no matter how loudly the methodological naturalists scream.

    Natural science (which includes physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, physiology…) is limited to universe made of matter-energy, to laws and models explaining the observed properties of matter-energy. Present natural science cannot say anything meaningful about consciousness or mind-stuff (see “hard problem of consciousness”).

    Although some scientific disciplines, such as psychiatry and psychology, do use explicitly the mind-stuff language, such terminology is used merely as a mnemonic shorthand standing in for more detailed, often unstated, functional and structural properties (i.e. for elements of matter-energy realm). I had noticed that the UD poster Elisabeth Liddle, and many others from these fields, are thoroughly confused about this gap between the mind-stuff language and its matter-energy semantics in their own discipline.

    Since ID aspires to explain biological evolution and origin of life, which are part of biology, hence of natural science, in order to be admitted it has to follow either the “easy way” (1), or the “hard way” (2).

    The third way, which is what Discovery Institute (DI) fellows and their supporters are doing, doesn’t go beyond philosophy or theology and unsurprisingly in that formulation it cannot be accepted as a part of present natural science (biology or any other).

    By the time DI figures out what the rules of the game are (1 or 2), and what went wrong (3), the Shapiro, SFI and others will have already claimed these virgin lands for themselves, while the neo-Darwinians will jump onto the same bandwagon, by gradually rephrasing their “new synthesis” then declaring that’s what they always really meant anyway. In the meantime, the DI’s ID will be left as a long forgotten footnote in the transcripts of the court trials about science vs superstitions.

    Note that none of the above has anything to do with the separate questions whether you or I experience consciousness. I know for sure I do, and I suspect you do too, but I have no way of knowing or establishing that for sure, and that’s as far as all that goes.

    No one knows how to get beyond that little bit of trivial observation (and many don’t even know that they don’t know it), all the learned tomes, journals, monographs and symposia notwithstanding. Also, many scientists in all disciplines have been philosophizing and emoting for ages on that topic, but none of that is a formal or official part of any natural science. It amounts merely to the usual informal human chatter that just happens to be generated by humans who are also scientists (this is something bornagain77 ought to learn how to distinguish).

    ID poses a very simple and limited question. With respect to biology it can be asked this way: Is it possible that some living systems were designed, and if so, how can we tell? That’s it. Very simple for anyone who is not committed to an a prior philosophy that prohibits such a question.

    That stuff is passe. James Shapiro, Santa Fe Institute and others have long past that particular hill (which has been obvious to the thinking humans as long as there were thinking humans) and have moved well beyond it, to reverse engineering the ‘natural genetic engineering’ or ‘natural distributed self-programming computers’ behind the intelligence whose manifestations are self-evident in the emergence of life and cellular nano-techology.

    In other disciplines (see this post), such as physics, visionary researchers, such as Stephen Wolfram, have been laying down the founding stones of the general algorithmic formulation of natural sciences which models and explains the universe as a computational process, including the space-time, physical laws and intelligence behind the fine tuning of the physical laws.

  15. 15
    littlejohn says:

    Nightlight, thank you for the reply #12

    It seems the examples you have provided regarding ACP’s independent of life, are either derived from, or created by living systems, or living things (language, etc).

    Even models used to explain various aspects of physics are derived from the minds of mankind, are they not? However, I am not sure I understand you correctly regarding pre-geometry models.

    If it is true that computational processes are a characteristic of life in general, to explain the universe as a computation process would mean that the universe is essentially alive, correct?

    Perhaps I misunderstood, but I thought you were asserting that forces like gravity, etc., are somehow ACP’s? If so, how would we test that? How would you test the hypothesis on a cosmological scale, especially with the extremely short observation time?

  16. 16
    nightlight says:

    @tjguy #13

    We don’t claim to be able to give direct evidence for a Creator, but the evidence we do have points to the involvement of some type of intelligence as opposed to random chance.

    Creation is all the evidence for Creator (I call it CPoU, Chief Programmer of Universe). Try creating something, the simplest thing such as one electron out of nothing, as it did, and see far you get with that little project. Let alone creating all of them, then make them interact in such precise way as the physics equations show. Not to mention the rest of it.

    The Discovery Institute’s (DI) ID argument is really pointless compared to any of that regarding the existence, capabilities and intelligence of the CPoU.

    The only relevance of DI’s ID argument is its challenge to the silly neo-Darwinian alternative theory, but even that one won’t go away because of DI’s ID, but the way all outdated theories go away, when all the oldtimers still peddling it have died off. You’ve just got to wait them out, no need to waste time and energy trying to convince them (that can’t be done anyway).

    The theories which will replace it will not be DI’s ID (which in DI’s wrongheaded formulation is a philosophy and theology, not a natural science) but the computational formulations of intelligent design, such as those of James Shapiro or of Santa Fe Institute of Complexity Science researchers.

    These folks have advanced far beyond the DI’s ID observation (yeah, there is an amazing intelligence behind it all, that is obvious and by itself not worth dwelling on forever, book after book, stuck in the endless awe loop), and are already reverse engineering and decompiling the object code of the programs running on the cellular biochemical networks in order to reconstruct their source code. DI’s ID is irrelevant and sterile for any of that real scientific work.

  17. 17
    nightlight says:

    @#15 littlejohn

    Even models used to explain various aspects of physics are derived from the minds of mankind, are they not?

    Well of course, any theory we make is our own map of the territory. In this case, the territory itself is an ACP too (see Wolfram’s pregeometry article for intro; or his NKS book for the full scoop; my sketch of its few ideas I was interested in). In the book he shows that universal computers are ubiquitous among the these type of systems (cellular automata, which are a special kind of network; or among general neural networks as well) and that nature is choke full of them on all scales and in all places and at all levels.

  18. 18
    littlejohn says:

    Thanks for the references and information. I will need to spend quite a lot of time reading to keep up, and I appreciate you taking the time to share.

    Last question: In your opinion, why do apparently insignificant entities (mankind), possess the ability to know and understand the nature of existence?

  19. 19
    nightlight says:

    @littlejohn #18

    why do apparently insignificant entities (mankind), possess the ability to know and understand the nature of existence?

    I just wrote a post on that very topic in another thread.

    The short answer is that universe is constantly harmonizing activities of its parts, everywhere and at all scales, seeking to make them more mutually predictable.

    It appears as if it is aiming the entire computation underlying all of existence and behavior of the universe toward pre-established harmony of Leibniz monads.

    In fact that ubiquitous harmonization (which results among other in knowability and astounding simplicity of its laws) may be the entire point of universe and us altogether — life and humans are just another in a hierarchy of computational technologies (which includes also physical particles and fields, with their laws) devised to carry out computations needed by this universal harmonization process. Its endpoint is the eternity in a perfect bliss of an electron.

Leave a Reply