Intelligent Design

Yet another layer of complexity

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Plant study reveals a “deeply hidden” layer of transcriptome regulation.

“Cells keep a close watch over the transcriptome – all parts of the genome that are expressed in any given cell at any given time.

Before RNA transcripts can guide protein synthesis or take on regulatory functions, they have to undergo a strict mRNA surveillance system that degrades defective, obsolete, and surplus transcripts.

By stopping the function of the exosome, a multi-unit complex molecular machine in charge of controlled RNA degradation, researchers found evidence for widespread exosome-mediated RNA quality control in plants and a ‘deeply hidden’ layer of the transcriptome that is tightly regulated by exosome activity.

The common notion was that the exosome plays a central role in bulk RNA turnover so they expected to find the levels of all transcripts increasing when they inactivated the exosome complex. Instead the exosome mechanism seems to be very tightly regulating an already very specific group of transcripts.”

It is wonderous in the extreme to find the exosome “a multi-unit complex molecular machine” but there is also some separate information and control mechanism using the exosome to be “in charge of controlled RNA degradation”. These multiple layers of design and control engineering are clearly outside the ability of RM and NS to create.

48 Replies to “Yet another layer of complexity

  1. 1
    gpuccio says:

    Transcription regulation is, indeed, a total mystery, and the real future of biological research. It is the “dark energy” problem of biology: no known theory or mechanism even begins to explain how it could work.

    Even in the iD field, many usually think of the cell as some well structured machine where, once the right information is packed in the genome about proteins, and in a certain order, everything goes on mechanically according to principles which, although not known in detail, are at least generally understood. That is not true, especially for multicellular organisms.

    Transcription regulation from the genome is as difficult to explain as the emergence of biological information in the genome. They are, indeed, two questions for which no satisfying answer still exists, except that they both scream intelligency and design. ID usually focuses on the secon problem, but I am convinced that the two problems are strongly interrelated, as even the darwinists in the bfield of evo-devo seem to have understood. But no mechanical and reductionist theory is going to explain those two problems. A completely new approach is needed, and it will have to take into basic account the concepts of consciousness, intelligence, design and purpose. And, probably, a wholly new conception of physics and biophysics.

  2. 2
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    These multiple layers of design and control engineering are clearly outside the ability of RM and NS to create.

    Can anyone say “argument from incredulity”? How exactly do you know that molecular complexes cannot evolve through naturalistic processes?

    It seems a bit like saying that Stonehenge could never have been built without cranes or modern-day machinery.

  3. 3
    Undesigned says:

    Quality control on the genetic level is far from perfect. You see fused chromosomes, duplicated sections, missing information, frame errors, deactivated centromeres and offspring with different features from their parents. I’d say if QC were any less perfect, evolution would not occur in the first place. Clever that its just imperfect enough to let life adapt to its surroundings. Love it.

  4. 4
    kairos says:

    Can anyone say “argument from incredulity”? How exactly do you know that molecular complexes cannot evolve through naturalistic processes?

    Naturalistic processes do involve only chemical laws and RM+NS.

    But DNA is, from the chemical point ov view, a pretty perfect “neutral” framework for nucleotides sequences. So, we are almost left only with RM+NS wher it’s mere science to ask: what are the chances to perform a non-teleological search of the solution space? Please let me ask for a provocatio. Isn’t instead to claim that RM+NS could have done it a pretty “credulity argument”?

    It seems a bit like saying that Stonehenge could never have been built without cranes or modern-day machinery.

  5. 5
    kairos says:

    Oops I forgot to quote and comment the last statement.

    It seems a bit like saying that Stonehenge could never have been built without cranes or modern-day machinery.

    No, what it’s unplausible is to claim that Stonehange could have been built by earthquakes and tornados.

  6. 6
    gpuccio says:

    xcdesignproponentsists:

    You seem to ignore all the multiple and detailed arguments made by ID (CSI, IC, OOL, fossil, etc.), none of which has ever been really addressed by darwininsts.

    I think that what idnet.com.au is saying is simply that, as ever new complex and deep layers of organization are discovered, explanations based on RM and NS are more and more a virtual impossibility, and ID arguments are more and more strengthened. ID arguments would have been valid even at the times of Darwin, but certainly there was much less evidence in their favor then. At the middle of the past century, when molecular biology was born, ID arguments would have been much more believable, if only the scientific community had not been hypnotized by its arrogance for a few important successes in understanding some mechanisms in biology. But today, with the developments of, say, the last ten years in molecular biology, ID arguments are strong like steel. Each new discovery, each single day, is falsifying the RM + NS model, and is making the ID point of view stronger. The scientific paper cited in the post is only the last of many similar advancements in our understanding of the intelligent and organized nature of biological realities, and believe me, we are only at the beginning.

    So, instead of speaking of “argument from incredulity” for ID (which is a totally false perspective), let’s speak of “argument from credulity” for the RM + NS model. Saying: “How exactly do you know that molecular complexes cannot evolve through naturalistic processes?” is indeed an argument from credulity. From completely acritical credulity. First of all, we “do” know that molecular complexes cannot evolve through naturalistic processes, and have shown that many times. That’s exactly what the ID arguments are about. You may not agree about the conclusions, but certainly you cannot affirm that ID has not addressed and extensively discussed that point.

    At this point, it’s you, the darwinist field, who should clearly show how “exactly” you know that molecular complexes “can” evolve through naturalistic processes. Indeed, you should clearly show not only that they “can”, but also that they “have”. That would be science. All the rest (practically, all darwinian theory of evolution) is just an “argument from credulity”, and nothing else.

  7. 7
    kairos says:

    At this point, it’s you, the darwinist field, who should clearly show how “exactly” you
    gpuccio

    Indeed, you should clearly show not only that they “can”, but also that they “have”. That would be science.

    That’s correct. And let’s remember what skeptics routinely say about the possible existence of teleological phenomena “extraordinary claims need extraordinary proofs”.

    OK gentlemen, but this should first and mainly applied to NDE claims, and this is every day more true.

    All the rest (practically, all darwinian theory of evolution) is just an “argument from credulity”, and nothing else.

    It seems that we have at the same time had the same idea about 🙂

  8. 8
    Lutepisc says:

    I’d say if QC were any less perfect, evolution would not occur in the first place. Clever that its just imperfect enough to let life adapt to its surroundings. Love it.

    Fascinating comment, Undesigned. Sounds as it it’s finely tuned, doesn’t it?

  9. 9

    Materialists need to explain how a process which relies on errors (mutations, etc.) would create an error-control mechanism.

  10. 10
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    kairos:

    But DNA is, from the chemical point ov view, a pretty perfect “neutral” framework for nucleotides sequences.

    What do you mean by “neutral”?

    So, we are almost left only with RM+NS wher it’s mere science to ask: what are the chances to perform a non-teleological search of the solution space? Please let me ask for a provocatio. Isn’t instead to claim that RM+NS could have done it a pretty “credulity argument”?

    The evidence for mutation and selection are not based solely on what you term a “credulity argument”, which I’m assuming is of the form “I believe A, therefore A is true”. It is based on positive evidence – observations of the role of mutation in creating variation within a population, and the role of selection and genetic drift. Evolution is only a “credulity argument” if you think black holes, plate tectonics, etc are also credulity arguments. On the other hand, the fallacious argument presented vis-a-vis the ability of naturalistic processes to give rise to complex cellular processes is based primarily on a lack of evidence rather than any positive evidence.

    No, what it’s unplausible is to claim that Stonehange could have been built by earthquakes and tornados.

    And evolutionary biologists claim no such thing. To equate mutation and selection to forces like earthquakes and tornadoes shows a profound misunderstanding of the former processes. There is sufficient evidence to show that mutation can “build” things of utility to living organisms; it’s not merely a “credulity argument”.

  11. 11
    gpuccio says:

    geoffrobinson:

    “Materialists need to explain how a process which relies on errors (mutations, etc.) would create an error-control mechanism”

    Very well said. What is rarely emphasized is that, if a single function (specific protein) is already a perfect example of CSI, and therefore beyond the scope of RM + NS, the “regulation” of a function, both quantitavely and qualitatively (including error-control), so that it can be just fine-tuned to constantly changing conditions, is really a new layer of complexity, even more difficult to explain in blind terms.

    And think for a moment about complex networks of functions, and about the regulation of those networks! And, if you want, networks of networks, and so on.

    Biological beings, especially multicellular ones, are literally filled with such multiple levels of organization and interdependency, regarding, in humans, no less than 10^13 – 10^14 different living cells, witn myriads of different microscopic and macroscopic patterns of physical organization (tissues, organs, and so on) and myriads of myriads of functional connections (biochemical, with thousands of different cytochines, and neuro-electro-chemical, like in the about 10^14 synapses connecting 10^10 – 10^11 neurons).

    And that is only a superficial list of the many interrelations developing in our body from a single genome, which is always the same in each cell! And all of that is not only perfectly engineered, but also constantly regulated and modified, and error checked, according to constantly changing environmental challenges, both outside and inside the body. And we, poor ID folks, have just timidly tried to affirm the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum… Sometimes I really think we are too shy.

    Materialists, indeed, have a lot to explain. But we have the duty to remain constantly aware of the greatness and the beauty of what we experience everyday in the living world, because it is very easy to forget, and to take it for granted.

  12. 12
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    gpuccio:

    You seem to ignore all the multiple and detailed arguments made by ID (CSI, IC, OOL, fossil, etc.), none of which has ever been really addressed by darwininsts.

    I don’t ignore them, I’m simply not convinced they have any validity.

    I think that what idnet.com.au is saying is simply that, as ever new complex and deep layers of organization are discovered, explanations based on RM and NS are more and more a virtual impossibility,

    Again, the question arises as to how you make that conclusion. If you want to assert that every scientific discovery only raises a hundred new questions, I will readily agree with you. That is the nature of scientific inquiry. However, to simply claim that something so complex cannot be explained by mutation and selection is not positive evidence for ID.

    and ID arguments are more and more strengthened. ID arguments would have been valid even at the times of Darwin, but certainly there was much less evidence in their favor then. At the middle of the past century, when molecular biology was born, ID arguments would have been much more believable, if only the scientific community had not been hypnotized by its arrogance for a few important successes in understanding some mechanisms in biology.

    The arguments for ID are not strenghtening. It’s essentially the same negative argument that has existed for many years. There is no new evidence; merely more appendices to the same unprovable argument.

    If ID wants to strengthen its position, it needs to come up with positive evidence for its claims rather than relying on the gaps in our knowledge.

    But today, with the developments of, say, the last ten years in molecular biology, ID arguments are strong like steel. Each new discovery, each single day, is falsifying the RM + NS model, and is making the ID point of view stronger. The scientific paper cited in the post is only the last of many similar advancements in our understanding of the intelligent and organized nature of biological realities, and believe me, we are only at the beginning.

    On what basis do any of these findings “falsify” random mutation and natural selection? It’s completely absurd to say that.

    First of all, we “do” know that molecular complexes cannot evolve through naturalistic processes, and have shown that many times.

    Uh-huh…so where is the experimental evidence that indicates this?

    There have only been misguided attempts to show that they cannot, which remain arguments from ignorance e.g. Behe’s hijacking of “irreducible complexity”.

    At this point, it’s you, the darwinist field, who should clearly show how “exactly” you know that molecular complexes “can” evolve through naturalistic processes. Indeed, you should clearly show not only that they “can”, but also that they “have”. That would be science. All the rest (practically, all darwinian theory of evolution) is just an “argument from credulity”, and nothing else.

    Attempting to shift the burden of proof will not help the validity of your position. It’s like saying “till you prove that Russell’s teapot does not exist, then it means that it exists”.

    Furthermore, it would be sufficient merely to show that certain structures “can” evolve from naturalistic processes in order to falsify your position that they “cannot”.

    Your “argument from credulity” claim is rhetorical hogwash, because it would extend to virtually every other branch of science.

  13. 13
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    Lutepisc:

    Fascinating comment, Undesigned. Sounds as it it’s finely tuned, doesn’t it?

    “Finely tuned” by processes like selection or an unidentified Intelligent Agent?

    Materialists need to explain how a process which relies on errors (mutations, etc.) would create an error-control mechanism.

    Materialists? Does that mean ID is exempt, or can it reasonably fall under the boundaries of “materialism”?

    Nonetheless, it’s a loaded question. You could conversely ask how a process that relies on minimizing errors could create an error-control mechanism.

  14. 14

    “The evidence for mutation and selection are not based solely on what you term a “credulity argument”, which I’m assuming is of the form “I believe A, therefore A is true”. It is based on positive evidence – observations of the role of mutation in creating variation within a population, and the role of selection and genetic drift.”

    Really? That is what Michael Behe’s book recently tried to do. Pin down in observations exactly what mutations could do.

    I generally find the arguments to rely on Darwin-of-the-Gaps. There has to be a naturalistic answer, therefore there is a naturalistic answer.

    And what’s wrong with a negative argument? So what? I think we are talking about a philosophical premise than an actual demonstration of natural mutation producing something.

  15. 15
    gpuccio says:

    xcdesignproponentsists:

    You say:

    “The evidence for mutation and selection are not based solely on what you term a “credulity argument”, which I’m assuming is of the form “I believe A, therefore A is true”. It is based on positive evidence – observations of the role of mutation in creating variation within a population, and the role of selection and genetic drift”

    The “credulity argument” is not that. It is believing that, as you can vaguely imagine that some result could possibly happen due to naturalistic causes, you do believe that, although you have no real evidence for that, and although there are important evidences, both logical and empirical, against that. That is credulity, being ready to believe something just for “sentimental reasons”, like the faith in “naturalistic explanations”.

    You say:

    “There is sufficient evidence to show that mutation can “build” things of utility to living organisms; it’s not merely a “credulity argument”.”

    No, there isn’t sufficient evidence. That is the problem. There is some evidence, well known, that mutation can modify an existing function, usually reducing it, and that, when special environmental pressures are present, like antibiotic use, that “modification” in function may have some indirect advantage. That is well known.

    But to believe that such observations are “enough evidence” to believe that that’s the way biological information is built really requires tons of “credulity”.

    I will not repeat here the many arguments ID has made against that credulity. You know where to find them, so please read them, or if you have already done that, please address them specifically. But if you come here just stating that observations like antibiotic resistance in bacteria or the selection of S hemoglobin due to malaria are a good empirical foundation for the darwinian theory, then your credulity is much greater than I thought.

    A last note about negative evidence and positive evidence. It is the darwinian theory which has been built and arrogantly passed as “fact” in a complete lack of any evidence. ID, in its first (negative) aspect, is only remarking that. That means falsifying darwinian evolution on both logical and empirical grounds, which is a perfectly legit scientific endeavor.

    On the other hand, the positive aspect of ID (the design inference) suggests an alternative explanation based on strict logical and empirical observations. The design inference is perfectly “naturalistic”, if you stick to the real meaning of “naturalistic”: nature, indeed, is full of designers, we can observe at least a few billions of them constantly operating on our planet, and so we are perfectly correct in observing the phenomena of intelligent design and in studying the laws which allow to infer its presence. And that is, absolutely, positive evidence.

  16. 16
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    Really? That is what Michael Behe’s book recently tried to do. Pin down in observations exactly what mutations could do.

    I haven’t read The Edge of Evolution, but the impression I’ve had from proponents of Behe’s ideas is that he arbitrarily imposes “limits” on what mutation can do with more arguments from ignorance. It’s become the trademark of Behe’s argumentative style, which is probably why he feels the need to come up with empty rhetoric like “argument from credulity”.

    I generally find the arguments to rely on Darwin-of-the-Gaps. There has to be a naturalistic answer, therefore there is a naturalistic answer.

    Is this part of the beef with “methodological naturalism” that some ID proponents seem to have? Let me just say that I’m glad Laplace felt that way.

    And what’s wrong with a negative argument? So what? I think we are talking about a philosophical premise than an actual demonstration of natural mutation producing something.

    Mutations have produced lots of “things”. Do you disagree?

  17. 17
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    gpuccio:

    The “credulity argument” is not that. It is believing that, as you can vaguely imagine that some result could possibly happen due to naturalistic causes, you do believe that, although you have no real evidence for that, and although there are important evidences, both logical and empirical, against that. That is credulity, being ready to believe something just for “sentimental reasons”, like the faith in “naturalistic explanations”.

    The “no real evidence” claim is misleading, as is the claim that there is empirical and logical evidence against evolution without an Unidentified Intelligent Agent (UIA). The evidence is there is to suggest that naturalistic processes can create biological novelty and give rise to complexity.

    No, there isn’t sufficient evidence. That is the problem. There is some evidence, well known, that mutation can modify an existing function, usually reducing it, and that, when special environmental pressures are present, like antibiotic use, that “modification” in function may have some indirect advantage. That is well known.

    Considering that evolution can be summarized as descent with modification, it’s hardly that surprising is it? A large percentage of the genes in your body probably arose from gene duplication events. Furthermore, small modifications to regulatory genes can result in fairly signficant variation as evolutionary developmental biologists are discovering. Even then, there is scope for novelty in evolution e.g. the evolution of the anti-freeze protein in Antarctic fish. No one is suggesting that biological complexes evolved from scratch into their modern-day forms in a single mutational event – well, perhaps thats how some ID proponents think it is supposed to work.

    But to believe that such observations are “enough evidence” to believe that that’s the way biological information is built really requires tons of “credulity”.

    You mean just like it’s “credulity” to believe that chemical cues may be involved in the differentiation of certain embyrological cell types, even if they have not been identified as yet? Or that a plant could naturally produce an alkaloid extracted from it, even though one does not know the exact biochemical pathway involved?

    I will not repeat here the many arguments ID has made against that credulity. You know where to find them, so please read them, or if you have already done that, please address them specifically. But if you come here just stating that observations like antibiotic resistance in bacteria or the selection of S hemoglobin due to malaria are a good empirical foundation for the darwinian theory, then your credulity is much greater than I thought.

    The examples of mutations go far beyond those two textbook examples.

    A last note about negative evidence and positive evidence. It is the darwinian theory which has been built and arrogantly passed as “fact” in a complete lack of any evidence. ID, in its first (negative) aspect, is only remarking that. That means falsifying darwinian evolution on both logical and empirical grounds, which is a perfectly legit scientific endeavor.

    I hope you realize that arguments from incredulity do not suffice to falsify a theory.

    On the other hand, the positive aspect of ID (the design inference) suggests an alternative explanation based on strict logical and empirical observations. The design inference is perfectly “naturalistic”, if you stick to the real meaning of “naturalistic”: nature, indeed, is full of designers, we can observe at least a few billions of them constantly operating on our planet, and so we are perfectly correct in observing the phenomena of intelligent design and in studying the laws which allow to infer its presence. And that is, absolutely, positive evidence.

    I’m baffled by the sheer inconsistency of your position. You demand that evolutionists show you in detail how certain structures have naturalistically evolved in a stepwise fashion, or else you condemn their theory as a falsehood. On the other hand, you gladly cling to ID by making a flimsy “design inference” in the absence of demonstrating positively how a UIA goes about designing things. If these desigers are indeed naturalistic as you claim, then its well within the bounds of science. Where is the experimental evidence that identifies these agents and shows them at work?

  18. 18
    gpuccio says:

    xcdesignproponentsists:

    I have just read your answer (#12). Here are some notes about what you say:

    “If you want to assert that every scientific discovery only raises a hundred new questions, I will readily agree with you. That is the nature of scientific inquiry. However, to simply claim that something so complex cannot be explained by mutation and selection is not positive evidence for ID”.

    No, you evidently misunderstand ID and me in particular. In brief, the ID argument is as follows:

    1) A specific type of complexity is abundantly observed in living beings (CSI, IC).

    2) That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.

    3) A theory exists (or a group of similar theories, if you prefer) which states that it can explain the emergence of biological information according to certain mechanisms. Be careful, darwinian evolution is not a “vague” faith that perhaps biological information will some day be explained. It is a very definite attempt to explain it with a specific theory. It is the only “naturalistic” theory available, but that does not make it different from any other theory.

    4) Like any other scientific theory, it cannot be ultimately verified. But it can , indeed, be falsified. As I have said many times, the first step in ID is to falsify darwinian evoution. That has been vastly made at two different levels:
    a) Logical level, showing that the theory is internally inconsistent, because its logical and mathematical premises are completely false. That has been done in many ways, but essentially by Dembski with the concept of CSI, and by Behe with the concept of IC.
    b) Empirical level, showing that no existing empirical observation really supports the theory, while a lot of empirical observations are against it. That has been done in many ways, for example by Behe in his last book.

    Now, I understand that you don’t agree with all these considerations, and you have all the rights to believe what you believe. I am just saying that these are the questions about ID, and that nothing in them is an argument from incredulity. Debating each single aspect of ID is not possible here, but we do that every day on various threads in this blog. And believe me, we don’t do that from arguments of incredulity, but with very specific arguments and debates. You are welcome to take part in them.

    You say:

    “However, to simply claim that something so complex cannot be explained by mutation and selection is not positive evidence for ID”.

    No, saying that (and demonstrating it) is poositive evidence “against” darwinian selection. That means falsifying it, which is a perfectly natural scientific endeavor. Positive evidence against something is not “negative evidence”.

    Positive evidence for ID is, instead, the observation that intelligent designers “can” produce that kind of complex information, and that indeed they do that constantly. Besides, all examples of that kind of information in nature (except biological information, which is exactly the object of inquiry) are always the product of an intelligent designer. That is positive evidence for ID. It is called “The design inference”.

    You say:

    “On what basis do any of these findings “falsify” random mutation and natural selection? It’s completely absurd to say that.”

    No, it’s not absurd. Obviously, I have not given in my post a detailed discussion about CSI or IC (it was not my goal to do that there). But, if you know the arguments I am citing, then you can understand that the continuous discovery of new, and ever more conspicuous, levels of CSI and IC certainly strengthens the ID arguments. Obviously, if you don’t agree with the basic arguments, you will not agree with the above point. But that’s really trivial.

    You say:

    “It’s essentially the same negative argument that has existed for many years. There is no new evidence”

    No. First of all, I have shown that ID arguments are never negative. One is a positive argument against darwinism. The other is a positive argument for ID. In no case it is a negative argument.

    Secondly, I think you are a litlle bit confused about the meaning of the words “argument” and “evidence”. Even if we could agree that, in the last year for instance, there have been no new “arguments” for ID (that’s not true, there have been, but let’s accept that as a starting hypothesis here), still there is certainly a lot of new “evidence”. For instance, if the “argument” of IC made by Behe some years ago is still the same (and why should it be changed, it is so strong and beautiful!), still each new example of IC discovered in nature is new “evidence” in favor of that argument (and the article cited in this post is certainly an example of that).

    But, for instance, the argument from malaria in Behe’s TEOF is, indeed, a new argument, and an empirical one.

    You say:

    “Attempting to shift the burden of proof will not help the validity of your position. It’s like saying “till you prove that Russell’s teapot does not exist, then it means that it exists”

    I am not shifting anything. The burden of proof of darwinian theory is, and has always been, of darwinists. In the same way, the burden of proof of ID theory is, obviously, of IDists (and we are proud of that!).

    Everyone has the burden to prove what he is saying.

    You say:

    “Furthermore, it would be sufficient merely to show that certain structures “can” evolve from naturalistic processes in order to falsify your position that they “cannot”.”

    That’s perfectly right. Then, why don’t you do that? I really believe that ID is falsifiable, both in its first part (falsification of darwinian evolution) and in its second part (affirmation of the design inference). I do believe that ID “is” falsifiable, but that it will not be falsified. So, why don’t darwinists falsify it, instead of stating today that it is not falsifiable, while trying tomorrow (without suceeding) to falsify it?

  19. 19
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    gpuccio says:

    1) A specific type of complexity is abundantly observed in living beings (CSI, IC).

    2) That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.

    I reply:

    Are you sure about that second point? From what I can see, that assertion is as unproven as the rest of the “theories” of materialistic science regarding origins and evolution. And it appears to be based on a similar plethora of assumptions, scanty tangible evidence, questionable methods, cherry picking the data, extravagant extrapolations, untestable models, and a strong tendency to circular reasoning.

    Not to mention the fact that it ignores almost all of the evidence we have regarding how intelligent designers actually operate: we are the only intelligent designers available for study, and we don’t work that way. When we write, draw, paint, compose, program, and engineer things, we do so in ways that are distinctly contrary to evolutionary – and even the “front loaded” evolutionary – theory.

  20. 20
    Patrick says:

    I haven’t read The Edge of Evolution, but the impression I’ve had from proponents of Behe’s ideas is that he arbitrarily imposes “limits” on what mutation can do with more arguments from ignorance.

    Actually, the limit is an estimate and it was derived from the limited positive evidence for Darwinian processes that we do possess. This estimate would of course be adjusted when new evidence comes into play or abandoned altogether if there is positive evidence that Darwinian processes are capable of largescale constructive positive evolution. BTW, the bulk of the best examples of Darwinian evolution are destructive modifications like passive leaky pores (a foreign protein degrading the integrity of HIV’s membrane) and a leaky digestive system (P. falciparum self destructs when it’s system cannot properly dispose of toxins it is ingesting, so a leak apparently helps) that have a net positive effect under limited/temporary conditions. I personally believe that given a system intelligently constructed in a modular fashion (the system is designed for self-modification via the influence of external factors) that Darwinian processes may be capable of more than this, but we do not have positive evidence for this concept yet.

  21. 21
    bFast says:

    gpuccio says:

    1) A specific type of complexity is abundantly observed in living beings (CSI, IC).

    2) That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.

    Gerry Rzeppa:

    Are you sure about that second point? From what I can see … it ignores almost all of the evidence we have regarding how intelligent designers actually operate.

    I’m with gupiccio on this one. When I look at technology, clearly the product of intelligent design, I see exactly: “That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.”

    If you study any of our new technologies, they are the product of relative baby-steps from what has come before. The challenge that the neo-Darwinians must meet is not one of “more or less gradually”, but of “mutational event by mutational event” where each of those events is at most neutral, and no more than two or three neutral events must produce a net postive. Further, the neo-Darwinists must pull off the modern organism from dust in no more than .5 billion years. It must pull off all multicellular life in about 600 million years, and all mammals in about 120 million years. Based upon the evidence presented by Behe in “Edge of Evolution” we have witnessed an evolutionary experiment that involves far more organisms than there ever have been mammals on the planet, yet we have observed hardly any adaptive evolution, call it “none” in comparison to the amount of variety that exists amongst mammals.

  22. 22
    kairos says:

    #10 xcdesignproponentsists

    What do you mean by “neutral”?

    I mean that from a chemical point ov view DNA is a pretty ideal framework to store every possible sequence of nucleotides. In fact, each couple A-T or C-G in the DNA chain does not influence which couple can possibli be in the two close positions. This means that, whichewer was the way DNA structure dif initially originate chemically, the information content of a DNA molecule is almost independent on inner chemical constraints.

    The evidence for mutation and selection are not based solely on what you term a “credulity argument”, which I’m assuming is of the form “I believe A, therefore A is true”. It is based on positive evidence – observations of the role of mutation in creating variation within a population, and the role of selection and genetic drift.

    I would only repeat what gpuccio has very well explained about.

  23. 23
    gpuccio says:

    xcdesignproponentsists:

    I am sorry that our discussion is taking place in a somewhat “displaced” pattern. So, now just a few brief comments on your post #17.

    You say:

    “I’m baffled by the sheer inconsistency of your position. You demand that evolutionists show you in detail how certain structures have naturalistically evolved in a stepwise fashion, or else you condemn their theory as a falsehood. On the other hand, you gladly cling to ID by making a flimsy “design inference” in the absence of demonstrating positively how a UIA goes about designing things. If these desigers are indeed naturalistic as you claim, then its well within the bounds of science. Where is the experimental evidence that identifies these agents and shows them at work?”

    I am sorry that you are baffled. I am just a little bit tired of having to debate the usual stereotypes about ID. I have done that many time, as others have, each time a darwinist comes here thinking that he has understood everything about ID, and exoressing, one after the other, all the known and reknown false banalitites about ID. Anyway, in case you are really interested and not here only to show off, here are some more answers.

    1) I don’t demand anything. I only would appreciate, from people who are the leading authority in biology, a believable scientific theory about the origin of biological information. Darwinian evolution is not that. Why? Because it is not believable (logical inconsistency) “and” because facts do not support it (empirical inadeguacy). You can repeat a thousand times that these are arguments from incredulity, but you will say a thousand time a falsity. These are sound scientifical arguments, and they do falsify darwinian evolution. The design inference has nothing to do with this level of reasoning.
    Why is darwinian evolution logically inconsistent? Briefly, because it is a theory which postulates a random mechanism to create variation and it postulates that the variation so generated can be rich enough to be selected and accumulate “gradually” (yes, I do understand that point, and so do all my ID friend, we are not stupid, thank you…) until it reaches the level of complexity we obcerve today. Well, you certainly disagree, but we here in the ID field are well certain that such a theory is logically impossible. It cannot work. Why? Not because of ani incredulity, but because a careful evaluation of the model, and of the mathematical, statistical and physical resources implied, shows clearly that such a theory is completely bogus. This is the ID argument about complexity, not just the affirmation that something is “too complex”, but a careful analysis of what would be necessary to create that complexity exactly by the methods postulated by darwinian evolution, of the necessary probabilistic resources, of the difficulties implied by an obtuse certainty that everything can be generated step by step, when the space of functions is certainly enormously discontinuous (IC), and so on. And I am not even addressing the OOL problem, for which not even a vague theory exists, but only pure fantasies. Again, these are not arguments from incredulity. They are sound and quantitative arguments. They may be right or wrong, and you are welcome to the discussion if you have something interesting to say. But if you go one with the stereotype of the argument from incredulity, without motivating why, I don’t think I will spend any more time on this point.

    2) The design inference. In spite of all the resistance by dogmatic darwinists, the design inference is a perfectly natural science, and “does not imply” any knowledge of the designer and of how the designer has worked to implement the information in his design. Period.
    That said, there is anyway no reason why the designer and his methods should not be scientifically investigated. That will come. It’s just not part of ID proper. But, certainly, there is no reason not to discuss of the identity, methods, and nodality of the designer(s) in the light of the scientific data available. We do that often here in this blog. And we do have very different ideas on that. The main reason is that, while available data are more than enough to infer the existence of design, they are completely inadequate to argue about the designer. And so, the discussion about the designer becomes more philosophical than scientific, at least for now. But that’s not anybody’s fault. That’s indeed the main reason why ID proper is at present pruposefully self-limited to the design inference. That’s because ID is a scientific theory, and really wants to stay that way.

  24. 24
    gpuccio says:

    Gerry Rzeppa:

    I am not sure to understand your proble. Is it about the first part of my point (That complexity has not always been there), or the second part (It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet)?

    Anyway, I did not mean my second point as an absolute premise. It was only a way of expressing the more common model in science, which I have no specific reason, at present, to refute.

    I am well aware that there are other models, And I can well accept them for discussion. For instance, panspermia would not imply that life was generated on earth. YEC would not agree on the age of earth, and so on. I am not against any position, at least a priori, but obviously I have my ideas. The important thing is that, as far as I can see, the design inference stays valid in all models (except, obviously, darwinian evolution).

    Perhaps, if you would like to clarify your point of view, I could understand better what you mean.

  25. 25
    gpuccio says:

    bFast:

    I agree with your comments, and thank you for remarking the time scale, which is really fundmental. What people usually don’t understand is that most of the acwuisitions of mammals, and especially of humans, should have happened in a reproductive time per individual equivalent to just a fraction of what bacteria could attain in a very short time. That’s the basis for Behe’s arguments in TEOE.

    Like you, I am really intrigued by the similarities between DNA homologies in various species and what we can witness in the world of computer programming, especially Object Oriented programming. But, at present, it is perhaps too early to draw conclusions about that.

  26. 26
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    bFast says:

    When I look at technology, clearly the product of intelligent design, I see exactly: “That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.”

    I reply:

    I think the word “gradually” is misleading. Similarities exist between, say, a 1967 Corvette and a 1968 Corvette, but the transition from the one to the other cannot reasonably be described as “gradual”. The necessary re-design and re-tooling process – driven by an immeasurable amount of insight and imagination from above, from the heads of the designers – was no doubt filled with sudden, explosive, and sometimes even destructive events. In no sense can it be said that the 1968 Corvette “arose” or “emerged” or “gradually took form” from the 1967 model.

    The “explosions” behind other advances, I think, are even more evident: the conceptual leaps necessary to take us from slide rulers to calculators; from telegraphs to televisions; from Kitty Hawk to the Moon. A closer look at the “baby steps” you mention, bFast, shows that they are actually GIANT steps in the minds of the makers, with many (if not most) of the intermediate steps leaped over.

  27. 27
    leo says:

    gpuccio

    You seem to ignore all the multiple and detailed arguments made by ID (CSI, IC, OOL, fossil, etc.), none of which has ever been really addressed by darwininsts.

    Come on now, you know this isn’t true. Each one of these claims has been torn apart by multiple biologists/physicists/chemists/philosophers…

    I’m not going to go over all the details here, but you should know where to find them, simply give them a read and understand.

  28. 28
    bFast says:

    Gerry Rzeppa, “I think the word “gradually” is misleading. Similarities exist between, say, a 1967 Corvette … ”

    I would suggest that you skipped over the terms “more or less”. I would not agree with Gupccio’s statement in the least way except for that “more or less” bit.

  29. 29
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    gpuccio

    2) That complexity has not always been there. It was built, more or less gradually, on our planet.

    Gradually, eh? Some of your ID friends might disagree.

    4) Like any other scientific theory, it cannot be ultimately verified. But it can , indeed, be falsified. As I have said many times, the first step in ID is to falsify darwinian evoution.

    Which unfortunately ID proponents haven’t succeeded in doing. Irreducible complexity, for example, does NOT falsify evolution. In fact, it is a prediction of evolution – Behe did not coin the term.

    b) Empirical level, showing that no existing empirical observation really supports the theory,

    Repeating this falsehood won’t make it true.

    while a lot of empirical observations are against it.

    Primarily negative arguments i.e. arguments from ignorance. I’m sorry if you think the term is stereotyping your position, but it does adequately describe many of the arguments used by ID proponents. Mere handwaving will not address this point. The so-called positive arguments for ID, i.e. CSI and IC are non-arguments.

    No, saying that (and demonstrating it) is poositive evidence “against” darwinian selection. That means falsifying it, which is a perfectly natural scientific endeavor.

    IC and CSI do not falsify evolution. Then again, even IF you were able to falsify evolution, that is still not positive evidence for ID. There’s always creationism or Lokism. 😉

    Positive evidence for ID is, instead, the observation that intelligent designers “can” produce that kind of complex information, and that indeed they do that constantly.

    Intelligent designers can make synthetic diamonds. Does that mean that diamonds found naturally must have needed intelligence to form?
    If you consider this to be positive evidence for ID, then please don’t be surprised if the scientific community doesn’t this argument very seriously. It’s merely an analogy applied (possibly) incorrectly to living organisms.

    Besides, all examples of that kind of information in nature (except biological information, which is exactly the object of inquiry) are always the product of an intelligent designer. That is positive evidence for ID. It is called “The design inference”.

    And all intelligent designers that we know of are all products of nature. Hence, unless humans are somehow detached from nature, it is ultimately naturalistic processes creating information.

    No, it’s not absurd. Obviously, I have not given in my post a detailed discussion about CSI or IC (it was not my goal to do that there). But, if you know the arguments I am citing, then you can understand that the continuous discovery of new, and ever more conspicuous, levels of CSI and IC certainly strengthens the ID arguments.

    Not if CSI and IC are faulty premises to begin with. Have you truly given that consideration?

    No. First of all, I have shown that ID arguments are never negative.

    You’ve tried to.

    One is a positive argument against darwinism.

    In other words, still a negative argument. But we’re splitting hairs now.

    The other is a positive argument for ID.

    Of which the ones you’ve provided in this response are rather flawed.

    That’s perfectly right. Then, why don’t you do that?

    The evolution of the antifreeze protein in Antarctic fish (neither trivial nor insignificant, despite Behe’s handwaving).

    So, why don’t darwinists falsify it, instead of stating today that it is not falsifiable, while trying tomorrow (without suceeding) to falsify it?

    Specific aspects of ID are not falsifiable. For example, even if scientists were able to provide a step-by-step breakdown of each mutational event that led to the formation of a protein complex, one could still claim that Intelligent Designer was responsible. After all, why must the Designer be restricted to what cannot be explained naturalistically? And the claim may very well be true – antifreeze protein could have evolved by a naturalistic mechanism, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t Designed.

  30. 30
    xcdesignproponentsists says:

    Patrick:

    Actually, the limit is an estimate and it was derived from the limited positive evidence for Darwinian processes that we do possess.

    An “estimate”, eh? And what rigorous methodology did Behe employ in order to demonstrate that there is a limit to what evolution can do.

    BTW, the bulk of the best examples of Darwinian evolution are destructive modifications like passive leaky pores (a foreign protein degrading the integrity of HIV’s membrane) and a leaky digestive system (P. falciparum self destructs when it’s system cannot properly dispose of toxins it is ingesting, so a leak apparently helps) that have a net positive effect under limited/temporary conditions.

    Virtually all conditions are in some sense “temporary”, which is precisely why evolution does take place. It’s highly likely that a mutation can impair another function of the organism, but the key issue here is survival, not aesthetics. If the mutation has a net benefit, despite being detrimental to another aspect of the organism then, the organism will survive and the damage may be largely inconsequential.

    You can think of the evolution of many different structures in this same way. To use a hypothetical example, our larger brains did not come without a cost. It would possibly have meant that we needed a higher intake of glucose, that childbirth would be more difficult and possibly lethal, etc. Nonetheless, the overall benefit of having larger brains is rather evident. Let’s just hope human beings don’t get too big-headed.

    I personally believe that given a system intelligently constructed in a modular fashion (the system is designed for self-modification via the influence of external factors) that Darwinian processes may be capable of more than this, but we do not have positive evidence for this concept yet.

    I respect your opinion.

  31. 31
    SCheesman says:

    xcdesignproponentsists: “An “estimate”, eh? And what rigorous methodology did Behe employ in order to demonstrate that there is a limit to what evolution can do.”

    As Dr. Behe has painstakingly tried to relate on his amazon blog, he made no estimation or calculation. He has simply observed, based on actual studies, what has and what has not actually occurred. In nearly every cases where some “beneficial” mutation has occurred it is simply because it broke something already present, not because it added anything interesting or new.

    Those changes RM has produced are easily quantified, and understandable, using simple statistical models and error rates.

    If there is no limit to what evolution can do, then why is it that what it actually does, based upon laboratory observation, is so limited?

  32. 32
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    gpuccio says:

    Perhaps, if you would like to clarify your point of view, I could understand better what you mean.

    I reply:

    My initial point was the the age of the universe is a matter of extreme speculation, but is often spoken of as settled fact. I think this is bad practice, however “common” a model may be. Or perhaps I should say, bad practice especially with a common but unproven model!

    My secondary point was that in every case where we know how things came to be – books, paintings, musical compositions, computer programs, houses, telephones, automobiles, etc:

    (1) the sudden appearance of increased complexity is common;

    (2) most of the imaginable intermediate forms are missing; and

    (3) any attempt to date such artifacts (without recourse to “outside data”) typically fails. For example, different parts of my car might be manufactured at different times, and a novel might be written over a period of decades.

  33. 33
    jerry says:

    leo,

    you said,

    “I’m not going to go over all the details here, but you should know where to find them, simply give them a read and understand.”

    We are kind of dumb here so why don’t you select one or two examples to enlighten us. For several years we have been asking for enlightenment but no one has taken pity on us and provided it. I have read textbooks on the topic, watched evolution courses at Berkeley and they all failed to enlighten. Even evolutionary biologist such as Allen MacNeill and Darrel Falk did not help us when they were here. So be kind and help us out.

  34. 34
    kairos says:

    #29 xc …..

    Which unfortunately ID proponents haven’t succeeded in doing. Irreducible complexity, for example, does NOT falsify evolution. In fact, it is a prediction of evolution – Behe did not coin the term.

    😀 This is one of the best jokes about. Let’s say instead that there are just-so stories that are desperatelely trying to explain how an IC structure could have been built with evolution. But without any intermediate systems, any proved selective pressure, and, MAINLY, any selection according to the final function. If this is what evolution can predict you are spaking about fables not about science.

    Repeating this falsehood won’t make it true.

    Ehm, are you speaking about NDE I suppose …

    The so-called positive arguments for ID, i.e. CSI and IC are non-arguments.

    No problem. Give a decent and proved (not just so stories please) indirect path according to which flagellum or eye or anything else have been built and you’ll have some argument about.

    IC and CSI do not falsify evolution. Then again, even IF you were able to falsify evolution, that is still not positive evidence for ID. There’s always creationism or Lokism. 😉

    I understand; you are that kind of people that, going to play poker and after having lost some million $ because the opponent did have ace poker for 30 consecutive hands says to himself that there are “no positive evidence” for cheating. Congratulations 😀

    Intelligent designers can make synthetic diamonds. Does that mean that diamonds found naturally must have needed intelligence to form?
    If you consider this to be positive evidence for ID, then please don’t be surprised if the scientific community doesn’t this argument very seriously. It’s merely an analogy applied (possibly) incorrectly to living organisms.

    Come on sir, have you read anithing significant about specified complexity before to came here to propose this sort of (pseudo)arguments?

    And all intelligent designers that we know of are all products of nature. Hence, unless humans are somehow detached from nature, it is ultimately naturalistic processes creating information.

    Ehm. This is a classical logical fallacy. If the ultimate nature of reality is only naturalistic is the question, NOT the answer. Come on, correct this approach before charging Id supporters of credulity fallacy.

    The evolution of the antifreeze protein in Antarctic fish (neither trivial nor insignificant, despite Behe’s handwaving).

    Should here we accept your idea about? After all for diamonds you weren’t right …

    Specific aspects of ID are not falsifiable. For example, even if scientists were able to provide a step-by-step breakdown of each mutational event that led to the formation of a protein complex, one could still claim that Intelligent Designer was responsible.

    Sir, may I remind you Occam’s razor that NDEers use mainly where it can’t? This is acase where the use would be pretty good. Let’s wait if the fact will arise. Good luck.

    After all, why must the Designer be restricted to what cannot be explained naturalistically? And the claim may very well be true –

    Occam …
    antifreeze protein could have evolved by a naturalistic mechanism, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t Designed.

    Occam … 🙂

  35. 35
    ari-freedom says:

    kairos, don’t you know? evolutionists always fall back on the zillions of alternative universes. That way they can predict *everything*

  36. 36
    kairos says:

    #35

    don’t you know? evolutionists always fall back on the zillions of alternative universes. That way they can predict *everything*

    OK. But then they ‘ve to be coherent with themselves.
    So, I repeat, going to play poker and after having lost some million $ because the opponent did have ace poker for 30 consecutive hands, they are supposed to be calm and to say that there is no reason to get angry for there are “no positive evidence” for cheating. 😀

  37. 37
    DaveScot says:

    xcdesignwhatever is no longer with us. Anyone wanting to criticize Behe’s “Edge of Evolution” without bothering to read it first can do it elsewhere.

  38. 38
    Patrick says:

    As Dr. Behe has painstakingly tried to relate on his amazon blog, he made no estimation or calculation. He has simply observed, based on actual studies, what has and what has not actually occurred.

    When I said “estimate” I only meant that although everything was based upon real observations the derived edge/limit of evolution is not a hard limit in that under certain conditions Darwinian processes “might” be capable of a bit more. This is an assumption on my part, but as we gather more evidence over the years I’m assuming we’ll derive a more accurate limit that may be slightly higher than what is currently given.

  39. 39
    leo says:

    jerry,

    Absolutely, I would love to. Of course this cannot be the full detailed arguments that many have set forth due to the restrictions of time and space, however, I think general outlines of the arguments presented shall suffice.

    I have chosen to use two primary texts. Both are popular science books, as I have noticed that all the ID arguments are set out in popular science books and rarely/never in peer review publications. I will use Michael Shermer’s Why Darwin Matters (Owl Books, 200) and Niall Shanks’ God, the Devil, and Darwin (Oxford University Press, 2006). I chose these for the simple reason that I have read each in the last month and am therefore more familiar with their contents. I should note that while I enjoyed the writing of Shanks, I did not enjoy Shermer’s, finding it too simple (perhaps that was a goal of his, I don’t know) and in some places, petty.

    I will constrain myself here to simply quoting their words as that is the task set before me. And, of course, all spelling a grammatical mistakes are mine.

    On CSI…

    Shanks:

    It is a good question as to whether the fruits of undersigned self-organizing processes pass muster as being intelligently designed when viewed from the standpoint of Dembski’s claims about CSI. If they do, then the design inference will be invalid: for an enormous number of natural systems it will lead from true premises concerning contingency, complexity, and specification to a false conclusion about intelligent design.

    What follows is a description of Benard cells, an undesigned, self-organizing process that exhibits CSI.

    Apparently aware of the threat posed by self-organization of this kind for his attempted defense of claims about intelligent design, Dembski initially accuses those who study these phenomena of trying to get a free lunch

    Bargains are all fine and good, and if you can get something for nothing, go for it. But there is an alternative tendency in science that says that you get what you pay for and that at the end of the day there has to be an accounting of the books. Some areas of science are open to bargain-hunting and some are not. Self organizing complex systems, for instance, are a great place for scientific bargain-hunters to shop. Benard cell convection, Belousov-Zhabotinsky reactions, and a host of other self-organizing systems offer complex organized structures apparently for free. But there are other areas of science that frown on bargain-hunting. The conservation laws of physics, for instance, allow no bargains. (Dembski, WA. Introduction: What Intelligent Design Is Not. In Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design. 2001)

    Dembski does not tell us which conservation laws of physics forbid self-organization. This is a vexing matter since Benard cells occur in nature – for example in the sun – as well as in the laboratory (not to mention a host of other self-organizing systems). There existence is certainly consistent with known conservation laws. Not only this. For Benard cells, forming in accord with dumb, natural mechanisms, manifest complex specified information.

    In this regard, Dembski (in No Free Lunch) is guilty of gross oversimplification in his desire to quickly dispose of the problem posed by Benard cell patterns. The crucial difference between the Benard cell pattern and the pattern of hits by the marksman is that the Benard cell pattern does not require intelligent design for its appearance, only a dumb generating mechanism combined with the effects of dumb chance in the form of fluctuations and inhomogeneities in the dumb aqueous medium.

    First of all, Benard cells manifest CSI and they arise from natural unintelligent causes. Moreover the central issue is not whether the system manifesting CSI is a component of a closed thermodynamical system. The central issue is whether there is usable energy to drive the formation of systems manifesting CSI. The universe we live in clearly does contain such usable energy, and is in fact teeming with such undersigned yet organized complex systems at all scales, from the molecular to the galactic.

    In saying that information can be thought of as being inverse to entropy, Dembski is arguing that as the entropy of a system decreases, information increases, and as entropy increases, information decreases. … In these terms, entropy of an isolated or closed system will tend increase until it attains a state of thermodynamical equilibrium, at which point the entropy will tend to remain unchanged. Exceptions to these trends with respect to entropy were claimed to be due to the occurrence of random fluctuations bringing about spontaneous decreases in entropy, with large fluctuations being much more unlikely that very small fluctuations.
    Blotzmann was driven to the view that the orderd, structured universe we see around us was due to an enomous, incredibly rare statistical fluctuation that had brought about a massive, spontaneous decrease in entropy. Even in its own terms, this explanation of the organized character of the universe we live in is not satisfactory. … The real problem is that neither Dembski nor Boltzmann are correct about the nature of the universe we live in. This has the consequence that Dembski’s proposed forth law of thermodynamics, the law of conservation of information, is simply not needed to explain the “highly unlikely exceptions” to the Second Law that Boltzmann had attributed to random fluctuations! … our universe is presently a nonequilibrium universe in which there is plenty of usable energy to drive the formation of organized structures on both small and large scales. But there is more. Our universe began with a Big Bang. … the entire universe (matter, energy, space, and time) was originally scrunched up into a featureless, pointlike object know as a singularity that lacked structure and organization. In the beginning, entropy was not at a minimum, instead entropy was at a maximum. …the expansion of the universe from an initial point-like singularity creates opportunities for gravity to initiate self-organizing processes the structured, feature-filled fruits of which are themselves the basis for further self-organization and emergence of additional structure and order.

    Our universe began in a state of maximal entropy. … The universe we live in has lots of usable energy and is far from a state of thermodynamical equilibrium in which entropy and information would remain the same (barring statistical fluctuations). The resulting decreases in entropy in these islands of order, by Dembski’s own admission that entropy and information are inversely related, result in increases in information. These features of our universe point clearly to the conclusion that you can indeed get CSI through self-organization resulting from unintelligent natural causes, and that no invisible supernatural hand operating outside a system of purely natural causes is needed.

    All I have time for right now. To be continued.

  40. 40
    j says:

    leo: “Benard cells, an undesigned, self-organizing process that exhibits CSI.

    (1) “Self-organizing” is a nonsense term.

    D.L. Abel, J.T. Trevors, “Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models”, Physics of Life Reviews (2006):

    Abstract

    Self-ordering phenomena should not be confused with self-organization. Self-ordering events occur spontaneously according to natural “law” propensities and are purely physicodynamic. Crystallization and the spontaneously forming dissipative structures of Prigogine are examples of self-ordering. Self-ordering phenomena involve no decision nodes, no dynamically-inert configurable switches, no logic gates, no steering toward algorithmic success or “computational halting”. Hypercycles, genetic and evolutionary algorithms, neural nets, and cellular automata have not been shown to self-organize spontaneously into nontrivial functions. … Inanimacy cannot “organize” itself. Inanimacy can only self-order. “Self-organization” is without empirical and prediction-fulfilling support. No falsifiable theory of self-organization exists. “Self-organization” provides no mechanism and offers no detailed verifiable explanatory power. Care should be taken not to use the term “self-organization” erroneously to refer to low-informational, natural-process, self-ordering events, especially when discussing genetic information.

    (2) Further, “self-ordering” phenomena are, more accurately, “order-rearranging” phenomena:

    Stephen M. Barr, professor of theoretical physics, Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware, in Modern Physics and Ancient Faith (2003), pp. 78-79:

    [W]hen examined carefully, scientific accounts of natural processes are never really about order emerging from mere chaos, or form emerging from mere formlessness. On the contrary, they are always about the unfolding of an order that was already implicit in the nature of things, although often in a secret or hidden way. When we see situations that appear haphazard, or things that appear amorphous, automatically or spontaneously “arranging themselves” into orderly patterns, what we find in every case is that what appeared to be amorphous or haphazard actually had a great deal of order already built into it. I shall illustrate this first in [a] simple example of marbles in [a] box, and then later in more “natural” cases like the growth of crystals and the formation of the solar system. What we shall learn from these examples is the following inportant principle: Order has to be built in for order to come out.

    In fact, we shall also learn something more: in every case where science explains order, it does so, in the final analysis, by appealing to a greater, more impressive, and more comprehensive underlying orderliness….

    (3) By definition, because of (1) and (2), CSI is clearly not generated by Bénard cell convection. (Besides, there is no such thing as CSI. Darwinists have proven this. Don’t you know anything?)

    (4) There is no good reason to call the convenient, automatic rearrangement of order in the universe “undesigned”.

  41. 41
    gpuccio says:

    leo:

    I think both you and the people you cite have not understood the meaning of CSI. I invite you to re-read Dembsi, but I’ll try to sum it up for you.

    For CSI to be present, three conditions must be present:

    1) The information in the system must be one of many possible “random” configurations, and the number of possible random configurations must be high enough (for instance, higher than Dembski’s UPB). That is conplexity.

    2) The observed configuration must be specified in one of the possible ways (for instance, pre-specified, or functionally specified, that is it must express some function which is new, in other words which is the result of the specific configuration attained). That is specification.

    3) The observed configuration must in no way be the product of necessity, that is there must be no way to attain that specific configuration because specific laws of cause and effect require that. In other words, the configuration expressing the function must be, from the point of view of physical laws, the result of pure chance, the random happening of one of the multiple possible, and equally likely, random configurations. In other words, the specified information attained must really be the result of randomness, and in no way the result of necessity. That excludes all “self-ordering” systems.

    Now please, would you like to point to an example of CSI in nature, other than biological information, which is not the product of intelligent design? I am waiting…

  42. 42
    leo says:

    gpuccio,

    Actually, I think it is you who either don’t understand CSI or don’t understand Benard cells. Why else would Dembski, the man who co-opted the tern CSI say:

    “Benard cell convection, Belousov-Zhabotinsky reactions, and a host of other self-organizing systems offer complex organized structures”

    furthemore, from Shanks:

    ” First of all, Benard cells manifest Debski-complexity. The formation of Benard cells just by chance alone is highly improbable. In fact, they do not form just by chance. The cells result from self-organizing processes whose physical consequences are the emergence of visible patterns involving the net coherent, coordinated motions of trillions of water molecules … The patterns are thus extremely complex. The general pattern can also be specified independently of, indeed prior to, its generation. The patterns are not ad hoc. Benard cells are also contingent. They do not result from an automatic process that gives you the exact same pattern each time.

  43. 43
    jerry says:

    leo,

    Two things:

    First, we will have to discuss Bernard cells, whatever they are and find out if there is any relevance to living cells and life.

    I personally find the CSI thing incomprehensible when it is attempted as a generalized approach to intelligence. There are much better definitions of CSI when aplied to life that are easy to understand and for which your self organiztion examples are irrelevant.

    Second, you have provided nothing yet on evolution for us to read that would support a gradualist approach. I assume you will add to your list.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry [and Leo}:

    That’s why I focus on FSCI — functionally specified, complex information. Cf here on who first came up with that idea. (Hint: the spelling is O-R-G-E-L, and the year is 1973.)

    Having noted that, GP is right — and IMHCO comprehensible — in his remarks in 41.

    In particular, I think that we can distinguish between the order of convection cells — which form by chance plus natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity and boundary conditions, and the aperiodic, information-bearing, functionally specified complexity of say DNA, or even the carvings on Mt Rushmore.

    In particular, observe that the first step in the EF that identifies CSI is to eliminate such natural regularities.

    If there is a lawlike necessity at work similar to needing heat + oxidiser + fuel to get a fire, there is not sufficient contingency to make a difference worth talking about.

    Second, where there may be high contingency tracing to random distributions in appropriate parameters or boundary conditions, again we are not getting to the point, but are seeing chance at work. In the caser of Shanks’ comment, he should note that his “self-ordering” is in fact a confusion with the proper term here: naural regularites tracing to mechnaical necessity. Of course the particular initial and boundary conditions will make for differences from one case to the next, but these are either set by chance in nature or by agent action – and if we can control the agency input we could use that to store and transmit information for use.

    Thus the difference should be plain.

    Also, we should see that it is possible to have chance and necessity and indeed agency at worlk in a situation.

    As I note in my always linked:

    A Tumbling Die: For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!

    This concrete, familiar illustration should suffice to show that the three causal factors approach is not at all arbitrary or dubious — as some are tempted to imagine or assert.

    It is when we have complexity plus specification — especially functional specification in an informational context — that we have a proper inference to agency. In particular, what happens is that a random based search across the config space starting from an arbitrary initial point cannot credibly find the foot of a hill of functionality for hill-climbing self reinforcing optimising searches to hit on success, without exhausting the probabilistic resources of the observed cosmos.

    But creative agents do that all the time, e.g the posts in this thread.

    GEM of TKI

  45. 45
    ari-freedom says:

    Bénard cells. Ilya Prigogine received his Nobel for his research in this area. I think he admitted they have little relevance to biology.

  46. 46
    gpuccio says:

    leo:

    I insist that it is you who don’t understand CSI. I may not understand Benard cells, but I think I understand well enough the false argument you build on them.

    Here is Wikipedia’s definition for Benard cells:

    “Bénard cells are convection cells that appear spontaneously in a liquid layer when heat is applied from below. They can be obtained using a simple experiment first conducted by Henri Bénard, a French physicist, in 1900.”

    You cite Dembski as an authority to support your arguments:

    “Benard cell convection, Belousov-Zhabotinsky reactions, and a host of other self-organizing systems offer complex organized structures”

    But here Dembski is not saying that they display CSI. CSI means Complex Specified Information, and not complex organized structures. So, your argument from citing Dembski is completely false, and your understanding of words is inadequate.

    You cite Shanks:

    “First of all, Benard cells manifest Debski-complexity. The formation of Benard cells just by chance alone is highly improbable. In fact, they do not form just by chance. The cells result from self-organizing processes whose physical consequences are the emergence of visible patterns involving the net coherent, coordinated motions of trillions of water molecules … The patterns are thus extremely complex. The general pattern can also be specified independently of, indeed prior to, its generation. The patterns are not ad hoc. Benard cells are also contingent. They do not result from an automatic process that gives you the exact same pattern each time.”

    Obviously, Shanks too has not understood the concept of CSI, which he calls here “Dembski complexity”. It seems obvious that Benard cells are the product of physical laws (necessity) applied to a sistem where random variations slightly modify an outcome which is, anyway, vastly deterministic. The “self-organizing processes” are just a way to use words, unless you attribute to them the status of either a new law of nature, or a spiritual principle. Obviously, only the laws of necessity and some random variation in the conditions to which those laws are applied are the causal factors here. No CSI is present.

    You should understand that CSI is completely another thing. Take, for instance, exactly the example of DNA, which is obviously relevant for our discussion. In DNA, there is no “self-organizing process” which makes specific patterns of nucleotide sequences necessary, even with slight variations due to chance. On the contrary, DNA mutations are, by definition, at least in darwinian theory, completely random. That means that, when a single nucleotide is subject to mutation, for instance a substitution, each of the possible outcomes has the same probability. In principle, each DNA sequence has the same probability to exist. There are no laws of necessity which can give specific patterns in preference to others (obviously, I am not discussing NS here, only RM).

    So, if we observe complex specification in DNA, that is CSI. It is not what we observe in Benard cells or similar phenomena. The patterns of Benard cells, although they show some order, are not produced by chance. It is not chance which produces the order, chance only makes the order slightly different from time to time, and so it makes it not completely predictable. That is, after all, the role of chance. But the order in Benard cells is created by the physical laws, which are laws of necessity.

    Instead, in CSI, the specified complexity arouses in systems where the laws of necessity can create no specific order, because all possible orders have the same probability to emerge, and the emergence of one configuration rather than another one is supposed to be completely random. In these systems, and only in them, if a specified and complex configuration emerges, an intelligent designer can be inferred.

    By the way, I am still waiting that you point to a single example of CSI (according to its correct definition, please) in nature, apart from biological information which is at issue here, which is not caused by intelligent design.

  47. 47
    leo says:

    some comments to all of you:

    about not yet writing every argument:
    It is true, I haven’t. I’ve barely written about one, in fact. I have not the time or the inclination to spend more than ~20min per day on here, so if you are expecting everything right away, I suppose you should look somewhere else (perhaps read the books yourselves). I have found, over the past couple months looking in, that the same arguments are recycled over and over so I feel I will have plenty of opportunities to get my ideas across.

    someone said that “I thought Darwinits had already disproven the idea of CSI, so now why are they using it” in so many words.

    I would say these are two different arguments. One is pointing out that, despite what Dembski says, there is CSI in natural, non-biological things. The other is saying, so what – that doesn’t mean that the term itself has any value in any discussion on the origins of biological life. For example (all pulled off Wikipedia with references therein):

    Dembski has used the terms “complexity”, “information” and “improbability” interchangeably. These numbers measure properties of things of different types: Complexity measures how hard it is to describe an object (such as a bitstring), information measures how close to uniform a random probability distribution is and improbability measures how unlikely an event is given a probability distribution.

    When Dembski’s mathematical claims on specific complexity are interpreted to make them meaningful and conform to minimal standards of mathematical usage, they usually turn out to be false.

    This basic flaw in his modeling renders all of Dembski’s subsequent calculations and reasoning in No Free Lunch irrelevant because his basic model does not reflect reality. Since the basis of No Free Lunch relies on this flawed argument, the entire thesis of the book collapses

    Dembski’s critics note that specified complexity, as originally defined by Leslie Orgel, is precisely what Darwinian evolution is supposed to create

    hey also claim that his argument is a tautology: CSI cannot occur naturally because Dembski has defined it thus.

    Apart from such theoretical considerations, critics cite reports of evidence of the kind of evolutionary “spontanteous generation” that Dembski claims is too improbable to occur naturally.

    Other commentators have noted that evolution through selection is frequently used to design certain electronic, aeronautic and automotive systems which are considered problems too complex for human “intelligent designers”

    And from Shanks, on an archer hitting a target (Dembski’s example of a non-random sequence of events)

    This is all well an good if we see the archer do to trick. The trouble here should be obvious. We have to ask what happens if we do not see the archer shoot and we do not see the arrows in flight. … The bull’s-eye full of arrows would not, in and of itself, be enough. This is why the origins of pattern, not simply the pattern itself, are important. Without this, all you have is anomalous data. Behe is simply wrong when he says “The inference to design can be held with all the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer”.

  48. 48
    ari-freedom says:

    thank you for the funny wikipedia comments

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