Irreducible Complexity

Term “irreducible complexity” revisited

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Further to: Where did the term irreducible complexity originate, Michael “Forbidden Archeology” Cremo writes to say,

Richard Thompson and I used the term “irreducible complexity” In our 1984 publication Origins.

“Looking at the complex phenomena that confront any observer of the universe, scientists have decided to try a reductionistic approach. They say, ‘Let’s try to reduce everything to measurements and try to explain them by simple universal laws.’ But there is no logical reason for ruling out in advance alternative strategies for comprehending the universe, strategies that might involve laws and principles of irreducible complexity.” (p. 4) Drutakarma Dasa (Michael A. Cremo), Bhutatma Dasa (Austin Gordon), and Sadaputa Dasa (Richard L. Thompso) 1984. Origins: Higher Dimensions in Science. Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. 64 page magazine size pamphlet.

We also wrote (p. 58): “Having failed to reduce complex things to simple principles, the scientist now has two choices. First, he can simply stop,saaying these things exist but we can say nothing more about them. Second, he can go forward by searching for principles suitably complex to have generated the irreducible complexity he observes.”

Just before that (p. 58) we reference Elsasser: “Reviewing the conclusions of his own investigations, prominent biologist Walter M. Elsasser states that the complex biochemical forms of living organisms are ‘of a primary and irreducible type of natural order, on the same level as the more conventional laws of nature.”

–Walter M. Elsasser. A form of logic suited for biology. Progress in Theoretical Biology vol 6, 1981, p. 57.

Pos-Darwinista writes to say that the 1981 paper is free as a .pdf.

All leaves us wondering: Given the paucuity of the end result (now even Darwin’s finches have lost their sacred relic status), how much research into evolution has been efforts to keep Darwinism alive on cardiac bypass/life support, and how much had anything to do with life sciences as such?

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55 Replies to “Term “irreducible complexity” revisited

  1. 1
    Andre says:

    Time to switch off the life support….

  2. 2
    CHartsil says:

    So basically a gap argument

  3. 3
    Joe says:

    And archaeology, forensic science and SETI are gap arguments…

  4. 4
    CHartsil says:

    Maybe to someone who thinks ID is scientific.

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    ID is scientific as it has all of the entailments of a scientific endeavor.

    Unguided evolution, OTOH, has nothing.

  6. 6
    CHartsil says:

    So then you should be able to easily name one single mechanism for ID.

  7. 7
    Diogenes says:

    Joe, you don’t know what “entailment” means. If X has all the entailments of Y, it does not mean X= Y nor that X is a subset of Y. You probably want to say that X entails Y or is a subset of Y, if X then Y. But instead you said X has all the entailments of Y, which implies if Y then X. Which is not the same at all.

    You probably thought it sounded smart when you wrote it. Try to limit yourself to jargon words whose meanings you know.

    As we saw on the Junk DNA thread, ID can’t make testable predictions about observables without making assumptions about the purposes of God. And if you deduce the purposes of God only by doing the observation first, you have circular logic, not the scientific method. No testable predictions, so no theory.

    As IDer Paul Nelson admitted, there is no theory of Intelligent Design.

  8. 8
    humbled says:

    Diogenes, as a faithful follower of one of human kinds most embarrassing and insane philosophies masquerading as science ever to plague the earth, you are disqualified from telling anyone they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Since you and your kind have chosen to suspend all higher brain function in order to make a ridiculous impossible theory come to life, I hardly think you’re in any position to be discussing what is and what isn’t science either. Especially a theory that breaks pretty much every well established law and principle we have in science.

    With zero evidence and never having witnessed these alleged materialistic miracles, past or present, your position is one of faith and superstition. You wouldn’t know what the scientific method was if it bit you on the backside 😉

  9. 9

    Right now there is no functional theory of evolution, and a new general theory of evolution is in the mills being horseshoed to fit evolutionary expectations, but it won’t be selectionist, and will incorporate (contra Darwin) some neo-Lamarckian theoretical insights.

    It will be presented in 2020. Since science abhors the epistemological vacuum. By which evolutionary theory is Biology being done?

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    CHartsil:

    So then you should be able to easily name one single mechanism for ID.

    That doesn’t follow. However “built-in responses to environmental cues” is one such mechanism.

  11. 11
    Joe says:

    Diogenes, You are a blathering idiot. That ID has all of the entailments of science means it is a scientific endeavor.

    ID makes testable predictions about the DESIGN. We don’t need to know anything about the designer to do so. Obviously your scientific knowledge is very limited.

    And as we saw in the junk DNA threads, unguided evolution can’t account for DNA.

  12. 12
    Robert Byers says:

    Irreducible complexity is a great idea in modern science.
    It is a simple claim that biology is so complex that upon diving it down it still is so complex its living life.
    In short whether saying information or Gods glue biology is alive because of a essence not reducible to lower parts.
    Life is almost magical. its stuff is very complicated. Its not possible to have evolved or puffed into existence.

  13. 13
    Collin says:

    CHartsil,

    Must a scientific hypothesis have a proposed mechanism to be scientific?

    If so, then is gravity scientific?

    How about consciousness? Would you deny the existence of consciousness? Is there a plausible mechanism for consciousness?

    Also, getting back to SETI. If a signal came from space that appeared to be message, would you have to know the identity of the sender or the way their constructed their communication device before you could say anything scientifically about the message?

  14. 14
    Paleysghost says:

    Just another thread where Chartsil gets laid out in the first round like a High School student boxing Issac Newton.

  15. 15
    CHartsil says:

    “Must a scientific hypothesis have a proposed mechanism to be scientific?”

    It’s required for a hypothesis to become a theory, yes.

    “Also, getting back to SETI. If a signal came from space that appeared to be message, would you have to know the identity of the sender or the way their constructed their communication device before you could say anything scientifically about the message?”

    Strawman. We send radio signals so we know the mechanisms by which they’re sent. SETI is apples to apples. ID and the following inferences are real apples to plastic oranges.

    “Just another thread where Chartsil gets laid out in the first round like a High School student boxing Issac Newton.”

    From the one too scared to debate me

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    CHartsil doesn’t know anything about science. That much is obvious from its posts.

    A scientific hypothesis does NOT require a mechanism and CH cannot produce a reference to the contrary.

  17. 17
    Yarrgonaut says:

    CH,

    “Strawman. We send radio signals so we know the mechanisms by which they’re sent.”

    You do realize we can construct proteins, DNA, RNA, and other highly complex organic molecules as well right? All the information we’ve accrued about them from such research points to design. That’s really the issue. It’s not about what we don’t know, but where the evidence that we know is leading us.

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Newtonian Gravitation — a powerful theory used to develop our understanding of the solar system, was non mechanistic. It is not a reasonable requirement of scientific work or theories that they be mechanistic. KF

  19. 19
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: Also, getting back to SETI. If a signal came from space that appeared to be message, would you have to know the identity of the sender or the way their constructed their communication device before you could say anything scientifically about the message?

    SETI assumes that organisms have evolved elsewhere in a similar fashion to humans, that is, on watery worlds revolving around stars. More particularly, SETI doesn’t look for messages, but narrow-band electromagnetic emissions. Even if such an emission were discovered, it would be skeptically scrutinized.

    As for the message, any possibilities of understanding the message would again depend on association with what humans might send as a message. It’s quite possible humans would not be able to recognize a message, much less understand it.

  20. 20
    logically_speaking says:

    I think CHartsil’s comments are irreducibly complex, as they always seem to include gap arguments, strawman arguments and equivocations. I think he could not exist without them.

  21. 21
    Paleysghost says:

    Don’t forget that he also copy / pastes the exact same arguments from article to article, and that clearly is one of his mechanisms too.

  22. 22
    Collin says:

    Chartsil,

    There are clearly many scientific theories that describe regular, predictable phenomena without identifying the mechanism.

    Zachriel,

    Fair enough. But when the signals are skeptically scrutinized, what principles or methods would the scientists rely on when trying to determine whether or not the messages come from an intelligent source? I bet they might use something akin to FCSI.

    Although I don’t mind if someone thinks that ID has not yet identified design, I get annoyed when people disparage the endeavor a priori. ID is a real scholarly discipline and attempts are honestly being made to see if design can be detected in nature. I honestly don’t see the problem with that. Unless it makes you emotionally uncomfortable that it might force you to believe in God. For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure God will not make you believe in Him in this life.

  23. 23
    Collin says:

    I won the internets!

  24. 24
    tjguy says:

    Yarrgonaut @17

    You do realize we can construct proteins, DNA, RNA, and other highly complex organic molecules as well right? All the information we’ve accrued about them from such research points to design. That’s really the issue. It’s not about what we don’t know, but where the evidence that we know is leading us.

    EXCELLENT POINT!

    If CHartsil consistently applied this principle, then he would be an IDer because we know that intelligent humans can construct machines, codes, information, software, etc.

    I guess these guys pick and choose when they want to apply what principle and when they want to ignore a principle. Seems quite scientific, eh?

  25. 25
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: But when the signals are skeptically scrutinized, what principles or methods would the scientists rely on when trying to determine whether or not the messages come from an intelligent source? I bet they might use something akin to FCSI.

    If you flip your TV to old reruns of “I Love Lucy”, do you calculate the FSCI to determine whether it is intelligent or not?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbNcQlzV-4

  26. 26
    Collin says:

    Zachriel,

    So detection design is just a hunch? Isn’t that what evolutionists criticise us for?

    I can’t believe that you are serious. What methods do SETI scientists use? It’s similarity to old sit-coms? How do they translate the binary signal?

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    “Hunch” – I don’t have a good answer so I belittle rhetorically.

  28. 28
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: So detection design is just a hunch?

    Even if the ID argument was considered strong evidence, and if it actually were a scientific enterprise, then it would be just the start of the verification process. Other, independent entailments would be sought. Lack of such evidence would call into question the original claim.

    Collin: What methods do SETI scientists use?

    They look for a narrow-band radio signal in the water spectrum hole emanating from a star. That’s because that’s what humans would use if they wanted to communicate. If such a signal were found, that would be just the start of the process of determining whether the signal was intelligent or not. They do not search for FSCI or “I Love Lucy” or whatever.
    http://www.seti.org/seti-insti.....servations

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Z, inference to best empirically warranted explanation is not glorified guesswork or hunches. That trick being played by is it Z in another thread is an attempt to dismiss inductive reasoning; the foundation inter alia of science. Which, we all rely on. A fundamentally anti-rational attitude emerges. KF

  30. 30
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: inference to best empirically warranted explanation is not glorified guesswork or hunches.

    Even granting that the ID Argument is sound, the scientific enterprise always looks for independent entailments to both strengthen and extend the original findings. Lacking those entailments — even an interest in what are obviously important questions — calls into question both the original ID Argument, and whether it is a scientific enterprise at all.

  31. 31
    Collin says:

    Zachriel,

    Don’t you think they have to use some kind of formula to determine if it is intelligent? If so, what is that formula? Could it be used to detect intelligence in DNA? If not, why not? Aren’t you a little curious about this?

    SETI not only looks for messages, but it sends them sometimes too. One of the messages had “a repeating-sequence header” to alert aliens that it was from an intelligent source. What about a “repeating-sequence header” signals intelligence? Do we not find “repeating-sequence headers” in DNA?

    http://www.space.com/17151-ali.....ponse.html

  32. 32
    CHartsil says:

    “You do realize we can construct proteins, DNA, RNA, and other highly complex organic molecules as well right?”

    We can also smash atoms and produce new elements. That doesn’t mean stars are giant designed nuclear reactors. Your fallacy is : Affirming the consequent.

  33. 33
    CHartsil says:

    People complain about my arguments but no one addresses them. Odd

  34. 34
    Collin says:

    CHartsil,

    How about when multiple people showed that lots of science is done without identifying a mechanism? Was that not directly addressing your argument?

  35. 35
    CHartsil says:

    Except that it isn’t. A testable model is the core of a scientific theory.

  36. 36
    Collin says:

    Mechanism does not equal testable model. Isaac Newton was able to test his theory that gravity caused things to move in a certain way according to a mathematically defined formula. He did not know what caused gravity, only that it followed particular laws. It was not until Einstein that we had a good idea of what caused gravity (and I’m not sure we do know for certain what causes it).

    ID is an attempt to show that certain features in the universe are designed because designed things share certain characteristics. Perhaps it succeeds, perhaps it fails. But having a “mechanism” first does not determine if it is a scientific hypothesis. Only being testable.

  37. 37
    CHartsil says:

    “Mechanism does not equal testable model”

    Yes but a testable model requires a mechanism. Newton had the observable attraction of mass to mass. He was exactly as right as he could’ve been about gravity given the knowledge at the time. Like Mendel with genetics.

  38. 38
    Yarrgonaut says:

    CH,

    “We can also smash atoms and produce new elements. That doesn’t mean stars are giant designed nuclear reactors. Your fallacy is : Affirming the consequent.”

    You obviously have a very short memory.

    Collin suggested that we do not have to know the identity of the designer in order to say things scientifically about the message. – That was the point in discussion. Not whether or not knowing mechanisms by which things occur indicates design.

    You responded by saying:

    “Strawman. We send radio signals so we know the mechanisms by which they’re sent.”

    I responded by pointing out that it wasn’t a strawman, and that we know the mechanisms.

    You then replied by the above quote, arguing that it doesn’t prove design. While that’s great and all, the point in question wasn’t whether design was proven, but whether it was scientific. (Hence affirming the consequent obviously doesn’t apply here) Toward that end, you haven’t actually offered anything more in the way of argument. Now that could be a tacit concession, or perhaps you’re just confused.

  39. 39
    CHartsil says:

    “Collin suggested that we do not have to know the identity of the designer in order to say things scientifically about the message.”

    >Accusing me of having a short memory

    >Forgetting that I pointed out we know certain radio signals are the product of design because we produce them ourselves.

    “While that’s great and all, the point in question wasn’t whether design was proven, but whether it was scientific.”

    So what was the predicted testable mechanism of design in regards to life?

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, why do you insist on repeating assertions that have been repeatedly corrected? Do you imagine that repetition will transmute misrepresentation and evasion into truth? FSCO/I is inductively established on trillions of observed cases as best explained on and a reliable sign of design as material causal factor. Every new case is an empirical test of this, even your attempted rebuttal. Consistently, such new cases show that FSCO/I reliably comes about by design. I dare to add, the only reason there is a controversy on this, is that an institutionally entrenched evolutionary materialist school of thought — not having first showed that its favoured causal factors can and do produce FSCO/I — wishes to account for OOL and origin of body plans on factors that have not met the vera causa, demonstrated causal adequacy test. KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    CHartsil, kindly cf the just above to Z. There is an explanatory model, outlined in the per aspect explanatory filter framework, which on inductive basis, identifies that FSCO/I will be a reliable sign of design. It has been successfully passed trillions of times and exceptions are not forthcoming. Science is not mechanistic. KF

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: Don’t you think they have to use some kind of formula to determine if it is intelligent?

    It’s not a formula, but a methodology.

    If a narrow-band signal were detected, then all manner of tests would be performed, not only trying to determine if there were a message, but where the signal was emanating from, how the signal was generated, what other explanations might be possible, etc. In other words, all aspects of the question would be studied. This is very unlike ID, which washes its hands of the matter once it has reached its ‘conclusion’.

    Collin: Isaac Newton was able to test his theory that gravity caused things to move in a certain way according to a mathematically defined formula.

    It’s called Newtonian Mechanics.

    Collin: But having a “mechanism” first does not determine if it is a scientific hypothesis. Only being testable.

    It has to have testable entailments. What ID claims is an inference, which they confuse with entailments. What they have is a speculation, which they claim as a conclusion but refuse to submit it to scrutiny.

    The scientific method: a hypothesis, an inference to a testable prediction, then the test. Then again and again and again, looking at the question from many angles.

    Yarrgonaut: Collin suggested that we do not have to know the identity of the designer in order to say things scientifically about the message.

    If we can read the message, then we have information about the designer. Even if it is a bare signal, it tells us something about the designer. DNA doesn’t contain a message in this sense.

    kairosfocus: why do you insist on repeating assertions that have been repeatedly corrected?

    You ignored our argument, even though we had already granted your point arguendo.

  43. 43
    Joe says:

    ID has testable entailments. Zachriel’s willful ignorance, while entertaining, means nothing to the real world.

    And DNA contains a message in the sense Zachriel is talking about. Again with its willful ignorance.

  44. 44
    Joe says:

    CHartsil:

    Yes but a testable model requires a mechanism.

    Design is a mechanism, by definition. A targeted search is a specific design mechanism. “Built-in responses to environmental cues” is another.

    Also unguided evolution has mechanisms yet it cannot be modeled! You lose.

  45. 45
    Joe says:

    Zachriel:

    Even granting that the ID Argument is sound, the scientific enterprise always looks for independent entailments to both strengthen and extend the original findings.

    And ID has presented them. OTOH unguided evolution doesn’t have any entailments…

  46. 46
    CHartsil says:

    Joe, design is a claim in this instance. It’s the hypothesis of ID proponents that life is designed and thus far you have nothing better than invalid inferences.

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    CHartsil, I know what design is. And I know it has testable entailments. And I know that your position has NOTHING. If your position had something then ID would be falsified as the design inference goes through necessity and chance, ie your position.

    I see you are upset because your position cannot be modeled nor tested.

  48. 48
    CHartsil says:

    “And I know it has testable entailments.”

    Such as?

    We don’t have to falsify ID, it’s just an empty assertion

  49. 49
    Joe says:

    How many times do we have to present ID’s testable entailments? Why don’t evos present the testable entailments for unguided evolution?

    You can’t falsify ID as you have an empty head.

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

  50. 50
    CHartsil says:

    “How many times do we have to present ID’s testable entailments?”

    Once would be nice

    1: Question begging

    2: Gap argument for a gap that doesn’t even exist. IC has been destroyed

    3: Gap argument and argument from ignorance

    4: Faulty premises, faulty conclusion

  51. 51
    Joe says:

    1: Question begging

    Only to an ignorant arse.

    2: Gap argument for a gap that doesn’t even exist. IC has been destroyed

    And archaeology and forensic science are gap arguments. IC is still going strong as evos don’t have a clue how it could have evolved via differing accumulations of genetic accidents.

    3: Gap argument and argument from ignorance

    Wrong again. Our knowledge is what grants us the design inference and your position relies on ignorance.

    And it is very noticeable that you cannot present any entailments for unguided evolution. You are a pathetic little imp.

  52. 52
    CHartsil says:

    Coming from the ignorant ass that thinks it’s a valid argument.

    IC is dead, ID proponents are just too scientifically illiterate to know it

  53. 53
    franklin says:

    joe

    IC is still going strong as evos don’t have a clue how it could have evolved via differing accumulations of genetic accidents.

    But, joe, Lenski’s group has clearly documented the evolution and evolutionary path that led to the IC aerobic citrate transport system in the E. coli strain used in his long-term expt.

    So not only do the ‘evos’ have a clue they have the evidence in hand.

    If you think the aerobic citrate transport system the evolved in e coli is not IC what parts can be removed and still maintain the aerobic transport of citrate functioinality?

  54. 54
    Upright BiPed says:

    IC is dead, ID proponents are just too scientifically illiterate to know it

    Let’s find out.

    When the living cell constructs a new protein, it uses a system whereby individual amino acids are presented for binding in a sequence specified by information contained in its DNA. This is how the constituents of the cell become organized. This is core bottom-basement origin of life stuff; the organization of the cell; the chemical capacity to stave off entropy and assume homeostasis, etc. It goes to the physicist’s questions “what is life” and in a universe governed by a few inexorable laws, “what enables the profound diversity we find?”

    So… if the triplet CAG is transcribed and inputted into to the genetic translation system, the amino acid glutamine is presented at the peptide binding site for incorporation into the newly forming protein. If some other triplet is transcribed and inputted, say GTC, then glutamine is not presented for binding. And yet once again, if it should come to pass that CAG is inputted, then once gain glutamine is presented for binding. Even if the same three bases are inputted, but inputted in different order, such as GAC or AGC for instance, then either aspartic acid or serine will be presented for binding instead of glutamine. Only if CAG is transcribed and inputted will glutamine be presented for binding.

    My question to you: What do you think determines that glutamine is presented for binding?

  55. 55
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: Don’t you think they have to use some kind of formula to determine if it is intelligent?

    Whatever method you choose should be supported by other types of evidence. Any single method will tend to be viewed skeptically. Just as important, you have to be explicit in what you mean by intelligence. Evolution can be considered a learning and problem-solving process, so if that is your metric for intelligence, then darwinian evolution is intelligent.

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