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Evolutionary Theorists Discover How mp4 Videos Work

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Over on this thread we’ve had a lively discussion, primarily about common descent.  However, one of the key side discussions has focused on the information required to build an organism.

Remarkably, some have argued that essentially nothing is required except a parts list on a digital storage medium.  Yes, you heard right.  Given the right sequence of digital characters (represented by nucleotides in the DNA molecule), each part will correctly self-assemble, the various parts will make their way automatically to the correct place within the cell, they will then automatically assemble into larger protein complexes and molecular machines to perform work, the various cells will automatically assemble themselves into larger structures, such as limbs and organs, and eventually everything will automatically come together into a completely-assembled, fully-integrated, functioning organism.

It all happens purely naturally and automatically.  Just by force of chemistry.  No additional information is necessary; no plan or programming are required.

Just the right sequence along the DNA spine to specify the various parts, and we’re done.

Move along, folks.  Nothing more to see here.  The nucleotide sequences that specify the gene products are all we need.  Chemistry does all the rest.

It’s just “basic biology.”


For those who might be tempted to buy into the above storyline, let me share a recent news story.  Actually I should have shared it on April 1st, but I’m sharing it today.

Evolutionary Theorists Discover How mp4 Videos Work

April 1, 2016.  Somewhere on Planet Earth.

Recently a group of evolutionary theorists  – specifically, theorists who claim that the cellular functions of biological organisms can be explained by chemistry alone – found a laptop with a number of video files contained on the hard drive.

Knowing little about computers and even less about systems engineering, the intrepid theorists began to examine the laptop and discovered a number of icons on the desktop.  The icons in question had various names, but they all ended in “.mp4.”  Upon pressing an icon, the theorists were amazed to discover that the desktop view disappeared, the screen went momentarily black, and then a movie began to play.

Much speculation ensued about how this was possible, but after a particularly valiant effort, they were able to determine that each icon referenced a long string of digital characters stored on the laptop’s hard drive.  Further, each icon pointed to a different sequence of digital characters, thus explaining how a different movie was played for each icon.

After much careful thought, the evolutionary theorists announced the results of their discovery:  Each sequence of digital characters on the hard drive represented a series of still images, thus containing all the information required for the movie.

It was an impressive result, to be sure, but some observers noted that the discovery still did not explain how it was possible for mp4 videos to be played.

When pressed for more details, the evolutionary theorists loudly reasserted that they had already solved the puzzle of how mp4 videos worked and wondered aloud how anyone could be so foolish as to question their results.

“It’s all there in the string of characters for the images,” one theorist confidently stated.  “We can identify the sequences for the images right there.  There is no other software or programming required to play an mp4 video.  You just press the icon and everything happens automatically – all by the force of electrical impulses.  There is no need for intervention, or intelligence, or design, or anything of the kind.  The video simply plays as a result of a series of automatically-triggered electrical impulses, and nothing more is needed to explain how it works.”

Some skeptics questioned whether this explanation made sense, but the evolutionary theorists would have none of it, and roundly accused the skeptics of not having the proper background or education to question the Electrical-Impulse theory.

Confident that the Electrical-Impulse theory fully explained the operation of the mp4 files on the laptop, several of the theorists also concluded that everything else on the storage medium was unnecessary.  “It isn’t needed,” one dryly remarked.  “The image sequences are sufficient to account for the videos, so everything else on the hard drive is probably just junk.”

Finally, when asked where the laptop, the storage medium, and the processor came from in the first place, the theorists noted that they had also found a copy of the laptop’s parts list on the hard drive, so naturally it can be assumed, they reasoned, that the parts list was the source of the laptop itself.

Hi Eric, Nice post; It prompts me to repost this old post of mine: (nearly 10 years old, and probably similar to older ones previously posted - I apologize, but, just had to get it our of my system)
es58September 11, 2006 at 11:22 am Does anyone out there besides myself ever identify with any of the following gut feelings: Primal Scream. The expression: The inmates have taken over the asylum Charlton Heston’s character in the Planet of the Apes, realizing what was going on and screaming “It’s a Mad House, a Mad House!”. The character in Network (which I don’t think I ever saw, but it’s so well known) shouting he’s not going to take it anymore. and … hmm, what else might fit here? what was it again? (distracted look and fingers drumming on desktop) Oh yeah, a whole world claiming that the extroadinary complexity of life started up from a dead planet Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!!! Forgive me, how very unscientific of me, I’ve appeared to have lost it there for a moment. [I realize that all credibility, if there ever was even a shred of it, has been lost for all time] Back to “sanity”. (Ooh I’m soooo embarrased.) We return you now to your regularly scheduled program…. Hah, this was actually just a joke. These are not my personal feelings, you see. [No, of course not] But, it might me an illustration of what any “legitimately credentialed scientist” actually would have to go through if they even intimate publicly that they question this “certainty of certainties”, which is apparently known to be true beyond any other scientific theory in history.
Moreover, it is important to learn that ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum entanglement (A. Aspect, A. Zeilinger, etc..) can be used as a ‘quantum information channel’,,,
Quantum Entanglement and Information Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/
And this 'non-local', beyond space and time, quantum entanglement/information is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale, in every DNA and protein molecule:
Elisabeth Rieper – Classical and Quantum Information in DNA – video (Longitudinal Quantum Information resides along the entire length of DNA discussed at the 19:30 minute mark; at 24:00 minute mark Dr. Rieper remarks that practically the whole DNA molecule can be viewed as quantum information with classical information embedded within it) https://youtu.be/2nqHOnVTxJE?t=1176 Classical and Quantum Information Channels in Protein Chain - Dj. Koruga, A. Tomi?, Z. Ratkaj, L. Matija - 2006 Abstract: Investigation of the properties of peptide plane in protein chain from both classical and quantum approach is presented.,,, Consideration of peptide planes in protein chain from information viewpoint also shows that protein chain possesses classical and quantum properties. So, it appears that protein chain behaves as a triple dual system: (1) structural - amino acids and peptide planes, (2) energy - classical and quantum state, and (3) information - classical and quantum coding. Based on experimental facts of protein chain, we proposed from the structure-energy-information viewpoint its synergetic code system. http://www.scientific.net/MSF.518.491
Thus the Intelligent Design advocate has some fairly strong empirical support for his claim that 'top down causation' is primary in life, and that it is information, not just chemistry, that is primarily running the show in living organisms.
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Of related note to top down causation: Darwinists apparently think that 'bottom up' chemistry runs the show in life, i.e. 'by force of chemistry' as you put it Eric. Whereas the ID advocate holds that 'top down' information is running the show in life. Another piece of evidence that strongly hints that the ID advocate is right in his presumption of 'top down causation' for life is what is termed 'Quarter Power scaling'. Quarter Power indicates that there is a mysterious 'higher dimensional' component to life. A 'higher dimensional' component that is certainly very friendly to the entire notion of 'top down causation':
Post-Darwinist - Denyse O'Leary - Dec. 2010 Excerpt: They quote West et al. (1999), “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection." They comment, "In the words of these authors, natural selection has exploited variations on this fractal theme to produce the incredible variety of biological form and function', but there were severe geometric and physical constraints on metabolic processes." "The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection. It's inconceivable that so many different organisms, spanning different kingdoms and phyla, may have blindly 'tried' all sorts of power laws and that only those that have by chance 'discovered' the one-quarter power law reproduced and thrived." Quotations from Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79. The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale with body size as power laws of the form: Y = Yo M^b, where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent. A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling. http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~drewa/pubs/savage_v_2004_f18_257.pdf Of Life's Laws And Unity - May 11, 2016 Excerpt: Life obeys certain allometric scaling laws that seem to reveal a sort of overarching design principle at work. We don't know what this principle is, although it's probably related to optimization: What's the best shape for the least amount of energy consumption? A famous allometric law is known as Kleiber's Law, where the metabolic rate of an animal grows as its mass to the 3/4 power. (The metabolic rate can be measured in terms of the rate at which an animal consumes oxygen, for example.) Although there are small variations (due to motion, disease, aging), the relation holds over a wide range of masses. (There are disputes for very small animals without a circulatory system.) Geoffrey West, Brian Enquist and James Brown proposed a model based on blood flow to explain this and a few other general allometric scaling laws with body weight observed in animals (for a review paper see this): Apart from Kleiber's Law mentioned above, life span scales as 1/4 power (so take two square roots of the mass), and heart rate as -1/4 power. Put together, these two laws explain why all species have a similar amount of heartbeats, 1.5 billion, over their life spans. Pause for amazement. The laws are not absolutely precise but do indicate a common trend across an enormous variety of living creatures. On Monday night, I was on a panel on Complexity with Geoffrey West at the New York Academy of Sciences. At some point, I asked West whether alien life, if it exists, would follow the same sort of unifying allometric laws. With a twinkle in his eye, West replied, a big smile on his face: "Well, I can only speculate here, but it seems plausible that this sort of design principle for life does have universal characteristics." It would be amazing if life as we don't know it is, after all, life as we do know it. http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/05/11/477607869/of-life-s-laws-and-unity
The reason why ’4-Dimensional’ quarter power scaling laws are impossible for Darwinian evolution to explain is that Natural Selection operates at the 3-Dimensional level of the organism and the ’4-Dimensional’ quarter power scaling law are simply ‘invisible’ to natural selection. The reason why 4-Dimensional things are, for all practical purposes, completely invisible to 3-Dimensional things is best illustrated by ‘flatland’:
Dr Quantum - Flatland - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4
Though Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the invariant scaling of the physiology, metabolism, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications that this 'four dimensional scaling' of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional information’ is more foundational to life, and even to the universe itself, than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional 'expectation' for living organisms, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework which holds that information, and indeed even consciousness itself, is merely an 'emergent' property of the 3-D material realm. In making this point clear, it is important to note the 'transcendent' nature of information:
“One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin? And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires. Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.” -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences. Intelligent design: Why can't biological information originate through a materialistic process? - Stephen Meyer - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8
Moreover, Dr. Andy C. McIntosh, who is the Professor of Thermodynamics Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds (which I believe is the highest teaching/research rank in U.K. university hierarchy), has written a peer-reviewed paper in which he holds that it is 'non-material information' which is constraining the local thermodynamics of a cell to be in such a extremely high non-equilibrium state:
Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? Excerpt: This paper highlights the distinctive and non-material nature of information and its relationship with matter, energy and natural forces. It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate. A.C. McINTOSH - Dr Andy C. McIntosh is the Professor of Thermodynamics Combustion Theory at the University of Leeds. (the highest teaching/research rank in U.K. university hierarchy) http://journals.witpress.com/paperinfo.asp?pid=420
Moreover, Dr. McIntosh holds that regarding information as independent of energy and matter 'resolves the thermodynamic issues and invokes the correct paradigm for understanding the vital area of thermodynamic/organisational interactions' for living organisms.
Information and Thermodynamics in Living Systems - Andy C. McIntosh - 2013 Excerpt: ,,, information is in fact non-material and that the coded information systems (such as, but not restricted to the coding of DNA in all living systems) is not defined at all by the biochemistry or physics of the molecules used to store the data. Rather than matter and energy defining the information sitting on the polymers of life, this approach posits that the reverse is in fact the case. Information has its definition outside the matter and energy on which it sits, and furthermore constrains it to operate in a highly non-equilibrium thermodynamic environment. This proposal resolves the thermodynamic issues and invokes the correct paradigm for understanding the vital area of thermodynamic/organisational interactions, which despite the efforts from alternative paradigms has not given a satisfactory explanation of the way information in systems operates.,,, http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814508728_0008
Of related note to Dr. McIntosh's contention that it must be information which is constraining life to be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium, information has now experimentally been shown to have a ‘thermodynamic content’
Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010 Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=demonic-device-converts-inform
However MP4, like biology, is more complex than this — a lot more.
Absolutely. This just starts to give us the barest sense of the magnitude of the issue. If people will take a moment to step back and think through the matter, they will quickly realize there is a lot more going on, almost none of it explainable solely on the basis of pure physics and chemistry.
I think they have a fairly good idea how introns get separated out.
Perhaps in a handful of specific cases, but even then, any understanding is rudimentary at best. Furthermore, there are many genetic sequences that code for multiple proteins, sometimes dozens or hundreds, resulting from different concatenation routines. We're barely scratching the surface in hazarding a guess as to how that is accomplished. But one early conclusion is clear: it is not the sequence itself that is making the determination. It is a top-down determination, not bottom-up. Eric Anderson
BA77: The Abel and Ellis quotes are helpful and well worth pondering. Thanks. Eric Anderson
Very interesting analogy. However MP4, like biology, is more complex than this -- a lot more. There aren't a series of discrete images, instead there is a list of instructions to modify the previous frame to get the current frame. This is part of the MP4 compression magic. MP4 is highly compressed, there is no bitmap of the image. There is no byte alignment to the image. Nothing about the image makes very much sense at all unless you have the MP4 algorithm. I think our stupid scientists wouldn't get past "there's a bunch of data" and "this program over here converts it to pictures on the display". Of course, that's just about how far biologists are along with their analysis of DNA. They've figured out genes -- 'sept most of the folding. I think they have a fairly good idea how introns get separated out. But what goes on in the "junk", well, they're pretty sure the correct answer is "nothing". Well, it used to be "nothing", now they agree that there is more functional non-coding DNA than coding DNA, but still, there's a lot of junk -- a lot of nothing. bFast
That chemical processes arising bottom up from DNA is not the be all, end all, that Darwinists imagine it to be is made evident by the following:
Neurons constantly rewrite their DNA - Apr. 27, 2015 Excerpt: They (neurons) use minor "DNA surgeries" to toggle their activity levels all day, every day.,,, "We used to think that once a cell reaches full maturation, its DNA is totally stable, including the molecular tags attached to it to control its genes and maintain the cell's identity," says Hongjun Song, Ph.D.,, "This research shows that some cells actually alter their DNA all the time, just to perform everyday functions.",,, ,,, recent studies had turned up evidence that mammals' brains exhibit highly dynamic DNA modification activity—more than in any other area of the body,,, http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-04-neurons-constantly-rewrite-dna.html Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism - Jonathan Wells - February 23, 2015 Excerpt: humans have a "few thousand" different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,, The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It's called genomic mosaicism. In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,, ,,,(then) "genomic equivalence" -- the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA -- became the accepted view. I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common. I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It's the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/02/ask_an_embryolo093851.html Genes and Organisms: Improvising the Dance of Life - Stephen L. Talbott - Nov. 10, 2015 Excerpt: The performances of countless cells in your body are redirected and coordinated as part of a global narrative for which no localized controller exists. This redirection and coordination includes a unique choreography of gene expression in each individual cell. Hundreds or thousands of DNA sequences move (or are moved) within vast numbers of cell nuclei, and are subjected to extraordinarily nuanced, locally modulated chemical activity so as to contribute appropriately to bodily requirements that are nowhere codified — least of all in those DNA sequences.,,, http://www.natureinstitute.org/txt/st/org/comm/ar/2015/genes_29.htm Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century - James A. Shapiro - 2009 Excerpt (Page 12): Underlying the central dogma and conventional views of genome evolution was the idea that the genome is a stable structure that changes rarely and accidentally by chemical fluctuations (106) or replication errors. This view has had to change with the realization that maintenance of genome stability is an active cellular function and the discovery of numerous dedicated biochemical systems for restructuring DNA molecules.(107–110) Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome. These natural processes are analogous to human genetic engineering,,, (Page 14) Genome change arises as a consequence of natural genetic engineering, not from accidents. Replication errors and DNA damage are subject to cell surveillance and correction. When DNA damage correction does produce novel genetic structures, natural genetic engineering functions, such as mutator polymerases and nonhomologous end-joining complexes, are involved. Realizing that DNA change is a biochemical process means that it is subject to regulation like other cellular activities. Thus, we expect to see genome change occurring in response to different stimuli (Table 1) and operating nonrandomly throughout the genome, guided by various types of intermolecular contacts (Table 1 of Ref. 112). http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro2009.AnnNYAcadSciMS.RevisitingCentral%20Dogma.pdf "It is difficult (if not impossible) to find a genome change operator that is truly random in its action within the DNA of the cell where it works. All careful studies of mutagenesis find statistically significant non-random patterns” James Shapiro - Evolution: A View From The 21st Century - (Page 82) How life changes itself: the Read-Write (RW) genome. - 2013 Excerpt: Research dating back to the 1930s has shown that genetic change is the result of cell-mediated processes, not simply accidents or damage to the DNA. This cell-active view of genome change applies to all scales of DNA sequence variation, from point mutations to large-scale genome rearrangements and whole genome duplications (WGDs). This conceptual change to active cell inscriptions controlling RW genome functions has profound implications for all areas of the life sciences. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23876611 A Key Evidence for Evolution Involving Mobile Genetic Elements Continues to Crumble - Cornelius Hunter - July 13, 2014 Excerpt: The biological roles of these place-jumping, repetitive elements are mysterious. They are largely viewed (by Darwinists) as “genomic parasites,” but in this study, researchers found the mobile DNA can provide genetic novelties recruited as certain population-unique, functional enrichments that are nonrandom and purposeful. “The first shocker was the sheer volume of genetic variation due to the dynamics of mobile elements, including coding and regulatory genomic regions, and the second was amount of population-specific insertions of transposable DNA elements,” Michalak said. “Roughly 50 percent of the insertions were population unique.” http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-key-evidence-for-evolution-involving.html James Shapiro on “dangerous oversimplifications” about the cell - August 6, 2013 Excerpt: "Depending upon the energy source and other circumstances, these indescribably complex entities can reproduce themselves with great reliability at times as short as 10-20 minutes. Each reproductive cell cycle involves literally hundreds of millions of biochemical and biomechanical events. We must recognize that cells possess a cybernetic capacity beyond our ability to imitate. Therefore, it should not surprise us when we discover extremely dense and interconnected control architectures at all levels. Simplifying assumptions about cell informatics can be more misleading than helpful in understanding the basic principles of biological function. Two dangerous oversimplifications have been (i) to consider the genome as a mere physical carrier of hypothetical units called “genes” that determine particular cell or organismal traits, and (ii) to think of the genome as a digitally encoded Read-Only Turing tape that feeds instructions to the rest of the cell about individual characters [4]." https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/news/james-shapiro-on-dangerous-oversimplifications-about-the-cell/
Also of note to top down causation, completely contrary to materialistic thought, mind has been now also been shown to be able to reach all the way down and have pronounced, ‘epigenetic’ effects on the gene expression of our bodies:
Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes, - December 10, 2013 Excerpt: “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.,,, the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways. http://www.tunedbody.com/scientists-finally-show-thoughts-can-cause-specific-molecular-changes-genes/
George Ellis excerpt:
Recognising Top-Down Causation - George Ellis Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities: Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored. The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts. Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, for example state vector preparation, where top-down constraints allow non-unitary behaviour at the lower levels. It may well play a key role in the quantum measurement problem (the dual of state vector preparation) [5]. One can bear in mind here that wherever equivalence classes of entities play a key role, such as in Crutchfield’s computational mechanics [29], this is an indication that top-down causation is at play. http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Ellis_FQXI_Essay_Ellis_2012.pdf
No "wires in the transistors" on the die of an I.C. groovamos
George Ellis has also thought fairly deeply about these issues and has an interesting paper on the subject of 'top down causation':
Recognising Top-Down Causation - George Ellis, University of Cape Town 1: The Theme A key assumption underlying most present day physical thought is the idea that causation is bottom up all the way: particle physics underlies nuclear physics, nuclear physics underlies atomic physics, atomic physics underlies chemistry, and so on. Thus all the higher level subjects are at least in principle reducible to particle physics, which is therefore the only fundamental science; as famously claimed by Dirac, chemistry is just an application of quantum physics[1]. However there are many topics that one cannot understand by assuming this one-way flow of causation. The flourishing subject of social neuroscience makes clear how social influences act down on individual brain structure[2]; studies in physiology demonstrate that downward causation is necessary in understanding the heart, where this form of causation can be represented as the influences of initial and boundary conditions on the solutions of the differential equations used to represent the lower level processes[3]; epigenetic studies demonstrate that biological development is crucially shaped by the environment[4]. What about physics? In this essay I will make the case that top-down causation is also prevalent in physics, even though this is not often recognised as such. This does not occur by violating physical laws; on the contrary, it occurs through the laws of physics, by setting constraints on lower level interactions. Thus my theme is that the foundational assumption that all causation is bottom up is wrong, even in the case of physics[5]. Some writers on this topic prefer to refer to “contextual effects” or “whole-part constraints”. These are perfectly acceptable terms, but I will make the case that the stronger term “top-down causation” is appropriate in many cases. http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Ellis_FQXI_Essay_Ellis_2012.pdf How Does The World Work: Top-Down or Bottom-Up? - September 29, 2013 Excerpt: To get an handle on how top-down causation works, Ellis focuses on what's in front of all us so much of the time: the computer. Computers are structured systems. They are built as a hierarchy of layers, extending from the wires in the transistors all the way up to the fully assembled machine, gleaming metal case and all. Because of this layering, what happens at the uppermost levels — like you hitting the escape key — flows downward. This action determines the behavior of the lowest levels — like the flow of electrons through the wires — in ways that simply could not be predicted by just knowing the laws of electrons. As Ellis puts it: “Structured systems such as a computer constrain lower level interactions, and thereby paradoxically create new possibilities of complex behavior.” Ellis likes to emphasize how the hierarchy of structure — from fully assembled machine through logic gates, down to transistors — changes everything for the lowly electrons. In particular, it "breaks the symmetry" of their possible behavior since their movements in the computer hardware are very different from what would occur if they were just floating around in a plasma blob in space. But the hardware, of course, is just one piece of the puzzle. This is where things get interesting. As Ellis explains: “Hardware is only causally effective because of the software which animates it: by itself hardware can do nothing. Both hardware and software are hierarchically structured with the higher level logic driving the lower level events.” In other words, it's software at the top level of structure that determines how the electrons at the bottom level flow. Hitting escape while running Word moves the electrons in the wires in different ways than hitting escape does when running Photoshop. This is causation flowing from top to bottom. For Ellis, anything producing causes is real in the most basic sense of the word. Thus the software, which is not physical like the electrons, is just as real as those electrons. As Ellis puts it: “Hence, although they are the ultimate in algorithmic causation as characterized so precisely by Turing, digital computers embody and demonstrate the causal efficacy of non-physical entities. The physics allows this; it does not control what takes place. Computers exemplify the emergence of new kinds of causation out of the underlying physics, not implied by physics but rather by the logic of higher-level possibilities. ... A combination of bottom-up causation and contextual affects (top-down influences) enables their complex functioning.” The consequences of this perspective for our view of the mind are straightforward and radical: “The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone's plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.” http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2013/09/29/225359504/how-does-the-world-work-top-down-or-bottom-up
Of related note to causes that transcend physicality, Ellis asks whether Einstein, or whether lower level physical processes, were responsible for discovering the theory of Relativity?
Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will - July 27, 2014 Excerpt: And free will?: Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will? Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options. I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/physicist-george-ellis-on-the-importance-of-philosophy-and-free-will/
In other words, if you don't believe in causes that transcend physicality then you are forced to deny that you really exist as a real person, i.e. there was no Einstein that discovered relativity. There were only lower level physical processes that discovered it and informed the illusion of Einstein of it after the fact. :)
Human consciousness is much more than mere brain activity, - Mark Vernon - 18 June 2011 However, "If you think the brain is a machine then you are committed to saying that composing a sublime poem is as involuntary an activity as having an epileptic fit. ...the nature of consciousness being a tremendous mystery." http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/17/human-consciousness-brain-activity Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let's Dump Methodological Naturalism - Paul Nelson - September 24, 2014 Excerpt: "Epistemology -- how we know -- and ontology -- what exists -- are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, "We cannot know that a mind caused x," laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won't include minds. MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn't write your email to me. Physics did, and informed (the illusion of) you of that event after the fact. "That's crazy," you reply, "I certainly did write my email." Okay, then -- to what does the pronoun "I" in that sentence refer? Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,, You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse -- i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss -- we haven't the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world -- such as your email, a real pattern -- we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,, some feature of "intelligence" must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we're back to physics versus physics, and there's nothing for SETI to look for.",,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set090071.html
And although Dr. Nelson alluded to writing an e-mail, (i.e. creating information), to tie his ‘personal agent’ argument into intelligent design, Dr. Nelson’s ‘personal agent’ argument can easily be amended to any action that ‘you’, as a personal agent, choose to take:
“You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.” “You didn’t open the door. Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.” “You didn’t raise your hand. Physics did, and informed the illusion you of that event after the fact.” “You didn’t etc.. etc.. etc… Physics did, and informed the illusion of you of that event after the fact.”
Dr. Craig Hazen, in the following video at the 12:26 minute mark, relates how he performed, for an audience full of academics at a college, a ‘miracle’ simply by raising his arm,,
The Intersection of Science and Religion – Craig Hazen, PhD – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=xVByFjV0qlE#t=746s
What should be needless to say, if raising your arm is enough to refute your supposedly ‘scientific’ worldview of atheistic materialism/naturalism, then perhaps it is time for you to seriously consider getting a new scientific worldview? bornagain77
of related note, David L. Abel has thought fairly deeply about formal causes that transcend any material medium
Is Life Unique? David L. Abel - January 2012 Concluding Statement: The scientific method itself cannot be reduced to mass and energy. Neither can language, translation, coding and decoding, mathematics, logic theory, programming, symbol systems, the integration of circuits, computation, categorizations, results tabulation, the drawing and discussion of conclusions. The prevailing Kuhnian paradigm rut of philosophic physicalism is obstructing scientific progress, biology in particular. There is more to life than chemistry. All known life is cybernetic. Control is choice-contingent and formal, not physicodynamic. http://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/2/1/106/ "Nonphysical formalism not only describes, but preceded physicality and the Big Bang Formalism prescribed, organized and continues to govern physicodynamics." http://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/2/1/106/ag The Formalism > Physicality (F > P) Principle - * David L. Abel - 2011 ABSTRACT: The F > P Principle states that “Formalism not only describes, but preceded, prescribed, organized, and continues to govern and predict Physicality.” The F > P Principle is an axiom that defines the ontological primacy of formalism in a presumed objective reality that transcends both human epistemology, our sensation of physicality, and physicality itself. The F > P Principle works hand in hand with the Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness, which states that physicochemical interactions are inadequate to explain the mathematical and formal nature of physical law relationships. Physicodynamics cannot generate formal processes and procedures leading to nontrivial function. Chance, necessity and mere constraints cannot steer, program or optimize algorithmic/computational success to provide desired nontrivial utility. As a major corollary, physicodynamics cannot explain or generate life. Life is invariably cybernetic. The F > P Principle denies the notion of unity of Prescriptive Information (PI) with mass/energy. The F > P Principle distinguishes instantiation of formal choices into physicality from physicality itself. The arbitrary setting of configurable switches and the selection of symbols in any Material Symbol System (MSS) is physicodynamically indeterminate—decoupled from physicochemical determinism. https://www.academia.edu/12952944/The_F_P_Principle_The_Formalism_Physicality_Principle_ The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness - David L. Abel - August 2011 Summary: “The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness” states that inanimate physicodynamics is completely inadequate to generate, or even explain, the mathematical nature of physical interactions (the purely formal laws of physics and chemistry). The Law further states that physicodynamic factors cannot cause formal processes and procedures leading to sophisticated function. Chance and necessity alone cannot steer, program or optimize algorithmic/computational success to provide desired non-trivial utility. https://www.academia.edu/9957206/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness_Scirus_Topic_Page_ The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel - Null Hypothesis For Information Generation - 2009 Excerpt of conclusion pg. 42: "To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662469/ Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis 1) Mathematical Logic 2) Algorithmic Optimization 3) Cybernetic Programming 4) Computational Halting 5) Integrated Circuits 6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium) 7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics) 8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system 9) Language 10) Formal function of any kind 11) Utilitarian work http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag "Matter does not make rules. Matter is governed by rules." fifthmonarchyman

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