Neuroscience

Coffee! Neuroscience: Do you really need a refrigerator when you have this?

Spread the love

I found this chilling:

Abstract:
This paper questions criminal law’s strong presumption of free will. Part I assesses the ways in which environment, nurture, and society influence human action. Part II briefly surveys studies from the fields of genetics and neuroscience which call into question strong assumptions of free will and suggest explanations for propensities toward criminal activity. Part III discusses other “causes” of criminal activity including addiction, economic deprivation, gender, and culture. In light of Parts I through III, Part IV assesses criminal responsibility and the legitimacy of punishment. Part V considers the the possibility of determining propensity from criminal activity based on assessing causal factors and their effects on certain people. In this context, the concept of dangerous individuals and possible justifications for preventative detention of such individuals in order to protect society is assessed. The concluding section suggests that the law should take a broader view of factors that could have determinant effects on agents’ actions.

The part that bugs me is “possible justifications for preventative detention”.

That’s what always happens when free will is denied. Somehow or other, the idea gets started that we can detect in advance who will commit a crime. Then you needn’t do anything to get arrested and put away. Someone just needs to have a theory about you.

But no one can truly predict the future in any kind of detail.

What about the Fort Hood massacre, you ask? Well, according to a number of reports, that guy had been advertising his grievances for some months. You sure wouldn’t need a brain scan or materialist theories about free will to figure out that he wasn’t happy in the Army and should just have been discharged – which is what he wanted. You’d just need to listen to what he actually said.

Also just up at my neuroscience blog, The Mindful Hack:

Neuroskepticism: A breath of fresh air, and maybe more legal safety too

Materialism and popular culture: The human brain as a machine?

Spiritual Brain: Polish translation rights bought

Curiosity and the dead cat

127 Replies to “Coffee! Neuroscience: Do you really need a refrigerator when you have this?

  1. 1
    Leviathan says:

    Miss O’Leary, may I ask you how exactly you believe the brain implements supernatural characteristics within its design schemata? I.E., why would the Designer bother with a supernatural component when a natural, or “materialist” component is all that is needed to fully explain brain / mind phenomena?

    Furthermore, do you believe that humans have what is commonly regarded as a “soul”? If so, what evidence do you have for this position? Do you object to the idea that once the necessary components for life are no longer present in the body of an organism, the organism ceases living?

    How exactly do we go about detecting the supernatural “mind”?

    As a strong proponent of Intelligent Design I must object to the constant use of supernaturalism and theology to try and disprove Darwinian antics. There is much more fertile ground to be harvested in this area that does not require the invoking of a deity.

  2. 2
    Mark Frank says:

    In most Western countries we already detain people on mental health grounds because we think they are likely to be violent (or harm themselves) – even when they haven’t done anything wrong.

    Do you find this principle chilling?

    And don’t fool yourself that there is clear difference between the mentally ill and the just plain naughty.

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    In most Western countries we already detain people on mental health grounds because we think they are likely to be violent (or harm themselves) – even when they haven’t done anything wrong.

    Actually, the reasoning is that they have done something “wrong” i.e. shown themselves by deed as being incapable of functioning in society.

    It’s just that we don’t hold them morally culpable.

    These deeds, btw, almost always involve things that would otherwise be thought of as crimes such trespassing, public disturbance and even, often, violence.

    But it is always a deed not some pre-test or screening procedure that is the reason for the incarceration.

  4. 4
    O'Leary says:

    Leviathan at 1, you are free to disprove Darwinian antics from any perspective you wish. The castle is crumbling, and anyone who wants can get a souvenir brick. Get yours now. Get several.

    Mark Frank at 2, you just replaced my fridge. The difference between detaining the mentally ill and detaining the “just plain naughty” is vast, as any criminal court would know. We detain the mentally ill if and when they pose a threat to themselves or others *and are not considered responsible for their actions*.

    If you mean by “just plain naughty”, serial murders, terrorists, frauds, and rapists, this is the first time I have ever seen the word “naughty” used to describe it. Don’t try that in a criminal court in my jurisdiction. I am told by friends and relatives who work in the criminal court system that judges and justices of the peace here rarely value such terms.

    After all, they must also deal with the victim impact statements.

    Tribune7 at 3, yes – that is the key, and the basis of my concern. Is it reasonable to hold the person morally culpable? No one can predict the future with certainty, so “preventative detention” would only be justified if we were morally certain that the person would not know what he was doing, and therefore could not take responsibility for his own actions. This does happen in certain mental illnesses – but diagnoses must, of course, be made with great care in such cases.

    On the other hand, if you think free will a myth, welcome to the materialist nightmare. So far as I can see, materialism is opposed to traditional civil rights.

  5. 5
    wrf3 says:

    Denyse wrote in #4: On the other hand, if you think free will a myth, welcome to the materialist nightmare. So far as I can see, materialism is opposed to traditional civil rights.

    As a Christian in the Reform camp, I too think that free will is a myth. The “problem” of God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility is solved by notin that man is responsible, not because he is (allegedly) free, but by Divine fiat. If your response is, “but that’s not fair”, welcome to Romans 9.

  6. 6
    magnan says:

    Leviathan(1): You summarily reject as an assertion all evidence for a nonphysical component to human consciousness (especially all the data of parapsychology and psychical research). I won’t go to the trouble of citing voluminous references. This data makes a strong (though of course not absolutely conclusive) case for a mobile center of human consciousness.

    Leviathan: “As a strong proponent of Intelligent Design I must object to the constant use of supernaturalism and theology to try and disprove Darwinian antics. There is much more fertile ground to be harvested in this area that does not require the invoking of a deity.”

    The science of ID is the detection of design in life. Inherent is the assumption that design is teleological. The intelligent source and purposes of this designing force are beyond the science, and I agree that it is unfortunate that many ID advocates use revealed religious doctrine as an argumenrt. But you seem have summarily dismissed the “supernatural” (something beyond the conventional world of physics and chemistry and mechanics) in any speculation as to that general source. This would include both an omnipotent Diety as revealed in Christianity, or some other form of discarnate intelligent spiritual intervention. If so, are you visualizing advanced aliens, or some built-in Lamarkian force, or what? These alternatives seem to have insuperable problems. I think the data leads inevitably to some sort of “supernatural” source as defined above.

  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    #4

    The difference between detaining the mentally ill and detaining the “just plain naughty” is vast, as any criminal court would know. We detain the mentally ill if and when they pose a threat to themselves or others *and are not considered responsible for their actions*

    If only it were that easy. I think you may be confusing the defence of diminished responsibility for a crime already committed with preventative detention. Most Western countries (including Canada) allow detention on the basis of assessment of risk of violence and some degree of mental disorder – but mental disorder can cover a huge variety of things including “personality disorders” which certainly do not entail that the patient is not responsible for what they do.

  8. 8
    Matteo says:

    <blockquote
    I.E., why would the Designer bother with a supernatural component when a natural, or “materialist” component is all that is needed to fully explain brain / mind phenomena?

    And why would a materialist bother with believing in consciousness at all if materialism is all that is needed to fully explain mind/brain phenomena? Under the materialist schema, particles in motion get the job done without remainder, so why, oh why does a wholly superfluous consciousness bother to exist?

  9. 9
    Matteo says:

    My last post, but this time formatted correctly:

    I.E., why would the Designer bother with a supernatural component when a natural, or “materialist” component is all that is needed to fully explain brain / mind phenomena?

    And why would a materialist bother with believing in consciousness at all if materialism is all that is needed to fully explain mind/brain phenomena? Under the materialist schema, particles in motion get the job done without remainder, so why, oh why does a wholly superfluous consciousness bother to exist?

  10. 10
    zeroseven says:

    @4

    “The castle is crumbling, and anyone who wants can get a souvenir brick.”

    It really is hard to take this kind of comment seriously. I wonder if you really believe this. ID has had absolutely no impact in the scientific world, and in the world outside this blog and other religious forums, evolution is as uncontroversial as electricity.

  11. 11

    As I have pointed out many times here, the main source of disagreement between such ID supporters as Drs. Behe and Dembski and proponents of mainstream evolutionary theory is the source of the variation which provides the raw material for biological evolution. To put it simply, Drs. Behe and Dembski assert that “you can’t get here from there” without some intelligent something-or-other (identity unspecified) producing the new, complex variations that provide the basis for both evolutionary adaptations and evolutionary homologies (which both Dr. Behe and Dr. Dembski have stated are indeed valid and supported by overwhelming empirical evidence).

    Furthermore, Dr. Dembski is on record in multiple forums as saying that the “intelligent something-or-other” that produces the complex variations need not necessarily be the deity of the Abrahamic religions, nor even a deity at all.

    I therefore find it quite interesting that Drs. Behe and Dembski reject a priori the hypothesis that there is a “natural complexifying force” (as proposed, for example, by Stuart Kaufman and Simon Conway Morris) that could produce such complex, novel variations. If one is genuinely committed to the idea that the cause of apparently designed biological objects and processes need not be supernatural, why rule out some kind of natural tendency toward the evolution of greater complexity as the result of purely natural processes, unless one is reflexively ruling all except supernatural explanations?

  12. 12

    zeroseven in #10:

    ID supporters in general, and O’Leary in particular, are fond of asserting that a branch of the biological sciences that currently accounts for over 100 regularly published journals (containing over 1000 peer-reviewed scientific reports) per year, over 1000 books published by reputable scientific publishers per year, and involving grant and foundation support amounting to several billion dollars per year is “crumbling”, while ID, which accounts for not one peer-reviewed scientific journal and one peer-reviewed book (published over a decade ago) is replacing it.

    I can go to Mann Library here at Cornell (the second largest library of biology in the world, comprising over a million books and bound periodicals) and find an entire floor devoted to evolutionary biology. I couldn’t carry this month’s issues of the various journals devoted to evolutionary biology to the loan desk, even if I used a large laundry basket and made several trips. I have a paltry selection of the most current books on the subject of evolution in my personal library: only 1000+ volumes published in the past ten years or so. If I had unlimited funds, I could buy ten times as many, and still could not keep up with the field.

    Virtually every large university in the world has a department of ecology and evolutionary biology. Here at Cornell we have such a department, with almost two dozen professors and dozens of graduate students, and there are at least five other departments at Cornell who number evolutionary biologists among their members. There are almost half a dozen undergraduate and graduate organizations devoted to the scientific aspects of evolutionary biology at Cornell; branches of such societies are found worldwide.

    By contrast, there are two tenured professors in the entire world who explicitly support the version of ID promulgated at this website, only one of whom is in a department devoted to an emipirical science. Of the 35+ undergraduate IDEA clubs (a very liberal estimate) that were founded during the heyday of ID (the late 1990s and early 2000s), not one is currently maintaining a website or apparently meeting regularly (see http://evolutionlist.blogspot......llege.html ). And according to Google Trends, interest by the news media in ID has fallen almost to zero since the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in late 2005, while interest in evolutionary biology is at an all-time high and still increasing with no end in sight (see http://evolutionlist.blogspot......anana.html ).

    So, based on the empirical evidence, which is “crumbling”, evolutionary biology or ID?

  13. 13
    Fross says:

    FWIW, my blood is 50% coffee! Go coffee!

    the “evolution castle” can crumble. Take a look at Turkey where they have finally overthrown the Darwinists control of science. Their scientific literacy story is a story of success and Turkey now ranks higher than Tunisia, Brazil and Mexico in regards to scientific literacy.

    I do feel the US still has hope. We are starting to get a large percentage of evolution skeptics, and funny enough, Turkey has us beat by a little bit. If we revamped our views of science and put the right type of politicians and judges in place, I think we could join Turkey in being one of the few nations on earth with an overwhelming majority of evo-skeptics. Skeptics who no longer put up with the Darwinians and their naturalistic “just so” stories.

  14. 14
    vjtorley says:

    Leviathan (#1)

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    Miss O’Leary, may I ask you how exactly you believe the brain implements supernatural characteristics within its design schemata? I.E., why would the Designer bother with a supernatural component when a natural, or “materialist” component is all that is needed to fully explain brain / mind phenomena?

    …. How exactly do we go about detecting the supernatural “mind”?

    First, “immaterial” does not mean: supernatural. Nor does it mean: unobservable.

    Second, critics of free will (such as Stephen O’Hanlon, author of the article cited above by Ms. O’Leary) clearly need to familiarize themselves with the latest scientific literature, before being so cavalier in their dismissal of free will. For the fact of the matter is, they are behind the times. Here are some useful scientific links to recent articles suggesting evidence of free will.

    Mental Causation after Libet And Soon: Reclaiming Conscious Agency by Alexander Batthyany. In: Batthyany, Alexander & Elitzur, Avshalom C. 2009. Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter.
    An excerpt from the conclusion:

    Contrary to the reductionist interpretations of the findings of Libet and Soon et al., it is no objection to conscious causation that it does not entail causing urges or desires. For urges or desires are passive experiences rather than actively and consciously chosen mental events; both empirical psychology and our everyday experience tell us that much, and so do Libet’s subjects when they report that they did not consciously bring about their urges to move, but that the urges came “out of nowhere”. Importantly, non-reductionist agency theories, too, predict that desires and urges are not consciously chosen and brought about. I therefore conclude that neither Libet’s original experiment, nor the follow-up study by Soon et al. can be legitimately interpreted to provide empirical evidence in favour of agency reductionism.

    More generally, the lesson we can draw is that it is highly problematic to study conscious causation in cases where the subjects themselves state that they did not consciously cause the act in question.

    Free will is not an illusion after all by Anil Ananthaswamy. In New Scientist magazine, 23 September 2009.

    “Champions of free will, take heart. A landmark 1980s experiment that purported to show free will doesn’t exist is being challenged.”

    Brain preparation before a voluntary action: Evidence against unconscious movement initiation by Dr. Judy Trevena and Dr. Jeff Miller. In Consciousness and Cognition, doi:10.1016/j.concog.2009.08.006
    Abstract available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/s.....9f9010d12e

    Abstract:

    Benjamin Libet has argued that electrophysiological signs of cortical movement preparation are present before people report having made a conscious decision to move, and that these signs constitute evidence that voluntary movements are initiated unconsciously. This controversial conclusion depends critically on the assumption that the electrophysiological signs recorded by Libet, Gleason, Wright, and Pearl (1983) are associated only with preparation for movement. We tested that assumption by comparing the electrophysiological signs before a decision to move with signs present before a decision not to move. There was no evidence of stronger electrophysiological signs before a decision to move than before a decision not to move, so these signs clearly are not specific to movement preparation. We conclude that Libet’s results do not provide evidence that voluntary movements are initiated unconsciously.

    But how would free will be implemented in the brain? And is it compatible with determinism? What light can quantum physics shed on the subject, if any? The following link provides details of a well-thought out model. If you allow top-down causation, free will becomes a lot less mysterious.

    The Cogito Model. From The Information Philosopher Web site.

    This site represents a bold philosophical attempt to reconcile the valid insights underlying both determinism and indeterminism. The authors of the model show that it accords well with the findings of quantum theory, and guarantees humans libertarian freedom, but at the same time avoids the pitfall of making chance the cause of our actions. An excerpt:

    Our Cogito model of human freedom combines microscopic quantum randomness and unpredictability with macroscopic determinism and predictability, in a temporal sequence.

    Why have philosophers been unable for millenia to see that the common sense view of human freedom is correct? Partly because their logic or language preoccupation makes them say that either determinism or indeterminism is true, and the other must be false. Our physical world includes both, although the determinism we have is only an adequate description for large objects. So any intelligible explanation for free will must include both indeterminism and adequate determinism.

    You might ask, “But how do we go about detecting the operations of an immaterial mind?” Neurologists have been doing this for decades. See the following excerpt from The truth about human origins by Brad Harrub, Bert Thompson, Apologetics Press Inc., 2003 (p. 405), which describes research by Nobel prize winner John Eccles, as well as earlier research by Dr. Wilder Penfield:

    In The Wonder Of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, Eccles and Robinson discussed the research of three groups of scientists (Robert Porter and Cobie Brinkman, Nils Lassen and Per Roland, and Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deeke), all of whom produced startling and undeniable evidence that a “mental intention” preceded an actual neuronal firing – thereby establishing that the mind is not the same thing as the brain, but is a separate entity altogether. As Eccles and Robinson concluded:

    But it is impressive that many of the samples of several hundred SMA nerve cells were firing probably aboutr a tenth of a second before the earliest discharge of pyramidal cells down to the spinal cord… Thus there is strong support for the hypoithesis that the SMA is the sole recipient area of the brain for mental intentions that lead to voluntary movements (pp. 157, 160, emp. in orig.)

    See http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false for the above extract.

    Finally, you ask:

    Furthermore, do you believe that humans have what is commonly regarded as a “soul”? If so, what evidence do you have for this position?

    Actually, I’ve got pages of links to good arguments for the soul. See here. Enjoy!

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    Furthermore, do you believe that humans have what is commonly regarded as a “soul”?

    As if “the soul” is a part of the human anatomy?

  16. 16
    Clive Hayden says:

    Allen,

    So, based on the empirical evidence, which is “crumbling”, evolutionary biology or ID?

    Evolutionary biology. Numbers do not the truth make. 8)

  17. 17
    vjtorley says:

    wrf3 (#5)

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    As a Christian in the Reform camp, I too think that free will is a myth. The “problem” of God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility is solved by noting that man is responsible, not because he is (allegedly) free, but by Divine fiat. If your response is, “but that’s not fair”, welcome to Romans 9.

    I suggest you read the following article:

    Pohle, J. (1911). Predestination. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved November 17, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm

    Excerpt:

    “The ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans in particular is claimed by the advocates of absolute predestination as that ‘classical’ passage wherein St. Paul seems to represent the eternal happiness of the elect not only as the work of God’s purest mercy, but as an act of the most arbitrary will, so that grace, faith, justification must be regarded as sheer effects of an absolute, Divine decree (cf. Romans 9:18: ‘Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth’). Now, it is rather daring to quote one of the most difficult and obscure passages of the Bible as a ‘classical text’ and then to base on it an argument for bold speculation… For the primary intention of the Epistle to the Romans is to insist on the gratuity of the vocation to Christianity and to reject the Jewish presumption that the possession of the Mosaic Law and the carnal descent from Abraham gave to the Jews an essential preference over the heathens. But the Epistle has nothing to do with the speculative question whether or not the free vocation to grace must be considered as the necessary result of eternal predestination to celestial glory …

    “It is just as difficult to find in the writings of the Fathers a solid argument for an absolute predestination. The only one who might be cited with some semblance of truth is St. Augustine, who stands, however, almost alone among his predecessors and successors. Not even his most faithful pupils, Prosper and Fulgentius, followed their master in all his exaggerations….”

    (End of excerpt.)

  18. 18
    lamarck says:

    Wrf3,
    “The “problem” of God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility is solved by notin that man is responsible, not because he is (allegedly) free, but by Divine fiat.”

    If someone else gave you responsibility then you’re still not responsible at all. They are entirely because they placed in you the length and breadth of responsibility. The answer has to lie outside the timestream.

  19. 19
    Mark Frank says:

    #14

    Vj

    As always you produce interesting links. However, I think you are overstating the case when you write:

    Here are some useful scientific links to recent articles suggesting evidence of free will.

    All these papers do is criticise Libet and Soon’s experiments which tried to establish the conscious decisions cannot be the cause of actions because of timing issues. As Batthyany writes:

    In this paper I do not argue that conscious causation really takes place in a critical number of cases. I claim merely that both kinds of models – both the ones that deny the reality of conscious causation and free will and the ones that affirm it – are compatible with the outcomes of the experiments

    So he is not arguing there is evidence for free will just that current evidence against it is misplaced.

    Having said that I think they are all wrong (Libet, Soon, Batthany, and O’Hanlon). All them seem to assume that free will and conscious causation are incompatible with determinism. Have they not read Daniel Dennett? A related assumption is that conscious causation is prove of immaterialism.

    A perfectly reasonable model is that conscious causation is just a personal experience of brain activity which is taking place at the same time because it is the same thing. An analogy is the way we experience the position of our own bodies, our kinaesthetic sense. My experience of where my arm is is completely different from your experience of where my arm is – but they are both experiences of the same physical phenomenon.

  20. 20
    Graham1 says:

    To Fross at #13: Your post sounds like parody, but Im just not sure. You seem to be suggesting that the US engage in a race for the bottom: to join Turkey. (& Brazil/Mexico etc!)

    Please tell me that it is parody.

  21. 21
    Mark Frank says:

    #14 vj (cont)

    I just read your link to Bob Doyle. I liked the model but I am really surprised you like it because he is a materialist (his recent article in Nature is entitled: “Free will: it’s a normal biological property, not a gift or a mystery”) and I would describe his model as compatabilist (although he denies this). To me he has suggested a model of how compatabilism might work. The random element through quantum mechanics (or whatever) makes no difference in principle whether it is applied to the act of choosing or the range of choices available.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    Allen did you cite consensus and claim that it is “empirical evidence”?

    Allen’s Quote- So, based on the empirical evidence, which is “crumbling”, evolutionary biology or ID?

    Michael Crichton on consensus science:
    I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    And he continues:

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What are relevant are reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

    You know Allen I want to see you present actual empirical evidence instead of your usual deception as you did in your post when you claimed that “opinions” are empirical evidence”. Do you truly believe opinions matter more than truth in science?

    For instance Allen Would you mind showing me a violation of Genetic Entropy at the molecular level? You see Allen that would be empirical evidence!

  23. 23

    Re comment #14 by vjtorley:

    Empirical research into the non-conscious causation of human actions has gone far beyond Libet’s rather crude experiments. For example, Daniel Wegner in his 2002 book The Illusion of Conscious Will (MIT Press) reports on the results of a series of research experiments that confirm and extend Libet’s original findings from the late 1980s.

    I have taught an entire course at Cornell on the relationship between evolutionary biology and the concept of human free will (see http://evolutionlist.blogspot......usion.html ). I recommend the following books, which present both sides of this complex issue:

    Ainslie, G. (2008) Breakdown of Will, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0521596947 (paperback: $34.99), 272 pages.

    Dennett, D. (2004) Freedom Evolves, Penguin Books, ISBN: 0142003840 (paperback: $17.00), 368 pages.

    Fisher, J., Kane, R., Pereboom, D., & Vargas, M. (2007) Four Views on Free Will, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN: 1405134860 (paperback: $33.95), 240 pages.

    Kane, R. (2001) Free Will (Blackwell Readings in Philosophy), Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN: 0631221026 (paperback: $33.95), 328 pages.

    Kane, R. (2005) A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, Oxford University Press (USA), ISBN: 019514970X (paperback: $19.95), 208 pages.

    Wegner, D. (2003) The Illusion of Conscious Will, MIT Press, ISBN-10: 0262731622 (paperback: $21.95), 419 pages.

    Wilson, E. O. (2004) On Human Nature (Revised Edition), Harvard University Press, ISBN: 0674016386 (paperback: $22.00), 284 pages.

    It may also interest some readers here to note that when Will Provine’s grad student, Greg Graffin, surveyed the leading members of the national academies of science around the world, he found that the overwhelming majority believed that humans did indeed have free will. This included evolutionary biologists, 76% of whom agreed that humans have free will (see http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/ ).

  24. 24

    Re comment #22:

    I already have. See this thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ns-weasel/

    and this one:

    http://telicthoughts.com/mutat.....-and-more/

    John Sanford (whom Will Provine and I invited to give a guest lecture in our evolution course, and who thanked us profusely for the opportunity to present his views), has produced a mathematical model that purports to show that the accumulation of deleterious point mutations should eventually result in the “genetic disintegration” of any species, especially humans. However, his model is fatally flawed (as has been pointed out by many qualified scientific critics and reviewers), most notably because it completely ignores the effects of simple Mendelian dominance, purging of recessive deleterious mutations as the result of inbreeding, and founder-flush effects.

    Furthermore, Sanford’s model is just that: a purely conjectural mathematical model, with no empirical testing provided to validate or falsify it. Over a century of Mendelian and molecular genetics research has provided no evidence whatsoever for his hypothesis, and abundant evidence against it.

  25. 25
    lcd says:

    Hello all. I know I’ve been away for some time but I’ve been lurking in the background and getting more and more saddened by the tones I read on here and other blogs.

    After reading all of the article and the posts, I can’t help but wonder why people keep believing that we are nothing more than living machines. I see no hope for our humanity if we are nothing but a collection of chemicals that go about doing what is the prevalent reaction that must be satisfied today.

    I don’t know about you but that reduces us to nothing and I know that we are truly unique in His eyes. The Designer designed even the soul and that is something we’ll never find with science. Why not? There are things that the Designer has left hidden and we are left to learn about the Designer through the obvious designs we can easily see in our so called nature.

  26. 26

    I agree completely with Michael Crichton, who wrote:

    “In science consensus is irrelevant. What are relevant are reproducible results.”

    Reproducible results are precisely what is contained in the scientific journals and peer-reviewed books that I cited in my comment. It is also what ID currently completely lacks. Until ID supporters start to do actual empirical research and publish their results, they will not be taken seriously by any scientist anywhere.

  27. 27
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    For instance Allen Would you mind showing me a violation of Genetic Entropy at the molecular level? You see Allen that would be empirical evidence!

    How would that work? Genetic Entropy is a claim about the average fitness of populations of certain types of creatures.

  28. 28
    PaulN says:

    Nakashima,

    How would that work? Genetic Entropy is a claim about the average fitness of populations of certain types of creatures.

    I suppose you could find data that supports an increasing average fitness level as opposed to decreasing, and then show how these increases are due to constructive mutations as opposed to deleterious ones. Good luck with finding a substantial amount of empirical evidence on that one though.

    According to empirical observation and some of Sanford’s own experimental research in mutationaly polyploidy in plants, the potential benefits of mutations follow a kimura curve as opposed to a standard bell curve. I’m sure there’s debate as to whether you can apply the kimura curve as he does in his book, but either way it’s supported by his studies, and most others involving experimental mutational research.

  29. 29
    PaulN says:

    Sorry, should be *mutational* polyploidy

  30. 30
    trekky says:

    hey i’m new here. I just joined because I had some questions. Who do i ask? One of my questions was, how do we deal with the mullerian two step idea in relation to irreducible complexity? Can it be explained in a simple manner also, but sparing no details. thank you.

  31. 31
    lcd says:

    One of the things I have heard over and over from materialists is that fitness is only measurable by how it helps the organism live and reproduce.

    So how does materialism determine what is a fitness enhancing mutation vs a deleterious mutation that in fact does the opposite?

    I know this is not a problem for the front loaded theory which would have genes turned on and activate when certain conditions are met. the reverse is true as Design Theory holds that genetic coding gets turned off and becomes passive when other conditions are met.

  32. 32
    Rude says:

    Leviathan,

    Surely the Big Tent is big enough for honest materialists of which I’m sure you are one. But it’s also got to be big enough for those of us who do not accept that mind supervenes on mechanism.

    More of us should be familiar with Angus Menuge’s Agents Under Fire, Materialism and the Rationality of Science. It’s not that we have to go way off into theology and “the supernatural” and imagined entities that leave no trace in our world—rather it’s that consciousness and free will are at some level elemental—“sky hooks” in Dennettian terms.

    The materialist needs a theory—a theory as to a mechanism that could produce consciousness and free will. It’s not enough to say that if a mechanism is complex enough it could do the trick. We need a theory as to how? So far there has been no such theory whatsoever.

    It’s an ancient philosophical argument but one in which science is beginning to get involved.

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Nak or Allen of any of you other 1000 false prophets of Baal (shout louder your god may be sleeping), you may clearly falsify Genetic Entropy by showing an increase of 140 Functional Information Bits of a parent bacteria in the parent bacteria’s native environment.

    For a broad outline of the “Fitness test”, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – “The Fitness Test” – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BwWpRSYgOE

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    This “fitness test” fairly conclusively demonstrates “optimal information” was originally encoded within a “parent” bacteria/bacterium by God, and has not been added to by any “teleological” methods in the beneficial adaptations of the sub-species of bacteria. Thus the inference to Genetic Entropy, i.e. that God has not specifically moved within nature in a teleological manner, to gradually increase the functional information of a genome, still holds as true for the principle of Genetic Entropy.

    It seems readily apparent that to conclusively demonstrate God has moved within nature, in a teleological manner, to provide the sub-species bacteria with additional functional information over the “optimal” genome of its parent species, the “fitness test” must be passed by the sub-species against the parent species. If the fitness test is shown to be passed then the new molecular function, which provides the more robust survivability for the sub-species, must be calculated to its additional Functional Information Bits (Fits) it gained in the beneficial adaptation, and then be found to be greater than 140 Fits. 140 Fits is what has now been generously set by Kirk Durston as the maximum limit of Functional Information which can reasonably be expected to be generated by the natural processes of the universe over the entire age of the universe (The actual limit is most likely to be around 40 Fits). This fitness test, and calculation, must be done to rigorously establish materialistic processes did not generate the functional information (Fits), and to rigorously establish teleological, within nature, processes were indeed involved in the increase of Functional Complexity of the beneficially adapted sub-species. The second and final phase of Genetic Entropy, outlined by John Sanford in his book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, is when “slightly detrimental” mutations, which are far below the power of natural selection to remove from a genome, slowly build up in a species/kind over long periods of time and lead to Genetic Meltdown.

    Functional information and the emergence of bio-complexity:
    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak:
    Abstract: Complex emergent systems of many interacting components, including complex biological systems, have the potential to perform quantifiable functions. Accordingly, we define ‘functional information,’ I(Ex), as a measure of system complexity. For a given system and function, x (e.g., a folded RNA sequence that binds to GTP), and degree of function, Ex (e.g., the RNA-GTP binding energy), I(Ex)= -log2 [F(Ex)], where F(Ex) is the fraction of all possible configurations of the system that possess a degree of function > Ex. Functional information, which we illustrate with letter sequences, artificial life, and biopolymers, thus represents the probability that an arbitrary configuration of a system will achieve a specific function to a specified degree. In each case we observe evidence for several distinct solutions with different maximum degrees of function, features that lead to steps in plots of information versus degree of functions.
    http://genetics.mgh.harvard.ed.....S_2007.pdf

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – short video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUeCgTN7pOo

    see here for refutation of Lenski’s e-coli and Nylonase
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-340097

  34. 34
    lcd says:

    good sources bornagain77:

    One would expect, as per the Front Loading theory, that some genetic code that is used when certain conditions are met may not be as efficient as the information they replace. So of course, such as the degradation of some molecular abilities would be expected or the genetic code might be used all the time.

    Again all of that is far more logically and throughly explained by front loading which predicts that.

    Now how does materialistic evolution handle the degradation of metabolic pathways due to changes in the environment? Seems as though evolution lunges forward and backward depending on which way the “experiments” seem to pull.

  35. 35
    Cabal says:

    Now how does materialistic evolution handle the degradation of metabolic pathways due to changes in the environment?

    It doesn’t, therefore the steady decline in number of species is evidence that the end is near because environmental changes will continue and probably will become more extreme in the future.

  36. 36
    PaulN says:

    Lamarck @18,

    If someone else gave you responsibility then you’re still not responsible at all. They are entirely because they placed in you the length and breadth of responsibility. The answer has to lie outside the timestream.

    So giving your teenager responsibilities somehow makes you accountable when they arbitrarily or in some cases rebelliously decide not to adhere to them? In the case of Adam and Eve they were both fully grown and matured adults with an inherent sense of moral perfection, giving them no excuse when they decided of their own free will to disobey God. So what’s your solution to this in terms of a teenager being given responsibilities from the parent? Or do you just avoid that altogether?

  37. 37
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    The big scary idea of Genetic Entropy, capital G capital E can be falsified by neutrality, not even growth in functionality and fitness is necessary. The issue is not to falsify Genetic Entropy, it is to find its place in a description of reality – does it describe an inevitability for all life or does it describe what can happen to small populations of bacteria.

  38. 38
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaulN,

    To reiterate slightly, Genetic Entropy can be invalidated as a claim about all population trajectories by demonstrating mediocrity, just avoiding deterioration. Even Lenski’s 40,000 generations of bacteria probably do that.

  39. 39
    PaulN says:

    Nakashima,

    The issue is not to falsify Genetic Entropy, it is to find its place in a description of reality – does it describe an inevitability for all life or does it describe what can happen to small populations of bacteria.

    With all due respect, but would you not hold Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (initial caps) to the same standard? It seems that when GE goes beyond the line of empirical observation and into theoretical extrapolation you see a problem with it. Yet when DToE breaks the same threshold you’re willing to cut it some slack within the conveniently shaped crevices found in your philosophical predisposition. The main difference being that at least the extrapolation from GE is drawn from a trend that is empirically observed in reality through experimentation, whereas the extrapolation for DToE is counter-intuitive to such data.

  40. 40
    Dave Wisker says:

    Mr Nakashima,

    To reiterate slightly, Genetic Entropy can be invalidated as a claim about all population trajectories by demonstrating mediocrity, just avoiding deterioration. Even Lenski’s 40,000 generations of bacteria probably do that.

    So does this, for the eukaryote C. elegans:

    Estes S & Lynch M (2003). Rapid Fitness Recovery in Mutationally Degraded Lines of Caenorhabditis elegans. Evolution 57(5): 1022-1023

    Lines of this nematode were given enormous mutational loads, and the populations tested for fitness over time.

    From the abstract:

    prolonged genetic bottlenecks via beneficial or compensatory mutation accumulation has not previously been tested. To address this
    question, long-term mutation-accumulation lines of the nematode Caerlorhabditis elegans previously propagated as single individuals each generation, were maintained in large population sizes under competitive conditions. Fitness assays of these lines and comparison to parallel mutation-accumulation lines and the ancestral control show that.while the process of fitness restoration was incomplete for some lines. full recovery of mean fitness was achieved in
    fewer than 80 generations.

  41. 41
    jitsak says:

    But you see Dave, the original created kind of C elegans had even higher mean fitness. Prove me wrong. Besides, the experiment was intelligently designed.

  42. 42
    PaulN says:

    Yes, but are you guys willing to recognize the challenges that long-term stasis provide for Darwinian claims as well?

    The one flaw I see in both examples provided is that there is nothing that purposely drives toward or demonstrates a possible mutational threshold, that once crossed, results in error catastrophe. For what it’s worth, there is such an observable threshold in most organisms as far as mutational tolerance that is not reached in these experiments. If they were to continue going on for longer, how many new/novel features would mutations be able to provide without
    breaking it? Such mutations would not only have to provide new features, but also increase the mutational tolerance capacity of the population.

    What needs to be explained is how can stasis, or even minute leaps in fitness after 40,000 generations eventually add up to something completely novel without breaking said mutational threshold. In the case of the Lenski experiment, it was a genetic switch that actually malfunctioned in order for the experiment to succeed. This brings up yet another question, is it even possible for an accumulation of new features to develop without consequently fixing imminent catastrophe into a population. If the experiment in question succeeded by breaking a switch, how many more broken genetic switches could the population handle?

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    Dave, please show an increase above original parent kind of 140 functional bits to falsify Genetic Entropy. If you have to falsify Genetic Entropy by artificially imposing mutations on the parent kind and then recovering what was already present before, you have clearly just demonstrated a higher level of algorithmic information that is inherent in the genome which quickly performed “data recovery”, which only further solidifies the case for ID. You know this of course, because you can’t be that dense, but I feel you cannot bear the thought that you are completely and utterly wrong in what you have been taught all these years. Or maybe it is worse than what I feel, and you truly do believe you are rigorous in your science, if so then there is nothing for me to do to correct you.

  44. 44
    PaulN says:

    Basically what I’m saying is that there are more observations that need to be made, and more questions that need to be answered before one can conclude that such experiments falsify the primary claims yet to be contended in GE.

  45. 45
    Dave Wisker says:

    born,

    Your approach reminds me of Qaddafi in the Gulf of Sidra, drawing his infamous ‘line of death”. GE states that populations with heavy deleterious mutational loads can only suffer fitness decline. That has now been falsified. Not only that, the fitness in several lines recovered fully as compared to the ancestral line. Your demanding a fitness increase above the ancestral line is an irrelevant distraction. GE doesn’t require that the fitness level must increase over and above the ancestral line. That’s just you stepping back, finding yourself in a corner, and desperately looking for irrelevancies with which to draw yet another line to cross.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Dave you are making up your own rules. The primary precept of GE is that the functional information cannot increase above that which is originally created in the genome by God i.e. the genome is optimal. This is the line I am seeking for you to violate with empirics. Do not confuse Genetic Entropy with physical Entropy as you are clearly trying to do. What is funny Dave, is that here you are trying desperately to sell me on this jerry rigged test to save Darwinism, when in fact if Darwinism were true you should have literally flooded me with example after example after example,,, But what do I get,,, an experiment that had to purposely suppress the genome of a “primitive” organism, just so in order the recover a level of data that was already present before in the kind. Think about Dave you are the one claiming that bacteria can turn into all the diversity of life we see around us,, but here you are stymied by a paltry requirement for 140 Functional bits of information. You should seriously consider becoming a used car salesman if this is what your students are buying from you!!!

  47. 47
    PaulN says:

    I’m sorry Dave, but in light of what I have outlined, I still have yet to see how your example falsifies the primary points of contention within GE.

    Within the claim of GE is that all or most mutations are deleterious in nature, even those that provide saltational changes that can be selected for or against. Embedded within eukaryotic single and mult-cellular organisms are repair mechanisms that can easily be attributed to the stasis claim that you’re trying to support.

    Now repair mechanisms in and of themselves require that information pertaining to a “correct” state must be stored and called upon when repairs are needed. For this reason I cannot see how the basic claim of stasis supports your position without first a Darwinian explanation for these repair systems. Storing information for the “correct” state, as well as the instructions to execute each specific repair situationally isn’t such an easy hurdle for stochastic processes when you realize the multi-dimensional specificity recently discovered to be embedded within DNA structure.

    It’s important to note that without the specificity for carrying out such repairs, the cell could just as easily break itself while attempting to fix whatever needs fixing. It’s also important to note that without such repair mechanisms in the first place, Sanford’s claims of GE would be observed to a spectacular extent, which also begs the question of how organisms were able to evolve successfully before these mechanisms existed, of course assuming that Darwinian processes are even capable of producing them in the first place.

  48. 48
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaulN,

    With all due respect, but would you not hold Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (initial caps) to the same standard?

    I would indeed. ToE has been challenged and forced to recreate itself during its history – the Modern Synthesis is an example. ToE does not explain the trajectory of a species such as humanity that uses significant non-heritable pathways to survival – individual learning and cultural transmission. It has other edge cases as well, OOL, prions, tranmissable cancer cells etc. But for most of the biomass of the planet that we currently know about, that uses DNA and cells, ToE works. It generates an explanation of why that DNA is located in that place and time on the planet.

  49. 49
    Dave Wisker says:

    Hi PualN,

    Within the claim of GE is that all or most mutations are deleterious in nature, even those that provide saltational changes that can be selected for or against. Embedded within eukaryotic single and mult-cellular organisms are repair mechanisms that can easily be attributed to the stasis claim that you’re trying to support.

    Could you point out DNA or RNA transcript repair mechanisms which correct mutations such as amino acid substitutions? DNA repeoir mechanisms merely take care of physical damage to the molecule, such as thymine dimers, breakage, etc. They do not correct other kinds of mutations that might affect the amino acid sequences of proteins. Other error-correction mechanisms handle transcript splicing problems, premature stop-codons, and the like, but they do not repair the kinds of mutations that affect protein activity levels, for example. So I fail to see the significance that these repair mechanisms have to your point.

  50. 50
    Dave Wisker says:

    Paul, another thing. I don’t understand this sentence:

    Within the claim of GE is that all or most mutations are deleterious in nature, even those that provide saltational changes that can be selected for or against

    Can you pelase explain to me how a mutation that results in a change that increases fitness (i.e., is selected for), can be deleterious in the same sense as one that results in decreased fitness (i.e. selected against)?

  51. 51
    PaulN says:

    Nakashima,

    It generates an explanation of why that DNA is located in that place and time on the planet.

    I’ll give you that it does provide an explanation for that particular phenomena, but not the only explanation of that particular phenomena. You say that the DNA was a result of necessary conformity to an environment, we say that it was more likely that DNA was intelligently coded with the initial conditions of the environment in mind.

  52. 52
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaulN,

    No, it certainly is not the only explanation, just as fossils can be explained by natural actions or the actions of the FSM. But your description of “intelligently coded” intrigues me. What is intelligent about giving a nocturnal animal a non-working gene for color vision?

  53. 53
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank (#19, 21)

    Thank you for your posts. You are quite right when you point out that Batthyany “is not arguing there is evidence for free will, just that current evidence against it is misplaced.”

    However, that is enough for my purposes. Free will is on the table again. It is a scientifically tenable position.

    I see that you are a Dennett fan. You might like to have a look at Dennett Denied: A Critique of Dennett’s Evolutionary Account of Intentionality by Professor Angus Menuge. It’s a very fair-minded critique. Menuge describes the sophisticated naturalistic account of intentionality which Dennett has developed, according to which our intentionality is derived from that of our genes, which have been shaped by the winnowing process of natural selection. In his essay, Professor Menuge identifies four problems with Dennett’s account, and then presents positive grounds for saying that intentionality is a real but non-naturalistic quality, which is best explained by positing an Intelligent Designer of nature.

    You find fault with Libet, Soon, Batthany, and O’Hanlon, on the grounds that “[a]ll them seem to assume that free will and conscious causation are incompatible with determinism.” Good for them, I say. For me, the knockdown argument against determinism was best formulated by G. E. M Anscombe in her Inaugural Lecture as Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University in 1971, entitled “Causality and Determination”:

    Ever since Kant it has been a familiar claim among philosophers, that one can believe in both physical determinism and ‘ethical’ freedom. The reconciliations have always seemed to me to be either so much gobbledegook, or to make the alleged freedom of action quite unreal. My actions are mostly physical movements; if these physical movements are physically predetermined by processes which I do not control, then my freedom is perfectly illusory. The truth of physical indeterminism is then indispensable if we are to make anything of the claim to freedom. But certainly it is insufficient. The physically undetermined is not thereby ‘free’. For freedom at least involves the power of acting according to an idea, and no such thing is ascribed to whatever is the subject (what would be the relevant subject?) of unpredetermination in indeterministic physics. (p.26)

    I rest my case.

    I was surprised to read your statement (#21) that Bob Doyle is a materialist. That was news to me – but now I can see you are right. Looking at his Information Philosopher site, it seems he has added quite a bit since I last looked at his Web page (for instance, see here for an older version). Looking at the latest expanded version of his Cogito Model, I have to say that I mis-interpreted his views, and I’m rather annoyed with myself for having done that. That was careless of me.

    I think my misunderstanding arose partly because Doyle’s position was in some ways very close to my own, partly because he used terminology that I would endorse myself (albeit in a different sense, as I will show below), and partly because he made a point of disavowing determinism, upholding indeterminism, championing Aristotle, admiring Aquinas and upholding libertarian free will (as I do). Still, he’s no Aristotelian, and certainly no Thomist. Indeed, he isn’t even a bona fide indeterminist.

    There are passages on Doyle’s current Web site (see for instance paragraphs 3 and 4 of his page on Libertarianism ) where he appears to suggest that our character and our values determine our actions. This is of course absurd: if I could never act out of character, then I could not be said to have a character. I would be a machine.

    Mischievously, in his Web page on Libertarianism , Doyle conflates the incoherent view that “an agent’s decisions are not connected in any way with character and other personal properties” (which is surely absurd) with the entirely distinct view that “one’s actions are not determined by anything prior to a decision, including one’s character and values, and one’s feelings and desires” (emphases mine). Now, I have no problem with the idea that my bodily actions are determined by my will, which is guided by my reason. However, character, values, feelings and desires are not what makes an action free – especially as Doyle has made clear in his Cogito Model that he envisages all these as being ultimately determined by non-rational, physicalistic causes:

    Macro Mind is a macroscopic structure so large that quantum effects are negligible. It is the critical apparatus that makes decisions based on our character and values.

    Information about our character and values is probably stored in the same noise-susceptible neural circuits of our brain…

    The Macro Mind has very likely evolved to add enough redundancy, perhaps even error detection and correction, to reduce the noise to levels required for an adequate determinism.

    The Macro Mind corresponds to natural selection by highly determined organisms.

    There is a more radical problem with Doyle’s model, which I now recognize, as he has spelt out his views more fully: he acknowledges the reality of downward causation, but because he is a materialist, he fails to give a proper account of downward causation. He seems to construe it in terms of different levels of organization in the brain: Macro Mind (“a macroscopic structure so large that quantum effects are negligible…. the critical apparatus that makes decisions based on our character and values”) and Micro Mind (“a random generator of frequently outlandish and absurd possibilities”) – the latter being susceptible to random quantum fluctuations, from which the former makes a rational selection.

    Doyle goes on to say:

    Our decisions are then in principle predictable, given knowledge of all our past actions and given the randomly generated possibilities in the instant before decision. However, only we know the contents of our minds, and they exist only within our minds. Thus we can feel fully responsible for our choices, morally and legally.

    Hmmm. Having read that, I am inclined to agree with you that Doyle is a sort of compatibilist, even though he himself denies this, as you correctly point out.

    All right. So how do I envisage freedom? I’d like to go back to a remark by Karl Popper, in his address entitled, Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind, delivered at Darwin College, Cambridge, November 8, 1977. Let me say at the outset that I disagree with much of what Popper says. However, I think he articulated a profound insight when he said:

    A choice process may be a selection process, and the selection may be from some repertoire of random events, without being random in its turn. This seems to me to offer a promising solution to one of our most vexing problems, and one by downward causation.

    Let’s get back to the problem of downward causation. How does it take place? The eminent neurophysiologist and Nobel prizer winner, Sir John Eccles, openly advocated a “ghost in the machine” model in his book Facing Reality, 1970 (pp. 118-129). He envisaged that the “ghost” operates on neurones that are momentarily poised close to a threshold level of excitability.

    That’s not how I picture it.
    Reasoning and choosing are indeed immaterial processes: they are actions that involve abstract, formal concepts. (By the way, computers don’t perform formal operations; they are simply man-made material devices that are designed to mimic these operations. A computer is no more capable of addition than a cash register, an abacus or a Rube Goldberg machine.)

    Reasoning is an immaterial activity. This means that reasoning doesn’t happen anywhere – certainly not in some spooky soul hovering 10 centimeters above my head. It has no location. Ditto for choice. However, choices have to be somehow realized on a physical level, otherwise they would have no impact on the world. The soul doesn’t push neurons, as Eccles appears to think; instead, it selects from one of a large number of quantum possibilities thrown up at some micro level of the brain (Doyle’s micro mind). This doesn’t violate quantum randomness, because a selection can be non-random at the macro level but random at the micro level.

    1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
    0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1

    The above two rows were created by a random number generator. Now suppose I impose the macro requirement: keep the columns whose sum equals 1, and discard the rest. I now have:

    1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
    0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0

    Each row is still random, but I have imposed a non-random macro-level constraint. That’s how my will works when I make a choice.

    For me, a human being is not two things – a soul and a body – but one being, capable of two radically different kinds of acts – material acts (which other animals are also capable of) and formal, immaterial actions, such as acts of choice and deliberation. In practical situations, immaterial acts of choice are realized as a selection from one of a large number of randomly generated possible pathways. This selection may indeed reflect the agent’s character, values and desires (as Doyle proposes) – but then again, it may not. We can and do act out of character, and we sometimes act irrationally. Our free will is not bound to act according to reason, and sometimes we act contrary to it (akrasia being a case in point).

    So as you can see, I agree with a lot of what Doyle has to say, with this difference: I do not see our minds as having been formed by the process of natural selection. As thinking is an immaterial activity, any physicalistic account of its origin is impossible in principle.

  54. 54
    PaulN says:

    Dave,

    Can you pelase explain to me how a mutation that results in a change that increases fitness (i.e., is selected for), can be deleterious in the same sense as one that results in decreased fitness (i.e. selected against)?

    Forgive me, I just assumed it was understood that the fitness-increasing mutations I referred to were not deleterious in the same sense as one that results in them being selected against. Such is the example of the broken genetic switch that was selected for in Lenski’s E. Coli experiment. The mutation that allowed the bacteria to digest citrate involved a broken gene becoming fixed into the population. If you were to break more and more genes in order to gain necessary survival benefits, it would inevitably lead to an entirely broken genome, a.k.a. error catastrophe. This is the case where phenotypic selection is made at the cost of genotypic integrity.

    Nakashima,

    But your description of “intelligently coded” intrigues me. What is intelligent about giving a nocturnal animal a non-working gene for color vision?

    Perhaps the creature was originally intended to have color vision, and has since lost this capability to genetic deterioration.

  55. 55

    Once again, my comments have not emerged from moderation, despite my having posted them over six hours ago. How can anyone expect me to make timely responses to comments if I make them in a timely fashion, only to have them linger in moderation for a half a day or more?

    If your response is that I must be moderated to prevent me from making ad hominem arguments, why are bornagain77 (re: the opening paragraph of http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-340166 ) and frost122585 (re: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-339602 )exempt from this same standard? I’m not asking for special treatment, I’m only asking for some modicum of fairness.

    What, precisely, are the moderators here afraid of, that critics of ID are moderated to the point of near irrelevancy, but ID supporters are allowed to use ad hominem arguments, insults, personal attacks, and ridicule with impunity?

  56. 56
    PaulN says:

    Also Dave @48,

    DNA repeoir mechanisms merely take care of physical damage to the molecule, such as thymine dimers, breakage, etc. They do not correct other kinds of mutations that might affect the amino acid sequences of proteins.

    You’re right, the RNA embedded within ribosomes is responsible for eliminating errors in protein transcripts, while this may not technically be considered a repair mechanism (as it behaves more like a code compiler), it still utilizes stored information for what is “correct” in amino acid chains and selects for only that unless the ability to carry out this error-checking behavior becomes corrupted.

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    Dave asks this question ( of course he asks this following question so as to avoid my demand for evidence that violates the principle of Genetic Entropy of parent genome);

    “Could you point out DNA or RNA transcript repair mechanisms which correct mutations such as amino acid substitutions?”

    Well dave this is turning out to be several levels thick as well:

    RNA: Protein Regulators Are Themselves Regulated
    “What was formerly conceived of as a direct, straightforward pathway is gradually turning out to be a dense network of regulatory mechanisms: genes are not simply translated into proteins via mRNA (messenger RNA). MicroRNAs control the translation of mRNAs (messenger RNAs) into proteins, and proteins in turn regulate the microRNAs at various levels.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....084147.htm

    The cell has elaborate ways to safeguard its genetic library by repairing DNA, but now scientists are finding the same enzymes can also repair RNA. RNA methylation damage can be repaired by the same AlkB enzyme that repairs DNA. This is surprising because RNA and proteins were considered more expendable than DNA. (Creation-Evolution Headlines – Feb. 2003)

    Proteins have also been shown to have a “Cruise Control” mechanism, which works to “self-correct” the integrity of the protein structure from any random mutations imposed on them.

    Proteins with cruise control provide new perspective:
    “A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.” http://www.princeton.edu/main/...../60/95O56/

    Cruise Control?,, The equations of calculus involved in achieving even a simple process control loop, such as a dynamic cruise control loop, are very complex. This fact gives us clear evidence that far more functional information resides in individual proteins than meets the eye. In fact it seems readily apparent to me that highly advanced algorithmic information must reside in each individual amino acid used in a protein in order to achieve such control. For a sample of the equations that must be dealt with, to “engineer” even a simple process control loop, for a single protein, please see this following site:

    PID controller
    A proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID controller) is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller) widely used in industrial control systems. A PID controller attempts to correct the error between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint by calculating and then outputting a corrective action that can adjust the process accordingly and rapidly, to keep the error minimal.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PID_controller

    It is in realizing the staggering level of engineering that must be dealt with to achieve “cruise control”, for each individual protein, that it becomes apparent even Axe’s 1 in 10^77 estimate for finding specific functional proteins within sequence space, may be far to generous.

    The Ribosome: Perfectionist Protein-maker Trashes Errors
    Excerpt: The enzyme machine that translates a cell’s DNA code into the proteins of life is nothing if not an editorial perfectionist…the ribosome exerts far tighter quality control than anyone ever suspected over its precious protein products… To their further surprise, the ribosome lets go of error-laden proteins 10,000 times faster than it would normally release error-free proteins, a rate of destruction that Green says is “shocking” and reveals just how much of a stickler the ribosome is about high-fidelity protein synthesis.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134529.htm

    this stunning level of interwoven complexity, which we have barely begun to elucidate, and which prevents any change in foundational structure of the organism in the first place (i.e. very bad news for evolution Dave)

  58. 58
    Clive Hayden says:

    Allen,

    Once again, my comments have not emerged from moderation, despite my having posted them over six hours ago. How can anyone expect me to make timely responses to comments if I make them in a timely fashion, only to have them linger in moderation for a half a day or more?

    Please stop whining about your comments being in moderation for hours, this is what you have to deal with when you get moderated. I do not live to watch the moderation box for every time you might post something 24 hours a day. I’m serious about this.

  59. 59
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaulN,

    Perhaps the creature was originally intended to have color vision, and has since lost this capability to genetic deterioration.

    OK, what is intelligent about giving a nocturnal creature color vision? This is a just-so story with a half twist, wedge of lime and salt on the rim. You’re also starting down the slippery slope of invoking naturalistic explanations in something that was meant to be an alternative to naturalistic explanations, which we’ve agreed can answer these questions pretty well, thank you.

  60. 60
    PaulN says:

    Thanks for those articles BA, very good stuff pertaining to the current points of contention.

  61. 61
    PaulN says:

    Nakashima @59,

    OK, what is intelligent about giving a nocturnal creature color vision?

    Forgive me once again, I assumed the premise that the creature wasn’t always nocturnal was understood, hence the loss of color vision being related to genetic deterioration.

    This is a just-so story with a half twist, wedge of lime and salt on the rim.

    That wouldn’t by any means make it untrue. Besides, I’m sure it wouldn’t take you long to find genetic errors that attributed to color-blindness, and how such errors could become fixed into a population seeing as it would have to do with quality of life as opposed to life-or-death. Also if you don’t think Darwinian explanations are chock-full of just-so stories then you’d be kidding yourself.

    You’re also starting down the slippery slope of invoking naturalistic explanations in something that was meant to be an alternative to naturalistic explanations

    Well from the premise that a highly intelligent being created nature in all of its self-sustaining and orderly glory in the first place, it follows that some observations will inevitably have natural causes, such as the effect of gravity on falling objects, or the effect of genetic deterioration on the genome of various organisms. Having a transcendent explanation to natural reality does not rule out natural explanations in totality, but measuring the order that is observable in the universe does provide for a strong standpoint in which to evaluate the nature and the limits of natural causation, and also the disparity between those forces of unguided nature and forces of calculated intelligence.

    …which we’ve agreed can answer these questions pretty well, thank you.

    I’ve only agreed that nature is better at explaining increasing chaos rather than increasing complex-specified order. Is that what you’re projecting we’re agreeing on?

  62. 62
    Mung says:

    Allen @11

    I therefore find it quite interesting that Drs. Behe and Dembski reject a priori the hypothesis that there is a “natural complexifying force” (as proposed, for example, by Stuart Kaufman and Simon Conway Morris) that could produce such complex, novel variations.

    Probably has something to do with the belief that a thing cannot be it’s own cause.

    Even if there were a “natural complexifying force,” at most that would explain complexity. However, what is at issue is not complexity, but rather specified complexity.

    Why does the “natural complexifying force” produce functional things, rather than just complex but non-functional things?

  63. 63
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaulN,

    Welcome to the world of TE and Alfred Russel Wallace. I think Francis Collins and Simon Conway Morris have saved a spot for you!

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    No actually Nak, to be TE the same violation of GE would have to occur over a parent genome as is required for materialistic evolution, yet the argument between materialists and TE’ist would be over in short order, since materialism is left without any coherent foundation in reality, with the complete refutation of the hidden variable argument i.e. materialism is a non-starter in the first place as far as what is known about reality is concerned.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    Nakashima @52
    What is intelligent about giving a nocturnal animal a non-working gene for color vision?

    What is intelligent about including a spare tire that does nothing but add unneeded weight to a vehicle?

    What is intelligent about include a 5-1/4″ floppy drive bay in modern computer towers?

  66. 66
    PaulN says:

    Nakashima,

    I’ve been fairly clear about where I feel the limitations for evolution reside on an experimentally verified basis. Why you’re conflating my position with that of a TE I do not know. As I said, the details of the changes observed in mutational experiments are ultimately counter-productive to what the researcher seeks to prove. Accumulating broken genes that provide unrealistically situational benefits does not correctly extrapolate to cell-to-man evolution, or even provide a sufficient engine for common ancestry.

    I don’t believe God guides whatever macro-evolution that is theorized to take place, but rather that all of the information required for the dissemination of inherited variability for every kind of organism being created from the get go, without the need for theoretical Darwinian scenarios. Mendelian Genetics does enough to verify this (including those observations once asserted upon finches in the Galapagos and peppered moths), in addition to quantifying the terminal edge of mutational change that Behe articulates quite well.

  67. 67
    PaulN says:

    Mung @65,

    Hmmm, I suppose redundancy does indeed have its benefits, even if not immediately seen at the surface level.

  68. 68

    Greetings, Paul:
    Virtually all of the arguments presented here in support of GE are based on the accumulation of deleterious mutations in haploid organisms or bacteria. My comments on Sal Cordova’s video simulation of GE apply equally here: regardless of whether they are deleterious, neutral, or advantageous, any mutation originates in a chromosome of a diploid eukaryote can be either recessive or dominant (or partially dominant, with incomplete penetrance). John Sanford’s model (i.e. “Gregor’s Bookkeeper”) assumes haploidy and complete penetrance (i.e. 100% expression) of the deleterious mutations arising in the single set of chromosomes (or DNA molecule, in the case of bacteria). It is therefore virtually completely useless in predicting the effects of mutations (regardless of effect) in diploid eukaryotes.

    Furthermore, his model completely neglects such well-recognized phenomena as “purging” of deleterious recessive alleles as the result of inbreeding in small populations, “selective sweep” effects in any size population, and “founder-flush” effects. I can post links to empirical studies for all of these (and have done so: see http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-339951 and http://telicthoughts.com/mutat...../#comments )

  69. 69
    PaulN says:

    Also Mung @62,

    Why does the “natural complexifying force” produce functional things, rather than just complex but non-functional things?

    Very good point. Especially if the question is applied to the fossil record.

  70. 70

    In comment #67, Paul Nelson wrote:

    “…redundancy does indeed have its benefits, even if not immediately seen at the surface level.”

    This has been the substance of several of my comments: the double set of homologous chromosomes in diploid eukaryotes provides absolutely massive redundancy for every allele in the genome (except for those in X and y chromosomes of male mammals and those carried in mitochondria and chloroplasts).

    Because it is extremely unlikely that the same mutation will spontaneously occur at exactly the same locus in both sets of chromosomes, it is correspondingly extremely likely that the effects of such mutations (be they deleterious, neutral, or beneficial) will be compensated for (or even reinforced) by the corresponding allele in the homologous chromosome.

    Indeed, if the mutation is recessive (which almost all of them are, for reasons not directly related to Sanford’s GE model), then almost all new mutations will be “invisible” and will accumulate until “purged” from the collective genome of the population during an inbreeding event.

  71. 71

    Mung asked:

    “Why does the “natural complexifying force” produce functional things, rather than just complex but non-functional things?

    According to standard evolutionary theory, if such a force exists (as Kaufman and Conway Morris assert it does) it would produce both. To be precise, such a force could produce functional, non-functional, and partially functional complex objects/processes, and natural selection would eliminate the former and preserve the latter. Indeed, one could refer to this phenomenon as “Kaufman’s Ratchet”, as each increase in complexity preserved by natural selection would lay the groundwork for a subsequent increase in complexity as the “engine of complexity” produces yet more functional, non-functional, and partially functional variations on the new theme.

  72. 72

    Please note that I personally do not necessarily either endorse nor rule out either Kaufman’s or Conway Morris’ hypothesis for the existence and operation of a “complexifying” force in nature. However, I would be remiss in pointing out that at least one Nobel Prize (to Ilya Prigogine in 1977) has been awarded for empirical research into precisely this kind of “complexifying” natural force.

  73. 73

    In comment #69, Paul Nelson implied that the fossil record contains evidence that some kind of “complexifying force” has produced the variety of functional adaptations visible in that record. However, as many paleontologists have pointed out, much of the variation seen in the fossil record is non-functional (or, at best, only partially functional). Stephen J. Gould and Richard Lewontin pointed this out in their famous essay on spandrels, and Gould amplified on this point in his later paper with Elizabeth Vrba on exaptations.

    Indeed, the so-called Cambrian explosion is a classical example of this very phenomenon: a burst of complexity (corresponding to the relatively rapid adaptive radiation of arthropods following the evolution of bilateral metamerism), characterized by a multiplicity of forms, most of which eventually went extinct, thereby revealing their underlying non-functionality.

  74. 74

    This entire discussion of “genetic entropy” took place almost three quarters of a century ago, in response to Müller’s presentation of the phenomenon now commonly referred to as “Müller’s Ratchet”. John Sanford’s GE model is explicitly modeled on Müller’s Ratchet, but does not include the very phenomenon that Müller proposed as the solution to his dilemma: sexual reproduction via diploidy, meiosis, and gamete/zygote fertilization.

    Müller pointed out that being diploid and exchanging genetic material would completely negate the negative effects of the accumulation of deleterious mutations, both by compensating for such mutations via their homologs and by eventually weeding them out by exposing them to selection following recombination.

    This is very old stuff, folks. Once again, ID supporters are re-fighting the ancient battles that eventually culminated in the formulation of the “modern evolutionary synthesis”, while most evolutionary biologists have moved on during the subsequent half a century.

  75. 75
    Fross says:

    @20

    I just don’t agree with your assessment of what is “the bottom”. The ranking of scientific literacy is ranked by the Darwinists. It’s another one of their circular arguments. (ie Darwinism is science, so no Darwinism means your science literacy is low)

    That reminds me, speaking of Turkey, I just read this the other day. I didn’t realize D.I. offered their help in this matter. Great job guys. (goes to show that good science can move beyond religious differences)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....id=topnews

  76. 76
    Mung says:

    Nakashima @63

    Welcome to the world of TE and Alfred Russel Wallace.

    Sorry, but any reading of Alfred Wallace clearly removes him from the TE “camp” and places him square on the side of ID.

    1. Natural selection is insufficient.

    2. Nature is directed.

    TE affirms the direct opposite of Wallace.

  77. 77
    TRoutMac says:

    It’s really quite entertaining to watch committed materialists who deny free will, but are compelled to submit complaints to the moderators because their replies were held up for hours… as though the moderators had a choice. The moderators are, after all, just machines. They can’t help it… they are at the mercy of their molecules.

    And why try to persuade IDers of the truth of Darwinism and materialism? Supporters of ID don’t have a choice in the matter. (on the materialist’s view) I can’t help but believe in I.D., my molecules determine it. There’s no such thing as free will, remember?

    Romans 1:22

  78. 78

    Re TRoutMac in comment #76:

    “…why try to persuade IDers of the truth of Darwinism and materialism?”

    I neither believe that Darwinism is “true”, nor have I ever attempted to persuade IDers of the “truth of materialism”. Science isn’t about “truth”, it’s about observation, inference, and explanations that have not yet been shown to be contradicted by empirical evidence. That’s why science and scientific theories change over time: new discoveries force scientists to change their inferences and explanations to incorporate those discoveries.

    As for materialism, I am not a materialist and believe that purely materialistic arguments are fatally logically flawed, and would therefore not ever try to support them. On the contrary, I have argued strongly against them, both here and in other academic forums.

    I am neither a committed materialist nor do I believe that humans do not have free will. I do, however, believe that debates such as these can be conducted in a civil and courteous manner, and have at all times tried to conduct myself as such. I would not attack your person if I disagreed with your argument. Why do you think it’s okay to attack me, rather than my arguments? Do you think that doing so somehow supports your position? If so, you are sadly mistaken.

    More broadly, would those who disagree with my arguments and conclusions please point out where in this thread (or any thread at this website) I have attacked any ID supporter’s person, rather than their arguments? I have, of course, attacked those of their ideas that I believe are based on faulty information or faulty inferences from reliable information. I have also agreed with several points that they have made and conceded that some of their arguments have merit and have said so publicly.

    At the same time, I have rigorously defended what I perceive to be the most warranted positions, based on my understanding of the available empirical data. I will never apologize for doing so, nor would I expect anyone who disagreed with me to do so. What I do expect is some sense of academic honor.

    Have I attacked, insulted, or ridiculed anyone here the way several ID proponents here routinely have done (to the point recently of drawing a warning from a moderator)? Have I ridiculed anyone here by addressing them by “cute” or insulting nicknames, rather than the names under which they have chosen to post their comments, as certain others have done repeatedly?

    Academic debates such as this one are carried by rational arguments grounded in freely available evidence. Those who use ad hominem arguments, insults, ridicule, and appeals to irrational prejudice may get a cheap thrill out of doing so, but people who value fairness and rational inquiry will judge for themselves who has won or lost by using such tactics.

    How say you, Paul Nelson? Salvador Cordova? vjtorley? Mung? Nakashima-san? Is the moderation policy here scrupulously fair, or is it sometimes used to quash rational debate and spirited (but respectful) disagreement?

    And you, Clive? If you think my arguments in this comment are so outrageous as to brook no quarter, please “disappear” them and ban me. Indeed, I insist that you do so, and request that, out of simple courtesy, you send me an email explaining why (you can find my email by downloading my curriculum vitae at my blog: http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com ).

    But before you do, please ask yourself why you apparently moderate commentators with whom you disagree, but who wish to be treated fairly and present rational arguments, while doing nothing to moderate commentators with whom you agree, but whose arguments are accompanied by ad hominem slurs, insults, and ridicule.

    If you were a teacher for a class that engaged in discussions such as these, would you allow people to address their opponents using insulting nicknames, attack their motives, insinuate that they lack morals or intelligence, ascribe beliefs and motivations to them that they themselves have either not divulged or have openly disavowed, and yet assert that this is some approximation of fairness?

  79. 79
    Clive Hayden says:

    Allen,

    I have people moderated that I agree with. Please, please, don’t assume you know everything that I do, and don’t assume you know why I do or don’t do it. Talk about motive mongering. Your outlandish assumptions really get old. I don’t even want to have to address them most of the time.

  80. 80
    Mark Frank says:

    #77 Troutmac

    It’s really quite entertaining to watch committed materialists who deny free will, but are compelled to submit complaints to the moderators because their replies were held up for hours… as though the moderators had a choice.

    I can’t speak for all materialists but a fair number of us are compatablists and find materialism and indeed determinism compatible with free will.

  81. 81
    Mark Frank says:

    #53 Vjtorley

    I will look at the other stuff later but I must pick up on the Anscombe lecture – because I was there! (I studied philosophy at Cambridge from 1969-72 – shows you how old I am). To be honest I can’t remember much about the lecture, but I do remember that Bernard Williams did not agree.

    If you look at your quote it really sidesteps the issue of compatabilism.

    My actions are mostly physical movements; if these physical movements are physically predetermined by processes which I do not control, then my freedom is perfectly illusory.

    The whole point of compatabilism is we do control our physical movements (at least the voluntary ones). We make choices based on our desires which control our movements. What more freedom could you ask for? The fact that those desires cause, and may determine, our choices is not a problem and indeed is obviously true. Would you prefer our choices not to be based on our desires?

  82. 82
    Graham1 says:

    To Clive Hayden: If we arent in possesion of all the facts, then perhaps you could explain why you have Allen suspended in moderation ? He sounds pretty civil to me and obviously puts some effort into his posts.

    What do we have to do (besides grovel) to please you ?

  83. 83
    Clive Hayden says:

    Graham,

    What do we have to do (besides grovel) to please you ?

    Just be civil. The posts you see are civil, but you don’t see all posts.

  84. 84
    bornagain77 says:

    Allen states:

    “Virtually all of the arguments presented here in support of GE are based on the accumulation of deleterious mutations in haploid organisms or bacteria.,,,”

    Excuse me Allen, I’m not arguing for that “secondary” phase of Genetic Entropy (GE),,, yet,, let me lay out a broad outline of the phases of GE for you.

    I find the principle of Genetic Entropy to be the true principle for all biological adaptations which directly contradicts unguided Darwinian evolution. As well, unlike Darwinian evolution which can claim no primary principles in science to rest its foundation on, Genetic Entropy can rest its foundation in science directly on the twin pillars of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and on the Law of Conservation Of Information(LCI) (Marks Dembski, Abel; Null Hypothesis). The first phase of Genetic Entropy, any life-form will go through, holds all sub-speciation adaptations away from a parent species, which increase fitness/survivability to a new environment for the sub-species, will always come at a cost of the functional information that is present in the parent species genome. This is, for the vast majority of times, measurable as loss of genetic diversity in genomes. This phase of Genetic Entropy is verified, in one line of evidence, by the fact all population genetics’ studies show a consistent loss of genetic diversity from a parent species for all sub-species that have adapted away (Maciej Giertych). This fact is also well testified to by plant breeders and animal breeders who know there are strict limits to the amount of variability you can expect when breeding for any particular genetic trait. The second line of evidence, this primary phase of the principle of Genetic Entropy is being rigorously obeyed, is found in the fact the “Fitness Test” against a parent species of bacteria has never been violated by any sub-species of a parent bacteria.

    For a broad outline of the “Fitness test”, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – “The Fitness Test” – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BwWpRSYgOE

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    This “fitness test” fairly conclusively demonstrates “optimal information” was originally encoded within a “parent” bacteria/bacterium by God, and has not been added to by any “teleological” methods in the beneficial adaptations of the sub-species of bacteria. Thus the inference to Genetic Entropy, i.e. that God has not specifically moved within nature in a teleological manner, to gradually increase the functional information of a genome, still holds as true for the principle of Genetic Entropy.

    It seems readily apparent that to conclusively demonstrate God has moved within nature, in a teleological manner, to provide the sub-species bacteria with additional functional information over the “optimal” genome of its parent species, the “fitness test” must be passed by the sub-species against the parent species. If the fitness test is shown to be passed then the new molecular function, which provides the more robust survivability for the sub-species, must be calculated to its additional Functional Information Bits (Fits) it gained in the beneficial adaptation, and then be found to be greater than 140 Fits. 140 Fits is what has now been generously set by Kirk Durston as the maximum limit of Functional Information which can reasonably be expected to be generated by the natural processes of the universe over the entire age of the universe (The actual limit is most likely to be around 40 Fits) (Of note: I have not seen any evidence to suggest that purely material processes can exceed the limit found by Behe). This fitness test, and calculation, must be done to rigorously establish materialistic processes did not generate the functional information (Fits), and to rigorously establish teleological, within nature, processes were indeed involved in the increase of Functional Complexity of the beneficially adapted sub-species. The second and final phase of Genetic Entropy, outlined by John Sanford in his book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, is when “slightly detrimental” mutations, which are far below the power of natural selection to remove from a genome, slowly build up in a species/kind over long periods of time and lead to Genetic Meltdown.
    The first effect to be noticed, for the Genetic Entropy principle, is the loss of morphological variability of individual sub-species of a kind. This loss of morphological variability first takes place for the extended lineages of sub-species within a kind, and increases with time, and then gradually works in to the more ancient lineages of the kind, as the “mutational load” slowly builds up over time (A Cambrian Peak in Morphological Variation Within Trilobite Species; Webster). The final effect/phase of Genetic Entropy is when the entire spectrum of the species of a kind slowly start to succumb to “Genetic Meltdown”, and to go extinct in the fossil record. The occurs because the mutational load, of the slowly accumulating “slightly detrimental mutations” in the genomes, becomes too great for each individual species of the kind to bear. From repeated radiations from ancient lineages in the fossil record, and from current adaptive radiation studies which show strong favor for ancient lineages radiating, the ancient lineages of a kind appear to have the most “robust genomes” and are thus most resistant to “Genetic Meltdown”. All this consistent evidence makes perfect sense from the Genetic Entropy standpoint, in that Genetic Entropy holds God created each parent kind with a “optimal genome” for all future sub-speciation events. My overwhelming intuition, from all the evidence I’ve seen so far, and from Theology, is this; Once God creates a parent kind, the parent kind is encoded with “optimal information” for the specific purpose to which God has created the kind to exist, and God has chosen, in His infinite wisdom, to strictly limit the extent to which He will act within nature to “evolve” the sub-species of the parent kind to greater heights of functional complexity. Thus the Biblically compatible principle of Genetic Entropy is found to be in harmony with the second law of thermodynamics and with the strict limit found for “nature” ever generating any meaningful amount of functional information on its own (LCI: Dembski – Marks).

    It should be clearly pointed out that we know, for 100% certainty, that Intelligence can generate functional information i.e. irreducible complexity. We generate a large amount of functional information, which is well beyond the reach of the random processes of the universe, every time we write a single page of a letter (+700 Fits average). The true question we should be asking is this, “Can totally natural processes ever generate functional information?”, especially since totally natural processes have never been observed generating functional information from scratch (Durston).

  85. 85
    bornagain77 says:

    correction:
    for clarity this change has been made in my notes:

    “The first effect to be obviously noticed, for the Genetic Entropy principle, is the loss of potential for morphological variability of individual sub-species of a kind. This loss of potential for morphological variability,,,,”

  86. 86
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    Thank you for the clarification on different phases of GE. I hadn’t seen that before in discussions by a lot of people that referenced GE and Dr Sanford’s book.

    The first phase of Genetic Entropy, any life-form will go through, holds all sub-speciation adaptations away from a parent species, which increase fitness/survivability to a new environment for the sub-species, will always come at a cost of the functional information that is present in the parent species genome. This is, for the vast majority of times, measurable as loss of genetic diversity in genomes.

    This is interesting to me for two reasons.

    First, it seems to concede that yes, speciation really does happen. While it is phrased as ‘sub-species within kind’ to avoid offending YEC sensibilities, what is the point of discussing the process at all unless reproductive isolation ensues, which is the basis for most biological species concepts.

    Second, it is an odd conflation of ‘functional information’, which might be considered a property or measure on an individual genome, and ‘genetic diversity’, which is a property or measure on a population as a whole.

    In any case, it is all slightly at odds with a section later in your message:

    The first effect to be noticed, for the Genetic Entropy principle, is the loss of morphological variability of individual sub-species of a kind.

    If you had said, “the loss of morphological variation” I would say that is a minor difference from “loss of genetic diversity”; it locates all diversity as morphological variation, not including biochemical variation, which we know can be important without changing the look of an animal.

    However, loss of variability is something else. That is a claim that having just varied sucessfully, the mechanisms that produce variation have for some reason stopped working. That should be clearly testable.

  87. 87
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak, the post was directed towards Allen who, with his stated refutation of dogmatic materialism, I would be willing to see how far his reasoning would work with secondary issues and definitions, but with you, as a dogmatic materialist, you must address the primary issue at hand, as must Allen eventually, and demonstrate a increase of functional complexity above the parent bacteria. i.e. you must establish a foundation for what you hold to be true (materialism) before you can properly address the ensuing matters!

  88. 88
    Nakashima says:

    Shorter BA^77: I will ignore you when convenient.

    I’m sad you take this tack, Mr BA^77. Previously, my dogmatic materialism was a reason to engage me in conversation. Now I’ll have to use those satellite mind control lasers to get Mr MacNeill to point out exactly what I did. Allen, this really won’t hurt much…

  89. 89
    PaulN says:

    Also for the record, I am not Paul Nelson, although I do agree with most of what he says. Just thought I’d clear that up so people won’t be confused as to who I am, and also to remove the potential for someone to say “Hey, look what Paul Nelson said on this blog…,” when it was really PaulN, someone who just happens to have the same first name and last initial.

  90. 90
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak, the problem is that you refuse to concede that materialism is completely incoherent as Allen has: For example Nak, To quote this powerful remark from Allen, a remark that really surprised me in its honesty and clarity::

    As for materialism, I am not a materialist and believe that purely materialistic arguments are fatally logically flawed, and would therefore not ever try to support them. On the contrary, I have argued strongly against them, both here and in other academic forums.

    I am neither a committed materialist nor do I believe that humans do not have free will.

    Allen McNeill

    (I hope you don’t mind if I file this one away Dr. McNeill)

    So Nak, do you agree with Allen’s statement? If not, can you please provide your formal proof that materialism is true? If you don’t then why should I even think for a moment you are truly serious in these questions of origins?

  91. 91
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    i don’t think Mr Macneill is making a scientific claim when he describes his beleifs. I’ve been trying to discuss science with you, as ID does claim to be science. Our previous encounter have made clear that discussing my personal history and beliefs with you in counter-productive. I know that you view our entire dialog as one long altar call. I’m sorry that it leads to moments such as this when you use this fundamental disconnect to stop talking about the subject at hand.

    A demand for agreement on such matters is inconsistent with your previous position and absurd as a debating stance. You must realize that tactics like this make your position seem even less tenable than all the constant quotemining and switching of argumentative horses in midstream.

    This is simple petulance.

  92. 92
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak, I really should not have to explain this to you, but your philosophical basis directly effects your science. It is from you philosophical basis of materialism that all your “imaginary” and unsubstantiated postulations are arising from in the first place, thus since you are in fact operating from a “fatally logically flawed,” position (McNeill) Why should I not demand that you substantiate your basis with a formal and empirical proof? Since that is in fact the root of your whole problem with your disconnect with reality? For you to pretend that your “philosophy does not matter”, is absurd in the highest degree, for your philosophy is in fact what is driving you to repeated and comical conjectures of imagination that have no connection to reality whatsoever,,,though you insist that they are perfectly consistent conjectures because of your unquestioned commitment to materialism. You think it unfair I point this obvious flaw out to you, because you find any form of Theism unthinkable? Well that’s tough Nak,,,it is really your personal issues that is the problem there for you, and has nothing to do with the truth of science. Once again I ask you to present just one example of an increase in molecular functional complexity that passes the “fitness test”! Just one example of which you should have countless thousands. but ALAS Nak WHAT DO YOU HAVE??? Nothing to show? Why is this nak? Why don’t you find this extremely problematic and earnestly seek resolution to it? Instead of doing your damnedest to avoid it? Why Nak? Why?

  93. 93
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank (#81)

    I must say I envy you for having had the privilege of listening to philosophers like G.E.M. Anscombe and Bernard Williams. Cambridge, eh? I knew it had to have been somewhere good.

    Anyway, I’d like to get back to your argument. You write:

    The whole point of compatabilism is we do control our physical movements (at least the voluntary ones). We make choices based on our desires which control our movements. What more freedom could you ask for? The fact that those desires cause, and may determine, our choices is not a problem and indeed is obviously true. Would you prefer our choices not to be based on our desires?

    (1) What more freedom could I ask for? That’s easy: freedom from external control. Personally, I don’t like the thought of being controlled by anyone or anything. And it matters not one whit whether the thing controlling me makes me do what I want to do, or whether it makes me do something I don’t want to do. Control is control, and it’s incompatible with freedom.

    Indeed, I would regard the former kind of control as even more insidious than the latter. If you know that something is making you perform some action that you don’t want to do, at least you know that you’re up against something malevolent, and you can at least hate it, even if you are powerless to fight it. But if something is controlling your very desires, so that you always act in accordance with your wishes, then you might go through your whole life without ever recognizing that you’re a puppet on a string, created and swept along by a sequence of events that you had no power over.

    Apparently, this kind of control does not bother you. I must confess I am baffled.

    (2) You write, “We make choices based on our desires which control our movements. What more freedom could one ask for?” Very well, then; are chimpanzees free? And what about rats, for that matter? For their voluntary movements are also caused by their desires, on your account – and yet, we would not think of suing them.

    You could reply, I suppose, that humans are rational in a way that chimpanzees are not – in other words, an agent is free if and only if it acts for a reason and does what it wants. But it is hard to see why you would add this extra condition, if you believe that our rational deliberations are also determined.

    (3) Do you believe it is morally appropriate to blame human beings for their bad choices? Notice that I say blame, not punish. Punishment might be construed as a form of conditioning, along the lines of shock therapy, designed to extinguish a socially unacceptable form of behavior; but moral indignation, when directed at someone whose actions are ultimately completely controlled by outside forces (heredity, environment or what have you) is simply absurd. It makes no sense, any more than it would for J.K. Rowling to get mad at Draco Malfoy for playing a mean trick on Harry Potter. If he did that, it’s because she made him do it.

    (4) Finally, I would not say that it is “obviously true” that our choices are determined by our desires. Consider the following oft-cited case, described in the Wikipedia article on Uttoxeter:

    Perhaps the most famous event to have occurred in Uttoxeter is the penance of Samuel Johnson. Johnson’s father ran a bookstall on Uttoxeter market, and young Samuel once refused to help out on the stall. When Johnson was older, he stood in the rain (without a hat) as a penance for his failure to assist his father. This event is commemorated with the Johnson Memorial, which stands in the Market Place, in the town centre and there is also an area of town called Johnson Road, which commemorates him.

    Was Johnson’s choice to do penance controlled by his desires? Using “desire” in its ordinary sense, I would say not. Of course, you could say that while Johnson had a desire not to get wet, it was over-ridden by a stronger desire to do penance by allowing himself to get wet. But if I were to ask you what makes the latter desire stronger, you would presumably reply: the fact that it over-rode the former desire. That is what I would call begging the question.

    (5) Right now I’m re-reading a book by Dr. Thomas Pink, entitled “Free Will: A Very Short Introduction” (OUP, 2004). On page 97, Pink highlights an important distinction between desires and decisions:

    A decision is a motivation with an object. A decision is a decision to do something. But a decision is not an ordinary motivation. It is quite different to an ordinary desire. And that is because a decision’s relation to its object is that of an action to its object. The decision is related to its object … as to a goal that the decision is supposed to attain…

    Desire is an object-directed motivation too – a desire is always a desire for something to happen. But desire is not practical in nature. A desire is directed at its object merely as something desirable, not as a goal to be attained thereby. So the rationality of simply wanting an event to occur does not depend on the desire’s being able to cause that event to occur. I can want England to win the cup – and want this quite sensibly – even though I am sure that what I want will have no effect on whether England actually wins. What I cannot sensibly do with this belief is decide that England will win the cup…

    We are no longer characterizing action as a kind of effect, but rather as a mode of exercising reason. What distinguished action is not a special kind of cause, but a special kind of rationality. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    I hope the foregoing quote gives you some food for thought.

  94. 94

    Nakashima-san wrote:

    “I don’t think Mr Macneill is making a scientific claim when he describes his beliefs.”

    Indeed, I am not. My statement that I am not a materialist and that I believe that there is a logical inconsistency between materialism and the data of science is a metaphysical assertion, and therefore not a scientific conclusion. I have yet to find anything in Nakashima-san’s comments with which I disagree on scientific grounds.

  95. 95

    Sorry, PaulN, I assumed you were my opponent (and sometime colleague), Dr. Paul Nelson, as you have generally exhibited the same courtesy and adherence to the “rules” of academic debate as Dr. Nelson.

  96. 96
    Mung says:

    Re: Truth in Science?

    Allen @78

    Science isn’t about “truth”, it’s about observation, inference, and explanations that have not yet been shown to be contradicted by empirical evidence.

    I’m having difficulty making sense of this, and can hardly believe that this is issuing from someone who is an educator.

    What does it mean to say that an observation, inference, or explanation has been contradicted by empirical evidence?

    If science is not about “truth” what does it matter whether it’s “oberservations, inferences or explanations” have been “contradicted by empirical evidence”?

    Without propositions you cannot have a contradiction. You can only remove the question of truth from science if you remove propositions from science. Are you willing to do that?

    I’d love for someone to point our how I am mistaken.

    That’s why science and scientific theories change over time: new discoveries force scientists to change their inferences and explanations to incorporate those discoveries.

    Thank God they don’t abandon theories because they have been shown to be FALSE. That would be, well, unscientific. Or would it.

  97. 97
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Dr. McNeill since you find materialism “fatally logically flawed,”, to what philosophical basis do you now subscribe?

  98. 98
    Mark Frank says:

    Vj #93

    I must say I envy you for having had the privilege of listening to philosophers like G.E.M. Anscombe and Bernard Williams.

    Clearly I was lucky but there is no correlation between being a major philosopher and being a good or inspirational teacher. The best teacher in the faculty was Timothy Smiley – and who has heard of him.

    I know I am not going to convince you that compatibilism is true but maybe I might just be able to explain how it works (at least in my version). I found that understanding it required a sort of Gestalt shift – seeing the duck as a rabbit.

    Just to clear up a point which you may well regard as trivial. By “determinism” I don’t necessarily mean that everything is in theory predictable. There may be a genuine random element in the universe – uncaused outcomes. I just think there is nothing other than determined or random.

    To briefly answer your points.

    1) Acting according to my desires is not being under external control. It is doing what I want to do.

    2)Actually I think chimpanzees and rats do have free will. They don’t have responsibility – but then neither does a 2 year old child – but would you deny it has free will.

    3)Yes blame is morally appropriate for healthy adult human beings because they have free will and responsibility.

    4) By desires I include the desire to do good, make penance etc. We do these things because we want to do them.

    And yes a stronger desire is simply the one that we decide to satisfy. That is part of what it means for one desire to be stronger than another.

    5) I don’t dispute the difference between desires and decisions. Desires cause decisions – but they are not the same kind of thing. My desire that England will win the cup may cause me to decide to donate to the sports fund.

    One way of thinking of compatibilism is following the progress of a human from foetus to baby to toddler to child to adult. At each point genetic inheritance and past and present external stimuli causes actions. But gradually the ways in which they lead to action become more sophisticated. As a foetus the stimuli lead to action in a simple, predictable way (although there may be a random element) e.g. kicking in the womb. You would not call this a decision to kick. In the toddler the action given the stimuli is harder to predict because the processing is more complicated – but there is a whole class of stimulus actions which we would definitely call decisions e.g. to throw perfectly good food on the floor. In the adult the stimuli may undergo the most complex processing including feedback loops where the processing may itself be part of the stimuli (a conscious decision). It becomes much harder to predict the outcome given the stimuli (but is still often possible). But being able to predict the outcome does not prevent higher order decision being free.

    Of course, even as adults there are still actions which we would not call decisions – breathing, pulse racing. And I would say there are some actions which are somewhere between decisions or not – the choice of a word in a sentence spoken instinctively for example. In this analysis free will is a matter of degree. It is about one of the ways we come to act based on the environment. And that is what free will means. It just hard to take this on board when you are, as it were, inside the decision process.

  99. 99
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BA^77,

    Nak, I really should not have to explain this to you, but your philosophical basis directly effects your science.

    Umm, no. That is sort of like saying you won’t let a bank teller count your money if they are believer in constructivist mathematics.

    I pointed out that you said one thing at one point in your message, and a different thing in another part. My belief/commitment philosophically to materialism or not doesn’t change the apparent contradiction in your message.

    STOP THE PRESSES!!!1!ELEVEN

    I, Nakashima, have just been convinced of the non-material reality of FSM. You are going to Hull. I will pray for you, but without much hope for your immaterial portion of the divine sauce.

    Now will you answer my question?

  100. 100
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank (#98)

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, and for your clarification of what you mean by determinism.

    You write:

    Acting according to my desires is not being under external control. It is doing what I want to do.

    If some thing or set of things determine your desires, then they do control you. Let’s make the illustration plainer.

    Suppose that instead of a thing, it was a person – let’s say a Martian – that was determining your desires, by twiddling a meter. He sets it to 0 and you feel hungry, 10 and you feel thirsty, 20 and you feel angry, 30 and you feel like going for a walk, and so on. And now suppose that for the first time, the Martian decides to reveal himself to you. He knocks on your door and demonstrates how his meter works. How do you react? Do you feel blind, inchoate rage that all your life you have been mainpulated by this being from Mars? No, of course you don’t – for he’s prudently set the meter to 40, which makes you feel calm. Now he’s smiling at you, and you’re smiling back at him.

    Now, I put it to you: are you free? All yoyr life you’ve been doing what you want. What’s more, you’ve been deliberating rationally – it’s just that the Martian has controlled your deliberations. And yet I think the overwhelming intuition of the person-in-the-street is that in this case, you are not free. I think you would agree, yourself, in this case.

    Now, why should it be any different if the factors determining your desires are a combination of the people whom you have met in your life, and well as blind, impersonal natural forces?

    The argument you put forward for the plausibility of determinism, based on the cognitive development of the infant, appears difficult to refute at first. I would respond by characterizing infants as being rational from the very beginning. Their minds are at work from the start – it just takes them five years to make sense of this buzzing, blooming mess we call the world. In particular, it takes them about five years to develop a fully fledged theory of mind, in which they understand that there are other people, who have their own beliefs and desires.

    How do they do this? I think the philosopher who explored this subject best was John Macmurray.

    Her’s a short summary of his thinking by Ryan Lamothe, at http://www.pep-web.org/documen......044.0581A :

    In brief, Macmurray defines community as mutual/personal forms of associations wherein persons recognize and treat each other as persons—unique, responsive, agentic, centers of subjectivity. From a developmental view, for Macmurray, it is the parent’s intentional recognition and omnipotent construction of the baby as a person that shape and govern the infant’s impulse to communicate. Initially, the infant’s impulse to communicate involves omnipotent impersonal recognition of objects—whereby the objects are recognized primarily in terms of utility, benefit, and function. The parent’s personalization enables the child, in time, to subordinate impersonal recognition to personal recognition.

    That’s how I envisage it. I hope that helps.

  101. 101
    bornagain77 says:

    Nak , The whole point for me pressing you to find a gain in functional/information/complexity by passing the bacterial fitness test by a fairly trivial level is to make it as crystal clear to you as possible that the fitness test has never been passed!!!! Never Nak!!! NOT ONCE!!! THIS IS A CONCRETE FACT!!!! A fact that is especially driven home now that Nylonase and Lenski’s e-coli are shown to rigorously conform to Genetic Entropy,,,
    Do you deny this is true?? Do you want me to cite the studies again?? Do you want to go through them with a fine tooth comb? Surprising No,,, you want to completely ignore this foundational test and to argue about something that has no direct bearing on concretely falsifying Genetic Entropy and concretely establishing evolution as possible in biology,,, This is concrete science NAK,, that presents a clear, fairly solid, boundary condition for the falsification of ID, as well as confirmation of evolution to boot,,, you should be absolutely giddy that here is a rigid test in that you could produce clear undeniable empirical evidence that Genetic Entropy is false, evolution is true, and flood me with a myriad of bacterial examples that have violated the fitness test,,, And do it in the most rigorous direct manner possible!!!

    The plain fact is Nak all examples put forth by evolutionists, when subjected to rigid scrutiny, fail to violate Genetic Entropy!!! Taken in conjunction with Abel’s Null hypothesis this is absolutely shattering for evolution and is THE primary test that would falsify ID,,,If evolution were actually true this one simple and trivial test should have countless examples violating it all the time every day,, at any beck and whim of any competent scientists who chooses to do so,,, Thus Nak will you answer my question? Why do you believe in a theory that has no foundational proof?

    Once you realize how severe the cutoff is for information (if you ever admit it) then you realize the information has to come from somewhere i.e. A designer!! But if you refuse to even address this issue Nak how can I possibly show you just how deep the chasm is between material processes and functional information? So please be fair with the evidence Nak and quit trying to play games with what are in reality totally irrelevant issues when compared to the weight this one test carries.

  102. 102
    Graham says:

    Bornagain77 (again): Whats this ‘Genetic Entropy’ ?

    Could you cite some reference (other than Behe, Creation Ministries, Uncommon Descent etc) ?

    Thanks.

  103. 103
    vjtorley says:

    By the way, the late John Macmurray is a very interesting but much-neglected philosopher. Readers can find out more about him here at http://www.giffordlectures.org.....thorID=116 , and also here and here .

  104. 104
    Mark Frank says:

    #100

    I guess a little more discussion of “control” is needed. In one sense we are all under external control. Advertisers create “needs”, good employers set up working environments so we get job satisfaction and work harder. But in doing so they are not changing us into creatures that lack free will. They are not, as it were, by-passing the usual decision making processes.

    An addictive drug may create an enormously strong desire that drives out all others. You could imagine a criminal master mind inflicting such a drug on a victim and this becomes very similar to the Martian case. The criminal master mind gives the drug because he knows that the victim will take on complex, dangerous and unpleasant work to satisfy the need. However, the work involves planning and decision making. So in one sense the master mind is controlling the victim. But the victim is still able to make decisions, to reflect on his addiction, quite possibly to wish that the desire was not so strong.

    Has the victim lost free will? Where is the difference in principle from the employer who designs the working environment so it becomes addictive?

  105. 105
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank (#103)

    The hypothetical cases involving addiction which you propose are very interesting, but they differ in two significant ways from my Martian case. The first difference relates to time, and the second relates to scope.

    1. Time. An addict may have a craving that he/she needs to satisfy, but once it is satisfied (i.e once the addict has obtained his/her “fix”), the addict is free from his/her overpowering urge for a while. During that time, the addict is free to seek treatment for his/her addiction. For example, the addiction can call someone for help, or go and see a therapist, or take refuge in a church. Even if the criminal mastermind has cunningly locked all the doors of the building and cut the phone lines, the addict can still pray. That, at least, is a free act, even if the addict’s prayers go unanswered and the addict never manages to escape. For at least some of the time, then, the addict is free.

    2. Scope. The criminal mastermind doesn’t control all of the addict’s desires. In fact, the criminal mastermind doesn’t even control all of the addict’s ultimate goals. The drug is an ultimate goal for the addict, but so is the urge to sleep, eat, drink or relieve oneself. Any of these urges can be over-riding cravings too. What happens when these urges conflict? It is thus doubtful whether the criminal mastermind could control the entire gamut of the addict’s behavior, simply by creating an addiction in his/her victim. But even supposing that there were no conflicts of urges, and that the criminal mastermind could infallibly make the addict take on complex, dangerous and unpleasant work to satisfy his/her need, the mastermind’s control over the addict’s behavior would not be complete: it would still be up to the addict to decide exactly how to go about performing these dangerous tasks, as the criminal mastermind has not attempted to control the addict’s rational deliberations, but has merely ensured that the addict will do his/her utmost to achieve the goal intended by the mastermind.

    In any event, I would say that while the addict is experiencing an over-riding craving, he/she has lost his/her free will. That person’s intellect may be still functioning, but it is the slave of the addict’s compulsive desires.

    However, the Martian case which I described above (#100) is quite different from the addiction case you proposed. In the Martian case, the Martian has been controlling all of your desires, and all of your rational deliberations, all your life. Surely you would concede that you have no freedom left in this case – and yet, “the usual decision making processes,” as you describe them, have been left intact, by supposition. What that suggests to me is that free will cannot be cashed out in purely procedural terms. Absence of determination is a necessary condition for freedom.

    Let’s return to the other cases you propose. What about the employer who creates an addictive workplace? That’s quite a different case from the criminal mastermind. The employees presumably go home at some time. At least while they are at home, they are free to reflect on the misery of their hectic lifestyles, come to their senses and seek help. I should add, however, that if I were the spouse of an employee who died from overwork in such an environment, I would sue the company for every last penny they had, and then some.

    Lastly, incentives and addictions are two very different things. The whole purpose of creating an addiction is to either destroy reason or make it the slave of the passions. An incentive works precisely by appealing to the subject’s reason. Of course, it may appeal to the subject’s appetites too. However, a human incentive is above all designed to secure the intellect’s approval for the course of action which it is intended to elicit.

    I hope my analysis of the above cases has convinced you that incompatibilism (which I espouse) remains a strong, philosophically defensible position.

  106. 106
    Mark Frank says:

    #104 vj

    There was a phrase in your description of the Martian case which escaped my notice the first time which I think is rather important.

    the Martian has been controlling all of your desires, and all of your rational deliberations</b<,

    This rather implies that the Martian is micromanaging my deliberations – intervening in the decision making process. My model of free will does not include that. My mental processes are caused by my desires. If determinism is true, then in theory given my desires (and a zillion other things such as my memories and the current environment) it would be possible to predict how those processes will operate and the decision they will come up with (with the standard reservation about a possible random element). But the processes operate standalone as it were in my brain. It is my brain that is balancing alternatives, weighing outcomes, imagining how I would feel if … To me this is free will. As you point out it no difference if a Martian specified all my desires and environment or whether they just happened – the mental process is the same.

    Here we meet an impasse. You feel that something important is missing from this rather bizarre scenario. A mysterious element called “free will”. I feel this bizarre scenario captures what we call free will. I am making decisions based on what I want. I am responsible for those decisions and culpable or laudable accordingly.

    As I say I only want to explain what compatabilism is. I know I will not convince anyone – at least not immediately – but sometimes it gradually takes root as an idea.

    A reflection which you may find obvious. Materialism more or less entails compatabilism or the denial of free will. However, compatabilism does not entail materialism. It may be that the this process, caused by my desires, is in some sense immaterial.

  107. 107
    Mung says:

    Do you deny this is true?? Do you want me to cite the studies again?? Do you want to go through them with a fine tooth comb? Surprising No,,, you want to completely ignore this foundational test and to argue about something that has no direct bearing on concretely falsifying Genetic Entropy and concretely establishing evolution as possible in biology,,, This is concrete science NAK,, that presents a clear, fairly solid, boundary condition for the falsification of ID, as well as confirmation of evolution to boot,,,

    I think he just wants to model it in a simulation so that it can be studied.

  108. 108
    Clive Hayden says:

    Mark Frank,

    You might find this quote from Dostoevsky interesting in the discussion on free will:

    http://afterall.net/papers/491347

    Here is an excerpt:

    “Oh, tell me, who was it first announced, who was it first proclaimed, that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own interests; and that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interests, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else, and we all know that not one man can, consciously, act against his own interests, consequently, so to say, through necessity, he would begin doing good? Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure, innocent child! Why, in the first place, when in all these thousands of years has there been a time when man has acted only from his own interest? What is to be done with the millions of facts that bear witness that men, CONSCIOUSLY, that is fully understanding their real interests, have left them in the background and have rushed headlong on another path, to meet peril and danger, compelled to this course by nobody and by nothing, but, as it were, simply disliking the beaten track, and have obstinately, wilfully, struck out another difficult, absurd way, seeking it almost in the darkness. So, I suppose, this obstinacy and perversity were pleasanter to them than any advantage….

    Advantage! What is advantage? And will you take it upon yourself to define with perfect accuracy in what the advantage of man consists? And what if it so happens that a man’s advantage, SOMETIMES, not only may, but even must, consist in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself and not advantageous. And if so, if there can be such a case, the whole principle falls into dust. What do you think — are there such cases? You laugh; laugh away, gentlemen, but only answer me: have man’s advantages been reckoned up with perfect certainty? Are there not some which not only have not been included but cannot possibly be included under any classification? You see, you gentlemen have, to the best of my knowledge, taken your whole register of human advantages from the averages of statistical figures and politico-economical formulas. Your advantages are prosperity, wealth, freedom, peace — and so on, and so on. So that the man who should, for instance, go openly and knowingly in opposition to all that list would to your thinking, and indeed mine, too, of course, be an obscurantist or an absolute madman: would not he? But, you know, this is what is surprising: why does it so happen that all these statisticians, sages and lovers of humanity, when they reckon up human advantages invariably leave out one? They don’t even take it into their reckoning in the form in which it should be taken, and the whole reckoning depends upon that. It would be no greater matter, they would simply have to take it, this advantage, and add it to the list. But the trouble is, that this strange advantage does not fall under any classification and is not in place in any list…”

    Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864), Part I, Sect. VII, VIII.

  109. 109
    Mung says:

    Re: Truth in Science
    Over at Telic Thoughts Allen tells a somewhat different story about science and truth.

    Since the empirical sciences … are all ultimately founded on induction, all of the concepts in the empirical (i.e. “natural”) sciences are closer to nominalism than to Platonic realism. This is why I tell my students that the empirical sciences aren’t about “Truth”, if by that term one means generalizations that are absolutely and necessarily “true”.
    here

    Sort of reminds me about the different stories for his rejection of materalism:

    My statement that I am not a materialist and that I believe that there is a logical inconsistency between materialism and the data of science is a metaphysical assertion, and therefore not a scientific conclusion.

    As for materialism, I am not a materialist and believe that purely materialistic arguments are fatally logically flawed, and would therefore not ever try to support them.

    If science isn’t about “truth,” then why should ID be excluded on the basis that it cannot be falsified?

    Something is just not adding up here. I can’t quite put my finget on it.

    How can “the data of science” provide to Allen a rational basis upon which to reject materialism if science is not about truth?

  110. 110
    Clive Hayden says:

    Mung,

    If I may interject, scientific theories are not truths like the laws of logic and reason and all things discerned by virtue of our reason, including mathematics, and I would add morality. This chapter in G. K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy may give you some answers.

    http://www.pagebypagebooks.com.....nd_p1.html

    “No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud.”
    ~Chesterton

  111. 111
    Clive Hayden says:

    Mung,

    How can “the data of science” provide to Allen a rational basis upon which to reject materialism if science is not about truth?

    It cannot. It is a metaphysical assertion that can be based on anything it likes, such as the data of science or the lack of the data of science, but the point is that it is discerned with something more than the data of science, such as our powers of reasoning, and then the reasonable conclusion follows. The data of science is only one part of his deliberation. Maybe this will illustrate how science isn’t about truth, I think that you will grant that there are truths that cannot be got through any science, such as the law of non-contradiction, mathematics, etc. Science relies on logic, otherwise, if you don’t start with logic, you cannot even begin to do science. If you get rid of logic, all science goes with it. I’m sure you see my point and would agree. But the problem with calling scientific theories as truth, is that they are a different sort of inference, one which can in principle be changed, and has been changed, when more data is studied. The laws of logic and reason, in principle, will not be changed, regardless of how much data is collected. It doesn’t matter how far you go in mathematics, differential equations, etc., if the multiplication table changes, all is in ruins, and the same goes for our reason, and I would add even morality. But the outside world is the mystery, which constantly alludes us, and never explains itself. We do not discern it as we discern logic. All science can ever do is provide descriptions of things, and then we call those descriptions “natural”. What can never come is an explanation from those descriptions. But we can give an explanation for the laws of logic and reason, and why they are true. We have “inside knowledge” to the laws of reason and logic, and do not have the equivalent insight into what we call the “natural” world, because we do not perceive it, as it were, as a truth, like the law of non-contradiction. There is no equivalent insight that we possess in regards to logic that we have in regards to nature. Logic we understand as true, nature, we don’t.

  112. 112
    Victor Tussle says:

    Clive

    But we can give an explanation for the laws of logic and reason, and why they are true.

    Can you? Could you then? As just as there is disagreement over what logic is about, there is also disagreement about what logical truths there are. More here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic
    What is your explanation for the laws of logic and reason, and why they are true? I’m very interested to hear.

  113. 113
    Clive Hayden says:

    Victor Tussle,

    You just have to perceive their reasonableness, their truth. If you don’t, then you have no basis of rationality to begin with to discern the reasonableness of any explanation that anyone could give you. If you do not “see” it from the outset, no argument could bring you to it, because any and all argument relies on it.

  114. 114
    Victor Tussle says:

    Clive,

    You just have to perceive their reasonableness, their truth.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean. What particular part of the universe that is logic are you talking about? It’s a big subject
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_logic
    And there are plenty of controversial topics.

    If you don’t, then you have no basis of rationality to begin with to discern the reasonableness of any explanation that anyone could give you.

    So, if I don’t perceive some thing you see as true I am not rational? Could you state that in formal logic so I can be sure I understand you?

    If you do not “see” it from the outset, no argument could bring you to it, because any and all argument relies on it.

    I suspect some of these people would disagree with you.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O....._logicians

    And Clive, what do you make of this?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church%27s_theorem

    And as you presumably “see” it from the outset, what do you make of the role of paradox in logic?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_paradoxes

  115. 115
    Victor Tussle says:

    So Clive, when I asked you for the explanation you claimed to have

    But we can give an explanation for the laws of logic and reason, and why they are true.

    You said

    You just have to perceive their reasonableness, their truth.

    Or in other words, you just have to believe! Have faith!

    Very poor!

  116. 116
    Clive Hayden says:

    Victor Tussle,

    You have to just have faith that you’re not in a state of solipsism. There is nothing poor about this. And any argument you bring that you’re not in a state of solipsism, will only, and indeed can only be brought on the basis that logic and reason are real things, in other words, you’ll use what you’re maintaining doesn’t exist. But that would lead you into a contradiction. And it is, of course, quite possible that you see nothing wrong with contradictions, you might maintain at once that you know logically that you’re not in a state of solipsism while denying logic. I don’t see how this argument could follow, but if you’re not interested in logic, to you it could.

  117. 117
    Victor Tussle says:

    Clive,

    I don’t see how this argument could follow, but if you’re not interested in logic, to you it could.

    Could you restate that argument in formal logic? Then perhaps we can start to make progress, rather then veiled insults and arrogance.

    And it is, of course, quite possible that you see nothing wrong with contradictions, you might maintain at once that you know logically that you’re not in a state of solipsism while denying logic.

    I’m not denying logic. I’m asking you what your “definition” of logic is as it’s apparently very different from what I understand as logic. You seem to be using some home-spun version of logic to mean “what appears obvious and true to me” rather then “logic” as defined by some of the greatest minds to ever live, another tool in the systematic attempt to better understand the universe.

    Perhaps if you could define exactly what you mean when you say “logic” we could start over?

  118. 118
    Clive Hayden says:

    Victor Tussle,

    I’m not denying logic.

    That’s all I need, and all I was asking for from you. If logic goes, so does science. If you do not perceive the reasonableness to something like the law of non-contradiction, no argument can bring you to it which doesn’t rely on that law.

  119. 119
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank (#106)

    Thank you for your post. If I understand you rightly, your model of free choice is as follows:

    (i) external forces (past and present) mold my desires. It does not matter if these external forces are personal (like my hypothetical Martian) or impersonal (e.g. blind natural processes, such as chance and necessity);

    (ii) My desires determine my rational decision-making processes, but these decision-making processes have to take place inside me. They cannot be micro-managed from outside; if they are, then my decision is not properly mine and hence not free;

    (iii) The decision-making processes in turn determine my actions, which are (for the most part) bodily movements.

    I have a few comments I’d like to make.

    1. In #98 you wrote that on your view, “blame is morally appropriate for healthy adult human beings because they have free will and responsibility,” whereas two-year-old children, chimpanzees and rats have free will, but are not responsible for their actions. I have to ask: why not?

    In #100, I suggested that infants, although rational, lack “a fully fledged theory of mind, in which they understand that there are other people, who have their own beliefs and desires.” In my opinion, this is a sensible reason for denying moral responsibility to infants – and to any non-human animals who are incapable of having a “theory of mind.” (Having duties and responsibilities to others presupposes an ability to empathize with them, and see things from their perspective. Infants can’t do this; neither can rats, and I doubt whether chimps can, either.) Would you concur with this view?

    2. In #106, you wrote: “My mental processes are caused by my desires.” This sounds odd. For the life of me I cannot see how a desire can determine a rational deliberation. After all, the object of one’s rational deliberation (e.g. food for dinner) can hardly be said to generate syllogisms in one’s head, so why should a desire for that object be able to do so? A desire is merely an appetite which moves someone towards an object.

    Well, what about a combination of desire and stored information? Could that generate a rational deliberation? Certainly not, if you envisage reasoning as a formal process. My desires might push me to manipulate the information in my brain to obtain some end, but that would be by virtue of their chemical properties rather than their formal properties, such as logical validity and soundness.

    3. You also noted in #106 that you would not be perturbed, as a compatibilist, even if the (decision-making) process were (in some way) an immaterial one.

    Since you don’t particularly care whether the forces determining your desires are personal or impersonal, and you don’t care whether your decision-making processes are material or immaterial, then I can only assume you have no objection to theological compatibilism. On your own account of freedom, there is no objection which you could level at Calvin’s absolute double predestination: the notion (held by a small minority of Christians) that God decreed from all eternity that a few people will be saved, and that the remainder (who are said to constitute the vast majority of humankind) will be damned. Calvin held that God was perfectly just in punishing the damned, since they had freely chosen to perform the actions which brought about their damnation: after all, they did exactly what they wanted to do, and their rational deliberations were their own – they were not micro-managed by God, so your condition (ii) would be satisfied by Calvin’s God. (A Calvinistic God would be perfectly capable of determining people’s deliberations through either remote or proximate causes, so we can assume that no micro-management occurs.)

    You might object to the eternity of the punishment of the damned, but a Calvinistic God might reply: “Well, if they continue to hate me and my laws, then why shouldn’t I continue to punish them for it? It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and they freely perpetuate it.”

    You might also ask why God does not annihilate the damned; but why, on your account, is He obliged to?

    The doctrine of hell is without a doubt the number one objection to Christianity, put forward by skeptics. Since most skeptics are also compatibilists, then I would argue that they are being inconsistent when they object to Christianity in this manner. Would you agree?

    For my part, I hasten to add, I am not a Calvinist: if I were one, I’m sure I’d go crazy, as it would destroy my capacity to “live in the present moment,” and in any case, it seems unacceptably counter-intuitive to say that I am free even if my actions are controlled. Calvinism, like reductionist materialism, is one of those ideas that you cannot accept without destroying your sanity. For me, that’s a good reason to give it a wide berth.

  120. 120
    Mung says:

    Clive:

    I’m sure you see my point and would agree.

    Of course I see your point. It think it’s quite similar to mine, though stated differently.

    Saying that science is not about truth is very misleading.

    Think of some ways in which that statement could be reframed.

    “Science is unconcerned about truth.”

    “What is true (or not) is irrelevant to science.”

    If science is not about truth, what is it’s purpose?

    If science is not about truth, why does it employ the tools of truth, such as the law of non-contradiction?

    If I may interject, scientific theories are not truths like the laws of logic and reason and all things discerned by virtue of our reason, including mathematics, and I would add morality.

    But scientific theories are supposed to be constructed in such a way as to be truthful, are they not? Not only are they expected to be truthful, they are supposed to be susceptible to tests of truth. And we certainly employ our reasoning in science, and things in science are discerned through reason. It makes no sense to say that this reasoning that we use in science is not concerned with truthfulness.

  121. 121
    Frost122585 says:

    Science has to accord with truth. It must be factual and facts must be true. There are realms of science where it becomes speculative and synthetic- and it is here that we cannot “know” whether the theories, speculations or hypothesis are truthful or not- but in the case of these instances the strength of the science is weaker.

    There are also realms of truth that go beyond science- like for example beliefs and issues of faith for example religious claims like the resurrection which for many people these are truths and ultimate truths that are even worth dieing for.

    SO science must accord with truth- but it cannot discern all truth- that is, it cannot reveal everything- and while it is permitted at times to go beyond what we can know- to make inferences of relative strengths (weak to strong)- those too must accord with what we know to be true.

  122. 122
    Clive Hayden says:

    Mung,

    But scientific theories are supposed to be constructed in such a way as to be truthful, are they not? Not only are they expected to be truthful, they are supposed to be susceptible to tests of truth. And we certainly employ our reasoning in science, and things in science are discerned through reason. It makes no sense to say that this reasoning that we use in science is not concerned with truthfulness.

    Do you admit that nature is a mystery? that things that appear to us as truthful one way, today, could appear differently tomorrow in nature? Do you admit the possibility that whatever scientific theories we may have today, we hold provisionally, given that at any time new information can arise that will change the picture? Did you read the thirteen pages of that link I sent you in Chesterton’s book? He does a masterful job of explaining it.

  123. 123
    Mark Frank says:

    #119

    Vjtorley

    On morality of rats and young children

    I think there are several reasons why they are not morally responsible.

    1) The rats don’t have and the children have not yet developed any moral desires. They don’t want to help others and do not have any empathy for that desire.

    2) I think you are right that to be moral you have to some extent understand what it is like to be someone else.

    3) They are incapable of predicting the consequences of what they do beyond the very short term.

    4) Much of morality is cultural (although it relies on a base derived from human nature) and rats and young children have not learned the culture specific rules.

    There are probably other things as well.

    On desires causing mental processes

    You are right that it is desires plus stored information that cause me to undertake rational deliberation. In fact a lot of other things are necessary. It is one of the problems of discussing causality that we tend to talk about “the cause” of an event. But in fact there are always an infinity of different conditions that are necessary for an event to take place and which one you select as the cause depends on the context. For example, for me to work on a maths problem I must want to solve it, but also have a wide range of skills, a body, a way of writing down the answer, etc. Which of these is the cause? Any of them depending on the context. And even if we list them all they may be necessary but not sufficient – because there may be a random element – perhaps some quantum factor – who knows.

    I don’t see it as a problem that the desires and stored knowledge work through chemistry and physics. I am a materialist so I believe the rational deliberation is also a chemical/physical process. Describing it in terms of the rational deliberation is another way of describing the same thing – as check mate is a way of describing a particular type of configuration of wooden items on a board.

    But the discussion has moved away from free will to materialism/immaterialism.

    On Calvinism

    I didn’t say that I would not be perturbed if the decision making process was immaterial. I just said compatabilism does not entail materialism. I am a died-in-the-wool materialist.

    I have several objections to Calvinism, but as you point out, I do not think it removes free will.

    1) My primary objection is I am a materialist and an atheist!

    2) Second – remember my definition of determinism. It includes the possibility of random, uncaused events. I believe there are such events and so no God can totally control or predict what will happen.

    3) However, if there were a person who acted like the Calvinist God then I would see them as a bit like the manager who creates a sales environment which encourages sales people to behave unethically. He is responsible for what happens and so are his staff. So such a God would be responsible for all the wicked things he got people to do. And so would the people doing the wicked things. We blamed the high up Nazis for giving the orders (because they they knew they would be obeyed) and the concentration camp staff for carrying them out.

  124. 124
    Mark Frank says:

    Vjtorley

    Incidentally I am copying our dialogue and storing it here. I thought it might be useful next time I have to explain compatabilism so to someone.

  125. 125
    vjtorley says:

    Mark Frank

    You’re welcome.

  126. 126
    Mung says:

    Clive Hayden @122

    Do you admit that nature is a mystery? that things that appear to us as truthful one way, today, could appear differently tomorrow in nature? Do you admit the possibility that whatever scientific theories we may have today, we hold provisionally, given that at any time new information can arise that will change the picture? Did you read the thirteen pages of that link I sent you in Chesterton’s book? He does a masterful job of explaining it.
    I have no idea what it means to say that nature is a mystery, so I can hardly assent to that assertion.

    There is an inconceivable amount of
    “nature” which we have neither explored not have an “explanation”
    for. Nature is a mystery.

    …things that appear to us as truthful one way, today, could appear differently tomorrow in nature?

    Again, I find this statement nearly incomprehensible. Do I agree that things that appear to us one day in nature may appear to us another day differently in nature? Absolutely!

    Nature, by it’s very nature, changes. It should not be surprising, therefore, that an observer might observe that “things chznge.” Aristotle observed this (as did others before him).

    Are we left with but two conclusions?

    Everything changes, nothing is permanent.

    Change is but an illusion.

    Is it the case that one or the other must be true?

  127. 127
    lamarck says:

    PaulN,
    “So what’s your solution to this in terms of a teenager being given responsibilities from the parent? Or do you just avoid that altogether?”

    Paul, I don’t have an opinion on freewill or not. I’m just saying if something is proposed and it’s agreed we’ll all stay on a logical track in discussing this, then in that case I have a good point. Don’t I? I was talking about the answer being found outside of our definition of time and cause and effect. The answer has to be there and not in some other research path.

Leave a Reply