Closing our religion coverage for the week (a bit late again), from Biosemiosis at Discourse at BioLogos:
It is well known that Biologos has objections to the concept of design in biology (aka ID). I post the following short article as a conversation piece for those who agree with that assessment, or those who question it:
What JCVI has done, and is doing, is experimentally quantifying those requirements in terms of discrete function and numbers of base pairs. And this leads me to a couple of questions for those who profess (against massive physical evidence to the contrary) that this all came into being by naught (or whatever word you’d like to use).
Considering the list of functions that a minimal heterogeneous cell requires, at what point is translation – the organized expression of an informational medium — not required inside the cell? The translation of an informational medium enables the physical capacity to specify a thing among alternatives, and places it under temporal control. That is precisely what protein synthesis does. Translation also allows the system to control and produce effects and outcomes that are not determined by (and therefore not limited by) the physical properties of the molecules carrying the information. This discontinuity is itself the product of a specific organization, and the independence it imparts upon the system is what enables the full range of effects required to organize the cell. When is this capacity to specify a thing and produce effects (independent of the physical properties of the medium) not necessary to the formation of the heterogeneous cell?
Finally, when translation is organized in a system that uses combinatorial permutations as the means of encoding information (i.e. uses spatially-oriented representations and a reading-frame code) it gains the informational capacity required to describe itself in a transcribable memory. When is this not necessary to the formation of a heterogeneous cell? In other words, on what empirical grounds are we to say that Craig Venter can scratch off “the translation of information” from the genome? More.
The comment stream there is well worth reading too. Biosemiosis’s patient efforts to straighten things out are helpful for serious readers, if not for the commenters there.
A reader wrote to alert us of this piece, which appeared, substantially, at Uncommon Descent on April 29, noting that Biosemiosis holds his own at BioLogos against people with science backgrounds/posts, as well as the usual “science-fakers.”
Science fakers? The origin of information is a sort of asses’ bridge. Many genuinely do not understand what the problem is, though increasing numbers of others do. That is why many of the others are rethinking how evolution happens
Asses’ bridge? “Euclid’s fifth proposition in the first book of his Elements (that the base angles in an isosceles triangle are equal) may have been named the Bridge of Asses (Latin: Pons Asinorum) for medieval students who, clearly not destined to cross over into more abstract mathematics, had difficulty understanding the proof—or even the need for the proof.” So it is with some people and the origin of information in nature.
See also: Venter’s minimal cell is, be it noted, a parasite
An encounter with a critic of biological semiosis
What we know, and don’t know, about the origin of life
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