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Catholic Darwinist Ken Miller claims increasing information in life forms is easy

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What’s needed to drive this increase? Just three things: selection, replication, and mutation.” – Kenneth Miller, Only a Theory, p. 77

Thoughts?

See also: Wow. Catholic Darwinism goes nuts. A mass for Darwin. Or is this a joke?

Open a window, someone, please.

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51 Replies to “Catholic Darwinist Ken Miller claims increasing information in life forms is easy

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Don’t know whether it’s “easy”, but apparently at least small increases in this particular type of information are possible.

  2. 2
    Popperian says:

    Thoughts? Miller’s claim is found in significantly more specificity in the paper The Constructor Theory of Life

    I shall now show that under no-design laws accurate self-reproducers and accurate replicators are not forbidden, provided only that the laws permit the existence of information media (and enough resources). This will vindicate that the theory of evolution by natural selection is compatible with those laws (and thus, in particular, with the current theories of physics).
    My argument includes three steps. First I establish that an accurate constructor for a generic task is compatible with no-design laws (section 3.1), provided that it contains a replicator, instantiating a recipe for that task. As a special case, I show that accurate self-reproducers are compatible with no-design laws (section 3.2), provided that they implement the “replicator- vehicle” logic; it follows that so are accurate replicators, and that they require there to be a self-reproducer. Finally I show that the logic of natural selection is compatible with no-design laws (section 3.3).

    From the conclusion…

    I have proved that the physical processes the theory of evolution relies upon are possible under no-design laws, provided that the latter allow for information media (and enough generic resources). Under such laws, accurate self-reproduction can occur, but only via von Neumann’s replicator-vehicle logic; and a high fidelity replicator requires an accurate self-reproducer. My argument also highlights that all accurate constructors, under such laws, must contain knowledge – a special abstract constructor – in the form of a recipe, instantiated in a replicator.
    I have also extended von Neumann’s model of the logic of self-reproduction to quantum theory. This informs further investigations of quantum effects in natural and artificial self-reproducers. Constructor theory has also expressed exactly within fundamental physics, the logic of self-reproduction, replica- tion, and natural selection, and the appearance of design. This has promise for a deep unification in our understanding of life and physics.

    Does anyone have any criticism of paper’s actual contents? I’m asking because I’ve already referenced it twice. Apparently, people disagree with it, without having any actual criticism of its contents.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    As Larry Moran would say, “Ken Miller believes in the idiot version of evolution”.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Popperian

    Before starting to read and analyze this new theory from a physicist on evolution, I’d just request some clarifications. First, where in the biological community has it been said that this new theory is required? We have plenty of support in the ID world for criticisms of evolutionary theory, but where did Ms. Marletto hear of it?

    For example, from the intro …

    I show that for those processes to be possible without the design of biological adaptations
    being encoded in the laws of physics
    , those
    laws must have certain other properties.

    Evidence to support the meaning of the italicized text? That is an unreferenced premise. Where, in the biological or other literature, does it say that “the design of biological adaptations must be encoded in the laws of physics”?

    The theory of what these properties are is not part of evolution theory proper, and has not been developed, yet without it the neo-Darwinian theory does not fully achieve its purpose of
    explaining the appearance of design

    As above – reference here? Where, in the biological community, has it been said that neo-Darwinian theory does not fully achieve its purpose?

  5. 5
    Popperian says:

    @SA

    The claim and motivation is referenced in the paper.

    For example, see the areas in bold below.

    In the biosphere self-reproduction is approximated to various accuracies. There are many poor approximations to self-reproducers – e.g., crude replicators such as crystals, short RNA strands and autocatalytic cycles involved in the origin of life [11]. Being so inaccurate, they do not require any further explanation under no-design laws: they do not have appearance of design, any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.(4)
    In contrast, actual gene-replication is an impressively accurate physical trans- formation, albeit imperfect. But even more striking is that living cells can self-reproduce to high accuracy in a variety of environments, reconstruct- ing the vehicle afresh, under the control of the genes, in all the intricate details necessary for gene replication. This is prima facie problematic un- der no-design laws: how can those processes be so accurate, without their design being encoded in the laws of physics? This is why some physicists – notably, Wigner and Bohm, [12], [13] – have even claimed that accurate self-reproduction of an organism with the appearance of design requires the laws of motion to be “tailored” for the purpose – i.e., they must contain its design [12].
    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living enti- ties can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.
    Indeed, the central problem here – i.e., whether and under what circumstances accurate self-reproduction and replication are compatible with no- design laws – is awkward to formulate in the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which expresses everything in terms of predictions given some initial conditions and laws of motion.
    This mode of explanation can only approximately express emergent notions such as the appearance of design, no-design laws, etc.
    Von Neumann, who attempted to investigate self-reproduction within this framework, got as far as discovering its essential (replicator-vehicle) logic, [9]. However his use of the prevailing conception forced his analysis to be in terms of predictions: thus he attempted without success to provide the design of an actual self-reproducer in terms of atoms and microscopic interaction.
    (4) The very existence of catalysts might be a sign of fine-tuning in the laws of physics, but not fine-tuning for biological adaptations, with which we are concerned here.
    He finally produced a viable toy model, [15], within cellular automata, but at the cost of severing the connections with actual physics. That model is thus inadequate to address the current problem – whether self-reproduction is compatible with the actual laws of physics un-augmented by any design of adaptations.
    The prevailing conception also forces a misleading formulation of the problem, as: what initial conditions and laws of motion must (or must probably) produce accurate replicators and self-reproducers (with some probability)? But what is disputed is whether such entities are possible under no-design laws.
    More generally, it cannot express the very explanation provided by evolutionary theory – that living organisms can have come about without intentionally being designed. It would have aimed at proving that they must occur, given certain initial conditions and dynamical laws.
    To overcome these problems I resort to a newly proposed theory of physics, constructor theory. [16, 17, 18]. It provides a new mode of explanation, expressing all laws as statements about which transformations are possible, which are impossible and why.
    This brings counterfactual statements into fundamental physics, which is key to the solution.
    The explanation provided by the theory of evolution is already constructor-theoretic: it is possible that the appearance of design has been brought about without intentionally being designed; so is our problem: are the physical processes essential to the theory of evolution – i.e., self- reproduction, replication and natural selection – possible under no-design laws?
    I shall show that they are (in section 2-3) provided that those laws of physics allow the existence of media that can instantiate (digital) information (plus enough time and energy). Information has an exact physical characterisation in the constructor theory of information [17].
    I also show that under no-design laws an accurate self-reproducer requires an accurate (i.e., high-fidelity) replicator, and vice versa. Thus, the replicator- vehicle logic von Neumann envisaged is here shown to be necessary for accurate self-reproduction to be possible under such laws. This provides physical foundations for the relation between “metabolism” and replication (as defined by Dyson, [10]). In addition, that vehicles are necessary to high-quality replicators under our laws of physics (despite replicators being the conceptual pillar of evolutionary theory), informs the current debate about the necessity of organisms. The latter was recently doubted by Dawkins [19]: “ Just as life did not have to become multicellular […] so living materials did not have to become packaged into discrete, individual organisms [..] behaving as unitary, purposeful agents. The only thing that is really fundamental to Darwinian life is self-replicating, coded information – genes, in the terminology of life on this planet.”.
    Constructor Theory’s mode of explanation also delivers an exact physical expression of the notions of the appearance of design, no-design laws, and of the logic of self-reproduction and natural selection.
    Finally, Wigner’s argument implies that accurate self-reproduction is incompatible particularly with quantum theory, thus challenging its universality – a claim that others, with different motivations, have also made [20, 21, 22]. I shall demonstrate (in section 4) a quantum-mechanical (kinematical) model of the logic of self-reproduction, updating von Neumann’s, thus rebutting those claims. This, incidentally, clarifies how self-reproduction differs from cloning a quantum state (which has occasionally caused some confusion [20]). It also vindicates that self-reproduction – and even (possibly artificial) self- reproducers employing quantum coherence – are compatible with quantum theory.

    Emphasis mine.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    “Catholic Darwinist Ken Miller claims increasing information in life forms is easy”

    Ken Miller also thinks mouse traps make good tie clips.

    Disproving Intelligent Design With A Mouse Trap
    https://youtu.be/rW_2lLG9EZM?t=51

    Perhaps when Dr. Miller learns to dress himself properly, he can then learn what good empirical evidence to support his extraordinary claim might look like?:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Michael Behe talks about the preceding paper in this following podcast:

    Michael Behe: Challenging Darwin, One Peer-Reviewed Paper at a Time – December 2010
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_46-08_00

    Here is a video for tech geeks that hashes the details out

    Biological Information – Loss-of-Function Mutations by Paul Giem 2015 – video playlist
    (Behe – Loss of function mutations are far more likely to fix in a population than gain of function mutations)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzD3hhvepK8&index=20&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNUUhiC9VwPnhl-ymuObyTWJ

  7. 7
    harry says:

    The claim that increasing information in life forms is easy reveals a naivete regarding digital information-based functional complexity. Any computer programmer who has written software that, to create the significant functional complexity that is required, must manage extensive amounts of information at the bit level and manipulate information at that level, knows that random changes to the CPU instructions or to the persistent data those instructions rely upon, are almost certainly going to decrease functionality or destroy it completely. As rare as a mindless, accidental yet functionality enhancing modification would be in a series of mindless, accidental modifications, it is certain that the rare occurance of such accidentally beneficial “mutations” would not change the fact that a series of mindless modifications to digital information-based functional complexity will inevitably destroy all functionality.

    As for Ken Miller being a Catholic, how does he reconcile with Catholic dogma his apparent belief that life as we find it now came about mindlessly and accidentally? Here is the belief of orthodox Catholics:

    If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.
    — Vatican Council I, can. 2 § I

    God created life, which culminated in His most spectacular creation: humanity. If one is determined to show that humanity came about mindlessly and accidentally then one does not seem to be an orthodox Catholic. If life could have come about mindlessly and accidentally then God cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made.

    Yet it has always been obvious that God was there from the things He has made, but never more so than today, with all that modern science has revealed to us in the last century. Maybe God’s providence arranged that such discoveries would be made now because He knew this faithless, amazingly gullible generation would need more evidence than prior generations.

  8. 8
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Popperian – thank you. But there’s nothing from the biological community on this, it seems.

    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living entities can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.

    I haven’t read Nagel’s book, but that’s the only reference to the “tradition of incredulity” on the claims of science with regards to living entities. I would think that ID research falls under that category, but there’s no reference to the ID critique (unless William Paley counts).

    I think the premise: “The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics.” – needs quite a lot more support than merely citing Wigner’s paper (from 1961) and Bohm.

    Is the ID critique of evolution valid?

    Being so inaccurate, [replications as with crystals] do not require any further explanation under no-design laws: they do not have appearance of design, any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.

    Interesting assertion which we agree with from the ID side. If true, it destroys all the bogus evolutionary arguments about the supposed organization crystals and rain clouds. Unfortunately, it’s just an assertion. It needs evidence and verification.
    Where is the empirical evidence used to define what she means by “appearance of design”?
    Why don’t crystals show this? Where is the math that distinguishes between design and non-design?

    She says:

    even modest organisms, such as bacteria, display stupendously designed mechanisms, with many, different sub-parts coordinating to an overall function; they perform transformations on physical systems with remarkable accuracy, retaining their ability to do so again and again – just as if they had literally been designed.

    This is about the best she offers on what is meant by “design”. Unfortunately, outside of the ID community, nobody in biology thinks any of this is “stupendous” or “remarkable” (publicly) – it just happens.

    But even more striking is that living cells can self-reproduce to high accuracy in a variety of environments, reconstructing the vehicle afresh, under the control of the genes, in all the intricate details necessary for gene replication. This is prima facie problematic under no-design laws: how can those processes be so accurate, without their design being encoded in the laws of physics?

    Very good again. But unfortunately, as above – these are merely assertions. She asks a rhetorical questions “how can these be so accurate”? But there’s no empirical evidence that indicates what that means and why it is a problem for evolution.

    In other words, it’s not enough to just borrow a critique of evolution without having that critique confirmed, solidly, by evolutionary science. This is nowhere to be found.

    All of that said, I’m just asking this before even starting to analyze the paper because it speaks to the unfounded assertions that are presented in the premises.

    Is it even worth looking at this when it appears that no real analysis has been done about what the term “design” actually means and how one can identify it scientifically?

    It may very well offer a plausible approach from physics, but given the very loose understanding of the problem, I highly doubt it before actually studying what she has to say.

    In my opinion …
    — get a buy-in from biology that neo-Darwinism is inadequate
    — get support for the fact that there is evidence for design in nature (and this design is not explained without this new theory)
    — show the empirical evidence that distinguishes the design that she thinks is obvious

    After that, then there’s something to talk about.

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    harry

    Good questions … how does he reconcile? I don’t think he even tries.

    According to biologist Kenneth Miller, one of the most prominent proponents of “theistic” evolution, God did not plan the specific outcomes of evolution—including the development of human beings. Miller describes humans as “an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out.” While God knew that undirected evolution was so wonderful it would create some kind of creature capable of praising Him, that creature could have been “a big-brained dinosaur” or “a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities” rather than us.
    http://www.firstthings.com/blo.....direction/

  10. 10
    Popperian says:

    @SA

    I’d point out one aspect in which you seem to be confused: the paper is not a new theory of evolution. Rather, it is expressing neo-Darwinism in constructor theoretic terms. The motivation for which is briefly outlined in the paper: constructor theory is a new mode of explanation which allows neo-Darwinism to be brought into fundamental physics.

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    Re: “Where, in the biological community, has it been said that neo-Darwinian theory does not fully achieve its purpose?”

    thethirdwayofevolution.com

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    SA @ 3. LoL.

  13. 13
    bFast says:

    SA(3) As Larry Moran would say, “Ken Miller believes in the idiot version of evolution”.

    And Larry Moran’s version of evolution is way less tenable than Ken Miller’s. His view that natural selection plays only a soft role in evolution truly eliminates the possibility that the steps from simplicity to complexity could possibly have been selected for. Larry Moran provides the best anti-evolutionary case going.

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    So we need a new theory of physics so that neo-Darwinian evolution can be true, and once we have that new theory all that can be said is that neo-Darwinian theory is “compatible.”

    Underwhelming.

  15. 15
    Popperian says:

    @SA#8

    SA:

    I think the premise: “The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics.” – needs quite a lot more support than merely citing Wigner’s paper (from 1961) and Bohm.

    Given the goal of evolutionary theory, It’s a straight forward premise. If the design of organisms was already present at the outset in some form, then neo-Darwinism cannot be the explanation for the appearance of design in organisms. This includes design of organisms being present in the laws of physics.

    To quote the paper:

    In the modern neo-Darwinian synthesis [5, 6, 7], the centrepiece of the expla- nation is a physical object – the replicator [5]: something that can be copied from generation to generation, by replication, and selected (between a set of variants) under the action of the environment. Instances of replicators in the earth’s biosphere are “genes”, i.e., portions of certain DNA molecule.(1) Natural selection relies on gene replication, with occasional errors; the ap- pearance of design is explained as adaptations for gene replication across generations; and the rest of the cell or organism (and sometimes other parts of the environment, e.g. nests, [6]) constitutes a vehicle for the replicators. Thus the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution relies on the laws of physics to permit replication and the processes essential to the latter – including, as I shall explain, self-reproduction. Therefore, for the theory to explain fully the appearance of design in the biosphere, it is essential that those processes be possible under laws of physics that do not contain the design of biological adaptations – which I shall call no-design laws.(2)

    Furthermore, that design was already present in some form at the outset (or spontaneously appeared) is a key part of Lamarckism and ID. In addition to mice appearing spontaneously out of rags, Lamarck thought there was some natural law that mandated life became more complex. ID assumes the knowledge exists in some form or another at the outset or spontaneously appeared when organisms were created. If design was already present in some form, or spontaneously appeared, neo-Darwinism cannot be the explanation for the appearance of design in organisms.

    SA:

    Where is the empirical evidence used to define what she means by “appearance of design”?
    Why don’t crystals show this? Where is the math that distinguishes between design and non-design?

    While Paley was unsuccessful in his design argument, he was successful in identifying appearance of design.

    The difference between Paley’s rock and the watch wasn’t merely that one could serviced a purpose while the other could not. A rock could function a paper weight, a weapon, or a construction material, etc. Rather, the key difference was that the watch was well adapted to a purpose (telling time), while the rock was not.

    The sun can also be used to keep time, but it could do so just as well if it was varied to even a great degree. This is because the sun wasn’t well adapted to keeping time in the first place. However, this isn’t the case for Paley’s watch, as good designs are hard to vary. It would be very hard to vary key aspects of the watch greatly and have it perform just as well at keeping time.

    Just as we can use knowledge to transform unadapted raw-materials in to highly adapted objects to suit our purpose, we can apply knowledge to use the sun for a purpose it was not well adapted to either. In the case of the sun, this knowledge exists in us and our sundials, not the sun itself. However, this knowledge does exist in both the watch (of how to tell time) and living organisms (how to make copies of themselves)

    This is briefly presented in constructor theoretic terms in section 3.1.1.

    Consider a recipe R for a possible task T. A sub-recipe R? for the task T? is fine-tuned to perform T if almost any slight change in T? would cause T to be performed to a much lower accuracy. (For instance, changing the mechanism of insulin production in the pancreas even slightly, would impair
    the overall task the organism performs.) A programmable constructor V whose repertoire includes T has the appearance of design if it can execute a recipe for T with a hierarchical structure including several, different sub- recipes, fine-tuned to perform T. Each fine-tuned sub-recipe is performed by a sub-constructor contained in V : the number of fine-tuned sub-recipes performable by V is a measure of V ’s appearance of design. This constructor- theoretic definition is non-multiplicative, as desired.

    I’d also point out that many ID arguments about the appearance of design are actually specific cases of the more generalized property of being hard to vary.

    Those that are not are inductive in nature, which is problematic. For example, one could just as well make the “inductive argument” that every source of intelligence we’ve observed has had a complex, material brain. Therefore, intelligence requires complex, material brains. Yet, I suspect ID proponents disagree with this.

  16. 16
    harry says:

    Silver Asiatic @9,

    … how does he reconcile? I don’t think he even tries.

    I think you are right. ;o)

    I think Ken Miller needs to get a grip on the meaning of “omniscience” and “omnipotence.” If God holds the Universe in existence, and past, present and future are all equally present to Him, and His providence is perfect, complete and in control of everything right down to the last subatomic particle (the free wills of rational creatures being the only exception), then whatever has transpired that was not the result of the free will He bestowed upon rational beings was according to His foreknowledge, intention and perfect providence, including the emergence of humanity, however that happened. Whatever that was, it was intentional and not an accident.

    I don’t have any problem with humanity being the result of a God-directed biological process that took place over billions of years in terms of my religious beliefs. It is just that the more I learn about the theories of abiogenesis and evolution the more absurd they seem to me. It looks to me like there was a series of creative acts on God’s part, and that humanity was the result of very special creative act in that we were endowed with rationality and free will, or “rational souls.”

    If Ken Miller would have written the creation accounts of Genesis He would probably have the Father looking down at the Earth and asking the Son, “Hey, what are those strange creatures?” The Son replies, “I don’t know. I thought you created those things.” The Spirit would then say “Don’t look at me! They must have just evolved. They’re cute. Let’s name them ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve.'” And God saw that it was good.

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    harry, I have often thought along those same lines. In my post “Christian Darwinism and the problem of apriori intent,” (June 18, 2011) I wrote this:

    “The God of the Christian Darwinists does not even know what He is producing until He produces it. At that point, He looks back as if to say, “What do we have here? I wonder who initiated this process. Oh wait, that was me!”

  18. 18
    harry says:

    StephenB @17,

    Yeah. Like God occasionally asks Himself, “Where did that come from?”

    There is no way the notion that the Universe and the life within it can be explained as mindless accidents is reconcilable with the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church that, “God can be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason.” If it could have all happened mindlessly and accidentally then God definitely cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made.

    If find Catholic intellectuals irritating who attempt to reconcile those two diametrically opposed ideas, wanting to remain in good standing with the atheistic intelligentsia who dominate the institutions of society, and at the same time attempt to present themselves as orthodox Catholics. It just doesn’t work.

    And it is such a “no brainer” that the Universe and the life within it were not mindless accidents. We now know that the odds of the Big Bang producing a Universe where life would become a possibility were 1 in 10^10^123 (See Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe). The double exponentiation results in a number so large that it gives the assertion that the fine-tuning of the Universe for life was intended by an intelligent agent far more certainty than we are expected to have regarding the operations of the laws of physics. It is far more likely that gravity will stop working tomorrow than it is that the Universe being fine-tuned for life was dumb luck.

    As you know, atheism’s lame, desperate response to this is multiverse theory. That feeble, flimsy, sorry response should be very enlightening to those who are genuinely agnostic regarding the existence of God. If that is the best the godless can come up with to counter the facts — countless unobservable universes with absolutely no evidentiary basis whatsoever, universes the existence of which must be taken on blind faith — then it should become obvious that only a very small and very reasonable faith is required to believe in one God, and an enormous, blind, irrational faith is required to believe in atheism’s countless, imaginary, “untuned” universes.

    Some people actually believe that there are bajillions of other “not so lucky” universes, and that they make ours being fine-tuned for life a mere accident, but one that had to happen in some universe, as in “Some universe had to win the universe tuning lottery. It was ours.” I have some prime real estate along the Kansas coast I will sell to those who buy that, since it is obvious they will buy anything. As Chesterton put it (and I know it is a thoroughly worn out cliché, but indulge me ;o) “When we stop believing in God, we do not then believe in nothing, we believe in anything.”

    And then then there is the fact that the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us is life, which we now know is digital-information-based nanotechnology, and also the fact that every other instance of significant functional complexity known to us, and certainly every other instance of digital-information-based functional complexity known to us, are all known to have had intelligent agency as a causal factor in their development. One might reasonably conclude, since significant functional complexity is only known to come about via intelligent agency, that the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us — life — most likely came about through intelligent agency.

    The only causally adequate explanation for the fine-tuning of the Universe and for the emergence of the life within it is intelligent agency.

    Such facts provide the rational with clues, which is why atheism is clueless.

  19. 19
    Popperian says:

    Harry:

    One might reasonably conclude, since significant functional complexity is only known to come about via intelligent agency, that the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us — life — most likely came about through intelligent agency.

    The problem with this sort of inductive argument, is that you do not, and cannot, use it consistently. Reason, in the form of some kind of theory, regardless of how poor, always comes first.

    Since intelligent agency is only known to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains, is it reasonable to conclude that the most intelligent agency would come about through extreme, significant material complexity? After all, humans are the most intelligent agents we know of. And we have the most complex, functional nervous systems, right?

    Yet, I’m guessing you do not think that would be a reasonable conclusion.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    So extreme functional complexity only comes from mind, yet Popperian claims that mind only comes extreme functional complexity.

    Two problems with Popperian’s gripe. First problem, materialists have never demonstrated that it is even remotely possible that mind can ’emerge’ from a material basis. In fact, it is mathematically shown that mind CANNOT ever be reduced to material explanation.

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    There is simply no direct evidence that anything material is capable of generating consciousness. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor says,

    “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness. Regardless of our knowledge of the structure of the brain, no one has any idea how the brain could possibly generate conscious experience.”

    As Nobel neurophysiologist Roger Sperry wrote,

    “Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.”

    From modern physics, Nobel prize-winner Eugene Wigner agreed:

    “We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind.”

    Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states,

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”

    Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote:

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”
    http://www.merkawah.nl/public_.....gwrepr.pdf

    This mathematical proof came out recently

    Consciousness Does Not Compute (and Never Will), Says Korean Scientist – May 05, 2015
    Excerpt: “Non-computability of Consciousness” documents Song’s quantum computer research into TS (technological singularity (TS) or strong artificial intelligence). Song was able to show that in certain situations, a conscious state can be precisely and fully represented in mathematical terms, in much the same manner as an atom or electron can be fully described mathematically. That’s important, because the neurobiological and computational approaches to brain research have only ever been able to provide approximations at best. In representing consciousness mathematically, Song shows that consciousness is not compatible with a machine.
    Song’s work also shows consciousness is not like other physical systems like neurons, atoms or galaxies. “If consciousness cannot be represented in the same way all other physical systems are represented, it may not be something that arises out of a physical system like the brain,” said Song. “The brain and consciousness are linked together, but the brain does not produce consciousness. Consciousness is something altogether different and separate. The math doesn’t lie.”
    Of note: Daegene Song obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oxford
    http://www.prnewswire.com/news.....77306.html

    Second problem with Popperian’s gripe, quantum mechanics now gives us compelling evidence that mind precedes material reality:

    A Short Survey Of Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness
    Excerpt: Putting all the lines of evidence together the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uLcJUgLm1vwFyjwcbwuYP0bK6k8mXy-of990HudzduI/edit

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    BA77,

    This mathematical proof came out recently

    [Reference to Daegene Song article published in 2007/2008]

    There might be a problem with his work: Mathematical Error in Incompatibility between quantum theory and consciousness by Daegene Song

  22. 22
    daveS says:

    However, Song has replied. Perhaps his groundbreaking result stands? 🙂

  23. 23
    harry says:

    Hello Popperian,

    Since intelligent agency is only known to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains, is it reasonable to conclude that the most intelligent agency would come about through extreme, significant material complexity?

    No, it isn’t. We now know the Universe had a beginning. Before matter, time and space existed there was no “significant material complexity.” Yet the Universe exhibits fine-tuning for life the extreme precision of which can only be result of intelligent agency. (It is like that intelligent agent was planning on creating life, too. You don’t suppose that is a possibility, do you? ;o) Just as we know gravity is a reality even though we know it only by its effects, not by the discovery of some material reality like gravitons that some theorize exist, we know the necessarily non-material intelligent agent responsible for the fine tuning of the Universe is a reality by that effect, one that can only be the result of intelligent agency.

    That the intelligent agent Who launched the Universe was necessarily non-material provides the rational with another clue: the essence of intelligence must not be material. To this day we have no idea by what principles matter must be configured such that intelligence and consciousness emerge. Maybe that is because there is a non-material component to intelligence and consciousness, and there is no way intelligence and consciousness can come about without it.

    That humans possesses a rational, non-material soul is an ancient and extremely reasonable idea. As Gregory of Nyssa put it 1600 years ago, the non-material “‘mind sees,’ not the eye.” Science would probably by now have learned as much about the non-material component of consciousness and intelligence as it knows about non-material gravity if it hadn’t been perverted by atheism.

  24. 24
    bFast says:

    Popparian (19) and harry (23), what if you are both right? Max Planck hypothesized that the quanta (or possibly the strings) is one giant brain. If he is right, well, there is a giant complex entity that is responsible for the finely tuned universe. Let us call him — God.

  25. 25
    DonaldM says:

    Miller wants to “buy” information on the cheap. In order for there to be selection there needs to be something to select. He’s just assuming information is already present from “somewhere”, and can be selected, replicated and mutated to every increasing levels of complexity. But where did the original information itself originate? He’s just assuming it. The biological record, as observed in the Cambrian Explosion event of 550mya, doesn’t help his case either as there are no pre-Cambrian forms with an information trail leading to the CE organisms. Perhaps Miller should read Stephen Meyer’s book “Darwin’s Doubt”. Once again, Miller is just hand-waving away what is a significant issue in biology: the origin of biological information actually observed in biological systems.

  26. 26
    Popperian says:

    BA:

    So extreme functional complexity only comes from mind, yet Popperian claims that mind only comes extreme functional complexity.

    Except, I made no such claim. Furthermore, I’m suggesting that induction isn’t possible. So, why would I make an inductive argument?

    Rather, I was criticizing the use of supposedly inductive arguments by ID supporters. Specifcally, appeals to induction are not made consistently.

    In anticipation of your response: do not confuse not making an inductive argument for a specific conclusion with not agreeing with that conclusion for reasons other than an inductive argument.

  27. 27
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    Since intelligent agency is only known to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains, is it reasonable to conclude that the most intelligent agency would come about through extreme, significant material complexity?

    Henry:

    No, it isn’t.

    Then you’re not using induction consistently. This comes as no surprise to me as I’m suggesting isn’t possible because no one has formulated a principle of induction that actually works in practice.

    Again, theories, such as the one you replied with, regardless of how poor, always come first.

    So, apparently, you appeal to induction only when it suits your belief.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    Popperian you state

    “I made no such claim”

    and yet your own words at 19 betray you:

    “Since intelligent agency is only known to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains, is it reasonable to conclude that the most intelligent agency would come about through extreme, significant material complexity?”

    Perhaps if you are going to claim that you did not make a claim it would help if you did not in fact make the claim?

    And I could care less for your word games. I provided solid empirical evidence for my position that consciousness precedes material reality, and from you I get fluff. No thanks, you can keep the fluff, I’ll keep my empirical evidence!

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    Moreover, if you are so concerned with logically sound induction, perhaps you should drop Darwinism?

    Anti-Science Irony
    Excerpt: In response to a letter from Asa Gray, professor of biology at Harvard University, Darwin declared: “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.”
    When questioned further by Gray, Darwin confirmed Gray’s suspicions: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction.” Darwin had turned against the use of scientific principles in developing his theory of evolution.
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....nce-irony/

  29. 29
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    In anticipation of your response: do not confuse not making an inductive argument for a specific conclusion with not agreeing with that conclusion for reasons other than an inductive argument.

    BA77:

    and yet your own words at 19 betray you:

    Yet, you’ve done just that. Go figure.

    You’ve confused presenting an inductive argument for the purpose of criticism, (of which the conclusion I happen to agree with for non-inductive reasons), with actually making an argument (that I happen to agree with) via inductive means.

    I can agree with the conclusion, but not agree with the means by which it was made.

    Again, my point is that Harry only “appeals” to induction when it suits his purpose. I used that example because I knew Harry would disagree with it, despite the fact that intelligent agency is only known, in any empirical sense, to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains.

    But I’m suggesting it’s actually worse than that, because induction isn’t actually possible, in practice. So, it would come as no surprise that Darwinism isn’t based on induction any more than any other theories in science. To single out Darwinism is a red herring.

    Furthermore, nothing in Feynman’s quote contradicts that in the least. If you think it does, you’re confused about the problem.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Popperian, if you think your opinion matters more in science than empirical evidence does you are delusional!

    I could care less for your word play. When you have some actual evidence to support your position, as I do, instead of wordomatic fluff, let’s talk, until then you’ve got absolutely nothing to work with!

  31. 31
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    I used that example because I knew Harry would disagree with it, despite the fact that intelligent agency is only known, in any empirical sense, to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains.

    BA77

    Popperian, if you think your opinion matters more in science than empirical evidence does you are delusional!

    So, in addition to Harry, it seems that you too only appeal to empirical observations when it suits your purpose.

    Nor am I suggesting that empirical evidence doesn’t play an important role. Rather, I’m suggesting the role evidence plays in science is criticism, not positive proof. And that’s not just merely my opinion. But, even then, what we want from ideas, including criticism, is their content, not their pedigree. Where they came from is unimportant.

  32. 32
    harry says:

    Hello Popperian,

    I’m suggesting that induction isn’t possible. …

    … no one has formulated a principle of induction that actually works in practice.

    … induction isn’t actually possible, in practice.

    I see you have rightly chosen your internet moniker, “Popperian.” ;o)

    Popper’s belief that falsification is necessary to distinguish science from pseudo-science has much merit, yet I am not ready to accept his belief that inductivism is completely worthless. It was the basis of the scientific method for centuries and must still have value, since one would find it difficult to argue that it is nowhere to be found in the contemporary scientific effort. Bertrand Russell championed inductivism:

    (a) When a thing of a certain sort A has been found to be associated with a thing of a certain other sort B, and has never been found dissociated from a thing of the sort B, the greater the number of cases in which A and B have been associated, the greater is the probability that they will be associated in a fresh case in which one of them is known to be present;

    (b) Under the same circumstances, a sufficient number of cases of association will make the probability of a fresh association nearly a certainty, and will make it approach certainty without limit.

    Thing A being significant functional complexity, and thing B being intelligent agency, since they are always associated, would, according to Russell’s thinking, indicate that there is an extreme likelihood that significant functional complexity only comes about via intelligent agency, and that life, the most functionally complex phenomenon known to us, is extremely likely to have emerged via intelligent agency. Of course Russell, like many other atheists, would have looked for some way to weasel out of his own prior assertions if they were found to be useful in affirming theism.

    You don’t suppose, do you, that your assertion that

    Since intelligent agency is only known to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains [it is] reasonable to conclude that the most intelligent agency would come about through extreme, significant material complexity

    has been falsified because:

    — It is so unlikely that the fine-tuning of the Universe for life was a mindless accident that it is simply irrational to assert that that was the case.

    — Therefore the fine-tuning of the Universe for life must have been the work of an intelligent agent.

    — Since matter did not exist prior to that intelligent agent bringing it into existence, that agent’s intelligence couldn’t have the product of “extreme, significant material complexity.”

    I don’t suppose you accept that deductive reasoning as falsification of your assertion. ;o)

  33. 33
    harry says:

    harry @32,

    I normally wouldn’t bother to correct a typo that others would easily mentally adjust for, but “that agent’s intelligence couldn’t have the product of ‘extreme, significant material complexity'” actually has a meaning. That should have been, “that agent’s intelligence couldn’t have been the product of ‘extreme, significant material complexity'”

    Of course there are those who would agree with the first version of that. ;o)

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    Popperian you claim that “intelligent agency is only known, in any empirical sense, to come about though significant functional complexity, including complex material brains.”

    And I provided solid empirical evidence debunking your claim. Evidence from quantum mechanics that mind precedes material reality. And I also provided evidence that material CANNOT EVER explain conscious mind.

    I can provide much more evidence in that regards.

    So I took the full overview of empirical observation into consideration whilst you ignored, with your word play, what the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence says so as to suit your own purpose.

    That is the mark of a dogmatist.

    You claimed to make no claim to empirical evidence. then when shown otherwise, you claim you did make a claim, then when countered you say evidence does not matter.

    You are a friggin yo yo that would not know science if it bit you on the nose!

  35. 35
    Popperian says:

    BA77:

    And I provided solid empirical evidence debunking your claim. Evidence from quantum mechanics that mind precedes material reality. And I also provided evidence that material CANNOT EVER explain conscious mind.

    Except there are theories of quantum mechanics that agree with all the same observations, yet do not suggest that observers play any special role or that the wave function actually collapses. Those theories say nothing about the mind preceding reality.

    Not is it clear how you can present empirical evidence that indicates something is inexplicable, which is what you’re claiming by saying the mind is immaterial. That is a philosophical position, not an empirical position.

    Finally, saying that evidence in science doesn’t play the role you think it does isn’t the same as saying evidence doesn’t matter. That’s a gross misrepresentation of what I wrote.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    Funny that you do not reference any of those competing quantum theories. Perhaps you would like to defend the epistemological failure that is represented by the many worlds interpretation?

    That would be entertaining! Care to play?

    Moreover, with your ‘inexplicable’ warrant, you are, in disingenuous Darwinian fashion, turning the empirical priority of science on its head just so as to support your a priori atheistic bias.

    Plantinga addresses the insanity of the Darwinian ‘its not proven absolutely impossible therefore it must be true’ mindset here:

    Darwinism Not Proved Absolutely Impossible Therefore Its True – Plantinga
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10285716/

    And as I said earlier, I have much more empirical evidence on the reality of mind, but since I have seen no willingness on your part to deal honestly with the evidence presented thus far, I will refrain from wasting my time since you will merely cite your own opinion as outweighing the evidence.

  37. 37
    Popperian says:

    Harry:

    — It is so unlikely that the fine-tuning of the Universe for life was a mindless accident that it is simply irrational to assert that that was the case.

    First, the most simple criticism is that you’re assuming life, as we know it, is the only kind of life that could exist, or that it was intentionally chosen by a designer. However, the laws of physics may not be finely tuned for other kinds of life.

    Second, I would agree that the apparent fine tuning for life as we know it isn’t random. This is because there would be vastly more universes where life as we know it would only just exist for a few moments. And we do not just barely exist. We simply do not know the answer to this question. Potential answers include the possibility that unverses can only have those specific properties or that properties are linked together in that changing one changes the other in a complimentary way.

    — Therefore the fine-tuning of the Universe for life must have been the work of an intelligent agent

    Saying “a designer must have wanted it that way” just pushes the problem up a level without improving it. We simply do not know the answer. Appealing to a designer is a “designer of the gaps” argument.

    — Since matter did not exist prior to that intelligent agent bringing it into existence, that agent’s intelligence couldn’t have the product of “extreme, significant material complexity.

    We simply do not know what the conditions were before the Big Bang. It is a singularly which we cannot see beyond. For example, it could have been the result of a previous Big Crunch. Or it could be the result of a black hole in some other universe. IOW, we simply do not know enough to reach that conclusion. Nor is it clear how a non-material agent “brings matter into existence.

    Furthermore, claiming we exist in a bubble of explicability, which exists in a sea of inexplicably, only leads to bad explanations. No better explanation can exist in this inexplicable realm other than “Zeus rules there”. And, by nature of supposedly being dependent on that realm, no better explaination can be had in our bubble than “Zeus rules here” as well. IOW, our bubble would only appear explicable should one chose to ignore very specific questions.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    Actually we do have a very good idea what existed before the Big Bang:

    What Properties Must the Cause of the Universe Have? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SZWInkDIVI

    The First Cause Must Be A Personal Being – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4813914

    “There is no ground for supposing that matter and energy existed before and was suddenly galvanized into action. For what could distinguish that moment from all other moments in eternity? It is simpler to postulate creation ex nihilo — Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness.”
    Jastrow – God and The Astronomers

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: ,,,The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy.
    This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world,,,
    Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.,,,
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

  39. 39
    harry says:

    Hello Popperian,

    First, the most simple criticism is that you’re assuming life, as we know it, is the only kind of life that could exist, or that it was intentionally chosen by a designer. However, the laws of physics may not be finely tuned for other kinds of life.

    If “the laws of physics may not be finely tuned for other kinds of life,” then it is all the more likely that “life, as we know it, is the only kind of life that could exist.” Even so, I am not assuming that carbon-based life as we know it is the only kind of life that could exist.

    For life to exist in our own or some other universe, complexification of matter must be possible, using whatever materials are available. More specifically, functional “complexification” of matter must be possible. Mere intricacy is complexity that is no more functional than a box rocks.

    If one flips a true coin ten times in a row and gets “heads” each time, what are the odds of the next coin toss coming up “heads”? The odds are still 50/50. In the same way, in any possible universe, matter and the laws of physics in that universe being mindlessly and accidentally configured such that the enormous functional complexity life requires becomes a possibility is virtually impossible just as it was in our own.

    Given a universe where life is a possibility, the mindless and accidental assembly of life is still virtually impossible, just as the accidental assembly of a laptop PC is a virtual impossibility, even though that is far more likely to happen than life emerging accidentally, because the technology required for laptop PCs is very crude compared to the nanotechnology of life, and does not have to have built into it the capacity to manufacture more laptop PCs.

  40. 40
    harry says:

    Popperian @37

    Saying “a designer must have wanted it that way” just pushes the problem up a level without improving it. We simply do not know the answer. Appealing to a designer is a “designer of the gaps” argument.

    Not really. I don’t think God is the designer of the gaps. I think He is the designer of the whole thing. I think He created the Universe and the life within it and holds it all in existence. He does so in an orderly, consistent, rational way, which is why there are such things as the laws of physics, universal constants and natural science. Nature’s intelligibility is what makes natural science possible. It is intelligible because the primary, underlying reality is a rational Mind.

    Science should never stop looking for natural explanations. It should never say, “I give up. That must be the part God does.” Instead, it should remember that the whole thing is what God did and is still doing as He holds nature in existence.

    If the fundamental reality is a Mind, then as science gets deeper and deeper into the natural, it should not be surprised if it keeps finding that which has no explanation other than what must be a non-material reality. That doesn’t mean it stops doing research. On the contrary, it means that it admits the existence of non-material realities and then takes the first steps of what will probably be a very long journey that will eventually lead to a better understanding of how those non-material realities are integrated with material realities. Before one scoffs at that notion, consider that science has learned very much about the effects of gravity, a completely non-material reality as far as we yet know, on material realities.

    There is no hope of science ever explaining consciousness and rationality until it begins that journey. Along the way it will learn that the non-material realities that make consciousness and rationality possible are “natural,” too. It can call them something besides “rational souls” if it wants to do that. ;o) How did “natural” come to mean “strictly material,” anyway? Is gravity supernatural?

    And, hopefully, it will finally take an objective look at the math (it is one thing to stop believing in God, but to stop believing in math?) and finally admit that the Universe and life within it coming about mindlessly and accidentally was an impossibility.

  41. 41
    Popperian says:

    Hello Harry,

    Harry:

    Given a universe where life is a possibility, the mindless and accidental assembly of life is still virtually impossible, just as the accidental assembly of a laptop PC is a virtual impossibility, even though that is far more likely to happen than life emerging accidentally, because the technology required for laptop PCs is very crude compared to the nanotechnology of life, and does not have to have built into it the capacity to manufacture more laptop PCs..

    From the referenced paper..

    In the biosphere self-reproduction is approximated to various accuracies. There are many poor approximations to self-reproducers – e.g., crude replicators such as crystals, short RNA strands and autocatalytic cycles involved in the origin of life [11]. Being so inaccurate, they do not require any further explanation under no-design laws: they do not have appearance of design, any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.(4)

    and..

    The second point is that natural selection, to get started, does not require accurate self-reproducers with high-fidelity replicators. Indeed, the minimal requirement for natural selection is that each kind of replicator produce at least one viable offspring, on average, per lifetime – so that the different kinds of replicators last long enough to be “selected” by the environment. In challenging environments, a vehicle with many functionalities is needed to meet this requirement. But in unchallenging ones (i.e. sufficiently unchanging and resource-rich), the requirement is easily met by highly inaccurate self-reproducers that not only have no appearance of design, but are so inaccurate that they can have arisen spontaneously from generic resources under no-design laws – as proposed, for instance, by the current theories of the origin of life [11, 31]. For example, template replicators, such as short RNA strands [32], or similar “naked” replicators (replicating with poor copying fidelity without a vehicle) would suffice to get natural selection started. Since they bear no design, they require no further explanation – any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.(11)

    Again, the author has referenced what it means to have the appearance of design. Specifically, the appearance of design is not merely the ability for something to serve a purpose, but when something cannot be easily varied without significantly reducing its ability to serve that purpose. The first self-replicators need not fit that definition, yet could still self-replicate to a degree necessary for natural selection to get started.

  42. 42
    Popperian says:

    Nature’s intelligibility is what makes natural science possible. It is intelligible because the primary, underlying reality is a rational Mind.

    Nothing about a rational mind necessitates the intelligibility of nature. A rational mind could for some reason we cannot comprehend, decide to make nature unintelligible. And it could so at any time. So could a committee of rational minds, for a vast number of possible reasons, for which the intelligibility may not continue. All you need is for the community members to change their mind, or get voted out and replaced with others that choose otherwise for some rational reason we cannot understand. For all we know, members can only serve a term of 13.82 billion years, in which the universe might become unintelligible tomorrow.

    Not to mention that it’s unclear why an abstract, far removed rational mind who is perfectly self-sufficient and has no limitations, would necessary seem rational to us. In fact, theists appeal to this sort of idea all the time. God could have some good reason to allow X to happen, etc. IOW, this is an appeal to a logical possibility, not a good explanation that actually gives us guidance or improves the problem in some practical sense. The idea that God is just like us, only infinitely more powerful and perfectly good, appears to be a conclusion that a struggling tribe would make, which is merely refined over time.

    Instead, it should remember that the whole thing is what God did and is still doing as He holds nature in existence.

    If the designer still exists, then where is he? Why has he decided to stop making personal appearances? Yes, it’s logically possible that a designer might choose to do so, but what good explanation do you have for this? Otherwise, this is yet another logical possibility which you have preferred over others, without a functional reason. None of the elaborate aspects of salvation are necessary for a rational mind either. For example, Satan’s knowledge of God’s existence supposedly did not prevent him from from disobeying him. Again, these aspects are not necessary consequences of with a rational mind.

    If the fundamental reality is a Mind, then as science gets deeper and deeper into the natural, it should not be surprised if it keeps finding that which has no explanation other than what must be a non-material reality. That doesn’t mean it stops doing research. On the contrary, it means that it admits the existence of non-material realities and then takes the first steps of what will probably be a very long journey that will eventually lead to a better understanding of how those non-material realities are integrated with material realities

    Until a supposed “non-material reality” plays a hard to vary, functional role, it’s merely a logical possibility. And science discards an infinite number of logical possibilities, in every field of science, every day.

    Before one scoffs at that notion, consider that science has learned very much about the effects of gravity, a completely non-material reality as far as we yet know, on material realities.

    In Einstein’s theory of motion, matter acts upon space-time geometry, deforming it, and space-time geometry acts upon matter, accelerating it. How is this non-material?

    Finally, a key problem with this sort of criticism and “explanation” is that it would have reach beyond what you’ve chosen to apply it. Why stop at God? What makes God’s mind rational? What’s the difference between my mind and God’s? After all, if I have a rational mind, then why cant I use it to create ten bars of gold in my living room, in reality?

    Again, “a rational mind” does not play a hard to vary functional role. As such, preferring it over countless others is irrational or dogmatic.

  43. 43
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    Nothing about a rational mind necessitates the intelligibility of nature. A rational mind could for some reason we cannot comprehend, decide to make nature unintelligible.

    You are taking an awful lot for granted. In the absence of a rational mind, how do you explain the fact that our minds are in correspondence with reality? How is it that our mathematical tools for measuring the universe correspond with the physical properties being measured? How is it that the subject, or the knower, is even linked to the object, or the thing known, in the first place?

  44. 44
    harry says:

    Popperian @41

    … my thesis [is] that a subjective experience, or a feeling of conviction, can never justify a scientific statement … No matter how intense a feeling of conviction it may be, it can never justify a statement. Thus I may be utterly convinced of the truth of a statement; certain of the evidence of my perceptions; overwhelmed by the intensity of my experience: every doubt may seem to me absurd. But does this afford the slightest reason for science to accept my statement? … The answer is, ‘No’; and any other answer would be incompatible with the idea of scientific objectivity.
    — Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

    The article you cited by Chiara Marletto proposing the Constructor Theory of Life mentions Richard Dawkins by name three times in the body of the article, and Dawkins is found in the references six times. Not that that made me wonder about Marletto’s objectivity. After all, who is better known for relentless, utterly neutral scientific objectivity than Dawkins? Nor did the fact that the proposed theory’s “new mode of explanation to express exactly within physics the appearance of design,” is referred to as “no-design laws” make me suspect that Marletto might simply be promoting atheism rather than engaging in a purely disinterested, completely impartial pursuit of scientific truth. Noooooo! Nothing suspicious there at all! ;o)

    The article concludes as follows:

    I have proved that the physical processes that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory relies upon are possible under no-design laws, provided that the latter permit information media (and enough generic resources). Under such laws, accurate self-reproduction can occur, but only via von Neumann’s replicator–vehicle logic; and a high-fidelity replicator requires an accurate self-reproducer. My argument also highlights that all accurate constructors, under such laws, must contain knowledge—an abstract constructor—in the form of a recipe, instantiated in a replicator.

    I am inspired. I think I will go ahead and prove that given an automated factory accidentally falling into place complete with robotic equipment directed by the correct digitally stored instructions, and the availability of the necessary resources, a laptop PC will be mindlessly and accidentally produced.

    One remark in the article that actually rang true was

    Although regular shapes of planets or crystals can be striking, these are explained by symmetries in the laws of physics; by contrast, even simple organisms, such as bacteria, display stupendously designed mechanisms, with many, different sub-parts coordinating to an overall function; they perform transformations with remarkable accuracy, retaining their ability to do so

    Of course, that was followed with “— just as if they had literally been designed. This appearance of design …”

    Even so, the distinction made between phenomena exhibiting order which is “explained by symmetries in the laws of physics” and those exhibiting order that cannot be explained that way, is important. It suggests something we all know intuitively: There are limits to what a mindless application of laws of physics to a natural environment can be reasonably expected to produce. One might say that the laws of physics applied to a given material environment will inevitably produce crystallization, and applied to another environment will inevitably produce a planet, but one never assumes that the laws of physics applied to a purely natural environment would inevitably produce a computer. When a phenomenon exhibits order that rises to the level of significant functional complexity it is not merely the result of the mindless, accidental application of the laws of physics to a given natural environment.

    That is the insurmountable obstacle faced by fanciful theories of mindless, accidental abiogenesis. An environment that mindlessly and accidentally produces computers is an automated factory. Automated factories do not come about mindlessly and accidentally. That is clearly an impossibility. An environment being mindlessly and accidentally arrived at that produces digital-information based, self-replicating nanotechnology the functional complexity of which is light years beyond the technology found in computers is then (to the rational) even more clearly an impossibility.

    Meditate on the meaning of “1 chance in 10^10^123.” And that was just the odds of arriving at a Universe where such an environment was a possibility. Remember that does not include the improbability of the actual, accidental establishment of an environment that was far, far more unlikely than the accidental assembly of an automated laptop PC factory.

    Popperian, I am afraid your beliefs are “incompatible with the idea of scientific objectivity.”

  45. 45
    Popperian says:

    Harry:

    The article you cited by Chiara Marletto proposing the Constructor Theory of Life mentions Richard Dawkins by name three times in the body of the article, and Dawkins is found in the references six times.

    I’m disappointed. Rather than criticize the arguments being made, you’re focusing on the source. I had such high hopes!

    Harry:

    Nor did the fact that the proposed theory’s “new mode of explanation to express exactly within physics the appearance of design,” is referred to as “no-design laws” make me suspect that Marletto might simply be promoting atheism rather than engaging in a purely disinterested, completely impartial pursuit of scientific truth. Noooooo! Nothing suspicious there at all! ;o)

    I addressed this comment #15.

    Given the [problem that evolutionary addresses], It’s a straight forward premise. If the design of organisms was already present at the outset in some form, then neo-Darwinism cannot be the explanation for the appearance of design in organisms. This includes design of organisms being present in the laws of physics.

    Also..

    …that design was already present in some form at the outset (or spontaneously appeared) is a key part of Lamarckism and ID. In addition to mice appearing spontaneously out of rags, Lamarck thought there was some natural law that mandated life became more complex. ID assumes the knowledge exists in some form or another at the outset or spontaneously appeared when organisms were created. If design was already present in some form, or spontaneously appeared, neo-Darwinism cannot be the explanation for the appearance of design in organisms.

    It’s unclear how there is an ulterior motive here. A claim that the design of organisms must have been encoded in the laws of physics, is a straight forward criticism that should and is addressed in the paper. This is because, if already present at the outset, the design could not be explained by evolutionary theory. Right?

    Harry:

    I am inspired. I think I will go ahead and prove that given an automated factory accidentally falling into place complete with robotic equipment directed by the correct digitally stored instructions, and the availability of the necessary resources, a laptop PC will be mindlessly and accidentally produced.

    Do you have any criticism of the actual proof present in the paper? After all, you’ve only quoted the summary. Also, what you described isn’t evolutionary theory, as no one thinks even the most complex organisms we’ve aware of “accentually fell into place” all at once, as you suggested.

  46. 46
    Popperian says:

    StephenB:

    You are taking an awful lot for granted. In the absence of a rational mind, how do you explain the fact that our minds are in correspondence with reality?

    First, to put it simply: error. Ideas about how the world works are not out actually there for us to observe. Nor can we mechanically extrapolate observations to form theories. So, theories start out as conjectures, guesses that are not guaranteed to solve any problems, which are then criticized in some way and errors are discarded. See Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Instincts represent a form of subconscious criticism. Darwinism is a form of criticism which is based on variation and selection, which also falls under the umbrella of our current best explanation for the universal growth of knowledge.

    Sure if all we had to do was sit around all day and merely define things as true or false, you might have a point. But that omits the fact that we are constantly faced with problems to solve, in some way or another. That’s where error comes in. That’s how knowledge grows.

    Now, it’s your turn. How does God cause our minds to have a correspondence with reality, in practice? “God just wanted us to have rational minds” doesn’t actually explain anything. Rather, it’s a form of justificationism, which has significant problems. Theism is a special case of justificationism.

    For example, one could just as well object on the grounds that you are taking an awful lot for granted. Does God’s mind have a correspondence with reality? How do you explain how that correspondence? Do you have a unified theory for the universal growth of knowledge?

  47. 47
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    So, theories start out as conjectures, guesses that are not guaranteed to solve any problems, which are then criticized in some way and errors are discarded. See Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Instincts represent a form of subconscious criticism. Darwinism is a form of criticism which is based on variation and selection, which also falls under the umbrella of our current best explanation for the universal growth of knowledge.

    I don’t think you understand the question. I am not asking you how we develop theories or grow in our knowledge of how the world works. I am asking you why the mind of the knower, which is the map; corresponds with the thing that is known, which is the territory. Why is the map congruent with the territory?

    Now, it’s your turn. How does God cause our minds to have a correspondence with reality, in practice?

    The only reasonable explanation is that God created both the physical universe and the minds of human beings such that there was an affinity between them. That would explain why our mental concepts (the map) are congruent with the structure of the physical universe (the territory). It would also explain why we can use mathematical concepts to understand the quantitative elements of the cosmos.

  48. 48
    Mung says:

    Hi StephenB.

    I think we are just fooling ourselves. I think that we construct two maps and to the extent the two maps agree with each other we call that the territory.

    And then we say silly things to each other like “you’re confusing the map with the territory.” Hah. Silly us.

  49. 49
    harry says:

    Hello Popperian,

    If the fundamental reality is a Mind, then as science gets deeper and deeper into the natural, it should not be surprised if it keeps finding that which has no explanation other than what must be a non-material reality. That doesn’t mean it stops doing research. On the contrary, it means that it admits the existence of non-material realities and then takes the first steps of what will probably be a very long journey that will eventually lead to a better understanding of how those non-material realities are integrated with material realities. Before one scoffs at that notion, consider that science has learned very much about the effects of gravity, a completely non-material reality as far as we yet know, on material realities.
    — harry

    In Einstein’s theory of motion, matter acts upon space-time geometry, deforming it, and space-time geometry acts upon matter, accelerating it. How is this non-material?
    — Popperian

    How is “space-time” material? Empty space has no material basis because if it did it then wouldn’t be empty space. Time itself has no material existence at all, it is only a concept that arises from matter in motion. Timelessness is the absence of matter in motion; time is not a material entity itself. So if gravity is the curvature of the fabric of non-material space and non-material time, it being so does not make it a material reality.

    Gravitons, according to those who theorize that there are such things, will be found to be zero-mass particles. Physicists keep concluding other elementary particles are zero-mass particles. Of what matter does a zero-mass particle consist? Planck was right. The matrix of all matter is a Mind. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

  50. 50
    harry says:

    Popperian:

    How does God cause our minds to have a correspondence with reality, in practice? “God just wanted us to have rational minds” doesn’t actually explain anything. Rather, it’s a form of justificationism, which has significant problems. Theism is a special case of justificationism.

    Why should there be any such thing as a mind, in practice? Why should one collection of atoms be conscious and rational and not another, in practice? Why should there be matter at all, in practice? Atheists insisting matter just always was is a very special (so special it is irrational) case of justificationism.

    Matter just always was or it had a beginning. One or the other.

    If matter had no beginning, and if truly “scientific,” “objective knowledge” is that it is the primary reality and just always was and is, then truly “scientific,” “objective knowledge” is that the primary reality is a miracle, and one with no explanatory value whatsoever. Matter just always having been would be a stupendous miracle, in that that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws. So if the fundamental reality is an inexplicable, meaningless miracle, how do we build upon that? Progressiveness is one of the things Popper demanded of a good tentative theory. Progress assumes a starting point from which progress can be made. An inexplicable, meaningless miracle is no foundation upon which to build objective knowledge.

    Using Popper’s “P1 » TT » EE » P2,” P1 is the Problem to be be solved: “What is the meaning of life, anyway?” TT, the atheistic “Tentative Theory” is: “The primary reality is just some mindless stuff that miraculously always was and is, and some of it accidentally turned into us, so there really is no meaning to life.” EE, the attempted “Error Elimination” is: What can be erroneous, what is an error, if the primary reality is an inexplicable, meaningless miracle?” And of course, P2, the problem that Popper believed always arises from a solution to P1 is: “Then why don’t I just commit suicide rather than experience any discomfort?”

    On the other hand, if matter had a beginning then that beginning had a cause which couldn’t have been material. Again using Popper’s “P1 » TT » EE » P2,” P1 is, “What is the nature of the necessarily non-material reality that brought matter into being?” TT is: “That reality must be supremely powerful since it created the Universe, and must be supremely intelligent since it fashioned it such that life became not only a possibility but an actuality. Hey! If intelligence existed before matter, then intelligence must, in its essence, be non-material. Hey! That would explain consciousness and rationality, it is now just a matter of figuring out how they have been integrated with the matter of which our bodies consist. Hey! The existence of a non-material entity, the One Who launched the Universe, an uncaused first cause, makes much more sense than the notion that the series of causes and effects that has brought things to where they are presently goes back infinitely with no beginning! Hey! The One Who created us must have had a reason for doing so! There must be some purpose for His doing that. Hey! Life has meaning! Hey! …”

    And on and on the theistic TT goes, so filled with truth it keeps explaining more and more as it is being formulated. Theism make progress. Theism’s miracle is rational. It has explanatory value. It makes sense that the natural must have originated in the supernatural. Atheism’s TT very quickly goes nowhere. It ends in meaninglessness which is the antithesis of Popper’s “objective knowledge.”

  51. 51
    harry says:

    Popperian,

    harry:
    The article concludes as follows:

    I have proved that the physical processes that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory relies upon are possible under no-design laws, provided that the latter permit information media (and enough generic resources). Under such laws, accurate self-reproduction can occur, but only via von Neumann’s replicator–vehicle logic; and a high-fidelity replicator requires an accurate self-reproducer. My argument also highlights that all accurate constructors, under such laws, must contain knowledge—an abstract constructor—in the form of a recipe, instantiated in a replicator.

    I am inspired. I think I will go ahead and prove that given an automated factory accidentally falling into place complete with robotic equipment directed by the correct digitally stored instructions, and the availability of the necessary resources, a laptop PC will be mindlessly and accidentally produced.

    Popperian:
    Do you have any criticism of the actual proof present in the paper? After all, you’ve only quoted the summary. Also, what you described isn’t evolutionary theory, as no one thinks even the most complex organisms we’ve aware of “accentually fell into place” all at once, as you suggested.

    The arguments being made led to a silly conclusion, which demonstrates the silliness of the arguments. The conclusion was extremely qualified, and filled with reservations, including the admission of the necessity of information media and knowledge being involved in the process. My response was only making fun of that. If one is supposedly refuting the notion that intelligent agency was a required causal factor in abiogenesis taking place, and includes the necessity of information storage devices and the necessity of their containing knowledge in their “proof” that abiogenesis was an accidental, mindless process, then one has refuted one’s own position.

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