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The problem with Tayler’s, “Make them shut up about God . . . “

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Dr Torley has recently responded to Tayler’s Article as headlined.

On a day when news is still somewhat emerging about a mass murder on a community College campus where those who affirmed that they were Christians were shot in the head, it is important to take up the issue, especially in light of the underlying, all too patent, New Atheist/Evolutionary materialism and fellow traveller concept that they have cornered the market on reasonableness and responsibility.

We cannot neglect the assertions of Dawkins and co, that Bible-believing Christians are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

That lines right up with the sub-title of Tayler’s Salon post: “The right-wing’s religious delusions are killing us—and them.”

Nor is the obvious immediate trigger, the attacks on US presidential candidate Dr Ben Carson, to be neglected, as there is a definite subtext that Bible-believing Christians are delusional, potentially violent menaces to the good of the community and should be deemed disqualified from public office.

I therefore found it appropriate to respond as follows to frequent objector at UD, SS . . . and to now headline that comment:

KF, 25: >>SS, 18:

I believe that claiming our genome is characterized by “digital code” is off base.

We know that unguided natural processes can in very short time create ordered structures in vast quantities (from snow-flakes to amino acids)

We know that we have not found a barrier to the natural creation of structures as complex as life.

We know we have no “objective” alternative.

DNA is a string digital data structure which stores coded information in the specific sequence of bases, G/C/A/T, both for protein coding and for regulation/control
DNA is a string digital data structure which stores coded information in the specific sequence of bases, G/C/A/T, both for protein coding and for regulation/control

DNA is highly contingent and in respect of protein synthesis (the best understood, widely acknowledged code in it) it is functionally specific and complex. There is a start convention, an elongation add type-X amino Acid in the Ribosome, and algorithmic halting, the stop codes. Algorithms are step by step specific sequences of actions that carry out a process. And there are some twenty odd known dialects.



Yockey's analysis of protein synthesis as a code-based communication process
Yockey’s analysis of protein synthesis as a code-based communication process
The Genetic code uses three-letter codons to specify the sequence of AA's in proteins and specifying start/stop, and using six bits per AA
The Genetic code uses three-letter codons to specify the sequence of AA’s in proteins and specifying start/stop, and using six bits per AA

The fact that you are forced to deny what was recognised from the outset by Crick in 1953, that sequence acted in the way letters do in text, is inadvertently revealing. Crick, March 1953 in a recently auctioned letter to his son:

Crick's letter
Crick’s letter

Now we believe that the DNA is a code. That is, the order of bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another) . . . .

It is notorious that the Genetic Code was elucidated across the following years, with Nobel Prize winning work. (And BTW, digital means, discrete state.}

Next, you insist on substituting order for functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, FSCO/I for short. For example, snowflakes classically show six-fold symmetry, with variability due to micro-atmospheric conditions showing high contingency. The result is that one aspect shows the order the other the high contingency. And BTW, in principle, speaking about the star-shaped ones, we could in principle control and use the variability of the arms to for example encode keys.

FSCO/I is different, where in one aspect of a system, the wiring diagram organisation is directly connected to function, as with DNA. Here is J S Wicken in 1979, a bit after the first full wave of molecular biology stood revealed:

‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]

The specific contrast between crystalline order and functional, specific, wiring diagram organisation should be noted.

Six years before that, Orgel went on record:

. . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . . .

[HT, Mung, fr. p. 190 & 196:] These vague idea can be made more precise by introducing the idea of information. Roughly speaking, the information content of a structure is the minimum number of instructions needed to specify the structure. [–> this is of course equivalent to the string of yes/no questions required to specify the relevant “wiring diagram” for the set of functional states, T, in the much larger space of possible clumped or scattered configurations, W, as Dembski would go on to define in NFL in 2002.] One can see intuitively that many instructions are needed to specify a complex structure. [–> so if the q’s to be answered are Y/N, the chain length is an information measure that indicates complexity in bits . . . ] On the other hand a simple repeating structure can be specified in rather few instructions. [–> do once and repeat over and over in a loop . . . ] Complex but random structures, by definition, need hardly be specified at all . . . . Paley was right to emphasize the need for special explanations of the existence of objects with high information content, for they cannot be formed in nonevolutionary, inorganic processes. [The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189, p. 190, p. 196. Of course, that immediately highlights OOL, where the required self-replicating entity is part of what has to be explained (cf. Paley here), a notorious conundrum for advocates of evolutionary materialism; one, that has led to mutual ruin documented by Shapiro and Orgel between metabolism first and genes first schools of thought, cf here. Behe would go on to point out that irreducibly complex structures are not credibly formed by incremental evolutionary processes and Menuge et al would bring up serious issues for the suggested exaptation alternative, cf. his challenges C1 – 5 in the just linked. Finally, Dembski highlights that CSI comes in deeply isolated islands T in much larger configuration spaces W, for biological systems functional islands. That puts up serious questions for origin of dozens of body plans reasonably requiring some 10 – 100+ mn bases of fresh genetic information to account for cell types, tissues, organs and multiple coherently integrated systems. Wicken’s remarks a few years later as already were cited now take on fuller force in light of the further points from Orgel at pp. 190 and 196 . . . ]

Of course, both of these hoped that “selection” and “evolutionary processes” would account for the FSCO/I in life forms, and many firmly believe in the magic of “natural selection.”

However, we are not dealing with the onward incremental changes of existing C-chemistry, aqueous medium, metabolising, code-using life forms, but their origin in Darwin’s warm little pond or other more current scenarios.

The massive functional organisation to achieve self-replication based on code is what is to be explained, and — per adequacy of observed cause, i.e. vera causa — it needs to be explained in the first instance on observationally verified chemistry and physics, not biology. If reference is made to formation of amino acids, the sorting into homochiral chains to form functional proteins and similarly for R/DNA chains has to be addressed cogently, and to the preservation of sufficient concentrations of the right clusters in the right places and the chaining to achieve relevant FSCO/I, with encapsulation etc in hand. Recall, until you have a von Neumann Kinematic Self-Replication facility tied to wider metabolic networks (themselves astonishingly complex and integrated functionally) and encapsulation with smart gating, you do not have a reasonable account of OOL.

Hypothetical RNA worlds that are themselves problematic are not an adequate answer.

Then, on selection works magic, once you have reproduction, there is the problem of the deep isolation of viable clusters of configs to work as proteins and especially enzymes — hundreds, minimum, as Hoyle pointed out — in AA sequence space, where that is in turn a subset of the wider space of possible amino acids and similar compounds, types of bonding and wider organic chemistry that cannot be dismissed in that pond or whatever. Not to mention what he thermodynamics points to on uphill processes in uncontrolled environments. That, notoriously, is what is the obvious context for just how tightly controlled the cell’s internal environment is, and why it is encapsulated with smart gating.

In short, you have bluffed and the bluff is called.

On the other hand, the OOL issue is riddled with a characterisable phenomenon as just described and shown in its modern idea roots, which led to the descriptive summary FSCO/I. (Cf here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com…..ty-design/ )

On trillions of cases in point, there is just one credible, observationally justified source for FSCO/I. One, backed up by the implications of the needle in haystack search in seas of non-function to get to islands of function . . . which notoriously are turning out to be rugged not smooth . . . illustrated in the just linked.

islands_of_func_challis_ o_func2_activ_info

This justifies us in inferring that design (= intelligently directed configuration), the observed source of FSCO/I and the needle in haystack search plausible source, is the best current (and frankly, prospective, given trajectory of the evidence) explanation of the FSCO/I that is an integral feature of observed cell based life.

In this context, it would be amusing, if it were not so sad, to notice how a side that boasts of its skepticism, clings to any straws in the wind that cold possibly help keep its preferred origins narrative afloat.

Remember, you are here on the side of those who are sharply challenging even self evident first principles of reason.

Now, too, the FSCO/I challenge obtains with redoubled force for origin of body plans, as these now require not the maybe 100 – 1,000 b kbases of a first cell, but credibly 10 – 100+ mn. Just for the DNA.

That, plausibly, is why the UD pro darwinism essay challenge remains effectively unanswered. After several years.

So, there is an objective alternative, to the demanded blind chance and mechnical necessity working on matter and energy in space and time, across the range from hydrogen to humans. Namely, we may not only revert to chance and necessity as possible causes, but to the ART-ificial, working by design, which has been on the table ever since Aristotle pointed it out in the Laws Bk X, 2350 years past.

In an inductive, scientific context, where one deals with what one cannot directly inspect or observe at close hands but must use traces or emanations etc, the relevant concept is the vera causa principle as championed by Newton and acknowledged by Lyell and Darwin et al. Namely, that when we causally explain such traces, we should refer to causal factors shown to be adequate to give rise to the like effect.

This counsel of prudence is a control on speculation taking scientific explanation ideological captive. Which is an obvious problem here in our day of insitutional dominance by a priori evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers, which is even being question-beggingly inserted into redefinitions of science and its methods backed up by threats by major institutions.

One last issue, the question as to what objectivity is, should be taken up.

AmHD offers a useful definition of what this term normally means in contexts like this one (and that it refers to medicine in a context where a root setting is Dr Ben Carson and attempts to discredit him makes it even more relevant):

ob·jec·tive (?b-j?k?t?v)
a. Existing independent of or external to the mind; actual or real: objective reality.
b. Based on observable phenomena; empirical: objective facts.

2. Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices: an objective critic. See Synonyms at fair1.

3. Medicine Relating to or being an indicator of disease, such as a physical sign, laboratory test, or x-ray that can be observed or verified by someone other than the person being evaluated.

FSCO/I is an objective, observable, in principle quantifiable information-bearing entity, as Orgel pointed out since 1973. The information content of DNA has been known to at least order of magnitude since that epoch, starting with simply the fact that a four-state string structure entity with four states per base gives 4^n chemically relevant possibilities for n bases. Just as ASCII-coded text runs to 128^n, as can be confirmed for text in this thread of comments etc.

That already shows us the magnitude of the space to be searched.

Going on to the pattern of redundancies etc imposed by practical coding, we will have less than two bits per element on average and statistical studies can capture that, though implicitly imposing that we are there looking at successful cases, not the wider search space.

Next, the codes in view are for proteins, that at 20 states per AA typically (yes there are a few oddities) have a similar capacity of 4.32 bits/character. We are of course suppressing the many other possible AAs, leaving off chirality and leaving off wider chemistry and thermodynamics that are adverse to the formation of such uphill entities under uncontrolled circumstances.

A typical protein or enzyme runs to 300 AAs or so.

Hundreds to thousands are plausible for a first cell, many more for the elaboration of tissue types and the like to form a multicellular creature with a body plan, hence the 10 – 100+ mn bases, where AAs are encoded at 3 bases per character in a well known code with variants.

All of these are well known observed facts highly relevant to an information-functionality analysis in the context of needle in haystack search with finite resources of matter and time in the observed cosmos. The only actually observed cosmos.

Nope, I did not forget the multiverse notion.

If you wish to inject it while wearing a lab coat, understand that you are here bringing in an inherently metaphysical entity. Never mind the lab coats. At that point, the rules of the game shift to philosophy, and to comparative difficulties across competing worldview options that sit at the table as of right not grudging sufferance.

And in that context, a relevant start point is that nothing, non-being has no causal capacity. So, if utter nothing ever was, such would forever obtain, contrary to the world around us.

If you doubt this, kindly show an observed case: ______________

Likewise, the multiverse: ________________

This, by the logic of possible vs impossible being, points to the root of the world being in an unconditioned, necessary being. If something now is, something always was, and of adequate causal capacity to bring the world that we observe into being. Including our experienced world of mind, conscience, morality, purpose, design and more.

Ir is seriously arguable that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on matter, energy, space and time as observed, are not credibly adequate to account for the actual world. On many grounds, some of which have been outlined above in contexts that are accessible to medical practitioners such as Dr Carson, but which will be such that there is no way they will be reducible to a few talking points or sound bites or power point slides for public rhetoric.

(I actually suggest, on the contrary, using the power point slide show as what is not fashionable: an updated chalkboard.)

Indeed, it is seriously arguable that a priori evolutionary materialism reduces to self referential incoherence in accounting for mind and morals, cf here in context.

Remember, we are here directly dealing with the context of shut-up rhetoric, denigration of Christians as ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, and their openly proposed exclusion from responsible public posts and discussions.

That, SS, is what you are enabling.

We are not overlooking that.

Going on, it is reasonable to look at the FSCO/I rich cosmos and world of life around us and ask, how did this and how did we come to be as minded, en-conscienced, morally governed, rational creatures hungering for understanding.

Design is a serious option starting with the world of life. That is not a cosmological inference, a high tech molecular nanotech lab could in principle account for what we see, projecting Venter et al several generations down the road and projecting computer science and technology as well as nanotech and manipulation systems a similar range. Likely within this century we credibly will be there ourselves.

(BTW, a major ethics challenge, the potential for destructive abuse is enormous. Which is a material factor in choice of major political leaders. And, medical practitioners with strong ethical principles are a very good pool for the sort of leadership we are going to need in coming decades with that on the table.)

Now, a necessary being is such that if X is a serious candidate, it will be either be impossible or possible. If the former, it will be incoherent in core characteristics, similar to a square circle. That can be shown by identifying such a contradiction as that requisites to be squarish and circular cannot be realised in the same entity in the same circumstances and time etc.

On the other hand if such an entity is possible, it would be in some possible world, but also by virtue of necessity of being being tied to the roots of any possible world, to any actual world. That is, if a serious necessary being candidate is possible, it will be actual in any world, as it is inextricably tied to the possibility of a world existing.

For very simple case in point, try to imagine a world in which two-ness does not exist, or can cease from existing, or began to exist at some point along the line.

Not possible.

As a further expansion, consider the set that collects nothing then follow:

{} –> 0

{0} –> 1

{0, 1} –> 2


This is also tied to the point that once distinct identity (say A) exists, we have a world partition:


W = {A | ~A}

From such immediately first principles of right reason that are self evident follow, LOI (A is itself), LNC (A is not at the same time and circumstances also ~A), excluded middle (Any x in W will be in A or else in ~ A, not both or neither}. And just to communicate using text or speech or hand signals etc, we must revert to this. So it is foundational to any serious analysis or argument, and to argue against it or to try to dismiss it is futility self-referentially undermining.

Not that that has prevented many from doing just that.

All of this is reasonable, and based on objective considerations, it is not inherently ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

But it is patent that such leads to the issue that one serious candidate for the relevant necessary being is the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

Ethical Theism is a serious worldview option.

Where the challenge is that as God is a serious candidate necessary being, he will either be impossible or actual. And there is no credible reason to hold that a being as described is impossible.

So, arguably, the reasonable man will incline to ethical theism at this level. As a first basic point. God is maker and sustainer of all things in our world, and we inhabit therefore a Creation; as morally governed accountable creatures. Hence the voice of conscience as the candle of the Lord within, reflecting the core law of morality written in our hearts.

Yes, this is a worldview option, but once you put the multiverse on the table this is what is open. You moved beyond the world of nature, physis, to metaphysics.

In that context, the prophetic-apostolic tradition rooted in the Hebraic Scriptures and the C1 Christian ones of the founding era of the Christian faith is a viable candidate for a real-world tradition that embeds this sort of responsible outlook.

Thus the significance of the following 101 level link on the historical grounding of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in its Christian form:


In short the view that Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah and crucified, risen Lord and Saviour is a responsible view with a reasonable evidential basis.

In that context, the Sermon on the Mount lays out the core Christian ethical tradition, with Rom 13:1 – 10 giving guidelines on civil society leadership and citizenship pivoting on duties to justice and neighbour-love that does no harm but instead good. Deliberately, there is a tension that highlights that mercy and concern must temper justice even while justice must prevail to restrain the chaotic impacts of evil. And responsible tax policy and support for government are explicitly set in that context. (Cf here.)

Let me clip Rom 13:4:

Rom 13:4 for he [the civil authority] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. [ESV]

So, while something like this is hardly amenable to a world of sound bites, gotcha rhetoric journalism and multimedia slide talking points, it is a serious and responsible view.

And, responsible people should be willing to acknowledge that, instead of resorting to patently angry, hostility and contempt laced shut-up rhetoric as we see in the headline for the Tayler article at Salon that is the context for VJT’s response:

Make them shut up about God: The right-wing’s religious delusions are killing us—and them

This headline, per fair comment, is unreasonable, accusatory without reasonable justification, and reflects unwarranted hostility and demonising contempt: delusions, killing us and the like.

That such can now be brazenly put on the table in the general context of trying to disqualify Christians from responsible office is a sobering sign.

It is time, more than time, to soberly reconsider where such “shut-up” agendas would lead our civilisation.


I trust we can all recognise that demanding that Christians shut up, in a context of accusing us of being delusional and by implication, potentially violent, is not acceptable. Further to this, I trust it should be evident that ethical theism and indeed its Judaeo-Christian manifestations, is a responsible worldview. END

Groov, a Q-vacuum with virtual particles etc is patently not non-being. KF kairosfocus
KF I think you nailed em. Materialists love to to come on to this site, some of them seem addicted to it. But when enough is enough they seem to slouch away from the onslaught. Como has more patience with the famous Hawking book than yours truly, I liked it for the first half, and lost patience with the increasing level of speculation And the statement he made in there about the workings of the universe obeying "the laws of science". I wonder if the guys with the giant intellect sometimes experience a lapse in logic, like the intellect smothers it. Also are there any of these guys asking why there should be a multiverse generator? Is this the source of bewilderment for them, the realization that their insistence on an end to regress is doomed? I mean I've seen "quantum vacuum" tossed around (as if that were NOTHING), but why should regress stop there as well? Is the quantum vacuum nothing or is it nature? groovamos
H'mm: 24 hours later, is anyone still arguing that to characterise DNA code as a digital -- i.e. discrete state -- code is off base? That Crick's emphatic 1953 remark that DNA is code was wrong? That ethical theism in Judaeo-Christian form is not a responsible or reasonable worldview? That our delusional state leads to violence and death? That Christians should just "shut up"? Or, more exactly, should be MADE to shut up -- presumably by being dominated on message and then shamed and intimidated into silence by advocates of increasingly dominant evolutionary materialist agendas and fellow travellers? KF kairosfocus
Groov, Interesting, I note Como:
During all of my professional life as a college professor I have been surrounded by scientists the preponderance of whom regard religious belief as superstitious. They dismiss such belief as, at best, a matter of "faith" - of which they have virtually no mature conception - and when they say so they do all but hook the air with their fingers. To be sure there are exceptions, and not a few - I wish I knew the Evangelical Christian Francis Collins, who headed the genome project. But in that same light I also wish I knew Sir Martin Rees, who has given us the splendid Just Six Numbers. The universe, he teaches us eloquently and understandably, is so fine-tuned that were even one of those six numbers off by a ten-thousandth of a percentage point, then we would not have the universe we do, largely because there could not be any "we." And yet this sorry man cannot allow design, for design requires a designer, and that possibility is ruled out. Instead he quotes E. O. Wilson favorably, apparently agreeing that, if material evidence is offered for the existence of a creator, then the game would be changed. Of course neither Wilson nor Rees seems to realize that he is begging the question against the existence of non-material reality. They simply cannot break the bounds of their tightly-fitted box. So instead of a creator Rees offers a multiverse, which somehow, by deflating our presumption of singular importance, is supposed to deflate the role of a Creator. Stephen Hawking, in his blockbuster (and superb, I think) A Brief History of Time, concludes similarly, ending his book with a pitch for all twenty-six dimensions of String Theory. Rees and Hawking tergiversate as necessary to get around the Big Bang; that is, around Genesis. They prefer - as Hawking puts it - bewilderment, which at least shows some intellectual honesty, given their denial of anything resembling religious faith. If I seem to have been cherry-picking it's because there are so many cherries and so little time. And I know that none of this indicates that God is not redundant, only that those who would make Him so are.
There's somewhat to it. KF kairosfocus
I don't usually have much to add to a discussion at this level but I want to link to a piece by James Como who will address a symposium at the C.S. Lewis Festival on the question of God made "redundant" by science. Before posting the link, a little introduction to the wonderful website which I support. It is a Tennessee-based Anglophile site with large audience and contributor base in the UK. It is oriented with attention to high culture, conservatism and politics, in other words geared to the conservative intellectual. > Here is what Como has to say on the topic: http://www.newenglishreview.org/James_Como/Resolved:_Science_Has_Made_God_Redundant/ slightly off topic, but there are two more essays on the Islamic invasion of the West, with differing perspectives, one depressing (Donovan) but the other (Buckham) more sobering as to the inevitable clash when a threatened civilization finally gets the picture and has the economic means to resist: http://www.newenglishreview.com/ groovamos
That might be a part of it, News will be able to speak for herself. kairosfocus
KF, Thanks, are you talking about this? daveS
DS, News was cryptic, but as she is talking Canada, a country so well run it is boring, I suspect she may be referring to something like the recent challenges to the tribunals that seem to have gone overboard on free speech issues and were sharply rapped for such. KF kairosfocus
Why not power down delusional nuts instead? That is what we do in Canada. Try for free before you buy.
Are you referring to treating the mentally ill? daveS
News, that depends on what you mean by "power down" and who is being defined as a delusional nut. Unfortunately, we are seeing a case in Umpqua where someone influenced by hostility to Christians was doing the unspeakable; by accounts to date. And of concern also if people have been convinced that anyone who believes in God must be a "nutter" then s/he may not even listen to hear that there may be another side to the story on why a thinking person can be an ethical theist and be one in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. KF kairosfocus
Why not power down delusional nuts instead? That is what we do in Canada. Try for free before you buy. News
"MAKE them SHUT UP about God"??? kairosfocus

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