Category: Science, worldview issues and society

9/11 Miracle — the story of Trinidadian Genelle Guzman-McMillan, last WTC 9/11 survivor to be pulled from the rubble

Trinidadian Genelle Guzman-McMillan, the last WTC 9/11 survivor to be pulled from the rubble of the collapsed towers, has a story of miraculous survival, complete with her angel, Paul, who held her hand as she awaited rescue. In summary: [Genelle] was a Port Authority worker, working on the 64th floor of one of the WTC […] more

VIDEO: Jon Rittenhouse’s BB ST 450 course lecture on Scientism

Ran across this Biola video lecture (in course BB ST 450) on scientism in a thread from a few months back, HT BA77 as usual. I think it is well worth pondering: embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube Direkt So, thoughts? END more

FYI-FTR, 5: Euler rebukes the so-called “freethinkers” . . . another voice from the past we need to heed

Anyone who has done any serious mathematics needs no introduction to the name Leonhard Euler, one of the all time greats of Mathematics. For those who do, let me simply clip the opening words of the Wiki biographical article: a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal […] more

FYI-FTR, 5: A BA 77 update — Dr Jerry Bergman lectures on the longstanding career and reputation slaughter of Darwin doubters

BA 77 has found another vid on the Slaughter of the Dissidents that reminds us of what the sort of evo mat promotion stunts we see going on in and around UD can all too often end up as: embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube Direkt A couple of stills can help us understand what Darwinist agit-prop […] more

FYI-FTR, # 4: You can’t make this up . . . KeithS and ilk dig in further — StephenB asks, is there any one there (apart from KeithS) who is uncertain of his self-aware existence?

Some things you can’t make up in a novel, they would be too implausible to be salable. But reality itself has no such constraints. As onlookers know, over the past several days — cf. here and here, we have been back to the issue of KeithS and his fellow evolutionary materialists (and their fellow travellers […] more

FYI-FTR, # 3: KeithS doubles down on sawing off the branch on which he sits, via po-mo certainty that we cannot be certain (oopsie . . . ), multiplies it by turnabout “liar-liar, your’e a hypocrite” rhetoric

We live in an intellectually impoverished and too often uncivil era, with the rise of evolutionary materialist scientism (as in: a priori evolutionary materialist “Science” is all of ‘real’ knowledge) having no small part of the responsibility. So, it is no real surprise to see one KeithS, one of the Darwinist anti-UD web patrol doubling […] more

FYI-FTR, # 2: KeithS of TSZ and other objecting sites, inadvertently shows the self-referential absurdity of evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller po-mo ideologies regarding first principles of right reason and other self-evident first truths

We live in a post-modern [actually, ultra-modern . . . in Joe Carter's sense of "modernity on volume level ELEVEN, not merely  ten" . . . ] world, or so we are commonly told. In that world, it is a commonplace to hear that “Aristotelian logic” exhibits a black- and- white thinking fallacy (strawman: any […] more

RDF/AIG as a case of the incoherence and rhetorical agenda of evolutionary materialist thought and/or its fellow- traveller ideologies

For the past several weeks, there has been an exchange that developed in the eduction vs persuasion thread (put up May 9th by AndyJones), on first principles of right reason and related matters.  Commenter RDF . . .   has championed some popular talking points in today’s intellectual culture. We can therefore pick up from a […] more

REFERENCE: The Smith Model, an architecture for cybernetics and mind-body/ free will/ determinism/ compatibilism analysis . . .

Since the issue of agent freedom and cause has again come up, it is worth the while to post the following summary on the Smith Model for agent cause and cybernetics, from the IOSE unit on minds etc: __________ >>(c) Of neurons, brains and minds The neuron (in its various types) is the key building […] more

They said it dept: ID objector JLA inadvertently underscores the absurd logical/worldview consequences of evolutionary materialism . . . QED

One of our frequent objectors, JLA, has listed the consequences of evolutionary materialism, by way of objecting to BA’s further reply to the current crop of remarks at TSZ. (NB: I at first thought he might be being satirical, but, sadly, he is actually playing a straight hand. {Let me make this plain: FULL MARKS […] more

TSZ explodes in anger and mischaracterisations over BA’s recent post at UD: “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?”

(In case you think this is about a strawman, cf. here) A few days ago UD President, BA, posted on the topic, “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?” Reaction at objecting blog TSZ has been explosive. For just one instance — a slice of the cake reveals its ingredients, we […] more

The ghost of William Paley says his piece in reply to Darwin and successors, on the commonly dismissed “watch found in the field” argument

Over at the KF blog, we have recently been entertaining some ghosts from our civilisation’s past, who are concerned about its present and now sadly likely future in light of the sad history recorded in Acts 27, of a sea voyage to Rome gone disastrously wrong because the voyagers were manipulated into venturing back out […] more

FOR RECORD: In response to EL’s attempt to dismiss the invidiousness of “both the Nazis and KF think that . . .”

UPDATE: Sometimes, it is needful to drive home a point, even when it is on an unpleasant matter and deals with uncivil conduct. For, unchecked incivility, willful disregard for the truth and fairness, and associated enabling behaviour are patently destructive. [For those who need help here, methinks the ghost of Pilate has somewhat to say […] more

FOR RECORD: A further corrective note to Dr EL of TSZ

The management of TSZ leaves me little alternative but to publish a corrective publicly. I see where TSZ continues to host the following long since corrected assertion: Kairosfocus, this is outrageous.  Nobody here, to my knowledge, has suggested that you are a Nazi, and I certainly have not. This is false and should be known […] more

Journal of Medical Ethics, the ghosts of Francis Schaeffer and C Everett Koop have somewhat to say to you regarding “post-birth abortion” . . .

(In case you imagine this to be purely academic, cf. here) UD News has recently highlighted a  debate on how the academy has reacted to objections to a bioethics paper that advocated “post-birth abortion.” (Cf. a noteworthy objection, here.) Including, “post-birth abortion” of the healthy but undesirable. A telling clip from the JME paper: we […] more

A corrective to some remarks regarding first principles of reason, showing that such first principles are just that . . .

It seems I need to headline a corrective footnote on basic reasoning, from an ongoing exchange in a current discussion thread: ________ >> I decided to take a look around via Google. It was saddening but unsurprising to see the party-spirited objections to first principles of reason coming from the circle of objector sites. Inadvertently, they […] more

Video: Dr George Yancey documents progressivist anti-Christian and partisan biases in the university and even in IQ tests . . . with implications for addressing the commonly encountered “ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear

Yesterday, I ran across the video to be shown below and posted a comment that I think needs to be headlined and seriously pondered if we are concerned that the university functions in an objective, fair-minded, truth-seeking way: This study (HT: WK) as presented in a short lecture by Dr George Yancey — a sociologist […] more

The issue of the dark triad in the debates over design — the danger of cossetting an asp of evolutionary materialism-driven cold, manipulative narcissism, machiavellianism and sociopathy from Alcibiades to today

“Cool” is often presented as the iconic, somewhat glamorous state of being calm, collected, in control.  It is often viewed as highly desirable, sexy, balanced, stylish, just plain “right.” Oh, soo, desirable . . . But, beneath the surface of “cool,” there too often lurks a reptilian coldly amoral ferocity that marks all the difference […] more

The “ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear championed by Eugenie Scott et al of NCSE is now Law School Textbook orthodoxy . . .

From ENV  — even as Dr Eugenie Scott of NCSE retires (having championed the ID is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo smear for years and years in the teeth of all correction . . . ) — we see a development, courtesy a whistle-blowing Law School student: The latest attempt to insert creationism into the […] more

A “simple” summing up of the basic case for scientifically inferring design (in light of the logic of scientific induction per best explanation of the unobserved past)

In answering yet another round of G’s talking points on design theory and those of us who advocate it, I have outlined a summary of design thinking and its links onward to debates on theology,  that I think is worth being  somewhat adapted, expanded and headlined. With your indulgence: _______________ >> The epistemological warrant for […] more

Let us note the comparable utility of punched paper tape used in computers and numerically controlled industrial machines in a past generation:

Punched paper Tape, as used in older computers and numerically controlled machine tools (Courtesy Wiki & Siemens)

Punched paper Tape, as used in older computers and numerically controlled machine tools (Courtesy Wiki & Siemens)

Given some onward objections, May 4th I add an info graphic on DNA . . .

Fig I.0: DNA as a stored code exhibiting functionally specific complex digital information (HT: NIH)

Fig I.0: DNA as a stored code exhibiting functionally specific complex digital information (HT: NIH)

And a similar one on the implied communication system’s general, irreducibly complex architecture:

A communication system

A communication system. Notice the required arrangement of a set of well-matched, corresponding components that are each necessary and jointly sufficient to achieve function, e.g. coder and decoder, transmitter and receiver, Transmitter, channel and receiver, etc.

In turn,  that brings up the following clip from the ID Foundation series article on Irreducible Complexity, on Menuge’s criteria C1 – 5 for getting to such a system (which he presented in the context of the Flagellum):

But also, IC is a barrier to the usual suggested counter-argument, co-option or exaptation based on a conveniently available cluster of existing or duplicated parts. For instance, Angus Menuge has noted that:

For a working [bacterial] flagellum to be built by exaptation, the five following conditions would all have to be met:

C1: Availability. Among the parts available for recruitment to form the flagellum, there would need to be ones capable of performing the highly specialized tasks of paddle, rotor, and motor, even though all of these items serve some other function or no function.

C2: Synchronization. The availability of these parts would have to be synchronized so that at some point, either individually or in combination, they are all available at the same time.

C3: Localization. The selected parts must all be made available at the same ‘construction site,’ perhaps not simultaneously but certainly at the time they are needed.

C4: Coordination. The parts must be coordinated in just the right way: even if all of the parts of a flagellum are available at the right time, it is clear that the majority of ways of assembling them will be non-functional or irrelevant.

C5: Interface compatibility. The parts must be mutually compatible, that is, ‘well-matched’ and capable of properly ‘interacting’: even if a paddle, rotor, and motor are put together in the right order, they also need to interface correctly.

( Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science, pgs. 104-105 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). HT: ENV.)

In short, the co-ordinated and functional organisation of a complex system  is itself a factor that needs credible explanation.

However, as Luskin notes for the iconic flagellum, “Those who purport to explain flagellar evolution almost always only address C1 and ignore C2-C5.” [ENV.]

And yet, unless all five factors are properly addressed, the matter has plainly not been adequately explained. Worse, the classic attempted rebuttal, the Type Three Secretory System [T3SS] is not only based on a subset of the genes for the flagellum [as part of the self-assembly the flagellum must push components out of the cell], but functionally, it works to help certain bacteria prey on eukaryote organisms. Thus, if anything the T3SS is not only a component part that has to be integrated under C1 – 5, but it is credibly derivative of the flagellum and an adaptation that is subsequent to the origin of Eukaryotes. Also, it is just one of several components, and is arguably itself an IC system. (Cf Dembski here.)

Going beyond all of this, in the well known Dover 2005 trial, and citing ENV, ID lab researcher Scott Minnich has testified to a direct confirmation of the IC status of the flagellum:

Scott Minnich has properly tested for irreducible complexity through genetic knock-out experiments he performed in his own laboratory at the University of Idaho. He presented this evidence during the Dover trial, which showed that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex with respect to its complement of thirty-five genes. As Minnich testified: “One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect. [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108. Unfortunately, Judge Jones simply ignored this fact reported by the researcher who did the work, in the open court room.]

That is, using “knockout” techniques, the 35 relevant flagellar proteins in a target bacterium were knocked out then restored one by one.

The pattern for each DNA-sequence: OUT — no function, BACK IN — function restored.

Thus, the flagellum is credibly empirically confirmed as irreducibly complex. [Cf onward discussion on Knockout Studies, here.]

The kinematic von Neumann self-replicating machine [vNSR] concept is then readily applicable to the living cell:


The kinematic vNSR shows how stored coded information on a tape can be used to control a self-replicating automaton, relevant to both paper tape and the living cell

Mignea’s model of minimal requisites for a self-replicating cell [speech here], are then highly relevant as well:


Mignea’s schematic of the requisites of kinematic self-replication, showing duplication and arrangement then separation into daughter automata. This requires stored algorithmic procedures, descriptions sufficient to construct components, means to execute instructions, materials handling, controlled energy flows, wastes disposal and more. (Source: Mignea, 2012, slide show as linked; fair use.)

HT CR, here’s a typical representation of cell replication through Mitosis:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

And, we may then ponder Michael Denton’s reflection on the automated world of the cell, in his foundational book, Evolution, a Theory in Crisis (1986):

To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter [[so each atom in it would be “the size of a tennis ball”] and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.
We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines . . . . We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices used for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction . . . . However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours . . . .
Unlike our own pseudo-automated assembly plants, where external controls are being continually applied, the cell’s manufacturing capability is entirely self-regulated . . . .[[Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler, 1986, pp. 327 – 331. This work is a classic that is still well worth reading. Emphases added. (NB: The 2009 work by Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute, Signature in the Cell, brings this classic argument up to date. The main thesis of the book is that: "The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order [[better: functional organisation]  to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.” Given the sharp response that has provoked, the onward e-book responses to attempted rebuttals, Signature of Controversy, would also be excellent, but sobering and sometimes saddening, reading.) ]}

An extension of this, gives us reason to infer that body plans similarly show signs of design. And, related arguments give us reason to infer that a cosmos fine tuned in many ways that converge on enabling such C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life on habitable terrestrial planets or similarly hospitable environments, also shows signs of design.

Not on a prioi impositions, but on induction from evidence we observe and reliable signs that we establish inductively. That is, scientifically.

Added, May 11: Remember, this focus on the cell is in the end because it is the root of the Darwinist three of life and as such origin of life is pivotal:

The Smithsonian's tree of life model, note the root in OOL

The Smithsonian’s tree of life model, note the root in OOL

Multiply that by the evidence that there is a definite, finitely remote beginning to the observed cosmos, some 13.7 BYA being a common estimate, and 10 – 20 BYA a widely supported ballpark. That says, it is contingent, has underlying enabling causal factors, and so is a contingent, caused being.

All of this to this point is scientific, with background logic and epistemology.

Not theology, revealed or natural.

It owes nothing to the teachings of any religious movement or institution.

However, it does provide surprising corroboration to the statements of two apostles who went out on a limb philosophically by committing the Christian faith in foundational documents to reason/communication being foundational to observed reality, our world. In short the NT concepts of the Logos [John 1, cf Col 1, Heb 1, Ac 17] and that the evident, discernible reality of God as intelligent creator from signs in the observed cosmos [Rom 1 cf Heb 11:1 - 6, Ac 17 and Eph 4:17 - 24], are supported by key findings of science over the past 100 or so years.

There are debates over timelines and interpretations of Genesis, as well there would be.

They do not matter, in the end, given the grounds advanced on the different sides of the debate. We can live with Gen 1 – 11 being a sweeping, often poetic survey meant only to establish that the world is not a chaos, and it is not a product of struggling with primordial chaos or wars of the gods or the like. The differences between the Masoretic genealogies and those in the ancient translation, the Septuagint, make me think we need to take pause on attempts to precisely date creation on such evidence. Schaeffer probably had something right in his suggestion that one would be better advised to see this as describing the flow and outline of Biblical history rather than a precise, sequential chronology. And that comes up once we can see how consistently reliable the OT is as reflecting its times and places, patterns and events, even down to getting names right.


A Strawman

So, debating Genesis is to follow a red herring and go off to pummel a strawman smeared with stereotypes and set up for rhetorical conflagration. A fallacy of distraction, polarisation and personalisation. As is too often found as a habitual pattern of objectors to design theory.

What is substantial is the evidence on origins of our world and of the world of cell based life in the light of its challenge to us in our comfortable scientism.

And, in that regard, we have again — this is the umpteenth time, G; and you have long since worn out patience and turning the other cheek in the face of personalities, once it became evident that denigration was a main rhetorical device at work — had good reason to see that design theory is a legitimate scientific endeavour, regardless of rhetorical games being played to make it appear otherwise.>>


In short, it is possible to address the design inference and wider design theory without resort to ideologically loaded debates. And, as a first priority, we should. END


PS: In support of my follow up to EA at 153 below, at 157, it is worth adding (May 8th) the Trevors-Abel diagram from 2005 (SOURCE), contrasting the patterns of OSC, RSC and FSC:


Figure 4: Superimposition of Functional Sequence Complexity onto Figure 2. The Y1 axis plane plots the decreasing degree of algorithmic compressibility as complexity increases from order towards randomness. The Y2 (Z) axis plane shows where along the same complexity gradient (X-axis) that highly instructional sequences are generally found. The Functional Sequence Complexity (FSC) curve includes all algorithmic sequences that work at all (W). The peak of this curve (w*) represents “what works best.” The FSC curve is usually quite narrow and is located closer to the random end than to the ordered end of the complexity scale. Compression of an instructive sequence slides the FSC curve towards the right (away from order, towards maximum complexity, maximum Shannon uncertainty, and seeming randomness) with no loss of function.