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A “remarkable fact”

Let’s take again that quotation out of Richard Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth (pp. 332-333)”, published as many ages ago as the year 2009, quoted at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/09/in_debate_brita_1064521.html

Leaving pseudogenes aside, it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95 percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes.

Now, what here Dawkins calls a “remarkable fact”, turns out only three years later to be known (such that even he agrees, as the above link shows) to be totally false. It’s not even close; it’s as large an error as one could make in a propositional statement.

Not only that, but, this totally false statement is in an area of Dawkins’ speciality. Dawkins’ area of specialist study is evolutionary biology; and one of his specialist areas within that general area is in gene theory. Judging through qualifications and positions, Dawkins is as close as you could get to an expert. He was employed in a position with Oxford University to promote good science to the public. And yet here, in one of his “home” areas, he was, just three years ago, talking complete twaddle.

Regardless of whether you think Dawkins is brilliant or a fool, this ought to give some pause for thought about wider questions, ought it not? The link above shows that Dawkins himself is apparently remarkably unphased by it. But he surely ought to be.

Perhaps we could invite UD’s resident Darwinists and/or Dawkins-fans and general atheists to consider a few questions.

What other areas of his specialist subject, which he pronounces dogmatically upon, are you prepared to accept that Dawkins might be totally wrong about? Does that concern you? Are his other interpretations about the gene (e.g. that there is evidence of common descent) also possibly totally wrong? What else in evolutionary biology in general might be simply mistaken? What level of tentativeness, for example, should we attach to Dawkins’ assertions that the development of the eye could take place naturally, or that common descent in general is a fact that the fossil record bears out?

If Dawkins can be so drastically wrong about his specialist subject, then what of his forays into questions about the philosophy of science, the basis of knowledge, reasons for believing in a divine being, etc.?

We’re used on such occasions to the trotting out of sermons-to-the-choir about details about Darwinism being potentially wrong, but the scheme in general being as proved-true-as-gravity. But how do you actually distinguish that pronouncement from Dawkins’ one above? I don’t see any self doubt or wiggle room in it, or in various other of Dawkins’ pronouncements – or those of the “Darwinism is like gravity” crowd in general. I’m not thinking here of the “village atheists” but of credentialled academics.

If Dawkins, a gene specialist, can be wrong about the rather important question of the function of 95% of the gene, then shouldn’t that nudge you to employ a bit more critical thinking and not just trot out party slogans? If “remarkable fact” is really a synonym for “actually, we don’t know this, and perhaps next year we’ll know it’s nonsense”, then just why should teachers and educators pay so much attention to the Darwin lobby’s confident statements? Why should students, for example, only be taught the explanatory strengths of Darwinism and not its weaknesses? “There are none” is a “la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” response which new discoveries keep belying, and does not belong in the world of responsible study.

These are questions to do with critical thinking. Do you think Dawkins is a critical thinker? Have you seen him addressing any of them in a serious way? Or is it just party propaganda?

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48 Responses to A “remarkable fact”

  1. I have loved this post
    This is exactly what we have to deal with when facing darwinism, just so stories… in the name of science
    This is a shame for people like Dawkins of course, but also for all the scientific community that support those guys

  2. It appears the only place that ‘unlimited plasticity’ can actually be observed, a ‘unlimited plasticity’ that Darwin had originally envisioned for all life on earth, is within Darwin’s theory itself as it forever morphs into different versions of evolutionary theory, as more evidence comes in, that look nothing like what Darwin had originally envisioned.

    Devolution of Evolution
    Excerpt: Incredibly, even the National Science Teachers Association [NSTA] the vanguard of evolution in public education has now been forced to cautiously approach this now obvious reality -
    “There is considerable debate about how evolution has taken place.”
    How can a curriculum on the mechanisms of evolution be developed for a theory in the absence of a consistent theory?
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....evolution/

    EMBO workshop focuses on “phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution … ” August 2012
    Excerpt: It is impossible to deny that our ideas on evolution are shifting from the simple and rigid ‘random mutation–selective fixation’ scheme epitomized in the Modern Synthesis, to a much more complex, nuanced picture. Under the new view, the interplay between stochasticity and adaptive mechanisms is extensive and essential, both in the generation of variation and in the fixation of the changes.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Incredibly many Darwinists like to claim this ‘morphing’ of their basic theory to accommodate whatever evidence may come along is the sign of a healthy scientific theory (I’ve even heard the term ‘robust’), but the fact of the matter. much contrary to what committed Darwinists would prefer to believe, is that such morphing of a theory is the most sure sign that you are in fact dealing with a pseudo-science:

    Science and Pseudoscience (transcript) -
    “In degenerating programmes, however, theories are fabricated only in order to accommodate known facts” – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, , quote as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture
    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/philosop.....cript.aspx

    notes:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LpGd3smTV1RwmEXC25IAEKMjiypBl5VJq9ssfv4JgeM/edit

  3. “It ain’t what folks know that’s the problem, it’s what they know that ain’t so.”

  4. For those interested, here’s the full context of Dawkin’s words, thanks to google books.

  5. Not only that, but, this totally false statement is in an area of Dawkins’ speciality.

    But three years ago everybody who was anybody knew this was true. Beside, I am sure Dawkins was relying on the real experts, so we can hardly blame him.

  6. he link above shows that Dawkins himself is apparently remarkably unphased by it.

    Dawkins is unphased because he’s a psychopath. Psychopaths never admit to being wrong. You see, you just did not understand what they were saying.

    One of the main reasons that Darwinism has taken over “higher” education is that many of its leading proponents are psychopaths.

  7. I’m still waiting to see anything substantive — any one thing of substance, beyond the absolutely trivial — that Dawkins has said that makes sense.

  8. 8

    I’ve read only The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion.

    The former, I found interesting here and there but ultimately I was not persuaded that variation and selection are both necessary and sufficient causes of biological organization and diversity. So, I’m deeply sympathetic with the basic impulse which animates intelligent design. I’m not an ID supporter myself because I think that self-organization theory has been worked out more carefully and stands a better chance of being right. But self-organization theorists and design theorists can make some common cause against ultra-Darwinists.

    As for The God Delusion, I shall simply quote Michael Ruse: “The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist”. Exactly.

  9. Kantian Naturalist:

    Thanks for your thoughts and for being open to considering design.

    Self-organization is tantalizing at first glance. I think what persuades me (and probably many others on this forum) that self-organization is a dead end in terms of accounting for either the origin of life or its subsequent development and diversification is the following:

    Self-organization essentially posits, stated simply, that ‘things come together and make something new.’ Thus, we are dealing with two possibilities: things come together as a result of (i) natural laws, or (ii) a combination of natural laws and chance. Natural laws, by definition cannot be a source of the information content found in living systems (just briefly, this due to the fact that the information carrying capacity of a medium is inversely proportional to the law-driven organization of the medium); and chance just puts us back into the awful probability calculations that beset traditional evolutionary theories.

    Self-organization (and the related “chaos” concepts) may have something to say about the formation of stars, planets, weather systems, rings of Saturn, and so on, but they have precious little to offer us in terms of understanding the origin of life and biological systems (or any system characterized by complex function specified information).

  10. Kantian Naturalist:

    Perhaps your preferred self organization model can pass empirical muster where Darwinism has failed???

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Three qualitative kinds of sequence complexity exist: random (RSC), ordered (OSC), and functional (FSC).,,, Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).,,,

    Testable hypotheses about FSC

    What testable empirical hypotheses can we make about FSC that might allow us to identify when FSC exists? In any of the following null hypotheses [137], demonstrating a single exception would allow falsification. We invite assistance in the falsification of any of the following null hypotheses:

    Null hypothesis #1
    Stochastic ensembles of physical units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #2
    Dynamically-ordered sequences of individual physical units (physicality patterned by natural law causation) cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #3
    Statistically weighted means (e.g., increased availability of certain units in the polymerization environment) giving rise to patterned (compressible) sequences of units cannot program algorithmic/cybernetic function.

    Null hypothesis #4
    Computationally successful configurable switches cannot be set by chance, necessity, or any combination of the two, even over large periods of time.

    We repeat that a single incident of nontrivial algorithmic programming success achieved without selection for fitness at the decision-node programming level would falsify any of these null hypotheses. This renders each of these hypotheses scientifically testable. We offer the prediction that none of these four hypotheses will be falsified.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

  11. 11

    Eric Anderson wrote:

    “Natural laws, by definition cannot be a source of the information content found in living systems (just briefly, this due to the fact that the information carrying capacity of a medium is inversely proportional to the law-driven organization of the medium); and chance just puts us back into the awful probability calculations that beset traditional evolutionary theories.”

    I’m not a practicing self-organization theorist myself, so I find myself up against the limit of my own ignorance. But here’s an off-the-cuff remark that might at least illuminate how a conversation between design theory and self-organization theory might proceed.

    Anderson wrote that is just true by definition that natural laws cannot be sources of new information. A better way of putting that, maybe, would be to say that natural laws can only describe fully deterministic systems, where the behavior of a system at any future time can be predicted from the initial state of the system, plus the laws which govern that system. And it’s stipulated that all natural laws must be like that. But why? Why must all laws of nature be like Newton’s laws? If it’s not fully deterministic, then it’s not a law at all? Well, maybe — I can sort of see why this is so — but I’m not fully convinced that there can’t be laws about non-deterministic, information-creating systems.

    That’s one point. The other is this: the major thing that design theory and self-organization theory agree on is that the Epicurean doctrine of “chance and necessity” isn’t adequate. There has to be at least a third major category. So what’s that category going to be? It would be ‘stacking the deck’ against self-organization theory to just assert that the only categories are chance, necessity, and design.

    I mean, sure, if that were the case, then since self-organization isn’t design, it’s got to be one of the other two. And yes, Dembski defines “design” as the set-theoretic complement of chance and necessity. Of course this view has a venerable history, going back at least to Plato in Timaeus and Laws, but tradition isn’t an argument.

  12. Kantian, it seems contradictory that on one hand you say:

    I think that self-organization theory has been worked out more carefully and stands a better chance of being right.

    And on the other hand you say:

    but I’m not fully convinced that there can’t be laws about non-deterministic, information-creating systems.

    OK Kantian, how can self organization be worked out ‘more carefully’ and have a better chance of being right when you don’t even know of any laws that can create information, but, as you stated, you are merely ‘not fully convinced’ that they don’t exist??? The burden is on you to show that it/they (some imagined information creating law’s') actually do exist!

    But here in the real world, this new video just came out showing how detached from reality the empirical evidence is of your ‘shunned’ Darwinian cohorts

    Douglas Axe co-author of Science & Human Origins – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxMmLakH2LQ

  13. 13

    Actually, it’s a burden on self-organization theorists, like Stuart Kauffmann and Ilya Prigogine, to show that such laws exist. I’m just a dude with some knowledge of philosophy and too much time on his hands.

    In any event, the laws themselves wouldn’t create new information — laws of nature are just idealized descriptions of systems — so if there are laws about self-organizing systems (and I’m not so sure that there are), they would be laws about systems that generate new information.

    I suppose I should go back and read Kauffmann to see if he thinks that self-organizing systems can be described under laws, and try to figure out how good his arguments are.

    In any event, I just wanted to put myself out there as someone who is a committed naturalist and who finds Dawkins an embarrassment. (Though not for the reasons most of you might think — for me, the final straw was reading Terry Eagleton’s brilliant demolition of The God Delusion that appeared in the London Review of Books.)

    On the question of “the weaknesses of evolutionary theory,” I think it’s important to distinguish between (a) important and interesting questions to which evolutionary theory does not provide answers and (b) answers provided by evolutionary theory which aren’t right. I’d put abiogenesis and what I’d call “morphogenesis” (the origins of form) in that category, not in category (b).

  14. Well Kantian, until a empirical demonstration is forthcoming demonstrating the ability of ANY process (elucidated or imagined), other than intelligence to create functional information should not your, or anyone else’s musings, on the capacity of self organization to create functional information be rightly considered unsubstantiated conjectures??? Much like Darwinists you simply are not even in the realm of empirical science to hold to such a view with no evidence!,,, Moreover, the rationality you seemingly take for granted in order to ‘do science’ (or even philosophy) is not even possible unless Theism is held as true as a starting assumption!

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....wanted=all

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    The very notion of physical law is a theological one in the first place, a fact that makes many scientists squirm. Isaac Newton first got the idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws from the Christian doctrine that God created the world and ordered it in a rational way.
    ~ Paul Davies

    Why should the human mind be able to comprehend reality so deeply? – referenced article
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qGvbg_212biTtvMschSGZ_9kYSqhooRN4OUW_Pw-w0E/edit

    Random Chaos vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

  15. I suppose I should go back and read Kauffmann to see if he thinks that self-organizing systems can be described under laws, and try to figure out how good his arguments are.

    Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_cultur.....index.html

    … for me, the final straw was reading Terry Eagleton’s brilliant demolition of The God Delusion that appeared in the London Review of Books.)

    Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate

  16. KN:

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I think it is useful to look at it from very basic first principles. A natural law describes the result that will attain given an initial set of conditions (assuming adequately described, no interceding events, and so on). Put simply, by law we are talking about something that must occur.

    There is only one other possibility: that the thing in question did not have to occur. Thus, “had to occur” and “didn’t have to occur” cover the entire range of possibilities. There is no other possibility; we have comprehensively described all events that could, even in theory, occur.

    Now, we can have a very interesting discussion about the second category, what we mean by chance, whether there is anything that can really be termed chance, for example. But the fact remains that everything falls into these two categories — yes, even design, which is the second main subset of the category “didn’t have to occur” (chance being the other subset).

    Self-organization can only rely on natural law or some combination of natural law and “didn’t have to occur.” Self-organization rejects design, so it is left to get its explanatory power from some combination of natural law and chance.

    This isn’t a question of people letting self-organization have its fair day in court. It is just a simple fact that there are only certain possibilities that can logically exist. Thus, when we peel away the fancy language we see that self-organization is really seeking to discover some kind of law/chance process that can produce the effect in question (in our context, complex functional specified information).

    Self-organization is, in substance, nothing more than a semi-sophisticated way of looking at what can result from chance processes in the presence of known laws. It is interesting. There are some features of nature that might perhaps be described by it (although skeptics would question whether the concept brings anything new to the table even in those cases). Unfortunately, however, at the end of the day self-organization tells us precisely nothing beyond what a general discussion of necessity and chance would tell us without invoking the term “self-organization.”

  17. 17

    Two points have been brought up:

    (1) whether or not a theistic metaphysics is an a priori presupposition for empirical knowledge.

    (2) whether self-organization reduces to (i) law; (ii) chance; (iii) both law and chance.

    On (1), I don’t think that empirical knowledge requires any metaphysical presupposition, whether theistic or naturalistic — though I agree that metaphysics is, in a suitably broad sense, “a priori“. As I see it, the difference between science and metaphysics is that science is about what is and what metaphysics is about what ‘what is’ is. So while we need metaphysics in order to do science, and vice-verse, the relation between them is not the relation between ‘foundation’ and ‘superstructure’. It’s more like the relation between literature and literary criticism (but not quite that, either).

    In any event, I certainly don’t find Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism (EAAN) convincing — we can get into that at some point if you’d like.

    On (2), whether self-organization collapses into law, chance, or their conjoint depends on whether we accept, prior to that, the Platonic doctrine that chance, necessity, and design are the only truly basic categories we have. Once one accept that, then sure, it’ll turn out that self-organization, not being design, has to be one or both of the others. And then it’ll be fairly straightforward to convict self-organization theory of the same problems that afflict ultra-Darwinism. But I don’t see why that Platonic doctrine is obviously true. I think that an argument has to be made for it, and I’m not even sure Plato himself does a good job of arguing for it.

    Put otherwise: the ultra-Darwinist/Epicurean thinks we have two basic categories: (i) chance and (ii) necessity. The design theorist thinks we have three basic categories: (i) chance; (ii) necessity; (iii) design. The theorist of self-organizing systems also thinks we need three basic categories, and agrees with the design theorist that the two basic categories of ultra-Darwinism are insufficient. It’s just that she thinks the three basic categories are (i) chance; (ii) necessity; (iii) self-organization.*

    * The philosopher C.S. Peirce called the third one “Love,” and classified metaphysical systems in terms of which one of the three categories they emphasized — hence, in his terms, “tychism,” “anakhism,” and “agapism”. I don’t completely agree, but I am terribly fond of Peirce!

  18. 18

    Mung, thanks for the links!

  19. Kantian you state:

    I don’t think that empirical knowledge (i.e. science) requires any metaphysical presupposition, whether theistic or naturalistic

    Is that your mind thinking that particular thought that you hope to persuade us of the reasonableness of, or is that particular thought you had just the result of whatever state the particles in your brain happened to be in? If the later why should I care what you think?

    Self-Refuting Belief Systems – Cornelius Hunter – September 2012
    Excerpt: Relativism states that there are no absolute truths, but if true then that statement is an absolute truth. Likewise the statement that evolution is a fact, if true, means that we cannot know evolution to be a fact. Why? Because with evolution our minds are nothing more than molecules in motion—an accidental biochemistry experiment which has yielded a set of chemicals in a certain configuration. This leads to what Darwin called “the horrid doubt”:
    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.” Darwin to Graham, William – 3 July 1881
    Today evolutionists agree that while a random collection of chemicals doesn’t know anything, nonetheless over long time periods and under the action of natural selection, phenomena which we refer to as knowledge, will and consciousness will spontaneously emerge. And how do we know this? Because evolution occurred and we know that it occurred. Therefore evolution must have created the phenomena of knowledge. The proof is left to the student.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....stems.html

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    In the following video, at the 37:00 minute mark, Anton Zeilinger, a leading researcher in quantum teleportation with many breakthroughs under his belt, humorously reflects on just how deeply determinism has been undermined by quantum mechanics by saying such a deep lack of determinism may provide some of us a loop hole when they meet God on judgment day.

    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Personally, I feel that such a deep undermining of determinism by quantum mechanics, far from providing a ‘loop hole’ on judgement day, actually restores free will to its rightful place in the grand scheme of things, thus making God’s final judgments on men’s souls all the more fully binding since man truly is a ‘free moral agent’ as Theism has always maintained. And to solidify this theistic claim for how reality is constructed, the following study came along a few months after I had seen Dr. Zeilinger’s video:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    So just as I had suspected after watching Dr. Zeilinger’s video, it is found that a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics is what necessarily drives the completely random (non-deterministic) aspect of quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    of note:

    What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Needless to say, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, ‘free will observation’ which is indeed the driving aspect of randomness in quantum mechanics, is VERY antithetical to the entire materialistic philosophy which demands that a ‘non-telological randomness’ be the driving force of creativity in Darwinian evolution!

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiments, “Since you ultimately believe that the ‘god of random chance’ produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?”

  20. Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to eternity destiny, is very fitting

    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    You must measure your choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity

  21. correction:, in regards to our eternal destiny,

  22. Eric:

    Self-organization is, in substance, nothing more than a semi-sophisticated way of looking at what can result from chance processes in the presence of known laws.

    I think emergentism holds there are still undiscovered natural laws, they are just not the laws of physics (I could be wrong). But your basic point, I think, remains. Law + Chance.

  23. I think it might be better to label the categories necessity and contingency. Within contingency we have a subset, choice.

  24. William Dembski – Order and Design: Philosophical Issues – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUnj5Uvjvdo

  25. KN @16:

    Thanks for your thoughts. Let me see if I can describe it this way.

    It is not a question of accepting Platonic doctrine as some sort of authority. It is simply a question of acknowledging that everything, perforce, must either fall into one of the categories of (I’ll use Mung’s words here) necessity or contingency. That is not a question of doctrine, just a logical requirement.

    Then we can look at contingency to see what it consists of. Contingency can be divided into choice and non-choice. Again, this isn’t some attempt to exclude self-organization a priori, it is just a logical reality.

    Now in our language we typically understand the word “chance” to describe non-choice contingency. It is possible that there is some further subcategorization of chance, say, chance that is self-organization and chance that isn’t self organization. Fine, I’m open to that possibility. But I just haven’t seen a single example from self-organization theorists that would give me any reason to think that what they are describing cannot be adequately described with the regular concepts of necessity and chance without invoking the term “self-organization.”

    More importantly, even if there is a subcategory, we are ultimately still dealing with some kind of chance. So self-organization ultimately ends up being some combination of necessity/chance. There is simply no logical way around it.

    But, hey, I am open to hearing about different kinds of “chance” or different kinds of “laws” if they can come up with anything. Not holding my breath, though . . .

  26. 26

    Some of you might be interested in one of Dembski’s criticisms of Kauffman (here).

    To my way of thinking, there is of course a conceptual break between Kauffman’s autocatalytic sets and genuinely autopoeitic systems, such as organisms. I just don’t see why the gulf is so great that it could be crossed only through the infusion of intelligence into the system. My aim isn’t to eliminate teleology, mind you, but to explain it.

    On Kauffman’s approach, some rather interesting things would follow — namely, if the conceptual distance between autopoeitic systems and autocatalytic sets is fairly small, and if autocatalytic sets are themselves — how to put it? — “spontaneous” in nature, then we have a rather interesting view, on which, on the one hand, organisms are genuinely and really teleological, but that matter itself is, to put it crudely, inherently proto-teleological. (That’s a far cry from the Epicurean conception of matter, so now you can see part of my complaint with Epicurean materialism.)

    That said, I do think that Dembski is quite right in his major criticism of Kauffman (and I’d be surprised if Kauffman denied this): Kauffman’s theory is based on computer models. The models are sophisticated and, to my mind, compelling, but that’s no substitute for real chemistry. How Kauffman’s models would be chemically implemented is pretty much anyone’s guess. Certainly it’s beyond my expertise to speculate as to how it could be done.

    On the question of laws: Kauffman openly speculates about what he calls an additional law of thermodynamics, which is that thermodynamically open systems will tend to evolve in such a way as to maximize complexity and diversity. (If that strikes you as a mighty funny kind of law, I feel your pain. But it could be that we need to re-think the very notion of law.

    Perhaps relevant to these discussions is this interesting article, “No God, No Laws,” by Nancy Cartwright. (The PDF is available here.)

  27. “Serendipitously”, I just ran across this neat little video which highlights just how important free choice is in the foundational precepts of Christianity,

    Is God Good? (Free Will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    Funny how free choice is found to be very important to the foundational precepts of quantum mechanics as well! :)

    To reiterate part of post #18

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    I’ve been trying to think of any other religion besides Christianity that places as much emphasis on the central importance of our free choice as Christianity does, and I can think of none where it plays such a central, pivotal, role.

  28. …then we have a rather interesting view, on which, on the one hand, organisms are genuinely and really teleological, but that matter itself is, to put it crudely, inherently proto-teleological.

    Very Aristotelian. ;)

    I’m one of those ID’ers who finds teleology everywhere. Maybe it’s because I just don’t understand it, hehe.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....ology.html

    http://www.oxfordscholarship.c.....0199285303

    http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/25052-.....teleology/

  29. 29

    Yes, I find Aristotle quite intriguing and I’m sympathetic toward his view in several ways. I haven’t worked out much the details yet, since I’ve been busy doing other things, but if push were to come to shove, I think I’d want to defend a view intermediate between Epicurus and Aristotle.

    I say that because I don’t think fully-fledged teleology goes “all the way down,” so to speak, as Aristotle did — the scientific revolution did get something right, after all! — but yet that there’s something proto-teleological which isn’t captured by the strictly mechanistic conception of matter (or at least not insofar as the mechanism is identified with 17th-century mathematical physics!).

    Thanks for the links, Mung! Good stuff here!

  30. Kantian, I find a profound disconnect from what you claim to believe (a type of naturalism of some ill defined sort) and any empirical warrant for any such naturalistic belief. As for you being a naturalist, I have taken the liberty of presupposing that you think mind ‘emerged’ from a material basis, and have provided empirical evidence against that position. Seeing that you tend to be very fuzzy when defining boundaries, please correct me if I am wrong on that naturalistic presupposition I have presupposed for you. But if, as a naturalist, you do hold that some natural/material basis does precede mind, then I can tell you, using solid empirical evidence, that you are not justified in holding that presupposition!

    The evidence is as such:

    We have at least three different intersecting lines of experimental evidence, from quantum mechanics, which all converge to this one following conclusion;

    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.

    Here are the three intersecting lines of evidence from quantum mechanics. Wheeler’s delayed choice, Leggett’s inequalities, and Wigner’s symmetries;

    #1. Here’s Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, and a variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice;

    Alain Aspect speaks on John Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – video
    http://vimeo.com/38508798

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    John A. Wheeler

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment
    Excerpt: The Delayed Choice experiment changes the boundary conditions of the Schrodinger equation after the particle enters the first beamsplitter.
    http://www.physics.drexel.edu/.....elayed.pdf

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    #2. Here’s Leggett’s Inequality

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.

    Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Nonlocal “realistic” Leggett models can be considered refuted by the before-before experiment – Antoine Suarez Center for Quantum Philosophy,
    Excerpt: (page 3) The independence of quantum measurement from the presence of human consciousness has not been proved wrong by any experiment to date.,,, “nonlocal correlations happen from outside space-time, in the sense that there is no story in space-time that tells us how they happen.”
    http://www.quantumphil.org/SuarezFOOP201R2.pdf

  31. And #3. Here’s Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” -
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’
    http://www.informationphilosop.....ts/wigner/

    Here is Wigner commenting on the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries,,,

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    I think Wigner would be very pleased with what our ‘future concepts’ hold;

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    of note:

    What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! Moreover, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best mathematical description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, ‘free will observation’ which is indeed the driving aspect of randomness in quantum mechanics, is VERY antithetical, indeed completely devastating, to the entire materialistic philosophy which holds randomness to be the ultimate creative force of all life in the universe and also holds consciousness to be merely a ‘emergent property’, i.e. a ‘epiphenomena’, of material reality.

    Thus to conclude, we have at least three different intersecting lines of experimental evidence, from quantum mechanics, which all converge to the one Theistic presupposition which holds that consciousness precedes all of material reality!

    Further weight for consciousness to be treated as a separate entity in quantum mechanics, and thus the universe, is also found in the fact that it is impossible to ‘geometrically’ maintain 3-Dimensional spherical symmetry of the universe, within the sphere of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), for each 3D point of the universe, unless all the ‘higher dimensional quantum information waves’ actually do collapse to their ‘uncertain 3D wave/particle state’, universally and instantaneously, for each point of conscious observation in the universe just as the experiments of quantum mechanics are telling us that they do. The 4-D expanding hypersphere of the space-time of general relativity is insufficient to maintain such 3D integrity/symmetry, all by itself, for each different 3D point of observation in the universe. The primary reason for why the 4D space-time, of the 3D universe, is insufficient to maintain 3D symmetry, by itself, is because the universe is shown to have only 10^80 particles. In other words, it is geometrically impossible to maintain such 3D symmetry of centrality with finite 3D material resources to work with for each 3D point of observation in the universe. Universal quantum wave collapse of photons, to each point of ‘conscious observation’ in the universe, is the only answer that has adequate sufficiency to explain the 3D centrality we witness for ourselves in this universe.

    Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    From a slightly different, more rigorous, point of reasoning this following site, through a fairly exhaustive examination of the General Relativity equations themselves, acknowledges the insufficiency of General Relativity to account for the ‘completeness’ of 4D space-time within the sphere of the CMBR from different points of observation in the universe.

    The Cauchy Problem In General Relativity – Igor Rodnianski
    Excerpt: 2.2 Large Data Problem In General Relativity – While the result of Choquet-Bruhat and its subsequent refinements guarantee the existence and uniqueness of a (maximal) Cauchy development, they provide no information about its geodesic completeness and thus, in the language of partial differential equations, constitutes a local existence. ,,, More generally, there are a number of conditions that will guarantee the space-time will be geodesically incomplete.,,, In the language of partial differential equations this means an impossibility of a large data global existence result for all initial data in General Relativity.
    http://www.icm2006.org/proceed.....l_3_22.pdf

    Verse and music:

    Genesis 1:1
    In the beginning God,,,

    Michael W. Smith – Agnus Dei
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPBmFwBSGb0

  32. KN @ 25:

    Thanks for the Dembski citation. It has been a while since I read that, so it was a good refresher. As near as I can tell, in the 15+ intervening years since Dembski’s critique self-organization has made little to no discernible progress in identifying the elusive self-organizing principles.

    Kauffman openly speculates about what he calls an additional law of thermodynamics, which is that thermodynamically open systems will tend to evolve in such a way as to maximize complexity and diversity.

    Yikes. I hope he isn’t thinking in terms of the classic open/closed thermodynamic systems debate. That is not only a dead end for explaining biological systems, it is an intellectual embarrassment for anyone to use such an idea to try to explain how life arose and developed. I truly hope he has something else in mind.

    Also, there is scant evidence that systems will tend toward complexity and diversity. There is just no reason why they would not tend toward simplicity and fast reproduction, for example. Blessed are the bacteria, for they shall inherit the Earth . . .

    (If that strikes you as a mighty funny kind of law, I feel your pain. But it could be that we need to re-think the very notion of law.

    Let me suggest we take a different approach. Rather than rethinking what we mean by the very notion of law, how about we wait until Kauffman et al. have come up with something concrete and rational and then we will take it under consideration.

  33. 33

    In response to bornagain77:

    (1) I do not hold, and never claimed, that my naturalism is somehow read directly off from empirical science. For me, naturalism is a metaphysical view, and as I said before, I think of metaphysics and science as being different — though closely related — enterprises. To repeat a line of which I’m become quite fond (too bad it’s not mine to begin with!), science is about what is, and metaphysics is about what ‘what is’ is.

    (2) Since metaphysics is a different enterprise than science, there are different criteria for what makes a metaphysical view a good or reasonable one than what we use for scientific theories. The debate between naturalistic and theological metaphysics is just different from the debate between ultra-Darwinism, design theory, and self-organization theory. Although all scientific theories have an implicit metaphysics to them, that’s not to say that we can get an acceptable metaphysics “for free” once we have an acceptable scientific theory. Science and metaphysics certainly need to inform one another, but they aren’t the same thing.

    (3) I will offer only sporadic comments on the metaphysics of quantum mechanics, because in my experience it’s a bad idea to talk about the metaphysics of a science one doesn’t know. I do know quite a bit about biology, but I don’t know much about quantum mechanics. I think of quantum mechanics as being, essentially, a mathematical theory, and I simply don’t have the mathematical competence to engage with it seriously. I will note, however, that the last time I checked, the jury was still out on (a) collapse vs. no-collapse, i.e. deterministic theories, e.g. Bohmian mechanics and (b) whether consciousness is required for collapse, as in the Copenhagen Interpretation.

    If the consciousness-causes-collapse interpretations were unequivocally preferred by physicists and philosophers of physics, I’d happily concede the point. Since that’s not yet the case, I simply don’t know what I should say.

    (4) The really interesting question, for me, and the question that defines “Kantian naturalism,” is, “how can we explain the 4 Ms in terms of the 4Fs?” The 4 Fs — Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Reproduction — figure centrally in our understanding of living things. The 4 Ms are Mind, Meaning, Morality, and Modality.

    Reductive naturalism just dispenses with the 4 Ms altogether, and that’s clearly not going to work, and with the kinds of people who come to Uncommon Descent I don’t think I need to rehearse the problems with reductive naturalism. So I think that the philosophical task has to begin with a phenomenological elucidation and conceptual explication of the 4 Ms, and that project is, as I conceive of it, fundamentally Kantian in spirit (though not in letter). From there, it’s a question of showing how the 4 Fs explain the 4 Ms — how to get a naturalistic, biological account of living things to square with an analysis of the basic structures of rational agency.

    So, it should be quite obvious by now that my entire project here is not really all that sympathetic to intelligent design. I must stress — and this is quite important to me — that I fully understand that this is an intelligent design blog, and that it’s your sandbox. I’ll happily leave if or when asked to do so.

  34. But already with the scholastics, there was a move to consider final causes applicable only to cases of intentional agency, or as a heuristic for material and moving causes (later, ‘mechanistic’ causes). Kant attempted to resolve the impasse between the natural theology and heuristic perspectives in his third Critique. Kant’s view of teleology has had a profound and arguably distorting influence on the later interpretation of Aristotle’s use of ends and goods in natural science.

    ;)

  35. “how can we explain the 4 Ms in terms of the 4Fs?” The 4 Fs — Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Reproduction — figure centrally in our understanding of living things. The 4 Ms are Mind, Meaning, Morality, and Modality.

    That’s only three F’s.

  36. KN,

    You seem very respectful and have interesting things to say. I’m sure you’ll be welcome here as long as you wish to stay.

  37. Kantian you state:

    “(1) I do not hold, and never claimed, that my naturalism is somehow read directly off from empirical science”

    Thus my comment:

    “I find a profound disconnect from what you claim to believe (a type of naturalism of some ill defined sort) and any empirical warrant for any such naturalistic belief.”

    i.e. without empirical warrant you are not even in the realm of empirical science as to justifying your a-priori preferred metaphysical view is grounded in reality!!!

    You complain that quantum mechanics is a ‘mathematical theory’ and thus refuse to engage with it, yet I beg to differ in that many of the experiments have very ‘visual’ evidence that little to ambiguity as to the implications as the mathematics you shy away from are prone to do for many people.

    Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger (a leader in quantum teleportation breakthroughs) – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

    Uncertainty Principle – The ‘Uncertain Non-Particle’ Basis Of Material Reality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172

    Moreover if you like to follow consensus,,,

    “If the consciousness-causes-collapse interpretations were unequivocally preferred by physicists and philosophers of physics, I’d happily concede the point.”

    rather than following the evidence itself then you are not truly practicing science. In fact this explains why you are severely misled into believing that some form of ‘bottom up’ Darwinism is true (for the field of biology which you claim to know much better than quantum mechanics!!!):

    Notes:

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

    It is important to note that the following experiment actually encoded information into a photon while it was in its quantum wave state, thus destroying the notion, held by many, that the wave function was not ‘physically real’ but was merely ‘abstract’. i.e. How can information possibly be encoded into something that is not physically real but merely abstract?

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.,,, As a wave, it passed through all parts of the stencil at once,,,
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    Information In Photon – Robert W. Boyd – slides from presentation
    http://www.quantumphotonics.uo.....-InPho.pdf

    Information in a Photon – Robert W. Boyd – 2010
    Excerpt: By its conventional definition, a photon is one unit of excitation of a mode of the electromagnetic field. The modes of the electromagnetic field constitute a countably infinite set of basis functions, and in this sense the amount of information that can be impressed onto an individual photon is unlimited.
    http://www.pqeconference.com/p.....td/013.pdf

  38. Kantian you claim:

    I do know quite a bit about biology, but I don’t know much about quantum mechanics.

    Which I find to be a very peculiar claim since quantum mechanics is now found to be foundational to biology!

    ‘spooky action at a distance’ (as Einstein called it) quantum entanglement/information, which rigorously falsified local realism (reductive materialism) as the ‘true’ description of reality (Bohr, Einstein, Bell, Aspect, Zeilinger, etc..), is now being found in molecular biology on a massive scale!

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours (arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1). “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    Quantum Entanglement/Information is confirmed in DNA and proteins by direct observation here;

    Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight – 2009
    Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.
    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_.....ave-t.html

    DNA Can Discern Between Two Quantum States, Research Shows – June 2011
    Excerpt: — DNA — can discern between quantum states known as spin. – The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104014.htm

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini & Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.
    https://www.scimednet.org/sapphire/main.php?url=%2Fquantum-coherence-living-cells-and-protein%2F

    Moreover:

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://phys.org/news/2011-03-q.....tally.html

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence of Quantum Information)- Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

  39. There is a second level of information from the ‘quantum top’, in the overall hierarchy of information in the cell, this is the ‘biophotonic’ information:

    The Real Bioinformatics Revolution – Proteins and Nucleic Acids ‘Singing’ to One Another?
    Excerpt: the molecules send out specific frequencies of electromagnetic waves which not only enable them to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ each other, as both photon and phonon modes exist for electromagnetic waves, but also to influence each other at a distance and become ineluctably drawn to each other if vibrating out of phase (in a complementary way).,,, More than 1,000 proteins from over 30 functional groups have been analysed. Remarkably, the results showed that proteins with the same biological function share a single frequency peak while there is no significant peak in common for proteins with different functions; furthermore the characteristic peak frequency differs for different biological functions.,,, The same results were obtained when regulatory DNA sequences were analysed.
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/TheRea.....lution.php

    The mechanism and properties of bio-photon emission and absorption in protein molecules in living systems – May 2012
    Excerpt: From the energy spectra, it was determined that the protein molecules could both radiate and absorb bio-photons with wavelengths of less than 3 micrometers and 5–7 micrometers, consistent with the energy level transitions of the excitons.,,,
    http://jap.aip.org/resource/1/.....horized=no

    Are humans really beings of light?
    Excerpt: Dr. Popp exclaims, “We now know, today, that man is essentially a being of light.”,,, “There are about 100,000 chemical reactions happening in every cell each second. The chemical reaction can only happen if the molecule which is reacting is excited by a photon… Once the photon has excited a reaction it returns to the field and is available for more reactions… We are swimming in an ocean of light.”
    http://viewzone2.com/dna.html

    The following video gives a ‘jaw dropping’ look at the biophotonic information in action:

    An Electric Face: A Rendering Worth a Thousand Falsifications – Cornelius Hunter PhD. Biophysics – September 2011
    Excerpt: The video suggests that bioelectric signals presage the morphological development of the face. It also, in an instant, gives a peak at the phenomenal processes at work in biology. As the lead researcher said, “It’s a jaw dropper.”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....usand.html

    The (Electric) Face of a Frog – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndFe5CaDTlI

    Not in the Genes: Embryonic Electric Fields – Jonathan Wells – December 2011
    Excerpt: although the molecular components of individual sodium-potassium channels may be encoded in DNA sequences, the three-dimensional arrangement of those channels — which determines the form of the endogenous electric field — constitutes an independent source of information in the developing embryo.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....54071.html

    and lastly, The third ‘bottom’ level of information found in life is the ‘classical information’ which is encoded onto the material/molecular substrates of the cell (DNA, RNA and proteins). Furthermore, the hierarchical organization of this ‘bottom level’ of information is anything but simple. And at the very bottom of this organization structure is the linear (one dimensional) sequences of DNA. It is simply beyond belief that anyone would dogmatically cling to the notion that mutations on this very bottom level of the information hierarchy of the information in a cell would be responsible for all the unfathomed orginizational complexity that is above that very bottom level:

    Multidimensional Genome – Dr. Robert Carter – video (Notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8905048

    The Gene Myth, Part II – August 2010
    Excerpt: So even with the same sequence a given protein can have different shapes and functions. Furthermore, many proteins have no intrinsic shape, taking on different roles in different molecular contexts. So even though genes specify protein sequences they have only a tenuous influence over their functions.,,, So, to reiterate, the genes do not uniquely determine what is in the cell, but what is in the cell determines how the genes get used.,,, Only if the pie were to rise up, take hold of the recipe book and rewrite the instructions for its own production, would this popular analogy for the role of genes be pertinent.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....rt-ii.html

    Of course all this could be further hashed out in far more detail, but for now, I think this basic overview gives a good brief outline as to just how far detached from reality the ‘bottom up’ model of neo-Darwinism is:

    footnote:

    ,,,Encoded ‘classical information’, such as what Dembski and Marks demonstrated the conservation of, is found to be a subset of ‘transcendent’ (beyond space and time) quantum entanglement/information by the following proof:,,,

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy. Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

  40. 40
    Kantian Naturalist

    (1) I thought it would be perfectly obvious that I consider metaphysics to be (basically and for the most part) a priori, since I consider metaphysics distinct from science, and science is quite clearly a posteriori. So accusing me of holding my metaphysics a priori is no accusation at all.

    (2) It’s not that I refuse to engage with quantum mechanics, it’s that I know my own cognitive limitations. I’m just not good at mathematics. Heck, I barely passed basic calculus.

    (3) My knowledge of biology is based on majoring in biology as an undergraduate. Quantum biology wasn’t covered.

    (4) The only philosophers I know of who work in quantum mechanics is Hilary Putnam and David Albert (though Albert is really a theoretical physicist with a strong background in philosophy). Putnam has two books come out recently, and if I get around to reading what he says about QM, I’ll return to this topic.

    (5) Thank you, Mung. I’ll do my very best to be respectful and polite at all times.

  41. KN @39:

    I definitely second Mung’s statement. You are certainly welcome here.

  42. Kantian, the whole point of my criticism against you is that you have no reference to the real world if you divorce your metaphysics from empirics as you seem more than willing to do., i.e. you are merely day dreaming as far as I’m concerned in such a practice, a polite day-dreamer but a day dreamer none-the-less!

  43. 43
    Kantian Naturalist

    I claimed that I regard metaphysics as distinct from science, not that metaphysics is separate from science. I certainly don’t think that one can do good metaphysics without taking the sciences seriously, and if I said anything above which indicated I believed otherwise, I heartily retract it.

    The reason why I don’t think metaphysics can be “read off” from any of the sciences is because that metaphysics attempts to see how everything hangs together — not just the results of the sciences, but how the sciences hang together with ordinary experience, with art, with religion, ethics, etc.

    Take for example the concept of personhood. Personhood — being a person — is not a scientific concept. It’s central to our ethical and political discourse. But at the same time, some of our sciences raise difficult questions about what sorts of things are persons, when does personhood begin, do non-persons have rights, and if so, what kinds of rights, and so forth. Dealing with those questions means getting certain facts correct, and the sciences do that, but when science and ethics conflict, we have to do metaphysics in order to get our thinking straight.

  44. Not that this ordering represent the actual order in which the works were produced, but look where Metaphysics falls.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Aristotelicum

  45. Kantian, you made a specific claim about reality with ‘self ordering’, yet when pressed you could cite no empirical support, thus why should I consider your preferred metaphysics nothing more than wish fulfillment?

  46. 46
    Kantian Naturalist

    I made a specific claim about self-organizing systems, which is a far cry from any claim about “reality.” And I made explicit that Kauffman’s theory has been tested with computer models, but not with chemicals. If you want to stipulate that only implementation in a chemical set-up count as “empirical support,” that’s your right.

    There’s a story that Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” got its name because it was put after “Physics” by the people who compiled Aristotle’s works. The “Physics” gets its name from its topic, nature (or “phusis”) — “Physics” just means “On Nature”. The book which was put after the “Physics” was called “Metaphysics” because “meta-” just means “after.” So, strictly speaking, “metaphysics” means “the book that comes after the book about nature.” Aristotle himself doesn’t use the word; it didn’t exist in his vocabulary. He says that his concern there is “being qua being”, and thereupon hangs many a tale.

  47. For instance of backing up metaphysical claims with empirical evidence. Theism claims that not only has God created this universe but that he also sustains this universe in its continued existence (Revelation 4:11). To back up this metaphysical claim I submit this empirical support:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Falsification of Local Realism without using Quantum Entanglement (Where’s the photon?) – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://vimeo.com/34168474

    i.e. a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause must be supplied to explain why photons continue to exist within space-time. What is your cause? Theism has had a beyond space and time cause postulated for centuries!

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

    It is important to grasp just how seriously this undermines the foundations of materialism. Materialism presupposes that material particles are ‘self-sustaining’, eternal, entities. Indeed when someone says that something occurred ‘naturally’ this underlying assumption of self sustaining material particles is present in the basis of that assumption of ‘naturally occurring’!

    Kari Jobe – Revelation Song –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FObjd5wrgZ8

  48. Kant argued against all three forms of materialism, subjective idealism (which he contrasts with his “transcendental idealism”) and dualism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism

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