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Mid-morning mug: Are Darwinists running out of insults and profanity?

Recently, biochemist Michael Behe published an article in Quarterly Review of Biology, titled “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” arguing that “the most common adaptive changes seen … are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function.”

So, not only must the long, slow process of Darwinian evolution create every exotic form of life in the blink of a geological eye, but it must do so by losing or modifying what a life form already has.

This, apparently, got evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne’s recent attention:

Anyway, Behe reviews the last four decades of work on experimental evolution in bacteria and viruses (phage), and finds that nearly all the adaptive mutations in these studies fall into classes 1 and 3. We see very few “gain of FCT” mutations. Although this is not my field, the review seems pretty thorough to me, and the conclusions, as far as they apply to lab studies of adaptation in viruses and bacteria, seem sound.

It looks as though Coyne must now actually take Behe’s argument seriously.

Of course, he should have a long time ago, but for years Darwinists were happy to let trolls lob insults and profanity. Somewhat the way a deadbeat curses the bank officer who knows he hasn’t got the goods.

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107 Responses to Mid-morning mug: Are Darwinists running out of insults and profanity?

  1. Coyne, though he agrees that Dr. Behe’s conclusions are correct as to what the experimental evidence over the past 40 years has revealed about the sheer poverty of evidence for ‘vertical’ evolution, Coyne tries to allude to horizontal gene transfer ‘in the wild’, and to vast eons of time, to say that new Functional Coded ElemenTs (FCTs) can arise by natural means. In fact he states that he ‘knows’ this is true. Yet Behe in the Edge Of Evolution relies almost exclusively on the evidence ‘from the wild’ to make his point clear that no such evidence exists:

    Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, pg. 162 Swine Flu, Viruses, and the Edge of Evolution
    “Indeed, the work on malaria and AIDS demonstrates that after all possible …unintelligent processes in the cell–both ones we’ve discovered so far and …ones we haven’t–at best extremely limited benefit, since no such process was able to do much of anything. It’s critical to notice that no artificial limitations were placed on the kinds of mutations or processes the microorganisms could undergo in nature. Nothing–neither point mutation, deletion, insertion, gene duplication, transposition, genome duplication, self-organization nor any other process yet undiscovered–was of much use.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2....._edge.html

    Again I would like to emphasize, I’m not arguing Darwinism cannot make complex functional systems, the data on malaria, and the other examples, are a observation that it does not. In science observation beats theory all the time. So Professor (Richard) Dawkins can speculate about what he thinks Darwinian processes could do, but in nature Darwinian processes have not been shown to do anything in particular.
    Michael Behe – 46 minute mark of video lecture on ‘The Edge of Evolution’ for C-SPAN
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-361037

    These following articles reveal some of the many elaborate ploys, including horizontal gene transfer, that evolutionists have used in the past to try to deceive the public into thinking evolutionary processes can easily generate functional information:

    Assessing the NCSE’s Citation Bluffs on the Evolution of New Genetic Information – Feb. 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ion_b.html

    How to Play the Gene Evolution Game – Casey Luskin – Feb. 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ution.html

    The NCSE, Judge Jones, and Bluffs About the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information – Casey Luskin – March 2010
    http://www.discovery.org/a/14251

    further note:

    Widespread ORFan Genes Challenge Common Descent – Paul Nelson – video with references
    http://www.vimeo.com/17135166

    Could Chance Arrange the Code for (Just) One Gene?
    “our minds cannot grasp such an extremely small probability as that involved in the accidental arranging of even one gene (10^-236).”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com/epoi_c10.htm

    —————

    What is extremely ironic in all this is that Darwinists are the ones who are forever trying to extrapolate micro-evolutionary events to explain the origination of novel species on earth (macro-evolution), in fact it is taught as ‘dogma’ in grade school that micro-evolution is clear proof of macro-evolution, yet when it is clearly shown that all micro-evolutionary events, if they are to be extrapolated at all, should properly be extrapolated to solidify the principle of Genetic Entropy, then all of the sudden what was such a ‘easy’ extrapolation for them in the first place all of the sudden becomes a ‘gnat they struggle mightily to strain’.

    Evolution vs. Genetic Entropy – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

  2. Wow, what a concession! Elsewhere in his article, Coyne makes the following point:

    And in many cases the origin of new genes via duplication or swapping of bits is untraceable because the genes originated so long ago and have diverged so greatly in sequence that their origin is obscure.

    If the origin of new genes is “untraceable” and “obscure,” why does he say we know it happened?

  3. I am not sure why anyone takes Coyne seriously. He is nothing more than an evangelical athiest charlatan.

  4. OT sort of…

    Behe’s rebuttals regarding Lenski which were housed on his Amazon blog are now gone….are they available anywhere else?

  5. UB all Behe’s amazon blog is now available here on UD:

    http://behe.uncommondescent.com/

    specifically Lenski here:

    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....rd-lenski/

    ENV has a take on Coyne’s article here
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....41471.html

  6. BA, I had reviewed the UD Behe material…but it certainly seemed there was far more that was once available on Amazon.

    Perhaps I am mistaken…

  7. UB there are several pages to Behe’s blog, i.e. it is not just one page you have to select, I believe, previous, on the bottom of the page.

  8. UB, 7 pages to it, here is the last page

    http://behe.uncommondescent.com/page/7/

  9. Neil-

    It seems disingenuous to say it was distorted. It’s a different interpretation.

  10. Thanks BA!

  11. Neil, you philosophical genuis you, did you ever figure out if the death of living thing is an ultimate reality for that living thing?

    Or, do you still consider it (as you say of all ultimate realities) a mere fantasy?

    :)

  12. Dr. Behe’s entire paper is now available online:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....41601.html

  13. BiPed (11),

    I don’t want to de-rail the discussion here, but I would genuinely like to have you lay out the case supporting “the death of a living thing” as “an ultimate reality for that living thing.”

    If you are not using “ultimate reality” in a figurative sense, then you are making what I think is a difficult physical and philosophical case.

    If, in other words, you are suggesting that death exists as a dimension that is both after this here reality of our lives and separate from it, then you need to explain what the case is for this reality and to answer the main objections to the case.

    You like to pooh-pooh those who are unimpressed with wistful assertions of magic realms where people go after dying, those who are not convinced by fuzzy NDE claims and such, but where is your positive case?

    As I said, I don’t want to de-rail this discussion here, but since you brought up the topic of “ultimate realities,” I want to invite you to post here or here.

    I look forward to reading your response.

  14. Though Coyne seems to innocently forget that practically all of the evidence in the Edge of Evolution was based for ‘organisms in the wild’, and though Coyne feels it is unjustified to extrapolate the consistent evidence we witness for Genetic Entropy in the ‘short term’, to long term principles for life on earth, Coyne also seemed to innocently forget another more direct extrapolation that can be taken from comparative population sizes for what we have directly witnessed in the short term:

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’’ (Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9461

    further note:

    These following videos are very good, for they use the mathematical equations used by leading evolutionists themselves, for population genetics, to show that the evolution of whales, and even of humans, is impossible even by using their own mathematical methods of predicting change:

    Whale Evolution Vs. Population Genetics – Richard Sternberg PhD. in Evolutionary Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4165203

  15. Larry, truly an amazing post.

    Do you really think its a difficult physical case to make that living things die? Perhaps you see it as a difficult philosophical case to make that living things die?

    Really. Larry. Do things die?

    And… WTF is this about:

    You like to pooh-pooh those who are unimpressed with wistful assertions of magic realms where people go after dying, those who are not convinced by fuzzy NDE claims and such, but where is your positive case?

    I am ready to be embarrassed. Please provide a reference for anything whatsosever you just attributed to me. I want to read up on my “wistful assertions of magic realms”.

    Thanks.

  16. AHHHH…now I remember, it is not Neil, it is Larry who holds these wonderouns positions.

    Sorry Neil. Profound apologies.

    - – - – -

    So Larry… give me the references please. Tell me where I make “wistful assertions of magic realms”.

  17. Again, my apologies Neil.

  18. BiPed,

    You comment in #11 is exactly the kind of poh-poohing I mean. You think it’s ridiculous to think of “ultimate realities” as “mere fantasy.”

    So, that’s what I mean. My question to you, and I don’t want to be rude and hijack the discussion here (so please post per the links I offered), is what is the basis for your assertion of the existence of these ultimate realities.

    I understand that living things die. But when living things die, the remain here in this reality of ours. They decompose. So far as I know and have observed, living things don’t go to a different place when they die (which seems to be your claim).

    So I’m puzzled by your confident assertion of one or more ultimate realities. I’m also frustrated by not being able to understand exactly what the expression “ultimate reality” means. Hence, I’m asking if you are willing to explain it to me.

  19. Larry,

    I’ve already answered the question you are asking.

    From the previous conversation: “A reality (in terms of a description of it) is that which faithfully corresponds to what is. For there to be no ultimate realities (and the adjective is hardly necessary) then there must not be anything that is.”

    and also…

    “It is quite obvious that ultimate realities exist, the question is what are they.

    I left that conversation because I didn’t see the value of trying to have conversation with someone who doesn’t recognize that reality exist, even if we don’t know what it is.

    - – - –

    Where you now get off with “wistful assertions of magic realm” I have no idea.

  20. BiPed (19)

    I’ve already answered the question you are asking.

    No, you have not. You have avoided answering.

    I have asked you to justify the existence of these separate, other realms that you seem to posit. But you don’t answer and instead spew apparently meaningless statements like “For there to be no ultimate realities (and the adjective is hardly necessary) then there must not be anything that is.”

    You and I both agree that we live in reality. That’s not a question. I recognize that reality exists. No problem.

    The question is where are you getting this “ultimate reality”? You are arguing that there’s this “other reality” (death is an example). Where is this reality? When is it? How do we observe it, if we can?

    These are basic questions, my friend, yet every time you are pressed on them you run away because you “don’t see the value.”

    In any case, I think I know your answer. You KNOW in your HEART these other realms and realities exist because you BELIEVE. Do I have that right, caps and all?

  21. Larry,

    No, you have not. You have avoided answering.

    I have asked you to justify the existence of these separate, other realms that you seem to posit.

    Name one.

    Show me a single time that I have made such a claim to you. You can’t, because I never have made that claim to you.

    The question is where are you getting this “ultimate reality”?

    From the post that you typed: “I think the concept of ultimate reality is fantasy.”

  22. Larry,

    You must be confusing me with someone else.

    Trust me, it happens.

    :)

  23. Upright BiPed (#16):

    AHHHH…now I remember, it is not Neil, it is Larry who holds these wonderouns positions.

    I did wonder what you were talking about. Thanks for clearing that up.

  24. BiPed (23), Let’s review history a bit.

    (1) First, john a designer posts a quotation from Richard Carrier. (http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-368030)

    (2) Then, I say that I disagree with Carrier’s use of the term “ultimate meaning” (I had accidentally used the term “ultimate reality”). I disagree with Carrier because the term “ultimate” is unnecessary. It implies that there is some sort of final and superior determinant of meaning. I don’t think there is a good warrant for this determinant. Thus, I’m fine with “meaning” or “reality”; it’s “ultimate meaning” or “ultimate reality” that I find problematic. (http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-368039)

    (3) You introduced the idea of death, as this was somehow supposed to counter my argument. Ever since, I have been asking you to explain whatever it is you mean.

    (4) Apparently, you assert some sort of ultimate meaning/reality. I guess. As I read you, you also seem to argue that this ultimate meaning/reality is not the same as the actual meaning/reality that we experience in everyday life.

    (5) I may be mis-interpreting you, and I don’t wish to, but I am not sure.

  25. LT:

    Let’s correct, then:

    “I think the concept of ultimate reality is fantasy.”

    Oops . . . are you prepared to defend that claim?

    GEM of TKI

  26. PS: LT [and NR], we live as contingent creatures amidst a world of other contingent creatures, in an observed cosmos that is evidently finely balanced at an operating point that allows for C-chemistry cell based, intelligent life.

    Such a contingent cosmos implies a necessary being as its ultimate ground. That necessary being would be the ultimate reality.

    And, if we blend in the fact that we live in a MORALLY GOVERNED, credibly designed world, then that ultimate reality looks a lot like the good Creator-God of theism.

    PPS: That you may choose to object to evidence, on selectively hyperskeptical grounds [and may go on to refuse to address the alternative premises for a worldview on comparative difficulties] does not at all mean that there is “no evidence” for the conclusions you would reject.

  27. kairosfocus (#27):

    we live as contingent creatures amidst a world of other contingent creatures, in an observed cosmos that is evidently finely balanced at an operating point that allows for C-chemistry cell based, intelligent life.

    That might be evident to you, but it is not evident to me. I see an alternative possibility, that life evolved in a way that is finely tuned to fit with the way the world is. And because there is a possible alternative, the mentioned evidence does not settle the question.

    There’s a difference between X persuades me of Y and X shows Y. It is okay to also use your own unstated assumptions in deciding what persuades you, but those assumptions have no bearing on what is shown. Unfortunately, many arguments rely on unstated assumptions, perhaps assumptions that the arguer does not realize that he/she is making. And disagreements are often due to disagreements over these unstated assumptions. I try, as far as possible, to avoid unstated assumptions, though I presume that I am imperfect at that.

  28. Kairos,

    (26) – I have not made this claim.

    (27) – You say: “Such a contingent cosmos implies a necessary being as its ultimate ground.”

    I say: Implies? I disagree. In any case, I wouldn’t hang my hat on an implication.

    You then say: “That necessary being would be the ultimate reality.”

    I say: It “would be,” huh? I suppose it might. Maybe. Perhaps.

    And how is it that this “necessary being” would be “the ultimate reality”? How can we know this? How can we know that

    1) any reality is the ultimate one?
    2) what ultimate means in the context of reality?
    3) there is one and only one ultimate reality?

    As far as I can tell, you are simply making assertions about the universe based on implications and conditionals. I’m not being hyperskeptical. I’m reading what you write and finding that it practically resembles making stuff up.

  29. LT:

    Do you understand what a contingent being is?

    Why such a being therefore necessitates a cause for its origin and/or sustenance? Why, if we live in a cosmos that credibly had a beginning, it therefore credibly had a cause? Why the chain of such causes terminates in that which is necessary not just logically but ontologically?

    Going further, do you understand what implication means, i.e. P => Q?

    [P is sufficient for Q so that if P holds P will also hold, and Q is necessary for P so that unless Q holds, P cannot hold?]

    That every time you depend on an aircraft or airplane or computer or similar designed system with underlying laws and mathematical specifications, you are relying on the power of implication to hold in the real world?

    In short, you routinely rely on the logic that you want to reject when it is inconvenient to your preferred worldview.

    That is classic selective hyperskepticism.

    When it comes to the finetuning of the cosmos (cf. section b), we are talking about dozens of parameters, many of which if they are off by a tad, we end up with a radically life-inhospitable cosmos. No matter. All H or H and He. If the numbers of protns and electrons are not in a pretty exact balance, galaxies don’t form. C, and O don’t form in a reasonable balanceif a set of nuclear parameters is just slightly out of whack. And, NO OTHER ELEMENT IS A REASONABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR C TO FORM COMPLEX CHEMISTRY NEEDED FOR CELL BASED LIFE ON.

    And more.

    As for forming life, you seem to labour under the impression that we can easily spontaneously get to an autonomous, self-replicating, digitally controlled metabolising entity that can use general resources in its environment to sustain a credible first life form. Not so.

    Just the information resources alone, not to mention the origin of language, codes, algorithms and effecting machines by chance and mechanical necessity immediately goes well beyond the credible capacity of the observed universe across its thermodynamic lifespan, 50 mn times the usual estimate since the generally accepted big bang.

    That is why there is no genrally accepted OOL modle,a nd it is why the problems to get to first life keep mounting up.

    Similarly, to get to the body plans for life we are looking at info generation issues that are orders of magnitude more complex, just on the specifying genetic information.

    Sorry, you are being selectively hypercredulous when it suits you, also.

    [Onlookers, in fact the reason that evolutionary materialism dominated models rule the roost is because of a worldview impositon ont he insittutions of science and education, as has been publicly acknowledged. In short,t he question is being begged and if you don't toe the line, you get expelled, as we can see here today.]

    LT, kindly think again.

    GEM of TKI

  30. Oops: If P holds Q will also hold.

  31. Kairos

    In short, you routinely rely on the logic that you want to reject when it is inconvenient to your preferred worldview.

    That is classic selective hyperskepticism.

    No. You’re making wild extrapolations without warrant.

    I’m with you about the apparent fine-tuning of our universe. It’s amazing.

    As for forming life, you seem to labour under the impression that we can easily spontaneously get to an autonomous, self-replicating, digitally controlled metabolising entity that can use general resources in its environment to sustain a credible first life form.

    I labor under no such impression at all. I don’t know why you say this.

    Just the information resources alone, not to mention the origin of language, codes, algorithms and effecting machines by chance and mechanical necessity immediately goes well beyond the credible capacity of the observed universe across its thermodynamic lifespan, 50 mn times the usual estimate since the generally accepted big bang.

    That is why there is no genrally accepted OOL modle,a nd it is why the problems to get to first life keep mounting up.

    Again, I share your amazement. Your mechanical metaphors are nice, too.

    And I’m with you on the challenges of developing a generally acceptable OOL model.

    We agree on so much. Where do you see me being selectively hyperskeptical?

  32. Larry,

    Again, I got the term “ultimate reality” from your own post. And three times now I have stated that I think the adjective is superfluous. Further, I have also said that “reality (in terms of a description of it) is that which faithfully corresponds to what is.” and therefore (just as a matter of simple logic) for there to be no reality then there must not be anything that is. To this you tell me that I am “spewing apparently meaningless statements”.

    Well Okay. I cannot make myself any more clear. However, if you are now objecting to the use of the word “ultimate” as in a final grand culminating reality – then I will remind you that I thought the adjective was superfluous from the start, and I said so.

    In either case, having the adjective or not changes nothing. Whatever the ultimate reality is will be there, and it certainly won’t be a fantasy.

  33. LT:

    Pardon me.

    You are the one who tried to dismiss the logic of implication, which is also closely connected to cause-effect thinking. Indeed, it is foundational to inferential reasoning.

    Let me cite you:

    LT, 29: I say: Implies? I disagree. In any case, I wouldn’t hang my hat on an implication.

    That sounds like an attempt to dismiss implication to me. Thus, my pointing out how pervasive implication based reasoning is in a lot of contexts where you hang your hat and more without a moment’s hesitation.

    As to the inference from a credibly contingent cosmos to a necessary cause thereof, let us start with the commonly accepted big bang view of the world.

    When it was originally suggested in the 1920′s, on the Hubble red shift observation and the implications — yes — of reversing it, the objection was in large part driven by the import of a cosmos with a beginning.

    That is, it would be contingent.

    I do not need to review in details the observations of the 1960′s on of cosmic background 4 K radiation, that led to the conclusion that the model had crucial empirical support unmet by its main competitor, the Steady State model. A model that would entail that the cosmos was the necessary being that explains the contingent entities in it.

    A contingent being, of course is one that has a beginning, or that depends on other things to continue to exist, and/or that can (thus) come to an end. We are contingent, our planet is contingent, stars and galaxies are contingent, atoms are contingent,our observed cosmos credibly is contingent.

    Your dismissive remarks — after discounting rhetorical flourishes, that is what you have done, stated selectively hyperskeptical dismissals — above tell me that your problem is that you know the import of such contingency, that we need to look to the underlying cause.

    A contingent cosmos necessarily requires an external cause.

    Such a cosmos and cause also entail onward an ontologically necessary being as its ultimate causal ground. That is a credibly contingent cosmos — and you have no evidence that the cosmos we live in is a necessary being, just the opposite — requires something that is without beginning or end, and not dependent on anything else.

    Your alternative is the challenge of showing in the teeth of the past 90 years of cosmology [we need not cite religious texts or traditions or philosophical argument, science will do nicely], that the observed cosmos is a necessary being.

    Or else, you will have to deny the first principles of right reason, proving yourself irrational per multiple reductions to absurdity. (Already, on your attempt to dismiss implication, you are walking down this track.)

    When it comes to the commonly claimed spontaneous — chance + necessity only acting on matter and energy — origin of both life and body plan level biodiversity, the key problem is that life in the cell is based on complex, coded, algorithmic information systems. Systems that run well past any threshold where blind chance + necessity are even remotely reasonable as explanations. As the linked already discuss.

    Nor, am I merely giving metaphors. If you do not know that the genetic code is a 4-state discrete code, you are utterly too ignorant to be a part of this discussion. If you do know that, you know or should know that such an entity is an instantiation of a digital code based system.

    Further, as just one example, the protein manufacturing process using mRNA, AA-loaded tRNA and ribosomes is a step by step, code driven finite process that takes in inputs and generates defined outputs. That is, it is a physically implemented algorithm. If you don’t know that, you are not ready for this discussion. Kindly, go do a 101, starting from the linked above.

    If you do, and try the “metaphors” dismissal, you have no excuse for the above “metaphor” remark.

    Rhetoric ruses into reality: CRUNCH!

    GEM of TKI

  34. PS: First principles of right reason, 101.

  35. Kairos (34) –

    Let’s get our goals out in the open. I commented on this thread to gain some insight into a term used by Upright BiPed. His use of the term was clarified (he was referring to a comment I had made earlier), and I hope mine was clarified too.

    I take it that the thesis you seek to defend, the one you want me to accept, is this:

    Such a contingent cosmos implies a necessary being as its ultimate ground. That necessary being would be the ultimate reality.

    Now, let it not be forgotten that I have pointed to a number of places where we agree. I think this is significant. We stand together on common ground in plenty of cases.

    Moving on, then, You say:

    You are the one who tried to dismiss the logic of implication, which is also closely connected to cause-effect thinking. Indeed, it is foundational to inferential reasoning.

    Allow me to clarify. I don’t dismiss the logic of implication, but I also think some perspective is in order.

    I understand material conditionals and such, but the main thing about implication is that it requires a reasonable connection between the condition and the consequent. To say, as you did, that “a contingent cosmos implies a necessary being as its ultimate ground” is to make a rather weak implication. You disagree, and that’s fine by me. But your statement obligates you to come up with some heavy-duty support, as in (1) the nature of the contingency of the cosmos, (2) the ruling out of all other potential consequents except “a necessary being,” and (3) an explanation and justification of the necessary being.

    Certainly, you make a fine case for #1. But now, thinking of #2 and #3, let’s look at what you say after your fine case:

    A contingent cosmos necessarily requires an external cause.

    Such a cosmos and cause also entail onward an ontologically necessary being as its ultimate causal ground. That is a credibly contingent cosmos — and you have no evidence that the cosmos we live in is a necessary being, just the opposite — requires something that is without beginning or end, and not dependent on anything else.

    I don’t see your case for entailment of “an ontologically necessary being.” What’s your source for this? Similarly, I don’t see your case for what seems to me an arbitrary requirement for “something that is without beginning or end.”

    As to metaphors: Let’s not pretend that you are not using metaphors to frame the subject. And let’s not pretend that the metaphors have zero effect in how we approach and understand the issues under discussion. Pointing out metaphorical usage is not necessarily to dismiss what has been said. But your metaphors are absolutely part of your agenda.

    So, I’m not dismissing anything based on metaphors. Don’t you dismiss the influence of metaphors in how you produce knowledge.

    Finally, it appears we return to implication. You say:

    the protein manufacturing process using mRNA, AA-loaded tRNA and ribosomes is a step by step, code driven finite process that takes in inputs and generates defined outputs. That is, it is a physically implemented algorithm.

    Let’s say I agree with everything here and just as you’ve said it. What’s your point? Are you suggesting that this implies something specific?

    I said earlier that we needed to keep some perspective on implications. Implications can be strong or weak. They can be clear or muddy. They can be misleading, depending on how one gauges the relevance of the conditions to the consequences. So I’m all for implication, but when I say I wouldn’t hang my hat on an implication, I mean that I realize that if I’m going to assert an implication, then I better to a good job of connection the dots between antecedent and consequent. Simply asserting an implication is not itself compelling.

    Let me close by asking you to stop the bullying, as when you use the “if you don’t know X, then you’re not ready/too ignorant” tactics. Not only is the tactic arrogant and rude, but you are not nearly as advanced or impressive as you seem to think you are.

    We have some common ground and some difference, but I won’t let you patronize me. If you can’t control yourself, please don’t address me anymore.

  36. F/N: Pardon an onward remark, excerpted from my own blog in response to an exchange with LT (who is complaining of “censorship” on having it seems two comments in prolonged moderation for this thread but who has slanderously associated me with Torquemada at his own blog):

    _____________

    >> In part, Mr Tanner seems to be responding to a remark of mine in a second exchange at UD here [30 above], where I commented on how he dismissed implication arguments as what he would not hang his hat on, and a further remark here [34 above] where I replied to how he used “metaphors” dismissively about the algorithmic implementation of the 4-state genetic code to make proteins etc in the living cell.

    From his screen shot of a moderated comment [in a post at his own blog during which he commits the above slander], he is apparently vexed that I asked if he is unaware of how often he hangs far more than a hat on implications. [He had dismissed implication arguments in comment 29: "I wouldn’t hang my hat on an implication."]

    Later, in response to his dismissive use of the term “metaphors” I asked if he is unaware that the Genetic code is a 4-state digital code and the associated protein-assembling algorithm is implemented in nanomachines such as Ribosomes mRNA and tRNA (not a metaphor). I pointed out that if such ignorance is so, then “you are not ready for this discussion.”

    I think the remarks are fair comment given the context, and they were not at all intended as disrespectful. However, they plainly were sharp enough to give offense and for that I apologise. >>
    _____________

    Pardon, just to set a record straight.

    GEM of TKI

  37. LT:

    First, from the date of no 36, it seems there was a delay in the moderation process, as opposed tot he censorship you assumed, asserted and resorted to uncivil language about.

    Next, there are strong and weak inferences [a subjective process], but implications [a logical relationship between propositions] are either true or false, they are not to be conflated. (And I am not talking in the main about material implication in the empty truth table sense. In vast swathes of mathematics, the key steps of reasoning are implications, chained from axioms to conclusions.]

    And, by virtue of the nature of a contingent being [it has a beginning, or may or does go out of existence], it is dependent on an external cause. This is certain, as there are conditions under which such an entity either does not exist or may cease from existing. That is there may be necessary causal conditions that are unmet, so that it cannot be or is not.

    It is a general consensus that our observed cosmos had a beginning, and so it is contingent, thus, there is necessarily a cause.

    Going beyond that, we therefore have an existing world, which is contingent.

    Such a world is thus caused, and this in turn implies that at length there is something that was always there and is not going to cease. Otherwise, our cosmos would not have come into being, nor would it continue.

    What that is may be open to debate, but that such a necessary being is, is not. You may dismiss if you will, but that boils down to selective hyperskepticism, and needs to ask how something can cause itself — a blunder Hawking is apparently making, or else comes out of a real nothing [space, in some form, and fields in some form are not nothing, indeed space has measurable properties, e.g. consider the speed of light in vacuo and its link to the permeability and permittivity of free space.

    [In the old days, before it was realised the observed cosmos had a beginning the assumption often was that the observed cosmos was that necessary being. That is why big bang cosmology was so stoutly resisted for decades.]

    When it comes to the cell, and the discrete state, code based information system in it that physically instantiates a digital [binary digital is not the only possible kind of digital, decimal digital is common, as are duodecimal and sexagesimal], algorithmic information processing system, that is not a mere metaphor.

    That is instantiation.

    And, the von Neumann logico-mathematical requisites for a self-replicating automaton that also does something independent of the replication are not a metaphor, they are a mathematical-logical analysis. One that preceded the discovery of the DNA double-helix and its decoding.

    I do not accept the charge of bullying, which I do acknowledge is a step down from your utterly over the top association with Torquemada — which you owe me an apology for. That is a willful falsehood in the teeth of evidence that would immediately show it to be unworthy. In other words, you have failed some serious duties of care.

    In fact it is plain that you are conflating inference and implication, and that you are mistaking instantiation of a mathematical-logical model for a metaphor.

    If you are making such elementary errors, sorry to have to repeat — and I will try to be gentler in saying it than before, but on the charitable interpretation, you are shy some RPMs.

    Good day.

    GEM of TKI

  38. F/N: I think the old fire triangle may help (absorbing he need for a chain reaction into the implication of being a fuel):

    fuel + oxidiser + heat –> fire

    Each of the factors on the LHS is necessary, and the cluster is jointly sufficient for a fire to be. thus, we see necessary and sufficient causal factors. Once a fire obtains, we may properly infer that the necessary and sufficient set exists and has done so since it started. To cut off the fire, we remove at least one factor or find a way to block its action, e.g Halon chops up the chaining reaction.

    A fire is caused, and is not self-causing. It is contingent and its explanation lies beyond itself. It is part of a cosmos that is similarly contingent and that just like a fire had a beginning, usually dated 13.7 BYA. At that time, al necessary factors were met, and a sufficient cluster existed for our cosmos to come to be, and subsequently a sufficient set of factors has continued to obtain for its continued existence.

    As a contingent entity, the cosmos’ explanation lies beyond itself in an external cause. At the root of that cause lies something that always was, did not have a beginning, and will not cease as it does not depend on something else for its origin or existence.

    (As was already noted, formerly, this was thought to be our cosmos, and today some have tried to suggest that there is a wider cosmos that is that necessary being. There are other candidates to be that necessary being, and the fine-tuning of our cosmos that sets it at an operating point suitable for C-chemistry cell based intelligent life,and the subsequent existence and organizational features of such life point to a designer of both cosmos and life as the best explanation. [Cf summary here.] From our experience of ourselves as morally bound , morally governed creatures, the best candidate to be that necessary being is not only an intelligent but a moral, extremely powerful designer.)

  39. KF (38) – If we focus on the heart of the argument, the main area of contention, we should look at your statements around the area of paragraph 5.

    Let me break up what you say here:

    (1) We have an existing world.
    (2) This world is a contingent world.
    (3) #1 and #2 together imply that there is something that caused this world to exist.
    (4) Whatever caused this world to exist “is something that was always there and is not going to cease.”
    (5) Our world/cosmos could not have been caused by something that was not “always there” and that will eventually cease.

    In #4, how exactly do we know that the cause of this world has always been present and will never cease?

    In #5, how exactly do we know this?

    How do we get from the “something” of #3-5 to the “being” you identify just a few sentences later?

    My opinion is that these three questions are warranted, as opposed to being selectively hyperskeptical.

    Further, I think it’s essential that we make perfectly clear to ourselves and to onlookers where we have facts, inferences, and speculation.

    Finally, I agree that your later examples demonstrate instantiation. But perhaps you can agree that the language being used, such as “algorithmic information processing system,” is connotative. There is a metaphorical component that is both mentally helpful and potentially hindering. That hindrance comes if we privilege the “systematic” aspect of the cell over other, no less important aspects such as the biological and historical.

    You say I “owe” you an apology for the association with Torquemada. Let me first clarify that I did not call you “Torquemada” nor did I associate you personally with him. What I did was liken your style of argumentation and persuasion to that of an infamous Inquisitor.

    To be sure, this was a deliberately over-the-top comparison designed to dramatize my perception of your approach. It was supposed to be humorous but also to seem close enough to truth to get you to tone it down a bit.

    Now, upon reflection, I apologize for making a hurtful statement and will try to restrain myself better in the future.

    Please forgive now my curiosity: Did you ask anyone at UD about the posts of mine in moderation?

  40. LarTanner @ 40 “In #4, how exactly do we know that the cause of this world has always been present and will never cease?”

    Hey Larry, I tried to post on your blog (second link) and couldn’t get the post comment link to work. FYI…

    Concerning your question above. One way to get from there to here is this. If things are changing in the present then they were changing in the past. If they were changing in the past, then something caused them to change. (Leave aside the problem of anything existing at all, for now.) Thus, there had to be a first cause. There HAD to be. If there were no first cause then nothing would be changing today. But things are changing today. Therefore, we know there is a first cause. Nothing remarkable here so far.

    So what about this first cause? Can we know anything about it? I suggest we can. Every cause in the causal chain that leads to now, had a prior cause except for the first cause. Why did the first cause not have a cause? Because then it couldn’t be first. We have already seen that there must have been a first cause and now we know something else about it. It had no cause of itself. It couldn’t have. It’s impossible. Because then it wouldn’t be First.

    Since it is uncaused, yet it exists, it must have necessarily always existed. Why? This is just analyzing what words mean. If something exists but yet is causeless, that means that it always existed. Another way of saying that is that the first cause is eternal.

    The first cause also acted. We know this because the universe, being finite, (rationally necessary and empirically confirmed) did not always exist. Therefore, the first cause caused it. The first cause intended to cause it. How do we know? I think of it in terms of modus tollens. If the first cause did not intend to create the universe, it would never have been created. But it was created (here we are), therefore, it was intended to be created. The very existence of the universe informs us of an eternal, purposeful being. I say Being because only Beings (living things) act. So now we have another characteristic of this Being. It is alive.

    We also know that it is immaterial, or some may say, a Spirit. How do we know this? It seems to me that if something is material, then we can count it or measure it. But this Being is infinite so it cannot be material, i.e. countable or measurable. Therefore it is immaterial. It has to be.

    It’s rather late but I thought I’d let you know how I, at least, know that the Cause of this world has always been present and will never cease. GEM will pardon my intrusion, I’m sure.

  41. p.s. Perhaps the logos of John 1:1 is beginning to make more sense. The logos is eternal, living, and immaterial. Just like the First Cause. It all fits. All it takes is some honest puzzling. And you seem like an honest puzzler. :-)

  42. Mr Tanner:

    A few things need to be said, and said plainly.

    Onlookers, pardon some frank, unfortunately necessary words in defense of civility in the face of atmosphere poisoning and attempted self-exculpation tactics.

    First, I said you had 48 hours to deal with your abusive statements towards myself, and to prove the claim of censorship. I therefore waited out the period as I said I would, monitoring this thread occasionally.

    Within the period, in defense of the latter assertion ["censorship"], you posted a screen-shot that claimed to prove censorship [which still stands at your blog post as of the time of writing this comment, along with a vulgar insult]. To which, since it was a screen shot of a post in moderation advisory, I suggested that your problem — and on your personally abusive behaviour at your own blog there is unfortunately good reason for it — is that you are on moderation (at a time when UD’s volunteer moderators are likely to be busy with world and or life/family responsibilities).

    Now, within that time, the moderators at UD have released the key comment you made, and which appears at 36 above. They did so without my approaching anyone at UD’s management about your case. (Onlookers, observe how the immediate inference made by Mr Tanner, plainly, is to suspect that I broke my word. The pattern of hostility, poisoned mentality and suspicion is plain.)

    Now, I must also deal with your attempted defense of your associating me with Torquemada.

    For, your attempted exculpatory remark above — sadly — is outright willfully false, deceptive and self-serving.

    Here (as excerpted from your blog post and as commented on in a responsive comment at my own personal blog) is how you definitely and beyond any reasonable dispute, associated the undersigned with Torquemada, through an invidious comparison — and this, onlookers, in a context where LT was a participant in a thread where SAR had slandered the undersigned and others as supporting mass murder of homosexuals; i.e. the below is heavily loaded with an underlying even more poisonous context than appears on the surface:

    The Creationist Is/Ought is an argumentative bait-and-switch. You think you’re getting a straightforward argument but what you’re getting is evangelism. The evangelism can be of the soft-shoe variety, as with Dembski, or it can be more of the Torquemada sort, as with a character called “GEM of The Kairos Initiative,” . . .

    Now, first there is a slanderous conflation of design thought and creationism, which I simply note as a typical evolutionary materialist, Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals talking-point attempt at guilt by association with those who have already been smeared. (Onlookers, a simple glance at the first several correctives in the UD weak argument corrections linked at every UD post page [top, RH column] will suffice to lay this canard to rest. That — years after it has been adequately dealt with many times, in many venues — it remains a favourite anti-design rhetorical talking point speaks volumes for the want of concern to be fair and accurate on the part of those who make it.)

    Second, in the above excerpt, there is a blatant failure to distinguish between worldview level analysis and discussion [e.g. Mr Dembski is a PhD level philosopher; in addition to his other PhD in mathematics on which he has developed his design inference explanatory filter and active information arguments], and Christian evangelism.

    (BTW, Christian Evangelism would have to do with gospel preaching. Worldview discussion — here, on contingent and necessary being issues — that points to the generic credibility of theism is light years short of gospel preaching. But the resistance at the point based on motive-mongering ad hominems, is inadvertently revealing on the atheistical motivations of many who argue for evolutionary materialism. A simple glance at Mr Tanner’s linked post will reveal that his blog is of atheistical, skeptical character. Should I now, on a sauce for the goose point, assert that LT’s arguments are of the Stalin or Pol Pot or Mao type? [As, each of these men founded explicitly atheistical regimes and led mass slaughters of the innocents,in aggregate cumulating to in excess of 100 millions over the past 100 years.] No, I will not; I intend to follow up by addressing Mr Tanner’s arguments on the merits, below. But, I hope he gets the point about the utter incivility of atmosphere-poisoning rhetoric that relies on the trifecta of distraction, distortion, and demonisation.)

    Third, in respect of the undersigned, despite the bare-faced denial just above, there is a demonstrable guilt by association slander that compares me to Torquemada; a slander that still stands in your own blog post as of my just checking.

    And since the 48 hours window has now passed without a civil — or even a reasonable — response on your part on this matter, I will forward this response to your outrage to the Blog Ownership here. That way, they will have a record for future reference.

    Beyond this point, I will address the issue, rather than the [sadly, demonstrably and insistently uncivil] man.

    Cho, man, do betta dan dat!

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI

  43. TGP:

    Useful comment.

    One might also point LT to the farcical implications of a claimed actual infinite past chain of causes, a la the Hilbert Hotel. (Great WLC video!)

    There is a reason why transfinite sets are pointed to as conceptual extensions, and/or delivered all at once by definition in mathematics. Instantiation of an infinite sequence by successive finite steps is an absurdity.

    And that undergirds the point that the cosmos is temporally finite in the past, and its contingent elements had a beginning, a beginning that has been pointed to based on the Hubble expansion as some 13.7 BYA, which is consistent with the usual age estimates for the older clusters in light of turnoffs from the main sequence and the physics of large balls of hydrogen assembled under gravity and fusing their H-cores. (Onlookers, this is part of why I point to the H-R diagram and stellar physics as origins science done right, here. H-ball models do not bring to bear invidious a priori materialistic assumptions, and the models fit very well with stellar observations.)

    Reasoning onwards, we see that it is credible that our cosmos had a beginning.

    That which begins is caused, i.e. just like — here I am using a familiar instance to bring out the force of the underlying logical point — a fire, its existence is not self-explanatory and self-contained. There must be — by logical and epistemic necessity — something else that allows the necessary conditions to be met and accumulate a sufficient condition where a cosmos such as ours can come into being at its beginning.

    And, BTW, this extends to the case of a probabilistic distribution. For, there must be a sufficient condition for a probabilistically distributed outcome to have a chance to occur. A die — a contingent object — must first exist and it must be tossed or the like in an appropriate environment to tumble to its reading — a highly contingent outcome — by in effect “chance.” Without underlying necessary causal conditions being met, we cannot see that die tumbling to read, say, deuce.

    Similarly, at quantum level, unless there is an unstable atom, with the decay constant a metric of that instability, there can be no quantum tunnelling or whatever to have say alpha or beta decay. And, a necessary causal factor is just that, a causal factor.

    So, we see where both chance and necessary chains of contingent beings and events are caused and that they cannot be chained into an actual infinity on pain of absurdity. Thus, by necessity the cosmos we observe had a beginning, and there is not an infinite succession of prior causal entities that led to its origin. To make this more concrete, we may refer to the generally accepted — and plausible big bang model. [Just project the expansion back-ways and you come to a singularity at some point 10 - 20 BYA -- but then LT has had problems with inference, warrant for inference and warrant that amounts to establishing an implication .. . he does not want to hang his hat on inconvenient implications, but routinely we all live in a world where buildings are built, cars are designed,and aeroplanes fly based on huge chains of implications, that we routinely hang far more than our hats on].

    Add in various more modern results and you get to a big bang some 13.7 BYA.

    But the problem goes beyond this. How do we know that we move from a caused [local, sub-]cosmos to an ONTOLOGICALLY necessary being as the root cause of the cosmos?

    The same logic extends.

    For example take the former suggested oscillating cosmos model, and look at the thermodynamics. Speculative crunches and bounces [as of last the cosmos is roughly flat so it is not expected to crunch and bounce, anyway] do not remove the stochastic tendency for concentrations of energy to disperse, leading to the proverbial heat death where we get a thin dark soup of matter without enough difference to drive changes that are significant.

    On more modern multiverse type models, we are looking at an underlying reality that bubbles up sub-cosmi at random. As Robin Collins points out, aptly, that requires a cosmos-baking bread factory that will have at minimum a distribution of possible parameters and components that will create at least one sub-cosmos habitable by life.

    For, we inhabit such a sub-cosmos.

    And, behold, we have an underlying cosmos that is not only logically necessitated, but is a candidate ontologically necessary being: the grounding cosmos at large is postulated to have been always there, i.e. it is self-explanatory and self-existing, i.e. uncaused; a candidate necessary being.

    Nor can we chain away a higher order set of super-cosmi, as we then run into the Hilbert Hotel. That is, even if a super-cosmos in this model is the immediate source of our observed cosmos, it is at most part of a chain that is finite. (BTW, we are now deep into metaphysics territory, as we are looking beyond observations.)

    At the root of even a multiverse — on the strength of the logic of implication — lies something that must be self-explanatory and self-sustaining. That is, it had no beginning, and it can have no end as it has no external necessary causal factors.

    Such is a necessary being.

    LT above emphasises that this is a “something” not a someone.

    This is of course exactly what I have pointed to, a stage in a cumulative process of reasoning, not an end in itself — ropes draw strength from twisting and counter-twisting short weak fibres to make as long, strong whole. So, let us not get caught up in a fallacy of composition.

    The cosmological inference is well warranted on implications of cause-effect and the absurdity of an actual infinite regress, but it is not meant to do more than establish that there is a necessary being at the causal root of our observed cosmos, even through a multiverse model.

    We move up to the next level and observe that our cosmos sits at a finely, multi-dimensionally balanced operating point that facilitates the existence of C-chemistry cell-based intelligent life.

    Indeed, as Gonzalez points out, the sites for such life are also sites that give good seeing that invites investigation of the cosmos and its roots. ["Evangelism" aside point: just as Rom 1:18 - 20 suggests. We have a perfect right to point out where the Christian faith makes in principle risky empirically testable claims, and that it has passed the test.]

    Even through a multiverse model, we are looking at a cosmos bakery that is set up to deliver at least a distribution of sub-cosmi that will produce such. Such a super-cosmic bakery will be at least as fine-tuned as our observed cosmos, and this strongly points to design of the cosmos as the best explanation. Notice, we are here dealing with worldviews analysis on comparative difficulties.

    (A materialistic alternative view will have to explain how we credibly know that we have a necessary being underlying cosmos that is impersonal-material, is actually infinite and so has infinite reserves of concentrated energy that cannot be exhausted by thermodynamic decay, and by happy coincidence sits at its own finely tuned operating point that bakes up life-habitable sub-cosmi. Talk about special pleading . . . )

    Design implies purpose, knowledge, skill ability and power to build a cosmos well-fitted for life as we experience it. Which sounds like a job description for God, at least the God of the philosophers.

    Moreover, when we turn to the substance of cell based life, we find that in the heart of the cell lies a digital, code and language based, algorithmic information system that uses a 4-state code to control the creation of proteins, the workhorse molecules of the living cell. And the implications of this must be addressed on theior own merits, not edistracted from by making an appeal to natural history and biology that will in turn fail to address the source of the increments in the digital information embedded in cells of the various body plan groups of higher organisms. From fungi and fish to trees and men.

    Just 1,000 bits of functional digital information is vastly beyond the plausible reach of undirected chance and necessity on the gamut of our obser4ved cosmos. 1,000 bits is 10^301 possible configs, and our cosmos across its thermodynamic lifespan of 50 mn times the duration since the generally accepted date of the big bang, would take up some 10^150 states, i.e. 1 in 10^150 of the configs. Rounding down to no search of the space. Actual cell based life starts in the ballpark of 100′s of kbits, vastly exponentiating the problem.

    The only empirically known source of such things is design, and we have excellent reason to infer that chance on the gamut of the observed cosmos — and chance distributions are the other empirically credible source of high contingency outcomes [necessity here would imply that life was literally written into the mechanical laws of our cosmos, which would then stand revealed as a programmed entity] — is simply astronomically too narrow a scope to even smell of being a plausible candidate. [In fact, a quasi-infinite cluster of such sub-cosmi that are life habitable would still not be plausible, so far out in the skirts of thermodynamic energy distributions are the configs we are talking about].

    When we look at body-plan level biodiversity across dozens of upper level types of life, we see that we move to dozens or hundreds of millions of bits of bioinformation, and we have to create embryologically functional organisms or the life does not exist to be reproductively viable. The problem explodes beyond merely exponentiating, and in a context where the space for the claimed darwinian style macroevo to happen has contracted to a planet that weighs in at 5.98 *10^24 kg, as I used to make my students work out using Newton’s law of gravity and the weight of a known mass.

    UUndirected chance + mechanical necessity is not a credible explaantion for observed biodiversity, wheter in the living world or in fossil forms. Indeed, the Cambrian life revolution shows a pattern of top-down diversification, i.e body plans first. Special pleading on how the transitions — invisible! — must have been soft bodied and were not preserved falls apart as soft bodied fossils are preserved in relevant strata. Indeed, the want of transitional forms is the embarrassed, whispered in teh corner trade secret of paleontology.

    Design — absent a priori question begging imposition of materialism a la Lewontin et al — is the most reasonable causal explanation of our cosmos and of cell based life, including its biodiversity across the range of observed body plans.

    Going further still, we find ourselves to be morally governed creatures.

    How we quarrel shows this: by general consensus, we find ourselves under an ought of fairness and respect. (How often do you hear quarrels that run like: “me is lion, and you is lunch, so shut up, stop the bleating and slide down the throat nicely, weakling.” [And yet, as Plato pointed out ever so long ago in his 360 BC The Laws bk X, if evolutionary materialism is so, we live in an amoral world where might is the highest 'right.' So, evolutionary materialism leads to a nihilistic, radically relativist, amoral chaos that even the materialists cannot consistently live with.)

    Only a worldview that has a grounding reality that is inherently moral can have an IS that is sufficient to sustain such an ought.

    And, if one argues or implies that hat ought is delusional [usually disguised by saying it is "subjective" or "relative" to times, communities and cultures] — as evolutionary materialism does, then it implies so massive a delusion in the human mind that the project of rationality comes crashing to the ground. Including, the vaunted brilliance of the so-called “brights.” [That is, atheists of the Dawkinsian, jumped up village atheist new atheist, so-called sort. (And here, Mr Tanner, given your abusive rhetoric, turnabout is fair play.) ]

    In short, a generic theism with the necessary being as a good, moral Creator-God, is a reasonable worldview.

    And, it certainly is not an irrational, irresponsible and anti-scientific view.

    The atheistical caricatures of such a view are therefore just that, irresponsible strawmen, soaked in unworthy ad hominems and ignited through disrespectful rude and arrogant incendiary rhetoric — as we have seen Mr tanner indulge here and at his own blog — to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    When we go on to the question of the dominant form of theism in our civilisation, the Judaeo-Christian worldview in its Christian aspect, this first point is vital.

    Christians have a perfectly justified intellectual right to be theists, and to claim that on their theism, they have a solid ground for moral governance of our civilisation.

    Second to this, when we see that millions have testified to knowing the living God in miraculously life- transforming ways through repentance and reconciliation in the face of the risen Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ [starting with the 500 core witnesses underlying the C1 apostolic testimony recounted in say 1 Cor 15:1 - 11, of AD 55 and based on events of the 30's AD], we can see the impact across history and all around us.

    If these millions are to be dismissed wholesale as delusional, we have no good reason to be confident in any abstract or conceptual deliverances of the human mind, including the perception that say our mothers love us and are real persons with minds of their own that make them capable of love. Love, in any sense worth having, being an inherently moral and volitional act.

    Thanks again TGP.

    Semper Fi, at Christmas!

    GEM of TKI

  44. PS to Mr Tanner: It seems I need to be explicit. For your apology to become a genuine apology, it needs to be joined to a retraction and correction of what you have said not just here but at your own blog. Including cleaning up the vulgarity, the atmosphere poisoning rhetoric and the invidious associations and dismissive remarks.

  45. F.N: Posting being problematic at Mr Tanner’s blog, pardon my OT posting of my more specific response to his accusations and deflections here at UD:

    ________________

    >>Mr Tanner:

    Your fallaciously complex, accusatory question is an outrage.

    Worse, it is suggestive of a telling projection unto others.

    I will treat it as it deserves, by refusing to answer it on its terms. If you cannot but project unto those who challenge you or question your views and arguments that they hate and would kill you, that speaks volumes about you, none of it good.

    Please, go take a long, hard look in a mirror, and do better than that.

    You have disqualified yourself from civil dialogue by that misbehaviour.

    Onlookers: no decent person will associate peaceful evangelism or teaching and preaching (which I was NOT engaging in: worldview analysis on comparative difficulties is not evangelism) with the actions of the first grand inquisitor of Spain in its old tyrannical days.

    Mr Tanner:

    Your remarks above, unfortunately, and in spite of your denials, plainly are a slanderous instance of the guilt by invidious and unwarranted association fallacy:

    >> The Creationist Is/Ought is an argumentative bait-and-switch. You think you’re getting a straightforward argument but what you’re getting is evangelism. The evangelism can be of the soft-shoe variety, as with Dembski, or it can be more of the Torquemada sort, as with a character called “GEM of The Kairos Initiative,” . . . >>

    This is over the top and inexcusable.

    (Besides, you are indulging an unwarranted conflation of design thinking and biblical creationism that is unwarranted, has been corrected any number of times — cf here,from the first several correctives, but remains a favourite atmosphere poisoning rhetorical ploy.)

    And even the old inquisitors, inexcusable as their behaviour was on abuse of people, were trying to defend a state under threat of subversion in the context of a long-running war that in the case of Spain had taken 800 years of bloody resistance to expel Moorish invaders.

    In that context, even Wikipedia is forced to acknowledge that there was more to the story than the black legends make out:

    >> Anyone who spoke against the Inquisition could fall under suspicion – as did saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross . . . >>

    In short, there was denunciation of the inquisition’s misbehaviour at the time, and specifically coming from the most saintly of Christians in Spain at the time.

    Similarly, in my part of the world, Bartoleme de Las Casas was the very first priest ordained in the new world, and he made it his life’s calling to denounce the crimes of his fellow Spaniards in the new world. Indeed, he fully expected the destructive judgement of God to fall on Spain for its wrongs, within 50 years.

    [ . . . ]

    Further to this, to give Jack his jacket in due fairness, the inquisition actually did try to have some semblance of procedure — defective as it was — and inquisitors were willing to acquit those who were not reasonably under suspicion. Wiki continues:

    >>Although the Inquisition is often viewed as being directed against Jews, in actual fact it had no jurisdiction or authority over unconverted Jews, or Muslims. Only baptised Christians faced investigation; and of those called to appear before the Holy Office, most were released after their first hearing without further incident. >>

    Even a relevant pope (and this was an era of very bad popes indeed — NB: I am not a Roman Catholic, so I can say in fairness what Catholics may be reluctant to because of the stain of shame) was concerned about real and potential abuses, as a bull from Sixtus IV before Torquemada’s regime states, in 1482; though of course it reflects its times:

    >> many true and faithful Christians, because of the testimony of enemies, rivals, slaves and other low people—and still less appropriate—without tests of any kind, have been locked up in secular prisons, tortured and condemned like relapsed heretics, deprived of their goods and properties, and given over to the secular arm to be executed, at great danger to their souls, giving a pernicious example and causing scandal to many. >>

    So, Torquemada, bad as he was, was trying to do better than what had happened earlier. Hence the semblance of procedure Wiki discusses.

    His behaviour and that of his colleagues and predecessors was wrong, was denounced by saintly voices and by even at least one pope. So, plainly, it is utterly unfair to characterise or tar Christians as a whole, or individuals in particular — without further evidence than peaceful argument — of inquisition tactics.

    That is shameful.

    It utterly discredits you, Mr Tanner, especially when you have now gone on to try to make light of it and/or to deflect my correction.

    I repeat, no decent person will associate peaceful evangelism, much less worldviews analysis with the actions of a Torquemada.

    An apology and retraction are required, not an excuse or a deflection.

    As the first steps in a long process of living down such misbehaviour.

    Next, your accusation of “censorship” at UD — which still remains here this morning despite your knowing as of the time of this comment that your original comment was in fact passed on moderation at UD and is there as no 36 — was plainly premature, and in fact your delayed, moderated comment was posted at UD (in response to your direct question at UD: without my intercession with the UD authorities).

    The vulgarities and atmosphere poisoning rhetorical tactics evident above show why it is reasonable to have you on moderation at UD.

    And since this is a busy season for us all, I respectfully submit that we should all try to understand that UD’s volunteer moderators will be busy as well.

    As to the case on the merits you make here and there, onlookers may wish to see the onward remarks at UD, especially this one. My earlier remarks to you here on will also be relevant.

    Cho, man, do betta dan dat!

    Good day, sir.

    GEM of TKI >>
    ________________

  46. Onlookers:

    I revisited LT’s blog, just now.

    Somehow, even the post that was “saved” that links the just above, managed to vanish overnight. [I do note that blog owners at Blogger can delete comments; which if it happened, would be particularly rich, given LT's complaints over "censorship" at UD; which are still there as of a few moments ago.]

    In addition,I saw a commenter there, who seems to be an old UD commenter.

    He tried to reinforce the Torquemada false accusation by LT, through claiming to onlookers that I had slanderously associated him with rapists.

    This is wrong, and inexcusable.

    In a UD thread some time ago, the commenter had twisted the following description of the SAME turnabout, false accusation rhetorical tactic he is now employing, to make me out as casting him in the same boat as rapists:

    _______________

    >> TURNABOUT (“HE HIT BACK FIRST”) TURN-SPEECH FALSE ACCUSATION: It is very easy to blame a victim of an ad hominem attack (or worse, an actual physical attack) if s/he attempts to defend himself.

    In effect “he hit (back) first!”

    Blaming the victim, who is usually more sinned against than sinning [cf the now thankfully rejected sleazy Courtroom tactic of blaming the victim of a rape for "provoking" the attack . . .], is a compounded — and often, compounding — form of the atmosphere-poisoning ad hominem attack.

    It works by trying to drag the victim down to the level of the aggressor. This, by implying or asserting either . . .

    (a) [im-]moral equivalency through pretended equality of blame for the “cycle of accusations/ attacks/ violence” or else, worse . . .

    (b) the full-blooded turnabout false accusation: trying to give the false impression that the victim trying to defend him-/her-self is the one who started (or, “provoked”) the quarrel or fight and should therefore bear the lion’s share of blame for it.

    Further, if the defender is getting the better of the argument, quarrel or fight, resort is too often then made to . . .

    (c) Ill-founded accusation of “disproportionate response,” converting the attacker into the perceived “real” victim.

    And, once tempers and emotions are so set to flaring out of control, as Aristotle warned in The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2: ” Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile.” The track of truth, fairness even on side-issues, and respect for the reputation of others and for justice are then easily lost sight of in the verbal or physical war that follows. >>
    _______________

    Notice, the whole context is that we may have to deal with those who try to drag us down into the same sticky mud of immoral equivalency; by trying to blame the victim as provoking the attack.

    For BB’s information, the people who used to use the now discredited courtroom tactic were sleazy lawyers, not the actual rapists; who were their clients.

    (Mind you, there are those who would say that is not very different. And indeed the women’s advocates who got the dirty tactic banned, pointed out that one of the purposes of the tactic was to intimidate rape victims by subjecting those who dared complain to a verbal violation in the public courtroom. For instance, a key component of the tactic was a recounting of the victim’s sexual history, real or imagined.)

    Resemblance to what is now going on at LT’s blog, is unfortunately not coincidental.

    Onlookers, I made a brief exception to my policy of not wandering into the feverish malarial, mud-swamps of the new atheists, and it only underscores the reasonableness of UD’s moderation policy.

    GEM of TKI

    F/N: I keep forgetting to rebut LT’s claim that the IS-OUGHT gap issue is an argumentative bait and switch.

    Not at all.

    The issue is that worldviews, if they are to be credible, must make good sense of all of the key issues of life, and our sense of moral obligation is one such. As has been repeatedly pointed out, ever since Plato’s The Laws Bk X, evolutionary materialism has notoriously been amoral, unable to address the gap between the ISes it admits [matter, energy, space, time] and the OUGHT we find ourselves under. So, on a very important fact of life, Evo Mat thought is comingt up short. Defenders try to justify the subjectivity of morality as good enough, or try to drag theism into the same boat of not having a good basis for oughtness.

    Subjectivity of moral experience of course is not contradictory to its objective reality.

    If we are indeed under moral obligation to respect and be fair, then it is far more credible that there is a moral Lawgiver. (And any inference to such a Lawgiver is too close to a reminder of the God that materialists are so eager to forget or dismiss, that is why LT was accusing Dr Dembski of subtle evangelism in the name of worldviews analysis, and the poster of this comment of Torquemada-style “evangelism.”)

    [Actually, Torquemada was a heretic/subversive hunter, more concerned to smoke out and "punish" what he saw as false believers than to commend the gospel as truth. That is why thumb-screws, whips, racks, and bundles of flammable branches or the like were his horrible tools, instead of peaceful pens, paper and ink. He was trying to KILL heretics, not convert them. Torquemada had little or no concept of evangelism; much less peaceful discussion of generic worldviews on comparative difficulties.]

    But in fact, moral obligation by universal consensus is binging. When we differ on a question of right and wrong, the appeal — even by the materialists over at LT’s blog — is to a binding standard of fairness. That is, our actions consistently betray that we are under moral law, even as Peter’s speech once betrayed that he was a Galilean for all to hear (BTW, an implicit comment on just how popular Jesus was in Galilee!).

    If you want more details, you might want to look at a comment in a recent exchange here at UD, where someone was objecting that morality is subjective and the claim that it is in fact objective by universal consent fails. In simple terms, we do not normally hear people quarrelling thusly:

    “Whuh yuh talkin ’bout? Me is lion, an’ you is lunch. So, stop bleating and slide down de throat nicely, weakling.”

    In other words the general consent is real. Either it is objective or it is a near-universal delusion that takes in even evo mat thinkers once they feel “unfaired.”

    If the latter, the universality of such a delusion would at once imply that the human mind is utterly delusional, and untrustworthy in any of its judgments and convictions. So, either our moral sense speaks true or our minds are untrustworthy.

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    So, on comparative difficulties, evolutionary materialism comes up decidedly short.

  47. F/N 2: My remark that, only a few minutes ago, was comment no 4 at the Tanner Blog, has vanished. We can take that as pretty close to proof of censorship by Mr Tanner.

    My onward response there is:

    _______________

    >> Onlookers,

    Corrective comments yesterday and today by the undersigned have vanished, even though registered as “saved” and originally displaying in the comment thread here. (But a few minutes ago, the comment thread had four comments displayed, now it is back down to three.)

    That is beginning to look not so good, especially as Mr Tanner has maintained his assertion of “censorship” at UD, even though the substantial comment he made is no 36 in the thread there.

    Again, my substantial response to Mr Tanner is here [46 above], and that to BB is now here [47 above], both at UD.

    GEM of TKI
    5:54 AM >>
    _______________

    At least, the record stands here.

  48. /lurking

    F/N 2: My remark that, only a few minutes ago, was comment no 4 at the Tanner Blog, has vanished. We can take that as pretty close to proof of censorship by Mr Tanner.

    Have you cleared your cache? I still see the comment there.

  49. F/N 3: Looking back at Mr Tanner’s blog, and the above it seems that in fact several remarks of mine have been deleted at his blog. This of course sets me up as a strawman to be pummelled.

    Doubtless, his self-exculpatory excuse is the claim that UD “censors” so he is only “fighting fire with fire.”

    In that regard, it is highly significant that at least one of the vanished remarks points to the fact that the substantive post in question sits above as no 36. (His screen shot that is his “proof” of UD’s censorship is about the same substantive post, which obviously was in delayed moderation, not dumped as censored.)

    Sad, and revealing.

  50. Jon

    Actually, what I see is my last response, after the original response of earlier this AM vanished. (FYI LT, I was able to get and annotate a screen shot of the vanished comment from my history. Looks like actually several comments I submitted that were “saved” at blogger have vanished, inclduing the one where I pointed out what is at 43 above, and also where IIRC I apologised in any case for being sharp enough in terms to offend. That apology remark appears at my own blog on the 16th.)

    That is there still.

    BB having tried further ad hominems, I responded briefly to him; which should be comment no 6 at LT’s blog.

    Just to make sure, I copy it here — and BB, FYI my remarks are both there and here to make sure that things will appear somewhere, and stay there.

    It is:

    ______________

    >> As a matter of fact, BB, my responses here — including the main one yesterday [that should apear as a two-parter, and then with a link to UD where it appears in entirety after odd things here] — have been consistently vanishing mysteriously.

    I have cross-posted at UD, and have given the link to this blog.

    It is however, quite plain that something is very wrong here.

    G’day

    7:24 AM >>
    ________________

    You will see that BB complains that he and LT cannot respond here, to which I have responded.

    All of this, of course neatly smears me and even more neatly distracts from the substantial issue that should be on the table, there and here.

    Sad.

    GEM of TKI

  51. BA, Mrs O’Leary, CH et al:

    Please forgive me for having to use UD as a bulletin board that I know will hold the comments.

    GEM of TKI

  52. F/N 4: Pardon a for the record: here is where I previously had to correct BB before, for the very same errors and unwarranted accusations.

  53. tgpeeler (41),

    Thanks for focusing on the heart of the argument. If there are issues at my blog, I’m afraid I cannot be much help. Before now, I’ve never been aware of any issues. I know, however, that Blogger has some limit on how long comments can be.

    You present a nice case. Let me ask, though, whether you find terms such as “past,” “cause,” and “first” in the context of the origins of the universe. Are these terms, as we are using them here, appropriate and applicable to the origins of the universe?

    When it comes to our universe, we have a scientific case for claiming that we can explain it without having to go outside of it. For a very high-level, 101, explanation of what I’m saying see Sean Carroll’s video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCVqJw7T1WU.

    One of the arguments I’ve made to Kairos is that when going “outside” our universe, we are hard-pressed to extrapolate from the present (e.g., as you say, “things are changing in the present”) to a past as far back as the very origins of our universe.

    So, I think most everything that you or I could possibly say about a “first cause” would not only be uncertain, but I might wager it would be wrong (including this statement I just made). But now I’m speculating wildly, too.

    I said before that we have a scientific case for the universe creating itself from nothing (I think this is close enough to the famous statement from Hawking’s recent book). I’m saying it’s a great or even a good case; I’m only asserting that there is a case. This much I think is indisputable.

    So, I have your case and I have Hawking’s case. I think the question at this point is how should reasonable people evaluate the two cases against each other (and other cases, as may be appropriate). Taking a neutral stance toward both cases, we need to know what criteria to apply in determining the quality of cases and the comparative evaluation.

    My intuition is that this is as far as any of us can go.

    ——————————–
    Kairos,
    I’ve made my apology here. If you don’t accept it or like it, then too bad. I see no good reason to make changes to the posts at my blog.

  54. KF:: It looks like your comments are back up at Larry Tanner’s blog. Apparently the post lengths were greater than that allowed by the blog software.

    Since you were kind enough to point us over to that blog, I am hoping that you can clear up something.

    You state (post 47): “He tried to reinforce the Torquemada false accusation by LT, through claiming to onlookers that I had slanderously associated him with rapists.

    This is wrong, and inexcusable.”

    Here is what he actually said:

    “You complain about an implied association with Torquemada yet when you debate people who disagree with you you use that very tactic yourself – you once tried to associate me with lawyers who blame rape victims for the crime, yet the result of my complaint about this offensive and uncivil comment was more abuse from you, appeals to moderators and eventually my bannation from UD.”

    I believe that your first post is in error and warrants an apology.

  55. Muramasa:

    You will see that some comments have been manually put up [and of course out of order so the exchanges -- including use of vulgarity and suggestion of wanting to burn at the stake or the like -- that warranted them are not apparent], subsequent to my complaint here that they were vanishing mysteriously.

    (Now, the posts that I raised questions about were up, in thread, then “vanished.” The format they now re-appear in, over LT’s handle, is likely because Blogger sends posts to the owner’s email box — this I know from my own experience with Blogger. These were likely clipped from the email box and put up.)

    In short, it is because they discovered that I had been parallel posting here that they have manually intervened.

    The substantial post no 36, which LT was complaining about, is above.

    (I have found that routinely, as someone who has had posts moderated here [for various reasons, some mysterious to the point where at one stage I had a working relationship with the troubleshooter at Akismet; Hi M . . . ], a comment post about the post in mod, may not be posted if the substantive post is put up; which seems reasonable. I have no knowledge of other substantive posts by LT. Thougth on his behaviour at his own blog, I understand why he remains in automatic mod here. UD’s mods can speak for themselves on the specifics of their policy.)

    You will observe that the slanderous association with Torquemada and the later vulgar reference are still there, as is an accusatory comment about whether I have wanted to burn people at the stake.

    Now, I think you will also see that at no point des LT respond seriously to my pointing out thsat torquemada’s behaviour was not even reasonably typical of Spanish Catholics att he time, including how two leading sints in Spain at the time, objected seriously, and how Las Casas actually projected God’s destructive judgement on Spain for her crimes in the New World. And, discussion of comparative difficulties worldview issues is not at all even remotely associated with thumbscrews, racks, and bundles of dry branches.

    LT has yet to seriously account for such an invidious comparison, but instead has tried to make light of it.

    On your final matter, you are correct, BB refers to the lawyers of the rapists who shred the dignity of rape victims, not the rapists themselves; this time around (note my correction in the original thread on that subject).

    That loose reference, you aptly catch.

    In fact, in the original case BB twisted the above cited remark on the turnabout accusation fallacy, to say in effect I associated him with rapists. As the above linked shows, at 333 in that thread I spoke to a sleazy rhetorical tactic used in that thread, and noted its most infamous use. That is how I corrected him, 16 months ago. His claims that I have abused him are in fact a further example of turnabout attacks.

    What I have consistently done, is to point out cases of the now all too common trifecta rhetorical tactic of red herring distractors, led to strawman caricatures, soaked in ad hominems and ignited, resulting in polarisation, confusion and the like.

    Those who use that tactic will often try to turn about the matter by claiming “you hit [back] first,” i.e the compounding turnabout accussation. Indeed, in one of BB’s remarks at the LT blog, you will see just such a turnabout attempt. For, he tries to twist the term “turnabout” or “turnspeech” — terms which I did not invent — into an implied admission of starting the problem.

    This is, of course, yet another turnabout, one that tries to play the you provoked it, you are a hypocrite cards. but in fact, until LT made the invidious comparison the issue of polarising slander did not come up.

    In fact, my remarks on the trifecta fallacy and subsequent turnspeech were occasioned by LT’s grossly slanderous invidious association with Torquemada.

    I also raised the question that his claim of censorship was so serious that he needed to substantiate it within 48 hours [and I refused to post such an unsubstantiated claim at my own blog, noting on it and why].

    So far, he has turned up an in-moderation comment, and when the moderated comment in the main came up here, he then proceeded to suggest that I had specially intervened here with the Blog Mods, which I pointed out I did not in one of the formerly vanished comments.

    He also went on to make the invidious suggestion that I wanted to basically burn objectors at the stake.

    AND NOTICE THE PREDICTABLE EFFECT OF ALL OF THIS TRIFECTA TACTICS: WE ARE DISCUSSING A POLARISING SIDE ISSUE THAT YOU CAN HARDLY ADDRESS WITHOUT BEING DRAGGED INTO THE MUD, WHILE THE MAIN MATTER STANDS IGNORED.

    However, the attitude of projecting an invidious association with Torquemada, unsubstantiated claims of censorship and burning at the stake etc is so serious that I felt I had little choice but to deal with it.

    GEM of TKI

  56. PS: Muramasa, I cross checked the thread, and it seems the connexion there is the attorneys, specifically too. Pardon my error of memory.

  57. Onlookers:

    I think I should make a nightcap comment.

    Let us notice how Mrs O’Leary titles her post and how she concludes it, as she discusses how Mr Coyne has at length responded to Mr Behe’s latest paper without the usual sliming dismissal out of hand:

    Mid-morning mug: Are Darwinists running out of insults and profanity? . . . .

    It looks as though Coyne must now actually take Behe’s argument seriously.

    Of course, he should have a long time ago, but for years Darwinists were happy to let trolls lob insults and profanity. Somewhat the way a deadbeat curses the bank officer who knows he hasn’t got the goods.

    The slander-driven side track attempt by LT and ilk reflect this problem, what it means to live in a Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals culture of side-tracking from substantive issues, mischaracterisation and ad hominem-driven polarisation, demonisation and incivility.

    I don’t think that LT and ilk truly understand the matches they are playing with.

    When reasonable discussion consistently meets with the sort of slander that seeks to invidiously associate being a Christian with the tactics of a Torquemada, and with the intent to tyrannise over and burn accused heretics — notice there has been utterly no expression of remorse or regret for such an outrage [and not anything like a recognition of the costly contribution of Christians to the rise of modern liberty] — they are sowing the seeds of secularist hostility, closed minds and hearts and outright hate that (if unchecked and unexposed) historically leads to persecution, violence and worse when those steeped in such a polluted mental atmosphere gain power.

    Certainly, that is the too often repeated lesson of the past 100 years. As over 100 million ghosts remind us.

    Before closing, I therefore draw our attention back to my last major remark on the substantial matters, at 44 above.

    Let us address the substantial matter on the merits, and let us understand, from Plato in his The Laws Bk X, 360 BC, the type of challenge and the type of disruptive, amoral radicalism we are facing:

    __________________

    >> Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in legal subjection to them. >>
    ___________________

    Let the damage Alcibiades did to Athens warn us about the matches that are being played with.

    G’night all

    GEM of TKI

  58. F/N: Rounding off, we can go back to a survey of responses to the main objections LT made to an overall summary case for generic theism. [Kindly, cf. my 101 summary here (including a survey on first principles of right reason and the way one has to deal with a cumulative case) and the specific response on the problem of evils here.]

    Namely, we respond to objections that: (i) LT does not like the cosmological inference from a contingent cosmos to a necessary being, (ii) he does not like to hang his hat on implications, and (iii) he thought that the description of the nanomolecular technologies of the cell in terms of digital, algorithmic information processing systems constituting a von Neumann self-replicating automaton — cf here, esp sections a and b — was a “metaphor.”

    Above [and in the linked], it was shown that:

    a –> The genetic code (yes, CODE, as in, LANGUAGE) based DNA –> mRNA –> Ribosome + tRNAs –> protein chaining process is precisely a case of discrete-state, code-based information system processing, i.e. instantiation not metaphor or analogy. (This, at length, LT had to concede.)

    b –> Moreover, this digital information system is a key part of a self-replicating entity that also interacts with and acts on its environment, i.e the cell indeed instantiates the generic von Neumann type self-replicator.

    c –> Given the implied complexity and the fact that even so small a set of digital, coded, functionally specific information as 1,000 bits sits in a configuration space of 2^1,000 ~ 10^301, the whole observed cosmos of ~10^80 atoms across its lifespan and changing state every Planck time could not credibly undergo enough states to sample 1 in 10^150 of that space. That is, a random walk search of that config space rounds down to no search.

    d –> So, chance, the other source of highly contingent outcomes [natural selection filters simply cut off lower or non-functioning sub populations so, it does not create configurations] is not a credible explanation for such an information system. Intelligence routinely produces objects and systems that exceed this threshold, e.g. this post.

    e –> Credibly, life is designed. [And by an intelligence, and in a cosmos that sits at a finely and complexly balanced operating point that facilitates such C-chemistry cell based life, i.e the cosmos is also credibly designed. Something very much like God is credible.]

    f –> Of course, I raised the issue of an implication above. It turns out that LT up to the point where I corrected him, seems to have conflated the act of inferring — which is subjective — with the fact of implication. But, once we have some claim P, that cannot be true and another claim Q is false, then P => Q, i.e. IF P is so, THEN Q must also be so. (For instance, if I am typing this post then I must be alive, intelligent, purposeful and able to speak and write English.)

    g –> Of course, there is an “I” — a subject — who makes the inference just above; but, once it is well warranted, it is a fact that stands on its own merits. It is objectively true.

    h –> And, chains of thousands or millions of such implications are routinely used in math, science and technology, as well as management and daily life, so we just as routinely hang a lot more than our hats on implications and well-warranted inferences to such implications.

    i –> To object to an implication because it is an implication or because a subject infers it — because one does not like where it points, is thus selective hyperskepticism: making a question-begging and inconsistent objection that would not be made in a materially similar case of comparable warrant where one agrees with the conclusion.

    j –> Of course, the context of the objection was the inference from a contingent cosmos to a cause of that cosmos, and onward to the existence of a non-contingent, necessary being as the ultimate ground for the observed credibly contingent cosmos.

    k –> This brings to bear a now common objection to reasoning on cause and contingency. To that the classic, simple example of a fire is a sufficient counter:

    1: A fire has a beginning, it needs to be sustained in existence [it needs fuel heat and oxidiser in an exothermic chain reaction], and it may go out.

    2: A fire is contingent, i.e its beginning and existence depend on things beyond it. (There are circumstances on which it can and will exist, and there are circumstances where it cannot exist.)

    3: That is it is caused, has sufficient factors that allow it to spring into existence, and has necessary factors that if absent will block its beginning or cut off its existence.

    4: Such factors are termed: CAUSES.

    5: A sufficient cluster of causal factors will trigger and sustain a fire, and absence or removal of a necessary factor will prevent its beginning or make it go out.

    6: Just so, our observed cosmos credibly had a beginning, and has been sustained in existence to today. It is contingent, was caused, and is caused.

    7: But, an actualised infinite regress of causes (as was pointed out above, cf 44) is absurd, so the chain of causes that led to our cosmos terminates.

    8: Once we have a contingent cosmos, we have a root cause that is self-sufficient, i.e it is not contingent, does not depend on other causes, and cannot go out of existence due to want of a necessary causal factor.

    9: We have just described what philosophers call, a necessary being.

    10: The real issue is which candidate for this is the best, e.g. a wider deeper material cosmos out of which sub-cosmi bubble up from time to time at random, or an intelligent, purposeful designer.

    l –> But already, we have reason to believe our cosmos is designed, so a designer is plainly the more credible cause; unpalatable though that may be to LT and ilk.

    m –> Similarly, once we see that we are morally governed creatures, it is credible that we are under moral law and a Lawgiver.

    n –> The best overall candidate is a Creator-God who as to his character is good.

    GEM of TKI

  59. KF (59),

    Thanks, truly, for the post spelling out the chain of reasoning for your claim that a contingent cosmos implies a necessary being.

    All of the “personal stuff” has been a distraction, but I hope to have addressed the whole matter in a post here, that you are invited to read. I bear you no ill will; indeed, I don’t know you at all.

    In what follows, which is also at my blog, I have tried to comment on my concerns with your long post. Unfortunately, my post too will be very long. I hope you find it worthwhile.

    a – The genetic code (yes, CODE, as in, LANGUAGE) based DNA – > mRNA – > Ribosome + tRNAs – > protein chaining process is precisely a case of discrete-state, code-based information system processing, i.e. instantiation not metaphor or analogy. (This, at length, LT had to concede.)

    Let me point out that code and language are not necessarily equivalent, at least linguistically. To a linguist, and this is partially my training, true language is (i) a mode of communication; (ii) it has semanticity, in that its signals have meaning; (iii) it has a pragmatic function; (iv) it has interchangeability, which is the ability of participants to both send and receive messages; (v) it has cultural transmission, in that users can learn the language system from other users; (vi) it has arbitrariness, in that the form of the signals is not logically related to their meaning; (vii) it has discreteness, which is the property of having complex messages built up out of smaller parts; (viii) it has displacement, which is the ability to communicate about things not present in space or time; and (ix) it has productivity, which is the ability to produce ans understand any number of messages, including messages never expressed before and expressing novel ideas.

    Codes typically represent languages and have no syntax or structure of their own. GEM’s use of code and language here require serious justification on his part. Are these terms denotatively appropriate or are they human convention for nicely approximating a conception of how genetic processes function?

    GEM continues:

    b – Moreover, this digital information system is a key part of a self-replicating entity that also interacts with and acts on its environment, i.e the cell indeed instantiates the generic von Neumann type self-replicator.

    c – Given the implied complexity and the fact that even so small a set of digital, coded, functionally specific information as 1,000 bits sits in a configuration space of 2^1,000 ~ 10^301, the whole observed cosmos of ~10^80 atoms across its lifespan and changing state every Planck time could not credibly undergo enough states to sample 1 in 10^150 of that space. That is, a random walk search of that config space rounds down to no search.

    GEM’s argument in Item C seems to amount to COMPLEXITY, therefore NO EVOLUTION. It appears to be an argument from personal incredulity based on the idea of teleology. That is, the result of the process is really unlikely and the chances of getting to that specific result are almost infinitesimal. Yet, this is post hoc thinking, if I’ve represented GEM correctly.

    However, I must admit that I am not quite certain about what GEM is saying here. The numbers and terms like “configuration space” are out of my daily ken. Moving on:

    d – So, chance, the other source of highly contingent outcomes [natural selection filters simply cut off lower or non-functioning sub populations so, it does not create configurations] is not a credible explanation for such an information system. Intelligence routinely produces objects and systems that exceed this threshold, e.g. this post.

    Of course, natural selection is not the whole of evolutionary processes at all. I give an overview of evolution here. GEM then says:

    e – Credibly, life is designed. [And by an intelligence, and in a cosmos that sits at a finely and complexly balanced operating point that facilitates such C-chemistry cell based life, i.e the cosmos is also credibly designed. Something very much like God is credible.]

    Whoa, we have gone far into “ought” territory here in Item E. What does “designed” mean? How did we get from very complex in Item C to “designed”? GEM needs to show his math here. We are in no position at this point to deal with other terms such as “intelligence” and “God.”

    f – Of course, I raised the issue of an implication above. It turns out that LT up to the point where I corrected him, seems to have conflated the act of inferring — which is subjective — with the fact of implication. But, once we have some claim P, that cannot be true and another claim Q is false, then P = > Q, i.e. IF P is so, THEN Q must also be so. (For instance, if I am typing this post then I must be alive, intelligent, purposeful and able to speak and write English.)

    GEM misses my point, I think. Implications rely on assumptions about P and Q, and these assumptions need to be examined along with the premise of implication. GEM’s example, for instance, doesn’t imagine that GEM actually may not know not a lick of English at all and is instead typing from an English exemplar. If GEM is merely copying a sheet of paper from another source, then a critical element of the implication is flawed. Similarly, GEM’s claim that a contingent universe implies an intelligent creator cannot simply be accepted at face value. I’m not accepting the implication just yet because I’d like to “peek under the covers,” as it were. And when we peek, we find some serious gaps and flaws, as I have already demonstrated above.

    We go forward with GEM:

    g – Of course, there is an “I” — a subject — who makes the inference just above; but, once it is well warranted, it is a fact that stands on its own merits. It is objectively true.

    I’m not sure what these assertions of the “I” and objective truth are supposed to mean or do. It seems as though GEM is trying to suggest that his implication of a creator (or a credible creator) is objectively true. But the implication is unsupported and the assumption of objectivity is nonsensical at this point.

    h – And, chains of thousands or millions of such implications are routinely used in math, science and technology, as well as management and daily life, so we just as routinely hang a lot more than our hats on implications and well-warranted inferences to such implications.

    This unsupported assertion glosses over the fact that sitting around dreaming whether life is designed has little resemblance to the practical application of reasoning and implication. This item provides no support for the main argument.

    i – To object to an implication because it is an implication or because a subject infers it — because one does not like where it points, is thus selective hyperskepticism: making a question-begging and inconsistent objection that would not be made in a materially similar case of comparable warrant where one agrees with the conclusion.

    I question the implication more than object to it. You, GEM, have the burden to show the implication is both valid and sound. So far your points have failed to meet this burden; this, unfortunately, is a fact.

    j – Of course, the context of the objection was the inference from a contingent cosmos to a cause of that cosmos, and onward to the existence of a non-contingent, necessary being as the ultimate ground for the observed credibly contingent cosmos.

    k – This brings to bear a now common objection to reasoning on cause and contingency. To that the classic, simple example of a fire is a sufficient counter:

    1: A fire has a beginning, it needs to be sustained in existence [it needs fuel heat and oxidiser in an exothermic chain reaction], and it may go out.

    2: A fire is contingent, i.e its beginning and existence depend on things beyond it. (There are circumstances on which it can and will exist, and there are circumstances where it cannot exist.)

    3: That is it is caused, has sufficient factors that allow it to spring into existence, and has necessary factors that if absent will block its beginning or cut off its existence.

    4: Such factors are termed: CAUSES.

    5: A sufficient cluster of causal factors will trigger and sustain a fire, and absence or removal of a necessary factor will prevent its beginning or make it go out.

    6: Just so, our observed cosmos credibly had a beginning, and has been sustained in existence to today. It is contingent, was caused, and is caused.

    7: But, an actualised infinite regress of causes (as was pointed out above, cf 44) is absurd, so the chain of causes that led to our cosmos terminates.

    8: Once we have a contingent cosmos, we have a root cause that is self-sufficient, i.e it is not contingent, does not depend on other causes, and cannot go out of existence due to want of a necessary causal factor.

    9: We have just described what philosophers call, a necessary being.

    10: The real issue is which candidate for this is the best, e.g. a wider deeper material cosmos out of which sub-cosmi bubble up from time to time at random, or an intelligent, purposeful designer.

    I think the reasoning here is flawed when you try to got from a fire on Earth to the very beginning of space-time in our universe. I think the points I make to tgpeeler are relevant here:

    Let me ask, though, whether you find terms such as “past,” “cause,” and “first” problematic in the context of the origins of the universe. Are these terms, as we are using them here, appropriate and applicable to the origins of the universe?

    When it comes to our universe, we have a scientific case for claiming that we can explain it without having to go outside of it. For a very high-level, 101, explanation of what I’m saying see Sean Carroll’s video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCVqJw7T1WU.

    One of the arguments I’ve made to Kairos is that when going “outside” our universe, we are hard-pressed to extrapolate from the present (e.g., as you say, “things are changing in the present”) to a past as far back as the very origins of our universe.

    So, I think most everything that you or I could possibly say about a “first cause” would not only be uncertain, but I might wager it would be wrong (including this statement I just made). But now I’m speculating wildly, too.

    I said before that we have a scientific case for the universe creating itself from nothing (I think this is close enough to the famous statement from Hawking’s recent book). I’m saying it’s a great or even a good case; I’m only asserting that there is a case. This much I think is indisputable.

    So, I have your case and I have Hawking’s case. I think the question at this point is how should reasonable people evaluate the two cases against each other (and other cases, as may be appropriate). Taking a neutral stance toward both cases, we need to know what criteria to apply in determining the quality of cases and the comparative evaluation.

    My intuition is that this is as far as any of us can go.

    GEM continues:

    l – But already, we have reason to believe our cosmos is designed, so a designer is plainly the more credible cause; unpalatable though that may be to LT and ilk.

    Unfortunately, we don’t really have such reason to believe our cosmos is designed. You’ve given no definition of design and you’ve not really addressed any competing theories in any detail, so how could they possibly be undercut?

    m – Similarly, once we see that we are morally governed creatures, it is credible that we are under moral law and a Lawgiver

    Assuming that we see and understand what “morally governed” means. Paley would be proud to see the watchmaker analogy coming in here. GEM finishes with the expected claim:

    n – The best overall candidate is a Creator-God who as to his character is good.

    If you say so, but I disagree, and I don’t think you or anyone else has shown it.

    I don’t know where the discussion goes from here, but I think it can move forward significantly.

  60. LarTanner @ 60: well said!!!

    If I may add a piece of my own observation to help interpret what I think GEM is talking about in his point c:

    “c – Given the implied complexity and the fact that even so small a set of digital, coded, functionally specific information as 1,000 bits sits in a configuration space of 2^1,000 ~ 10^301, the whole observed cosmos of ~10^80 atoms across its lifespan and changing state every Planck time could not credibly undergo enough states to sample 1 in 10^150 of that space. That is, a random walk search of that config space rounds down to no search.”

    From previous experience with GEM’s posts, he seems to assume that the first organism that was capable of self-replication must have contained at least “1000 bits of digital, coded, functionally specific information”, and that this organism spontaneously arose through a “random search” of all possible configurations.

    IF that is indeed what he means here, he needs to justify this assumption. However, I am uncertain where such a justification could possibly be derived from, since OOL research (of any sort, including from ID adherents) to date has not presented any models for a clear candidate of a first organism, to my knowledge. But maybe I am wrong and GEM knows of one, which would be exciting indeed! Importantly, what almost all directions of OOL research seem to have in common is the absence of “random search among all possible configurations” assumptions – simply because no realistic environment ever allows all possible configurations, and will almost certainly favor and disfavor certain categories of configurations over others…

    If that is not what he means, I am at loss myself, and maybe he himself can clarify…

  61. F/N: Those looking for further discussion of the just above may want to start with the 101 survey here, a component of a work in progress course.

  62. Mr Tanner:

    Sorry, but you and your ilk have now forfeited the right of civil discussion, through insistent slander, vulgarity and abuse.

    I do not find above a retraction of and apology for the key, invidious comparison you made [or for your false allegation of routine censorship at UD, belied by the very presence of the comment just above].

    Let me remind you of that invidious comparison, which is laced with the sort of now habitual new atheist hostility that is setting out to rip our civilisation apart:

    The Creationist Is/Ought is an argumentative bait-and-switch. You think you’re getting a straightforward argument but what you’re getting is evangelism. The evangelism can be of the soft-shoe variety, as with Dembski, or it can be more of the Torquemada sort, as with a character called “GEM of The Kairos Initiative,” . . .

    You have stated that you do not know me.

    That is indeed true, but you know about me that I am a Christian, and on that you were willing to smear me through instantly inferred guilt by invidious association with a man who was a servant of a tyranny.

    A man whose principal occupation, the inquisition, was courageously denounced in his own time by the two leading saints of the church in Spain. (Less saintly people took such a view of him that he had to be escorted on his travels by a troop of 50 soldiers.)

    Thy speech bewrayeth thee, not thine accent, but here thy tone of insistent hostility and incivility.

    Your claim to not having ill-will towards me as a Christian is patently false. False by virtue of failing to do the duty of care of basic respect and fairness. Further false, by virtue of insistent compounding abuse and refusal to acknowledge, correct and retract then apologise for wrong and harm. Compounded by attempts to smooth over and make light of such.

    Truly sad.

    And yet, somewhere, you instinctively know that this is not good enough.

    You too, find that you are subject to moral government.

    Thus, your very conscience is telling you that you are the subject and creation of a Lawgiver who desires that we live by the right and the good and the true.

    By the kind grace of God, there is yet hope for you.

    So, I invite you to climb out of the mud, smoke and poison of the trifecta fallacy, and return to the pale of civility.

    Onlookers, as to any matters of actual substance Mr Tanner may wish to raise, I am content to rest on the above, and on the already linked, more extensive 101 level discussion, with the survey of origins science that starts here.

    Good day, Mr Tanner.

    GEM of TKI

  63. molch,

    Importantly, what almost all directions of OOL research seem to have in common is the absence of “random search among all possible configurations” assumptions – simply because no realistic environment ever allows all possible configurations, and will almost certainly favor and disfavor certain categories of configurations over others…

    What “categories of configurations” do you have in mind in respect to KF’s post?

  64. F/N: Mr Paley was far deeper than his detractors.

    Indeed — having first heard of him through his detractors — I was at first astonished to see that in his Ch 2 he did in fact extend the discussion of the watch to the case of a self-replicating watch. Somehow, that never makes it into the strawmannised dismissals of Paley. His conclusion, aptly, is that a watch that has the additional facility of self-replication is a deeper wonder and testimony to high art and ingenious design than an ordinary watch.

    The living cell is a self-replicating automaton, and has in it many, many mechanisms and even components that dwarf the ingenuity and complex functionally specific organisation and information of a watch.

    Such FSCI, and especially digitally coded FSCI, is an empirically well substantiated signature of design. Indeed, absent a priori impositions, objectors to the inference from FSCI to design, cannot provide an observed case of an entity storing at least 1,000 bits of such FSCI that we have seen being made that is not the work of an intelligent designer. Of this routine fact we have literally billions of cases starting with the Internet, or just posts in this thread.

    And, in the light of the von Neumann self-replicator, he is right. (Cf Section a here on Paley, and section B on the von Neumann self-replicator.)

    Also, observe how insistently Mr Tanner resorts to the worn out device of dismissing what he imagines is a “mere” analogy.

    First, even Wiki has to concede that analogy is the foundation of practical, empirical and inductive reasoning, so to dismiss analogies is to saw off he branch on which we all sit.

    Selective hyperskepticism, reducing itself to self-undermining absurdity.

    Second, the DNA, mRNA, Ribosome, tRNA system in teh cell is an INSTANTIATION of a code –thus, language- based, digital, algorithmic, step by step information system that is at the heart of cell based life. (Indeed, above, Mr Tanner was compelled to acknowledge this.)

    The aggregate complexity and specific, functional organisation of that system scream design to all but those who are deafened by a priori commitments to denying what would overturn their comfortable, amoral materialism.

    As already discussed, just the stored information in the system is far in excess of anything that blind chance and necessity could credibly achieve on the gamut of he observed cosmos, across its working life. And, to infer an unobserved underlying multiverse opens the point that this is metaphysics and so other alternatives have a fair right to a seat at the table of comparative difficulties, as well as the obvious point that the cosmos bakery that cooks up subcosmi like ours is at least as much a functionally specific, complex organised information rich entity.

    So, the design issue has not been evaded.

  65. F/N 2: Molch. The observed cell embraces a metabolic system, and an associated self-replicating facility that encodes for the metabolic entity as well as the machinery used in self-replication.

    1,000 bits is 128 bytes, or about one longish sentence worth of information. As one who has designed and implemented microprocessor based discrete state controller systems, I can assure you that 128 bytes is a very short compass of information indeed; vastly inadequate to set up a system that will initialise itself, then functoin to control its behaviour in its environment and then code its own structure and the algorithm to replicate it.

    The only relevant empirical data we have is the world of unicellular organisms. That world tells us that cells of order 100 – 300 k bits of DNA storage do not carry out the fulls et of chemical operations of life and parasite off more complex living cells. The fully functional cells in nature start out at 600 – 1,000 k bits, and the lower end is the point where knocking out genes leads to disintegration of viability.

    So, I am not merely asserting arbitrary assumptions at all, as can be confirmned by looking at the discussion in the note linked in the LH column before making strawmannish dismissive remarks.

    What those who advocate evolutionary materialism need to empirically establish, is how such an entity could arise by blind chance and mechnical necessity, in any reasonable environment. We already know that intelligent designers can do the sort of work, indeed Venter’s recent work — to name just one case — shows that intelligently designed life forms are not just possible but actual.

  66. F/N 3: I should point out that computer languages are languages. This is especially evident when we see symbols and rules for their assignment, and in particular rules for data representation through meaningful clusters of symbols [i.e. codes] and for procedural steps such as initiation and halting [think, start, continuation and stop codons]. If you look at machine codes in particular, you will see that the elements are primitive: load, store, transfer, start, stop, etc. I suggest onlookers look up Abel’s discussion on the cybernetic cut, here.

    We have never yet seen a machine code — as well as the associated implementing architecture, machinery and organisation — spontaneously assemble itself out of blind chance configurations and mechanical necessity. Nor, on the relevant issues of isolation of islands of function in config spaces, is such likely to happen.

    Routinely, we see such entities being designed, developed and implemented by intelligent, deeply knowledgeable designers.

    In short, this is yet another instance of how FSCI is an empirically reliable signature of intelligence. One we have every epistemic right to take seriously until and unless those who would overthrow it can provide an empirically observed counterexample.

  67. LT says “GEM’s argument in Item C seems to amount to COMPLEXITY, therefore NO EVOLUTION. It appears to be an argument from personal incredulity based on the idea of teleology. That is, the result of the process is really unlikely and the chances of getting to that specific result are almost infinitesimal. Yet, this is post hoc thinking, if I’ve represented GEM correctly.”

    I don’t believe you have. In fact, you couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The argument is not “I can’t imagine how something this complex could arise by chance and time so it must not have.” The argument is “we ALWAYS find mind behind information in every aspect of life so it bears thinking about that biological information may also be caused by mind.” What, pray tell, is so difficult to comprehend about that?

    A couple of problems for you are: you can not come up with one example of (human) information that does not involve language (symbols and rules), free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Not one. Second, there is not one example of information in the animal world that does not involve the use of symbols and rules.

    If you are an intellectually “serious” (that is you strictly obey the laws of rational thought)naturalist/materialist/physicalist (in my experience there is no such animal) then you must deny the existence of free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Indeed, you have no explanation for language, either. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain how symbols are arranged so as to mean something. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain free will. You cannot, by means of physical laws, explain intentionality. In other words, the intellectually serious naturalist can’t explain Jack S. about anything that matters to human beings. Your fakery (that you can) is breathtaking.

    You, who reject the very existence of everything that makes information possible, by means of information presume to inform rational, serious people that time and chance and the laws of physics can account for everything. Why can’t you see the insanity of this? You can apparently deny everything that makes information possible, while using information in order to make that denial, without your head exploding. I can’t connect to that but perhaps that’s just me.

    p.s. The argument from “personal incredulity” can be perfectly valid. I’m sure you use it all the time. Let’s say I offer you a foolproof way to beat the lottery. All you have to do is give me 50% of your “certain” winnings up front. Gonna jump on that deal? Didn’t think so.

    I have personally seen hundreds of thousands of books, millions, even, and probably read over ten thousand. I’ve never seen one yet that did not have an author. Therefore, I think I am perfectly justified to be incredulous when any intellectual poseur comes along and trots out the nonsense that biological information, which is orders of magnitude more complex than human generated information, can be explained by “natural” causes. What a joke. I am entitled to my incredulity. Indeed, I am forced by an overwhelming mass of evidence and the relentless authority of reason to be incredulous. When you come across one book, just one book, without an author, let me know and I’ll start paying serious attention to what you have to say. Until then, not.

  68. p.s. I did the math after the fact on the number of books I have probably read. Ten thousand is certainly on the high side. Closer to six or seven thousand would probably be more accurate. Regrets for the casual error. Although if I count comic books I read as a kid, ten might not be far off… :-)

  69. kairosfocus:

    “The only relevant empirical data we have is the world of unicellular organisms. That world tells us that cells of order 100 – 300 k bits of DNA storage do not carry out the fulls et of chemical operations of life and parasite off more complex living cells. The fully functional cells in nature start out at 600 – 1,000 k bits, and the lower end is the point where knocking out genes leads to disintegration of viability.”

    which tells us that modern day unicellular organisms are most likely not good candidates for models of the first organisms. Are you claiming that organisms we observe currently are the only type of organism that could possibly have existed?

    “What those who advocate evolutionary materialism need to empirically establish, is how such an entity could arise by blind chance and mechnical necessity, in any reasonable environment.”

    Sure, that’s what OOL researchers are working on.
    However, your claim seems to be that, because a complete, plausible model organism and evolutionary pathway has not been suggested to date, that it CATEGORICALLY CANNOT happen. Is that indeed what you are saying?

  70. Clive:

    “What “categories of configurations” do you have in mind in respect to KF’s post”

    that would obviously depend on the model KF suggests as a possible first organism.

  71. molch,

    that would obviously depend on the model KF suggests as a possible first organism.

    Does it? You’re talking about categories of configurations within physical environments, which doesn’t require positing the first organism to know which physical environments exist.

  72. molch,

    However, your claim seems to be that, because a complete, plausible model organism and evolutionary pathway has not been suggested to date, that it CATEGORICALLY CANNOT happen. Is that indeed what you are saying?

    Once you understand what is necessary for life, indeed, indeed.

  73. Clive:

    “You’re talking about categories of configurations within physical environments, which doesn’t require positing the first organism to know which physical environments exist”

    It requires to know WHAT you are configuring (DNA, RNA, proteins, amino acids, fatty acids,…..???), and which physical environment is applicable at the time and place in question.

    “Once you understand what is necessary for life, indeed, indeed”

    Wow, are you saying you have found a way to know all the possible shapes life could take? Do tell!

  74. molch,

    Wow, are you saying you have found a way to know all the possible shapes life could take? Do tell!

    What already exists as life is a good starting point. You’re welcome to have fantasies about other life, I can’t help that fancy.

  75. molch says “Sure, that’s what OOL researchers are working on. However, your claim seems to be that, because a complete, plausible model organism and evolutionary pathway has not been suggested to date, that it CATEGORICALLY CANNOT happen. Is that indeed what you are saying?”

    Kuppers says in “Information and the Origin of Life” that “The question of the origin of life is thus equivalent to the question of the origin of biological information.”

    So molch, all you need do is show how information can be created apart from language, free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Oh, and only using the laws of physics. Haven’t we been down this road before?? So, yes, categorically, the laws of physics cannot create life, ever.

  76. tgpeeler:

    “So molch, all you need do is show how information can be created apart from language, free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind.”

    I do? And why would I need to do that? I didn’t make any claims. KF did. He is the one who needs to support his claim.

    “Haven’t we been down this road before??”

    Yes, I remember starting down this road with you once, until you broke out in profanities. And after reading your 68 in response to LarTanner, I am sure I wouldn’t have to wait long to be blessed again in like spirit. So no thanks, I’ll pass. I prefer productive conversations.

  77. Clive:

    “What already exists as life is a good starting point.”

    sure, but where do you go from there when researching into life forms that obviously do no longer exist?

    Fortunately most scientists disagree with you that research efforts into topics like what kind of life might be possible, and what life might have looked like on the young earth, are “phantasies”; Maybe they will be successful, maybe they will not. But it sure would be a bummer if the people that suspected the existence of microbes would have listened to those that called them crazy;

  78. Ms Molch:

    Did you read through my linked on OOL?

    (Pardon my directness, but it does not seem so from your remarks. As, you would have seen inter alia the discussion of M. pneumoniae, which was a recent great hope for a pointer to the imagined “simple” primitive cell, again disappointed. If you have not done that bit of basic homework, you are in no position to fairly project unto me the notion that I have not thought about or addressed the issue of requisites for original life. If you have read, then on fair comment you are guilty of willful, irresponsible and unfair strawmannish misrepresentation.)

    A glance at the linked will show that while I have discussed various ideas about origin of life and characteristics of life, I zeroed in on two key linked characteristics that even minimal cell based life would have to have: [a] metabolism and [b] self-replication on some form of genetic code. Surely, you are familiar withthe dominant two schools of thought on OOL, metabolism first [Shapiro], and Genes/RNA first [Orgel]? Did you see my excerpted exchange between the two and the resulting mutual destruction of the main schools of thought, leading to the conundrum highlighted by science writer Robinson:

    . . Scientists have come a long way from the early days of supposing that all this would inevitably arise in the “prebiotic soup” of the ancient oceans; indeed, evidence eventually argued against such a soup, and the concept was largely discarded as the field progressed. But significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite. [["Jump-Starting a Cellular World: Investigating the Origin of Life, from Soup to Networks."

    In short, you have set up and knocked over a strawman.

    Let us turn instead to look at he two halves of the key point.

    Metabolism, to take in and process energy and materials form the environment to make working components and the energy to carry out the work.

    Self-replication, to reproduce. And, potentially, per the theory of evolution, to vary, to compete for niches and so to have that descent with modification via differential reproductive success that is the touch-stone of the theory of evolution.

    But, to have metabolism joined to a self-replicating, code based facility, i.e to be relevant to life as we observe it -- i.e. provide observation of another form of life and of how it could have given rise to the cells we see or you are posing empty speculation under false colours of science -- we are dealing with the requisites of a von Neumann self-replicator. Indeed, when this was proposed in the late 1940's it predicted the role for DNA.

    And, once we see the [in fact, logical as well as empirical] need for these two linked capacities, your dismissal attempt collapses.

    For, your coding facility has to store the information for itself and for the mertabolic facility, and there have to be associated, carefully organised and irreducibly complex machinery. This rapidly takes us well beyond the 1,000 bit FSCI threshold, which is itself based on the observed scope of time and relevant materials available in our observed cosmos. (In fact, it is generous, as by far and away most materials are in H and He, or are in non-habitable zones.)

    As I summarised in the linked:

    ________________

    >> Now, following von Neumann generally (and as previously noted), such a machine uses . . .

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [added: in the cell, the metabolic entity, in the "clanking replicator" as illustrated a universal computer that covers comparable ground] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling:

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    Also, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating machine with an integral von Neumann universal constructor.

    That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicating machine to exist. [[Take just one core part out, and self-replicating functionality ceases: the self-replicating machine is irreducibly complex (IC).]

    This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    Immediately, we are looking at islands of organised function for both the machinery and the information in the wider sea of possible (but mostly non-functional) configurations.

    In short, outside such functionally specific — thus, isolated — information-rich hot (or, “target”) zones, want of correct components and/or of proper organisation and/or co-ordination will block function from emerging or being sustained across time from generation to generation. So, once the set of possible configurations is large enough and the islands of function are credibly sufficiently specific/isolated, it is unreasonable to expect such function to arise from chance, or from chance circumstances driving blind natural forces under the known laws of nature. >>
    ___________________

    The involved process logic of metabolism joined to self-replication through step by step information based procedures leads to these factors and constraints, not mere dismissive personal incredulity or the like. [BTW, add a few trillion dollars and about 100 years of research, and we are looking at a preview of the machinery for galaxy exploration and colonisation ships, probably based on exploiting the resources of our local asteroid belt. That is my other angle on all this stuff: how do we begin to prepare for the breakout from the Sol system?]

    That logic is supported by the observed — and remember, this is a successful prediction by von Neumann here [a sort of proto success of design theory BTW] — systems of cell based life as confirmed over the past 60 years.

    So, if you want to speculate over non-observed life, let us recognise that for speculative science fiction, and let us insist instead on empirical support relevant to life as we see it or as we can empirically support. Speculative computer simulations do not count, as they are not only designed from top to bottom, but they are not constrained by the inconvenient statistical thermodynamic [isolated islands of organised function] realities of warm little ponds or undersea vents or cometary dirty snowballs etc.

    Or as TGP put it — thanks for watching my 6 again — in his response:

    Kuppers says in “Information and the Origin of Life” that “The question of the origin of life is thus equivalent to the question of the origin of biological information.”

    So molch, all you need do is show how information can be created apart from language, free will, rationality, intentionality, and mind. Oh, and only using the laws of physics.

    Going beyond that, a similar challenge arises to try to explain body plan level biodiversity.

    Leading to a very similar conclusion.

    On the evidence of metabolising, self-replicating cells as the foundation of observed life on earth, I have excellent reason to see FSCI through and through, and to infer that since it is an empirically reliable signature of intelligently directed configuration, aka design, then life and its major body plans are designed.

    As a scientific, inductively anchored, inference to best explanation view.

    GEM of TKI

  79. LarTanner (#60):

    I have been following this exchange with interest. The last couple of days have been a little busy for me, but I now have some free time to address your questions on the existence of a Necessary Being. (I’ll leave the discussion of the requirements for the first cell to kairosfocus, whose command of the scientific literature on the subject is far better than mine.)

    Some time ago, I set up a Web page of useful articles for Professor Jerry Coyne – including evidence for the existence of God, for the occurrence of miracles, for the immateriality and immortality of the soul, and for the central doctrines of Christianity. I deliberately picked the best articles available on the Web. The Web page is available online at http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/jerry.html and if you want to understand the argument for a Necessary Being, I suggest you have a look at section 1.2.1, on the modal cosmological argument. I suggest that you acquaint yourself with the arguments developed by Dr. Robert Koons.

    Section 1.2.4 deals with the fine-tuning argument in depth, and 1.2.5 has a long list of articles relating to Intelligent Design.

    If you’re wondering why we should believe that a Necessary Being is personal, I suggest you have a look at section 3.1.

    As regards the Necessary Being, here’s something you might want to keep in mind. When I was reading Germain Grisez’s book Beyond the New Theism (1974), I was struck by Grisez’s use of a rationality norm: one should always ask a question, unless there is a good reason not to ask it.

    There is no good reason why we should not ask: what explains the cosmos? In every conceivable way, it is totally contingent. Whether we look at each entity within it, or consider it as a whole, it remains utterly contingent. It’s not a good place to stop in a demand for explanations.

    What would be? Well, obviously, something outside space and time. Anything in space and time, or for that matter, anything capable of coming into existence or going out of existence, is not a being which obviously requires no explanation. It still seems reasonable to ask of a being that can go out of existence: what explains its existence? Ditto for any being with specific attributes (e.g. this size or this color), especially quantitative ones.

    The universe, however, has such attributes. Thus it is reasonable to look beyond it to a Transcendent Cause beyond space and time, for an explanation of its existence.

    As to why this explanation should be a personal Being, I’ll have to recommend the articles on my Web page (section 3.1). That’s all for now.

  80. PS: In the nearer term, such explorations should be tied to the sort of resilient communities development initiative that Jakubowski and others are looking into. We need to look at genuinely sustainable and robust development, rethinking industrial civilisation and agriculture. (All we need to do is to keep in mind the prospect of building a town and farms into an asteroid and finding a propulsion system to push it out into the reaches of space.) If we are wise . . .

  81. VJT:

    Excellent resources as usual. I loved the Autumn reading thread when it came out.

    I noted above on the case of a fire, to show that a contingent being is dependent on external necessary causal factors, which is why such a being has a beginning, and why it may come to an end: there is at least one external factor that was not there until the beginning. And should some similar factor be withdrawn, the being will cease. Just like a fire.

    Credibly, our cosmos is of this order, given the evidence that points so strongly to a beginning, generally dated to 13.7 BYA.

    So, it has an external cause that has in it at least one necessary factor that was not “on” until the universe came into being.

    A suggested chain of such causes will terminate, as we cannot successively instantiate an infinite chain of causes, per the absurdities of an attempted infinite succession. So, if we inhabit a contingent world [P], that is because — full logical sense of necessity — there is an underlying cause [Q] that is not contingent, i.e is necessary: P => Q. Q being a self-contained being, without external, necessary factors.

    If a contingent P exists, a necessary Q exists as its root cause.

    This is reinforced by the if not impossible, then actual principle for Q. There is no internal contradiction in Q as a concept, so Q is actual.

    The real, serious issue is the nature of Q.

    A glance at our fine-tuned cosmos sitting at an operating point that enables C-chemistry, cell based life, and it is apparent that Q is intelligent and knowledgeable, also purposeful towards such life. These characteristics point to person. That holds even through a multiverse as such will have to be finely balanced to have a “sub-cosmos bakery” that produces a distribution of sub-cosmi that have in it a range that includes at least one cosmos such as ours.

    We are back at he point of having good reason to infer to a necessary being who is a powerful, intelligent, purposeful designer and implementer of our world.

    As we reflect on ourselves as credibly morally governed, that in turn points to Q being an IS who is inherently good as to character so able to ground OUGHT.

    The conclusion is obvious: Q = God.

    Not offered as a proof that compels assent of all rational observers, but as the best warranted explanation. And, to reject the explanation P because Q, one has to commit to premises and presuppositions that are sufficiently counter intuitive or even outright absurd, to give pause.

    (Take a look at Russell’s objections, as Koons reports here! rejecting the concept of a universe? Even 60 years ago, that should have given serious pause! Same, for infinite chains of contingent beings! And, for many other skeptical objections. For instance, go take out and strike a match. Watch the fire for a bit, then tilt the match up so the flame tries to re-burn the charred part. It goes out. Why? Be-CAUSE fuel is a necessary factor for a fire. The reality of necessary cause is prior to our conceiving the term or the concept. A fire is a contingent and caused being, with at least one necessary factor so it begins, is sustained and may cease. Can you give one good reason why a cosmos with a beginning does not have a similar necessary causal factor? And so by implication we move from the contingent tot he necessary. LT of course has objected to implication, presumably because he does not like where this one points. He and we routinely hang far more than our hats on the power and reality of implications and causes. In short, the objection is question-beggingly selectively hyperskeptical, is inconsistent with how we must live, and is ideological and tied to the now common dismissal of the three plus one key first principles of right and sound reasoning. [cf slightly updated discussion here.])

    And, the credible reality of God is all we need, for millions restify to having met and known him in life transforming ways: in him we live, move and have our being. Through him, we find a transforming breakthrough to our moral and other personal and cultural dilemmas. And if the testimony of these millions is to be dismissed as delusional, starting with their sense of being morally governed, one ends up committing to such a dim view of the mind that the mind is now utterly suspect.

    Which drastically undercuts the credibility of the thinking of the materialistic skeptics themselves.

    GEM of TKI

  82. PS: Onlookers,

    Please go get a box of matches and do the match experiment:

    1: Strike a match, let it burn a bit, then tilt it up so the flame tries to re-burn the burned part.

    2: What happens or tends to happen, why?

    3: What does this tell us — empirically and observationally [Hume et al notwithstanding] — about the reality of necessary causal factors?

    4: Similarly, slide a second match slowly over the strike strip. Notice what happens when there is not enough heat. This is a second necessary factor.

    5: Get a match book or the like, and a bowl of water. Dip in the match and book, then try to strike under water. What happens or tends to happen? What does that tell us about the importance of air as a causal factor for this sort of fire?

    6: Do we now see how necessary factors can be clustered to form a sufficient condition?

    7: Think. Can you think of anything that has a beginning and/or that may come to an end that does not have at least one necessary causal factor? Given the concept of necessary causal factors that may be “on”/”off” does this make sense?

    8: Does it make sense to view such beings that are subject to necessary causal factors as “contingent” upon them? Why or why not, in light of your match exercise?

    9: Did our observed cosmos credibly have a beginning? If so, does it credibly have one or more necessary causal factors?

    10: Can that chain go on forever? [To think this through, think about starting at negative infinity, and counting down step by step to the present. Will you ever arrive here, at our zero-point in the present?]

    11: Now, look at the inference from contingent being P to necessary being Q, just above.

    12: Is it a reasonable view to hold that a contingent cosmos P implies a necessary being Q that is its causal ground?

    13: What are the implications of views that reject this?

    14: On balance, which sort of view makes best sense? Why?

    GEM of TKI

  83. F/N: Money Quote from Koons, pp. 6 – 7:

    __________________

    >> In his debate with Copleston, Russell insisted that there is a difference between claiming that scientists should always look for a cause and claiming that there
    is always a cause there to be found. Russell followed Kant’s suggestion that the universality of causation be seen as a canon or prescriptive rule for reason, and not as a description of mind-independent reality. The cosmological argument depends on using the principle of universality as a descriptive generalization.

    I have two principal responses. First, it is hard to see why the abundant success of empirical science in finding causes for contingent facts does not provide
    overwhelming empirical support for the generalization to all contingent facts. The category of wholly contingent facts is not an unnatural, gerrymandered
    kind like `grue’ or `bleen’. Are we to believe that it is merely a coincidence that time and time again we find causes for contingent facts?

    Second, the denial of the universality of causation as a descriptive generalization
    constitutes a very radical form of skepticism. All of our knowledge
    about the past, in history, law and natural science, depends on our inferring causes of present facts (traces, memories, records). Without the conviction that
    all (or nearly all) of these have causes, all of our reconstructions of the past (and therefore, nearly all of our knowledge of the present) would be groundless.
    Moreover, our knowledge of the future and of the probably consequences of our actions depends on the assumption that the relevant future states will not occur uncaused. The price of denying this axiom is very steep: embracing
    a comprehensive Pyrrhonian skepticism. >>
    _________________

    And of course, resorting instead to selective hyperskepticism in particular cases is a matter of agenda-serving question-begging.

    So, accept causality, or surrender rationality about the past, decision-making, and science. (For this last, it is commonly said that cause is absent from modern physical thought. As someone who has studied any number of physical EFFECTS, I am astonished to hear such. Effects have causes, by direct implication.)

    Do we really want to pay that price?

  84. F/N 2: the objections section from p 13 on is interesting. Particularly note those on causality, Q-mech [my own observation is thsat I would make expplicit the presence of necessary causal factors in quantum phenomena, K exemplifies but does not highlight that aspect] and infinite regress. [Note, I have made a different challenge: get to the present from infinity past through discrete steps in a causal chain, i.e the number of sub-worlds is finite if we are here. Koons' point from Leibniz that mere aggregation of the set is itself a contingent fact that has a cause is relevant, but additional, i.e there are two issues for objectors to answer, the second holding even if one can get to the present by finite steps from the infinite past.]

  85. tgpeeler (68),

    I don’t believe you have. In fact, you couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The argument is not “I can’t imagine how something this complex could arise by chance and time so it must not have.” The argument is “we ALWAYS find mind behind information in every aspect of life so it bears thinking about that biological information may also be caused by mind.” What, pray tell, is so difficult to comprehend about that?

    But Item C doesn’t talk about biological information.

    Please give an example of biological information and identify the mind that causes this information, as well as the mechanism used by the mind to transfer information from the mind into the message, and then from the message to the receiver. Please identify the receiver also.

    Your comment gets pretty nasty at the end. I’m amused to have you tell me what concepts I deny and which ones I cannot explain. I’m also amused to read you telling me that I’ve somehow claimed to be able to explain everything.

    But I look forward to hearing how you have all the answers for those things that matter to human beings, including what matters.

  86. Onlookers:

    Re LT: But Item C [notice, how he -- tellingly -- consistently does not give the source, in 59 above] doesn’t talk about biological information.

    this is willfully and demonstrably false, by utterly wrenching out of immediate and utterly clear context.

    Let us therefore first put the context back in place, from 59 above [cf also correctives to distortions and objections from 63 - 69], so we can see just how horrendously the actual argument has been strawmannised by LT, sadly of a piece with his unfortunate habitual red herring, strawman, and ad hominem tactics as we have seen in recent days (already addressed at 63):

    _______________

    >> a –> The genetic code (yes, CODE, as in, LANGUAGE) based DNA –> mRNA –> Ribosome + tRNAs –> protein chaining process is precisely a case of discrete-state, code-based information system processing, i.e. instantiation not metaphor or analogy. (This, at length, LT had to concede.)

    b –> Moreover, this digital information system is a key part of a self-replicating entity that also interacts with and acts on its environment, i.e the cell indeed instantiates the generic von Neumann type self-replicator.

    c –> Given the implied complexity and the fact that even so small a set of digital, coded, functionally specific information as 1,000 bits sits in a configuration space of 2^1,000 ~ 10^301, the whole observed cosmos of ~10^80 atoms across its lifespan and changing state every Planck time could not credibly undergo enough states to sample 1 in 10^150 of that space. That is, a random walk search of that config space rounds down to no search.

    d –> So, chance, the other source of highly contingent outcomes [natural selection filters simply cut off lower or non-functioning sub populations so, it does not create configurations] is not a credible explanation for such an information system. Intelligence routinely produces objects and systems that exceed this threshold, e.g. this post.

    e –> Credibly, life is designed. [And by an intelligence, and in a cosmos that sits at a finely and complexly balanced operating point that facilitates such C-chemistry cell based life, i.e the cosmos is also credibly designed. Something very much like God is credible.] >>

    __________________

    LT’s rhetoric tries to stand the clear sequence on its head.

    We did not of course directly observe the origin of biological information in the cell. So, the origin of bio-informaiton is an origins sciecne problem, one to be solved by identifying key patterns and empirically reliable principles in the present then projecting them to the deep past of origins.

    LT’s problem is that when this is done on a sound footing, it does not comport well with his evolutionary materialistic views, so he seeks to divert attention, and ends up creating and knocking over a strawman, based on a red herring.

    Now, we can identify that the living cell — even in the simplest observed cases — has in it digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic information, especially that associated with protein synthesis.

    We do know a lot about the source of such information, i.e. that FSCI is in every directly observed case, the product of design. Also, via the fact of high contingency and the issue of finding islands of specific function in large config spaces, the challenge a chance process [the other source of high contingency] will face to get to the shores of an island of function, starting from an arbitrary initial configuration of the relevant elements.

    And, of course the generally discussed mechanisms for evolutionary development rest on chance variations interacting with environmental culling on differential reproductive success. That is, we have to have a metabolising entity with a self-replicating facility before we can profitably talk about natural selection.

    But, the problem is precisely to first get to that combination of ability to access energy and materials from the environment and transform them into the machines and energy resources of the living cell (metabolism) and the ability to self-replicate on stored genetic information. No function including metabolism and self-replication, no success at replication, no possibility of descent with modification, through chance variation and natural selection.

    And, as von Neumann discussed, we may see that such self-replicating functionality requires [cf here, section a for details and links]:

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, for a "clanking replicator" as illustrated, a Turing-type “universal computer”; in a cell this would be the metabolic entity that transforms environmental materials into required components etc.] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling:

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    Also, parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating machine with an integral von Neumann universal constructor.

    That is, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicating machine to exist. [[Take just one core part out, and self-replicating functionality ceases: the self-replicating machine is irreducibly complex (IC).]

    This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    Immediately, we are looking at islands of organised function for both the machinery and the information in the wider sea of possible (but mostly non-functional) configurations.

    In short, outside such functionally specific — thus, isolated — information-rich hot (or, “target”) zones, want of correct components and/or of proper organisation and/or co-ordination will block function from emerging or being sustained across time from generation to generation. So, once the set of possible configurations is large enough and the islands of function are credibly sufficiently specific/isolated, it is unreasonable to expect such function to arise from chance, or from chance circumstances driving blind natural forces under the known laws of nature.

    The quantity of storage to do that is at least 100 times the 1,000 bit threshold, if observed life is any reasonable indicator. And, observed life is the only control we have on speculation.

    Going further, to get to the various major body plans from fungi, flies and fish, to trees, turtles, worms and men, increments in DNA on the order of 10′s – 1,000′s of millions of bits of information are required. In addition, a new body plan has to be feasible from embryological development right through to reproduction. Such islands of function are even more isolated in the space of possible configurations.

    Body plan level macroevolution cannot get started until we can get to the islands of function.

    This is a roadblock.

    One that LT — not to mention, actually the evolutionary materialistic new magisterium that dominates the study and public presentation of origins science — has not been able to dismantle.

    LT’s objections are consistently based on distraction, distortion, and demonisation, and fail. Indeed, the consistent resort to such fallacies of atmosphere poisoning shows that the failure on the merits is catastrophic for the evolutionary materialistic view and ideology.

    No wonder, given the personal and institutional investment in the failed paradigm, we see such uncivil stridency from adherents of evolutionary materialism as the thread above documents.

    And, we can see that LT has no credibility to address the matters on the merits. He wishes to object, without even first making sure to be fair and accurate in summary in light of substance and context. In addition, repeatedly, he has misunderstood key concepts and failed to grasp basic terms and facts.

    (His habitual incivility, as already addressed but not retracted or corrected, simply compounds the problem,and starkly reveals the underlying issue: the fallacy of the ideologised, hostile, unfortunately closed mind. Until he sheds the chains of mental slavery and stands up, facing the light that has cast the Plato’s Cave artfully constructed and promoted shadow-shows he is mistaking for enlightening reality, he cannot be helped. But, painful as it plainly is to put the finger on the problem, that is the first step to his shedding he chains of such mental slavery in the marterialistic cave of shadow shows in which digital codes [thus, language based on symbols and rules for configuring them], algorithms, programs, data structures and associated implementing machinery can be held to be credibly able to assemble themselves spontaneously out of molecular lucky noise in some warm pond or other, without intelligent guidance. never mind the configuration space challenge that has been repeatedly identified. But, if materialism is question-beggingly imposed a priori, a la Lewontin et al, then this is what MUST have happened, so it is willy nilly held plausible in the teeth of the strongest evidence thast says this is so utterly unlikely that it should not pass the giggle test. Sad, and sadly revealing about the ongoing, accelerating disintegration of our civilisation.)

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  87. Post 87,

    Given the implied complexity and the fact that even so small a set of digital, coded, functionally specific information as 1,000 bits sits in a configuration space of 2^1,000 ~ 10^301, the whole observed cosmos of ~10^80 atoms across its lifespan and changing state every Planck time could not credibly undergo enough states to sample 1 in 10^150 of that space. That is, a random walk search of that config space rounds down to no search.

    I had mentioned in post 60 that the writer’s point was eluding me. But I still don’t see how this specific item makes a clear point about biological information. Can you please just make this point directly and without being nasty? When you don’t spell out your conclusions, other people are forced to guess, and then you yell and scream about straw men. So just make your point.

    Now, we can identify that the living cell — even in the simplest observed cases — has in it digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic information, especially that associated with protein synthesis.

    Does this information have a history? Can we look at cells and their parents, grandparents, etc., and trace a history of the information being transferred from one generation to the next? How far back can we go? Can we identify anything or any number of things that may be considered “sources” of this information?

    I ask this question because post 65 says this:

    The aggregate complexity and specific, functional organisation of that system scream design to all but those who are deafened by a priori commitments to denying what would overturn their comfortable, amoral materialism.

    Maybe. You might be right about this. To help figure it out, let’s look at the definition of design given in the UD glossary (http://www.uncommondescent.com/glossary/)

    Design — purposefully directed contingency. That is, the intelligent, creative manipulation of possible outcomes (and usually of objects, forces, materials, processes and trends) towards goals. (E.g. 1: writing a meaningful sentence or a functional computer program. E.g. 2: loading of a die to produce biased, often advantageous, outcomes. E.g. 3: the creation of a complex object such as a statue, or a stone arrow-head, or a computer, or a pocket knife.)

    So, all we need to do is figure out when we think “intelligent, creative manipulation of possible outcomes” were applied to the living cell. When do you think that was? How was it applied and potential outcomes were suppressed so that the desired outcome could be realized?

  88. Garbled prose above. Meant to say:

    How was intelligence applied and which potential outcomes were suppressed so that the desired outcome could be realized?

    And good day to you, too.

  89. KF:

    “But significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite.”

    so, because the current models have significant problems, your conclusion is that there can’t be any alternative models that don’t.

    “your coding facility has to store the information for itself and for the mertabolic facility, and there have to be associated, carefully organised and irreducibly complex machinery. This rapidly takes us well beyond the 1,000 bit FSCI threshold, which is itself based on the observed scope of time and relevant materials available in our observed cosmos.”

    You are still working with the systems that current OOL researchers themselves have identified as unsatisfactory. And you still haven’t defined or justified a configuration space.

  90. Onlookers:

    Pardon a necessary aside: it is a little rich to see the person who without provocation, invidiously and slanderously associated me with Torquemada still trying to accuse me of being “nasty.” (And to date he has evidently not retracted such uncivil behaviour. In such a context, “nasty” is unfortunately a very loaded term indeed.)

    Let us address merits.

    I have already posted this morning, highlighting how the step by step — i.e. algorithmic [notice that stop codon and its import for halting] — process for the protein synthesis uses digitally coded, functionally specific information and associated organised cellular nanomachinery; and this in a context that joins metabolic processes to self-replication. That self-replication facility therefore instantiates a von Neumann self-replicating entity.

    As also already noted.

    If LT cannot follow above, perhaps the video of protein synthesis and the associated diagrams here [which was previously linked], in section a, will make things clearer. That the genetic code is a code can be seen here. In life forms, DNA complements run from a bit over 100,000 bases for parasitic cells, to in excess of a billion.

    The code functions through the work of mRNA, Ribosomes and tRNA [with dozens of helper molecules in the background], is specific — the assembled protein has to fold to a particular shape and have specific properties and possibly functional groups to work in the cell — and in aggregate the information runs well past 1,000 bits of storage. The island nature of protein fold domains is sufficient to show the islands of function, and they are deeply isolated in the configuration space specified by strings of the relevant length.

    Thus, proteins instantiate FSCI, as we have come to abbreviate the special kind of information of interest.

    Since this is in an origins science context, we are using the same general approach in use since Lyell, Darwin and others: inferring from the present to find the best, empirically warranted explanation of the past.

    That present for FSCI — e.g. the text strings for this post — is that on our universal experience, these are the product of intelligent configuration of contingent elements. The islands of function in seas of non-functional configurations phenomenon, also implies that it is maximally implausible to hit on the shores of such an island by chance, just for the data string. As for the whole complex to put the string to work, it gets even steeper of a challenge. For, just 1,000 bits specifies 1.07*10^301 possible configs. (In principle a given DNA base has 4 possible states and stores up to 2 bits; redundancy in actual strings leads to a lower bit value on average, similar to the non-even pattern of usage of letters in English text.]

    The significance of 1,000 bits is this: rounding down the Planck time to 10^-45 s as the shortest reasonable time [particle interactions tend to take 10^20 longer than that], and using a gamut of 10^80 atoms and 50 mn times the timeline since the singularity [credible thermodynamic lifespan of the observed cosmos], we are looking at the observable universe being unable to scan as much as 1 in 10^150 of the possible configs of an entity storing just 1,000 bits.

    Intelligence, using purpose, knowledge and skill, routinely produces functionally specific, information-bearing entities well beyond this threshold. (Posts in this thread are a case in point.)

    So, regardless of the fact that there’s more than one way to skin a cat-fish [design and implementation methods vary considerably and may be unknown in a particular case], we are fully entitled on solid empirical grounds — the Internet alone now accounts for trillions of observations — to accept that FSCI is a reliable signature of intelligence.

    How ’tweredun, and whodunit are interesting but secondary questions, compared to the significance of the first one: that twerdun.

    And, we should not allow second order questions — the challenge of detecting the suspect and the challenge of reverse engineering [and I am interested in resilient community construction sets, which approach implementation of a von Neumann self replicator [vNSR]] to rob the first order question of its significance.

    For, if life is based on FSCI and implements a vNSR, then it credibly was designed.

    So, given the existing base of empirical evidence and associated results on configuration spaces, unless solid counter-evidence can be provided for observation [not Lewontinian a priori imposition of materialist explanations], we can confidently infer from such phenomena in the cell to design of the cell. On observable empirical evidence that we know provides a reliable signature of design, even when we do not directly see the designers at work or know their methods.

    This is enough to revolutionise science, and in particular to challenge the a priori imposition of materialism on science.

    Red herrings on second order questions should not distract us from this first result.

    And, that has been pointed out to the sort of objectors LT exemplifies, over and over and over again. One gets the distinct impression they are not really listening.

    And, as I have repeatedly pointed out, if your rhetorical aim is to get to the trifecta’s goal of polarising personalities as soon as possible [cf LT's habitual behaviour above and at his own blog], a red herring is a great start. A strawman then makes a handy prop to soak in ad hominems. Add some incendiary rhetoric, and boom, a conflagration is soon blazing and the real issue is forgotten.

    His insistent behaviour has removed him from the presumption of innocence, so I am entitled to point this out, as a warning.

    LT should understand that a second order question may distract from the force of the answer to the first order one, but it is an informal fallacy of distraction if so used.

    And, he should understand that he has a lot to live down, to return to the pale of civility.

    Good afternoon.

    GEM of TKI

  91. F/N: Bits, or binary digits can be seen as cascaded YES/NO decisions. One of them suffices to turn a light switch on or off. 4 will more than suffice to code decimal numbers. Seven or eight, to code English text [16 are used for the universal system]. Active computer memory often has 1 – 2 billion these days. A 500 GB hard drive has 500 billions. Something like an engineered part can be reduced to a specifying wireframe mesh of nodes and arcs, which can be expressed in bits; for serious things, easily in the millions. So, the more bits, the more specific and complex your function. Once function requires complex and specific configurations, that is a signature of intelligence. (One coin, can be in one of 2 configs. 1,000 coins, arbitrrily tossed will on overwhelming likelihood, be in no particular order among the more than 10^301 possible, most likely nearish to a 50-50 heads tails split, as the binomial distribution peaks sharply at that point. All heads, or alternating heads and tails, or spelling out a message in ASCII code, is design, not chance, to moral certainty.)

  92. LT @ 54 Somehow I missed this post. I will reply to this and #86 tomorrow. Good evening.

  93. F/N:

    Looked back up at 54. Saw this:

    I see no good reason to make changes to the posts at my blog.

    This, in a context where the relevant post contains (a) a slanderous, invidious association with Torquemada, and (b) a false accusation of censorship repeatedly exposed by the fact that LT has continued to post at UD. We hardly need to mention the use of vulgarities [one used to address the undersigned], and the harbouring of equally unacceptably demonising commentary.

    No claimed apology can be sincere in such a context, sadly.

    So, it is not a matter of my refusal to accept a genuine apology by LT; i.e. this is yet another slander.

    Instead, the following is fair comment: as long as he continues to project slanders and false accusations, he continues to do and hope to profit by the wrong that puts him beyond the pale of civility.

    To return to the pale of civility, he needs to correct this. (And, by glancing at the headings for things he highlights in his blog, he needs to do a major clean-up.)

    The underlying conclusion, is that we are seeing the consistent use of the trifecta fallacy rhetorical tactic: distract, distort, demonise, to the intent of poisoning and polarising the atmosphere by projecting an unjustified hatefulness unto those of us who think in design and especially theistic and Christian terms. All, as duly counselled by the utterly amoral Saul Alinsky in his agenda to utterly disorganise our civilisaiton, in order to remake it in the service of his atheistical, totalitarian ideology.

    That insistent sowing of rage that congeals into hate is dangerous and destructive. It is yet another sign of the mortal wounds that rend our civilisation.

    One hopes for a miracle, but absent such, the wounds, I fear, are mortal.

    GEM of TKI

  94. F/N 2: I see an attempt to marginalise my focus on the key features of cell based life: metabolising and self-replication.

    Without the first, the organism cannot interact with its environment to take in energy and materials resources then use them to build needed components and carry put life processes.

    Without the second, life forms would not reproduce.

    Both are absolutely central to life as we know it, and so it is utterly revealing that the two evolutionary materialistic schools of thought on the subject for OOL are mutually self-destructive.

    Instead, a more fruitful approach would recognise the key factor: both processes are deeply information-based. FSCI, the special type of information involved, is in our uniform experience, the product of intelligence, and for excellent reasons as already discussed yesterday.

    those who try to insist that chance is a viable source of the required FSCI, consistently do so because of an a priori commitment to materialistic explanations, not because of solid empirical evidence that chance can produce FSCI and associated processing machinery and organisation.

    On the evidence in front of us, that a priori commitment is deeply suspect.

    __________________________

    F/N 3: related, is the objection above, that to infer to intelligence — note, as opposed to “the supernatural” — as the consistently observed source of information, in the context of OOL is a violation of the present is the key to the past principle.

    This is simply a rephrasing of the all too common, crude accusation and imposition that to infer to intelligence is to infer to the supernatural and this is verboten.

    In short, it is the old, question-begging Lewontinian imposition of a priori materialism.

    A hardy perennial, that.

    Sorry, we routinely observe and experience ourselves as intelligent, information-using creatures. Intelligence, and its characteristic signs, are observable, experienced features of our world. The world that science should seek to explain as it is, not as a priori materialism wants it to be.

    So, again, here is a basic definition of science:

    science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive pursuit of the truth about our world, based on empirical observation, inference to best current theoretical explanation, logical-mathematical analysis, empirical testing and uncensored discussion among the informed.

    If you can accept this, the rest follows. If you reject it, then you owe us a good explanation of why. And a priori materialism tied to closed-minded dismissal of alternatives is not a good explanation.

    Now, we routinely observe that FSCI is a uniformly reliable signature of intelligently directed configuration, aka design.

    It is a reliable signature of design.

    As such, it should be allowed to speak as evidence, even when that is not convenient for one’s preferred materialistic worldview.

    On pain of closed-minded question-begging.

    And, that, unfortunately, seems to be the real problem.

  95. F/N 4: An example of a step by step information rich procedure in the cell, the bacterial flagellum that appears at the head of this page.

  96. LT @ 54

    “tgpeeler (41), You present a nice case. Let me ask, though, whether you find terms such as “past,” “cause,” and “first” in the context of the origins of the universe. Are these terms, as we are using them here, appropriate and applicable to the origins of the universe?”

    First of all, thank you. Second of all, absolutely these terms are appropriate in the context of the origin of the universe. I’m curious, why anyone would think they wouldn’t be? Those are all “finite” terms and the universe is finite, ergo…

    “When it comes to our universe, we have a scientific case for claiming that we can explain it without having to go outside of it. For a very high-level, 101, explanation of what I’m saying see Sean Carroll’s video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCVqJw7T1WU.”

    I watched this and I read Hawking’s book about two weeks after it came out last fall. He may be a stellar physicist but he flunks logic 101. I found Carroll’s comments to be mostly parroting what Hawking had to say so he flunks logic 101, too. I don’t have time to undo or correct all of the logical errors Carroll made in about three minutes, much less the ones Hawking made in an entire book, but I will comment on this phrase uttered by Carroll starting at 2:22 in the linked youtube video.

    “The universe could just obey its own laws. It could be a natural, physical, material universe obeying the laws of physics and that can be a complete explanation of everything.”

    The universe is FINITE. That means, according to the law of identity, that it began because that’s part of what finite means. And if it BEGAN, then it needs a CAUSE or EXPLANATION of its beginning, else it wouldn’t be here. But it is here. To just say that “we can explain it without having to go outside of it” without providing some rationale for that statement, some evidence, some proof, some argument, is ridiculous. On the face of it, it’s false.

    To say, in the absence of any empirical evidence whatsoever, that universes can create themselves because Einstein said the net energy of the universe is zero and that the law of gravity allows them to, is utter nonsense. For one thing, as far as I’ve read, not that I track it closely, dark matter and/or dark energy comprise about 94% of the observable universe and no one really has a clue about what they are. I know for certain that the four fundamental forces have yet to be unified, the M-Theory metaphysical project not withstanding. But I’m supposed to believe that Hawking KNOWS that universes can be spontaneously created because of the laws of physics, the precursors to this natural, physical, material universe, “allow” that to happen? Ha. Sure. Not likely. Are you kidding me? Can anyone say or spell thermodynamics??

    The other thing that strikes me right off the bat about this is something that the naturalists/physicalists/materialists never seem to grasp and which “we” allow to pass all too easily and often and it is this. What explanation do the laws of physics have for themselves? What explanation do the laws of physics have for the mathematical language in which they are expressed? Can either the language (the mathematics) or the physical laws be empirically detected? In other words, can they be sensed? No. They cannot. If you think they can, feel free to tell me what the Pythagorean theorem tastes like in your reply to this post.

    So Hawking and Carroll cannot even rationalize the existence of the laws (and the language in which the laws are written) that they say allowed the universe, and other universes, to merely pop into existence. Think of this. That this kind of commentary purports to be scholarly, or if not scholarly, at least authoritative, is just amazing to me. That these guys are not summarily laughed off the stage only reflects the general level of ignorance of rational thinking in America, at least, and I’d probably also say the “West” in general.

    “One of the arguments I’ve made to Kairos is that when going “outside” our universe, we are hard-pressed to extrapolate from the present (e.g., as you say, “things are changing in the present”) to a past as far back as the very origins of our universe.”

    And why are we hard-pressed to do that? Why would you say that? I do it effortlessly all the time and so do many others out here.

    “So, I think most everything that you or I could possibly say about a “first cause” would not only be uncertain, but I might wager it would be wrong (including this statement I just made). But now I’m speculating wildly, too.”

    Of course you are. I am not. I am rigorously reasoning. There is a big difference. This is supposed to be a responsible conversation. That means that anything that anyone says that is logically sound is absolutely certain. It doesn’t matter when or where it’s said or by whom.

    “I said before that we have a scientific case for the universe creating itself from nothing (I think this is close enough to the famous statement from Hawking’s recent book). I’m saying it’s a great or even a good case; I’m only asserting that there is a case. This much I think is indisputable.”

    Did you actually read Hawking’s book? There’s also a case to be made that politicians are NOT lying, thieving, traitorous vermin that have destroyed the US economy but that doesn’t make it true. I’m sure some people think a “case” can be made that OJ is innocent, too. So what? I’m not interested in “cases,” I’m interested in rational arguments supported with empirical evidence. And so should you be.

    “So, I have your case and I have Hawking’s case. I think the question at this point is how should reasonable people evaluate the two cases against each other (and other cases, as may be appropriate). Taking a neutral stance toward both cases, we need to know what criteria to apply in determining the quality of cases and the comparative evaluation.”

    I am all for ignoring authority and going with the quality of the argument, i.e. reason and evidence.

    “My intuition is that this is as far as any of us can go.”

    May I sincerely and with no malice aforethought suggest that you go with reason and evidence over intuition. The argument I have presented is an exercise in pure reason, backed up with empirical evidence. The universe is finite. Therefore it needs a cause that cannot be finite. I recommend that you “get over” your speculation and intuition and start rigorously reasoning and demanding real evidence from the people who influence your thought.

    p.s. And if that is not enough, please consider the claim Carroll made in the quote above. “It could be a natural, physical, material universe obeying the laws of physics and that can be a complete explanation of everything.”

    Oh really? So physics can explain “everything.” I suppose, if everything means everything then I have a few questions for Carroll (and you).

    Can physics explain information (or thought)? Or the necessary prerequisites for information (or thought)? – NO. (see the questions below)

    Can physics explain Language (symbols and rules) – NO.

    Can physics explain Free Will (the ability to manipulate symbols according to a certain set of rules – in this case English – so as to encode information, a message, into them) – NO.

    Can physics explain Intentionality (the conscious, deliberate intent to communicate the message) – NO. (If I didn’t intend to say anything, I wouldn’t be writing something. But I am writing something. So I DO INTEND to say something.)

    Can physics explain the Laws of Rational Thought (First Principles). Being, Identity, Non-contradiction, Excluded Middle, Sufficient Causality. Without which no coherent thinking is possible. (If 10 is less than 20 and 5 is less than 10. What do we know about the relationship between 5 and 20? Exactly, 5 < 20.) – NO.

    Can physics explain mathematics? (See can physics explain Language.) – NO.

    Can physics explain the Mind. That which reasons, freely chooses, and acts intentionally? – NO.

    Must we go on? Physics cannot be a complete explanation of everything. Anybody with a normally functioning mind that has not been polluted with the intellectual virus of naturalism knows this. What does physics have to say about why it’s wrong to steal or murder or rape? Come on, man. You’re killing me…

  97. LT @ 86 “Please give an example of biological information and identify the mind that causes this information, as well as the mechanism used by the mind to transfer information from the mind into the message, and then from the message to the receiver. Please identify the receiver also.”

    What does any of this have to do with the fact of biological information? Let me ask you two questions. Do you deny the existence of biological information? Do you deny the existence of a biological language or code?

    “Your comment gets pretty nasty at the end. I’m amused to have you tell me what concepts I deny and which ones I cannot explain. I’m also amused to read you telling me that I’ve somehow claimed to be able to explain everything.”

    I went back and reread my comment and if you want to count mild sarcasm as pretty nasty then you are welcome to do so and I apologize. I guess we grew up in different neighborhoods, so to speak. Where I come from that doesn’t even approach rude, much less nasty. Certainly direct and maybe a little Smart A$$ but nasty? As for telling you what you can and cannot explain, I did no such thing. I told you what an intellectually serious naturalist (again, not that there are any) would claim to explain. If you are one of them then I did tell you that and rather than get your nose out of joint why not just prove me wrong by telling me where I went wrong in my analysis?

    “But I look forward to hearing how you have all the answers for those things that matter to human beings, including what matters.”

    Did I say I had all of those answers? Odd, if so, I have forgotten many of them already. Here’s one question I don’t have the answer to. How is it that people can be exposed to rigorous, rational, empirically confirmed, in other words, SOUND arguments and still ignore them or not be persuaded to even seriously engage with them? That’s one of the great mysteries of life. Here’s looking forward to you enlightening me about that.

    As far as what “matters?” Please. What’s the point? Why am I here? Where am I going (if anywhere)? Why do I feel bad when I hurt someone? Why do I feel wonder when I look around the universe? Does God exist? Did He reveal Himself to me? If so, how did He? How would I know? Am I responsible to Him? Will I answer to Him someday? How do I know anything? Why does reason work? Why is there a universe and more importantly why am I in it? How can I love another human being so much I would die for them? Why does music stir my soul? Why can I just think of or see my wife, daughter, step-sons, parents, brothers, friends, etc… and KNOW that it’s all worthwhile and that there’s a point? You know, stuff like that. See human history for the past 5 or 6 thousand years. Of course, naturalists deny that any of these things matter. What a joke.

  98. TGP:

    Excellent.

    Great Christmas morning reading.

    Good stuff for onward discussion after the big day.

    LT, cf 82 – 83 ff above, needs to reflect on the case study of a fire and what having — or even credibly having — a beginning leads to.

    Namely, as already explained [but ignored as per usual] — that that which has a beginning is not self-sufficient, and requires an external, necessary factor.

    A necessary causal factor.

    One without which, nothin’ doin’.

    And so, Mr Carroll is bluffing, and/or speaking without checking logic out first.

    Notice his either-or: underlying cosmos as a whole OR pop out of nothing. Also, his we can explain the existence of nature on the laws of nature.

    But, laws, insofar as they are realities, are mental realities: limits on what is or can be in the physical world, which we can discover and conform objectively. Whence, that carefully balanced ordering and organisation that sets up a cosmos that sits at an operating point that is exceedingly and dozens of times over finely balanced so that it facilitates the existence of C-chemistry, cell based life?

    No answer.

    On the first alternative, he is proposing a multiverse model.

    On the second, he is failing to see that from nothing, nothing comes. That there is something that credibly had a beginning requires a cause.

    On fluctuations, which he mentions in passing, that implies something that fluctuates, and something that needs to be in place for that possibility of fluctuations to come up with a finely balanced sub cosmos that is at the operating point for C-chemistry cell based life.

    What Carroll is actually doing is giving out soothing noises, incantated in a confident manner and on the strength of his location at Caltech, the shelves of books behind him, and the implied authorities he names. But, “abracadabra, hey, presto” is still abracadabra.

    And, “you can imagine . . .” is not to be equated with: it is well warranted, empirically, factually and logically.

    His bottomline is that he is committed to a priori materialism, and hopes that the physical cosmos as a whole is the necessary being that is the root cause of our observed world.

    Therein lieth the first rub.

    His speculative, imagined underlying cosmos as a whole is not an observed fact, nor is it subject to observation. It is a metaphysical speculation.

    He has crossed over into philosophy without notice.

    And, he therefore would need to ground his metaphysics at the table of comparative difficulties.

    And, notoriously, his preferred materalistic cosmos as a whole is to be recognised as utterly amoral, which cuts clean across one of the strongest facts of life, affirmed by the consent of humanity when we have quarrels: we are morally bound. So, there credibly is an IS that grounds OUGHT.

    Such an is, Mr Tanner and Mr Carroll, must be inherently moral. The only good answer to that is that there is a good God who is our creator. Is is grounded in his intelligence, laws of nature are the laws of his plan for the cosmos, science thinks his creative and sustaining thoughts after him [as the founders of modern science were fond of saying], and ought is grounded in his coherently good character, whereby ought is neither external to him nor arbitrary and capricious. The Euthryphro dilemma, so-called, crashes in flames.

    Theism is a far superior answer.

    On the multiverse game, let me pull John Leslie’s telling remarks on CONVERGENT fine-tuning, and his related fly on the wall swatted by a bullet observation, which sits in my always linked note, section E:

    ____________________

    convergence of the fine-tuning:

    >>One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998 Emphases added. Updated link courtesy Wayback Machine.] >>

    Fly on the wall swatted by a bullet, from the same:

    >> . . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned.< Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly. >>
    ____________________

    Worth a thought or two.

    Happy Christmas to all.

    GEM of TKI

  99. F/N: Above LT made something of Hawking’s algebraic net zero for the energy of the cosmos we observe.

    Basic problem: it — per logic of cause as discussed with the match example etc — had a beginning, so there is a necessary (potentially blocking, if absent) causal factor out there that had to be in place for its existence as a C-chemistry life facilitating, fine tuned sub-cosmos to be possible.

    This holds even in a multiverse where things bubble up in a statistical distribution that allows bubbles like our observed cosmos to pop up. For, we have to have the proverbial well-set up cosmos bakery that can produce the distribution that captures our local very special cluster of cosmological ingredients and bakes up something like what we live in. Fine tuning is not so easily got rid of, and we do not get to something from nothing, once we see the beginning thus the contingency and the presence/absence of necessary [potentially blocking] causal factors.

    Contingent sub-cosmi in turn, as previously discussed, point to an ontologically necessary being, as the causal root.

    Hawking has not got something from nothing, algebraic virtuosity and speculations on cosmic spacetime fabrics made up from networks of micro blackholes that help get the zero energy net balance notwithstanding.

  100. F/N b: It’s the logic, not the physics, . . .

    TGP, you are right above, when you highlight that even brilliant physicists can be blinded if they ignore basic principles of right reason, here, causality.

    So, let’s play the ex nihilo, algebraic zero net energy game for a moment:

    1 –> Per Einstein’s energy-time version of uncertainty, a fluctuation that is below the h-bar limit, permits virtual particle-antiparticle production for the moment, so long as they vanish back into the vacuum. [This is responsible for some interesting phenomena in physics, e.g. the Casimir effect, and electromagnetism has infinite range as the photons have zero mass. Etc.]

    2 –> As wiki summarises the zero net energy premise:

    __________________

    >> The zero-energy universe hypothesis states that the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero. When the energy of the universe is considered from a pseudo-tensor point of view, zero values are obtained in the resulting calculations.[1] The amount of positive energy in form of matter is exactly canceled out by the negative energy in form of gravity.[2]

    [edit] Free-lunch interpretation

    A generic property of inflation is the balancing of the negative gravitational energy, within the inflating region, with the positive energy of the inflaton field to yield a post-inflationary universe with negligible or zero energy density.[3][4] It is this balancing of the total universal energy budget that enables the open-ended growth possible with inflation; during inflation energy flows from the gravitational field (or geometry) to the inflaton field—the total gravitational energy decreases (becomes more negative) and the total inflaton energy increases (becomes more positive). But the respective energy densities remain constant and opposite since the region is inflating. Consequently inflation explains the otherwise curious cancellation of matter and gravitational energy on cosmological scales which is a feature of a zero-energy free-lunch universe, which is consistent with astronomical observations.

    [edit] Quantum fluctuation

    Due to quantum uncertainty energy fluctuations such as electron and its anti-particle a positron can arise spontaneously out of nothing but must disappear rapidly. The lower the energy of the bubble, the longer it can exist. A gravitational field has negative energy. Matter has positive energy. The two values cancel out provided the universe is completely flat. In that case the universe has zero energy and can theoretically last forever.[5] >>
    __________________

    3 –> We may pause for a laugh: creation, ex nihilo, out of nothing. Sounds familiar? Maybe, it should:

    Gen 1: 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    2 Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water. 3 God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light!

    Isa 45: 9 ???????One who argues with his creator is in grave danger,
    one who is like a mere shard among the other shards on the ground!
    The clay should not say to the potter,
    “What in the world are you doing?
    Your work lacks skill!” . . . .

    18 ???????For this is what the LORD says,
    the one who created the sky –
    he is the true God,
    the one who formed the earth and made it;
    he established it,
    he did not create it without order,
    he formed it to be inhabited –
    “I am the LORD, I have no peer.

    4 –> Let us go further, per the suggestion by Hawking, of a quantum foam of micro-black holes, spread out to be the fabric of space time.

    5 –> Maybe, even — just for fun — suggesting that the black holes safely lock away the missing antimatter to match the observed matter of the cosmos. [What is behind an event horizon is locked away from our cosmos, as not even light can come back out.]

    6 –> Let us take the algebraic trick on board, and let the negative energy of gravity balance or near balance out the positive of the inflation field, etc. So, we have an expanding sub-cosmos that pops up for a zero net energy cost, and grows by stretching out space itself [that is the usual explanation for the Hubble expansion, space itself is stretching out, and gravitationally bound local zones like galaxies therefore are spreading apart] “like a tent” with a similarly zero net energy cost.

    7 –> We then have to face a material cosmos that steadily stretches out, and that allows hydrogen balls to form under mutual gravitational attraction [and with numbers of protons and electrons balanced to 1 in 10^39 so electromagnetism -- which is of unlimited range, just like gravity -- does not overwhelm gravity], crunching down, heating up and cooking off the first wave of stars.

    8 –> We still have to have spiral galaxies that form 2nd-generation stars in habitable zones, that have sufficient distance from the overly-energetic galactic centres, and sufficient proximity to have enough heavy elements to have a complement of terrestrial planets.

    9 –> We still need to form such a star of reasonable mass, with terrestrials, and well behaved jovians,so that they do not come rolling in and discombobulating the inner planets, serving instead as shields against bombardment [as with Shoemaker-Levy 9]. (Cf 101 leve; exploration here.)

    10 –> We still need to form a sub-cosmos with just the right, locally deeply isolated balance as John Leslie describes with his fly on the wall analogy [cf 99 above].

    11 –> In short, we are back to the issue that to get an observed cosmos with a beginning, i.e. one that is contingent; and precisely functionally specified for C-chemistry, cell based life, we LOGICALLY imply at least one necessary (i.e. potentially blocking/enabling depending on whether “off” or “on”) causal factor that serves as a control switch. And, we need a finely tuned, functionally specific “cosmos baking bread factory.”

    12 –> And, at the root of such a contingent — thus caused — and highly functionally specified, — thus, finetuned and organised — cosmos, lies the root cause of such an observed contingency: an ontologically necessary being. If something contingent exists, it is caused and in the end, the root cause is a necessary being.

    (In the days of the steady state theory of the cosmos, the observed cosmos was viewed as the necessary being. The current attempts to get a multiverse in significant part boil down to getting back to that happy condition for materialists, but it will not work, once we see design on cosmological fine-tuning, and the moral government we face.)

    13 –> A necessary being is one that has no beginning, is self-sustaining, depends for existence on no external causal factor, and so is eternal.

    14 –> Facing, now,too, the functionally specific configuration of our observed cosmos and its deep local isolation, the most credible candidate for that necessary being is an intelligent, highly knowledgeable and powerful designer. (Notice, warrant on inference to best explanation, as opposed to pretence of proof beyond doubt on premises acceptable to all. This is how science works. So, to object to such a move that it is not a proof, is to be selectively hyperskeptical. Instead one needs to provide a superior explanation. Given the multidimensionality and precision of the finetuning, good luck.)

    15 –> Raise that cosmological design inference challenge by an observation that is closely connected to our experience of ourselves as conscious, intelligent creatures living in a cosmos that is at least in part intelligible: by essentially universal consent (the exceptions are patently monstrous) we find ourselves to be morally governed, and thus under obligation to be fair, respectful, caring, etc.

    16 –> We can dismiss such, but on pain of then implying that our minds are so delusional that we have no reason to trust our first, equally subjectively experienced, intuitions of mind as we bridge from mind to external world; collapsing the whole project of trying to understand our world.

    (Observe here Kant’s gap between the inner phenomenal world and the world of things in themselves, and the self-referential incoherence that if one sees an unbridgeable gap, one implies knowledge of the external world in order to try to deny it. Subjectivity is real, but does not undermine objectivity of knowledge and reasoning.)

    17 –> That brings us back to the force of the IS-OUGHT gap. If, on pain of otherwise being utterly delusional, we are in fact morally bound, we live in a cosmos where oughtness is real.

    18 –> So, there credibly is a grounding is for the cosmos that is a basis for oughtness being real. The only viable candidate for that is a good, wise creator-God. And, amoral alternative worldviews such as materialism, then face the problem of the near-universal intuitions that good and evil are real and important. Indeed, even their favourite problem of evil challenge to the existence of God presupposes this, which is at once fatal to materialistic views. (Cf Koukl on the significance of the reality of evil, here, and the discussion of the problem of evil as an objection to God, here. [Note to LT: Trying to dismiss this issue by pretending that a Dembski is playing at bait and switch evangelism so can be dismissed or invidiously comparing a GEM of TKI to Torquemada's thumbscrews, racks and bundles of dry branches is simply a cynical, demonising distractor.])

    (The materialistic world-picture, by contrast, will be inherently amoral and can have no is that can ground ought. Other monist views, similarly, will founder on not having the capacity to ground diversity, including the reality of and distinction between good and evil, is and ought.)

    19 –> So, since the IS-OUGHT gap is the dagger pointing to the heart of the unreality, incoherence and explanatory impotence of evolutionary materialism, maybe we can now understand why LT was so violently strident, and slanderously dismissive once the issue has been put on the table.
    ____________

    It’s the logic, not the physics . . .

    GEM of TKI

  101. It’s the logic, not the physics . . .

    Call these stories stories “logic” if you wish. To me, they look like a patchwork of carefully selected and worded facts dressed up to make a circumstantial case (See post 59, for example, and the huge leaps taken with the final points.

    In post 91, it is said:

    So, regardless of the fact that there’s more than one way to skin a cat-fish [design and implementation methods vary considerably and may be unknown in a particular case], we are fully entitled on solid empirical grounds — the Internet alone now accounts for trillions of observations — to accept that FSCI is a reliable signature of intelligence.

    How ’tweredun, and whodunit are interesting but secondary questions, compared to the significance of the first one: that twerdun

    So FSCI, or some threshold number of it in relation to a “thing,” makes a reliable signature of that thing’s having been designed at one or more points in the things history–this is what I understand you to be saying. If so, then I would expect there to be plenty of available resources and examples where we see, for instance, FSCI for Mt. Rushmore vs. New Hampshire’s “late” Old Man of the Mountain.

    In any case, I don’t see how, or if, one separates between the observance of design and the influence of the observer in defining what “is” about the object in question. A poem is a poem if I as a reader (and tradition) says so. There may not be anything in or inherent in a text to warrant its label as poetry. Apparently, FSCI can be used to make the classification of defined things less arbitrary. But I think, then, that some references demonstrating this application of FSCI across a wide set of domains (with known designed and non-designed things) would settle our disagreement once and for all.

    This point brings me to post 95, where we read:

    Now, we routinely observe that FSCI is a uniformly reliable signature of intelligently directed configuration, aka design.

    It is a reliable signature of design.

    Do we routinely observe this? I’m not aware of the term “FSCI” being used in research to identify design. I’m not being catty or snarky: please let me know of disciplines using this concept productively. My Google Scholar search comes up with zero hits.

    Without some references, it seems to me that ID remains a primarily metaphysical avocation. I think of Carl Sagan’s great story on metaphysics from The Demon Haunted World:

    At a dinner many decades ago, the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to the toast, “To physics and metaphysics.” By “metaphysics,” people then meant something like philosophy, or truths you could recognize just by thinking about them. They could also have included pseudoscience.

    Wood answered along these lines: The physicist has an idea. The more he thinks it through, the more sense it seems to make. He consults the scientific literature. The more he reads, the more promising the idea becomes. Thus prepared, he goes to the laboratory and devises an experiment to test it. The experiment is painstaking. Many
    possibilities are checked. The accuracy of measurement is refined, the error bars reduced. He lets the chips fall where they may. He is devoted only to what the experiment teaches. At the end of all this work, through careful experimentation, the idea is found to be worthless. So the physicist discards it, frees his mind from the clutter of error, and moves on to something else.

    The difference between physics and metaphysics, Wood concluded as he raised his glass high, is not that the practitioners of one are smarter than the practitioners of the other. The difference is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.

  102. F/N c: I am being advised I may have jumped a few intermediate steps above, making some of the above hard to follow. (And, the Wiki stub article cited in toto above may be just as hard to follow.)

    Some explanatory side-bars:

    1] Stellar physics, solar system formation and cosmology

    I have done an origins science context outline on this here. This was linked above, but maybe putting it first will help. (NB: this includes a link to the Privileged Planet video. That video will rivet the significance of simultaneous fine tuning and having life-friendly sites being those that invite exploration of the cosmos.)

    The conclusion of this is obvious, we are on a highly privileged planet in a very special location/site in a very special cosmos.

    Fine tuning is a reality, and we need a cogent account of the cosmos bakery that cooks it up.

    2] On cosmos bakeries . . .

    Robin Collins has a bread-baking machine, and that inspired him to draw an analogy to cosmology.

    If the ingredients are not just right, and in the just right proportions, or the timing is wrong, or the temperature is not right, a bread making machine will produce burned hockey pucks or half-baked doughy messes, not nice tasty loaves.

    Just so, our observed cosmos credibly — this is now more or less a given — had a beginning; often dated on reversing the Hubble expansion cosmological timeline back to a point, 13.7 BYA. And, just like for a burning match’s flame, if there is a beginning, there is something that is external to the observed cosmos that is a necessary causal factor, that if absent/present would block/enable our cosmos. In short, our observed cosmos is contingent and has at least one external causal factor.

    On many, many factors, our cosmos is finely balanced at an operating point that enables Carbon-chemistry, cell-based life. (This is explored in section b in the linked 101. [Pardon, one has to trick out Blogger with named anchors and full URL links with in-page hooks to the anchors to get a hot, Wiki-style table of contents, and -- having only recently worked out the trick [Blogger accepts some aspects of html but not all] — I have not got around to that yet.])

    W@hat this boils down to is that even if one proposes an underlying wider cosmos as a whole in which sub-cosmi like ours pop up, we need to address contingency, and fine-tuning to set up a cosmos at a special operating point.

    3] Contingency and fine-tuning

    Even thinking of the imagined — there is actually no observational evidence, it is proposed as in significant part an intended alternative to the otherwise obvious import of fine-tuning: design — wider cosmos, we have to address necessary and also sufficient causal conditions for a cosmos like ours.

    For instance, if there is a tendency of the wider cosmos to bubble up sub-cosmi with varying physical parameters and/or laws, we need to face the issue that our particular sub-cosmos seems to be at a very precise, sensitive and narrow band operating point. Twiddle any of dozens of parameters a relative little and the result would be the burned hockey puck.

    In short, the wider cosmos has to be at a fine-tuned operating point to produce even a distribution of sub-cosmi that includes our sub-cosmos.

    The cosmos bakery has to be set right to work.

    And, at the root of such a chain of contingent causes leading to the world in which we live and to ourselves in it, lies a necessary being. One that is not dependent on external necessary causal factors, was not switched on, and cannot be switched off.

    Also, one capable of setting up a cosmos, up to and including a cosmos bakery.

    One capable of a highly skilled, deeply knowledgeable design.

    4: What of the algebraic zero net energy cost issue?

    This is of course yet another case of the confidence of physicists in mathematics and its ability to capture reality. So, why the astonishing, miraculous power of concepts to capture reality and predict its behaviour so successfully?

    Could this be: thinking God’s creative and sustaining cosmos-organising thoughts after him? [A classic expression of the nature of science.]

    More on the specific point, in the famous Copenhagen conference that defined the classic school of quantum physics, there was a major wrangling with Einstein trying desperately to get rid of the uncertainty in the discipline. he thought he hit on the killer, a thought experiment that exposed the hole in Q-mech, namely his famous energy-time formulation of the uncertainty principle.

    That stunned everyone, but then I think it may have been Bohr or Planck, came back next day with the point: this is real and it fits right in, explaining some important things. Einstein was quite deflated!

    Anyway, here is the formulation:

    delta-E*delta-t > h/2*pi.

    In the observable world, a lump of energy multiplied by the corresponding lump of time must be at least of the order of Planck’s constant with a small adjustment. So, for instance, a laser beam has a bandwidth linked to the frequency which is linked via the de Broglie relation, to the energy of its photons, and to the coherence length of the beam.

    And, the relationship has the implication that we can view force interactions as the exchange of particles — think of two people pulling or pushing on a stick as they pass it between them, exerting forces on one another as a result — and virtual particles are possible in the vacuum, which turns out to be a rather busy and energetic place. Once we are within the time-limit, virtual particles can pop up as particle-antiparticle pairs.

    The Casimir effect is a classic observed effect of this. David Darling’s useful enc of sci has a good discussion:

    According to modern physics, a vacuum is full of fluctuating electromagnetic waves of all possible wavelengths which imbue it with a vast amount of energy, normally invisible to us. Casimir realized that between two plates, only those unseen electromagnetic waves whose wavelengths fit a whole number of times into the gap should be counted when calculating the vacuum energy. As the gap between the plates is narrowed (to a few nanometers), fewer waves can contribute to the vacuum energy and so the energy density between the plates falls below the energy density of the surrounding space. The result is a tiny force trying to pull the plates together – a force that has been measured and thus provides proof of the existence of the quantum vacuum.

    Pushes, pulls, and nanotechnology

    Casimir’s original theory applied only to ideal metals and dielectric materials; however, in the 1950s and ’60s, the Russian physicist Evgeny Lifshitz extended Casimir’s theory to include real metals and found that the forces at work could be repulsive as well as attractive. Because of his contribution, the Casimir effect is now also known as the Casimir–Lifshitz effect.

    To date, only the attractive form of the effect has been studied in detail and without any immediate practical application. But the emergence of nanoscale devices has brought to light a drawback of the Casimir–Lifshitz effect: it can cause tiny pieces of machinery, such as microscopic cogs, to stick together. As such devices continue to shrink, the consequences of the effect will need to be taken seriously . . .

    But what happens when net delta-E is zero?

    5] The zero net energy sub-cosmos

    This is where the zero net energy sub cosmos idea pops up. As wiki (per y/day’s excerpt) puts it:

    during inflation [the expansion of the universe, esp the proposed period when the rate exceeded the speed of light] energy flows from the gravitational field (or geometry) to the inflaton field—the total gravitational energy decreases (becomes more negative) and the total inflaton energy increases (becomes more positive). But the respective energy densities remain constant and opposite since the region is inflating. Consequently inflation explains the otherwise curious cancellation of matter and gravitational energy on cosmological scales which is a feature of a zero-energy free-lunch universe, which is consistent with astronomical observations . . . .

    Due to quantum uncertainty [Einstein's energy-time expression above] energy fluctuations such as electron and its anti-particle a positron can arise spontaneously out of nothing [not quite -- out of the quantum vacuum, i.e there is a too fast to follow sleight of hand. Without a space to act in, there is no quantum vacuum to fluctuate, and this would extend tothe proposed underlying cosmos as a whole, which is a proposed necessary being . . . ] but must disappear rapidly. The lower the energy of the bubble, the longer it can exist. A gravitational field has negative energy. Matter has positive energy. The two values cancel out provided the universe is completely flat. In that case the universe has zero energy and can theoretically last forever.

    Notice the zip-by assumption/assertion that particles coming up in a quantum vacuum are coming out of nothing spontaneously?

    This is the point where the logic breaks down.

    By speaking of fluctuations and the energy-time uncertainty, you are in fact implying an underlying quantum-vacuum space, full of invisible energy.

    And, this is a necessary causal factor underlying the popping up of bubble fluctuations.

    So, you are not getting something for nothing, from nothing, spontaneously, without a cause.

    And,that underlying space is going to be specified — fine tuned — to get to the possibility of popping up a sub-cosmos thsat just happens to be well-formed for life like we know it.

    In short, we have here a proposed cosmos bakery.

    Just, that inconvenient little point is being glided over quick-quick, maybe not even recognised.

    In short, it is the logic, not the physics.

    Just as TGP pointed out.

    GEM of TKI

  103. F/n: On galaxies, Cosmology and fine tuning, now here; the first table of contents for an IOSE page now being in place. (HT BA77 on the engineered cosmos paper.)

  104. Onlookers:

    Sometimes, one wishes he did not have to further correct the willfully and insistently incorrigible. But, something needs to be on the record.

    Unfortunately, Mr Tanner at 102 continues his regrettable career of incivility [he has yet to apologise and retract his invidious comparisons, vulgarity and slanders], and ill-informed objections.

    In particular, if one is ignorant of the number of unobservable entities in physics [they take meaning from how they link to observables, e.g. the electron is an unobservable -- we infer it confidently from things we do observe], or the way that the laws of thermodynamics are supported, or refuses to accept the logic of implication and that of cause-effect bonds [foundational to scientific explanation] one will make all sorts of avoidable errors.

    On FSCI, a subset of complex specified information, where specification comes from observed function, LT seems to be unaware of how the second law of thermodynamics in particular was conceptualised and is supported in physics. (Cf my discussion with Null earlier this morning, here.) In particular, he needs to familiarise himself on the statistical properties of random selection from large configuration (or, more broadly, phase) spaces in which we have sufficient states and sufficiently different statistical weights of macro-observable states [clusters of configs that we can recognise at macro level] that we can see why some states overwhelm others.

    In short, the point of FSCI is that beyond a certain threshold, 1,000 bits of storage capacity [picked as a useful threshold on config space grounds], the number of possible configs, 1.07*10^301, is so large that the resources of the observable universe are vastly inadequate to scan as much as 1 in 10^150. So if islands of observable function — note the subjectivity of an observer involved, in an objective context of a reliable empirical world, and how this is of course part of the generic scientific method [selective hyperskepticsm, as usual surfaces in the, objection] — are sufficiently specific to be deeply isolated, they will reliably not be found on the gamut of our osmos, by chance + necessity without intelligence. (Cf Abel here on the universal plausibility bound. LT’s attention has been drawn to this already, but he has consistently ignored it.)

    In the case LT refers to from my 101 note here [artfully, not linked as the objections game would then be up], fig I.1, he knows or should know that Mt Rushmore’s figures are highly specific, instantly recognisable high-resolution portraits of known historical figures. By contrast, New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain, was a vague, face-like profile similar to how we “see” face-like features in wood surfaces, or in brown marks on toast. We can construct a precise wireframe mesh to specify Mt Rushmore’s faces, generate the equivalent code strings, and then vary such to see at what point the faces wash out of being recognisably specific. A comparison with OMOM will show that a wiremesh for that will be far looser, as face-like features are easily spotted at very low resolution or specificity. (All of this is of course related to the work of computer animators.)

    LT then goes on to try to make out that FSCI is about say poetry/non-poetry, when he knows or should know that the threshold would come at: text in recognisable English, say. The just above paragraph will be just as acceptable as say:

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too . . . .

    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools . . .

    In short, a poem, or an asembly language program —

    ;#include
    ;#include
    ;
    ;int main()
    ;{
    ; time_t t;
    ; time(&t); // get the current time
    ; cout << ctime(&t); // convert to string and print
    ; return 0;
    ;}
    ;
    ; This code may be assembled and linked using Borland's TASM:
    ; tasm /la /m2 showdate
    ; tlink /Tdc showdate
    ;
    STDOUT equ 01h ; handle of standard output device

    DOS_GET_DATE equ 02ah ; get system date
    DOS_GET_TIME equ 02ch ; get system time
    DOS_WRITE_HANDLE equ 040h ; write to handle
    DOS_TERMINATE equ 04ch ; terminate with error code

    DOSINT macro function, subfunction
    IFB
    mov ah,(function AND 0ffh)
    ELSE
    mov ax,(function SHL 8) OR (subfunction AND 0ffh)
    ENDIF
    int 21h ; invoke DOS function
    endm

    . . . would equally count as FSCI.

    I don’t even try to write the former, but once used to read the equivalent numerical codes to the assembly language expressions for the old 6809.

    LT also manages to try to suggest that the term “FSCI” is not used in the general scientific literature, so by suggestion it is suspect and dismissable, with hints of “metaphysics” and “pseudoscience.”

    He has not bothered to check that it is in fact — as is explicitly identified in the UD weak argument correctives, here — a descriptive, convenient abbreviation for a term or concept developed in OOL research going back to Orgel in 1973.

    Let us excerpt Orgel:

    In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. [Source: L.E. Orgel, 1973. The Origins of Life. New York: John Wiley, p. 189.]

    You can see specific, complex, functional information at work, and how it and the closely linked functional, specific, complex organisation in the living cell are distinguished from orderly arrangements of atoms in crystals in a granite matrix, or random mixes commonly called tars. Meaning, in short, should be understood in light of relevant and accessible context. (In my case, every comment I have ever made at UD links this discussion, in its wider context.)

    And, the described FSCI concept is widely applicable, to effectively anything that is reducible to digital text of a reasonable threshold, and that has a recognisable, objective function, with a particular eye to linguistic function or algorithmic function. It is instantly familiar to those who have had to design say a microcontroller, or to write a technical computer program.

    It is less familiar to those who write text in say English, but surely we can see the distinction Thaxton el al made in ch 8 of the epochal TMLO, the first technical design theory book, in 1984:

    1. [Class 1:] An ordered (periodic) and therefore specified arrangement:

    THE END THE END THE END THE END

    Example: Nylon [a polymer], or a crystal . . . .

    2. [Class 2:] A complex (aperiodic) unspecified arrangement:

    AGDCBFE GBCAFED ACEDFBG

    Example: Random polymers (polypeptides).

    3. [Class 3:] A complex (aperiodic) specified arrangement:

    THIS SEQUENCE OF LETTERS CONTAINS A MESSAGE!

    Example: DNA, protein

    Indeed, Abel et al, in recently discussing three classes of string sequence complexity, orderly, random and functional, provided a handy and acceptable definition in 2005 — and a handy graphical illustration — in precisely the peer-reviewed technical literature of recent years. They have gone on to provide specific quantification, based on an extension of the Shannon H-metric for average information per symbol in a string of symbols.

    And in any case, as was specifically identified above, the Internet provides billions of test cases on the point that FSCI is routinely and in our observation only produced by intelligent direction.

    We can also notice from the distractive, distorting and denigratory — notice how LT slips in a reference to pseudoscience — trifecta fallacy rhetorical objection being made by LT, that he plainly cannot meet the objective, reasonable test of providing a string of at least 1,000 bits length [a sentence or two of about 20 characters would do] that was objectively produced by chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction, and that is functional in a recognisable and specific way, as algorithnmic information or linguistic information.

    But being bound and determined to object to what he evidently does not understand, but rejects on the grounds that it may point to the unwelcome foot of a designer in the door for life, he makes irrelevant and distractive, denigratory objections.

    But, if one’s objective is to dismiss, and one has a track record of disrespect and slanderous denigration, careful fact checking and fair assessment on the merits — and recognition of when one is plainly and increasingly out of depth on a technical matter [cf here for a 101 on the thermodynamics underpinnings required for a serious assessment of the FSCI concept] — are not likely to be in one’s habitual practice.

    Let us hope that Mr Tanner will make and try to keep a new year’s resolution to do better than this.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  105. PS: Mr Tanner would find the disuccion on scientific investigations, methods and limitations in the general context of origins science here a useful corrective, especially if he takes to heart the further corrective on the distorting impact of a priori imposition of Lewontinian evolutionary materialism, here (in the page that he snipped out of context above).

  106. F/N: Those concerned to further explore the cumulative, step by step case in 59 etc above [and in response to LT's unwarranted claim of non sequitur], may wish to examine the discussion here, noting in particular the problem of good and evil as discussed here. (Notice how reticent current atheists are to raise this issue in informed company? No prizes for guessing why.)

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