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Functional Hierarchy

tetraktys1In a comment attached to a previous post of mine (Darwinism from an informatics point of view) I wrote that “to create functioning hierarchical decision logic is a vertical job that only intelligence can do”. In that post, I provided some reasons why it is impossible for a blind evolutionary process to create new instructions. There are of course many additional reasons, over and above those I listed in my post. One of the most important of these is based on the general concept of a functional hierarchy (FH), which is what I intend to blog about today. This post can be considered as a sequel to my previous post on informatics.

The threshold of complexity
It is a simple fact that when systems exceed a certain threshold of complexity, their structure will inevitably be that of a multi-level FH. This is not just true for natural systems and machines; nearly everything in modern civilization (including civil, military, commercial and industrial organizations) is hierarchical. Some of the more important hallmarks of intelligence, including natural languages, artificial languages (such as those used in computer programming), science and technology, are all based on hierarchical paradigms. Take a book, for instance. The chapters of the book are composed of paragraphs, which are composed of sentences, which are composed of words (the choice of which is constrained by the requirements of grammar, syntax and logic), which in turn are composed of syllables, which are composed of sounds. At all levels of this hierarchy, each and every component plays an important functional role in conveying the ideas that were originally conceived in the mind of the book’s author, before he decided to put pencil to paper. Likewise, the design of engineering systems requires a hierarchical functional structure. It is this architecture that can create a uniquely organized system out of a multiplicity of diverse functions.

The universe as FH
With FH, we are confronted a general truth, which arises from a kind of technical constraint or necessity, which is situated at the very root of reality. The Great Designer (Who is Unity), when He was designing the cosmos (which is organized multiplicity), understood perfectly well that the main tools for organizing multiplicity – or making order out of chaos – are rules/laws and a hierarchy. Rules/laws are instructions, and superimposing a hierarchy on them means, from an informatics point of view, establishing some sort of software architecture, i.e. a stack of software layers. The initial “Fiat lux” that created “ordo ab chaos” was both a command for creating order, and an order to illuminate everything that lay below. The connection between the English words “command” and “order,” which also holds in other languages, is a profoundly meaningful one.

But why can’t Unity govern multiplicity in a “flat” way, without the aid of any hierarchy, using just two layers – a top and a bottom one, representing a principle and its consequences, or the First Cause and its effects? I have stipulated two layers, because without at least two distinct levels, there can be no manifestation of any kind. Duality is the pre-requisite of multiplicity (a point which is easy to grasp if we think of the number series).

Pythagoras’ Tetraktys
Pythagoras would have answered this question as follows: Unity rules multiplicity by means of hierarchy, because the passage from Unity to multiplicity necessarily implies the existence of intermediate principles, as the series of numbers, generated from the number one, shows. To illustrate this concept, the Pythagoreans used the symbol of the sacred Tetraktys, the numeric formula, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10. From Unity (symbolized by the number one) to manifestation (symbolized by the number ten) we need to pass through a duality, a triad and finally a quarternity of principles. The related geometric figure used by the Pythagoreans was a triangle with its apex pointing upwards (the universal symbol of hierarchy), composed of a single dot, with two dots underneath it, followed by a row of three dots and a row of four dots at the bottom (see the picture above). Inside this triangle was inscribed the “all-seeing eye”, which is a traditional symbol of God, the Great Designer.

Participation to Unity
Conversely, if we go in the bottom-up direction, we can see that hierarchy is what allows multiplicity to participate in Unity, which is no small thing. Not only does hierarchy serve to command, but it also enables us mere mortals to infer the existence of a Higher Reality. Additionally, it gives every being in the cosmos its own special place, as a significant part of a larger whole. Thanks to the cosmological hierarchy, nothing in the cosmos is completely detached from Unity. From atoms to galaxies, from cells to organisms (which in a sense are organized “galaxies” of cells), the Great Designer shows us the signs of His design, which He has applied to the “hardware” and “software” of His cosmos. Human engineering, which can be regarded an inferior imitation of what the Supreme Designer has already made, betrays similar tell-tale signs of its man-made design.

FH diagrams
The Tetraktys is a kind of prototype or symbolic scheme for any tree graph representing a FH, if we think of its dots as being connected by arrows going from each “parent” dot to its “child” dots. In any field of engineering, similar block diagrams are used on a routine basis to represent functional hierarchies. An FH diagram is a diagram that shows all the functions of a system in a hierarchical manner, like an organizational chart. It specifies the parent function (the function at the very top) and the sub-functions or child functions underneath it. Each child function can then be broken down into further sub-functions.

Organisms as examples of functional hierarchies
Organisms are spectacular examples of functional hierarchies. They are composed of cells, tissues and organs, and at all levels these systems are capable of accomplishing complex inter-related functionalities. Before I continue, I’d like to clear up a misunderstanding which may arise here, due to the fact that we always see organisms growing and developing from something very small, into something much larger. It is certainly true that living things are built from the bottom up (in terms of their development); however, their design is from the top down, generating a perfect tree of functionalities. In general, construction is from the bottom up, while design is top-down. This is just as true for systems in the natural world as it is for systems in engineering.

Hierarchical genes
One of the tenets of the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is that random mutations in genomes, combined with natural selection, are capable of creating biological novelties, which will eventually give rise to new organs and body plants, and thus generate new functional hierarchies. In genomes, we can observe that genes are organized in a hierarchy of functions, where higher-level genes can switch lower-level genes on and off. Evolutionists also assert that the complexity of these genetic systems does not simply depend on the number of genes, but rather on the intricacy of their relations and references – i.e. their functional inter-connections. This would certainly explain why higher organisms don’t have many more genes than lower organisms. But what do these genes entail for FH? Can the blind process of evolution create a functional hierarchy?

Evolution cannot create FH
The answer I would give to the above question is: no. The reason why blind evolution is unable to create a functional hierarchy is grounded in the fundamental nature of a functional hierarchy. In hierarchical systems, a sub-function exists only because the parent function needs and calls it. The parent function in turn exists only because a higher-level function requires it, and so on all the way up. At the top level is the concept of the system as a whole, which the designer originally conceives in his mind. Thus in a complex system, a functional hierarchy is simply incapable of being generated from the bottom. It has to begin at the top, with a complete view of what the final system will be (teleology). Unfortunately for Darwinism, random mutations and natural selection work only at the bottom level, and are devoid of the teleology required to create something for future use (foresight). Aside from the fact that their “work” mainly consists in damaging genomes willy-nilly and then sifting between the different kinds of damage generated, the unique overarching viewpoint necessary to create a functional hierarchy is completely missing at the bottom level. Unguided evolution is incapable of creating a functional hierarchy, because this type of hierarchy implies the existence of higher-level functions that are capable of guiding subsidiary functions, all the way down to the bottom. But how can a non-driver drive?

FH and teleology
We can look at this issue from another point of view, related to the problem of the blindness of the evolutionary process. Let us suspend our disbelief for the moment, and imagine that unguided evolution somehow managed to overcome all obstacles and create a biological function. Notwithstanding this awesome feat, evolution is still utterly unaware of the fact that this function is capable of serving a higher-level parent function. But even if we suppose that evolution eventually managed to create both of these functions, it would still be incapable of understanding that one of them was capable of serving the other. In short: evolution has no concept of FH. Evolution is one-dimensional, whereas FH is multi-dimensional. Evolution is horizontal, while FH is vertical. Given these built-in limitations, we can see why evolution cannot generate even a minimal functional tree. Whatever functions evolution manages to create will remain isolated or detached, and will never be able to constitute a system, let alone a system with a functional hierarchy. In other words, unguided evolution cannot create FH, because such a system cannot be constructed on a jerry-built basis. A functional hierarchy needs to be conceived as a whole, before any construction can begin. We are once again led to the conclusion we arrived at earlier: FH and teleology are tightly linked.

FH as an indicator of Intelligent Design
After having ruled out blind evolution, we may conclude that FH is indeed at the very core of design. Intelligent design is precisely what gives a system organization, meaning functionality, information and integration – in other words, organic unity. From this unity, we can generate an inverted tree of functionalities, which are virtually contained within it. Thus FH is one of the best indicators of intelligent design, precisely because it focuses on the most important feature of ID: its top-down teleological nature, which is inseparably linked to the unity and organization which intelligent design is capable of creating. Unity creates hierarchy, and conversely, hierarchy conserves and manifests unity.

Biological self-replication implies FH
The information processing required for an organism to reproduce itself (such as that contained in the DNA of organisms’ cells) implies FH, because it is composed (in its minimal hardware configuration) of a parent function (central control unit) which uses at least four child functions: memory, input, output and a universal constructor. Thus DNA and its cellular control machinery instantiate the general concept of a functional hierarchy.

The FH in DNA is a very powerful argument for intelligent design. The main problem with an ID argument from the existence of functional hierarchies in nature, however, is that it presupposes a basic knowledge of engineering, which makes it more difficult for a layman to understand.

Relation between CSI and FH
What is the relationship between the ID concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI) and FH? Bill Dembski writes:

“Biological specification always denotes function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. The functionality of organisms can be cashed out in any number of ways.” (Intelligent Design, 5.7).

Of course, this is true for any specification in general. A function can be considered as a black box which accepts certain inputs from the caller and generates some outputs, using private data. However, one still needs to specify in detail how this black box is able to generate the outputs from the inputs. Without this specification, the function remains undefined. In computer programming terminology, the function must be not only declared, but also implemented. An empty function does nothing. To “flesh out” the function, i.e. explain how the outputs can be derived from the inputs, constitutes specification. Since there is a very strong relation between specification and function, this is an additional reason why a functional hierarchy, which entails the existence of a large number of functions, necessarily implies CSI.

The relation between IC and FH
What are the relations between the ID concept of Irreducible Complexity (IC) and FH? System parts and system components imply the existence of corresponding functionalities, and IC inferences can be applied to functions, as well as components. Viewed in this way, IC can be seen as an inference regarding the minimal functionality of a system.

In the case where a software sub-routine can be eliminated with no adverse consequences for the working of the main system, then it can be described as a dormant function, which doesn’t belong to the IC kernel of the system. This situation often occurs when a software program calls large libraries of functions.

FH diagram of a mousetrap
Although a mousetrap is a very simple mechanical device, we can still view it from an FH perspective. The following figure shows an FH diagram of the functions of a mousetrap (which, as Professor Mike Behe demonstrated in his book, “Darwin’s Black Box,” is a five-component IC system):

functional_mousetrap

The reasoning behind the above diagram goes something like this. Let’s say we want to implement the idea of a mousetrap. What do we need? We can catch mice by many different means (a gun, some poison, some glue, a cat, and so on). However in choosing to build a mousetrap, we have opted for a hammer as our basic “weapon”. This will be the first, or primary, function of our mousetrap project. The position of the hammer at the top is justified by its proximity to our goal of catching mice (symbolized by the hexagonal block at the top). The hammer in turn requires two sub-functions: a spring and a hold-down-bar, which in turn requires a catch. Additionally, the hammer, hold-down-bar, the spring and the catch all share a common sub-function: a platform. It should be noted that the spring is what provides the power for our mousetrap; the hold-down-bar is what provides the control of that power (in this case, a simple on/off control); and the catch is what triggers the control when the mouse’s movements input a signal to the system. Thus we can see that the humble mousetrap instantiates two basic features of system theory: power and control.

Conclusion
Now let’s consider randomness and laws at work. Suppose that these bottom-level processes somehow manage to create a platform for a mousetrap, or some other component. Now what? Because these processes lack foresight, they have no concept whatsoever of any long-term goal, such as a mousetrap. To reach a goal is difficult enough for an intelligence that knows what it wants; how much more so for unguided processes that don’t even know what they want to generate! How could they possibly create the higher functions in the FH of the mousetrap if they are incapable of wanting to catch mice? They simply cannot. Since Darwinian processes are entirely based on random changes and laws, they are unable to create a FH. To sum up: on top of its relation to ID theory, FH involves an additional specific ID inference of its own. Even if we overlook the CSI that it contains, as well as its IC kernel, we can still show that a system with a functional hierarchy needs to be intelligently designed, simply on the basis of the reasoning outlined above: chance and necessity cannot create a FH from the bottom up, because a FH system has to be created from the top down, starting from the abstract level which only an intelligent being can conceive of, and then descending to the material plane.

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31 Responses to Functional Hierarchy

  1. Mr Niwrad,

    Can you give an example of “functional hierarchy” as it might exist in a biological context? If a cell of one cell type divides into two cells of two different cell types, is that a functional hierarchy? Is the eye, with its lens, iris, retina, etc. a functional hierarchy? I would prefer not to guess, so if you could give an example, it would be helpful.

    In your example of a mousetrap, I’m not sure if some of the arrows mean different things. From your explanation, it seems to me that some mean “instaniated by”, some mean “requires”, and some mean “uses”.

    Thanks!

  2. Nakashima #1

    If a cell of one cell type divides into two cells of two different cell types, is that a functional hierarchy?

    We must distinguish between the dendrogram of the cellular ontogeny of an organism and its FH diagram. There exist many relations between them but the former, since regards the embryonic development, represents a dynamic aspect while the latter represents a static aspect because regards the final result.

    Is the eye, with its lens, iris, retina, etc. a functional hierarchy?

    The key point is that the eye is a device of the brain. A vision system without a controller that processes the image signals is useless. The component (the retina or similar light-sensitive panels) that is directly interfaced (via the optic nerve) to the brain is the root of a FH tree. Sub-functions of the retina are the focusing-system (lens, ciliary muscles…), the diaphragm system (iris, pupil…), the blood circulation system (retinal arteries and veins), the container (cornea, sclera…), the internal liquids (vitreous and aqueous humors), etc. In turn we should investigate these systems at the tissue, cellular and biochemistry level, which represent additional hierarchical layers. Of course this is a ultra-simplified description of a complex multi-level FH organ.

    In your example of a mousetrap, I’m not sure if some of the arrows mean different things. From your explanation, it seems to me that some mean “instaniated by”, some mean “requires”, and some mean “uses”.

    In all cases we have something that requires, calls, uses a service from another thing. We can consider the arrow going from A to a sub-function B as a request or call that A sends to B and that B serves. What changes are the different services but the concept of request or need of service is the same.

  3. Mr Niwrad,

    Thank you. If I understand your example correctly, the eye is an example of a functional hierarchy, and therefore could not have evolved according to your argument. Is that right?

  4. Yes Nak.

    As you know even Darwin had doubts about the evolvability of the eye.

    I recall a personal anecdote. In my life I had three upper eyelids surgical interventions by a very skilled ophthalmologist surgeon. Once I asked him: “Doc, do you believe that blind evolution created the eye?”. He answered: “Eh? Do you know that just your eyelids are composed of several layers of different cell types and contain tenths glands? You have no idea how much complex the eye is. How can something blind create something seeing.”

  5. Mr Niwrad,

    Well, I know Darwin is often misquoted about the eye, but I think his final opinion was pretty clear.

    Just to be clear on this, you’re saying this about all eyes, of all species, that are alive now, might have lived in the past, or might arise in the future. No color blind mammal will ever enjoy, or has ever enjoyed, a gene duplication and subsequent modification of an opsin gene to give it color vision. is that correct?

  6. Nak, to believe that a gene duplication and subsequent modification can create color vision is as to believe that the duplication and subsequent modification of, say, the spring of a mousetrap can transform the mousetrap into a color TV set.

    In general the duplication and subsequent modification of a sub-function cannot create an entirely new FH.

  7. Mr Niwrad,

    In general the duplication and subsequent modification of a sub-function cannot create an entirely new FH.

    To the extent of my limited understanding of FH, I will agree with you. Nor do I think a two spring mouse trap makes a good color TV set, though it might be the start of a good TV antenna! ;)

    What I was exploring was whether an eye, which is FH, might change ever so slightly, and this slight change be fixed in the population, or if not, what aspect of being FH was preventing this from happening.

  8. 8

    Tread carefully, niwrad,

    Nakashima has set a TRAP.

  9. Nakashima-

    What genes are involved in the development of the eye and what kind of modifications to the genes that are involved in a color blind eye would result in a color vision?

  10. Mr Phaedros,

    What genes are involved in the development of the eye and what kind of modifications to the genes that are involved in a color blind eye would result in a color vision?

    In the case of primates with color vision evolving from color blind mammal precursors, it appears to be a case of gene duplication for an opsin gene, followed by a mutation to one copy of the gene that resulted in each copy being tuned to a slightly different frequency of light.

  11. Nakashima #7

    Color vision involves modifications of the eye in all components crossed by the light, from the cornea to the retina. For example the lens must change dynamically some of their characteristics according to the different light wavelengths to fix chromatic errors. These modifications impact from the biochemical level to the anatomical level. Besides the communication protocols that brain and eye must share must be more complex than in color blind vision. For example, the human eye can detect 16 million colors: this richer information has to be coded, transmitted and decoded.

    Eventually the duplication and mutation of an opsin gene can be related to different sensibility to the frequencies of light in some photoreceptors. But to say that these random mutations can account cent per cent for color vision seems too simplistic to me. Color vision is not a detail, rather an architectural issue.

    We arrive to the same conclusion if we consider the analogy of technology. As known, in all fields of image processing and transmission the passage from black & white to color capability was a big leap.

  12. Nakashima-san-

    You know this for a fact? Or is it just speculation?

  13. It seems to me that more is involved in vision than just one opsin gene, let alone whatever genes, or something else, that is involved in the development of the entire eye itself and how this supposed gene duplication was incorporated into that. As Mr. Niwrad says it seems to me this would have to involve a lot more than a duplication and a few mutations in one gene.

  14. Adel DiBagno #8

    Tread carefully, niwrad, Nakashima has set a TRAP.

    Thanks for your warning.

    Yes, I know, Nak is a sNake. He slyly calls me “Mr. niwrad” to make me feel comfortable, then TLAC!! he makes me fall into a mousetrap. He has understood that I am the more anti-evolution of anti-evolutionists (probably from an ID inference based on my name) then he tries to tempt me as the sNake of Genesis. Unfortunately for him the probability I eat the poisoned apple of evolutionism is exactly equal zero.

    . . .

    P.S.

    I am joking of course. Nakashima is really the more likeable of evolutionists and once I even made the prediction that he will be in the ID side in the future. I suspect that he is very near to this conversion but his problem is that he doesn’t know how to inform his Darwinist friends, hence at UD he continues to play the role of Darwinist for a while…)

  15. 15

    Nakashima is not Asian, it’s a sock puppet name, he’s been banned from here many times, his handle at After The Bar Closes is dvunkannon. He’s part of those folks that watch us like hyenas, you’d think with all their bloviating about their “scientific knowledge” they would actually discuss science instead of watching us like hyenas. We discuss actual ideas and science here, they just discuss us. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to mind their nonsense—it’s a sick internet culture that’s pervasive with them. To all of you at After the Asylum Closes, the gloves are off.

  16. 16

    niwrad:

    The Great Designer (Who is Unity), when He was designing the cosmos (which is organized multiplicity), understood perfectly well that the main tools for organizing multiplicity – or making order out of chaos – are rules/laws and a hierarchy

    This is interesting stuff, but I’m more interested in where you are getting your information from.

    I’ve read several times that ID is not about (nor can it) finding out things about the designer, rather it’s a process of detecting design. Yet you are here making claims about what the designer understands and what tools it used.

    Where are you getting this information?

    which is a traditional symbol of God, the Great Designer.

    Has ID then shed any pretense that “the designer” is not God then by a different name?

    In one way, I’m glad. But I’m surprised, as one of the goals of many ID supporters is to get ID taught in schools. If the designer is explicitly identified as “God” on the foremost ID site then is there really any chance of a repeat of Dover going any way but the way it went in Dover?

  17. 17

    nirwad:

    Nakashima is really the more likeable of evolutionists and once I even made the prediction that he will be in the ID side in the future.

    Clive:

    he’s been banned from here many times, his handle at After The Bar Closes is dvunkannon. He part of those folks that watch us like hyenas, you’d think with all their bloviating about their “scientific knowledge” they would actually discuss science instead of watching us like hyenas.

    I find this odd. niwrad likes Nakashima but in the very next comment Clive bans him, not for anything he’s said on this site but because he has an alias at another site.

    If that’s the case then I would imagine there are any numbers of people that could be banned for similar reasons.

    Why not act against the content of a persons comments rather then the fact they also comment on another site under a different name?

    In the time I’ve been reading this site Nakashima has been nothing but polite and engaging. Both pro and anti ID people talk to him. He’s been in many threads with many interesting posts.

    I thought the whole message of Expelled was that the free exchange of ideas what desired?

    I’ve only just registered on this site, but I suspect from what I’ve seen here I won’t be around too long.

  18. Ena Sharples #16

    You are right that ID is not about the designer for it’s a process of detecting design. Nevertheless UD is an open minded site that allows discussions also on topics at the boundaries of the ID/evo debate (see the list of categories at the right side). So sometimes in my posts I insert also notes about metaphysics, theology, philosophy and so on (trying not to exaggerate).

    That said, somehow I have just answered also your “Where are you getting this information [about the Designer]?” question.

    Has ID then shed any pretense that “the designer” is not God then by a different name? In one way, I’m glad. But I’m surprised, as one of the goals of many ID supporters is to get ID taught in schools. If the designer is explicitly identified as “God” on the foremost ID site then is there really any chance of a repeat of Dover going any way but the way it went in Dover?

    We should distinguish between truth and politics. Modern politics is not about knowledge and truth, rather power and economics. Perhaps I am wrong but most UD posters and readers are more interested on truth than politics. As such they may be interested on truths that the political establishment has banned in school, education, academy, media and society. This characteristic of UD is what makes me proud to be one of its posters.

  19. 19

    Ena Sharples, also known as George L Farquhar, MikeKratch, PhilipBaxter, Blue Lotus, Mach Six, Mustela Nivalis, h.pesoj, Moseph, and Echidna-Levy,

    I’ve only just registered on this site, but I suspect from what I’ve seen here I won’t be around too long.

    You say you just registered at this site? Sure thing……You suspect rightly about not being around too long.

  20. 20

    niwrad,

    From your discussion of functional hierarchies above, it would seem to me that ecosystems would qualify as natural examples without designers. Ecosystems have been observed to evolve naturally without engineers, gardeners or other designers many times.

  21. Prof. FX Gumby you state,

    “From your discussion of functional hierarchies above, it would seem to me that ecosystems would qualify as natural examples without designers.”

    Yet contrary to your claim, which I believe is derived from a very limited scope of the evidence, the terra forming of the entire earth’s ecosystem from a toxic primordial wasteland to one suitable for higher life is, in fact, to be reasonably attributed to a process of “top down” Intelligent Design and certainly NOT to any evolutionary processes. Evolutionary Processes which are in themselves ultimately based on the foundation of the chaos of randomness.

    notes:

    Dr. Ross points out that extremely long amount of time it took to prepare a suitable place for humans to exist in this universe, for a relatively short period of time that we can exist on this planet, is actually a point of evidence that argues strongly for Theism:

    Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency.
    Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now.
    http://christiangodblog.blogsp.....chive.html

    Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. – Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers
    http://www.bioinf.uni-leipzig......g_2008.pdf

    Engineering and Science Magazine – Caltech – March 2010
    Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “…every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100316a

    Probability For Life On Earth – List of Parameters, References, and Math – Hugh Ross
    http://www.reasons.org/probabi.....h-apr-2004
    http://www.johnankerberg.com/A.....304RFT.pdf

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....5590289530

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    Thus from the proper perspective of considering all the evidence instead of just part, as I believe you have done Gumby, finely tuned ecosystems are in fact stunning evidence for the functional hierarchies that niwrad is illuminating.

  22. 22

    I was talking about primary succession, such as occurs following glacial retreat or volcanic eruptions. In primary succession, ecosystems develop and evolve over time, forming functional hierarchies (e.g. food webs). The starting point is a tabula rasa – inorganic sediments or bare rock. Or are you suggesting a designer directly intervenes in each primary succession, acting as a cosmic gardener?

  23. Gumby, All I outlined in my post is that the parameters which even allow life to be possible on the entire earth’s ecosystem are in fact extremely finely tuned and are constructed in a hierarchical web from the transcendent universal constants downward to individual constraints realized in “privileged planet” research. I did this because you had implied ecosystems “evolved” from a very limited scope of perspective, I merely showed you that the entire “ecosystem” of the earth is in fact designed. As far as specifics of individual ecosystems “evolving” from tabula rasa, as you put it, it will all boil down to the fact of whether you are talking about random processes generating new functional information or not. If you maintain functional biological information is being created via purely material processes, in “new” ecosystems, your assumption is wrong. If you simply mean that already existent functional biological information is being expressed in a semi-novel, and interesting, way then your presumption will be correct. If you disagree with this Null Hypothesis that material processes can generate any functional biological information whatsoever, please write your proof up in peer review or present a concrete example so as to falsify this following paper:

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

  24. Gumby, this following video gives a fairly strong view of how a “complete” functional hierarchy will play out for “ecosystems” that allow life on earth:

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  25. 25

    In order for me to go any further with your points, you will have to define “functional biological information” for me, and provide some examples so I know what you are talking about.

    At any rate, niwrad’s opening post makes no reference to novel functional biological information, but only organisation of biological entities into functional hierarchies. Thus, your arguments don’t undermine my original point.

  26. Functional information and the emergence of bio-complexity:
    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak:
    Abstract: Complex emergent systems of many interacting components, including complex biological systems, have the potential to perform quantifiable functions. Accordingly, we define ‘functional information,’ I(Ex), as a measure of system complexity. For a given system and function, x (e.g., a folded RNA sequence that binds to GTP), and degree of function, Ex (e.g., the RNA-GTP binding energy), I(Ex)= -log2 [F(Ex)], where F(Ex) is the fraction of all possible configurations of the system that possess a degree of function > Ex. Functional information, which we illustrate with letter sequences, artificial life, and biopolymers, thus represents the probability that an arbitrary configuration of a system will achieve a specific function to a specified degree. In each case we observe evidence for several distinct solutions with different maximum degrees of function, features that lead to steps in plots of information versus degree of functions.
    http://genetics.mgh.harvard.ed.....S_2007.pdf

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995236

  27. Gumby, you are confusing the way in which a “ecology” is built, which is from the bottom up, with the way in which complex systems are designed, which is from the top down. Your objection is without merit. But did you really ever suppose that your example did have merit?

  28. 28

    So basically you’re saying that an ecosystem is not a complex system because complex systems are by your definition always designed from the top down? This is your best response to my argument that ecosystems are examples of functional hierarchies that have developed naturally from the bottom up? Thanks, goodbye.

  29. Gumby, the whole point is that you have come no where near establishing that “ecosystems” developed purely “naturally” and I have given ample reason to show why ecosystems are in fact to be considered designed. Shoot you did not even come near even touching the fact that purely material processes are shown to be utterly incapable of generating even trivial levels of functional biological information, such as just one novel functional protein. For you to cut and run just when we were getting to the real meat of the argument, between ID and ne0-Darwinism, is not even a surprise to me any longer, since over these past few years I have found it is truly a rare exception to find a committed neo-Darwinist who is truly looking for the truth instead of just trying to find anything their imagination can conjure up just so to justify their non-belief in God for whatever personal reason. Needless to say whenever one is predisposed to let the own personal tastes dictate what the evidence must say, this is about as far away from science as can be had.

  30. niwrad, I think you will really enjoy this following video clip in which Stephen highlights the fact that the “functional hierarchy” of layered information falsifies the neo-Darwinian foundation of RV and NS:

    Stephen Meyer – DNA – Complexity Of The Cell – Layered Information – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4798685

    notes:

    The finding that mutations to DNA does not effect body plan morphogenesis has severely undermined the myth that humans share 99% of there DNA with chimps

    The Unbearable Lightness of Chimp-Human Genome Similarity
    Excerpt: One can seriously call into question the statement that human and chimp genomes are 99% identical. For one thing, it has been noted in the literature that the exact degree of identity between the two genomes is as yet unknown (Cohen, J., 2007. Relative differences: The myth of 1% Science 316: 1836.). ,,, In short, the figure of identity that one wants to use is dependent on various methodological factors.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    Hopeful monsters,’ transposons, and the Metazoan radiation:
    Excerpt: Viable mutations with major morphological or physiological effects are exceedingly rare and usually infertile; the chance of two identical rare mutant individuals arising in sufficient propinquity to produce offspring seems too small to consider as a significant evolutionary event. These problems of viable “hopeful monsters” render these explanations untenable.
    Paleobiologists Douglas Erwin and James Valentine

    “Yet by the late 1980s it was becoming obvious to most genetic researchers, including myself, since my own main research interest in the ‘80s and ‘90s was human genetics, that the heroic effort to find the information specifying life’s order in the genes had failed. There was no longer the slightest justification for believing that there exists anything in the genome remotely resembling a program capable of specifying in detail all the complex order of the phenotype (Body Plan).” Michael John Denton page 172 of Uncommon Dissent

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  31. bornagain77

    thanks for your excellent collaboration in this thread in particular and at UD in general.

    My next post will be indeed on the “99% myth”. Stay tuned.

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