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Richard Dawkins and Ray Comfort

Richard Dawkins takes Ray Comfort out of context:

Dawkins says he doesn’t debate Creationists, yet he debates what Creationists say quite often. Should Dawkins avoid debating Creationists when they are the subject of his lectures and speaking engagements?

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70 Responses to Richard Dawkins and Ray Comfort

  1. Dawkins fears being properly grilled over his atheistic propositions. Ray Comfort would need for than 20 minutes because Dawkins would fulminate and bluster and each comment of his needs more time to be properly answered .

    Having looked at this a while ago, Comfort, I believe, is up to offering Dawkins $40 000 for a half an hour’s work. Still Dicky D say nay! He’s fearful, not of Comfort per se, but of the fallout if things went awry.

    The real debate (Sorry Ray!) I would like to see is William Lane Craig having a stoush with Dawkins. I think there has been previous talk of this on this site, but anyway, go here to see Craig’s take on it (36 secs in).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQlB78Hgsj4

    Mr Dawkins, you say you have the answers, then really prove it. Take on one of our best!

    PS. Dicky’s New Zealand accent: 6 out of ten, eh! NZer might like to comment on that one!

  2. 2

    AusieID

    Yeah, I think Craig would be the better choice here. I’m not much of a Comfort fan. I like bananas, but geesh! His illustration in my view begs for ridicule. Craig will offer meat, while Comfort will offer, well, banana meat.

    Gotta admire his persistence, though.

  3. Dawkins has participated in a few debates — which is why he knows enough to steer clear of Craig.

  4. Much like this video relieves stress,, this new study shows that belief in God relieves depression:

    Studies: Belief in God relieves depression
    Excerpt: Data released last year by sociologists from the University of California at Berkeley, in fact, revealed that 93 percent of the nation believes in God, a finding that has remained unchanged since 1988.

    The Canadian researchers who found that belief in God lowers anxiety and stress also based their conclusions on measurements — monitoring the brain activities of believers and nonbelievers charged with some challenging tasks.

    “We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors,” said Michael Inzlicht, assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto, who led the research.

    “They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error,” he said.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com....._headlines

  5. Dawkins debated Lennox, and lennox was widely viewed to have prevailed (even some agnostics saluted Lennox’ performance).

    Dawkins has a penchant for going against triple doctorates (like Lennox). The other triple doctorate/scientist was A-E Wilder-Smith, and that was a good exchange indeed.

    I’m afraid Ray Comfort would embarass the creationists. But that’s just my opinion.

  6. I’m afraid Ray Comfort would embarass the creationists.

    For once, I’ve to agree with Sal :-)

  7. How is Dawkins taking Comfort out of context?

    I agree with scordova. The debate between Dawkins and Lennox was stimulating. The debate between Dawkins and Comfort would be a disastrous embarrassment for the creationists.

  8. Clive, I am sorry, but I don’t understand this post. jurassicmac makes a good point. Dawkins does not seem to be taking Comfort’s banana routine out of context. In fact, he paraphrases it almost point for point. Perhaps the video assumes the routine itself is given in a greater context and that is the context that Dawkins ignores. But for someone who does not follow Comfort at all (like myself) two conclusions follow:
    1. I thought Comfort was mocking the design position. Surely the banana routine is not a serious attempt to explain the design inference.
    2. Dawkins quoted Comfort fairly.

  9. Scardova

    Dawkins: We only need to use the word ‘faith’ when there isn’t any evidence.
    Lennox: No, not at all. I presume you’ve got faith in your wife — is there any evidence for that?
    Dawkins: Yes. Yes, plenty of evidence.
    Lennox: Hmmm
    The God Delusion Debate Part I 36.20

    Barry Arrington

    I have not seen the full context, however Comfort seems to have been making a joke, and he objects to people suggesting that he was being serious.

  10. 10

    bevets, you are probably correct. My point is that I cannot tell whether you are correct from the information provided. I have to make an assumption. You undoubtedly agree. Otherwise you would not have used the qualifier “seems.”

  11. Barry,

    I should’ve elaborated a bit I think when I said Dawkins was taking Comfort out of context. Ray Comfort was being intentionally funny using the banana (that’s why the audience was laughing), while Dawkins took him as being serious, which is why Comfort said that without an audience (filmed next to Kirk Cameron)his admittedly humorous illustration “falls flat.”

  12. But Clive, what is he illustrating?

  13. Ray is great when it comes to explaining scriptures and salvation but not when it comes to debating science. I thought Lennox did a fantastic job when he debated Dawkins and I don’t blame Dawkins for running away from Craig with his tail between his legs.

    I laughed at Ray’s banana’s sketch, who would have guessed so many evolutionist don’t have a sense of humor?

  14. 14

    “while Dawkins took him as being serious, which is why Comfort said that without an audience (filmed next to Kirk Cameron) his admittedly humorous illustration ‘falls flat.’”

    This is correct.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z-OLG0KyR4

    This is the video that Dawkins was probably mocking. It gets mocked on YouTube often. Cameron lends some seriousness to the video.

    I think the problem Comfort has here in both videos is that he IS serious about bananas being evidence of design. In them he’s mocking Darwinists who fail to see the obvious, and that’s what the audience finds funny overall in the first video. Although Comfort’s antics are also funny. It’s the larger context of obvious design that is presented as serious. I wonder what Comfort does with watermelons, pineapples, grapefruit, pumpkins, etc. If his design argument were valid, all fruit would be shaped similar to bananas.

    And this is another example of Dawkins finding the weakest arguments for design and mocking it. He does this in his books as well – he finds the lowest common denominator and attacks it. He’s not really attacking design, but a parody of it. Typical.

  15. CannuckianYankee@13

    Is he really being serious? Surely it is a bit of fun. Cameron is laughing in the video. If he is being serious why does he get given any time by creationists?

  16. Neither Ray Comfort or Richard Dawkins has done any good science lately, nor are either of them qualified to engage in serious, scholarly discussion of the existence of God from logic or philosophy.

    The best Dawkins will ever have to offer for atheism is mockery, and mockery just isn’t very interesting.

    And the last time I saw Ray Comfort was in that dreadful, embarrassing so-called debate that he and Kirk Cameron had with the so-called rational responders. Neither side won. Each side made themselves look pretty bad.

    I wouldn’t expect anything different with a Dawkins/Comfort debate. Dawkins would not prove that there is no God and would entertain his following with mockery and humor, and Comfort would fall all over himself trying to discuss issues he is not qualified to discuss.

  17. 17

    Bantay,

    You’re correct. Let’s get them to debate each other. Maybe that will keep them occupied while Craig and Meyer form a team to debate the best of them. I’m not certain who would be on the other team. :)

  18. Speaking of Stephen Meyer, here is a homemade video of the recent SMU event; 4 Nails In Darwin’s Coffin:

    The video is a bit fuzzy but the sound quality is good:

    4 Nails In Darwin’s Coffin Event at SMU 1/6
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zf6skWdsCQ

  19. 19

    andrewjg,

    I think Comfort is serious that the banana is a good example of design, and he even had to correct himself regarding this as the Cavendish banana that is common today as an export item to the US and Europe is biologically engineered. It seems that wild-type bananas don’t have that shape, and are filled with hard seeds.

    So I think he was serious about the example, while using a humorous way to make his case. In any case, I don’t think he’s currently using that as an example. He clearly has lost that debate, because it wasn’t a good example in the first place.

  20. The rest of the ’4 nails’ video, with Douglas Axe, Johnathan Wells, Richard Sternberg, and Stephen Meyer. is a bit hard to find, but here is the entire series:

    Part 1 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....zf6skWdsCQ

    part 2 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....a1SgYaTUQs

    part 3 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....YcFZ23RWVA

    part 4 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....yEVuCugQj4

    part 5 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....RQu9rnz5PQ

    part 6 of 6
    http://www.youtube.com/user/C0.....Wc4LHAd4ic

  21. According to the link below on Ray Comfort’s official blog he’s was joking about the banana example.

    http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.....funny.html

    The scary thing is, I once witnessed a young lady using the banana example to argue for design on a general discussion section of a video game forum.
    A Darwinist who she was debating ridiculed her and said that the banana was the result of human selective breeding.

  22. CY @ 14

    And this is another example of Dawkins finding the weakest arguments for design and mocking it.

    I think you miss Dawkin’s point. He’s using Comfort’s banana as an example of the absurd arguments that Creationist use; he’s not simply attacking the ridiculous arguments of his opponents, he’s pointing out that they are using ridiculous arguments in the first place.

    Make no mistake: Even though Comfort was playing it for laughs, he was genuinely using the banana as an argument for design. In both his live delivery, and the video snippet with Cameron, you can see the Coke can. His argument was essentially: “Since we know the Coke can is designed as a source of nutrients with a container, and the banana is a similar, if not better source of nutrients with a container, we can infer that the banana was designed as well.”

    He does this in his books as well – he finds the lowest common denominator and attacks it. He’s not really attacking design, but a parody of it.

    But here’s the thing: These ‘parodies of the design argument’ as you call them, are held by a large number of people. It’s not a ‘parody’ of an opinion if many people actually hold the opinion. It’s hard to make an intentionally absurd creationist claim and not find someone who holds that view. See Poe’s law. He’s not attacking arguments that creationists aren’t making. Comfort’s banana is just a prime example; an absurd argument for design that was put forth, by Comfort and others, that is so unbelievably ridiculous that even his allies say “He must have been joking.”

  23. JM, and yet in all seriousness, Scientists and Professors pontificate the ability of random material processes to generate libraries of unmatched complex functional information, though no one has ever observed said processes generating any functional information whatsoever, and all this happens day after in our top labs and universities, with not so much as a giggle from any of their peers listen to such folly. JM does this not strike you as strange in the least?

  24. bornagain77:

    M, and yet in all seriousness, Scientists and Professors pontificate the ability of random material processes to generate libraries of unmatched complex functional information

    Ba77, that is a complete change of topic; the OP was about Comfort’s arguments, not Dawkin’s. And besides, “Atheist make silly claims, therefore why call us out?” is not a satisfying rebuttal.

    But your comment hits on another point. Dawkins doesn’t refute any point that a large number of creationists don’t believe. You, and many others here, keep describing evolution as a ‘random material process,’ no matter how many times it is explained to you that evolution is anything but random. Selection is the opposite of randomness.

    I fear that the irony is lost on you that you accuse Dawkins of only addressing the weakest arguments for ID, when you yourself are attacking the polar opposite of what evolutionists claim.

    Again, just for clarity: Evolution is not a random process; though it has random elements (mutations are random with respect to fitness) but combined with natural selection, the process as a whole is decidedly non-random. Evolution is caused by non-random differential reproductive success.

  25. 25

    Jurassicmac,

    No, I think you miss the point. Dawkins refuses to debate “Creationists” head on. Instead, he chooses to ridicule only those who have weak arguments for design, and weak examples of Christian faith. He also picks out the worst examples of Christians in “The God Delusion” and ridicules them, rather than taking on the strongest arguments. This is why he refuses to debate people such as Meyer and Craig. If he were to debate Meyer or Craig, or Behe, et al, he would lose.

  26. CannuckianYankee,

    Dawkins is right not to waste time debating Comfort or any other YEC; It would be like a professor of Roman history ‘debating’ someone who thinks Rome didn’t even exist, or an Apollo astronaut ‘debating’ someone who believes the moon landing was a hoax. It would only serve to give undue credibility to an absurd position.

    Yes, Dawkins refuses to debate creationists head on; but most astronomers refuse to debate flat-earthers head on, and most doctors refuse to debate head on those who think communicable diseases are caused by demons and not micro-organisms. Why is the same outrage directed at them?

    If he were to debate Meyer or Craig, or Behe, et al, he would lose.

    You seem to be so certain of the outcome; why bother having the debates in the first place then?

  27. jurrasicmac,

    Dawkins is right not to waste time debating Comfort or any other YEC; It would be like a professor of Roman history ‘debating’ someone who thinks Rome didn’t even exist, or an Apollo astronaut ‘debating’ someone who believes the moon landing was a hoax. It would only serve to give undue credibility to an absurd position.

    Firstly, it is not “like” anything you’ve mentioned. Secondly, Dawkins does debate what YECs say, why not debate it to their face? Thirdly, this is a weak position to maintain, one that says that they are not worth debating in person, yet he debates what they stand for, but only in their absence. If it is not “worth” debating, then be consistent. Fourthly, assuming that YECs are not worth debating begs the question, if you dismiss them to begin with, then nothing they say will be valuable as truth of the natural world. But this very debate is about truth of the natural world. Fifthly, if the atmosphere of YEC is so bad as you maintain, what does Dawkins have to lose? This argument about undue “publicity” of YECs is a red herring, because publicity comes from the public, and the majority of Americans side with Ray Comfort, not Richard Dawkins, thus the argument could be made that Ray Comfort is giving Richard Dawkins undue publicity.

    You seem to be so certain of the outcome; why bother having the debates in the first place then?

    You should be asking yourself this question.

  28. JM, whatever on the randomness thing,,, I’m still waiting on you or any other Darwinists to show material processes generating any functional information whatsoever. Why in the world do you act like you got a leg to stand on when you have not even proved this primary point? Your blind faith impresses me not,,, dude!

  29. 29

    Jurassicmac,

    If you think Ray Comfort’s banana routine is the same argument that Meyer gives for design, or Craig gives for the existence of God, then I doubt if you’ve been paying attention here. Dawkins ignores strong arguments and prefers to attack the weak ones. This is quite clear.

  30. Ok, who of the ID supporters here does not think the banana was designed?

    If you think it was designed, why do you think Ray Comfort’s argument is silly or weak?

  31. bornagain77, let me ask you one question. Say a gene that encodes for an olfactory receptor is duplicated by a mutation, and another point mutation down the line causes the duplicate olfactory receptor to be sensitive to a different molecule than the old one was. In this hypothetical example, is functional information being added to the genome?

  32. JM, sure hypothetical,,, I know you better than that,, please show the paper you got,, and let me see what you are trying to sell.

  33. BA, for the sake of this discussion, it is hypothetical. If something like that happened, would it be an example of functional information being added to the genome?

    You asked for an example of natural processes adding functional information to the genome. I’m merely trying to ascertain what kind of event you wold accept as an example.

  34. JM, well if you want to go hypothetical let’s go all the way hypothetical as Dr. Sternberg did an excellent job here recently of going hypothetical:

    Neo-Darwinism Vs. Whale Evolution – Part 2 – Richard Sternberg PhD in Evolutionary Biology
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5263746

    As well JM, you know the limits you must surpass for functional information as you have been schooled exhaustively by gpuccio, or are you going to deny you have been through this exhaustively?

  35. I think a nice straightforward answer to jurassicmac’s question would be useful. If the discussion is about whether genetic change can produce new information or not, it would be useful to know in theory what kind of event would count as new information.

  36. P.S. An example of a nice straightforward answer would be, for instance, “Yes”, or perhaps “No”.

  37. Aleta, are you 99.472% certain that it would be straightforward?,,, just how certain are you in this matter? 8)

  38. bornagain77, I must admit I’m slightly confused. I know that not all IDers believe the same thing, but unless I’m mistaken, gpuccio would say that only a certain amount of functional information can arise at one time. (I think it’s below 500 or 1,000 bits or something in that neighborhood) But you said you’re waiting on someone to “show material processes generating any functional information whatsoever

    I like you, and I admire your zeal, but saying that natural processes can’t add any functional information whatsoever is just patently absurd, as functional information is added to the genome all the time. But perhaps you simply aren’t familiar with any of those examples. That’s why I’m trying to gauge exactly what kind of example it would take to demonstrate to you that random mutations can add new functional information to the genome.

  39. I must say that I’m with Aleta. Trying to get simple, straightforward answers to what people actually believe in these threads is like pulling teeth. The question is open to anyone:

    If a random mutation were to cause a gene duplication, and somewhere down the line, another mutation caused the gene to have a slightly different function, (like an olfactory receptor that can sense a slightly different chemical) would this constitute a gain of functional information?

    Yes, or no?

    After your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, obviously feel free to explain why or why not, if you like. But don’t forget the answer itself.

  40. The jokes getting old, ba, but it does seem to be an effective way of avoiding responding to me.

    But what is your answer to jmac’s question. It’s very straightforward, and it would seem like it could be answer with a simple “yes” or a “no”.

  41. Aleta, seriously, as far as how I approach the matter, evolutionists must pass the fitness test, against the most ancient parent strain, before I will even grant that they could have possibly generated functional information that was not already present in the parent genome and then if the test is passed, which I’ve never seen any evidence that it has been passed, the functional information must pass a threshold of 140 functional bits. But even then it does not help neo-Darwinian evolutionists in the least since the foundation of reality is shown to be Theistic, not materialistic in its basis:

    Also of concern for the Darwinian framework is that as Dr. Behe and others have pointed out, it is fairly easy to get one mutation that will confer an advantage in a stressful environment, but once you get to needing two coordinated mutations to confer an advantage you will start to encounter severe roadblocks. ,,, There may be hill climbing scenarios that get you a little further than that but not by much,,, thus the extremely low threshold of 140 bits as set by Durston, and I believe gpuccio also, is the ring that seems to be forever out of Darwinian grasp ,,, If you want far more specifics gpuccio is far more qualified on this topic and I can give you the references for Durston.

    notes:

    For a broad outline of the ‘Fitness test’, required to be passed to show a violation of the principle of Genetic Entropy, please see the following video and articles:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    Thank Goodness the NCSE Is Wrong: Fitness Costs Are Important to Evolutionary Microbiology
    Excerpt: it (an antibiotic resistant bacterium) reproduces slower than it did before it was changed. This effect is widely recognized, and is called the fitness cost of antibiotic resistance. It is the existence of these costs and other examples of the limits of evolution that call into question the neo-Darwinian story of macroevolution.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....s_wro.html

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

    As Professor Henry, of John Hopkins, has pointed out, it has been known since the discovery of quantum mechanics itself, early last century, that the universe is indeed ‘Mental’, as is illustrated by this quote from Max Planck.

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – (Of Note: Max Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every, if not every, founder of each major branch of modern science also ‘just so happened’ to have a deep Christian connection.)

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

  42. JM, no it is not absurd because of the fitness test to bacteria,, that is the threshold test you must pass!!! You cannot simply say that material processes generated functional information when in fact the preexisting information in the genome could very well, and most likely, is calculating responses to stressful situations.,,, It simply does not follow for me to presuppose material processes have the capability to generate functional information on their own!

  43. This may be of interest to some; Penrose, who worked alongside Hawking in the 70′s, was on Premier Radio this week discussing Hawking’s new book:

    Hawking, God & the Universe – Sir Roger Penrose and Alister McGrath
    http://www.premierradio.org.uk.....x?mediaid={320D8898-A8F0-4433-8934-D64DDEB8A21C}

  44. BA:

    thank you really for the link. I was just wondering if Penrose had entered the discussion about the new Hawking book. I will listen to the audio track as soon as possible.

  45. gpuccio, yes I’m fairly excited also about listening to the podcast later today,,, also of note,,, I ordered the ‘Hidden Light’ book that Dr. Sheldon blogged on,,, are you finding the book a worthwhile read?

  46. BA:

    Not yet started: too many things to do…

    Anyway, I am a big Penrose fun. I don’t agree with everything he says, but his Godel argument has been a fundamental step im my intellectual education about these problems.

  47. jurassicmac (#38):

    That’s easy. Yes.

    A small transition in functional information, certainly. Not a complex one, certainly.

    I have maybe some problems with the word “gain”. I would say it is a gain only if the same function is objectively improved, or if a reproductive gain is achieved through the transition.

    Anyway, if the new condition after the transition cab be functionally defined in a different way, that is certainly a transition in functional information relatively to the new functional definition. The complexity of the transition can be easily computed if we know which mutations were necessary to achieve it.

    What is the problem?

  48. jurassicmac, Aleta:

    Please, feel free to ask any straightforward question, and I’ll do my best to give simple straightforward answers.

  49. gpuccio @ 47,

    Thanks for the straightforward answer. I suspected that Ba77 was speaking out of turn when he said that natural processes can’t add any information to the genome.

    The problem is, saying that natural processes can add ‘some’ information, but not a ‘lot,’ is like saying very small steps can add some distance between you and your starting point, but not a ‘lot’.

    Perhaps you could clarify this for me: is your position that there is a certain amount of FCSI (be it 500, or 1,000 bits, or whatever) that can, within the realm of probability, be added at one time, or is you position that only a certain amount that can be added at all?

  50. Excuse me JM, but until you rigorously pass the fitness test,,,

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    ,,, I am well within my ‘scientific’ rights to say purely material processes have never been observed generating any functional information whatsoever above that which was already present in the parent bacteria’s genome. ,,, This test has been shown to hold for even the infamous nylon example, since once nylon is removed/detoxified from the environment, the parent strain quickly out competes the nylon strain. But even if you say that you don’t need to pass the fitness test to prove ‘vertical’ evolution, which I adamantly insist that you do have to pass to test to make your case for generating functional information, gpuccio still has you on the functional information limits that are established for what we can expect from the entire material processes of the universe over the entire history of the universe. Thus though you may think I am incohesive to gpuccio’s method, the fact is that I am perfectly in line with gpuccio’s methods.

  51. gpuccio, is bornagain77 correct? Is he accurate in saying that you both agree that “material processes have never been observed generating any functional information whatsoever above that which was already present in the parent bacteria’s genome?”

  52. Okay think this fixes it.

  53. jurassicmac:

    I don’t think you have correctly described what BA was saying, but it is not my role to interpret what my friends are saying, so I will ask you a favour: I do like straightforward questions, but could you please ask me straightforward questions about me, and not others?

    I do believe that in rare cases material processes can generate new functional information, with the limits described by Behe (one or two aminoacids in most cases, a few bits). I can agree with BA that, in most known cases, the positive function acquired is a slight tweak of some existing function, and can be associated to some functional loss. But that is not really important, for me. For me the important point is that only isolated microevolutionary events are in the range of unguided evolution.

    You say:

    Perhaps you could clarify this for me: is your position that there is a certain amount of FCSI (be it 500, or 1,000 bits, or whatever) that can, within the realm of probability, be added at one time, or is you position that only a certain amount that can be added at all?

    As I have said other times, maybe even to you, dFSCI is computed for one function, and for one molecule or system which expresses that function. It expresses the functional information which is necessary if we want to find that island of functionality form an unrelated state.

    If we start from a partially related state, than we have to compute the dFSCI of the transition.

    My position is simply that generations ex novo, or transitions, of more than 150 bits of functional information (computed for a single function and for a single object or system) are empirically impossible through a random search, in a realistic biological context.

    If there is something not clear in those statements, please ask.

  54. 55

    07 at 30,

    “Ok, who of the ID supporters here does not think the banana was designed?

    If you think it was designed, why do you think Ray Comfort’s argument is silly or weak?”

    The banana may indeed be designed. In fact the modern banana that Comfort uses in his illustration has been biologically engineered.

    But the point being made here is that to use the banana to make an argument for design overlooks the best examples – which were not biologically engineered, such as the bacterial flagellum, the eye, the blood clotting cascade, fSCI in DNA, etc.

    Thus, Dawkins himself overlooks the best arguments for design, and prefers to challenge the weaker ones.

    It’s far simpler to make an assumption that a banana is the product of random variation and natural selection than is complex information found in DNA.

    We can’t fault him for challenging the Paley argument for design when he did, but design arguments have “evolved,” and he still prefers to attack the peasants, who have nothing to do with the real battle rather than challenge head on the soldiers in the field.

    And this is why I’m a little surprised by JM when he can’t seem to differentiate between the scientific arguments for design coming from Behe and Meyer, and non-scientific arguments coming from Comfort. Do you also think they are the same?

  55. gpuccio, here is the money quote from the Roger Penrose in critique of Hawking’s new book, at the 15:11 minute mark of the audio:

    What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science. – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’
    http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable

  56. CY @ 55:

    Yes, I think the arguments are essentially the same. It looks designed so it must be. Motivated of course by the same underlying belief in God.

  57. BA:

    well, M theory and RNA world… Best candidates for best fairy tale theory of all times?

    I remember that it was in one of Penrose’s books (maybe The Emperor’s new mind) that I first found a general classification of different levels of scientific theories. That concept has remained with me. Not all scientific theories are born equal.

  58. gpuccio and Jurassicmac, you guys may find this article from Dr. Axe interesting, since it bears semi-directly on what we were discussing:,,, Biologic Institute’s Doug Axe has just responded to SMU lecturer John Wise’s attacks on the presentations at last week’s 4 Nails in Darwin’s Coffin event.

    A Word to the Wise — Biologic’s Response
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38731.html

  59. gpuccio, this might be of great interest for you:

    Fruit Flies Not Evolving (after 35 years of trying to force them to evolve)
    Excerpt: A long-running experiment trying to get fruit flies to evolve has failed. A research team forced selection on the flies to explore the limits of natural selection. Only minor changes were detected after 600 generations. The research team was disappointed and surprised; there was even less evolution in these sexual organisms than in similar experiments with microbes, like bacteria and yeast. And all this was under ideal lab conditions. Success is even less likely in the wild.,,, Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles. This is notable because in wild populations we expect the strength of natural selection to be less intense and the environment unlikely to remain constant for ~600 generations. Consequently, the probability of fixation in wild populations should be even lower than its likelihood in these experiments. This suggests that selection does not readily expunge genetic variation in sexual populations, a finding which in turn should motivate efforts to discover why this is seemingly the case. ,,,This experiment was begun in 1975. After 35 years and 600 generations, accelerated by artificial selection, the net evolution (in terms of adaptation and improvement in fitness) was negligible if not nil.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100930a

  60. Hi bornagaim77. I’m very happy to see you now here.
    I have to say you some little things and one more a little stronguest. But in general are goods for you.
    Creationist, althoug as many people thinks are wrong, are the least wrong that are stated. Because in some sense, there be a little bit of macroevolution in the process, but they have mantained Faith in God and this is the most important thing a man can make here, in his wrong loved Earth.

    The time is near, and you must know that now is important that anyone put him in front of Light and that you see for the Light,because the puzzle is almost to be solved, and the better now is to see the Light.

    I have to advice you and others that anyone knows the TRUE TRUE but God, and God Loves all, dont want any disputes among man, and that if you at the most as possible loves Him, then He will say you what you need to know to make good things, and only He is Who can judge to anybody, because Him is the Lord, and nobody can speak for Him scept that are authorized perfectly for His Real Hierarchy.

    Then pray as much as you can because He will help you with more forze than can you imagine.

    Dont waste time because anymore is needed to know than we all can known now.

    A very loving hugh in Christ,

    Obriton (Silav) CL&J A.

  61. BA:

    thank you for the link. The Axe link is as usual very good, and I will read the other one later.

    The example of rifampicin resistance is very clear.

    The fact is that, if a molecule is really greatly optimized, it is not easy to change its conformation without altering in some way its function. And biological molecules are indeed very, very optimized. They are apparently at the absolute peak of their functional island.

    Still, there is the possibility that in some rare cases a mutation may still “tweak” an existing function so that it is a little better, at least in the present environment. Those cases are probably rare, but they could exist.

    Again, the important points are:

    a) The transitions in all known microevolutionary cases are simple. That’s why we call them microevolutionary.

    b) In no case those transitions appear to be “additive”: IOWs, they definitely do not represent functional steps towards some future macroevolutionary event.

    These two points are very important, and should always be considered in any discussion about darwinian theory.

  62. gpuccio, It seems, from all evidence I have seen thus far, and as somewhat illustrate in the Axe rebuttal, that even in the rare cases that a ‘microevolutionary’ event ‘tweaks’ an existing protein, this ‘tweaking’ always come at a cost of the overall functional complexity/information of a micro-organisms genome. Thus staying well within the principle of Genetic Entropy and Conservation of Information. Moreover the tweaking comes from a ‘preprogrammed evolutionary algorithm” within the genome itself. Thus that is why I feel more than comfortable when I say this statement, purely material processes have never been observed generating ANY functional information.

  63. BA:

    I can agree with you in essence but I need to specify one thing.

    Using my definition of dFSCI, resistance to an antibiotic can be defined as a function as much as any other function. In the case of rifampicin resistance, a mutation of 4.32 bits creates functional information relatively to that defined function.

    Therefore, I could not literally say that “purely material processes have never been observed generating ANY functional information”, if I want to use my definition of function and of functional information. Because my definition of functional information is relative to a specifically defined function, and not absolute. I have been using this approach for some time now, and I am convinced that it works very fine, and that it allows a truly effective way to deal with dFSCI.

    I suppose that your statement can be true if we accept an absolute definition of function, but I am not aware of one which can be operatively used in defining dFSCI. So, I stick to my “relative” definition.

    But again, I can see no problem in that. That simple random events can rarely generate some modifications which can confer some relative functionality in a particular environment, even if at the cost of other more general functionalities, is a simple fact easily understandable, and perfectly in line with ID theory. I don’t think that it contradicts the principle of genetic entropy, too. Why should it be a problem?

  64. gpuccio, I know the point is ‘quibbling’, but this minor point of clarification as to the effect of ALL mutations as to the loss of overall functional information that was within the parent species genome, is actually a very important point to maintain as to clearly illustrating, the ‘monstrous ravine’, as Abel puts it, between the material processes of this universe and functional information that we find in the genomes of life. It is of no small concern to ID either to maintain this clear distinction between material processes and the overall information we find in any system (biological or computer) as Dr. Dembski states here:

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW – William Dembski – Robert Marks – Pg. 13
    Excerpt: Simulations such as Dawkins’s WEASEL, Adami’s AVIDA, Ray’s Tierra, and Schneider’s ev appear to support Darwinian evolution, but only for lack of clear accounting practices that track the information smuggled into them.,,, Information does not magically materialize. It can be created by intelligence or it can be shunted around by natural forces. But natural forces, and Darwinian processes in particular, do not create information. Active information enables us to see why this is the case.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

  65. BA:

    I suppose we perfectly agree about the ‘monstrous ravine’. Abel is obviously right, as usual.

    In a sense, “information” is a concept pertaining to the conscious sphere. In that sense, no non conscious process can really create information.

    But when I deal with dFSCI, I am not dealing with philosophy, but with an objective tool which evaluates objective formal properties of strings. So I am not judging what information really is, but only which strings have the properties which I have defined as dFSCI.

    We have to be honest about that. If we use a tool, we have to use impartially in all cases.

    According to my tool, dFSI can arise in a random system, without any contribution of a conscious agent. But dFSCI cannot.

    Let’s make a very simpe example. Let’s say that we have a random ascii string generator which outputs a great number of random three letter words. And we define as function: a three letter word which has meaning in english.

    Well, this result is definitely in the range of the random system. Indeed, the probabilities of a specific english three letter word (such as “has”) coming out are not extremely low. A standard Ascii table has 128 values, so the search space of any three letter combination is 128^3, that is about 2×10^6, or 21 bits.

    If the system can accomplish a sufficient nuber of searches, the probability of having “functional” three letter words is very high.

    Has the system “created functional information”? It depends what you mean with that phrase.

    In a sense, no true information has been created because nobody has “thought” those words and outputted them willingly. There is no design implied.

    But from the point of view of the definition of dFSI, some functional information has been created: we have in our output functional words, that was our functional request, and our functional request is satisfied. So, in each word which has english sense we find about 21 bits of functional information, according to my definition.

    Obviously, that is not dFSCI. If anyone repeats the experiment with a functional requirement of 150 bits, he will soon discover the difference.

    The search space of any functional 150 bits string is about 10^45. Enough to discourage any computation.

  66. gpuccio, I completely agree in how you handle computation of information that is present as being a very, very, VERY, effective way to clearly show Darwinists the utter futility of material processes ever generating any significant levels of functional information (or any dFSCI whatsoever in particular) but, (pardon my ignorance in this matter), but doesn’t Dembski and Marks’s Law of Conservation of Information negate even the short 3 letter sequences that you’ve alluded to as arising from purely material processes???

    7 The Law of Conservation of Information

    Laws of science are supposed to be
    universal in scope, hold with unfailing regularity, and find support from a wide array of facts and observations. We submit that conservation of information is such a law. It may be formulated as follows:

    The Law of Conservation of Information (LCI).

    Any search that proportionately raises the probability of locating a target by q/p with respect to blind search
    requires in its formation an amount of information not less than the active
    information I+ = log(q/p).
    http://evoinfo.org/papers/ConsInfo_NoN.pdf

  67. Hi all. I love yo us much as anyone never has loved you, Believe me.

    It’s my last ADVICE.

    You must LEAVE that YET. and YET is YET.

    Time is closed. All that you need to know is knowed. You are seeking in the wrong side. You dont know nothig, and when I say nothing is NOTHING about human mind. You think you are greatest thinkers by yourselves, but dont use your only and TRUE recurse: the LIGHT. It is said: “I’m the LIGHT”. You dont have in mind nothing, that is, your minds are empty. Only a little Light you allow light is inside you, you’ll see ALL. Only is a ONE Truth, a ONE God, a ONE Live:

    if you want lose your lifes you remain here. But if you want to see the Light and dont lose your life for ever, then go to home, pray, pray as much are you able to pray and then, when all is finished, I assure you, that all that you never has seen and is impossible to see here is completed vieable, and you’ll be very happy because have made the correct way.

    That’s all people. Time is not Time, All you see is what you dont see. All you make without God is nothing, because God is Who is, and is the ONLY Who that is itself. And he ever has want that you are inside Him. But you never seen in the right direction and this has provocated a thousand, and a thousand of a thousand and many more killed man. It’s your las opportunity: if you dont cry your evils YET, then it’s no MORE TIME.

    It’s my last WORD. All is said now, then after, dont say that I don have said it totally clear to everibody. If you dont believe me your lifes are all losts for ever.

    “I love you as never ONE has never loved you”, It had be said, and it’s all I have to said to you.

    Pray, Pray all that you can make, because Time is over.

    I said.

    Obriton (Silav) CL&J A

    Amen

  68. BA:

    No, there is no violation of Dembski’s law. If you look at the quote from Dembski, it says:

    “Any search that proportionately raises the probability of locating a target by q/p with respect to blind search requires in its formation an amount of information not less than the active information I+ = log(q/p).”

    (Emphasis mine)

    In my example, the probability of locating the target is not “raised” in any way. The functional three letter words can be found because their natural probability of being found is high enough that they can indeed be found, given enough probabilistic resources. That’s because they are simple sequences.

    IOWs, the word “has” has in my model about 1:2*10^6 probability of coming out in a single random attempt. That’s a low probability, but if the system makes millions of random attempts in a limited time (and a computer certainly can do that), the word “has” has very high probability to be generated.

    No active information is needed for that, because we are not “raising” the probability of locationg the target thorugh any special algorithm: we are just doing the basic random work which can find that kind of target through pure probability laws.

    If the target is 150 bits complex, however, the probabilistic resources necessary to find it through simple probabilistic laws become so huge to be unrealistic on our planet, and if you shift the limit to 500 bits, the necessary probabilistic resources exceed the probabilistic resources of the whole universe, as Dembski has well shown.

    In those cases, you can locate the target only through “smart” models or algorithms, which are introducing “active information” about the target in the search system, in direct or indirect ways, as again Dembski and Marks have brilliantly shown. IOWs, you are “raising” the probabilities of locating the target through design procedures, target conscious procedures, IOWs intent.

    That’s the meaning of Dembski’s law, at least as I understand it.

  69. 70

    07,

    “Yes, I think the arguments are essentially the same. It looks designed so it must be. Motivated of course by the same underlying belief in God.”

    As I suspected you think the arguments are the same. First, you are operating on a basic assumption that theists necessarily assume God. Second, it is quite reasonable to extrapolate that if something looks designed, it may be in fact designed. To suggest that it isn’t is to interject a metaphysical assumption that is not warranted by the evidence. So who really is begging the question here? If the IDist is able to demonstrate reasonably that there are certain parameters, which indicate design, that is not the same as to say “well this banana has similar features to a Coke can, so it must be designed.” They are not the same argument. ID theorists have singled out certain conditions, which are not currently explained by the predominant theory. Furthermore, they have theorized as well as demonstrated that the probability factors involved in OOL scenarios make any kind of naturalistic mechanism so highly unlikely as to be impossible.

    Assumptions aside (and everybody starts with them – Darwinists are no exception), one has to go where the evidence leads. If the evidence begins with the appearance of design, and the reasonable theorist begins with that observation, it doesn’t seem reasonable to me to go in the opposite direction because one’s a priori assumptions don’t allow one to go where the divine foot meets the door.

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