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Why on Earth would a layman accept Darwinistic claims?

First, by “Darwinistic” I mean “atheistic-materialist neo-Darwinist”, which includes the view that even the origin of life can be explained by reference to chance and natural law.

As Alan Fox points out, many of those here are “laymen” when it comes to evolutionary biology.  Most of us are not specifically schooled or trained in that arena – by “us”, I mean anyone who is interested in the debate about Darwinian evolution vs ID-inclusive evolution.  I, like many, have informed myself to a moderate degree about Darwinistic claims and the ID argument, but I’m certainly not a professional scientist, nor a philosopher with any formal academic training.

IMO, a reasonable layman would be highly skeptical of claims that matter, chance & natural law can by themselves  produce the sophisticated software/hardware nano-systems and architecture found in each self-replicating cell, much less produce consciousness, teleological will, intelligence, and imagination.  A reasonable layman would be much more likely to hold – until convinced by a good understanding of compelling evidence otherwise – that consciousness, intelligence, teleological will and imagination most probably come from that which has them or something like them already, and that highly complex, hierarchical, interdependent, organized, functional machinery that is operational through physically encoded instructions is only known to be originally produced by intelligence via teleological planning.  No one – to my knowledge – has ever witnessed unintelligent natural law, chance, and brute materials originate such devices and mechanisms. There is no good reason to believe that they can.

So I ask pro-Darwinistic, anti-ID laymen, like Alan Fox: without a professional  understanding of the biology, philosophy or logic involved, nor of information systems and theory, chemistry or bio-engineering, why on Earth would you accept that highly complex, hierarchical, interdependent, functional, self-replicating machines; consciousness, intelligence, teleological will and imagination can be produced (eventually) by the happenstance interactions of brute matter via law and chance?  What is the rational basis for accepting such a view,  especially if you admit that you do not really even understand the evidence/arguments pro or con because you are “just a layman”?

It seems to me laymen who do not feel qualified to argue the logic and the evidence on their own but instead prefer to defer to “experts” are in a situation where they should just remain skeptical of such claims, and certainly shouldn’t be cheerleading one side and dismissing the other.

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143 Responses to Why on Earth would a layman accept Darwinistic claims?

  1. 1
    sagebrush gardener

    I am skeptical of the idea that you have to be an expert on a subject before you can criticize the “experts” in a field. Must you have a complete understanding of deferents and epicycles before you can criticize Ptolemaic astronomy? Do you need a degree in civil engineering before you can complain about potholes in the street? I think that experts can have blind spots or even a tacit agreement among themselves to ignore “the elephant in the room” and it is considered poor taste for anyone outside the club to point out the elephant.

  2. 2
    William J Murray

    I agree, sagebrush. My question is really directed at a point Alan Fox made in another thread where he basically called most of us “laymen” in terms of evolutionary biology as if that somehow by itself should count against our arguments. In another thread, he deferred to attempt to engage KF on the subject of FSCO/I and invited him to another site where professionals could take up the argument.

    I am comfortable making the arguments I make. If I don’t feel I have enough of a grasp on a subject to argue, I certainly do not dismiss with prejudice that which I don’t have a proper understanding of. Generally, i just don’t participate in such discussions.

    Laymen like Alan Fox want to have their cake and eat it too; they want many ID advocates here to be discredited because they are laymen in terms of evolutionary biology, but then turn around and fully accept evidence and argument that falls outside of their area of expertise, and cheerlead that position.

    Theyh can’t have it both ways.

  3. For the layman and the professional ID theory fits much better with reality. Dawkins himself famously admitted to this: “Living objects look designed, they look overwhelmingly as though they’re designed. Biology is the study of complicated things which give the impression of having been designed for a purpose.”
    It takes years and years of ‘training’ of the mind to believe that life is not designed – to get rid of this laymanship. And even then teleological descriptions of life keep slipping in every other sentence.
    So indeed the question is: why on earth would a layman accept Darwinistic claims?

  4. “Why on Earth would a layman accept Darwinistic claims?”

    Isn’t It obvious, WJM? Because their molecules told them to. Good thing you don’t listen to your molecules. Otherwise you might be an “atheistic-materialist neo-Darwinist”.

  5. Years ago I was certainly a layman in every sense of the word in that I knew next to nothing about the ‘science’ behind neo-Darwinism. I assumed, out of my immense respect for science, that there must certainly be something to Darwinism or the popular magazines would not continually support Darwinism without question. But I also knew that God was real from the times in my life, at very low points in my life, that God, through his compassion, would be there for me in tangible ways. Tangible ways such as the following,,,

    ALF’s Miracle
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15HyqZQemXGK9eYJ3NwZtTIg2r_BQnAYasrwbqAiqJRM/edit

    Thus I figured God must of somehow used Darwinian processes in His formation of life on this world. The first inkling I got that something was terribly amiss with the ‘science’ of Darwinism was when I read ‘Darwin on Trial’, by Phillip Johnson back in the 1990′s,,,

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    ,,,learning, from Professor Johnson, that the fossil record looked nothing like what Darwinists continually portrayed it to be to the general public was a real eye-opener to put it mildly (the Cambrian Explosion and long tern stasis of forms in the fossil record, was pretty dramatic effect in that regards). The second thing that clued me in, as a layman, that something was terribly amiss with neo-Darwinism, was when I read ‘Darwin’s Black Box’ by Dr. Michael Behe, also back in the 1990′s, and learned that there were many ‘irreducibly complex’ machines and systems within the cell that are very resistant to the gradual processes envisioned in neo-Darwinism. Dr. Behe has subsequently developed his argument much further today, and it turns out that the ‘limits’ that Dr. Behe had originally envisioned to what Darwinian processes can do, are now much more severe than he first realized in his first book ‘Darwin’s Black Box’:

    What are the Limits of Darwinism? A Presentation by Dr. Michael Behe at the University of Toronto – November 15th, 2012 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_XN8s-zXx4

    The third peg to be knocked out from under the Darwinian stool for me, as a layman, was when I read ‘Genetic Entropy’ by Dr. John Sanford,,

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

    Dr. John Sanford “Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome” 1/2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJ-4umGkgos

    ,,,in which I learned that the beneficial to deleterious mutation rate was nowhere near what Darwinists needed it to be to make neo-Darwinism work. What I have, as a layman, subsequently learned from Meyers, Dembski, Axe, Nelson Wells, Berlinski, Luskin, etc..,, and from digging through the scientific literature myself, has only solidified my resolve that we are not dealing with a ‘science’, in any meaningful since of the word, in Darwinism, as to something we can test and falsify, but we are instead dealing with a full fledged atheistic religion masquerading as science.

  6. William J. Murray,

    If you don’t mind, I would like to respond to your question as it applies to why I “accept Darwinistic claims.”

    You may know that I am a former humanities scholar and now business development and contracts guy at a robotics company. I was also a student of my own religion and definitely a theist until I was almost 39 years old.

    The first response to your question is that I don’t consider myself accepting Darwinistic claims. Or at least I don’t feel I buy them wholly, unconditionally, and with no possibility of skepticism or questioning. Yet, the original theory laid out by Darwin and Wallace is compelling, and my reading of subsequent developments in the natural sciences tells me that these developments refine and strengthen the theory, even while posing very interesting new questions for it. In a nutshell, the more I learn about modern evolution and the various sciences that bear upon it, the more likely it seems to be the right track toward knowing how reality works and how it developed from deep in the past up to now.

    I would say, however, that to the extent modern evolutionary theory is acceptable, it is orders of magnitude more acceptable than ID. As far as I can tell, the only real testable claim of ID has to do with irreducible complexity, and I cannot see that this claim/argument has been developed significantly–not that it seems a particularly “damaging” claim against evolution.

    FSCO/I is something of a mystery to me. It’s supposed to be a metric for helping identify if something is likely a product of design, so I would expect to see it all over the place. It should be in papers, journals, etc. There should be boutique websites dedicated to breaking down the FSCO/I content of everyday items and places.

    Finally, it is right and proper to be skeptical of the claim “that consciousness, intelligence, teleological will and imagination most probably come from that which has them or something like them already, and that highly complex, hierarchical, interdependent, organized, functional machinery that is operational through physically encoded instructions is only known to be originally produced by intelligence via teleological planning.” This claim asserts that consciousness probably came from consciousness, and that designed things come from designers. The problem is that the claim gives no indication of where consciousness itself comes from or where designers come from.

    Ultimately, in my mind ID itself doesn’t make a very robust claim, and certainly a less comprehensive and detailed argument than modern evolutionary theory. So the answer to your question, from my point of view, is not so much that I as a layman accept Darwinism but that my estimation tells me there is more to Darwinism than to ID. Whatever Darwinism’s open issues and puzzles, ID’s are much bigger and deeper.

    Please don’t think I am trying to pick a fight. I’m not. But you ask an interesting question that I believe deserves to be answered seriously, and my intent is to do that.

  7. LT: On FSCO/I, start here, AF was just corrected on this for all to see. Do you wish to join that ilk? KF

  8. Just to clarify:

    FSCO/I is something of a mystery to me. It’s supposed to be a metric for helping identify if something is likely a product of design, so I would expect to see it all over the place. It should be in papers, journals, etc. There should be boutique websites dedicated to breaking down the FSCO/I content of everyday items and places.

    I concede my understanding of the concept may be narrow or even wrongheaded, but my main point is that I would expect FSCO/I to be everywhere if it really did what its proponents say it does.

    It should be a subject of study in itself and it should be leveraged by very many people in hundreds of academic and non-academic venues. And I say this because the nature of the tool would seem to lend itself to widespread use. Who wouldn’t want to be able to show that X meets the design threshold, and so does Y, but Z does not? Who wouldn’t want to build upon that?

    In any case, I know the arguments here that refer to Orgel, etc. I also know about the Dembski-Marks papers. These are not what I am talking about.

  9. LarTanner-

    Darwin’s “theory” is void of details and the modern synthesis is also vague. No one knows what makes an organism what it is. Evolutionary biologists may think it’s (in) the DNA but that has yet to be demonstrated and some have said it has been refuted.

    Ev-devo (developmental biology) hasn’t offered any insights as to what determines form- see “Why Is a Fly Not a Horse?”

    And FSCO/I is everywhere. People just call it by its ordinary name, information. However in these debates darwinists like to conflate the ordinary use of the word information with Shannon information. Therefor it became a necessity for IDists to come up with terminology to put a halt to your side’s continued conflation and equivocation.

    So we have. Yet all that has accomplished is to give you guys something else to grumble about.

    That said, Intelligent Design evolution is well supported by evolutionary and genetic algorithms. We see the power of a targeted search and have demonstrated its utility.

    What do you think the odds are of finding the weasel’s target phrase if the target phrase was taken out of the program?

  10. In a nutshell, the more I learn about modern evolution and the various sciences that bear upon it, the more likely it seems to be the right track toward knowing how reality works and how it developed from deep in the past up to now.

    Interesting. The more that *I* have learned about evolution, especially as it relates to a Darwinian framework, the LESS likely I am to believe its “findings”. BWC (“Before Watson & Crick”), it was a lot easier to swallow the claims of Darwin though folks like Wallace had already skewered some of the theory. However, since he discovery of DNA and all of the molecular science and biochemistry advances, it is really impossible, for me, to believe that unguided, random processes could turn inanimate matter into Beethoven, LeBron James or the Kardashians.

    No, indeed, the more I study the issue, the more I recognize that the typical Darwinist believes in his paradigm due to a priori philosophical and religious reasons. Thomas Nagel has pulled that curtain away, and he, an admitted atheist, says that Darwinian evolution is a fairy tale unsupported by evidence. He believes in some type of materialist teleology, and I choose to believe in an Intelligent Designer.

  11. LT: There is a certain discipline called computer science that studies functionally specific complex digitally coded information. In engineering, there are ever so many objects that are functionally specific, based on complex and exacting wiring diagrams or blueprints (ROBOTS BEING A CAPITAL CASE IN POINT), and so forth. Buildings, cars, road networks, computer networks, telephony networks, broadcast studios, and so forth. The very text of the posts you make, in English, are strings of ASCII characters that to function must be specific per the requisites of textual English, in order to communicate effectively. And so on and so forth. IN SHORT, DESPITE PRETENCES AND TALKING POINTS TO THE CONTRARY, THE CONCEPT IS SIMPLE AND EXAMPLES ARE UTTERLY COMMON ALL AROUND US, SO IT SHOULD BE READILY GRASPED BY REASONABLY INFORMED PEOPLE IN AN INFORMATION AGE. In the biological and OOL contexts, the concept was raised by Orgel and Wicken in the 1970′s as a distinguishing characteristic of organised cell based life that marks it apart from things like crystals and tars of random polymers, etc. Indeed, the summary descriptive term and the abbreviations FSCO/I and FSCI are directly derived from these terms. GP has added dFSCI for digitally coded FSCI as is found in DNA, notoriously. Proteins, built up through algorithmic control of mRNA transcribed from DNA, implicitly carry the same information, and of course their sequences are highly specifically constrained by requisites of folding and biological function in life forms. If you want major ID figu4res using similar concepts, Dembski speaks of complex specified information and how in biology it is cashed out in function. Meyer, in his book, Signature in the Cell, is speaking about the same basic concept. And so forth, and so much and so more ad nauseum. All this has been pointed out, including in your presence; over and over again literally over the course of years, so — with all due respect — I simply cannot find it that your remarks, to be frank, come across as anything above a particularly cheap and annoying pile on, time wasting going in circles rhetorical gambit following up AF’s antics, on the latest distraction, the pretence that there is no such thing as functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, or that this is a product of my silly ill informed little imagination, or it is meaningless or biologically irrelevant or a signature of Creationist hidden agenda theocratic agendas hiding in the guise of the second law of thermodynamics and the entropy concept, or the like. If, I am simply being over- irritable after having had to deal with AF’s antics, and you really, genuinely want/need a 101, after all this time and any number of opportunities to have long since learned what is going on, I suggest here on for starters. Good day. KF

  12. LT, since you have ZERO evidence that purely Darwinian processes can produce enough non-trivial functional information for even a single functional protein:

    Now Evolution Must Have Evolved Different Functions Simultaneously in the Same Protein – Cornelius Hunter – Dec. 1, 2012
    Excerpt: In one study evolutionists estimated the number of attempts that evolution could possibly have to construct a new protein. Their upper limit was 10^43. The lower limit was 10^21.
    http://rsif.royalsocietypublis.....5/953.long
    These estimates are optimistic for several reasons, but in any case they fall short of the various estimates of how many attempts would be required to find a small protein. One study concluded that 10^63 attempts would be required for a relatively short protein.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2199970
    And a similar result (10^65 attempts required) was obtained by comparing protein sequences.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/s.....9377900443
    Another study found that 10^64 to 10^77 attempts are required.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15321723
    And another study concluded that 10^70 attempts would be required. In that case the protein was only a part of a larger protein which otherwise was intact, thus making the search easier.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0000096
    These estimates are roughly in the same ballpark, and compared to the first study giving the number of attempts possible, you have a deficit ranging from 20 to 56 orders of magnitude. Of course it gets much worse for longer proteins.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....1503051454

    And yet we have direct empirical confirmation that intelligence can do as such:

    Viral-Binding Protein Design Makes the Case for Intelligent Design Sick! (as in cool) – Fazale Rana – June 2011
    Excerpt: When considering this study, it is remarkable to note how much effort it took to design a protein that binds to a specific location on the hemagglutinin molecule. As biochemists Bryan Der and Brian Kuhlman point out while commenting on this work, the design of these proteins required:
    “…cutting-edge software developed by ~20 groups worldwide and 100,000 hours of highly parallel computing time. It also involved using a technique known as yeast display to screen candidate proteins and select those with high binding affinities, as well as x-ray crystallography to validate designs.2″
    If it takes this much work and intellectual input to create a single protein from scratch, is it really reasonable to think that undirected evolutionary processes could accomplish this task routinely?
    In other words, the researchers from the University of Washington and The Scripps Institute have unwittingly provided empirical evidence that the high-precision interactions required for PPIs requires intelligent agency to arise.
    http://www.reasons.org/viral-b.....-sick-cool

    Then why do you LT, since you have no confirming empirical evidence for neo-Darwinism, want neo-Darwinism to be true? Is it a psychological problem with God such as what Nagel admitted to?

    “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” – Nagel
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    LT, as to your gripe that functional information is not really measured in life by anyone of real importance, well, I thought this recent experiment, measured it quite well,,,

    Towards practical, high-capacity, low-maintenance information storage in synthesized DNA – January 2013
    Excerpt: Here we describe a scalable method that can reliably store more information than has been handled before. We encoded computer files totalling 739 kilobytes of hard-disk storage and with an estimated Shannon information of 5.2?×?106 bits into a DNA code, synthesized this DNA, sequenced it and reconstructed the original files with 100% accuracy. Theoretical analysis indicates that our DNA-based storage scheme could be scaled far beyond current global information volumes and offers a realistic technology for large-scale, long-term and infrequently accessed digital archiving. In fact, current trends in technological advances are reducing DNA synthesis costs at a pace that should make our scheme cost-effective for sub-50-year archiving within a decade.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....11875.html

  13. LarTanner @8:

    It should be a subject of study in itself and it should be leveraged by very many people in hundreds of academic and non-academic venues.

    Why and in what sense? Because they are trying to figure out whether some object they are working with was designed? Typically that is not at issue. It is at issue in some fields of discovery (SETI, forensics, etc.) and similar principles are used in those fields, although they may use other terminology.

    Design principles are regularly used and invoked in many fields and digital functional complex specified information is ubiquitous in computer science, as KF mentions @11.

    Do you have a substantive issue with the concept, or are you just pointing out that scientists have not yet generally adopted UB’s terminology?

  14. LarTanner

    Please don’t stay in your ignorance. You present some of the poorest arguments for your viewpoint I have ever seen. That these are your first arguments shows that you really have not thought this issue through. I’m sure others will point out the logical fallacies ( argument ad populum, argument ad ignorantiam ) but it pains me that you take such a hard stance when your reasoning is so poor.

    I am not saying that strong arguments for the athheistic-materialistic Darwinist viewpoint do not exist, it’s just that the arguments you list are childish, and certainly not something I would base my life on. Please reconsider your loyalty to Darwinism. If studying for so long has not given you the ability to support your viewpoint without presenting specious arguments standing upon logical fallacies, its time to start doubting Darwin.

  15. (sorry for my english)
    I am another laymen in darwinism. Thank to them I became a Bible believer when I realized that people so stubborn, that even do not believe in logic but anyway they see themselves the only “rational”, that they dismiss the evidence contrary to their “fact” the evolution by chance….Those God-haters, those blinded by themselves are the army of a powerful force that the Bible refers to many times: the “father of lies”. So thank you, Kantian Naturalist, Alan Fox…and your masters Dawkins, Coyne…you all gave me the key to the Truth.

  16. Folks,

    The question of the OP is “why would a layman accept Darwinian claims?”

    I responded to that questions with as direct an answer as I could muster: because the claims and the reasoning that support them seem strong, and much stronger than the claims and reasoning behind ID. That’s this one layman’s opinion, and since you asked I wanted to share.

    I also chose to share in an executive summary-type fashion. I saw no need to write a dissertation; I only wanted to voice my opinion.

    By sharing, I was then scolded in comment 7 to say I might be part of an unsavory ilk. In comment 11 I was accused of being part of “a particularly cheap and annoying pile on.” Comment 12 told me I had “ZERO” (all caps) evidence.

    My favorite, comment 14, lovingly implores me not to stay in ignorance, and then calls my arguments “childish.”

    In comment 13, Eric nicely asks for clarification. To him I answer that no, I do not have a substantive issue at all with FSCO/I such as I understand it. I get that it is a real concept and useful. What I don’t see very clearly is people making ID use of the concept and advancing ID arguments with/through it. Eric, you seem like a responsive one. Would you please give me an example of a ID argument, in syllogism form, that uses FSCO/I measurement?

    Anyways, I think the real question is why anyone should accept ID claims that some natural features are best explained as products of intelligent design. For me, I cannot even formulate the question without getting lost in all of the side questions that necessarily appear: how many designers? when? what constitutes a design? can development incorporate both design and accident, and how can we tell? Is a design a separate thing from that which is the product of design? And so on.

    I also don’t get the argument “that consciousness, intelligence, teleological will and imagination most probably come from that which has them or something like them already, and that highly complex, hierarchical, interdependent, organized, functional machinery that is operational through physically encoded instructions is only known to be originally produced by intelligence via teleological planning.” One issue is that your consciousness doesn’t “come from” your parents, in the sense that your parents did not decide “Hey, today’s the day we give little William his consciousness!” In this sense none of of give consciousness or will to offspring or to anything else. Rather, we inherit consciousness; it’s part of the way the human body works.

    Another issue is that, yes, people make sophisticated machines. But so what? Other species can use tools, and human technology is a relatively recent innovation in our development. Could life’s different machines have arisen and developed naturally over billions of years? Surely the answer to this question cannot be stranger than the answer to whether life’s different machine were made by some being who either created or visited earth a long time ago.

    WJM, it’s your thread, but I would love to know exactly what it is about ID that you and others find so convincing.

  17. LarTanner:

    The question of the OP is “why would a layman accept Darwinian claims?”

    I responded to that questions with as direct an answer as I could muster: because the claims and the reasoning that support them seem strong, and much stronger than the claims and reasoning behind ID.

    Forgive us larry, but that seems like total BS to us. The “reasoning” behind darwinian claims is to not allow a designer’s foot into the door. And darwinian claims are not supported by the evidence.

    What is it about ID that we find so convincing? Well, for one, the fact that darwinian explanations do not exist in a scientific context- ie there doesn’t seem to be any way of testing the claim that natural selection is a designer mimic. Having more (or less) offspring doesn’t give us any new body plans. You need much more than that.

    So that one mandated hurdle is traversed. Next we have the design criteria, which is met in spades.

    So we have the two things- lack of evidence for darwinian evolution and plenty of evidence for intentional design.

    Cause and effect relationships, Larry. And if we ever observe nature, operating freely, producing CSI (or any of its derivatives), our inference would be neatly refuted. It is as simple as that.

  18. 18

    Laymen???
    Its not that difficult to understand a hypothesis without evidence backing it up!
    Evolutionary biology is a simple idea of cause and effect and no training is needed to expand on it!
    Mr Murray.
    you seem to accept descent or evolution etc .
    Do you have any, i say any, scientific biological evidence for evolution to have created a next stage to some previous stage of biology?
    No bacteria stuff but real change in body plans.
    Your favourite one if a YEC may ask!!
    Bet you don;t (but I don’t bet money)

  19. Joe:

    Next we have the design criteria, which is met in spades.

    Show me, Joe. Show me the criteria being met. I’m telling you I’m open-minded, whether you believe me or not.

    I would be delighted if your next comment applied the design criteria to something specific and showed me how the criteria were met.

  20. LT @ 6
    Thank you for your comment. Though I disagree about the comparative merits of the modern synthetic theory versus ID, it is nevertheless refreshing to read a sincere statement of why you feel as you do. We have been dealing with a lot of insincere, dismissive commentary of late, so pardon the raised hackles. I think everyone’s a bit touchy at the moment.

  21. For my own two cents about FSCO/I, I think it has definite descriptive value for both mechanical systems and character strings. It simply describes some system the function of which is dependant on the specific way in which its parts are organized. To say that a system is complex in this context is to say that it possesses irregularity, as opposed to regularity (rather like a crystal). At this point its ability to give a numerical value to physical systems is not there (in my opinion). In other words, for some physical system (engine, bicycle, toaster oven, etc.) FSCO/I functions as a qualitative description . For a character string (binary sequence, DNA sequence, protein sequence, etc.) FSCO/I functions as a quantitative description . Again, just my two cents..
    .

  22. …why on Earth would you accept that highly complex, hierarchical, interdependent, functional, self-replicating machines; consciousness, intelligence, teleological will and imagination can be produced (eventually) by the happenstance interactions of brute matter via law and chance?

    I don’t happen to think that the premise assumed in your question is correct. There are lots of partial explanations of aspects of how life on Earth has diversified over the three billion years or so since its arrival on Earth. There is no good evidence-based explanation as yet for how life (self-sustaining self-replicators) originally arose.

    However I am unpersuaded by Biblical accounts (or other creation myths) for the origins of life. I am quite resigned to the mystery of life’s origins remaining a mystery. Someone (can’t remember who) likened human knowledge of the universe to that of the awareness of an ant scurrying around in the cracks on the side-walk next to the Empire State Building. There seems a sort of arrogance amongst some who believe they know the answers to life, the universe and everything. Me, I’m travelling hopefully. In the meantime, I’m quite comfortable with the true answer “we don’t really know, yet” to making something up.

    I’ve been reading up on some American philosophers and I wonder if you were aware of Willard Quine (1908 -2000)? It seems self-evident to me that all we know of the world around us arrives solely via our sensory inputs and I learn Quine apparently says something similar and regards science as “the final arbiter of truth”. I also see that Daniel Dennett was a student of Quine and I guess some here might think that Dennett extends Quine’s ideas too far.

  23. LT:

    Kindly, consider the consistent timing, tone and focus of your interventions. Then look real hard at how you posed the following assertion, after considerable time has had to be AGAIN spent with someone who isn’t even bothering to attend to patent facts:

    I concede my understanding of the concept may be narrow or even wrongheaded, but my main point is that I would expect FSCO/I to be everywhere if it really did what its proponents say it does.

    It should be a subject of study in itself and it should be leveraged by very many people in hundreds of academic and non-academic venues. And I say this because the nature of the tool would seem to lend itself to widespread use. Who wouldn’t want to be able to show that X meets the design threshold, and so does Y, but Z does not? Who wouldn’t want to build upon that?

    Observe, yet again, I highlighted just how these have been answered to. If you bothered to read the al5eady linked you would have seen where there is a definite answer to the question you pretended was not answered:

    What I don’t see very clearly is people making ID use of the concept and advancing ID arguments with/through it. Eric, you seem like a responsive one. Would you please give me an example of a ID argument, in syllogism form, that uses FSCO/I measurement?

    Do you not see why a pointed correction is in order?

    Then, notice, how you tried to make light of what you did, having been pointedly corrected.

    In particular, can you at least now acknowledge the ubiquity of FSCO/I and acknowledge that it is present in DNA and protein, thus is a feature of cell based life worthy of explanation? And, that it is quantified and used in design inference based on the 500 bit threshold [sometimes, I use a bit more stringent one, 1,000 bits]. As in there is something called the design inference explanatory filter, which works, per abundant tests.

    Then, kindly consider that we here deal with an origins science question.

    So, we cannot observe the actual deep past. We must therefore seek to infer a best, empirically warranted explanation, however limited, on the evidence we do have concerning adequate causes.

    In that light, knowing that you know or should know that this challenge is pervasive on origins of the cosmos, the solar system, earth, earth forms, life and body plans, I find that you are playing at selectively hyperskeptical rhetorical games, demanding answers to all sorts of things in order to avoid facing something that is indeed abundantly well warranted. namely, that there is just one empirically attested source for FSCO/I; design. In a context where needle in haystack search challenges make it maximally implausible that blind chance and mechanical necessity can account for same.

    As has been explained and linked to you over and over and over again.

    So yes, you are coming across as annoying and playing at pile on go in circles rhetorical games.

    Sorry if that directness offends you, but I think it is time to speak straight on the point.

    If you object to the above empirical and analytical claims on the source of FSCO/I, the serious response is quite simple: show how, on observation, it can be and is repeatably created by blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligent direction.

    Please, do better next time.

    KF

  24. 24

    LarTanner,

    You stated that you don’t have a substantive issue with the concept of FSCO/I, which is nice to hear. I’m curious about whether you accept design, in a practical sense, to be a real and detectable phenomenon. In other words, when we examine a piece of technology such as a microprocessor, are there objective and qualitative differences between it and something which is unarguably the product of chance and necessity, like rocks, riverbeds, crystals, etc. This might seem like a question with an obvious answer, but you might be surprised. Please note I’m not including biological phenomena here, but rather excluding them intentionally in this question. I suspect you would agree that there are qualitative, and perhaps even quantifiable differences between a Land Rover and that which is produced by geological processes.

    If that’s the case, do you find anything significantly objectionable about the following deductive statements?

    1) If designed things are merely natural things, then physical law can account for observed design.
    2) physical law cannot account for observed design.
    3) Therefore, designed things are not merely natural things.

    1) Either physics and chemistry can alone account for jet airplanes, or there is another causal phenomenon which is required to account for them.
    2) Physics and chemistry cannot alone account for jet airplanes.
    3) Therefore, there is another causal phenomenon which is required to produce them.

    1) If necessity, chance, and agency can account for most of what we observe, then together they form a mostly-complete causal account of reality.
    2) Necessity, chance, and agency can account for most of what we observe.
    3) Therefore, together they form a mostly-complete causal account of reality.

    You said,

    Anyways, I think the real question is why anyone should accept ID claims that some natural features are best explained as products of intelligent design.

    That’s indeed a legitimate question, but I think it can only be argued with someone who accepts that design in general is both qualitative and, at least in many cases, quantifiable.

    For me, I cannot even formulate the question without getting lost in all of the side questions that necessarily appear: how many designers? when?

    I think it’s important to realize that the question of “if” design occurred can be readily separated from how it occurred, or who did the designing. If you can picture a causal flow chart, with the first node asking, “Was this entity designed,” and two edges for YES/NO and connecting to other nodes. The YES edge would connect to a node which might contain the question, “How was the design implemented,” and a host of others. The NO edge would lead to a node which asked, “What natural processes were responsible for the entity’s creation?” So there is a mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive partition on the first node which asks, “Was this entity designed?” In other words, it would be nonsensical to ask, “How was the design implemented,” if we followed the NO edge from the first node, as it would be to ask, “What natural processes were responsible for the entity’s creation,” if we followed the YES edge. We wouldn’t ask what natural processes were responsible for the creation of the Land Rover, just as we wouldn’t ask how the design of a river rock was implemented. How we approach the study of a specific entity can be greatly affected by whether it is the product of an intentional act of an intelligent agent.

    what constitutes a design? can development incorporate both design and accident, and how can we tell? Is a design a separate thing from that which is the product of design? And so on.

    These are fine questions that only matter if one accepts that design is an objectively real phenomenon; only then can the concept be extended to judgments about biological systems. Do we really see specified complexity in designs? Is irreducible complexity really a property of certain systems? Is measurable information present in human-designed constructs such as computer programs, and can it be distinguished from randomly generated sequences? If we can say so, then it becomes possible to explore whether those qualities exist in biology, and whether design is the best explanation for them.

    Another issue is that, yes, people make sophisticated machines. But so what? Other species can use tools, and human technology is a relatively recent innovation in our development. Could life’s different machines have arisen and developed naturally over billions of years?

    That last question is one of the questions that ID proponents want asked. As it stands, from our perspective, it looks as if the only allowable question is analogous to, “What natural processes were responsible for the creation of the Land Rover?”

  25. F/N: Scientific explanations of the past are not syllogistic in form, but follow the logic of inference to best explanation or abduction; as has been repeatedly pointed out . . . yet another case of imposing an arbitrary and irrelevant demand: provide a deductive argument form for a case that is inescapably inductive, and KNOWN to be inductive. Observe, E => {F1, F2, . . . Fn}, where factual support is in counter-flow to the logic of implication. Thus, scientific explanation — as Newton pointed out long ago — is inevitably provisional. KF

  26. Onlookers,

    note that LT, for a long time, has known of for instance this in context (among a great many sources if he were really seeking answers), which answers the questions he is posing above for what has to be rhetorical reasons. He is going in circles over largely old and long since adequately answered ground as though these were brand new issues.

    For just one case, here is Dembski on how design happens, in NFL, well past a decade ago:

    . . . (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. (No Free Lunch, p. xi. HT: ENV.)

    None of this was novel in the late 90′s either.

    Design is an ages long familiar concept that should not be treated as though it were a suspect novelty that has no clear meaning.

    Which simply gets us back to the sort of rhetorical games that are going on.

    KF

  27. Let’s face it, there is a great deal of ideology behind Darwinism, and just because some Darwinist on this site or another says that it’s all about the science, it doesn’t mean that there is no ideology behind it. Something like a materialist, naturalist, and/or reductionist eye-glasses from which the world is viewed.

    The way I see it there are only two possible endings for a Darwinist after looking at all the material here that point out failures of Darwinism and support ID:

    1- Remain ideologically committed to Darwinism just to keep the divine foot out of the door, and this is a position no different from the theism that they oppose.

    2- Fall back on mystery, ie. “I don’t know”. But in this case then the more you “don’t know” the more you should be open to other possibilities, including ID. Afterall, life implies information and information implies design. So why sever this rational, intuitive, and logical chain? The obvious answer is that the Darwinist is uncomfortable with its implications.

    So this might answer your question WJM as to why a typical atheist Darwinist accepts Darwinism despite its deficiencies and failures, it’s because the metaphysical and theological implications of ID are far too great. Especially for a typical atheist who is getting uneasy at finding hints of God and design in the science that he hides behind after having dumped religion and God, probably due to mostly emotional and psychological reasons.

  28. 28
    William J Murray

    LT,

    Many, if not most, of the leading advocates of Darwinism freely admit that biological features look as if they were designed. Dawkins said:

    “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    Denton:

    Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on the earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 gms, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.

    The universe – moon, sun, planets, stars – has long appeared to humans to be designed, all the way up to the present day where scientists like Hawking feel it necessary to write entire books to provide an alternative to the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos. Hawking:

    “A bottom-up approach to cosmology either requires one to postulate an initial state of the Universe that is carefully ?ne-tuned — as if prescribed by an outside agency — or it requires one to invoke the notion of eternal in?ation, a mighty speculative notion to the generation of many different Universes, which prevents one from predicting what a typical observer would see.”

    Would a layman – with no a priori axe to grind – intuit from an apparently finely-tuned cosmos that something other than “fine-tuning” had occurred? Would a layman look at the apparent design found in nature and intuit that something other than design was responsible?

    Of course not; the apparent design and fine-tuning, and the apparent “like generates like” concept, means exactly that to a layman. Brute matter isn’t normally intuited or thought to produce consciousness, reasoning, teleological will; nor is it thought to “fine-tune” anything, or produce finely-tuned biological nano-machinery.

    As Lewontin said:

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    It is a matter of common understanding that many aspects of the natural world – especially biology – appear to be designed. No, this doesn’t prove anything, but this thread insn’t about proof; it asks why any layman, when faced with such apparent design that even scientists cannot keep the language of design out of their published work nor deny that it appears designed – why should any layman believe that it is not designed?

    I note that in your first post, you said:

    This claim asserts that consciousness probably came from consciousness, and that designed things come from designers. The problem is that the claim gives no indication of where consciousness itself comes from or where designers come from.

    It appears to me that there is some bias in the form of a double standard here. Where does matter, energy, physical law, or cosmological constants come from? Either way, causation either traces back to infinite regress or an unmoved mover/causeless cause. Just because we have no known cause for X, whether as matter, physical law, consciousness or a designer, doesn’t mean X is not the best explanation for Y. It doesn’t matter if we can explain what causes gravity to accept gravity as the best explanation for the orbit of a planet around a sun; it doesn’t matter if we know “what caused the designer” for design to be the best explanation of a thing.

    And so, with a level playing field and no bias, and with no expertise in any of the competing explanatory fields, what would move a layman from what is commonly accepted (even among those that advocate otherwise) as the overwhelming appearance of design to a belief that this apparent design is not really design at all?

    It seems to me that bias is the only reason left standing.

    Of course, we all have bias; some may be biased by an a priori foundation of Biblical inerrancy, and may then skew their inferences to agree with that bias; for others, it may be an a priori bias that no god exists, and so their inferences and reasoning are skewed towards the material.

  29. 29
    William J Murray

    Alan Fox said:

    However I am unpersuaded by Biblical accounts (or other creation myths) for the origins of life.

    That would matter if “Biblical accounts (or other creation myths)” were part of my argument, or referred to in my question. They are not.

    The appearance of design and fine tuning doesn’t rely on any creation story, and is admitted by even the most ardent Darwinists. Unless one has a metaphysical bias, and without a professional understanding of relevant and competing explanatory fields, then from your “just a layman” perspective, what would move you to deny this apparent design and fine tuning (that even experts admit) and believe that what you are seeing is not actually design and fine tuning?

    It can’t be the arguments and evidence of the competing experts, because you are not qualified to pass judgement on that (as per your position). So, if you dismiss the arguments and evidence of competing experts, all you are left with is the appearance of design and the appearance of fine tuning, and the principle of like producing like.

    Outside of simple a priori bias, I don’t see any reason to believe against what appears to be the case.

  30. The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box: “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”

    He gives two examples. Then we have ATP synthase, which has been discussed several times on this blog- the more we know about it the less likely blind and undirected processes seem to be a viable mechanism. As Dawkins said we can only allow so much luck. And ATP synthase is a match for the design criteria.

    So if nature, operating freely cannot account for it AND it meets that criteria, some agency is required and we infer design (or at least agency involvement).

  31. Alan Fox:

    However I am unpersuaded by Biblical accounts (or other creation myths) for the origins of life.

    So life never originated. But that’s just what the Bible says.

    So do you even know what you’re talking about?

    What creation myth are you persuaded by?

  32. LT, you took exception to me saying,

    Comment 12 told me I had “ZERO” (all caps) evidence.

    the part you left out,,,

    that purely Darwinian processes can produce enough non-trivial functional information for even a single functional protein:

    Did you just take exception to me using all caps when I said you have ZERO evidence? Or did you take exception to the fact that I pointed out that you have ‘zero’ (of the big fat variety) evidence that purely Darwinian processes can ever produce enough non-trivial functional information for even a single functional protein (Of ORFan gene)?

    If you have ANY concrete evidence to the contrary, that will hold up to scrutiny, of what I have claimed please produce it, (many people besides me would like to see it), but don’t feign hurt feelings because ‘I’ (not some brain state) have freely chosen to emphasize the poverty of evidence for you have for your position (ZERO). It does not reflect well on you when you let emotions override rational discourse!

    What a girlie man!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXMzZUcQ6Vg

  33. WJM,

    Would a layman – with no a priori axe to grind – intuit from an apparently finely-tuned cosmos that something other than “fine-tuning” had occurred? Would a layman look at the apparent design found in nature and intuit that something other than design was responsible?

    You’ve changed things. The original question is why a layperson would accept modern evolutionary theory–your expression was Darwinian claims. That question was answered.

    Do you believe that one can view modern evolutionary theory as the best available, yet provisional, explanation of life’s diversity without having an “a priori axe to grind”? Or is it your contention that any favorable impression at all of evolution constitutes a priori bias against your lord?

  34. CR @ 24
    That was an excellent discussion of inferring design. Beautifully done

  35. Joe @ 30:

    I acknowledge that you have answered the question I asked. You name the ATP synthase as an example of something biological that meets design criteria. I appreciate that you have cited one place where one could review a full argument showing the ATP synthase exhibits features of design.

  36. 36

    Optimus, interesting thoughts.

    “At this point its ability to give a numerical value to physical systems is not there (in my opinion). In other words, for some physical system (engine, bicycle, toaster oven, etc.) FSCO/I functions as a qualitative description . For a character string (binary sequence, DNA sequence, protein sequence, etc.) FSCO/I functions as a quantitative description . Again, just my two cents..”

    I understand FSCO/I to be “Functionally specific complex organization/information” so there are definitely two senses implied. Functionally specific complex organization would be a concrete product of design, and the accompanying information would be akin to the instructions by which it could be reproduced. However for the latter, we have to introduce a context, such as a manufacturing process. I’m thinking of a program for an automated factory which could produce a toaster oven, for instance, from constituent materials. This would constitute an object’s digital FSCI.

    Perhaps it would be possible to standardize and formalize a theoretical model of a self-contained manufacturing environment, complete with an instruction set with which programs could be written to specify the manufacture of designed things. With such a model, any object’s dFSCI could be estimated based on the smallest possible program which could specify its manufacture in the environment. This occurred to me while reading your comment. Perhaps it’s been considered before, but it seems like a potential way to measure the digital information content as a metric of designed things where a digital representation doesn’t already exist.

  37. 37

    Optimus @34, thank you, that was kind of you to say. It reminds me that I do not often enough complement the many others here, including you, who write thoughtfully and articulately.

    BTW I really appreciated WJM’s #28 adding thoughtfully to his original question of why a layman should accept Darwinian claims.

  38. Chance at 24: Your comments are interesting. I demur from answering because I think the crucial term first needs clarification.

    What is your theory of design? That is, what is design and what are the essential elements of design? How does one come to know something as designed?

    I hope you take the demurral in the collaborative spirit in which it’s meant. It’s not meant as a duck or dodge. You will understand, I think, that the answers to my questions, either way, impact how your questions can be answered.

  39. KF,

    Get bent, man. You don’t get to lecture me, and I am not going to read your indulgent, meandering puffery. I’ve tried reading your “101″ junk, and all you do is torture the work of friend and foe alike–and then you wrap it in some bizarre amalgamation of old world snuff-box snootiness and down-home gobbledygook. Add some math-y stuff and there’s your schtick.

    In short, you are not credible, you are not interesting, and you are not someone who needs to address me. So don’t. Go impress a grad student somewhere.

    Pardon directness.

  40. Hi Larry,

    I appreciate your appreciation. I can cite several places where one could review full arguments showing the ATP synthase exhibits features of design:

    My place, of course

    You Tube

    Evolution News and Views

    Uncommon Descent (just supporting my claim)

    over here too

    And that is just a quick look

    Can you cite any places where one can review a full argument showing the ATP synthase exhibits features of the blind watchmaker? Any animations that show atoms randomly colliding and sometimes forming molecules that accidently collide with other molecules that somehow formed ATP synthase?

  41. LarTanner:

    Do you believe that one can view modern evolutionary theory as the best available, yet provisional, explanation of life’s diversity without having an “a priori axe to grind”?

    Can you tell us where we can read this alleged modern evolutionary theory? I have read Darwin’s version and the evidence hasn’t borne it out. Does the modern version have an alleged designer mimic mechanism?

  42. Joe,

    I do not know the biological history of ATP synthase. There is, of course, a section on its evolution in Wikipedia. Several recent papers appear to be cited. Otherwise, I do not personally know people who are professional experts in ATP synthase. Is there a constituency among researchers who argue ATP synthase is best explained by ID?

  43. LarTanner:

    What is your theory of design? That is, what is design and what are the essential elements of design? How does one come to know something as designed?

    Well if you don’t like what Dembski and Meyer have to say, I refer you to Nature, Design and Science.

    You do realize that people have been determining design from not designed for many years. Entire enterprises depend on our ability to do so. And we are pretty successful at doing so.

    Just sayin’…

  44. Joe, I think Prothero’s book is pretty good. So is Shubin’s. Coyne’s too.

  45. Joe@43: The question is put to Chance. There are a few theories out there, as I understand it.

    Good night, everyone.

  46. LarTanner:

    I do not know the biological history of ATP synthase. There is, of course, a section on its evolution in Wikipedia. Several recent papers appear to be cited. Otherwise, I do not personally know people who are professional experts in ATP synthase. Is there a constituency among researchers who argue ATP synthase is best explained by ID?

    There isn’t any constituency who argue that it arose via blind and undirected chemical processes. Also, of course, not one of those references pertain to blind and undirected chemical processes. They just wave “evolution” around as if it is a magical wand and all change is via blind and undirected chemical processes.

    Also the stories about its evolution are just that, stories. Evolutionism requires these multifacted protein machines come about gradually from lesser parts.

    The point being is those references contain untestable stories that sound sciency. And the stories are based on the world-view

  47. LT, so you call KF’s empirically backed work ‘indulgent, meandering puffery’ and you find Coyne’s ‘just so’ story telling to be ‘pretty good’. ,,, HMMM, do you also consider Spider Man comics classic literature?? :)

  48. LarTanner-

    I think Prothero’s book is pretty good.

    What book? Which Prothero?

    So is Shubin’s. Coyne’s too.

    I read those. Nothing about accumulations of genetic accidents actuall doing something.

    Shubin is evo-devo- but then again so are Carroll’s books “Endless Forms…” and “Making of the Fittest”- reda those too- nothing that demonstrates knowledge of type.

    So what was I supposed to find out by reading those books?

  49. I agree with some opening comments from LT about FCSO, etc. If there were anything of value in these ideas, they would be eagerly taken up by the mathematical community (for one), if only for their academic value, but they arent. Dembski is not taken seriously. The ‘explanatory filter’ hasnt filtered anything in the real world yet.

    Imagine if we could really calculate the liklehood that some life form was actually designed … there would be a stampede of academics, all wanting to be the first with the killer paper. It would revolutionise Biology, but there isnt, and it hasnt. Why not ?

    And LT at #39 … yep.

  50. Graham2 asks

    Imagine if we could really calculate the liklehood that some life form was actually designed … there would be a stampede of academics, all wanting to be the first with the killer paper. It would revolutionise Biology, but there isnt, and it hasnt. Why not ?

    Let’s see,,,

    EXPELLED – Starring Ben Stein – Part 1 of 10 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIZAAh_6OXg

    Slaughter of Dissidents – Book
    “If folks liked Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” they will be blown away by “Slaughter of the Dissidents.” – Russ Miller
    http://www.amazon.com/Slaughte.....0981873405

    Origins – Slaughter of the Dissidents with Dr. Jerry Bergman – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6rzaM_BxBk

    “In the last few years I have seen a saddening progression at several institutions. I have witnessed unfair treatment upon scientists that do not accept macroevolutionary arguments and for their having signed the above-referenced statement regarding the examination of Darwinism. (Dissent from Darwinism list)(I will comment no further regarding the specifics of the actions taken upon the skeptics; I love and honor my colleagues too much for that.) I never thought that science would have evolved like this. I deeply value the academy; teaching, professing and research in the university are my privileges and joys… ”
    Professor James M. Tour – one of the ten most cited chemists in the world
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Scientific Dissent From Darwinism List
    http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

    Academic Freedom Under Fire — Again! – October 2010
    Excerpt: All Dr. Avital wanted to do was expose students to some of the weaknesses inherent in Darwin’s theory. Surely there’s no harm in that — or so one would think. But, of course, to the Darwinian faithful, such weaknesses apparently do not exist.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38911.html

    Here Dr. Behe, towards the beginning of the video, relates how the president of the National Academy of Sciences sought to ostracize him for bringing evidence forward supporting Intelligent Design:

    TEDxLehighU – Michael Behe – Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCP9UDFNHlo

  51. Casey Luskin points out that the following anti-ID philosopher even goes so far as to publish a paper saying that the bullying tactics of neo-Darwinists are justified since many ID proponents are Christian:

    Anti-ID Philosopher: “Ad hominem” Arguments “Justified” When Attacking Intelligent Design Proponents – Casey Luskin – June 4, 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....60381.html

    On the Fundamental Difference Between Darwin-Inspired and Intelligent Design-Inspired Lawsuits – September 2011
    Excerpt: Darwin lobby litigation: In every Darwin-inspired case listed above, the Darwin lobby sought to shut down free speech, stopping people from talking about non-evolutionary views, and seeking to restrict freedom of intellectual inquiry.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....50451.html

    Intelligent Design Supporter Expelled from Civil Liberties Organization – podcast – January 2013
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_00-08_00

    Darwinian Philosophy: “Darwinian Natural Selection is the Only Process that could Produce the Appearance of Purpose” – Casey Luskin – August, 2012
    Excerpt: In any case, this tarring and feathering of Fodor is just the latest frustrated attempt by hardline Darwinians to discourage people from using design terminology. It’s a hopeless effort, because try as they might to impose speech codes on each another, they can’t change the fact that nature is infused with purpose, which readily lends itself to, as Rosenberg calls it “teleosemantics.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63311.html

    Darwin’s diabolical delusions – Ellis Washington – September 2011
    Excerpt: Tragically, for over 150 years since the publication of Darwin’s diabolical, anti-scientific book, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” nonpartisan science, truth, logic and deductive reasoning have been ruthlessly suppressed and replaced with state-funded Darwinist propaganda, groupthink, education atheism, liberal fascism and Machiavellian tactics as demonstrated in the Sewell case representing the ongoing battles between the Darwin Gestapo and Intelligent Design scientists.
    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?f.....eId=343445

    Evolution Is Religion–Not Science by Henry Morris, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality,,, Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
    Darwinian atheist Michael Ruse – Prominent Philosopher

    Wikipedia’s Tyranny of the Unemployed – David Klinghoffer – June 24, 2012
    Excerpt: PLoS One has a highly technical study out of editing patterns on Wikipedia. This is of special interest to us because Wikipedia’s articles on anything to do with intelligent design are replete with errors and lies, which the online encyclopedia’s volunteer editors are vigilant about maintaining against all efforts to set the record straight.
    You simply can never outlast these folks. They have nothing better to do with their time and will always erase your attempted correction and reinstate the bogus claim, with lightning speed over and over again.
    ,,, on Wikipedia, “fact” is established by the party with the free time that’s required to wear down everyone else and exhaust them into submission. The search for truth (on wikipedia) yields to a tyranny of the unemployed.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....61281.html

  52. 52
    William J Murray

    LT @ #33:

    You’ve changed things.

    If by “change” you mean that I added to my original post during the course of the discussion in response to your post that made specific charges about ID as a counter-theory to Darwinistic claims., then yes. I still addressed the original points about like from like and apparent design, but I broadened the “laymen” argument to include another thing atheist/materialists and ID advocates disagree about.

    That question was answered.

    Well, even “get bent” is an answer. I read your answer and responded to it, exploring a little deeper into the concept of “what would a layman think” in terms of what appeared to me to be signals of bias in your response about why ID explanations might – to a layman – fail – such as, “where did the designer come from” in absence of an equally fair question, “where did matter come from?”

    Do you believe that one can view modern evolutionary theory as the best available, yet provisional, explanation of life’s diversity without having an “a priori axe to grind”?

    How would a layman arrive at such a conclusion rationally if they hold that they are not qualified to pass judgement on the relevant evidence and arguments?

  53. BA77: Why not … So there is widespread pressure to apply Dembskis stuff, but its all kept in check by those evil Darwinians.

    No, BA77, apply Occhams razor … there is a simpler explanation.

  54. 54
    William J Murray

    Graham2 puts a nail in the coffin of the Darwinistic (as described in the O.P.) position:

    Imagine if we could really calculate the liklehood that some life form was actually designed … there would be a stampede of academics, all wanting to be the first with the killer paper. It would revolutionise Biology, but there isnt, and it hasnt. Why not ?

    The metric that would calculate the likelihood that some biological feature was designed would necessarily be the same metric one would need to falsify design as best explanation.

    So, according to Graham2, there is no metric available that could determine **if** chance & natural law could produce any biological feature whatsoever. It’s all nothing but materialist, metaphysical assumption.

    So, when the ID proponent asks any Darwinist to support their contention that necessity & chance are sufficient as explanatory forces, according to Graham2 their answer can only be that it is just an assumption.

    If there is no metric, there is no scientific proof either way. It appears the Darwinists are satisfied with metaphysical assumption; at least ID advocates are attempting to devise actual, scientific methods of making such an evaluation.

  55. WJM: Spoken like a true philosopher.

    I was making the point that all the guff from Dembski has led to precisely zero progress in that direction. This is after 10 to 20 years. Zero acceptance, zero results. In fact, thats pretty much the scorecard for ID as a whole. I heartily endorse any effort to explore new stuff, but just be honest about what its achieved.

    In the meantime, I will rely on ‘metaphysical assumptions’, which is what science relys on, and what has produced the goods. It is a ‘metaphysical assumption’ that diseases are caused by germs, not some evil spirit, that sort of thing.

  56. 56
    William J Murray

    Graham2,

    You seem to be operating under a mistaken idea of what “metaphysical assumptions” are, because science as we have known it for hundreds of years relies entirely upon, and owes virtually all of its success to, theistic metaphysical assumptions.

  57. 57

    LarTanner @38,

    The point I was making with the deductions @24 is that there exists a category of objects which are unarguably designed, and a causal phenomenon which is not directly achievable via physics and chemistry. If the logic is in error I’d certainly welcome you pointing it out. But I’ll say with no ill will whatsoever, that if you don’t agree with the premises, then I don’t think we can have a productive conversation. Unless it can be agreed that designed things are unarguably designed, recognizably so, and that we know of no natural processes by which these designs can be achieved by physical necessity absent agency, then I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

    You wrote,

    “What is your theory of design? That is, what is design and what are the essential elements of design?”

    I can’t say that I completely understand the question. The noun form of design is, a concrete product, the result of the activity of design. The verb form is, the execution of a process which produces artifice, craft, and forms that are instantiations — that is, the concrete products of abstractions. Here’s the dictionary definition. But it needs to be made clear that the specifics of how consciousness executes design strategies is not really known, not at a fundamental level. If you’re asking me to explain consciousness in order to make the point that human-designed things are indeed designed, then I think it’s an unreasonable burden. It should also be noted that you’re asking for a theory, so that we can discuss the theory, but the theory is exactly what needs to be reasoned to, and not taken as a starting point. If there’s no agreement that an objective category of designed objects exist, namely human design, then we can reason no further.

    However there is significant background knowledge that is available, so we don’t have to consider design in a vacuum, as if it’s a theoretical phenomenon that we need to prove rigorously before we know it exists. We observe design, both the process and the product; and in most cases the resultant product is immediately recognizable. I could list countless examples, from buildings and vehicles to computers, clocks, and manufacturing equipment. We know that certain classes of objects result directly from the process of design, and we know it by direct observation and experience. We also know that these products of agency are not the of the material processes of physical necessity; this is a falsifiable assertion.

    As for a theory of design, I’ll present an initial hypothesis: There are certain features of designed objects which differentiate them from objects produced by unguided physical processes.

    You also asked,

    How does one come to know something as designed?

    That’s the $64,000 question, and the whole point of reasoning about the indicators. If you’re asking me to describe how we know something is designed before we take inventory of things known to be designed, then you’re putting the cart before the horse, imo. But it would follow from the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is correct, then we know that something is designed because it exhibits the features exclusive to designed objects. We would need to identify those features. Once again though, if no agreement can be had about our direct experience with the design of non-biological artifacts of human engineering, then I’m afraid that this is as far as the conversation can progress. Perhaps you really are an ID skeptic who is genuinely open to the possibility of design in biology, but if you’re unwilling to risk admitting to the general soundness of the deductive arguments I presented previously, then we’re stalled out, and I will take my leave of the conversation.

    Best,
    Chance

  58. CR @ 36

    I understand FSCO/I to be “Functionally specific complex organization/information” so there are definitely two senses implied.

    I fully agree, hence I prefer to use FSCO to describe physical systems and FSCI to describe character strings.

    Functionally specific complex organization would be a concrete product of design, and the accompanying information would be akin to the instructions by which it could be reproduced. However for the latter, we have to introduce a context, such as a manufacturing process. I’m thinking of a program for an automated factory which could produce a toaster oven, for instance, from constituent materials. This would constitute an object’s digital FSCI.

    An interesting thought to be sure. It certainly seems a drastic improvement over other methods that have been discussed on UD before. If memory serves, one proposed method for calculating the dFSCI of a physical system involves measuring it vicariously by calculating the information content of a semantic description of the system (using the standard I= -log2p). This seems fraught with problems, especially inconsistency of description. Depending on the level of detail supplied, the amount of dFSCI for a given object would vary wildly. Imagine the diffence in information content in “car” as opposed to “four-wheeled vehicle utilizing combustion engine”! The fact that such a method would also vary considerably based on language used makes it a non-starter in my view. I am not sure what manner of manufacturing program would be able to supply dFSCI, but the idea is intriguing, so I’ll keep an open mind.

    At any rate, present difficulties in measuring dFSCI in physical systems do not in any way detract from the legitimacy of using FSCO as a qualitative descriptor. It’s a point I’ve made before, but I shall repeat myself: Quantitative descripition is incredibly useful, but it is not the end-all in making productive descriptions of the world. Qualitative description (such as FSCO) is of immense practical value. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point: Consider the terms ‘alive’ and ‘dead’. Neither has any units or scale of measure. They are wholly qualitative descriptors, but their real-world value is undeniable. Imagine an accused murderer who tried to convince a jury that no murder really happened by claiming that the terms ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ have no substance because they are not quantitative descripitons. I doubt he would fare well! Consider too the terms ‘functional’ and ‘non-functional’. Again, they have no units. There’s no scale with which to relate these terms. Nevertheless their usefulness is incontrovertible. Even if we can’t attach numbers to it, we all recognize the difference between a car that is ‘functional’ versus one that is ‘non-functional’.
    I suppose the point of all this is merely that even if FSCO forever remains a description without numbers, this does not mean that it isn’t a real property of physcial systems comprising multiple interacting parts. It manifestly is, and our uniform and repeated experience shows that it is a reliable indicator of intelligent causation.

  59. 59

    Larry,

    I think your line of questioning is disingenuous at best. With little more than a single incontrovertible premise, some general logic, and a list of technical details (available to anyone with a mousepad), it can be demonstrated that for life to exist as it does (and for evolution to exist as it does) it requires recorded information to produce physical effects which are not determined by physical law alone. And that phenomenon requires an irreducily complex core of two arrangements of matter allowing an informational medium to constrain the output of a system. This is accomplished by establishing a physicochemically-arbitrary relationship between the arrangement of the medium and its effect.

    The premise that must be accepted is that it is not possible to transfer information in a material universe without using an arrangement of matter or energy as a medium. You can neither deny that premise, nor the material necessities that follow from it (which are universally observed throughout nature). You should just be upfront and admit there is no form of evdence you’ll allow.

  60. LarTanner – Let me be more specific. I will point out why I called your arguments childish.

    1. You make a point how you first found evolution compelling and then how reading material that advocated evolution made it seem more and more plausible. Fine – this should be counter balanced by mature look at the evidence for ID. You never do this.

    Your analysis of ID goes
    1. You dismiss ID.
    2. You wrongly state that the ONLY real testable claim of ID has to do with IC. ( setting up a straw man )
    3. You dismiss the concept of irreducible complexity by saying not enough scholars have worked on it. (agument ad populum)
    4. You dismiss FSCO/I by saying not enough scholars have worked on it. (agument ad populum)
    5. You dismiss the whole “where does design come from argument” by claiming it can’t be right because the claim does not account for where design comes from. (argument ad ignorantium )
    BTW – This is just a complete misunderstanding of what ID proposes. ID starts with an Intelligent Designer. Picking a particular designer is religion. The thing that you don’t understand is that a premise of ID is that the designer WAS NOT designed. ( If you want to account for the designer by natural processes, then you are just back to claiming Atheistic evolution with a Designer as an intermediate). No one really believes in that. This is why the argument of the infinite regress only shows that the arguer is ignorant.
    6. You claim ID does not make a very robust claim ( whatever robust means in that context I don’t know). And then claim ID has many open issues and puzzles ( even though you listed none ).( argument by assertion)

    I conclude that your argument is not a serious set of reasons that logically lead to your conclusions
    Your whole argument boils down to the assertions of several logical fallicies – namely argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad ignorantium, a strawman, and argument by assertion. This is not a mature argument.

    I provide this critique because I really don’t think you have applied any thought to the arguments of ID.

    So how I read the evolution of your thought is:

    1. I was a theist.
    2. I become enamored with Darwinism.
    3. I read more from advocates of Darwinism.
    4. I read superficial material that advanced superficial arguments about ID.
    5. I repeat these superficial arguments about ID until they sound convincing.
    6. I never thought seriously about ID ( and I don’t want to ) so I dismiss it with these superficial arguments.

    All I want for you to do is to take a little bit more mature view of ID. Your current understanding of it is childish.

  61. Graham2:

    You are a bit unclear on the explanatory filter so forgive me for going over the basics, but we need to be clear on this point.

    Dembski was not formulating a proscriptive rule that everyone has to adopt; he was formulating a descriptive account of what actually occurs in practice. I’m sure he would be thrilled if everyone adopted his terminology and dedicated whole university courses to the study of what he called the explanatory filter. But that is hardly needed.

    Every one of us applies the filter hundreds of times every single day as we go about our lives, often as second nature and without thinking twice about it. Others apply it in a more formal way (SETI, archaeology, forensics, etc.). Dembski’s effort was to put down on paper in a descriptive way what actually happens (sometimes almost intuitively) in practice. And, despite lots of criticism from evolutionists, the filter is still a pretty good description of what happens in practice. And yes, everyone who concludes that some object was designed (where the historical evidence is unavailable) uses the filter, whether or not they recognize it or give Dembski any credit for his description of it.

  62. EA: I think you are saying that the ‘explanatory filter’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘common sense’. I totally agree with that. So why didnt Bill just say that ?

  63. Graham2 @ 49,55
    It’s hard to tell if your being serious with your comments, but on the slim chance that you are, a few things bear pointing out. First, pointing out a general lack of acceptance of an idea within a certain population is hardly an argument against an idea. To think that a majority opinion is tantamount to fact is profoundly wrongheaded. If everyone gets together tomorrow to decide that the earth is flat, it will still be round. If the NAS decided that the geocentric model of the solar system is preferable to the heliocentric model, the earth will not cease revolving around the sun. If you want a solid historical example of a guy with a brilliant scientific insight getting categorically rejected by the establishment, look up Ignaz Semmelweis (especially if you have an interest in the development of germ theory). He was rejected by the medical community even though the data were clearly on his side. He ended up being beaten to death in an insane asylum. The second issue with your comment is that it betrays a seriously naive conception of academia. The academy may be many things, but it is not a purely logical, disinterested referee of thought. Any group of human beings can be stubborn, prejudiced, shortsighted, fearful, and resistant to new ideas. Thirdly, it’s hard to fathom how you can simply reject FSCO out of hand like that. It’s an empirically known phenomenon that virtually everyone has some practical experience with. An engine, for instance, is obviously a system, the function of which is contingent on the specific organization of its complex structure. That’s just a basic observation. It’s not even an inference. If we were to separate FSCO from the inference to design in biology, and consider it totally in isolation as a quality of mechanical systems, would you acknowledge its reality?

  64. LarTanner @16:

    I think you are probably familiar with the ID argument, but let me just recap it in brief. The ID argument is not a deductive argument, but an inductive one. Specifically, it is an inference to the best explanation. The ID argument can be written as follows:

    1. Cause A regularly produces Effect X.
    2. Cause B is not known to produce Effect X.
    3. When Effect X is observed, the most likely explanation is that it was caused by Cause A.

    [Where Cause A = design; Cause B = all known causes other than design; and Effect X = FCSI.]

    Now, one can quibble with the description of Effect X or the parameters assigned to Effect X. Indeed, at this early stage, much of the ID work has been aimed at defining Effect X in a way that permits both 1 and 2 to be true statements. So we can discuss and debate what qualifies as Effect X, but the ID argument itself is quite simple and straight forward.

    The ID argument can only be logically challenged by showing that either (i) Cause A does not regularly produce Effect X, or (ii) Cause B can produce Effect X. Due to the fact that Cause A is already known to regularly produce Effect X, as a practical matter the only way to logically challenge the ID argument is to show that Cause B can produce Effect X. However, given our current state of knowledge: (a) there is no affirmative evidence that Cause B can produce Effect X, and (b) there is significant affirmative evidence that it cannot produce Effect X within the parameters of the known universe.

    —–

    Incidentally, if we take the above argument and see how the materialist evolutionist typically treats it, we find something rather instructive.

    1. Cause A regularly produces Effect X.
    2. Cause B is not known to produce Effect X.
    3. We don’t like Cause A, so despite the observation of Effect X, the only cause we will consider is Cause B.

    or

    1. Cause A regularly produces Effect X.
    2. Cause B is not known to produce Effect X.
    3. We don’t like Cause A, so despite the observation of Effect X, the most likely cause is some as-yet-undiscovered Cause C.

  65. Graham2 @62:

    EA: I think you are saying that the ‘explanatory filter’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘common sense’. I totally agree with that. So why didnt Bill just say that ?

    Well, I’m glad to hear you think Bill’s explanatory filter is common sense. So presumably you won’t be making claims about its inadequacy or objecting to its application to biological systems.

    Yet despite the good judgment you have just shown, it is still valuable for Bill to lay it out in black and white because, unfortunately, common sense seems to elude many people. Particularly those who are wedded to a particular a priori answer without even being willing to consider the possibility of design. (See my last two examples @64.)

  66. Optimus,

    Im not regarding academia as possessing some sort of papal infallibility, and yes, they are mortals just like the rest of us, but science has this great thing going for it: the ideas get tested against reality. The individuals that make up the system muddle along, but the system as a whole tends to discard the dross. Yes, we could all suddenly decide we would like the earth to be flat, but the idea wouldnt last because it wouldnt match reality. We would all love cold fusion to be real, but it wasnt repeatable, so it died, etc etc.

    Stuff like dFSCI etc may be a revolution in the making, but they have been around for a few years now and have excited precisely zero interest. This has to be telling us something.

  67. EA @ 64

    The ID argument is not a deductive argument, but an inductive one. Specifically, it is an inference to the best explanation.

    Isn’t the IBE that ID employs better characterized as an abductive inference, namely reasoning from present effects to past causes? See SITC pg. 153
    Nice summary otherwise, though!

  68. Graham2 @ 66
    I agree that it’s telling us ‘something.’ But I don’t think it means what you think it means. Seriously, check out Semmelweis on Wikipedia.

  69. CR: You are spotting something, cf. here on in context (especially Figs I.2 and I.3) — LT’s dismissal is little more than a now predictable excuse to not address the matter on the merits, as he full well knows. As Wicken and Orgel said, cumulatively, organisation that is specific and functional implies information. An approach I have repeatedly pointed to is to analyse based on a nodes and arcs framework. Then, the framework can be reduced to the number of structured yes/no questions used to construct it, similar to how say AutoCAD reduces a 3-d drawing to code stored in a computer memory, which is a linear collection of bit-strings. And, specificity can then be tested by seeing the vulnerability to injection of random noise (which creates a random walk on the island of function). KF

  70. LT: Many of the preceding comments addressing your objections to ID are very well thought out and well written. Far past the clarity I could bring to exposing the fallacies in your reasoning,,, but in so far as I, in my own slow way, can address the fallacy of your reasoning, in short you are appealing to ANYTHING you can possibly think of appealing to BUT the empirical evidence and/or mathematics to support your preferred position of neo-Darwinism. Which is all fine and well if you really don’t care about the truthfulness of your position but just ‘want’ your position to be true because you find the alternative position ‘unthinkable’. But that is the whole point, I don’t care what you prefer to be true about reality, I only care about the actual truthfulness of it. i.e. In order to establish neo-Darwinism as superior to ID, especially here on UD where issue are judged on their merit ‘scientifically’, and not on some neo-Darwinian cheer-leading site,, you MUST deal with the empirics and mathematics and not to the rhetorical devices you have chosen to employ. Especially given the skill I’ve seen of many UD commentators to dissect your rhetorical arguments to their core.,,, Moreover, as Dr. Torley pointed out recently, if you ever did decide to become honest ‘scientifically’, you simply have no basis in mathematics or empirics to appeal so as to establish the truthfulness of your position,,,

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: Evolutionary biology has certainly been the subject of extensive mathematical theorizing. The overall name for this field is population genetics, or the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. Population genetics attempts to explain speciation within this framework.
    However, at the present time, there is no mathematical model – not even a “toy model” – showing that Darwin’s theory of macroevolution can even work, much less work within the time available. Darwinist mathematicians themselves have admitted as much.,,,
    We have seen that there’s currently no good theory that can serve as an adequate model for Darwinian macroevolution – even at a “holistic” level. As we saw, Professor Gregory Chaitin’s toy models don’t go down to the chemical level requested by Professor James Tour, but these models have failed to validate Darwin’s theory of evolution, or even show that it could work.
    At this point, there is an alternative line that (Nick) Matzke might want to take. He could claim that macroevolution is ultimately explicable in terms of bottom-level laws and physical processes, but that unfortunately, scientists haven’t discovered what they are yet. From a theoretical perspective, reductionism would then be true after all, and the chemical explanation of macroevolution demanded by Professor Tour could be given. From a practical standpoint, however, it would be impossible for scientists to provide such an explanation within the foreseeable future.
    If Matzke wishes to take this road, then he is tacitly admitting that scientists don’t yet know either the scientific laws (which are written in the language of mathematics) or the physical processes that ultimately explain and drive macroevolution. But if they don’t know either of these, then I would ask him: why should we believe that it actually occurs? After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-details/

  71. LT & G2:

    With all due respect, I must note that the fallacious rhetorical pattern/game continues.

    Did you not take time to see, G2, that above there was a list of fields in which FSCO/I as a CONCEPT is in abundant, even pervasive use? Or was the “nobody uses it so it must be useless etc” talking point too juicy to let go of?

    Let me give you an additional case, telecommunications.

    Have you ever heard of a key measure in that theory, signal/noise power ratio, often expressed in dB?

    This is one of the pivotal quality metrics, and it pivots on the point that we can so distinguish the characteristics of intelligent signals and natural (chance and necessity) noise, that we can measure them with instruments and take the power ratio. That in turn has to do with how intelligent signals meet functional specificity requirements, leading to readily identifiable patterns. And so, yes, a design inference taken as a matter of course is deeply embedded in our world of wired and wireless communications.

    As just one further case in point.

    And so, the attempted piling on fails.

    Now, LT, I could not but help noticing that you found an excuse to dismiss rather than to address on substance, again. And, to avoid addressing the substantial response.

    So, let us go right back to the first issue, as something can be built up from that.

    Do or do you not see that FSCO/I speaks beyond Shannon’s metric of information-carrying capacity, to information applied to the world of sending particular messages and using them to do something that is important for some reason? That, that process implies a complex, indeed irreducibly complex framework of components:

    SOURCE ===> (ENCODER/MODULATOR –> TRANSMISSION UNIT) ===>

    CHANNEL ===>

    (RECEIVER UNIT –> DECODER/DEMODULATOR)===> SINK

    Thus, the existence of an information system/network already speaks to something that is irreducibly complex. Where also, signals that fit that network and carry messages will be functionally specific, and often complex beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

    With, as a particularly relevant case:

    a –> the DNA –> mRNA –> Ribosome + tRNA + enzymes etc system that

    b –> effects protein synthesis via storage, unzipping and transcription,

    c –> maturation of mRNA (remember, this is a point of reprogrammability),

    d –> transfer in the cellular medium to the ribosome,

    e –> alignment so that the first AUG is set up,

    f –> digitally coded selection of successive amino acids loaded unto tRNA’s through the CCA universal coupler

    g –> elongation of a protein string that is so selected in terms of AA sequence that it will fold and function in a specific task in the living cell, where

    h –> On evidence, fold domains are isolated in the space of possible AA sequences to something like 1 in 10^65 (one atom to a galaxy full of atoms)

    i –> with the Golgi apparatus “post office” system also being a part of the system, another layer of communication/dispatch network),

    j –> all being supported by the work of the ATP synthase rotary machine enzyme, which manufactures the energy battery ATP molecules that are pervasive in the cell

    This is a capital and undeniable example of functionally specific complex organisation, pivotal to the functioning of cell based life. One that is joined to yet another similarly IC system, the von Neumann self replication mechanism that is a requisite of having reproductive capacity of life.

    In addition, the protein synthesis system explicitly uses digital codes in a communication system, codes that express functionally specific complex information, leading to protein molecules that are examples of functionally specific complex organisation with directly implied digital information for the sequence.

    So, the point is more than abundantly underscored that the CONCEPTS and applications of FSCO/I are at work in the living cell, apparently for some 3.5 BY on the usual timeline. In addition to being pervasive in a world of technology all around us, and even a world of textual information.

    That makes the inductively warranted, reliably known source of FSCO/I highly relevant to understanding the credible best explanation of the living cell.

    Namely, design.

    Where, design is a sufficiently common process that we experience every time we compose a post, or as we go about in a technological world, that we should not reasonably have a problem identifying a process and its characteristic results that act as signs pointing to their origin.

    And yes, I am explicitly inferring on well tested, empirically reliable sign that points here to a signified cause, much as Hippocrates of Cos did in founding the Greek tradition of medicine in C5 BC.

    (Onlookers, this is a specific, contextual reference to one of the first drive by sniping attempts by LT, back in was it 2011. He tried to muddy the waters on the inductive, and often highly reliable inference from empirical sign to signified state of affairs connected to that sign, even as deer tracks are connected to deer passing by or radar returns to an object capable of reflecting radio waves of the relevant frequency, with range and direction deducible. From time to time since that initial fairly sharp exchange, thankfully, the level of exchanges has improved, but there has been a persistent pattern of return to attempted “gotchas, you ignoramus.” That easily explains the subtext of contempt in the latest dismissive remarks and consistent failure to address on substance. Pardon that I am not playing by the game of being emotionally cool just now, but I think that the time has come after two years of provocative behaviour, for a bit of direct reckoning with LT, under Lev 19:15 – 18, for those who want to know what is my ethical basis for what I am doing here, after two years of having him serially play the attempted gotcha game time and again every few weeks or every several months. At some point, it is necessary to reason directly with — or even take to the figurative woodshed — someone who has been consistently taking advantage of the normal diffidence that civility requires, to play at gotcha games that then feed the nastiness of the fever swamps out there. Tell us, LT: have you been consistently patrolling and going over by TWT’s blog or TSZ or anti evo, Sandwalk, etc to correct them on substance and tone when they ever so often resort to red herrings lead away to strawman caricatures soaked in personal attacks, ignited to poison, polarise, cloud and confuse the atmosphere? When some have tried outing tactics and have violated a simple request that you respect the privacy of my name, including what is in my part of the world a big insult, publicly using someone’s middle name without permission? Or, taking real world pictures and defacing them to mock people, including grandmothers? Thus, providing, with location info, targetting info for the lunatic fringe? Not to mention, making mafioso style threats against my family, as in inquiring with mock concern about them, attempting to publicly name my wife in particular? Defacing web sites? And so forth? If you have not been policing your own side LT, you have utterly no moral right or standing to be coming here to play gotcha games, especially ill-informed gotcha games. Period.)

    I make a little prediction, LT: you are going to find an excuse to duck dealing with the matter on the merits, and will find some way to ignore the substantial matters I have been raising since you popped up again yesterday to do a little piling on drive by dismissal commentary.

    Please, do us all a big favour: prove me wrong.

    Good day.

    KF

  72. 72

    KF,

    “CR: You are spotting something, cf. here on in context (especially Figs I.2 and I.3)”

    Interesting. Your examples of 3D objects modeled by graphs reminded me that such models are used as the input for 3D printers, which produce a concrete representation of the input model. Such input could serve as a digital specification.

  73. CR: Yup, for virtual reality systems and 3-D engineering design models too. KF

  74. 74

    Optimus @58,

    “At any rate, present difficulties in measuring dFSCI in physical systems do not in any way detract from the legitimacy of using FSCO as a qualitative descriptor. It’s a point I’ve made before, but I shall repeat myself: Quantitative descripition is incredibly useful, but it is not the end-all in making productive descriptions of the world. Qualitative description (such as FSCO) is of immense practical value. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point: Consider the terms ‘alive’ and ‘dead’. Neither has any units or scale of measure. They are wholly qualitative descriptors, but their real-world value is undeniable. Imagine an accused murderer who tried to convince a jury that no murder really happened by claiming that the terms ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ have no substance because they are not quantitative descripitons. I doubt he would fare well! Consider too the terms ‘functional’ and ‘non-functional’. Again, they have no units. There’s no scale with which to relate these terms. Nevertheless their usefulness is incontrovertible. Even if we can’t attach numbers to it, we all recognize the difference between a car that is ‘functional’ versus one that is ‘non-functional’.
    I suppose the point of all this is merely that even if FSCO forever remains a description without numbers, this does not mean that it isn’t a real property of physcial systems comprising multiple interacting parts. It manifestly is, and our uniform and repeated experience shows that it is a reliable indicator of intelligent causation.”

    That’s a significant point, thanks for making it. FSCO can stand on its own as a design indicator. I think the addition of FSCI serves to answer certain objections, but is not absolutely necessary to make a design inference, depending on how one goes about it. Uniform and repeated experience is centrally important.

    “I am not sure what manner of manufacturing program would be able to supply dFSCI, but the idea is intriguing, so I’ll keep an open mind.”

    One possibility for representing dFSCI is the input for a 3D printer. As it stands, the technology is capable of printing objects with somewhat complex parts. The input servs as a specification for outputting a concrete object.

  75. And if we ever observe nature, operating freely, producing CSI (or any of its derivatives), our inference would be neatly refuted. It is as simple as that.

    Joe, I often write code that, depending on circumstances, generates new code that did not previously exist. In a design context, why would it be impossible to generate fcsi that can itself be a generator of fcsi as I’ve illustrated with my programming example?

  76. steveO as to:

    In a design context, why would it be impossible to generate fcsi that can itself be a generator of fcsi as I’ve illustrated with my programming example?

    But that is the whole caveat isn’t it steveO? You designed the program to converge on a solution to a problem you were working on and did not just ‘randomly’ type various changes into your program hoping that one would eventually solve the problem you were working on:

    In computer science we recognize the algorithmic principle described by Darwin – the linear accumulation of small changes through random variation – as hill climbing, more specifically random mutation hill climbing. However, we also recognize that hill climbing is the simplest possible form of optimization and is known to work well only on a limited class of problems.
    Watson R.A. – 2006 – Compositional Evolution – MIT Press – Pg. 272

    Evolutionary Computation: A Perpetual Motion Machine for Design Information? By Robert J. Marks II
    Final Thoughts: Search spaces require structuring for search algorithms to be viable. This includes evolutionary search for a targeted design goal. The added structure information needs to be implicitly infused into the search space and is used to guide the process to a desired result. The target can be specific, as is the case with a precisely identified phrase; or it can be general, such as meaningful phrases that will pass, say, a spelling and grammar check. In any case, there is yet no perpetual motion machine for the design of information arising from evolutionary computation.
    http://www.idnet.com.au/files/.....ations.pdf

    “Darwin or Design” with Dr. Tom Woodward with guest Dr. Robert J. Marks II – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yoj9xo0YsOQ

    In the following podcast, Robert Marks gives a very informative talk as to the strict limits we can expect from any evolutionary computer program (evolutionary algorithm):

    Darwin as the Pinball Wizard: Talking Probability with Robert Marks – podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....ard_t.html

    Here are a few quotes from Robert Marks from the preceding podcast:
    * [Computer] programs to demonstrate Darwinian evolution are akin to a pinball machine. The steel ball bounces around differently every time but eventually falls down the little hole behind the flippers.
    * It’s a lot easier to play pinball than it is to make a pinball machine.
    * Computer programs, including all of the models of Darwinian evolution of which I am aware, perform the way their programmers intended. Doing so requires the programmer infuse information about the program’s goal. You can’t write a good program without [doing so].
    Robert J. Marks II – Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University

    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/

    Signature In The Cell – Review
    Excerpt: There is absolutely nothing surprising about the results of these (evolutionary) algorithms. The computer is programmed from the outset to converge on the solution. The programmer designed to do that. What would be surprising is if the program didn’t converge on the solution. That would reflect badly on the skill of the programmer. Everything interesting in the output of the program came as a result of the programmer’s skill-the information input. There are no mysterious outputs.
    Software Engineer – quoted to Stephen Meyer
    http://www.scribd.com/full/293.....18zn6dtju0

    A Darwinian Enigma: Defending The Preposterous After Having Been Informed
    Excerpt: I’m thoroughly familiar with Monte Carlo methods. Trial and error can be a useful tool in an intelligently designed computer program, given a limited search space, sufficient computational resources, and a goal in mind.
    None of this has anything to do with extrapolating Monte Carlo methods in computation to the origin of information in biological systems.
    Unsupported extrapolations such as this are the hallmark of Darwinian speculation, which is the antithesis of rigorous scientific investigation. -
    Gil Dodgen – Programmer of ‘Perfect Play Checkers’

  77. BA77

    You may have missed my point or else I wasn’t clear enough in asking my question.

    If a designer can generate code (fcsi) that is engineered to produce new fcsi and we believe life is designed, then why would the appearance of fcsi in nature acting freely falsify ID (as claimed by Joe) ?

  78. Well steveO, as far as I know, all evidence indicates natural processes, acting freely, do not ever generate non-trivial functional information in nature. As to if we did find an example, in nature, that went beyond Dembki’s 500 bit threshold, then I would certainly consider it miraculous and would not attribute it to purely ‘natural’ processes,,, say something like your alphabet cereal spelling out a few lines from Shakespeare in your cereal bowl in the morning.

  79. Sorry BA but still not satisfied with the answer.

    If a mere human can employ this design method, I don’t see why a far greater intelligence cannot.

    If in an as yet undevised experiment we observed the appearance of new fcsi it could mean the design and programming of life can operate on a higher meta level than was previously known. Code generating new code would be a signature of design, not an automatic falsification.

  80. Well steveO I agree for life that it could be possible to program a lot of frontloading into a program especially given the infinite mind of God, but you stated ‘in nature acting freely’ in your post.,,, But even in the ‘programming of life’, as extremely sophisticated as it is turning out to be, I believe that there are fairly strict limits to the amount of ‘new’ information that you can expect to get out of any designed program without invoking the need for new information input from a Designer. One severe constraint would have to do with the ‘poly-constraint that polyfunctionality’ presents to incorporating new information at base levels of programming (J. Sanford) for each new Body Plan. The other limit to extreme front loading is that there is a limit to the amount of computation you can perform with any given algorithm before it peters out of the information it is able to generate from its initial inputs. This problem is best illustrated by Godel, Turing, and Chaitin:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    Alan Turing & Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    Here is what Gregory Chaitin, a world-famous mathematician and computer scientist, said about the limits of the computer program he was trying to develop to prove evolution was mathematically feasible:

    At last, a Darwinist mathematician tells the truth about evolution – VJT – November 2011
    Excerpt: In Chaitin’s own words, “You’re allowed to ask God or someone to give you the answer to some question where you can’t compute the answer, and the oracle will immediately give you the answer, and you go on ahead.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Here is the video where, at the 30:00 minute mark, you can hear the preceding quote from Chaitin’s own mouth in full context:

    Life as Evolving Software, Greg Chaitin at PPGC UFRGS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlYS_GiAnK8

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.,,,
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    As well steveO, there is the whole Genetic Entropy thing.

    But basically SteveO, I totally agree with you that if we found new ORFan genes and proteins popping up in a specific member of a species from the genetic programming therein, which is very well possible given the current trend in evidence, then it would not be a ‘automatic falsification’ for ID, but would actually be evidence in support Design since it would reflect the superior design inherent in the programming of life..

  81. Thanks BA

    Yes I said “nature acting freely”. I understand the term nature in the context of this discussion to refer to all living things as they are.

    “acting freely” was the point of the question:

    Is it possible for a designer to produce FCSI that is sufficiently advanced to encapsulate a some of the know-how of the designer so that the FCSI could, acting freely, generate new FCSI? The original FCSI acting as a proxy, if you like, for the designer.

    That’s it. The links on extreme front loading and the generation of new information on a large scale are appreciated and I will (attempt) to read them but they refut another question and not the one I was asking.

    But it seems you agree and the question is not out of line with your ID thinking.

    Nature(life) acting freely producing FCSI would not necessarily falsify ID.

    I think it’s just the case that the language around this falsification criterion needs more careful phrasing. Perhaps this is already done somewhere on UD…

  82. steveO, as to:

    Is it possible for a designer to produce FCSI that is sufficiently advanced to encapsulate a some of the know-how of the designer so that the FCSI could, acting freely, generate new FCSI? The original FCSI acting as a proxy, if you like, for the designer.

    Yes. But according the work done by Drs. Dembski and Marks (and company) the FCSI would have to be encapsulated within the ‘active’ information inherent in the genome and/or in the environment, so there can be, as far as I know, no ‘new’ functional information that was not already accounted for in the initial parameters. But in our ignorance of accounting for it, it would appear to be ‘new’. Here is the paper to that effect:

    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/

    Since I’m really a novice in this area as to what we can expect to see from this ‘conservation law’ unfolding in the genomes of life, perhaps you can drop a e-mail to Drs. Dembski and/or Marks (or perhaps a co-author) and get a much more firm answer than what I can give you.

  83. SteveO:

    Joe, I often write code that, depending on circumstances, generates new code that did not previously exist.

    Meyer goes over that in “Signature in the Cell”. You didn’t create new fcsi, you designed a program to do so and it did. That “new” fcsi is tarced back to you and is actually contained in the original program.

    In a design context, why would it be impossible to generate fcsi that can itself be a generator of fcsi as I’ve illustrated with my programming example?

    It wouldn’t be impossible.

    And life = nature iff (if and only if) nature, operating freely, produced life

  84. A most anomalous confirmation of a mindset betraying a total lack of an empirically-scientific underpinning of Darwinism, is surely provided by the concession of Dawkins, Denton et al, below (an iteration of Dawkins’ words quoted by WJM in his post #28) below:

    “Living objects look designed, they look overwhelmingly as though they’re designed. Biology is the study of complicated things which give the impression of having been designed for a purpose.”

    For crying out loud, they are now disavowing the very definition and rationale of the term ‘empirical’, as it is applied to ‘empirical science’; usually implicitly, as it is so routinely applied to the term, ‘science’, and now so distinctively defines it.

    Science is about APPEARANCES; what is measurable; what is apparent, however indirectly, to the senses.

    These people have no problem accepting the most paradoxical features of quantum mechanics, their lineaments apparent only indirectly by the most sophisticated, modern measuring apparatuses, yet baulk, nay recoil at the APPEARANCE, seemingly most dubious, of design THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE OF NATURE, if in inorganic matter, only at the quantum level.

    So they seem to be defining themselves as partisans of a scientific counter-culture, repudiating empirical evidence as the sine qua non of science, itself. Bravo, Dawks!

  85. And life = nature iff (if and only if) nature, operating freely, produced life

    So to you, Joe, does the term nature include life on earth?

  86. Evidently, Dawkins, Denton & Co are mystagogues.

  87. SteveO- Nature/ natural has two meanings- existing in nature and produced by nature. Living organisms exist in nature

  88. Lizzie Liddle sez:

    We know that Darwinian mechanisms can result in “the appearance of design”.

    Unfortunately no one “knows” that, Lizzie. No one knows how to even test that claim. If there were such evidence then we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    This is totally unbelievable. Lizzie doesn’t accept ID because she sez there isn’t any evidence but then she turns around and claims there is evidence for something that is totally lacking evidence.

    Earth to Lizzie- your word is meaningless without supporting evidence.

  89. Joe

    I believe that elsewhere you’ve said that blind and undirected chemical processes cannot be shown produce FCSI. I agree with you on this.

  90. steveO:

    I believe that elsewhere you’ve said that blind and undirected chemical processes cannot be shown produce FCSI. I agree with you on this.

    That is ID’s position. Dembski states it. Meyer states it. And I would say all IDists agree.

    And I thnk I see your point- if nature was designed such that it could bring about FCSI given specific circumstances, would that refute ID? Designed as in front-loaded to bring about, like your program.

    If the processes were indistinguishable from blind and undirected processes then we wouldn’t infer design. So it would all depend.

    Alan Fox, believe it or not, provided some insight for design detection-> discontinuities, as in we need something that can be distinguished from blind and undirected processes in order to infer design.

  91. Does anyone here feel pulverized?

    I ask because Joe Felsenstein has declared that the septic zone ilk have been pulverizing our arguments againts evolutionism. I guess if one counts equivocation as a pulverizing mechanism, then our arguments would be pulverized. If one counts bald assertion as a pulverizing mechanism, our arguments would be pulverized. If one counts pulverizing a strawman as a pulverizing mechansim, then our arguments would be pulverized.

    However if one counts only positive evidence as a pulverizing mechanism, then no, our arguments have not been pulverized. They haven’t even been properly addressed.

    So stuff another donut in it Joe.

  92. Joe [G]

    There is a very simple test, one that in two day’s time — a full half orbit of the Earth around the Sun — will be six months old.

    That is, there is an offer on the table to host here at UD, a 6,000 word essay — equivalent of about 40 minutes of talking straight — laying out a presentation of the decisive case for evolutionary materialist origin of life and body plans, i.e. from microbes to Mozart.

    If the TSZ denizens do have such a pulverising case, it would be child’s play to summarise it, include links on where to go for more, and sent it in.

    That, for just about six months now, we have seen carping, ducking, dodging, attempts to divert to snip and snipe games as usual, and otehr antics, tells us loud and clear that TSZ etc do NOT have the case that is being boasted of.

    And if any over at TSZ object, there is a very simple answer: submit the case.

    It would be published here at UD, by me.

    This is a free kick at goal.

    So, why are there in the end no takers after six months?

    ABSENT A SERIOUS RESPONSE, WE CAN TAKE IT TO THE BANK THAT WHAT WE ARE HEARING IN BOASTS ABOUT PULVERISING CASES IS LITTLE MORE THAN EMPTY BLUFFING.

    KF

  93. ‘LITTLE MORE THAN EMPTY BLUFFING?’ You’re flanneling them shamelessly. KF. I think you mean, plum ‘empty bluffing’.

  94. 94
    William J Murray

    If I feel pulverized, it’s because of beating my head against the brick wall of their impenetrably closed minds.

  95. 95

    “If I feel pulverized, it’s because of beating my head against the brick wall of their impenetrably closed minds.”

    I think what is meant by pulverized is dismissed. You see, these things we go on about are illusory, nonexistent, unremarkable, emergent, or contrived. For instance, descriptive classifications of information are contrived. Free will is illusory. Consciousness is emergent. Objective moral truths are nonexistent. And the breadth of human experience, expression, and accomplishment is unremarkable, unless we’re crediting Darwinian evolution.

  96. Chance Ratcliff, no point in me offering praise for your post: it’s not like you freely chose to write it. You’re just a bunch of atoms at the end of the day. So am I, I’ve got no choice in writing this either. In fact, this isn’t me – there is no me – this post just wrote itself by accident. I’m off to do whatever it is that evolution hard-wired my brain to do next…

  97. LOL at 95 and 96,,, :) ,,, too funny!

  98. 98

    Well Chris, I’ll thank evolution for your comment then. Your atoms obviously have a good sense of taste. BA77′s atoms have a good sense of humor. I could go on, but complementing every atom would take all day.

  99. If I feel pulverized, it’s because of beating my head against the brick wall of their impenetrably closed minds.

    I did that once, then I evolved :) . Now I just expose them for what they are and tell them off. And it bothers them because the truth hurts.

    And it’s good no-cost therapy.

  100. 100

    All praise evolution, Chance Ratcliff! What choice have you got?

  101. petrushka “answers” KF’s challenge by asking a question:

    Do you accept DNA evidence as used in courts as proof of paternity?

    Yes, I do. And the DNA evidence used in courts as proof of paternity would say that humans are not related to chimps.

    Not only that the DNA evidence doesn’t say anything about a mechanism- ie guided or unguided. That makes you a double-moron.

  102. Joe, see what I mean about red herrings led out to strawmen? The issue pivots on origin of life in plausible prelife chemistry and physics. No answer there, no answer anywhere else after that. FYI, Petrushka, OOL is the ROOT of the tree[s] of life. No roots, no shoots, branches or twigs, whether chimps or humans. So, the mechanism issue starts at OOL and goes on from there. Until you have something that takes common design off the table, you have no credible evolutionary materialist account of origin of life or of body plans. And so far, the only empirically warranted explanation for DSCO/I is design. So, why should we not sit on the principle that like causes like? KF

  103. FSCO/I

  104. I’m off to do whatever it is that evolution hard-wired my brain to do next…

    Wait, Chris…Don’t do that! I heard somewhere that evolution leads to torturing babies and murdering millions of Jews.

  105. kairosfocus, people like petrushka, Mike Elzinga, Patrick May- they are more dense than a singularity. They are walking black holes.

  106. 106

    “Wait, Chris…Don’t do that!” said lastyearon.

    Well, why not? If there’s no objective morality, why can’t we do whatever we like (or whatever evolution has hard-wired our brains to like)? And if there’s no free will, who can blame anyone if they do something “wrong”?

  107. Allan Miller doesn’t get it either. He really thinks that a designer could design living organisms and after that the blind watchmaker takes over.

    That is like designing a car without knowing what it is going to do once it starts.

    No Allan, if living organisms were designed then the inference is they were designed to evolve and evolved by design- just as I have told you chumps when I could post there. That you can be willfully ignorant doesn’t mean anything.

    Do you think that Stonehenge was designed yet the placement of stones showing the time of the year is purely accidental?

    “Oh yeah, we designed a computer but nature will do the programming.”

  108. I would accept that nature was able to generate life from the primordial soup before I accepted the idea that some higher being exists. Science has shown how early cells could have been generated by simple chemistry, nothing shows any evidence of a higher being.

  109. I would accept that nature was able to generate life from the primordial soup before I accepted the idea that some higher being exists.

    You would accept something without evidence?

    Science has shown how early cells could have been generated by simple chemistry, …

    No, it has not demonstrated such a thing. If it had then the scientists involved would have recieved Nobel Prizes. Yet no such Nobel has been handed out. And no such evidence is found.

    nothing shows any evidence of a higher being.

    Well you don’t seem to know what evidence is.

  110. Numerous studies are putting together the pieces of abiogenesis. There are many ideas on how it can happen and it was almost certainly a blend of many of these ideas. Simple molecules can arrrange themselves into structures with basic biological function to create early protocells. There is no evidence of an intelligent designer.

  111. Pieces of abiogenesis are still in pieces. Getting building blocks does not get you the building.

  112. Getting the building blocks is the first step of getting the building and the most difficult when it comes to abiogenesis. Biological molecules are a lot different than bricks.

  113. Joealtle:

    Science has shown how early cells could have been generated by simple chemistry, nothing shows any evidence of a higher being.

    Either a troll or clueless (or both).

  114. Or someone who has read up on some of the science behind abiogenesis.

  115. ‘Numerous studies are putting together the pieces of abiogenesis. There are many ideas on how it can happen and it was almost certainly a blend of many of these ideas. Simple molecules can arrrange themselves into structures with basic biological function to create early protocells. There is no evidence of an intelligent designer.’

    Joealtle, your repeated use of the present indicative, ‘can’, instead of the conditional ‘might be able to’, in your first two sentences, reveals that you have taken up an unambiguously religious position.

    You know the truth now. All you need to do is wait for the ‘pieces’ to be found and put together. We call that, ‘the fabled promissory note’.

    Trouble with even the subsequent, putative evolution, with life as a given, is that every report of a discovery seems to be prefaced by such words as, ‘Well, isn’t evolution marvelous? Always coming up with new surprises, quite out of line with our expectations.’

  116. 116

    “We call that, ‘the fabled promissory note’.”

    But Axel, we don’t yet understand all the details about how nanotech self-replicators come about in an unguided, material fashion. Therefore, suggesting that intelligence may have been a necessary component for engineering this sort of teleological sophistication is god-of-the-gaps reasoning, because you’re not insisting that the process is the strict result of chance and necessity. That’s the error in your reasoning. :b

  117. Call it whatever you want, abiogenesis has not been proven impossible and it has evidence to suggest it most certainly is possible. ID has nothing but arguments from ignorance.

  118. 118

    RE: #117, Abiogenesis has not been proven impossible. Who knew such convincing evidence existed. This sort of explanatory power is intoxicating. And of course, if by positive evidence you mean that abiogenesis hasn’t been proven impossible, then you are correct, and your credulity likely knows no bounds. If by arguments from ignorance you mean observations that the level of sophistication required for the simplest extant self-replicator surpasses our own technological achievements by far, and that the features of this type of nanotech self-replicator are very much like many teleological features of systems known to be designed — features such as code storage, code replication, error correction, code translation via a manufacturing processes, materials synthesis, rotary motors and other machinery, countermeasures, signalling systems, transport systems, and general multi-part interdependent systemic configuration — then you are again correct.

    Perhaps you also missed the point of #116, which highlights that making bind appeals to nature in order to account for the materially inexplicable is a gaps argument — that is, an argument from ignorance. If you wish to present evidence that chance and necessity can construct a basic self-replicating organism then please do so; it will be considered on its merits; but simple claims that evidence somewhere exists that warrants inference to nature as a technology engineer get dull quickly, once their entertainment value has been exhausted.

  119. Now Now Chance, everyone knows that if it is not impossible then it must be true :)

    Darwinism Not Proved Impossible Therefore Its True – Plantinga – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....plantinga/

  120. . . . abiogenesis has not been proven impossible . . .

    Yeah, and it is possible that the sun will cease to shine tomorrow at noon or that gravity will fail tonight at midnight. Science doesn’t deal in the realm of sheer logical possibility. We must look at reasonable probabilities.

    Time to get past sheer “possible” and start thinking about what is reasonably possible or reasonably likely given the realities of the universe we live in, the natural laws we are dealing with, and the timeframes available.

  121. 121

    BA77, that may be the single most convincing piece of evidence that blind chance and physical necessity can engineer teleological systems ever presented — it hasn’t been proven impossible — which by the way, is way better than a design inference, whatever that is. :D

  122. 122

    “Yeah, and it is possible that the sun will cease to shine tomorrow at noon or that gravity will fail tonight at midnight.”

    I’m stealing that, Eric. :P

  123. How quick you guys are to quote only half of what I said. If you geniuses had read the read of what i said, you would have noticed that I said there also has evidence showing that abiogenesis is quite possible. This is scientific evidence that shows numerous ways that early cells could have arose. All of which are supported by looking at the basic mechanisms of life that we see today.
    Im still waiting for a scientific article about ID, anyone got one?

  124. 124

    @123, review #118. You keep claiming that all this positive evidence exists, yet you haven’t produced any. So get your best set of articles elucidating the pathway from basic chemical interactions to self-replicating organisms and let’s go over the evidence.

  125. Numerous biochemical molecules have been generated by recreating early earth’s environment. It is from these simple molecules that more complex structures can arise based on emergent properties and typical chemical reactions. The prebiotic soup allowed for chemical reactions to test the usefulness of the reaction and stability of the products. RNA has both catalytic and information storage functions, liposomes form on their own from pools of phospholipids, RNA itself can catalyze peptide bond formation, protein lattices with catalytic activity have been generated simply by dripping amino acids onto hot sand. RNA’s current functions back its importance in early cells and the fact that ATP is the main form of cellular energy also supports the use of RNA by early cells for numerous functions. There are many ideas on abiogenesis, all backed by scientific evidence. There is no such evidence for ID, at least that im aware of.
    Feel free to post a scientific article and prove me wrong.

  126. It is from these simple molecules that more complex structures can arise based on emergent properties and typical chemical reactions.

    Emergent properties?

    Typical chemical reactions?

    LOL! You owe me a new keyboard!

    Complete BS and bluff.

    Keep studying man.

  127. The RNA world hypothesis: the worst theory for the early evolution of life (except for all the others) – July 2012
    Excerpt: “The RNA World scenario is bad as a scientific hypothesis” – Eugene Koonin
    “The RNA world hypothesis has been reduced by ritual abuse to something like a creationist mantra” – Charles Kurland
    “I view it as little more than a popular fantasy.” – Charles Carter
    http://www.biology-direct.com/.....0-7-23.pdf

  128. This is my problem with you guys, you call BS but dont say why. Everything I say is proven science.
    I give you scientific facts, your response: OH BS MAN!
    Why would I expect any different from the ID movement though?

  129. 129

    “Numerous biochemical molecules have been generated by recreating early earth’s environment.”

    Biochemical molecules do not sequence specificity make. Or is it the other way around? And I forgot all about emergent properties, which are…emergent.

    RNA has both catalytic and information storage functions,

    Yes, but it’s the information itself which needs to be explained, the complex arrangements of myriad codes corresponding to the specifications of biological machines and their assembly instructions.

    There are many ideas on abiogenesis, all backed by scientific evidence.

    That’s what we’re after here, the evidence that chemical interactions under some set of necessary conditions give rise to teleological organization and complex and specified information.

    Feel free to post a scientific article and prove me wrong.

    Now that’s just giving up! I thought you had the evidence, and now I’m supposed to show that it doesn’t exist? :P

  130. Hmm, off the top of my head, Marin Hanczyc and Shelly Fujikawa in 2003 showed that clay, in pools of phospholipids, triggers the formation of liposomes that actually grow and divide.

  131. Joealtle:

    Since you’re interested in the RNA world approach and claim there is good evidence for natural abiogenesis, I’ll tell you what, I’ll make things real easy for you.

    I’ll spot you: (i) all the amino acids you want, (ii) all together at the same time and place, (iii) all in left-handed orientation, (iv) in just the right ratio, (v) in the perfectly hospitable environment, (vi) with just the right amount of energy to catalyze reactions, (vii) with no interfering cross reactions, and (viii) with stability following formation and no rapid breakdown of nascent formations.

    If you’ve been reading up on abiogenesis, as you claim, you will know that every one of these is a significant, perhaps insurmountable, obstacle for abiogenesis. But I’m willing to spot you all of them.

    Now tell us, exactly what is your theory about how these amino acids come together to form simple life?

  132. First off, a perfectly hospitable environment isnt required as liposomes can form the earliest forms of cell membranes and have been shown to exhibit basic forms of metabolism and reproduction. With the phospholipids and amino acids forming basic cellular units with catalytic activity along with early metabolism, the basic structures of sugars and nucleotides can be formed. From that, ATP and nucleic acids can eventually arise along with increased protein complexity.
    At this point I realize a huge step has to be made somewhere in which the nucleic acids begin to correspond to information in amino acid sequence. While this is no doubt an extremely difficult process, the current structure and functions of RNA demonstrates it is not out of the question. RNA gave rise to DNA somewhere in there and I realize Im shooting this all out on a whim but its all generally backed by scientific observation and studies.

  133. JA: First, could you explain to us what information is? A code? What is seen to produce such in relevant quantities [100 - 1,000 k bits], and what has never been seen to produce such in such quantities? How you propose to bridge from physics and chemistry of a warm little Darwinian pond or the like, to complex, specific functional organisation of a gated, encapsulated, metabolising automaton using molecular nanotech and embracing a code-using von Neumann kinematic self replication facility? And, on what specific observational evidence that his has happened or is happening or happens in reasonable environments? (You may wish to cf here on to see what I am getting at. if you think you have a solid answer on origin of life and of body plans by naturalistic processes, you may want to take up the origins essay challenge here that has gone unanswered for over seven months now.) KF

  134. Information is anything that can be interpreted. The first step in generating a process of informtion storage and interpretation of this info was likely taken by RNA, evidence supporting this claim can be seen in RNA’s current functions as both information and catalysis of translation. RNA originally began to affect the generation of proteins on its own, eventually proteins began to aid the process, creating an early ribosome subunit. Eventually, RNA gave rise to DNA as a more stable information storage mechanism and RNA was kept as the medium between DNA and protein.
    Yes we rely heavily on indirect evidence, but its better than using a lack of evidence as evidence to support ID.

  135. joealtle:

    First off, a perfectly hospitable environment isnt required as liposomes can form the earliest forms of cell membranes . . .

    That’s OK, I’ve already spotted you the perfect environment. So if you want to put your precious amino acids in a liposome, great. Calling a liposome an early form of cell membrane, however, is an abuse of the terminology, as numerous key components are missing for an actual cell membrane of a living cell. The only thing that can be said is that they are superficially similar, as long as we don’t look too closely.

    . . . and have been shown to exhibit basic forms of metabolism . . .

    Please. Just look at any definition of “metabolism” and you’ll see that this isn’t true, unless we stretch the term “metabolism” beyond repair.

    With the phospholipids and amino acids forming basic cellular units with catalytic activity along with early metabolism, the basic structures of sugars and nucleotides can be formed. From that, ATP and nucleic acids can eventually arise along with increased protein complexity.

    Nonsense. Pure and complete, wild, unsupported speculation.

    Since you keep bringing up the support of “science,” we should keep in mind the following:

    Science says that on the early Earth we are unlikely to find all the amino acids together in the same place in a large concentration in a free state. Science says that the smallest self-sufficient living organism currently known is composed of over 400 proteins and that the smallest hypothetical living organism would likely need over 200 proteins. Science says that it is virtually impossible within the lifetime of the known universe for even a handful of these proteins to arise by purely natural processes at the same time and in the same location.

    Science teaches us that a prebiotic soup of amino acids would be racemic and that there is no solid evidence that life previously was racemic or could transition from being racemic to left-handed. Science teaches us that once an amino acid chain of average length is formed it may not necessarily fold into a functional protein. Science says that even if a protein were formed, it would quickly be subject to natural decay processes and interfering cross reactions. Science says that the only reason biochemistry works “naturally” in the cell is because of the numerous cellular components and systems that are already in place and the homeostasis that the cell maintains in order for the biochemical work to occur.

    In short, the science is very much against the naturalistic abiogenesis storyline.

    It is evident that most of the prominent ID proponents, as well as several of us on this site, know far more about abiogenesis than you do. So it is ironic that you come in here with guns blazing and pounding the table about the “science” behind abiogenesis while calling ID proponents names for doubting the abiogenesis story.

    Do some homework. And most importantly, exercise some healthy skepticism when you hear the just-so stories, the speculations, and the hypotheticals of the materialist creation story, rather than just blindly swallowing everything hook, line, and sinker.

  136. He’s just explaining the scientific observations behind the various ideas of abiogenesis. You should provide him with some scientific observations behind ID that has to do with biology, as that’s obviously his language.

  137. CharlieD:

    Nope. I have listed the scientific evidence, as opposed to his unsupported suppositions, assertions, hypotheticals and maybe-we’ll-discover-some-day stories. And, no, I can’t agree that his language is that of biology. Like franklin on the other thread, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Someone who thinks proteins can form on their own, that a liposome is like a cellular membrane, that metabolism can come about through purely natural processes. Nope, doesn’t seem to be a lot of understanding of biology at work there.

  138. See the comment on the Dawkins page, I explain the simple protein generation idea a bit. Also a liposome is very similar to a cell membrane, it is just a much simpler version of the membranes we see today. Do you have evidence that metabolism cannot come about from purely natural processes?
    Maybe move this conversation over to the dawkins page I mentioned.

  139. CharlieD as to: “Do you have evidence that metabolism cannot come about from purely natural processes?”

    Okie dokie ChalieD let’s see. Let’s look at the simplest form of energy required for metabolism, ATP:

    Evolutionist Has Another Honest Moment as “Thorny Questions Remain” – Cornelius Hunter – July 2012
    Excerpt: It’s a chicken and egg question. Scientists are in disagreement over what came first — replication, or metabolism. But there is a third part to the equation — and that is energy. … You need enzymes to make ATP and you need ATP to make enzymes. The question is: where did energy come from before either of these two things existed?
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....oment.html

    ATP: The Perfect Energy Currency for the Cell – Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: In manufacturing terms, the ATP (Synthase) molecule is a machine with a level of organization on the order of a research microscope or a standard television (Darnell, Lodish, and Baltimore, 1996).
    http://www.trueorigin.org/atp.asp

    Miniature Molecular Power Plant: ATP Synthase – January 2013 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI8m6o0gXDY

    The ATP Synthase Enzyme – an exquisite motor necessary for first life – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3KxU63gcF4

    Do you have any empirical evidence of this molecular machine, the ATP Synthase Enzyme, arising by purely material processes? Or are you now going to use this argument?

    Darwinism Is Not Proved Impossible Therefore It Must Be True – Plantinga
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10285716/

  140. supplemental notes:

    Dr. Hugh Ross – Origin Of Life Paradox (No prebiotic chemical signatures)- video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012696

    Life – Its Sudden Origin and Extreme Complexity – Dr. Fazale Rana – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4287513

    Iron in Primeval Seas Rusted by Bacteria – Apr. 23, 2013
    Excerpt: The oldest known iron ores were deposited in the Precambrian period and are up to four billion years old (the Earth itself is estimated to be about 4.6 billion years old). ,,,
    This research not only provides the first clear evidence that microorganisms were directly involved in the deposition of Earth’s oldest iron formations; it also indicates that large populations of oxygen-producing cyanobacteria were at work in the shallow areas of the ancient oceans, while deeper water still reached by the light (the photic zone) tended to be populated by anoxyenic or micro-aerophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria which formed the iron deposits.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....110750.htm

    Electron transport and ATP synthesis during photosynthesis – Illustration
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bo.....iggrp.1672

    The Miracle Of Photosynthesis – electron transport – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj_WKgnL6MI

    The Elaborate Nanoscale Machine Called Photosynthesis: No Vestige of a Beginning – Cornelius Hunter – July 2012
    Excerpt: “The ability to do photosynthesis is widely distributed throughout the bacterial domain in six different phyla, with no apparent pattern of evolution. Photosynthetic phyla include the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria (purple bacteria), green sulfur bacteria (GSB), firmicutes (heliobacteria), filamentous anoxygenic phototrophs (FAPs, also often called the green nonsulfur bacteria), and acidobacteria (Raymond, 2008).”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....8048253561

    Unusual Quantum Effect Discovered in Earliest Stages of Photosynthesis – May 2012
    Excerpt: “The behavior we were able to see at these very fast time scales implies a much more sophisticated mixing of electronic states,” Tiede said. “It shows us that high-level biological systems could be tapped into very fundamental physics in a way that didn’t seem likely or even possible.”
    The quantum effects observed in the course of the experiment hint that the natural light-harvesting processes involved in photosynthesis may be more efficient than previously indicated by classical biophysics, said chemist Gary Wiederrecht of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials. “It leaves us wondering: how did Mother Nature create this incredibly elegant solution?” he said.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092932.htm

    Verse and music:

    John 1:4
    In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    Toby Mac (In The Light) – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_MpGRQRrP0

  141. CD, re:

    “Do you have evidence that metabolism cannot come about from purely natural processes?”

    Why do you imply a default conclusion unless something be shown impossible, presumably logically and/or physically?

    Tha’ts back ways around. In real science — as opposed to a priori Lewontinian materialism or the like or fellow traveller ideologies — a scientific claim needs adequate evidence.

    Where is the empirical OBSERVED evidence that homochiral systems of endothermic molecules of extraordinary complexity will spontaneously self assemble out of the known tendency to form racemic mixes, in metabolic reaction sets, and join themselves to a complex, code based algorithmic system using key-lock fitting component nanomachines depending on the specific geometry of molecules, with von Neumann self replication capacity?

    Where is the evidence that functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information [FSCO/I] can spontaneously form out of noise and necessity in reasonable environments without intelligent direction?

    There is abundant evidence that the only observed adequate cause of such FSCO/I is design. There is further evidence and analysis that the functionally specific clusters of arrangements of components of relevant degrees of complexity are so deeply isolated in the space of possible configs that it is maximally unlikely for such to form by chance and necessity.

    With all due respect, you are asking us to believe in miracles of blind chance and necessity poofing into existence, unless this can be shown to be impossible, not merely utterly implausible. And, by implication, you are asking us to accept such as practically certain scientific fact, without observational warrant.

    Soreeee, sir.

    First, ya gotta show us . . .

    KF

  142. CharlieD @138:

    Also a liposome is very similar to a cell membrane, it is just a much simpler version of the membranes we see today.

    You mean it is similar in the sense that it is kind of round and can contain material? Sure we could call it a cell membrane if we stretch the term to include everything that is kind of round and can contain material. Rubber balloon? Cell membrane. Soap bubbles? Cell membrane.

    Even if we concede that a liposome is a primitive precursor of a cell membrane, we still have to explain how an actual cell membrane comes about, with its ability to embed proteins, control the flow of molecules in and out of the cell, engage in adhesion, cell signaling, etc.

    Further, even the liposomes you and joealtle been pushing need to be examined with a more critical eye in the context of OOL. Let’s just turn to a basic review. The wikipedia article on liposomes, which I’m sure you’ve reviewed, informs us that the “correct choice of liposome preparation method depends” on a number of parameters that the designer must consider. Further, “formation of liposomes and nanoliposomes is not a spontaneous process.” Rather, in most cases, there are specific manufacturing steps that must be followed.

    Thus, if anything, the research into liposomes and their current use demonstrates that getting a liposome that is stable and performs a specific task requires intelligent planning and input. To say nothing of getting an actual cell membrane.

    In my challenge, I’ve already granted the liposome as a safe haven for amino acids in the naturalistic origin of life storyline, as that is not the most critical problem area for OOL. Yet even getting to a liposome (which joealtle claimed was a cell membrane and could easily come about through purely natural processes) is a stumbling block to abiogenesis. I don’t think getting a simple vesicle of some kind is insurmountable and, as I’ve said, I’ve already spotted whatever perfectly hospitable environment you want — liposome or otherwise. But it is telling that the naturalistic story, which is supposedly backed by all that “science” joealtle claimed, has stumbled right out of the gate.

    —–

    I have this image of two runners in a race, one with the word “Design” on the back of his running shirt, the other with the word “Evolution” on his. The first, knowing that his competitor will stumble during the race and wanting to at least keep things interesting, offers to let Evolution start 10 markers ahead. However, before the race even starts the Evolution runner stumbles while walking toward the first marker as he makes his way to the conceded forward starting line. The crowd looks on; some snickering, a few laughing out loud, but most shifting their eyes downward in pity and nervously shifting in their seats at the uncomfortable sight of the stumbling runner.

  143. It was pointed out that in Hanczc et al. 2003 that liposomes form spontaneously and that they can actually grow and divide. The hydrophobic effect plays a large part in this. Liposomes are not just round and contain things, they are fluid mosaics, selectively permeable, and obviously a lipid bilayer; the three hallmarks of even today’s cell membranes.

    Thats a very interesting image you have but what you dont realize is that the “design” runner has no legs, he only has a rope tied to the back of the evolution runner, so that no matter what happens, the evolution runner will always be ahead. ID cant gain any ground because they cannot put forth a single falsifiable hypothesis.
    “God did it and you cant prove me wrong, but I can make fun of you for what you don’t understand yet” is a great stance guys! Congrats.

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