Home » Intelligent Design » Complex Specified Information? You be the judge…

Complex Specified Information? You be the judge…

Is it chance or design?

Is it chance or design?

This Google Ocean image is 620 miles off the west coast of Africa near the Canary Islands. It is over 15,000 feet deep and the feature of interest is about 90 miles on a side or 8000 square miles.

In another thread ID critics complain there is no rigorous definition or mathematical formula by which everyone can agree on whether or not something exhibits complex specified information. Believe it not, they say it like mainstream science isn’t chock full of things that not everyone can agree upon. Like duh.

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95 Responses to Complex Specified Information? You be the judge…

  1. What are the coordinates of it? I’m assuming it is striations in the ocean floor, correct?

    Measuring the image on my monitor (would be more accurate in Google Ocean) with a pair of calipers, the width-to-length ratio is right about at 1.6….the “golden ratio” is 1.61803399, and it’s found everywhere in nature. Don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

  2. I don’t see many rectangles occurring in nature. In fact, I can’t think of any. For that matter, I can’t think of any straight lines, except maybe light beams, inertia, or gravitational forces. None of these would apply here. Can someone enlighten me?

  3. Here is a recent article saying it might be the lost city of Atlantis:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sci.....frica.html

    Not saying it isn’t manmade, but how could an entire city sink 15,000 feet under water over just a few thousand years? Is that geologically reasonable?

  4. The Telegraph article described the feature as being “about the size of Wales”. Ah, my dear homeland; more a unit of measurement than a country…

  5. Well, Google Ocean is now saying it is just an “an artifact of the data collection process”. Apparently they use boats with sonar mapping the ocean floor. The article doesn’t go into great detail, but I’m guessing the lines are paths that the boat was following, and it just came out with a strange result.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....-sort.html

    The question is, why is it in this one spot (that has been discovered so far, to my knowledge). Why did the boat make 90-degree turns like that? Why aren’t there lines like that all over the Google Ocean maps? Perhaps they will rescan the area

  6. Depending on the molecular structure of the rock, it is completely feasible that it could be broken along very neat, straight lines.

    I think the real question is whether this phenomenon corresponds with anything we know to be the unique product of intelligent activity.

    It seems to me that the answer is a pretty strong No.

  7. 7

    The fact that it’s sometime hard to recognize design doesn’t mean it’s always hard to recognize.

  8. Looking at it from the context of what ocean waves, earthquakes and other known phenomena can produce there is ample CSI to distinguish between design and non-design.

    There is very little but at the same time there is more then enough if we have a good enough background knowledge of what natural undirected process can accumulate overtime (and I think we do).

    This sort of design looks as if it appeared abruptly and is now degrading in resolution since nature is quite good at de-materializing designed objects. If someone would be looking for this (accidentally or purposely) in another ten thousand years or so I’m betting they wouldn’t be able to find it.

  9. To me the interesting thing is how the comments have gone about trying to determine whether this pattern is the result of intelligent activity.

    In #6 Quadfather has proposed a non-designed process which can be assessed.

    We can do something similar for various ideas about design.

    Had a similar pattern occured in vegetation in the English countryside we would have been inclined to think it was the result of human intelligence. We know that humans have been around an influencing the landscape for millenia. Initially design seems implausible in the ocean because there is no plausible mechanism for a human to create the lines.

    Then in #5 uoflcard suggests a plausible explanation for the lines which is related to human intelligence. So now here is a specific alternative hypotheis which includes an element of design which can be assessed.

    If only this kind of debate were allowed when considering design for life.

  10. Several conjectures have been given – all legit imo.

    Now compare something so simple as intersecting rectangles with something so complex as a flagellum or ATP generators or transcription, translation, or … 300 some odd nano machines in yeast DNA for example.

    These “streets and walls” or “geoartifact cracks” or … are nothing compared to what’s in DNA.

    The fact that this is even intriguing to our minds (or it wouldn’t be news at all), and that because it looks like some things we know are designed – is also indicative of the automatic intuitive explanatory filter at work in our minds when examening it!

  11. “If only this kind of debate were allowed when considering design for life.”

    What a silly conclusion. Any debate is allowed here as long as it is civil. How often can you debate design at a biology conference?

  12. I’ve always thought these were pretty straight.
    http://www.nps.gov/redw/

  13. #10 – absolutist

    prhean [2]
    of straight lines…
    snow flakes
    http://emu.arsusda.gov/snowsit…..fault.html
    http://www.its.caltech.edu/~at…..photos.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F….._13368.jpg
    cells of a beehive honeycomb…

    The lines that appear in Google Ocean are much different than snow flakes (crystal structure of water, which varies greatly depending on rate of freezing, etc.), and beehive honeycombs. The honeycombs are still the result of intelligence (bees). There is no creature in history that has ever created anything near the order of 900 miles long except for humans. So in my opinion, it has to be either manmade (Atlantis?), artificial (“artifacts” of Google Ocean’s mapping system), or something else (alien, supernatural, etc.). From everything I’ve read about it so far, it seems confident to say it is just an artifact of the mapping system. But that can be confirmed or falsified by remapping that area. With as much attention as it has received just in the last day, I’d imagine Google will do that.

    If it is not that, until proven otherwise I would have to dafault to something like Atlantis (although it doesn’t make sense, because the “walls”, “streets”, “ditches” or whatever you want to call them are over a mile wide. It would make the Great Wall of China look like a trail of toothpicks).

  14. jerry: “What a silly conclusion.”

    I think that’s exactly what he meant – not here – elsewhere.

  15. uoflcard:

    If it is not that, until proven otherwise I would have to dafault to something like Atlantis

    I personally thought it was an artifact of the data collection process before I saw that Google said so. I didn’t jump to the conclusion of “It’s Atlantis!” because that is not the parsimonious explanation. The fact that you jump to the “it’s designed” explanation is exactly the problem with IDists – you are too easily fooled by things that look like they might have been designed. Now it’s barely possible that it really is an undersea city – but that shouldn’t be the default position.
    I also find it interesting that no-one here tried to do a calculation of the “CSI” of the grid to determine whether it is designed or not. Could this be because “CSI” is an impotent concept?

  16. Whether lines really exist on ocean floor or are simply the result of equipment error, the conclusion that someone was involved is inevitable.
    This image caused wide-spread panick in France and Germany:
    http://www.gearthblog.com/imag.....antbug.jpg
    …not really.
    Complete list of errors:
    http://www.gearthblog.com/blog.....ta_er.html

  17. Oops – did the end blockquote wrong – only the first sentence is uoflcard – the rest is mine on previous comment.

  18. panic that is. human spelling error.

  19. Re #12

    OK. Jerry. Glad you allow it.

    Perhaps you can kick off with a hypothesis about how the designer of life implement the design? Then we can discuss its plausability.

    We can leave motivation for the time being.

  20. “an hypothesis about how the designer of life implement the design”

    They are doing it at MIT. I suggest you go there to look at what they are doing. A couple top biologist talked about creating life in the lab in the near future. I suggest you google that to find out how they expect to do it. If you collect all the ways that biologist and others are modifying genomes or plan to modify genomes there would be a good collection of possible methods. You could start from there.

    I am not interested in how exactly the designer did it because the video camera was broke that day and I know it will be a fruitless effort. He kept meticulous logs though but they are not yet published so we can only guess the method. In the mean time check out MIT.

  21. [21]:

    I am not interested in how exactly the designer did it…

    That’s a position that seems to distinguish ID believers from scientists.

    The former consider identifying design the end of inquiry. The latter would consider such a discovery just the first clue in a search for further explanation.

  22. Jerry,
    So humans are trying to create life in the lab. do you think that humans also created life billions of years ago? as you and many others on the site repeatedly say, humans are the only beings shown to create FCSI. so logically, humans must have done it the first time, correct?

  23. Adel,

    Get a life. Your are incredibly transparent and another anti ID person who comments here with inanity. There are thousands of ways that it could be done and I suggested some. There is a whole discipline out there called synthetic biology. Who says anyone is not interested. There may be a lot of pro ID people doing the research but they better not say so.

    Take your trivial little irrelevant attempts at gotcha’s and replace them with thinking. It would be refreshing to see some of the anti ID people exhibit some. I have personal interests that don’t include the exact way the designer did it. When they find the logs, I will gladly read them.

    Just examine the nature of your comment. You try to paste a whole group of people with the particular interest of one person in the group. When I was brought up that was called stereotyping and bigotry.

    In case you are interested here is a link to the Second European conference on synthetic biology.

    http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=5386

    Go to

    http://syntheticbiology.org/

    for a start on this broad topic.

  24. The good thing here is, that no matter it’s origins, people have recognized something that appears designed. This in and of itself is a Good Thing™ for ID.

  25. Gaahh… WHY am I still being moderated? I did nothing to warrant this. I was personally invited back by Bill, and yet all my comments are still moderated as though I had done something to deserve being blocked in the first place! This is very insulting!

    Fixed. – Admin

  26. This is also interesting imagery in the middle of Greenland:

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF.....h&z=6

    Looks rather like someone dropped a 50 mile long shipping container there.

  27. #24

    There are thousands of ways that it could be done and I suggested some.

    Jerry – you are suggesting synthetic biology. That is using techniques such as DNA synthesis. I don’t think there are actually thousands of such techniques – maybe a dozen or so. But in any case are you seriously suggesting that one or more of these techniques were used by some entity 4 billion years ago to create the first RNA/DNA?

    Having done this did they just let random mutation do the rest or did they intervene from time to time to create more complex organisms? If they did intervene how did they do it? Can we observe such intervention happening now?

  28. jerry [24]:

    Adel,

    Get a life. Your are incredibly transparent and another anti ID person who comments here with inanity.

    This is bizarre. What have I done to deserve such abuse? I have made a total of perhaps four comments since joining this blog. In one case, I disagreed with DaveScot, who dismissed me with rudeness similar to yours, but more eloquently.

    However, on another occasion, I made a comment that Paul Giem found agreeable.

    This is the first comment I have addressed to you and I am baffled as to why you found it so offensive. You seem to be very quick to jump to negative conclusions.

    Regarding my comment #22, I based it not only on your sarcastic dismissal in #21 of Mark Frank’s question about mechanism, but on persistent refusals of other ID supporters to discuss the nature of the designer(s) or the mechanism(s) employed.

    Your references tell me nothing about the historical events involved in biogenesis (as Mark pointed out above.)

  29. Mark Frank [20]

    “hypothesis about how the designer of life implement the design”

    1. E=MC².
    2. Matter cannot be the originator of matter; avoids infinite regress or circular reasoning.
    3. Designer is a free agent, that is, he is free to act or refrain from acting.
    4. Free acting agents are conscious beings.
    5. Designing activity occurs in consciousness of free agent.
    6. Exertions of will, like wanting to raise an eyebrow or an arm, even if one physically can’t, produce energy.
    7. Designer exerts his will when he freely acts to create the universe, therefore
    8. Designer transforms energy into matter by exertion of will.

    If the universe has consciousness at its core, we can expect design in the universe and be able to better explain conscious beings with the ability to type designed sentences to each other.

  30. Mark Frank:

    Perhaps you can kick off with a hypothesis about how the designer of life implement the design? Then we can discuss its plausability.

    How a design is implemented is irrelevant of the fact of design. ID deals with design detection – not design implementation.

    Besides, implementing design? What does that mean exactly. DNA for ex, ISthe implementation of the design.

    The design has to exist in a mind
    before being implemented.
    We see the implementation as DNA’s chemical letters etc. making up the algorithmic information it contains.

    DNA’s own ‘support’ systems do the building, error catching and correcting, cut/copy/pasting, transferring, translating etc.

    Error correction? That requires foreknowledge of correct system state. No such thing can exist without knowledge of correct state – once again implying a thinker/planner/builder.

    The design of DNA is obvious to any unbiased observer and statistically cannot be the result of any random process at all.

  31. Is it chance or design?

    So go on, apply your Explanatory Filter, quantify the Complex Specified Information, and tell us: is it naturally occuring via materialist processes, or Intelligently Designed?

    And lest I be accused of demanding answers without being prepared to give my own, here’s the SHA1 hash of my answer to this particular puzzle: 369c703c-8a43f80c-ae9adbc0-9a1a5410-77265337. I’ll reveal the orignal when Dave Scott or Dr Dembski gives their answer.

  32. Mark Frank [26]

    There is a layer to human beings (the soul) which uses DNA as a library. It’s not discussed here because ID just points to the physical evidence for design. And that’s all it attempts to show. It simply demonstrates that Design is self-evident on the physical level. Attempting to answer how design is implemented is a good philosophical discussion though. Some may tell you that something only appears to be designed and try to inject ambiguity where there is none.

  33. Mark Frank and Adel, you people are just too good to be true. Next they will be accusing us of having planted you people here.

    Yes, I make sarcastic remarks because absurdity deserves it. If I hear one more person wanting to know what FSCI is, I will scream. I explained it to my niece in 4th grade and she understood it and thought it was neat. But she is really a bright kid.

    Someone actually wants the laboratory techniques used 3.8 billion years ago. You talk about bizarre. I say a thousand as hyperbole and Mark in all seriousness says there is probably only a dozen. Mark wants the actual technique used a few billion years ago.

    Mark, I got word from the designer a few weeks ago and he said the original lab and blue prints were subducted under what was to become the African plate 3.4 billion years ago but by then they were mostly rubble anyway. The original cells were relatively simple but still very complex. Subsequent plants/labs went the same way and unfortunately all holograph videos of it are now in hyper space and haven’t been looked at for at least 3 million years. So to answer one of your questions, no further work has been done for quite awhile and the designer expects future work to be done by the latest design itself. The designer travels via hyper space between his home and our area of the universe when it is necessary.

    The designer said the techniques used were much more sophisticated than anything dreamed of by current synthetic biologist crowd but in a couple million years they may get up to speed and understand how it was actually done. The designer said it is actually a lot more difficult than people think especially since this was a new technique and he had to invent the DNA/RNA/protein process from scratch but amazingly they had the right chemical properties. His comment was “Thank God for that” or else he doesn’t think he wouldn’t have been able to do it. It took him about 200,000 of our years just experimenting with amino acid combinations to get usable proteins. He said it will be easier for current scientists since they will have a template to work off.

    Adel, if you make a negative comment or exhibit a negative attitude then expect the essence of your negative comment to be dealt with in some way. I would not let any of my children make a comment such as yours without being sent to their room. I could think of hundreds of ways for you to have made a cordial comment inquiring what I think on the matter. But why did you choose the way you did which revealed a lot of things. (By the way I am quite clear on what I think and it is all over this blog.)

    But thank you any way for your comments. Your comments and Mark Frank’s comment and those by others here help us immensely. We really appreciate how easy you guys make our job convincing others about the logic and facts behind our position.

  34. Adel

    I would like to know how the designer did it. Unfortunately there’s just no firm evidence of how. All we can do is speculate. One possibility is by using viral vectors to insert new genetic information quickly through a large population. That’s how I’d do it.

  35. Although the prospect of some giant underwater ancient feature is attractive, the explanation given by Google, that the lines are related to ship tracks, is correct. Google gets a lot of their information on undersea topography from sources such as the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO).

    There is a webpage with information on GEBCO at:
    http://www.gly.bris.ac.uk/www/.....gebco.html

    Figure 4 on this webpage shows a typical map of ship tracks west of North Africa. Unfortunately, the map doesn’t cover the area of the so-called Atlantis, but there is a patch with a rather similar pattern of ship tracks overlapping at right angles in the north-central part of the map.

    Along ship tracks, side-scan sonar has been used to record a detailed picture of the ocean bottom terrain. However, the side-scan sonar can only record a narrow strip of ocean floor a few miles wide. These strips show bottom irregularities in much greater detail than in the adjacent areas, which are often based on satellite gravity measurements. Because of the way the topography is shaded on the Google ocean bottom maps, the long narrow lines with detailed terrain information tend to show up as darker in color.

    In fact, if you browse around the Google oceans, you will see a lot of long straight lines in all sorts of directions across otherwise featureless areas. These lines are all narrow strips with detailed side-scan sonar information measured along the tracks of ships. So, yes, the pattern does represent human design – the grid layout used for ocean floor mapping of a particular area.

  36. 38

    I think it would be better to rule this out as a con or a mapping grid than even remotely considering it is Atlantis or some other human construction, right? I might be a Christian, but a healthy skepticism goes a long way.

  37. faithandshadow,

    If it is a mapping grid related error it does in no way invalidate CSI. CSI can only test for design or not. Since a mapping grid is designed it returned back design by mere intuition, CSI is like that since it works even without plugging in any numbers in any mathematical applied context (This is the whole point DaveScot, Borne and many others have rightfully made). Its not important whether the patterns are “Altlantis” or whether they are part of a mapping grid semantic related software error, they are simply patterns that can be measured and distinguished from purely natural causes.

    The mapping grids are evident in other places as well, those places were not considered since they did not have the requirement for CSI. Its safe to say before any considerations were made about potential “Atlantis”, all other parts were examined and none exhibited the same instance of pattern type complexity.

    It simply comes down to if its not a designed city its a designed something else.

  38. #27

    Adel – the thing to do with Jerry is ignore the abuse and carry on making the arguments. I suspect he is one of the younger members of the ID community.

    #31

    Jerry –

    1) We are not just talking about the origin of life. ID proposes design as the explanation of major new innovation through the history of life. You may believe in front loading. That somehow the designer anticipated the life cycle of the fig wasp and placed the appropriate DNA in the first prokaryotes (that at least is the beginnings of a hypothesis to be explored). But in general ID theorists refuse to even go that far.

    2) You have a fine line in sarcasm about the silliness of inquiring into the designer’s methods. But ID proponents demand just that kind of account from “conventional” scientists. They criticise them for not being able to give a detailed plausible account of the origin of life or major innovation. And scientists do indeed investigate both. I know you will disagree as to whether they have succeeded – but the point is they work on it. They form hypotheses. They experiment. They assess the consequences of their hypotheses. They see how those hypotheses match up to known natural laws.

    ID on the other hand says that it was a designer of unknown powers and motives and leaves it at that. This gives no scope for assessing the plausibility of the design hypothesis.

    Now compare this to how we would investigate whether lines on the Google Ocean map were the result of design. We would ask who, how, when, why?

  39. Mark

    Go ahead and ask who, how, when, where, and why living things were created. Just be aware that design detection provides no guidance in that regard. This exercise with the Google Ocean is an example of that. Design was detected but after that other means of investigation must be utilized to learn more about the design. ID doesn’t answer all questions but neither does it inhibit further investigation by other means. Why do critics have such a difficult time accepting this limitation? General relativity won’t lead to a cure for the common cold. Do you have a hard time accepting that too? Plate tectonics won’t give us guidance to build faster microprocessors. Is that a problem for plate tectonics? Design detection won’t tell us how the design was accomplished. Is that a problem for ID?

  40. Mark at #37,

    Thanks for your support.

    DaveScot at #32,

    Thanks for your civil comment. You also wrote:

    All we can do is speculate. One possibility is by using viral vectors to insert new genetic information quickly through a large population. That’s how I’d do it.

    That should be amenable to study. If true, there should be evidence in genomes sequences. Seems like something worth continuing to spend resources on.

  41. jeery at #31:

    Adel, if you make a negative comment or exhibit a negative attitude then expect the essence of your negative comment to be dealt with in some way.

    How about dealing with the comment constructively, rather than with anger?

    Anyway, what was negative about my comment? Here is what I wrote:

    jerry: “I am not interested in how exactly the designer did it…”

    That’s a position that seems to distinguish ID believers from scientists.

    The former consider identifying design the end of inquiry. The latter would consider such a discovery just the first clue in a search for further explanation.

    I simply made an observation that is critical of the ID position. What is wrong with criticism? Is my observation false? Did I use a sarcastic or disparaging tone? What I said distills for me the essence of a difference in attitude between persons like yourself who are satisfied to rest their curiosity and scientists, who are enthusiastically curious.

    I would not let any of my children make a comment such as yours without being sent to their room.

    You must be joking!

  42. Adel,

    Your are using stereotypes and from those stereotypes making bigoted judgments. My experience here is that those who oppose ID are the narrow minded as your comment indicated. The reason they are narrow minded is that they are ideology driven and as such cannot accept a wide range of answers to their questions.

    So your ignorance about those who advocate ID is showing and your comments reflect it. You have no idea as to what I think but take one comment made in sarcasm at a silly comment by Mark Frank and make a judgment.

    To give you an example, there is nothing in the Darwinian paradigm or whatever the latest synthesis is called that is objectionable to ID. ID’s only problem is the lack of evidence for a lot of the conclusions made by those who profess to be objective. They are anything but objective. So it is ID that has a broader perspective and those who argue against it are the narrow minded as your comments indicate.

    That you continue to go on with this and the witless comments from Mark Frank asking about how did the designer do it are disingenuous at best. They are not meant to inform or advance anything but desparate attempts to find minor flaws in an argument and thus ride off triumphant at the stupidity of those who support ID.

    Otherwise the questioning would proceed on an entirely different basis. Civility would take an entirely different route. So when that route is not taken, it is a red flag. So sorry, your behavior is of an ill bred child and one who should be disciplined.

  43. “They criticise them for not being able to give a detailed plausible account of the origin of life or major innovation.”

    A disingenuous question like this deserves a sarcastic response. The labs were destroyed by subduction. Now I ask you a couple questions.

    1. If there was a lab and there were documents that described the process 3.8 billion years ago, do you think they would still be around today.

    2. The process of subduction and weathering would smash nearly every bit of forensic evidence for whatever was here. What could you possibly expect from such a question? It is not a serious question. It is a fools errand. Are we to go into the mantle to see what might still be left. Would you recommend such a research project to the governing bodies of science. How much would you be willing to spend?

    Now in the future when science understands the nature of the genome much better, more reasonable questions will arise as to why the structure, the methods to control processes and systems etc. The questions that are necessary to get to those questions are being addressed at the moment and may take hundreds of years to answer. But to expect these answers to be readily available now is as I said to Adel at best silly. To demand they be answered reflects a dishonest approach to the dialogue.

    The intelligent answer is to say we do not know and we give the intelligent answer and get childish reactions in turn.

  44. Personally, I rather hope it is Atlantis and that, when we get down there, we find an operational Stargate. Not only will it be evidence of the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence in life on Earth but it would give us a much cheaper way of getting to other stars and planets than prohibitively expensive spaceships.

  45. Seversky,

    Atlantis if it exists at all is probably in the Eastern Mediterranean or possible the Black Sea. Two likely candidates are Thera or the modern day island of Santorini which blew up 3500 years ago or when the Black Sea flooded as the Ice Age ended. This raised the level of the Mediterranean which then flowed massively into what is now the Black Sea. This is thought to be the origin of a lot of the flood myths that persist in many cultures.

    Makes great stories to tell your children and some may actually be true.

    By the way, Santorini is a very pretty place and I recommend all go there to visit if they can. There is an active volcano just opposite the island about 1 km away across the harbor. It blew twice in the 20th century and more than likely will blow again some time soon. You can hike this volcano and feel the heat in various places. There are even hot springs on this volcano opposite Santorini.

  46. Mark Frank [37]
    About “inquiring into the designer’s methods.”

    Not knowing the mechanisms used to accomplish something does not invalidate a theory. Your criticism or assumption seems to be that if there is not a naturalistic mechanism to explain it, then it is not explained. I have no idea how your words came to be at Mark Frank [37] but I still can infer an intelligent mind did it. How, whether via pda, iphone, laptop, pc or mac is irrelevant to ID theory. SETI finding intelligent signals from outer space would be right to careless about the how it was done. The fact is, there is self-evident intelligence.

  47. #45

    Not knowing the mechanisms used to accomplish something does not invalidate a theory. Your criticism or assumption seems to be that if there is not a naturalistic mechanism to explain it, then it is not explained. I have no idea how your words came to be at Mark Frank [37] but I still can infer an intelligent mind did it. How, whether via pda, iphone, laptop, pc or mac is irrelevant to ID theory. SETI finding intelligent signals from outer space would be right to careless about the how it was done. The fact is, there is self-evident intelligence.

    Absolutist

    Well of course this is exactly the issue at stake. It it not so much that that failing to specify the mechanisms invalidates the theory – it is more that without the mechanisms you don’t have a theory. You just have the believe that Darwinism doesn’t crack it therefore it must be something else – give it the label “design”.

    You have a lot of ideas about the words in 37. You believe they were generated by a live human being using the internet. And this is by far the most probable explanation for the words. Importantly you can test the truth of this hypothesis. You can examine the ability of the internet to carry such a message. You can examine other things I have written to see if they are typical of human beings etc. You can ask yourself why would a human have written such things.

    Should SETI come across unusual signals from space one of the first things they would investigate would be how might they have been generated. As happened in the case of pulsars.

    “Self-evident” is broad term that needs a little detail behind it.

  48. Re #38

    Dave

    I know that ID offers nothing in this respect which is precisely why I don’t think it is serious science. “Design detection” is nothing but attempts to eliminate chance based theories – that’s what the EF says.

    ID proceeds by challenging various chance theories to explain step by step how in detail those theories can account for certain outcomes e.g the infamous flagellum. The challenge is fair enough. All science should be open to criticism and doubt and anyhow scientists want to understand such things. Scientists supply some of the answers, some with relative certainty, some as conjectures.

    However, life is a very long story mostly told at the molecular level. Not surprising not all the details are known. So ID announces that the explanation is incomplete and the answer must be “design”. no other evidence is offered. When asked to give even the slightest detail about how the design works ID bows out and says “design has been detected” that’s all.

    Your example is a great one. It shows how design detection should work – which is just like any other hypothesis. Look at the comments above. Design was not initially detected. In fact uoflcard assumed it must have a natural explanation. There was no plausible account of how design might have implemented that pattern in the ocean. The Atlantis hypothesis was put forward and dismissed. It was only when someone proposed a plausible method for design (idiosynchrosies in the Google software as I understand it) that design was preferred to natural explanations.

    There were real design hypotheses on the table to be evaluated.

  49. “Should SETI come across unusual signals from space one of the first things they would investigate would be how might they have been generated. As happened in the case of pulsars.”

    Another irrelevant but useful comment for us because it is such a softball.

    The SETI example depends on the nature of the signal. If the signal was the series of prime numbers as in Contact, no one would care a rats rear end how it was generated in order to believe it was from an intelligent source. Oh after a while they might be interested what kind of device did the transmitting but no one would question that it was not an intelligent transmission until they could identify the transmitter. They would know it was designed.

    There would be a thousand questions but no one would question if it was intelligence behind the signal. They would want to know the nature of the intelligence, where it came from, how long it took to get here and what else might be transmitted. But they would not question the design. And they would be all sorts of speculation about who it was, how intelligent it was, the late night tv shows would be populated with known experts on extra terrestrial life etc. But they would not say that because we do not know the motives of the sender, or how they did it, or when they did it, that it must be a non intelligent source. There would actually be research to see if nature could generate the prime numbers by lawful processes and so be it.

    In your pulsar case the question is not how it was transmitted or not but was it designed. The signal did not reach the quality of certain design but it could have been. So what they got was an iffy signal which was then attributed to a lawful origin as opposed to an intelligent origin when they found the pulsars. Your pulsar example does not reach the level of FCSI but the prime numbers does. The pulsar signal doesn’t even come close.

    It is the EF at work.

    Thank you for your comment that shows that we have no need to know the motive of the intelligent source or the means by which they act to conclude that the artifact, the signal, is the result of intelligence just as we have no need to know the method and motive to conclude that the artifact, DNA, is the result of intelligence . As I said you make our jobs here easy.

    You do not have to answer this, because I don’t expect it. I am just using comments from the anti ID people to show how weak their arguments are and yours have been unusually fruitful. So thank you for helping us and keep on contributing.

  50. Rob does have a point here in that a criteria of algorithmic compressibility can be used to define a specified pattern. As such, a long enough string of a regular pattern will eventually yield an amount of CSI.

    Thus, a pulsar signal will eventually yield CSI and a long enough set of heads up coin flips will also yield CSI.

    But, there is a significant difference in these two cases. When we go through the EF and discover that something is caused by physical/material properties and can be described by mathematical descriptions of regularity then we may be dealing with the effects of law. In this case, further research needs to be done. The pulsar signals were discovered to be the result of law, just as a long chain of carbon atoms or the repetitive pattern found in a snowflake.

    That is why, when discovering a regular/repetitive pattern we normally default to law as a causal explanation. Thus, algorithmic compressibility as a criteria for specification is not always reliable since it also describes the effects of law.

    Of course, though, FSCI doesn’t come across that problem. It is both specified, complex, and non lawful/non-repetitive. In fact, codes must be non-lawful in order to carry any information. They must not be hindered by any lawful restraints brought on by physical/material properties of the units being utilized.

    A prime number signal would fit into the category of FSCI as a mathematically meaningful yet non-repetitive pattern — given that meaningfully specified complex information is either a subset of or equivalent to functionally specified complex information.

    Thus, the EF needs to be taken into account alongside CSI to reliably signal previous intelligence. Of course, the discovery of an IC core along with CSI and the EF would pretty much “blow the case out of the water” in favor of ID.

  51. CJYMan [50]:

    Of course, though, FSCI… is non lawful… In fact, codes must be non-lawful in order to carry any information. They must not be hindered by any lawful restraints brought on by physical/material properties of the units being utilized.

    Where are you getting this from? Is this something you came up with?

  52. CJYMan:

    “A prime number signal would fit into the category of FSCI as a mathematically meaningful yet non-repetitive pattern”

    You said previously at one point “non-lawful/non-repetitive” so apparently you see those two concepts as equivalent. A set of program instructions would be laws.

    And to repeat Rob’s observation, What functional information does a prime number sequence contain.

  53. Comes from the works of both Hubert Yockey and Michael Polonyi, among others.

    “A shaping of boundaries may he said to go beyond a mere fixing of boundaries and establishes a ‘controlling principle.’ It achieves control of the boundaries by imprinting a significant pattern on the boundaries of the system. Or, to use information language, we may say that it puts the system under the control of a non-physical-chemical principle by a profoundly informative intervention.”

    –Michael Polanyi, “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry,” Chemical & Engineering News (21 August 1967): 64.

    But, yes, I did realize this simple truth before I read about it in their work.

    If you are doubting the validity of what I am stating, then just check into it yourself. The sequence of amino acids is not determined by any physical/material properties of the amino acids, else it would merely be a repetitive chain without the ranging ability to store information (in both the shannon sense [as a decrease in uncertainty] and FSCI). Think of it as letters written on a page. If the letters could only be written according to rules defined by their physical properties, we may only be able to write down something such as AJFDAJFDAJFD or RERERERERE, etc. Does this allow the transfer of information in the functional sense? Maybe some, but extremely limited. In the case of life, it would be even more limited. We would merely end up with a repetitive string of ATCGATCGATCG.

    Information is the opposite direction of thermodynamic equilibrium. For a code to carry information, the medium must be in a constant struggle against thermodynamics, through the use of repair mechanisms which themselves require further coded information.

    “In the face of the universal tendency for order to be lost, the complex organization of the living organism can be maintained only if work – involving the expenditure of energy – is performed to conserve the order. The organism is constantly adjusting, repairing, replacing, and this requires energy. But the preservation of the complex, improbable organization of the living creature needs more than energy for the work. It calls for information or instructions on how the energy should be expended to maintain the improbable organization. The idea of information necessary for the maintenance and, as we shall see, creation of living systems is of great utility in approaching the biological problems of reproduction.”

    George Gaylord Simpson and William S. Beck, Life: An Introduction to Biology, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge and Kegan, 1965), 145.

  54. JT:
    “You said previously at one point “non-lawful/non-repetitive” so apparently you see those two concepts as equivalent. A set of program instructions would be laws.”

    … and information (measurable as both shannon information as a decrease in uncertainty/distance from thermodynamic equilibrium/uniform probability; and as CSI).

    Unless the program is merely background noise and/or regularities, it also contains information.

    It is the non-regular, specified, and complex nature of the program which needs to be explained and which is not merely law and chance.

    JT:
    “And to repeat Rob’s observation, What functional information does a prime number sequence contain.”

    Are you asking how much information or what criteria of specificity is being employed? If criteria, then I will repeat my answer, “A prime number signal would fit into the category of FSCI as a mathematically meaningful yet non-repetitive pattern — *given that meaningfully specified complex information is either a subset of or equivalent to functionally specified complex information.*”
    And in this case, meaningful would mean describable. ie: prime numbers are “all numbers which can only be divisible by themselves and one.” I’m not sure what the mathematical notation would be for such a sequence.

    As to a quantity of FSCI, I’m not sure, as you would have to measure it against an approximation of all non-repetitive mathematically meaningful/describable sequences of same length. This would be a daunting task, however, I’m sure there’s some crazy russian mathematician out there just ready to take on such a challenge. LOL!

  55. Laws = mathematical descriptions of observed regularities. ie: [equation for gravity]

    Chance = the word used to describe an end product which has no discernible causal factor and no discernible pattern. ie: background noise; correlates with statistical randomness

    It is thus obvious that a program of instructions are more than just law and chance.

    Information (CSI) describes the difference. Where does this information come from? Previous laws and chance? Will background noise and an arbitrarily chosen set of laws (set of laws chosen with no regard for future consequences) create CSI, a highly improbable program of instructions, an EA, or intelligence?

  56. “Not sure what the function of a prime number signal is”

    Once again we say something and one of our anti ID buddies tees it up so we and smack it right out of the park. It’s so easy.

    First of all, the sequence points to a series of prime numbers and what does that series communicate. Prime numbers are such that they are not found anywhere in nature as a series so if someone wants to communicate they are not of nature, then step right up and swing the prime number bat. It functions as a indication of intelligence. The series of prime numbers can mean or function on several levels to another intelligence just as a word or a series of words causes another to think in a certain way. For example, it communicates to me a symbol of what two disparate intelligence might have in common.

    Now there are apparently some uses of prime numbers in life but they do not appear due to law or chance in nature anywhere as a series so that would indicate that the sender was not from a chance or law phenomena.

    The use of prime numbers versus another popular set of numbers such as Fibonacci numbers is a safer set of numbers because the Fibonacci numbers appear more in life and while I am not aware of any non life examples this set would be more problematic. So the use of prime would be a clincher. It is a good choice though some other series might work just as well.

    Prime numbers do keep some mathematicians busy just figuring if there is any pattern to them. But prime numbers have some function besides a mathematical curiosity. Cryptography uses prime numbers in certain types of codes. Prime numbers function as a way to get less repetitive phenomena.

    Well thank you for helping us again. I am sure we can count on you in the future to contribute some more help.

    As example of my outreaching to the anti ID people, I believe that CSI is a millstone around the ID evolution movement. CSI has never been adequately defined to cover all cases and that is why we seem to have such contradictory discussions on it.

    Read the first FAQ from a couple weeks ago and you will see my comments on it. It has been discussed here for almost 3 years and I have not seen any resolution of it. It is too general a term and I have not seen a definition that encompasses all the examples one provides. Dembski seems to want a generalized approach to all design detection and the result is what I consider too vague a concept. The complex and information is easy to understand but the specified defies description. Is it specifying or being specified? I would like to be proved wrong and await the description that will put the controversy away but I have been asking for over two years and I am still in the dark.

    Now FCSI is just the opposite. It is very concrete, not vague, not subject to debate and so obvious you could explain it to a school child.

    So if one thinks they can score points by attacking CSI, then they will get run over by how simple FCSI is as a concept and how ultra relevant it is to the evolution debate. So I judge sincerity on this debate by honest befuddlement with CSI which I can understand wholeheartedly but complete acknowledgment that FSCI is easy to understand and apply. Befuddlement is not an option here. Those who try to undermine FCSI are just here as obstructionist. It is one of the criteria I personally use. There are lots of ways to judge sincerity and this is one of them. People should look up the social psychology concept, attribution. It is one of the strongest drivers of assessment of others in this world.

  57. JT:

    “You said previously at one point “non-lawful/non-repetitive” so apparently you see those two concepts as equivalent. A set of program instructions would be laws.

    And to repeat Rob’s observation, What functional information does a prime number sequence contain.”

    I think it’s very simple: “non lawful” does not mean, as you seem to imply, “which does not work by laws”: a set of program instructions works by laws. “Non lawful” means, in this context, as amy body who knows the ID theory should know very well, “which cannot be generated by laws of necessity, without any intervention of design”. It’s completely different, as anybody can see. A set of program instructions, if complex enough, cannot be generated by any law of necessity. No laws of necessity can generate this post. And so on.

    And the sequence of prime numbers has a lot of functions. Just ask a mathematicians. It’s a definite information about definite mathematical objects, and it is extremely useful in a mathemathical context.

  58. CJYMan [58]:
    [I had more commentary in response to your remarks in 56, But it just didn't take shape like I wanted to (a lot of sarcasm) , so I'm leaving it off for now.]

    Will background noise and an arbitrarily chosen set of laws (set of laws chosen with no regard for future consequences) create CSI, a highly improbable program of instructions, an EA, or intelligence?

    I was aware that in some of Dembski’s more current work regarding “Conservation of Information” “No Free Lunch” and evolutionary algorithms that there have been repeated reference to “arbitrarily chosen” sets of laws and supposed proofs regarding the inability of these to accomplish anything of significance. My personal opinion has always been that this seems like a cynical exercise in word play. The reason that I say that is that it is obvious that arbitrarily chosen laws will not accomplish anything, any more than pure randomness will accomplish anything, and you don’t need a proof for that. Pick a random binary string. That’s arbitrarily chosen laws. Everyone already agrees randomness doesn’t accomplish anything. That was the whole point of Dawkins “Weasel”, to point out that evo theorists don’t believe that randomness creates things. So No, I don’t think arbitrarily chosen laws will create “a highly improbable program of instructions”

    But I think that there’s something else going on with this phrase “arbitrarily chosen” as well The intent seems to be to draw attention to the act of choosing which to ID is a transcendent act associated with their brand of intelligence.

    —————————–

    Elsewhere it seems you want to say “laws” means really simple laws. And you say if you take away chance and really simple laws, what’s left is “information”. If you want to replace the term “necessity” with the term “information”, and include “really simple laws” in that category as well, then I have no problem with that.

  59. Adel and Mark:

    It is certainly interesting and correct to ask who the designer is and how he did implement the design. It is equally true that we have not many scientific data to support our theories about that. And it is equally true that design detection does not need those answers (but in no way requires that they are not searched).

    That is a common misunderstanding: when we in ID say that ID does not address the identity of the designer or the modalities or desing, we are not saying that those problems cannot be the object of scientific investigation: we are just saying that the ID theory, at present, has nothing to say about that.

    Many times I have suggested possible scenarios for the implementation of design (Mark, you should remember that). But I have no definite evidence for any of those scenarios.

    Regarding the identity of the designer, I will just say that there is no reason to restrict the field to human beings: the only qualities which are really required for a designer are:

    1) He has to be a conscious, intelligent being

    2) He has to have access to methods which allow the implementation of his conscious plans.

    Now, there is no reason to think that only human beings can do that. Aliens are a possible alternative. A classical God is a possible alternative. Some conscious intelligent force, at present not detectable by our scientific tools, is a possible alternative. And I am sure there are other possibilities.

    So, the point is: any being with a subjective consciousness, capable of intelligence and finality, and with some form of interface with matter, could do that. A lab is not needed in all cases. Biologists need it, but a God probably doesn’t. For aliens, I don’t know, but we can always inquire.

  60. jerry:

    “Now FCSI is just the opposite. It is very concrete, not vague, not subject to debate and so obvious you could explain it to a school child.”

    We are of one mind about that (see my post in the Nazca thread).

  61. Gpuccio #62

    I am so glad you have joined the discussion. You are always respectful of alternative opinions and polite.

    It is certainly interesting and correct to ask who the designer is and how he did implement the design. It is equally true that we have not many scientific data to support our theories about that. And it is equally true that design detection does not need those answers (but in no way requires that they are not searched).

    I understand that you are prepared to conjecture on the designer and its methods. When I say ID does not permit this enquiry I mean that in practice ID proponents will not examine the plausibility of the design hypothesis. They will gladly examine what they believe to be current evolutionary theory in great detail and pick holes in how it explains various phenomena. But they are not prepared to subject ID to the same enquiry.

    I also disagree with your last sentence. If it is to say anything positive then ID does need these answers. This goes back to a long standing disagreement between us (which was interrupted last time because Barry called a halt to comments on that thread). I believe that without examining how ID is implemented then the evidence for design is nothing but attacks on alternatives. ID limits itself to attempting to disprove various specific chance hypotheses.

    In the past you have argued that ID includes positive evidence for design. I think the argument goes roughly like this:

    1) Life includes patterns that suit a purpose (in your terms they are functionally specified) e.g hemoglobin suits the purpose of carrying oxygen. Outside of life we only find functionally specified patterns when things have been designed by people. Therefore we have evidence that life was created by a similar process.

    2) Life includes symbols e.g. DNA bases are symbols for amino acids in that the relationship between base pair and amino acid appears to be an arbitrary choice. Outside of life we only find functionally specified patterns when things have been designed by people. Therefore we have evidence that life was created by a similar process.

    I believe both of these arguments to be fallacious – but before I proceed I want to give you a chance to agree or correct them (as briefly as you can please). Meanwhile I want to point out that you would not have to reply on these rather controversial and abstract arguments if you had a fully fledged hypothesis that included design which could be examined in the usual ways.

  62. Mark

    “Design was not initially detected.”

    Wrong. It was initially brought to public attention because design was detected. Design was initially detected then explanations were sought, including non-design explanations. It’s the same with living things. Good luck finding a non-design explanation that holds water and has empirical evidence to support it.

  63. Re #65

    Wrong. Design was initially detected then non-design explanations were sought.

    Dave the first comment was:

    What are the coordinates of it? I’m assuming it is striations in the ocean floor, correct?

    Striations in the ocean floor are not design.

    Good luck finding a non-design explanation that holds water.

    Parallel straight lines are common in rock formations. It took 1 minute to find this image on Google. Until someone came up with an alternative design hypothesis something on these lines seemed much more plausible than a giant designer working on the sea floor.

  64. Mark:

    Parallel or precisely angled straight lines/edges and planes are common with crystals; more or less horizontal and parallel planes are common with rocks laid down as particles [flood sediments and volcanic ash flows come to mind . . . ]; but dozens of miles long linear striations at more or less right angles forming a rectangular pattern in seabed “mud” does not strike one as “natural.”

    [Note: our instinctive contrast is nature vs art, not Ms Forrest's tendentious natural vs supernatural -- save where one suspects a miracle. (Muy interesante . . . )]

    THAT is why there was talk about “Atlantis,” from the outset. (Never mind that Santorini is a more probable site.)

    In short, the much derided explanatory filter, intuitive version, was at work. And, the issue that then followed was whether there was a credible “natural” explanation, with parallel and angular lines in rocks being suggested.

    It turns out — as noted above — that, even at the intuitive level, the EF’s design judgement was correct.

    For, artifacts of sonar grid search patterns are artificial, not natural; albeit unintended.

    The climate change debate is about a similar artificiality without intent. Interestingly, many design thinkers on DNA, think a natural explanation is more likely on climate. And of course, many confirmed darwinists usually think that of course climate changes as observed are man-made.

    The key explaining variable: whether or not you are inclined to trust the “consensus” narratives of the science and policy establishments. [For why such trust in conventional wisdom may sometimes be misplaced, cf. the Platonic parable of the cave.]

    GEM of TKI

  65. Mark

    A striation can be either natural or artificial. The pattern on the rock you linked to does not look designed. There are all kinds of odd angles in it. The pattern on the ocean floor is composed of almost all nearly perfect rectangles of various dimensions contained within a nearly perfect rectangle. Although the explanation that it’s an artifact of multiple ships with side scanning sonar travelling in paths at right angles to each other still makes it the result of an artificial process I don’t really believe that explanation as it fails to explain why all the scans begin and end within a perfect rectangle and why there arent’ any other similar things either in the near vicinity or anywhere else that anyone has discovered. The only plausible explanation involving sonar scans is that someone was looking for something within that rectangle, confined their search to that area, and methodically searched it with a grid pattern.

  66. Mark –

    ID limits itself to attempting to disprove various specific chance hypotheses.

    No, no, no. While there is discussion here about the best means of determining design one very simple, and positive, way is to discern a pattern — an event that is repeating or consistent — then determine its complexity. If that pattern has a certain degree of complexity, we can ascertain design.

    It’s positive, practical and practiced.

    I believe that without examining how ID is implemented

    ID is basically a diagnostic tool. Diagnostic tools are very useful and not expected to answer causes. You are driving along and a light on your dashboard tells you your oil pressure is low. It’s quite useful information but it’s not telling you why it’s low.

    You are feeling ill and you take your temperature and confirm you have a fever. This methodology won’t tell you why you have a fever but you are still acquiring useful information by this action.

    But they are not prepared to subject ID to the same enquiry.

    I think it’s more the case that those who disagree are unable :-)

  67. “Therefore we have evidence that life was created by a similar process.”

    No, not a good choice of words to express what we believe. The correct choice would be something like this:

    “We then know that intelligence can create this sort of pattern. In fact there is evidence that humans will be assembling a life form in a short time. We have no evidence that nature can create such a pattern which is positive evidence for intelligent design. Therefore, we believe that the cause of this process is more likely to be intelligence than a natural cause. We continue to support the search for natural causes but until the time it can be shown that natural causes is the most likely cause then we believe that intelligence is still the logical conclusion for such phenomena.”

    Given such a statement, how does one justify what the anti ID position is, which says absolutely that intelligence is not the cause. Our position has been laid out before but it continually get wordsmithed to suit one’s position. We never use the absolute position. That is what the anti ID people do.

    Again, Mark continues to contribute to our position. Thank you.

  68. Re #69

    Me:
    ID limits itself to attempting to disprove various specific chance hypotheses.

    Tribune7:
    No, no, no. While there is discussion here about the best means of determining design one very simple, and positive, way is to discern a pattern — an event that is repeating or consistent — then determine its complexity. If that pattern has a certain degree of complexity, we can ascertain design.

    And how do you define complexity? If you use Dembski’s definition (and I know no other) it is the improbability of a natural cause of the pattern. The whole edifice in the end relies on disproving current natural causes. Show me a single place where an ID proponent has discussed the plausability of life being designed.

  69. This is an interesting example, but I regret getting into a discussion of the plausability of geological causes. It is irrelevant to the main point.

    Let us suppose for the moment that this pattern was not just a Google image but that the lines were observed to actually exist on the surface. Clearly it is hard to imagine a natural cause but it is also very hard to imagine that they are the result of intelligent activity. In both cases no plausible mechanism exists (actually I think there may be a plausible geological mechanism based on dykes intersecting a ridged gradient – but let’s assume no such mechanism exists).

    The ID response would appear to be. I can’t think how a natural cause could do it. Therefore it must involve intelligence. Equally you could imagine another response on the lines of: I can’t think how an intelligent cause could do it. Therefore, the cause must be natural.

    I hope that readers can see that both responses are irrational. The rational response and the one that actually happened in practice is to look at specific natural and intelligent causes and compare their plausability. Could it be dykes intersecting gradients? Or an effect of ocean currents on a softer ocean floor? Or maybe it was ships somehow disturbing the ocean floor as they followed a pattern.

    That’s real science and real design detection.

  70. “The ID response would appear to be. I can’t think how a natural cause could do it. Therefore it must involve intelligence. Equally you could imagine another response on the lines of: I can’t think how an intelligent cause could do it. Therefore, the cause must be natural.”

    Mark, can you read. It was just pointed out to you that this interpretation you have is nonsense and then you continue to repeat it.

    You are making it too easy for us. Or maybe you do have reading comprehension problems. I joke about it but this persistence in repeating myths after they are denied is getting a bit wearing.

  71. Maybe this is Atlantis. Plato is a very credible source of information on the Ancient World.

    Wouldn’t it be funny, eh?

  72. Mark, probability calculations are an important and positive part of many aspects of practical science.

    Think statistical mechanics.

    Anyway, sticking with Dembski’s method can you cite anything that is not designed that fits its criteria?

    You might say DNA, but if DNA is the only thing and it fits that criteria, why would it not be more reasonable to assume design?

  73. Dave, Barry, Patrick,

    I am bringing this up here and will bring it up again on other threads, especially when Allen MacNeill comes back because comments can get lost quickly here as other post afterwards.

    Allen recommended a book on macroevolution (Macroevolution: Diversity, Disparity, Contingency: Essays in Honor of Stephen Jay Gould) but it really is a reprint of an issue of the journal Paleobiology in honor of Gould. I received my copy yesterday and just barely got through the first chapter because of the technical terms used. My guess is that this book represents a high percentage of the extent of technical understanding of the genome and how it changes over time.

    Dave, you might be interested because the initial author is a big fan of retro viruses as a source of genomic variability.

    The value of this for us in the future is one of education as to just what is known about the genome and how it changes. As I said it is very technical but I believe with an effort a layman’s version can be translated. It might be worthwhile inviting Allen and some of his students to come here and discuss the implications of some of the essays in this book. It would make an interesting thread.

  74. Re #75

    Tribune7

    I have lost the train of your thought here!

    I have nothing against probability calculations. I am just pointing out that this particular probability calculation is all about refuting a particular chance hypothesis. So when you claim that design is associated with complexity all your are doing (indirectly) is claiming that design is associated with the improbability of a chance hypothesis – which was my point.

    Of course I can’t name anything that is not designed that fits Dembski’s criteria because Dembski’s criteria include “no cause that excludes design can plausibly explain this pattern”. If we establish something has a plausible non-designed cause then that outcome doesn’t meet his criteria by definition. My point is – it is circular.

  75. Mark–Dembski’s criteria include “no cause that excludes design can plausibly explain this pattern”.

    IOW, you can falsify it. Find a cause that excludes design that explains this pattern.

    It’s not circular.

  76. Mark:

    Just two brief notes, and then you can go on with the discussion:

    1) I agree with you that if we had more understanding about the identity of the designer or the modalities of implementation the position of ID would be much stronger. That is obvious. But still I stay with my opinion that design detection does not need that. Anyway, as you probably know, I am convinced that as we deepen our understanding, scientific evidence about the designer and the process of design will come. It is only a matter of time.

    2) I think you have expressed my points well enough. I would probably use some words in a slightly different way. In particular, in both cases,I would not say that “Therefore we have evidence that”…
    My idea is that the similarity between human artifacts and biological information is a good and positive start for an explanatory theory based on design, rather than a final evidence for design itself. The final conclusion, that design theories are the best explanation for biological information, depends critically also on the “negative” point that any other current explanation does not work. That is a slight difference, but an important one. For me, ID has both a positive aspect and a negative aspect. Both are important, both are necessary. Neither of them, alone, is enough.

    That said, I believe that you understand my position well enough. But if there are other specifications which become necessary, we can have them in the course of the discussion.

  77. #78 Tribune7

    IOW, you can falsify it. Find a cause that excludes design that explains this pattern.

    It’s not circular.

    I wasn’t actually talking about the falsifiability of ID. I was responding to your request to name a non-designed thing fits Dembksi’s criteria and pointing out that this is impossible by definition. As soon as something was shown not to be designed it would automatically fail to meet his critera.

    Wrt to falsifiability of ID. If I was able to demonstrate to your satisfaction that the flagellum could arise by chance then:

    1) It would still be possible that it could have arise by design. Right? So we have removed your only reason for believing in design – the lack of a chance explanation – but we have not falsified design.

    2) I have only shown that particular example did not arise by design. I don’t think ID claims that all life is the result of design. Right? So it only has to move on to another example where there is no current chance explanation and count that as evidence. Given the complexity and long history of life there will always be a very large number of unexplained facets of life.

  78. Gpuccio thanks.
    You write:
    In particular, in both cases,I would not say that “Therefore we have evidence that”…
    My idea is that the similarity between human artifacts and biological information is a good and positive start for an explanatory theory based on design, rather than a final evidence for design itself.

    I think this is important. What kind of start do these analogies with human activities give us if it is not evidence? Are you simply saying that the analogy with human processes gives us an idea for a hypothesis based on design? I might agree with you. I would just like to know what that hypothesis is.

  79. Mark

    Probability is one way of measuring complexity. Another way is the number of bits required to describe the pattern.

    Pick any irregularly shaped rock. You can use both methods on it. The atoms that compose it can take on a very, very, very large number of possible permutations. The rock is just one of those possibilities. It is thus complex. One can also describe the shape of the rock mathematically. A perfect cube doesn’t take much information to describe. An irregular shape takes a lot of information to describe. Thus a cubic rock is not complex while an irregularly shaped rock is complex. The catch is that nature is chock full of complex patterns. We then look for specification which is an independently given description of the pattern. Say your irregularly shaped rock has all the characteristics of an arrowhead. That’s your specification. It takes a lot of information to mathematically describe the shape of the arrowhead. The atoms that compose it could take on an almost infinite number of permutations. So it’s complex by any measure. But it can be independently described as an arrowhead. Thus it has specified complexity.

    Specification is where ID critics balk because it requires a judgement call using independent knowledge. To specify a rock as an arrowhead requires independent knowledge of arrowheads. You can be quite expert in general knowledge of rocks and minerals but without independent knowledge of arrowheads you can’t tell a randomly shaped rock apart from an arrowhead. And how closely the rock conforms to the specification “arrowhead” is a judgement call. The exact shape of the rock is objective and as mathematically precise as you care to measure it. That the shape conforms to that of an arrowhead is subjective and imprecise.

    We can use the same means to evaluate the molecular motors such as that which powers the bacterial flagellum. It is complex by any objective measure and in this case the specification “molecular motor” has little subjectivity or imprecision in it. Something either is or is not a functional molecular motor and that can be determined by direct observation of it functioning as a motor.

    We know that intelligent agents can design & assemble molecular motors, we know that in at least one instance intelligent agents with that capacity are extant in the universe today so intelligent agency is a proven-capable mechanism. We then arrive at the $64K question: “Is there any plausible way a law and chance (non-intelligent) mechanism can assemble a molecular motor?” So far I haven’t seen any plausible way. Possible ways yes, plausibe ways no. So we have the ID hypothesis, which is falsifiable in principle, “molecular motors require intelligent agency to produce in the first instance”. This can be falsified by a single observation (or experimental reproduction or computer simulation) of any non-intelligent means of producing a molecular motor.

    The chance & necessity theory is a real science stopper when it is taken as dogma (and it usually is). Instead of trying to verify, observe, reproduce, or simulate law and chance assembling a molecular motor we just dogmatically assert that it happened by law and chance and leave it at that.

  80. Mark

    Furthermore, the same methodology can be used on the pattern in the Google Ocean image.

    It is not a simply described pattern such as a few parallel and perpendicular lines. We need a fair amount of information to accurately and precisely define that layout – it is complex. It also has at least a few possible specifications such as a sonar search grid or a city layout. We know intelligent agency produces patterns like this. Thus we again arrive at the ID hypothesis: “Patterns such as this require intelligent agency to produce.” Again this hypothesis is falsifiable in principle requiring only a single observation, reproduction, or simulation of a law & chance process plausibly producing such a pattern. I’ve yet to see any evidence that law & chance can produce a pattern like this on such a large scale. The design inference from specified complexity is robust in this case.

  81. DS:

    Very well put.

    I only add that as a practical threshold, if . .

    a] something requires stored info to function . . .

    b] e.g. in an explicit store like DNA or a PC RAM chip, or else

    c] in implicit things like strings of letters or

    d] functional shapes that work in terminal ballistics to kill deer etc,and also allow fastening to arrow shafts and well-aimed shooting, and

    e] if the resulting stored info exceeds 1,000 bits [i.e. simple yes/no decision nodes] then

    f] the number of possible configs is over 10^301, or ten times the square of the reasonable no of quantum states of the observed cosmos across its lifespan, i.e. the cosmos as a search engine could not sample 1 in 10^150 of the config space [which gives teeth of "probability"]; SO:

    g]since intelligences as observed routinely generate that much info, and chance + necessity is challenged to find such a config . . .

    h] then it is reasonable to infer to intelligence as the best explanation.

    But then, it is increasingly evident that he real problem is that inference to best explanation across reasonable alternatives is what is being challenged to rhetorically undermine ID. But, such IBE or abduction is the heart of science, i.e. this seems to be selective hyperskepticism at work.

    GEM of TKI

  82. Mark:

    I will try to be as clear as possible, so that the discussion may go on without misunderstandings.

    We start form empirical observations. For me, conscious agents are an empirical observation, as you well know. Conscious agents, in their human subset, display specific subjective processes usually labeled as “intelligence”. That is a fact, too. One of the objective manifestations of intelligence are designed objects. The subjective and objective process through which conscious intelligent agents produce designed objects is called the design process.

    Again, we are still dealing with observed facts and simple definitions of what we observe, taken form very common language. There is nothing complicated here.

    Now, we observe that designed objects can be recognized, even if we know not the specific designer or observe the design process, because they display two kinds of properties: specification, which is any kind of recognizable pattern which could be pusposefully willed by an intelligent agent (in the case of biology, a function); and complexity, in the sense of improbability, which guarantees that the observed pattern is not the product of a random system.

    Now, we can see those two properties, together, only in human artifacts and in biological structures. In many human artifacts (like software programs) and in all the genomes of living beings, those properties are present in the specific form of digital sequences encoding functions. These are, again, simple facts.

    Those observations are the basis for the design inference: given that scenario, and in the absence of any other scenario based on chance and or necessity which can explain biological information, it is perfectly reasonable to make an inference: biological information can be explained as the product of a design process implemented by some conscious intelligent being.

    You may ask if that is evidence or not. I don’t know what you mean with that word. It is not a logical proof, obviously: our reasoning here is empirical, like in most sicences. In a sense, we usually build a theory to explain observed facts. Here we build a theory based on design to explain two things:

    1) the formal similarities between designed things and biological information

    2) the lack of any other reasonable explanation for biological information.

    It is absolutely reasonable that, given those two points, a design hypothesis is warranted, and is at present the best explanation. That does not mean that it is the certain explanation. That does not mean that it is the only possible explanation in the universe. I would say that at present it is the only working explanation, but obviously that statement rests on how much I find unreasonable the classical darwinian explanation.

    Once we have a theory, we can look for further evidence in support of it, or against it. That’s exactly what we do (both IDists and darwinists) each time we try to interpret any new biological data, here or elsewhere.

    You ask what the hypothesis is. It is very simple: biological information is the product of a design process, involving purpose and intelligent organization, implemented by a conscious intelligent being (or by more than one).

    In a sense, it is the most spontaneous hypothesis, one that has been accepted by almost everybody for a very long time. But the specific analysis of the nature of the formal properties of design (specification and complexity), and the specific criticism of the so called “naturalistic” theories of darwinism are the relevant part which makes the theory scientific and quantitative, and not only a philosophical argument.

  83. Mark — I was responding to your request to name a non-designed thing fits Dembksi’s criteria and pointing out that this is impossible by definition.

    Not by definition but by inability. Dembski’s definition is not tautology, but a description. It’s akin to saying that an element with 79 proteins in its nucleus is gold.

    And if you show were Dembski’s description as to the traits of design fail, you falsify it.

    If I was able to demonstrate to your satisfaction that the flagellum could arise by chance then:1) It would still be possible that it could have arise by design.

    Mark, it is faith bordering on delusion to think that bacteria arose by chance.

    What you should be looking for is some contingency — a confluence of natural forces that make the formation and ordering of proteins into life a certainty.

    And it is true that if you should find this, you would not disprove God. You would, however, disprove the methodology of ID.

    With regard to the the flagellum, which provides mobility to bacteria, the ID claim is that it is “irreducibly complex” i.e. that it could not have arisen via Darwinian pathways, and I’ll grant that is a negative argument.

    The counter-claim is not that it arose solely by chance but that it arose by natural selection fixing random genomic changes.

  84. Dave, great post at 82.

  85. You know that should be 79 “protons” (blush).

  86. Detection of Intelligent Causation is obviously alive and well:
    Google Quashes Atlantis Buzz

    Alas, the Atlantis discovery was not meant to be. Google quashed the idea a day later in a statement, “what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process,” Google said. “Bathymetric (or seafloor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the seafloor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data.”

    The “unwashed masses” obviously recognize the functioning of the Explanatory Filter.
    Now the challenge of explaining it to the “washed elite”.

  87. #85

    Gpuccio

    You didn’t need to write such a long comment. By evidence I mean something like “provides valid grounds for belief”. It doesn’t have to be a logical deduction or overwhelming evidence. That’s all I wanted to clear up. In this sense, you appear to believe that the functional nature of living things and the symbolic nature of DNA are evidence.

    Given that, I think you accept that my two statements in #64 above are a reasonable account of your position. I will repeat them to save scrolling back:

    1) Life includes patterns that suit a purpose (in your terms they are functionally specified) e.g hemoglobin suits the purpose of carrying oxygen. Outside of life we only find functionally specified patterns when things have been designed by people. Therefore we have evidence that life was created by a similar process.

    2) Life includes symbols e.g. DNA bases are symbols for amino acids in that the relationship between base pair and amino acid appears to be an arbitrary choice. Outside of life we only find functionally specified patterns when things have been designed by people. Therefore we have evidence that life was created by a similar process.

    Now let me explain why I disagree. I need to be very precise about what I am saying. Given some assumptions about the designer then both these things might be evidence that life was designed. I just don’t think you can use them as evidence for design in general without those assumptions. In fact one way I could interpret them is revealing your unconscious assumptions about the designer.

    Take (1) first. If a pattern is to suit a purpose then there must be a purpose. It is not sufficient that you have a long pattern of events. A cancer is a pattern of events which often culminates in the death of the organism. But I don’t think you would want to claim it was designed to bring about the death of the individual. I am sure you will accept that a cancer is a sequence of unfortunate accidents. So if we are to describe living systems as functional we must have a purpose in mind. And it is obvious what purpose we are thinking of. It is to allow the organism to reproduce (for which it is, usually, necessary to keep it alive). A pattern of events allows haemoglobin to carry oxygen. This same pattern also makes blood red. The first attribute appears functional because it contributes to the life of the organism. The second appears to be an accident.
    I have no problem taking the existence of a pattern of events which lead to an end as evidence that something was working towards that end. It is weak evidence without any more information about the something or the method – but it tells us a little bit.

    But if we have a theory about the designer’s purpose then there is another consequence. This is the first glimmer of a proper hypothesis and so it lets in the first glimmer of evidence both for it and against it. We can ask questions like – why are there so many aspects of life which patently don’t lead towards that end? Why did the designer create so many designs that work dramatically against that same purpose in other livings things (or were there many rival designers?).

    I am going to pause for comment here before moving on to 2. This already too long and I have no doubt you will respond to this much. Just bear in mind that I will deal with symbolic nature of life separately.

  88. PS: on “sceince stoppers:

    Kindly observe:

    ________________

    Scientific method(s) – the toolkit of empirically based, logically credible experimental, observational, statistical, mathematical, computational, thought experiment, visualization, modeling, simulation and analytical etc. techniques and investigative strategies used by scientists as they work to describe, explain, model, predict – and, sometimes, influence or control — events, objects and processes in the cosmos.

    A useful, ID-informed summary of the broad generic process involved is O, HI PET:

    O –> OBSERVE – objects, phenomena, events and aspects of scientific interest; seeking patterns (and “exceptions”) that trace to one or more of:

    (i) “mechanical necessity,” i.e. forces of nature that lead to “natural regularities”(which – fair warning — may include sensitive dependence on initial and/or intervening conditions, i.e. “chaos,” etc.);

    (ii) “undirected contingency” or “chance” that may sometimes show itself in “noise” and/or “statistical distributions” (which last can sometimes be modeled [e.g. Gaussian, Poisson, Weibull, U or reverse-J, etc.] and then may possibly be traced to underlying second level driving forces and constraints, etc.);

    (iii) “directed contingency,” i.e. “design,” (often showing itself in complex specified information, active information, and/or irreducible complexity)

    H –> HYPOTHESISE — propose explanatory models of the observed “facts” towards testing the alternatives on their relative strengths and limitations

    IP –> INFER AND PREDICT – lay out projected consequences for envisioned future experimental or observational situations. (In some cases, “redrodict” to the past.)

    ET –> EMPIRICAL TESTING – carry out a programme of tests to identify and confirm which alternative model(s) have the best explanatory power: (i) factual adequacy, (ii) logico-mathematical and dynamical coherence, (iii) explanatory elegance and power that is neither simplistic nor an ad hoc patchwork of ever-multiplying auxiliary hypotheses that only serve to explain [away] what has already been observed.

    (NB: In light of the history of science, and the cumulative findings of philosophy of science in recent decades, there is no set of distinctive approaches to acquiring knowledge and understanding or inferring to best explanation that are (i) universal across the conventionally accepted list of sciences, and/or that are (ii) so necessary to, sufficient for and unique to scientific investigation and argument, that we may use them to mark (iii) a definite and sharp dividing line between science on the one hand and non- (or even pseudo-) science on the other. [Cf. a useful discussion here. This is not a general endorsement.])

    _________________

    Is this REALLY a “science stopper” onlookers? [It comes from the remarks on generic scientific methods, in the UD glossary above.]

    GEM of TKI

  89. Mark Frank #90,

    I’ve always felt that individual ID-compatible hypotheses should be evaluated separately from the initial design inference, and I’ve already given my reasons why before. In fact, this thread about Atlantis and grids-based-upon-designed-sonar-patterns is a good example of why this should be.

  90. Mark (#90):

    I am rather comfortable with what you write. I think I basically agree with you on those points.

    You ask:

    “why are there so many aspects of life which patently don’t lead towards that end? Why did the designer create so many designs that work dramatically against that same purpose in other livings things (or were there many rival designers?”

    Those are very good questions, and absolutely valid and pertinent. I don’t have final answers, especially not scientific answers. But the answers can certainly be searched.

    Obviously, I have philosophical answers. But my answers have not to be necessarily shared by others. My answers, like anybody else’s, can anyway be the basis for scientific theories, and there is no doubt that scientific research can in time help to clarify what scenarios are more likely.

    I have no reason to believe that everything in the biological world is due to one designer. I have no reason to believe that there is only one purpose expressed in biological design. I have no reason to believe that the designer, even if he were a God, has worked in the biological world free from any constraint. Those are assumptions which, for strange reasons, seem to be cherished especially by darwinists, when they try to misrepresent IDists, as though we had to believe necessarily in a magic God who creates everything out of nothing, by some sacred magic wand.

    Let’s be clear about one thing: the implementation of biological design has happened inside natural history, and not at the beginning of the universe. So, there is no reason to believe that the designer, however we may imagine him, worked independently of any constraint: he obviously worked in a context, and with tools which can themselves be context dependent.

    And just a final note: my personal and strong belief is that survival is not the main purpose in the design of life: it is certainly a very important intermediate purpose, but not the final one. The main purpose of life, IMO, is the expression of life itself and of the qualities inherent in it. The focus of darwinian thought on survival alone, and the tendency to consider everything else as a byproduct of that, are IMO one of the most desolate aspects of that kind of culture.

  91. Rob

    In order to be scientifically useful, measures must give the same results when different people apply them independently to the same objects.

    Actually to be scientifically useful lots of measure only need to be accurate to a factor of 10.

    Get out of my thread, Rob. You’re either uninformed or a troll or both. Either way your welcome is worn out.

  92. Simple question to those asking about mechanism:

    A person reading this page might read any post and simplistically think they were looking at typeing on a page, or the output of a laser printer, or a “ditto” machine, or a fax, or a xerox machine; they might not realize they were looking at electronic pixels ; but is there any chance they wouldn’t assume what they read is the product of the intent of a mind? does the medium, or the process of how it came to be have “any” impact on that decision at all?

  93. I posted a link to my blog earlier in this thread, but all of sudden the code was changed and the image that was there was gone. So here again:

    http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/pi/ppc/.....111507.jpg

    http://img100.imageshack.us/im.....fgod21.jpg

    What these images show is that we can see intelligent design not only in life forms, but also in earth’s geographical features.

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