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Darwinists defend their faith on German campus by trying to shut out Oxford scholar

Thumbnail for version as of 22:49, 27 February 2011 To give some idea what Darwinists will do to protect their established religion at universities, listen to what a German friend tells us transpired last fall when Oxford mathematician John Lennox, known for sympathies with design in the universe, was giving a lecture at a university in Munich, Germany.

Lennox’s lecture made use of design arguments, citing Bill Dembski and Steve Meyer, titled in German “Hat Gott die Naturwissenschaft begraben” (= Has Science buried God?).

No surprise there, that’s the subtitle of his recent book on the theme, God’s Undertaker: Has science buried God?

Lennox cites, among others, the work of Bill Dembski and Stephen Meyers. Well, that won’t do. What with the Cambrian explosion and all, Darwin’s followers have a huge exposed, er, flank to cover. And the best way to do that is to get all evidence-based objections classed as “religion”—an alien religion, that is. Not Darwinism, in support of which fact, falsehood, and nonsense are freely cited, to approximately equal effect.

As our German friend notes, Lennox was first invited to speak by a professor of information sciences. That figures; many of the most serious objections to the publicly funded Darwin cult have come in recent decades from the information sciences. More on that later.

Well, first, the invitation was rejected by the administration on the grounds that the lecture was about “faith issues” originating outside the U. And, just as you can’t build a church or ashram in Afghanistan, you can’t invite a non-Darwinian lecturer into Darwin’s temple.

Then the information sciences prof did an end run around the admin. He got a colleague in the theology faculty to invite Lennox, to give “advanced training” to theologians. Which made it a university event.

The “faith” claim is a crock, of course. The lecture could have been exclusively about information theory or cosmology. However, short of having Lennox declared a public menace, the U had to buckle, and Lennox spoke to an overflow crowd. If you understand German, here’s an mp4 file.

But maybe things are changing. With an atheist who doubts Darwin slanging another atheist who thinks secularism is dead just the other day in the New York Times, it will soon be time to start disestablishing Darwin’s religion from the university.

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40 Responses to Darwinists defend their faith on German campus by trying to shut out Oxford scholar

  1. “Hat Gott die Naturwissenschaft begraben” (= Has Science buried God?).
    This is not quite right. It should be: Has God buried Science?

  2. 2
    Granville Sewell

    Seqenenre,

    The translation given in the article was correct, here the noun comes after the object.

  3. A German will understand the sentence “Hat Gott die Naturwissenschaft begraben?” as “Has God buried science?”. Yes, you are flexible when it comes to positioning the various parts of a sentence, but as “Gott and “die Naturwissenschaft” have the same form in the accusative and nominative, Gott will be seen as the subject.

  4. 4
    Granville Sewell

    DiEb,

    Well, grammatically it may be interpretable either way, but there are context clues here!!

  5. And for those who do not understand German, here is a semi-related lecture from Professor Lennox, from earlier this year, which the English speaking commenters of UD may enjoy:

    John Lennox Discusses Science and Faith at Tulane – veritas video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uFyubUd464

  6. It was a native German speaker who supplied the information, which was copied from his note – no retyping.

    If he doesn’t know how it should read – heck, it should read the way he writes it. Everyone at the meet assumed that the German meant the same as the English, and they must know some German ;) .

    - O’Leary for News

  7. GS:

    Well, grammatically it may be interpretable either way, but there are context clues here!!

    One of the context clues could be the cover of the German version of the book at Amazon. Another could be the graphic which accompanies the mp4 link above posted in the OP.

    Both of which say: “Hat die Wissenschaft Gott begraben?”

  8. Don’t you all realize that Granville is an expert in German as well as in thermodynamics? :)

  9. 9
    Granville Sewell

    Don’t you all realize that Granville is an expert in German as well as in thermodynamics

    KS, you don’t need to know much German to realize that Lennox would not give a talk entitled “Has God buried science?” (Dawkins might).

    But in fact, my German is not so bad, look at the last page of this and see who translated these two documents, totaling about 130 pages.

  10. Granville,

    You also don’t need to know much German to realize that your statement to seqenenre was wrong:

    The translation given in the article was correct, here the noun comes after the object.

    I’m just pointing out the amusing similarity between telling 99+ percent of physicists that they’re wrong about thermodynamics and telling native German speakers that they’re wrong about German.

  11. And I think that it is funny that 99+ percent of physicists cannot find evidentiary support for materialism…

  12. 12
    Granville Sewell

    KS,

    What native German speaker did I disagree with? If you are talking about Dieb, he noted that the title could be translated either way, most Germans would understand it as “Has God buried science?” but that is obviously not what it meant here, so the translation given in the post was obviously correct in this context.

    And if you just wanted another opportunity point out that most scientists disagree with me on the second law and evolution, I assure you I was already well aware of this.

  13. 13
    Granville Sewell

    KS,

    Besides, my comment that the translation given in the post was correct, was made BEFORE Dieb’s clarification, the only thing I said after was that in this context it obviously meant “Has science buried God?”. So I wasn’t disagreeing with him at all.

  14. 14

    @Dr. Sewell & keiths & DiEb:

    Let’s put this matter to rest. I’m German. The translation “Has Science buried God”–”Hat Gott die Naturwissenschaft begraben” is obviously wrong. There’s no other interpretation.
    If DiEb thinks he can translate is either way, then he’s wrong, and I would question his German language skills.

  15. Dr. Sewell, as far as truth is concerned, it is far more important to have the empirical evidence itself agree with you on the second law and evolution than it is to have a consensus of scientists agree with you on the second law and evolution. And that agreement with the evidence itself, good Sir, is exactly what you have in abundance:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    List Of Degraded Molecular Abilities Of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria:
    Excerpt: Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobials is often claimed to be a clear demonstration of “evolution in a Petri dish.” ,,, all known examples of antibiotic resistance via mutation are inconsistent with the genetic requirements of evolution. These mutations result in the loss of pre-existing cellular systems/activities, such as porins and other transport systems, regulatory systems, enzyme activity, and protein binding.
    http://www.trueorigin.org/bacteria01.asp

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

    Genetic Entropy in Human Genome is found to be ‘recent’:
    Human Genetic Variation Recent, Varies Among Populations – (Nov. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins — the workhorses of the cell — occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years,,,
    “One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans,”,,,
    “Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older.” (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.) The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago,,,
    The report shows that “recent” events have a potent effect on the human genome. Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
    The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132259.htm

    Using Numerical Simulation to Better Understand Fixation Rates, and Establishment of a New Principle – “Haldane’s Ratchet” – Christopher L. Rupe and John C. Sanford – 2013
    Excerpt: We then perform large-scale experiments to examine the feasibility of the ape-to-man scenario over a six million year period. We analyze neutral and beneficial fixations separately (realistic rates of deleterious mutations could not be studied in deep time due to extinction). Using realistic parameter settings we only observe a few hundred selection-induced beneficial fixations after 300,000 generations (6 million years). Even when using highly optimal parameter settings (i.e., favorable for fixation of beneficials), we only see a few thousand selection-induced fixations. This is significant because the ape-to-man scenario requires tens of millions of selective nucleotide substitutions in the human lineage.
    Our empirically-determined rates of beneficial fixation are in general agreement with the fixation rate estimates derived by Haldane and ReMine using their mathematical analyses. We have therefore independently demonstrated that the findings of Haldane and ReMine are for the most part correct, and that the fundamental evolutionary problem historically known as “Haldane’s Dilemma” is very real.
    Previous analyses have focused exclusively on beneficial mutations. When deleterious mutations were included in our simulations, using a realistic ratio of beneficial to deleterious mutation rate, deleterious fixations vastly outnumbered beneficial fixations. Because of this, the net effect of mutation fixation should clearly create a ratchet-type mechanism which should cause continuous loss of information and decline in the size of the functional genome. We name this phenomenon “Haldane’s Ratchet”.
    http://creationicc.org/more.php?pk=46

    Supplemental note:

    Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period. .
    (From a lecture delivered by the late Michael Crichton at the California Institute of Technology)

    How the Scientific Consensus is Maintained – Granville Sewell (Professor of Mathematics University of Texas – El Paso) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFMXR6PqGtg

  16. This seems a very silly argument.

    It’s obvious what the speaker meant, regardless of any possible ambiguity in the absence of no other information.

  17. JWTruthInLove,

    Granville distorted DiEb’s statement. DiEb, who is also a native German speaker, agrees with you:

    A German will understand the sentence “Hat Gott die Naturwissenschaft begraben?” as “Has God buried science?”. Yes, you are flexible when it comes to positioning the various parts of a sentence, but as “Gott and “die Naturwissenschaft” have the same form in the accusative and nominative, Gott will be seen as the subject.

    Granville presumes to tell native German speakers that they’re wrong, just as he presumes to tell 99+ percent of physicists that they don’t understand entropy and thermodynamics.

  18. keiths:

    “just as he presumes to tell 99+ percent of physicists that they don’t understand entropy and thermodynamics.”

    This is a pretentious remark, keith.

    First of all, Granville never accused physicists overall of not understanding thermodynamics as such or entropy as such. His argument has been against certain scientists (many of them biologists, not physicists) who have said certain things about entropy in relation to biological evolution.

    Second, you haven’t surveyed 99+% of physicists — you haven’t surveyed even 1% of physicists — for their opinion on the argument of Granville’s article. And in fact, the only physicist who *has* weighed in on the article — Rob Sheldon — thinks that it is largely unobjectionable.

    If you disagree with Granville, then say so. But don’t claim that your objections are those of “99+% of physicists.” That kind of gross overstatement is the staple of culture-war writing on evolution and design. That style of argument provokes, as a defensive reaction, similar extreme statements on the other side, e.g., “All historians agree that Darwin led straight to Hitler.” Such unqualified statements are the enemy of truth, and call into question the intellectual honesty of people who make them.

  19. Timaeus,

    First of all, Granville never accused physicists overall of not understanding thermodynamics as such or entropy as such.

    Sure he did. His paper purports to identify thousands of new “X-entropies” and thousands of new second laws that physicists have allegedly overlooked for decades. It also purports to disprove the compensation argument that physicists everywhere accept. (This is inane because denying the compensation argument amounts to denying the second law, as I have pointed out elsewhere).

    Second, you haven’t surveyed 99+% of physicists…

    True, but besides Sheldon and a handful of other cranks, where are the physicists who think that evolution violates the second law?

    And in fact, the only physicist who *has* weighed in on the article — Rob Sheldon — thinks that it is largely unobjectionable.

    For my take on Sheldon, click here.

    Timaeus, I don’t think you comprehend just how bad Granville’s paper is.

    The fact that it was taken seriously by the symposium organizers shows just how un-serious they were about science.

    As I said in the other thread:

    I do not understand why ID supporters embrace crank science so readily. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that they think that they’re right and that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. If scientists are deluded about evolution, the ID supporter thinks, then they may be deluded about thermodynamics, or climate change, or the age of the earth.

    In the case of Granville and Robert, they seem to sincerely believe that Granville has stumbled upon something of great value to physics — something that everyone else is just too blind to see. It’s ludicrous, especially since Granville knows very little about thermodynamics and makes a raft of embarrassing errors in his paper.

    If ID wants to be taken seriously by science, it needs to start by taking science seriously. Indiscriminately embracing cranks is not the way to do that.

  20. T: I also see nothing fundamentally and outrageously wrong with GS’s argument, in light of thermodynamics especially when the relevant statistical issues are brought to bear; which is exactly what he is highlighting by appealing to diffusion like forces. KS, as usual is trying to pretend that those who differ with him are ignorant, stupid, or worse; and even if GS is wrong on interpretation of a German phrase [something I have no knowledge on], it has absolutely nothing to do with the thermodynamics issues. KF

  21. Timaeus, with respect, I think you are bringing a humanities slant to this that is inappropriate.

    In the humanities, there can be lots of conflicting opinions, and even when you have a consensus, the consensus depends on detailed knowledge of texts, or other works, and of contextual information etc, and ultimately there may be no correct or incorrect conclusion, merely an increasing richness and diversity of interpretations.

    Science is very different, and physics especially. You do not have to poll 99% of scientists (or even a decent sized random sample) to know that the vast majority do not agree with Granville.

    That is because, if Granville were correct, it would overturn one of the most fundamental tenets of physics! It would be huge!

    Not because it would shed light on the validity evolution (and possibly therefore be suppressed by evilutionists) – that would be trivial by comparison – but because it would mean that our understanding of energy flow, work, and heat was fundamentally wrong. It would have huge implications for engineering, for instance. Indeed, NASA would be beating a path to his door!

    Granville is saying that the 2nd Law of thermodynamics extends well beyond thermodynamics (energy flow) and into any system in which probability distributions can be calculated! It would even overturn the concept of Shannon entropy, and suggest that the information content (as measured as Shannon information) has a tendency to always increase!

    Except that,contradictorily, as keiths says, his rejection of the “compensation” argument means the 2nd Law is actually wrong!

    The entire reason the 2nd Law works is that at its simplest, increased entropy is a measure of the reduced capacity of a system to do work, where work is defined simply as moving mass over a distance.

    If a system consists of lots of things with high potential energy (energy that can do work) then it has low entropy. If those things “spend” their potential energy in work (e.g. a book falls from a high shelf, and its potential energy changes to kinetic energy, then to sound energy and heat) entropy is increased to reflect the amount of work done.

    Once all the books have fallen off the shelf, the entropy is low, and most of the released potential energy has been converted to heat.

    However, that entropy can be reduced again if something replaces the books on the shelf, or lifts them into a tree, even, whether a person tidying up, or a tornado. But that person or tornado is necessarily doing morework by doing this, and thus themselves increasing in entropy.

    This is the “compensation” argument, and it’s the reason the 2nd Law actually works.

    Granville appears to be saying that that because a person is a more “organised” thing than a tornado, or may that because books-on-a-shelf is more “organised” than books-in-a-tree, that somehow the 2nd Law alllows the second, but not the first.

    Or that the “compensation” only works for the second, but not the first, because the first is much more “improbable”.

    And then tries to tie that to the 2nd law by saying that the 2nd law isn’t just about energy flow, but about probability.

    Which boils down to saying that very improbable things are very improbable, therefore the 2nd Law forbids improbable things!

    It really does make no sense at all, and can’t.

    There may be other entropies, as Robert suggests, and maybe Granville has stumbled on them, but there is no warrant for thinking that the 2nd Law of thermodynamics applies to them. After all, it doesn’t apply to Shannon entropy – which is exactly the same math – why should it apply to any other?

  22. KS:

    I also see nothing fundamentally and outrageously wrong with GS’s argument, in light of thermodynamics especially when the relevant statistical issues are brought to bear

    If Granville’s argument is about thermodynamics, it is simply wrong. If it isn’t – and he sometimes implies it isn’t – if it is just about statistics, then the 2nd Law is irrelevant, and his argument just boils down to Dembski’s.

  23. Lizzie,

    That was KF, not KS. I feel besmirched. :)

  24. oops, sorry! I’ve got a new computer, and the keyboard is terrible. I just went out and got a cheap USB one which is much better, so I have no further excuses!

    And it doesn’t explain yesterday’s brain-fart.

  25. keiths, I want to thank you that you have taken the time out of your busy schedule to devote hours and hours, days and days, and weeks and weeks, to the seemingly thankless task of correcting the flaws in the thinking of us delusional Intelligent Design people. I’m sure it is not easy to find seemingly countless hours to devote to this thankless task seeing as how many other matters, such as solving world hunger, bringing world peace, could benefit from someone as exceptionally smart as you. But seeing as you have decided to set your more evolved brain to curing the world one website at a time from this delusion of design thinking, and have taken it upon your self to make this particular website the starting point of your world-wide quest, (how blessed we are), I was hoping if you could help me to see your reasoning for supposing the second law supports evolution. You see Keiths, Compared to many of the PhD’s that comment in favor of ID on UD, I am not nearly as well educated and only have a two year degree in Industrial Instrumentation. With that 2 year degree in instrumentation I secured a job helping build chemical factories. The reason I mention this occupation I had keiths is that in that job I developed a VERY healthy respect for empirical observation. If JUST ONE measurement or calibration that I was performing in the duties of my job was out of line then the result could very well have resulted in the entire chemical factory not being able to be brought on line, or worse, it could have led to a tragic catastrophe down the road when the factory was brought on line and running., The point being in all this is that in my experience with helping build chemical factories is that I look with very much respect at what the experimental evidence itself is telling me about the world to see if it lines up with a bigger picture for how things ought to be. To see if measurement aligned according to what the engineers of the factory were telling me they ought to be. If they (observation and expectation) didn’t line up, it was my job to either correct the matter, or to have the matter corrected. As such, (I’ll put you in the role of engineer), I’m reporting to you that I’m finding severe discordance for your expectations that the second law does not present any problems for Darwinian evolution. All the empirical evidence I have been presented with is telling me that the purely entropic processes within the cell are degrading the functional information inherent in the cell, and they, purely entropic processes, NEVER build functional information. In fact so severe is the discordance between observation and expectation that a null hypothesis has been put in place stating that that purely material (i.e. entropic) processes will NEVER generate functional information:

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

    This is definitely not good for your expectations keiths! In fact it has been noted that even the scientific method itself cannot be reduced to material processes but demands a perspective outside the material (mass-energy) order in order for it to be reliable for us:

    Is Life Unique? David L. Abel – January 2012
    Concluding Statement: The scientific method itself cannot be reduced to mass and energy. Neither can language, translation, coding and decoding, mathematics, logic theory, programming, symbol systems, the integration of circuits, computation, categorizations, results tabulation, the drawing and discussion of conclusions. The prevailing Kuhnian paradigm rut of philosophic physicalism is obstructing scientific progress, biology in particular. There is more to life than chemistry. All known life is cybernetic. Control is choice-contingent and formal, not physicodynamic.
    http://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/2/1/106/

    But as to observations themselves keiths, here are a few more observations, (besides Dr. Behe’s study of 4 decades of lab work which I listed in a previous post) that are troubling to Darwinian expectations:

    Multiple Overlapping Genetic Codes Profoundly Reduce the Probability of Beneficial Mutation George Montañez 1, Robert J. Marks II 2, Jorge Fernandez 3 and John C. Sanford 4 – May 2013
    Excerpt: It is almost universally acknowledged that beneficial mutations are rare compared to deleterious mutations [1–10].,, It appears that beneficial mutations may be too rare to actually allow the accurate measurement of how rare they are [11].
    1. Kibota T, Lynch M (1996) Estimate of the genomic mutation rate deleterious to overall fitness in E. coli . Nature 381:694–696.
    2. Charlesworth B, Charlesworth D (1998) Some evolutionary consequences of deleterious mutations. Genetica 103: 3–19.
    3. Elena S, et al (1998) Distribution of fitness effects caused by random insertion mutations in Escherichia coli. Genetica 102/103: 349–358.
    4. Gerrish P, Lenski R N (1998) The fate of competing beneficial mutations in an asexual population. Genetica 102/103:127–144.
    5. Crow J (2000) The origins, patterns, and implications of human spontaneous mutation. Nature Reviews 1:40–47.
    6. Bataillon T (2000) Estimation of spontaneous genome-wide mutation rate parameters: whither beneficial mutations? Heredity 84:497–501.
    7. Imhof M, Schlotterer C (2001) Fitness effects of advantageous mutations in evolving Escherichia coli populations. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:1113–1117.
    8. Orr H (2003) The distribution of fitness effects among beneficial mutations. Genetics 163: 1519–1526.
    9. Keightley P, Lynch M (2003) Toward a realistic model of mutations affecting fitness. Evolution 57:683–685.
    10. Barrett R, et al (2006) The distribution of beneficial mutation effects under strong selection. Genetics 174:2071–2079.
    11. Bataillon T (2000) Estimation of spontaneous genome-wide mutation rate parameters: whither beneficial mutations? Heredity 84:497–501.
    http://www.worldscientific.com.....08728_0006

    This is not good keiths! Not good at all to what Darwinian expectations are! Empirical observations that I’m finding are simply completely out of line with what Darwinian expectations are for what reality ought to be! What’s worse, since we are dealing with the base level of reality itself at this molecular level, there is no way for me or anyone else to fix the problem (i.e. we cannot modify the parameters of the chemical factory so as to compensate for the discrepancy!)

    Perhaps keiths, being as intelligent as you present yourself to be, (correcting PhD’s and such with no reference to studies or experiments), you can tell me exactly why entropic processes which are readily seen to be degrading everything else around us, cannot be extrapolated to biological life since when biological life itself is looked at it is is found to be degrading, i.e. it is found to be getting older instead of younger?

    ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Trailer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqeqaweXBV0

    Music and verse:

    Psalm 102:25-27
    In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
    They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
    But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

    Nine Inch Nails – Everyday Is Exactly The Same – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEHHE64xpfY

  26. Elizabeth:

    I wish you would spare everyone here the repeated, schoolteacherish remarks about what “science” is, as if people here are a bunch of kids taking their first science class and you are a seasoned, experienced scientist (instead of someone who only started her first science degree 11 years ago). I was soaked in science for many years, during the whole time you were studying and performing music rather than studying science. And when you went to university on your music scholarship, I went to university on a science scholarship. Many of the points you have made in these discussions about thermodynamics and entropy I was aware of even in my teens, when I devoured, not only every science and math course available to me, but countless hours of reading in general science outside of school time, for the sheer joy of understanding nature.

    Keiths made an *empirical statement* about what most scientists think. An *empirical statement* requires *data*. Keiths has no *data* on what most physicists would say *about the specific argument of Granville’s paper*. He is *inferring* what they would say based on (a) *his* understanding of Granville’s paper, and (b) *his* understanding of entropy and thermodynamics. Neither of those understandings give keith the right to speak on behalf of the physics community, any more than you can speak on behalf of the physics community.

    You continue to misread Granville, even when he has warned you against the misreading. He many times has indicated that he is speaking of “the principle behind the second law” — and it is that principle which (in his mind) allows him to extend the reasoning used in thermodynamics in the narrow sense (which is the sense you keep harping on, or perhaps in your case I should say keep “bowing” on).

    Yes, of course, you are historically correct to say that the law of thermodynamics was originally conceived of in terms of heat (again, I knew that when I was about 14 years old), and later extended to energy more generally (which I also knew long before I ever heard of you, but thanks for your redundant information). But Sewell is saying that underlying heat/energy phenomena there is a broader conception with applies to more than cases of heat/energy. Rob Sheldon — who actually works in the field of physics as the level of postdoctoral research for NASA etc. — has said that this broader conception is a useful one for physicists.

    Now if you want to stick to narrow definitions, and say, “Darn it, thermodynamics comes from “thermo” and is has to be restricted to the discussion of heat” — you can do so. But already physicists (as I can see from consulting standard reference books) have taken it, at a minimum, beyond “heat” to energy generally. So right away the etymology is misleading. The standard usage of scientists has gone beyond the “thermo” part, as even you must admit.

    And if you reply, “well, heat and other forms of energy are interconvertible, so the extension to “energy” generally is reasonable” — I say, let it be so. I have no problem, for many purposes, with a definition that is restricted to heat/energy considerations.

    Indeed, one of my objections to many formulations of the “thermodynamics against evolution” argument has always been, that it mixes up considerations of heat/energy with *other* questions of order. So in fact I first came at *all* of Granville’s articles on this subject *sharing* your approach, and wishing that people would stick to conservative definitions of terms rather than try to expand them. I sympathize entirely with your motivation here; expanding the meaning of terms can cause confusion unless everyone understands the expanded meaning.

    Still, my intellectual cast is not pedantic, and I’m willing to entertain expansions of meaning of terms if I think they might produce a useful end. Sewell’s argument tries to “expand” the meaning of the second law to include a broader range of phenomena, just as the original, heat-focused definition (based on theoretical investigations into steam engines, by the way) was later expanded to include energy generally. I try to keep an open mind.

    I was helped along in this by Sewell’s repeated statements that he is talking about “the principle behind the second law” — and that he means by that fundamental principles concerning probability, not heat or energy. In other words, he wants us to reconceptualize the second law, not as something false or invalid in itself, insofar as it concerns heat/energy, but as one expression of a more general principle. That is no more “overthrowing one of the most fundamental tenets of physics” than is *any* incorporation of an established law into a wider theoretical perspective — and such incorporations happen all the time in physics.

    Is this a wise move, to try to see the second law as merely a branch of something bigger than itself? Maybe so, maybe no. I admire at least Granville’s willingness to engage in “big picture” thinking as opposed to mechanical, textbook-definition thinking (“the second law has to do with energy, darn it! — discussion closed”). And Rob Sheldon, who knows more physics than all three of us combined (you, keiths, and myself) appears to think that there is some value in this way of looking at thermodynamics. As a certified physicist, *he of all people*, one would think, would be offended at a mathematician like Sewell treading on “his” territory and offering a reconceptualizing of the second law in terms of something broader than heat or energy issues. Yet he isn’t so offended. It is the *non-physicists* here who are being indignant about Sewell’s allegedly unwarranted meddling with basic physical conceptions. That raises alarm bells for me.

    In any case, both you and keiths are deciding, based on *your* understandings of thermodynamics and entropy, what *all physicists* must understand by it, and more particularly, what *all physicists* would say about Sewell’s paper. And you don’t seem to care in the slightest what *the only physicist who has entered the discussion here* — Rob Sheldon — has to say. I find in all of this an intellectual arrogance — in your case a quiet and polite arrogance, in the case of keiths a more belligerent and culture-warring arrogance.

    The question of second law of thermodynamics vs. evolution is in itself not very important to me. I never did, and still don’t, after reading Granville’s article, place any stock in the argument that uses thermodynamics and entropy (understood purely in relation to heat/energy), as an argument against evolution. (And to his credit, Granville never argued that the second law, understood in that narrow sense, forbade evolution; both his introduction and conclusion, read sympathetically rather than with malice aforethought, make this clear.) I think that the “ordering problem” in evolution ultimately has nothing to do with the availability of energy from the sun or other sources. But Granville’s essay was thoughtful and got me thinking about the wider context: what sort of generalization is the second law, anyway? Is it fundamentally, perhaps, not simply some rule about the behavior of heat/energy, but an expression of a wider principle of probability distributions of things? That strikes me as *intellectually interesting* — and even *outside* of creation/design/evolution questions. It strikes as worth pondering purely from a theoretical point of view. In other words, if I never heard of Darwin or the Bible, I would still think that physicists would be interested in at least *discussing* this broader “take” on entropy etc.

    But what do we get in culture-war debates? “Sewell is wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong on page 1. Wrong on page 2. Wrong in every sentence from start to finish. Incompetent. Purveyor of crap science. Unworthy of being published. I learned absolutely nothing from reading his article. No one could possibly learn anything from reading his article.” This is the judgment against all ID authors, whether stated politely by Elizabeth or vulgarly by Matzke and all the others. There is no sense of *intellectual curiosity* — that even someone who has made some basic errors may still have something interesting to teach us in other respects, and we should try to find the good as well as the bad in every paper. Instead, the visceral reaction, whenever a new ID book or paper comes out, is to prove that it is crap. All of it.

    It’s the *attitude* here that really sucks. Granville’s paper might be the worst piece of science ever published — though I doubt that, and Rob Sheldon agrees with me — but the *attitude* with which it is approached is very bad.

    A number of active research scientists, many of whom disagree with ID conclusions or ID proponents on a number of points, have not been nearly as aggressive as the anti-ID lobby has in trying to point out faults in ID, and in fact have granted that ID has some valuable points to make, even if its conclusions are in many respect unacceptable to them. Thus, Denton, Shapiro, Margulis, and others — and these are people who have done much more work in evolutionary theory than you have, even as Sheldon has done much more work on thermodynamics than you have — have acknowledged that some ID criticisms of standard evolutionary theory are valid. I have never seen such an admission in any of your posts here or anywhere else.

    And I certainly will never see such an admission in the writings of Matzke or keiths. The unwritten culture-war rule is: *Never concede anything to ID folks. Never write a review of an ID book that says or implies that anything the ID proponent has said is thoughtful, intelligent, or relevant to understanding evolution.* This is what I have objected to, fiercely, ever since I have started writing about this stuff. Not that people reject ID conclusions. But that they don’t feel even the slightest moral, professional, academic or intellectual obligation to even *try* to look at ID sympathetically, or to even *try* to write about it non-polemically and non-dismissively.

    You mentioned the humanities vs. the sciences at the beginning. One thing I will say about humanities training — which I embraced after winning a science scholarship to university, studying science, and then finding most science professors and most science students intellectually narrow and not very imaginative (beyond “imagining” — in the case of most biology and biochem students — acceptance into medical school a few years down the road) — the humanities force one to live in a world (like the real social and political world) where there is not a single “ruling paradigm” able to dictate premises, methods, and conclusions to everyone. So humanities scholars live their lives without ever being able to say to people they disagree with: “The humanities” have spoken on this point. (As some people say: “Science” has established …)

    Thus, humanities scholars learn to tolerate differing definitions, and they debate the merit of expanding conventional definitions, instead of simply rejecting such proposals in a fit of textbook-definition defensiveness. They also learn to tolerate the existence of fundamentally different *methods* of establishing what is true. Thus, whereas the scientific establishment simply will not tolerate teleological explanations for origins, but insists on only non-teleological ones, and thus forecloses upon a major theoretical option, in equivalent cases in humanities fields, there is no establishment to do the foreclosing. The sociological reductionists in religious studies do not have the power to stop research grants from flowing to those who believe in traditional, philosophical-literary textual study of religious writings, for example. And within sociology of religion, the Marxist and Weberian approaches, which are diametrically opposed, do not have the power to banish each other from the university by methodological fiat. Similarly, in philosophy departments, those who believe in a dualistic account of matter and mind live alongside of those who accept a monistic account in which mind is fundamentally an epiphenomenon of matter. Neither side has any prospect of academically banning the other side (though if the reductionists from the biology and psychology departments had their way, the dualists would be driven out of philosophy departments and research grants would be given only to the monists).

    So humanities scholars, having to live in a pluralistic intellectual environment, in which there is usually not one reigning orthodoxy, but two or three or more competing approaches (even if one is usually more influential than others), become perforce more tolerant of many ideas, more willing to listen to them and treat them respectfully, even if they do not accept them.

    Overall, then, though of course individual humanities scholars can be tyrannical and prejudiced, and while there often develops a “consensus” in some fields that is just as repressive as the consensus that enforces neo-Darwinism, it is at least possible, most of the time, to find some colleagues and journals sympathetic to minority approaches. And no one tries to get such journals banned or discredited (as some leading AGW people secretly wished to do with some climatology journals, as shown in their hacked emails). Just as in a pluralistic society people have to live with Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc., so in the humanities people have to live with differing views on fundamentals. They have to develop intellectual tolerance and openness, not because they are inherently open-minded people, but because the nature of the discipline *makes open-mindedness necessary for competence*.

    In science, on the other hand, if Thomas Kuhn’s analysis of real (as opposed to ideal, fairy-tale) scientific behavior is accurate (and I think it is mostly accurate), there is generally a “reigning paradigm” which directs future research and fits new research into a broadly accepted theory. Scientists may boldly challenge all kinds of details within the framework of the reigning paradigm, and win accolades for their discoveries, but if they question the reigning paradigm itself, they tend to be marginalized very quickly. Thus, *most* scientists are expected to be clever, but not *too* clever — not so clever as to start to question the reigning paradigm.

    So if one finds some problems with neo-Darwinism, one is expected to “patch” it with “some additional mechanisms”; it is considered offensive to attack the core belief that small, unguided changes filtered by natural selection are sufficient to produce radically new body plans. (Or was, until very recently.) Hence the scorn of mainstream evolutionary biologists for Margulis, Shapiro, etc. And in cosmology, one does not dare to deny the Big Bang model; rather, one “patches” it with dark matter, dark energy, hypothetical repulsive forces, etc., until it starts to look like a Frankenstein’s monster for all the grafts and stitching — the paradigm must be preserved. And in climatology, one does not dare to deny the validity of the mathematical models developed by the self-appointed elite scientists to represent the complex realities of nature; if certain data does not match the predictions of the models, ad hoc explanations for the mismatch must be manufactured; doubt about the accuracy of the models is not tolerated, and in private emails leading climatologists imagine ways in which they might discount journal publishing articles which question the models. Kuhn’s analysis appears to me to be spot-on.

    I find this approach to truth abominable, and if this is what “science” requires, then I reject “science.” But I don’t think it is what real science requires. Rather, it is what certain scientists, wedded to their grand paradigms or models, require: the silencing of opposition (on all *central* points), and the canalizing of opposition so that it can affect only details rather than the bigger picture. No one trained in the traditional humanities (though of the course over the past 30 years the humanities have become more and more ideological and tyrannical, so it is harder to find such people any longer), can embrace this approach to finding out the truth.

    When I look back at the scientists of a previous generation — Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Eddington, Sagan, etc. — I see an openness in their dialogue about *big* questions that I don’t see in the modern culture wars. In the modern culture wars I see “science” invoked to defend a narrow, positivist, reductionist, mechano-materialist conception of reality. And I see ID as hated because it calls into question this conception of reality. Thus, every ID book must be savagely destroyed, because no foot in the door of anything other than the reigning view of reality can be allowed.

    People here forget that Carl Sagan defended the right of Velikovsky to a scientific hearing. And Velikovsky was a much more “sub-scientific” thinker than any ID theorist. He was close to a fruitcake. I can’t imagine that Carl Sagan, were he alive, would endorse or support the raging denunciations, the utterly one-sided “book reviews,” the general unwillingness to engage a new idea sympathetically, that we see in the anti-ID crowd. I think he would say: “For shame, for shame.”

    This tempest in a teapot over one article by Sewell is in itself not important. But it is a perfect example of the larger landscape — the attitudes and dialogical tactics engaged in by the anti-ID folks. Sewell’s article is neither as bad as some here say it is, or as great as others say it is. It has some strengths and weaknesses. But the fact that the strengths as well as the weaknesses are not acknowledged, and never will be acknowledged, any more than the strength of some points raised by Wells, Behe, Dembski, etc. will ever be acknowledged, by the anti-ID side, tells the story. As does the fact that Nick Matzke rushed into print as fast as possible with a “review” of Meyer’s book, believing in advance (which is called prejudice) that it would be trash, and not having a single good thing to say about it even after he read it. (If he in fact read it all rather than skimmed a good bit of it.) As I say, regardless of the validity or invalidity of Sewell’s or Meyer’s ideas, or of ID’s proposals, the intellectual *attitude* sucks.

    I thank Rob and all the others here who have attempted to read Sewell sympathetically rather than with an axe to grind. And this is the last I’ll say about the Sewell article, to Elizabeth or keiths or anyone else.

    I don’t really give a cow pie if Elizabeth and keith go away thinking I don’t know anything about physics. I don’t think they know much about physics, either. I think they both have a sketchy knowledge — Elizabeth more than keith, who in my judgment is just another science-nerd clone from the anti-ID crowd — and that the rest is bluffing, ad hoc reasoning, quick lookups on the internet to make the knowledge level appear deeper than it is. But the cosmic joke of it is, that neither my opinion of their physics knowledge nor their opinion of my physics knowledge matters in the least — to people with real physics expertise. People who do actual research to advance physics would say “Timaeus who? Elizabeth who? Keith who?” That’s the long and short of it. We are none of us as important as we imagine that we are.

    Only a few hundred people of the 7 billion people on this planet are reading these exchanges. And of those who are reading them, the number who teach and research in Ivy League schools or Oxbridge schools or even middle-ranking schools is almost zero. In the final analysis, all this debating has about as much effect on the future of science as arguments in a pub over which soccer (that’s football to Elizabeth) team is better. Which is why I can’t understand why a woman who claims to be an active research scientist in neurology/psychology thinks it is worth the time to invest at least a thousand hours per year in bickering conversations (with mostly non-scientists) over thermodynamics, macroevolutionary mechanisms, etc. Nobody important is listening. But that’s one of the eternal questions, such as “Why is there anything?”, to which I am sure I will never know the answer.

  27. bornagain77:

    keiths, I want to thank you that you have taken the time out of your busy schedule to devote hours and hours, days and days, and weeks and weeks, to the seemingly thankless task of correcting the flaws in the thinking of us delusional Intelligent Design people.

    It’s my pleasure, bornagain. I mean that quite sincerely.

  28. Timaeus,

    So many words, yet you’re missing the obvious solution:

    If we’re wrong, then show us.

    If we’re arrogant, bluffing SOBs who only pretend to understand physics, then show us.

    Quote the statement(s) you disagree with, and then explain why we are wrong and you are right. It’s called debate.

    It doesn’t matter how I got my physics knowledge: in school, online, from reading, from a girlfriend who was a physicist, divine inspiration, who cares?

    What matters is whether what I say is correct. If you think it isn’t, then show us.

  29. keiths:

    Ah, yes, *debate*: Where both parties agree to let a third party decide the outcome of the debate (as in formal debating contests, after which either a panel of judges or the audience decides), or where both parties, though operating without such judges, exercise self-discipline, freely acknowledging when the other side has made a good point, and work toward a truth which is usually somewhere in the middle (as happens in the best academic debates, which with good people on both sides turn into mutual instruction sessions rather than winner/loser affairs). *Not* where the same persons are *both* partisans on one side (e.g., the anti-ID side), *and* judges (because of their alleged “scientific training”) of who has made the best arguments. The latter is no debate, but a mere quarrel. And that’s what most of the conversation about Granville Sewell’s paper has been, and that’s what most internet conversations about creation-evolution-design are: quarrels, where the most partisan on each side declare themselves fit to be judges of who gave the best arguments. Not debates, in any meaningful sense.

    You demand to be shown where you are wrong. You, keith, have been shown that you are wrong, not about everything, but at least on a number of individual points, by several different people here, but the demonstrations haven’t sunk in. And there is no point trying to add water to an already water-soaked towel. It won’t do any good. So I’m not going to restate arguments I’ve already made, and made well.

    Elizabeth at least conceded a couple of points to Robert Sheldon, for which I give her praise. But you’ve been nothing but a pure partisan on the Sewell file, following the standard culture-war line of “never concede an inch to an ID proponent or to any of his defenders, even when they are being reasonable on some points.” Sorry, friend, but the discussion on this subject, for me anyway, is over.

  30. Timaeus,

    If you disagree with anything that I’ve said, you’re welcome to a) quote what I’ve said, and b) explain why you think it is wrong.

    If not, then you’re just venting, not debating. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I rather enjoy reading your impassioned comments.)

  31. ‘If you disagree with anything that I’ve said, you’re welcome to a) quote what I’ve said, and b) explain why you think it is wrong.’

    What would be the point, keiths? First and foremost, your reading skills seem deplorable. To say that English doesn’t seem to be your first language would be a gross understatement.

    I’m sure Timaeus has already answered your points several times, systematically and piece-meal. Why should he allow you to continue jerking him around? Do us all a favour, and go back to Panda’s Thumb or wherever asap.

  32. Timaeus

    I wish you would spare everyone here the repeated, schoolteacherish remarks about what “science” is, as if people here are a bunch of kids taking their first science class and you are a seasoned, experienced scientist (instead of someone who only started her first science degree 11 years ago).

    Well, I am a seasoned experienced scientist, Timaeus, as it happens, but that’s not why I say what I do. I’d have said the same 30 years ago. I think you are bringing in an approach from the humanities that is inappropriate to a tight scientific argument. I do not say that as a schoolteacher but as a person who simply thinks that you are making an error, as you, equally, think I am.

    I was soaked in science for many years, during the whole time you were studying and performing music rather than studying science. And when you went to university on your music scholarship, I went to university on a science scholarship. Many of the points you have made in these discussions about thermodynamics and entropy I was aware of even in my teens, when I devoured, not only every science and math course available to me, but countless hours of reading in general science outside of school time, for the sheer joy of understanding nature.

    And I do not doubt it, Timaeus. I did not intend to imply (and do not think I implied) that you are not capable of applying scientific thinking to this issue, merely that I don’t think you are.

    Keiths made an *empirical statement* about what most scientists think. An *empirical statement* requires *data*. Keiths has no *data* on what most physicists would say *about the specific argument of Granville’s paper*. He is *inferring* what they would say based on (a) *his* understanding of Granville’s paper, and (b) *his* understanding of entropy and thermodynamics. Neither of those understandings give keith the right to speak on behalf of the physics community, any more than you can speak on behalf of the physics community.

    And I do not, nor did keiths. My point (and I think keiths’) is that if Granville’s argument were correct, it would change the entire edifice of physics. And as when I last looked, the entire edifice of physics seems as it always was, then physics doesn’t seem to have come to Granville’s conclusion.

    You continue to misread Granville, even when he has warned you against the misreading. He many times has indicated that he is speaking of “the principle behind the second law” — and it is that principle which (in his mind) allows him to extend the reasoning used in thermodynamics in the narrow sense (which is the sense you keep harping on, or perhaps in your case I should say keep “bowing” on).

    But it does not allow him to extend the reading as he does. That is the point. Once he has extended the reading beyond thermodynamics, we have no a priori reason to think the law applies. It doesn’t apply to Shannon entropy, for instance. Why should it apply to any of his other entropies?

    Yes, of course, you are historically correct to say that the law of thermodynamics was originally conceived of in terms of heat (again, I knew that when I was about 14 years old), and later extended to energy more generally (which I also knew long before I ever heard of you, but thanks for your redundant information). But Sewell is saying that underlying heat/energy phenomena there is a broader conception with applies to more than cases of heat/energy. Rob Sheldon — who actually works in the field of physics as the level of postdoctoral research for NASA etc. — has said that this broader conception is a useful one for physicists.

    Now if you want to stick to narrow definitions, and say, “Darn it, thermodynamics comes from “thermo” and is has to be restricted to the discussion of heat” — you can do so. But already physicists (as I can see from consulting standard reference books) have taken it, at a minimum, beyond “heat” to energy generally. So right away the etymology is misleading. The standard usage of scientists has gone beyond the “thermo” part, as even you must admit.

    Of course it’s gone beyond “heat” to “energy generally” because heat is defined in units of energy! A joule is a joule no matter whether it is the energy of a furnace or the energy of a sofa up a tree.

    And if you reply, “well, heat and other forms of energy are interconvertible, so the extension to “energy” generally is reasonable” — I say, let it be so. I have no problem, for many purposes, with a definition that is restricted to heat/energy considerations.

    Quite so.

    Indeed, one of my objections to many formulations of the “thermodynamics against evolution” argument has always been, that it mixes up considerations of heat/energy with *other* questions of order. So in fact I first came at *all* of Granville’s articles on this subject *sharing* your approach, and wishing that people would stick to conservative definitions of terms rather than try to expand them. I sympathize entirely with your motivation here; expanding the meaning of terms can cause confusion unless everyone understands the expanded meaning.

    Not only confusion, but error. Argument-by-analogy is a fallacy. Just because, for example, Shannon entropy is directly analogous to thermodynamic entropy – exactly the same equation, except that the probabilities are unspecified – doesn’t mean that the 2nd Law applies to Shannon entropy. It doesn’t. There is no Law that says that the spontaneous direction of change in Shannon entropy is to increase. It would be largely meaningless, but where meaningful at all, is clearly wrong. Channel capacity if anything tends to degrade spontaneously.

    Still, my intellectual cast is not pedantic, and I’m willing to entertain expansions of meaning of terms if I think they might produce a useful end. Sewell’s argument tries to “expand” the meaning of the second law to include a broader range of phenomena, just as the original, heat-focused definition (based on theoretical investigations into steam engines, by the way) was later expanded to include energy generally. I try to keep an open mind.

    There is a huge difference between extending a law concerning something measured in joules (or other unit of energy) to anything measured in joules (or other unit of energy) and extending a law concerning something measure in joules (or other unit of energy) to something measured in something quite different. As I said, even though Shannon entropy is identical, mathematically, to thermodynamic entropy, the 2nd Law doesn’t apply to it. If you want to extend the concept of entropy to things other than energy, then you have to start from scratch in discovering what law might apply. You can’t assume the 2nd Law does.

    I was helped along in this by Sewell’s repeated statements that he is talking about “the principle behind the second law” — and that he means by that fundamental principles concerning probability, not heat or energy. In other words, he wants us to reconceptualize the second law, not as something false or invalid in itself, insofar as it concerns heat/energy, but as one expression of a more general principle. That is no more “overthrowing one of the most fundamental tenets of physics” than is *any* incorporation of an established law into a wider theoretical perspective — and such incorporations happen all the time in physics.

    But that isn’t what he is doing. Firstly, he is reconceptualizing entropy (which is fair enough -it’s a useful statistical formula), but then applying the 2nd Law to his new entropies. The error here is that the formula (entropy = the sum of the [log of the probability of each possible state times the probability of the state]) includes probabilities and probabilities, as I keep saying, not because I’m a seasoned experienced scientist, or even a seasoned teacher of statistical methods, though I am, but because it’s obvious, yet people seem to keep forgetting it: a probability is not a property of a pattern but a probability of a given pattern, given a specific generative process.

    Let me give my toy example again (I’ll do it from scratch):

    here is are two sequences of 20 Hs and Ts:
    HHTTTHHHTTTTHHTHHTHT
    HHTTTHHHTTTTHHTHHTHT

    Which has the higher probability?

    Obviously you can’t tell, because you don’t know how they were generated.

    In fact, the first was generated by the Excel equivalent of a coin toss, by which the probability that I would obtain that exact sequence is 2^-20 (the formula was =IF(RAND()<0.5,”H”,”T”). So a highly improbable event. The second however, though identical had a probability of 1, as the formula was simply =[cell above].

    And whether the 2nd Law hold or not depends entirely on what the probabilities in your entropy formula actually represent. If they represent energy microstates, then the 2nd Law holds. If they represent Heads and Tails, then it doesn’t hold at all.

    More seriously, Granville digs himself in deeper by tackling not some other statistical application of the concept of entropy, but the perfectly reasonable objection to his claim made on the assumption that he is talking about thermodynamics, by apparently claiming that the “compensation” argument doesn’t work! Well, as keiths says, if the compensation argument doesn’t work, the 2nd Law is false, which would be huge news! What he is really saying, it seems to boil down to, is that the compensation argument doesn’t work for his entropies, because his entropies aren’t about thermodynamics, but about probabilities generally. In which case of course the 2nd Law escapes, because the 2nd Law doesn’t apply. In which case his argument fails anyway.

    In short: Granville is applying the entropy concept to something other than energy flow, which is fine, but then using a law applying to the entropy of energy flow to conclude that the non-energy-flow entropy he is talking about, and which is postulated by evolution, can’t happen, because of that law!

    As keiths says, it really is a mess. Robert’s defense of his multiple entropies concept doesn’t help because what is wrong is not the concept of many entropies but his application of the 2nd law to any entropy.

    Is this a wise move, to try to see the second law as merely a branch of something bigger than itself? Maybe so, maybe no. I admire at least Granville’s willingness to engage in “big picture” thinking as opposed to mechanical, textbook-definition thinking (“the second law has to do with energy, darn it! — discussion closed”). And Rob Sheldon, who knows more physics than all three of us combined (you, keiths, and myself) appears to think that there is some value in this way of looking at thermodynamics. As a certified physicist, *he of all people*, one would think, would be offended at a mathematician like Sewell treading on “his” territory and offering a reconceptualizing of the second law in terms of something broader than heat or energy issues. Yet he isn’t so offended. It is the *non-physicists* here who are being indignant about Sewell’s allegedly unwarranted meddling with basic physical conceptions. That raises alarm bells for me.

    Sure. And yes, I’m all for people tackling old shibboleths. And Robert probably has a point, that Granville’s approach might be useful. But that doesn’t make the 2nd Law of thermodynamic entropies apply to entropies that aren’t thermodynamic. Specifically, it means that if you use the statistical principle behind the concept of entropy (which is extremely useful, and which I use myself) you need to be clear what your probabilities are the probabilities of and if they are not the probability of energetic microstates, then there is simply no reason to think that a law that applies to energy flow will hold. And it clearly doesn’t.

    In any case, both you and keiths are deciding, based on *your* understandings of thermodynamics and entropy, what *all physicists* must understand by it, and more particularly, what *all physicists* would say about Sewell’s paper. And you don’t seem to care in the slightest what *the only physicist who has entered the discussion here* — Rob Sheldon — has to say. I find in all of this an intellectual arrogance — in your case a quiet and polite arrogance, in the case of keiths a more belligerent and culture-warring arrogance.

    Is thinking you have seen a flaw in someone else’s argument “arrogant”? Perhaps it is. But I’m no more going to go away thinking, well, Robert has a PhD in physics, and he thinks it’s OK, so maybe it is, when it seems pretty obvious that he hasn’t even tackled the problems we have pointed out, when he actually uses thermodynamic examples that seem to me clearly false (Robert himself agreed that a dust devil was a good example of a spontaneous decrease in entropy, and it still seems to me to be an excellent example of the “refrigerator” that he seemed to think was an unlikely thing to occur spontaneously on earth), and where the all PhD physicists I know (including the one I am married to) agrees that the argument is a mess.

    The question of second law of thermodynamics vs. evolution is in itself not very important to me. I never did, and still don’t, after reading Granville’s article, place any stock in the argument that uses thermodynamics and entropy (understood purely in relation to heat/energy), as an argument against evolution. (And to his credit, Granville never argued that the second law, understood in that narrow sense, forbade evolution; both his introduction and conclusion, read sympathetically rather than with malice aforethought, make this clear.)

    I do not read arguments with forethought malice, Timaeus. But I suggest that it would take enormous generosity to conclude that Granville’s claim that to propose natural selection as a solution to the “problem” of how biological complexity arose would be to assign natural selection the capacity to violate the 2nd law, did not mean that the 2nd Law forbids natural selection as a mechanism of generating biological complexity. From his MI paper:

    The other point is very simple, but also seems to be appreciated only by more mathematically-oriented people. It is that to attribute the development of life on Earth to natural selection is to assign to it–and to it alone, of all known natural “forces”–the ability to violate the second law of thermodynamics and to cause order to arise from disorder.

    Timaeus:

    I think that the “ordering problem” in evolution ultimately has nothing to do with the availability of energy from the sun or other sources. But Granville’s essay was thoughtful and got me thinking about the wider context: what sort of generalization is the second law, anyway? Is it fundamentally, perhaps, not simply some rule about the behavior of heat/energy, but an expression of a wider principle of probability distributions of things? That strikes me as *intellectually interesting* — and even *outside* of creation/design/evolution questions. It strikes as worth pondering purely from a theoretical point of view. In other words, if I never heard of Darwin or the Bible, I would still think that physicists would be interested in at least *discussing* this broader “take” on entropy etc.

    Sure, but in that case it’s not original, and amounts to no more than Dembski, for instance, has been saying for years (his concept of “complexity” for instance is simply Shannon entropy) and indeed the notion of Shannon entropy, which is the statistical bit of thermodynamic entropy detached from anything with units is highly interesting, especially in relation to non-linear systems, which of course evolutoinary systems (and weather systems) are. As I said, I use entropy measures myself in analysis of oscillatory data from brain images, and they are powerful predictor variables.

    But what do we get in culture-war debates? “Sewell is wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong on page 1. Wrong on page 2. Wrong in every sentence from start to finish. Incompetent. Purveyor of crap science. Unworthy of being published. I learned absolutely nothing from reading his article. No one could possibly learn anything from reading his article.” This is the judgment against all ID authors, whether stated politely by Elizabeth or vulgarly by Matzke and all the others. There is no sense of *intellectual curiosity* — that even someone who has made some basic errors may still have something interesting to teach us in other respects, and we should try to find the good as well as the bad in every paper. Instead, the visceral reaction, whenever a new ID book or paper comes out, is to prove that it is crap. All of it.

    It’s the *attitude* here that really sucks. Granville’s paper might be the worst piece of science ever published — though I doubt that, and Rob Sheldon agrees with me — but the *attitude* with which it is approached is very bad.

    Well, I guess I can understand the frustration. But consider another possibility: that those of us who have been reading the ID literature for years, and that includes myself, have repeatedly found error after error in arguments which, if valid, would be extremely interesting, and absolutely paradigm-shaking, and when these errors are raised, instead of rational discussion ensuing, we are accused of pursuing a materialist agenda, being closed to the possibility of supernatural agency, of corrupting society, of goodness knows what.

    Yes, there is a “culture war” going on here, and it’s one I wish we could get past. If ID has something to offer (and I have no reason in principle to think it doesn’t) then I’m interested in seeing it. But when, repeatedly what is offered is plainly deeply flawed, when the claims are so much more emphatic than any scientific claim (there is no way that science can rule out a designer, and doesn’t); conversely, ID claims to rule out non-design), and when criticism is treated as yet another assault in the culture war, communication becomes impossible.

    I’d be truly delighted to read a persuasive, well argued, well-evidenced ID argument. That’s why I keep reading the papers and buying the books. But I find them almost universally terrible. Not because I have “malice aforethought” but because the arguments simply don’t stack up. Either they don’t support the conclusion, or they don’t even make sense as arguments. Or sometimes, they just omit or ignore vast quantities of counter-evidence, often claiming it doesn’t exist.

    The reason you probably find me, at least “polite”, isn’t because I’m a particularly polite person (I’m not) but because I am genuinely curious and sympathetic to the ID project. That’s one reason it enfuriates me when people attempt to defend what seems to me to be the indefensible – when kairosfocus seems completely unable to see that he has modelled a null that is irrelevant to the hypothesis he thinks he is rejecting; when Granville assumes that what is true of thermodynamic entropy (that the spontaneous direction is always in the direction of increase) must be true of any entropy, and seems unable to see that the probabilities in the entropy equation must be probabilities of something, given something; when Behe claims that irreducibly complex systems can’t evolve because there are no selectable intermediate steps, yet it can be shown mathematically that this is false; when Meyer writes pages of elegant prose on the irreducible complexity of the ribosome, and ignores all research on the evolution of the ribosome; when he writes still more pages on the problems posed by the Cambrian explosion, yet seems to have minimal understanding of the phylogenetic arguments he dismisses.

    A number of active research scientists, many of whom disagree with ID conclusions or ID proponents on a number of points, have not been nearly as aggressive as the anti-ID lobby has in trying to point out faults in ID, and in fact have granted that ID has some valuable points to make, even if its conclusions are in many respect unacceptable to them. Thus, Denton, Shapiro, Margulis, and others — and these are people who have done much more work in evolutionary theory than you have, even as Sheldon has done much more work on thermodynamics than you have — have acknowledged that some ID criticisms of standard evolutionary theory are valid. I have never seen such an admission in any of your posts here or anywhere else.

    In that case you have not been following my posts. Oddly enough, for years I have been trying to get IDers to read Denis Noble for instance, who has extremely relevant things to say. But nobody AFAIK bothered until finally he hit the ID headlines, and the response from IDers has been: nyaa nyaa Darwinism is falling!

    Even though Noble is saying no such thing. Lots of non-IDers (me for instance) have been critical of much “neo-Darwinist” thinking for years, and have championed people like Margulis, Shapiro, and Noble – have been frustrated with the “gene centred” approach of much evolutionary research, and of the gene-centred polemic of, say, Dawkins. The evolution of evolvability (see Shapiro and Noble) has been something I’ve thought about, literally, for most of my life (I remember it occurring to me at about age 12 in a biology class), and it’s good to see it finally getting an airing. I’m also glad to see the language that variance is “random” and selection is “non-random” finally getting less ambiguous and more accurate. Both are highly stochastic processes, and not as orthogonal as the neo-Darwinist approach would suggest.

    I have also, for years (indeed my first banning from UD was a result of this) argued that Dembki’s arguments have a great deal of merit, the only problem being that they don’t exclude evolution. See here.

    And I certainly will never see such an admission in the writings of Matzke or keiths. The unwritten culture-war rule is: *Never concede anything to ID folks. Never write a review of an ID book that says or implies that anything the ID proponent has said is thoughtful, intelligent, or relevant to understanding evolution.* This is what I have objected to, fiercely, ever since I have started writing about this stuff. Not that people reject ID conclusions. But that they don’t feel even the slightest moral, professional, academic or intellectual obligation to even *try* to look at ID sympathetically, or to even *try* to write about it non-polemically and non-dismissively.

    I understand that this is your perception, and it may have some reflection in reality. But also note that my own perception is almost an exact mirror: that it doesn’t matter what a ScienceDaily headline actually reflects, if it seems to be a change to what “Darwinists” or “scientists” have “long thought”, Denyse reports it as yet another nail in the almost-complete coffin of Darwinism (by which she seems to mean anything in science that could possibly suggest the non-existence of God).

    If there is a culture war, it is being waged on both sides. I am here, and I started my own site, because I’d like to have a proper discussion, not a war.

    You mentioned the humanities vs. the sciences at the beginning. One thing I will say about humanities training — which I embraced after winning a science scholarship to university, studying science, and then finding most science professors and most science students intellectually narrow and not very imaginative (beyond “imagining” — in the case of most biology and biochem students — acceptance into medical school a few years down the road) — the humanities force one to live in a world (like the real social and political world) where there is not a single “ruling paradigm” able to dictate premises, methods, and conclusions to everyone. So humanities scholars live their lives without ever being able to say to people they disagree with: “The humanities” have spoken on this point. (As some people say: “Science” has established …)

    Indeed, and I agree. It’s one of the reasons I love the humanities. I recall vividly when I met my husband, who was then a physics post-doc on a project held jointly by a physics and biology department, him having a very clever idea, but it turning out to be wrong. My thought was: in music, a clever idea just has to be clever. It doesn’t have to be right. But in science, no matter how clever an idea is, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. It’s both invigorating and intimidating.

    Thus, humanities scholars learn to tolerate differing definitions, and they debate the merit of expanding conventional definitions, instead of simply rejecting such proposals in a fit of textbook-definition defensiveness. They also learn to tolerate the existence of fundamentally different *methods* of establishing what is true.

    Exactly. And that is just what I was driving at when I made what you interpreted as “schoolteacherishness” remarks. The two domains have a very different attitude to definitions. In science tight operational definitions are absolutely key to the methodology. The definitions don’t have to be universal, and they don’t have to be intuitive, and they can even run counter to normal English usage (“heat” for example). But they do have to be precise, and any statement using the operationally defined term cannot be automatically extended to be true of the term when interpreted according to some other definition. Thus you cannot establish a law that covers thermodynamic entropy, where thermodynamic entropy has a tight operational definition, and extend that law to cover entropy as defined in some other way. Similarly, if you want to reject a null hypothesis, you have to tightly define the probability distribution under that null. If you can’t, you can’t reject that null. If you define narrowly enough that you can define the probability distribution, and you reject it, you cannot then extrapolate to other nulls you have a hunch might have a similar distribution, as the people who promote the various alphabet soup variants of CSI frequently do.

    Thus, whereas the scientific establishment simply will not tolerate teleological explanations for origins,

    Depends on the origin of what. There is nothing inherently unscientific about teleology. It’s actually one of the things I study.

    but insists on only non-teleological ones, and thus forecloses upon a major theoretical option, in equivalent cases in humanities fields, there is no establishment to do the foreclosing.

    But this is a straw man. Science does no such thing. If it did, forensics, archaeology, and SETI would not exist. Nor would cognitive neuroscience. I’d say that the bigger problem is that ID ignores teleonomy, which resembles teleology, but instead of explaining a function in terms of the purpose it serves some external agent, explains a function in terms of the purpose it serves the system of which it is a part.

    The sociological reductionists in religious studies do not have the power to stop research grants from flowing to those who believe in traditional, philosophical-literary textual study of religious writings, for example. And within sociology of religion, the Marxist and Weberian approaches, which are diametrically opposed, do not have the power to banish each other from the university by methodological fiat. Similarly, in philosophy departments, those who believe in a dualistic account of matter and mind live alongside of those who accept a monistic account in which mind is fundamentally an epiphenomenon of matter. Neither side has any prospect of academically banning the other side (though if the reductionists from the biology and psychology departments had their way, the dualists would be driven out of philosophy departments and research grants would be given only to the monists).

    So humanities scholars, having to live in a pluralistic intellectual environment, in which there is usually not one reigning orthodoxy, but two or three or more competing approaches (even if one is usually more influential than others), become perforce more tolerant of many ideas, more willing to listen to them and treat them respectfully, even if they do not accept them.

    I think you are a) underestimating the plurality of view in science and b) ignoring that scientific models are empirically testable in a way that humanities models are not. Scientific models make predictions; humanities models can be useful in countless other ways, even if they don’t make predictions. In that way, the humanities are more like math – they have to be self-consistent, but do not have to make testable predictions outside their domain. A dualist model of consciousness is a perfectly useful model – much more useful, I’d say, than a monist model, on the whole. It is easier to live a self-efficacious life with a dualist than a monist model. But in terms of predicting data, it is pretty useless. Monist models work far better.

    Overall, then, though of course individual humanities scholars can be tyrannical and prejudiced, and while there often develops a “consensus” in some fields that is just as repressive as the consensus that enforces neo-Darwinism, it is at least possible, most of the time, to find some colleagues and journals sympathetic to minority approaches. And no one tries to get such journals banned or discredited (as some leading AGW people secretly wished to do with some climatology journals, as shown in their hacked emails).

    My own view is that peer-review is past its sell-by date in its current form. I think the primary value of peer-review is to improve the quality of the paper. I like the approach taken by some online journals now of publishing the post-reviewed draft along with the reviewers’ final comments, whether critical or supportive.

    Just as in a pluralistic society people have to live with Christians, Hindus, Jews, etc., so in the humanities people have to live with differing views on fundamentals. They have to develop intellectual tolerance and openness, not because they are inherently open-minded people, but because the nature of the discipline *makes open-mindedness necessary for competence*.

    Indeed.

    In science, on the other hand, if Thomas Kuhn’s analysis of real (as opposed to ideal, fairy-tale) scientific behavior is accurate (and I think it is mostly accurate), there is generally a “reigning paradigm” which directs future research and fits new research into a broadly accepted theory. Scientists may boldly challenge all kinds of details within the framework of the reigning paradigm, and win accolades for their discoveries, but if they question the reigning paradigm itself, they tend to be marginalized very quickly. Thus, *most* scientists are expected to be clever, but not *too* clever — not so clever as to start to question the reigning paradigm.

    So if one finds some problems with neo-Darwinism, one is expected to “patch” it with “some additional mechanisms”; it is considered offensive to attack the core belief that small, unguided changes filtered by natural selection are sufficient to produce radically new body plans. (Or was, until very recently.) Hence the scorn of mainstream evolutionary biologists for Margulis, Shapiro, etc. And in cosmology, one does not dare to deny the Big Bang model; rather, one “patches” it with dark matter, dark energy, hypothetical repulsive forces, etc., until it starts to look like a Frankenstein’s monster for all the grafts and stitching — the paradigm must be preserved. And in climatology, one does not dare to deny the validity of the mathematical models developed by the self-appointed elite scientists to represent the complex realities of nature; if certain data does not match the predictions of the models, ad hoc explanations for the mismatch must be manufactured; doubt about the accuracy of the models is not tolerated, and in private emails leading climatologists imagine ways in which they might discount journal publishing articles which question the models. Kuhn’s analysis appears to me to be spot-on.

    You make some fair points here, but I don’t think your application of Kuhn is “spot-on”.

    I do agree that “neo-Darwinism” by which I mean something very specific (but which I note is often taken to mean the entirety of the principle of descent with modification plus natural selection) namely the synthesis of the science of genetics with the principle of evolution laid out by Darwin (who I still think was spot on, give or take some errors of detail that he could not correct given the state of knowledge at the time), resulted in a very narrow view of evolution that I am glad to see has now been thoroughly eroded (though this is not particularly new – the “modern synthesis itself is now extremely old). And I also agree that people with radically new ideas often have a hard time getting them published. Fortunately this is changing with the information explosion resulting from electronic data bases and miraculously efficient search engines. where I think you are not correct is in your view of “patching”.

    Sometimes a model becomes so patched it is rejected in favour of a new model that is much more parsimonious (the classic example is geocentricity). But in many cases what looks like “patching” is no such thing – it is elaboration, and the elaborations simply add to the predictive power of the original, while the whole remains parsimonious. I am of course no cosmologist, but as I understand it, “Dark matter” and “dark energy” are not “patches” at all, stuck on to make a failing paradigm stand up, but tight mathematical models that make extremely accurate predictions. I think it is all to easy to think of a Kuhnian paradigm shift as a throwing away of the old, worn out, over-patched, epicycle-ridden model (not that epicycles are bad – the epicycle model is extremely similar to the heliocentric model, and a ptolomaic armillary sphere works as beautifully as a copernican one, it’s just that by rearranging the terms to put the sun as the reference point, the math became much more elegant, and revealed a more general fundamental law) in favour of a new, pristine, unpatched one.

    On the contrary, my understanding of Kuhn is that a paradigm shift is a change in the assumptions underlying existing models, rather than the process of replacing them with others. Thus the Copernican paradigm shift really was a Kuhnian paradigm shift – the models themselves only required minimal realigning, but the fundamental assumption – in this case the reference frame – changes, and allowed a completely new way of thinking about the existing models. I don’t think Kuhnian paradigm shifts are all that rare, nor always especially dramatic. I do think that Darwin’s abandonment of the notion of species fixity initiated a major paradigm shift that allowed the old Linnaean model to be understood in a completely different way, and ultimately changed, piece by piece. I do think that neo-Darwinism needed a paradigm shift away from the assumption that genes are central and that the “central dogma” (“DNA makes RNA makes protein”) is not inviolate. But what follows such a paradigm shift is frequently the rapid elaboration of old models which, relieved of the old assumptions that had restricted their possibility for elaboration, are now “free” to extend themselves far more, and make far more wide-ranging and well supported predictions.

    I find this approach to truth abominable, and if this is what “science” requires, then I reject “science.” But I don’t think it is what real science requires. Rather, it is what certain scientists, wedded to their grand paradigms or models, require: the silencing of opposition (on all *central* points), and the canalizing of opposition so that it can affect only details rather than the bigger picture. No one trained in the traditional humanities (though of the course over the past 30 years the humanities have become more and more ideological and tyrannical, so it is harder to find such people any longer), can embrace this approach to finding out the truth.

    I absolutely agree that ideas should not be silenced. No quarrel from me on that. However, I do not think that excludes the need to examine ideas extremely rigorously, and that should be what peer-review is about: not is this conclusion correct? but does this conclusion follow from the argument and evidence presented?

    When I look back at the scientists of a previous generation — Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Eddington, Sagan, etc. — I see an openness in their dialogue about *big* questions that I don’t see in the modern culture wars. In the modern culture wars I see “science” invoked to defend a narrow, positivist, reductionist, mechano-materialist conception of reality. And I see ID as hated because it calls into question this conception of reality. Thus, every ID book must be savagely destroyed, because no foot in the door of anything other than the reigning view of reality can be allowed.

    I think this is a misreading. But I do not assert this – it’s just not what my own experience tells me. I think the reason ID is hated is not because it “calls into question” a “reductionist, mechano-materialist conception of reality” but because its exponents repeatedly produce highly flawed arguments on the one hand, and on the other insist that the conclusions of those arguments have social and theological implications for society and the way we view reality, meanwhile constantly complaining that the reason that their ideas are rejected is because of prejudice against the implications, rather flaws in the arguments. It is no accident that the ideas of Noble, Shapiro, Margulis and others have been, albeit after a struggle in Margulis’s case, been widely accepted by the scientific community. Ultimately their arguments held together and predicted new data. This is not true, in my view, of any ID paper I have read so far. But I do keep looking – and, indeed, hoping!

    People here forget that Carl Sagan defended the right of Velikovsky to a scientific hearing. And Velikovsky was a much more “sub-scientific” thinker than any ID theorist. He was close to a fruitcake. I can’t imagine that Carl Sagan, were he alive, would endorse or support the raging denunciations, the utterly one-sided “book reviews,” the general unwillingness to engage a new idea sympathetically, that we see in the anti-ID crowd. I think he would say: “For shame, for shame.”

    He might well. But he might look also at the utterly shameless mythmaking of films like “Expelled” and the consistently poor standard of science coupled with a blatant theological and political agenda (ahem Wedge document ahem, and give the “anti-ID” crowd a break.

    However, I refused to be tarred with that brush. My objection to ID science (and I call it that) is that it bad science, not that it is religious, or teleological, or filled with implications for morality that I want desperately to avoid. As is now clear, my initial reading of the Springer saga was correct – Springer had merely reviewed the proposal, not the papers. On being pushed (not by Matzke AFAIK, but by other scientists who got wind of it, and not by any threatened “boycott” by scientists, on Panda’s Thumb or elsewhere) on account of the advertising blurb on the Springer Website, into reviewing the actual content of the papers, it was rejected. And it seems to me, having read a number of the papers, rightly so.

    This tempest in a teapot over one article by Sewell is in itself not important. But it is a perfect example of the larger landscape — the attitudes and dialogical tactics engaged in by the anti-ID folks. Sewell’s article is neither as bad as some here say it is, or as great as others say it is. It has some strengths and weaknesses. But the fact that the strengths as well as the weaknesses are not acknowledged, and never will be acknowledged, any more than the strength of some points raised by Wells, Behe, Dembski, etc. will ever be acknowledged, by the anti-ID side, tells the story.

    It has no strengths that I can see. It boils down, at best, to a restatement of Dembski’s CSI argument, less well made, and without the caveats that make Dembski’s 2005 paper more or less not-wrong, if useless, and bringing in a lot of stuff about thermodynamic entropy which is completely irrelevant. Wells’ papers may be good – I’m not in a position to critique them. If so, I hope they are published. Behe’s paper seems OK as far as it goes, but suffers from the problem of a lot of population genetics papers in that the simplifying assumptions it makes prevent us applying its conclusions very widely. Personally, I think the big problem with that book is that it fell between two stools – it is a collection of scientific papers of mixed quality, some terrible, some probably perfectly publishable – but was presented as a package proposal as a set of conference proceedings. This often happens, but the papers within tend not to carry a great deal of weight as they are not independently reviewed, and in any case, are primarily reviewed as abstracts by the conference convenors. It would probably have been much more sensible for the individual authors to have submitted their papers separately to relevant journals than have them sink-or-swim with their conference partners in a single book of proceedings.

    As does the fact that Nick Matzke rushed into print as fast as possible with a “review” of Meyer’s book, believing in advance (which is called prejudice) that it would be trash, and not having a single good thing to say about it even after he read it. (If he in fact read it all rather than skimmed a good bit of it.) As I say, regardless of the validity or invalidity of Sewell’s or Meyer’s ideas, or of ID’s proposals, the intellectual *attitude* sucks.

    I agree that Matzke expected it to suck, but then Matzke has read a lot of Meyer’s writing, and was clearly able to recognise quickly arguments he had met before. It’s taken me much longer to figure out what Meyer is saying (even though I’ve read Signature in the Cell), and in addition, I’m not a phylogeneticist, as Matzke is. Matzke is a very smart and well-informed young scientist, and while his manners are less good than my own son’s, bless his cotton socks, I have so far come across nothing in Meyer’s book that renders Matzke’s criticism ill-applied. And I am not skimming it.

    I thank Rob and all the others here who have attempted to read Sewell sympathetically rather than with an axe to grind. And this is the last I’ll say about the Sewell article, to Elizabeth or keiths or anyone else.

    Fair enough.

    I don’t really give a cow pie if Elizabeth and keith go away thinking I don’t know anything about physics. I don’t think they know much about physics, either. I think they both have a sketchy knowledge — Elizabeth more than keith, who in my judgment is just another science-nerd clone from the anti-ID crowd — and that the rest is bluffing, ad hoc reasoning, quick lookups on the internet to make the knowledge level appear deeper than it is.

    Not sure whether keith is the science-nerd clone or me, there, but I do take it that you don’t think much of either of us. But you have me wrong, nonetheless. I don’t bluff, I have a decent science background, I’m fairly smart, and I’m quite good at analysing arguments, and I’m fairly decent at statistics. I don’t think either of us is a clone – I think we have both made a big effort to try to sort out just what Granville is saying (and, in my case, Dembski, Behe, Meyer) and whether or not it makes sense. I suggest that your perception is tinted by your own view of the cultural war, as is mine, probably. But it seems reasonable that we should both acknowledge this possibility, and at least note that there are blatant culture war attacks on both sides of the debate, particularly strikingly at UD, where the vast majority of posts are primarily about culture, and about atheism specifically. In contrast, on “anti-ID” sites, the focus is primarily on the science, and many contributors are in fact theists.

    But the cosmic joke of it is, that neither my opinion of their physics knowledge nor their opinion of my physics knowledge matters in the least — to people with real physics expertise. People who do actual research to advance physics would say “Timaeus who? Elizabeth who? Keith who?” That’s the long and short of it. We are none of us as important as we imagine that we are.

    Indeed.

    Only a few hundred people of the 7 billion people on this planet are reading these exchanges. And of those who are reading them, the number who teach and research in Ivy League schools or Oxbridge schools or even middle-ranking schools is almost zero. In the final analysis, all this debating has about as much effect on the future of science as arguments in a pub over which soccer (that’s football to Elizabeth) team is better. Which is why I can’t understand why a woman who claims to be an active research scientist in neurology/psychology thinks it is worth the time to invest at least a thousand hours per year in bickering conversations (with mostly non-scientists) over thermodynamics, macroevolutionary mechanisms, etc. Nobody important is listening. But that’s one of the eternal questions, such as “Why is there anything?”, to which I am sure I will never know the answer.

    I’ve never been particularly concerned over the “importance” of “who is listening”. I talk to people. People are important. If that sounds pi, it’s simply the truth. I like people. I do not debate on the internet in order to change the world. I debate on the internet because I am interested in ideas, and in why people think the way they do. I debate to exchange ideas – to learn as well as, sometimes, teach, or, at least, present what I know and what seems to me to make sense. In return I often find my own ideas changed. This is good.

    It’s an odd hobby, but no odder, in my view, than collecting stamps, or building model railways. And I’ve learned a huge amount – not least about the nature of science, and specifically, about relationship between evolutionary processes and intelligence, which has turned out to have quite an impact on my actual research.

    Oh, and I also changed my mind about theism, which was a bit of a facer at the time. But it’s been an important change for me, and helped me understand things I didn’t before.

    Anyway, despite the angst, Timaeus, thanks for your long post, and the opportunity to respond to it. It’s been an odd way to conduct a conversation, but conversation is good, and at least we agree on a few things. That is cool.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  33. Timaeus, a quick “footnote” as Kairosfocus would say:

    Recently you pointed out that in a previous post about Granville’s MI paper, I said I thought it had merit and should not have been withdrawn.

    This is true. As I explained to you, on re-reading I changed my mind (largely because of the quotation from it I give in the above post).

    That at least is prima facie evidence that far from “malice aforethought” my initial instinct was to read it generously. It was only on closer re-reading that the enormity of what he was claiming, was revealed to me.

    Here it is again:

    … that to attribute the development of life on Earth to natural selection is to assign to it–and to it alone, of all known natural “forces”–the ability to violate the second law of thermodynamics and to cause order to arise from disorder.

    This is simply nonsense, as you yourself seem to concede when you say that this is NOT what Granville is saying:

    Timaeus:

    And to his credit, Granville never argued that the second law, understood in that narrow sense, forbade evolution

    Yes, that’s exactly what he did. Or rather, he claimed its contrapositive: that to claim that natural selection can produce order is tantamount to claiming that it has “the ability to violate the 2nd Law of thermodynamics”.

    If this were true, as I keep saying, it would be equally true to say that sun-warmed earth must have the ability to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics because it can create a dust devil, which is a prime example, as Sheldon himself agrees, of a reduction in entropy (the dust devil) arising from disorder (still air).

  34. Elizabeth:

    On probably the majority of individual scientific points you have made, I would agree with you. Indeed, I have already indicated throughout our conversation some places where I agree with you.

    I also have indicated my view that Granville’s essay (I’m speaking mainly of the latest two versions, since I never read the AML version) is set up somewhat oddly, and that I would have tried to make the same argument differently, leaving out some parts altogether and developing others more. However, I think that both you and keith have emphasized everything that could be construed to be an error, and have deemphasized a number of qualifications Granville made which would remove some of the charges of error, if they are read sympathetically. But I don’t intend to revisit those spots.

    On other matters:

    I didn’t deny that you were “smart,” and for all I know, keith is “smart,” too, in the sense of scoring well in math tests or on IQ tests or whatever. However, just to clarify, it is keith who in my view here acted more like the clone. Indeed, I see most of the anti-ID crowd as very much like the clone army, in Star Wars; when you’ve seen one of them in action, you’ve seen them all. The same arguments, the same insults, the same guilt-by-association and ad hominem techniques, the same extravagant claims that “all physicists” or “all biologists” or “all scientists” reject ID, the same charges that the ID person doesn’t know the science, hasn’t read the literature, etc. And it doesn’t matter whether these criticisms are coming from someone with a Ph.D. in genetics or from a lawyer or computer programmer or housewife who hasn’t taken chemistry since eleventh grade, or genetics since ninth grade; they are all interchangeable. These charges and criticisms have become “stock” material of the anti-ID community as a whole, in many if not most cases proceeding not from any deep scientific knowledge of the critics, but repeated by everyone in the camp (based on Wikipedia articles which in turn quote Panda’s Thumb or Pharyngula etc.).

    On this theme, you mention agreeing with Matzke’s criticisms of Meyer’s book. Well, one thing that we learned about book reviews in the humanities (and I believe this was formerly taught to scientists as well) is that a book review is supposed to provide a full, fair, and balanced judgment of a book, mentioning good points as well as bad points (even when the good points are fewer). Matzke’s “review” was nothing like that. It was a hatchet-job, designed not to acquaint the reader with Meyer’s book, but to inoculate the reader against the ideas in Meyer’s book. Book reviews which are *wholly* negative are to me immediately suspect of partisanship. It is of course logically possible that there is literally nothing worthwhile on any page of Meyer’s book. I find that unlikely. (I stress that I have not yet read Meyer’s book and take no stand on it, but I think I’ve only read about three books in my entire life that have been *all* wrong, so the odds that Matzke is being somewhat unfair are pretty high.)

    I have never doubted that you have a good general science background and that you were intelligent. I have complained from time to time that you are overconfident in arguing in fields that are not your specialty but only your current enthusiasm. At a time when you had not read as much of either Margulis or Shapiro as I had, you were quite willing to argue on “general reasoning” and your native cleverness that they held this or that view about Darwinism or neo-Darwinism etc. You in some cases said things that were incorrect about them, and about the history of evolutionary theory, and showed reluctance to be corrected by me. You sometimes trust too much in your native cleverness and your “good science training,” and that has been the main irritant. I am used to scholars and scientists who, though often having training and native wit equal to or exceeding your own, are very hesitant to jump into fields they don’t know, and offer only very cautious and diffident judgments when they do. That you criticize ID arguments doesn’t bother me at all. That you criticize them in declarations that sometimes suggest an irrefutable defeat of ID does bother me.

    I in fact have my own objections to many ID writings, and in some cases I have voiced them publically (on this site), other times not. The problem is that any public criticism of ID people by other ID people is not “reciprocated” in the Darwinist camp; they are very cautious about “not giving ammunition to creationists.” (The case is different in in-house activities such as scientific conferences, where evolutionary biologists do criticize each other, sometimes sharply, but I’m talking about public sites where evolution, design, creation etc. are debated.) So if ID people criticize other ID people too hard, it will be sure to be used in the lowest possible way by the other side. I’m thus hesitant to do it very often. If everyone on the Darwinist side agreed to air their dirty theoretical linen in public, I would be more likely to criticize some ID arguments, because then there would be a level playing field. I could trust that on the other side there were folks concerned with truth above partisanship. As it is, I am not confident that *anyone* on the other side is like this, though you of all people have perhaps come the closest to showing something like the right intellectual attitude. (Which does *not* mean I think you are always fair or balanced, but *is* meant as a compliment!)

    We have discussed offbeat biologists on this site before. You did not then grant me as much regarding Margulis and Shapiro as you are granting now. An interesting change; though perhaps where you are granting them something, it is not exactly what I have in mind. In any case, I expect that the diehard neo-Darwinists still despise Margulis as much as they ever did, for her attacks on their understanding of evolutionary mechanism. Outside of the subject of endosymbiosis, where her contribution is recognized, they don’t seem to take her seriously. Shapiro continues to be badmouthed on just about every evolution/design/creation website I’ve looked in on, by both atheist Darwinians and theistic evolutionists alike. He is, however, taken somewhat seriously in some quarters of evolutionary biology, much to the chagrin of the hardcore neo-Darwinians.

    Our own discussions on Shapiro here ended, probably when you were banned. I never found out if you actually received Shapiro’s book and read it all the way through. If you did, perhaps you should write a blog post on it. It would be interesting to hear if your understanding of what he was arguing has changed since reading the book. (Many of the things you said about what he was arguing, based on your acquaintance back then with only a few of his articles, were in fact not accurate in light of the book, which represented his most recent views, and synthesized all that he still held to in his articles up to that date.)

    Regarding culture-war issues, I trust you have noticed that I have not endorsed a number of the pet ideas that some ID and creationist people endorse. I’ve never argued, for example, that atheists are necessarily personally immoral, or that Darwin is personally responsible for Nazism. I’m aware that there is emotional froth on both sides of the debate. But frankly, even if all the religious and “social conservative” ideas discussed on UD were dropped, I don’t think it would make much difference. UD would then become something like Telic Thoughts, a design-sympathetic site that focuses much more on scientific questions, and where many of the writers appear to be agnostic, Deist, or Catholic rather than fundamentalist or evangelical Protestant. But the various posters on Telic Thoughts, who have from time to time posted here and elsewhere on the internet, are savaged by Darwinists even when they stay away from Bible-pushing and simply offer arguments for design. Telic Thoughts always has had its own core of atheist-materialist groupies who reflexively attack any argument for design, and they sound just like the people of the same views on Panda’s Thumb, BioLogos, etc.

    One TT graduate, Mike Gene, who strongly advocates evolution and even (it seems) wholly naturalistic evolution (his “nudge” does not seem to be miraculous intervention), but sees the evolutionary process as a *designed* one, is generally not highly respected by Darwinists on the internet. And his pleas for fairness in argument — which he has made many times on many sites — have been largely ignored by the very people he is making the pleas to. (His list of rules for fair argument is very much like my own, and about as influential.)

    I am glad to hear you say that you have learned a huge amount from debating evolution and design on the internet; however, I get the strong impression that you don’t mean that you have learned a huge amount about science *from your debating partners*, but that you have learned a huge amount about science *from the reading you have done in order to debate them*. I have not yet heard you acknowledge any intellectual debt to anyone on the ID or creationist side, or to any of the sources that they have introduced you to. So my initial pleasure at hearing you say you have learned from debating is somewhat muted.

    I am, however, glad to hear you say that some of the BI conference papers were “probably perfectly publishable” — I doubt I will hear such an admission from keiths, or Matzke, or anyone at Panda’s Thumb. Again, though I do not regard you as utterly unbiased, I do regard you as intellectually fairer than most of the people whose side you take. And that is meant as another compliment.

    Best wishes.

  35. Timaeus:

    Elizabeth:

    On probably the majority of individual scientific points you have made, I would agree with you. Indeed, I have already indicated throughout our conversation some places where I agree with you.

    I also have indicated my view that Granville’s essay (I’m speaking mainly of the latest two versions, since I never read the AML version) is set up somewhat oddly, and that I would have tried to make the same argument differently, leaving out some parts altogether and developing others more. However, I think that both you and keith have emphasized everything that could be construed to be an error, and have deemphasized a number of qualifications Granville made which would remove some of the charges of error, if they are read sympathetically. But I don’t intend to revisit those spots.

    Fair enough, and again, glad to have established a little more common ground.

    (BTW, as my time is not in fact unlimited, I am going to have to take a break from this for a while! However, if you would like to pursue the conversation – not the Sewell part obviously – feel free to contact me by email, or at my blog).

    You are probably right that I tend to rush in where angels fear to tread, and possibly that I have too great and too misplaced a faith in my own intellectual powers and knowledge. I don’t think so, although I fully accept that I tend to take a rather overly dialectical approach to debate! I’m sorry you find it irritating. In my defense, however, I have sometimes found you doubting that I have read something that I have, in fact, read, not only once, but quite thoroughly. I do not pretend to have read things I have not read, and I have been interested in the ideas of Margulis and Shapiro for possibly at least as long as you have. Whether or not I got them right is of course debateable; what is not true is that I was bluffing.

    A couple of final points:

    You write:

    I am glad to hear you say that you have learned a huge amount from debating evolution and design on the internet; however, I get the strong impression that you don’t mean that you have learned a huge amount about science *from your debating partners*, but that you have learned a huge amount about science *from the reading you have done in order to debate them*. I have not yet heard you acknowledge any intellectual debt to anyone on the ID or creationist side, or to any of the sources that they have introduced you to. So my initial pleasure at hearing you say you have learned from debating is somewhat muted.

    Well, I’ve certainly learned a lot from my debating partners, particularly at IIDB, as was, and indeed, I have learned a lot about ID from debating IDers. But I think you mean: have I learned anything that I think to be true about the world from reading ID writings? Well, the first ID book that initially impressed me was Darwin’s Black Box. I thought Behe had an interesting concept (I still do) but I think I learned more about irreducible complexity from my subsequent discoveries about the nature of fitness landscapse, which essentially, in my view, show that IC-ness is not bar to evolution, although I still think it’s a useful concept and that the big unknown in evolution is how the first necessarily IC structure that was our common ancestor emerged from whatever chemistry preceded it. So there’s that.

    And I’ve quite enjoyed Meyer’s writing – I think he writes very well, and he explains things well (including evolution!), and I did learn some things I didn’t know from Signature in the Cell (and, for that matter Darwin’s Doubt). I think in contrast Abel is a terrible writer, but I do think that some of his and his colleagues work on protein space is quite interesting.

    Lemme see…

    Yes, I’ve learned some stuff from Dembski. I’d never heard of the NFL theorems. But again, his writing was a stimulus to learn about NFL and information theory, rather than the source of my knowledge.

    But I guess it is true, that with the partial exception of the concept of IC, what I’ve come away from ID writings with is greater understanding of the relevant concepts and why the ID conclusions are unsupported (not false, just unsupported).

    The best “ID” book I’ve read so far has been Nagel’s. I disagree with him, but I think he makes a good shot at it.

    I am, however, glad to hear you say that some of the BI conference papers were “probably perfectly publishable” — I doubt I will hear such an admission from keiths, or Matzke, or anyone at Panda’s Thumb. Again, though I do not regard you as utterly unbiased, I do regard you as intellectually fairer than most of the people whose side you take. And that is meant as another compliment.

    Best wishes.

    Thanks! No, I am certainly not unbiased. I have fairly strong prior expectations of the validity of an ID argument, based, however, I’d say, of my reading of them to date.

    But that doesn’t mean my response is knee-jerk dismissal. Far from it. I am genuinely interested, and indeed interested in the theological implications. I think, personally, that an interventionist deity, which is essentially what the ID inference, at least from biology, is of (despite protestations that it makes no inferences about the nature of the designer), is rather theologically weak, as I’ve said. If ID were proved correct, and the reason life exists proved to be because a deity intervened and knocked some polymers together to form the first Darwinian-capable cell, and possibly intervened again at the beginning of the Cambrian when the Ediacarans were getting a little to vigorous and she thought the bilaterians needed a break, as well as equipping e coli with a more efficient means of causing disease than they would have had if they’d been left to evolution (yes, that’s a bit sarcastic, but it’s also serious), then I’d accept it, but I wouldn’t worship the deity.

    In fact I wouldn’t call it a deity at all. I’d just call it a hitherto unknown denizen of the universe who liked fiddling with polymers, and who had a nasty sense of humour when it came to equipping bacteria with fancy bum-gadgets.

    If for some reason I was restored to my former faith by then, I certainly wouldn’t identify it as the Reason there is Anything Rather Than Nothing – the creator God of Aquinas.

    Nor with the God of Love.

    Anyhoo – time to water the sweet peas and do some work!

    I’ve enjoyed (at least in some sense!) our conversation.

    Thanks!

    Lizzie

  36. Quick reply, Elizabeth:

    1. I wasn’t saying that you were bluffing about your readings in Shapiro and Margulis. At the time you admitted that you had not read X and Y that I had read. You weren’t dishonest. My complaint was that, based on what you had read, you were more or less brushing aside my account of their thought (check our old discussions here for the details), as if the fact that I had read things you hadn’t didn’t matter. And it was doubly irritating when you insisted on saying some things about Shapiro’s view which I *knew* to be wrong (i.e., I knew he didn’t hold to some of those things) because I had read his *current* position (in his brand-new book), whereas you were relying on articles that were in some case several years old. (Your reasoning for preferring articles to books was that articles are more reliable than books because they are peer-reviewed, but the issue wasn’t which of his works were more reliable as science, but which of his works were more reliable as indicating *his current view* on evolutionary mechanisms. And obviously a *current* book is more reliable for that than an *old* article. And I had in addition a direct quotation from him in a *current* interview with Dembski, which established the same point. But you were willing to argue with me about what he thought, nonetheless. I thought that was just plain stubbornness.

    2. As for your remarks about what kind of deity an intelligent designer such as you described would be, I never argued that ID arguments could get one to a fully Christian conception of God. I never argued for anything but the very limited point that, if ID arguments are valid, they would disprove Dawkins etc.

    I am not asking you to worship a being just because he pushes molecules around, or plans universes. After all, Satan could do that. Don’t confuse my position with that of certain others who move too quickly to conflate ID and Christian theology. Bear in mind that I have spent a large part of my life studying Aquinas, Augustine, Plato, Aristotle, etc., sometimes in the original language, and I’d like to think that my theological and philosophical understanding is based on some ability to discriminate between “related but not the same” positions and to avoid sloppy conflations.

    That said, I see no necessary contradiction between a God of Love and a God who designs, and not only designs, but sometimes realizes the designs in a hands-on way. Nor did most of the major figures of the Christian tradition, no matter what the theistic evolutionists of today tell you. The Christ of infinite Love was identified with the Logos and the Logos was also the reason and order of the universe; in some medieval art the “detail work” — the precise ordering of creation — is represented as being performed by the second person, not the first person, of the Trinity. Love, reason, order, design, creation — all these concepts were frequently and in various combinations linked.

    I’m not here trying to tell you what theology you should prefer; I’m just making a historical point about what many Christians of the past, including some of the best and brightest, have believed.

    And I would never argue that if ID inferences are valid, therefore Christianity, or any revealed religion, is true. I would argue only that if ID inferences are valid, it is then *possible* that certain revealed religions are true. But conviction regarding a particular revealed religion cannot be arrived at via ID, or via scientific theorizing of any kind. It comes from other sources.

    PS: By the way, as I pointed out to you a couple of years ago, ID inferences don’t *require* an interventionist deity. Once you argued against me that ID did require this, then you backed off later, and now I see you are back to saying it again above. Michael Denton offers a version of wholly naturalistic evolution in which God sets up the process but does not intervene; the whole process is designed, however. Now whether or not Denton’s front-loaded scheme would work in practice can be debated; but conceptually, it’s possible to have an evolutionary process (and bear in mind that Denton does not mean a Darwinian process) whose outcomes at least in broad terms are designed and which doesn’t require intervention. Though it’s true that most ID theorists do imagine interventions to have happened, either as intrusions into an evolutionary process or as acts of special creation, ID isn’t *intrinsically* about intervention. The keynote of ID is not “this happened by miraculous means rather than through natural causes” but “this happened by design rather than by chance.” The latter assertion is *usually* joined with the former one, to some degree, by the ID theorists; but not always, and there is no strictly logical necessity why it should be.

  37. Points all taken, Timaeus, but regarding your last one:

    Let me rephrase more carefully:

    ID inferences from biology are of an interventionist designer (actually come to think of it that’s what I did say). If the ID inference is merely one of the ID setting up the whole thing at Big Bang and letting it roll, then it wouldn’t be interventionist, but then nor could we infer it from biology – could we?

    If we are, I’m not following (apologies if you already explained this and I forgot it meantime).

  38. keiths, I appreciate your response @ 27 to my comments @ 25 in which you so graciously took a bow for your exceedingly evolved intelligence that I acknowledged and that you have so mercifully decided to bestow upon us IDiots. But I noticed you did not address the rest of my post. I know you probably consider it beneath your dignity, since it is so obvious that only simpletons cannot see it, to actually provide an example of functional information being generated by purely material processes, but if you would be so kind as to provide and example of purely material processes generating functional information, I think, (if I can dare say the word ‘think’ around such a awesome brain as yours), that that may go a long ways towards accomplishing your noble goal of alleviating the ignorance of the unwashed ID masses.
    Moreover, if I may be so bold as to trouble your awesome brain power for another answer to a question that I have, it seems that even though you claim that entropy presents no trouble for Darwinian evolution, that evolution somehow found a way to evolve past some pretty steep thermodynamics barriers. You see keiths a cell is 10,000 times more energy-efficient than a transistor. “In one second, a cell performs about 10 million energy-consuming chemical reactions, which altogether require about one picowatt (one millionth millionth of a watt) of power.” Moreover keiths to achieve such unimaginable energy efficiency in the cell it turns out that a cell is ingeniously programmed along the very stringent guidelines laid out by Landauer’s principle, by Charles Bennett from IBM of Quantum Teleportation fame, for ‘reversible computation’ in order to achieve such amazing energy efficiency.

    Notes on Landauer’s principle, reversible computation, and Maxwell’s Demon – Charles H. Bennett
    Excerpt: Of course, in practice, almost all data processing is done on macroscopic apparatus, dissipating macroscopic amounts of energy far in excess of what would be required by Landauer’s principle. Nevertheless, some stages of biomolecular information processing, such as transcription of DNA to RNA, appear to be accomplished by chemical reactions that are reversible not only in principle but in practice.,,,,
    http://www.hep.princeton.edu/~.....501_03.pdf
    http://www.cs.princeton.edu/co.....apers.html

    The amazing energy efficiency possible in computers with ‘reversible computation’ (a computer theoretically never has to consume energy if you never erase information from it) has been known about since Charles Bennett laid out the principles for such reversible programming in 1973, but as far as I know, due to the extreme level of complexity involved in achieving such ingenious ‘reversible coding’, has yet to be accomplished in any meaningful way for our computers and computer programs even to this day:

    Reversible computing
    Excerpt: Reversible computing is a model of computing where the computational process to some extent is reversible, i.e., time-invertible.,,, Although achieving this goal presents a significant challenge for the design, manufacturing, and characterization of ultra-precise new physical mechanisms for computing, there is at present no fundamental reason to think that this goal cannot eventually be accomplished, allowing us to someday build computers that generate much less than 1 bit’s worth of physical entropy (and dissipate much less than kT ln 2 energy to heat) for each useful logical operation that they carry out internally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R....._computing

    Now keiths I know this is all child’s play for your awesome brainpower, but, if you could take the time, I would really appreciate knowing why, if thermodynamics presents no problems to Darwinian evolution as you resolutely claim, then how in blue blazes, since we don’t even have one example of functional information being generated by material processes, did Darwinian processes find a way to program a cell along the lines of reversible computation. A method of computation which is all about taking thermodynamic considerations into account. Once again I know you are probably busy on much bigger intellectual problems than this right now, but if you can find the time out of the hours and hours you spend on UD to address how this is possible in your worldview, I would greatly appreciate it:

    Notes:

    How we could create life: The key to existence will be found not in primordial sludge, but in the nanotechnology of the living cell – Paul Davies – 2002
    Excerpt: Instead, the living cell is best thought of as a supercomputer – an information processing and replicating system of astonishing complexity. DNA is not a special life-giving molecule, but a genetic databank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described, not in terms of material stuff – hardware – but as information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.
    - Paul Davies
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/educ.....ucation.uk

    Cells Are Like Robust Computational Systems, – June 2009
    Excerpt: Gene regulatory networks in cell nuclei are similar to cloud computing networks, such as Google or Yahoo!, researchers report today in the online journal Molecular Systems Biology. The similarity is that each system keeps working despite the failure of individual components, whether they are master genes or computer processors. ,,,,”We now have reason to think of cells as robust computational devices, employing redundancy in the same way that enables large computing systems, such as Amazon, to keep operating despite the fact that servers routinely fail.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....103205.htm

    Passing the baton of life – from Schrödinger to Venter – July 2012
    Excerpt: “All living cells that we know of on this planet are ‘DNA software’-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions,” said Venter. “We are now using computer software to design new DNA software.” – Craig Venter
    http://www.newscientist.com/bl.....enter.html

    Three Subsets of Sequence Complexity and Their Relevance to Biopolymeric Information – David L. Abel and Jack T. Trevors – Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling, Vol. 2, 11 August 2005, page 8
    “No man-made program comes close to the technical brilliance of even Mycoplasmal genetic algorithms. Mycoplasmas are the simplest known organism with the smallest known genome, to date. How was its genome and other living organisms’ genomes programmed?”
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/c.....2-2-29.pdf

    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012
    Excerpt: Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes.,,,
    The bioengineers, led by Stanford’s Markus Covert, succeeded in modeling the bacterium, and published their work last week in the journal Cell. What’s fascinating is how much horsepower they needed to partially simulate this simple organism. It took a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to actually generate the data on the 25 categories of molecules that are involved in the cell’s lifecycle processes.,,,
    ,,the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage, even given Moore’s Law. The M. genitalium model required 28 subsystems to be individually modeled and integrated, and many critics of the work have been complaining on Twitter that’s only a fraction of what will eventually be required to consider the simulation realistic.,,,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/tec.....rs/260198/

  39. Elizabeth (37):

    No; Behe argues from biology/biochemistry, but he does not insist on an *interventionist* designer. He has suggested interventionism as a possibility, but he has also acknowledged Dentonian “front-loading” as a possibility. (I’m not speaking of whatever personal belief he may have re interventionism, but only from his published arguments, which are all to design, not to intervention.)

    As to whether we could infer design “from biology,” I suggest you read Denton, *Nature’s Destiny*, and see what he argues. If you mean “from biology alone,” your question doesn’t really fit well with his scheme, as he sees physics-chemistry-biology as a seamless whole in the bigger picture. (It’s a very interesting book in its own right, regardless of whether or not one agrees with ID.)

    Let’s call it a day!

  40. Elizabeth:

    when Behe claims that irreducibly complex systems can’t evolve because there are no selectable intermediate steps, yet it can be shown mathematically that this is false;

    Please, do tell. It’s a given that darwinian evolution doesn’t involve math…

    when Meyer writes pages of elegant prose on the irreducible complexity of the ribosome, and ignores all research on the evolution of the ribosome;

    Umm, there isn’t anything on the evolution of the ribosome via darwinian processes.

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