Home » Cell biology, ID Foundations » ID Foundations 15 (b): Front-loading as a testable hypothesis cont’d — a guest post by Genomicus

ID Foundations 15 (b): Front-loading as a testable hypothesis cont’d — a guest post by Genomicus

Genomicus continues his presentation of the front-loading hypothesis:

___________

Geno: >>In my previous article on the subject of front-loading, I described the front-loading hypothesis and what it proposes. I outlined three testable predictions generated by the front-loading hypothesis. In this article, we’ll see how the front-loading hypothesis can lead us to numerous research questions, and this, in turn, will allow us to establish a better picture about the history of the origin and development of biological complexity.

There are probably dozens of research questions that we can ask as a result of the front-loading hypothesis, so I’ll only cover some of them here.

  1. How could molecular machines and systems be front-loaded?

An interesting question from a front-loading perspective is how molecular machines and systems (e.g., cilia, etc.) could have been front-loaded. Cilia, for example, usually require a fairly large number of proteins for their assembly and function (IFT particles). While IFT proteins are not required in the cilia of all eukaryotes, they are present in most eukaryotic cilia, and thus, if the cilium was front-loaded, it’s likely that these IFT particles were front-loaded with it.

The basic problem with front-loading a molecular machine is this: if a molecular machine functions through four components, for example, say A, B, C, and D, then how can we arrange it such that, in the future, components A, B, C, and D associate and form a novel molecular machine? At this point, one might be tempted to ask why we can’t just design the molecular machine into the first cells. However, when it comes to many molecular systems, it’s difficult to see how we could plug this molecular system, that is supposed to function in a eukaryotic context, into a prokaryote. For example, could sarcomeres really function in prokaryotes, without drastically re-engineering the sarcomeres such that they can function in prokaryotes? Almost certainly not. Thus, with a number of molecular systems, it seems that they have to be front-loaded, instead of designed into the initial state.

So, how do we front-load molecular machine X, composed of components A, B, C, and D? This research problem is most interesting, actually. If the solution to this problem was solved, it would, at a stroke, offer an explanation for a paradox of sorts: namely, the paradox that while it’s difficult to see how sophisticated molecular machines that display properties of rational design could arise through purely non-teleological mechanisms, often the components of these molecular machine share significant sequence similarity with other molecular systems, suggesting that common descent played a major role in their origin. In other words, molecular systems that are pretty hard to explain through non-teleological mechanisms show signs of having arisen through common descent. The solution to the above problem would solve this paradox.

There are two basic solutions to the problem of front-loading sophisticated molecular systems, but more research is needed so that we can find out exactly how these solutions would work in practice. In theory, however, there’s the “bottom up” approach and the “top down” approach to front-loading molecular systems. In the “bottom up” approach, the original cells would contain the components of the molecular machine we want to front-load, but these components would be carrying out functions not related to the function of the molecular machine. Then, somehow (here’s where we need research), something causes them to associate such that they fit nicely with each other, forming a novel molecular machine.

The “top down” approach proposes that the first cells had a highly complex molecular machine, composed of, say, components A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and J. If we want to front-load a molecular machine composed of components A, B, C, and D, then this highly complex molecular machine contains a functional subset of A, B, C, and D. In other words, components E, F, G, H, and J would simply have to be deleted from the highly complex molecular machine, resulting in a molecular machine composed of A, B, C, and D. This model is actually testable. Under this model, we would tentatively predict that a homologous system of a molecular machine will be more complex if it is more ancient than the molecular machine.

The nice thing about the “top down” approach is that we might just have an actual example of this in the biological world.

Consider the bacterial flagellum. It shares homology with the type III secretion system (TTSS), a molecular nanomachine that is involved in interactions between bacteria and eukaryotes (the TTSS exports proteins through the inner and outer membrane of the bacterium into the host cell). Might the TTSS have been front-loaded? This is an interesting possibility since it doesn’t seem all that difficult for bacteria to evolve export systems from the flagellum. Thus, the bacterium Buchnera aphidicola, an endosymbiont of the pea aphid, is nonmotile although its genome does have a cluster of flagellar genes. Research by Maezawa et al. (2006) indicates that these flagellar genes are transcribed and translated, and form a hook-basal-body complex (HBB) on the cell surface of Buchnera. In other words, at least two protein export systems have evolved from the flagellum independently, highlighting the possibility that, through the “top down” approach, molecular machines may be fairly easy to front-load.

Now, before someone mentions that the TTSS is involved in virulence, I’d like to point out that, if the TTSS was front-loaded, promoting virulence was probably not its intended function. Instead, something like beneficial symbiosis was probably its original function (in a front-loading context), and vestiges of this original state can be found in the fact that the TTSS mediates beneficial interactions between bacteria and legumes.

 

  1. Has cytosine deamination played an important role in the origin of metazoan genes?

Cytosine deamination, wherein the DNA base cytosine changes to thymine, is one the most common types of mutations. Poole et al. argued that no engineer would have used cytosine as a base in DNA precisely because it is prone to deamination. However, Mike Gene noted that cytosine deamination actually changes a pool of various amino acids to a pool composed of almost entirely strongly hydrophobic amino acids (called the “Increasing Hydrophobicity Effect,” or IHE). Given that hydrophobic residues are known to be play key roles in protein folding, this interesting discovery suggests, from a front-loading perspective, that cytosine may have been chosen by an engineer(s) because it is prone to deamination. This hypothesis predicts, then, that cytosine deamination has played a fairly important role in the origin of metazoan genes. This hypothesis can be tested by changing a metazoan gene’s sequence into its hypothesized original state before it was hit by cytosine deamination, and then BLASTing this new sequence to see if we get any significant prokaryotic homologs. Such a find would strengthen this hypothesis.

 

  1. Can the IHE be turned on and off by the cell?

Cytosine deamination is corrected by an enzyme called uracil glycosylase, and it can be increased by the enzyme cytidine deaminase. This brings up the possibility that the cell itself can control such molecular machinery, and thereby controlling the “increasing hydrophobicity effect.” This would, in theory, enable the cell to rapidly evolve certain proteins when it receives a certain stimulus. Thus, if the front-loading intelligence had designed such a system into the cell, we would predict that uracil glycosylase and cytidine deaminase was present in the very first cells, and, as a consequence, we would expect these enzymes (or enzymes carrying out the same function) to be found in the deepest-branching life forms, and to be nearly as widespread as ATP synthases.

 

  1. What was front-loaded?

This particular question is quite difficult to resolve, although the front-loading hypothesis does posit that metazoan life forms were front-loaded, and almost certainly animals and plants were front-loaded. Beyond this, it is difficult to say what was front-loaded. Were all animal and plant phyla front-loaded or only certain ones? Were various classes also front-loaded? How hard would it be to front-load a specific animal class, for example? Was the bacterial flagellum front-loaded, or was it designed into the first cells (note: I opt for the latter idea, that the flagellum was designed into the first cells)?

 

  1. What were the first cells?

Under the front-loading hypothesis, what did the first cells look like? Were they bacteria, archaea, or neither? Or perhaps the first cells did not belong to the same phyla and domains. What kind of genomic information did they contain? Cyanobacteria make an interesting candidate for the first cells, for several reasons. Firstly, they are deep-branching, which means they could have been there at the dawn of life on earth (in fact, cyanobacteria fossils are some of the oldest fossils out there). Secondly, they play a key role in the biosphere, suggesting that they could have easily been used to terra-form the earth such that it would be more hospitable to future, complex life forms. Thirdly, cyanobacteria often come together to form colonies, which could, I suppose, be useful in a front-loading context.

It is my opinion that the initial cells were composed of different types of bacteria, not belonging to any one group.

Figure. A figure of different types of bacteria. Image source: here.

 

Conclusion

In this article, I covered five different research questions we can ask from a front-loading angle. Answering these questions will be useful for a further understanding of how biological complexity arose. Also, many of these research questions offer testable predictions which is a good thing. If, for example, it was found that cytosine deamination has played an important role in the origin of metazoan genes, this would be a good reason for a front-loading designer to include cytosine as a base in DNA, countering the objection of Pool et al., and offering evidence for the front-loading hypothesis.

 

About me

Over the years, I have become quite interested in the discussion over biological origins, and I think there is “something solid” behind the idea that teleology has played a role in the history of life on earth. When I’m not doing multiple sequence alignments, I’m thinking about ID and writing articles on the subject, which can be found on my website, The Genome’s Tale.

I am grateful to UD member kairosfocus for providing me with this opportunity to make a guest post on UD. Many thanks to kairosfocus.

Also see The Design Matrix, by Mike Gene.

 

References

  1. Kazuki Maezawa, Shuji Shigenobu, Hisaaki Taniguchi, Takeo Kubo, Shin-ichi Aizawa, and Mizue Morioka. Hundreds of Flagellar Basal Bodies Cover the Cell Surface of the Endosymbiotic Bacterium Buchnera aphidicola sp. Strain APS. J. Bacteriol., 2006, 188(18): 6539–6543.
  1. Poole A, Penny D, Sjöberg BM. Confounded cytosine! Tinkering and the evolution of DNA. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol., 2001; 2(2):147-51.>>

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Stay tuned for more . . . END

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14 Responses to ID Foundations 15 (b): Front-loading as a testable hypothesis cont’d — a guest post by Genomicus

  1. I have long suspected that aspects of the form and function we observe in living systems are “front-loaded”. Before that term came into vogue, I used to say “biology is somehow built into physics”. Some people also refer to this position as “structuralism”, though that term covers a wide range of ideas.

    The issue I have with front-loading in the context of ID is that it seems to implicitly carry other metaphysical baggage, namely that a “front-loader” is necessarily a “conscious, rational agent”. I think we have no warrant to believe that, and some reason to believe that consciousness exists only where there is already systems containing high levels of CSI.

  2. AIG: A credibly sufficient explanation for the life we observe on earth would be a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter. As has been pointed out in effect since the dawn of the modern design theory, in its very first technical book, by Thaxton et al, c. 1984. That suggests that you are simply setting up a side track. Please, do not go there. KF

  3. F/N: The original post is about research questions posed by the front-loading hypothesis. So, let us ask, is it reasonable to work towards seeing if the sort of signs identified are real and what would they imply if so or what would be their best explanation — without playing games with a priori materialism and other similar talking point games. And, why or why not?

  4. Hi KF

    A credibly sufficient explanation for the life we observe on earth would be a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter. As has been pointed out in effect since the dawn of the modern design theory, in its very first technical book, by Thaxton et al, c. 1984. That suggests that you are simply setting up a side track. Please, do not go there.

    I can think of plenty of explanations, but in science these are called “hypotheses”, and to believe in them before we have evidence that they are true is irrational. Sure there could be extra-terrestrial life forms (where did they come from?) building new kinds of life forms for Earth, or there could be extra-terrestrial life forms who don’t know how to build life forms but have instead sent seeded Earth from their planet, or there could be spirits who live in another dimension who can somehow build life forms, or… and so on. We can all hypothesize! The hard part is finding evidence. If there is no evidence that any of these ideas are true (and there is none) then we must admit our ignorance.

  5. The issue I have with front-loading in the context of ID is that it seems to implicitly carry other metaphysical baggage, namely that a “front-loader” is necessarily a “conscious, rational agent”. I think we have no warrant to believe that, and some reason to believe that consciousness exists only where there is already systems containing high levels of CSI.

    Well, what if it turns out that amino acid sequences of proteins in the first life forms were carefully specified such that metazoan complexity could arise. It’s not that likely that this would simply be the result of physical laws. Front-loading is connected with directed panspermia, wherein the earth was intentionally seeded with life forms by an unknown intelligence. Again, that really wouldn’t be the result of purely physical laws, and in fact, “intentional” seeding, by definition, would be teleological.

  6. If there is no evidence that any of these ideas are true (and there is none) then we must admit our ignorance.

    Are you suggesting that there isn’t a scrap of evidence in favor of the front-loading hypothesis? That said, front-loading is testable, for the record.

  7. Hi Genomicus,

    Are you suggesting that there isn’t a scrap of evidence in favor of the front-loading hypothesis? That said, front-loading is testable, for the record.

    I actually believe that some sort of “front-loading” hypothesis may be true, and so I would not say there is not a scrap of evidence for it.

    What I say there is no evidence for currently is the notion that front-loading implies that a “conscious, rational agent” was involved. Our experience with conscious rational agents (ourselves) indicates that consciousness requires complex mechanism, so it is a priori unlikely that conscious agency preceded complex mechanism.

    Well, what if it turns out that amino acid sequences of proteins in the first life forms were carefully specified such that metazoan complexity could arise. It’s not that likely that this would simply be the result of physical laws.

    I certainly don’t know of any physical laws that would account for it, right. But our understanding of physics is far from complete, obviously. We all know how sure physicists were in 1900 that they had everything pretty well figured out except for a couple of details, right?

    I would love to find that metazoan complexity was encoded in the first cells, or that biological forms were somehow incipient in physical laws. It would certainly push the mystery back a few steps… but it wouldn’t tell us what sort of thing front-loaded the system.

    Front-loading is connected with directed panspermia, wherein the earth was intentionally seeded with life forms by an unknown intelligence.

    I don’t think all views of front-loading are connected with directed panspermia, no. Mine certainly are not.

    Again, that really wouldn’t be the result of purely physical laws, and in fact, “intentional” seeding, by definition, would be teleological.

    Directed panspermia (according to Crick’s version, anyway) does not imply that biological systems were engineered by conscious deliberation. It only states that existing life was deliberately sent to Earth. (What I referred to upthread here as the notion that ETs were our ancestors).

  8. AIGA:

    Quick note:

    Our experience with conscious rational agents (ourselves) indicates that consciousness requires complex mechanism, so it is a priori unlikely that conscious agency preceded complex mechanism.

    First, patently, this is little more than Dawkins’ notoriously failed “who designed the designer” objection.

    To see why this is a red herring, strawman and factually failed challenge, let us observe that from the existence of complex text and the complicated machines that have been used to post and read comments in this thread, we freely infer that the cause of the complicated functionally specific entities is intelligence, intelligence that is indeed more sophisticated than the text or machines. In short that designers may be more complex than the objects they design does not mean that design is not real.

    The proper focal issue is, whether there are reliable indicators of design that may be empirically observed and warranted per empirical test. Obviously, there are, many of them. We routinely rely on such all the time.

    It so happens that what we observe — life on earth — is full of such signs. It is also the case that we have reason to believe that a sophisticated molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond where Venter et al have reached, could well be able to do what is required.

    So, should we trust the empirically rested, reliable signs, or should we rely on the sort of materialistic metaphysical a prioris that you are trying to raise? The obvious answer is: metaphysical a prioris that block reasonable inductive inferences, are suspect.

    So, on abundant signs in hand, wee have reason to believe that life on earth is an artifact of design. All that that means, standing by itself, is that we have reason to see that we are not the very first intelligent and technologically sophisticated life in the cosmos. That should be welcome news, but it is not.

    Why?

    Simple, it allows what the Lewontinian a priori materialists in a lab coat are utterly committed to block at all costs. Namely, that somewhere along the chain of cause, there may be a designer beyond the cosmos. But, despite the horrified reactions of the materialists, that would not exactly be news to most people. There are millions alive all around us who would agree instantly that t is reasonable to accept that a designer of our world, including of life, is real. Some even claim to personally know him. Some of these have been — and in our day are — competent and even eminent scientists.

    So, why should we be shocked — shocked, apart from materialistic prejudice, to see that someone could think that way, even while wearing the lab coat.

    More to the point, there is a mountain of cosmological evidence pointing to a cosmos set up at a finely tuned operating point that creates a framework for life based on C-chemistry, aqueous medium cells. Isn’t it suspiciously significant that our cosmos is finely set up so that the first four or five or so elements are H, He, O, C, N; setting up what we need for life as we observe it? And much more besides?

    But that is going on.

    The key point is there is an appeal to vicious infinite regress, and an implied assumption that lie on earth come first. neither of these bears up under scrutiny.

    The proper question, is not whether there is a chain of onwared causes, but whether there is evidence on reliable sign, that certain things are designed. If we look at say a post in this thread, we do not object to the suggestion that on signs it is designed and not a plausible result of lucky noise, that a designer would have had to come from someone before him, and so on. Of course, a lot of designers are a part of the great chain of successive being in our world. I have parents, they had parents and so on. That neither implies an infinite regress nor that the causal chain is viciously infinite.

    Why should a nanotech lab by beings beyond our era, be so suspicious then?

    Ah, because the chain has to terminate at the origin of the cosmos at the big bang? Or in a finely tuned multiverse? Or, maybe in a necessary being beyond a multiverse?

    I sense an itch to put forth that whatever seeded life here would at some stage be a result of darwinian type mechanisms. Only problem, such mechanisms have NEVER been observationally shown as actually capable of producing FSCO/I-rich body plans, only of adapting existing complex functional structures, indeed the empirical data is on trivial and rather limited changes. What makes them seem so capable is largely an imposed a priori materialism.

    Going beyond, the chain of embodied intelligences cannot go beyond the big bang, and indeed well after it.

    We live in a contingent cosmos, which is itself credibly intelligently designed, and even a multiverse speculation does not eliminate that, it only puts the fine tuning back one step.

    We are looking at another order of being. Yes, we are familiar with things that have in them necessary causal factors/conditions that must be turned “on” for them to begin or continue to exist. But it is conceptually possible for a being to exist that has no such factors, and as experimenting with a burning match will tell you, such would not have a beginning, nor could it have an end. The truth in 2 + 3 = 5 is a case in point: it is necessarily so, always was, always will be, cannot end.

    And since our cosmos shows signs of being contingent and designed, why should it be thought incredible and even irrational and anti-scientific to consider that it is the product of a necessary, intelligent being and purposeful mind? Apart from materialist prejudice and hostility to “a Divine Foot” in the door so to speak?

    Certainly, on he logic, a contingent cosmos points to a necessary being. An evidently designed finely tuned cosmos set up for life, suggests that he being is intelligent, purposeful and intent on creating life. And, if there just happens to perhaps have been a molecular nanotech lab tucked away somewhere that seeded old terra orbiting sol 3.8 – 4.2 BYA, what is the problem with that?

    And if such a seeding would have had front-loaded mechanisms such as Genomicus has raised, why should the ideological objections materialists raise stop us from looking to see — i.e. scientifically researching — if there is empirical evidence that supports such a view, or even the idea of design libraries and reusable modular software and hardware components in life, generally?

    What’s there to lose, apart form materialistic prejudices?

    And, could we not even get some good design ideas for our own code and system designs, however the exploration turns out?

    GEM of TKI

  9. Hi KF,

    Quick note:

    As opposed to some of your longer ones? :-)

    I point out that all conscious, rational agents contain high levels of CSI, and you respond that that’s OK for ID – you are willing to concede that whatever designed life might indeed have been yet another complex being, even more complex than the organisms we observe on Earth. But as I have pointed out earlier, this is not a very good hypothesis. The problems are:

    1) Your hypothesis fails to account for the origin of CSI; it merely pushes the mystery of CSI back one step
    2) Once you posit the existence of highly complex extra-terrestrial beings, it seems more likely that we are simply the descendents of such beings, rather than the products of their engineering efforts
    3) There is no evidence that extra-terrestial life forms exist

    So, should we trust the empirically rested, reliable signs, or should we rely on the sort of materialistic metaphysical a prioris that you are trying to raise?

    Let’s go with empiricism! Since I am not a materialist, we can agree to junk those materialistic metaphysics, and while we’re at it make sure we’re not relying on any dualistic metaphysics either. What we know from our uniform and repeated experience is that life comes from life, that complex machinery comes from the minds of living things, and that minds require brains. If we stick to those empirical findings, we cannot solve the problem of how the first complex machinery came to exist. And that is why my position is that nobody knows how life began.

    So, on abundant signs in hand, wee have reason to believe that life on earth is an artifact of design.

    Actually, no – we have reason to believe that if life on earth did not somehow originate here (and I have no clue how that might have happened) then it must have come from somewhere else. But in our experience, living things come from other living things, usually by biological processes rather than engineering processes.

    All that that means, standing by itself, is that we have reason to see that we are not the very first intelligent and technologically sophisticated life in the cosmos. That should be welcome news, but it is not. Why? Simple, it allows what the Lewontinian a priori materialists in a lab coat are utterly committed to block at all costs.

    Actually, scientists have been looking for ET life forms for a long time (SETI), hoping to find some, but unfortunately have come up empty so far. I hope we find some indication before I die – I think it would be really interesting.

    More to the point, there is a mountain of cosmological evidence pointing to a cosmos set up at a finely tuned operating point that creates a framework for life based on C-chemistry, aqueous medium cells. Isn’t it suspiciously significant that our cosmos is finely set up so that the first four or five or so elements are H, He, O, C, N; setting up what we need for life as we observe it? And much more besides?

    As I’ve pointed out upthread, I find these fine-tuning arguments fallacious (we can’t estimate probabilities of things we have no understanding of, and we have no understanding of how physical constants came to be or how else it may have happened). But in any case, if you want to say that not only is life on Earth the result of conscious agency but also the universe itself, you are again faced with my original complaint: Conscious agency seems to be critically dependent on complex physical mechanism, so the evidence does not clearly point to the existence of a conscious being existing prior to physical reality itself. Of course you can make theological arguments to that end, but those are not simply inductions from our uniform and repeated experience.

    I sense an itch to put forth that whatever seeded life here would at some stage be a result of darwinian type mechanisms.

    I don’t have that itch, no. I’m utterly certain that nobody knows how life got here.

    We live in a contingent cosmos, which is itself credibly intelligently designed, and even a multiverse speculation does not eliminate that, it only puts the fine tuning back one step.

    We do not know if the cosmos is contingent, because we don’t understand how it began, nor how else it might have happened. We do not know if the cause of the universe was conscious, because we don’t understand the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness, nor do we know if consciousness is causal, nor have we ever observed intelligent action absent complex physical mechanism.

    You attempts to conclude that a personal God created the universe and life all rest squarely on metaphysical assumptions, yet you accuse me of making (materialistic) metaphysica assumptions instead. In psychology, this is called projection.

    We are looking at another order of being.

    You are looking at another order of being, in your imagination. It’s fine to imagine things, to dream, to hypothesize, to make up scenarios that if true would explain the mysteries of life. People always have, and always will. That’s all good. What is bad is when people feel the need to co-opt the certainty that science brings to certain problems and pretend that this certainly extends to theories of origins. And yes that goes for Dawkins and Hawking as much as Dembski and Meyer.

  10. I’ll be replying to you in a few hours, aiguy_again.

  11. What I say there is no evidence for currently is the notion that front-loading implies that a “conscious, rational agent” was involved. Our experience with conscious rational agents (ourselves) indicates that consciousness requires complex mechanism, so it is a priori unlikely that conscious agency preceded complex mechanism.

    The front-loading hypothesis proposes that the earth was seeded with cells that contained the necessary genomic information to shape future evolution, such that metazoan life forms could arise. This is a sign of foresight, and foresight is a property of rational agents.

    I certainly don’t know of any physical laws that would account for it, right. But our understanding of physics is far from complete, obviously. We all know how sure physicists were in 1900 that they had everything pretty well figured out except for a couple of details, right?

    Well, my problem with this view is that you’re appealing to some unknown physical law to act as a front-loader, while ID proponents are arguing that an intelligence(s) caused front-loading to begin on earth, and intelligence is known to be capable of doing things close to front-loading. Why are you appealing to an unknown physical law when all the clues in favor of front-loading suggest foresight?

    I don’t think all views of front-loading are connected with directed panspermia, no. Mine certainly are not.

    The founder of the front-loading hypothesis, Mike Gene, said that front-loading is an extension to Crick and Orgel’s directed panspermia. So, when I say front-loading, I mean the original hypothesis of front-loading as proposed by Mike Gene. Under the original front-loading hypothesis, the earth was intentionally seeded with life forms. Intention and purpose, by definition, is teleological.

  12. Genomicus, since the previous thread was closed after I asked my question there, I’ll repeat my question here:

    Genomicus said: “The prediction I proposed goes like this: you find a gene in all eukaryotes, and by comparing its sequences across various eukaryotic taxa, you find that it’s probably very important to eukaryotes. On the other hand, you find a gene in all eukaryotic taxa, but it doesn’t seem to be all that important. Front-loading predicts that the former gene is far more probable to share deep homology with prokaryotic genes than the latter gene.”

    So, what you are saying here is the following: A gene that is highly homologous across eukaryotic taxa is more likely to also be highly homologous in prokaryotic taxa than a gene that is not highly homologous among eukaryotes.

    That would be a pretty straightforward prediction of ANY theory that assumes common descent. I don’t understand why you think that only frontloading would make this prediction?

  13. AIG:

    I have already pointed out elsewhere that the mere fact that we have origins does not negate the force of the inference from reliable sign to design as the cause of an observed case of FSCO/I, especially dFSCI.

    Second, we live in a contingent cosmos that itself is fine tuned, on much evidence, towards C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life. That points to the origin of the cosmos in a designer that is extra cosmic, and in the end to a designer that is a necessary being. All of that has been put to you already.

    In short, that any particular designer responsible for a bit of FSCI happens to himself be credibly the result of a design does not negate the cogency of the inference from FSCI to design of the object embedding or exhibiting it.

    The Dawkins appeal to infinite regress immediately fails.

    In addition, he himself faces a regress problem, in a context where atomic matter is obviously contingent.

    I have already outlined how we can ground the source of a contingent cosmos exhibiting CSI in the form FSCO/I, in a necessary being and designer; in light of cosmological evidence.

    I need not get into abstruse debates over what is simple and what is complex. I can simply point out that there is such a thing as complex unity.

    KF

  14. Hi KF,

    I have already pointed out elsewhere that the mere fact that we have origins does not negate the force of the inference from reliable sign to design as the cause of an observed case of FSCO/I, especially dFSCI.

    You continue to misread my argument. I am not talking about the fact that humans have origins. My point is that since conscious beings require mechanism, we are as justified in concluding that the origin of CSI was mindless and mechanical as we would be concluding it was a conscious mind.

    In fact, given all this, the only reasonable position is to admit that nobody has any idea how CSI originated.

    Second, we live in a contingent cosmos that itself is fine tuned, on much evidence, towards C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life. That points to the origin of the cosmos in a designer that is extra cosmic, and in the end to a designer that is a necessary being. All of that has been put to you already.

    The two arguments against this are:
    1) We cannot ascertain the likelihood of our particular cosmos unless we commit to some theory of how it came to exist. Since we don’t know how it came to exist, we can’t say if it is contingent or not.
    2) Even if we decided that the universe could have come to exist in many other ways, that does not confirm that the cause of this cosmos was conscious. It is doubtful, actually, since in our experience only biological systems exhibit signs of consciousness (and mental abilities such as learning, problem-solving, etc).

    It’s all completely mysterious, KF. You want very much for the mystery to be solved your way, so there’s one God who experiences consciousness (in the same sense of the word we humans use) and free will (because you’ve assumed that too) and decided to build a universe with people in it. I think that’s unlikely for the reasons I’ve given here (plus some others), but I certainly don’t rule out that consciousness plays a role in creating what we call “reality”. Until we start solving some of the deep mysteries of consciousness, speculations about conscious beings existing without material brains seems like idle talk to me.

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