Home » Intelligent Design » My Proclivity for Inspiring Long UD Threads — Part Deux

My Proclivity for Inspiring Long UD Threads — Part Deux

At this writing I see that my post here has 122 responses, and that my post here has 81 responses.

After examining all the dialog one thing seems clear to me: The ID versus Darwinian-materialism question must inevitably invade and challenge the core of the human soul.

Don’t tell me that anyone doesn’t at least eventually ask the only substantive and meaningful questions: 1) Why am I here? 2) Where did I come from? 3) Is there any ultimate purpose or meaning in my life?

If Darwinism is true, the answers to these questions are obvious:

1) No reason.
2) Chemistry and chance, which did not have you in mind.
3) No. You are an ephemeral product of 2).

The problem is that Darwinism is obviously not true, and the scientific evidence mounts every day that its mechanisms are catastrophically inadequate as an explanation for what we observe.

The philosophical, theological, ethical, and existential ramifications of this debate cut to the core of the human soul, which is why it inspires so much passion.

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138 Responses to My Proclivity for Inspiring Long UD Threads — Part Deux

  1. It is interesting that hardcore atheists never tire of proclaiming in effect that Science proves–proves!– that we are all ultimate losers in a meaningless universe. And they are filled with loathing at anything that might indicate anything better.

    <shrug/>

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Gil. The hollow appeals to evidence supporting the thesis of law and chance creating fCSI is matched in ignorance only by the baseless ad hominem attacks on ID, equating its advocates to science haters

  3. “If Darwinism is true, the answers to these questions are obvious:

    1) No reason.
    2) Chemistry and chance, which did not have you in mind.
    3) No. You are an ephemeral product of 2).”

    Exactly. It means that ultimately, it doesn’t matter how we live our lives or even if we live our lives.

    It is hard to live life when a person realizes that life is actually meaningless and your actions, whether “good” or “bad”(meaningless terms in Darwinism) ultimately do not matter. In evolution, what is, is and there is no “right” or “wrong”. To talk about good and evil, Darwinists have to borrow from the Christian worldview, and yet we all know good and evil exist.

    As far as evolution goes, there is no goal, no purpose, no good, no bad, and no rhyme or reason for anything. No one can honestly live their lives this way though so if a philosophy doesn’t work, can it really be true? In our hearts, we all know that life does have meaning.

  4. I think two much more interesting questions are:

    1. Is there such thing as “me” distinct from others?
    2. Can I make observations and come to a trustworthy conclusion?

    If strict materialism is true. The obvious, irrefutable answers are:
    1. No
    2. No

  5. 5

    Gil,

    I believe you are right that Darwinism correctly understood does eliminate purpose from life. But I’m sure you have noticed that some opponents of ID (not the majority, but a very vocal minority) are even more passionate than we are, they seem to be even more frightened by the possibility that they might be designed for a reason, than we are by the idea that there might be no purpose to life. And it does no good to present evidence to these people, the stronger your arguments are, the angrier they become.

    Much as I would have preferred to discuss only scientific arguments in my new book , I did dive into theology briefly in Chapter 9, when I quoted Darwin: “I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.” I have found that many of our most passionate opponents were raised fundamentalists, and taught what Darwin was taught about God, and find this kind of God to be even more frightening than purposelessness.

    I tried to deal with Darwin’s objection in a footnote: “Darwin is apparently referring to passages like John 3:18, ‘He who does not believe is condemned,’ which are sometimes interpreted to mean that all non-Christians are ‘condemned.’ If I thought the Christian God were that unfair, I would share Darwin’s view of Christianity, but that John did not mean this as a condemnation of all non-Christians is clear from the following verse: ‘…and this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men preferred the darkness, because their deeds were evil.’”

    I also spent an entire “Epilogue” trying to deal with another theological problem “Is God really good?” that I believe also accounts for much of the passion of our opponents. This Epilogue seems to be the most popular chapter in my book, because, as I wrote (and truly believe) “I think most people who claim not to believe in God, say this not because of any shortage of evidence for design in Nature, but because it is sometimes so hard to see evidence that God cares about us, and they prefer not to believe in God at all, than to believe in a God who doesn’t care.”

    As I said, I would have much preferred to avoid theology altogether, because all you can do is speculate, and also because so many people claim that ID proponents do not understand the difference between science and religion. Most of us do understand the difference, we are just interested in both.

  6. 6

    I think that a lot of the more reflective atheists, materialists and determinists want to be convinced otherwise, but generally see their only options as deterministic materialism, or a spiritual world they abhor with eternal hell and a god that commands people to dash children against the rocks.

  7. If Darwinism is true, the answers to these questions are obvious:

    1) No reason.
    2) Chemistry and chance, which did not have you in mind.
    3) No. You are an ephemeral product of 2).

    I don’t see what Darwinism (or any of humanity’s thousands of religious and political) ideologies has to do with the answers to the questions.

    1) Because my parents conceived me.
    2) See #1.
    3) Yes, as I so choose and assert.

    Isn’t this whole “debate” rather artificial? Perhaps we can all grow up a bit.

  8. Also, quite aside from Darwinism itself, if you take naturalism/materialism/physicalism (whichever term you prefer) seriously, then you lose the concept of “free will” altogether, and it means that we, as Cashmore put it, “have no more free will than a bowl of sugar” (quoted from memory – sorry if it’s a little inaccurate). That’s a quote from someone who agrees with materialism!

    What’s even worse, is that scientists have, in general, taken this so seriously, that a paper in PNAS (Cashmore’s) can proclaim that we have no free will, and not even justify his statement or supply a source of justification! If you look at the lengthy citations required to establish nearly every fact in a scientific paper, and compare that to the citations that Cashmore needed to show that free will was a myth, you realize that the entire scientific establishment is infected with the myth of materialism, and doesn’t even feel the need to justify its position.

  9. @LarTanner,

    You should write a book on philosophy. All the great minds over the centuries that have asked these questions just wasted their time. They should have just grown up.

    Maybe you should grow up and see the implications of materialism.

  10. GilDodgen:

    1) Why am I here? 2) Where did I come from? 3) Is there any ultimate purpose or meaning in my life?

    If Darwinism is true, the answers to these questions are obvious:

    1) No reason.
    2) Chemistry and chance, which did not have you in mind.
    3) No. You are an ephemeral product of 2).

    Gill, your statement here contains a tremendous error in reasoning, and the error is due to a simple mis-definition that a quick trip to the dictionary will rectify. How your statement should read is:

    “If ATHEISM or MATERIALISM are true, the answers to these questions are obvious:”

    Darwinian evolution, (or neo-Darwinian, or whatever you want to call it) is only a proposed mechanism for the diversity of life, not a theory about ‘ultimate purpose’ or anything like that. On one hand, I hate to accuse anyone of deliberately misrepresenting science like this, but on the other hand, I really can’t imagine why this is so hard to understand. There are many Christians who are ‘darwinists’. Saying that evolution didn’t have you in mind isn’t any different than saying embryonic development didn’t have you in ‘mind’; embryonic development doesn’t have a ‘mind’ or even an ‘intent’; It’s just following an existing set of rules. God doesn’t have to go in and micromanage the process. The same is true with evolution. You can raise the question of why the universe and its laws exist in such a specific way as to facilitate the development and evolution of life, but that’s a different question entirely.

    You’re taking the philosophy of some Darwinists, and arguing as if Darwinism itself has anything to do with ‘ultimate purpose’.

    It’s either a juvenile mistake; or a deceitful, underhanded tactic.

  11. It’s either a juvenile mistake; or a deceitful, underhanded tactic.

    Well then, I guess Will Provine is guilty of the same thing:

    Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.

  12. GilDodgen:

    Well then, I guess Will Provine is guilty of the same thing.

    Yep.

    There is absolutely nothing you could ever discover about the mechanism of how something in our universe works that could possibly answer the question of the existence of God, or ‘ultimate purpose’ definitively, one way or the other.

    I’ve heard Provine speak before, so this is a fairly in-context quote. But most of the time, when you hear a scientist say that evolution has no ‘goal’ or ‘purpose’ or ‘direction’, they simply mean that the process of evolution has none of those things; not that those things don’t exist anywhere. Evolution is ‘undirected’ in the same way that hurricane formation, volcanism, or embryonic development are ‘undirected’; none of those things require deliberate, continuous intervention to explain how they work.

    But as Christians, (I assume) we all acknowledge that the weather is under God’s sovereignty, even though we can completely explain how it works in terms of physical laws, and we can investigate it using methodological naturalism as our starting premise with no ill effect to theology. There is no reason to treat Biology differently than any of the other sciences.

  13. Maybe you should grow up and see the implications of materialism.

    I agree that I, like everyone else, can stand to grow up.

    But I wonder about the expression, “implications of materialism.” If we want to talk about the implications of materialism without getting into the is/ought (or ought not) problem, how do you think we can do it?

    To be more pointed, do you think items 2 and 3 in the original post each slide from “is” into “ought” statements?

  14. jurassicmac,

    There is a reason: biology contains information. Weather only contains data, if that.

  15. Collin:

    There is a reason: biology contains information. Weather only contains data, if that.

    If biology contains ‘information’, then so does geology; rock strata contains information about age, composition, pole orientation, volcanic activity, meteorite impacts, past life, etc. There are even built-in ‘instructions’ in the universe as to how geology proceeds: New layers form on top of old ones, erosion subtracts, plate tectonics re-arrange, etc.

    If biology contains ‘information,’ then so does astronomy; Light from distant objects contains information about distance, relative speed and motion, composition, location, etc. There are even built-in ‘instructions’ in the universe as to how stellar objects form and behave: Gravitation causes clouds of hydrogen and helium to collapse and ignite in a nuclear reaction, gravitation also causes planets to form from and orbit stars, etc.

    If biology contains ‘information,’ then so does crystallography; Crystals contain information about composition, molecular structure, chemical reactions, history, etc. There are even built-in ‘instructions’ in the universe as to how crystals form and behave: The molecular structure, as well as environmental conditions, determine how the crystal grows, what pattern the molecules take, how rigid the crystal is, its light transmission, etc.

    So, by that criteria, we can treat at least those three disciplines ‘differently’, because the objects they study contain information as well.

    Perhaps you meant that biology contains more information than other sciences? Or that it contains more complex information? (or digital, functional, specified, complex information)

    If so, what makes you certain that biology, and biology alone, contains this feature?

  16. Origin of man now proved. –Metaphysics must flourish. –He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke. ~ Charles Darwin

    I am very seriously interested in the sorts of questions which 500 years ago would have been given religious answers. What are we here for? Where did it all come from? In a way, I think religion is to be admired for asking the right questions. ~ Richard Dawkins

  17. Jurassicmac,

    You are incorrect. Those things are not information, those things are data. That data is created when minds measure it.

    But DNA information is used as instructions to cellular machines. This is called fSCI; functional specified complex information and is radically different from the data that we abstract from nature when we make measurements. If we found some kind of blueprint for weather, then that would be information. But the weather seems to be governed by purely mechanical processes.

    A computer is different. In addition to mechanical processes, it is also governed by the information its hardware contains.

    Actually you are right, I’m sorry. I really do not know that those other things, like rocks, do not possess information. In fact, I believe (but have no proof) that they do have that information. But we see the information in DNA while, to my knowledge, none of that kind of information has been found in rocks and stars and clouds.

  18. 18

    Collin, others:

    Isn’t data a type of information? I think what you mean is that weather can be quantified through data, which we produce. It doesn’t contain the data. The data is something we produce in reference to what we observe in weather. Weather isn’t a material substance, but a human description of phenomenon involving certain physical interactions of matter. That phenomenon manifests in physical form, such as in a tropical storm, but it’s the phenomenon we define as weather, which produces the physical features out of matter that already exists. Weather does not produce new matter; it is merely our description of the rearrangement of it. Thus it is the matter, which contains the information, but weather contains no information without our input in describing the physical phenomenon.

    Biology is entirely different, and I think we should clarify that we are talking about biological organisms as opposed to the study of them. Biological organisms contain information, like the matter, which interacts according to physical properties to produce what we observe as weather. However, the information in the matter involved in weather does not contain FSCI – there’s no DNA in a raindrop. Biological matter does contain FSCI.

    So Jurassicmac is simply wrong. There is a reason to treat biology as uniquely different than all other sciences in that regard. Biology is concerned with not only biological protoplasm, but the phenomenon of what we call life. Biological matter contains FSCI, which is apparently necessary for biological life.

    JM is also wrong here:

    GilDodgen:

    “Well then, I guess Will Provine is guilty of the same thing.” (confusing Darwinism with Atheism or Materialism)

    Jurassicmac:

    “Yep.

    There is absolutely nothing you could ever discover about the mechanism of how something in our universe works that could possibly answer the question of the existence of God, or ‘ultimate purpose’ definitively, one way or the other.”

    While his statement might be true, it does not equate with his evaluation of Provine as confusing Darwinism with atheism or materialism.

    Even Jurassicmac has trouble separating his religious assumptions from the facts of science: for he states in his prior post:

    “Saying that evolution didn’t have you in mind isn’t any different than saying embryonic development didn’t have you in ‘mind’; embryonic development doesn’t have a ‘mind’ or even an ‘intent’; It’s just following an existing set of rules. God doesn’t have to go in and micromanage the process.”

    In affirming exactly what he denies Darwinists do, JM contradicts himself. God not having to micromanage is a religious judgment, for which there is absolutely no physical evidence, and which JM oddly contradicts in the first statement of his I quoted. If we can discover no physical evidence regarding God’s existence and purpose, then how could we know that God does not have to micromanage? Perhaps God is micromanaging, and we simply can’t detect it. How would we know one way or the other?

    And then JM is also wrong in his assessment of methodological naturalism as the starting basis for doing science, as if mn does not start from materialistic metaphysical assumptions; which it does. We’ve pretty much exhausted this issue in a number of earlier threads on UD, too numerous to count. Weak argument corrective #17 tackles it.

  19. 19

    Sorry Collin, it seems you beat me to the punch.

  20. tjguy (3)

    As far as evolution goes, there is no goal, no purpose, no good, no bad, and no rhyme or reason for anything. No one can honestly live their lives this way though so if a philosophy doesn’t work, can it really be true? In our hearts, we all know that life does have meaning.

    I always go back to the absurdities of evolutionary psychology. Alledgedly, we tend to desire the survival of our children to further the survival of or genetic information. But our hearts also break for sufferring children around to the world…well then there must have been some type of communal selective pressure for those feelings. Supposedly, every thought that “pulses through our brains according to the laws of physics only” was shaped by selection.  

    Of all of the unbelievable claims of natural evolution, this, to me, is the most unbelievable. I know that my thoughts and actions are not the inevitable output of an electrochemical kludge formed by the laws of physics. I know this. How anyone could believe otherwise is beyond my comprehension. My best guess is that it scratches some peoples’ itching ears that desire there to be no God

  21. @uoflcard,

    “Of all of the unbelievable claims of natural evolution, this, to me, is the most unbelievable. I know that my thoughts and actions are not the inevitable output of an electrochemical kludge formed by the laws of physics. I know this.”

    No, the absurdity is that you evolved to disbelieve evolution. Evolution guided you to not believe that it’s true. You can’t help what you believe. It’s all the selective pressure’s fault.

  22. CY @ 18:

    In affirming exactly what he denies Darwinists do, JM contradicts himself. God not having to micromanage is a religious judgment, for which there is absolutely no physical evidence, and which JM oddly contradicts in the first statement of his I quoted.

    What I said in context (and should have explained in in terms that a middle schooler could understand, in retrospect) was that positing ‘divine intervention’ is not required as part of the scientific explanation of embryological development, or any other process that we’ve been successful at explaining thus far.

    If we can discover no physical evidence regarding God’s existence and purpose, then how could we know that God does not have to micromanage? Perhaps God is micromanaging, and we simply can’t detect it. How would we know one way or the other?

    EXACTLY! That’s my entire point. You seem to understand it here, but then you don’t understand when someone tries to explain that if you can’t detect or test something, even in principal, it is not science. That doesn’t mean that it’s not true, just that it’s not scientific.

    In affirming exactly what he denies Darwinists do, JM contradicts himself. God not having to micromanage is a religious judgment, for which there is absolutely no physical evidence, and which JM oddly contradicts in the first statement of his I quoted.

    I apologize for not speaking more clearly. By now I should realize that I have to be incredibly explicit when talking to creationists. Saying that “God does not have to micromanage embryonic development” Is not a religious statement any more so than saying “God does not have to micromanage erosion” or “God does not have to micromanage the inner workings of a computer” What it’s saying in all of those cases is that divine intervention isn’t required as an explanation. You’re right, it could be that there are no such things as natural laws or forces like gravity, electromagnetism, strong or weak nuclear forces, that God is fiddling with every particle in the universe in a consistent way at every single moment. But you yourself noted that this is not detectable, or discernible from the alternate theory, which makes it a useless statement for scientific investigation. (Along the lines of saying leprechauns are doing the same thing; how could you ever know that they’re not? But I have a feeling that you wouldn’t accuse someone who said that leprechauns aren’t micromanaging the development of an embryo as making a ‘religious’ proclamation)

    Again, it’s not ‘religious’ to not posit God as a direct, proximate explanation; it’s scientific. If you have a beef with not allowing miracles as part of an explanation, then you have a beef with all of science, not just evolutionary biology. Imagine the following hypothetical conversation: (variations of which I’ve witnessed many times)

    Theist: God is benevolent and all powerful, and all ‘kinds’ of life are specifically designed.

    Atheist: It doesn’t seem like the God you’re describing would intentionally design things like aids or malaria.

    Theist: That’s a religious argument.

    Atheist: No, it’s not. I’m merely saying that your ‘theory’ is internally inconsistent.

    Theist: Diseases are a result of human sin.

    Atheist: That doesn’t make sense. There were diseases before there were humans.

    Theist: Another religious argument!

    Atheist. No, it’s not. I’m merely pointing out a contradiction in your statement. Something can’t be caused by something it precedes.

    Theist: How do you know what God would or not do? Maybe the consequences of sin were applied retroactively. Maybe God just wanted to make it look as if things share a common ancestor, to test our faith. Maybe God…”

    Atheist: Hold on there a second! I’m not making speculations on what God would or would not do, (I don’t even believe in him) YOU ARE!

    That’s the same thing that happens in these threads, except I get lumped in with the atheist because I accept evolution along with 99% (plus or minus 1%) of professional scientists.

  23. jurassicmac: If so, what makes you certain that biology, and biology alone, contains this feature?

    I’m familiar with Shannon information, and I’m involved with the concepts almost daily in my work on a technical paper. There is no reason to expect that the existence of a “thing” or a “field” can be characterized by Shannon information, because there is no way to characterize the Shannon entropy of a “thing” or a “field”. Entropy in this sense in lay terms would roughly correspond to “accuracy”. How would you characterize the accuracy of the mass of an atom? The mass is what it is without regard to entropy. So it is meaningless to propose that the mass of an atom expresses Shannon information. Now our efforts to quantify the mass of an atom WOULD be subject to accuracy. In the most basic sense, our knowledge of measure of exactly 1 AMU has as a definition a number, out to X decimal places in grams. So our definition itself would be characterized as having entropy of LOG10 X. Now if we were to try to measure the mass of an atom, this measurement would be characterized by an entropy represented by the accuracy of the equipment and transducers used in the experiment and the entropy of the measure would be non-linearly added to the entropy of the gram measure of 1 AMU, for composite entropy figure. In other types of measure, there is a basic limit to accuracy of each measurement because of noise in the environment, such as electromagnetic noise. This accuracy can be estimated, based on noise power and probe signal power. and with this is what my technical paper is concerned.

    It is easy to see why it is tempting and philosophically useful to characterize the genetic code as information based, because it is inherently almost perfectly analogous to strings of characters or digits, moreover serving in a way which in our everyday experience we would classify as instructions. And there is no such string of digits corresponding to a stream of photons coming here from deep space. That is, unless it is measured or otherwise recorded, or converted to other forms for transmission. And then the phenomenon becomes part of the Shannon “coding problem”, and is subject to the rules of information theory.

  24. 24

    Jurassicmac,

    On a post from maybe a week or two ago I addressed what the difference between a religious statement and a non-religious statement would entail. I can’t remember my exact words, but It went somewhat like this: Neutrality as far as God’s existence doesn’t mean that we are free to guess that God isn’t necessary; rather, it means that we say “I don’t know” either way. This was the view, which allowed Antony Flew to arrive at the idea that we ought to go wherever the evidence may lead without a thought as to either the non-existence or the existence of God, (and the important part) regardless of whether such evidence leads one to infer design over Naturalistic processes alone.

    Now here’s where I have to disagree with your response; and BTW I am not a scientific Creationist, but perhaps like you, I accept that God is our Creator; so that makes me a Biblical Creationist (I feel I have to clarify this once again).

    The problem is that the workings of nature by themselves, for which we have evidence, and which is the basis for doing science does not cancel out God’s necessity. To say that because we can explain how gravity works, that this is evidence that God is not necessary (you used the phrase “God does not have to micromanage”) is still a religious statement.

    I agree that perhaps God doesn’t need to micromanage evolution for it to occur. However, that was not the issue you were addressing. The quote wherin you first mentioned micromanaging seemed to imply that evolution cancels out God’s necessity, rather than simply implying that God doesn’t need to direct every natural process for which we have evidence. For this belief, we have absolutely no evidence. And your statement was in reference to Will Provine’s statement about Darwin’s views on this matter, which were quite clearly that God is not necessary if evolution is true.

    So there is no way you could know this statement to be true, regardless of evidence. If you are a theist, you are inclined to disagree with it on principle; but one thing is certain, you know that It can’t be rationally supported by any evidence. Therefore, it fits with what is usually defined as a theological or religious belief.

    Furthermore, while I alluded to the idea that perhaps God’s workings cannot be detected in nature, I never conceded to this as fact. In fact, I believe quite the opposite; that they are. That is precisely the inference we are able to make in light of ID, in light of fine tuning, and I dare say we will be able to make in light of other future evidences perhaps in other fields of science. But I reserve that judgment until we have reasonable evidence that such an inference can be made. This is what separates me (and others here at UD you seem to think are Creationists) from the scientific Creationists; who assume (sometimes with quite well developed arguments) that science overwhelmingly confirms Biblical miraculous events such as Noah’s flood.

    And JM, it’s not that we preschool level Creationists don’t know what you mean to the extent you have to simplify your terminology and be very clear. We know exactly what you mean, and we disagree on grounds, which are well defined in this website’s weak argument correctives. I.e., we’ver heard it all before, and because we have, we’ve had plenty of time to prepare responses (not necessarily this post), which cover fully all arguments that are possible to level against ID, and against it’s validly theistic inference.

    I see that you like putting words in peoples’ mouths. Is this because you want your caricature of others to be true despite evidence to the contrary? Let me give you an example of this:

    “You’re right, it could be that there are no such things as natural laws or forces like gravity, electromagnetism, strong or weak nuclear forces, that God is fiddling with every particle in the universe in a consistent way at every single moment. But you yourself noted that this is not detectable, or discernible from the alternate theory, which makes it a useless statement for scientific investigation.”

    I never once made a statement that there are no laws of physics. In fact, the existence of God, and His actually working in the cosmos is a more reasonable assessment of reality in light of these laws than that God’s involvement isn’t necessary. Of course God’s involvement is necessary. God is necessary for everything to exist, and we can argue this on a much higher plane of reasoning than methodological naturalism.

    But your response is quite typical, and it speaks volumes of your conception of what theists mean by God. I think you should take a look at what I stated in # 87 of part one of this two part post, beginning with the 3rd paragraph down. You reveal a lot of assumptions about what a God must necessarily be like if He exists, which atheist Darwinists frequently use to dismiss the existence of God altogether. But their conception of the Biblical God is totally contrary to the conception that scripture actually gives us. This is why I believe they are motivated by theological considerations, rather than by purely examining the evidence with no opinion either way, as articulated by the late former atheist Antony Flew.

    Your script between the atheist and theist is cute :) , but completely lacking in any reality as to the actual arguments theists typically employ.

    You don’t get lumped in with the atheists because you accept evolution. You get lumped in with them because you employ their same tired arguments and you seem to think you are enlightening us. I’m not saying that you can’t enlighten us, but the arguments you are using aren’t doing so.

    Of course 99% of professional scientists accept evolution. I think it would be more accurate to say tha the figure is 100%. Your point? Of those 100%, a chunk believe in Darwinian evolution, another chunk in theistic evolution, another chunk in ID, and another chunk in Creationism. Be careful of statistics like this. They really mean nothing if the term “evolution” is not more narrowly defined.

  25. Would your life be without purpose or meaning if evolution was conclusively shown to be true?

    Do you really believe that if somehow evolution could be conclusively shown to be true, then your life, your love, your family, your music, hobbies, charities, everything that you value and care about suddenly would lose all purpose and meaning to you – and you’d instead wish you rather was dead?

    We assume human lives means more than animal lives but look at life; All life struggles to live and does its best to stay alive. Animals protect their young ones with their own life; a chimp mother may carry her dead child around until she finally give up. Why, if life is without purpose and meaning?

  26. When Gil asked the question about purpose, he asked about ultimate purpose, meaning a purpose beyond just what I want. At 7, LarTanner gave these answers to the three questions:

    1) Because my parents conceived me.
    2) See #1.
    3) Yes, as I so choose and assert

    One could also give these answers:

    1) I wanted to log on to UD
    2) From the next room
    3) I want to read and post responses

    The answers are valid, but silly. We all understand what was being asked.

    If “evolution” (you mean Darwinism) is true, there is no purpose or meaning. Our choices are an illusion since we are nothing but matter and energy abiding by the laws of physics. Our lives have no more meaning than where the wind deposits a grain of sand.

    If consciousness is not an illusion, but is true and not dependent on matter, if we were designed, then there is a purpose. That’s a question worth pursuing.

  27. jurrassicmac

    I am trying to understand you.

    First of all, you come off in tone as someone who is trying to educate the ignorant peasants. Please stop it. Please learn to put more humility in your tone. I will try to do this also. I admit I sometimes come off too high and mighty. Please forgive me.

    Second. I don’t understand what your concept of God is.

    Third. Look at this statement.

    “But as Christians, (I assume) we all acknowledge that the weather is under God’s sovereignty, even though we can completely explain how it works in terms of physical laws, and we can investigate it using methodological naturalism as our starting premise with no ill effect to theology. There is no reason to treat Biology differently than any of the other sciences.”

    WRONG. And I can’t emphasize how WRONG this statement is. There is every reason in the world that Biology must be treated differently than the other science. It is because in the end Biology ( or more importantly Evolutionary Biology ) attempts to explain man. And attempts to explain man’s consciousness.

    We can argue til the cows evolve a way to reach the barn about how much God intervened and how much was frontloaded. This is not my concern.

    What is a big concern is when people conclude from Evolution that NO intervention is necessary.

    1. This is the religious statement. We can’t possibly know this.

    2. This is the statement people wanting so badly to be rid of moral culpability are attracted too.

    3. I find the statement entirely unsupported by the scientific and religious and personal evidence.

    People can have reasonable debates on how much intervention is necessary to go from inorganic dust to CONSCIOUS human being. But the idea that NO intervention is needed at all is the statement I consider foolish, religious, and completely unsupported. Is that clear.

  28. 28

    JDH,

    Excellent comment. It is very frustrating trying to argue with people who are capable of believing two logically contradictory ideas at the same time.

  29. jpg564,

    As you might expect, I happen to think my given answers are more correct and less freighted with ideology than those given in the OP. I’m not trying to be a wise-acre, in other words.

    You, and others, talk about this idea of ultimate purpose as “a purpose beyond just what I want.” My reply is two-fold: (1) there are plenty of purposes beyond just what I (or you) want; and (2) the idea of ultimate purpose is nice as an ideal, but on what grounds do we posit it as something actual?

    So to me, the real “ultimate” issues concern what we’re really talking about and whether what we’re really talking about is really real. These are the matters I’ve wanted to discuss.

    I have less confidence than you that “We all understand what was being asked.” I don’t think we all do understand–including me. I would like to understand better. Hence, my comments.

    I also dispute your statement that “If ‘evolution’ (you mean Darwinism) is true, there is no purpose or meaning.” First, I mean quite seriously that our human ability to make and perceive meaning is independent of whether evolution (including Darwinism) explains the diversity of life on our planet. Second, I don’t like your actorless “there is” clause because it presents purpose or meaning just existing (or non-existing) “out there,” somewhere.

    My comments and questions have focused on attaching meaning and purpose to an actor that imposes meaning or one that decodes and interprets meaning. Our experience tells us that sentient beings create and decipher meaning. I don’t see why we can’t be consistent and talk not of a free-floating “ultimate meaning” but rather of a meaning associated with an agent or agents.

    I am not opposed in principle to free-floating meaning, but I’d like to know the basis for stipulating it.

    Does this make sense?

  30. Correction: Shannon entropy H for the example of the accuracy in grams to which we know the AMU would be measured in say decimal digits and would be log10(1/error_fraction). The quantity I gave log10 X should have been X which is still only roughly true since it assumes the MSD is accurate to one MSD.

  31. Cabal: Do you really believe that if somehow [Darwinian] evolution could be conclusively shown to be true, then your life, your love, your family, your music, hobbies, charities, everything that you value and care about suddenly would lose all purpose and meaning to you…?

    As a child, at age seven, I remember the exact moment I figured out that life was ultimately meaningless and purposeless, based on the atheism and Darwinism with which I was raised. It was a simple logical conclusion that even a seven-year-old could figure out.

    From that time until age 43 I worked hard and excelled to the best of my ability in everything I pursued. But it was all tainted by the dark cloud of knowing that it was all ultimately pointless.

    My life and soul were dark. I was hideously cynical. I tried to destroy the faith of Christians because they repulsed me. I wanted to drag them down into the despair of atheism with which I had lived for so long. Misery loves company.

    But then something happened, and I realized that my atheism and materialism represented a grand lie. Most of all, I realized that the science I thought supported my atheism, actually refuted it.

  32. First, I mean quite seriously that our human ability to make and perceive meaning is independent of whether evolution (including Darwinism) explains the diversity of life on our planet.

    Sorry if this is harsh, but…

    Another completely WRONG statement. And again I can’t tell you how WRONG it is! IF evolution ( including OOL from nothing ) can completely explain life, then we have no reason to believe that our perceived meaning comports with reality. If something is only perceived, it means precisely that it might be completely wrong. We have no reason to trust anything at all if our most personal feelings of meaning and purpose are illusions. This is everything. To dismiss it as you do shows to me you do not really want to consider the philosophical implications of your own statements.

    To reiterate – If my most intimate understandings are only perceptions, then there is no reason to trust my understanding of the supposed objective reality. Thus whether evolution explains everything is intimately connected with meaning and purpose.

  33. JDH,

    No need for apologies. Not to be flippant, but I don’t see what you’re getting so rhetorically worked up about. You say:

    IF evolution (including OOL from nothing ) can completely explain life, then we have no reason to believe that our perceived meaning comports with reality.

    I have some issues with the statement, but even if I grant it: so what? So what if our perceptions don’t always (or ever) match up with reality? Isn’t that the situation we face right at this moment? Isn’t that why we make and develop tools that help enhance and broaden our perception?

    Then you say:

    To dismiss it as you do shows to me you do not really want to consider the philosophical implications of your own statements.

    I think my few posts have shown a willingness to consider precisely these implications, but please feel free to continue enlightening me. Truly.

    Your final paragraph contains several charged terms: “most,” “only,” “no reason,” “everything.” This kind of language seems to me not only overly dramatic but also deformative, as in deforming and derailing a reasoned discussion of ideas. And that paragraph is incorrect at most every turn. Peceptions are quite important, there is some reason to trust understanding in a good many conditions, and evolution is not purported to explain everything.

    Meanwhile, my questions about free-floating ultimate meaning remain unadressed.

  34. As a Christian and a Darwinian, I see no reason why Darwinism has anything to say about the ultimate meaning of life.

    Darwinian biology has nothing to say about abiogenesis. And even a working theory of abiogenesis wouldn’t have anything to say about the larger question of a creator.

    Darwinian biology has been almost hopelessly confused with atheist philosophy, when in fact there is no direct or inevitable connection between the two.

    Darwinism may, indeed, fill in one of the gaps that was thought to necessitate God, but I don’t see why we should be searching for God in the gaps in the first place.

  35. Isn’t that why we make and develop tools that help enhance and broaden our perception?

    It is exactly those tools and their advancement (as well as our universal experience as beings who record all we’ve come to know) that is telling us that raw chemistry cannot create symbollic meaning, and by extention, it cannot originate communication.

    The emperical basis to believe otherwise is absolutely non-existant.

    So in assessing a cause when we find meaning instantiated into matter, its is not only perfectly reasonable, but it is fundamentally unreasonable to not consider the only cause known to be capable of instantiating meaning into matter – indeed, the only cause known to be able to create meaning at all.

  36. LarTanner,

    So what if our perceptions don’t always (or ever) match up with reality? Isn’t that the situation we face right at this moment? Isn’t that why we make and develop tools that help enhance and broaden our perception?

    If we could never trust our perceptions, developing tools to ‘enhance and broaden’ said perceptions isn’t going to help. Our perceptions of the tools would be wrong as well so there’s really nothing you could do about it.

    Peceptions are quite important, there is some reason to trust understanding in a good many conditions, and evolution is not purported to explain everything.

    Could you please explain:
    A) What this reasoning is.
    B) Why you trust said reasoning.

    Also, no one is claiming that evolution is purported to explain everything.

  37. Upright BiPed,

    I’m not sure why you felt it necessary to assert “raw chemistry cannot create symbollic meaning, and by extention, it cannot originate communication.”

    Similarly, your statement about “meaning instantiated into matter” comes out of left field. I don’t mean to be dense, but could you please connect the dots from what I have written to what you are saying?

    Scruffy,

    You seem to take “wrong” as an absolute term, and I think it’s unnecessary to do so. Can we not be partly correct in our natural perceptions and in our tools/technologies for improving perception?

    My response, therefore, to your A and B points is that we have our common experience and shared understandins to tell us we’re probably correct about lots of elements of reality.

    If you are making an additional point about the need for (or lack of) an “ultimate verification” of correctness, then no, I don’t think there is one. At least, I’m not aware of one. I also don’t think one is necessary. We can be correct enough within the frameworks we have established through our natural perceptions and through our efforts to build better tools/technologies.

  38. Hello Lars,

    I apologize if my comment was not clear. You had made the observation that we invent tools in order to help us in perceiving reality, and my comment was simply a response to that single observation. That is why I copied and pasted those specific words from your post. My point is that those tools have given us additional insight, now from a molecular perspective, that materialism is indeed false on its face.

    As for the larger conversation regarding “meaning”, I would simply start by recognizing that the very existence of “meaning” is perhaps the most significant phenomena known to mankind. This is in no doubt related to the entire apparatus to which the existence of meaning suggests is necessary for its existence.

    The general definition of “meaning” is that one thing is mapped (by some means) to something else. One thing means another; this signifies that. This definition in itself would indicate that meaning cannot exist without perception, otherwise there would be no way to gather that there is a “this” to begin with (if it were not for the ability to sense and perceive it). In other words, there could not be a “this means that” if we could not perceive a “this” from the start. And by logical extension, the capacity to perceive something entails the rather distinct phenomena of semiosis (symbols). If I pull a card from a deck and look to see which one it is, I do not then have a card in my head, but instead have a particular physical mapping of neurons that represents and encodes the identity of that card within my memory. In other words, I have a perceived abstraction of the card in my head, and that abstraction necessarily involves a chemical representation correlated to the card’s identity. Even if we cannot understand how such an elaborate representative symbol-system works, we certainly know that a card in not in my head – yet I can tell you which one it is.

    Symbolic representation is also necessary as meaning is being communicated. Meaning cannot be communicated without symbols. This clearly holds true in human language, just as it does in the instance of a bee “dancing” to indicate the presence of food to the remainder of the hive, or an ant reacting to the symbolic meaning of a particular pheromone. Now certainly, we may passionately and intelligently argue whether or not such “lower” life forms have a grasp of “meaning” in the way a human does, but still, we do know that a dancing bee is not the food itself, but instead represents that food through symbolic communication to the other bees.

    This capacity (of perception and semiosis) necessarily limits the existence of meaning to the domain of living things. In other words, moisture does not mean rust to iron; air vibrating at 262Hz does not mean middle C on a piano to the molecules in the air; rainclouds do not mean the possibility of rain to the ground on which the rain might fall. Without the faculty of perception, meaning cannot exist, and without symbolic representation, meaning could not be perceived or communicated. Therefore, meaning is the sole domain of living things, and is categorically separated from non-living things.

    Based upon what is observed, I personally see no way to circumvent the fact that meaning exist, and cannot avoid the reality that the existence of meaning is inherently connected to Life.

    The question then becomes, can they be separated? We know that Life exist, and we know that meaning exist as well. We conclude that meaning is an observable product of living things, but is Life an observable product of meaning?

    The molecular data suggests not only is this true, but it has to be true.

    Life exists by means of encoded symbols in the form of nucleic acids arranged in identifiable sequences. These chemical symbols have specific meaning. One thing represents another. For example, C-T-A is a symbolic code for the amino acid Leucine. Likewise, the sequence of A-G-T codes for Serine, and T-A-T codes for Tyrosine. In fact, the first act of a dividing cell is to make a copy of those symbols and pass them to the daughter cell. It is an observable fact that living things operate from a semiotic mapping of chemical structures in the abstract (within DNA) to other chemical structures which are created from that abstraction after it is decoded by cellular machinery (resulting in the proteins and regulatory networks that make life possible).

    In other words, meaning is observationally at the very core of Life, and Life would not exist without it. Meaning preceded Life on this planet.

    Since such an assertion (and this post in general) provides such a target-rich environment for materialists, I would just like to quickly encapsulate some of the definitions I use, as well as some of the assumptions I make.

    Definitions:

    Meaning: I take my definition directly from the common understanding of the word (that one thing represents another) as well as from Claude Shannon’s paper on Information Theory where he states that things with meaning “refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities”.

    Code: Any representation(s) that can be conveyed through a channel and then have its original meaning decoded by means of rules.

    Assumptions:

    Meaning exist.

    Meaning requires perception.

    Perception requires semiotic representation.

    Perception and semiosis operate solely in the domain of living things.

    Living things operate from a semiotic system entailing specific meaning.

    Conclusion:

    We know that Life cannot operate without semiosis, and there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest it therefore could have begun without it.

  39. I haven’t posted here in a couple months or longer but just happened to pass by and saw Gil’s two threads. I have no idea what has been said but from the past, my experience is that what generates long threads here is overt threats against atheism.

    I once told Hazel that atheism was intellectually bankrupt and before long the thread was several hundred comments long as she and others tried to defend their atheism on intellectually arguments.

    I know Gil is a reformed atheist and as he said that is a real threat. Keep it up Gil. They are intellectually bankrupt.

  40. 40

    As a child, at age seven, I remember the exact moment I figured out that life was ultimately meaningless and purposeless, based on the atheism and Darwinism with which I was raised.

    That is really sad, Gil. I hope you have been able to forgive your mother and father for raising you in such a bad environment.

  41. LarTanner,

    You seem to take “wrong” as an absolute term, and I think it’s unnecessary to do so.

    I was referring to the portion of your reply where you stated that even if our perceptions never lined up with reality, the tools we develop still help us understand said reality.

    Never means never all the time. You can’t develop tools to help you understand reality if your perceptions are never aligned with objective reality to begin with.

    It’s akin to the ‘brain in a vat’ scenario.

    You perceive that you’re a physical human that has freewill, a place to live, a car, the ability to walk, etc.

    The objective reality is that you’re a brain in a vat being stimulated by a scientist. The stimulation is what generates your perceptions of reality and no amount of tools developed are going to show you that you’re really just a brain in a vat.

    I find the brain in a vat scenario very similar to a reductionist worldview in that they say we can understand and discover truths about reality, yet it all boils down to how atoms are interacting to one another.

    You perceptions don’t come from anything but how the atoms are moving, that’s it. Like the mad scientist prodding the brain, the atoms are generating the stimulation that has you convinced we can know reality.

    Although a reductionists view of reality is even worse than the brain in a vat scenario. Why? Because the reductionists is basically saying that atoms are stimulating atoms to generate a perceived reality of themselves.

    Can we not be partly correct in our natural perceptions and in our tools/technologies for improving perception?

    We can and I agree with the statement 100%. I have no problem excepting it because my worldview allows for it.

    I can see no reason for reductionism allowing such a reality.

  42. 42

    Leadme.org,

    “Darwinian biology has been almost hopelessly confused with atheist philosophy, when in fact there is no direct or inevitable connection between the two.

    Darwinism may, indeed, fill in one of the gaps that was thought to necessitate God, but I don’t see why we should be searching for God in the gaps in the first place.”

    Well first let me say that your first two words give you away “Darwinian biology.” Biology is neither Darwinian or any other “inian.” It is not ID, it is not Creationism, it is simply biology. To fail to see the metaphysics behind Darwinian theory, by which we (and others) assess that it has more to do with ideology than science, is to beg a whole lot of questions.

    The charge that theists fill in gaps where no natural explanation lies is simply false. Theists believe that God is the Creator of all that exists. As such, He is involved in Creation, and is not absent. Where there are gaps in knowledge, it is perfectly legitimate to see God in those gaps. We don’t fill them in with God because God is already present and not absent. Natural phenomena ultimately find their beginning in God.

    When Darwinists, therefore charge that finding natural explanations cancels God’s necessity with regard to natural phenomena, they are making religious assertions; and these assertions are overwhelmingly atheistic.

    So when you assert that Darwinian theory has nothing to say about the ultimate meaning of life, because it doesn’t address abiogenesis, you are wrong.

    Darwinian theory with it’s naturalistic assumptions regarding evolution, necessitates abiogenesis. It does not allow for front-loaded evolution, ID or Biblical Creationism, and as such, it speaks volumes to the ultimate meaning of life as being meaningless.

  43. Hi CannuckianYankee,

    All I’m trying to say is that we need to assess Darwinism as a scientific theory, and let it stand or fall on the basis of physical evidence. Same thing we do with any other scientific theory.

    In other words, it seems to me that in the case of Darwinian theory, so many people approach the perceived metaphysics first, and if they see apparent metaphysical implications they don’t like, they reject Darwinism without having really assessed its scientific merits. I say this as a Christian who until recently rejected Darwinism for just this reason.

    My former approach was completely backwards, though. Let’s assess Darwinism by its scientific merits (and it certainly seems to a layman such as myself to be quite scientifically compelling), and then sort out the metaphysical implications (if any) afterward. We can’t just wish the natural world away because it doesn’t conform to our metaphysical biases.

    And funny thing is, if we reject part of the reality of God’s creation simply because we can’t imagine how that reality squares with our conception of God, we’re hardly doing God a favor or giving him any respect.

    Long story short, I’m certainly not trying to imply that Darwinism is beyond critique, but I do think that any such critique needs to be a scientific rather than a metaphysical one.

  44. leadme,

    I think you will find there are a great number who question Darwinian theory based solely upon its inability to comport to the observable evidence.

    Welcome aboard.

  45. Upright BiPed @38,

    Thanks for the clarification. I don’t like to have “dueling” long posts, so I will try to be brief. I apologize in advance if brevity compromises the kind of detailed argument our topics deserve.

    I don’t see that you’ve directly argued your opening point, “My point is that those tools have given us additional insight, now from a molecular perspective, that materialism is indeed false on its face.” But maybe you were just stating this point and moving on to your next, more extended argument: “We know that Life cannot operate without semiosis, and there is absolutely no empirical evidence to suggest it therefore could have begun without it.” This argument may be correct, but I don’t see why (as stated) it is a defeater for materialism.

    A few observations:
    (1) My posts have tried to get more meat around the idea of “ultimate meaning.” Your points don’t seem quite connected to it, but I could make some guesses about possible connections.
    (2) I am not sure I see your case for meaning preceding life. Just for kicks: why could we not talk about meaning and life as simultaneous, co-dependent emergences? I’d be interested here in your take on current research.
    (3) I’m not comfortable with your use of the word “perception.” What is the relationship between perception and interpretation?
    (4) I realize you have given a partial definition of meaning (although I seem to understand Shannon differently than you do), but I find it strange to talk about meaning without also talking about whose meaning it may be. So, in your usages, whose meaning are we talking about?

  46. Scruffy @41,

    I see the points of your first few paragraphs. We have been focusing on our perceptions (natural and technologically aided) as being “right” or “wrong.” Upon reflection, I wonder if this is the right focus. Perhaps “complete” and “incomplete” makes a better spectrum.

    In any event, we seem to agree that our human perceptions, however aided to date, are not giving the whole story.

    Am I correct to say that you understand “reductionism” as necessarily implying that all human perception is wrong all the time? If so, I would be interested to read your argument.

    N.B., to all: With apologies, I must bow out of the discussions of the past few days. Personal reasons. Hopefully, I’ve not left open any conversations. Thanks for the dialogue.

  47. Hi BiPed,

    Sounds fair enough.

    Perhaps you can point me to some of the areas in which Darwinian theory does not comport to the evidence. I mean this sincerely–not in jest. My understanding of ID is that it has pegged itself primarily to the concept of irreducible complexity. Seems to me, from my limited research into the topic, that Behe et al’s work has been seriously undermined. See Ken Miller, for example.

    Is there more to the story? Something I’ve missed? If not, has the ID movement stepped away from the concept of irreducible complexity, to some greener pasture?

    Also, do most IDers reject the idea of common descent? If this is so, how do you explain away the stunning genetic evidence that points toward common human/ape descent (eg, ERV matches, chromosomal evidence, the vitamin c/gulo issue, etc.)?

    Again, I’m sincerely interested–not trying to be sarcastic.

  48. Hey LarTanner,

    Am I correct to say that you understand “reductionism” as necessarily implying that all human perception is wrong all the time?

    Not exactly, it’s more along the lines of perception itself is an illusion (i.e. it doesn’t exist), including the idea that all there is are ever changing atoms.

    In effect, it’s self-refuting for that very reason. Atoms bumping into each other control what ever effect they’ve caused, including your thoughts, movements, etc. The idea that all material things are the result of atoms moving in certain ways would also be a result of the way your atoms are moving.

    The atoms I’m made of perhaps move in a slightly different way than yours and are thus causing me to think that reductionism is false. Your atoms might move the same way as mine in the future and you would agree with me that reductionism is false.

    To put it bluntly, reductionism doesn’t allow for perception. All it allows are the elements of the universe.

    The funny thing about my first statement is that you would need perception for an illusion to take place. The only way you can make sense of that is by adopting a worldview that starts with presuppositions that allow perception.

    If you know of any reason that shows reductionism can allow for perception, please let me know because I’ve yet to hear of one.

    Take care.

  49. The reason, Gil, that your posts generate many responses is the topics that you choose, i.e., metaphysics.

    I very much agree with posts 5 and 6 (that’s as far as I’ve got so far)and would like to present a conversation I recently had with a very religious person of fundamentalist background. But of a sweet and open disposition.

    I mentioned that, as one of the doctors had pointed out, it is often the very religious who are most resistant to dying. She told me a long and distressing story of how difficult it had been for her very church going and religious mother in law to die peacefully and how she kept herself alive through force of will for a considerable time.

    I asked her why she thought that might be and she answered that it is always fearful because of the things you hear in church and you can’t be sure you measure up.

    I mentioned how unfortunate I think that is, to teach people to fear God. And that I don’t fear God. She thought that strange. I said, well, if we fear God and also fear the devil, we don’t live in a very good universe, do we? And I said that I thought many atheists were rebelling against that negative religious doctrine, but that I could never understand how someone could WANT there to be no afterlife.

    She got a dreamy look on her face and said, Oh, I think that would be wonderful!

    What???

    Just to stop and be done, she said. So there you have it. Better to cease than to have to worry about hell. And you know, I think they are right. A plan in which a substantial number of people are going to a place of anguish, despair and hopelessness forever, perhaps pain, well, I have tried and tried and tried, and I can’t think of a worse scenario that could possibly exist.

    I think it is time for a change.

  50. Dear Leadme,

    I am wondering, have you actually read about the bacterial flagellum, and then have you read the Miller paper supposedly refuting it, and then have you read Dembski’s response to the Miller paper? Or have you just been told by your new friends that Miller took care of it?

    Because I am a layperson too, and when I read Miller’s almost silly paper, I saw right away how inadequate his arguments were, and these same ideas I had were then in Dembski’s response. And I am just making the point that it was easy enough for me to see the inadequacy of the Miller paper despite my vastly inferior education to all three players.

    Have you read some good ID books? I think you will see that the arguments are of a scientific and not theological nature.

    Although I am a believer in God I never worried overmuch about evolution and never studied it. I only got interested when ID came along, and was fascinated by the way Darwinian evolution could be deconstructed using scientific arguments only. When I see the back and forth arguments, it always seems to me that the ID guys win hands down, and take the arguments to a deeper level.

    Common descent, thoughts vary. I believe in saltation.

    Jurassicmac,

    If you don’t mind, I would like to know if your profession in any way involves science, scientists, or biology.

  51. 51

    Leadme,

    I second the “welcome aboard.” I apologize for being so confrontational in my post. I think my points were valid, but I could have been a little more polite in presenting them.

    I think you raised an issue that ID theorists agree with, and in-fact, have been saying all along. But it’s a two way street. The fact is that Darwinism isn’t presented completely divorced from ideology. In fact, it is ideology, which drives the science. Stick around, and I think you will discover how this is so. I recommend reading all of Dr. Cornelius Hunter’s posts if you want to know how Darwinists start with the ideology. It may prove to be quite enlightening. And also pay attention to the positive ID arguments here as well as the scientific discussions with regard to Darwinian evolution.

    There’s also a lot of discussion regarding world-view issues, and they are important for the very reasons I mentioned – because Darwinism starts with ideology and seeks to fit the evidence with it.

  52. Lars,

    Forgive me for the long post. In the interest of brevity, I’ll move directly to your observations. You say:

    (1) My posts have tried to get more meat around the idea of “ultimate meaning.” Your points don’t seem quite connected to it, but I could make some guesses about possible connections

    Yes, of course, your posts were dealing directly with ultimate meaning. I recognize that. My post, again, dealt solely with your observation that we build tools to aid us in gaining access to reality, and that the use of those very tools have now intractably challenged the notion that unguided chemistry is the origin of what we find today. As for connecting the dots, it might be valid to suggest (from a purely empirical perspective) that even though the origin of life on this planet required more than just unguided chemistry, that observation has no bearing on ultimate meaning. Observers would be open to interpret that how they wish.

    (2) I am not sure I see your case for meaning preceding life. Just for kicks: why could we not talk about meaning and life as simultaneous, co-dependent emergences? I’d be interested here in your take on current research.

    If DNA was stripped of its meaning, Life would immediate cease to exist. It is the central requirement for the existence of Life as we know it. Life requires meaning instantiated into matter. Now, if that is so (and it certainly is) then meaning preceded Life, or else Life doesn’t need meaning in order to exist. If one thing is contingent and the other is necessary, then the latter must exist in order to be the cause of the former.

    One could say that at some point in the past, an unknown chemical reaction was underway which somehow gloriously gained the capacities necessary to explain Life as we know it. That certainly is a fair research program for science to embark upon. What is not reasonable is for science to formally institutionalize the notion that it already has the answer. They do not have that answer, and they don’t even have so much as a conceptual pathway to it. Instead, they act by means of institutional power against all evidence to the contrary. Of course, all of that is part of the political sideshow which has no bearing on the readily observable evidence; meaning instantiated into matter is the cause of Life on this planet.

    As for the notion of emergence, I think it is no more than an answer given when one must give one. Its sole intention is to stop the questions.

    Look at it this way; let us say for a moment that no “emergence” was necessary. We could look at the properties of matter and (against all intuition) we could see the way in which matter could create semiotic relationships, and could therefore offer an explanation of Life. What that would entail is that we could look at the four fundamental forces that exist in nature and see a pathway to semiosis. But that is not the case. Proposing “emergence” is not a proposition of a fifth force, it is just saying that the answer will emerge from an interesting combination of the four. Well, no duh. The combination of those forces is in full effect right now, and they offer no possibility of an answer. And when I say “no possibility” I am saying that its a category error – physics cannot explain meaning.

    (3) I’m not comfortable with your use of the word “perception.” What is the relationship between perception and interpretation?

    Lightwaves of various lengths and intensities strike my retina producing a signal of a specific pattern to be transmitted down my optic nerve to my brain. My neural system interprets the pattern of that signal to be an abstracted representation of what I saw.

    (4) I realize you have given a partial definition of meaning (although I seem to understand Shannon differently than you do), but I find it strange to talk about meaning without also talking about whose meaning it may be. So, in your usages, whose meaning are we talking about?

    In the second sentence of the second paragraph of Shannon’s famous paper on Information Theory, he made the only distinction that need be made regarding information and meaning. He did so from the perspective of information transmission, where noise could be introduced into a signal carrying information. He separated out a distinction. That distinction is that there is both a) meaning and b) noise. I have already given you the quote: “Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities.” Meaning is that which refers to, or is correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities.

    He further developed this idea in a schematic diagram, Fig 1, with five individually-named boxes. From left to right there is as arrow which passes through four of the five boxes in a specific order to indicate the flow of information. The flow begins at “Information Source” then passes through “Transmitter” to “Receiver” and finally to “Destination”. The fifth of the five boxes is tangentially tied to the flow of information between the “Transmitter” and the “Receiver”. The fifth box in entitled “Noise Source”.

    The information source entails meaning, the noise source does not.

    As for your question of whose meaning have we found instantiated into matter – I can only tell you there is nothing in the evidence and nothing in Intelligent Design Theory that can answer that question. However, the inability to answer that question does not indicate that mud can suddenly begin to assign meaning to itself.

    Each person is free to make of it what they will.

  53. leadme,

    ID is not oppossed to evolution, defined as change over time. ID is oppossed to the unsupported notion that unguided forces can explain what we find at the molecular level.

    If you are genuinely curious, I suggest reading a minimum of “Signature in the Cell” by Stephen Meyer and “The Edge of Evolution” by Michael Behe.

    And by the way, irreducible compexity stands unrefuted.

  54. Gee Gil, I think I may have actually killed your thread.

    My bad.

  55. San Antonio Rose (quoting me): As a child, at age seven, I remember the exact moment I figured out that life was ultimately meaningless and purposeless, based on the atheism and Darwinism with which I was raised.

    San Antonio Rose: That is really sad, Gil. I hope you have been able to forgive your mother and father for raising you in such a bad environment.

    In a sense it was a bad environment, but in the end it all worked out to be a blessing.

    I’m a big believer in Romans 8:28, and I believe that this promise can work retroactively. My father is an atheist, but he is the most Christ-like person I have ever known. Although my father taught me atheism and Darwinism, he also taught me to follow the scientific evidence wherever it leads. His field is chemistry and physics (he worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII, was founder and director of an experimental nuclear reactor, became a professor of physical chemistry, established the chemical physics Ph.D. program at WSU, and was engaged in NMR research for many years), and gave little thought to origins. He just took it on faith that the materialists had origins all figured out.

    My father has always been concerned with real science — with tangible, empirically validated results — and to this he has devoted his life.

    Here’s the kicker: Although my father is an atheist, he modeled Christ for me. He is impeccably ethical, compassionate, giving and self-sacrificing, and the greatest scientist I have ever known.

    I can’t imagine having grown up with a greater and more wonderful father on earth.

  56. Have I seriously and deeply grappled with details of the irreducible complexity argument?

    No I have not, and one of the reasons I’m here at this site is because I realize that I haven’t.

    I’ll freely admit that I’ve taken the “irreducible complexity stands refuted” argument mostly on authority, although the little research I have done into the topic seems to demonstrate that it has, indeed, been undermined.

    Mostly, I look around and see that precious few serious scientists (and this includes Christian scientists such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Denis Alexander, etc.) have given ID much notice, other than to speak against it, so I tend to interpret that as strong inferential evidence against ID.

    But have I explored this issue in depth for myself? No. I’ve been spending a lot of time haunting the biologos site, and have come to respect the crew over there quite a bit.

    But, none of us can ever really grow if we’re not willing to step outside the comfort of our little boxes, at least every once in a while, right? So I’m here, and I appreciate the dialogue.

  57. Leadme,

    As I said earlier, welcome aboard. It is good to have you here.

    I think the sentiments you display in your comment #56 are highly admirable, however I do slightly disagree with one of your comments.

    Mostly, I look around and see that precious few serious scientists (and this includes Christian scientists such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Denis Alexander, etc.) have given ID much notice, other than to speak against it, so I tend to interpret that as strong inferential evidence against ID

    I would think the history suggests a rather tremendous response to ID, even if that response has been to say that all the ID arguments have been refuted, and then circle the wagons. In truth, Behe’s Black Box (along with many other publications) created quite a hole for the marketing arm of Darwinism. You can glean this from the comments and admissions which were made in response to its publication:

    “There is no doubt that the pathways described by Behe are dauntingly complex, and their evolution will be hard to unravel. . . . [W]e may forever be unable to envisage the first proto-pathways.” – Coyne

    “There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations” – Shapiro

    “For none of the cases mentioned by Behe is there yet a comprehensive and detailed explanation of the probable steps in the evolution of the observed complexity. The problems have indeed been sorely neglected–though Behe repeatedly exaggerates this neglect…” – Cavalier-Smith

    Miller and others were handy for filling this hole with useful rhetoric – but refute ID, that they did not do. In fact, the hole has done nothing but grow deeper and deeper with just about every discovery made.

    The simple truth is that none of the ID arguments have been refuted. IC stands. Dembski’s probabilities arguments stand. Behe’s arguments in the Edge of Evolution stand. The challenges made David Abel in his peer-reviewed papers are still unanswered. And last year Stephen Meyer’s book outlining the DNA enigma was an Amazon pick of the year – and is completely unrefuted.

    - – - – - –

    Again, welcome aboard.

  58. Upright BiPed, I think you’re a little mixed up in #38. You say, “This definition in itself would indicate that meaning cannot exist without perception…” but perception is a mental phenomenon and it has nothing to do with your DNA examples.

    For instance, you correctly note that the DNA combination C-T-A (Cytosine, Thymine & Adenine) codes for the amino acid Leucine. But the coding is done purely by electrostatic forces.

    To make a protein, the electrostatic forces in the DNA bases attract complementary bases to make a strand of messenger RNA. This is edited and then fed into a ribosome where three base triplets of mRNA bases electrostatically attract tRNA molecules which carry the corresponding amino acid on their other ends. The mRNA string then carries the tRNA molecule into the ribosome where the amino acid is attached to the protein that’s being manufactured.

    What’s important here is that all of the work is done by electrostatic forces. There is no mentality involved at all and hence nothing is ever perceived. Electrostatic forces don’t need minds or perception to work and there is no reason to think they haven’t been working as long as the earth has existed.

    Since life existed for billions of years before humans appeared and finally figured out how DNA builds proteins, Life preceded Meaning on this planet.

  59. Warehuff,

    I know you feel very certain of yourself, but I am sorry to inform you that you are completely mistaken. The sequences involved in genetic coding are chemico-dynamically inert. This is why Crick referred to it as a “frozen accident”. This is hardly News inside origins research. There is nothing in the chemistry of C-T-A that neccesitates a connection to Leucine.

    You might have inferred as much from the number of researchers working on the “origin of the genetic code”.

    Physical neccesity has nothing to do with it.

  60. I think you should google crick and “frozen accident” and catch up on the field.

    When Crick thought the genetic code was a “frozen accident”, he meant that the codes that specify which amino acid is selected by which three base codon were randomly chosen and would never change.

    That was in the sixties, most people now think the code evolved.

    But this has nothing to do with how they work. Once you have the tRNA types set up, all of the work is done solely by electrostatic forces and no mentality or perception is involved.

  61. Warehuff,

    Re-reading your post, I want to make myself clear. We have no disagreement that electrostatic forces (and others) are at work during protein synthesis. This is not even in question.

    The issue is that those electrostatic forces do not create the association of CTA to Leucine or any of the other amino acids. Neither does the tRNA – themselves requiring the code for their production.

  62. “Once you have the tRNA types set up”

    You are kicking the can down the road. The cdoe to “set up” the tRNAs is inside the DNA.

  63. WH,

    It’s late here….I’ll check in tomorrow.

  64. It’s late here too. Crick thought the association of CTA to Leucine was a random accident that “stuck”. Ditto for all the other associations that make up the genetic code.

    That was in the sixties. Today most researchers in the field believe that the code evolved.

    If you think that the construction of the tRNAs is coded in the organism’s DNA means something, you’re right. The code couldn’t evolve if it wasn’t in the DNA.

    The actual associations are entirely arbitary, after all, CTA could just as easily have stood for lysine as for leucine. Google evolution of trna for some ideas on how the first arbitrary choices evolved to their present, nearly ideal state.

  65. You are kicking the can down the road. The cdoe to “set up” the tRNAs is inside the DNA.

    It is now, but its origin seems to have a stereochemical basis. See

    Michael Yarus, Jeremy J Widmann, and Rob Knight (2009)
    RNA-amino acid binding: a stereochemical era for the genetic code.
    J Mol Evol, 69(5):406-29.

    The money quote:

    By combining crystallographic and NMR structural data for RNA-bound amino acids within riboswitches, aptamers, and RNPs, chemical principles governing specific RNA interaction with amino acids can be deduced.

  66. warehuff, our posts crossed. You might check out the Yarus paper. (Unfortunately, the full text is behind a paywall online, but you can read the abstract.)

  67. Upright BiPed
    You wrote
    “If DNA was stripped of its meaning, Life would immediate cease to exist. It is the central requirement for the existence of Life as we know it. Life requires meaning instantiated into matter.”
    This seems reasonable. However, you then wrote “if that is so then meaning preceded Life” which seems to contradict your earlier definition of meaning:

    “This capacity (of perception and semiosis) necessarily limits the existence of meaning to the domain of living things.

    Assumptions:
    Meaning requires perception.”

    If meaning requires perception and only life is capable of perception, then meaning must require life.
    We would then be forced to say: life requires meaning and meaning requires life.
    The only way out of this would be to say that something else is capable of perception.

  68. Warehuff,

    I know you are eager to position me as out-of-touch. You’ve mentioned twice that Crick’s “frozen accident” is a relic of by-gone days; so much the better to focus on the speculations du jour.

    Of course, this does not work. We know little more today than Crick did on this specific matter. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that our knowledge has increased tremendously, but our insights as to how the code came to be are virtually unchanged.

    Koonin and Wolf wrote a paper regarding the evolution of the genetic code and made some statements you might find interesting. While their paper supports evolution of the code in some form or another (what else could it support?) they use a particular term in their conclusions. They speculate that the “evolution of the code can be represented as a combination of adaptation and frozen accident”.

    That paper was written in 2007. So your attempts to score rhetorical points by bemoaning the use of that term are perhaps unsupported.

    Perhaps it’s not time to retire the old girl just yet.

    I also notice that you (at least) seem to be fond of both the stereochemistry thesis of code emergence, as well as the evolution thesis. It’s an odd combination unless you are simple placing your bets. Koonin and Wolf also made some comments about that as well:

    The stereochemical hypothesis that can be traced back to the early work of Gamow [3,25-31] postulates that codon assignments for particular amino acids are determined by a physicochemical affinity that exists between the amino acids and the cognate nucleotide triplets (codons or anticodons). Under this hypothesis, the minimization of the effect of translation errors characteristic of the standard code is thought to be an epiphenomenon of purely stereochemical constraints (e.g., similar codons display affinity to amino acids of similar bulk and PRS). This hypothesis implies that the code did not evolve or, in a weak form, that it evolved minimally, adjusting the stereochemical assignments. The stereochemical hypothesis, at least, in its strong form, is readily experimentally testable. However, despite extensive experimentation in this area [32], the reality and relevance of any affinities between amino acid and cognate triplets, codons or anticodons, remain questionable

    So if you are a stereochemistry guy, you can go for the strong form which doesn’t have a chance in hell or you can go for the weak form, and have an untestable miracle on your hands. In any case, if you are going to say that the code is a product of evolution, then you have just added the additional weight of having to explain the evolution of the code to its current state of perfect optimization as perhaps the very first act of Life. Since all living things use the exact same code (with a couple of mere variations) then you’ve pushed back the completion of the code, the development of its entire translation entourage, and its error correction routines, back to before the very first divergence of organisms on this planet.

    This little feat of evolutionary engineering (remembering that Hurst and Freeland characterized the robustness of the code as “one in a million”) can then be added to the bucket where we keep the questions about the rise of metabolism. Not only did evolution figure out how to build and organize cell compartmentalization, convert energy sources, distribute nutrients, respire waste, connect regulatory networks, and so on, but it also perfected a code that was robust enough to last for the next 4.54 billion years without change. And all these were among the very first things it accomplished.

    Forgive me for having just a wee touch of incredulity. It is forced upon me by a need to believe that matter is all there is.

  69. Dunsinane,

    I agree.

    “Life only comes from Life” has a rich history, but at one time there was no Life on this planet.

  70. Dunsinane:

    If meaning requires perception and only life is capable of perception, then meaning must require life. We would then be forced to say: life requires meaning and meaning requires life. The only way out of this would be to say that something else is capable of perception.

    You are right. Indeed, meaning requires “consciousness”, and more specifically “intelligent consciousness”.

    There is no meaning outside of conscious beings.

    But there is no reason to equate consciousness with “life”, at least if we equate life with the biological life we know. The point in ID is that some form of conscious intelligent being has originated and molded the biological life we known. Therefore, that conscious intelligent being, however we conceive of it, must at least predate life on our planet.

    But again, there is no reason to believe that consciousness can only exist as an expression of the biological life we know.

    Consciousness is observed in ourselves as a fundamental principle of reality. While materialists love to argue that it can be explained as a byproduct of matter (strong AI theory), there is really no reason to think that way. Indeed, there are a lot of reasons to believe differently.

    So, we can well assume that some form of conscious intelligence may exist independently from biological life on our planet, and predate it.

  71. To all:

    I have already commented on Yarus’ theory that a biochemical reason is behind the code. It is a theory. A very vague theory. IMO, a fairy tale theory.

    Not better than all RNA world theories.

    And what about the very specific Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases? You know, they are 20 classes of very complex proteins, and they are needed for the code to work. And they couple the right AA with the right tRNA. And I suppose they were already there, in LUCA.

    So, how did they evolve?

  72. Pedant @ 66, thanks for the Yarus citation, but I really don’t see how the opinions of three professional scientists writing about their field of expertise in what scordova would call a very prestegious science magazine can possibly match up against the opinion of gpuccio writing at Uncommon Descent.

  73. Upright BiPed @ 68: I’m not so much interested in showing that you’re out of touch as I am in letting you know that declaring the genetic code to be a frozen accident is a big point against ID. If the code is accidental, then we’re back to nothing but electromagnetic fields and we have no need whatsoever for a designer.

    On the other hand, if you allow that the code is remarkably efficient and arranged so that the most common errors either don’t change the amino acid selected or select an amino acid that more or less duplicates the specified amino acid when it’s incorporated into a protein, then the scientists can say the code is the result of evolution, but you can at least make the claim that, “An Intelligent Designer created that code.”

    Of course, there are a couple of places where the genetic code could do an even better job of error correcting (the frozen accidents referred to), so you have to explain how the Intelligent Designer isn’t totally intelligent, but you’ve still got a better case than the frozen accidents where no designer is needed, whether that designer is evolution or an intelligence.

    There is one place where you actually are seriously out of touch: Where you say that the earliest living things had DNA. So far as I know, only creationists and ID Theorists make this claim. I’ve never seen anybody on the science end make this claim at all. DNA is thought to have come long after RNA and RNA may or may not have been in the first living thing.

    Creationists and ID Theorists are also the only people I know of who think that the first living things were as complex as simple modern cells. No scientist I have ever heard of believes anything like this.

    Start thinking about sub-microscopic polymers, possibly RNA, maybe something else. Think of their one single “talent” as being the ability to self-reproduce and you’ll be very close to talking about what scientists envision as the first living things.

    Forgive me for having just a wee touch of exasperation. It is forced upon me by people who argue against something that no scientist advocates.

  74. warehuff:

    in my world, ideas count for themselves.

  75. warehuff states this:

    ‘Creationists and ID Theorists are also the only people I know of who think that the first living things were as complex as simple modern cells. No scientist I have ever heard of believes anything like this.’

    Apparently warehuff, as with your directly misquoting me. researching a point before you state it as fact is not a strong point of integrity for you either…

    Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock? – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: “There is no doubt that the progenitor of all life on Earth, the common ancestor, possessed DNA, RNA and proteins, a universal genetic code, ribosomes (the protein-building factories), ATP and a proton-powered enzyme for making ATP. The detailed mechanisms for reading off DNA and converting genes into proteins were also in place. In short, then, the last common ancestor of all life looks pretty much like a modern cell.”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....-rock.html

  76. BA:

    I would definitely say that LUCA was not simple. What came before, is still mystery…

  77. 77

    “I really don’t see how the opinions of three professional scientists writing about their field of expertise in what scordova would call a very prestegious science magazine can possibly match up against the opinion of gpuccio writing at Uncommon Descent.”

    Geez man. I’m glad I don’t have this mentality.

  78. warehuff,

    It is not I who is demanding what must be explained, it is reality making those demands. If you find those demands exasperating in the presence of applied rationality, then so be it. Empericism can be a bitch to daydreamers, no matter what stripes they wear.

    Life operates from meaningful information instantiated into matter. I don’t care if you want to suggest that its the 1st or the 101st thing to happen, the simple fact is that at some point, meaningful abstractions of the structure and processes that make up a living thing are going to have to become instantiated into matter. Not only that, but a decoding system will also need to become part of the abstraction. That is what must be explained.

    Now let’s turn it around.

    In your eagerness to show how out of touch I am, you suggest that (contrary to 100% of observations and data) information is not actually necessary for life, indeed, life can begin without it.

    DNA is thought to have come long after RNA and RNA may or may not have been in the first living thing.

    DNA and RNA are information carriers. You have now postulated that living things can come about without information. Fine. Exactly how a living thing can intake energy, convert that energy to usable products, distribute those nutrients, respire waste, make repairs to systems, and so on – you do not say. Are you suggesting that a living thing does not need these systems, or are you merely suggesting a new kind of life – one wihout the need of metabolism? But wait! Before you answer that question, please tell us exactly on what data this new life form is based? Is there any?

    By all means Warehuff, fill this IDiot in – just make sure you doing it with actual evidence, and not speculation driven by ideology. If you do that, I can guarantee you I will call you on it. That’s how it works when you must stick to what is actually known to be true.

    As for the remainder of your positioning piece on me, as well as the ad hom you threw at Gpuccio, well…I suppose it could be encapsulated in a simple thought you want to share with the readers here:

    “Them Jesus people needs to start thankin right ’bout thangs. They ain’t thankin right.”

    Does that about cover it?

  79. gpuccio you state:

    “I would definitely say that LUCA was not simple. What came before, is still mystery…”

    Actually gpuccio, as far as pre-biotic activity is concerned before photosynthetic life appeared, there is no evidence anything of a simpler pre-biotic nature ever existed om earth before life burst onto the scene. Thus the ‘mysteriousness’ of what happed before LUCA is now only irreconcilably mysterious if you are dogmatically committed to the materialistic framework:

    further notes:

    First and foremost, we now have concrete evidence for photosynthetic life suddenly appearing on earth, as soon as water appeared on the earth, in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth.

    The Sudden Appearance Of Photosynthetic Life On Earth – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4262918

    Dr. Hugh Ross – Origin Of Life Paradox – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012696

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

    The evidence scientists have discovered in the geologic record is stunning in its support of the anthropic hypothesis. The oldest sedimentary rocks on earth, known to science, originated underwater (and thus in relatively cool environs) 3.86 billion years ago. Those sediments, which are exposed at Isua in southwestern Greenland, also contain the earliest chemical evidence (fingerprint) of ‘photosynthetic’ life [Nov. 7, 1996, Nature]. This evidence had been fought by materialists since it is totally contrary to their evolutionary theory. Yet, Danish scientists were able to bring forth another line of geological evidence to substantiate the primary line of geological evidence for photo-synthetic life in the earth’s earliest sedimentary rocks.

    U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of +3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis (2003)
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004E&PSL.217..237R

    it is also commonly, and erroneously, presumed in many grade school textbooks that life slowly arose in a primordial ocean of pre-biotic soup. Yet there are no chemical signatures in the geologic record indicating that a ocean of this pre-biotic soup ever existed. In fact, as stated earlier, the evidence indicates that complex photosynthetic life appeared on earth as soon as water appeared on earth with no chemical signature whatsoever of prebiotic activity.

    The Primordial Soup Myth:
    Excerpt: “Accordingly, Abelson(1966), Hull(1960), Sillen(1965), and many others have criticized the hypothesis that the primitive ocean, unlike the contemporary ocean, was a “thick soup” containing all of the micromolecules required for the next stage of molecular evolution. The concept of a primitive “thick soup” or “primordial broth” is one of the most persistent ideas at the same time that is most strongly contraindicated by thermodynamic reasoning and by lack of experimental support.” – Sidney Fox, Klaus Dose on page 37 in Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life. http://theory-of-evolution.net.....p-myth.php

    New Research Rejects 80-Year Theory of ‘Primordial Soup’ as the Origin of Life – Feb. 2010
    “Despite bioenergetic and thermodynamic failings the 80-year-old concept of primordial soup remains central to mainstream thinking on the origin of life, But soup has no capacity for producing the energy vital for life.” William Martin, an evolutionary biologist
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....101245.htm

    Moreover, water is considered a ‘universal solvent’ which is a very thermodynamic obeying and thus origin of life defying fact.

    Abiogenic Origin of Life: A Theory in Crisis – Arthur V. Chadwick, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: The synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids from small molecule precursors represents one of the most difficult challenges to the model of prebiological evolution. There are many different problems confronted by any proposal. Polymerization is a reaction in which water is a product. Thus it will only be favored in the absence of water. The presence of precursors in an ocean of water favors depolymerization of any molecules that might be formed. Careful experiments done in an aqueous solution with very high concentrations of amino acids demonstrate the impossibility of significant polymerization in this environment. A thermodynamic analysis of a mixture of protein and amino acids in an ocean containing a 1 molar solution of each amino acid (100,000,000 times higher concentration than we inferred to be present in the prebiological ocean) indicates the concentration of a protein containing just 100 peptide bonds (101 amino acids) at equilibrium would be 10^-338 molar. Just to make this number meaningful, our universe may have a volume somewhere in the neighborhood of 10^85 liters. At 10^-338 molar, we would need an ocean with a volume equal to 10^229 universes (100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000) just to find a single molecule of any protein with 100 peptide bonds. So we must look elsewhere for a mechanism to produce polymers. It will not happen in the ocean.
    http://origins.swau.edu/papers.....fault.html

    Professor Arthur E. Wilder-Smith “Any amounts of polypeptide which might be formed will be broken down into their initial components (amino acids) by the excess of water. The ocean is thus practically the last place on this or any other planet where the proteins of life could be formed spontaneously from amino acids. Yet nearly all text-books of biology teach this nonsense to support evolutionary theory and spontaneous biogenesis … Has materialistic Neo-Darwinian philosophy overwhelmed us to such an extent that we forget or overlook the well-known facts of science and of chemistry in order to support this philosophy? … Without exception all Miller’s amino acids are completely unsuitable for any type of spontaneous biogenesis. And the same applies to all and any randomly formed substances and amino acids which form racemates. This statement is categorical and absolute and cannot be affected by special conditions.”
    http://theevolutioncrisis.org.uk/testimony3.php

    Sea Salt only adds to this thermodynamic problem:

    …even at concentrations seven times weaker than in today’s oceans. The ingredients of sea salt are very effective at dismembering membranes and preventing RNA units (monomers) from forming polymers any longer than two links (dimers). Creation Evolution News – Sept. 2002

    The following article and videos have a fairly good overview of the major problems facing any naturalistic Origin Of Life scenario:

    On the Origin of Life – The Insurmountable Problems Of Chemistry – Charles Thaxton PhD. – 1 hour video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ye3oDDAxeE

  80. gpuccio, I like this following video of Dr. Henry Schaefer, who is considered one of the top chemists in the world today. He states, in a no holds barred fashion, that after all his research into the origin of life ‘problem’, for what would be the simplest first step of a self-replicating molecule in any evolutionary scenario, He firmly believes God created life on earth.

    On The Origin Of Life And God – Henry F. Schaefer, III PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4018204

    As well, Dean Kenyon, who was/is a leading Origin Of Life researcher as well as a college textbook author on the subject, admitted after years of extensive research:

    “We have not the slightest chance for the chemical evolutionary origin of even the simplest of cells”.

  81. warehuff,

    Creationists and ID Theorists are also the only people I know of who think that the first living things were as complex as simple modern cells. No scientist I have ever heard of believes anything like this.

    Living things are complex. That is the truth. The simplest, most insignificant, smallest, least complex life form on the planet is more complex than anything imaginable. Sorry if thats an impediment to your ideology. The fact that you must ignore that reality becuase you know it exist as such an impediment…is really…not that interesting. Neither is your authoritarianism.

  82. —leadme.org: “As a Christian and a Darwinian, I see no reason why Darwinism has anything to say about the ultimate meaning of life.”

    To say that we arrived here by accident [Darwinism] is to say something about the meaning of life and to militate against the opposite teaching found in the Bible: “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.”

    —”Mostly, I look around and see that precious few serious scientists (and this includes Christian scientists such as Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Denis Alexander, etc.) have given ID much notice, other than to speak against it, so I tend to interpret that as strong inferential evidence against ID.”

    Typically, the men that you mentioned, and many like them, simply do not understand the formulation that they are criticizing. To test this proposition, simply provide a citation of what appears to be a substantive criticism, and, in most cases, someone here will quickly be able to show you what it is that the critic doesn’t understand.

  83. wareguff,

    I am in letting you know that declaring the genetic code to be a frozen accident is a big point against ID. If the code is accidental, then we’re back to nothing but electromagnetic fields and we have no need whatsoever for a designer.

    I am not certain I am following you here warehuff. Crick was on your side, and he coined the term. Koonin and Wolf are on your side as well. So are (virtually) all the others. Since I cannot be blamed if they continue to use that term in the peer-reviewed research…then what’s your point? Certainly you don’t think just because they are reduced to hand-waving at the evidence then it actually must be a “frozen accident” in reality, do you?

    On the other hand, if you allow that the code is remarkably efficient and arranged so that the most common errors either don’t change the amino acid selected or select an amino acid that more or less duplicates the specified amino acid when it’s incorporated into a protein, [THEN] the scientists can say the code is the result of evolution

    “Then” ?

    Then scientists can say ?

    Based upon what? Because an elaborate information system is being used to create complex function – and does it well – those attributes by themselves are enough to suggest the system evolved by means of random variation and selection? Whoa!

    No other evidence is needed? Evolution doesn’t have to address the details of the observation? It doesn’t even have to show that it’s capable of creating any of specifics within the system?

    Wow.

    You hear people say that a “theory which explains everything, explains nothing” and you provide a sparkling example of that expression.

    Of course, there are a couple of places where the genetic code could do an even better job of error correcting (the frozen accidents referred to), so you have to explain how the Intelligent Designer isn’t totally intelligent, but you’ve still got a better case than the frozen accidents where no designer is needed, whether that designer is evolution or an intelligence.

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were trying to make a theological argument. “A God wouldn’t do it this way”

    I do however recognize the code you think is lacking has remained unchanged and in effect for 4.5 billion years and has lead to every marvel of the natural world we see on this planet. We hit an 8 by 20 mile-wide asteroid with a 1800lbs tincan 200,000,000 miles from earth all because A, G, T, and C were still whizzin along doing their job after 4,500,000,000 years.

    Perhaps you’d like to offer your heredity up to science as a thankless testbed for the improvements you suggest?

    - – - – - – -

    In any case, I do hope you’ll return and school me on how metabolism is accomplished without the information to organize it.

    Bring your cites. I like to read.

  84. warehuff,

    Creationists and ID Theorists are also the only people I know of who think that the first living things were as complex as simple modern cells. No scientist I have ever heard of believes anything like this.

    Darwinists believe that the first living things were cells, just as complex as modern cells.

  85. BA:

    I do believe that life started complex. All the theories about primordial soup, RNA world and similar have really no credibility at all. No person with sense would ever believe that LUCA or whatever the first cell was originated from inorganic matter in a relatively short time (even if we generously allowed a couple of hundreds million years).

    But I think I can accept that the scenario of OOL is still completely speculative, even from the point of view of ID. First life was obviously designed, but I am not sure we can say much more than that.

  86. I don’t know gpuccio, I think we can say a lot more with confidence than neo-Darwinists can say.

    As I reflected yesterday:

    We know of no instances of material processes ever generating ANY functional information whatsoever (COI; Dembski, Roberts; Null hypothesis; Abel),

    Yet we know that intelligence can and does routinely generate more functional information than can reasonably be expected for the entire materialistic processes of the universe over the entire history of the universe (Durston; Meyer),

    but this next part is the kicker,

    we now know that the foundation of this universe is not material but is in fact ‘mental’ (Henry; Planck):

    In the following article, John Hopkins Physics Professor Richard Conn Henry is quite blunt as to what quantum mechanics reveals to us about the ‘primary cause’ of our 3D reality:

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (personally I feel the word “illusion” was a bit too strong from Dr. Henry to describe material reality and would myself have opted for his saying something a little more subtle like; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist. Then again I’m not a professor of physics at a major university as Dr. Henry is.)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    Thus gpuccio I expect that we should as IDists, from the state of how the evidence now sits, have extremely more confidence in our ‘speculations’ for origination of the massive amounts of functional information required to explain life, than the materialist has any right to any confidence in his ‘speculations’ about the same.

  87. correction,, COI; Dembski, Marks;

  88. Clive @ 84: “Darwinists believe that the first living things were cells, just as complex as modern cells.”

    BA77 @ 75: “Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock? – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: ‘There is no doubt that the progenitor of all life on Earth, the common ancestor, possessed DNA, RNA and proteins, a universal genetic code, ribosomes (the protein-building factories), ATP and a proton-powered enzyme for making ATP. The detailed mechanisms for reading off DNA and converting genes into proteins were also in place. In short, then, the last common ancestor of all life looks pretty much like a modern cell.’”

    BA77, the Last Universal Common Ancestor was not the First Living Thing.

    Whatever the FLT was, it had to develop all of the characteristics of modern cells before it could become the LUCA.

    Here’s what scientists really say about the First Living Thing:

    TalkOrigins @ http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....flife.html

    “4. Gradual build-up of complexity

    Let us assume the plausible scenario that either RNA was directly synthesized, see above, so that out of a large pool of random RNAs a self-replicating RNA molecule could arise, or that such synthesis was accomplished by a precursor genetic/catalytic system (possibly on the surface of minerals, cf. Orgel 2004). Since fatty acids could have been available in the environment (Hanczyc et al. 2003, Orgel 2004), a primitive fatty acid membrane could have surrounded the first self-replicating RNA molecules (due to their molecular properties, fatty acids can form vesicles spontaneously); this would not have allowed passage of the RNA polymers so that they would have stayed together, but would have let the much smaller nucleotides through, fed in from spontaneous prebiotic synthesis or from a precursor genetic/catalytic system. Such a membrane would have had different characteristics of semi-permeability than modern lipid membranes, where a lot of molecule transfer is regulated through protein channels.”

    One or a few simple molecules surrounded by a primitive fatty acid membrane. If the molecule was RNA and 75 bases long, that would be 150 bits of information plus whatever info was in the fatty acid membrane.

    Googling smallest genome brings up Carsonella ruddi with 160,000 basepairs in its DNA, but this cell lives inside an insect cell and probably couldn’t survive on its own.

    Mycoplasma genitalium seems to be the simplest known free living cell and it has about a half million basepairs in its DNA. That’s about a megabit of DNA information plus whatever information is encoded in the cell wall and other parts of M. genitalium, which is probably a lot. That’s tens of thousands of times more complex that the First Living Thing that actual scientists postulate.

    First Living Thing, Last Universal Common Ancestor, Simplest Modern Cell. Three different things.

    As I said, only creationists and ID theorists believe that the First Living Thing was a complex modern cell. If anybody has a quote or citation for a scientist who believes the First Living Thing was a Complex Modern Cell, please post it here.

    If nobody can provide such a quote or citation, then nobody should ever say that “Darwinists believe that the first living things were cells, just as complex as modern cells.” again, right?

  89. HouseStreetRoom @ 77: Quoting me: “‘I really don’t see how the opinions of three professional scientists writing about their field of expertise in what scordova would call a very prestegious science magazine can possibly match up against the opinion of gpuccio writing at Uncommon Descent.’”

    Geez man. I’m glad I don’t have this mentality.”

    I don’t follow you. Are you saying that you always prefer the opinion of a layman writing on an obscure blog to three professional scientists writing about their field of expertise in a major scientific publication? If so, could you tell me why?

  90. Warehuff,

    You write:

    “As I said, only creationists and ID theorists believe that the First Living Thing was a complex modern cell.”

    Excuse me? Can you find a quote for me of an IDist or Creationist saying the first living thing was a complex MODERN cell? You consistently resort to nonsense to supplement you lack of argument. The fist living thing whatever it was was quite complex and scientists have yet to find any demonstrable explanation of how it could have come to be. Even the origin of the first RNA replications is a mystery. This critical perspective IS the true LOGICAL position (supported by the reality of the evidence and the current state of modern science) that more prominent IDists and Creationists actually hold. What you write however is just a stupid straw man. These days I expect no more.

  91. Upright BiPed @ 78: My point is that you haven’t shown any place where an intelligence is needed.

    I’m certainly not saying that life began without information, the information would have been in the arrangement of the atoms of whatever the FLT was. I AM saying that no intelligence is needed to arrange those atoms. The FTL would have been small enough to form spontaneously.

    I’m using “intelligence” to mean “conscious thinker” or “human like consciousness or better” or just “intelligent designer”.

    What ad hominem directed towards gpuccio?

    I wrote what you’re probably referring to in response to @71 where gpuccio dismisses Yarus et al with, “I have already commented on Yarus’ theory that a biochemical reason is behind the code. It is a theory. A very vague theory. IMO, a fairy tale theory.”

    What are his qualifications? Where was he trained? What publications has he written for and how was he received by other professionals?

    Why should anybody take his opinion over theirs? Why should anybody believe his claim that three professional scientists are publishing fairy tales and a major scientific magazine is printing them?

    Unless he’s got some good bonafides, I would say that the ad hominem went from gpuccio —> Yarus et al and their publisher.

  92. Warehuff you state:

    “BA77, the Last Universal Common Ancestor was not the First Living Thing.”

    Warehuff,,,PROVE IT!!!

    The “simplest” life currently found on the earth, the parasitic Mycoplasmal, has between a 0.56-1.38 megabase genome which results in drastically reduced biosynthetic capabilities and explains their dependence on a host. Yet even with this ‘reduced complexity’ we find that even the ‘simplest’ life on earth exceeds man’s ability to produce such complexity in his computer programs or in his machines:

    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

    Mycoplasma Genitalium – The “Simplest” Life On Earth – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012738

    First-Ever Blueprint of ‘Minimal Cell’ Is More Complex Than Expected – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: A network of research groups,, approached the bacterium at three different levels. One team of scientists described M. pneumoniae’s transcriptome, identifying all the RNA molecules, or transcripts, produced from its DNA, under various environmental conditions. Another defined all the metabolic reactions that occurred in it, collectively known as its metabolome, under the same conditions. A third team identified every multi-protein complex the bacterium produced, thus characterising its proteome organisation.
    “At all three levels, we found M. pneumoniae was more complex than we expected,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....173027.htm

    Simplest Microbes More Complex than Thought – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: PhysOrg reported that a species of Mycoplasma,, “The bacteria appeared to be assembled in a far more complex way than had been thought.” Many molecules were found to have multiple functions: for instance, some enzymes could catalyze unrelated reactions, and some proteins were involved in multiple protein complexes.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20091229a

    On top of the fact that we now know the genetic code of the simplest organism ever found on
    Earth is a highly advanced ‘logic’ code, which far surpasses man’s ability to devise as such, we also know for a fact no operation of logic ever performed by a computer will ever increase the algorithmic code inherent in a computer’s program, i.e. Bill Gates will never use random number generators and selection software to write more highly advanced computer codes:

    “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    Douglas G. Robertson, “Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test,” Complexity, Vol.3, #3 Jan/Feb 1999, pp. 25-34.

    This is also shown to be the case for the infamous ‘evolutionary algorithms’ which modify/refine information in a computer within preset parameters:

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

    Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search (COI) – William A. Dembski – Robert J. Marks II – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: COI puts to rest the inflated claims for the information generating power of evolutionary simulations such as Avida and ev.,,, References to “geographical structure[s],” “link structure[s],” search space “clustering,” and smooth surfaces conducive to “hill climbing” reinforce rather than refute the quasi-teleological conclusion that the success of evolutionary search depends solely on active information from prior knowledge. This suggests that in biology, as in computing, there is no free lunch.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....nt-reason/

    Thus evolution is soundly defeated at even the most basic level of what we now know for Functional Information generation, specifically it is shown no sequence of events, in any foundational logic known to man, can ever generate complex functional information, though it may modestly refine suboptimal information to a preset/preprogrammed goal.

    Warehuff, the fossil record won’t help you either since the most ancient bacterium fossils we have demonstrate ‘extreme conservation of morphology’ to bacteria we find today, shoot warehuff you can’t even point to a single instance of ‘vertical evolution, that would pass ‘the fitness test’

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

    etc.. etc… etc …

    Thus warehuff please tell me exactly why I should accept your ‘belief’ that the first life on earth was much simpler than the simplest life we find today especially since I can find no empirical support for that position whatsoever other than the neo-Darwinists blind faith that it must be so?? It simply does not follow warehuff!!!

  93. frost: “Excuse me? Can you find a quote for me of an IDist or Creationist saying the first living thing was a complex MODERN cell?”

    I meant as complex AS a modern cell.

  94. warehuff, here we go again,,, You keep saying that material processes CAN generate functional information yet you have yet to actually prove that material processes can generate any functional information whatsoever,,,

    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

  95. warehuff:

    Some comments on what you say:

    1) I am perfectly free to express mu opinions about any scientific paper, on this blog or elsewhere, just as anybody else can do.

    2) My opinion is usually motivated and detailed (except, sometimes, for mere problems of time resources). Anybpdy can read my opinions and evaluated them for what they are. In no case my opinions should be taken as a statement from authority. I have no authority, except the credibility of what I say, which everyone must evaluate for himself.

    3) On the contrary, darwinists here do often use supposed authority as an argument: that paper says so and so, it is published on a peer reviewed journal, the authors are eminent biologists, and so on.

    4) I have absolutely nothing against eminent biologists. I respect and admire them for their work. Bu I never take their statements as necessarily credible (I never do that in science, with nobody).

    5) So, if eminent biologists state something, they have to convince me that what they are saying is reasonable and credible, otherwise I feel free not to be convinced, I feel free to write that in this blog, and to explain why.

    6) You can stick to your concepts of authority, if you like, or you can just take part in the discussion expressing your ideas, and if possible motivating them. I will certainly not refute them just because somebody else, eminent or not, says differently. I will take the confrontation with you, and only with you, for your ideas.

    7) Biology, like many other sciences, has theories of different importance and differently supported by facts. Yarus’s theory about the biochemical origin of the code is not, as far as I know, an universally shared point of view, but rather a marginal position. And anyway, I have read his paper, and it has not convinced me at all. The facts he brings as support to his theory are interesting, but IMO can be explained in many other ways. Some aspects of the paper feel rather incomplete, but I have not dealt with those aspects in detail, because frankly it is not a big priority for me.

    8) IMO, all the theories for OOL before LUCA are fairy tales, because they are based on very extreme (and absolutely unlikely) assumptions which have no support from observed facts. This is my opinion, and I stick to it. And I am available to discuss it. I appreciate those who try to build theories about that point, but I don’t believe their theories. For my view of science, they are not even true scientific theories, but at present they can be better described as fairy tales. That is not necessarily a negative connotation: I like fairy tales, they are often very good. But they are not science.

    9) I stick to my statement that, at present, what cane before LUCA is complete mystery. I stick to my statement that the only thing we can be sure of is that design had a very important part in it.

    10) As far as we know, LUCA is the first living thing of which we can reasonably infer the existence. Whether others believe so or differently, is others’ problem. I am deeply convinced that my statement is true, and am available to discuss it. And it is certainly true that most biologists now believe that LUCA was rather complex.

  96. gpuccio, if it is any comfort, I rather value your opinion on matters as I find them well thought out and well supported by the state of the art of the actual evidence. In fact if truth be told, it is warehuff’s opinions that I have extreme trouble placing any value on since most of the time I find that they are not well thought out, nor supported by the peer review he supposedly leans so heavily on, but are instead just gut reactions of his atheistic philosophy.

  97. —warehuff to HouseStreetRoom: “I don’t follow you. Are you saying that you always prefer the opinion of a layman writing on an obscure blog to three professional scientists writing about their field of expertise in a major scientific publication? If so, could you tell me why?”

    This may come as a big surprise to you, but there are people who can assess the validity of an argument independent of the so-called authority of the arguer. Stephen Hawking, one of the most recognized authorties in physics, recently advanced the illogical and nonsensical argument that universes can create themselves out of nothing. Fortunately, Robert Spitzer and a number of other experts in the field of metaphysics refuted his egregious error.

    I heard of one “expert” scientist in Australia who insists that vegetables can feel pain. I gather, then, that since he is an expert, a specialist, and presumably writes in journals, that you accept his proposition and believe that you are subjecting a carrot to cruel and unusual punishmenet each time you eat one.

  98. Warehuff at 89: Dear fellow, my impression was that he’s saying you’re a pompous ass. This is so obvious to everyone reading this thread (except you) that he felt comfortable allowing your pomposity to speak for itself. I must say, though, that you’ve outdone yourself with your response. Nice of you to reiterate so there could be absolutely no doubt. Why not go out in the middle of the street and shout YES I AM!!! Mom won’t let you?

  99. Carrot liberation front!

  100. Carrots UNITE!!!

  101. StephenB,

    Stephen Hawking, one of the most recognized authorties in physics, recently advanced the illogical and nonsensical argument that universes can create themselves out of nothing. Fortunately, Robert Spitzer and a number of other experts in the field of metaphysics refuted his egregious error.

    I wasn’t aware of this, but I’d be interested in seeing it. His argument didn’t make sense to me either. Do you have a link?

  102. Warehuff:

    Without metabolism and self-replication, there is no cell based life worth the name. For reasons connected to the nature of the cell as a dynamic, self-replicating system.

    (And, BTW, that is the ONLY kind of life we have empirical evidence to support. No metaphysically speculative just so stories hiding in a scientific lab coat please.)

    Thus, we need a metabolically functional entity that is simultaneously a Von Neumann-type replicator.

    That requirement is not going to be simple. Here is my summary on what that requires [cf basic ref here]:

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, a Turing-type “universal computer”] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling:

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    That sort of organisation is not going to come easy, and it is going to be well beyond the 1,000 bits [128 bytes] of functional info that marks a search threshold that exhausts the potential of our observed universe.

    I comfortably infer that the observed reality of this sort of system in the heart of cell based life is a strong sign that it was produced through purposefully and intelligently directed contingency. AKA, design.

    Indeed, the evidence is that his overwhelmingly compelling conclusion is only rejected by imposition of a priori materialism in ideologised scientific and educational institutions.

    Absent such ideological imposition, evolutionary materialism would collapse at once.

    And, Merkle of Xerox Parc has some interesting things to say:

    ___________________

    >> We can view a ribosome as a degenerate case of [[a Drexler] assembler [[i.e. a molecular scale von Neumann-style replicator]. The ribosome is present in essentially all living systems . . . It is programmable, in the sense that it reads input from a strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) which encodes the protein to be built. Its “positional device” can grasp and hold an amino acid in a fixed position (more accurately, the mRNA in the ribosome selects a specific transfer RNA, which in its turn was bound to a specific amino acid by a specific enzyme). The one operation available in the “well defined set of chemical reactions” is the ability to make a peptide bond [[NB: This works by successively “nudging” the amino acid-armed tip of the codon- matched tRNA in the ribosome's A site to couple to the amino acid tip of the preceding tRNA (now in the P site) and ratcheting the mRNA forward; thus elongating the protein's amino acid chain step by step] . . . . [[T]he ribosome functions correctly only in a specific kind of environment. There must be energy provided in the form of ATP; there must be information provided in the form of strands of mRNA; there must be compounds such as amino acids; etc. etc. If the ribosome is removed from this environment it ceases to function.

    [[Self Replicating Systems and Molecular Manufacturing, Xerox PARC, 1992. (Parentheses, emphases and links added. Notice as well how the concept of functionally specific complex information naturally emerges from Merkle's discussion.)]>>
    __________________

    In short, the point is understood, in circles where it counts.

    GEM of TKI

  103. —”Berceuse: His argument didn’t make sense to me either. Do you have a link?”

    It’s pretty much all over the internet. Just Google his name with something like God not needed or the universe can create itself out of nothing and you will get plenty of sites. His co-author was on the Larry King show with Robert Spitzer. When Spitzer started correcting his logical errors, his adversary simply talked over him and drowned him out with a non-stop filibuster . King, of course, allowed it to happen.

  104. F/N:

    Spitzer video response.

    List of article responses to Hawking.

    John Lennox is classic:

    “Contrary to what Hawking claims, physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe,” he said, adding that laws do not create anything in and of themselves.

    What Hawking appears to have done is to confuse law with agency. His call on us to choose between God and physics is a bit like someone demanding that we choose between aeronautical engineer Sir Frank Whittle and the laws of physics to explain the jet engine.

    That is a confusion of category. The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but someone had to build the thing, put in the fuel and start it up. The jet could not have been created without the laws of physics on their own – but the task of development and creation needed the genius of Whittle as its agent.”

    GEM of TKI

  105. StephenB,

    King, of course, allowed it to happen.

    What do you mean by that? Is he an atheist?

  106. Thanks for the links kairosfocus

  107. Warehuff @ 99

    My point is that you haven’t shown any place where an intelligence is needed.

    I apologize if I didn’t make myself clear. The point where inanimate chemistry cannot create an abstraction of itself and instantiate that abstraction into matter – that is the point where an agent is required.

    I’m certainly not saying that life began without information, the information would have been in the arrangement of the atoms of whatever the FLT was.

    Your proposition removes the information carriers (DNA and RNA) from the FLT; that is why your suggestion removes information from the FLT. No particular arrangement of atoms has information by virtue of being a particular arrangement of atoms. If we look into an atom of carbon under a scope we do not find particles of information hidden among its constituent parts. You are making a category error. Information is an abstraction ABOUT something of interest; it is not IN something of interest. Once you truly allow yourself to figure this out, then you will begin to discern why the issue is what it is. Inside DNA we find information – recorded information that we can read – and that information is ABOUT the structure and processes of the organism. Tha inanimate chemistry did not put it there, because it did not have it to give.

    I AM saying that no intelligence is needed to arrange those atoms.

    Given that you’ve not been able thus far to grasp the issue at hand, I would hold off on making unsubstantiated proclamations – particularly when those proclamations run in direct opposition to 100% of the observable evidence from all human observation (science) since the very beginning of time.

    The FTL would have been small enough to form spontaneously.

    This comment is simply silly. The size of the organism has nothing to do with it. There is nothing in physical evidence that says “if it just gets small enough, it will pop into existence”. THINK before you SPEAK. It may actually be best to remain silent and listen for a while.

    I’m using “intelligence” to mean “conscious thinker” or “human like consciousness or better” or just “intelligent designer”.

    You are now simply assuming your conclusions. You have done so without providing any evidence that it is true, and without addressing the intractable evidence that it’s false. This is hardly an act befitting the age of enlightenment, wouldn’t you agree?

    Really… No, really. Slow down. Be still. Think this through:

    Can you provide any evidence whatsoever that suggest your conclusion is true?

    Can you provide a serious rebuttal to the evidence that says it’s false?

    If you can do neither of these, then on what grounds do you favor your position? Can you at least provide an answer to that?

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    Regarding Gpuccio, “Unless he’s got some good bonafides”.

    He has the best of bonafides. He is open-minded, trained, curious (and a gentleman).

  108. Hmmm — 107 responses so far at this writing. This always seems to happen, even if almost all the comments are off-topic.

    I rescind my initial thesis in favor of some kind of cosmic accident: Given an infinity of random universes, a disproportional number of comments will be inspired by my insipid posts.

  109. I’m going to start with Upright BiPed’s post # 107. I’ll start with the part that made me go, “Whaaa..”:

    Me: “I’m using “intelligence” to mean “conscious thinker” or “human like consciousness or better” or just “intelligent designer”.

    UBP: You are now simply assuming your conclusions. You have done so without providing any evidence that it is true, and without addressing the intractable evidence that it’s false. This is hardly an act befitting the age of enlightenment, wouldn’t you agree?”

    What exactly am I supposed to be assuming here? What intractable evidence shows it’s false, whatever it is?

    “Intelligent” and “Intelligence” aren’t well defined because we still don’t know exactly how they work, but when I use the words with regard to ID, I mean “possessing whatever humans possess when we say humans are intelligent”. I’m not restricting the intelligent designer here – he or she can be much smarter than humans. I’m just saying human level intelligence is the lower limit for an intelligent designer.

    UBP: “Your proposition removes the information carriers (DNA and RNA) from the FLT”

    It’s not my proposal, it’s every proposal for the OOL I’ve ever heard come out of the scientific community, at least since Pasteur. DNA is universally assumed to have come long after the OOL by scientists.

    UPB: “No particular arrangement of atoms has information by virtue of being a particular arrangement of atoms.”

    “You are making a category error. Information is an abstraction ABOUT something of interest; it is not IN something of interest.”

    There are a lot of different definitions of “information”. Here’s one that is very appropriate to the OOL from the wikipedia entry on “information”:

    “Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns.”

    It goes on to add, “In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern.”

    As an OOL example, if you have a polymer made of ten subunits and those subunits have electrostatic fields that attract similar subunits so that they line up beside the original polymer and join together to make a new polymer just like the old one, you have met the definition above. The information is in the pattern of electromagnetic fields that attract the new subunits and the information exists solely by virtue of the particular arrangement of atoms in the original polymer.

    UBP: “Given that you’ve not been able thus far to grasp the issue at hand…”

    I think the problem is that you’re using the wrong definition of information.

    Me: “The FTL would have been small enough to form spontaneously.”

    UBP: “This comment is simply silly. The size of the organism has nothing to do with it. There is nothing in physical evidence that says “if it just gets small enough, it will pop into existence”.”

    First don’t think “organism” for the FTL. All of the scientific hypothesis lean more towards my short polymer example.

    Second, I’m sure Dr. Dembski will confirm that a short polymer has a bigger chance of forming spontaneously than a longer polymer. All of the current scientific OOL theories call for a polymer or other chemical(s) that are small enough and simple enough to form spontaneously. Once they’ve formed and have started to reproduce, evolution takes over and adds information to them.

    UBP regarding gpuccio: “He has the best of bonafides. He is open-minded, trained, curious (and a gentleman).”

    And Yarus et al are much better trained, much more knowledgeable, probably more curious and I would argue much more open minded. Until I hear them rubbishing a competing theory by calling it a vague fairy tail, I’ll consider them better gentlemen as well.

  110. Kairosfocus @ 102: “Without metabolism and self-replication, there is no cell based life worth the name.”

    See my last posting. No contemporary scientific OOL theory that I am aware of claims that the FTL had any kind of metabolism, just self-reproduction.

    Turing machines are not needed and the proposed FTL is much smaller than 1000 sub units.

  111. Gil:

    I copy here my post on the twin thread, just to contribute to the cause:

    “Shall we try to quantify the improbability? :)

  112. BA, UB:

    thank you indeed for the kind words. I really treasure your friendship.

  113. gpuccio @ 95: “I am perfectly free to express mu opinions about any scientific paper, on this blog or elsewhere, just as anybody else can do.”

    And nobody has suggested otherwise. I assure you that a lot of people, myself included, would be heart broken if you stopped posting. At least one blog might have to close down.

    “So, if eminent biologists state something, they have to convince me that what they are saying is reasonable and credible, otherwise I feel free not to be convinced, I feel free to write that in this blog, and to explain why.”

    The problem is that saying their theory is a fairy tale doesn’t explain anything. It’s just name calling. If you want to explain why you’re not convinced, try pointing out an error in the paper and show us why it’s wrong. That would be explaining.

    But maybe you did that elsewhere on UD? You did say, “I have already commented on Yarus’ theory that a biochemical reason is behind the code.” I assume you’re talking about the “Michael Yarus and the Thing that Couldn’t Die” thread last June 7, but you just get lost on Weasel and never even comment on this paper, which is about something else.

    “You can stick to your concepts of authority…”

    This is not about authority, it’s about educated people writing about their field of competence in a major publication vs someone who knows next to nothing about biology slagging them instead of engaging their ideas. Tell us which of the ideas in that paper you don’t agree with and why and you’ll be contributing to a healthy discussion and you’ll have my respect. Tell me their paper is a vague fairy tail and you’re just name calling and that contributes nothing to the discussion.

  114. StephenB @ 97: “This may come as a big surprise to you, but there are people who can assess the validity of an argument independent of the so-called authority of the arguer.”

    Indeed there are, but they actually discuss the arguments and give their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with it, they don’t just call them a fairy tale.

    “I heard of one “expert” scientist in Australia who insists that vegetables can feel pain.”

    And I would assess the validity of that argument by pointing out that every thing we know about pain says it is a phenomena of a nervous system and vegetables don’t have one of those.

    That contributes to the conversation. It engages the theory. It says why I don’t think it’s correct. That’s so much more useful than just saying that the theory is a fairy tale.

  115. allanius @ 98: “Warehuff at 89: Dear fellow, my impression was that he’s saying you’re a pompous ass. This is so obvious to everyone reading this thread (except you) that he felt comfortable allowing your pomposity to speak for itself.”

    Could it be that the problem here is that name calling is so prevalent on this blog that any challenge to the practice is perceived as threatening which then generates more name calling?

  116. WH:

    1: Kindly show the empirical case where a self-replicating form originates spontaneously in a warm little pond or other PLAUSIBLE first life origins environment. (Manipulated chemical setups that depend on chemists do not count.)

    2: I find it exceedingly odd that you are struggling to “define” intelligence. If you were to scroll up to the UD glossary, you will see that we cite Wikipedia c. 2008 in their article on intelligence, as a good first pass on the concept:

    “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

    3: Further to this, you know full well that all participants here exemplify such, and that one characteristic of intelligence manifested in this thread is that we routinely produce complex, linguistically and/or algorithmically functional, digitally coded information. [dFSCI for short.]

    4: There are no — repeat, no — observed cases where such dFSCI has been observed to be produced by a blind process of chance and mechanical necessity. And, this is backed up by the implications of the configuration space of so small a quantum of information as 1,000 bits or 125 bytes: ten times the square of the number of Planck-time quantum states the atoms of the observed universe will have across the thermodynamically credible lifespan of the said cosmos. In short, the search space is unsearchable beyond 1 in 10^150th part. Or, effectively zero search.

    5: So, since miraculous luck is not a plausible proposal, any theory that proposes spontaneous origin of dFSCI as a core plank in its foundation, is in deep empirical and theoretical trouble. Especially when we do have a routinely empirically observed cause of dFSCI: intelligence.

    6: Of course, all of this comes back to the focal point made by Mr Dodgen in his first post, as our observed verbalising intelligences capable of creating complex information systems — as OBSERVED life forms manifestly are (no speculative just-so stories need apply) — are unified, conscious, rational selves, i.e. what the ancients used to call “souls.”

    7:: So, Mr Dodgen:

    Don’t tell me that anyone doesn’t at least eventually ask the only substantive and meaningful questions: 1) Why am I here? 2) Where did I come from? 3) Is there any ultimate purpose or meaning in my life?

    If Darwinism is true, the answers to these questions are obvious:

    1) No reason.
    2) Chemistry and chance, which did not have you in mind.
    3) No. You are an ephemeral product of 2).

    The problem is that Darwinism is obviously not true, and the scientific evidence mounts every day that its mechanisms are catastrophically inadequate as an explanation for what we observe.

    The philosophical, theological, ethical, and existential ramifications of this debate cut to the core of the human soul, which is why it inspires so much passion.

    8: He is right on why the debate triggers so much passion in a day when institutional science and education are dominated by ideological a priori Lewontinian materialism.

    9: He is even more right that the Darwinian answers to the 3 key questions make little sense. Where the evidence points to purposeful directed contingency as the best empirically warranted explanation for the origin of life, “no reason” is an utterly unwarranted preferred answer for why we are here.

    10: Similarly, chemical-physical necessity and random chemical and genetic processes cannot credibly get us to islands of function in vast seas of non-function, where we have metabolism conjoined to an abstract coded informational representation of the system that can drive a self-replication process.

    11: So, the evolutionary materialist account of origins collapses into empirically unjustified just so stores, on reasonable examination. It dominates ideologically, not on evidence and reason.

    12: And, WH, I notice above that you dodged the issue pointed out — to explain the origin of observed cell based life, it is not enough to try to redefine life as some unobserved imaginary self-replicating molecular complex without metabolism.

    13: You have to account for the origin of joint metabolism and code driven self-replication of the metabolising entity.

    14: To duck this challenge is to play at strawman tactics. (And BTW, I observe you seem to have ducked aside once I cited specific sources from the literature. that suggests your arguments on citation above were intimidatory, not serious.)

    _______________

    I await a solid response on the merits, not the strawmen.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Gil, I hope the above helps refocus on the original post.

  117. PPS: WH, I forgot to explicitly point out that one of my objections to your dismissal attempt above, is that you seem to be trying to slip in a question-begging, empirically unwarranted redefinition of life.

    The only observed self-replicating life is also metabolising, and cell based.

    The observed system embeds a von Neumann type replicator, one that allows a metabolising entity to make a copy of itself, perhaps with some variation.

    So, until you can account credibly for the origin of that observed entity, you have not got to the first step in addressing the actual observed evidence.

    Just-so materialistic speculations are not good enough, and they have never been so.

  118. PPPS: While name-calling — on whichever side, cf the weak argument correctives above to see where the main guilt lies on this matter: “if you live in a glass house . . . ” — is regrettable, it is also the case that no authority is better than his or her facts, evidence, reasoning and underlying assumptions.

    So, in a day where there is abundant evidence that a priori evolutionary materialism is imposed by a reigning ideologised, ruthless and closed-minded Orthodoxy on institutional science and education, citation of authority can often be worse than useless.

    To the merits, to the merits, to the merits, we must go.

  119. BA77 @ 92:

    Me: “BA77, the Last Universal Common Ancestor was not the First Living Thing.”

    BA77: “Warehuff,,,PROVE IT!!!”

    How about you PROVING IT!!!? What are your ideas on the first life? What was it like, when did it occur, how did it come to be and what evidence do you base your opinion on?

    If you don’t any evidence to base your opinions on, I won’t stop you from speculating based on whatever you can figure out. Kindly allow others the same right.

    BA77: “The “simplest” life currently found on the earth, the parasitic Mycoplasmal,”

    is the result of 3-4 billion years of evolution. It has nothing to do with the OOL.

    The rest of @ 92, down to but not including “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”:

    Is the result of 3-4 billion years of evolution and has nothing to do with the OOL.

    BA77: “… no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”

    Like UBP, you are using the wrong definition of information. Try this one, since it is appropriate to life:

    “Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns.”

    Any computer with a random number generator (use one that gets its random numbers from a radioactive source, just to forestall claims like, “Those are just pseudo random numbers!”) can create new information using this algorithm:

    A: Copy a portion of working DNA into a string. (You’ll have to use a peripheral for this.) Example: “CATGATCGA…..CGATTCG”. (For this example, assume that the string above is a copy of the APO-A1 gene I’ve discussed in another thread.)

    B: Using your random number generator, select one of the four possible basepairs (C, A, T or G) randomly.

    C: Select one of the basepairs in the APO-A1 string randomly.

    D: Change that basepair to the random basepair chosen in step B. Never mind if they’re the same.

    E: If the new string is different from the starting string, then your computer has generated new information. But we don’t know if it’s useful information or just junk, so we have to test it using natural selection:

    F: Copy the string into a fetus’s DNA (you’ll have to use a peripheral for this), gestate the fetus till birth than watch it and its descendents to see if they are unusually free from heart attacks and strokes.

    G: If they are, HALT. You have generated new CSI. If not, throw the modified gene away and go back to step A:. Repeat until the program halts.

    Congratulations, your computer has developed a new gene, APO-A1M. The lucky people who have it will be almost immune to heart attack and stroke. Google APO-A1M for details.

    Reflect on how this is exactly what evolution does, except without the computer.

  120. WH:

    Re your just now:

    Any computer with a random number generator (use one that gets its random numbers from a radioactive source, just to forestall claims like, “Those are just pseudo random numbers!”) can create new information . . .

    1 –> the computer is a complex, digital code cotrolled functional entitty that is a product of: purposefully directed contingency, i.e. design.

    2 –> it is a known artifact of intelligent agents, and so the creation of information, on an equally intelligently designed algorithm to create pseudo-random numbers, is a product of intelligence.

    3 –> Going further, we are not talking about arbitrary long bit strings. We are talking about digitally coded, functional complex information, dFSCI.

    4 –> You may find it informative to consult the peer reviewed paper discussed here in my always linked [and linked here] on the distinction between such functional sequences, random sequences and ordered sequences, given that strings are the fundamental data structure.

    5 –> Similarly, you will find the peer reviewed paper here on how the FSC was measured for 35 protein families through an application and extension of the H metric commonly used in information theory also interesting. (You may find it profitable to read the Weak argument correctives linked on every UD page, at the top. Look at no’s 25 – 29, which discuss this and related points.)

    _____________

    WH: kindly, stop setting up and knocking over strawmen.

    G’day,

    GEM of TKI

  121. F/N: Onlookers, I invite you to read the remarks here, as a context to evaluate the sort of strawman claims WH is making above. Random polypeptide chains can doubtless be created by a suitably coded mRNA and ribosome in a living cell, but the likelihood of any such being functional are as near zero as makes no difference, once the chain is sufficiently complex to be relevant, say 100 – 150 AA’s. The question being begged, always, by materialists and their fellow travellers, is the origin of digitally coded, functionally specific complex information.

  122. warehuff (from Wikipedia):
    Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns.”
    (bolds are mine)

    The “trick” of this definition is that formation is impossible without information. Why something can take form? How something can take form if only is “something” without information? It is more. How something simply can be, can exist, without the most single logic of yes/no applied to this something, which is information?

    Can we define form whithout use information? If no, then the definition above is wrong.

    I appreciate you, warehuff, because I see you are trying to seek the truth, but I think (I may be wrong, of course) you are seeking from the wrong side.

    With respect to the algorithm you propose, the information you think it produces, has another “trick”: you need human intervention in the process, and (I’ll could explain this better) the human introduce many information in any thing, many times not perceptible, and this is the base for the best tricks of the best magicians. It’s hard find out where the trick is, but the trick is a trick, not magic.

    Sorry if some gramatical error but I’m not used to write in english (only to read).

    My best for everybody.

  123. KF @ 116:

    1: The warm little pond is out of date now that we know that the earth is saturated by living organisms down to a depth of several kilometers and that plate tectonics constantly cycles gazillions of gallons of sea water through all of the nooks and crannies underground.

    The extreme pressure and heat (water boils far above 100 deg c a kilometer down) speeds up all chemical activity to the point where reactions that require complex catalysts at sea level proceed unassisted. The sea water also picks up myriad chemical compounds as it percolates through the crannies deep below the surface and the rocks provide physical surfaces that far exceed the total surface of the earth to act as catalysts.

    Of course, duplicating those conditions on the surface is going to require highly manipulated chemical setups.

    2: The definitional problem for intelligence was on Upright BiPed’s end. See @109 or @107 for the details and please let me know if you can figure out what he’s talking about. I will purposely accept anything that can hold an intelligent conversation with me as being intelligent.

    3: What is with all this dFSCI and FSCI stuff? I read the arguments that broke out over that a few months ago and just shook my head. Dr. Dembski’s plain old Complex Specified Information (CSI) is fine with me. If it will advance the conversation, I will happily state that DNA contains CSI and can we get on with it now?

    4: See my message 119 above with its seven step algorithm for generating CSI in the form of new and highly useful DNA using nothing but the principles of Darwinian evolution.

    5: That’s why OOL theories concentrate on small molecules of low complexity. To keep those odds within reason.

    6: The problem here is that no one was around to observe the FTL and we don’t know what it was like, so we have to figure out what it might have been like, given what we know of chemistry, conditions way back then and, of course, statistics. That’s why researchers are working with small molecules which only have a single function: reproduction. One thing we’re very sure of – the organisms we see today didn’t do it.

    7-1: You’re very lucky to be here. make the most of it.

    7-2: Nope, there might have been no intelligence beings at all or they might have been reptiles or something. We’re very lucky to be here. Make the most of it.

    7-3: See 7-1 & 7-2. You’re very lucky to be here. MAKE THE MOST OF IT!

    8: Unfortunately for some models of the world, materialism is what works. Prayer doesn’t seem to even help you recover from surgery faster.

    9: Evolution doesn’t make much sense to the regular posters on UD and to anybody who’s emotionally committed to supernatural causation. It makes lots of sense to the rest of us. As for what’s preferable, I’m sorry if the universe is not to your satisfaction.

    10: Life doesn’t “get to” islands of function, it starts in a very simple island and then builds from there. It ALWAYS stays in an island of function because getting out of one of those islands is called being dead.

    If Dr. Dembski is reading this, life avoids the search problems by never searching the entire space of all possible DNA combinations for human-length DNA. When a single base pair mutates, life explores exactly four spaces (one where the changed basepair is C, one where it is A, one where it is T and one where it is G and every other basepair is the same as mom if you’re single celled) and one of them is identical to good old mom’s.

    To search the entire search space, our entire genome would have to be assembled randomly every time a new offspring was created and the chances of such an organism surviving even one minute are effectively zero. But the chances of a genome that is identical to daddy’s in all but one base pair being viable` – those odds are pretty good.

    11: Not if you actually understand the evolutionary materialist account of origins. Of course, if you don’t understand it, and rely on the ID just so stories, then it does look impossible.

    12: The First Living Polymer (probably RNA) encapsulated in a fatty bubble reproduces and makes millions of copies. Too many to kill off. Some of those copies are different from the original and reproduce better. They soon replace the Original Living Thing.

    Some of them have a longer string of RNA from duplications. One new mutant’s RNA specifies a protein which embeds itself in the cell wall and helps food get in easier.

    At some point DNA starts to be matched to RNA and makes reproduction much more accurate and stable. This really accelerates reproduction and these new cells soon dominate.

    I’ll pause here and let you tell us what the ID understanding of the FLT is and how it became the cells we see today. Please provide as much information as you demand from scientists.

    13: See 12

    14: I probably missed your citations. I have a lot of correspondents to keep track of.

    And thank you for the concise, 700 word message. It makes replying to you much easier. I appreciate it.

  124. Obriton:

    Welcome.

    A refreshing post.

    Let us hear more from you! (And don’t worry over minor errors, you will learn form the process.)

    G

  125. PS: Oops, FROM the process. (See what I mean . . . )

  126. KF @ 117: At the risk of being repetitive, the life we see is not the FLT. It is a product of billions of years of evolution. The FLT was as unlike a von Neumann machine as it is unlike a Turing machine.

    @118: You’re right! Evolution IS being imposed. Dratted old facts! STOP IMPOSING YOURSELVES ON US!!

    We want Adam and Eve!! Or at least a mysterious Intelligent Designer who seems to have intelligently designed a world that looks just like it was made by Uninteligent Darwinism!

  127. Warehuff I have PROVED IT as far as science will allow, it is only dogmatic atheist like yourself that refuse to follow the scientific method for what we are able to ascertain. That you would demand to be ‘given to ‘same right’ to speculate is ironic in the highest degree since unsupported neo-Darwinian ‘speculation’ is taught as if it were rigid science in schools, whereas actual rigid science which overwhelming supports ID is suppressed,,, How about you writing a few letters to a few school boards with this new found sense of fair play that you have discovered within yourself???

  128. WH:

    You just presented a target-rich environment.

    I will leave most details to others, just first noting on one of your red herring tracks that there are millions who will testify to you on experience that prayer works. In fact, that I am alive, have enough breath to post, and have enough back to sit up are ALL answers to prayer, in astonishingly and obviously miraculous ways. (I could start with the appointment error that led my mom to half lift me out of a med centre, and as we came out the door, we faced a taxi with the open door, and the man saying: “Asthma, I know just the doctor you need.” That is how we found the doctor who saved my life. Literally.)

    When it comes to materialism proper, it is inherently self-referentially incoherent and necessarily false.

    It is intellectually indefensible, and unreliable as a worldview foundation, before we even get to the dangers posed by its utter amorality.

    It only survives because, as a legacy of C19 positivist skepticism propped up in a circular argument by Darwinism, it is now an imposed ideological stratight-jacket on origins science, as is discussed here in more details.

    My allusion to the warm little pond or the modern equivalents [volcanic vents, comets, moons in the solar system, etc etc] is in a context that THE RESOURCES OF THE OBSERVED COSMOS ACROSS ITS THERMODYNAMICALLY CREDIBLE LIFESPAN are not enough to begin a credible search of the relevant config space for just 1,000 bits of information, so discussions on waters circulating to kms depth etc are irrelevant. (Have a look at Abel’s plausibility bound paper here.)

    When we come to your central claim in your point 10:

    Life doesn’t “get to” islands of function, it starts in a very simple island and then builds from there. It ALWAYS stays in an island of function because getting out of one of those islands is called being dead.

    a –> You have begged the question, and fail to provide empirical evidence relevant to the origin of observed life: metabolic systems conjoined to abstract coded representations used in a von Neumann replicator.

    b –> That is by no means “simple” — we have a code based irreducibly complex algorithm-implementing system! — as can be seen here, and in onward references as were given at 102 ff. above.

    c –> The issue you have yet to solidly answer to is not mere replication [and the cases offered to date require intelligent design and manipulation of chemical contexts that require intelligent and knowledgeable chemists, using arrangements that are utterly implausible for any prebiotic environment] but replication of a metabolising automaton; based on coded functional, complex digital information.

    d –> The observational evidence (you tried to brush BA aside on this above, but failed)is that such entities start out in excess of 100 k bits of information, reckoning at about 2 bits per base pair [I here recognise that the observed distributions of GCAT are not flat random].

    e –> This is about 100 times the reasonable threshold where the search resources of he observed cosmos run out of capability to scratch the surface of the config space. [The observed cosmos allows for about 10^150 quantum states of 10^80 or so atoms for 10^25 s, 50 mn times the timeline since the generally accepted singularity. 500 bits is about the same number. Squaring this gives 1,000 bits and specifies a config space that is about 10 times the square of the number of states for the atoms of the observed cosmos. 1 in 10^ 150 is much, much less than one atom to the whole observed universe.]

    f –> So, your simple island model evaporates.

    g –> I note that within an sialand ofr function for a given bodey plan, there is room for random variation to meet with differential reproductive success and trigger hill-climbing to peaks of function.

    h –> But that is not the issue, the issue is to get TO such islands of functions starting in whatever equivalent to Darwin’s little pond you wish. [Just, provide empirical evidence of complex self-replicating metabolising entities coming about spontaneously in such an environment.]

    i –> You also point out that if one wanders off the island, function ceases,. this is exactly correct, and highlights the next problem.

    j –> Origin of major body plans, which credibly requires ~ 10′s – 100′s+ millions of novel base pairs of embryologically feasible bio-information. 10 million bits of information specifies a config space of ~ 9 *10^3,010,299.

    k –> In short, “island-hopping” is even more infeasible than origin of life.

    l –> But, we know by experience and observation — thus, empirically — that intelligences routinely produce systems with that level of complex information that is coded and specifically functional.

    m –> On inference to best — and empirically anchored — explanation, we can explain minor variations in life forms on darwinian and similar mechanisms, but the origin of life and of major body plans plainly is best predicated on intelligent purposefully directed contingency, aka design.

    ________________

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Since there is a glossary of key terms and a corrective to weak arguments accessible on EVERY UD page, BQA and other commenters are under no obligation to provide definitions and the like to those who come here to make objections, often the same objections that have been adequately answered over and over again. (Sadly, WH, this includes the one you have been making above. It is a matter of going the extra mile that makes me put up a post like this one.)

  129. KF, thanks for the welcome and not worry about my little habit of writing in English. My problem is that taken much longer than it would if you use my own language, but that is something that will heal with time … I hope.

    First of all I want to say that I appreciate very much your effort for the many years I’ve been reading you. I consider you a true “worker of the truth” (my own definition) I think is the best way to define a scientist.

    On the other hand, and now speak to all, one of the points I see that sooner or later it always repeats itself every time someone comes here with the Darwinian materialistic mentality or preset, is “whether there is design, who is the Designer ? I think that whoever comes here with that question also had to do the following: “if there are laws of nature, who established these laws and how obliged to comply? Hard answers, of course, but that prevents them from admitting laws, use them as they wish or do experiments trying to find new laws?. That’s what science is, no doubt. For a hard question, an even more difficult and ended questioning.

    I think so and I am convinced that this contradiction of supporting a position of unbelief, and requires a position contrary to one that can be derived from the first, is evident. So the answer would be “the Designer is or may be the Same as that established the laws of the universe and has the means to enforce them”. Finito and move on to other issues to help us improve what we know. Do not you think it is so ?

    Best for you.

  130. warehuff:

    Some quick comments:

    1) I don’t remember exactly what I have written about the Yarus paper some time ago. My calling it a firy tale is certainly only a quick summary of my impressions, and you are right that I should go more in detail about it. Perhaps I will, if I find the time. You may know that I have gone in great detail about other papers, which I considered more important.

    In brief, my main reason for considering Yarus’s paper a “fairy tale” is very general: I consider “fairy tales” (not supported by facts) all theories about the RNA world, becuse we have absolutely no empirical reason to believe that an RNA world ever existed (I definitely believe it didn’t). Yarus’s hypothesis that a biochemical affinity was at the base of the code can be accepted as a hypothesis, but it is based on so many assumptions that at present I cannot consider it any more than a “fairy tale” theory. Which does not mean it has no value, but just that it is completely speculative at present.

    I remember I had some problems with some details of the paper too, but forgive me if at present I have not the time to deal with them. In my spare time, I am analyzing another paper suggested here, which is IMO much more relevant to ID.

    2) You say:

    3: What is with all this dFSCI and FSCI stuff? I read the arguments that broke out over that a few months ago and just shook my head. Dr. Dembski’s plain old Complex Specified Information (CSI) is fine with me. If it will advance the conversation, I will happily state that DNA contains CSI and can we get on with it now?

    4: See my message 119 above with its seven step algorithm for generating CSI in the form of new and highly useful DNA using nothing but the principles of Darwinian evolution.

    I don’t understand. You say you are fine with the concept of CSI, and then you refer your post 119, where you offer as an example Apo-A1M, which is a one aminoacid mutation. One aminoacid is (at most) 4.3 bits of information. Do you know what the C in CSI (or in dFSCI) stays for? Do you know what “complex” means, especially in the ID theory? If you don’t, why do you speak of what you don’t know?

    Just to understand…

  131. Obriton:

    Welcome here, and thank you for your interesting contributions.

    I am also from a not english speaking country, and writing on this blog has greatly enhanced my ability with the language. Just go on…

  132. —Warehuff: “And I would assess the validity of that argument by pointing out that every thing we know about pain says it is a phenomena of a nervous system and vegetables don’t have one of those.”

    Which means, of course, that you have invalidated your previous theme, which elevated the conclusion of the “expert” over the more logical objections of the lay critic. Now, you tell us that the merits of the argument matter more than the credentials of the scientist.

    —”It engages the theory. It says why I don’t think it’s correct. That’s so much more useful than just saying that the theory is a fairy tale.”

    Yes, which is exactly what GPuccio was doing when you declared that his conclusions were irrevent on the grounds that he was disagreeing with “experts.”

  133. warehuff,

    ”It engages the theory. It says why I don’t think it’s correct. That’s so much more useful than just saying that the theory is a fairy tale.”

    I agree, because at least there is some truth to fairy tales.

  134. Warehuff #109,

    “What exactly am I supposed to be assuming here? What intractable evidence shows it’s false, whatever it is?”

    When I wrote my response in #107, I broke your opening remarks into four pieces. In retrospect, by doing so I may have made myself less clear than I should have. This is probably why you responded “whaaa?” So allow me to be clear now.

    When you say:

    I’m certainly not saying that life began without information, the information would have been in the arrangement of the atoms of whatever the FLT was. I AM saying that no intelligence is needed to arrange those atoms. The FTL would have been small enough to form spontaneously.

    You then assume everything.

    Firstly, you removed the information carrying molecule from the FLT for a logical (and strategic) reason. That reason is that the presence of an information carrying molecule is just too great to explain ex nihilo. It’s hopeless (embarrassingly hopeless). However, having removed the information carrying molecule from the FLT you then simply assumed the FLT was still infused with information. Your position suggests that the information the FLT contained was based upon the arrangement of its atoms. This cannot be so. There is no information in an atom, and none in an arrangement of atoms. There are no particles of information existing amongst the protons and electrons of atoms (or any arrangements of atoms). Information is not material, and is therefore immaterial. In other words, the information must be produced in order to exist, and you simply assumed it was somehow already there. Well… it wasn’t.

    Your position almost begs the question, if the arrangement of its atoms is all the FLT needed to contain information, then what was the need for an information carrying molecule? For self-replication perhaps? That would suggest the FLT was not a self-replicator on its own. But, if it’s a not a self-replicator then it’s not a living thing, and given your earlier position that the FLT had no metabolism, and now no self-replication as well, one might ask how it got the name “first living thing”.

    Obviously, you are suggesting a chemical process of some unknown type must have BECOME the FLT once it took on metabolism and self-replication. But this explanation is no explanation at all. All you’ve done is removed what must be explained about the FLT and then proceeded to call it a “first living thing” anyway. And now that it has been dubbed a “living thing”, you act as though a satisfactory explanation of Life has been given (with perhaps the need of a few details). Nothing could be farther from the truth. You’ve repeatedly leaned on the airy speculation of authority figures, but all you’ve done is told us what a “first living thing” might exist like -if- it had none of the qualities of a first living thing.

    Warehuff, this is hardly a convincing argument. Yet as bad as it is, you’ve apparently only begun.

    You next go on the “what is information” tangent.

    But instead of actually addressing what I said about information (that information is an abstraction ABOUT a thing of interest, but is not IN a thing of interest, which by the way, is an observable fact of nature) you very confidently quote from the recognized global source for correctness of thought, Wikipedia. This is hardly a novel approach for a materialist; when the terms are difficult, simply redefine them so that you may continue to assume what you say is true.

    You provide Wiki’s alternate definition: “Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns. In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern (citation needed)” and you then completely ignore their topline definition: “Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is an ordered sequence of symbols” and you otherwise disregard the actual etymology of the word (information is “to give form to”). I assume you skipped past these definitions because they are exactly what I am talking about.

    That’s fine. I understand; you want to prevail in the argument, not seek the truth. Playing definition-a-go-round is a viable option if that is your goal.

    In any case, let us look at your definition. The Wiki entry goes directly to reference DNA as an example of information that can cause a transformation without the need for a conscience mind (what were the odds of that example?). Yet I wonder about the resilience of their definition (any pattern that can cause a transformation in another pattern). Is this definition stable, or is there a good reason it’s a minority definition?

    For instance, a pole on a magnet creates a pattern in its electromagnetic field. If I take a second magnet of the opposite pole and hold it near the first, there will be a change in that pattern. Is that information? Anyone care to claim that it is? According to Wiki, it is.

    Even so, this has nothing to do with the issue, Warehuff.

    It is not that a pattern can influence another without direct interpretation of a mind; the code running through my computer is a prime example. Humans have not installed a “mind” in the computer to do the interpreting, they have instead installed a system architecture to perform the interpreting, and have given it the rules by which that interpretation will proceed. This is exactly what is happening in DNA. It is that system and those rules which cannot be explained by the transistors in a computer, or the nucleotides in a cell.

    Do you intend to ever address these issues straight up, or not?

    - – - – - – -

    Information is an abstraction ABOUT something of interest; it is not IN something of interest.

    There are no particles of information in matter; it is an immaterial phenomena.

    Information requires perception to exist, and that perception requires symbols.

    Life operates by means of symbolic information about the organism; an abstraction instantiated in matter in DNA.

  135. Well so anyway…last night I had the chance to meet Stephen Meyer, Johnathan Wells, Richard Sternberg, Douglas Axe, and Paul Nelson.

    I drove over and attended the Darwin’s Dilemma conference on the SMU campus (nice campus) in Dallas.

    Great presentations by all. Sternberg talked about population genetics, Nelson and Wells talked about embryonic development, Axe talked about protien math, and Meyer was just a simply impressive host.

  136. 136

    Upright BiPed,

    Ditto on the presentation. The question and answer portion was a treat. I enjoyed the clarity with which they were able to answer questions, and stay on point while doing so (rather than misdirection, changing the subject, etc).

  137. Dang HSR…I certainly wished I had known you were there!

  138. 138

    Likewise!

    I’ll see you at the next event, hopefully (if you don’t live too far from the metroplex).

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