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No good theology, you say? Oh yes there is!

Over on his Evolution Blog, Professor Jason Rosenhouse has written a post (which has been highly praised by Professor Jerry Coyne) entitled, Where can I find the really good theology? Part one. Apparently he really believes there isn’t any to be found:

We New Atheist types are often lectured about the need for studying theology. The idea is that if we tuned out the distressingly popular and highly vocal forms of religious extremism and pondered instead “the best religion has to offer,” then we would not be so hostile to religion.

…I have read a fair amount of highbrow theology. I have read my share of Augustine and Aquinas, Barth and Tillich, Kierkegaard and Kuhn, just to pick a few names. I have read quite a lot of Haught and Ward and Swinburne. I did not go into this expecting to be disappointed. Conversion seemed unlikely, but I expected at least to find a lot of food for thought. Instead, with each book and essay I read I found myself ever more horrified by the sheer vacuity of what these folks were doing. I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards nonbelievers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along. I thought perhaps I was just reading the wrong writers, and that I would eventually come to the really good theology. But I never did.

Well, Professor Rosenhouse, I’ve been reading theology for over three decades myself, and I’ve compiled a collection of the “best of the best”: a dozen or so online articles which, when taken together, constitute a very strong philosophical case for belief in God. I’ve asterisked the ones which I think are the most important. I can assure you that the philosophers who wrote these articles are not just making it up as they go along: they’ve done a lot of hard thinking about their beliefs. If you think their arguments lack intellectual merit, I should very much like to know why.

I would also urge you to read Professor Edward Feser’s book, Aquinas. It’s about the best defense of Aristotelian Thomism that you are ever likely to read, it’s less than 200 pages long, and its arguments merit very serious consideration. You would be ill-advised to dismiss it out of hand.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my list.

It’s your move, Professor Rosenhouse.

The modal cosmological argument

***
Job Opening: Creator of the Universe — A Reply to Keith Parsons (2009) by Professor Paul Herrick. Argues that philosophical theism, far from being vulnerable to the continued progress of science, rests on a rationally satisfying and philosophically attractive logical basis that cannot, in principle, be overturned by the continued progress of natural science.

***
Lecture notes and bibliography from Dr. Koons’ Western Theism course (Phil. 356). An excellent introduction to the modal cosmological argument, with a refutation of criticisms by Hume, Kant and Mackie. Also covers the design argument.

Koon’s paper, A New Look at the Cosmological Argument is more technical but definitely worth reading, especially for its rebuttals to common criticisms of the modal cosmological argument.

The cosmological fine-tuning argument: the case for the Universe having a Designer

***
The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe by Dr. Robin Collins. In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. 2009. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-405-17657-6. The most up-to-date refinement of the fine-tuning argument. Comprehensive and very rigorously argued.

The Case for Cosmic Design (2008) by Dr. Robin Collins. With a reply by Dr. Paul Draper. Clarifying the Case for Cosmic Design (2008) by Dr. Robin Collins.

***
The Fine-tuning of the Cosmos: A Fresh Look at its Implications by Dr. Robin Collins.

God’s simplicity

***
Making Sense of Divine Simplicity (forthcoming in Faith and Philosophy) by Dr. Jeffrey Brower, of Purdue University. A number of contemporary philosophers have argued that divine simplicity is at least a coherent doctrine. For all their ingenuity, however, contemporary defenses of the doctrine continue to fall on deaf ears. Brower’s purpose in this paper is two-fold: to explain why this is case, and to mount a new defense, one that succeeds where the others have failed to resolve contemporary concerns about the doctrine’s coherence, once and for all.

God’s timelessness

***
Eternity by Professor Paul Helm. Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

God’s foreknowledge

***
Foreknowledge and Free Will by Professor Norman Swartz. Article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
(See also Foreknowledge and Free Will by Professor Linda Zagzebski. Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

God’s goodness

***
God, obligation, and the Euthyphro dilemma by Professor Edward Feser. (October 26, 2010.)

***
C. S. Lewis and the Euthyphro Dilemmaby Dr. Steve Lovell. Please scroll down to read the article.
The article addresses the question: are actions good because God commands them, or does God command them because they are good? According to what Lovell calls the Divine Nature Theory, morality is rooted not in God’s commands, but in God’s necessary and immutable nature, which is essentially good.

God as the Grounding of Moral Objectivity: Defending Against Euthyphro by Dr. Steve Lovell. Please scroll down to read the article.
Abstract: The Euthyphro Dilemma (is x good because God says it’s good, or does God say x is good because it is good?), has been used as an argument against Theistic Ethics for hundreds of years. Plato was the first to use it. Since then Bertrand Russell, Kai Nielsen and many others have sought to really push it home. My aim in this paper is to show that the dilemma (as posed by both Russell and Nielsen) is a false one. Theistic ethics does survive the Euthyphro dilemma. I take up and defend Aquinas’ position: that God himself (or his nature) is the standard of goodness, and not his commands. This position avoids the dilemma since God’s commands / morality will not be arbitrary (since they are/it is rooted in God’s nature), and Goodness will not be in any sense anterior to God either.

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94 Responses to No good theology, you say? Oh yes there is!

  1. Did I somehow misread this?

    Instead, with each book and essay I read I found myself ever more horrified by the sheer vacuity of what these Darwinists were doing. I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards IDers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along. I thought perhaps I was just reading the wrong writers, and that I would eventually come to the really good Darwinology. But I never did.

    My eyes aren’t so good these days!

  2. Did I somehow misread this?

    Instead, with each book and essay I read I found myself ever more horrified by the sheer vacuity of what these Darwinists were doing. I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards IDers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along. I thought perhaps I was just reading the wrong writers, and that I would eventually come to the really good Darwinology. But I never did.

    My eyes aren’t so good these days!

  3. Sorry about the first attempt!

  4. 4
    CannuckianYankee

    Pav,

    I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing. You beat me to it.

  5. When he says : “i have read my share” does he mean: “i have read the bare minimum needed to write a dismissive, arrogant, smug, and ignorant article that makes a brushing aside, hand having statement against a millenium’s worth of excellent theological thought.” ??
    Or:
    “even though there are compelling, well-formed ideas put forth by many of these superior theological thinkers; I will choose to ignore them because they don’t agree with my dyed in the wool worldview” ??
    I haven’t decided how to interpret that yet.

  6. PaV and CannuckianYankee,

    Great minds obviously think alike. I was thinking the exact same thing.

    When it comes to making stuff up as you go along, Darwinism wins the grand prize with a cherry on top. In no other field of “science” is thoroughly unsubstantiated, perfectly speculative storytelling so ubiquitous and voluminous — and accepted by the “scientific” community without question or dissent.

    In the case of cosmic ID the situation is even worse. The evidence for design of the laws of physics with the ultimate goal of producing a life-permitting universe is so obvious that detractors have been reduced to proposing an infinitude of in-principle undetectable alternate universes. If this is the case, nothing is impossible and everything is inevitable.

    Like Antony Flew, I abandoned my materialistic atheism in large part because the argument from design was so compelling.

    In addition, I found the arguments against the argument from design to be obviously rooted in an unwillingness to follow the evidence where it clearly leads, and indicative of a sense of panic and desperation.

  7. My favorite work of theology – “The Everlasting Man” by G. K. Chesterton.

  8. “I have read my share of Augustine and Aquinas, Barth and Tillich, Kierkegaard and Kuhn, just to pick a few names. I have read quite a lot of Haught and Ward and Swinburne. I did not go into this expecting to be disappointed”

    What, exactly, did you read?

    “Conversion seemed unlikely, but I expected at least to find a lot of food for thought. Instead, with each book and essay I read I found myself ever more horrified by the sheer vacuity of what these folks were doing.”

    What is vacuous about their writings? Be specific.

    “I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards nonbelievers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along.”

    What about their arguments was vague and convoluted? What examples can you give of their smugness towards nonbelievers?

    “I thought perhaps I was just reading the wrong writers, and that I would eventually come to the really good theology. But I never did.”

    Or you read all their writings with a completely closed mind which, I might add, is the position taken by an irrational person who only sees and hears what he wants to see and hear without being objective.

  9. Ever notice how often the rebuttal of an argument for atheism can begin with the question, “This is the vaunted logic of atheism?”

    “Conversion seemed unlikely…”

    I daresay that conversion was never on the negotiating table to begin with. Here is the proof:

    “…and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along.”

    Which sounds a lot like the argument from ignorance. “Can I prove they’re not making it up? No. Therefore, they’re making it up.”

  10. If by ‘argument,’ one means validly drawn inferences which logically follow from sound premises, then there are no arguments for atheism to rebut, in the first place.

    When one examines the “arguments” presented for atheism, and when one recollects that so-called atheists (*) so frequently assert that *they* are rationally following reason and that *we* are irrationally [doing X, Y, Z, take your pick], then one realizes the justifcation for asking, “This is the vaunted logic of atheism”

    (*) there are exceeding few actual atheists in the world.

  11. Your first reference, “Job opening…” fails. Atheists have no problem accounting for the existence of men without resorting to an infinite regress of men – Darwinian evolution does that very well.

    We can account for the existence of this universe by noting that it contained only a very small amount of CSI at the beginning – just some energy confined in a very small space and a few laws – maybe just one law that split into all the other laws randomly as this universe expanded and cooled.

    That would mean that the metaverse that spawned this universe could also be very simple – just something chaotic with very little CSI in it – something that could “just exist” without straining probability with questions like, “Where did all that highly structured information come from?” since no highly structured information would be needed.

    But Professor Herrick Tries to make God a “necessary being” as if that would somehow account for the existence of the gigabytes of highly structured information that are necessary for even a lowly human consciousness, let alone a being that was “personal” and “knows, desires, and makes consciously willed choices” let alone having “unlimited power (“omnipotence”), knowledge (“omniscience”), and goodness (“omnibenevolence”).”

    What’s more likely? A more or less chaotic low information metaverse that spits out low information universes like this one was at the beginning or the super complicated mind of an omniscient Being?

  12. dmullenix: I readily admit to being an idiot. Take that into account when I respectfully ask where the low information came from and how things “just exist”.

  13. Of related note:

    TWO DOZEN (OR SO) THEISTIC ARGUMENTS – Lecture Notes by Alvin Plantinga – Professor of Philosophy Notre Dame
    http://philofreligion.homestea.....ments.html

    Sure Faith Without Proof (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3_wRu19xJg

  14. 14

    What I’m going to say is admittedly dogmatic and perhaps deserves to be ignored. But I’ll say it anyway.
    The greatest reason for belief in God is the Bible. For those who haven’t encountered it, the second best is the existence of what we see around us.

    Next to the Bible, the combined thoughts of any and all philosophers is fingerpainting and crayon scribbles. They strike close to meaning when they quote scripture. The rest of the time they abandon it in favor of their own wisdom and cleverness.
    People seek God for wisdom and knowledge beyond that of man, not to find out what the smartest of really smart men have to say. It’s empty by comparison.

  15. We New Atheist types are often lectured about the need for studying theology. The idea is that if we tuned out the distressingly popular and highly vocal forms of religious extremism and pondered instead “the best religion has to offer,” then we would not be so hostile to religion.

    STRAWMAN!!!

    Sheesh. Never believe anything a ‘New Atheist’ proposes as a premise for an argument.

    The problem is not that they would be less hostile to religion if only they understood religion better.

    The problem is that the arguments they put forth are blatantly WRONG because they are ignorant about basic aspects of theology.

    Study up, get rid of the ignorance, and come back with a real argument.

  16. I came to despise their endlessly vague and convoluted arguments, their relentless smugness towards nonbelievers, and, most seriously, the complete lack of any solid reason for thinking they weren’t just making it up as they went along.

    Yes Barb, I’m with you. This doesn’t sound at all like Kuhn to me.

    And yes, noticeably absent are CS Lewis and GK Chesterton.

    And I most certainly would not recommend Barth, Tillich, or Kierkegaard for those who lack a fundamental foundation in theology.

  17. OT:
    Question to moderator:

    Would have thought this was a family
    friendly blog, so what’s with the adds from Fredericks of Hollywood?

  18. es58, how do you think families are made?

  19. So the OP does raise an interesting question. Where’s a good place for someone new to theology to begin?

    Is theology limited to Christian theology?

    Why do the “New Atheists” restrict themselves to criticism of Christian theology (or do they)?

    How well read in Muslim theology is Rosenhouse?

  20. Mung,
    “Why do the “New Atheists” restrict themselves to criticism of Christian theology (or do they)?”

    Chiefly, I believe, because nothing is as infuriating as a belief system that tells you in no uncertain terms that you’re a no good sinner that falls short every day.

    New atheists can barely stifle their outrage, contempt and disdain. That does not originate with christianity simply being wrong. That’s a pricked conscience we’re hearing.

  21. dmullenix (#11)

    Thank you for your post. A universe with a single law and very low CSI would still be contingent, so it would be reasonable to ask where it came from. There’s nothing obviously wrong with that question. (See also http://www.uncommondescent.com.....h-parsons/ , which I haven’t followed up to yet.)

    You suggest that the universe’s CSI can spontaneously increase. I take it then that you would disagree with claims that the total CSI of the universe is conserved. Even if you are right, it is still a contingent fact about the universe that its CSI is able to grow. That also needs explaining.

    By the way, I haven’t forgotten your interesting argument at the end of my recent post entitled, Two pretty good arguments for atheism (courtesy of Dave Mullenix) , to the effect that any omniscient being would necessarily be complex (or else it could not extract information from the universe), and I will be returning to it in the near future. All I will say for now is that your argument contains certain assumptions. Hence I would regard the notion of a necessary omniscient being as a philosophically defensible one.

  22. dmullenix:

    Atheists have no problem accounting for the existence of men without resorting to an infinite regress of men

    Unlike ID, which requires an infinite regress of men.

    Unlike Creationism, which requires an infinite regress of men.

    What’s your point dm, if you have one?

  23. dmullenix:

    We can account for the existence of this universe by noting that it contained only a very small amount of CSI at the beginning…

    Things which contain only a small amount of CSI can poof into existence magically, while things which contain a large amount of CSI can poof into existence only if they do so Magically.

  24. dmullenix:

    What’s more likely? A more or less chaotic low information metaverse that spits out low information universes like this one was at the beginning or the super complicated mind of an omniscient Being?

    Which is more likely?

    I mean, you ask the question, but don’t answer it.

    Is the answer supposed to be obvious?

    Why so?

  25. Great comment from junkdnaforlife over at kairosfocus’ latest post:

    “The laws of physics cannot explain the laws of physics.”

    Precisely.

  26. Ipadron at 12 The small amount of information that this universe contained at the Big Bang probably came from noise in the multiverse that produced this universe.

    Mung at 19 “New Atheists” (which are basically the same as the old atheists) are all from the western world and the western world is almost entirely Christian, hence western atheists are predominantly concerned with Christianity.

    Ipadron at 20 See above. We atheists aren’t that concerned with name calling from established religion, especially since their insults are all-inclusive. YOU are also a “no good sinner that falls short every day” according to Christian doctrine.

    vjt at 21 One of the reasons theology and much of philosophy is thought of as an intellectual backwater is because it really thinks questions about contingency vs. necessity are important. This is all part of trying to prove/disprove the existence of God through pure logic and that has never worked. Hasn’t theology thought of anything new in the last two thousand years?

    The best guess/theory for the existence of the universe says it was produced from a pre-existing multiverse and the multiverse may be eternal. The multiverse is thought to exist because it literally keeps falling out of every cosmological theory anybody has thought up in the last 75 years. You just can’t get rid of it!

    For anybody objecting to the multiverse eternally existing, I can only point out that God is also supposed to be eternal, but He’s infinitely more complicated and hence less likely than any proposed multiverse.

    Darwinian evolution is a factory for generating CSI. The initial information is generated by randomly mutating DNA. This new DNA pattern is new information, but odds are that it’s useless information. Natural selection weeds the crap information out by the simple expedient of trying to manage an organism with it. If it works, that new information goes on to reproduce itself and it’s added to the store of CSI. (The specification is “Capable of running an organism”.) If it doesn’t work, it’s automatically discarded with the failed organism. The result: a slow but steady accumulation of new CSI.

    When investigating omniscient beings, watch out for the “knows the future” trap. If something knows the future, the future is fixed and free will goes “poof”.

    Mung at 22 If you read Part 8 of vjt’s first suggested reading, “Job Opening: Creator of the Universe …” by Paul Herrick, you’ll see that he asks questions like, “”Why does this past-eternal-series of humans as a whole exist?” Why not a different series of human beings, one with different members? Why does the inventory of all that actually exists include this (past-eternal) series of human beings, rather than some other (past-eternal) series of human beings?” on his way to pointing out that an eternal series of men, with each man’s characteristics being inherited from the man before him, doesn’t account for the existence of the characteristics. It’s a valid argument, but a little annoying since we don’t believe that men have always existed and account for them via Darwinian evolution. He should have found a better example to illustrate his point.

    Mung at 23 Small amounts of information (I really shouldn’t have said CSI here) can be accounted for through random noise. Large amounts of CSI can’t be accounted for at all, theologically, except by positing a pre-existing Being with even more CSI which they cannot account for. Theologians have to find ways to bury this embarassing reality under important sounding phrases like, “eternally existing”. See Professor Herrick above for his comments on this.

    Mung at 24 Sorry for the confusion. “A more or less chaotic low information metaverse that spits out low information universes like this one was at the beginning” is more likely than a “super complicated mind of an omniscient Being?” being produced through any non-Darwinian process.

    The problem was probably on my end – I wrote that entry from an iPad, forgetting until too late that you can’t scroll back and edit what you’ve written with the iPad. Hence the poor phrasing. It was a first draft.

    vjt at 25 No one says they do.

  27. Folks:

    I guess I have to take the idea of a low amount of CSI at the origin of the cosmos to mean that the assertion is that the evident functionally specific, complex organisation to put our observed cosmos at a finely tuned operating point for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life [each of these is loaded!], is that there is a programming superlaw that forces a cosmos like this to emerge, and/or that there is a quasi-infinite matrix of sub-cosmi with a wide enough and fine-grained enough distribution that it was moe or less inevitable to pick up our particular operating point by chance.

    The first of these boils down to kicking up the finetuning one level: where did such a programming law come from?

    The second runs into the cosmic bakery problem highlighted by Robin Collins: we happen to be at a highly precise knee or spike in the field of credibly possible cosmological contingencies. So, we are back at the problem of so fine grained a sampling that we are looking at a proposed quasi-infinite multiverse, which has to be just right so as to search the right zone finely enough to be likely to capture that knee, and not just put out the equivalent of baked hockey pucks or half baked doughy messes.

    On either fork, you are looking at fine tuning at a higher level, as Leslie’s lone fly on the stretch of wall example pointed out.

    Multiply that fine tuning by the credible fact of a definite beginning, and you are — even through a multiverse — looking at a root, necessary (thus non-contingent) being to explain the contingencies.

    So, either a fine-tuned multiverse that you refuse to push further on its evident contingency [by virtue of that fine-tuning], or else, directly to a necessary being with ability to set up a cosmos that is fine tuned. Those are your realistic options.

    Either prong of the fork goes back to the same handle.

    And, for those inclined to be materialists and/or “scientific” atheists, this is where science is pointing (we have moved beyond science here but are starting from the scientific findings that ground it) to an evident causal pattern that, even when one plugs in an evasive metaphysical speculation [the undetectable multiverse], keeps persistently pointing to a root cause in a necessary — no dependence on external causes so no beginning and no end –being with the power, knowledge, skill and purpose to create a cosmos like we inhabit.

    GEM of TKI

  28. PS: The notion that complex enough islands of function to count (more than 500 – 1,00 bits worth of functionally specific and complex info) can be found by darwinian random walks rewarded by differential trial and error success can explain the information in life forms from the first cell [100+ k bits] to the dozens of body plans [10 - 100 mn+ bits] , simply fails to understand the magnitude of search challenge required to find events E in narrow and UN-representative specified zones, T of vast config spaces, W. At just 1,000 bits, W has in it 1.07*10^301 possibilities, where our observed cosmos has in it a capacity to scan through just 10^150 Planck time quantum states [PTQS's], or less than 1 in 10^150 of the space. That is enough to sample the typical patterns, but that is the problem by another name. For, credibly, functionally specific and complex zones are exactly UN-representative and so present the needle in the haystack problem to a search, on steroids. A near zero relative fraction is utterly unlikely to find a needle in a haystack. Of course, to get around htis, DM is now resorting to — SPECULATIVE METAPHYSICS. He posits tha the relevant necessary being is in effect a quasi-infinite multiverse, as thought hat were a matter of indisputable fact. Begging the question on steroids. Once you are beyond the realm of empirically testable science, you are now at the table of comparative difficulties across worldviews, DM. Thus, the theology you so patently despise and wish to dismiss is at the table — and not by sufferance but of right, the issue of the IS-OUGHT gap of materialistic atheism is at the table, and the question of the history of a certain Jesus of Nazareth and the 500 eye witnesses to his resurrection (as well as millions who have met him in life transforming miracle working power across 2,000 years) is also at the table. Are you sure you want to enter into a wider exchange on those terms?

  29. F/N: I have clipped choice parts of the exchange here over at the cosmological ID thread, here.

  30. F/N 2: Bantay over at the Cosmological ID thread has commented, aptly:

    _________

    B, 10 in Cosmo ID thread: >> I can see how some faithful may believe that a multiverse (if it exists) would provide an infinite number of chances for Darwinism to work, but that simply requires too much a priori assumptions that are outside of what science has been defined to define. They’ve kinda shot themselves in their own foot by limiting the definition of science to natural causes in this case. It won’t be long before multiverse adherents begin to claim an exception to the rules of science they hold so dear…empiricism, observability, testability.

    Pertaining to Darwinism and the origin of life issue, the multiverse sounds more like a “Nature of the gaps” argument to me. When the origin of life cannot be explained by natural causes, just invoke something unobserved and untestable….Then expect someone to believe it is science.

    Nope. I’ll stick with what good science and mathematics continue to show increasing support for: An absolute, singular beginning of the universe from no pre-existing matter and the actual beginning of all energy and 3 dimensional space-time, a universe where its physical laws are both fixed and contained. >>
    __________

    Looks like the metaphysical cat has leaped out of the “scientific” bag held by evolutionary materialists.

  31. dm:

    The best guess/theory for the existence of the universe says it was produced from a pre-existing multiverse and the multiverse may be eternal.

    So you’ve elevated guess to the level of theory? Or are theories no better than guesses?

    And the evidence for this guess is?

    This universe was produced from a pre-existing multiverse.

    How? Magick?

    This universe was produced from a pre-existing multiverse.

    And the evidence for this is…?

    The multiverse may be eternal.

    And the evidence for this is…?

  32. dm:

    Mung at 23 Small amounts of information (I really shouldn’t have said CSI here) can be accounted for through random noise.

    lol.

    Need I say more?

  33. Mung at 31: And you would characterize the statement that “God has always existed” as what?

    As I said, multiverses have been found to be implied in every cosmological theory invented in the last 75 years. But if you say it’s impossible, I’ll remember that when evaluating those theories.

    Speaking of theories, I assume that we’re in general agreement that this universe was somehow created about 14-15 billion years ago.

    Since universes seem to be “free” with respect to energy/matter and their information content at their beginning is meager, what do you think stops other universes from also being created?

  34. KF: Have you read, “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us” by Victor J. Stenger yet?

    He makes the point that the various constants can actually be adjusted over a wide range while still providing a universe that will support life – you just can’t adjust only one constant. Think of wheel bearings and axles. If you shrink the hole in the wheel bearing even one or two percent, the well won’t fit on the axle, but if you shrink the axle too everything works fine.

    He also makes the point that carbon is what this universe uses for life, but another universe might have a completely different set of structures that do the same things that atoms do in ours – and they would have people marvelling at how their universe was “designed” so exquisitely that it produced exactly the set of structures that are necessary for life.

    But there’s something even more important: this universe is NOT designed for life!

    99.9999999999999999999999999999999+ percent of this universe is utterly lethal for any kind of life. Most of it is a vacuum which will suffocate and freeze any life form in minutes. The rest is mostly incandescent balls of gas that will vaporize all forms of life instantly.

    The ONLY place where we have found life so far is on and in the crust of one planet, the earth. We MIGHT find primative organisms on the crust of a few other planets and moons. On earth, life is found on the crust, down a few kilometers into the crust and maybe you’ll find a bacterium floating on a dust mite five to ten kilometers above the earth.

    Think of a shell the size of the earth and maybe 20 meters thick and that’s all the space that is suitable for life on earth and maybe in the solar system. Compare that to the huge size of the sun, the even larger size of the solar system and then the staggering distance to the nearest stars (which are almost certainly not life supporting) and you’ll start to appreciate the ultra ultra ultra tiny part of the local galaxy that will support life.

    And then reflect that that shell will only support life for a few billion more years before the sun turns into a red giant and swallows the earth whole.

    And, as Dr. Gonzalez says, we live in the galaxy’s habitable zone, a veritable garden spot compared to the rest of the galaxy and our galaxy is a garden spot compared to intergalactic space.

    And think of our sun, dwarfing the earth in size and consuming 700 million tons of hydrogen every second and wasting almost every bit of it on uninhabited space and sterile planets. The sun is going to died in a few billion years and life on earth (and the earth!) with it, but if that energy was conserved and used wisely, it could support life for trillions of years. And then think of all the mass wasted in other stars that could have gone to support life.

    Not a very intelligent design! I’d like to hope that if there are other universes out there, some of them are actually suitable for life.

  35. For your reading pleasure, here’s a paper by Michael Ikeda and Bill Jeffereys on why “The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism”:

    http://quasar.as.utexas.edu/anthropic.html

    They also mention a paper by Elliot Sober, “The Design Argument”, which also covers fine tuning. Search for fine tuning.

    http://philosophy.wisc.edu/sob.....202004.pdf

  36. DM:

    Stenger is simply wrong. (He deliberately picked a simplistic model, and set up a co-tuning situation that allows the operating point to in effect wander around in a config space. Do you think that the shaft and the sleeve you cite just happen to preserve their matching by sheer accident, without foresight based planing? In short, the very fact that we are looking at a known engineered case is pointing to the real fallacy at work: substituting an example that actually shows how FSCI comes from intelligence and then brushing aside that inconveient littel fact on teh pretence that nature can scan so many possibilites — oops, not enough nature observed so far — let’s speculate that nature is actually quasi-infinite, so we can then say that any and every thing can happen. But this is without a shred of observational support, it is an unannounced slipping over the border into a priori-riddled question-begging philosophical speculation. And such ill-advised philosophising remains philosophy even when done by one wearing the holy lab coat.)

    Did you take time to see that we are in aggregate dealing with dozens to hundreds of parameters that have to match to get a viable operating point? Do you not realise how hard it is to mutually adjust or specify dozens to diverse things to get to such an operating point? (Ever designed a complex electronic circuit or wrote a complex software program?)

    A good analogy to this “getting he wiring diagram to work” problem is the generic design of a car engine.

    The parts are fairly standard and it is easy to draw pretty illustrations in books, but to actually work on the ground, the parts must be specified and made to match in the particular case, across hundreds of parts, at any point in the config space.

    Does that ability to set up diverse car engines with similar but distinct parts mean that a car engine is not credibly designed on being set up to work at a specific operating point?

    That’s an “even if . . .” argument.

    But in fact the key point you are overlooking in your dismissive cite from Stenger is something that Leslie highlighted [and which appears on p 2 of my post -- noticed the jump line that leads off from a teaser on the multiverse?]

    Namely,

    One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998 (courtesy Wayback Machine)]

    And, yep, that means Stenger was refuted before he even got around to his argument. He failed to do his homework.

    Next, the oh most of the cosmos is not immediately habitable for life point fails, too, as the scale of the cosmos is itself part of what sets it up for life, have a look at the degree to which for instance cosmic inflation is fine tuned to facilitate what we see, and the cosmological constant — which governs the expansion — is similarly very tightly specified indeed. (Did you look at the table of five key parameters?)

    The attempt to turn about the concept of a galactic or a circumstellar habitable zone into an argument against fine tuning, is a case of desperation.

    Some fairly serious parameters have to be set up to get to this, and lead to ours being a privileged planet. You must know that this points to something special going on here, and that points to a habitat depending on multiply co-tuned parameters being set up.

    That such a privileging of the local zone is needed does not undermine the point that the cosmos as a whole going back to its founding, required precise setting up as well. The attempt to cast the one against the other is a mark of making desperate talking points, not serious argument.

    And, your example of a cosmos in which another element than carbon is the universal connector — per observations — is? And, the observational data point on nucleosynthesis in star cores that sets up the relevant cluster of life elements of that new cosmos is?

    Next, as Leslie’s fly on the wall swatted by a bullet point shows, it matters not that there were possibly swathes of the field of possible sub cosmi that would be habitable to some form of life. What matters, decisively, is that the one spot we see with life is at a plainly finely tuned local operating point.

    The rhetorical flourishes you add to this simply add to the distractions, so they do not need specific answers.

    What is material is that you are resorting to a multiverse speculation, for which you have not a shred of empirical data, in a question-begging attempt to impose evolutionary materialism as the “only” viable answer.

    In so doing, you have opened the door to the issues of comparative difficulties in philosophy.

    So, here is difficulty no 1 for evolutionary materialism:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity . . .

    Difficulty no 2 is like unto it, courtesy Will Hawthorne:

    Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces]. (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

    Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

    Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

    For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

    Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

    Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’.

    I hold that these are both reductions to absurdity, and that the second shows — as Plato long ago pointed out — that evolutionary materialism, in addition, harbours menaces to our civilisation, by way of ruthlessly amoral factions who swallow the agenda and resort to thuggery and abuses.

    On these two alone, I further hold, evo mat is not only absurd but irretrievably morally bankrupt.

    So, it is no longer time for the advocates of such to assert an unjustified claim to their brand of atheism being a default posititon, it is time to come up with a pretty serious response that is cogent. One that grounds the reality and reliability of mind, and grounds morality especially rights.

    Absent that, we have excellent reason to reject such out of hand, and to demand clear evidence that advocates are not falling into the ruthless factionism that is historically such a serious issue.

    GEM of TKI

  37. dmullenix,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. The question remains, at least for me, how the multiverse that produced this one came to be. It may also be fair to ask how the information in that multiverse came about, too.

    I agree with you on this: I AM a no good sinner that falls short every day. And worse than you could ever hope to be I’m afraid.

  38. F/N: DM, multiverses have been found to be implied in every cosmological theory invented in the last 75 years

    First off, that includes the Steady State cosmology, which was not exactly a multiverse model.

    What you mean in the first instance is that it is possible to conjure up separate mathematical domains which would be fitted under the model frameworks, but which would by and large be — conveniently — unobservable.

    Not so conveniently, the absence of ability to carry out empirical tests means that we are looking at phil not sci. Even if done at the chalk board by someone wearing a lab coat. (Which last is sensible if you have ever had to deal with chalk dust in industrial quantities.)

    In the case of various models that do suggest quantum fluctuations, budding sub universes, oscillating universes and the like, these models tend to run into fairly serious difficulties, and are, again, as a rule without empirically observed supportive test points.

    What is plainly emerging is that the real alternative to taking the observed evidence pointing to fine tuning seriously, is to quietly slip across the border from science into speculative philosophy, insulating the speculations from comparative difficulties analysis by wearing a lab coat. Then, act as though speculation is fact.

    Doesn’t work.

    Phil is phil, regardless of what you are wearing at the time.

    GEM of TKI

  39. PS: Re 35:

    You are led out, bound, and tied to a post in front of a wall, then offered the traditional blindfold.

    Before you have the bland fold put on your eyes, you observe that the squad is much larger than usual, fifty marksmen from your unit.

    Duly blindfolded, you hear the command, ready, and the slap as fifty rifles rise to shoulders.

    AIM!

    And only a rustle as the marksmen take aim at the target pinned over your heart.

    FIRE!

    ROAR!!!

    Wait, you HEARD the roar.

    Then, the steps of the officer can be heard, walking up and you hear the snick as a pistol is pulled from its holster.

    You feel the muzzle next to your temple.

    It is pulled back and you hear a deafeningly close roar, and the sting of powder particles hitting your skin.

    Then, the blindfold is removed, and you are led away, trembling.

    Next day, you are taken form your cell and set free.

    In the unit pub, you are expressing your amazement that you are alive.

    The bartender tells you: NONSENSE, it is only the fact that you are alive that means you are in a world that is compatible with being alive.

    The firing squad issue is nothing to be amazed over.

    Do you see the fatal flaw in the weak anthropic principle argument used as a dismissal of design on fine tuning of many circumstances that mutually support the outcome we observe?

    (DM, in short the arguments you linked share a fatal flaw.)

  40. Mr Mullenix

    Good day to you there. Part of your comments above included these two statements.

    “But there’s something even more important: this universe is NOT designed for life!

    99.9999999999999999999999999999999+ percent of this universe is utterly lethal for any kind of life. ”

    I hope this is not too difficult to accept, but the fact that 99.9999xxxxx percent of the universe is lethal for life (simple or advanced) most everywhere else is NOT positive evidence that it was not designed for our benefit here on earth. Rather, the fact that there is so much life on earth, that the earth is literally brimming over with such an abundance and diversity of complex life such a should be clue #1 that there is an exceptional situation going on.

    Clue #2 should be that if wasn’t for 10.x billions of years of the cosmos, there would not have been sufficient super novae to provide sufficient metals that life requires.

    “The age of the universe governs what kinds of stars exist. It takes about three? billion years for the first stars to form. It takes another ten or twelve billion years? for supernovae to spew out enough heavy elements to make possible stars like our sun,? stars capable of spawning rocky planets. Yet another few billion years is necessary for? solar-type stars to stabilize sufficiently to support advanced life on any of its planets.? Hence, if the universe were just a couple of billion years younger, no environment? suitable for life would exist. However, if the universe were about ten (or more) billion? years older than it is, there would be no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in? the right part of a galaxy. In other words, the window of time during which life is?
    possible in the universe is relatively narrow.”

    http://www.evidenceforchristia.....38;id=3622

  41. F/N: DM, you are also putting up a strawman, the issue is not supernaturalism vs naturalism, but credible signs of design.

    The credible inference to beginning on cosmological expansion, reasonably requires a begin-ner.

    The many ways in which our cosmos is at a credibly finely tuned operating point that facilitates life (start with the issue of nuclear resonances and element abundances, as well as the properties of water then go on from there to the key cosmological laws and parameters that have to be just right to get that), points to design, as in purposeful arrangement of parts to achieve a goal.

    BTW, Sobers’ mathematicisation does not materially add to the issue we see on Peirce’s abductive inference to best explanation; where we are addressing such large fields of possibilities that the usual suggested alternative is a quasi-infinite multiverse. That is it is seen that on what we ACTUALLY see, ther4 eis something special, so the attempt made is to dismiss it by suggesting that if we posit an — UNOBSERVED — quasi-infinite sea of varied sub cosmi, then anything can happen and we should not be surprised.

    What is the observational evidence for this quasi infinite sea? NIL, maybe NECESSARILY nil, depending on the relevant model.

    In short, speculative metaphysics to prop up an a priori commitment to materialism, is being resorted to in an attempt to dismiss the serious question of what best explains what we DO see.

    And the “well we survived the firing squad needs no explanation” argument is utterly astonishing.

    Sorry, while I am thankful to be alive, when I see that the cosmos that enables this looks suspiciously set up, I want to know why, and why in a context of real evidence not conveniently unobserved or unobservable speculations and models.

    GEM of TKI

  42. dmullenix:

    KF: Have you read, “The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us” by Victor J. Stenger yet?

    See:

    The Multiverse Gods Pt. 1

    The Multiverse Gods Pt. 2

    The Multiverse Gods Pt. 3

  43. dmullenix:

    Since universes seem to be “free” with respect to energy/matter and their information content at their beginning is meager, what do you think stops other universes from also being created?

    I think that is the wrong question.

    I think the correct question is what causes a universe to begin to exist, to come into being.

    For there to be an “anti-universe” force that stops universes from being created would, it seems to me, require that univereses exist and is therefore incoherent.

  44. dmullenix:

    The small amount of information that this universe contained at the Big Bang probably came from noise in the multiverse that produced this universe.

    For me, the very idea of noise as a source of information is incoherent.

    Darwinian evolution is a factory for generating CSI. The initial information is generated by randomly mutating DNA. This new DNA pattern is new information, but odds are that it’s useless information. Natural selection weeds the crap information out by the simple expedient of trying to manage an organism with it. If it works, that new information goes on to reproduce itself and it’s added to the store of CSI. (The specification is “Capable of running an organism”.) If it doesn’t work, it’s automatically discarded with the failed organism. The result: a slow but steady accumulation of new CSI.

    Information is not created by randomly changing bases in DNA.

    And your argument of course presupposes the existence of DNA and the purpose of DNA, which itself requires an explanation.

    What is useless information? The very idea seems incoherent.

    How much CSI is in the initial store and where did it come from?

  45. Mung:

    Ask yourself — as we live in a world where conservation of energy is one of the strongest laws — where the notion of getting the energy of universes for “free” from has come, save the fertile speculative imagination.

    In addition, that which begins to exist has a cause, and it has circumstances under which it may not exist. That is a simple logical consequence of contingency.

    Our observed universe began, is contingent and has a cause external to itself. Ultimately, per logic, that chain of cause terminates in a necessary being, one that is not contingent.

    GEM of TKI

  46. as to this claim;

    ‘The small amount of information that this universe contained at the Big Bang probably came from noise in the multiverse that produced this universe.’

    I have no idea where one would get such a erroneous idea from,, save from a-priori, and unwarranted, materialistic beliefs,, for the evidence certainly DOES NOT support such a statement. For one thing it takes a infinite amount of specified information just to create a single photon:,,,

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

    etc.. etc..

    Furthermore,,,

    Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s low entropy condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1 in 10^10(123), an inconceivable number. If our universe were but one member of a multiverse of randomly ordered worlds, then it is vastly more probable that we should be observing a much smaller universe. For example, the odds of our solar system’s being formed instantly by the random collision of particles is about 1 in 10^10(60), a vast number, but inconceivably smaller than 1 in 10^10(123). (Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison [The Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5]). Or again, if our universe is but one member of a multiverse, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines, since these are vastly more probable than all of nature’s constants and quantities’ falling by chance into the virtually infinitesimal life-permitting range. Observable universes like those strange worlds are simply much more plenteous in the ensemble of universes than worlds like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us if the universe were but a random member of a multiverse of worlds. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On naturalism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no multiverse. — Penrose puts it bluntly “these world ensemble hypothesis are worse than useless in explaining the anthropic fine-tuning of the universe”.
    http://elshamah.heavenforum.co.....es-t20.htm

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    As well, contrary to speculation of ‘budding universes’ arising from Black Holes, Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of entropic thermodynamics. In other words, Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order.

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    “The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude.”
    Prof. Henry F. Schaefer – closing statement of part 5 of preceding video

    This 1 in 10^10^123 number, for the time-asymmetry of the initial state of the ‘ordered entropy’ for the universe, also lends strong support for ‘highly specified infinite information’ creating the universe since;

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – Eminent Chemist

    “Is there a real connection between entropy in physics and the entropy of information? ….The equations of information theory and the second law are the same, suggesting that the idea of entropy is something fundamental…”
    Tom Siegfried, Dallas Morning News, 5/14/90 – Quotes attributed to Robert W. Lucky, Ex. Director of Research, AT&T, Bell Laboratories & John A. Wheeler, of Princeton & Univ. of TX, Austin in the article

    ,,, ‘And if your curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video

  47. F/N: I have added an update at the ID Founds 6 post on cosmological fine tuning, addressing backgrounder info on astrophysics and on the anthropic principles, as well as critiques, by providing a cluster of links. Responses to Stenger and to Ikeda-Jeffreys (thence Sober) are there.

  48. Ipadron at 37: Regarding the multiverse, there comes a time when you just have to say, “It’s always been there.” Theists have the same problem with God. “Where did God come from?” “He’s always existed.”

    The problem for theists is that the multiverse is probably pretty simple and low information – not too different from our universe. Most of the wonders we see in the sky are the kind of details you’d get from spilling a bucket of sand. Our simple universe started to expand and then gravity started to make parts of it contract and we wound up with the galaxies, stars, planets, etc. No complex information went into making them. The multiverse is probably the same – very low informational content. (Under the “everlasting inflation” theory, our universe may even sprout new universes, making us one of many multiverses.)

    God, on the other hand, is claimed to be “personal” or a “Being”. Both words mean that God is claimed to have a mind, like yours and mind, but presumably much more complicated and that requires, literally, gigabits of information all carefully arranged to enable even the simplest thought. No theologian has ever even made a guess as to where that information comes from. They apparently don’t even want to think about it and I can see why.

    So we have two proposals for where our universe came from: a relatively simple multiverse or an incredibly complicated personal Being. The Being is astronomically less likely than the multiverse.

    I’d advise you not to sell yourself short re: your sinner status. I’ve run into a lot of young Christians who bemoaned their fallen, depraved state, yet when I asked them what kinds of sins they were guilty of, I’ve gotten pretty trivial answers like, “Didn’t truly believe” hard enough or “took drugs once” or “coveted my neighbor” or something else mundane like that. If you haven’t actually hijacked an airliner and flown it into a skyscraper, you have a long way to go as a sinner.

    KF going back to 28: I missed something in #28 that really needs to be addressed:

    “The notion that complex enough islands of function to count (more than 500 – 1,00[0] bits worth of functionally specific and complex info) can be found by darwinian random walks rewarded by differential trial and error success can explain the information in life forms from the first cell [100+ k bits] to the dozens of body plans [10 - 100 mn+ bits] , simply fails to understand the magnitude of search challenge…”

    First, why do you ID people insist that the first living thing was complex? 500 to 1000 bits of information? Try 50 to 100. Think of a single polymer whose only capability is reproducing its self, and which is possibly imbedded in the kind of droplets that form naturally. Rabbi M.Averick has the same problem: He outright admits that bacteria to man is accounted for by evolution, then he damns science because he thinks we claim bacteria to be the first life and starts spewing statistics like yours above. I see this mistake all the time on UD and other anti-science sites.

    “At just 1,000 bits, W has in it 1.07*10^301 possibilities, where our observed cosmos has in it a capacity to scan through just 10^150 Planck time quantum states [PTQS's], or less than 1 in 10^150 of the space.”

    You and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.

    Living things don’t search through any “1.07*10^301 possibilities”. To do that, they’d have to construct the next generation’s DNA randomly, from scratch, every time they reproduced.

    READ THIS CAREFULLY BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A TEST: If a bacteria with a million base pairs in its genome has a single base pair mutate, it explores exactly FOUR possibilities. NOT 10^300, just 4. The original 999,999 base pairs plus one new basepair which may be C, A, T or G. (And one of them will be identical to the original.)

    DON’T use numbers like 10^300 when you’re talking about evolution, it just marks you as a chechako, a beginner, someone who has no clue to what he’s talking about, a Rabbi M.Averick.

    OKAY, DID EVERYBODY READ THAT? I HOPE SO BECAUSE HERE COMES THE TEST:

    If a bacteria with 1 million base pairs in its genome gets TWO (2) basepairs mutated, what is the size of the “search space” that it will explore?

    Answer: SIXTEEN (16). NOT 10^300! 16! The original 999,998 basepairs plus the two mutated ones that can be CC, CA, CT, CG, AC, AA, AT, AG, TC, TA, TT, TG, GC, GA, GT or GG. Sixteen possibilities, NOT 10^300!

    Homework assignment: Explain why the above answer is correct. If you can’t explain it or your explanation comes to any answer but sixteen, then please don’t comment until you’ve found your error. You will only embarrass ID.

    Extra credit: Read the charges of “SPECULATIVE METAPHYSICS” in msg 28 and be embarrassed for ID.

    KF at 29: “F/N: I have clipped choice parts of the exchange here over at the cosmological ID thread, here.”

    Perhaps I should do the same.

  49. well golly gee whiz dmullenix, I guess you schooled us old dumb hicks; :) You don’t mind producing some actual empirical support for your position to ease my doubts that you may not be as smart as you think you are???

  50. KF at 36: I asked if you had read “The Fallacy of Fine Tuning” and evidently you haven’t:

    “Stenger is simply wrong. (He deliberately picked a simplistic model, and set up a co-tuning situation that allows the operating point to in effect wander around in a config space.”

    Simplistic? Now I KNOW you haven’t read it. And one of his main points is that if all the parameters are allowed to vary, you don’t have a single combination which can make a universe capable of life, you have “a config space” – MANY different combinations that will allow life.

    Since you recommend The Procrustean’s “The Multiverse Gods” on the other thread, perhaps you can tell me where in “Fallacy” he gets this from:

    “Few other proponents of multiverses are quite as forthcoming with their logic, but clearly something besides data must motivate the science of multiverses, because by definition multiverses are not observable. Stenger makes the connection explicit, whereas Hawking or Susskind is a little more coy with their metaphysics. Multiverse-theory is designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to defend atheism.”

    Or are you recommending the “Letters to Nature” column, “What Changes Me? A Fine Tuned Critique of Victor Stenger (Part 1) which seems to have been written before the book was published.

    I recommend everybody re-read Denyse O’Leary’s recent post on reviewing books you haven’t read.

  51. BA77 at 49: Support what? My math?

  52. dmullenix, My math?,,,

    oh yes the creative math,,, How very,,, imaginative,,, of you guys,,, This creative accounting practice of neo-Darwinists is really a bit much,,,, Perhaps something anchored in reality by experimental evidence would help me think you guys are not stark raving mad??? I really would like to give you guys the benefit of a doubt!!!

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....ruit_flies

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050681

    The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds – Douglas Axe – 2010
    Excerpt Pg. 11: “Based on analysis of the genomes of 447 bacterial species, the projected number of different domain structures per species averages 991. Comparing this to the number of pathways by which metabolic processes are carried out, which is around 263 for E. coli, provides a rough figure of three or four new domain folds being needed, on average, for every new metabolic pathway. In order to accomplish this successfully, an evolutionary search would need to be capable of locating sequences that amount to anything from one in 10^159 to one in 10^308 possibilities, something the neo-Darwinian model falls short of by a very wide margin.”
    http://bio-complexity.org/?ojs.....O-C.2010.1

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.o?rg/.....t-collide/

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.”
    Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

    Nature Paper,, Finds Darwinian Processes Lacking – Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: Now, thanks to the work of Bridgham et al (2009), even such apparently minor switches in structure and function (of a protein to its supposed ancestral form) are shown to be quite problematic. It seems Darwinian processes can’t manage to do even as much as I had thought. (which was 1 in 10^40 for just 2 binding sites)
    http://www.evolutionnews.o?rg/.....26281.html

  53. DM:

    Evidently, you have decided that Stenger gives you the talking points that allow you to dismiss the cosmological fine tuning and beginning issues and evidence without serious consideration.

    I and others have given you more than adequate links and summaries to see why Stenger et al are wrong, and in some respects OBVIOUSLY wrong. For instance, playing games with measurement scales to move numbers to the near vicinity of 1 does not make the real issue go away. Similarly, the model star lifespan proxy for life facilitation is highly simplistic and dubious for multiple reasons, bot just at stellar physics and galaxy levels, but even on the task of getting to a privileged planet that can host life as we observe it. (Have you even considered the pattern of the orbits of roasters among exo-planets and what they imply for solar systems?)

    Next, in my experience of designing amplifiers, it was common to see that one could set up many operating points, but once one had to set up an op point, multiple constraints converged, and the notion that just because you could move this knob one way and that he other way to compensate so no given op point needs explanation, is nonsense: a noodle through the config space is just as much of a constrained matter as a dot in it.

    Moreover, notice, again, the observation made by noted thinker on this matter John Leslie in his 1998 paper, which therefore anticipated Stenger by some years, which I clip from the post; I find you are playing the game of criticising a case in its absence (it seems you have not read page 2 of the post . . . ):

    One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998]

    Any experienced designer of technological systems can understand very well the implications of a single design having to meet multiple constraints.

    In particular, look at the post you have studiously avoided addressing directly. Notice, how I LEAD with the question, what goes into water, and the multiple constraints that are implied in that process, from the physical foundations of the cosmos forward.

    There is a reason why I emphasised this apparently simple molecule, and why Sir Fred Hoyle — no mean astrophysicist — drew some striking conclusions on observing the resonances responsible for the abundance of C and O in the cosmos, H and He being already seen as the two most abundant elements (which is not without some need for fine tuning, notice the discussion of epsilon in the footnote linked reply to Stenger: moving from 0.007 by just 1 or a bit more in the last place, would RADICALLY alter the distribution of basic elements in the cosmos, thence its dynamics, and the behaviour of stars, as well as the possibility of life itself . . . ).

    Let us clip Barnes, just to underscore my point on simplistic strawman claims by Stenger; nb the highlighted sting in the tail:

    When Martin Rees [i.e. the UK's Astronomer Royal] chooses “Just Six Numbers” as the best examples of fine-tuned physical parameters, epsilon [fraction to energy on 1_H fusion] is one of them. In particular, epsilon is the parameter that Rees uses to illustrate the fine-tuning needed to produce life-permitting stars. If epsilon were 0.006, deuterium would be unstable, meaning that stars would be unable to produce larger elements. Only hydrogen, no chemistry, no planets, no complex structures. If epsilon were 0.008, no hydrogen would have survived the big bang. Stars that aren’t fuelled by hydrogen have their lifetimes reduced by a factor of at least 30. [And we add, no H, would make for a big challenge with organic chemistry, and no basis for H2O] Stenger simply leaves this out.

    As in, in the indirectness of academic language, BANG, you’re dead.

    Here’s Hoyle:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]

    Likewise (on I & J), if I am put in front of a firing squad and the procedures go on as usual, but at the end, I am still here to talk about it, the matter is in need of significant explanation, whatever I & J or Sobers may have to say on misconstrued renderings of Bayesian reasoning.

    I suggest you work your way through the readings linked in the footnote to p. 1 of the ID Foundations post; by way of putting the matter together in a convenient cluster.

    If you want to debate those points, I suggest you do so there.

    Good day.

    GEM of TKI

  54. kf, I don’t know if you referenced this,, but anyways:

    The Multiverse Gods, part 1
    http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....rt_1.thtml

    The Multiverse Gods, final part
    Excerpt: In part two, we discussed the Widow’s Mite fallacy where Stenger uses physical units for a metaphysical property, which like Jesus’ disciples, mistakes a physical quantity for a metaphysical one. The most obvious difference between the two is that physical quantities have units, whereas metaphysical ones are unitless. But in addition, metaphysical quantities are percentages, integrals, they involve a comparison of areas or volumes, as in Bayesian hypothesis testing we are making a ratio of the range to the domain of a fit variable.

    Superficially, Stenger appears to be working in unitless numbers when he normalizes his “fine-tuning” variables with a Planck-scale “metaphysical reciprocal” so as to achieve unity, which prevents computer calculations from having hiccups on really big or really small numbers, but this is not the metaphysical integral as used by Jesus because the normalization is, as Stenger himself says, merely a change of the length scale into “theory units,” but physical units nonetheless. Then Stenger claims without any proof that his unity is what theorists expect, as if he has carried out the metaphysical calculation, when in actuality Stenger’s normalization is chosen purely to look reasonable. Now to his credit, many previous writers in the field of “fine-tuning” are still using physical units and are equally guilty of the Widow’s Mite fallacy, but Stenger has not escaped by converting to “theory units”, he needs to work in Bayesian units, in integrals over range and domain.
    http://procrustes.blogtownhall.....part.thtml

  55. BA77 in 51: Ok, assuming a bacteria with one million basepairs in its genome and two base pairs change, what is the size of the search space? Please show your work.

    KF at 38:
    F/N: DM, multiverses have been found to be implied in every cosmological theory invented in the last 75 years

    First off, that includes the Steady State cosmology, which was not exactly a multiverse model.

    It also includes the possibility that a virtual particle pair could spontaneously come into existence whose total mass was large enough to form a black hole and start another universe. The multi-verse is older than the Steady State cosmology. In fact, Christianity posits a type of multi-verse called Heaven.

    KF at 39: The weak anthropic principle has nothing to do with my argument and if there are multiverses, there are probably either an infinite number of them or others have suggested such large numbers at 10^500. More than enough to negate any problems with the unlikelyhood of fine tuning.

    Bantay at 40: None of what you write negates the facts that A: Life is so rare in this universe as to not even being a respectable trace element and B: A universe what was actually designed for life wouldn’t squander its resources by having gazillions of stars radiating their energy into endless space. It would conserve that energy for life.

    Think of a mouse in a cathedral who snuggles into a pile of rags and munches some crumbs of communion wafers and thinks, “Yes sir, this was all designed for mice.” And then multiply the cathedral to – what? We don’t know how common intelligent life is in this universe. Many look at the four billion years it took to produce us and argue that we are the only intelligent beings in this galaxy, so you’d have to expand the cathedral to the size of the Milky Way to get the proportions right. And some people think we’re the only intelligent beings in the whole universe, in which case the galaxy sized cathedral is vanishingly small compared to what’s needed to show the proper relationship of us to the universe.

    I’d say the mouse in the normal sized cathedral was silly and the silliness would increase exponentially as the cathedral grew.

    Clue #2: If the universe WAS designed for life, it would have included the metals in its design. We wouldn’t have to wait around for super nova to make them.

    KF at 41: All of your cosmological arguments eventually run aground and have to posit a first cause. Calling it an “uncaused” first cause doesn’t change anything. And it’s just a simple fact that any intelligent first cause, any first cause that is a person, is going to be extraordinarily complex and hence extraordinarily less likely than a simple universe. Note that the multiverse is no more unobserved than your first cause.

    Mung at 43: You seem to be agreeing with me that if universes are “free” and there’s nothing to stop them from being produced, we should have a multiverse. Good job.

    Mung at 44: You’re wrong. Information IS created by changing bases in DNA. If you have CATGCATG, that pattern is information. If you change the last base pair to T, then you have CATGCATT. That pattern is also information and it’s new. You can also tack new bases onto one end, which gives you new information and also more information.

    Useless information is information that has no effect on the organism or screws the organism up. If you are born with a mutation that mangles the valves in your heart, that is useless information. Worse than that for you, since you’ll die young.

    By “initial store” I’m guessing you mean, “first living thing” and current beginning of life theory puts that information at a point low enough to be formed by chance. Say 50-100 bits.

    KF at 45 “Ask yourself — as we live in a world where conservation of energy is one of the strongest laws — where the notion of getting the energy of universes for “free” from has come, save the fertile speculative imagination.”

    “Physicists say that the positive energy latent in all the matter in the universe is offset by the negative potential energy of the gravitational field of the universe. The total energy of the universe is, therefore, exactly zero.” That’s from http://answers.yahoo.com/quest.....044AAf9mTU which is the first place Google found it, but I’ve read it in plenty of books and articles from physicists.

    “Our observed universe began, is contingent and has a cause external to itself. Ultimately, per logic, that chain of cause terminates in a necessary being, one that is not contingent.

    You don’t need a necessary being, just something that can create a universe and a metaverse fills the bill and is a lot simpler and therefore more likely than any kind of a being.

    BA77 at 46: “For one thing it takes a infinite amount of specified information just to create a single photon:,,,”

    Nonsense. Please provide a citation for that claim.

  56. KF at 53 (and BA77): “I and others have given you more than adequate links and summaries to see why Stenger et al are wrong, and in some respects OBVIOUSLY wrong.”

    The most UNimpressive thing in the world is someone who “answers” by throwing a bunch of links into the conversation and that is all you’ve done.

    If you want to convince me that Stenger is wrong, tell me in your own words where he errors. If you want to quote Stenger, go ahead. Then explain his error in your own words.

    Argument by spamming with a thousand links doesn’t impress me. If it impresses you, I’ll give you a link to the Library of Congress and you can read it yourself and find where you have errored by yourself.

    Not a very attractive proposition, is it? Well, I assure you that a junkstorm of URLs is just as ugly.

    If you can’t explain it in your own words, don’t expect others to do your work for you.

  57. dmullenix,
    Again, thanks for your reply and more importantly, the tone in which you gave it.

    I can’t argue whatever math may be involved in what you propose. These days I can barely figure out if I have enough money for both gas AND lunch.
    It seems to me we have the same problem. I find if far more likely that a conscious being with a mind holding a vast amount of information exists even though I cannot begin to explain how that being holds or acquired that information. I reason that said being, having the power to create all that I see about, is probably if not obviously quite different not only from me but from everything in my experience. What we know of information, the universe, other minds and reality would be vastly different than what that being knows.
    I understand if you don’t agree with any of it.

    You find it far more likely that a physical universe/multiverse exists with low information and vast amounts of material in it though you cannot (I think) explain how that universe/multiverse
    came to be. Given what we know of the universe is limited by our ability to see and travel very far and that often, what we thought was the case about our universe turned out to be incorrect and how we have no experience of things just popping into existence I think you’d understand why your view is odd to me.

    The existence of a mind infinitely smarter and more powerful than I seems far more likely than spontaneously existing low information. I’ve proof of the latter every day; hell, I’ve proof of it in our dialogue.

    I’ve no proof of low information matter simply coming into existence.

    A few questions:
    Do the laws of physics and all the rest count as information? If so, is it high or low order info?

    As for my sinner status, well, one of the problems is that I don’t sell myself short at all.

    Thanks again for indulging me.

  58. dmullenix:

    a wee correction: “I’ve proof of the latter every day; hell, I’ve proof of it in our dialogue.”

    Should read:

    “I’ve proof of the FORMER every day….”

    thx.

  59. DM:

    Sorry, from previous exchanges you have long since forfeited the privileges of us doing the work for you. You want to dance wrong but strong in the teeth of a pretty serious consensus view and related cluster of issues, so you need to justify your moves. And your latterday clips seem to have been largely dealt with already, cf the other thread for key excerpts.

    As far as I am concerned, you are very much on probation, regarding some pretty serious matters.

    Besides, above, you have seen the points that you need to attend to at first level summarised by me; which took a considerable slice of what is turning out to be a busy morning since a client woke me up at 5:30 am with urgent big issues on the plate for the day.

    My schedule for today has already been ripped up, I am not doing that again.

    You plainly have not even seriously read the post above at 53, or the cosmological design inference foundations post (and notice how you want to debate a thread in another thread so that those who look on cannot easily refer to the facts and issues in evidence — telling) so I have no confidence that you will address anything else with greater seriousness.

    I suggest you start with epsilon and convergent design constraints focussed on water, as the other blog post highlights as issue no 1. Notice the pointed observation on epsilon that I highlighted. (And, BTW, in real world arguments, clipping or referring to credible sources — starting with the dictionary — is a reasonable move.)

    I take it that others will be able to monitor your progress if any.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

    PS: BA, the item is listed with the other two posts in that series. For more serious issues, I suggest a reading of especially the Palonen paper. BA, do me the favour of clipping, cleaning up and posting its conclusion. Sorry, gotta go.

  60. Here you go kf:

    Bayesian considerations on the multiverse explanation of cosmic fine-tuning – V. Palonen
    Conclusions: The four most viable approaches for inference in a possible multiverse and in the presence of an observer selection effect were reviewed. Concerning the ‘assume the observation’ (AO) approach advocated by Sober, Ikeda, and Jefferys, it was shown that this kind of an observer selection effect is justified if and only if the observation is conditionally independent of the hypothesis. In the case of cosmic fine-tuning the observation would be a child of the hypothesis and the two are not independent. It follows that one should use the observation as data and not as a background condition. Hence, the AO approach for cosmic fine-tuning is incorrect.
    The self-sampling assumption approach by Bostrom was shown to be inconsistent with probability theory. Several reasons were then given for favoring the ‘this universe’ (TU) approach and main criticisms against TU were answered. A formal argument for TU was given based on our present knowledge. The main result is that even under a multiverse we should use the proposition “this universe is fine-tuned” as data, even if we do not know the ‘true index’ 14 of our universe. It follows that because multiverse hypotheses do not predict fine-tuning for this particular universe any better than a single universe hypothesis, multiverse hypotheses are not adequate explanations for fine-tuning. Conversely, our data on cosmic fine-tuning does not lend support to the multiverse hypotheses. For physics in general, irrespective of whether there really is a multiverse or not, the common-sense result of the above discussion is that we should prefer those theories which best predict (for this or any universe) the phenomena we observe in our universe.
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/pap.....2.4013.pdf

  61. dmullenix; ‘BA77 at 46: “For one thing it takes a infinite amount of specified information just to create a single photon:,,,”

    Nonsense. Please provide a citation for that claim.’

    Well I would but you said that my links mean nothing for you. But hey, what do you need links for anyway, you act as if you know it all already???

  62. To arrive at the ‘it takes a infinite amount of specified information just to create a single photon’ conclusion, the evidence is as such:

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)— Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    moreover;

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    Proof of principle of encoding massive amounts of information onto a single photon was achieved here (Only God is infinite in information/knowlege, thus only God can create a photon De Novo or encode infinite information onto a photon if He so desired):

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    ,,,As well, ‘Conservation of quantum information’ is proved in this following way (as well as further showing that the quantum teleportation of the ‘infinite information’, needed to specify a photon, must be complete and instantaneous):

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    ,,, As well, Classical information is shown to be a subset of ‘quantum information’ by the following:

    This following research provides solid falsification for Rolf Landauer’s ‘materialistic’ contention that information encoded into a computer is merely physical (merely ‘emergent’ from a material basis) since he believed the classical information always required energy to erase it;

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    =================

    John1 1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

    Third Day – Trust in Jesus – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEyB9XM4L94

  63. dmullenix

    Thank you for your posts. Regarding the fine-tuning argument: I find it very strange that you cite Stenger, but show no sign of having read Robin Collins’ devastating refutation of Stenger (see the paper by Collins that I cited in my opening post).

    You’ve stated that you don’t like hyperlinks. Very well, then: here’s my summary of Collins’ reply to Stenger, in plain, jargon-free English.

    1. Stenger can only eliminate the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmological constant by making three highly ad hoc assumptions, and even then, his elimination of fine-tuning only works if the universe has just the right set of laws – which begs the question again.

    2. Stenger argues that universes with long-lived stars aren’t all that rare, and he uses that as an argument against fine-tuning. But his argument is based on a very simple star model, which simply assumes that a star is made mostly of hydrogen (which wouldn’t be the case if the strong force were even slightly stronger). Stenger also fails to take quantum degeneracy into account. This significantly limits the degree to which the strength of gravity can be increased without affecting the lifetimes of stars.

    3. Stenger claims that one would be justi?ed in invoking God to explain a phenomenon only if “the phenomenon in question is not only currently scienti?cally inexplicable but can be shown to forever defy natural description” (2007, pp. 13-14). That’s raising the bar unreasonably high: how on earth would you prove that? Also, Stenger has failed to show that an appeal to a theistic explanation of cosmic fine-tuning is necessarily a question-begging one in science, or that such an appeal is anti-scientific. How do you define science anyway?

    4. The only really good response a skeptic could make to the many and various kinds of ?ne-tuning that have been found to occur in the universe is to ?nd an all-embracing explanation that would account for most or all of the different kinds of ?ne-tuning observed. Stenger hasn’t done this.

    5. Stenger complains that most studies of the anthropic coincidences involve varying only a single parameter while assuming all the others remain ?xed. He’s wrong here; there are cases where the life-permitting value of one constant is completely independent of the calue of another constant, and in these cases we can vary both constants at the same time. For instance, we can vary the strength of the cosmological constant at the same time as we vary the strength of gravity. The life-permitting range of the former does not depend on the strength of the latter.

    6. Finally, Stenger claims that the fine-tuning argument simply assumes that life has to be carbon-based. In the first place, it’s pretty hard to imagine a complex life-form that can metabolize and reproduce itself being based on anything else but carbon. Second, Stenger is simply wrong in his assumption; in fact, many cases of fine-tuning observed to date have nothing to do with life being carbon-based. The fine-tuning of the cosmological constant is a good case in point.

    I hope that helps. I’ll reply to your other points below.

  64. dmullenix,

    Hi Dave. I’m back again. I’ll address your various comments thematically. You write:

    One of the reasons theology and much of philosophy is thought of as an intellectual backwater is because it really thinks questions about contingency vs. necessity are important. This is all part of trying to prove/disprove the existence of God through pure logic and that has never worked. Hasn’t theology thought of anything new in the last two thousand years?

    The modal cosmological argument isn’t an appeal to pure logic. Experience is required to tell us that some things are contingent. And yes, I do think it’s reasonable for scientists to investigate any contingent state of affairs they observe, and ask: why is it so?

    You couldn’t get a more contingent cosmos than ours if you tried. As far as we can tell, there is absolutely nothing in it which has to be the way it is. Any explanation in terms of laws of Nature, or even meta-laws, just pushes the contingency back one level; it doesn’t make it go away. A theistic explanation is appealing because it can do just that.

    Next, you write:

    For anybody objecting to the multiverse eternally existing, I can only point out that God is also supposed to be eternal, but He’s infinitely more complicated and hence less likely than any proposed multiverse…

    God … is claimed to be “personal” or a “Being”. Both words mean that God is claimed to have a mind, like yours and mine, but presumably much more complicated and that requires, literally, gigabits of information all carefully arranged to enable even the simplest thought. No theologian has ever even made a guess as to where that information comes from. They apparently don’t even want to think about it and I can see why.

    Your argument presupposes that God keeps an index so that He can access information that will enable Him to respond to every possible question from an interlocutor. But I’m not claiming that God knows the answer to every possible question. Indeed, I think there’s probably something self-contradictory about that notion of God, anyway. It would entail that God knows the set of all truths. Cantor’s proof, however, demonstrates that there is no such set.

    (By the way, are you aware that Godel put forward his own argument for the existence of God? For a discussion by Christopher Small, see http://sas.uwaterloo.ca/~cgsma.....vision.PDF .)

    Getting back to omniscience: I would define an omniscient agent more modestly, as one who can respond satisfactorily to every actual question asked of Him, as well as every state of affairs in the universe that requires Him to respond in an intelligent fashion. In other words, God is perfectly responsive to His universe of creatures. That seems a good enough definition.

    Here’s another definition of omniscience that’s stronger than the one I’ve given, but a lot more sensible than the inflated and impossible version assumed by your argument: for any proposition p: if p is true and p is logically knowable, then God is capable of knowing that p is true. Notice that this definition says “any” proposition rather than “every” proposition.

    You ask where God’s information comes from. If we’re talking about God’s knowledge of the cosmos, then I’d say it comes from the cosmos itself, which interacts with its Maker.

    You also write:

    When investigating omniscient beings, watch out for the “knows the future” trap. If something knows the future, the future is fixed and free will goes “poof”.

    My reply: please define “fixed”. Do you mean “determined”? If so, then you are begging the question. And if not, what do you mean?

    Regarding CSI, you write:

    Darwinian evolution is a factory for generating CSI. The initial information is generated by randomly mutating DNA. This new DNA pattern is new information, but odds are that it’s useless information. Natural selection weeds the crap information out by the simple expedient of trying to manage an organism with it. If it works, that new information goes on to reproduce itself and it’s added to the store of CSI. (The specification is “Capable of running an organism”.) If it doesn’t work, it’s automatically discarded with the failed organism. The result: a slow but steady accumulation of new CSI.

    On a philosophical level, I think you’ve succinctly made quite a good case that Darwinian evolution could generate a small amount of CSI. However, the empirical evidence suggests that Darwinian evolution is unable to generate more than 400 bits of CSI, even over billions of years. That’s what Dr. Stephen Meyer has argued in his recent work, Signature in the Cell.

    You then continue:

    First, why do you ID people insist that the first living thing was complex? 500 to 1000 bits of information? Try 50 to 100.

    Actually, Kalinsky estimates this figure as 267,000 bits, given that 700 bits are required for the average protein, and a minimal cell contains 382 proteins. See his 2008 article, Intelligent Design required by biological life?

    I had to laugh when I read your proposal that a living thing could have 50 to 100 bits. Even a simple protein has more than that. A typical 300 amino-acid protein has 700 bits. But hey, if you want to build something simpler and show me that it’s alive, then by all means do.

    Next you write:

    You [Kairosfocus] and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.

    This is a very serious charge. Kairosfocus is a qualified physicist and Professor Dembski has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. May I ask why you think you’re better qualified to address problems in applied math? What’s your academic background by the way, Dave?

    Concerning fine-tuning, you write:

    99.9999999999999999999999999999999+ percent of this universe is utterly lethal for any kind of life.

    Here’s a challenge. Build me a universe where only 99 per cent of this universe is hostile to life. Or at least, demonstrate mathematically that nature could produce such a universe. Moreover, I’d like a demonstration that this alternative universe has the same amount of Kolmogorov complexity as our own. If its description is wordier than the description of ours is, then that in itself might be a reason for God not to build it.

    Finally, you write:

    And think of our sun, dwarfing the earth in size and consuming 700 million tons of hydrogen every second and wasting almost every bit of it on uninhabited space and sterile planets. The sun is going to died in a few billion years and life on earth (and the earth!) with it, but if that energy was conserved and used wisely, it could support life for trillions of years….

    Not a very intelligent design!

    Again, build me a universe with a less wasteful sun – and the same amount of Kolmogorov complexity as our universe.

    Hope these answers help.

  65. dmullenix:

    If a bacteria with a million base pairs in its genome has a single base pair mutate, it explores exactly FOUR possibilities. NOT 10^300, just 4.

    If a single base pair mutates to a different base, precisely one possibility is explored, not four.

    You and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.

    And you do?

    A genome represents a single point in the search space. No matter how many mutations occur in a single genome only one additional point in the search space is explored.

    A population of organisms allows a parallel search.

  66. Mung:

    There will be no “test” on this thread, as I will not tolerate a thread-hijack.

    (Already, what should be discussed there is being pushed elsewhere, that is beginning to look like a strategy.)

    I have already pointed where such should go.

    GEM of TKI

  67. Pardon, wrong thread.

  68. F/N: DM decided to snip some of my remarks in 28 above, and go to a different thread that would make the context obscure, to there pounce with some very ill informed, intemperate comments, at 20 in the cosmological fine tuning thread:

    [Cites KF:] “At just 1,000 bits, W has in it 1.07*10^301 possibilities, where our observed cosmos has in it a capacity to scan through just 10^150 Planck time quantum states [PTQS's], or less than 1 in 10^150 of the space.”

    [DM comments:] You and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.

    Living things don’t search through any “1.07*10^301 possibilities”. To do that, they’d have to construct the next generation’s DNA randomly, from scratch, every time they reproduced.

    Apart from being utterly ill-bred and a repeat willful resort to a smearing conflation of two distinct movements [which underscore earlier problems DM has had, and carry him to a strike two level . . . ], the just clipped remark reveals a basic failure to read in context with understanding.

    FYI, DM, W — as 28 above specifically states [how easy it is to snip off proper context to set up and knock over a strawman] –is the space of possible configs for 1,000 bits, which is indeed 2^1,000 or 1.07*10^301.

    And in turn, that is 10^150 times the number of Planck time quantum states for the 10^80 or so atoms of our observed cosmos across its thermodynamic lifespan.

    Where also 10^30 PTQS’s are used up in the fastest, ionic, chemical reactions.

    So, life systems cannot credibly carry out an exhaustive search of a space of at least this size, or — more to the point — a credible blind random walk rewarded by trial and error search for a needle in a haystack. Or more familiarly, a search for an isolated island of function.

    Samples tend to represent the bulk of a space of possibilities, not the unusual configs that are associated with codes, language, algorithms and the like. All of which are found in the living cell.

    This is the reason why the spontaneous generation of required FSCI, which comes from narrow and UN-representative zones T in W, is unlikely without intelligent guidance.

    And remember, 1,000 bits is 125 bytes, a rather small quantum of functional info, equivalent to about 20 ASCII character typical English words, a reasonable sentence or two. Not much room to implement serious control action.

    Had DM bothered to look in context, he would have also seen that the first challenge to evolutionary materialist accounts is that OOL requires — per observation of simplest cell based life forms [the only observed biological life forms], > 100 k bits of functionally specific, complex info, to implement a metabolising automaton with an embedded von Neumann kinematic self replicator facility. And, Darwin’s warm pond or a volcano vent etc will be most definitely controlled by thermodynamic forces, which would at best give us random configurations of polymers; the notion that there are super forces written into nature that would program life chemistry would directly point to design of the laws of physics and chemistry.

    So, what is being reverted to is explanation on chance driven configs rewarded through trial and error.

    But immediately that runs into the FSCI limit — which turns out to be a reasonable application of math after all, despite the sort of rudeness clipped above from DM — and the observed cosmological resources are hopelessly too small.

    For novel body plans beyond a so-called simple unicellular organism, we are looking at the need to create embryologically feasible genomes and host cells that are in excess of 10 – 100 Million bits.

    An even worse challenge.

    One underscored by the empirical evidence on the Cambrian life revo, on the usual geochronology: TOP-DOWN BODY PLAN ORIGIN, NOT A BRANCHING TREE PATTERN.

    As Meyer aptly summed up:

    One way to estimate the amount of new CSI that appeared with the Cambrian animals is to count the number of new cell types that emerged with them (Valentine 1995:91-93) . . . the more complex animals that appeared in the Cambrian (e.g., arthropods) would have required fifty or more cell types . . . New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI . . . .

    In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes–the very stuff of macroevolution–apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn’t need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don’t occur . . . [PBSW article, which passed proper peer review by "renowned" scientists.]

    In short, the evidence is that we need a proper account for the origin of major body plans; the finely graded incremental transformation so beloved of darwinists, and as pictured since Darwin in the tree of life is lacking in empirical warrant.

    Rudeness on DM’s part does not substitute for empirically observed facts and cogent reason relative to those facts.

    Strike TWO, DM . . .

    GEM of TKI

  69. Look, let’s not lose sight of this.

    We’re being lectured about our inability to do applied math by someone who thinks that if a single base pair mutates to a different base four different possibilities have been explored.

  70. F/N: As a part of DM’s cross threaded objection to 28 above, he seems to want to dismiss the point that a multiverse speculation — even if done while wearing a lab coat — so long as there is not reliably repeatable observational evidence, is a cross-border foray into philosophy.

    That happens to be the case, whether or not DM likes this (it is obviously advantageous rhetorically to wear a lab coat while speculating philosophically, claiming the aura of science for one’s speculations). The actual — and in many cases, the potential as well — observational data base for the multiverse speculation is NIL, i.e these ideas are not subject to empirical test.

    So, they are philosophical speculation.

    (So also, DM seems to be philosophically challenged as well as mathematically challenged, Mung.)

    However that may be, once one is in the province of philosophy, the rules and method of investigation are different. The proper method is comparative difficulties across ALL reasonable options, not just those one prefers. As of right, not sufferance.

    And so the cluster of unanswered phil issues that has dogged evolutionary materialism for ever so long, begin to bark, loud and long, starting with Plato in The Laws Bk X.

    Cf the previous and onward linked for more details.

  71. 71

    “these ideas are not subject to empirical test.”

    The boundary of empirical evidence and natural law ends at the breakdown of GR. Where the laws of nature are obliterated as the point goes to infinity. That’s all we got. Beyond which is metaphysics and philosophy. I find many atheists use the theoretical multi-verse a little loosely in the same way hippies like to massacre the uncertainty principle.

    Shut up hippies!:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

  72. Ipadron at 57 If you’re typical, you’ve been told, both directly and indirectly, that an intelligent God exists by nearly everybody that’s important and authoritative for your entire life, so it’s no wonder that it seems very likely that such a Being exists. That’s the default position for most people.

    The point I’m trying to make is that we’ve learned a tremendous amount about minds and how they work in just the last century and it’s now obvious to those familiar with that knowledge that any mind is inherently extremely complex and hence extremely unlikely. The smarter the mind, the more the complexity and the less the likelihood of it’s “just existing”.

    It’s true that I can’t describe how a universe or a multiverse might come into existence, but I can see that a multiverse is much simpler than any kind of a being and is thus proportionately less unlikely.

    KF at 59: By all means, ignore me and get on with your life.

    BA77 at 61 and 62: I was afraid that you were talking about “In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information.” when you said that “it takes a infinite amount of specified information just to create a single photon.”

    vjt at 63: I’m sorry, I did miss Collins. I’ll read him tonight.

    “You couldn’t get a more contingent cosmos than ours if you tried. As far as we can tell, there is absolutely nothing in it which has to be the way it is. Any explanation in terms of laws of Nature, or even meta-laws, just pushes the contingency back one level; it doesn’t make it go away. A theistic explanation is appealing because it can do just that.”

    That is my objection right there. You push it back to a level that is less likely than the level you’re attempting to explain.

    “Your argument presupposes that God keeps an index so that He can access information that will enable Him to respond to every possible question from an interlocutor.”
    A being needs much more than just an index of information. For instance, I have no problems with a god just “looking” at the universe to get his information except that being able to “just look” requires an astonishing amount of information processing. We don’t notice it because it’s all beneath our consciousness, but when you start to investigate what goes into “just looking” at, say, a bird on a branch there is a tremendous amount of information processing going on just to distinguish the bird from the background. (I read once that people who are born blind and then have their vision restored are often so disappointed that their suicide rate skyrockets because the ability to separate items from the background require functioning eyes to develop and can’t develop even with eyes after a certain age. They “see” the world, but they can’t make sense of it. They can’t tell the bird from the branch.)

    Then more processing is necessary to tell you what a bird is and all the facts that seeing a bird calls to our consciousness. And after that you need more processing to know what to do with your sighting. We’ve been ignoring all of this through history because it happens beneath consciousness, but now we’ve learned enough so we have to face it. There’s no problem accounting for humans and their mental abilities because evolution accounts for that, but where does God get that information from? What is the mechanism? On the other hand, the material universe is as simple as dirt, relatively speaking.

    “You also write:
    When investigating omniscient beings, watch out for the “knows the future” trap. If something knows the future, the future is fixed and free will goes “poof”.
    My reply: please define “fixed”. Do you mean “determined”? If so, then you are begging the question. And if not, what do you mean?”

    Like the past. Everything that will be done is already done before you do it. If God knows you will wear a red tie on Saturday, He can only know that if your decision is fixed. Causality wouldn’t really come into it since everything that will ever happen in the entire universe is fixed in place before it even happens. If you remember that cylinder of circular instants I mentioned in a previous post, all of the events on every disk are filled in before time even starts. And nothing like free will is even possible because you HAVE to do what is already in place.

    “On a philosophical level, I think you’ve succinctly made quite a good case that Darwinian evolution could generate a small amount of CSI. However, the empirical evidence suggests that Darwinian evolution is unable to generate more than 400 bits of CSI, even over billions of years. That’s what Dr. Stephen Meyer has argued in his recent work, Signature in the Cell.”

    I’ve got that book on my Kindle, but it keeps getting pushed down on the stack, perhaps because I’ve read so much of Meyer on line and maybe because he doesn’t seem to have an index, at least in the Kindle edition. What reason does Dr. Meyer give for this? You mention empirical evidence.

    I don’t know of a single biogenesis investigator who thinks the first life was anything like a modern cell. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the RNA world hypothesis, if only from people dissing it. That low level of complexity is what investigators assume for first life.

    A simple self replicating molecule isn’t much compared to modern life, but if it self-replicates and allows evolution, it’s all the start we need and a small polymer would do it. Don’t worry about proteins, they come later. Don’t worry about metabolism – that’s also for advanced life. For first life, reproduction with the possibility of Darwinian evolution is all we need and a short polymer will do the trick.

    “Next you write:
    You [Kairosfocus] and Dembski and most of the rest of the ID/Creationist crowd don’t know how to do applied math.
    This is a very serious charge. Kairosfocus is a qualified physicist and Professor Dembski has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. May I ask why you think you’re better qualified to address problems in applied math? What’s your academic background by the way, Dave?”

    My background is modest. High school algebra and geometry, scientific notation in the Air Force and then I skipped a semester of college and bought a TI scientific calculator (same cost for both back in the 70’s) to “complete” my mathematical education.

    I’m sure that both Dr. Dr. Dembski and Kairosfocus are better mathematicians than I will ever be – but I know the difference between having to search a space of 10^301 and 4. Even Mung seems to have figured that out. (Sorry I mixed up the 1 possibility explored with the total size of the search space – 4.) Yet Dembski returns to his huge numbers over and over and over.

    Evolution never works that way. Dembski and KF (and everybody else in ID) seem to think that an organism searches a search space that is 4 raised to the number of base pairs in its genome. It’s hard to find words to describe how stupid that idea is! To search that entire search space, the organism would have to mutate every single base pair in its entire genome and they very definitely don’t do that! They would die every time if they did because then the odds of finding a workable genome truly would be 4^301 or whatever.

    Instead, organisms suffer one or two base pair mutations. Any more (unless they’re moving a stack of pre-existing CSI around) and they tend to die. This gives them a search space of four or 16 – much, much more feasible. In search space terms, this means they only search a very tiny portion of the total search space and that portion is very near to where they started.

    If you want to see what happens when the entire 4^(very big number) search space is searched, go back in the UD records to where Salvador Cordova got hold of a copy of Avida. Not knowing jack about it, he cranked the “cosmic ray” setting to max – and smugly announced that the built in instrumentation showed the digital organisms were thriving and increasing all over the place! Somebody actually had to contact one of the Avida authors to find out what was happening. It turned out that the onslaught of mutations Sal turned loose blasted every single digital organism to smithereens. They were all dead the next generation, every one of them. But the counters in Avida weren’t set up for this totally non-realistic event and they were counting the chunks of organisms as being alive.

    And yet Dembski, KF and all the other ID biggies claim that this is how evolution works – they think that those organisms are exploring the entire genomic search space and they smugly point to their math that proves it’s impossible!

    Is it any wonder that ID gets no respect from people who actually understand how evolution works?

    I’ll try to write more tomorow – a couple of electricians have messed up my data center testing their generators.

  73. One other thing – the August 2011 Scientific American came today. Haven’t had a chance to read it, but the cover story is “Questions about the Multiverse” (the author doesn’t seem real enthusiastic from the little bit I was able to read).

    Another article is “How Math Works” and I noticed a reference to Eugene Wigner on the first page.

  74. dmullenix:

    but I know the difference between having to search a space of 10^301 and 4. Even Mung seems to have figured that out. (Sorry I mixed up the 1 possibility explored with the total size of the search space – 4.)

    Ah, it was kind of buried in there, but I found it.

    How do you come up with a total search space of size 4?

    Maybe you should lighten up a bit on criticizing ID types until you get this figured out.

    Any conclusion you drew from your prior mistake is obviously wrong. Have you revised your former opinions?

    Apparently not:

    Dembski and KF (and everybody else in ID) seem to think that an organism searches a search space that is 4 raised to the number of base pairs in its genome. It’s hard to find words to describe how stupid that idea is! To search that entire search space, the organism would have to mutate every single base pair in its entire genome and they very definitely don’t do that!

    So let’s start with some basics.

    What is the size of the search space? It’s certainly not 4.

    You do understand, don’t you, that no one claims that a one single organism searches the entire space.

    That’s a straw man.

    A single organism represents a single point in the search space.

    If any base can mutate at random, then how do you say that some points in the search space are not reachable?

    But I have previously quoted John Maynard Smith here at least twice saying in effect that bacteria have searched the entire space repeatedly. So what do you have to say to that?

    “If, remembering that for most of the time our ancestors were microbes, we allow an average of 20 generations a year, there has been time for selection to program the genome ten times over.”

    And GA’s search in just the sort of manner you say doesn’t work. So shall we discard all talk of GA’s proving evolution, including Avida?

  75. dmullenix,

    Even if the information that comprises a multiverse is simple compared to that of a mind I see no clear reason why it is more likely to exist. Even 1 byte or bit of information is impossible to spring forth from nothing.

    Also, I’m curious about the *known* laws that govern that universe. How do they figure into the complexity of that universe. Do they raise the quantity of information significantly or not at all?

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

  76. Ipadron at 75: What’s more impossible to bring forth from nothing – 1 byte or 2 bytes? 1 byte, obviously. My point is that a universe is more likely to appear than a Being because it’s less complex, at least at the beginning.

    As for “known” laws, what were they at time zero? We know that of the four main forces, gravity, electro-magnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, the weak force and electromagnetism merge together at high energies. This has been experimentally confirmed and Steven Weinberg, Sheldon Glasgow and Abdus Salam won the Nobel prize for it in 1979. (Wiki has an article on this (with math) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.....nteraction ) It’s thought that the strong nuclear force will merge with the electroweak force at higher energies. As for gravity and the other laws, we don’t know if they were the same or merged at the Big Bang.

    So your answer would be, “We don’t know the details, but things would be simpler at the beginning than they are now. Maybe a LOT simpler.”

    Mung at 74: The search space of size 4 is for an individual organism which has had one basepair mutated.

    Some basics: When Dembski, Kairosfocus and others say “search space”, they mean every possible combination of base pairs in the genome. For a 1 base pair genome, that’s 4. For a 301 base pair genome, that’s 4^301 or 1.66 E 181. For the human genome, that’s 4^3,000,000,000 or a Mighty Big Number.

    If you read what they say, they actually believe that each organism has to search that entire vast search space to find a viable DNA pattern. They claim this is nonsense and can’t possibly work.

    They’re right that it could never work, but each mutated organism actually searches only the minuscule portion of the search place that is immediately adjacent to the known functional place where their parent lives. That changes the odds from impossibly high to maybe 1 in a 1000. That’s much more doable.

    “If any base can mutate at random, then how do you say that some points in the search space are not reachable?”

    Try to generate a DNA combination of three billion “C”s in a row starting at a viable combination (say the one in your DNA), changing only one base at a time and keeping every step viable. Good luck getting that last “C”.

    I can’t tell what Smith means without the context, but he probably means that every base in the bacterial DNA gets changed to all four possible combinations in that time. Note that that’s not the same as generating every possible combination of bases, from “CCC…CCC” to “GGG…GGG”.

    As an example, the human genome contains about 3,000,000,000 base pairs and the typical human is born with about 60 mutations according to a recent News post. It would take 50 million years to mutate every base pair once with a population of one or 200 million years to mutate all of them to all four possible states.

    But we have about six billion people alive right now, so our genome gets churned much more often. Of course, most of those changes make no difference and tend to get lost or make things worse and tend to get lost a lot faster.

    But we still don’t go through every possible combination of 3 billion base pairs.

    GA’s search like organisms do – they only change one or two bases at a time, so they are always searching only the tiny part of the search space that is immediately adjacent to the known good position where their parents are. That strategy works as well for GAs as it does for biological organisms.

    dmullenix at 73: Re: August 2011 “Scientific American: “How Math Works” is an interesting article. It answer’s Wigner’s question by saying it’s a combination of the universe incorporating some strong symmetries and other mathematical principles into its construction and humans designing math to cover problems they find or think up and discarding solutions that don’t work.

    The “Questions About the Multiverse” article should be of interest to ID fans because the author is very pessimistic about the possibilities of their being a multiverse. However, I notice that most of his objections are of the “We have no way of observing this” so they’re valid, but they work equally well when talking about Beings and the multiverse is still simpler and hence more likely than any Being.

    KF at 68: “…OOL requires — per observation of simplest cell based life forms [the only observed biological life forms], > 100 k bits of functionally specific, complex info, to implement a metabolizing automaton with an embedded von Neumann kinematic self replicator facility…”

    Why are you looking at existing biological life forms? They are all the product of billions of years of evolution. If you have an objection to OOL research, at least criticize ACTUAL OOL research. Actual OOL research is looking at short polymers and other SIMPLE things.

    And remember, if a short polymer manages to self reproduce, then it either doesn’t need an embedded von Neumann kinematic self replicator facility or you haven’t fully thought out what it takes to have one. Example: a von Neumann replicator needs a store for the pattern to be reproduced. What would fulfill that function in a short polymer? Answer: the polymer itself. See if you can think of what would fulfill the rest of the von Neumann functions.

    “Apart from being utterly ill-bred and a repeat willful resort to a smearing conflation of two distinct movements [which underscore earlier problems DM has had, and carry him to a strike two level . . . ],”

    Why don’t you spend a relaxing evening going over your posts for the last year or so and count the gratuitous insults and invective that have become your stock in trade. Then read Ecclesiastes 11:1 and think, “Hmm, I don’t seem to get much respect lately. Could it possibly be (gasp!) something I’M doing?” Then, to test that idea and also just as an exercise in self improvement, try to post politely for one full day.

    We’ll all be rooting for you.

    Mung at 65: “A genome represents a single point in the search space. No matter how many mutations occur in a single genome only one additional point in the search space is explored.”

    Actually, all of the possible permutations of the genome constitute the search space. Any individual’s genome explores exactly one point in that search space. That’s why sticking to known good spots (reproduction without mutation) or places very near known good spots (reproduction with only one or a few mutations) is such a good idea. You only get one chance.

    VJT in 64: “Here’s a challenge. Build me a universe where only 99 per cent of this universe is hostile to life. Or at least, demonstrate mathematically that nature could produce such a universe. Moreover, I’d like a demonstration that this alternative universe has the same amount of Kolmogorov complexity as our own. If its description is wordier than the description of ours is, then that in itself might be a reason for God not to build it.”

    Ah! DESIGN a universe! Don’t rely on nature to produce one, design one. Great idea. And if my designed universe turns out to be more hospitable to life than the one we see, I would call that evidence that our universe wasn’t designed. After all, if I, a mere fallible mortal, can build a better universe, then God should be able to build a MUCH better one.

    I don’t see your point about complexity, though. As an Intelligent Designer, complexity is no problem. It’s not like I’m going to use chance to create the universe, after all. And why prove that nature could produce such a universe? It probably can’t. That’s why I’m turning to design.

    Ok. I’d start with a “Dyson sphere” for the basic design. Wikipedia has an article on them. Instead of power stations, I’d surround the sun with a sphere of earth the diameter of earth’s orbit that was a few hundred kilometers thick (give the miners something to dig in) and jigger gravity so everybody living on the inside of that sphere was pushed down onto it with 1 G of force. If anybody objects to this on the grounds of physics or whatever, I’ll just remind them that as an Intelligent Designer I sustain this universe, so I can do whatever I want.

    A sphere that size would probably give us room for every intelligent being in the galaxy (I go by “Rare Earth” here and think intelligent organisms are very rare.), so I’d build one for every galaxy. Maybe two or three if some of the races couldn’t get along or if there just turned out to be a lot of intelligent beings in the galaxy.

    The sun would start as pure hydrogen. None of that extra helium it got from the big bang because we wouldn’t need a big bang. I would create the other elements that are needed for life and put them where they’re needed instead of messing around with fusion and supernovas to make them in stars, where they aren’t needed.

    I would put all the hydrogen in all the other stars in the galaxy into balls about 50 times Jupiter’s mass (too light to start fusion) and have them in storage orbits around the Dyson Sphere. I’d have to jigger some sort of mechanism for getting waste helium out of the sun and dropping one of those balls of hydrogen into it from time to time, but I’d think of something.

    Repeat for every galaxy. How’s my design so far? A lot better than the universe we observe in my humble opinion. Nearly every atom in the universe is directly contributing to intelligent life or is in reserve to do so in the future. That should give us habitable conditions for trillions and trillions of years.

    If it’s that easy to design a better universe than the one we live in, what does that say about our universe? It doesn’t look very designed now, does it?

  77. My point is that a universe is more likely to appear than a Being because it’s less complex, at least at the beginning.

    This assumes that beings need to be material or defined in terms of bytes, which is questionable. How many bytes are in a natural or physical law? How many bytes are in the laws of logic? I submit the answers to this aren’t clear.

    So your answer would be, “We don’t know the details, but things would be simpler at the beginning than they are now. Maybe a LOT simpler.”

    This sounds a lot like an unintentional endorsement of the doctrine of divine simplicity.

    However, I notice that most of his objections are of the “We have no way of observing this” so they’re valid, but they work equally well when talking about Beings and the multiverse is still simpler and hence more likely than any Being.

    Again, that’s disputed – would you care to admit that if the doctrine of divine simplicity is true, that we should infer a being as the source of nature?

    Likewise, ‘a being’ and ‘a multiverse’ aren’t in the same categories. One difference between a multiverse and a being is that another universe is sealed off from interaction with our universe (otherwise it’d just be part of our universe). But a creator of our universe is under no such restrictions. They may leave marks. They may communicate.

    The two are in very different potential states of verification – so much worse for the multiverse.

    Ah! DESIGN a universe! Don’t rely on nature to produce one, design one. Great idea. And if my designed universe turns out to be more hospitable to life than the one we see, I would call that evidence that our universe wasn’t designed. After all, if I, a mere fallible mortal, can build a better universe, then God should be able to build a MUCH better one.

    And you proceed to not give what was requested by VJT: You dodge the request of showing that nature could build such a universe and apparently swap in justified fiat, and you ditch the kolg complexity request. But if the rules of your universe didn’t make any sense and just seemed slapped together, it would arguably be inferior to this universe.

    But really, your entire plan could be summed up with one quote: “I’d think of something.” Why not just say “I’d make one that’s better than this, I tell you, so nyeh.”? Because that’s pretty much what you did here.

    Either way, I don’t think VJT’s request gets honored by you ignoring his stipulations and saying ‘I’m designer I can do what I want’.

    Finally: You say 99.999999% of this universe is utterly lethal for any kind of life. I have a simple question: What if the forms of life could find ways to make uninhabitable areas habitable? Plenty of places on this planet would have once been considered uninhabitable in and of themselves – that changed.

    Consider what that means. Life can be its own solution to habitability problems. I mean, what drives the point on this front home is your talk of a Dyson Sphere – that is, however far-fetched, a proposed project for humanity to engage in.

    Why construct a Dyson sphere from the get-go when you can have your life do it for you, eh?

  78. Nullasalus at 77: The complexity is in the “Being”. “Being” means something with a mind and it’s the 21st century nowadays. We understand enough about how minds work to know that they are incredibly complex and you won’t get one without tons of well-ordered information.

    Forget divine simplicity. That’s something thought up by long dead theologians who literally had no idea of what they were talking about. Minds are not simple. It’s time to start dealing with that fact instead of finding new ways to deny it.

    Who CARES what nature can build? The question is whether nature built this universe or whether it was designed by an Intelligent Designer. If you want to see what nature can build, look around you. Life isn’t even a flyspeck compared to the universe around us. Most of the universe is outright lethal and nearly all of it is wasted as far as life is concerned.

    My DESIGNED universe, on the other hand, is truly built for life and almost all of its resources are devoted to life’s care and feeding.

    “What if the forms of life could find ways to make uninhabitable areas habitable?”

    Yeah, show me a life form that can live on vacuum in intergalactic space or on a sun.

  79. dmullenix,

    The complexity is in the “Being”. “Being” means something with a mind and it’s the 21st century nowadays. We understand enough about how minds work to know that they are incredibly complex and you won’t get one without tons of well-ordered information.

    Question-begging, pure and simple. You may as well tell me “it’s the 21st century, materialism is true”.

    Try another one: “If God were immaterial, he’d have to be very different from humans – we have bodies!” I tell you, that would have come as a shock – an absolute shock! – to Christians of the past.

    That’s something thought up by long dead theologians who literally had no idea of what they were talking about. Minds are not simple. It’s time to start dealing with that fact instead of finding new ways to deny it.

    So you have no argument and want to reject it out of hand. Gotcha, loud and clear. Things can pop into existence from nothing without cause, physical laws can be brute and apparently immaterial themselves, we’ve had to radically revise our definition of matter, but let’s not even examine arguments we find weird.

    Who CARES what nature can build? The question is whether nature built this universe or whether it was designed by an Intelligent Designer.

    Who cares? How about nature’s designer? You realize that nature is just another tool for this designer in question, right?

    “Nature or designer” is a false choice, because nature is just one more thing for a designer to make, use, and work through in this case. This is a little like saying ‘who cares what software can do? I want to know what a software programmer can do!’

    My DESIGNED universe, on the other hand, is truly built for life and almost all of its resources are devoted to life’s care and feeding.

    This DESIGNED universe is truly built for life, you utterly shrugged off VJT’s standards, and you didn’t even see if what you were arguing was rational or feasible. You shrugged all that off with “I’m a designer I can do whatever!” Not impressive.

    Yeah, show me a life form that can live on vacuum in intergalactic space or on a sun.

    You mean with a space station or a Dyson sphere? ;)

    Think about it: I mentioned making uninhabitable areas habitable.

    Let me guess: The moon landing was staged, right? I mean, EVERYone knows the moon is absolutely lethal to human life. Throw a baby on the moon and they’d be dead within seconds! I mean, in order for anyone to step on the moon, they’d have to have air to breathe – how in the world could we get air on the moon? It’s completely unrealistic and unfeasible!

    Really though, apparently even your own designed universe sucked by your standards. You didn’t account for living on vacuum or on the surface of the sun! Why didn’t you just design THAT by fiat too, like you did everything else?

    Hey, why require suns at all? “Life can exist and doesn’t need energy! I’m the designer I can do what I want! It’s just an infinite cube shoulder to shoulder with life down to the quantum level!”

    You’re flailing, dmullenix. Take some deep breaths, think things through, and try again. Or don’t. But your freakout doesn’t speak well for your position.

  80. DM:

    Above you are simply being evasive, resorting to a test tube or paper chemistry autocatalytic molecule, when what is to be explained is the origin of observed, metabolising cell based life that embeds a digital tape driven von Neumann type kinematic replicator, and to be explained on the sort of resources and cross-reactions likely to be met with in Darwin’s pond or a volcano vent or a comet or a moon of Jupiter etc.

    That’s a bait and switcheroo strawman.

    Wheel an tun an come again, with something betta dis time.

    GEM of TKI

  81. dmullenix:
    It seems to me that adding one zero to another zero can yield nothing but another zero.
    And no matter how many zeros I continue to add the likelihood never increases that I will get anything but another zero.

    If true, prior to time zero there were no bytes of information. How is one byte suddenly appearing any more likely than a thousand or a million or a trillion?

  82. dmullenix:

    Actually, all of the possible permutations of the genome constitute the search space.

    Isn’t that what Demski et al. claim?

    How is this consistent with your claim that the the search space has a size of 4.

    Any individual’s genome explores exactly one point in that search space.

    Isn’t that what I said?

    That’s why sticking to known good spots (reproduction without mutation) or places very near known good spots (reproduction with only one or a few mutations) is such a good idea. You only get one chance.

    And how do organisms know they get only one chance? So it’s a good idea according to whom?

    So to recap, you’ve been wrong twice now. But you still maintain Dembski and other ID’ers don’t know what they are talking about?

    It would take 50 million years to mutate every base pair once with a population of one or 200 million years to mutate all of them to all four possible states.

    And that doesn’t even begin to explore every possible permutation, does it.

    But we still don’t go through every possible combination of 3 billion base pairs.

    Now you’re starting to get it.

    Massive search space. Too little time. You’re starting to sound more and more like those who you criticize.

    GA’s search like organisms do – they only change one or two bases at a time, so they are always searching only the tiny part of the search space that is immediately adjacent to the known good position where their parents are. That strategy works as well for GAs as it does for biological organisms.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    A typical GA will start out with a randomly generated genome for each member of the initial population.

    How does that put them close together in the search space?

    In fact, that strategy is designed to do just the opposite. In a GA you want to maximize your search, to explore the greatest possible region of the space. Because you have no idea where good solutions are to be found.

  83. nullasalus at 79: “Question-begging, pure and simple. You may as well tell me ‘it’s the 21st century, materialism is true’”.

    It’s not question begging. The ancients (anybody before about the mid 1800s – say anybody who lived before Broca) didn’t know diddly squat about how the mind works so they could call God (a Being who is claimed to have a mind) “simple” with a clear conscience. That’s no longer possible. Bring yourself up to date on the busy new field of cognitive science and you’ll be way ahead of even the smartest and most knowledgeable ancient Greek or 18th century European philosopher. I can recommend “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker for a good grounding on what we know about minds today. He’s a good writer and he knows the subject.

    “Things can pop into existence without cause” Why, as a matter of fact, yes. Haven’t you heard of virtual particles? They’re real. They pop into existence without cause. You can measure the force they exert on two closely spaced plates. It’s called the Casimir force and it was first measured in the 1940s.

    “Physical laws can be brute and apparently immaterial themselves” Physical laws are part of materialism and at some point we have to just have brute facts. Either a metaverse exists or some sort of God exists and the metaverse is the simpler and hence more likely – by an astonishingly large ratio.

    “we’ve had to radically revise our definition of matter”. I guess we have. “Earth, Water, Wind and Fire” don’t cut it any more.

    “but let’s not even examine arguments we find weird.” But that’s what we’re doing. The metaverse and God are both weird, God just turns out to be weirder.

    “You realize that nature is just another tool for this designer in question, right?

    ‘Nature or designer’ is a false choice, because nature is just one more thing for a designer to make, use, and work through in this case. This is a little like saying ‘who cares what software can do? I want to know what a software programmer can do!’”

    The choice is between nature alone or a designer and nature. Nature alone is much more likely and I’ve shown how poor a design this universe is if you’re designing it for life.

    DM: “Yeah, show me a life form that can live on vacuum in intergalactic space or on a sun.”

    “You mean with a space station or a Dyson sphere?”

    Both of which contain air to breathe and are not incandescently hot.

    “Throw a baby on the moon and they’d be dead within seconds! I mean, in order for anyone to step on the moon, they’d have to have air to breathe – how in the world could we get air on the moon? It’s completely unrealistic and unfeasible!”

    It can be done and we’ve done it, but it was hard. The moon is part of the 99.99google99+ percent of the universe that is not hospitable to life. Which is odd if the universe was fine tuned for life, don’t you think?

    “why require suns at all? “Life can exist and doesn’t need energy!”

    Show me a living organism that doesn’t need energy and I’ll believe you.

    “You’re flailing, dmullenix.” No, I’m doing fine.

    KF at 80: Your metabolizing cell based life that embeds a digital tape driven von Neumann type kinematic replicator evolved from a much simpler polymer whose only property was self replication. Don’t believe me? Ok, tell us what the first living thing was then.

    Ipadron at 81: The people who believe that God has always existed necessarily give the odds of his existence as being 1. I think they greatly overestimate those odds because they underestimate the complexity required for thought, but in a universe where virtual particles can just pop into existence without cause, there has to be at least some tiny chance of a God popping up too. I think that a simple metaverse also has some small probability of existing too and those odds are better because the metaverse is simpler.

    “Prior to time zero” would mean before the Big Bang. At that time, the metaverse would exist and it would contain some information that it could impart to our universe at its beginning.

    Mung at 82: DM: Actually, all of the possible permutations of the genome constitute the search space.

    Mung: “Isn’t that what Demski et al. claim?”

    Yep.

    Mung: “How is this consistent with your claim that the search space has a size of 4.”

    Because that’s the portion of the total search space that a genome with one mutated base pair actually explores and those four locations are very close to the parent’s location. In fact, one of them IS the parent’s location, which is known to work. Quite a difference from Dembski and KF’s 10^gazillion, isn’t it?

    DM “That’s why sticking to known good spots (reproduction without mutation) or places very near known good spots (reproduction with only one or a few mutations) is such a good idea. You only get one chance.”

    Mung: “And how do organisms know they get only one chance? So it’s a good idea according to whom?”

    You’re not thinking this through, are you. More fun to just type out the first thought that strikes you, I guess. The organisms don’t know diddly. The new organisms have one genome each and that genome specifies which one spot they will investigate.

    Mung: “Massive search space. Too little time. You’re starting to sound more and more like those who you criticize.”

    DM: And I’ve been telling you that organisms don’t search the entire search space, like Dembski and KF assume. They explore a very limited subset of the total search space that is very close to the parent’s known good location.

    Mung: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    A typical GA will start out with a randomly generated genome for each member of the initial population.
    How does that put them close together in the search space?”

    There is something delicious when somebody calls you stupid and then demonstrates in the next sentence that they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s probably sinful to enjoy it so, but I do.

    GAs are started with KNOWN VIABLE genomes. They have to be or they’d all die after the first generation and the GA would be dead in the water. Once they are started, each individual organism explores areas in the search space that are close to its’ starting (known valid) area by only changing one or a few bits of its genome at one time. They do NOT explore the greatest possible region of the search space because the great majority of those regions are lethal. They aim to explore as much of the viable areas of the search space as is needed to accomplish their objectives.

    I think there’s another reason for the confusion regarding Dembski/KF’s humongus search space. They both seem to think that the very first living thing had to search the entire search space of modern organisms in order to find a viable spot, which would be vanishingly improbable.

    There are two problems with this: First, the first living things didn’t have the huge genomes of modern life so that vast search space basically didn’t exist back then.

    Second, being simple, the pre-biotic chemicals searched a very much smaller search space and there were enough of those polymers so that one finally found a sweet spot and started serious reproducing.

    At that point, Darwinian evolution took over and began to expand the genome and the search space to it’s present size.

    BUT, once they started at a sweet spot in the search space, they only searched nearby areas as they expanded the number of viable genomes.

    It’s Friday. See you all Monday.

  84. dmullenix,
    As before, I appreciate your taking the time to reply. Two quickies:

    1. I don’t see how a metaverse before time zero of the big bang solves anything. How’d that metaverse come to be anyway?

    2. Exactly how much better are chances of a rather complex universe/metaverse popping into existence than those of a complex mind anyway?

    Finally, given what little we know of virtual particles and how little they last it seems positing those as a possible explanation for a multiverse full of so much physical stuff is believing in miracles without a miracle maker.

    Have a good weekend.

  85. dmullenix:

    Because that’s the portion of the total search space that a genome with one mutated base pair actually explores and those four locations are very close to the parent’s location. In fact, one of them IS the parent’s location, which is known to work. Quite a difference from Dembski and KF’s 10^gazillion, isn’t it?

    So you have claimed that the search space is both very very large and very very small.

    Actually, all of the possible permutations of the genome constitute the search space.

    but I know the difference between having to search a space of 10^301 and 4.

    And when I ask you to resolve that contradiction, in response you claim that the search space is the size of the space actually searched? Is that your response?

    And I’ve been telling you that organisms don’t search the entire search space, like Dembski and KF assume.

    And that’s a straw-man. No one assumes that a single organism explores the entire search space.

    The argument, as you now acknowledge, is that the search space is much too large, and that as you’ve also learned, a single genome can represent only one single point in the space.

  86. dmullenix:

    GAs are started with KNOWN VIABLE genomes. They have to be or they’d all die after the first generation and the GA would be dead in the water. Once they are started, each individual organism explores areas in the search space that are close to its’ starting (known valid) area by only changing one or a few bits of its genome at one time. They do NOT explore the greatest possible region of the search space because the great majority of those regions are lethal. They aim to explore as much of the viable areas of the search space as is needed to accomplish their objectives.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    There is something delicious when somebody calls you stupid and then demonstrates in the next sentence that they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s probably sinful to enjoy it so, but I do.

    Oh, the irony. Go ahead, revel in your ignorance.

  87. Ipadron at 84: 1: Nobody has any idea of how the metaverse came to be, just as they have no idea of how God came to be. Religious apologists say that God “always existed” or is a “necessary Being” or give some other non-answer.

    We say, “Whatever it was, the metaverse is simpler than God and hence more likely to exist.”

    2: It would depend on how much more complex God’s mind is than the metaverse. We don’t know, but the human mind is awesomely complex and God is supposed to be much smarter than any human.

    3: All of quantum mechanics is hard to believe, but virtual particles are very well established and their effects can be measured in the lab. They exist because of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. The way it works, if there’s any energy in the vacuum at all (and there always is), they will tend to appear and then immediately annihilate each other and disappear. The heavier the particles, the shorter the time they can exist before they annihilate each other. In theory, if a heavy enough pair of particles is produced, they may collapse into their own personal black hole and serve as the seeds of a new universe. They are also responsible for draining the energy from black holes. A pair of virtual particles are produced from the energy at the event horizon. One particle disappears into the hole and the other flies in the other direction and escapes, carrying away a tiny bit of mass.

  88. Mung at 85: “So you have claimed that the search space is both very very large and very very small.”

    The search space is very large. The portion that each individual explores is very small – 4 for a single point mutation.

    Mung at 86: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Afraid I do in this case.

  89. dmullenix:

    The search space is very large. The portion that each individual explores is very small – 4 for a single point mutation.

    How does a single mutation in a single base pair explore four different locations in the search space?

    And how is this consistent with your prior statement that each genome represents only a single point in the search space?

    Are all four points in the search space in reality a single point in the search space?

    If a given organism has three offspring, and each one of those three offspring has a mutation to the exact same base and no other, and the mutation in all three is to a base that is different from that in the parent, and distinct and different to that in the siblings, then we have explored four points in the search space.

    But that requires four genomes, not one. And three mutations, not one.

    This is so obvious that it should go without saying, but apparently it needs to be said.

  90. Mung at 89: If I say, “You’re right,” will you admit that Dembski and kairosfocus (and all the other ID mavens who throw those huge search spaces around) are wrong?

  91. 91
    Elizabeth Liddle

    PMFBI, but “search” and “search space” are metaphors that fit into a larger analogy and it’s important to keep a hold on what is doing what in the larger analogy.

    “Search” implies a “searcher”. So what is doing the “searching” when a single nucleotide in a gene undergoes a mutation?

    Not the mutation. What is doing the “searching” (to maintain the teleological metaphor) is that spot in the sequence.

    And, as dmullenix says there are four steps in “search space” that it can probe – it can take one of four nucleotides.

    However, it starts from one that works in the current context (otherwise it wouldn’t be there). Let’s say it “tries” a second: Answer: “useless” i.e. new organism dies without issue.

    And a third: Answer: “just as good” i.e. new organism functions just as well as the old one. And the last: Answer: “not so good, but still viable”.

    And it “tries” the fourth: “better”.

    So after those three trials, the original is still around in the population; the second is not; the third is, although struggling; the four is doing even better than the original.

    The search for an optimum genome has progressed.

  92. dmullenix:

    Mung at 89: If I say, “You’re right,” will you admit that Dembski and kairosfocus (and all the other ID mavens who throw those huge search spaces around) are wrong?

    I might. I’m not shy about such things.

    Would you care to point me to a specific quote or provide me with a cite?

    But we’re agreed about the size of the search space and how to calculate the size, right?

    Just to be sure, could you give an example? Thanks.

  93. WHY BOTHER?

    Does no one understand why they believe? Did anyone in the first or 2nd, 3rd century and on have good theology to read so they could sit back behind their judges throne to either be amused or converted?

    People were converted from one single line from Paul at times. This is about the heart and will. These people have heard the gospel and repeatedly rejected it. They have probably heard the gospel at least 300 times in one form or another and each time they turned their backs. They have more chances than in any other era.

    Dont encourage them by listing more books. This isnt a detective mission. Christs message opens the hearts of God’s children and closes the hearts of the wicked.

    Why isnt that enough for some of you? This person needs to go to christ–thats it..not read more clever arguments. Please dont tell me your belief is based on such things –and not the fact the Holy Spirit put in your mind when you went to God in faith.

  94. F/N: It seems I come up even when absent, and it seems that objectors too often cannot seem to summarise accurately and fairly, ending up tilting at strawmen of their own making.

    I am beginning to think that speaks volumes about the want of solidity of their case.

    A genome of 100,000+ bits worth of info (4 states per base, 50k bases, low relative to what we have seen), would have 2^100,000 possible configs as simple chains of bases. That is a very large space of possibilities indeed. In practice, we see functional forms from a much smaller part of the overall field of possibilities, from islands of function.

    There is of course a pretence that any and every config has a large chance of being functional in relevant ways, so let us just remind objectors that when you have multiple part complex function dependent on the right parts in the right arrangement, interfaced correctly and acting on the right sequence of steps, you have imposed a huge, information-rich array of constraints, leading to tightly specifying the acceptable zone in the field of possibilities. That is as commonplace as that the right part is needed to fix a car and it needs to be put in right too.

    If you dispute this, which is abundantly supported by a vast body of experience, it is you who have the burden of proof. Which has not been met.

    In this context, incremental variation within an island of function is irrelevant to how to get to that island from scratch.

    With OOL as the first exhibit.

    And with OO body plans as the second.

    The easy rhetorical extrapolation of microevo within existing islands of function as if that explains getting to such islands in light of the info challenge, needs to stop.

    As in, black/white moths or big/small beaked finches do not explain how we get moths or birds in the first place, absent some very powerful and complete observational warrant that shows getting to islands of function in large config spaces by the scale of atomic and temporal resources available in the solar system or observed cosmos.

    Which simply has not been done.

    If you claim otherwise, SHOW it on good and sufficient empirical evidence, for OOL and OOBP.

    Or else, it is rhetorical blue smoke and mirrors.

    As, sadly, all too usual (especially at the more notorious objector sites).

    KF

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