Home » Intelligent Design » Professor: God Would Not Create the Giraffe’s Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

Professor: God Would Not Create the Giraffe’s Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

One thing evolutionists agree on is that their theory is also a scientific fact. It is a curious point of consensus given that, of all the many, many evolutionary claims, it is the one that is most obviously and undeniably false. It is not that evolutionists fail to prove their theory to be a fact. They most definitely have done so, many times over. But their proofs are not scientificRead more

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145 Responses to Professor: God Would Not Create the Giraffe’s Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

  1. One thing evolutionists agree on is that their theory is also a scientific fact.

    Oh – I’m not an evolutionist then. For me, a “scientific fact” would be a true observational claim. But evolutionary theory is a more complex beast – it is a whole framework of theories, observations and their interpretations.

  2. From an engineering standpoint what is more efficient than bacteria?

    If survivability is the goal of biology why did bacteria evolve?

    Or maybe the accidentalists feel we are all evolving towards bacteria.

  3. 3

    There is a nice discussion of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in giraffes in this evolutionnews.org post.

  4. I’d like to contest the claim that an Intelligent Designer would not route wiring from the giraffe’s larynx around its aorta, on empirical grounds.

    If the laryngeal nerve were just involved in controlling the larynx, then Dawkins might have a good point in his criticism of Intelligent Design. The laryngeal nerve comes down from the brain and loops around the arteries near the heart and then goes back up to the larynx. In the giraffe, this seems like particularly bad design. However, the laryngeal nerve actually has several branches all along its length that go to the heart, esophagus, trachea, and thyroid gland. Thus it is involved in a whole system of control of various related organs. It would be very unintelligent to have a single nerve, controlling only the larynx. It would be more intelligent to have it control a lot of related systems all along its length (see this article .) Hence the laryngeal nerve, far from being a problem for intelligent design, actually vindicates it.

    Creationist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati makes the same point in a recent article entitled, Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve , and adds that its position may have something to do with the development of the animal as an embryo:

    Dawkins considers only its main destination, the larynx. In reality, the nerve also has a role in supplying parts of the heart, windpipe muscles and mucous membranes, and the esophagus, which could explain its route.

    Even apart from this function, there are features that are the result of embryonic development – not because of evolution, but because the embryo develops from a single cell in a certain order. For example, the embryo needs a functioning simple heart early on; this later descends to its position in the chest, dragging the nerve bundle with it.

    This is a fruitful Intelligent Design hypothesis, and a falsifiable one. If it is wrong, we should know soon enough.

    Finally, a recent article by Dr. Jerry Bergman, entitled “Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Is Not Evidence of Poor Design” (see http://www.icr.org/article/5512/ ), in Acts & Facts 39 (8): 12-14, concludes:

    The left recurrent laryngeal nerve is not poorly designed, but rather is clear evidence of intelligent design:

    * Much evidence exists that the present design results from developmental constraints.
    * There are indications that this design serves to fine-tune laryngeal functions.
    * The nerve serves to innervate other organs after it branches from the vagus on its way to the larynx.
    * The design provides backup innervation to the larynx in case another nerve is damaged.
    * No evidence exists that the design causes any disadvantage.

    The arguments presented by evolutionists are both incorrect and have discouraged research into the specific reasons for the existing design.

  5. vj

    You have gone to considerable lengths to defend ID by trying to show that the laryngeal nerve is well designed. Does this mean you would accept examples of bad design as disprove of the ID hypothesis?

  6. markf

    Does this mean you would accept examples of bad design as disprove of the ID hypothesis?

    Good design or bad design are both design, and both indicate intelligence. This is more a theological question.

    I don’t see any defense of ID above in any case, just the rejection that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is a bad one. How is the “backwards eye” working out for you?

  7. markf,

    The way to falsify/ refute/ disprove Intelligent Design is via parsimony, ie remove the requirement for a designer by demonstrating that blind, undirected (chemical) processes can account for it (whatever is being investigated).

  8. #5 scheesman

    I don’t see any defense of ID above in any case, just the rejection that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is a bad one.

    I wasn’t sure if vj’s comment was intended as a defence of ID or just a piece of biological interest. That is why I asked.

    How is the “backwards eye” working out for you?

    OK. But would be better without the blind spot.

    #6 Joseph

    The way to falsify/ refute/ disprove Intelligent Design is via parsimony, ie remove the requirement for a designer by demonstrating that blind, undirected (chemical) processes can account for it (whatever is being investigated).

    So the evidence for design is just the lack of a non-design alternative?

  9. How is the “backwards eye” working out for you?

    markf:

    OK. But would be better without the blind spot.

    Really? I have no way to prove this, but I would assert that the blind spot is absolutely required to optimize other, more important things, and any eye without a blind spot would be demonstrably inferior in far more important ways. Also, if the eye is a product of evolution, and the blind spot is so disadvantageous, why hasn’t it been eliminated simply on those grounds? I would return to the fact that it is an important result of optimization, and that argument works no matter which side of this fence you sit on.

  10. markf:

    So the evidence for design is just the lack of a non-design alternative?

    No, that does not follow from what I said.

    Part of testing for intentional design is eliminating alternatives- parsimony- as in the minimum required to account for X.

    So demonstrating blind, undirected processes can account for X there isn’t any requirement for a designer/ agency involvement.

    If none can be found AND there is some specification (yes even “it looks designed” will be OK), then we infer design.

    1 step to falsify the inference and 2 steps to make the inference.

  11. About that “blind spot”- having two eyes takes care of that…

  12. [Re . . . ] MF:

    So the evidence for design is just the lack of a non-design alternative?

    Yet once again — it is astonishing how inistently this “ID is a negative argument” strawman is played.

    FYI, MF, as you have been repeatedly advised, we routinely — and characteristically, even only — observe that certain phenomena only occur as caused by intelligences, when we see them being formed. For classic instance, digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information, the stuff of billions of Internet documents, and a similar base of computer code and books in libraries, etc etc.

    We also have a configuration space analysis that tells us that once we see say 1,000 bits of info storage capacity, we are talking about 1.07*10^301 configs, in an observed cosmos that can at most scan 10^150 quantum states in its lifetime, 50 mn times the time since the general date for the singularity. So, the cosmos could not carry out a credible search of the space, i.e a cosmic scope search rounds down comfortably to zero scope. That means islands of function for coded, specific function will be deeply isolated in the space.

    So, a random walk from an arbitrary — uninformed — initial condition that is blind to proximity of shored of function will not be a credible means to get to islands of function.

    We need oracles, maps, beacons, signs, rules of thumb etc to narrow down the scope of search. Such things, invariably, come from intelligence, in our observation.

    In short, we have a consistent set of observations on the contrasting capacity of blind chance and mechanical necessity on the one hand, and art on the other. We also have an analysis that makes sense of the observation.

    We therefore have every good reason to see that dFSCI etc are reliable signs of intentionally and intelligently directed configuration, aka design.

    To overthrow this, all you need to do is produce an empirically and credibly observed case where blind chance and mechanical necessity produce a case of dFSCI etc, without intelligent intervention in the foreground or behind the scenes.

    If you continue to repeat long since corrected saws like the above, or other irrelevancies, that is a sign that you have no sound answer on the merits.

    But of course that is routinely shown by your longstanding refusal to engage this on the merits.

    GEM of TKI

  13. #8 scheeseman

    Really? I have no way to prove this, but I would assert that the blind spot is absolutely required to optimize other, more important things, and any eye without a blind spot would be demonstrably inferior in far more important ways.

    The cephalopods seem to manage OK.

    Also, if the eye is a product of evolution, and the blind spot is so disadvantageous, why hasn’t it been eliminated simply on those grounds?

    Because evolutionary theory only requires that an organism be good enough to survive in its environment. It is not part of any evolutionary theory that an organism be as efficient as could be conceived. This is only a problem for ID (if you believe the designer to be omnipotent and in favour of the organism’s long and productive life).

  14. #9 Joseph

    If none can be found AND there is some specification (yes even “it looks designed” will be OK), then we infer design.

    OK – I will modify what I deduce from your statements. I believe you are saying that

    (a) life appears to be designed

    (b) therefore it is designed unless we can identify a non-designed explanation

    Is that fair?

  15. This is only a problem for ID (if you believe the designer to be omnipotent and in favour of the organism’s long and productive life).

    What part of ID touches on the omnipotence, or even identity, of the designer? And why would any designer, omnipotent or not, be limited to a single desired outcome?

    There seems to be no problem for ID here. Some potential problem with a theodicy, but then a theodicy has its own tools to answer those problems with.

    How do you personally determine design or its lack?

  16. markf

    The cephalopods seem to manage OK.

    Cephalopods are acquatic, which I expect is a rather important factor in eye design. Also, how are cephalopods at reading and distinguishing fine details at a distance? What is the dynamic range of light levels under which they operate?

    In other words, cephalopod eyes are wonderful for cephalopods, and, again, though I can’t prove this, I expect they can get away without a great number of things which we find quite useful, and indeed essential here on dry land, faced with the range of optical challenges we face.

    And, to turn it around once again, why did evolution leave the blind spot? The argument works both ways.

  17. In fact, I can argue like an evolutionist but from the other side: “No random process would have been able to achieve the amazing design benefits allowed by the creation of a blind spot… this is evidence of a designer”.

  18. “Cephalopods are acquatic, which I expect is a rather important factor in eye design”

    Uhmm, yeah, so are all the aquatic vertebrates…

    “Also, how are cephalopods at reading and distinguishing fine details at a distance?”

    Their abilities of distinguishing fine details at a distance seem to be quite astonishing. A crucial ability for high-speed predators.

    “the amazing design benefits allowed by the creation of a blind spot”

    and what are those amazing design benefits again?

  19. Onlookers:

    MF’s tactic of ignoring what I( have posted allows him to pretend that Joseph’s remarks are all that need to be answered.

    It is this rhetorical tactic that has been a key component of his evasion of the relevant positive case that he has refused to answer for many, many months, indeed years as I recall.

    So, observe that — as was pointed to in 11 — he plainly has no answer on the merits to the points both Joseph and the undersigned have raised; which in fact are not just our points but points generally raised by design thinkers.

    MF, sadly, is setting up and knocking over a convenient strawman.

    It is more than time that those who object to the design inference were at least able to accurately and fairly summarise it and its basis. (And, if objectors are consistently setting up a strawman version to knock over [as we are seeing yet again], that, too, is revealing on their want of a case on the actual merits.)

    GEM of TKI

  20. markf

    Thank you for your posts. In response to your specific query about the cephalopod eye: cephalopods don’t see as well as humans. They have no color vision. The octopus eye structure is completely different and much simpler than our own. It has been likened to “a compound eye with a single lens.”

    You also mentioned the blind spot. It has been pointed out previously on Uncommon Descent that blind spots are never detected unless one eye is blacked out. Even then, the blind spot is “filled in” by the brain’s software. The blind spot is not in the macula (the high visual acuity part of the retina), so when one is actually looking at something, there is no blind spot.

    In response to your general query about bad design, I would say that bad design, if confirmed in Nature, does not disprove Intelligent Design in general, but it certainly would weaken one version of Intelligent Design. I would certainly agree that bad design renders less probable the hypothesis that the Designer of life was an infinitely wise, benevolent and powerful Being.

    St. Thomas Aquinas would have also agreed. As he put it: “All natural things were produced by the Divine art, and so may be called God’s works of art.” Since every artist intends to give his work the best disposition for the proposed end, Aquinas concludes that “God gave to each natural being the best disposition; not absolutely so, but in the view of its proper end.” (See Summa Theologica I, q. 91, art. 3, see http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1091.htm#article3 .) The proper end of the vertebrate eye is seeing.

    Aquinas also admits that “an imperfect effect proves imperfection in the agent” (Summa Theologica I, q. 66, art. 1, at http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1066.htm#article1 ). Although this argument is put forward in an objection (“On the contrary…”) which Aquinas subsequently answers, he does not question the principle itself in his response; he simply asserts that imperfections in Nature are permissible only insofar as they are dictated by God’s Wisdom and the need to preserve order in the cosmos. However, it would be absurd to say that God’s Wisdom demanded that the vertebrate eye be poorly designed, or that a poorly designed eye was required to maintain cosmic harmony.

    This brings us to the next question: how do we know if a design is bad? Specifically, how would we go about showing that the design of the vertebrate eye was bad? Simple. We’d have to go and genetically engineer a better one in a vertebrate embryo, and also demonstrate that vertebrates with this new eye would not only see better, but suffer no harmful side-effects.

    So here’s the general method I would use for assessing whether an organ is badly designed. First, identify the genes coding for the organ in question. Second, identify a mutation in those genes that would yield a better design for the organ, and then bring about this change artificially. Third, verify that no other vital functions have been damaged in the animal, as a result of the change effected. Fourth, verify that the nature of the animal has not changed. For example, in relation to the vertebrate eye: is the animal in question still a vertebrate, after the mutation in its genes has been implemented?

    This is not what evolutionists typically do when they critique the design of organs. Even if a cephalopod eye had better visual acuity than a vertebrate eye, we’d still have to show that such an eye was compatible with a vertebrate body plan, and that the genes which control the development of the vertebrate eye could be artificially engineered to code for a cephalopod eye, without adversely affecting the vertebrate in any other way.

  21. molch:

    “the amazing design benefits allowed by the creation of a blind spot”

    and what are those amazing design benefits again?

    If you are able to make your argument of imperfection without actually being able to demonstrate any actual detriment, why cannot I make an argument for perfection without having to enumerate any actual benefits?

    Still, I fully expect that such reasons can and will be discovered, if they are not already known. That’s a verifiable, disprovable predicition.

    And again… if it is really an imperfection, with a real fitness cost, why hasn’t evolution long ago eliminated it? Surely the remarkably creative, but purposeless, goal-less process that led to this astonishing organ would have no difficulty weeding out such an egregious defect. In comparison to other features and systems involved it seems such a small thing. The answer should be obvious. It is not a detriment, and there ARE good reasons from an optimization viewpoint for it to be there.

    Seriously, I, find it difficult to believe that you and other evoloutionists don’t fully understand this and just raise this silly objection just because you like to yank our chains.

  22. markf

    Further to my remarks above on bad design, I’d like to make it clear that “bad” does not merely mean “improvable.” The eye could doubtless be improved in countless ways; but if it fulfills its designated end then it cannot be called bad – unless it does a poor job of seeing, in relation to the organism’s needs.

    In his Summa Theologica I, q. 25, article 6, reply to objection 1, Aquinas asks whether God can do better than what he does. He answers that God can always make a thing better “as regards the accidents” (i.e. by giving it more desirable add-on features, and thereby improving it as a thing), “although not as regards the substance.” For instance, God cannot make a hippopotamus any more of a hippopotamus than it already is. A hippo is a hippo, simply by virtue of being a creature of that kind. If, however, the word “better” is taken to mean “made in a better way” then Aquinas insists that God cannot make a thing any better than He makes it, because He cannot make it with greater wisdom or goodness:

    Reply to Objection 1. When it is said that God can make a thing better than He makes it, if “better” is taken substantively, this proposition is true. For He can always make something else better than each individual thing: and He can make the same thing in one way better than it is, and in another way not; as was explained above. If, however, “better” is taken as an adverb, implying the manner of the making; thus God cannot make anything better than He makes it, because He cannot make it from greater wisdom and goodness. But if it implies the manner of the thing done, He can make something better; because He can give to things made by Him a better manner of existence as regards the accidents, although not as regards the substance.

    Aquinas also cites the Biblical verse, “God’s works are perfect” (Deuteronomy 32:4) fifteen times in his Summa Theologica, and the Biblical verse, “God made man right” (Ecclesiastes 7:30) no less than four times.

    The clear implication of the foregoing citations is that in Aquinas’ view, there are no bad designs in Nature: everything is made with perfect wisdom and goodness. Hence if we discover apparent imperfections in Nature – e.g. pseudogenes, the laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, or the vertebrate eye – we should take these as a reflection of our ignorance, and try to look for a sound engineering reason why they were made that way.

  23. VJT:

    More than that, optimisation for a too narrow target invites brittleness once environment shifts.

    So, robustness demands trade-offs, a certain flexibility and variability.

    In addition, performance should be seen on the whole, in balance: is it good enough for evident purpose, as opposed to fitting any particular notion of what an ideal design should look like.

    In context, I seem to recall — kindly, confirm/correct — that the glial cells in the eye were recently seen as mini fibre conduits, helping improve the overall function. So, the backways wiring complaint has another layer of concerns. Aside from, the presence of a processor – the brain — shifts the balance of design constraints and opportunities. If we can give up some possibilities of the eye, but compensate in the brain, that may well be a reasonable compromise.

    The blind spot seems to be a capital case in point of optimising across the system as a whole not on the individual sub-system, which last is a known source of inferior overall system performance, termed sub-optimisation.

    For one instance, the eye actually produces an inverted image, righted in the brain. Decades ago someone did an experiment to use a lens to make the eye’s image right side up. He was disoriented for days, then the brain adjusted and he saw things right side up again!

    When he took them off the brain again compensated.

    Such reserve levels in the design are an awesome testimony to robust design that anticipated all sorts of challenges.

    GEM of TKI

  24. vj 20 and 22

    Sorry I haven’t time to give your lengthy comments their due. I think that molch has responded on the relative merits of the cephalopod eye. I would add there are plenty of colour blind mammals.

    The more interesting point is how you assess bad design.

    You write:

    So here’s the general method I would use for assessing whether an organ is badly designed. First, identify the genes coding for the organ in question. Second, identify a mutation in those genes that would yield a better design for the organ, and then bring about this change artificially. Third, verify that no other vital functions have been damaged in the animal, as a result of the change effected. Fourth, verify that the nature of the animal has not changed. For example, in relation to the vertebrate eye: is the animal in question still a vertebrate, after the mutation in its genes has been implemented?

    You are effectively saying it is not currently possible to assess wether an organism is badly designed. An “evolutionist” (which incidentally is pretty much coextensive with biologist) would argue by

    (a) pointing out obvious improvements which appear to be physically impossible

    (b) pointing out other organisms that implement improvements

    Neither of these are conclusive – but surely they are evidence – furthermore (to get back to the point of Cornelius post) they are something which biologists have the expertise to assess.

  25. This YEC on the point of giraffes or anything perceived to be bad structure.
    The fall changed and reaarranged all life. The giraffe didn’t look like it did in the pre fall world or the pre flood world. its entirely a adaptation. in fact my niece did a project on the okapi which is probably what a giraffe first looked like soon after the flood.
    Like in marsupials or our own selves there are less then ideal features. yet these are not from the creator but from adaptive mechanism, and themselves not great, that came later.
    The giraffe may indeed not be wired greatly. The wiring is not from God but from a process God put in that is itself defective even though successful..
    Fall and flood changes biology for YEC folks.

  26. No, that does not follow from what I said.

    Part of testing for intentional design is eliminating alternatives- parsimony- as in the minimum required to account for X.

    So demonstrating blind, undirected processes can account for X there isn’t any requirement for a designer/ agency involvement.

    If none can be found AND there is some specification (yes even “it looks designed” will be OK), then we infer design.

    1 step to falsify the inference and 2 steps to make the inference.

    markf:

    OK – I will modify what I deduce from your statements. I believe you are saying that

    (a) life appears to be designed

    (b) therefore it is designed unless we can identify a non-designed explanation

    Is that fair?

    Nope. I take it you ave reading comprehension issues.

    If life appears designed we have every right to check out that possibility. And to do that FIRST we have to eliminate alternatives.

    IOW markf yourpositin is given the first chances to “prove” itself. Strange ho it fails at very turn…

  27. markf:

    The cephalopods seem to manage OK.

    So do we. That blind spot only appears in very specific circumstances and it doesn’t seem to bother any athletes.

    I bet a cephalopod couldn’t hit a 95 mph fastball.

    markf:

    Because evolutionary theory only requires that an organism be good enough to survive in its environment.

    Yet evolutionary theory cannot explain the arrival of the fittest beyond saying “it just happened”.

    markf:

    This is only a problem for ID (if you believe the designer to be omnipotent and in favour of the organism’s long and productive life).

    Wrong again- ya see no one sai that the dsign had to be perfect and even if it started out that way that it had to remain so- thermodynamics and all…

  28. What good is half an eye/ vision system?

    If you understand how things work then it is obvious that it isn’t any good at all.

    Well perhaps as good as half a bridge.

    Ya see half a bridge isn’t any good for people needing to get to the other side.

    It is useless as a bridge- well because it isn’t a bridge yet.

    That brings us back to the eye/ vision system.

    If it takes a complete eye/ vision system for functionality then less than that isn’t of any help.

    And yes one can have a complete vision system that is faulty and that may be better than no vision system at all.

    But that isn’t the point.

    The point is until you get that complete system you have nuthin’ but parts. Parts that do not function as a vision system.

    The strawman enters at this junction- 50% of vision is better than 49%.

    Perhaps, but that isn’t the issue.

    Enter another strawman- we see organisms with a simpler vision system than we have.

    True, but each of those simpler systems is complete in its own right.

    The point being is that in order to respond to evolutionary issues evolutionists are forced to erect strawman after strawman. Then they tear those down and act all proud of themselves.

    Strange…

  29. “Evidence”(?) for the evolution of the vision system

    Andrea Bottaro said the following over at the panda’s thumb:

    Eyes are formed via long and complex developmental genetic networks/cascades, which we are only beginning to understand, and of which Pax6/eyeless (the gene in question, in mammals and Drosophila, respectively) merely constitutes one of the initial elements.

    IOW the only evidence for the evolution of the vision system is that we have observed varying degrees of complexity in living organisms, from simple light sensitive spots on unicellular organisms to the vision system of more complex metazoans, and we “know” that the first population(s) of living organisms didn’t have either. Therefore the vision system “evolved”.

    Isn’t evolutionary “science” great!

    I say the above because if Dr Bottaro is correct then we really have no idea whether or not the vision system could have evolved from a population or populations that did not have one.

  30. Joseph

    the eye is a sensor with a preprocessing capacity.

    Something has to write the visual processing software to make sense of the nerve pulse data. Even, if it is written as a collection of neural network connexions, it is still “software.” Something has to set it up and get it to function.

    And, visual processing software is not going to be simple to do!

    GEM of TKI

  31. Joseph #27

    Nope. I take it you ave reading comprehension issues.
    If life appears designed we have every right to check out that possibility. And to do that FIRST we have to eliminate alternatives.

    OK. So let me try again. Perhaps you can help with my reading problems. All I can work out from your sentence is that I should have rephrased it this way:

    (1) Life appears designed

    (2) We have eliminated known alternatives to design

    Therefore design.

    Or is there a step 3?

  32. F/N: Wiki survey art

    Quick snips:

    >>The visual system is the part of the central nervous system which enables organisms to process visual detail, as well as enabling several non-image forming photoresponse functions. It interprets information from visible light to build a representation of the surrounding world. The visual system accomplishes a number of complex tasks, including the reception of light and the formation of monocular representations; the construction of a binocular perception from a pair of two dimensional projections; the identification and categorization of visual objects; assessing distances to and between objects; and guiding body movements in relation to visual objects . . . .

    The retina consists of a large number of photoreceptor cells which contain particular protein molecules called opsins. In humans, two types of opsins are involved in conscious vision: rod opsins and cone opsins. (A third type, melanopsin in some of the retinal ganglion cells (RGC), part of the body clock mechanism, is probably not involved in conscious vision, as these RGC do not project to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) but to the pretectal olivary nucleus (PON).[5]) An opsin absorbs a photon (a particle of light) and transmits a signal to the cell through a signal transduction pathway, resulting in hyperpolarization of the photoreceptor. (For more information, see Photoreceptor cell).

    Rods and cones differ in function. Rods are found primarily in the periphery of the retina and are used to see at low levels of light. Cones are found primarily in the center (or fovea) of the retina.[citation needed] There are three types of cones that differ in the wavelengths of light they absorb; they are usually called short or blue, middle or green, and long or red. Cones are used primarily to distinguish color and other features of the visual world at normal levels of light.[citation needed]

    In the retina, the photoreceptors synapse directly onto bipolar cells, which in turn synapse onto ganglion cells of the outermost layer, which will then conduct action potentials to the brain. A significant amount of visual processing arises from the patterns of communication between neurons in the retina. About 130 million photoreceptors absorb light, yet roughly 1.2 million axons of ganglion cells transmit information from the retina to the brain. The processing in the retina includes the formation of center-surround receptive fields of bipolar and ganglion cells in the retina, as well as convergence and divergence from photoreceptor to bipolar cell. In addition, other neurons in the retina, particularly horizontal and amacrine cells, transmit information laterally (from a neuron in one layer to an adjacent neuron in the same layer), resulting in more complex receptive fields that can be either indifferent to color and sensitive to motion or sensitive to color and indifferent to motion . . . .

    The visual cortex is the largest system in the human brain and is responsible for processing the visual image. It lies at the rear of the brain (highlighted in the image), above the cerebellum. The region that receives information directly from the LGN is called the primary visual cortex, (also called V1 and striate cortex). Visual information then flows through a cortical hierarchy. These areas include V2, V3, V4 and area V5/MT (the exact connectivity depends on the species of the animal). These secondary visual areas (collectively termed the extrastriate visual cortex) process a wide variety of visual primitives. Neurons in V1 and V2 respond selectively to bars of specific orientations, or combinations of bars. These are believed to support edge and corner detection. Similarly, basic information about color and motion is processed here . . . >>

    Pardon, but that complex wired functional organisation screams design to all but the willfully blind. And the quantum of FSCI involved in “the largest system in the human brain” underscores that, on the already repeatedly given analysis of islands of function in large config spaces.

    We know that complex networked organised functional systems of nodes and arcs and interfaces (reducible to equivalent coded data structures) can be made by intelligent designers, per — almost routine — direct observation of such systems being designed and made, ranging from PCs to petrochemical plants and automobiles.

    What observational evidence do we have that shows such being formed by blind chance plus mechanical necessity without programming or other intelligent origin?

    After many months or even years of asking this or similar questions of MF and others of like ilk we still get this answer on the actual issue:

    chirp, chirp chirp . . .

    (Then, we see no end of distractors, strawmen [e.g here, the question is why a blind spot or a "reverse" wired eye, not wait a bit where did that complex functional organisation come from, on observational evidence . . . ] and snide dismissals . . . )

    No prizes for guessing why.

    GEM of TKI

  33. Onlookers (and Joseph):

    Observe how MF again — sadly, tellingly — ignores a relevant discussion on the way the EF works, cf what is now 12 above, as well as previous information over months or years. We also can observe how he has been twisting Joseph’s words into pretzels over Jospeph’s protests, skipping over specifically corrective points hinged to the way the design detecting explanatory filter works.

    Cf here for instance for an accessible primer, not to mention the remarks in the always linked here, and of course in the UD weak argument correctives top right on this and every page at this blog.

    Notice, too how as a result of the tangential questions above, the thread is being side-tracked by the game of tangent after tangent leading away from the substantial issue, which we may see in the OP:

    >> One thing evolutionists agree on is that their theory is also a scientific fact. It is a curious point of consensus given that, of all the many, many evolutionary claims, it is the one that is most obviously and undeniably false. It is not that evolutionists fail to prove their theory to be a fact. They most definitely have done so, many times over. But their proofs are not scientific. >>

    Cf discussion on the evolutionary materialists’ misuse of the term “fact” here.

    No prizes for guessing why so often we see this pattern. [Check out the Wiki excerpt in the just linked!!!]

    GEM of TKI

  34. Heinrich,

    That is a very honest statement. Too bad people keep saying “evolution is a fact.”

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....-fact.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....02743.html

  35. MF:

    This is without excuse:

    (1) Life appears designed

    (2) We have eliminated known alternatives to design

    Therefore design.

    Or is there a step 3?

    You know, or should know the explanatory filter, as say is discussed in the linked just above, or in teh UD correctives top right.

    You specifically know tha t your step 1 comes up because the item in question looks a reasonable candidate.

    You have strawmannised the explanatory filter process in your dismissive step 2:

    a: we know that contingent things that have beginnings are caused, which includes everything within the physical cosmos, including life.

    b: Such causes may reasonably and on a vast body of empirical evidence be clustered as chance and/or necessity and/or art, ever since at least Plato in The Laws Bk X. Cf Monod’s Chance and necessity for instance.

    c: each factor has demonstrable empirical traces, e.g. necessity yields low contingency on set initial conditions, chance leads to statistical distributions, and intent reflects things like complex functional organisation and associated information.

    d: In examining, the first step is to identify low contingency as lawlike necessity, e.g dropped heavy objects fall under gravity.

    e: chance and art lead to high contingency. Under chance a dropped die will tumble to rest from 1 to 6 more or less at random, if it is not loaded.

    f: a die can be intentionally set to read a given value by being loaded or just pt to read that value. A set of 200 dice all reading 6 will instantly be seen as so set by design, etc, or if we have a code and the dice read a message in that code etc.

    g: where we have seen that necessity and chance are not credible sources on experience, we also see that FSCI (1,000 or more bits of functionally specific, complex information) is in general experience a product of intelligent configuration. The internet etc stand in witness.

    h: so FSCI is a reliable sign of design.

    Can you provide a valid counter example?

    Obviously not, or you would have, long since.

    So, you know or should know that this is a well warranted inductive conclusion.

    In that context, strawman rhetorical games with words like just now to Joseph — and for some time in this thread — do not look good for your case on the merits, at all.

    You need to step up to the plate and give a solid shot, or stand exposed as resorting to distraction, distortion, and evasion.

    G’day sir.

    GEM of TKI

  36. Scheesman: “the amazing design benefits allowed by the creation of a blind spot”

    molch: “and what are those amazing design benefits again?”

    SCheesman: “If you are able to make your argument of imperfection without actually being able to demonstrate any actual detriment, why cannot I make an argument for perfection without having to enumerate any actual benefits?”

    I didn’t make an argument. You did. I asked you to support it. You didn’t. I usually only argue points that I can support.

  37. markf:

    (1) Life appears designed

    (2) We have eliminated known alternatives to design

    Therefore design.

    Or is there a step 3

    1- Living organisms exist

    2- One of the basic qustions science asks is how did X (in this case living organisms) come to be the way they are

    3- So we ask and try to figure out if living organisms can be accounted for via nature, operating freely, ie blind, undirected (chemical) processes-> can living oganisms be reduced to matter, energy, chance ad necessity

    4- If not then we ask is there a specification present?-> Biological function is a specification

    5- So we have something that exists and cannot be reduced to matter, energy, chance and necessity. Also by way of all our observations and experiences what we are investigating (in this case livng organisms) contain features that, in any other scenario, would point to agency involvement.

  38. see also Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

  39. I just read through this thread and it seems clear to me, as a disinterested (in this case) onlooker that our friend markf isn’t much interested in coming to grips with the truth about reality. I don’t see rational argument. Instead I see misreading, misunderstanding, mischaracterization, misstatement, and diversion. All unintentional, I’m sure.

    It is probably way past time for this to be said, but I have seen it time and again for years in the countless conversations I and others have had with the (take your pick, they’re all of a piece) darwinists, atheists, naturalists, secular humanists, materialists, physicalists, blah blah blah, and that is while they claim to be all about reason and evidence, the sorry fact of the matter is that they are all about a priori philosophical commitments (see Lewontin) that collapse into incoherence as soon as the first ray of light of reason falls upon them. To illustrate this, let me ask a question of markf.

    How do you account for the existence of information created by human beings? To be more precise, what are the prerequisites for human information? The obvious first prerequisite is humans. I’ll leave the rest to you.

    We’ll soon see who is wedded to reason and evidence and who is not. Happy New Year to all.

  40. #39

    tgpeeler

    I promise you I am interested in the truth. However, the main arguments have been repeated on this forum thousands of times. I admit my little exchange with Joseph was more just a bit of fun with the nature of the logic of the design hypothesis.

    To be more precise, what are the prerequisites for human information? The obvious first prerequisite is humans.

    I will try to be serious about this – but you are not going to like it and it is going to repeat old ground. To begin – there are many different shades of meaning to the word information. See here for a discussion about just one aspect of this I had a year or two ago about this. Can you be more explicit?

    Happy New Year

  41. Onlookers:

    MF, in his linked, starts out by conflating and confusing sign-signified though causal connexion, with symbol-signified through definitional convention:

    This makes a point which runs through much of the discussion. Words such as “information”, “symbol”, “code” and “meaning” are bandied about as though their use was obvious and unambiguous. In fact the ordinary English usage of these words varies greatly according to the context. And it is no help defining one of these in terms of one of the others (for example, information is data that means something, a symbol is a sign with meaning, a code is a set of symbols) – that just shifts the ambiguity. I don’t say that DNA is not a code – I just want to pin down what “code” means in this context.

    AUG in mRNA does not cause — per mechanical necessity — Methionine to be added to an amino acid chain. Instead, when it is in teh P-site of a ribosome, the tRNA with the anticodon that matches AUG, is so set up that on its tool tip end, methionine AA is held. This is then tipped over to the AA chain, and the Ribosome advances one unit of three on the mRNA.

    In short we are looking at an algorithm, where contingent possibilities have been organised and sequenced to achieve a remote goal, manufacture of proteins for use in the cells. In turn the AA residue chain as a whole is required to drive folding, where folds are isolated in AA chain space. Folding and functional groups are required for proteins to work.
    In short AUG is a chemical glyph, which symbolises Methionine, per a system of rules for such assignment. And, the actual functional results of proteins in action are remote from the action of tRNA taxi service and addition to an AA chain.

    Algorithm, data structure and rule-based symbols, not mere cause-effect bonds.

    GEM of TKI

  42. F/N 1: Onlookers, cf details and video simulation here, with the discussion of what it means that life is based on cells with metabolism and von Neumann type self-replication, both using an algorithmic, stored coded data based system.

    F/N 2: For useful definitions of key terms cf the UD glossary and compare concrete examples. For instance, here is the definition of information:

    Information — Wikipedia, with some reorganization, is apt: “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented [added nb: symbols are conventional -- as opposed to causally determined -- representations of meaningful objects or concepts, e.g. the letters of the alphabet that represent basically sounds used in language, Chinese style ideograms represent concepts, as do numerals like 1, 2, 3 . . . ] or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    That is, the best way to break the fever of definition-based objections on steroids — a particularly virulent form of selective hyperskepticism: in effect words are so vague and foggy we don’t know what we mean, so we can redefine or obfuscate in a squid-ink fog of confusion to our heart’s content then run away behind that cover — is to realise that definitions rest in the end on clustered examples with recognisable characteristics, and we see above how the cell instantiates a digital code and stored information based algorithmic information processing system.

  43. MF, taking you at your word…

    The kind of information I am talking about is the kind that we are exchanging right now. I’d like for you to tell me what is happening and how it is happening. When you do that, certain other things will become clear. And if they don’t, I’ll help. There is no need to unduly complicate this. It’s very, very simple. I think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument. They KNOW how it will turn out for them so they delay, distract, and deny obvious truths. What is information? Good grief. Surely “you” can do better than that.

    Staying on target… What factors must exist in order for information to be generated by human beings? And to start the ball rolling I’m throwing in the first and obvious factor, human beings. But there’s more, much more…

  44. #43 tgpeeler

    OK. There is an awful lot happening but I will concentrate on what I think is important to you. Let’s take just one sentence:

    I think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument.

    You are providing some information to me about what you think. Essential components of this include:

    (1) You have an intention for me to believe something about you.

    (2) You are going to achieve this by getting me to recognise that intention (i.e. Grice’s non-natural meaning)

    (3) I recognise this intention because of certain conventions that have developed about the use of written English.

    (4) It is true that you think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument (otherwise this would not be information but misinformation).

  45. markf, thanks for your reply. Let me add some comments.

    “(1) You have an intention for me to believe something about you.” I agree with this and to further abstract what I am getting at, we could merely say that the generation of information (in this sense) requires intention, or purpose.

    “(2) You are going to achieve this by getting me to recognise that intention (i.e. Grice’s non-natural meaning)” If I may reword here I would say I am going to (try to) achieve this by means of the content of my message. To further abstract, we could say that I am trying to cause a change (in you) by means of my message. In this case, then, information is “that which causes, or at least intends to cause, an instruction or intent to be carried out.”

    “(3) I recognise this intention because of certain conventions that have developed about the use of written English.” I think you would agree that the conventions of English, written or otherwise, boil down to a set of symbols, an alphabet, and a set of rules that govern the manipulation of those symbols into certain arrangements that have meaning. I think you would also agree that the manipulation of symbols in accordance with the rules requires the exercise of free will. To wit, I am not forced by any outside agency such as the laws of physics to type what I am typing at this moment. If I were being driven by an algorithm of some type based upon physical law then what you would see is something like this: jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj (classical) or this: hgieoahjvahijjoivo (quantum).

    “(4) It is true that you think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument (otherwise this would not be information but misinformation).” A quibble here about terms if I may. It’s true that I think that the anti-ID crowd runs screaming but that doesn’t make it really true, that they do. (That could be endlessly debated although my experience is that it is true. But it’s not necessarily true. There could be exceptions, like now, apparently.) And in any case, true or not, information, a message, is still being intentionally communicated.

    I submit there is one more requirement for information and that is rationality – the rules of rational thought or first principles, if you will. Things, including words, must be what they are and mean what they mean else rational thought is impossible.

    To recap. It looks like we are in substantial agreement (please confirm or deny) that in order to have information in the sense that we are talking about, the following things are required.

    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    And I would add one more as I reflect upon numbers 1-5 above and that is “mind.” Something must create the symbols, agree on the conventions, and exercise free will, intentionality, and the (one hopes, right) rules of reason. It appears to me that it is logically impossible for atoms to somehow organize themselves according to some set of immaterial rules in order to communicate an immaterial message. Thus the necessity for what we typically name “mind.”

    If I understand your position, it is that all of these things may ultimately be explained by reference to eons of time and the outworking of physical laws and constants. If my understanding is correct, then your task now becomes to explain 1-5 plus mind in terms of these laws and randomness.

    It’s easy to see where I am headed with this. If information in the human realm is something that expresses a message in order to achieve a certain end (bring about a change of mind or a specific action, say) then biological information, in this sense is undeniably the same. Instructions in DNA result in the creation of certain proteins and not others so that the organism can live.

    It’s also true that everyone on the planet that has thought about this in any serious way or has done any research into origin of life studies realizes that life and information are, if not synonymous, are at a minimum inextricably linked.

    Given that, and given that everyone also recognizes that the information technology found in microscopic cells that can reproduce itself, interact with its environment, and process energy is orders and orders of magnitude more complex than anything human engineers have been able to build gives us prima facie reason to consider intelligence as the source of this information.

    In fact, to my unschooled mind, the meager case I have presented in these short paragraphs seems to me to be enough to place the burden of proving otherwise squarely on the shoulders of those who deny the role of intelligence (mind) in biology.

  46. I hope that markf and tgpeeler don’t mind me intruding.

    tgpeeler:

    information (in this sense)

    In this sense is the key caveat. You’re talking about information in the sense of inter-human communication. Later you say:

    It’s also true that everyone on the planet that has thought about this in any serious way or has done any research into origin of life studies realizes that life and information are, if not synonymous, are at a minimum inextricably linked.

    But is it true that OOL researchers consider life to be inextricably linked with “information in this sense“?

    If I were being driven by an algorithm of some type based upon physical law then what you would see is something like this: jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj (classical) or this: hgieoahjvahijjoivo (quantum).

    Classical physics needn’t produce such obviously simply results. Consider a snowflake, or an n-body system, or a weather system.

  47. On “information” in the Shannon sense:

    The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.- Warren Weaver, one of Shannon’s collaborators

    Why is what Weaver said so difficult to understand?

    Kolmogorov complexity deals with, well, complexity. From wikipedia:

    Algorithmic information theory principally studies complexity measures on strings (or other data structures).

    Nothing about meaning, content, functionality, prescription. IOW nothing that Information Technology cares deeply about, namely information. Not only Information Technology but the whole world depends on Information Technology type of information.

    And both Creationists and IDists make it clear, painfully clear, that when we are discussing “information” we are discussing that type of information.

  48. Joseph:

    The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.- Warren Weaver, one of Shannon’s collaborators

    Why is what Weaver said so difficult to understand?

    Who is having difficulty understanding it? What’s difficult to understand is why you repeatedly quote this, when the definitions of information proferred by Dembski, Marks, Meyer, and Durston do not entail meaning, or even syntax.

  49. Joseph:

    Hence, functionally specific, complex information.

    That function is usually premised on data structures and algorithms, i.e. programs expressing prescriptive and descriptive information, or linguistic information, i.e. symbolic clusters of glyphs in words and sentences.

    DNA and RNA contain symbolic, digitally coded information in string data structures, and in the Ribosome, these control the step by step expression of proteins. Note, the anticodon end of the tRNA is OPPOSITE the tool-tip end that holds the appropriate amino acid to be chained.

    Then, on self folding or being chaperoned, possibly agglomerating and having an activating complex added proteins function in life based on the resulting final structure, driven by the stringed information content.

    Folding falls into distinct, isolated islands of function, the fold domains.

    Now, when we speak of this sort of meaningful and/or functional information, in every case where we see it being made, it is the product of intent and knowledge, backed up by skill. And, the isolation of islands of function joined to the complexity which means the space of possible configs is vast, means that the only reasonable source of such entities is design. For, the search resources of our observed cosmos cannot sample as much as 1 in 10^^150th part of the config space of just 1,000 bits of info storage capacity.

    So, the far more complex systems of cells that exhibit metabolic processes on proteins, and self-replication, point strongly to intentional configuration on knowledge and skill. That is, design.

    (And, when objectors to such an inference are called upon to show cases where undirected chance + necessity have spontaneously produced such information-rich functional organisation, they have been uniformly unable to do so. So, they have to address the fact that there is but one known source of the class of information and organisation involved, and it is intelligence.)

    GEM of TKI

  50. Rob:

    From the outset with Orgel, Polanyi and others, the issue of functionally specific, complex information as the relevant subset of complex, specified information, has always been on the table in the context of the information in the DNA etc of the cell. here is NWE, in its helpful article on Intelligent Design:

    Cosmologist Fred Hoyle used the term “intelligent design” in 1982, writing that unless a person is “deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design.”[2] Soon afterward, chemist Charles B. Thaxton was impressed by chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi’s argument that the information in DNA could not be reduced to physics and chemistry . . . .

    In 1984, Thaxton joined with materials scientist Walter L. Bradley and geochemist Roger L. Olsen to publish The Mystery of Life’s Origin, which criticized “chemical evolution,” the idea that unguided natural processes produced the first living cells abiotically, from non-living materials. The authors distinguished between order (such as found in crystals), complexity (such as found in random mixtures of molecules), and “specified complexity” (the information-rich complexity in biological molecules such as DNA). Relying on the uniformitarian principle “that the kinds of causes we observe producing certain effects today can be counted on to have produced similar effects in the past,” the authors argued, “What is needed is to identify in the present an abiotic cause of specified complexity.” Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen concluded: “We have observational evidence in the present that intelligent investigators can (and do) build contrivances to channel energy down nonrandom chemical pathways to bring about some complex chemical synthesis, even gene building. May not the principle of uniformity then be used in a broader frame of consideration to suggest that DNA had an intelligent cause at the beginning?” . . . .

    Geologist and philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer uses this “inference to the best explanation” approach to supplement the Explanatory Filter. According to Meyer, the subunits of DNA are like a four-letter alphabet carrying information “just like meaningful English sentences or functional lines of code in computer software.” This information cannot be reduced to the laws of chemistry and physics. In 2003, Meyer wrote: “The information contained in an English sentence or computer software does not derive from the chemistry of the ink or the physics of magnetism, but from a source extrinsic to physics and chemistry altogether. Indeed, in both cases, the message transcends the properties of the medium. The information in DNA also transcends the properties of its material medium.” So biological information is not due to natural laws or regularities.[28]

    Since a typical gene contains hundreds of such subunits, and organisms contain hundreds of genes, the information carried in an organism’s DNA is extremely complex. Furthermore, a living cell needs not just any DNA, but DNA that encodes functional proteins. To be functional, a protein must have a very specific sequence, so the information in DNA is not only contingent and complex, but also specified.

    In short, when Dembski et al speak of specified complexity, the informational context they primarily have in mind is not just the storage capacity in bits and/or the average capacity per symbol bearing in mind redundancy and divergence in frequencies of symbols from an alphabet, but the specification on function with a particular eye to DNA.

    Also, it is highly noteworthy that you do not speak at all of Abel, Trevors et al, who have done a quantification of functional sequence complexity, contrasting FSC to OSC [orderly] and RSC [random].

    When therefore, you cherry-pick the name Durston from the circle around Abel et al, and neatly omit that his quantification with the principals of FSC was premised on the functionality of the relevant information, that is sadly telling, utterly telling.

    The relevant biofunction of the protein families is precisely pivoted on the meaningful content of the underlying DNA strings in question [and on how much they can vary without undue loss of function], which have been translated into proteins.

    So, the information measures of the 35 protein families are based on meaningful, coded information giving rise to in vivo function.

    GEM of TKI

  51. RObb @ 46 “Classical physics needn’t produce such obviously simply results. Consider a snowflake, or an n-body system, or a weather system.”

    Duh. What do I need to do, write a dissertation on this? Of course classical physics can explain snowflakes, crystals, and weather patterns. But, uh, er, um, all of those things have one thing in common, NO INFORMATION. In any case this is irrelevant. How about you just falsify my claim by providing ONE example of information created solely by a physical law or an algorithm based upon a physical law? You can’t do it because you need SYMBOLS, RULES, FREE WILL, PURPOSE, RATIONALITY, AND MIND in order to produce information. What is so hard about this? Really.

    Go read Bernd Olaf Kuppers book “Information and the Origin of Life” for one, and then come back and tell me life and information IN THIS SENSE are not virtually the same. Or read Hubert Yockey’s “Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life.” Or read Dawkins or Crick or Monod or anybody writing about biology and you can’t escape INFORMATION in the sense of messages being communicated and causing other reactions. While you’re at it, call Johns Hopkins and all the other universities that have BioInformatics programs.

    From wiki “Bioinformatics now entails the creation and advancement of databases, algorithms, computational and statistical techniques and theory to solve formal and practical problems arising from the management and analysis of biological data.”

    They need to know right now that there is no information involved with biology. Seriously. Call now.

  52. Robb:

    A snowflake does not encode functionally specific, informational messages. Break it and you still have tiny ice crystals, just not so pretty and symmetrical. No message or function is lost.

    Its regularity is due to the forces and atom alignments of the somewhat polar H2O molecule. The diversity and complexity are due to random, micro scale atmospheric factors and the specific history of a given flake; e.g. the general shape type depends on temperature of formation.

    Weather systems, similarly do not encode messages on symbols arranged according to structural and meaningful rules.

    N body problems display great complexity of behaviour indeed, but that has nothing to do with storing functionally specific complex information on rules that specify symbols, alphabets, meaningful symbol strings, and implementing machinery.

    Why do you keep on diverting to such long-since corrected irrelevancies, as though they were counter-examples to the nature of meaningful, symbolic coded information such as seen in text strings in posts here, or in DNA strings that code for specifically functional proteins that have to go though a code-based chaining, then fold under internal or chaperoning forces, agglomerate and maybe have activating additions?

    And, the functionality of the protein molecule depends on its overall structure, based on the specific sequence of its amino acids. And, of course, the specific context it fits into in the cell.

    A snowbank is just a pile of snow crystals, and a snowball is just a ball of such crystals, with some regellation under pressure to make things stick together through partial melting and refreezing.

    GEM of TKI

  53. #45 tgpeeler

    To take your list of 5 things “required for information”:

    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    First an important but subtle point. I was talking about what is required for the act of transferring information between two humans. This is not the same as what is required for information in some abstract sense. This strikes me as almost meaningless question.

    I realise I made a mistake when I included conventions about written English in my initial list. It is highly convenient. But humans can and do transfer information without the use of any language, symbols or rules. Consider the game of charades where the information is the name of play, book or film and the rules require that information be given without the use of any language, symbols or rules. So I disagree with 1 and 2.

    I certainly accept that transferring information in Grice’s non-natural sense require someone to have an intention.

    Free will is very long and complex debate. However, if by having free will you mean the ability to make choices then I accept that it is required because having an intention requires making a choice.

    Rules of reason is another long running philosophical debate. To be honest I don’t really know what you mean in this context. I can hardly deny that” Things, including words, must be what they are and mean what they mean ” but that’s just a tautology.

    The key requirement for transferring information is the intention to create a belief in another person. As I have a materialist theory of mind this is no big philosophical problem.

    Later you jump to the “information” in DNA. This is something completely different. There are no intentions or beliefs associated with it. As I said the word “information” has many shades of meaning and this is very different shade. In fact I would say the use of the word information in DNA is nothing but a rather dubious analogy with the word in the human context.

  54. #46 Robb

    I just read this and realise it says more or less the same as I am saying. The use of the word information in the context of DNA is highly specialised and quite different from the word as used in the context of human to human communication.

    Incidentally snowflakes, crystals, and weather patterns can all contain information in yet another sense. Snowflakes contain information about the conditions in the upper atmosphere, crystals about the conditions under which they were formed, weather patterns about the likely temperature tomorrow.

    These different meanings of the word “information” matter.

  55. Onlookers:

    Re MF: Later you jump to the “information” in DNA. This is something completely different. There are no intentions or beliefs associated with it.

    Notice, how — despite repeated correction and abundant evidence, at this late stage, MF cannot acknowledge that DNA’s coded information is just that: coded, prescriptive information that tells the cell how to build proteins step by step. [As the linked shows, even wiki knows better.] Hence the resort to ever so revealing scare quotes.

    Let us excerpt wiki:

    Protein synthesis is the process in which cells build proteins. The term is sometimes used to refer only to protein translation but more often it refers to a multi-step process, beginning with amino acid synthesis and transcription of nuclear DNA into messenger RNA, which is then used as input to translation . . . .

    For synthesis of protein, a succession of tRNA molecules charged with appropriate amino acids have to be brought together with an mRNA molecule and matched up by base-pairing through their anti-codons with each of its successive codons [NB: how desperately wiki avoids explicitly saying: step by step procedure based on the coded genetic information in the mRNA, which is often a product of editing out of introns and assembly into the message string]. The amino acids then have to be linked together to extend the growing protein chain, and the tRNAs, relieved of their burdens, have to be released. This whole complex of processes is carried out by a giant multimolecular machine, the ribosome, formed of two main chains of RNA, called ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and more than 50 different proteins. This molecular juggernaut latches onto the end of an mRNA molecule and then trundles along it [i.e. this is a step by step process], capturing loaded tRNA molecules and stitching together the amino acids they carry to form a new protein chain.

    [One may see diagrams and a video animation of the process that makes it plain what is going on, here.]

    One of the rhetorical “advantages” of ignoring correctives, is that one may proceed at full steam on manifest error. This is sad.

    It has been repeatedly pointed out that DNA expresses a digitally coded, string data structure, with prescriptive, step by step assembly information for the creation of the workhorse molecules of the living cell in its ribosomes.

    This is information, it is meaningful, it is structured according to rules of meaning and the purpose of creating a functional molecule through prescriptive, step by step instructions. Moreover, its informational substance is not based on the mechanical laws of physics [which would preclude the high contingency required for symbol choice in a meaningful code] or chance [as, to reach deeply isolated islands of function in vast config spaces is maximally implausible by chance, on the gamut of the observed cosmos].

    By inference to best explanation, then, the most credible cause of the information would be design. This is underscored by the fact that we routinely observe just this same class of information being created — and, by his previous admission MF has worked in the relevant computer industry — this is by intelligent, purposeful, knowledgeable design. Carried out by designers.

    So, let us compare with the five rules TGP has put forth:

    1. symbols – yes, 3-letter codons

    2. rules (or language) — yes, the DNA codon code

    3. free will & 4. intentionality or purpose — yes, without freedom to choose alternatives, one cannot construct such a system

    5. rules of reason — design requires intelligent rationality

    Thus, the objections above are distractive and strawmannish.

    They tell us that the real issues do not lie in the evidence or what its best explanation on our experience is.

    Not at all.

    Lewontin has aptly told us what it is, back in 1997, in his infamous NYRB article:

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]

    There is a name for this: question-begging, leading on to ideologised closed mindedness. Closed mindedness that then — sadly, tellingly and inexcusably — ignores cogent correction and resorts to distractive and distorting strawman rhetorical tactics as the just above so sadly demonstrates.

    Surely, we can do better than this, much better.

    GEM of TKI

  56. F/N: On definitions:

    A: AmHD:

    >> in·for·ma·tion (nfr-mshn)
    n.
    1. Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction.
    2. Knowledge of specific events or situations that has been gathered or received by communication; intelligence or news. See Synonyms at knowledge.
    3. A collection of facts or data: statistical information.
    4. The act of informing or the condition of being informed; communication of knowledge: Safety instructions are provided for the information of our passengers.
    5. Computer Science Processed, stored, or transmitted data.
    6. A numerical measure of the uncertainty of an experimental outcome.

    7. Law A formal accusation of a crime made by a public officer rather than by grand jury indictment.
    infor·mation·al adj.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. >>

    Wiki (and note the use of a diagram illustrating the ASCII codes fro Wikipedia . . . ):

    >>Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is an ordered sequence of symbols. As a concept, however, information has many meanings.[1] Moreover, the concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation . . . .

    Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns. In this sense, there is no need for a conscious mind to perceive, much less appreciate, the pattern.[citation needed] Consider, for example, DNA. The sequence of nucleotides is a pattern that influences the formation and development of an organism without any need for a conscious mind. [notice how Wikipedia, reliably materialistic, neatly omits that we are seeing an algorithmic process that tells us nothing about the source of said information! While of course the only observed source of such prescriptive information that triggers a step by step process is intelligent designers] . . . >>

  57. F/N 2: Let’s put it another way: object code in machine language implies source code created by a knowledgeable, skilled programmer.

    Or, even if there is direct composition in machine code, there are symbols, codes, rules and a meaningful pattern that on the observed evidence — the other possible source of high contingency, chance, is not a credible means of searching a vast configuration space for the relevant islands of function — is best explained on intelligent design.

  58. markf

    (1) Life appears designed
    (2) We have eliminated known alternatives to design
    Therefore design.

    You have to concede that that makes a lot more sense than:

    (1) Life appears designed
    (2) We have eliminated known alternatives to design
    Therefore not design.

    Still, you are inaccurately describing ID.

    ID is the claim that

    1. Design is a phenomenon.

    2. It can be quantified.

    3. Aspects of biology match the quantifications of design.

    4. Life is designed.

    And since this process is potentially falsifiable and is based on observations of nature, ID is natural science.

  59. markf (#54)

    Happy New Year. Regarding the information in the genome: I just wondered if you’ve read Dr. Don Johnson’s latest book, The Programming of Life, yet (available at http://www.amazon.com/Programm.....0982355467 ). In the meantime, you might like to have a look at Dr. Johnson’s Website, ScienceIntegrity.net and especially this video on the information in life, or this one at http://vimeo.com/11314902 . These videos might give you a clearer idea about why the information in life is completely different from that contained in a snowflake.

  60. #58 Tribune

    Please excuse me but I really don’t want to go over all those arguments yet again.

  61. #59 vj

    Thanks for the reference but I don’t have time or money to read every ID book that is recommended to me and the video didn’t work (went into a loop).

    However, I don’t dispute that the nature of information in a snowflake is in some respects different from the information in DNA which is yet gain different from the information in a computer programme or an English sentence. In fact that is the main point I have been trying to make – information is a word with many shades of meaning.

    No doubt you are aware of Peter Godfrey Smith’s survey of some of the many uses of the word in the context of biology.

  62. Onlookers:

    The unresponsiveness revealed at 60 – 61 is revealing. I have commented on it at Null’s Hello World thread at 88, here, which thread also contains an earlier remark at 85, here, on MF’s unresponsiveness to corrections there, here. GEM

  63. Markf, there is nothing to argue about, just something to concede. ID is not what you said it was. Of course, even if it were it would still be more sensible than the alternative.

    the information in DNA which is yet gain different from the information in a computer programme

    That’s like saying the information in the code for Microsoft Word is different than the code for Apple Pages. It’s true but it misses the point.

    The point, of course, is that DNA is programming code.

  64. F/N: A snippet from Godfrey-Smith:

    ___________________

    >> The most distinctive biological role for informational concepts, and the one that has generated the most discussion, is in the description of the relations between genes and the various structures and processes that genes play a role in causing. For many biologists, the causal role of genes should be understood in terms of their carrying information about their various products. That information might require the cooperation of various environmental factors before it can be “expressed,” but the same can be said of other kinds of message. An initial response might be to think that this mode of description is entirely anchored in a set of well-established facts about the role of DNA and RNA within protein synthesis, summarized in the familiar chart representing the “genetic code,” mapping DNA base triplets to amino acids. However, informational enthusiasm in biology predates even a rudimentary understanding of these mechanisms (Schrodinger 1944). And more importantly, current applications of informational concepts extend far beyond anything that can receive an obvious justification in terms of the familiar facts about the specification of protein molecules by DNA. This includes: 1 (i) The description of whole-organism phenotypic traits (including complex behavioral traits) as specified or coded for by information contained in the genes, (ii) The treatment of many causal processes within cells, and perhaps of the wholeorganism developmental sequence, in terms of the execution of a program stored in the genes, (iii) The idea that genes themselves, for the purpose of evolutionary theorizing, should be seen as, in some sense, “made” of information.. >>
    ___________________

    the highlighted phrase — “” — is revealing, as “enthusiasm” implies excess rather than substance. Observe as well that he tendency of the excerpt is to distract attention away form what is known about the DNA, RNA, enzyme, ribosome protein synthesis process, the onward functionality of proteins based on their specific sequence, and the vital importance of proteins as the workhorse molecules of the cell.

    This is FSCI, a reliable signature of design. But attention now is shifted elsewhere, to what is exactly not at stake on the inference from sign to design.

    To set up a strawman on what is not at focus is a well known tactic. Onward,the highlighted phrase invites belittling and dismissal.

  65. R0b b:

    What’s difficult to understand is why you repeatedly quote this, when the definitions of information proferred by Dembski, Marks, Meyer, and Durston do not entail meaning, or even syntax.

    LoL! Information, in the sense that Dembski, Meyer et al., is all about meaning/ function.

    Meyer makes that very clear in “Signature in the Cell”.

  66. LoL! Information, in the sense that Dembski, Meyer et al., is all about meaning/ function.

    Your quote from Weaver and my response to it referred to “meaning”, not “meaning/function”.

    Dembski:

    To define CSI requires only the mereological and statistical aspects of information. No syntax or theory of meaning is required. For the ordered pair (T,E) to constitute complex specified information, an intelligent agent need only be able to identify the pattern T independently of E. How the intelligent agent identifies the pattern is irrelevant. In particular, the intelligent agent need not assign a meaning to the pattern.

    Is this a weakness of CSI? Not at all. Counterintuitive as it may seem, semantics, far from helping to detect design, can actually hinder its detection.

  67. kairosfocus @ 50:

    Also, it is highly noteworthy that you do not speak at all of Abel, Trevors et al, who have done a quantification of functional sequence complexity, contrasting FSC to OSC [orderly] and RSC [random].

    When therefore, you cherry-pick the name Durston from the circle around Abel et al, and neatly omit that his quantification with the principals of FSC was premised on the functionality of the relevant information, that is sadly telling, utterly telling.

    Joseph quoted Weaver, pointing out that Shannon information does not entail meaning. My counterpoint was that at least some ID leaders also define information in a way that doesn’t entail meaning. Why is it “sadly telling” that I don’t mention Trevors and Abel?

  68. tgpeeler:

    Duh. What do I need to do, write a dissertation on this? Of course classical physics can explain snowflakes, crystals, and weather patterns. But, uh, er, um, all of those things have one thing in common, NO INFORMATION.

    kairosfocus:

    A snowflake does not encode functionally specific, informational messages.

    Neither of these points has any relevance to my response to tgpeeler.

    tgpeeler said:

    “If I were being driven by an algorithm of some type based upon physical law then what you would see is something like this: jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj (classical) or this: hgieoahjvahijjoivo (quantum).

    And I responded that classical physics doesn’t necessarily produce simple results like jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj.

  69. R0bb,

    Dembski is just saying that we don’t have to know the meaning in order to say that CSI is present.

    And BTW function and meaning are interchange-able- as in if there is a function then meaningful informatin is present.

  70. kairosfocus @ 52:

    Why do you keep on diverting to such long-since corrected irrelevancies, as though they were counter-examples to the nature of meaningful, symbolic coded information such as seen in text strings in posts here, or in DNA strings that code for specifically functional proteins that have to go though a code-based chaining, then fold under internal or chaperoning forces, agglomerate and maybe have activating additions?

    When have I done that?

  71. Joseph:

    Dembski is just saying that we don’t have to know the meaning in order to say that CSI is present.

    Where did you get that idea? He explicitly says that CSI need not have semantic content:

    That is not to say that that semantic content is necessarily lacking from CSI. But it is not required. (No Free Lunch, page 147)

  72. Joseph:

    And BTW function and meaning are interchange-able- as in if there is a function then meaningful informatin is present.

    So according to your definition of “meaning”, EM waves from the sun contain a very important meaning, by virtue of the fact that their function is indispensable to biology. Perhaps an operational definition of “meaning” is in order so we can all agree on what has meaning and what does not.

  73. Yet the presence of CSI means there is intentional design. It means there was more than blind, undirected forces at work.

    A long sequence of prime numbers doesn’t mean anything. But if we detected that in a signal it would mean that someone intentionally put it there.

  74. R0bb:
    So according to your definition of “meaning”, EM waves from the sun contain a very important meaning, by virtue of the fact that their function is indispensable to biology.

    Yes R0bb, part of the design inference is that our sun was designed for sustaining living organisms on this planet.

    It is all in “The Privileged Planet”.

  75. Rob:

    Your attempted counterpoints were anticipated above.

    GEM of TKI

  76. tgpeeler:

    Or read Dawkins or Crick or Monod or anybody writing about biology and you can’t escape INFORMATION in the sense of messages being communicated and causing other reactions.

    If that is the sense of INFORMATION that you’re talking about, consider transfers of energy between hydrogen atoms. If a hydrogen atom emits a 10.2 eV EM wave, that means that the atom has transitioned from energy level 2 to level 1. If it is absorbed by another hydrogen atom at level 1, it will cause the atom to transition to level 2.

    How this is any less of a “message being communicated and causing other reactions” than gene expression? Certainly it’s less complicated, but your argument is based on the presence of information, not the presence of complicated mechanisms.

    (And since emission frequencies are discrete-valued, it’s digital information, to boot.)

  77. Onlookers (and Robb]:

    Cf 52 above; which responds to Robb at 46, further to TGP in 51:

    Robb, 46: Classical physics needn’t produce such obviously simply results. Consider a snowflake, or an n-body system, or a weather system . . .

    I reproduce my response so the just above note will be plain (especially without my esrlier remarks being sliced apart and and diced then having isolated snippets strawmanned out of context):

    _________________

    >> A snowflake does not encode functionally specific, informational messages. Break it and you still have tiny ice crystals, just not so pretty and symmetrical. No message or function is lost.

    Its regularity is due to the forces and atom alignments of the somewhat polar H2O molecule. The diversity and complexity are due to random, micro scale atmospheric factors and the specific history of a given flake; e.g. the general shape type depends on temperature of formation.

    Weather systems, similarly do not encode messages on symbols arranged according to structural and meaningful rules.

    N body problems display great complexity of behaviour indeed, but that has nothing to do with storing functionally specific complex information on rules that specify symbols, alphabets, meaningful symbol strings, and implementing machinery.

    [Insert, cf here TGP, 51: >> Of course classical physics can explain snowflakes, crystals, and weather patterns. But, uh, er, um, all of those things have one thing in common, NO INFORMATION. In any case this is irrelevant. How about you just falsify my claim by providing ONE example of information created solely by a physical law or an algorithm based upon a physical law? You can’t do it because you need SYMBOLS, RULES, FREE WILL, PURPOSE, RATIONALITY, AND MIND in order to produce information. >>]

    Why do you [i.e. Robb] keep on diverting to such long-since corrected irrelevancies [the snowflake example has been corrected ever since TBO in the 1984 The Mystery of Life's Origin and beyond to Orgel's 1973 paper that first explicitly spoke of specified complexity in the ID-relevant sense], i.e. it is a crystal, not a code] , as though they were counter-examples to the nature of meaningful, symbolic coded information such as seen in text strings in posts here, or in DNA strings that code for specifically functional proteins that have to go though a code-based chaining, then fold under internal or chaperoning forces, agglomerate and maybe have activating additions?

    And, the functionality of the protein molecule depends on its overall structure, based on the specific sequence of its amino acids. And, of course, the specific context it fits into in the cell.

    A snowbank is just a pile of snow crystals, and a snowball is just a ball of such crystals, with some regellation under pressure to make things stick together through partial melting and refreezing. >>
    ________________

    I think this excerpt makes it plain that Robb needs to actually address the substantial matter on the table, even at long last.

    Functionally specific, complex information, especially that associated with digital codes, is a reliable signature of intelligently directed configuration, i.e. design. That is a matter of billions of cases of direct observation, with no counter-instances where we have observed it coming about by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. All t5hat would be required for the objectors to this claim is to provide a relaible counrer-observaiton. They cannot, and the analysis of the relvant configuration space and he state search capcity of our observed universe tells us that such is going to be hard indeed to come by: our whole universe as observed, across its lifespan could not credibly scan through 1 in 10^150 of the states for FSCI of just 1,000 bits, equivalent to about 20 words in coherent and contextually responsive English, or a short part of a typical computer program. the DNA comp0lements of simple parasitic organisms start at over 100,000 bits of info storage capacity, and it is notorious that they code information digitally, info that guides the algorithmic step by step assembly of proteins.

    We reliably know a very good source for such FSCI, and we don’t know of any good empirically anchored reason to conclude that the alternative, blind chance and mechanical necessity, could get us to FSCI.

    Snowflakes, weather systems and n-body problems [cf my discussion of one such here] are utterly irrelevant to that, and so constitute a strawman led away to by a red herring distractor.

    Pardon, but it is high time we address serious issues on their serious merits.

    GEM of TKI

  78. F/N: Onlookers, I shakin’ me head — mi ca’an believe it!

    Robb needs to look here at the protein synthesis process as discussed by Wikipedia, and maybe at the video with narration in the context of my discussion here, then come back to us on how this is even remotely analogous to the quantum transition of a H atom that emits a photon of light. FYI Robb, a photon is not a coded signal, as is the genetic information we are specifically dealing with, quantum events are discrete state, but hey are not digitally coded information, and that should be fairly obvious. Even if we were to regard this as “yes I am here,” that would be one bit. Utterly irrelevant to the 1,000 bits threshold we are dealing with for inferring with high confidence to intelligently directed configuration or design.

    Of course the emission of a photon is a contingent event, and is a part of a contingent cosmos, with other interesting aspects.

    That points onward to a chain of causes that will trace to a necessary being at the root of our observed cosmos. And since we are here to observe the photon, as intelligent C-chemistry observers in a cosmos finely tuned for such life, that in turn points to a necessary being with the knowledge, intent and capacity to create a universe.

    Robb may well have intended a distractive beclouding argument, but he simply opens the door to the significance of the cosmological inference to design on a finetuned observed cosmos.

    So he now has two issues to deal with, not just one.

  79. Robb,

    you very well know the context of information being talked about is symbolic coded information (specifically functional ‘prescriptive’ information):

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC1208958/

    The main problem, for the secular model of neo-Darwinian evolution to overcome, is that no one has ever seen purely material processes generate functional ‘prescriptive’ information.

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

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_G.....ciple.html
    http://www.us.net/life/index.htm

    Dr. Don Johnson explains the difference between Shannon Information and Prescriptive Information, as well as explaining ‘the cybernetic cut’, in this following Podcast:

    Programming of Life – Dr. Donald Johnson interviewed by Casey Luskin – audio podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201....._life.html

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532/

    Deciphering Design in the Genetic Code
    Excerpt: When researchers calculated the error-minimization capacity of one million randomly generated genetic codes, they discovered that the error-minimization values formed a distribution where the naturally occurring genetic code’s capacity occurred outside the distribution. Researchers estimate the existence of 10 possible genetic codes possessing the same type and degree of redundancy as the universal genetic code. All of these codes fall within the error-minimization distribution. This finding means that of the 10 possible genetic codes, few, if any, have an error-minimization capacity that approaches the code found universally in nature.
    http://www.reasons.org/biology.....netic-code

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: “A monstrous ravine runs through presumed objective reality. It is the great divide between physicality and formalism. On the one side of this Grand Canyon lies everything that can be explained by the chance and necessity of physicodynamics. On the other side lies those phenomena than can only be explained by formal choice contingency and decision theory—the ability to choose with intent what aspects of ontological being will be preferred, pursued, selected, rearranged, integrated, organized, preserved, and used. Physical dynamics includes spontaneous non linear phenomena, but not our formal applied-science called non linear dynamics(i.e. language,information).
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    i.e. There are no physical or chemical forces between the nucleotides along the linear axis of DNA (where the information is) that causes the sequence of nucleotides to exist as they do. In fact as far as the foundational laws of the universe are concerned the DNA molecule doesn’t even have to exist at all.
    Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer
    http://www.signatureinthecell.com/

    God is God (HD Version)Steven Curtis Chapman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8u1in165g4

  80. Robb,

    you very well know the context of information being talked about is symbolic coded information (specifically functional ‘prescriptive’ information):

    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    Excerpt: Shannon information theory measures the relative degrees of RSC and OSC. Shannon information theory cannot measure FSC. FSC is invariably associated with all forms of complex biofunction, including biochemical pathways, cycles, positive and negative feedback regulation, and homeostatic metabolism. The algorithmic programming of FSC, not merely its aperiodicity, accounts for biological organization. No empirical evidence exists of either RSC of OSC ever having produced a single instance of sophisticated biological organization. Organization invariably manifests FSC rather than successive random events (RSC) or low-informational self-ordering phenomena (OSC).
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC1208958/

    The main problem, for the secular model of neo-Darwinian evolution to overcome, is that no one has ever seen purely material processes generate functional ‘prescriptive’ information.

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

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_G.....ciple.html

    Dr. Don Johnson explains the difference between Shannon Information and Prescriptive Information, as well as explaining ‘the cybernetic cut’, in this following Podcast:

    Programming of Life – Dr. Donald Johnson interviewed by Casey Luskin – audio podcast
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201....._life.html

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532/

    Deciphering Design in the Genetic Code
    Excerpt: When researchers calculated the error-minimization capacity of one million randomly generated genetic codes, they discovered that the error-minimization values formed a distribution where the naturally occurring genetic code’s capacity occurred outside the distribution. Researchers estimate the existence of 10 possible genetic codes possessing the same type and degree of redundancy as the universal genetic code. All of these codes fall within the error-minimization distribution. This finding means that of the 10 possible genetic codes, few, if any, have an error-minimization capacity that approaches the code found universally in nature.
    http://www.reasons.org/biology.....netic-code

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: “A monstrous ravine runs through presumed objective reality. It is the great divide between physicality and formalism. On the one side of this Grand Canyon lies everything that can be explained by the chance and necessity of physicodynamics. On the other side lies those phenomena than can only be explained by formal choice contingency and decision theory—the ability to choose with intent what aspects of ontological being will be preferred, pursued, selected, rearranged, integrated, organized, preserved, and used. Physical dynamics includes spontaneous non linear phenomena, but not our formal applied-science called non linear dynamics(i.e. language,information).
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    i.e. There are no physical or chemical forces between the nucleotides along the linear axis of DNA (where the information is) that causes the sequence of nucleotides to exist as they do. In fact as far as the foundational laws of the universe are concerned the DNA molecule doesn’t even have to exist at all.

    God is God (HD Version)Steven Curtis Chapman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8u1in165g4

  81. Robb, and yet if you want to take information ‘out of context’ to basic physics, the fact that all of reality reduces to transcendent information is not predicted from an atheistic/materialistic position, but is instead firmly a Theistic postulation,,,

    John 1:1
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    leading quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger has followed in John Archibald Wheeler’s footsteps (1911-2008) by insisting reality, at its most foundational level, is ‘information’.

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    Zeilinger’s principle
    The principle that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics.
    http://science.jrank.org/pages.....z17a7f88PM

    In the beginning was the bit – New Scientist
    Excerpt: Zeilinger’s principle leads to the intrinsic randomness found in the quantum world. Consider the spin of an electron. Say it is measured along a vertical axis (call it the z axis) and found to be pointing up. Because one bit of information has been used to make that statement, no more information can be carried by the electron’s spin. Consequently, no information is available to predict the amounts of spin in the two horizontal directions (x and y axes), so they are of necessity entirely random. If you then measure the spin in one of these directions, there is an equal chance of its pointing right or left, forward or back. This fundamental randomness is what we call Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
    http://www.quantum.at/fileadmi.....t/bit.html

    Quantum Entanglement and Teleportation – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5705317/

  82. kairosfocus:

    Onlookers (and Robb]:

    Cf 52 above; which responds to Robb at 46, further to TGP in 51:

    Robb, 46: Classical physics needn’t produce such obviously simply results. Consider a snowflake, or an n-body system, or a weather system . . .

    Once again, that statement is responsive to tgpeeler’s statement about classical physics producing a simple outcomes. Why do you keep complaining that it isn’t responsive to other arguments that it wasn’t intended to address?

  83. Robb,

    Really now.

    We saw again just above yet another instance of your red herring and strawman, on H atom UV emissions.

    The best reply to your latest distractor and strawman, is to excerpt TGP in 45 [just above what you posted in 46], as he sums up his main challenge — answered by neither you nor MF:

    __________________

    >> To recap. It looks like we are in substantial agreement (please confirm or deny) that in order to have information in the sense that we are talking about, the following things are required.

    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    And I would add one more as I reflect upon numbers 1-5 above and that is “mind.” Something must create the symbols, agree on the conventions, and exercise free will, intentionality, and the (one hopes, right) rules of reason. It appears to me that it is logically impossible for atoms to somehow organize themselves according to some set of immaterial rules in order to communicate an immaterial message. Thus the necessity for what we typically name “mind.”

    If I understand your position, it is that all of these things may ultimately be explained by reference to eons of time and the outworking of physical laws and constants. If my understanding is correct, then your task now becomes to explain 1-5 plus mind in terms of these laws and randomness.

    It’s easy to see where I am headed with this. If information in the human realm is something that expresses a message in order to achieve a certain end (bring about a change of mind or a specific action, say) then biological information, in this sense is undeniably the same. Instructions in DNA result in the creation of certain proteins and not others so that the organism can live.

    It’s also true that everyone on the planet that has thought about this in any serious way or has done any research into origin of life studies realizes that life and information are, if not synonymous, are at a minimum inextricably linked.

    Given that, and given that everyone also recognizes that the information technology found in microscopic cells that can reproduce itself, interact with its environment, and process energy is orders and orders of magnitude more complex than anything human engineers have been able to build gives us prima facie reason to consider intelligence as the source of this information.

    In fact, to my unschooled mind, the meager case I have presented in these short paragraphs seems to me to be enough to place the burden of proving otherwise squarely on the shoulders of those who deny the role of intelligence (mind) in biology. >>

    _________________

    Yes, deterministic laws of physics in complex situations can help give rise to complex effects, especially where chaos is involved. That is utterly immaterial to the question of he source of complex functional digitally coded information and/or similar “wiring diagram” style functional organisation of systems that achieve a definite collaborative function as a result, whether the network of a chemical refinery, or the micro-refinery of the living cell. (Onlookers, cf. here.)

    When I did counter-cult studies many years ago [onlookers, cf a case in point here], I learned that one trick is that manipulative and propagandistic groups major on minors and side issues and on polarising, and will zero in on the tiniest real or imagined fault they can find, to distract attention from the issue in the main.

    Do you know how your actions in this thread are therefore coming across to me, in that light of some pretty sobering experiences I have had of dealing with rescuing victims of manipulative and propagandistic groups?

    Let’s just say I would much prefer to see you focus on the main issues that have been put again and again and again.

    GEM of TKI

  84. OOPS: the comparative case of a refinery and a cell is here, also make sure to look at the biochemistry map of the cell’s metabolic operations linked onward from Fig I.2 (here it is). Awesome!

  85. kairosfocus:

    FYI Robb, a photon is not a coded signal, as is the genetic information we are specifically dealing with, quantum events are discrete state, but hey are not digitally coded information, and that should be fairly obvious.

    First of all, I was asking tgpeeler why such photons do not qualify as “INFORMATION in the sense of messages being communicated and causing other reactions”. Perhaps you could answer that.

    Second, if you want to add a requirement that the message be “coded”, why can’t we say that a 121.6 nm wavelength is code for “the hydrogen atom transitioned from level 2 to level 1″? Or, if you’re talking about a prescriptive message, a 121.6 nm wavelength is code for “the receiving hydrogen atom must transition from level 1 to level 2″.

    You might object that this mapping is dictated by the laws of physics, while the genetic code is not. Or you might object that translation is far more complicated in the case of the genetic code. But please explain why the mapping from wavelengths to energy level transitions doesn’t constitute a code. Does the word “code” entail something more than a mapping?

  86. kairosfocus:

    Yes, deterministic laws of physics in complex situations can help give rise to complex effects, especially where chaos is involved. That is utterly immaterial to the question of he source of complex functional digitally coded information and/or similar “wiring diagram” style functional organisation of systems that achieve a definite collaborative function as a result, whether the network of a chemical refinery, or the micro-refinery of the living cell.

    I never said that it was material to the question of the source of CFDCI or collaborative function or cells or anything else. For the third time, I was responding to tgpeeler’s statement that we would expect classical physics to produce a simple outcome. How many more times do I need to repeat this?

  87. Robb:

    Pardon.

    You are again going in circles with already adequately answered red herring and strawman distractor type objections.

    Kindly focus on the principal issue. E.g. can you account empirically for the origin of complex — and note 1,000 bits is a useful threshold for sufficient complexity to be pretty sure, coded, symbolic, algorithmic, data-structured digital information on blind forces of chance and mechanical necessity? Do you have specific counter-examples to the claim that we routinely and only see such info — e.g. program code, text in posts in this thread greater than about 20 words, books in libraries etc, — being created by intelligence, using symbols, rules, and intent to create a meaningful and/or functional message?

    If not, on billions of successful tests we have every right to infer that digitally coded FSCI — a relevant subset of CSI as identified by Orgel and further modelled and quantified by Dembski and by Durston, Abel Trevors et al, — is a reliable sign of intelligently directed configuration.

    Such FSCI, manifestly is at the heart of the cell, in its DNA, RNA and in its protein synthesis system. So, on the sign just above, we confidently infer that the cell with its dna is an artifact of intelligent design.

    Do you have a serious answer on the merits, not he strawmen and the red herrings or he recirculated already answered objections?

    Failing that, and if you keep on that rhetorical pattern I have again had to correct, then it is telling me something, and something I wish I would not have to even begin to think about, about what those who resort to such rhetorical tactics are liable to fall into.

    GEM of TKI

  88. kairosfocus:

    The best reply to your latest distractor and strawman, is to excerpt TGP in 45 [just above what you posted in 46], as he sums up his main challenge — answered by neither you nor MF:

    __________________

    >> To recap. It looks like we are in substantial agreement (please confirm or deny) that in order to have information in the sense that we are talking about, the following things are required.

    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    First of all, it is not clear to me which of those 5 items are required by definition and which are empirically observed to be associated with “information”. Perhaps you could clear that up. If none are required by definition, then is “messages being communicated and causing other reactions” a sufficient definition of tgpeeler’s usage of the term?

  89. F/N: onlookers, note how debate points over definitions of words that we know or should know the contextual meanings of — or can easily check out — are now surfacing.

    Let’s try on codes, just for a moment:

    ______________

    Wiki on the genetic code:

    >>The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA or mRNA sequences) is translated into proteins (amino acid sequences) by living cells. The code defines a mapping between tri-nucleotide sequences, called codons, and amino acids. With some exceptions,[1] a triplet codon in a nucleic acid sequence specifies a single amino acid. Because the vast majority of genes are encoded with exactly the same code (see the RNA codon table), this particular code is often referred to as the canonical or standard genetic code, or simply the genetic code, though in fact there are many variant codes. For example, protein synthesis in human mitochondria relies on a genetic code that differs from the standard genetic code. >>

    Wiki again, on the more general topic:

    >> A code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, phrase, or gesture) into another form or representation (one sign into another sign), not necessarily of the same type. [DNA's code fits right in here!]

    In communications and information processing, encoding is the process by which information from a source is converted into symbols to be communicated. Decoding is the reverse process, converting these code symbols back into information understandable by a receiver. >>

    AmHDict, 2009:

    >> code (kd)
    n.
    1. A systematically arranged and comprehensive collection of laws.
    2. A systematic collection of regulations and rules of procedure or conduct: a traffic code.
    3.a. A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages.
    b. A system of symbols, letters, or words given certain arbitrary meanings, used for transmitting messages requiring secrecy or brevity.

    4. A system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer; a computer program.
    5. Genetics The genetic code. >>
    ___________________

    Since Robb has raised these sorts of issues many times over many many months, and has been answered more than adequately, the recirculation of such distractions from the main issue begins to look like he has no serious or cogent answer on the main issue.

    GEM of TKI

  90. kairosfocus:

    Even if we were to regard this as “yes I am here,” that would be one bit. Utterly irrelevant to the 1,000 bits threshold we are dealing with for inferring with high confidence to intelligently directed configuration or design.

    If one photon carries one bit (and it’s actually more if you consider the different possible frequencies), then all you need is 1000 photons to reach the threshold.

  91. kairosfocus @ 88: So you’ve provided quotes and definitions showing that the genetic code is a code. Did I ever dispute that?

    A code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, phrase, or gesture) into another form or representation (one sign into another sign),

    Why does the rule that maps photon wavelengths to energy level transitions not meet this definition?

  92. Robb,

    Pardon some fairly direct suggestions.

    have you taken the few minutes to look at the linked discussions and videos that would answer to your questions, more than adequately?

    Resort to definitionitis is a distraction, when we have specific, adequate examples in hand, as well as UD hosts a glossary and a set of answers to common but weak challenges.

    Similarly, IDEA hosts a set of primers and FAQs, and NWE has an excellent general introduction to design theory here.

    You know or should know the answers to your objections, so why raise them again as though they have not been long since adequately answered, more than once and by several people at UD, not to mention a considerable body of references you may easily access?

    But then, all of this you should by now be quite familiar with.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  93. Robb: show us the symbol table whereby photons are assigned to an alphabet of code elements, and the context in which that set of symbols is used to store and implement algorithmic instructions like the chaining of specific folding and bioactive proteins. GEM of TKI

    PS: Actually, as recently as in the past few days, MF was challenging the idea that DNA was coded and expressed instructions.

  94. Resort to definitionitis is a distraction

    It’s certainly a distraction from vague rhetorical arguments. It is not a distraction from the kind of rigor required to challenge consensus science. Success in such challenges comes at a hefty price — you have to deal with details, including precise terminology.

    I recently pointed out that this recent paper from the Evo Info Lab is the latest in a long chain of papers, in which every responder was using a different definition of “information” than the respondee. Call me crazy, but I’d like to avoid that. And yet tgpeeler scoffs, “What is information? Good grief. Surely ‘you’ can do better than that.”

  95. kairosfocus:

    show us the symbol table whereby photons are assigned to an alphabet of code elements, and the context in which that set of symbols is used to store and implement algorithmic instructions like the chaining of specific folding and bioactive proteins.

    Show us the symbol table whereby the words in the sentence “I think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument” are assigned to an alphabet of code elements, and the context in which that set of symbols is used to store and implement algorithmic instructions like the chaining of specific folding and bioactive proteins.

    If you can’t, then would you please inform markf and tgpeeler that the prototypical example of information in this discussion does not, in fact, contain information.

  96. Robb, since the information in the DNA code, which greatly surpasses man’s ability to code, is not determined by chemistry where does the information come from?

    DNA Enigma – Chemistry Does Not Create Coded Information – Chris Ashcraft – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5542033/

  97. The Coding Found In DNA Surpasses Mans Ability to Code – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4050638/

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

  98. Robb please show me just one code being formed by purely material processes:

    Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life – Hubert P. Yockey, 2005
    “The belief of mechanist-reductionists that the chemical processes in living matter do not differ in principle from those in dead matter is incorrect. There is no trace of messages determining the results of chemical reactions in inanimate matter. If genetical processes were just complicated biochemistry, the laws of mass action and thermodynamics would govern the placement of amino acids in the protein sequences.” Let me provide the unstated conclusion: But they don’t.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-353336

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532

    Codes and Axioms are always the result of mental intention, not material processes
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1PrE2Syt5SJUxeh2YBBBWrrPailC3uTFMdqPMFrzvwDY

    A.E. Wilder Smith, DNA, Cactus, and Von Neumann Machines – John MacArthur – audio
    http://www.vimeo.com/11341080

    Information – The Utter Demise Of Darwinian Evolution – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4914327

    “A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor). It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. ,,,there is no known law of nature and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter. Werner Gitt 1997 In The Beginning Was Information pp. 64-67, 79, 107.”
    (The retired Dr Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the Head of the Department of Information Technology.)

    “In the last ten years, at least 20 different natural information codes were discovered in life, each operating to arbitrary conventions (not determined by law or physicality). Examples include protein address codes [Ber08B], acetylation codes [Kni06], RNA codes [Fai07], metabolic codes [Bru07], cytoskeleton codes [Gim08], histone codes [Jen01], and alternative splicing codes [Bar10].
    Donald E. Johnson – Programming of Life – pg.51 – 2010

    Robb since you will never be able to show me chemistry ‘intentionally’ forming a symbolic representation of something other than itself (a code), then intelligence is the most causally adequate explanation for this coded information we find in life:

    Stephen C. Meyer – The Scientific Basis For Intelligent Design
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4104651/

  99. Onlookers (and Robb):

    We have reached Reductio ad absurdum, a decisive point.

    The fatal admission against interest, however, is disguised as a challenge that thinks it is making a serious point:

    Robb, 93: It’s certainly a distraction from vague rhetorical arguments. It is not a distraction from the kind of rigor required to challenge consensus science. Success in such challenges comes at a hefty price — you have to deal with details, including precise terminology.

    Rob, 94: Show us the symbol table whereby the words in the sentence “I think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument” are assigned to an alphabet of code elements, and the context in which that set of symbols is used to store and implement algorithmic instructions like the chaining of specific folding and bioactive proteins.

    If you can’t, then would you please inform markf and tgpeeler that the prototypical example of information in this discussion does not, in fact, contain information.

    The above cited is of course a turnabout rhetorical attempt, and first implies by the absence of a table of photon codes, that Robb knows or should know that he has been abducting words form their context, substituting irrelevant examples, and then twisting plain meanings into pretzels, along the lines of “it depends on what the meaning of is, is.”

    But, let us take the matter in steps:

    a –> Robb knows or should know that for his words to appear in this thread, they have had to be encoded in ASCII (notice the code table at the top of the Wiki article!) or UTF codes, and also rendered in a markup language according to its symbols and rules as designed on a convention so that encoding, transmission reception and decoding under the scheme summarised for instance here in Fig. A.1 in the always linked can produce effective communication.

    b –> He also knows or should know, that for the above codes and markups to be effective, they have had to be processed in at least three computers, the one he used to send it, the one that received and stored it at UD’s ISP, and the one that the reader is using to read it. In turn, such processors work based on symbolically coded instructions and data structures used to give effect to algorithms.

    c –> All of these, routinely, are — and are commonly known to be — the product of intelligent designers.

    d –> Indeed, there is no significant counter-example, and that is why the twisted pretzel rhetorical attempt of suggesting that a 10.2 eV UV photon emitted by a H atom is a counter example that somehow can be force-fitted into the definitions, is so telling.

    e –> Now, the next step in no 94, was to twist the linguistic context of words into pretzels, to try to pretend that linguistic functionality is so utterly diverse from algorithmic functionality in import, that the word information cannot reasonably be used in common across the two.

    f –> But in fact, for good reason, “information” is common to the object code form of an algorithm, the ASCII coded and HTML [etc] marked up words and paragraphs in posts in this thread, AND to the other example that Robb is so eager to avoid, DNA.

    g –> Let us go to the UD glossary that Robb also studiously avoids, to see the first bit of why:

    Information — Wikipedia, with some reorganization, is apt: “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    h –> Making reference to the Fig A.1 [an adaptation of Shannon's classic diagram of 1948 also influenced by the ISO layercake information system model used for Internet transmissions], information in the relevant sense exists in a context of a source and a sink, using a sender and a receiver with a channel. For that to happen, information has to be encoded and/or modulated into forms suitable for transmission, propagation, and reception, then received, demodulated and/or decoded, and understood or algorithmically applied. For that to happen, there has to be a set of rules or conventions or protocols and symbols in common, constituting a code or more generally a language.

    i –> In the case of speech, If I were to read aloud Robb’s remarks of 93 and 94, I would first have to interpret the glyphs on the screen, using the conventions of English text. In reading them aloud, I would use my voice box, mouth, tongue etc to modulate vibrations in the air, which would propagate across to your ear, and on hearing, you would be able to recognise and understand what I said, by your own internal mental processes. You could then write the words down, even preserving their meaning in a translation into say Japanese.

    [ . . . ]

  100. j –> In mechanical systems, conventions define how analogue inputs are encoded as digital symbols — e.g even a keyboard is a crude form of A/D converter here [press key with "enough" force --> symbol recognised and stored]; then they are processed internally as ASCII text with markups, and on trigger signals are transmitted across the internet as switched packets with headers on various code conventions, and are received by the computer on the other end of the physical comms links, and are processed on the conventions in the relevant codes and protocols; all of which were very carefully designed and organised by engineers and programmers.

    k –> All of this is a commonplace, though if one wants to play at definitionitis, word pretzel rhetorical games, s/he can exploit the ignorance of the general public about the key processes of information and communication technology.

    l –> So, digitally coded symbolic information is common to textual linguistic contexts and to algorithmic contexts, and there is no fatal ambiguity. Indeed, to make the very objection that he has tried to make, Robb has mad to make use of that commonality of meaning, as he knows or should know. He thus contradicts his words by his deeds.

    m –> Hardly less significant is the second step of the reductio ad absurdum.

    n –> For, he studiously avoids addressing — never mind the links and videos above — and even tries to distract attention from the way that DNA implements a digital code, according to a table, and how this code is algorithmically expressed in a symbolic, meaningful way to chain amino acids in proteins,which then fold (perhaps with assistance) into functional folds dependent on the way the chain as a whole is composed, and on the resulting key-lock shapes, function in the cell as its workhorse molecules.

    o –> In other words, the DNA-> mRNA -> Ribosome + tRNA system (with supporting molecules) constitutes a digital symbolic communication system that implements algorithmic steps to produce a functional product whose functionality is critically dependent on the information. (Indeed, protein fold domains are a demonstration of islands of isolated function in a vast configuration space.)

    p –> We routinely observe and know just one cause of such things that manifest dFSCI (digitally coded FSCI): intelligence. We have analyses that tell us that on the gamut of our observed cosmos, blind chance + mechanical necessity (the other available causal forces) could not scan as much as 1 in 10^150 of that config space, i.e. the potential scope of blind search is effectively no search at all.

    q –> So, we confidently infer [inviting a real counter-example, not something of the ilk of on pretzel twisting we suggest a photon) that dFSCI in particular (and FSCI more genrally, too) is an empirically reliable sign of intelligent cause, similar to how sufficiently long -- about 20 typical words will do nicely thank you -- text in coherent English is a good example of intelligent cause.

    r --> On this, we have excellent reason to infer that DNA and the system of molecular machines that makes it work in the cell is a case of design in the biological world.

    s --> This is no vague rhetorical argument, and Robb knows that.

    t --> On the contrary, the above -- being anchored to specific ICTs, linguistic and biological cases -- is more than adequately clear, specific and precise that it constitutes a key -- and understood -- challenge to the materialist establishment in biology and related fields.

    u --> And, sufficient details have long been on the table for that to be plain, starting with the original design theory technical work, Thaxton et al in The Mystery of Life's Origin [warning, large PDF download], in 1984, which in turn responds to the trend of origin of life studies since the 1950′s – 60′s.

    v –> And, the pretzel-twisting word games and distractive examples of the ilk of snowflakes and UV photons, on the work of Dembski, Marks, Meyer, Durston, Abel, Trevors, Minnich et al do not impress us. (Even, the always linked for this commenter [click on my handle], at a far humbler level, is enough. So also, is the 101 level summary here.)

    _____________________

    In short, the reduction to absurdity inadvertently presented by Robb above tells us the true balance of the issue on the merits.

    For, by direct observation and by related analysis of the implicaitons of islands of specific function in vast config spaces, we have every good reason to see that dFSCI — digitally coded, functionally specific complex information — is an empirically reliable sign of intelligently directed configuration, i.e of design. So also is the associated functionally specific complex organisation that makes the coded complex information work.

    And, the presence of TGP’s five elements:

    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    . . . in the context of information networks that physically encode, transmit, receive and decode or algorithmically implement the resulting messages, is a strong sign of the intelligently designing mind at work in the origin of life and of its body plan level biodiversity.

    This is sufficient to trigger a major scientific revolution, and that revolution is in fact underway. Never mind what the materialistic magisterium is doing to ruthlessly defend its turf.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, do you see why the word-pretzel games that we have seen above force me to use such specific terms and such elaborated details in my remarks?

  101. F/N: TGP of course explained in 45 and other places how his five elements are functionally necessary to effect symbolically coded communication of meaningful messages. Let me draw out a bit:

    ________________

    >>1. symbols

    a –> Without distinct symbols, there would be confusion not communication

    b –> Just check out your friendly local ASCII table, or the distinct alphanumeric symbols used in English text, or the extensions used in mathematics.

    2. rules (or language)

    c –> For symbols to function, there must be a convention in common on what hey symbolise or mean.

    d –> e.g. e is a particular sound, and the elongated S in mathematics means the carrying of a process of summation to a limit in a calculus context.

    e –> Similarly, cf the use of symbols in this post in accord with rules of text, spelling, and grammar in English.

    3. free will

    f –> Unless there is contingency, we cannot have symbols and communication. If my keyboard has only j, I could not type text in English, I would be forced to do: jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj . . .

    g –> Just so, mechanical necessity of nature cannot account for contingency like that, as under the same conditions the same result will happen. A heavy, unsupported object near the earth’s surface, reliably falls towards the earth’s centre as the mass of the earth distorts the local space-time though what we call the force of gravity.

    h –> There are two main sources of contingency: chance and choice. The former produces only stochastic patterns, and in cases of sufficient complexity such will not be meaningful. E.g., keying at random: sfjwgh873reufwevb3fgu9 . . .

    i –> Choice contingency driven by a directing, choosing mind, can produce informative communications such as this sentence.

    j –> Nor is this a new observation, it is in TMLO ch 8 ever since 1984, in this specific context. Just, being inconvenient, it is ignored in the rush to snow it under with distractive objections.

    4. intentionality or purpose

    k –> Choice must be towards purpose to communicate, or the result will not be an intelligible message.

    l –> In the case of algorithmic messages, that choice has to be structured in a format that a machine organised in an equally purposeful way, can receive, decode and act on.

    m –> Thus, the classic fetch, decode, execute algorithmic cycle of instruction execution.

    n –> Observe in this regard how the cell unwinds DNA, tanscribes it to RNA, then snips off introns and stitches back together extrons, forming mRNA. mRNA is pased to the cytoplasm, where ribosomes latch on to the start points, and begin to execute step by step, locking in the relevant amino acid loaded tRNA [why doesn't the unloaded tRNA compete for its rights to latch on?], then tip over the tRNA’s arm, triggering the tool tip to unload the amino acid; locking it into the emerging protein chain. Then we halt on hitting a stop codon. The he detached protein folds and is put to work.

    o –> That is a purposeful, step by step, information code guided algorithmic process.

    p –> one that predates cell based life and is foundational to it. Life is the product of purposeful intelligence.

    5. rules of reason

    q –> Without these [stability of identity, non-confusion of distinct things, recognition that alternatives are alternatives, the use of cause-effect bonds and chains], none of the above is possible >>

    _________________

    In short, the five functional prerequisites are plainly valid. it is not a matter of definitionitis word-pretzel games.

  102. R0bb @ 87

    “First of all, it is not clear to me which of those 5 items are required by definition and which are empirically observed to be associated with “information”. Perhaps you could clear that up. If none are required by definition, then is “messages being communicated and causing other reactions” a sufficient definition of tgpeeler’s usage of the term?”

    Here are the five prerequisites, as far as I can tell, for the (human) origination, communication, and reception of information.
    1. symbols
    2. rules (or language)
    3. free will
    4. intentionality or purpose
    5. rules of reason

    I don’t think of these as “required” by definition or empirically observed. The way I would describe this list is that the items in it are logically required AND empirically observed in ALL cases of human information.

    What I mean by logically required is this. If there is no language, i.e. a set of symbols and rules, then there is no possible way to encode information. The symbols of the language may not be an alphabet. They may be pictograms or braille or sign language or musical notes or whatever. Everyone gets this. It’s impossible for any of us to even think apart from some language. It’s the way in which we formulate and frame our thoughts.
    If there is no free will then there is no ability to use the language to create the information. Free will is required as I must be able to pick and choose from among the available symbols so as to arrange them in a specific order according to the rules (vocabulary, grammar, syntax) of the language so as to create information, or a message, we could also say.

    If there is no intentionality or purpose (Dawkins and others deny the existence of real purpose in the universe. Therefore, his metaphysics asks us to ignore him, even as he tries mightily to convince people of the truth of his claims. I suggest that we “listen” to his metaphysics and ignore him. It’s all his thinking deserves, really.) then there is no information and no communication. We can see this with the modus tollens form of argument. If I didn’t intend to be writing this post then I wouldn’t be writing this post. But I am writing this post. Therefore, I do intend to write this post.

    The rules of reason, or first principles, or laws of rational thought, whatever makes sense for you, are Identity, Non-contradiction, Excluded middle, and Sufficient causality. They are foundational, that is required, for all rational thought. All communication relies upon this principle even though the communication itself may deny these laws. For example, I can say that I do not exist but this presumes that “I” refers to me, that I do in fact exist (else how could I say that I didn’t?) and that I cannot exist and not exist. So rational thought is required for the creation of information.

    In that sense, these prerequisites are logically necessary.

    In the empirical sense, you will never find human communication that does not have all five of these components. Examine every book ever written. Examine every letter ever written. Examine every speech ever made. Examine every piece of software ever written. You will ALWAYS find these five elements present.

    The problem that this creates for the ontological naturalist (or physicalist) is threefold.

    First, none of these things on my list can be explained by reference to physical laws. So we see modus tollens again. If naturalism were true, then physics could explain everything. But physics cannot explain symbols, or rules, or free will, or intentionality, or rationality. So naturalism is false. The connection between the antecedent and the consequent is a necessary one since that’s part of the definition of naturalism – the causal closure of nature. Therefore, the conclusion is certain. It’s necessarily true. It cannot be anything but true. Ontological naturalism is FALSE.

    The second problem is obvious. Since these things cannot be explained, they are merely denied.

    The third problem is equally obvious. One cannot deny the existence of information (and thus language, free will, intentionality, and rationality) without using information. The claim that “information does not exist” is ludicrous on the face of it because the statement contradicts itself.

    The result is this. If you subscribe to some sort of “serious” ontological naturalism (the natural, material, physical world is all there is, roughly) then you lose. Game over. You don’t have a rational or empirical leg to stand on. Come on over to the light. You will see a lot more clearly here, I promise.

  103. #102 tgpeeler

    Welcome back – I thought maybe you had “run screaming from the argument”:-)

    I am not sure if you ever read my last response in our little discussion #53.

    Just to remind you of the key points and expand a tiny bit:

    Symbols and rules.

    Surely there is human information which does not use either. The game of charades specifically forbids both in transferring information about the title of a song or play. If you don’t find that convincing imagine an explorer meeting a tribe which is making its first contact with the outside world. The explorer wants to convey to the tribe that he has discovered a source of water. He leads one of tribe members by the hand to the source and shows it to them. Where is the symbol or rule in that?

    I wont speak for R0bb, but I have no problem with a materialist account of intention, free will or the rules of reason. All three are long debates, but they are not specific to transferring information.

  104. Onlookers:

    MF, unfortunately, continues to be diversionary.

    Linguistic communication, whether in ordinary language or in codes such as in computers, is based on symbols and rules, that must be contingent, intelligently directed and purposeful. Charades is a game [with its own communication rules and imitative signs, as opposed to symbols], not a language.

    Materialistic “accounts” of free will, and of the rules of reason amount to their denial, and end in the absurdity of using TGP’s 5 factors to try to deny their actuality.

    For instance, here is Crick in his The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.. . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    This is clearly self-referential, and it is incoherent, as it logically means that Crick’s communications are driven and controlled by factors that are irrelevant to purpose, truth or logical sense.

    Cornell U prof of the history of biology, William Provine in the notorious 1998 Darwin Day address at the University of Tennessee, falls into the same trap:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    Including Professor Provine when he made his remarks? And, if not, then we have no reason to trust our ability to seek, learn, discover or communicate the truth. Indeed, I have posted at UD on the subject of the inescapable self-refuting incoherence and amorality of evolutionary materialism, here.

    Now, I have no illusions that MF has any intention of responding to anything I post, but let the record show that a corrective was put in place.

    For more on MF’s materialist talking points agenda, cf here on, esp at 88.

    G’day,

    GEM of TKI

  105. F/N: Distractors aside, we are no closer to a credible materialistic account of the spontaneous origin of the DNA code, and ot its use to make functional proteins, or to adapt such to new body plans. Nor have we seen a credible observed case of dFSCI originating by undirected chance + mechanical necessity. The only credible source of dFSCI on the table is design.

  106. kairosfocus @ 99-101:

    In your reply of 2000+ words, I can’t find a response to the challenge in 94. You elaborate on the mechanisms for communicating the words, but the words map to conceptual definitions, not to instructions. DNA, on the other hand, carries prescriptive information — i.e. it is in a “context in which that set of symbols is used to store and implement algorithmic instructions like the chaining of specific folding and bioactive proteins”. I don’t regard the sentence “I think that’s why the anti-ID crowd runs screaming from this argument” as prescriptive information.

    I’m sure you can argue that English words really do map to algorithmic instructions, and that “change from energy level 1 to level 2″ does not count as an algorithm, and that you can somehow defend your requirement that photon emissions map to an algorithmic instructions even though your proffered definitions of information don’t mention this requirement. But I’m not interested in this kind of rhetorical debate.

    Taking a step back, I entered this discussion to address tgpeeler’s argument, not yours, much less ID as a whole. Tgpeeler is arguing from metaphysics — he says that “physics cannot explain symbols, or rules, or free will, or intentionality, or rationality”. The apparent corollary is that physics cannot explain genetic information. Note the absence of a 500-bit or 1000-bit threshold. According to tgpeeler’s argument, physics cannot explain even a single bit of information.

    This argument is not the same as the common ID empirical argument, in which some property (e.g. CSI) is claimed to be found only in known products of design (i.e. human artifacts) and biology. To comment on the latter argument briefly, I personally don’t think that IDists have succeeded in coming up with a scientific definition of such a property, but I think that they could. Once they do, they have a much bigger hurdle to get over. They need to explain why inferring that biology is designed is the best conclusion, rather than concluding that we humans can produce CSI-rich artifacts because of our own biological CSI. Dembski insists that we follow the CSI regress back to its source, but he arbitrarily stops with humans, ignoring the fact that the human brain is CSI-rich.

    I hope you’ll pardon me if I return to the issue at hand, namely tgpeeler’s argument, and henceforth ignore dFSCI and everything else that you’ve introduced into the discussion. In my opinion, expanding the scope of the discussion beyond a focused issue is counterproductive. If we’re going to knock down the wall between IDists and their opponents, we can’t do it all at once — we have to chip away at a brick at a time.

  107. Robb:

    Program codes embed and entail just as much of conceptual information, once you recognise that programs implement algorithms and require data structures and conventions for their use towards targetted functions, as I have stated, and as TGP has.

    Object code in our observation is not the undirected, spontaneous product of time, chance and the impersonal. Once dFSCI is detected, we have every right to infer design as its most credible and only directly observed source.

    So, kindly stop the word pretzel games.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  108. F/N: As a physicist who has worked with information and communication and control systems, and speaking scientifically, physical forces — strong and weak nuclear, electromag, and grav, do not explain codes, information, language, algorithms, data structures or programs as the spontaneous product of physical forces and chance circumstances acting on material objects and energy in space-time. Your attempt, Robb, to pretend that the emission or absorption of a photon of light is an informational transaction: source, encoder/modulator, channel, receiver, demodulator/decoder and sink — is past ludicrous, it is word pretzel games. period.

  109. F/n 2: Onlookers, it is quite evident that Robb has no answer to the empirically based point that digitally coded, functionally specific complex information [e.g think of the TCP/IP stuff that is necessary for sending this post across the Internet] is in our experience and analysis only credibly known to be a product of intelligent action. So, we have good reason to treat it as a sign of intelligence. That humans are secondary sources of such dFSCI — as the cells in our bodies point to a prior source — simply underscores that there is a primary souirce. We note that we are the only commonly observed source of complex conceptual coded verbal language, and that our intelligence is verbally expressed much as TGP sums up. That intelligence and verbal proficiency are the source we observe when we directly see dFSCI being formed, and we have no good account on physics or any other science of any but an intelligent source for such. Robb, unfortunately then wishes to dismiss what is material to the issues raised by TGP, which he has no sound answer to. Sad, and sadly revealing.

  110. tgpeeler @ 102: Thanks for the clarification. If none of the 5 items are part of the definition of “information”, then we’re still left with the question of whether “messages being communicated and causing other reactions” is a sufficient definition.

    It certainly seems that information can be communicated, even between humans, without some of the 5 items. Markf pointed out the game of charades, which seems to involve information being communicated, and kairosfocus pointed out that no language is involved in this game. And when I see someone crying, the fact that they are upset is communicated, even though no language or intentionality is involved.

    physics cannot explain symbols, or rules, or free will, or intentionality, or rationality

    To support the claim that physics cannot in principle explain these things, you would have show that none of them supervene on physical state and physical laws. How do you propose to do that?

    There is also the question of what is entailed by “physics”. The physics of a century ago couldn’t explain the precession of Mercury’s perihelion, but today’s physics can. How do we show that something cannot possibly be explained by tomorrow’s physics?

  111. markf @103 “Surely there is human information which does not use either. The game of charades specifically forbids both in transferring information about the title of a song or play. If you don’t find that convincing imagine an explorer meeting a tribe which is making its first contact with the outside world. The explorer wants to convey to the tribe that he has discovered a source of water. He leads one of tribe members by the hand to the source and shows it to them. Where is the symbol or rule in that?”

    This is, not to put too fine a point on it, ridiculous. Kairos has already dealt with the charades charade so I will leave that alone. As to the explorer… the explorer can’t communicate AT ALL with the tribesmen unless they share some symbols (or signs – sigh, has it come to this?) in common. While it is true that he can put someone’s nose in the water so what? At some point, he had to convince the recalcitrant tribesman to accompany him, did he not? He had to communicate somehow that it was his intention to show him something, did he not? And once he got the (German) tribesman to the water didn’t the German think “Wasser” and the American think “water” or “H2O”? THERE IS NO THOUGHT, NO INFORMATION, WITHOUT SYMBOLS (OR SIGNS), RULES, FREE WILL, INTENTIONALITY, AND RATIONALITY. If two people are speaking a different language then they need a TRANSLATOR to convert from one language to another. In this case there can be no communication without a translator. I cannot believe you seriously think this proves your point or even illustrates your point.

    “I wont speak for R0bb, but I have no problem with a materialist account of intention, free will or the rules of reason. All three are long debates, but they are not specific to transferring information.”

    I am sure you have no problem with any of those things but that is not the point. You may have no problem in believing that politicians have the good of the republic at heart, too, so what? That you have no problems with materialist accounts of abstract things merely points out deficiencies in your reasoning processes. (At least you could do the intellectually consistent thing and deny the existence of all things abstract. That would at least be a place to start.) They are not long arguments. They are very simple arguments.

    You say that intention, free will, and reason have nothing to do with the transfer of information as if that makes a point. So information can be transferred without first being created? Is that what you are implying? Perhaps in the unique universe you occupy you did not really intend to compose your last post and perhaps you did not exercise free will when you typed it out and perhaps you did not employ the rules of reason but please explain how you did not. Oh wait, you can’t. How can this not be obvious to anyone? That one cannot take the laws that govern the behavior of physical things and explain non-physical things? What is so mysterious or difficult about this concept? You cannot explain the laws of reason in terms of the laws of physics. Sheesh. But just to make the point…

    Tell me what law or laws of physics can explain the following syllogism:

    All b’s are less than c’s.
    All a’s are less than b’s.
    Therefore, all a’s are less than c’s.

    Or this. What law or laws of physics can explain why a^2 + b^2 = c^2 in reference to right triangles?

    At least do me the favor of making this interesting. Happy New Year.

  112. tgpeeler:

    That you have no problems with materialist accounts of abstract things merely points out deficiencies in your reasoning processes. (At least you could do the intellectually consistent thing and deny the existence of all things abstract. That would at least be a place to start.)

    Are you saying that abstractions cannot supervene on material phenomena? If they can, then why would such cases not be considered material accounts of abstractions?

    Tell me what law or laws of physics can explain the following syllogism:

    All b’s are less than c’s.
    All a’s are less than b’s.
    Therefore, all a’s are less than c’s.

    That syllogism is entailed by the fact that “less than” is transitive by definition. That definition is entailed by thoughts stored in our minds and text stored on many different media. Hopefully we agree that the media are material, so the only question is whether our stored thoughts supervene on our brain states or not.

    Of course, we cannot currently resolve the latter question scientifically, which is why philosophers still debate it. But our thoughts either supervene on something (call it X), or they are fundamental entities. So what property does X or thought have that justifies it being classified as immaterial?

  113. tgpeeler, as a minor sidenote, an optimally efficient language has no syntax rules. Consider the language that expresses positive integers using the alphabet {0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9}. Any combination of symbols is grammatical.

  114. tgpeeler #111

    I am sorry but I not going to continue this. You can call it running away if you like, but I am not interested in a debate unless it is conducted on the basis of mutual respect or at least mutual politeness.

  115. Robb:

    Do you realise the implications of your:

    That syllogism is entailed by the fact that “less than” is transitive by definition. That definition is entailed by thoughts stored in our minds and text stored on many different media. Hopefully we agree that the media are material, so the only question is whether our stored thoughts supervene on our brain states or not.

    Let’s take one medium, paper: ink squiggles on paper carry no inherent meaning, nor do they “entail” anything. The squiggles are glyphs that are used as English or mathematical-logical etc symbols. Unless someone knows how to read them, they can tell us nothing.

    In short,t he meaning is not in the medium used to express it. Nor is it in the optical or thermal or chemical properties of ink and paper. It is in the code of symbols organised in meaningful messages according to rules. Just like the light dots on the PC screen you use to read this carry no inherent meaning.

    It is the intelligent organization of dots according to recogniaed conventional symbols that conveys meaning. But, the signals used have bandwidth and configuration space properties that allow us to infer how likely meaningful configs are by chance, esp if we use binary digits or convert to binary digits.

    The answer is till the same: dFSCI is not a credible product of blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    Now, as for the inference to brain sates, these are electrochemical events. Such events carry repetitive pulses in mV. Pules are in mV and consequences are elctrochemical. We do not measure consciousness, qualia [I am appeared to redly by what seems to be a leather-covered cricket ball], truth, meaning or validity in mV or yactomoles or the like.

    In short, mental operations are radically different from physical-chemical ones. So, it is not unreasonable — save to those committed to a priori evolutionary materialism — that they should commonly be viewed as belonging to a different order of being that can interface with the physical, through our brains, CNSes etc. (Onlookers, cf. a 101 level discussion here.)

    To see the reductio ad absurdum tha thapens when you do not see that, le tus go back to Crick in his the Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    See why Philip Johnswon in Reason in the Balance, the next year, rebutted him: Dr Crick should therefore be willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”)

    Reductio ad absurdum, yet again.

    GEM of TKI

  116. Robb:

    1976. and 19.76 and .1976 are all numbers but do not carry the same meaning, nor does 6791.

    Sorry, the place value notational decimal digit system is regulated by rules that give the symbols specific meanings.

    GEM of TKI

  117. kairosfocus:

    In short,t he meaning is not in the medium used to express it. Nor is it in the optical or thermal or chemical properties of ink and paper.

    The meaning of the message is partly in the shapes of the ink on the paper and partly in the mental mapping from shapes to definitions. Both ingredients are necessary in order to convey the meaning.

    In short, mental operations are radically different from physical-chemical ones.

    The question is whether the former supervene on the latter. If you can show scientifically that they do not, then please remember us little people when you give your acceptance speech in Stockholm.

  118. Robb:

    Unless there is a convention and a context of rules and specific message, there is no meaning in a squiggle on paper. That is the squiggle has to be an agreed standard.

    Full stop.

    And, when it comes to “supervening” on matter, if you mean that matter solely determines mind [the epiphenomenon view], and you do not have room for mind to influence matter, every concern expressed above or in the linked obtains. Given such a radical divergence the burden of warrant rests on those who would reduce mind to matter. No dynamics, no justified claim.

    We can reduce stellar dynamics to the dynamics of Hydrogen gas balls. No one has shown a dynamic that adequately accounts for mind on matter. So, there should not be the sort of ideological closed shop on the subject that so often obtains.

    Further to this, it still obtains that key phenomena of mind [and linked conscience] are radically different from the properties of matter, and there is no good account of matter giving rise to and/or determining mind that is not self referentially incoherent.

    Evolutionary materialism is inescapably self-referentially incoherent.

    GEM of TKI

  119. Given such a radical divergence the burden of warrant rests on those who would reduce mind to matter. No dynamics, no justified claim.

    Radical divergence from what? What claim? You and tgpeeler are the ones making a claim, not me.

    I’ll ask again the question I asked in 112: What property of mind justifies it being classified as immaterial? (And by immaterial I mean that it isn’t material, whatever that means, nor does it supervene on material phenomena.)

  120. Robb:

    Pardon my insistence, but samples of just how radically divergent from properties and characteristics of matter-energy physical entities, properties and concepts and experiences of mind are were in fact listed above.

    To repeat in part, networked electrochemical neuronal impulses in mV and involving so many times 60 yactomoles [= 1 molecule] of specific chemical substances and ions in the brain and nervous system simply do not easily cross over into being appeared to redly by a cricket ball, or the oughtness of a given duty, or the truth of a certain claim, or its meaning, or consciousness itself, or any number of other extremely familiar mental experiences.

    Such mental experiences are in fact the first facts of conscious existence; and we gain our awareness of the external world of matter and energy and space time and objects and interactions in it through the window of conscious experience.

    Conscious, enconscienced mindedness is the first fact of reality as we experience it.

    The radical divergence between the structures, processes and signals of nerve tissues in our brains and CNSes and the world of conscious, enconscienced minded existence is also actually a commonplace of current studies of the mind-brain issue, as I discussed in the already linked.

    One cannot simply brush it aside or assume or assert that by default it “must” be reducible to matter, ultimately because one has adopted a worldview that ASSUMES that anything other than matter-energy in space-time is a spooky and suspect entity.

    This is — again, already pointed out but brushed aside in the haste to make counterpoints — as utterly opposed to how one can explain what we observe about stars in terms of the physics of large balls of hydrogen gas heated till they become a plasma undergoing nuclear fusion and the physically predictable consequences of such across time: a star is explainable on being an emergent phenomenon of balls of hydrogen gas collapsing inward under gravity and stabilised by the force of radiation pressure, with nuclei of atoms interacting under the strong forces in the face of electromagnetic forces and in accordance with thermodynamics.

    In short, evolutionary materialism — as Lewontin admitted and as the US’s National Academy of Sciences plainly implies — is an ideology often imposed on science, not a scientific view. (And such an evolutionary materialistic, atheistical or agnostic view is as was also linked, inherently self-refuting on the credibility of mind.)

    I — along with most of the rest of the world, across time and cultures — therefore have every valid reason to hold that fact number 1 speaks true, and we are more than meat walking and talking. For a more direct evidence of why such a view is warranted in its own right, I suggest you see a discussion here.

    And, at this level, the issues will be broader than just those of science. Indeed, as our experience of being conscious, enconscienced, minded creatures is prior to interacting with and observing the world around us, it is prior to the existence of science.

    Science is not the be-all and end-all of knowing, experiencing or analysing the world. That, too, is an unwarranted assumption or assertion of self-referentially incoherent evolutionary materialistic ideology.

    So I have every right to insist: it is those who would assume or assert that the first fact of existence is reducible to meat in motion under purely physical forces, and starting with pond chemicals in some warm little pond in the pre-biotic world, who have an unmet burden of proof.

    GEM of TKI

  121. PS: An unmet burden of proof that starts with the implications of the observed facts concerning digitally coded, functionally specific complex information. Namely, that the only known and observationally credible source of such dFSCI is intentionally, intelligently directed configuration, i.e. design.

    So, we have every good reason to infer that such dFSCI is a solid sign of design. Including when we observe it in the heart of the operations and components of the living cell. Biological, carbon chemistry cell based life is evidently a designed entity.

    Going further, we have a body of observations that in aggregate tells us — cf 101 survey here — that our observed, material/physical cosmos (which credibly had a beginning) sits at a finely balanced, complex operating point that facilitates the emergence of such cell based life.

    These in turn tell us that our observed cosmos is an effect, is contingent and is dependent on causal factors external to it, including at least one necessary causal factor that was switchable to trigger the beginning at some time. Even through multiverse proposals [which are entirely metaphysical, though often presented as though they were a matter of observation], the chain of cause and effect that gives rise to a cosmos such as we observe is rooted in a necessary being, one that is independent of external causal factors, is thus not subject to contingency, and is on the evidence of design of our observed cosmos and life, powerful, knowledgeable, skilled, purposeful, conscious and both intended to and actually created a cosmos and life in it.

    Plainly such an entity is prior to a world of matter [which world is plainly contingent], and so is credibly non-material. Further, the characteristics above point to MIND as prior to matter. Much, as Plato observed in his The laws Bk X 2300+ years ago.

  122. Onlookers:

    Re TGP at 111 and MF at 114.

    While TGP was clearly strong in his words [and may wish to reconsider his tone], I think on fair comment that in the context of the persistent evasiveness of MF above [and elsewhere], such is at least understandable.

    They are further understandable if one observes that in a parallel thread, MF roundly declared just yesterday that he has no knowledge of mis-treatment and expulsion of people for adherence to design-centric or theistic views in the science side of the academy.

    Others corrected him, but to date he has not acknowledged this.

    Such refusal to acknowledge a serious pattern of oppression, is enabling behaviour. Which is a far more serious question of disrespect than any remarks by TGP above could raise. (Not to mention, the whole question of respect and oughtness is yet another matter that MF has failed and/or refused to show warrant for on evolutionary materialistic premises.)

    In short, while he complains of not being respected, MF has been insistently ignoring corrections, and not just from the undersigned.

    And if you look here and onwards through the linked, you will see that he simply brushed aside serious books he was referred to by way of correction.

    So, MF needs to look seriously at his behaviour. In the context of the just mentioned, his remarks at 114 in significant part come across as yet more avoidance of response on the merits while pushing an agenda of talking points that he knows or should know through long interactions at UD are open to serious challenge.

    Of course, for many months now, he had openly announced that he will ignore whatever the undersigned says [on various excuses that do not add up, but are consistent with the "i don't have time" to be responsible in light of serious inputs form the other side of he issue], so that too is a case in point of disrespectful conduct on his part — blatantly disrespectful closed-mindedness and ideological agenda pushing, and it makes this comment more one for the record than for his actual response.

    Deeply saddening.

    GEM of TKI

  123. kairosfocus:

    So I have every right to insist: it is those who would assume or assert that the first fact of existence is reducible to meat in motion under purely physical forces, and starting with pond chemicals in some warm little pond in the pre-biotic world, who have an unmet burden of proof.

    Insist all you like, but if you want to advance tgpeeler’s argument on the basis of substance dualism, then you’ve got an uphill battle. From what I can tell, most scientists and philosophers in the relevant fields do not regard substance dualism as being scientifically or rationally demonstrable. That doesn’t mean that it’s false, but it does mean that you won’t be able to persuade the experts with the same arguments that they’ve already heard.

    And tgpeeler’s assumptions are stronger than mere Cartesian dualism — he rejects “materialist accounts of abstract things”. An ellipse is a mathematical abstraction, so it would seem that, according to tgpeeler’s thinking, physics cannot explain the shape of a planetary orbit. Clearly there’s something wrong here. I imagine this is why most IDists (Stephen Meyer being a notable exception) do not argue along the same lines as tgpeeler. As noted before, most IDists have no problem with chance+necessity producing information, as long as it’s below a certain threshold.

    We’ll see if tgpeeler can clear up his position when he answers the question of whether abstractions can supervene on material phenomena.

  124. Robb:

    I guess I need to point out why I have very little confidence int he current consensus on worldview-relevant scientific and related phil thought in our increasingly secularised and ideologised academic sub culture.

    Lewontin is good enough to make the key point, in his 1997 key NYRB article:

    __________________

    >> . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.] >>
    ____________________

    The name of the game here is ideologised, institutionally entrenched question-begging, leading to deeply entrenched closed mindedness.

    Nope, the consensus is bankrupt [doesn't even realise evolutionary materialism is inherently self refuting -- and noteice onlookers, how this is being tippy toed around . . . ), so appealing to it is pointless.

    Toxic mental environment.

    At least Engineer Derek Smith and others are really thinking, and have come up with a system architecture that does not require a priorism to rule the roost.

    So, I start from there.

    Let's see if we can build a Smith 2-tier controller robot, and let's see if that will be able to be sufficiently intelligent to pass various tests.

    That would be worthwhile on its own merits, and of course would be a useful research initiative for us applied physics types.

    Then, we can see if the creation of such would provide a base for ruling out that the supervisory controller could be truly mental in our cases. [Remember, I am open to the possibility that diverse types of approaches will work: a purely electronic-mechatronic robotic intelligence, a mind-body blend, and pure mind.]

    Nope, the Smith model obviously cannot; in fact it is open to all sorts of possibilities.

    So, let us be sufficiently open-minded to accept that ever so many of the characteristics and experiences we have as minded, conscious, enconscienced creatures, are radically different from those of matter.

    And, that we live in a cosmos that shows strong signs of being rooted in an intelligent [purposeful and vastly powerful reality who is a necessary being.

    GEM of TKI

  125. R0bb @ 112

    “Are you saying that abstractions cannot supervene on material phenomena? If they can, then why would such cases not be considered material accounts of abstractions?

    From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
    “The core idea of supervenience is captured by the slogan, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference.” It is important to notice the word ‘cannot’. Supervenience claims do not merely say that it just so happens that there is no A-difference without a B-difference; they say that there cannot be one. A-properties supervene on B-properties if and only if a difference in A-properties requires a difference in B-properties—or, equivalently, if and only if exact similarity with respect to B-properties guarantees exact similarity with respect to A-properties. Supervenience claims thus have modal force.”

    In light of this, I am saying that the abstract (A-difference) does NOT necessarily supervene on the material (B-difference). I am further saying that in the particular case of mental states that NO, they do not supervene on material phenomenon. (Read on, I’ll explain further.) Although some abstract, non-mental states COULD, but that is not relevant to this discussion.

    For example, to say that I decided to get a glass of water, a mental state (A-difference) and I could ONLY decide to get a glass of water because my brain state changed (B-difference) would be to say that my “mental state” (my decision to get a glass of water – or do or think anything at all – this is just a particular example that demonstrates the general principle) supervened on my brain/physical state (B-difference). If the mental state supervenes (cannot be different without a corresponding change in the physical state) on the physical state then it seems to me that epiphenomenalism would be true. That is that physical states cause mental states. This is a naturalistic, materialistic, physicalistic (take your pick) view of how the universe is and I reject this view. This is one of the things I am arguing against. Much more on that later if we can get that far.

    So to be clear, I am not saying that abstractions CANNOT supervene on material phenomena. I AM saying that abstractions do not necessarily supervene on material phenomena. The SEP article on supervenience has a nice section on this. I am also saying that the mental IS INSTANTIATED in the physical. But that is not the same as saying that the mental supervenes on the physical. To put it in terms of information, the information is “contained in” and expressed by the physical (chalk, ink, whatever) but the information is NOT the same as the physical (chalk, ink, whatever).

    M-W “Instantiation” – to represent (an abstraction) by a concrete instance.

    Imagine a picture of a cloud of volcanic ash. Imagine that we could explain the location of every particle of the cloud by means of physical laws. (Someone probably could, I could not.) We have now said everything about that cloud that there is to be said.

    Now imagine a sky that has S U R R E N D E R
    D O R O T H Y written in (the same) volcanic ash particles (by the Wicked Witch of the West, if you didn’t know). Now here’s where it gets interesting. Certainly no location of any of the ash particles in “surrender Dorothy” violates any physical law but can we say that the location of every particle in this instance can be explained by physical law? I argue no. (And even if they could, by some infinitesimal chance, have happened to “be there” in a way explainable only by physical law, it still leaves much unanswered as I will discuss below.)

    Also consider that even if we grant that every particle in “surrender Dorothy” can be explained by physical law (I say not but I’m temporarily giving it away here to illustrate my point) have we said everything that can be said about the ash particles? No. Clearly we have not. We’ve not said anything about: the symbols (English letters here – why they are what they are and not something else), the rules (why surrender means to give up, say, and why or how they came to be arranged that way, so that they mean something), the free will of the WWW (who presumably could have written other things), the intentionality of the WWW (why did she write this?), and the laws of rational thought, such as the law of identity, which means surrender instead of fight on and Dorothy rather than Toto.

    To recap, the mental (or abstract) is different from the physical (or material or concrete). Information is abstract and immaterial even though it is instantiated in physical substrate of some kind. Such substrate can take many forms, letters, pictograms, braille, signs, neon gas contained in glass tubes, well, you get that. Does this help clarify what I am arguing for?

  126. p.s. if we can get by this then we can get to the rest of your questions @ 112.

  127. markf @ 114 re me at 111. edited for politeness… regrets…

    markf @103 “Surely there is human information which does not use either. The game of charades specifically forbids both in transferring information about the title of a song or play. If you don’t find that convincing imagine an explorer meeting a tribe which is making its first contact with the outside world. The explorer wants to convey to the tribe that he has discovered a source of water. He leads one of tribe members by the hand to the source and shows it to them. Where is the symbol or rule in that?”

    Kairos has already dealt with the charades charade so I will leave that alone. As to the explorer… the explorer can’t communicate AT ALL with the tribesmen unless they share some symbols (or signs) in common. While it is true that he can put someone’s nose in the water, so what? At some point, he had to convince the recalcitrant tribesman to accompany him, did he not? He had to communicate somehow that it was his intention to show him something, did he not? And once he got the (German) tribesman to the water didn’t the German think “Wasser” and the American think “water” or “H2O”? THERE IS NO THOUGHT, NO INFORMATION, WITHOUT SYMBOLS (OR SIGNS), RULES, FREE WILL, INTENTIONALITY, AND RATIONALITY. If two people are speaking a different language then they need a TRANSLATOR to convert from one language to another. In this case there can be no communication without a translator.

    “I wont speak for R0bb, but I have no problem with a materialist account of intention, free will or the rules of reason. All three are long debates, but they are not specific to transferring information.”

    You say that intention, free will, and reason have nothing to do with the transfer of information. So information can be transferred without first being created? Is that what you are implying? Perhaps you did not really intend to compose your last post and perhaps you did not exercise free will when you typed it out and perhaps you did not employ the rules of reason? If so, please explain how you did not.

    One cannot take the laws that govern the behavior of physical things and explain non-physical things. You cannot explain the laws of reason in terms of the laws of physics.

    Tell me what law or laws of physics can explain the following syllogism:

    All b’s are less than c’s.
    All a’s are less than b’s.
    Therefore, all a’s are less than c’s.

    Or this. What law or laws of physics can explain why a^2 + b^2 = c^2 in reference to right triangles?

  128. TGP:

    I forgot to explain earlier.

    There is a story of a brain researcher who had a patient with electrodes all wired up. Twiddled dials that fired off pules to trigger shaking of an arm.

    There, you [i.e. your brain!!] are now shaking your arm.

    No, YOU are shaking my arm, and then the other arm went across to try to hold the first down.

    The issue is not the loop actuating controller but the supervisory controller.

    Mind-body interaction influences must go both ways or it is not credible relative to our world of experience.

    GEM of TKI

  129. tgp 127

    markf @ 114 re me at 111. edited for politeness… regrets…

    Thanks.  I have responded to what I think are the key parts of your comment – if I have left out something vital I am sure you will point it out. I am sorry that it is so long.

    I do not believe that symbols and/or rule are required to transfer or even record all types of information.  However, on thinking further about this I realise it is not that important.  You want to argue that information makes materialism impossible.  So for your purposes it is sufficient to argue:

    (1) In at least some cases the transfer or recording of information requires symbols or rules

    (2) Symbols or rules cannot be explained materialistically

    I don’t deny (1).  I do deny (2).  In the end it all comes down to your theory of mind.  I will try to explain without writing an essay.

    Rules are instructions about how to behave in specified contexts. They either recorded physically or remembered (possibly unconsciously). Then they are obeyed (or not).  The non-physical parts of this are the remembering and the obeying – both of which are mental activities.

    I understand a symbol as something physical which means something.  There are lots of philosophical discussions about meaning and many of the greatest thinkers (e.g. Russell) have materialist accounts. I believe that Wittgenstein was the deepest thinker about meaning and he famously described the meaning of a word (and I think this could be applied to any symbol) as the use we make of it.  So again this comes down to whether you have a materialist theory of mind.

    You say that intention, free will, and reason have nothing to do with the transfer of information.

    I can’t see where you got the idea that I said this. In #53 I wrote:

    I certainly accept that transferring information in Grice’s non-natural sense require someone to have an intention.

    Free will is very long and complex debate. However, if by having free will you mean the ability to make choices then I accept that it is required because having an intention requires making a choice.

    Rules of reason is another long running philosophical debate. To be honest I don’t really know what you mean in this context. I can hardly deny that” Things, including words, must be what they are and mean what they mean ” but that’s just a tautology.

    My point is not that these things are not required but that they come back to mental activities and I have a materialistic theory of mind (including free will). 

    Now for rules of reason.

    Tell me what law or laws of physics can explain the following syllogism:

    All b’s are less than c’s.
    All a’s are less than b’s.

    Therefore, all a’s are less than c’s.

    Or this. What law or laws of physics can explain why a^2 + b^2 = c^2 in reference to right triangles?

    I guess you regard these rules as discoveries about an abstract reality that somehow exist independently of us.  I don’t.  I think of them as rules we invent and indeed they are not always applicable. Try measuring the sides of a right angled triangle drawn on a sphere.

    The overwhelming problem with this discussion is that it is not primarily about information, but about philosophy of mind and logic and these are massive subjects.  I think in this context all I can do is point out that many people who are more intelligent than you and me have disagreed about these things and failed to resolve them. Perhaps we should not be so arrogant as to think the answer is obvious.

  130. GEM @ 128 “Mind-body interaction influences must go both ways or it is not credible relative to our world of experience.”

    Indeed.

  131. markf @ 129

    I’ll be replying in a series of short posts.

    “I do not believe that symbols and/or rule are required to transfer or even record all types of information.”

    My original point was about human information. From post #39, “How do you account for the existence of information created by human beings? To be more precise, what are the prerequisites for human information? The obvious first prerequisite is humans. I’ll leave the rest to you.”

    In other words, I am not trying to make a case for information in general, that includes biological information (yet) because I don’t think I need to in order to defeat naturalism or any of its variants. Because if naturalism or materialism or something like it is true then the laws of physics are sufficient to explain everything, and that includes human information. But they cannot. So materialism fails.

  132. markf @ 129 “So again this comes down to whether you have a materialist theory of mind.”

    Exactly. And that’s what my arguments are ultimately about. I’m arguing against that although I haven’t really argued yet FOR substance dualism. I am currently arguing AGAINST the monism of materialism, or physicalism, in philosophy of mind. I will have that argument with you or anyone after we get through this side of it. The physicalists (mind = brain) are making some FUNDAMENTAL errors and it is these that I am trying to point out.

  133. markf @ 129 “My point is not that these things are not required but that they come back to mental activities and I have a materialistic theory of mind (including free will).”

    Perhaps it would be helpful if you would explain exactly how it is that mental activities are reduced to some underlying physical substrate. I don’t understand how that is possible, as I’ve argued. In particular, I am curious as to how free will can exist in an ontology governed by physics. I have never been able to even imagine an algorithm based upon physical law(s) that could possibly account for information. If you have thought of one I’d really like to see it.

  134. markf @ 129 ” guess you regard these rules as discoveries about an abstract reality that somehow exist independently of us. I don’t. I think of them as rules we invent and indeed they are not always applicable. Try measuring the sides of a right angled triangle drawn on a sphere.”

    The rules of reason are abstract and they are not things we have invented, but discovered. They are truths about the universe that are absolute and inviolable (damage to truth always follows if they are violated).

    Your description of them as “rules we invent” doesn’t do it for me. Let’s say for a moment that all human life was removed from the planet. Aliens took us all away somewhere, far far away, thousands of light years, say. And let’s also say that they bring us back (we’ve been in suspended animation) a billion years later.

    When we left the laws of reason were in place. When we came back they were still in place. When we got to the alien place and before we were put into suspended animation the rules of reason still worked. When they woke us up for the trip back the rules of reason still worked.

    (In fact, if you think about it, the aliens couldn’t communicate either without the same prerequisites of symbols, rules, free will, purpose, and rationality.)

    I take from this simple thought experiment that the rules of reason are not dependent upon location in the universe – space. They are in force everywhere. The rules of reason are also in force today and a billion years from now (or ago). So the rules of reason are independent of time. They never change. This alone gives me pause that although they govern everywhere in space and time somehow they also transcend space and time.

    “The rules of reason cannot be reduced to sub-atomic particles in energy fields.”

    That is a truth claim that does not contradict itself so it needs to be evaluated by the twin standards of reason and evidence. You can easily put this argument to rest by showing me and any one else who is watching how the rules of reason CAN BE explained in terms of sub-atomic particles in energy fields. But to say “I don’t think of them…” without offering justification is not effective in persuading me, at least, that you have a point. You may, but I haven’t seen it yet.

  135. p.s. I don’t see the relevance of measuring the sides of a right triangle or any other kind of geometric object on a sphere. How does that relate to our conversation about reason? Reason applies in matters of truth but it has nothing to say, as far as I can tell, about things like “I see red” or “I feel great.” So I’m not saying that reason governs everything. Only that it rules in matters of truth.

  136. tgp #131

    Good idea to split this into multiple comments. I am in a bit of a hurry so I will address then at different times over the next 24 hours.

    My original point was about human information. From post #39,

    I do believe that information can on occasion be communicated from human to human without the use of symbols or rules. But, unless it is of special interest to you, I suggest we drop this as of course some information is transmitted using symbols or rules.

  137. markf @ 129 “The overwhelming problem with this discussion is that it is not primarily about information, but about philosophy of mind and logic and these are massive subjects. I think in this context all I can do is point out that many people who are more intelligent than you and me have disagreed about these things and failed to resolve them. Perhaps we should not be so arrogant as to think the answer is obvious.”

    I certainly agree that philosophy of mind and logic are massive subjects. Much has been written. I have about 10 or 12 logic books alone on my shelves and that barely, if at all, scratches the surface. The same can be said of philsophy of mind.

    I also understand that people smarter than me have failed to come to agreement about these things. There are probably many reasons for that but I am saying that there is a truth about these things and that truth is only known by the application of right reason to empirical evidence.

    The deductive logical world can be world of certainty. Sound deductive arguments result in necessarily true conclusions, for example. So, for instance, when I made my modus tollens argument above about naturalism, the conclusion is certain. I don’t care if Aristotle or Russell or Wittgenstein or God Himself disagrees with the conclusion to a sound deductive argument, they are wrong. I say God Himself cannot agree for what I think is a very good reason and that is that part of His essence, what He IS, is Reason (with a capital R). More on that later, perhaps.

    In any case, given that sound deductive arguments result in certain conclusions and that I think I have made a sound deductive argument, there are only two ways that it can be defeated. You can show that modus tollens isn’t valid, which it is in the circumstance I have elsewhere described (if there is a NECESSARY connection between the antecedent and the consequent then modus tollens is valid). OR you can attack the truth of the consequent. This, I think, you have failed to do. In fact, I’m not sure you have really tried yet. So that’s what I’d really like to see from you. SHOW ME how my argument isn’t valid or sound. Otherwise, no matter what you or anyone else may say, it’s still there and undefeated.

    Concerning “obvious.” That’s a funny thing. These things weren’t obvious to me for years but one day they started becoming obvious. Now I’m merely trying to explain that obviousness to others. I contend, as an amateur philosopher, that much philosophy is nonsense. Anytime a metaphysical claim violates a principle of reason, it’s false. It’s a simple system. And any structure of arguments, no matter how complex, designed to cover up or paper over violations of the laws of reason, in the end are rubbish. Take Kant for example. He claims that we can only know of the phenomenal world and that we can’t know about the noumenal world. Well how does he know of the existence of the noumenal world if he doesn’t know SOMETHING about it? It’s as if a person says well how do I know if I’m dreaming or not? I would ask how do you know of the existence of dreams if you can’t tell the difference between dreams and reality in the first place? And I’ve always wondered what Kant critiqued Pure Reason with, impure reason????? I’m eagerly awaiting your replies.

  138. markf @ 136 “But, unless it is of special interest to you, I suggest we drop this as of course some information is transmitted using symbols or rules.”

    I’m good with that. My argument doesn’t need for ALL information to be transmitted using symbols or rules although I’d be really interested in an example of that. Perhaps I am thinking of symbols in a broader way than you are. I think a “happy face,” for example, communicates something. The facial contortions for a smile are different for those of a grimace but the only way we know that is by a regular association of one set of facial muscle arrangements with a certain emotional state. But I’m ok with dropping it for now.

  139. Note to markf and R0bb – back Sunday evening. Thanks.

  140. tgp #133

    I have been thinking how best to proceed. When the subject was “information” I thought it might be possible to say something new reasonably concisely. But now it comes down to mind and logic. I believe both can be accounted for in a materialist world but to make the case would require a book for each one and they have both been done to death in a thousand books and many times on this very blog. I think we both know we are not going to convert the other. And I don’t suppose you want to get into an endless exchange of comments repeating the same points any more than I do.

    I think the most I can achieve is to summarise my position at a very high level. I will start with mind. Very, very roughly, I see “mind” as being a set of dispositions for a physical body to behave in certain ways – caused by physical events in a central nervous system. This is far too crude – but there is limited space. We now know that the cause is primarily brain activity – but clearly people talked about minds even when they thought the brain was a cooling organ. The key problem is why is my experience of my own mind in action so different from everyone else’s experience of my mind in action. I can only answer that it is a different way of experiencing the same thing. My favourite analogy is the different way I experience my body from the way others experience my body. But it is just one material body.

  141. markf @ 140 “I believe both can be accounted for in a materialist world but to make the case would require a book for each one and they have both been done to death in a thousand books and many times on this very blog.”

    Why don’t we just start with what your materialist world view means? That is, what counts as material in your world view and how do you define that? I think that may help.

  142. p.s. what happened to R0bb??

  143. #141 tgp
    Why don’t we just start with what your materialist world view means? That is, what counts as material in your world view and how do you define that? I think that may help

    Good question. I guess I would characterise materialism as the view there is only one kind of thing – although modern physics raises interesting questions about what that includes – space, time, energy, matter are all part of it i.e. there is no separate world of minds, souls, deities etc.

    What is your view of materialism?

    I expect R0bb has better things to do!

  144. The same. But how do you tell if something is material or not? How do you describe one kind of thing other than by saying “material?”

    Or he doesn’t have a reply… :-)

  145. #144

    You are looking for a neat universal description of “material”. I am sorry to keep harping back to Wittgenstein, but he has so many answers. He pointed out that important concepts often don’t have neat definitions. This is what he mean’t by family resemblance. I think “material” falls into this category. We can point to some of the characteristics that are often associated with material things, and some of the things we would not call material, but there is no essential definitive quality.

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