Home » Intelligent Design » SETI with a Twist — The Search for Intelligence Continues

SETI with a Twist — The Search for Intelligence Continues

Normally one would expect a story such as this one to be in the National Enquirer. However, in this case, the story presents some interesting features which may have ramifications for the scientific application of ID.
In this case, the Russian scientist is claiming that back in 1908 an ET deliberately flew their spacecraft into a large meteorite to protect our planet. The crash took place in what is called the Tunguska site, somewhere in Siberia. According to Wikipedia, the impact was probably equivalent to a 10-15 megaton nuke. Pretty powerful for 1908. You can see a photo in the Wiki link.

According to the Foxnews report, “Dr. Yuri Labvin, president of the Tunguska Spatial Phenomenon Foundation, insists that an alien spacecraft sacrificed itself to prevent a gigantic meteor from slamming into the planet above Siberia on June 30, 1908.” And here’s where things get interesting. Apparently Labvin has uncovered some artifacts along a river bed at the site.

“It was not until many years later that a Siberian scientist set up an expedition to the place of the meteorite’s crash. They searched carefully through the river banks and found unusual quartz boards
Mr. Lavbin states that such solid stones do not exist on our planet Earth. He told of an experiment that was done on the crystals: scientists tried to put some of the same drawing that were on the stones initially with a sophisticated laser machine.

How surprised they were to realize that the laser (that usually cuts metal objects into pieces) managed to put just some faint stripes, barely visible. The stones, have an entire system of different lines and circles on them. Scientists suppose that the stones used to be a part of the navigational system of a spaceship. All stones united form a map, which they could have used to cruise through the Universe.” (From the MINA news story

“But Labvin thinks quartz slabs with strange markings found at the site are remnants of an alien control panel, which fell to the ground after the UFO slammed into the giant rock.”

“We don’t have any technologies that can print such kind of drawings on crystals,” Labvin told the Macedonian International News Agency. “We also found ferrum silicate that can not be produced anywhere, except in space.”(From Foxnews story)

So, apparently these crystals displayed markings can not be printed by any known technology we humans posses and which must have features that natural means wouldn’t produce either. There are some interesting applications for ID here, I think.

Are these natural phenomenon or intelligently caused. If natural, how and under what conditions did nature do it? If intelligently caused, then when was it done, how and by whom? If these crystals really have just been lying there since 1908, then given the technologies of the time, how might humans have done it? If no known technology of the time could have done it, then how was it done? Is this an intelligently designed hoax, a real artifact from an alien intelligence, or a natural phenomenon? And, how might we examine these artifacts to determine that?

If these artifacts are the result of intelligent cause, what would make the process for making that determination different from doing the same thing for biological systems?

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54 Responses to SETI with a Twist — The Search for Intelligence Continues

  1. Is there a difference between Fox News and the National Enquirer?

  2. Cool. Normally I don’t go in for these types of stories, but this one looks legit. I’d like to see an ID expert put Dr. Labvin’s evidence to the test and maybe get to the bottom of the Tunguska mystery.

  3. It’s probably just varieties of shocked quartz. The linked article had only one tiny picture I could see, and it was no Star Trek control panel. The Tunguska event has been quite well explained as an air-burst meteor or comet.

  4. Now the ravings of a crank ufologist are classified under “Intelligent Design”? That’s weak.

  5. Scheesman: That may well be right. But the point here is how to explain the markings on the stones and how to go about determining natural or intelligently causes. That is the reason I started the thread. Here’s a better look at the stones. Its possible more like this have been found, and possible more will be. What sort of pattern would need to emerge to confidently assert intelligent cause. And then, was it by humans or some alien and how would we tell?

  6. DonaldM, your link does not work.

  7. If these artifacts are the result of intelligent cause, what would make the process for making that determination different from doing the same thing for biological systems?

    Biological systems are known to be imperfect replicators, which gives them a known possible route of development through biological evolution.

    Assuming (as the question requires) that the crystals are known to be designed, we have no known route for development without design. They don’t seem to be (or have been) imperfect replicators.

  8. nullasalus: which link. I just checked and they all seem to work fine?

  9. Your link in your comment.

    Here is what I think you were trying to post:

    http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/6868/56/

  10. I think the problem is the link in post 3 titled “Here’s a better look at the stones”.

  11. Alien-of-the-gaps .

  12. 12
    CannuckianYankee

    So let me get this straight. Because biological systems are imperfect replicators, this automatically implies that evolution dunnit? I don’t get how anyone can so swiftly come to that conclusion. Are there not other options? How about devolution? Could not biological sysems as we now see them, have once been more perfect replicators? And what do you mean by “known possible?” It’s either known or just possible isn’t it?

  13. 13

    In his novel Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon describes the aftermath of the Tunguska Event:

    “For a while after the Event, crazed Raskol’niki ran around in the woods, flagellating themselves and occasional onlookers who got too close, raving about Tchernobyl, the destroying star known as Wormwood in the book of Revelation. Reindeer discovered again their ancient powers of flight, which had lapsed over the centuries since humans began invading the North. Some were stimulated by the accompanying radiation into an epidermal luminescence at the red end of the spectrum, particularly around the nasal area. Mosquitoes lost their taste for blood, acquiring one instead for vodka, and were observed congregating in large swarms at local taverns. Clocks and watches ran backward. Although it was summer, there were brief snowfalls in the devastated taiga, and heat in general tended to flow unpredictably for a while. Siberian wolves walked into churches in the middle of services, quoted passages from the Scriptures in fluent Old Slavonic, and walked peaceably out again. They were reported to be especially fond of Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Aspects of the landscape of Tierra del Fuego, directly opposite the Stony Tunguska on the globe, began to show up in Siberia—sea ernes, gulls, terns, and petrels landing in the branches of fir trees, swooping to grab fish out of the streams, taking a bite, screaming with distaste, and throwing them back. Granite cliffs rose sheer and unexpected out of the forest. Oceangoing ships unmanned by visible crews, attempting to navigate the shallow rivers and creeks, ran aground . . .”

  14. @ Cannuckian Yankee

    Am I not smart enough to follow BVZ’s argument, or does it not make sense? If biological processes were perfect replicators, RM + NS would be an impossible mechanism.

    I would think though that ID proponents argue that the imperfect replicators are incapable of producing specified complexity.

    I have no idea how this applies to UFO’s. Why would someone argue that the existence of imperfect replicators rejects design?

  15. NSM

    I have no idea how this applies to UFO’s. Why would someone argue that the existence of imperfect replicators rejects design?

    It doesn’t apply to UFO’s. What it applies to is how can we detect intelligent design (if there is any), in the stones presented by Labvin?

  16. @ DonaldM

    I surmised as much from the post, which is why I’m confused by BVZ’s argument.

    “Assuming (as the question requires) that the crystals are known to be designed, we have no known route for development without design.”

    This made my head spin. Why does the question require the assumption of design, when whether or not it is a product of design is the question at hand?

    “They don’t seem to be…imperfect replicators.”

    Well obviously there’d be no imperfect replicators. They’re rocks? They don’t replicate at all.

    I guess I’m just trying to understand the objection, and make sure I’m not missing something obvious in his/her argument.

    To address the question you posed though:

    I would think that to infer design, we’d first have to define the natural processes that could create the markings on the crystals (and our understanding here is probably pretty poor). Maybe there’s a giant laser at the centre of the universe?

  17. @ DonaldM: “What it applies to is how can we detect intelligent design (if there is any), in the stones presented by Labvin?”

    Presumably you could detect design by calculating the stones’ complex specified information and applying some kind of explanatory filter. I read somewhere that this a good and rigorous way of detecting design. It shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find people capable of performing such an analysis.

  18. 18
    CannuckianYankee

    “I would think though that ID proponents argue that the imperfect replicators are incapable of producing specified complexity”

    I don’t think that the ID proponents have summarily ruled out the presence of an intervention outside of natural causes to explain the complexity that exists despite the imperfection in the replicating process. However, this obviously has nothing to do with crystals, so it’s a moot point.

    Design detection as I understand it, does not necessarily detect an intervetion outside of natural processes – such a detection would require a combining of evidence with metaphysical meddlings. Design detection does, however, require recognizable patterns that would lead one to ask the (not necessarily metaphysical) questions about the possibility of non-natural intervention. If this could apply to the crystals, then it could apply to biological systems as well. When I say “non-natural,” however, I don’t necessarily mean “supernatural.” It could be an intervention from a contingent sentient being, such as a human or alien. However, I wouldn’t summarily rule out supernatural intervention.

    The key here is in how we apply this same process to biological systems without jumping to conclusions in our metaphysics. That’s what I seem to understand is the main contention in this whole issue between Darwinists and others. But I’m no scientist, so my opinion doesn’t really count much.

    Incidentally, my objection to BVZs post at #7 was to the first paragraph about biological systems. It didn’t seem to follow that since biological systams are imperfect replicators, that this is evidence for evolution through RM + NS. I think that design implies intervention when the replication process breaks down to the brink of gross mutation, rather than functional organization. So a design model can also explain imperfect replication. It is not exclusive to RM + NS. I’m not saying that there’s necessarily evidence for this alternative, I just don’t know. But it seems that we shouldn’t rule out all possibilities.

    The second paragraph about crystals, just didn’t make any sense to me at all, so I pretty much jumped over it.

    It’s reasonable to suggest that the same (or a similar) methodology that detects potential design in these crystals, ought to be the same (or similar)methodology to detect potential design in biological systems. And again, I don’t know exactly what that methodology would be. Darwinists, I think, believe that ID theorists are making methodological assumptions about the similarities between the two processes (man made ID detection vs. biological ID detection), which render the detection of potential design in biological systems meaningless, because obviously biological systems are different than man-made systems like lines drawn on crystals.

    However, I could say the same thing about Darwinists; that they have made methodological assumptions about the differences. What’s different, after all between complex man-made objects and complex biological organisms? Don’t they both involve the manipulation of matter? And should’t we be able to detect in complex patterns when manipulation of matter is intentional, and when it is not?

    And therein lies the key. RM + NS does nothing intentional, really. It’s a blind process without a goal except for “survival”: yet, what Behe and Demski and others are telling us is in complex biological systems, seems to be the result of intentional manipulation of matter (and I realize that’s a rather inadequate description of what is really going on).

    Who’s right about this? I think that’s a legitimate question that no one seems to be clearly asking at this point. How would we be able to satisfactorily answer it? I think Mr. Dembski has been answering it for some time in his writings, but they are being rejected by the Darwinists. That’s to be expected, I guess.

  19. There are some better images of the “stones” about 1/3 of the way down this page:

    http://cronicasubterranea.blog.....acial.html

    Now I’m not so sure about the spaceship hypothesis. The stones look like they could be covered with some sort of hieroglyphics, however. How could those patterns be produced by natural processes??

  20. @ Herb

    “How could those patterns be produced by natural processes??”

    Well that’s the question at hand, really. I’d suggest that we don’t know enough about the potential natural processes to give a definitive answer.

    “The stones look like they could be covered with some sort of hieroglyphics, however.”

    This is an entirely different thing. That they might look like hieroglyphics depends largely on one’s frame of reference. To use the design inference, we need information that is both specified and complex. The symbols might be complex, but how would we determine their specificity?

  21. NSM,

    Fair enough. I don’t know enough about quartz or whatever material this is to tell if it’s natural. I just haven’t seen anything natural which looks quite like this.

    And it would great if an expert were to apply the principles of CSI here, but that’s above my pay grade. However, I’m sure people have been able to recognize writing systems more or less by inspection, long before CSI was defined.

  22. 22
    CannuckianYankee

    Herb: “And it would great if an expert were to apply the principles of CSI here, but that’s above my pay grade. However, I’m sure people have been able to recognize writing systems more or less by inspection, long before CSI was defined.”

    I found the 3rd picture more revealing than the others. It shows a repetitive triangular pattern. I wonder if it may be the impression of some triangular type objects, which pressed up against the crystals over long periods of time – sort of like a non-biological fossil.

    There are all sorts of questions here:

    Could it be an impression of a natural object?

    Could it be markings made by an intelligent being?

    Could the crystals have been present in their current form before the explosion?

    Did the explosion cause the results we see in the crystals?

    Did aliens crash into a commet, leaving remnants of their spaceship behind?

    Could it all be an elaborate hoax?

    If it is an example of CSI, I hope we’re prepared for the implications.

    I found the report of the initial explosion in 1908 quite interesting. While the explosion caused daylight in London at 11:00pm, some Englishmen were able to find time to read a book without electricity, and to play a game of football. How convenient.

  23. 23

    Judging by those pictures it is ridiculous to get excited about some quartz rocks that look very terrestrial. As how they can claim that we can carve into them similar patterns and designs is ridiculous and absurd. I suspect I could recreate those in about a week with a chisel. I say they are man made artifacts – quartz stones carved by native people then after they got board of them they were thrown into the river bed.

  24. 24
    CannuckianYankee

    I suspect you are right, Frost.

  25. 25

    They point isn’t what you suspect, the point is can ID theory be applied here and what is the result. I’m with herb in that this is beyond me to figure out, but someone should be able to do it.

    For example:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/...../5931/1165

  26. 26

    I think the patterns on the crystal are intelligently designed by their looks. But they look like the work of very simple terrestrials to me.

  27. Hi there.

    Incidentally, my objection to BVZs post at #7 was to the first paragraph about biological systems. It didn’t seem to follow that since biological systams are imperfect replicators, that this is evidence for evolution through RM + NS. I think that design implies intervention when the replication process breaks down to the brink of gross mutation, rather than functional organization. So a design model can also explain imperfect replication. It is not exclusive to RM + NS. I’m not saying that there’s necessarily evidence for this alternative, I just don’t know. But it seems that we shouldn’t rule out all possibilities.

    The answer to your question lies in how science operates.

    Basically what science is is a search for naturalistic explanations for naturalistic things. We see populations change over time, and we try to explain it.

    If you find a population of imperfect replicators competing for resources, evolution explains the existance of the complexity in that population.

    You are 100% correct, it can ALSO be explained using Intelligent Design.

    However, since ID requires a designer, and there is no evidence for a designer, evolution wins because it requires a lot less assumptions to operate.

    Thats it really. Occams razor slices away ID, since it requires a designer there is no actual evidence for.

    Now contrast this with the crystals in the OP. The crystals are not imperfect replicators, so evolution CANNOT explain any complexity contained in them. That leaves design, or some other natural process (like crystalization) or something like that.

    This seems to answer this question:

    If these artifacts are the result of intelligent cause, what would make the process for making that determination different from doing the same thing for biological systems?

    The difference is that biological systems are without fail imperfect replicators, while the crystals are not.

    My only goal was to answer this question.

    Is my postion more clear now?

  28. 28

    BVZ:

    However, since ID requires a designer, and there is no evidence for a designer, evolution wins because it requires a lot less assumptions to operate.
    Thats it really. Occams razor slices away ID, since it requires a designer there is no actual evidence for.

    ID requires a designer, for which there is no evidence. (Excluding evident design, but fine.)
    Evolution requires that we assume unproven mechanisms that no one can agree on and which are unable to explain any of the effects so casually attributed to them.
    How does Occam’s Razor so neatly cut one away and leave the other?

  29. 29

    However, since ID requires a designer, and there is no evidence for a designer…

    Actually, ID doesn’t “require” a designer. It provides evidence of one. You can’t invalidate the gathering of evidence with the assumption of a lack of evidence.

  30. ID requires a designer, for which there is no evidence. (Excluding evident design, but fine.)
    Evolution requires that we assume unproven mechanisms that no one can agree on and which are unable to explain any of the effects so casually attributed to them.
    How does Occam’s Razor so neatly cut one away and leave the other?

    Can you be more specific? Which mechanism the theory of evolution relies on is not observable?

  31. Actually, ID doesn’t “require” a designer. It provides evidence of one. You can’t invalidate the gathering of evidence with the assumption of a lack of evidence.

    Ah ok, I see what you are saying.

    But do you see what I am saying?

    The OP is asking why can we come to the conclusion that one thing is designed, but we cannot use that same process on biological systems?

    The answer is because biological systems are always imperfect replicators, which allow evolution to act on them, while things like cars and crystals and so on are not imperfect replicators, which imediately removes evolution as an explanation. Once evolution is removed, an explanation is needed, and ID can step in and do some work.

    This does not mean that ID is not allowed to examine biological systems for signs of design. In fact, if ID manages to find something worthwhile, and if ID turns out to be useful, then it will become another useful tool in the toolbox used by biologists and other scientists. This is the route the theory of evolution has taken over the past 150 years, and as you can see, it is the prevailing theory.

    I understand you are not happy about this. Thats great. All you have to do is show what ID can do, do the science, show how ID can be falsified, and stop messing around with politics and schoolbooks.

    If you are not happy with the theory of evolution, all you have to do is replace it. The problem is you have not really provided anything to replace it with. You can’t show up at a guy using a hammer, and ask him to stop using the hammer and start using a feather. And make no mistake, ID is not really useful.

    In a thread on another forum, I asked ID supporters to employ ID on a small rock I found. (Or at least explain to me how I might go about doing so.) ID was incapable of telling if the small rock was designed or not. If it does not function on something as simple as a rock, how do you expect scientists to employ is on something as complicated as an organism?

    I still have the pebble, so you are welcome to give it a shot.

  32. Hi BVZ

    Your post seems woefully misguided:

    “The answer is because biological systems are always imperfect replicators, which allow evolution to act on them, while things like cars and crystals and so on are not imperfect replicators, which imediately removes evolution as an explanation.”

    Crystals are only imperfect replicators in the sense that they do not replicate at all. It seems obvious, however, that ateleological forces can act upon rocks/crystals etc. One need only look at the Old Man of the Mountain to see this. In this way, we have forces that act randomly upon structures that do not replicate.

    At this point, we need to decide whether design or natural processes are a better explanation for the observed phenomenon. It is with relative ease that we might conclude that the Old Man of the Mountain is the product of natural processes. We would not so easily conclude that these same processes produced Mount Rushmore.

    “If you are not happy with the theory of evolution, all you have to do is replace it.”

    Who said ID proponents wish to replace the theory of evolution? Why do you insist that ID and evolution are mutually exclusive? I suggest you read the FAQ before making such statements. It’s only fair that you understand the arguments being put forward, before erecting straw men.

    “ID was incapable of telling if the small rock was designed or not. If it does not function on something as simple as a rock, how do you expect scientists to employ is on something as complicated as an organism?”

    Again, this is a misguided argument. ID argues that designed objects exhibit specified complexity. To outline how bizarre the argument you’re making is:

    1) ID claims that certain aspects of life are too complex to be explained by natural processes.

    2) You claim that ID cannot account for simple inanimate objects

    How does this follow? ID attempts to account for immense complexity, not simplicity. Unless you’re claiming that your pebble exhibits specified complexity (which might make for an interesting argument), its appearance is not addressed by ID.

  33. BVZ:

    Pardon.

    This is perhaps a bit like having to repeat the same key point over and over till it soaks in, but we plainly need to do so again. (Please, take a few minutes and look at the correctives on weak anti ID arguments and the glossary as linked above.)

    First, the issue pointed to by the design inference is PRIOR to the issue of self-replication, whether perfect or imperfect:

    1 –> For, such self replication in bio-systems rests on highly complex functionally specific and even algorithmic information, and that information has to be in place for the system to function. [REPLICATION implies that something was there to begin with.]

    2 –> However, we observe that such FSCI is — for good reasons having to do with isolation of islands of function in the associated vast configuration spaces — in our observation of known cases, without exception, the product of intelligence. So, FSCI is an empirically reliable sign of intelligence as the key originating cause.

    3 –> In the case of biology, we know that cells have in their cores a digital information processing systems based on DNA, RNA, ribosomes, enzymes etc. Systems that for the minimally complex life from would run to 300k or so 4-state elements; i.e ~ 600 k bits. [The config space implicated for that is ~ 9.9 * 10^180,617. The entirety of quantum states accessible to our observed cosmos across its lifespan is of order 10^150; i.e a random search process is maximally unlikely to get to the shores of islands of function, from which presumably random variation plus differential reproductive success could help climb to peaks of locally optimal function.]

    4 –> Since we know that for instance stop codons are 3 of 64 codons, long enough random DNA/RNA strings — the formation of which in any plausible real world prebiotic environment [as opposed to a modern lab full of pure reagents and chemists with apparatus] is a difficulty — are maximally unlikely to be initially functional.

    5 –> Similarly, random amino acid sequences — and again, forming such in the prebiotic world and preserving enough against the thermodynamic trends of breakdown to bring the right proteins into the right organisation to work is a major challenge — are most likely to be racemic, to include non-protein type bonds, and to frail of finding folding sequences that key-lock to fit and function in biologically relevant ways. [In short, biofunction is a matter of isolated islands in large configuration spaces of non-functionality.]

    6 –> And, having get to first life, you then look at needing to account for 10′s – 100′s of megabits of incremental bio-information to get to major novel body plans, dozens of times over. Body plans that require early embryological modifications to lay out the architecture — precisely he period of development that is most vulnerable to disruptive impacts of change.

    7 –> by contrast, we know that complex and functional, information rich structures are routinely made by intelligent agents.

    8 –> So the best explanation of ORIGIN of FSCI-based entities (including those in cell based life) is design.

    Now, back on the quartz rocks.

    My guess is that humans can indeed create such or near enough to such by fairly accessible technologies. However, crystals also tend to have linear structures at regular and repeating angles to one another by forces of necessity.

    Since the structures in view are of that orderly pattern and do not exhibit organised but aperiodic patterns, from a photograph, they lack the complexity and independent specificity to be clear.
    (Contrast how the Pyramids at Giza seem to be oriented to each other reflective of Orion, with the Nile at the right distance to stand in for the Milky Way. That is an independent specification that seems indicative of non-accidental placement.)

    Further investigation might however reveal tool mark patterns or the like which would at once be decisive: non-random tool scrapes etc that promote a regular pattern.

    It is NOT a mark against the design explanatory filter that it requires adequate degree of complexity before it rules design [as a rule of thumb, 500 - 1,000 bits of information storage capacity worth of functionally specific information]. It was never meant to pick up any and all cases of design; just those that are so clear that they are beyond the reasonable reach of chance, necessity or chance + necessity. (After all, art can imitate nature!)

    Turns out, that that is enough to spark an incipient scientific revolution. (And that is actually very useful indeed.)

    GEM of TKI

  34. I did not say that ID and evolution is mutually exclusive.

    The thing is, in science we use the BEST theories at our disposal to explain what we see in nature. We see populations changing over time. Since evolution is the best explanation at the moment, that is what we use.

    There can only one BEST theory at any given moment. When I say you have to replace evolution before it will go away, I meant you have to replace it in the number one spot.

    And concering my pebble: ID claims to be able to detect design. Hod do I go about doing this? Either the pebble is designed, or it is not. So how can I use ID to figure out which it is?

  35. BVZ:

    Since evolution is the best explanation at the moment, that is what we use.

    But “evolution” can mean several things.

    The debate rages over the blind watchmaker as having sole dominion over the changes.

    Were organisms designed to evolve (evolved by design) or did said evolution occur via an accumulation of genetic accidents?

    As for your pebble the question would be can nature, operating freely produce it?

    If the answer is yes then there is no requirement for a designer.

    Ya see THAT is how one tests and possible falsifies the design inference- by demonstrating that the object/ event in question is explained by nature, operating freely can or cannot account for it.

    That is see if it is reducible to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

    If it is then the design inference is unwarranted.

  36. PS: Looking at that third rock pic again [with help of Gimpshop], I see a rather complex pattern, using a zoom. In that zoomed image, the striations in the wide groove just above the large equilateral triangle, and the just non-parallel lines just below the left side of the same triangle, suggest a hand-worked rock. Edge detect brings this up. Also, the “grasshopper groove” right of the wide groove looks like hand work. The patterns, in sum, do not look (a) natural, or (b) like the more uniform machine-made ones that would be credible artifacts of an industrial civlisation, so Frosty’s thesis looks like a winner. (Interstellar travelling ET’s, one would assume, should be more advanced than putting marks on rocks to make maps, so the theory advanced above is not very credible.)

  37. 37

    BVZ:

    Can you be more specific? Which mechanism the theory of evolution relies on is not observable?

    There’s been a rumor buzzing around that random mutations combined with natural selection can produce new species with new organs and limbs. And there was a woman in Hawaii who died after drinking a can of Coke a rat had peed on. (Ok, that second one is loosely based on an actual disease carried by rats.)

  38. 38

    BVZ:

    The problem is you have not really provided anything to replace it with. You can’t show up at a guy using a hammer, and ask him to stop using the hammer and start using a feather.

    If I see a guy banging away with an imaginary hammer on nails that were long ago driven, why not offer him a feather?

  39. DonaldM said:

    how can we detect intelligent design (if there is any), in the stones presented by Labvin?

    So at the risk of dragging people back to point; is there any chance of anyone actually doing some Design Detection on these stones, or are you going to spend all the time writing about how speculative Darwinism is?

  40. There’s been a rumor buzzing around that random mutations combined with natural selection can produce new species with new organs and limbs. And there was a woman in Hawaii who died after drinking a can of Coke a rat had peed on. (Ok, that second one is loosely based on an actual disease carried by rats.)

    Why did you quote my question, and then not answer it? The idea that mutations (as a source of diversity) and selection (which weeds out the bad performers in a specific environment) causes the population to become more suited to its environment is sound. It is a mathmetical concept that is not neccesarily connected to biology, in fact, it is applied in engineering and computer science as well in the form of genetic algorithms. If you have imperfect replicators that compete for resources, they will adapt. We have imperfect replicators (pretty much any population of organisms you can think of), and they compete for resources. That is all that is needed.

    Now, the question I asked you:

    Which mechanism the theory of evolution relies on is not observable?

    Mutations are observable. This implies imperfect replicators exist. Natural seletion is observable. Imperfect replicators are observable. All that is needed for evolution to occur are in place. So, are you going to answer the question or not?

  41. 41

    BVZ, there are several mechanism of Evolution that are not observable. One what is the mechanism that matches the fitness landscape to the living organism? Where is the observable mechanism showing that mutations are random and therefore unguided?

    In a lab test you have unpredictable mutation no doubt but when you have full new and novel body plans emerging over perhaps millions of years the idea that the mutations required by evolutionary theory to get to those complex body plans are random does not pass mathematical scrutiny. This is one of the primary focuses of ID.

    So the mechanism of random mutation going rise to new novel body plans is not demonstrable.

    Also as I said before there is nothing that matches organisms or their parts like proteins to the environments and fitness landscapes needed for them to evolve into different complex life forms. At some point natural selection and mutation cannot account for the existence of the oceans or the mountains or the jungles in evolutionary and geological time.

    This is why ID is the most likely explanation of the emergence of complex novel life forms.

  42. 42

    Now, the question I asked you:

    Which mechanism the theory of evolution relies on is not observable?

    Mutations are observable. This implies imperfect replicators exist. Natural seletion is observable. Imperfect replicators are observable. All that is needed for evolution to occur are in place. So, are you going to answer the question or not?

    Sorry, no excuse for my vague use of illustrations. The quality of the discussions here deserves better.

    Random mutations are observed and documented. So is natural selection – certain traits make an individual more or less likely to reproduce.
    The ability of one or both to act together as a mechanism to produce creatures or features that didn’t previously exist is speculative and unobserved. To say that they are “all that’s needed for evolution to take place” is a guess.

  43. The word random can mean different things. In context of biology, when the word random is used it means that mutations cannot be predicted. There is no way to tell where a mutation will occur, or the effect it might have on the phenotype. This does not neccesarily mean that all parts of the genome have an equal chance to be mutated, since no one would be surprised if certain parts of the genome is prone to mutation. I hope this makes things a bit more clear. That being said, evolution theory does not require mutations to be random, only that they add variation.

    One can easily demonstrate that a mechanism adding variation and a mechanism selecting according to some fitness function is all that is required for adaptation to take place is mathematically sound by examining the thoery behind genetic algorithms. This also has the benefit of decoupling the concept of evolution from biology. If the concept was not mathematically sound, genetic algorithms would not work.

    But we are moving WAY off topic.

    I am still wondering why ID was not applied in the OP to settle the issue, especially since ID proponents claim ID theory works.

    I would also apreaciate an example of ID detecting design where design was not previously known to exist.

    Thank you.

  44. 44

    That being said, evolution theory does not require mutations to be random, only that they add variation.

    It wouldn’t matter whether the mutations were random or not. Both are hypothetical.

    One can easily demonstrate that a mechanism adding variation and a mechanism selecting according to some fitness function is all that is required for adaptation to take place is mathematically sound by examining the thoery behind genetic algorithms.

    I didn’t realize that we were able to model entire populations of living things, right down to their individual genes. Do we fully understand all the moving parts well enough to build such a model?
    Without real-world observation, how would we know if the model was correct? With such observation, why would anyone cite the model as evidence?

  45. 45

    I would also apreaciate an example of ID detecting design where design was not previously known to exist.

    I thought about this for a while. There are examples in which ID has been applied to features of living things and has determined that design is responsible. You’re probably familiar with those already.
    But to the point, how is the question relevant?

  46. I didn’t realize that we were able to model entire populations of living things, right down to their individual genes. Do we fully understand all the moving parts well enough to build such a model?
    Without real-world observation, how would we know if the model was correct? With such observation, why would anyone cite the model as evidence?

    Good question.

    The model makes certain predictions. In other words, we ask the question : “IF this model is correct, what would we see?”. The answer to this question comes in the form of a list of predictions. These predictions are matched with reality. If they are a match, the hypothesis (in this case the model) gaines ‘predictive power’. This does not mean the model is correct. In science we can never be 100% sure ANY theory is correct. All we can do is continue gathering evidence, updating the model according to this new evidence, then generate new predictions using the updated model, and checking if they match up with reality. This process has been going on for 150 years, and the model has changed a lot over those years. It is getting more accurate every day as new evidence is gathered and matched up with the model.

    So to answer your question :

    Without real-world observation, how would we know if the model was correct? With such observation, why would anyone cite the model as evidence?

    Without real-world observation we WONT know if the model is correct. That is why science relies on real world observation.

  47. I thought about this for a while. There are examples in which ID has been applied to features of living things and has determined that design is responsible. You’re probably familiar with those already.
    But to the point, how is the question relevant?

    Can you give me an example then please?

    Why is it relevant? It is relevant because if ID is only accurate when we already know the artifact it is being used on is designed, then it is not of much use.

    And since science is pragmatic, usefullness is extremely important. You can develop a theory that is 100% correct, with 100% of all its predictions being accurate, but if it is not useful, science will not pay attention to it.

    The only instances I am aware of where ID has been claimed to be used on biological systems, turned out to be where ID proponents claimed that evolution is not capable of evolving feature X. Scientists then showed that it IS capable of evolving feature X, destroying the ID argument.

  48. BVZ:

    Kindly, take a look at the Weak Arguments correctives above [RH column], and the associated glossary; then please get more specific on your claims.

    For instance, if we can identify that on cases of known origin [millions of them] functionally specific complex information is a reliable sign of intelligence, and that there are important search space reasons why chance — the other source of high contingency outcomes — cannot credibly be seen as a source for such FSCI, then why is it improper or ill-founded to make the inductive conclusion that FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence even on cases where we do not otherwise know directly the source? And, similarly, on that subset of FSCI known as irreducible complexity. (BTW, culling on differential reproductive success may explain SURVIVAL of the fittest, but it does not explain the ARRIVAL of same . . . [Hill-climbing to Mt Improbable by cumulative selection (modest random variation + natural selection across many generations) presupposes that one is already on the shores of an island of functionality [first life and/or novel body plans], and only need to improve. ID asks the question that this begs: it is about how does one credibly get to islands of function in the relevant vast configuration spaces of minimum order for real life systems 4^300,000 ~ 9.9 * 10^180,617 cells.])

    As a quick follow up compare the well-known Wiki article on ID with the survey article at NWE, here, and the (perhaps “surprisingly well researched and reasonably balancing”) one by Conservapedia, here. [The contrast should be revealing.]

    A glance into something like ID 101, e.g. Google Books sampler here, will be helpful too, as the next step. (Amazon page here. the online excerpts will be helpful.)

    My always linked notes (click on my handle, LH column) will also help as a first point of departure.

    For, pardon, but broad-brush dismissive rhetoric and/or strawman distortions — such as you will get from all too many anti-ID sties (including Wikipedia, an ideologically spoiled “good idea”) — are not good enough at UD.

    GEM of TKI.

  49. PS: on the case you allude to, it would be helpful to read here.

  50. Reg, no 39:

    Please see 36 above (i/l/o 33 . . . ):

    Looking at that third rock pic again [with help of Gimpshop], I see a rather complex pattern, using a zoom. In that zoomed image, the striations in the wide groove just above the large equilateral triangle, and the just non-parallel lines just below the left side of the same triangle, suggest a hand-worked rock. Edge detect brings this up. Also, the “grasshopper groove” right of the wide groove looks like hand work. The patterns, in sum, do not look (a) natural, or (b) like the more uniform machine-made ones that would be credible artifacts of an industrial civlisation, so Frosty’s thesis looks like a winner. (Interstellar travelling ET’s, one would assume, should be more advanced than putting marks on rocks to make maps, so the theory advanced above is not very credible.)

    And, Frosty at 23 and 26:

    [23] Judging by those pictures it is ridiculous to get excited about some quartz rocks that look very terrestrial. As how they can claim that we can[not] carve into them similar patterns and designs is ridiculous and absurd. I suspect I could recreate those in about a week with a chisel. I say they are man made artifacts – quartz stones carved by native people then after they got board of them they were thrown into the river bed.

    [26]I think the patterns on the crystal are intelligently designed by their looks. But they look like the work of very simple terrestrials to me.

    Any further thoughts on this?

    GEM of TKI

  51. For instance, if we can identify that on cases of known origin [millions of them] functionally specific complex information is a reliable sign of intelligence,

    In all these cases you already know the artifact was designed. Is it really suprising ot you to find design when you already KNOW it was designed?

    and that there are important search space reasons why chance — the other source of high contingency outcomes — cannot credibly be seen as a source for such FSCI,

    Evolution explains this. Surely you are aware of this?

    then why is it improper or ill-founded to make the inductive conclusion that FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence even on cases where we do not otherwise know directly the source?

    It is not IMPROPER. It simply not scientific.

    And, similarly, on that subset of FSCI known as irreducible complexity.

    Since there is nothing preventing IC systems from evolving, I am wondering why ID supporters even bring it up. In fact, since you are not even ABLE TO IDENTIFY IC SYSTEMS, I am not sure why you are not embarressed bringing them up in the first place.

    (BTW, culling on differential reproductive success may explain SURVIVAL of the fittest, but it does not explain the ARRIVAL of same . . .

    Are you saying that mutations cannot add new features to organisms?

    [Hill-climbing to Mt Improbable by cumulative selection (modest random variation + natural selection across many generations) presupposes that one is already on the shores of an island of functionality [first life and/or novel body plans], and only need to improve.

    Yes. In the same way that the laws of gravity assumes matter and energy (and so on) already exists, without offering an explanation where it came from. Despite this, they are still useful and accurate.

    No scientific theory explains everything.

    ID asks the question that this begs: it is about how does one credibly get to islands of function in the relevant vast configuration spaces of minimum order for real life systems 4^300,000 ~ 9.9 * 10^180,617 cells.])

    Evolution already explains how this is possible : One change at a time. Imperfect replicators competing for resources makes this possible. The concept is mathematically sound, as demostrated with the capability of genetic algorithms producing complex solutions. Biological evolution is simply the concept implemented in biological form.

    The task ID proponents and researchers have before them is to produce a theory that works BETTER than evolution (in other words makes more accurate predictions). Once they have done this, ID will become part of maintream science. It might even replace evolution completely, or perhaps supllement it. Who knows? You have not done this yet, which is why you are not taken seriously.

    I am still waiting for someone to give me an example of ID identifying design, where design was not known beforehand.

    Thank you.

  52. Footnote:

    Re BVZ at 51:

    [Cites GEM, from 48:] For instance, if we can identify that on cases of known origin [millions of them] functionally specific complex information is a reliable sign of intelligence,

    [BVZ:] In all these cases you already know the artifact was designed. Is it really suprising ot you to find design when you already KNOW it was designed?

    Pardon, your strawman is showing. Let’s cite no 48 in context:

    For instance, if we can identify that on cases of known origin [millions of them] functionally specific complex information is a reliable sign of intelligence, and that there are important search space reasons why chance — the other source of high contingency outcomes — cannot credibly be seen as a source for such FSCI, then why is it improper or ill-founded to make the inductive conclusion that FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence even on cases where we do not otherwise know directly the source? And, similarly, on that subset of FSCI known as irreducible complexity. (BTW, culling on differential reproductive success may explain SURVIVAL of the fittest, but it does not explain the ARRIVAL of same . . . [Hill-climbing to Mt Improbable by cumulative selection (modest random variation + natural selection across many generations) presupposes that one is already on the shores of an island of functionality [first life and/or novel body plans], and only need to improve. ID asks the question that this begs: it is about how does one credibly get to islands of function in the relevant vast configuration spaces of minimum order for real life systems 4^300,000 ~ 9.9 * 10^180,617 cells.])

    H’mm: looks like a case of quote-mining to me.

    BVZ, FYI the cited was a summary of the fact that we have a massive empirical data base of FSCI as the known result of design, with no counter-instances.

    Also, we have strong search-space grounds for seeing that chance processes would be maximally unlikely to get us to shores of first functionality, which is where the various differential functionality-rewarding hill-climbing algorithms that have been proposed would be able to move towards higher degrees of function.

    So, on a massive empirical database we may make the induction that FSCI is a reliable sign of design.

    Then, we have every right to use it as a marker for identifying the presence of design in cases where we do not directly know the cause.

    It’s called: the [inductive] scientific method.

    Similarly, evolution requires first having self-replicating systems that interact with the environment in ways that allow for differential success, to let variations lead to population shifts. So, to appeal to “evolution” as the source of the relevant FSCI is rather a major begging of the question of getting to FIRST life function [~ 600 k bits of info], and onward to major body plan innovations [10's - 100's mega bits, dozens of times over]. As my always linked will show, just 1,000 bits specifies a search space that is ten times the square of the number of quantum states of all the atoms in our observed universe across a thermodynamically plausible lifespan. [That is, the whole universe working as a search engine could not sample 1 in 10^150 of the search space specified by just 1,000 bits.]

    All of which is what the rest of the cited — that you seem to have somehow left out — explicitly spoke to.

    The odds of such happening by chance are negligible.

    Man, do betta dan dat, next time!

    All of that stuff on “I am still waiting for someone to give me an example of ID identifying design, where design was not known beforehand” is therefore, lamentably, leaving you looking just a little shabby.

    And, onlookers, we see — yet again — the consistent failure to address the real issues on the merits by Darwinist advocates here at UD; while playing at selective hyperskeptical games.

    We the denizens of the Clapham bus stop will draw our own conclusions.

    GEM of TKI

  53. PS: As to identifying cases of IC systems, just look at the picture at the top of the page — and Mr Miller’s TTSS is on the overall evidence derivative not ancestral. [As well, that a sub system of an overall system may have a separate function [think of the alternative uses for a car engine . . . ] does not undermine the IC nature of the specifiedsystem as a whole.

    Indeed, I often have to wonder if such darwinist advocates have ever had to integrate a complex, multiple sub-system overall entity. For, interfacing and coupling are precisely two of the biggest challenges in system integration. [translated: what works separately is as a rule not easily put together to work as a novel whole.]

    Similarly, the whole programme of knockout studies to find gene function — and Mr Minnich’s work on flagella is a part of this too — tells us that IC is in fact a well-known part of the biological world, not just the world of human technology.] As well, Mr Behe has a long list that has been sniped at through strawman tactics but not overthrown. More selective hyperskepticism on the part of Darwinists, again. [Cf here on the rhetorical games played in court by such advocates on the blood clotting cascade.]

  54. Your inablity to deliver the goods is not helping you at all. I have asked REPEATEDLY for you to show me that ID is in fact useful.

    I have asked repeatedly for an example where ID has detected design where design was NOT ALREADY known to be present. Your inability to give such an example speaks volumes.

    Your argument goes something like this: In all things we KNOW to be designed we find something you call FSCI. You then go from there to say that if FSCI is found in something that we do NOT know to be designed, then it also must be designed.

    Ok fine, lets assume this is true. How do we test this assumption?

    You then introduce a red herring, namely how imperfect replicators came into existance. I already addressed this, so I am not sure why I have to reapeat myself. But I will. The theory of evolution does not address the ORIGIN of imperfect replicators, it only explains how they develop AFTER they emerge. How they emerge is not covered by evolution, in the same way that the origins of matter/energy is not covered by the laws of gravity. Do you understand now?

    And again, you bring up Irreducibly Complex systems. You claim you are able to identify them. Fine. IC systems can only be identified AFTER you have identified the parts of the system. Now, tell me, what method do you use to identify the parts of a system? This method should produce a list of parts, with the system as input. Any person who uses this method should produce the same list if they use the method correctly. ALL LISTS MUST BE IDENTICAL.

    Without such a method IC systems CANNOT be identified. Or look at it another way. Without such a method ANY system can be identified as IC by identifying the system as a single part. Removal of this part will stop the system from functioning. Or you can take a system that is IC (like the flagellum), and then identify the parts as individual atoms. Most of these atoms can be removed without affecting the system. Suddenly it is not longer IC, for the simple reason we identified the parts differently.

    (Its moot anyway, since IC systems CAN evolve.)

    So, now you have two things to produce.

    1) An example where ID was used to identify design where design was not ALREADY known to be present.
    2) A method that can identify the parts of a system objectively, without which IC systems cannot be identified.

    Good luck with that.

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