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UB Sets It Out Step-By-Step

UD Editors:  No one has come close to refuting UB’s thesis after 129 comments.  We are moving this post to the top of the page to give the materialists another chance.

I take the following from an excellent comment UB made in a prior post.  UB lays out his argument step by step, precept by precept.  Then he arrives at a conclusion.  In order for his argument to be valid, the conclusion must follow from the premises.  In order for his argument to be sound, each of the premises must be true.

Now here is the challenge to our Darwinist friends.  If you disagree with UB’s conclusion, please demonstrate how his argument is either invalid (as a matter of logic the conclusion does not follow from the premises) or unsound (one or more of the premises are false).  Good luck (you’re going to need it).

Without further ado, here is UB’s argument:

1.  A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

2.  It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

3.  If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

4.  If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

5.  If that is true, and again it surely must be, then there has to be something else which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representation and the effect it evokes within the system. In fact, this is the material basis of Francis Crick’s famous ‘adapter hypothesis’ in DNA, which lead to a revolution in the biological sciences. In a material universe, that something else must be a second arrangement of matter; coordinated to the first arrangement as well as to the effect it evokes.

6.  It then also follows that this second arrangement must produce its unambiguous function, not from the mere presence of the representation, but from its arrangement.  It is the arbitrary component of the representation which produces the function.

7.  And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information.

8.  During protein synthesis, a selected portion of DNA is first transcribed into mRNA, then matured and transported to the site of translation within the ribosome. This transcription process facilitates the input of information (the arbitrary component of the DNA sequence) into the system. The input of this arbitrary component functions to constrain the output, producing the polypeptides which demonstrate unambiguous function.

9.  From a causal standpoint, the arbitrary component of DNA is transcribed to mRNA, and those mRNA are then used to order tRNA molecules within the ribosome. Each stage of this transcription process is determined by the physical forces of pair bonding. Yet, which amino acid appears at the peptide binding site is not determined by pair bonding; it is determined  by the aaRS. In other words, which amino acid appears at the binding site is only evoked by the physical structure of the nucleic triplet, but is not determined by it. Instead, it is determined (in spatial and temporal isolation) by the physical structure of the aaRS. This is the point of translation; the point where the arbitrary component of the representation is allowed to evoke a response in a physically determined system – while preserving the arbitrary nature of the representation.

10.  This physical event, translation by a material protocol, as well as the transcription of a material representation, is ubiquitous in the transfer of recorded information.

CONCLUSION:  These two physical objects (the representation and protocol) along with the required preservation of the arbitrary component of the representation, and the production of unambiguous function from that arbitrary component, confirm that the transfer of recorded information in the genome is just like any other form of recorded information. It’s an arbitrary relationship instantiated in matter.

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1,432 Responses to UB Sets It Out Step-By-Step

  1. Excellent step by step breakdown of the ‘information problem’. Definitely a keeper.

    Here is a video to help visualize the process:

    Journey Inside The Cell – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fiJupfbSpg

    Related notes:

    The DNA Enigma – Where Did The Information Come From? – Stephen C. Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4125886/

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

    Programming of Life – Protein synthesis (DNA transcription, translation and folding) – May 2011 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erOP76_qLWA

    also of note:

    Honors to Researchers Who Probed Atomic Structure of Ribosomes – Robert F. Service
    Excerpt: “The ribosome’s dance, however, is more like a grand ballet, with dozens of ribosomal proteins and subunits pirouetting with every step while other key biomolecules leap in, carrying other dancers needed to complete the act.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20091015a

    Yonath on “ingeniously designed” ribosome? Everyone tells us she didn’t mean it … – February 2012
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-mean-it/

    Here is the ribosome animation that was done ‘based on’ the work from Yonath’s Nobel winning group:

    Ribosome animation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9vIOYlZXjE

    The Ribosome: Perfectionist Protein-maker Trashes Errors
    Excerpt: The enzyme machine that translates a cell’s DNA code into the proteins of life is nothing if not an editorial perfectionist…the ribosome exerts far tighter quality control than anyone ever suspected over its precious protein products… To their further surprise, the ribosome lets go of error-laden proteins 10,000 times faster than it would normally release error-free proteins, a rate of destruction that Green says is “shocking” and reveals just how much of a stickler the ribosome is about high-fidelity protein synthesis.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134529.htm

    As well, The Ribosome of the cell is found to process information very similarly to a CPU in a electronic computer:

    Dichotomy in the definition of prescriptive information suggests both prescribed data and prescribed algorithms: biosemiotics applications in genomic systems – 2012
    David J D’Onofrio1*, David L Abel2* and Donald E Johnson3
    Excerpt: The DNA polynucleotide molecule consists of a linear sequence of nucleotides, each representing a biological placeholder of adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T) and guanine (G). This quaternary system is analogous to the base two binary scheme native to computational systems. As such, the polynucleotide sequence represents the lowest level of coded information expressed as a form of machine code. Since machine code (and/or micro code) is the lowest form of compiled computer programs, it represents the most primitive level of programming language.,,,
    An operational analysis of the ribosome has revealed that this molecular machine with all of its parts follows an order of operations to produce a protein product. This order of operations has been detailed in a step-by-step process that has been observed to be self-executable. The ribosome operation has been proposed to be algorithmic (Ralgorithm) because it has been shown to contain a step-by-step process flow allowing for decision control, iterative branching and halting capability. The R-algorithm contains logical structures of linear sequencing, branch and conditional control. All of these features at a minimum meet the definition of an algorithm and when combined with the data from the mRNA, satisfy the rule that Algorithm = data + control. Remembering that mere constraints cannot serve as bona fide formal controls, we therefore conclude that the ribosome is a physical instantiation of an algorithm.,,,
    The correlation between linguistic properties examined and implemented using Automata theory give us a formalistic tool to study the language and grammar of biological systems in a similar manner to how we study computational cybernetic systems. These examples define a dichotomy in the definition of Prescriptive Information. We therefore suggest that the term Prescriptive Information (PI) be subdivided into two categories: 1) Prescriptive data and 2) Prescribed (executing) algorithm.
    It is interesting to note that the CPU of an electronic computer is an instance of a prescriptive algorithm instantiated into an electronic circuit, whereas the software under execution is read and processed by the CPU to prescribe the program’s desired output. Both hardware and software are prescriptive.
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content.....82-9-8.pdf

  2. I must be a bit dim. DNA:

    1. replicates itself more or less faithfully, except when it mutates at random
    2. transcribes protein sequences via RNAs more or less faithfully based on its specific nucelotide sequence

    The information held in the original DNA sequence is preserved through both processes (though it may be modified in both by either base substitution or mis-transcription, which are both observed). Did we need the airy persiflage to know this?

    My only beef would be with the use of the term “arbitrary”. In which sense is the term meant?

    1. Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.
    2. Based on or subject to individual judgment or preference: The diet imposes overall calorie limits, but daily menus are arbitrary.
    3. Established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute: an arbitrary penalty.
    4. Not limited by law; despotic: the arbitrary rule of a dictator.

    (pinched from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/arbitrary)

    Presumably not 3 or 4. In both cases (replication and transcription), the results are necessary – the results are determined by the physics of DNA chemistry. The only arbitrary component arises when random mutations result in a different replicant, or mis-transciption results in a different protein output.

  3. My only beef would be with the use of the term “arbitrary”. In which sense is the term meant?

    You ask “how are you using the term” immediately after reading exactly how I was using the term. Which words in the following paraghraph are you having trouble with:

    If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

  4. Semi OT: Higher level epigenetic information deals another blow to the ‘central dogma’ (genetic reductionism: DNA makes RNA makes proteins) of neo-Darwinism:

    Histone-modifying proteins, not histones, remain associated with DNA through replication – August 23, 2012
    Excerpt: A study of Drosophila embryos,, found that parental methylated histones are not transferred to daughter DNA. Rather, after DNA replication, new nucleosomes are assembled from newly synthesized unmodified histones. “Essentially, all histones are going away during DNA replication and new histones, which are not modified, are coming in,”,,
    “What this paper tells us,” he continues, “is that these histone modifying proteins somehow are able to withstand the passage of the DNA replication machinery. They remained seated on their responsive binding sites, and in all likelihood they will re-establish histone modification and finalize the chromatin structure that allows either activation or repression of the target gene.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-08-h.....ation.html

    related video:

    The Mysterious Epigenome. What lies beyond DNA – Woodward – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpXs8uShFMo

  5. In point 1, UB lists examples which at first seem to be “intended” to convey information (codes,languages,etc) but then later (sensory input, etc. etc.) not necessarily so (to a non-ID person of course).

    In point 2 he says it’s not logically possible to transfer information without … I believe it is not “physically” possible – but “logically”, I’m not so sure. In any case I can’t help thinking UB could be undermining various in-tent worldviews in which information starts off, apprently, in some difficult to pin down immaterial “woo” dimension (my paraphrasing) and is conveyed to the here and now distant past by a what appear to me to be absolutely undetectable “magic” (ditto) mechanisms.

    In point 3 he starts off with “if that is true” which is already on shaky grounds, but then goes on to say that “that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents”.

    What about the shadow that a pair of would-be robbers standing behind a rock throw on to the ground next to them? It informs an approaching victim that there are other people present; that one is much bigger than the other and appears to be holding a large club. These are not intended messages that the robbers meant to send but are nevertheless information which could save a life and require many bytes for me to pass on to you here. What if the intended victim went back to the scene the next day with a posse of local policemen (all clutching their beloved signed copies of How to calculate CSI&FSCI/O at a crime scene (Dembski, GEM, et al)) * and find footprints? The footprints represent information about the robbers (one was bare foot, the other wore size 10 shoes and walked with a pronounced limp, they walked west and then there seemed to be some sort of struggle, then there’s a sort of grooved channel heading off to some bushes and a large set of single barefoot footprints leading away from that.

    Loads of information, none designed, none intended, all material, all subject to the laws of physics and certainly not arbitrary.

    In point 4 he starts off again with “if that is true” which is getting shakier by the minute and the rest is, afaict, a recap of point 3.

    By point 5 which starts of with “if that is true” again, I think he’s lost the argument completely by now. But that’s just me.

    * Above scenarios are imaginary, but this one humorously n-tuply so.

  6. Hello Steveh,

    I am now driving home. I will be happy to return and respond.

    UD Editors: UD does not condone texting, emailing blogging or otherwise distracting oneself while driving.

  7. Upright Biped said this:

    And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    You use “arbitrary” as a synonym for “not the same as”. I am unable to find any dictionary definition of “arbitrary” that matches this usage. Since you appear to rely on this word throughout your argument, I presume you attach some importance to your meaning for it.

  8. timothya- DNA is NOT a replicator. DNA gets replicated when the cell divides.

    That said the mRNA is a representation of the amino acids it encodes. The mRNA does not become the amino acids, the codons it contains is just a representation of them.

    That means there is knowledge somewhere- knowledge of what codon represents which amino acid.

    And if that wasn’t enough the ribosome is a genetic compiler and it is not reducible to matter and energy- synthesized ribosomes do not function and if they were reducible to matter and energy they would.

    All that said the morons over on the septic zone just don’t get it and they sure as heck cannot demonstrate necessity and chance can do such a thing- that is account for the ribosome nor transcrition and translation. But I am sure that won’t stop them from bloviating away.

  9. timothya:

    The use of “arbitrary” is very common in information theory and mathematics. UB is not making this up. My dictionary includes things like: undetermined; not assigned a particular value; not restricted by law; subject to discretion. Maybe you need a better dictionary.

    Do you have a substantive concern with UB’s argument?

    —–

    BTW, DNA does not reproduce itself. It gets copied through a very detailed and complex and carefully orchestrated process involving a whole suite of coordinated systems.

  10. UB: Some nits.

    2. ‘instantiated’ generally appeals to, and is understood by myself, in your argument to be synonynous to ‘stored’. True and correct but at odds with ‘spoken words’ in your definition (1). A great help if you clear up early that you are talking about persistent representations rather than temporal/transient ones.

    3. Terribly wordy and a bit tortured: “The material representation and material object represented are distinct and different.” This ought be a definitional point as with (1); as should it be different then the representation of an object is that object and not a representation. Which is not what was assumed and so absurd. (If you want to get proofy with it.)

    4. This is terribly ambiguous or I’m being thick. I assume you mean that the physical storage medium is a physical thing-bob. But that the given notion of the encoding stream or representation ordered upon that medium is a purely arbitrary issue.

    5. I assume by this that you mean that for the information to be meaningful there must be an observer/recipient/interactor that can interface with the material storage but to which the arbitrary representation elicits a distinguished response. Loosely. If I have that correct, then no worries.

    6. It’s wholly unnecessary for it to be ‘unambiguous’ in the sense that I understand your argument. Within the current context there are multiple codons that can signify a given amino acid. But there are also any manner on context specific decorations, etc, that can be bolted onto things that can change the translation environment. This is aside from any issues of general noise tolerance in the channel, etc. This one needs more work, or a clarification, to be useful.

    I’ll stop here but I assume though that your entire point is to draw on analogous reasoning that DNA/Ribosomes/Proteins are in every manner the same — in the abstract — as a Jacquard loom, Turing machine, or Hard drive/Software/CPU set. If that is what you are after then I certainly don’t disagree with the general conclusion. But the argument itself is rather opaque as presented.

  11. 11

    Hello Timothya,

    You use “arbitrary” as a synonym for “not the same as”. I am unable to find any dictionary definition of “arbitrary” that matches this usage. Since you appear to rely on this word throughout your argument, I presume you attach some importance to your meaning for it.

    It’s not really the word I rely upon; it the material observation which has been made. Proteins aren’t constructed from nucleotides. There is no inherent physical property in the pattern of cytosine-thymine-adenine which maps to leucine. That mapping is context specific, not an inexorable law. This has been shown in the lab. Perhaps it’s the Popper in me, but I simply don’t find it necessary to drone on about the number of different ways in which to express that reality, it is only the understanding of the observation that is important. That is why I took the time to explain my usage of the word at the time I used it. So if someone tells me that this thing is “materially arbitrary” to that thing and I have any background knowledge on the topic whatsoever, then perhaps I feel less of a need to run to dictionary in order to understand what it could possibly mean. You are free to call it whatever helps you understand.

    And if that is, as you say, your “only beef”, then I suspect you don’t intend on showing how the material observations are false, or that the reasoning is flawed. If you come up with something of material substance, then I’ll be happy to re-engage. Thanks.

  12. 12

    Hello steveh,

    In point 1, UB lists examples which at first seem to be “intended” to convey information (codes,languages,etc) but then later (sensory input, etc. etc.) not necessarily so (to a non-ID person of course).

    Neither the source of the information nor its intent (or lack of thereof) is germane to the material observations.

    Also, your #2 seems to be devoid of any relevant observations.

    In point 3 he starts off with “if that is true” which is already on shaky grounds, but then goes on to say that “that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents”.

    So far (in #1) you’ve introduced an issue which is not germane to the observations, and then (in #2) you made some comments about my undermining worldviews, which is irrelevant. And with that you’ve determined that my use of the phrase ’if that is true’ is “already on shaky ground”. And what exactly was I talking about when I said “if that is true”? I was talking about something you’ve already agreed would be impossible to exist any other way.

    :|

    What about the shadow that a pair of would-be robbers…

    Seeing a robber’s shadow requires vision. If you see a shadow, it is not then a shadow traveling through your optical nerve. It is a material representation of that image which will be translated into a functional effect by a protocol in your visual cortex.

    The remainder of your post seems to be somewhat content free in relation to the challenge of showing a flaw in either the material observations or the reasoning.

    If you’d like to actually challenge the observations, I will be happy to answer.

  13. 13

    Hello Maus,

    2. ‘instantiated’ generally appeals to, and is understood by myself, in your argument to be synonynous to ‘stored’. True and correct but at odds with ‘spoken words’ in your definition (1). A great help if you clear up early that you are talking about persistent representations rather than temporal/transient ones.

    I understand, but I don’t see it as being at odds. A spoken word is a material representation instantiated in the variations of local air pressure (sound). My definition does not turn on the lifespan of the material representation, whether it be a pattern of sound waves, or a book burned after 20 years time.

    3. Terribly wordy and a bit tortured: “The material representation and material object represented are distinct and different.” This ought be a definitional point as with (1); as should it be different then the representation of an object is that object and not a representation. Which is not what was assumed and so absurd. (If you want to get proofy with it.)

    Quite frankly, I feel the same way about your number 3. In fact, I can’t make heads or tails of it. :)

    4. This is terribly ambiguous or I’m being thick. I assume you mean that the physical storage medium is a physical thing-bob. But that the given notion of the encoding stream or representation ordered upon that medium is a purely arbitrary issue.

    No, I mean that “ the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).”

    5. I assume by this that you mean that for the information to be meaningful there must be an observer/recipient/interactor that can interface with the material storage but to which the arbitrary representation elicits a distinguished response. Loosely. If I have that correct, then no worries.

    Close enough.

    6. It’s wholly unnecessary for it to be ‘unambiguous’ in the sense that I understand your argument. Within the current context there are multiple codons that can signify a given amino acid. But there are also any manner on context specific decorations, etc, that can be bolted onto things that can change the translation environment. This is aside from any issues of general noise tolerance in the channel, etc. This one needs more work, or a clarification, to be useful.

    If we could not see a representation and protocol in action, we could not (with confidence) confirm the transfer of recorded information. Only by the observation of function can we tell a material representation from any other arrangement of matter. Think Rosetta Stone.

    I’ll stop here but I assume though that your entire point is to draw on analogous reasoning that DNA/Ribosomes/Proteins are in every manner the same — in the abstract — as a Jacquard loom, Turing machine, or Hard drive/Software/CPU set. If that is what you are after then I certainly don’t disagree with the general conclusion. But the argument itself is rather opaque as presented.

    The argument is as I stated it above. Thanks for your input.

  14. UB:

    I understand, but I don’t see it as being at odds. A spoken word is a material representation instantiated in the variations of local air pressure (sound).

    Sure, sure. Delay line memory and like as well.

    Quite frankly, I feel the same way about your number 3.

    This is what we get for giving an infinite number of monkeys access to typewriters.

    Only by the observation of function can we tell a material representation from any other arrangement of matter. Think Rosetta Stone.

    True enough, but if that’s what you’re after then you need to make, in your argument, a clean separation between the system as it is and the system as we have knowledge of it. Especially with regards to ‘function’ specifically. Heiroglyphics and that Nazca Lines are obviously structured affairs for various reasons, but that observation is quite a bit different than watching the flywheel on a donkey engine spin about, lacking knowledge of the rest of the internals.

    I say ‘need’ but really it’s just a personal kvetch for clarity. You can keep your own counsel on its accessibility.

  15. 15

    Thank you again Maus.

  16. UB,

    Thank you for your detailed and precise argument. You are outlining a very important, often misunderstood , point: that in the cell specific knowledge of a completely arbitrary code (the genetic code) is implemented at least at two completely different, and independent, levels:

    1) In the DNA protein coding genes, that are written according to the code, so that each gene corresponds to a specific functional sequence of AAs.

    2) In the translation apparatus, and specifically in the 20 aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, 20 very complex proteins that are structured so that they can attach the correct aminoacid to the correct tRNA. WIthout those 20 complex proteins, no procedure of translation is possible.

    Both the DNA protein coding genes and the 20 synthetases are structured according to the same symbolic code, the genetic code. But the relation to the code is completely different:

    1) in the DNA genes, the code is the foundation of the correspondence between the DNA sequence and the AA sequence.

    2) In the 20 synthetases, the specific structure of each protein is the foundation of the biochemical function that allows each protein to correctly attach the right AA to the right tRNA, according to the genetic code.

    IF we consider that no translation is possible without the 20 synthetases, and that each synthetase is a very complex protein, translated from its DNA gene, we have a very beautiful case of “chicken and egg” problem: IOWs, a beautiful example of irreducible complexity.

  17. A few notes on the fact that the genetic code could have ‘arbitrarily’ been very different:

    First and foremost, as has been clearly pointed out on UD many times before, there are no physical or chemical forces between the nucleotides along the linear axis of DNA (where the information is) that causes the sequences of nucleotides to exist as they do. In fact as far as the foundational laws of the universe are concerned the DNA molecule, the protein molecule, and the mRNA molecule, don’t even have to exist at all. In fact it can be firmly argued that the laws of nature are against the spontaneous formation of molecules that have the capacity to carry ‘arbitrary’ sequences of information in a meaningful ‘encoded’ way, such as Upright meticulously has laid out. This is one of the primary reasons why the origin of molecular life is, from a materialistic perspective, such a unfathomable mystery with no realistic resolution in sight. Here are a few brief notes along that perspective:

    British Geneticist Robert Saunders Leaves a Highly Prejudiced Signature in His Review of “Signature in the Cell” – April 2012
    Excerpt: Meyer points out a rather astonishing fact – about which there is no scientific controversy – regarding the arrangements of the nucleobases in DNA. There are absolutely no chemical affinities or preferences for which nucleobases bond with any particular phosphate and sugar molecule. The N-glycosidic bond works equally well with (A), (T), (G), or (C). And secondly, there are also no chemical bonds in the vertical axis between the nucleobases. What this means is that there are no forces of physical/chemical attraction and no chemical or physical law that dictates the order of the nucleobases; they can be arranged in a nearly infinite amount of different sequences.
    http://www.algemeiner.com/2012.....-the-cell/

    A Substantial Conundrum Confronting The Chemical Origin Of Life – August 2011
    Excerpt: 1. Peptide bond formation is an endothermic reaction. This means that the reaction requires the absorption of energy: It does not take place spontaneously.
    2. Peptide bond formation is a condensation reaction. It hence involves the net removal of a water molecule. So not only can this reaction not happen spontaneously in an aqueous medium, but, in fact, the presence of water inhibits the reaction.

    Salt in water only adds to this thermodynamic problem:

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

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

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

    Stephen Meyer – Proteins by Design – Doing The Math – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6332250/

    In fact, the DNA code ‘could have’, arbitrarily, been vastly different than the optimal code we find in life:

    Biophysicist Hubert Yockey determined that natural selection would have to explore 1.40 x 10^70 different genetic codes to discover the optimal universal genetic code that is found in nature. The maximum amount of time available for it to originate is 6.3 x 10^15 seconds. Natural selection would have to evaluate roughly 10^55 codes per second to find the one that is optimal. Put simply, natural selection lacks the time necessary to find the optimal universal genetic code we find in nature. (Fazale Rana, -The Cell’s Design – 2008 – page 177)

    “The genetic code’s error-minimization properties are far more dramatic than these (one in a million) results indicate. When the researchers calculated the error-minimization capacity of the one million randomly generated genetic codes, they discovered that the error-minimization values formed a distribution. Researchers estimate the existence of 10^18 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 means of 10^18 codes few, if any have an error-minimization capacity that approaches the code found universally throughout nature.”
    Fazale Rana – From page 175; ‘The Cell’s Design’

    Dr. Rana, points out in this following podcast, at the 22 minute mark, that researchers produced a ‘alternative genetic system’, thus providing solid evidence that the code ‘could have’, ‘arbitrarily’, been vastly different than the optimal one we find in biological life:

    Evolution of Synthetic DNA (turns out to support Intelligent Design) – Fazale Rana PhD. – podcast
    http://www.reasons.org/podcast.....thetic-dna

    Another point that I would like to make is that the chemical elements found in the universe have a very spooky balance,,, a spooky balance that ‘just so happens’ to be necessary for complex biological life to be possible. Michael Denton, author of both ‘Evolution: A Theory In Crisis’ & ‘Nature’s Destiny’, comments on the surprising ‘chemicals balanced for life’ finding in the following two interviews:

    Michael Denton – We Are Stardust – Uncanny Balance Of The Elements – Atheist Fred Hoyle’s conversion to a Deist/Theist – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003877

    “Dr. Michael Denton on Evidence of Fine-Tuning in the Universe” – August 2012 – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_59-07_00

    The reason why I wanted to point out that the chemicals of the universe appear to be ‘balanced for life’ is because of the following fact:

    Life Leads the Way to Invention – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: a cell is 10,000 times more energy-efficient than a transistor. “In one second, a cell performs about 10 million energy-consuming chemical reactions, which altogether require about one picowatt (one millionth millionth of a watt) of power.” This and other amazing facts lead to an obvious conclusion: inventors ought to look to life for ideas.,,, Essentially, cells may be viewed as circuits that use molecules, ions, proteins and DNA instead of electrons and transistors. That analogy suggests that it should be possible to build electronic chips – what Sarpeshkar calls “cellular chemical computers” – that mimic chemical reactions very efficiently and on a very fast timescale.
    http://creationsafaris.com/cre.....#20100226a

    It seems, to achieve such ‘unbelievable’ energy efficiency, for such massive information processing in the cell, that the integrated coding between the DNA, RNA and Proteins of the cell apparently seems to be ingeniously programmed along the very stringent guidelines laid out by Landauer’s principle for ‘reversible computation’ in order to achieve such amazing energy efficiency.,,, The amazing energy efficiency possible with ‘reversible computation’ has been known about since Rolf Landauer laid out the principles for such programming decades ago, but as far as I know, due to the extreme level of complexity involved in achieving such ingenious ‘reversible coding’, has yet to be accomplish in any meaningful way for our computer programs even to this day:

    Reversible computing
    Reversible computing is a model of computing where the computational process to some extent is reversible, i.e., time-invertible.,,, Although achieving this goal presents a significant challenge for the design, manufacturing, and characterization of ultra-precise new physical mechanisms for computing, there is at present no fundamental reason to think that this goal cannot eventually be accomplished, allowing us to someday build computers that generate much less than 1 bit’s worth of physical entropy (and dissipate much less than kT ln 2 energy to heat) for each useful logical operation that they carry out internally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R....._computing

    Notes on Landauer’s principle, reversible computation, and Maxwell’s Demon – Charles H. Bennett
    Excerpt: Of course, in practice, almost all data processing is done on macroscopic apparatus, dissipating macroscopic amounts of energy far in excess of what would be required by Landauer’s principle. Nevertheless, some stages of biomolecular information processing, such as transcription of DNA to RNA, appear to be accomplished by chemical reactions that are reversible not only in principle but in practice.,,,,
    http://www.hep.princeton.edu/~.....501_03.pdf

    Thus it seems, although I haven’t seen much detailed research in this area, that the ‘chemistry of the universe’ itself was designed for eventually achieving programming in bio-chemistry along the very stringent guidelines laid out by Landauer’s principle for reversible computation.

  18. F/N: Arbitrary is indeed a common usage in technical fields. In communications, the discussion is about a conventional assignment, or a protocol that is explicit or implied by structures, as opposed to direct physical causal connexion that is not dependent on a purposeful arrangement.

    It may help to look at a basic model of a telecomms system:

    || TRANSMITTER || –> Channel –> || Receiver ||

    Where TX:

    source –> Encoder and or modulator –> transmission unit –>

    And Rx:

    –> reception unit –> demod and decoder –> Sink

    The modulation scheme and the coding scheme are dependent on conventions that are expressed in purposeful system structures, such as amplitude modulation and amplitude-shift keying as a fairly simple case.

    Simplest way to do AM is to modify the amplitude of an oscillator based on an analogue [or step-wide] input signal, which physically instantiates the mathematical operation of multiplying the signals, and gives rise to a carrier with side-bands.

    This can be boosted in an amplifier and transmitted via an antenna or a cable. The antenna in effect couples electrons running up and down a metal conductor to a surrounding oscillating electro-magnetic field. This propagates away, with various interesting possibilities studied under the head: propagation.

    At a receiver, a tuned circuit set to the carrier frequency and coupled to an antenna can oscillate in sympathy with the vibrating field that has propagated.

    This can then be boosted and half-wave rectified with some low pass filtering, to yield the base-band signal. You don’t even need an amplifier if the signal is strong enough, that is how a crystal receiver works. Thanks to semiconductors due to oxidation etc, a fence wire could sometimes serve as such.

    Now, at first, I thought UB missed the side of waves carrying signals, where say an E-M wave is not exactly material, but then when I thought about the comms system, it was clear that he is right, there has to be some embodiment of the scheme in a material entity for it to have effect.

    I think it would be helpful for us to take a look here on in my always linked notes, to help clarify this area, up to a basic intro to info theory and how it links to the design detection controversy. BTW< the presence of a communications network, especially a digital, coded one is — based on induction and related analysis — a strong indicator of purpose, knowledge, skill and artifice at work, i.e. design.

    But then, if you are committed to design not being seen in something like the cell, you will always be able to make up clever sounding objections.

    But that does not make the fact of a coded info system in the heart of the living cell go away, nor can it change our experience of what creates such systems, and what it takes to do so.

    KF

  19. F/N 2: A cybernetic, control system also clearly embeds communication and signalling protocols in a loop or in a straight feed-forward system. Where such includes a digital signal, that implies a definite comms network. Cf here protein manufacture by translation, transfer, setting up a control tape, successive coded chaining of AA’s, and sending to chaperones for folding, or running through the Golgi “post office” — with address headers of all things, much like HTTP and packet switching.

  20. corrected link:

    Origin Of Life – No Realistic Explanations – Charles Thaxton PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5222490/

  21. Great job Barry and especially Upright Biped. Now we have the septic zonites sounding off with nonsense, special pleading and equivocation- one example:

    The codon-amino acid linkage may well be substitutable

    That’s the special pleading- and now for the equivocation:

    – but this is precisely why it can evolve into a ‘code’ from a simple polyX-synthetic ribozyme.

    1- Your position can’t even get a simple ribozyme

    2- ID is OK with the system evolving by design

  22. kf:

    But then, if you are committed to design not being seen in something like the cell, you will always be able to make up clever sounding objections.

    Not clever sounding objections. Rather, strange, convoluted, incoherent objections.

  23. 23
    critical rationalist

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    Biological adaptations are transformations of matter of the latter category. Specifically, they occur when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present in an organism’s genome.

    We can contrast this with, say, automobiles which, unlike biological organisms, do not contain the knowledge to build themselves. Placing a small chunk of metal and rubber in oil does not result in an automobile building itself. Rather, the knowledge of how to build automobiles exists in us and our books (or other storage media). Furthermore, this knowledge is explanatory in nature, rather than merely being a useful rule of thumb.

    What do I mean by “knowledge”? I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to remain there and is consistent with Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. While they serve many other purposes as well, both brains and DNA act as storage mediums.

    What’s unclear is what you mean by arbitrary or it’s relevance.

    For example, as a software developer, one of the questions I often ask clients is how they want to display data in a list. Item’s can be sorted by one or more specific properties of the data itself, or placed in an arbitrary order. However, since the term “arbitrary” can have different meanings, I often use a hypothetical list of colors to clarify the term. On one hand, colors can sorted alphabetically, by wavelength or even the number of characters. On the other hand, they can also be displayed by one’s preference, starting with their favorite color and ending with their least favorite color. The latter represents an arbitrary order.

    However, once a user arbitrarily orders colors in a list and quits the application, they do not reappear in the order of the users preference on next launch merely because they prefer it. Behind the scenes, I add an additional property (usually an integer or flowing point number) as an index, indicating where the user placed that color in the list. Then, rather than sorting by the colors wavelength or name, I sort by that index property. In other words, the knowledge of the user’s preference is embedded in some sort of storage medium and recalled at runtime. In the absence of this knowledge, the list does not reflect the user’s preference.

    It’s uncontroversial that people exhibit intent. As such, it’s uncontroversial that intent plays a role in the explanation of how the list is ordered. However, this isn’t the case regarding adaptations in the biosphere.

  24. Without further ado, here is UB’s argument:

    1. …..

    Perhaps a more succinct way of saying it.

    Physical objects which represent information by definition must be physically improbable

    Improbable, means from generalized boundary conditions, not specialized boundary conditions like DNA in living organisms.

    Timothya:

    1. replicates itself more or less faithfully, except when it mutates at random

    That is a specialized boundary condition that doesn’t take into account the possibility of the living organism existing in the first place that can make DNA. This is conflating general probability with conditional probability. If you compute the probability of polymerized homochiral DNA emerging from a chemical soup, you get a different answer than the probabilities you calculate after a cell is already living and replicating.

    BTW: the shannon entropy of DNA conventionally is calculated from the general case, not the specific case you cite.

    The way you calculate the shannon entropy would yield 0 bits per base pair, wherease the mainstream way would calculate 2 bits per base pair. Upright Biped is consistent with the mainstream notions of probability here.

  25. BTW: the shannon entropy of DNA conventionally is calculated from the general case, not the specific case you cite.

    Correction, even this is a generous assumption because it presumes:

    1. DNA will exist in the first place
    2. DNA will polymerize
    3. DNA will be readable and thus likely homochiral
    4. There are reading mechanisms that can read a DNA polymer

    So the actual configurational entropy is far higher than the shannon entropy we usually use to estimate the information content in DNA.

    Upright’s post is spot on.

  26. Interesting. DNA in this account is a communication system such as Claude Shannon described in 1948/9, and so it therefore should be able to be characterized mathematically.

    Surely, characterizations along these lines have been done? As a literature guy, I’m not familiar with professional work in either genetics or math (excepting online/blog pieces that I forget quickly).

    If such studies have been done, what’s the “new thing” we’re talking about here and now? I think I’m missing the point.

    Or is it controversial that DNA acts like a communication system?

  27. 27
    critical rationalist

    What explanation does ID present as to how this knowledge, found in the genome, was created?

  28. What explanation does ID present as to how this knowledge, found in the genome, was created?

    Programmed by the designer(s).

    How is the knowledge, found in computers, created? By the computer programmers.

  29. LarTanner,

    DNA is only PART of the communication system.

  30. 30

    Hello CR,

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    I understand your comment. My point is that the transfer of recorded information can occur when the protocol is present (within a system) as outlined above.

    Biological adaptations are transformations of matter of the latter category. Specifically, they occur when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present in an organism’s genome.

    The source of the information does not change the necessary conditions with regard to the observations. The argument above is that if the required protocol is instantiated in the system, then the information can be translated from its transcribed state into a functional effect.

    We can contrast this with, say, automobiles which, unlike biological organisms, do not contain the knowledge to build themselves. Placing a small chunk of metal and rubber in oil does not result in an automobile building itself. Rather, the knowledge of how to build automobiles exists in us and our books (or other storage media). Furthermore, this knowledge is explanatory in nature, rather than merely being a useful rule of thumb.

    I am uncertain of how this impacts the argument.

    What do I mean by “knowledge”? I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to remain there and is consistent with Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. While they serve many other purposes as well, both brains and DNA act as storage mediums

    I am willing to agree to a certain extent, but again, I do not see a relation to the argument above.

    What’s unclear is what you mean by arbitrary or it’s relevance.

    For example, as a software developer, one of the questions I often ask clients is how they want to display data in a list…

    I believe your perspective is made clear here. You are talking about making arbitrary choices with regard to a program you write on top of a symbol system. I am talking about the symbol system itself. The fact that the letter “A” can be represented by “1000001” is arbitrary – not inexorable law.

  31. 31

    Thank you GP!
    I am so happy to see you posting again.

    Thank you as well to Eric, KF, Joe, BA, and Sal. I’m very grateful for your input.

  32. LarTanner, as to your question about how does Shannon information characterize mathematically to all of this, this short video, from a guy who works in the communication industry, Perry Marshall, where he talks about on ‘shannon channel capacity’ (i.e. mathematical theory of communication) and about how Hubert Yockey related DNA and proteins to all this may be of interest to you:

    Shannon Information – Channel Capacity – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5457552/

    “Because of Shannon channel capacity that previous (first) codon alphabet had to be at least as complex as the current codon alphabet (DNA code), otherwise transferring the information from the simpler alphabet into the current alphabet would have been mathematically impossible”
    Donald E. Johnson – Bioinformatics: The Information in Life

  33. 33

    Hello Larry,

    Biologists routinely view the information within the genome as only analogous to other forms of information. I have heard it said many times, “when we say ‘information’ we know what we mean”.

    On the contrary, it can be shown that genetic information follows the same material realities as any other form of information. It requires: “two physical objects (the representation and protocol) [as described above] along with the required preservation of the arbitrary component of the representation, and the production of unambiguous function from that arbitrary component”.

    How these demonstrated realities impact someone’s view depends, of course, on what they started with.

  34. critical rationalist:

    It’s uncontroversial that people exhibit intent. As such, it’s uncontroversial that intent plays a role in the explanation of how the list is ordered. However, this isn’t the case regarding adaptations in the biosphere.

    Well, the problem is exactly that: how can an “adaptation”, without any intent, generate a system like the one we consider here (information in the DNA gene and its translation by the translation apparatus, both of them linked, in different ways, to a symbolic genetic code)? There is no way to explain that, except by wishful thinking and myth.

    What explanation does ID present as to how this knowledge, found in the genome, was created?

    A very simple explanation. One or more conscious agent planned the system. The symbolic code was chosen arbitrarily, although according to some logical requisites. Then necessary information about required proteins was generated and stored in protein genes, and the transaltion apparatus, including the 20 synthetase proteins, were included in the system.

    IOWs, a complex plan, including knowledge and intent, was implemented.

    Please, consider that the fundamental system that manages protein information, stores it in DNA, transcribes it in mRNA, and translates it into proteins by the 20 Synthetases, the tRNAs and the rybosomes, is universal in life. We have no evidence of any kind that life can exist without that.

  35. 35
    critical rationalist

    Joe: Programmed by the designer(s).

    This is unnecessarily vague.

    For example, before a magic trick can be performed, the explanation of how to perform that trick must be known to the magician who invented it (and passed down to subsequent magicians who perform it). The origin of that knowledge is the origin of the magic trick. In the absence of said knowledge, it would not be a magic trick but actually magic, as the knowledge of how to bring about the desired outcome would have been spontaneously generated.

    So, It’s unclear how your answer and different that saying, “A magician did it”?

    In other words, you still haven’t explained how the knowledge found in the genome was created.

  36. 36

    Through an interesting turn of events, I was given the opportunity to have an audience with a physicist that many would consider an authority on these specific topics. I can say this with some confidence because his peers have already honored him as such more than once. There is no need in asking for his name because (#1) I do not have his permission to give it and (#2) I wouldn’t anyway. This man is an ardent materialist who was kind enough to review the larger argument I am making here and give me his response to it. I have no intentions of dragging him out to be slaughtered by the ideologues whom have already shown what they will do to anyone who would stain themselves by agreeing with an ID proponent. It’s not going to happen.

    The reason I bring this up is because I do intend on sharing the first line of his response. However, I would like to take the opportunity to draw a specific contrast. This particular physicist is not the only one which I have encountered with my argument. There have been four or five others. Recently, I spent a little over two months on The Skeptical Zone arguing my case. In the gallery there was a retired physicist. This was my first encounter with this person. In his response to my argument, this physicist prepared himself to brow beat me at every turn. He did little else, which was a disappointment to me because as a non-specialist, I could have used the opportunity to hone my argument if only he was motivated by empiricism instead of ideology. Alas, that was not to be.

    What I really have taken from this is the UNBELIEVABLE DIFFERENCE that exists in speaking to someone who is actually motivated by evidence. In my exchanges with the physicist mentioned above, I never once had to re-explain (for instance) what “arbitrary “ meant, or any of the other linguistic gymnastic that are required (in fact absolutely necessary) when dealing with the ideologues that troll the Internet.

    Here is just a tip of the contrast. Below is Mr Elzning’s foray into core of the argument above and some of his last comments made (and trust me, I am being kind by only copying these):

    What “representations and protocols” do atoms follow when they condense into stars? What “representations and protocols” do stars follow in building up heavier elements from hydrogen and helium? What “representations and protocols” do stars follow when they the go supernova and throw those new elements out onto space and generate additional heavier elements in the shock waves of the explosion?

    It’s probably useless to try to make any sense of UB’s word salads – and I am not going to waste time on it … Every important scientific concept in every field of science is mangled beyond recognition in order to “reason” against science

    When I read that, I see someone who has never had a course in physics or chemistry, let alone biology. He seems to be trying to invent a new vocabulary which, as near as I can tell, is constructed to let in the conclusion of “intelligent design.” The uses of words like “evoke” and “instantiate,” and then suddenly slipping in the word “protocol” are all anthropomorphic characterizations that clearly presume what is eventually going to be concluded

    And in contrast, here is the first line in the response from a physicist motivated by evidence, without the emotional requirement to belittle and berate any perceived lesser person who holds a different opinion:

    I agree with everything you say, although I often use different terms. I try to stick with the vocabulary of physics as much as possible. This is just one example of the arbitrariness …

    Anyone who has ever read David Berlinski’s book “The Devils Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretentions” will recall the preface of that book where David talks about a public feeling oppressed by an ideology which has co-opted the institutions of science as their means. It is not in my particular nature to feel oppressed by a bully ass, but we see it on display all the same.

  37. CR @35:

    It is unclear whether you have a sincere question or are simply playing hyperskeptical semantic games due to a philosophical commitment. In order to identify which is the case and allow us to move forward with the discussion, please answer the following question:

    How was the knowledge in a detailed computer program or database created?

  38. 38
    critical rationalist

    UB: I understand your comment. My point is that the transfer of recorded information can occur when the protocol is present (within a system) as outlined above.

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    An arrangement of matter that evokes an effect represents knowledge of how to bring that effect about.

    For example, I might want to build an army of nanobots that, when injected into a patient, hunt down and kill cancer cells. However, before raw materials could be transformed into said naobots, the requisite knowledge of how to perform that transformation would need to be present. My desire or intention isn’t sufficient for this to occur. And, as a person, it’s uncontroversial that people exhibit intent. Again, this isn’t the case regarding knowledge present in the genome.

    UB: The argument above is that if the required protocol is instantiated in the system, then the information can be translated from its transcribed state into a functional effect.

    Again, by knowledge, I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to cause itself to remain there. And, I’m referring to Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge exists independent of anyone’s belief. So, it’s unclear why intent must be present to “cause” an particular transformation of matter.

    For example, if you asked for the knowledge of how to build a car but received the knowledge of how to build a truck instead, the knowledge you possess still builds a truck regardless of what you believe it does. Nor does following the instructions result in a car merely because that’s what you intended.

    CR: Furthermore, this knowledge is explanatory in nature, rather than merely being a useful rule of thumb.

    UB: I am uncertain of how this impacts the argument.

    Not all conjectures are intentional.

    For example, imagine I’ve been shipwrecked on a deserted island and I have partial amnesia due to the wreck. I remember that coconuts are edible so climb a tree to pick them. While attempting to pick a coconut, one falls, lands of a rock and splits open. Note that I did not intend for the coconut to fall, let alone plan for it to fall because I guessed coconuts that fall on rocks might crack open. The coconut falling was random in respect to the problem I hadn’t yet even tried to solve. Furthermore, due to my amnesia, I’ve hypothetically forgotten what I know about physics, including mass, inertia, etc. Specifically, I lack an explanation as to why the coconut landing on the rock causes it to open. As such, my knowledge of how to open coconuts is merely a useful rule of thumb, which is limited in reach. For example, in the absence of an explanation, I might collect coconuts picked from other trees, carry them to this same tree, climb it, then drop them on the rocks to open them.

    However, explanatory knowledge has significant reach. Specifically, if my explanatory knowledge of physics, including inertia, mass, etc. returned, I could use that explanation to strike coconut with any similar sized rock, rather than vice versa. Furthermore, I could exchange the rock with another object with significant mass, such as an anchor and open objects other than coconuts, such as shells, use this knowledge to protect myself from attacking wildlife, etc.

    So, explanatory knowledge comes from intentional conjectures made by people and have significant reach. Non-explanatory knowledge (useful rules of thumb) represent unintentional conjectures and have limited reach. Knowledge can be created without intent in the form of useful rules of thumb. The knowledge of how to build biological adaptations isn’t explanatory in nature but a useful rule of thumb.

  39. Also, your #2 seems to be devoid of any relevant observations.

    How so? You stated that it’s not logically possible to transfer information without encoding it in matter; However generations of philosophers who knew nothing about photons have managed to conduct perfectly logical discussions based on the apparant fact that they could just see the information from afar. Some of them may have suspected some additional matter was involved, but I doubt anyone ever lost an argument for not doing so. Modern physicists tell us that information is carried in photons which sometimes act like particles (i.e matter) and sometimes are more strange.

    Also people here occasionally argue about Out of Body experiences. Apparently some immaterial soul/spirit/whatever floats out of the body of a technically dead person lying on an operating table, has a leasurely look around the operating theater, notices some object that the dead body below them has no way of seeing and brings knowledge of it back to the body using no apparent physical means. Nobody here tells them that have made a basic logical error, although the materialists amongst us will assume that they dreamt it all up.

    And a God who doesn’t seem to be physically here with us, is often stated to have full knowledge about every thing about us and our surroundings. Is he reliant on photons travelling at the speed of light reaching him in heaven? It strikes me as a materialist as all being a bit silly, but again I don’t think it’s necessarily logically impossible.

    As I said, I think you’ve gone wrong aleady on point 2. You state on each subsequent argument that its truth depends of that of all that came before it.

    As for the shadow, I agree that my vision system uses a material representation of the shadow on the rock. However you imply in point 4 that a representation always requires an arrangement of matter which is not reducible to physical law. This may be true of my visual system, but I think that the shadow is also a representation of the robber and it is entirely explained by physical law, as are the footprints. That your visual system involves a arguably arbitrary component to see the footprint, does not require that the arrangement of matter in the footprint conveying information about the robber was not reducible to physical law as well. You didn’t actually use the word “always” but I think it pretty much implied – otherwise you should have said “which is not (always) reducible to physical law”.

  40. Programmed by the designer(s).

    This is unnecessarily vague.

    Nope, it is as vague as it needs to be given the fact that no one knows how to program an organism.

    In other words, you still haven’t explained how the knowledge found in the genome was created.

    And no one can explain how the laws that govern this universe were created. So Steve Hawking sez “They just are (the way they are)”

  41. timothya:

    I must be a bit dim.

    Not necessarily. Typically the “critics” are hardly dim. You should see the arguments that they can construct! Maybe obtuse.

    DNA:

    1. replicates itself more or less faithfully, except when it mutates at random

    DNA does not replicate itself.

    I won’t debate someone who either doesn’t know the facts or willingly ignores them.

    DNA:

    2. transcribes protein sequences via RNAs more or less faithfully based on its specific nucelotide sequence

    DNA doesn’t transcribe protein sequences. Sheesh.

    The information held in the original DNA sequence is preserved through both processes (though it may be modified in both by either base substitution or mis-transcription, which are both observed).

    There’s information in the DNA sequence?

    Do tell.

  42. timothya @2:

    Presumably not 3 or 4.

    Why presume?

    3 and 4 seem to me to be exactly what Upright BiPed has in mind. Why do you think otherwise?

    The only arbitrary component arises when random mutations result in a different replicant, or mis-transciption results in a different protein output.

    Oh. So you are familiar with the meaning of arbitrary, when you want to use the term.

  43. timothya,

    The only arbitrary component arises when random mutations result in a different replicant, or mis-transciption results in a different protein output.

    What is “arbitrary” about a random mutation?

    Surely you do not mean to argue that a random mutation is based on or subject to individual judgment or preference.

    Surely you do not mean to argue that a random mutation is established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute.

    Surely you do not mean to argue that a random mutation is
    not limited by law.

    I assume you’re left with:
    1. Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle.

    So now you want to argue that random mutations are determined?

    And this is your argument against the meaning of arbitrary?

    lol.

  44. OK, never-mind. Who needs science and evidence when one can baldly declare evolutioncandoit?

    Earth to Al- “That which can asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Hitchens

  45. It never ceases to amaze me the positions our opponents are willing to assume to “win” an argument against us.

  46. Maus:

    In this case, “random mutation” means a mutation determined by chance (which is covered by the first definition). What’s your problem with that?

  47. steveh:

    Loads of information, none designed, none intended, all material, all subject to the laws of physics and certainly not arbitrary.

    That’s a lot of “not so” packed into a single sentence.

    How much of it can you actually support?

    You assert that there is “loads of information.”

    Yet you also assert:

    1. No information is intended.
    2. All information is material.
    3. All information is subject to the laws of physics.
    4. No information is arbitrary.

    You have given no reason to believe you.

  48. timothya:

    In this case, “random mutation” means a mutation determined by chance (which is covered by the first definition). What’s your problem with that?

    Maus != Mung

    “Determined by Chance” is any Oxymoron. That’s my problem with that.

    Why you would believe that something could be determined by a non-deterministic process escapes me. Care to explain?

    You’re in over your head. Stop. Pause. Take a breath. Think.

    Reflect.

    Ask.

    If it’s arbitrary, can it be deterministic?

  49. It is simple: in tossing a coin, the future outcome is still “undetermined” (could be head, could be tail). After the test the outcome is “determined” (either head or tail happened). The specific outcome “is determined by” the randomising process of tossing the coin. Got it? By the way, I think you are overloading the word “determined”.

  50. 50
    critical rationalist

    gpuccio: Well, the problem is exactly that: how can an “adaptation”, without any intent, generate a system like the one we consider here (information in the DNA gene and its translation by the translation apparatus, both of them linked, in different ways, to a symbolic genetic code)? There is no way to explain that, except by wishful thinking and myth.

    Please see my comment above. Biological adaptations represent transformations of matter that occur when the requisite knowledge is present. Furthermore, knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. Nor do all conjectures occur in response to a particular problem.

    Do you have any detailed criticism of the above?

    Gpuccio: IOWs, a complex plan, including knowledge and intent, was implemented.

    I cannot “plan” an army of nanobots that kill cancer cells merely because I intend to do so. The transformations of matter that result in nanobots that actually kill cancer cells only occur when the requisite knowledge is present. The origin of that knowledge is the origin of the system of nanobots.

    To clarify, I’m not asking where the knowledge now in the genome was previously located in some other form, but how the knowledge to adapt matter into biological features was it created.

    The knowledge of how to build a microprocessor cannot be encoded into 8bit ASCII form before that knowledge has been created. Nor can encoding occur merely because I intend it to occur. The encoding process is a transformation of matter that occurs when the requisite knowledge is present.

  51. 51
    critical rationalist

    CR: What explanation does ID present as to how this knowledge, found in the genome, was created?

    Joe: Programmed by the designer(s).

    CR: …It’s unclear how your answer and different that saying, “A magician did it”?

    In other words, you still haven’t explained how the knowledge found in the genome was created.

    Joe: Nope, it is as vague as it needs to be given the fact that no one knows how to program an organism.

    I’m not following you. Are you suggesting there can be no explanation for how the knowledge to build biological adaptations, as found in the genome, was created?

    Joe: And no one can explain how the laws that govern this universe were created. So Steve Hawking sez “They just are (the way they are)”

    Again, this is unnecessarily vague. We have yet to explain, cannot currently explain in practice or cannot explain in principle?

  52. timothya:

    After the test the outcome is “determined”…

    Regardless of the outcome. Que Sera, Sera

    The specific outcome “is determined by” the randomising process…

    You should be laughed off this site.

    No one here at UD has any reason to take anything you say seriously.

  53. cr @23:

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    How can something be physically possible yet logically impossible?

  54. Nope, it is as vague as it needs to be given the fact that no one knows how to program an organism.

    I’m not following you.

    By intention, no doubt.

    Are you suggesting there can be no explanation for how the knowledge to build biological adaptations, as found in the genome, was created?

    Why the jump to an absolute extreme?

    Just because we don’t know how to program an organism now does not even inply we will never know.

  55. CR: Pardon, but we routinely observe programmers and engineers in action, so to compare what left signs that are sufficiently similar to point to the same pattern of cause, is reasonable. (Or, are you implicitly assuming that there was and could be no possible designer at the point of origin of life. That is a strong claim that would need to be warranted. Absent a designer being impossible, it is far more reasonable to infer on sign to known cause, than to infer to something that we have every reason to believe is not a credible case on the gamut of the observable cosmos: blind chance and equally blind mechanical necessity.) KF

  56. CR

    “To clarify, I’m not asking where the knowledge now in the genome was previously located in some other form, but how the knowledge to adapt matter into biological features was created”

    John Ch1:1 In the beginning was the Word (information, knowledge), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    Seems quite clear to me really.

  57. Mung posted this:

    Regardless of the outcome. Que Sera, Sera

    Before the coin is tossed, the outcome is not determined – it might be a head or a tail, with one-half probability either way.

    After the coin is tossed, the outcome is determined. It is either a head or a tail, there is no doubt about the result. It is determined.

    Something happens between the before and the after. What was it? Oh, right, the randomising event of tossing the coin.

    If you don’t like the term “determined” to describe what happens when you toss a coin, then use another word. How about “specified”. I’m not greatly fussed.

  58. Steveh (#35):

    I believe you are raising an interesting point with your shadow and tracks argument, a point that needs to be addressed.

    Well, let’s say that we are discussing objective information, that is information that is embedded in a material system, and can be “read” and understood by some conscious agent.

    Let’s say that a material object or system B has objective informatio about a distinct material object or system A if sone conscious agent can get useful representations of A through B.

    In that sense, certainly your shadows or tracks bear information about some distinct physical system.

    It is also true that, in your examples, the connection between A and B can perfectly be explained by basci physical laws: both the shadow and the track can be explained that way, and require no additional procedure.

    So, I would say you are right.

    But we must notice that both the shadow and the track have a common property: they are some form of analog information. IOWs, the shadow (B) takes some form, because of the working of light, that corresponds to the form of A.

    Now, not all analog information can be explained by mere physical laws. Mount Rushmore, for example, bears analog information that cannot be explained by physical laws, and requires a specific design procedure. But there are certainly many examples of analog information that can be explained by mere physical laws.

    But what about digital information? In digital information, no physical law can explain the correspondence between the digital arrangement in B and the form in A. A definite procedure is required to embed the information in B (coding), and another definite procedure is required to get the useful information about A from B (decoding). The information about A is embedded in B through an abstract code, a numerical or logical entity.

    Why am I discussing digital information here? It’s very simple.

    1) First of all, I believe that UB’s argument applies to digital information, and not necessarily to analog information.

    2) The information we are debating here, the information in DNA protein genes, is certainly digital.

    So, UB’s argument is completely valid, provided that we do this useful restriciton to digital information.

    The information in a protein coding gene is digital. It is encoded through a specific logical base three redundant code, usually called the genetic code. It requires a specific procedure to be translated, that is the traslation procedure. We have no detailed and convincing understanding of the procedure by which it was encoded in the beginning.

    Moreover, as I have tried to emphasize, the symbolic code, the genetic code, has been embedded both in the storing material (DNA genes) and in the translation apparatus (the 20 synthetases, and other components). Both the stored gene and the translating proteins are “code dependent”. In two completely different ways. And the code they depend on is the same.

    So, UB’s argument is perfectly to the point: the information in DNA is digital and symbolic. It requires a procedure to be translated. It is in no way explained by any physical law, and is essentially in no way different from the information we manipulate in our own digital machines.

  59. critical rationalist:

    Briefly:

    I am not sure I understand what you mean:

    Biological adaptations represent transformations of matter that occur when the requisite knowledge is present. Furthermore, knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. Nor do all conjectures occur in response to a particular problem.

    Well, if the requisite knowledge is present, I would call that “implementation”, and not “adaptation”. If you write a code to implement an algorithm that you know, is that an “adaptation”? Please, clarify what you mean.

    I cannot “plan” an army of nanobots that kill cancer cells merely because I intend to do so. The transformations of matter that result in nanobots that actually kill cancer cells only occur when the requisite knowledge is present. The origin of that knowledge is the origin of the system of nanobots.

    I certainly agree with that.

    To clarify, I’m not asking where the knowledge now in the genome was previously located in some other form, but how the knowledge to adapt matter into biological features was it created.

    Knowledge is always “created” (your word!) in the consciousness of a conscious intelligent agent. Only conscious intelligent agents can “understand”, and therefore “know”. There is no other way. The same is true for the knowledge of the biological designer: it originated in the consciousness of the biological designer.

    The knowledge of how to build a microprocessor cannot be encoded into 8bit ASCII form before that knowledge has been created. Nor can encoding occur merely because I intend it to occur. The encoding process is a transformation of matter that occurs when the requisite knowledge is present.

    Correct. And the requisite knowledge requires a conscious intelligent agent (the designer).

    It’s uncontroversial that people exhibit intent. As such, it’s uncontroversial that intent plays a role in the explanation of how the list is ordered. However, this isn’t the case regarding adaptations in the biosphere.

    Why? How was the knowledge created in those “adaptations”?

    As such, my knowledge of how to open coconuts is merely a useful rule of thumb, which is limited in reach. For example, in the absence of an explanation, I might collect coconuts picked from other trees, carry them to this same tree, climb it, then drop them on the rocks to open them.

    Your example is not clear. What do you mean by “rule of thumb”? Your “rule of thumb”, although simpler, requires all that is required form what you call “explanatory knowledge”: a conscious agent with an intent (opening the nut” and an understanding of the meaning of facts (the coconut opens when it falls on the rock), and the ability to extablish cognitive connections betqeen facts, such as a cuase and effect relationship. It is cognitive knowledge at all effects, although it does not imply a wider understanding of physics. It originates in a conscious mind.

    Darwinism substitutes the role of consciousness with an artificail and ineffectice non conscious mechanism (natural selection) which can in no way explain what it should explain, least of all the coding and decoding of complex symbolic information in living systems, and the origic of that information. But, anyway, natural selection is a deterministic effect in some particular system, and not certainly a “rule of thumb”.

  60. timothya:

    Random effects are completely deterministic (except maybe in quantum mechanics). It’s their description that is statistical. We are not able to describe some systems in deterministic detail, because we lack the necessary data, and so we use statistical mathemathical objects that describe with some approximation and uncertainty their behaviour.

    But there is no doubt that the tossing of a coin is deterministic, and that the result is predetermined. We just cannot compute it correctly.

  61. gpuccio, good to see you post again!

  62. Gpuccio:

    Your point is pretty much what I have being trying to say. But for some reason the term “determined” appears to be interpreted differently by people on this site. I am not sure, but it seems that “determined” is required to mean “determined by an intelligent entity”.

  63. BA:

    always good to meet the old friends! :)

  64. gpuccio, you state:

    Random effects are completely deterministic (except maybe in quantum mechanics).

    Leaving aside the talking about the ultimate source of randomness which is inherent in space-time events, it is interesting to point out what the ultimate source for randomness is in quantum mechanic events:

    In the following video, at the 37:00 minute mark, Anton Zeilinger, a leading researcher in quantum teleportation with many breakthroughs under his belt, humorously reflects on just how deeply determinism has been undermined by quantum mechanics by saying such a deep lack of determinism may provide some of us a loop hole when they meet God on judgment day.

    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Personally, I feel that such a deep undermining of determinism by quantum mechanics, far from providing a ‘loop hole’ on judgement day, actually restores free will to its rightful place in the grand scheme of things, thus making God’s final judgments on men’s souls all the more fully binding since man truly is a ‘free moral agent’ just as Theism has always maintained. And to solidify this theistic claim for how reality is constructed, the following study came along a few months after I had seen Dr. Zeilinger’s video:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,,,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (i.e. *conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, i.e. free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    So just as I had suspected after watching Dr. Zeilinger’s video, it is found that a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics is what necessarily drives the random (non-deterministic) aspect of quantum mechanics. Moreover it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    of note:

    *The act of ‘observation’ in quantum mechanics is equivalent to measuring,,

    as well, it is important to note that, despite the intrinsic randomness that the ‘free will assumption’ places on quantum mechanics, Quantum mechanics, as a scientific theory, is found to exceed General Relativity in ‘predictive power’:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    i.e.

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” -
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’
    http://www.informationphilosop.....ts/wigner/

    Somewhat related note:

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    verse and music:

    “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess…
    I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice,and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”
    –Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20

    Steven Curtis Chapman – God is God (Original Version) -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz94NQ5HRyk

  65. timothya:

    You are right that the concept of randomness is often misunderstood (on both sides).

    From an ID point of view, I would distinguish the following meanings:

    1) Material phenomena can usually be explained by physical laws. In that sense, we assume that they are completely determined, either we can describe the causal chain in detail, or not. In the second case, we can often get some useful description of the system just the same, by some appropriate probabilistic model. We call such a system a “random system”, but the events are determined just the same, and they are only described by a random model. Obviosuly, the knowledge we get through a random model is not so specific as a deterministic knowledge, but is is often very useful just the same.

    2) In human design, something different can be observed. A conscious intelligent agent, starting form subjective representations that include cognition and intent, embeds some specific form and function into a physical system.
    That is what is called “design”.

    3) Now, the problem arises: what is the origin of that specific form? Does the process violate strict determinism? These are not simple problems. I will try to give some simple answer from my point of view.

    4) I would say that the main origin of the specific form embedded in the physycal system is the conscious representation of the designer. In that sense, the final form in some way “expresses” the cognition and intent of the designer’s representations.

    5) What about determinism? That depends on one’s world view. A materialist reductionist will probably say that all conscious representations of the agent are generated by physical laws, and are therefore determined. I reject that view. But the subject is obviously vast. In all cases, the designer, at some point, interacts with physical laws (probably without violating them) through some interface (in humans, the mind-body interface). In the end, new original physical events are created that determine the physical modifications in the final object.

    6) What about random systems? The important concept, often outlined by Abel, is that the physical sytem which “receives” the conscious representation must in some way be “neutral”: IOWs, it must be physically possible for the system to reach, given the correct inputs, any possible configuration in some configuration space. That allows the designer to fix the specific configuration that conveys the meaning and function.

    7) The problem is: in a complex system, where many independent variables determine the output, there are many different possible outputs, and the behaviour of the system can best be described as a random model. Random variation in the genome is one such system.

    8) That random variation is invoked by neodarwinism as the engine of change that generates biological information. Obviously, with the “help” of deterministic natural selection.

    9) ID is deeply interested in verifying if the random behaviour of random variation in a biological system has really the potentialities to explain what it is supposed to explain, even considering the role of NS. For us in ID, the answer is a very strong and detailed “no”.

    10) The best alternative explanation is that the biological variation that generates the complex and useful information we observe in living beings is designed and implemented by some conscious intelligent agent.

  66. 66

    CR,

    An arrangement of matter that evokes an effect represents knowledge of how to bring that effect about.

    For example, I might want to build an army of nanobots that, when injected into a patient, hunt down and kill cancer cells. However, before raw materials could be transformed into said naobots, the requisite knowledge of how to perform that transformation would need to be present. My desire or intention isn’t sufficient for this to occur. And, as a person, it’s uncontroversial that people exhibit intent. Again, this isn’t the case regarding knowledge present in the genome.

    Again, the source of the information nor its intent, or lack thereof, is germane to the observations of the transfer. If your point is that the information in the genome exists without intent, that fact in and of itself would still not be germane to the observations of the transfer. If this is indeed the point you are wishing to make, then perhaps the only question would be how you determined that from the evidence.

    As for myself, I am familiar with the proposition that there is such a thing as a “will to survive” in living things. It is called by various names but is substantially the same phenomena and is generally taken for granted as an emergent property of living things. Since this “will to survive” is only demonstrated within massive biological organization (i.e. living things), it is reasonable to believe that such organization is at least one of the requirements for it to manifest itself. If you’ve located the ultimate source of that organization and measured it by some means and found it to be without “intention”, I would sure like to see your data. If not, then I am not certain what impact your point has on the observations made here.

    Again, by knowledge, I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to cause itself to remain there. And, I’m referring to Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge exists independent of anyone’s belief. So, it’s unclear why intent must be present to “cause” an particular transformation of matter.

    I’ve looked over my argument and I don’t see the word “intent” anywhere in it. Perhaps you can point out where I have addressed “intent” either arguing for or against it in any way. If I was able to state my case coherently without the need to address it, and indeed didn’t address it, then I am not sure why you are asking me to address it now. I am also interested to know what this has to do with showing the observations regarding the transfer of recorded information (TRI) are false or that the logic is invalid.

    For example, if you asked for the knowledge of how to build a car but received the knowledge of how to build a truck instead, the knowledge you possess still builds a truck regardless of what you believe it does. Nor does following the instructions result in a car merely because that’s what you intended.

    You need to demonstrate that the “intent” of information, or lack thereof, must be measured and/or accounted for in order to observe the material transfer of that information, otherwise I refer you to my previous answer.

    And since the remainder of your post simply repeats this line of thinking, I will leave it here until you demonstrate the above.

    While you are working on that, may I suggest that you try to approach the argument on its own terms? For instance, the word “knowledge” is not mentioned anywhere in the argument. There is a reason for that. It is not germane to the observation of the material transfer. You seem to want to conflate the transfer of information with transfer of knowledge. If we were to witness the transfer of information from a book to a child, then perhaps you could argue that we had observed the transfer of knowledge, although I would still argue that all we had witness was the transfer of information, and that knowledge was a separate cognitive phenomenon. In any case, what if we used the transfer of information in a fabric loom in order to control the patterns of thread woven into fabric. Would you then pick up the cloth and say “this is knowledge”? It seems like a rather loose term.

    Like I said, perhaps you should attack the argument on its own terms, or demonstrate that other issues must be included in order to observe TRI.

  67. 67

    Hello steveh

    How so? You stated that it’s not logically possible to transfer information without encoding it in matter; However generations of philosophers who knew nothing about photons have managed to conduct perfectly logical discussions based on the apparent fact that they could just see the information from afar

    Living organisms have recorded information from their environment and exchanged symbolic representations between each other for eons on end. How does that acknowledgement impact the observations made? To argue against this observation is to say that information can exist in a material universe without a medium of matter or energy. That’s a stretch. We’d have to wonder why we always find it in a medium, wouldn’t we?

    Modern physicists tell us that information is carried in photons which sometimes act like particles (i.e. matter) and sometimes are more strange.

    I am going to take this opportunity to explain a disambiguation. Modern physics reifies the term “information” for the express purpose that it becomes calculable to human investigators. That reification serves a human purpose, but it is an intra-disciplinary mistake to apply it beyond that purpose. To say that an oxygen atom exchanges information with a hydrogen atom to become a water molecule is to simply step in as a human observer and assert that it does. But there is a larger issue. If a water molecule “contains information” merely because it exist, then everything “contains information” and we’ll need a new word to describe those things that are actually arranged to “contain information”. We will have taken a very unique material phenomenon within the cosmos (the existence of recorded information) and forced it to be ubiquitous among all matter – and in the process we will have destroyed the meaning of the word we’ve used to describe it. An empty page of paper will suddenly “contain information” just like one full of words – just so that its physical state becomes calculable to human beings. This is an anthropocentric reification of the word, which if mis-used, destroys the established meaning of the word (from its Greek precursors to its Latin form) and forces the need for an immediate replacement if we are to be able to distinguish an empty page of paper from a written poem.

    Even so, this reification of the term “information” has become established among physicists and others, and that is why the argument above adds the disambiguation of “recorded information” to specifically distinguish it from the reified “physical information” of physics. Simply put, the transfer of recorded information is a material process which is physically distinguishable from an oxygen atom binding with a hydrogen atom to form a water molecule.

    So when you step on the ground and leave a footprint (or cast a shadow for that matter) that footprint is nothing more than the state of the ground after being stepped on. For that state to become recorded information – for its form to become instantiated in matter which can in-form a receiver of that information – requires a mechanism capable of bringing that information into being.

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    You then make several comments about immaterial entities (ghost, souls, and Deities). I am not sure how these things, which by definition are immeasurable, impact the observations being made in this argument.

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    As for the shadow, I agree that my vision system uses a material representation of the shadow on the rock. However you imply in point 4 that a representation always requires an arrangement of matter which is not reducible to physical law. This may be true of my visual system, but I think that the shadow is also a representation of the robber and it is entirely explained by physical law, as are the footprints.

    To say that the “shadow is a representation of the robber” requires you to observe it. It also requires you to know what a robber is, it requires you to know what a shadows is, and that shadows can be cast upon the ground, and that shadows shaped like this come from bodies shaped like that> etc, etc, etc. Suddenly, to say that the “shadow is a representation of the robber” requires quite a lot, particularly an observer, because none of that it is “contained” in the shadow or the ground.

    The shadow on the ground is no more than the state of the ground. It only becomes a representation of something after you observe it.

  68. 68

    I have to say that I am really enjoying reading the comments here. Mung and I have disagreements, and GP and I have disagreements. But these are the typical machinations of differing perspectives of related terms, not stark disagreements on observables.

    And that is what is at issue here: can it be demonstrated that the observations made in the argument are false, or that the conclusions do not follow from the premises?

    Thus far, that has not been the case.

  69. UB:

    I am enjoying the discussion too :)

    About our “disagreements”, I owe you some clarifications.

    1) I absolutely agree with you that if we use “information” in the sense of the ultimate conscious representation, including cognition and feeling, that only happens in a conscious agent. I have clearly stated that in my answer to CR (Post 59):

    “Knowledge is always “created” (your word!) in the consciousness of a conscious intelligent agent. Only conscious intelligent agents can “understand”, and therefore “know”. There is no other way. The same is true for the knowledge of the biological designer: it originated in the consciousness of the biological designer.”

    This concept is true both for the origin of information (a conscious representation of the designer) and for the final recognition of information as such (a conscious representation of the agent who recognizes design).

    2) At the same time, I feel the need to define “objective information” as any arrangement in a material system that can evoke some specific cognition in a conscious observer. Here, matter is only a vehicle, but the presence of information is confirmed by the objective possibility that some conscious observer can have the specific representation as evoked by that arrangement of matter.

    3) Now, in a sense, any physical system bears at least information about itself. We will ignore that, because I believe it does not count for your argument.

    4) The situation is different when some material system bears information about some different, distinct material system. Here, your argument begins to be pertinent.

    5) Still, I think that we must distinguish between the two different situations I have outlined in my answer to Steveh (post 58): those cases where the information can be explained by physical laws (some cases of analog information); and those cases where the information cannot be explained by physical laws, either because a designed procedure is necessary to “transfer” the specific form to another physical system (some cases of analog information, such as Mount Rushmore); or because the information in the second system is caode by some symbolic digital code (all digital information).

    Now, I believe that your argument is perfectly correct, but that it could be limited to this last case (digital information), while it can create difficulties in the other cases.

    The limitation does not create any problem for the biological discourse, because, as I have stated many times, the information in DNA is absolutely digital, coded by an abstrac logical code.

    6) Finally, I would like to comment on your argument that any type of information, in the end, must be transferred in digital form to the conscious perceiver, because human senses and cognition operate (as far as we know) through neurological tools that are essentially digital (I hope I have understood well your point).

    That is true, but still I feel that it does not answer fully Steveh’s objection, for the following reasons:

    a) Even if the final transfer of information to the human perceiver is always through digital tools, an objective difference remains between systems like the shadow or the tracks, and systems like a book or a DNA gene. We must acknowledge that difference, and I think that your argument has different validity in the two cases.

    b) Even if the final transfer of information to the human perceiver is always through digital tools, we don’t really know the true nature of the final conscious representation.

    c) Humans could not be the only conscious perceivers. The biological designer ia certainly a cosncious perceiver and agent, and is very likely not human. We cannot generalize the way humans perceive nature (through digital neurological tools) to any kind of perceiver.

    d) Sicking to the concept of “objective information”, we can limit our discussion to a recognizable property of the physical system. The cosncious perceiver serves, in this case, only as a tool to recognize the presence of information in the system. How the human observer recognizes that information is not pertinent at this level. So, an objective difference remains between “shadow like” systems, that are vehicles of information about the basic system only because physical laws have “transferred” an analog form to the second system (a process that does not require a designer or an act of design), and digital systems, where the information has been arbitrarily coded, and that therefore require a designer, a design procedure, and a translation procedure, if the correct information has to be transferred to a conscious observer.

    I hope I have expressed my thoughts clearly. I am obviously bery much interested in your comments :)

  70. I would like to add the following point which I think may have been implicit in GP’s last comment.

    When I look at a distant tree, photons carry information to my eye. The photons are not the tree itself so, as I understand it, they could be considered to be a represenation of it – and they are not arbitrary and can be explained by the rules of nature.

    As they impinge on my visual system, they indeed start a series of events that result in me building up a mental picture of the distant tree. But as I understand it, the visual system is reacting to the photons – not to the tree itself. So why are the electrical and chemical signals in my visual system considered a coded representation of the tree, but the information arriving at my eye (which is also not a tree, but contains all the information my visual system needs to arrive at its concusion) not?

  71. I am very impressed with the high level of this discussion. Everyone has contributed something of value. Permit me to pay a special tribute to Upright Biped for providing the substantive argumentation and to GPuccio for making the distinction between ontological and epistemological chance (though he didn’t express it in those same terms).

    Because of the elimination process inherent in the methodology known as the “explanatory filter, many mistakenly believe that ID argues for the existence of ontological chance (chance as a causal agent or an instrumental power) when, in my judgement, it is epistemological chance (events and processes that, from our perspective, produce a range of possible outcomes, each with some probability of occurring) that is being argued for– an empirical formulation that lends itself to statistical measurement.

    Indeed, it is the Darwinists and Theistic Evolutionists that assign causal power to chance, suggesting either, in the first instance, that randomness has its own creative power or, in the second, that God gave nature the power to “create itself.” Chance cannot do anything because chance has no being–a formal probability is not the same thing a real force.

    In any case, it should be obvious that Upright Biped has given this matter a great deal of thought and there appear to be no substantive arguments against his position. That is a remarkable development and a high compliment to his preparation skills, given the fact that so many observers would love for him to be wrong.

  72. 72

    Hi GP,

    I have just scanned your comments above, but just from that quick scan I can see that we have some deeper misuderstandings that I might have thought, but I am fairly certain that they are just that – misunderstandings. The problem is that I do not have the time at this moment to properly respond. So allow me just to say that I will return later and clarify my thoughts.

    All the Best.

  73. I also want to acknowledge the useful distinctions that GPuccio makes between digital and analog information and call attention to steve h’s interesting questions about epistemology. Normally, I would get in the game, but I need a day off. Keep up the good work everyone.

  74. 74

    By the way…

    Steve your 70 is a great question. I think I can answer it to your satisfaction when I return

    -Thanks again.

  75. small point:

    encoded information, such as we find encoded in computers, and such as we find encoded in DNA, is found to be a subset of ‘conserved’ quantum information:,,,

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

  76. UB:

    It will be a pleasure to read your further contributions. Please, take all the time you need…

  77. StephenB:

    Hi, how are you? Thank you for the comments. And for the “ontological and epistemological chance” formulation (what a beautiful way of saying it!).

    As you have partially entered the game :) , as soon as you can, I would appreciate to know your take about quantum probability: ontological or epistemological?

  78. steveh:

    you say:

    As they impinge on my visual system, they indeed start a series of events that result in me building up a mental picture of the distant tree. But as I understand it, the visual system is reacting to the photons – not to the tree itself. So why are the electrical and chemical signals in my visual system considered a coded representation of the tree, but the information arriving at my eye (which is also not a tree, but contains all the information my visual system needs to arrive at its concusion) not?

    Well, according to my views, as I have expressed them, the photons transmitting the information are of the “shadow like” category. They are a physical system which is related to the object (the tree) by specific, basic physical laws. You could argue that, in the measure that photons bevave as quantum entities, they could be considered discrete or digital. But that is not the point. The point is that they are not coded according to an arbitrary code (unless you consider the basic laws of nature a code, but it would be difficult to consider it arbitrary, except maybe for the Creator :) ).

    The neurological signals that transmit the information to the brain, and from the brain to consciousness, are different, at least as far as we understand (I will happily admit that our understanding of these points is rather limited. For what we know of neurological structures, a real arbitrary coding probably happens in the nervous system. And it is not based purely on basci physical laws. IOWs, the retinal the optical nerve, and the central structures in the brain do not work merely as a film, conveying analogically the form of the tree. They work more like a CCD with a complex software, transforming the visual input into some kind of digital message, elaborating it, reconstructing it, and so on.

    Just to be more clear: a DNA gene requires knowledge of the genetic code to be understood or used as a storing memory of a protein sequence. Any software requires basic coding rules to work. The neurological system, as far as we can understand, has ots specific codes too. None of those codes is strictly a consequence of physical laws, although all of them work through physical laws. The sequence of myoglobin could be stored by any other code based on the four nucleotides of DNA, or by any coded sequence of bits in a computer. A word processor can work in the same way if it is written for Windows or for Linux, but the code will be different.

    The code is arbitrary. The information remains the same. Arbitrary coding procedures are necessary both when the digital coded information is created and whne it is decoded (translated) and used.

    So, my point about the DNA system should be more clear now: the gene for myoglobin is written according to a specific arbitrari code, the genetic code. We have to explain in some way how that structure, storing precious information about a very efficient protein molecule, originated. And that explanation must take into account the “code awareness” of that particular information (as well as of any protein coding gene).

    On the other side, we have to acknowledge that the translation system is equally “aware” of the specific arbitrary genetic code, otherwise it could not work. We have to explain that too. In explaining that, we must remember that the translation system, in all its implementations that we know, consists of many very complex structure, at least:

    a) the ribosome system

    b) the tRNAs

    c) the 20 synthetases

    I am overlooking here the transcription part, and many other things. I will also leave alone a) and b), to concentrate only on c).

    Why? Because c) is the part that is most responsible for decoding the genetic code. It is the specific “code aware” part.

    And how is it “code aware”? In a very complex way. Each of the 20 synthetases is able to recognize a specific tRNA with a specific anticodon, and to “charge” it with the correct aminoacid for that anticodon. Please note that there is no biochemical connection between the anticodon in the tRNA and the aminoacid. The connection is “created” by the specific sequence and structure of the specific synthetase (a very complex protein made of hundreds of AAs).

    So, we can say that the 20 synthtases are very much “code aware”: their same structure and function is built to “serve” the specific arbitrary genetic code.

    And, obviously, the information about each of the 20 synthetases is stored in the respective DNA genes, in a very “code aware” way. And obviously, for each synthetase, that information can be used only by the translation apparatus, based on the synthetases themselves.

    Is all that clear?

  79. as to:

    The point is that they (photons) are not coded according to an arbitrary code (unless you consider the basic laws of nature a code, but it would be difficult to consider it arbitrary, except maybe for the Creator :) ).

    Not to comment on the word arbitrary, or code, or any of the other words, but only as to a little more definition relating photons to God:

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    Wave function
    Excerpt “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....ctor_space

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1)
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    3D to 4D shift – Carl Sagan – video with notes
    Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VS1mwEV9wA

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (observed, and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result i.e. 0 or 1,,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

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

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.,,, Quantum mechanics dictates some strange things at that scale, so that bit of light could be thought of as both a particle and a wave. As a wave, it passed through all parts of the stencil at once, carrying the “shadow” of the UR with it.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

    Quantum Theory’s ‘Wavefunction’ Found to Be Real Physical Entity: Scientific American – November 2011
    Excerpt: David Wallace, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford, UK, says that the theorem is the most important result in the foundations of quantum mechanics that he has seen in his 15-year professional career. “This strips away obscurity and shows you can’t have an interpretation of a quantum state as probabilistic,” he says.
    http://www.scientificamerican......vefunction

  80. Now, I find the preceding to be absolutely fascinating! A photon, in its quantum wave state, is found to be mathematically defined as a ‘infinite-dimensional’ state, which ‘requires an infinite amount of information’ to describe it properly, can be encoded with information in its ‘infinite dimensional’ state, and this ‘infinite dimensional’ photon is found to collapse, instantaneously, and thus ‘non-locally’, to just a ’1 or 0′ state, out of a infinite number of possibilities that the photon could have collapsed to instead! Moreover, consciousness is found to precede the collapse of the wavefunction of the photon to its uncertain particle state. Now my question to materialistic atheists is this, “Exactly what ’cause’ has been postulated throughout history to be completely independent of any space-time constraints, as well as possessing infinite knowledge, so as to be the ‘sufficient cause’ to explain what we see in the quantum wave collapse of a photon??? With the refutation of the materialistic ‘hidden variable’ argument and with the patent absurdity of the materialistic ‘Many-Worlds’ hypothesis, then I can only think of one sufficient explanation for infinite dimensional quantum wave collapse to single bit photon;

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    Psalm 118:27
    God is the LORD, who hath shown us light:,,,

    Job 38:19
    “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?

    1 John 1:5
    This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

    Toby Mac (In The Light) – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_MpGRQRrP0

    Further notes:

    Fine Tuning Of Universal Constants, Particularly Light – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491552

    Fine Tuning Of Light to the Atmosphere, to Biological Life, and to Water – graphs
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfMTljaGh4MmdnOQ

    Privileged Planet: 1 in 10^24 Extreme Fine Tuning of Light for Life and Scientific Discovery – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7715887

  81. LarTanner:

    DNA in this account is a communication system such as Claude Shannon described in 1948/9, and so it therefore should be able to be characterized mathematically.

    Yes, 4 possible nucleotides = 2^2 = 2 bits of information (carrying capacity) for each nucleotide. Each codon = 3 nucleotides = 6 bits. 64 possible codon combinations that map to either an amino acid or a STOP (command) = 2^6 = 6 bits of information per amino acid.

  82. LarTanner:

    But of course Shannon information is largely unhelpful as a concept for understanding functional information . . .

    DNA isn’t so much a communication system (although there may be some aspects of DNA that would hint at that), as it is an information repository — a database primarily. The communication system is the whole enchilada: the code, the repository (DNA), the locators, the readers, the translators, all working together toward an end . . .

  83. There’s 10 steps in the OP.

    I have it on good authority that UBP cannot count to ten.

  84. timothya,

    I’m more interested in other conversations here than in trying to ascertain why you think a non-deterministic process can determine an outcome, but not until the undetermined outcome has actually occurred, at which time it becomes determined.

  85. AARGHH!!!

    ok, so shoot me.

    timothya:

    Your point is pretty much what I have being trying to say.

    No, it isn’t. It’s the exact opposite of what you have been trying to say. You say it’s determined AFTER THE FACT. POST.

    He says it is PRE-determined.

    You say it is NOT pre-determined.

  86. UPB:

    Mung and I have disagreements…

    Whilst I appreciate women for their mind.

    So in an attempt to recall and summarize.

    Are our disagreements, as far as you are concerned, limited to the of information?

    ME: Information, absent mind, is meaningless, therefore it is not information.

    Where else does “aboutness” come from?

  87. ok, something was lost in my previous post.

    iirc, I was asking about the WHERENESS of information.

  88. gpuccio,

    Anything involving probability is, by definition, epistemological.

  89. gpuccio:

    Well, according to my views, as I have expressed them, the photons transmitting the information are of the “shadow like” category.

    There is no information “out there.”

    Is the photon carrying information about the Sun, or is it carrying information about the Tree, or is it carrying information about what is being obscured by the tree?

  90. GPuccio, thanks again for your comments. As usual, the depth of your knowledge and judgment shines through. Concerning your question on quantum mechanics (ontological chance or epistemological chance), I cast my vote for epistemological chance.

  91. What is the difference between “Ontological Chance” and “Epistemological Chance”?

  92. 92

    What is the difference between “Ontological Chance” and “Epistemological Chance”?

    As I understand it, epistemological chance is a measure of ignorance about outcomes, measured by discrete probabilities — such as the outcome of a dice roll, which is ontologically determined but unpredictable apart from a distribution of values. Ontological chance would be causal, and it’s debatable whether that category exists. Some would suggest that quantum realities employ ontological chance, but I’m rather ambivalent about it myself.

  93. Chance Radcliff @92, that was a nice way of putting it.

  94. 94

    Thanks StephenB. On reflection I’m not sure that “ambivalent” was an accurate description of my views. Perhaps “agnostic” would be more appropriate in that context. I tend toward the view that all chance is a measure of ignorance about definite outcomes. However with regard to the quantum realm, I’ve no awareness of any causes for specific outcomes. With dice rolls and such, causal factors are at least intuitively grasped.

  95. StephenB and Chance Ratcliff:

    I essentially agree with how Chance has put it: I am agnostic too, at present.

    But, just to say something more, if we accept a “traditional” interpretation of QM, “ontological” would probably be the case. I am afraid that the “epistemological” interpretation sounds more or less like supporting Einstein’s view of hidden variables, which is definitely not very much alive (although not completely dead), and which after all I would not embrace, because it would imply again complete determinism in nature.

    But it is absolutely possible that an “ontological” interpretation is in reality only a partial understanding. Given the importance of the problem for the question of the material/spiritual interface, I believe we should remain humbly openminded about the matter.

  96. Mung:

    1) You say:

    Anything involving probability is, by definition, epistemological

    You are certainly right if we are speaking of traditionalo probability, in classical physics. Unfortunately, the role of probability in quantum nechanics is not so well understood, and is still an unsolved issue. Indeed, different “philosophical” interpretations of QM exist, and none of them is necessarily true.

    To sum it up as I understand it, QM is essentially deterministic (like classical mechanichs) as long as it describes reality in terms of “wave functions”. A wave function evolves in a strictly deterministic way. Until… it “collapses”. The wave funtion collapse, which corresponds more or less to some interaction (such as measurement) with the wave function, is essentially probabilistic.

    Einstein, who never accepted QM as a truly new paradigm, believed that we unbderstood things that way only because we were not aware of all the “hidden variables”. If that were true, the probability of the wave function collapse would be epistemological, just as in classical physics.

    But most interpretations of QM believe that the probability implied is in some way essential, or “ontological”. The classical Copenaghen interpretation, Bohr’s interpretation, certainly affirms that.

    For a simple sum up, you can look at the table in this wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I....._mechanics

    2) You say:

    There is no information “out there.” Is the photon carrying information about the Sun, or is it carrying information about the Tree, or is it carrying information about what is being obscured by the tree?

    I absolutely agree with you, as should be clear form waht I have posted. Information, in the measure that it requires a cognitive act of representation and interpretation and understanding, only exists in conscious beings. It is a property of consciousness.

    That’s why I have used the term “objective information” to define the objective potentiality of a material system to evoke information in a cosncious observer about something. The term “objective” is probably misleading: I don’t mean that information is really in the material system, but only that the material system can objectively be cognized in that way by conscious observers.

    I believe that, in that sense, “objective information” can be evaluated and discussed.

    So, to sum up what I have sais in my previous posts in the light of that clarification:

    a) A tree, like any object, always has objective information about itself, because conscious observers can cognize it. That is trivial, but true.

    b) A shadow, or photons, or tracks, have objective information not only about themselves (we can cognize them as shadows, photons or tracks), but also about other, distinct physical systems (the object that cast the shadow or generated the tracks, the objects with which the photons interacted). We can objectively derive information about disctinct physycal realities from those systems. And we do. But the point is, in all those cases the link between A and B, between the shadow and the object, can be completely understood in terms of physical laws. And the physical laws are not arbitrary, at least to us.

    c) The history of England cannot be derived from a book about it only by knowledge of physical laws. The sequence of myoglobin cannot be derived from its DNA gene only by knowledge of physical laws. The function of a software cannot be derived from the stored seqeunce of 0s and 1s only by knowledge of physical laws. Those physical systems (the book, the gene, the stored software) certainly bear the information about other physical realities (the hystory of England, the protein Myoglobin, the working of the software), but to understand the information we need to be aware of a symbolic, arbitrary logical code that in each case has been used in storing the information in those physical systems. A conscious observer who cannot read, or does not know english, derives little information from the book, and certainly not knowledge of the history of England. Now, I believe that english language in no way can be derived from universal physical laws. Nor can the genetic code, or the binary code and informational structure by which some software is written.

    In all those cases, and similar cases, we can say that objective information about something is present in the system, but that perceiving that information, understanding it, requires the knowledge of some specific arbitrary code (what UB calls “the procedure”).

    It is trivial, but interesting, that knowledge of the code is necessary at two different moments: when a conscious designer writes the information (coding procedure) and when a conscious observer has to understand it (decoding procedure).

    It is important to observe also that even the simple use of the information by some non conscious machine requires knowledge of the code (not in the sense of conscious knowledge, but in the sense of knowledge implemented in the decoding machine). That is exactly the case for the translation apparatus in the cell. It is not a conscious observer, therefore it does not understand or know anything. But it has been designed with a definite implementation of the genetic code (for example, in the sequences of the 20 synthetases), and therefore it can decode and use the information in the genes.

  97. Barry, this is exactly what is needed: to drive home the logic, again and again and again. Unfortunately, I think this will be too conceptual for them to accept.

    If it’s not 2 + 2 = 4, they’ll find an irrelevant and indeed inane by-road to go down. But still, it’s the only way at present.

  98. 98

    gpuccio, some “random” thoughs ;-)

    with regard to epistemological chance, I can’t escape the notion that an ontology is always implied. However the ontology is either deterministic or its not. Perhaps your #95 is not entirely clear to me, but you appear to be making room for an ontology that is purposefully intended, as opposed to one that is mechanistically determined. This is appropriate, imo. In either case, it seems to me that epistemological chance is the measure of ignorance about the cause, regardless of whether the cause is deterministic or intentionally directed. So it appears that the distinction is not between epistemological and ontological chance, but between varieties of chance’s ontology. With regard to that ontology, we have a wave function describing the range of possible values and their respective probabilities; and then we have the discrete outcomes. The random factor, the exact position of a particle at a specific point in time, is either: 1) mechanistically determined; 2) purposefully determined; 3) determined *by* chance, which is ontological chance strongly defined (the “causal” chance).

    I guess in all that rambling I’m trying to suggest that epistemological chance employs a second option, purposeful intention, as a causal factor.

  99. GPuccio @ Chance,

    You both make some interesting points. If we think about the possibilities of nature’s movement along a continuum from 1 to 10, with total determinism (no freedom whatsoever: the outcome was completely pre-ordained) on one side [1) and total freedom (the final outcome could have been anything at all) [10], I lean a bit more toward the former view simply because of my theological preferences and my understanding of reason’s rules.

    My inclination is to think that nature has little or no freedom [score it at 1 or 2] because it seems to me that the Creator knew and arranged for the final outcome of his creative process in exacting and precise terms, or as Einstein might put it, making it anything but a game of dice. Frankly, I laugh when Theistic Evolutionists argue that God allowed the universe the freedom to “create itself.” I would place the Biologos mentality at about a [7] or however much of nature’s freedom is required to rationalize Darwin’s accident producing paradigm.

    I am speculating that both of you might venture a score of about [2 or 3], allowing for a bit more freedom than myself, perhaps paying tribute to the conclusions of most modern expositors of quantum dynamics. On this matter, I am with the minority opinion, though I am open to reasoned objections from the majority. My view, though, is that the mainstream interpretation is, too often, informed by the dubious assumption that effects can occur without causes at the quantum level, confusing the idea of unpredictability with the idea of causality.

    It is one thing to say that quantum events behave in a certain way for no “apparent” reason. It is quite another thing so say that they behave that way for no reason at all. I find no humility and much arrogance in that latter proposition. On the other hand, I don’t think it requires much arrogance on my part to say that no effect can occur without a cause. If I am wrong about in that assumption, science is finished anyway.

    In keeping with that point, I often wonder if some of these modern interpretations might even result from an attempt to link quantum mechanics with eastern mysticism or some other means of escaping from reason’s non-negotiable rules. Without a sound metaphysical foundation, what is the point? I hearken back now to Niels Bohr who once said, “A great truth is a truth of which the contrary is also truth.” Please! It may be true that there is no genius without a mixture of madness, but we must recognize the madness when it asserts itself.
    In truth, I even hesitate to allow for a [2] rather than a [1]. If anything at all can be a product of chance, then it seems to me that we have opened the door to the argument that something can come from nothing. What do you gentlemen think?

  100. Chance Ratcliff:

    Interesting thoughts! (and, I hope, purposeful :) )

    Well, I would say…

    In classical mechanics, we usually assume strong determinism. Maybe that is not really true, but let’s reason in a conventional way. So, a coin is tossed, and the usual view is that the final outcome is completely determined by the laws of mechanics. We don’t know all the hidden variables (exact positon at start, exact strength and direction of forces, and so on). We just observe that, if we toss the coin 1000 times, we have about 0.5 probability for each outcome. So we use a very simple probabilistic model to describe the system.

    So, in this scenario, probability is epistemological, and determinism is complete. There is no room for free will or free intervention (not, at least after the coin has been tossed).

    What about the collapse of wave function (if it really exists)? Again, let’s reason in a classical way, adhering to the Copenaghen interpretation. So, the wave function evolves deterministically, and as you say, it ” describes the range of possible values and their respective probabilities”. Whne it collapses, we have a dicrete outcome. We are playing Bohr at present, so let’s say that the specific outcome is not determined by hidden variable. The specific outcome is in accord to “ontological probability”, some mysterious property of the whole system of quantum world.

    Again, according to QM, the outcome is really random, so again we have no room form free will etc.

    So, from these two classical views, we have either:

    1) A classical world, completely governed by stricy determinism

    or:

    2) A QM world, completely governed by a mix of determinism and ontological randomness.

    Quite frustrating, isn’t it?

    But, obviously, there are those (including me) who believe that conscious agents exist, and that they are endowed with free will, intention and understanding. The problem is, how does free will from a conscious agent express itself in a world governed by determinism or randomness? (We obviously don’t take seriously the position of comnpatibilists, who like to believe that determinism and/or randomness are in some strange way free will…)

    Now, strici determinism is a very difficult environment for the intervention of free will. The difficulty has been known to philosophers for centuries: if you have a series of events completely determined, any free intervention woul be an “anomaly”, an interruption of the cascade of causes and effects. A dualism of nature and miracles, not too satisfying nor elegant.

    Quantum randomness is more appealing. If free intervention has to be a regular component of reality, what better interface? Consciousnes can certainly manipulate ontological randomness, and still probabilistic laws can be verified on large numbers. That is the beauty of probability. It allows room for designed order.

    IDists know very well how any specific deck of cards is equally improbable. The deck of cards arguments has been used many times against ID, in an astonishing variety of repeated idiocy. IDists know very well, however (but darwinists seem not to understand), that although when we shuffle a deck of cards an improbable outcome becomes real, a specific, ordered outcome will never come out. It’s a simple concept, yet difficult to understand for many out there.

    So, what if consciousness could manipulate quntum randomness so that specific ordered outcomes become real at specific times? That would not violate the probabilistic laws: after all, those outcomes are as improbable as any other outcome. But they would be freely designed, and not random.

    The point is, our individual human consciousness seems able to do exactly that with the cells of our nervous system. That’s how we express our free will in a deterministic, macroscopic world. Probably thorugh a QM interface at cellular level.

    And some other consciousness could do the same with the components of living beings, and realize design and information input in an apparently random system of variation.

    Because meaningful and functional arrangements are not necesserily formally different from completely random ones. Only a conscious agent, capable of understanding, representation, feeling and intent, can recognize the meaning, the function, in the midst of apparent randomness.

    We know that the sequence of the DNA gene for myoglobin is functional, because we see and understand the function. But objectively, it is not formally very different from a random sequence of the same length. For a non conscious nature (or, maybe, for darwinists) there is no difference there.

    So, we come back to your three scenarios:

    “The random factor, the exact position of a particle at a specific point in time, is either: 1) mechanistically determined; 2) purposefully determined; 3) determined *by* chance, which is ontological chance strongly defined (the “causal” chance).”

    I would say that a traditional view of the non quantum world, which ignores consciousness, would support only 1).

    A traditional view of QM is restricted to 1) and 3).

    But a complete view of reality, which refuses to ignore one of its most important components, consciousness, must necessarily include 2).

    Now, I am not really sure that a quantum interface is the only way to implement free will into determinism. It is certainly an interesting possibility. But I am sure that our understanding of consciousness and of its modes of interaction with matter is still extremely partial. We will certainly understand more and better in the future, especially if science finally ackowledges that conciousness exists as a fundamental mode of reality, that it is not a product of matter, that it does interact with that other mode of reality we call matter, and that it can and must be part of any serious scientifical model of reality.

  101. Stephen:

    I have read your 99 after posting my 100.

    Your points are, obviously, very interesting. I offer some personal thought, in complete respect for your position.

    Yes, I am probably a bit less a rationalist than you are, but I don’t think we disagree so much. When I admit (and I am not really sure of that) that quantum probability could be ontological, I have no intention to deny the power of reason or of the cause and effect link. QM asks us to think in some different and apparently strange way, but it is no supporter of epistemological anarchy at all. Indeed, scientific previsions made by QM, including its probabilistic part, are among the most precise ever known in science.

    The point is not that “they behave that way for no reason at all”. The point is that reality can obey laws of various forms, and not necessarily of a traditional deterministic form. The same reason that allows us to understand a deterministic system allows us to understand a quantum probabilistic system. It is cognition just the same.

    And I agree with you that “no effect can occur without a cause”. But I do believe that a cause can take forms very different from our traditional idea of a cause.

    After all, speaking between us who believe in God, I believe that God is the ultimate cause of all that exists. And I don’t think that our reason can really, fully understand God.

  102. Steve & GP:

    It is so good to see you both contributing in an excellent thread headed by a first class post by UB.

    I just thought it important to say that.

    As you both know I am partial to a two-tier cybernetic controller model by Derek Smith, and hear with interest the suggestion that mind may influence states in neural nets through a quantum process.

    Again, great to see you both in actin like the good old days.

    KF

  103. 103

    Hello All

    I am now freed up, and will be respondind soon.

    Thanks!

  104. UB 67:

    To argue against this observation is to say that information can exist in a material universe without a medium of matter or energy.

    Can matter and energy exist in a material universe without information?

    Lest we forget:

    “Information is information, neither matter nor energy. Any materialism that disregards this, will not survive one day”-Norbert Weiner

  105. KF:

    Hi! So good to be with you too :)

  106. 106

    [GP, sorry about the length]

    Hello GP,

    I apologize for the extended delay. I’d like to say upfront that your input is always instructive and valuable. One of the things that stand out to me in reading your posts is that you are fearless in addressing some of the larger issues that peel off from the direct observations. You have the intellectual and technical capacity to do so and you never shrink from the discussion. I have seen opponents basically challenge you to go beyond the principal stages of design thinking and move into deeper second and third round observations, and you never disappoint, nor do you relax from a disciplined line of thought. It is very admirable.

    As for myself, I seem to always be going the other direction. In my conversations with materialists on these issues, is has generally been their desire to expand the discussion as quickly as possible and as much as possible so that the observations themselves are lost in the minutia and the (as yet) unknown. It’s a standard tactic. In return, I am constantly trying to narrow the discussion back to the observables and what is already known about them.

    There are mountain goats on various ranges in the world that spend a great portion of their lives on the treacherous vertical surfaces of mountains doing things that would leave less capable animals frozen in fear. They move around with ease on the very edge of certain death. If the question is asked do they have “knowledge” of how to do what they are doing, then perhaps it would be hard to argue that they don’t, because they are doing it. But if the question is asked do they “fear” a misstep – then I have no idea how to address that question. These are all interesting questions (such as the question above regarding “intent”), but they are the things I try to remove from the conversation because they have no bearing on the material transfer of information; the specific issue at hand. That is the very point of the argument I have tried to present – to remove the fog and observe the transfer from strictly a material perspective, and to ask “are these observations correct” and “does this make a coherent material explanation”, and perhaps even to ask “could it be any other way”.

    Having said that I‘d like to address your comments, and I hope that my response isn’t too scattered. I have re-read your comments at #69 as well as your further comments since that posting. I seem to be having a difficult time knowing exactly where to step back in.

    In your 69-1, you say that you agree with me if “we use “information” in the sense of the ultimate conscious representation, including cognition and feeling, that only happens in a conscious agent.” My purpose in this argument, again, is to reduce the observations down to nothing but the material exchange of the information or specifically, the exchange of material representation to material effect . With that in mind, I would want to test the edges of your comment, and ask you to consider the following: Let us say that I have a light I want to automatically turn itself on at dusk, and then off again at dawn. To accomplish this I will have to give the lighting system the ability to act upon information if I want it to be self-directed, and will necessarily need to give it the capacity to take a measurement. I will do so by using a basic photocell, which is simply an element that allows electricity to flow through it went ambient light energy is available, but stops the flow of electricity when it is in darkness. I will then take this photocell and wire it to a (normally-closed) relay within a control circuit. When the daylight hits the photocell it will allow electricity to pass through the element and power the relay into an open position – turning the light off during the day. When the sun then goes down, the photocell’s element will stop the electricity from flowing to the relay and it will return to its normally-closed position, turning the light on again until the next sunrise.

    What I have done is use the material properties of a photocell (simply following physical law) to generate a measurement of daylight, and then used that as a representation to inform a protocol (the control/relay configuration), which is capable of translating the input of that representation into unambiguous function. Certainly it can be argued that I (as a conscious agent with purpose) am indispensible to this contrivance, and certainly I would be required in order to explain its origin. But I am not indispensable to its operation, and should my ultimate requirement as an agent somehow be in question, the argument that follows would have to find a signature of my involvement within that material operation. So if it should come to pass that objects such as photocells and relays and wires and light bulbs and sockets are thought to be explained by some mechanism other than myself, then my signature of involvement, if it can be found, must be evident in what is observed in the operation of the system.

    I submit that signature is the presence of TRI as evidenced by its four physical entailments: a) a representation which is arbitrary to the effect it will evoke in the system, b) a protocol capable of establishing what effect that representation will produce, c) the preservation of the arbitrary nature of the representation, and d) the production of unambiguous function from that arbitrary representation. However, that is not the argument I am making here. Instead I stop short in order to force the issue; to first establish among the opponents of ID that the information transfer in the genome IS semiotic; it DOES rely on the use of arbitrary representations and protocols, and it MUST include these things in order to exist. Not one single materialist has been able to demonstrate otherwise. As expected, they simply try to change the subject. Approaching genetic sequences as being true recorded information is an inescapable necessity of conducting research, but that approach is matched only by the discipline-wide denial of what that fact actually entails. This stands to reason because by Darwin’s own standard, evolution cannot be the source of the system. Materialists would hardly want to highlight that fact in their research, and they are prepared to delude themselves and all other people in order to avoid it.

    In fact, the final conclusion of this Semiotic Argument is that a) genetic information observably demonstrates a semiotic system, and b) it therefore will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state. Notice that there is no stipulation that the mechanism must be a purposeful entity of any kind – only that it must be able to create what is materially observed to exist. Even that is too much for them to swallow. They simply refuse coherent material evidence.

    I’d like to make a comment about your 5 and 6.

    One thing that wasn’t made explicit in the OP text is exactly what I include when I say “the transfer of recorded information”. I think this has resulted in a lack of clarity on my part so I would like to explain. I am talking about the transfer from representation to effect which includes both law-based transcription and the arbitrary-driven result of translation. There is a very straightforward reason for this. Both processes are required, as well as the preservation of the arbitrary and the production of the effect, in order to be sufficient to confirm an instance of TRI (which is the goal of the observations). For instance: In a previous debate I was told that information could be transferred without a protocol, and the pressing of a vinyl record was used as an example. Hot vinyl, a pressing plate with analog grooves on it, and voila; information is transferred without a protocol. In this previous conversation it was already made clear that I was talking about the transfer of representation-to-effect (including both transcription and translation) but this example was offered as an attempt to ignore that fact. The same claim was made with the example of photons hitting the eye. Neither of these cases are a transfer from representation to effect. One is an example of information being copied (lawfully transcribed from one medium to another) and the other is simply the sensory perception of the environment (lawfully transcribed from one medium to another). Neither has the slightest capacity to produce their end effect.

    Of course, this perspective may (maybe not) only make sense if one first agrees that information is a unique thing which has a unique material foundation, and that it doesn’t just exist in everything as a matter of that thing existing itself, but must be brought into existence by some mechanism. There is not information “in” anything; there is information that can be created “about” anything. For a thing to be information, it must first be transcribed into a representation. If that is not true, then we have emptied the term “information” of all its content, and we’ll need a new word to describe those things that are not just informative because they exist, but because they contain form about something as a matter of their arrangement. What use to be ‘a book of text’ was considered information, suddenly a book of empty pages is information and a book of text is something else. What was gained? I don’t believe it was clarity, not at least from a purely material perspective. And in the end, it is a material requirement in order to confirm an instance of TRI anyway.

    I am prepared to learn and adapt because I want the argument to be as materially coherent as possible, and your counsel would be very much appreciated in that regard. At this point though, I simply do not see it as an improvement. “Information in everything” puts the observer or mechanism in the process, and at that point it is already transcribed.

    My last comment will be my shortest because it is obviously a simple misunderstanding. Oddly enough, it may once again be tied (like connective tissue) to the information-in-everything theme. You say “I would like to comment on your argument that any type of information, in the end, must be transferred in digital form to the conscious perceiver”

    Here I am simply stumped. I don’t understand what I said that could have prompted your comment. In my argument, the transfer of information has the same material entailments whether it is analog or digital. But I certainly agree that (in the end) we are most interested in the observations of genetic information – which is entirely digital. This fact seriously narrows any mechanism which might be proposed as a demonstrable origin of such information. Like other digital formats, it is a format with the unique capacity to contain any type of information.

  107. 107

    steveh,

    I hope that I have satisfactorily addressed your 70 in my post to GP just above.

  108. 108

    Stephen,

    Your comments in 71 are an unexpected honor for me. Thank you very much.

  109. 109

    Hey Mung,

    Perhaps I am completely mistaken, or perhaps I just didn’t read enough for context – but I thought I saw you say somewhere that I wasn’t claiming the genetic system was a semiotic system. But the use of “representations and rules in a process” is the very definition of a semiotic system, and that is my claim.

    :)

  110. 110

    Thanks KF,

    I’m gonna come down and do a little surf fishing with you. Smoked redfish, garlic, and butter sounds good to me. I hope they let me bring a little mesquite on the trip out.

    ;)

  111. 111

    Joe I wouldn’t even begin to deny that information is it own phenomenon. But it has to have a medium as far as I can tell. Yup.

  112. 112

    Glad you’re here Chance, and glad you stuck around after you started commenting.

  113. 113

    Hi Eric, hope all is well with you.

    But of course Shannon information is largely unhelpful as a concept for understanding functional information . . .

    Agreed. But if these observations are correct, then “meaning” – that indispensible facet of functional information – can be confirmed to have been transferred.

  114. UB @113.

    Agreed. I was attempting to get things back on track and keep the discussion from going down the Shannon rabbit hole, which is (for the most part) irrelevant to the kind of functional information — meaning, as you say — we are interested in here.

  115. UB:

    First of all, thank you for the very kind personal words. I can only say that I could not appreciate more both your depth of thought and your lovable character.

    Let’s go to the content of your post. I must say that, as usual, I agree with almost all that you say. But there is something that remains slightly different between our positions, so I will do some furhter effort to understand what it is:

    1) I would say that I can fully agree with what you say uyp to the phrase “I’d like to make a comment about your 5 and 6″. But, to avoid confusion in the following discussion, I want to emphasize just from the beginning one point which is perhaps the main difficulty here. You quote my statement that: “if we use “information” in the sense of the ultimate conscious representation, including cognition and feeling, that only happens in a conscious agent.” But, if I understand well, your discourse does its best to avoid reference to the conscious observer, to be more “objective”. Now, with all the repsect for your try, that is where I believe you can’t succeed, not for lack of ability or intent, but because I believe nobody can succeed in doing that.

    My firm conviction is that a series of concepts arise only, and I insist only, in consciousness. We try to use them for objective matter because we are so accustomed to using them that we beileve they can exist by themselves. But that is not so. That’s why, in my reasonings, you will always find some reference to “a conscious designer” or “a conscious observer”, be it only as a revealer of some property in matter.

    For instance, let’s consider your very clear example of the lighting system. Everything is fine there, but: what do you mean by “representation” and “effect”? “Representation” is something I really don’t know how you can define withour the help of a conscious observer. And “effect” is too broad a term, any effect of a cause is an effect. I believe you mean “function”. But again, you cannot define “function” without the help of a conscious observer, that understands intent, in the reasoning. Having made this premise, I will stop a moment and take again the argument in my next post.

  116. UB:

    So, to sum up what I have said until now, I use conscious agents and observers in my reasonings not because I just like to do that, but nevìcause I believe that no complete and consistent reasoning about design and meaningful information can be made otherwise. THat conviction of mine is reinforced by the fact that any time my ID friends try to do that, to “get rid” of the uncomfortable conscious entity for the sake of some “objectivity” in the reasoning, their reasoning, however good, suffers at some level.

    THat’s what I think happens also in your case. I will try to explain why. I would also like to add that there is a reason, IMO, why Shannon has brilliantly developed the only quantitative theory we have about the objective transfer of information, but he has done that without any reference to “meaningful information”. It’s because you cannot even define “meaningful information” objectively. Try, and you will see what I mean. You need at least a conscious observer to understand and recognize the meaning. Or the function, which is another form of meaning. Meaning and function do not exist objectively and, even when they are embedded in a material system, they cannot be demontrated or defined by any formal property without the help of a “conscious revealer” of meaning and function. Even in the theory of CSI, you can only objectively measure complexity, which is a Shannon-like concept, but you need a conscious judgement to assess function or meaning. IMO, even Dembski has tried to avoid some non conscious dependent approach to his concept of CSI, relying on objective formal definitions, and I am not sure that has really helped his case. The truth is, relying on a conscious observer to assess meaning and function makes the discourse about information and design very simple and natural. Why shouldn’t we do that? Conscious observers are an objective resource in nature. We are discussing design here. Design cannot be defined without using the concept of a conscious agent (I know many have tried, but IMO they have all failed). So, why not do the right thing? When we refuse to include conscious entities in our argumnents about reality, we are only accepting the materialists’ reductionism, a reductionism that will always prevent them from understanding reality, because objective reality includes consciousness.

    I have to stop here. I hope I can go on later in the day.

  117. 117

    Stephen RE: #99,

    Yes I suppose that if chance is causal, then it’s problematic. And for theological reasons, I too prefer an understanding of nature that allows for every detail to be determined, by both the established mechanisms of physics and chemistry, and the governance of deity over contingency. So I would tend toward rating nature very low on the freedom scale. But I think it’s possible that chaotic ordering of systems at the quantum level might be necessary in some respect. Would reality be fundamentally different if electron positions proceeded in specified order? I don’t know. Randomness certainly has its uses, and its presence can even produce a level of probabilistic reliability in computer systems (I’m thinking of the quick sort algorithm). It’s also useful in computer security and simulations. There may be something about the operation of the current physical and spiritual reality that depends upon chaos as a veil of sorts, but I’m wandering into strange territory. So I’m definitely not big on ontological chance, but I don’t rule out that it may itself be an engineered mechanism.

  118. UB:

    I hope I can complete my thoughts now.

    In the last part of your post, I rather feel the need to ask you more detailed definitions, or clarifications.

    For instance, you speak about “the transfer of recorded information”. And still I would appreciate if you could give a more explicit definition of “information” in this context. That unlucky word, indeed, is often the origin of much misunderstanding.

    You say:

    “I am talking about the transfer from representation to effect which includes both law-based transcription and the arbitrary-driven result of translation.”.

    If I understand well, “representation” here is the DNA gene, while “effect” is the functional protein. If that is the case, I agree. Transcription is a tranfer of information “law based”, in the sense that it does not decode the meaning. Translation does. Although even transcription could never happen without a higly complex procedure. My point is, both transcription and translation are so complex that they must be designed. But translation is “code aware”, while trancription is not. But we are anyway speaking of coded digital information here.

    OK, let’s go on.

    You say:

    “There is a very straightforward reason for this. Both processes are required, as well as the preservation of the arbitrary and the production of the effect, in order to be sufficient to confirm an instance of TRI (which is the goal of the observations).”

    Well, I don’t know if I understand well. Transcription is necessary in the cellular context, but in general the information could be directly decoded and translated in one step. What is the difference? My point is, what you call TRI, in the sense of a semiotic “signature”, probably requires only:

    a) Some meaningful information that
    b) is recorded in some material system thorugh a symbolic, arbitrary code and
    c) some code aware procedure that can extract the original information and put it to use, either for the understanding of a conscious observer, or for the working of a functional machine.

    What’s wrong in that? In that simple form, I certainly agree that TRI is present, and that it is a semiotic signature. I would only add, in traditional ID spirit, that we must also be sure that the system is complex enough (it is certainly specified), to affirm that it is a true consciously generated (designed) system.

    You say:

    “Of course, this perspective may (maybe not) only make sense if one first agrees that information is a unique thing which has a unique material foundation, and that it doesn’t just exist in everything as a matter of that thing existing itself, but must be brought into existence by some mechanism.”

    Well, for me information ia not a self evident concept. I feel the need of specific definitions for each context.

    I have given a rather detailed definition:

    “That’s why I have used the term “objective information” to define the objective potentiality of a material system to evoke information in a conscious observer about something. The term “objective” is probably misleading: I don’t mean that information is really in the material system, but only that the material system can objectively be cognized in that way by conscious observers.”

    According to that definition, I think I am consistent in saying that each material system has objective information about itself. We can certainly get useful information about a wood just by observing it form some high point. That information can be very useful to go through the wood. It is not “brought into existence” by any method. It is objective information, and it becomes true information when I cognize it through my senses and mind.

    You say: “For a thing to be information, it must first be transcribed into a representation.” Why? I perceive the wood, and it is informatio to me. It is certainly tranformed into a conscious representation, but not “transcibed” into some other material system (except the photons, as we have already said). What I see is really the “shadow” of the wood in the photons.

    Now, the wood and the photons are probably designed by God, but that is not the point here. We are discussing a semiotic signature inside creation. Something appraochable by science in an empirical way. So, I can only conclude that the wood and the photons are information in the sense I have defined, but probably not in the sense that you would define. They certainly are not an example of digital coded information.

    So, I always come back to that. Digital coded information, and its transfer by code aware procedures, are the true semiotic signature. In that sense, with that precisation, I completely agree with your argument, always have and always will.

    Finally, about the last “problem”. You say:

    “I don’t understand what I said that could have prompted your comment. In my argument, the transfer of information has the same material entailments whether it is analog or digital.”

    Well, I believe I was prompted to that comment from this statement you made in post 12:

    “Seeing a robber’s shadow requires vision. If you see a shadow, it is not then a shadow traveling through your optical nerve. It is a material representation of that image which will be translated into a functional effect by a protocol in your visual cortex.”

    IOWs, you are invoking the protocols of vision to say that they realize here the transfer of information. OK, you don’t refer to “digital”; I interpreted it that way, because you speak of protocols in the neurological system, and those are probably digital protocols.

    My objection is that we cannot invoke what happens in our neurological system: that is the same for any perception we have from nature. Any act of perception implies protocols, digital transcriptions, and many other things in our body. That’s not what we are discussing here. We are discussing the objective transfer of information in nature. In that sense, I don’t see how we can deny that objective information is transferred from the robbers to their shadow, or to their tracks. That does not require a procedure, out of the laws of physics, and is not, IMO, a semiotic signature. But it is a transfer of information just the same.

    So, I believe, as already said, that we must qualify very well the information that is transferred, and how it is transferred, if we want to define it as a semiotic signature. The best way to do that is to limit our discussion to the transfer of digital coded information. That is certainly a semiotic signature. In the case of analof transfer, the semiotic signature can be affirmed, IMO, only if the transfer procedure is so complex that it must have been designed (a classical, non digital camera would be, I think, a good example).

    So, to sum up, muy point is:

    a) Objective information can be trasferred fromn one material system to another one by physical laws. That does not require any special procedure, the information is never digitally coded, it is not a semiotic signature, and there is no need for a designer.

    b) Analog information can be transferred form a physical system to another one through complex, designed procedures. If the procedure is complex enough that we can safely infer design, this kind of transfer is a semiotic signature, but there is no coding.

    c) Digital coded information always requires an arbutrary logical code, a code aware procedure for storing information, and a code aware procedure to decode it. It is always a semiotic signature and, except for possible very trivial pseudoexamples (of which, however, I am not aware), it always implies a conscious designer.

    Well, that was not easy. But I have tried to be as open and detailed as possible, as you definitely deserve.

  119. Chance Ratcliff:

    This is just to say that I have really appreciated your post 117. What you think is very similar to what I think. Thank you.

  120. 120

    gpuccio RE #100

    “So, in this scenario, probability is epistemological, and determinism is complete. There is no room for free will or free intervention (not, at least after the coin has been tossed).”

    Agreed. This is how I’m understanding epistemological chance. In this case, chance doesn’t provide the ontology — unknown variables do.

    “Quite frustrating, isn’t it?”

    That’s the reason why strict philosophical materialism in science is inappropriate, imo.

    Let me say regarding free will, that I accept it in part because it is an immediate fact of direct experience. It could possibly be said that free will falls under the category of qualia. In this regard, “free will is an illusion” makes about as much sense as “blue is an illusion.” ;-)

    “Quantum randomness is more appealing. If free intervention has to be a regular component of reality, what better interface? Consciousnes can certainly manipulate ontological randomness, and still probabilistic laws can be verified on large numbers. That is the beauty of probability. It allows room for designed order.”

    Fascinating! This is something I’ve considered before in another context (divine intervention). The same set of dice roll outcomes, given different ordering, can produce varying results, for instance, in a craps game. I made the point a while back on another thread (and under a different name):

    A property of randomness that is perhaps exploitable by a divine mind is the order of events in a random series. If, while playing at the craps table, I rolled 7, 11, 6, 6, 7, 4, 8, 9, 2, 12, 4, 7, the outcome from a monetary perspective would be entirely different than the series 2, 4, 7, 12, 8, 11, 6, 4, 7, 6, 9, 7, but statistically the same from the perspective of events in the series (especially if the winning streak is compensated by a losing streak at a nearby table) and simply insignificant as the number of trials increases.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-423342

    The set if outcomes is the same, but the different ordering produces either wins or losses. I think your suggestion that a form of ontological randomness could provide an interface for mind is intriguing.

    “Now, I am not really sure that a quantum interface is the only way to implement free will into determinism. It is certainly an interesting possibility. But I am sure that our understanding of consciousness and of its modes of interaction with matter is still extremely partial. We will certainly understand more and better in the future, especially if science finally ackowledges that conciousness exists as a fundamental mode of reality, that it is not a product of matter, that it does interact with that other mode of reality we call matter, and that it can and must be part of any serious scientifical model of reality.”

    Agreed. That consciousness is a fundamental pillar of reality is a possibility that should be embraced if we are to understand anything non-trivial about consciousness and intelligence in general.

    Thanks for your words in #119. It’s nice to know that the paragraph made sense to somebody besides myself. ;-)

  121. 121

    Upright, thanks for your kindness in #112. It’s good to be here, and it’s a pleasure to read your posts.

  122. 122

    Gpuccio,

    Ahh, thanks for your response. I think its facinating that two people can come at a difficult issue from entirely different directions, and meet at the exact same place – sharing their own observations from along the way, using the same tools and langauge. I think its a good sign.

    In 2003, information ethicist Rafeal Capurro wrote a rather excellent paper entitled The Concept of Information. (I remember once seeing the paper billed as ‘the state of the art’). He gives a very nice breakout of the history of the word, as well as the variety of difficuties in defining it over time. Then in a section on the relationship between scientifc terms and theories, Capurro writes “Following Chalmers, we propose that the scientific definitions of terms like information depend on what roles we give them in our theories; in other words, the type of methodological work they must do for us”.

    In the argument I’m presenting, the term ‘information’ is viewed solely from its impact on matter. That is the work it must do. From that perspective, what is found to be common (in that impact) among all instances of information is precidely what I am highlighting. At this point, I am prepared to view information as an arrangemet of matter that carries the form of a thing as a consequence of its arrangement. It is inseparable from its material representation because it is that representation that has the material impact. This is what I was hoping to illustrate by my example of a automatic light. A representation of form is used to produce unambiguous function in a system via a protocol instantiated in matter. From that perspective, this unique material signature is found in all communication throughout the living kingdom, as well as in the contrivances of intelligence, and in the material operation of the living cell. And it is found nowhere else.

    I think the bridge between our positions is a short trip. Instead of responding to your comments outright, I think I ‘ll let them set and enjoy them. Perhaps I’ll jump back in later.

    Many thanks GP. The reasons why you are one of UD’s favored contributors is obvious.

  123. 123

    In the meanwhile, no opponents have shown that the logic of my argument is invalid, or that the premises are untrue.

  124. 124
    critical rationalist

    UB: If your point is that the information in the genome exists without intent, that fact in and of itself would still not be germane to the observations of the transfer. […] If this is indeed the point you are wishing to make, then perhaps the only question would be how you determined that from the evidence.

    As Popper pointed out in his book Objective Knowledge, knowledge is independent of belief. Popper imagines two scenarios where nearly all people on the planet are wiped out. In the first scenario all of our books (dead trees and electronic format) are wiped out as well. In the second, these books remain. In the case of the former, it might take millennia to rebuild, if at all. But in the latter this could be achieved in only a fraction of the time. So, knowledge is objective in the sense that it is independent of anyone’s belief.

    UB: If you’ve located the ultimate source of that [will to survive] and measured it by some means and found it to be without “intention”, I would sure like to see your data. If not, then I am not certain what impact your point has on the observations made here.

    Please see above. Non-explanatory knowledge is created when conjectures are made which are random in regards to any particular problem to solve. As such, your argument is parochial in that it does not make a distinction between these two kinds of knowledge.

    UB: I’ve looked over my argument and I don’t see the word “intent” anywhere in it.

    Which definition of arbitrary are you referring to that does not include will or intent?

    arbitrary
    based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system: his mealtimes were entirely arbitrary.
    • (of power or a ruling body) unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority: arbitrary rule by King and bishops has been made impossible.
    • Mathematics (of a constant or other quantity) of unspecified value.

    ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense ‘dependent on one’s will or pleasure, discretionary’): from Latin arbitrarius, from arbiter ‘judge, supreme ruler,’ perhaps influenced by French arbitraire .

    Does a king rule in a way that he does not intend to? Mealtimes were either random or occurred at intentionally chosen times. Or perhaps you simply mean arrangements of matter that are not identical?

    UB: While you are working on that, may I suggest that you try to approach the argument on its own terms? For instance, the word “knowledge” is not mentioned anywhere in the argument.

    Does the explanation which succeeded the idea that light traveled in a medium called “the ether” (Einstein’s theory of general relatively) approach the argument on it’s own terms? Does it use the word “the ether”? Nor is the term “photon” part of the original argument.

    Furthermore, protocols in Objective-C represent the knowledge of what methods an object implements. Drug protocols represent the knowledge of which medications to take on a particular schedule and at a particular dosage.

    When we attempt to learn a completely new, undocumented language, we conjecture what a word means, then take that guess seriously. Specifically, we assume it is correct and use it along with our best guesses about all other words for the purpose of creating sentences. We then test those sentences to see if they are internally consistent. If so, we then test them via observations by trying to communicate with others who speak that language. Errors are discarded and we repeat the process.

    Nor is it clear what you mean by “observing” the transfer of knowledge. When we observe something, we’re doing so as conscious beings. This is unavoidable and uncontroversial. It seems that you’re having difficulty taking yourself out of the equation.

    UB: In any case, what if we used the transfer of information in a fabric loom in order to control the patterns of thread woven into fabric. Would you then pick up the cloth and say “this is knowledge”? It seems like a rather loose term.

    First, do I normally pick up objects, such as a cloth, and refer to them as knowledge? No. But the origin of the knowledge of how to adapt the thread is the origin of the cloth. Isn’t that the issue at hand?

    Second, a definition has been provided. You seem to be taking a reductionist approach in assuming That science must reductively explain everything.

    What do I mean by “knowledge”? I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to remain there and is consistent with Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. While they serve many other purposes as well, both brains and DNA act as storage mediums.

  125. 125
    critical rationalist

    Gpuccio: Well, if the requisite knowledge is present, I would call that “implementation”, and not “adaptation”. If you write a code to implement an algorithm that you know, is that an “adaptation”? Please, clarify what you mean.

    If Charles Babbage had actually build his Analytical Engine, it would have been the first Turing complete computer. So, despite being completely mechanical in nature, it could have run any program runnable on even the latest Turing complete digital computers. While emulating the amount of storage and RAM in a modern day computer using punch cards would be impractical, it would be possible in principle. These cards would represent adaptations of matter. Modern day computers with magnetic media, SSD drives and electrons also represent adaptations of matter. If one varies these adaptations slightly, they serve this purpose less well, if even at all.

    CR: The origin of that knowledge is the origin of the system of nanobots.

    Gpuccio: I certainly agree with that.

    I suspect we’re not quite in agreement in regards to the term “knowledge” and “origin”, but this is progress none the less.

    Gpuccio: Knowledge is always “created” (your word!) in the consciousness of a conscious intelligent agent. Only conscious intelligent agents can “understand”, and therefore “know”. There is no other way. The same is true for the knowledge of the biological designer: it originated in the consciousness of the biological designer.

    First, in the sense that I’m using it, knowledge is actually created rather than being already present in experience or mechanically derived from it. Any theory of an organism’s improvement raises the following question: how is the knowledge of how to make that improvement created? Was it already present in some form at the beginning? A theory that it was represents creationism. Did it just happen? If so, the theory represents spontaneous generation – such an example is found in Lamarckism, which assumed we still see simple creatures (such as mice) today because a continuous stream of simple creatures is being spontaneously generated.

    But both of these represent fundamental errors. Knowledge must first be conjectured and then tested. This is what Darwin’s theory presented from the start. Genetic variation, in the form of conjecture, occurs independent of the problem to be solved. Then natural selection discards the variations that are less capable of causing themselves to be present in future generations.

    Second, there are two types of knowledge: explanatory and non-explanatory. While people can create both kinds of knowledge, only people can create explanatory knowledge in the form of explanatory theories. This is because, as universal explainers, only people can create explanations. People create explanatory knowledge when they intentionally conjecture an explanation for a specific problem, then test that explanation for errors. If the theory is found to be internally consistent, it can be tested via empirical observations.

    So, I’d agree that only people can create explanatory knowledge.

    However, conjectures made in the absence of a specific problem result in non-explanatory knowledge. Specifically, it’s random in respect to any particular problem to solve. While my example is an imperfect analogy in the case of the genome (otherwise, it wouldn’t be an analogy) it illustrates how non-explanatory knowledge can be created independent of any specific conscious problem to solved. Furthermore, being non-explanatory in nature, it’s reach was significantly limited. This is in contrast to explanatory knowledge, which has significant and potentially infinite reach.

    Gpuccio: Your example is not clear. What do you mean by “rule of thumb”?

    For example, if I had a genetic condition, I wouldn’t want my doctor to base my treatment on the mere logical possibility that changing just any genes in my genome could improve my condition. Rather, I’d want my treatment based on an explanation that specific genes play a hard to vary, specific role in my symptoms and that changing them in a particular way would have a beneficial impact. The former is a useful rule of thumb. The later is an explanatory theory.

    In the case of people, rules of thumb are not completely non-explanatory because they are based on uncontroversial background knowledge which is explanatory in nature. But this isn’t the case in regards to the biosphere.

    gpuccio: Darwinism substitutes the role of consciousness with an artificail and ineffectice non conscious mechanism (natural selection) which can in no way explain what it should explain, least of all the coding and decoding of complex symbolic information in living systems, and the origic of that information.

    Darwinism is a theory of knowledge creation. Critical Rationalism is a epistemology that shares aspects of Darwinism.

  126. Chance Ratcliff:

    Thank you for your further contribution. I agree with all, except that I do not consider free will as part of the “category of qualia”, but rather as an objective input form a transcendental self. But that has been discussed elsewhere some time ago, and it would take us too far :)

    Moreover, I am all for the objective existence of “qualia” (including blue), and would never call them “illusions”.

  127. critical rationalist:

    Well, now I understand better you terminology. So, you call “non-explanatory knowledge” what I (and others) would call “unguided generation of useful information in a system by random variation”. OK, that’s fine with me. Words are just words. But you may excuse my initial confusion, because usually, as far as I understand, the word “knowledge” implies some cosncious cognition.

    I wonder: do you believe that “non-explanatory knowledge” can explain (in the scientific sense) a system where digital coded, complex information is first stored, and then translated, by two completely different sets of code aware, complex procedures, like it happens in DNA protein genes? Just to know…

    By the way, I am happy to know that some school of thought exists that is called “critical rationalism”. Now maybe we can get rid of all the old acritical rationalism that has been around for millennia :) (just joking)

  128. 128

    UB: If your point is that the information in the genome exists without intent, that fact in and of itself would still not be germane to the observations of the transfer. […] If this is indeed the point you are wishing to make, then perhaps the only question would be how you determined that from the evidence.

    CR:As Popper pointed out in his book Objective Knowledge, knowledge is independent of belief. Popper imagines two scenarios where nearly all people on the planet are wiped out. In the first scenario all of our books (dead trees and electronic format) are wiped out as well. In the second, these books remain. In the case of the former, it might take millennia to rebuild, if at all. But in the latter this could be achieved in only a fraction of the time. So, knowledge is objective in the sense that it is independent of anyone’s belief.

    Again, your comment does not impact the issue at hand. No matter how interesting you see Popper’s model of knowledge, it is simply non-responsive to the issue of the transfer of recorded information having a material foundation on which it must operate. If you feel otherwise, then make your case – and by that I mean make your SPECIFIC case demonstrating the impact on the inventory of the necessary and sufficient material conditions of recorded information transfer. This would take the form of “your inventory of necessary and sufficient conditions of TRI is incorrect because…” or “your conclusions from the transfer of recorded information do not follow from the premises because…”.

  129. 129

    My argument will be displaced from the UD front page today. I appreciate UD posting it, and also the responses that came forward.

    No one provided a demonstration that the observations are false, or that the logic is flawed. Indeed quite the opposite, the observations are completely valid, and the logic is entirely coherent with regard to those observations. Genetic information transfer demonstrates a semiotic state, and any mechanism proposed to be the origin of that system must have the capacity to establish a semiotic state for two intractable reasons: 1) because the transfer of recorded information is logically impossible without it, and 2) that is the way we find it.

    This evidence demonstrates a central prediction of ID – that the genome is a semiotic process. It also demonstrates the most prolific example of irreducible complexity in the natural world. And also that, using Darwin’s own standard, evolution is incapable of establishing that process.

  130. Well TSZ claims to have refuted every one of UB’s claims. And if bald assertions, misrepresentations and nonsense were refutations they would have a point. :razz:

  131. I’m not a geneticist, but the non-genetic observations and reasoning seem OK to me.

    However (you knew it was coming) there certainly are places for clarification. For example, Step 7 says:

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information. (emphasis added)

    The bolded part strikes me as kind of “and then a miracle happened.” What is this quality we are talking about, especially concerning genetic information transfer/exchange?

    In speech acts, the “objects” (to use UBP’s term) get their qualities from the abitrariness of signifier-signified relationships and from grammar. In non-human contexts, I would imagine–but obviously, I don’t know–that biology, chemistry, environment, and stochasticism may be among the factors which endow the representations and protocols their particular qualities.

    It seems to me that the quality UPB invokes is a critical part of what makes the overall argument interesting. So, if it has not come up before (sorry, I have not reviewed the earlier 129 responses, even though I did make a comment earlier), I would appreciate learning UPB’s theory, as it were, of the specific quality as it relates in genetic information transfer.

    Excepting the qualities issue, I’m not sure I see the significance of the argument generally. That genetic processes are or could be semiotic seems par for the course in the universe. Everything is in communication with everything else, in a manner of speaking. Living systems are especially adept at communication–that is, at information exchange.

    Now, language is a bit of a different story. It’s news when we have reason to believe different animals have real language use capabilities. “Real language” is definable, although some elements of the definition are controversial. If the argument of the OP were a language argument, I think that would be very exciting and much easier to assess on the surface.

    The argument of the OP, as is, is interesting and obviously the product of lots of thought and research. Is there a plan to expand the argument into a paper submission?

  132. 132

    Hello Larry, I will return very shortly to respond.

    Thanks

  133. A decade or 2 ago, I was involved in the development of STEP/PDES (Product Data Exchange Standard) and have continued in the business of creating Process Models (SADT) and Data Models. In each case, what is created is a representation of something (a data set, a standard process, a physical product), but in all but the most trivial cases, the model is not a COMPLETE representation of the something. The same it true for the older style collections of paper drawings and specifications that defined a Technical Data Package. The representations are intended to allow a competent technician (DBA, office manager, automated machining center) to produce an acceptance version of the thing within certain tolerances. See ISO 9000, CMMI, etc., etc.

    More generally, the Global Warming folks base all of their work on Weather Models, which attempt to represent global movement of heat, ocean currents, albido of dry land, etc., etc. The very best of this representations are crude and inaccurate. So the discussions are about which features of the Earth-Sun system a particular model gets closest to right.

    Instantiations (bringing into existence an instance of) of Process Models are especially tricky, since experienced and talented workers can produce acceptable versions of the intended outputs by following only the general features of the model.

    But the understanding I get is UB and others are assuming that the “representation” is a PERFECT and COMPLETE description of the thing AND it contains assembly instructions. The goal of STEP/PDES was to do that, but then the intention was also to produce a “neutral format” description, which did not assume the specific devices that would be used for instantiation.

    For example, assume a steel plate requires a feature described as a “through-going hole”, which is different from a “depression” in that it completely penetrates the material. However, I can produce a through-going hole either by drilling straight through the material or by first creating a depression and then grinding off the underside, exposing the “hole”. The result is the same, but I use different tools to get there.

    The same is true for data models. The logical model can contain details that are not directly implementable on some RDBMSs, and it’s common for developers to enforce some of the required constraints in the application rather than the data base itself.

    Or more generally, I can represent a dinosaur with a toy dinosaur. My daughter can be complete satisfied with this representation, but many paleontologists might complain about its completeness and accuracy.

    So, I believe UB should state at the beginning that the representation under discussion is complete and highly accurate AND that there is a known means of instantiating the thing represented that uses the system of codes (including free text?) in which the representation is encoded. Of course the “known means” might only exist on Alpha Centauri.

  134. 134

    Joe,

    Ahh yes. I see that is Patrick’s claim over at TSZ. But then again, Patrick has a certain history of being, let us say, inconsistent with facts. Here is a simple example, taken specifically from this topic:

    RB: May, 2012

    “I assert (not suggest) that you do not understand entailment, and due to your failure to grasp entailment you have constructed an argument beset with a fatal logical flaw.”

    UB: June, 2012

    “Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does it existence entail the existence of those specific conditions? Or is that illogical?”

    RB: June, 2012:

    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment.” …

    “Of course if the necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon are present, then phenomenon is present…”

    Patrick: August, 2012

    “Upright BiPed’s argument has been utterly destroyed logically”

    You see, facts simply do not matter to Patrick. This, along with the denial of material evidence, is part of his master plan to save his family from the delusions of those who disagree with him.

    - – - – - – - – - – -

    I also see that Mark Frank has a question about #2 in the OP. He states:

    [from the OP] #2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    False – although exactly when it is false depends on what is meant by a representation. Suppose I want to inform someone that badgers regularly visit my garden. I can transfer this information in many ways

    1) Writing them a letter telling them. This presumably falls into the category UB was expecting.

    2) Showing them a footprint. This shows them the size and shape of the feet and thus informs them about at least this aspect of the animal. If they have background knowledge they may be able to learn more. Does a footprint count as a representation?

    3) Getting them to observe the trail leading to a badger! Is the trail the representation?

    4) Getting them to come along one night and see the badgers. Not sure what counts as the representation here

    Okay, one at a time.

    #1. Writing a letter certainly involves representations instantiated in matter. That is what written letters and words are.

    #2. Simply pointing at a footprint does not transfer information. For that footprint (which is nothing more than the state of the ground after being stepped on) to become information, someone will have to see it and interpret the image. But it is not then a footprint traveling through the observer’s optical nerve; it is a representation of that image instantiated in a neural signal, which will be processed into a functional effect via a protocol within their visual cortex.

    #3. Same answer as #2

    #4. Same answer as #2.

    Sensory input takes place through representations and protocols.

  135. 135

    Hello Larry,

    The bolded part strikes me as kind of “and then a miracle happened.” What is this quality we are talking about, especially concerning genetic information transfer/exchange?

    There is nothing magical taking place Larry – perhaps “awe-inspiring”, but not magical. This is a purely material argument about observable phenomena. You ask ‘what are these qualities’, but those qualities were explained throughout the text, and then specified once again in the very next sentence following the one you bolded:

    ” The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system.”
    The justification of the terms, and well as the operation of both material objects, is explained within the argument. If you can narrow your question down where I can understand the impasse, I will be very happy to explain.

    Thanks!

  136. 136

    Hello Mahuna,

    You have a very interesting perspective. However, the “completeness” or “quality” or “exactitude” of the representation is not germane to the argument.

  137. UB,

    So anything can be identified as a representation (e.g., a picture of a whale) and all of the rest of the points of the argument still apply?

    In trying to sort out the mess of Technical Data, it was frequently discovered that the available data only made sense to the original manufacturer, and a 3rd Party (i.e., neither the original contractor nor the government owner) could not reproduce the part. The representation was close to worthless, and the usual consequence was a painful attempt by the new contractor to reverse engineer the part from an existing example. Tricky things like heat treatments to produce surface hardening were frequently missed, and the reproductions never worked as well as the original.

    Since I’m not a Biologist (although I can follow parts of what Behe says), my understanding is that encoding the description of a Thing as DNA and turning that encoding over to a cell mechanism that understands how to “open” the DNA and understands how to locate and manipulate components is a very special kind of representation. It’s the rough equivalent of having a properly formatted file to feed to a SPECIFIC automated machining center, which has also been pre-stocked with the right range of bar stock, etc.

    But turning the same file over to a different vendor’s machining center is likely to result in either a complete refusal to process the data or a very odd combination of cuts on the bar stock.

    At a higher level, having read “Rare Earth”, it appears that somewhere there must be a representation of the star Sol and its Solar system. And that representation probably includes the assembly instructions, which assume a set of building mechanisms (e.g., Gravity). The same general representation might adequately describe other star systems, but the assembly includes some level of randomness (um, QA tolerances?). The randomness of the assembly means that the Solar System is quite different than more than 99% of all other attempts at assembly.

    If DNA worked that way, almost all attempts to use the representation would result in death.

  138. UBP@135, That answer doesn’t work for me. I’ll try to explain why. In the OP, point #7, you say this:

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up.

    So, you have laid out:

    (a) Two discrete arrangements of matter.
    (b) These “objects,” these arrangements of matter, have a quality.
    (c ) This quality extends beyond their mere material make-up.

    My question to you was/is: What is this quality? Can you describe it more specifically?

    Following the piece I just quoted, you say this:

    The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system.

    Now, I read this as saying:

    (d) The first object is a representation.
    (e) The second object is a protocol.
    (f) Together, the two objects function as a formal system.

    But now it seems you’re telling me that I misinterpreted. What you meant was:

    (d’) The first quality is representation.
    (e’) The second quality is protocol.
    (f’) Together, the two qualities function as a system.

    If the latter part is really what you meant, I guess I don’t see what the big deal is. Essentially, the conclusion is that some material things do stuff or can be used to stuff by other material things.

    What am I missing?

  139. 139

    mahuna,

    DNA is a long chain of nucleic acids which carry information as a consequence of their order within the chain. Among other things, that sequence is used to provide information to the cellular machinery during protein synthesis (the construction of the proteins required for life). There are four different nucleic acids (cytosine, adenine, thymine, and guanine) which are repeated throughout the sequence, and each set of three nucleotides is a representation that evokes a specific response in the production of a specified protein. For instance the arrangement of C-T-A is a representation mapped to the addition of leucine to the protein being constructed. In other words, if the arrangement C-T-A should appear in the sequence when a protein is being produced, then leucine will be added next to that nascent protein.

    Obviously, the system has to operate with enough fidelity to facilitate those individual actions, and must be configured properly to result in that response from that representation.

  140. 140

    Hello Larry,

    The first object is a representation; an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system, where the arrangement is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes. The word “arbitrary” is used in the sense that there is no material or physical connection between the representational arrangement and the effect it evokes (i.e. the word “apple” written on a piece of paper evokes the recall of a particular fruit in an observer, but that recall has nothing whatsoever to do with wood pulp, ink dye, or solvent). The representation presents a material component to the system (i.e. it is a material piece of paper with discernable markings on it) but it also presents an arbitrary component (i.e. it is not the presentation of marks on a paper that evokes the response, but the arrangement of those marks). From causal standpoint, a representation evokes a response in a system, but does not determine what that response will be.

    The second object is a transfer protocol; an arrangement of matter which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representational arrangement and the effect it will evoke within the system. It is a systematic operational rule, instantiated in matter. The protocol allows the arbitrary component of the representational arrangement to evoke a response within a physically determined system, while preserving the arbitrary component of the representation. The protocol must be coordinated to the arbitrary component of the representation as well as the material production of the effect.

    The system therefore requires two material objects which operate as a formal system; i.e. recorded information cannot be transferred without the presence of both coordinated objects. From the standpoint of biology, it is an irreducibly complex system required prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution. Its origin will require the establishment of a semiotic state prior to the onset of organization via information.

  141. Upright BiPed @ OP

    3. … If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    This part of the agument appears faulty. Material separateness does not entail arbitrariness.

    Taking steveh’s example @ 5, a robber’s shadow is materially separate from the robber, but the shadow is not arbitrary – it is based on physical laws.

    For all we know, the representation of the shadow in the optic nerve and brain is also not arbitrary but is based upon physical laws.

    Thus the arbitrariness that is critical to the argument is not satisfactorily established.

    Cheers

  142. 142

    Clavdivs,

    Isn’t it odd that you have no problem illustrating that you know what materially arbitrary means in the second half of your comment, even as you question what it could possibly mean in the first.

  143. 143

    Also, the transcription of information (from the environment) into sensory input is based upon physical law – just as explained in the argument and ongoing comments.

  144. Upright BiPed @ 142

    Isn’t it odd that you have no problem illustrating that you know what materially arbitrary means in the second half of your comment, even as you question what it could possibly mean in the first.

    What are you talking about?

    I did not question what material arbitrariness could possibly mean.

    I pointed out that material separateness does not entail arbitrariness. You have not responded to this.

    @ 143: Also, the transcription of information (from the environment) into sensory input is based upon physical law – just as explained in the argument and ongoing comments.

    So what part of the shadow scenario do you believe has been established as being arbitrary?

    Cheers

  145. ‘Do you have a substantive concern with UB’s argument?’

    A very pithy and highly amusing question to timothya, Eric. Probably because its appositeness is so stark. You swine! Just kidding, of course.

  146. I hope that I have satisfactorily addressed your 70 in my post to GP just above.

    IMHO, you haven’t. AS I mentioned before many people here swear by the reality of Out-Of-Body experiences in which non-material entities can gather, store and disseminate information using purely non-material means.

    If they are correct, then _logically_, it _is_ possible to transfer information _without_ using a representation instantiated in matter. So your point 2 is logically incorrect and your argument fails as you state subsequent points rely on it.

    The same problem will arise if you allow for the possibility that the universe was designed in the non-material mind of a non-material being before the existance of the matter – as most of those here believe. How was the designer’s information generated, stored, manipulated and (later) instantiated in matter?

  147. I think another problem here is that you have realised that a simple analogy of man-made coding systems and DNA would not form a logically sound argument. So you’ve tried to invoke some sort of universal truth applying in _all_ cases where a something is physically represented by something physically different i.e. that the arrangements are always arbitrary (not governed by physical law); But when given examples you say they are not valid because they are _are_ examples of non-arbitrary things which can simply be described by phsical laws.

    You did not show that information was not transferred or that no effect was evoked (your definition of a representation from point 1)

  148. 148

    Clavdivs,

    In the original argument I stated the definition of a representation as follows: A representation is an arrangemt of matter that evokes an effect within a system, where the arrangement is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes.

    I had to look up at the OP to understand what you were talking about, Right now I do not know if the second half of that definition was accidently clipped from the post that Barry pasted it from, or if I left it off in the post itself. I know I added the list of examples in parentheses, and may have left it off as an unintended consequence. It is something that I have covered dozens of times in the argument**, and I see I that I covered it in #140 above. Representations are arbitrary to the effects they evoke. I hope that clears it up for you.

    - – - – - – - – - –

    “Firstly, the representation (by necessity) is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes within the system. This is evidenced by the simple fact that the matter the representation is instantiated in, is not the effect it represents to the system. Secondly, the physical protocol must establish the material relationship between the representation and its effect, but it must do so while preserving the arbitrary nature of the representation. In other words, neither the representation nor the protocol ever becomes the effect.” UBP, uncommondscent.com June 19

  149. 149

    Steveh,

    IMHO, you haven’t. AS I mentioned before many people here swear by the reality of Out-Of-Body experiences in which non-material entities can gather, store and disseminate information using purely non-material means.

    If they are correct, then _logically_, it _is_ possible to transfer information _without_ using a representation instantiated in matter. So your point 2 is logically incorrect and your argument fails as you state subsequent points rely on it…

    I think I understand now.

    The actual content of my argument doesn’t really matter; instead, you want me to address something else entirely, something that someone else said, which you say invalidates my argument, even though you don’t believe it.

    Thats a good one. As unsuspecting as the people are on this site, its amazing more visitors don’t try your moves. They are probably just too embarrassed.

  150. 150

    Steveh,

    I think another problem here is that you have realised that a simple analogy of man-made coding systems and DNA would not form a logically sound argument.

    You think I realized that, huh? And you’re here to point out the logical errors in the argument I decided to present in its place?

    So you’ve tried to invoke some sort of universal truth applying in _all_ cases where a something is physically represented by something physically different

    You mean like a regularity that can be generalized into a coherent theory? The nice thing about regularities is that they are immediately falsifiable by a single demonstration to the contrary. At that point they are either entirely overturned, or appropriately modified to account for the new evidence. Do you have anything like that you’d like to add?

    But when given examples you say they are not valid because they are _are_ examples of non-arbitrary things which can simply be described by phsical laws.

    You are accusing me of dishonestly knowing that someone had presented me an example which fit the criteria of my argument, but I discounted it because it invalidated my argument. Name it.

    You did not show that information was not transferred or that no effect was evoked (your definition of a representation from point 1)

    Name it.

  151. Upright BiPed @ 148

    In the original argument I stated the definition of a representation as follows: A representation is an arrangemt of matter that evokes an effect within a system, where the arrangement is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes. … Right now I do not know if the second half of that definition was accidently clipped from the post that Barry pasted it from, or if I left it off in the post itself.

    Well, I am only responding to the OP, not to any other writings here or elsewhere.

    I’m not sure I grasp the purpose of the argument in the OP. The idea seems to be that there exist certain arbitrary elements of genetic information transfer systems, where arbitrary means not reducible to natural law. In spite of these arbitrary elements, such systems produce very organised, complex effects. Therefore, there must exist some organising principle over and above, and not reducible to, natural law.

    I think this is valid (and I agree with the conclusion, by the way), but I don’t think the argument is sound.

    What I believe still needs to be established is that genetics is categorically arbitrary and not reducible to natural law (i.e. unconscious mechanisms). There is some evidence that the apparently arbitrary elements of genetics are in fact law-driven – this evidence needs to be addressed.

    Cheers

  152. For all this blah, blah, blibbidy-blibbidy blah, no one has put forward any evidence that blind and undirected processes can produce the transcription/ translation system we observe in living organisms. And no one even knows how we could test such a premise.

    The objectors at TSZ can’t do such a thing, evolutionary biologists can’t do such a thing and the objectors here can’t do such a thing.

    But hey all three groups can sure pound the table!

    Thumbs high big guys! All science so far…

  153. UBP@14, Thanks for this:

    The system therefore requires two material objects which operate as a formal system; i.e. recorded information cannot be transferred without the presence of both coordinated objects. From the standpoint of biology, it is an irreducibly complex system required prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution. Its origin will require the establishment of a semiotic state prior to the onset of organization via information.

    I guess I’m not sure about the “prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution.” When does “Darwinian evolution” begin? What’s happening before evolution?

    More broadly, isn’t everything in the universe already a semiotic state? I ask because your last post didn’t use the word “quality,” which was the original point of focus in my questions. It seems like now you are saying that the curious quality of the two objects, representation and transfer protocol, is the quality of appearing designed. This quality, in turn, results from the two objects being set in a pre-existing semiotic state that organizes and coordinates them.

    Do I have this right? If so, aren’t we really talking about more than a pre-existing semiotic state? That is, aren’t we really talking about a designing state, a condition in which items are arranged specifically to assemble systems?

  154. LarTanner:

    “I guess I’m not sure about the “prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution.” When does “Darwinian evolution” begin?”

    Darwinian evolution is alleged to build off of variations from one generation to the next. Therefore, by definition, Darwinian evolution cannot occur until we have a self-replicating system, usually described as an “organism,” but in theory it could be something simpler, such as a single cell or the hypothetical self-replicating molecule. Thus, the search goes on for the most simple self-replicating system, because — the thinking goes — Darwinian evolution can kick in and do the creative work once we have a self-replicating system.

    Before replication, you are dealing with pure chance and/or some kind of law-like property of chemistry and physics to form the first self-replicating system. Those are your only options.

    That is, unless one is willing to consider the obvious possibility of purposeful design . . .

  155. And Allan Miller continues to prove that he isn’t interested in science:

    Joe, of course, has a non-DNA-built designer on hand to intelligently, semiotically build a chemical transcription/ translation system from scratch, thereby demonstrating the evidential superiority of his position.

    Wow, a strawman and a total lack of understanding of how scientific inferences are arrived at, in one sentence. Nicely done Allan.

    But that is to be expected when the materialists can’t support their own position with a testable hypothesis and supporting evidence.

    Thumbs high big guy.

  156. Eric Anderson@154,

    Before replication, you are dealing with pure chance and/or some kind of law-like property of chemistry and physics to form the first self-replicating system. Those are your only options.

    That is, unless one is willing to consider the obvious possibility of purposeful design . . .

    Right. I see what you are saying, and that what I was expecting UBP to explain.

    Certainly the possibility of purposeful design has been on the table for millenia (as has materialism, or at least forms of it, if I remember my pre-Socratics).

    The question them becomes how to pursue that possibility in a meaningful, scientific way. Or is it enough only to entertain the possibility?

  157. CLAVDIVS:

    If you refer to the Yarus papers, those are really no evidence at all. Read them, and you will see. And if you believe they are “evidence”, come here and explain why. We will discuss those points in detail.

    The genetic code is obviously categorically arbitrary and not reducible to natural law. Nobody has even begun to show any evidence of the contrary.

  158. 158

    Hello Clavdivs

    I’m not sure I grasp the purpose of the argument in the OP. The idea seems to be that there exist certain arbitrary elements of genetic information transfer systems, where arbitrary means not reducible to natural law. In spite of these arbitrary elements, such systems produce very organised, complex effects. Therefore, there must exist some organising principle over and above, and not reducible to, natural law.

    It is not “in spite” of these arbitrary elements, but “because of” them. It is specifically the arbitrary component of genetic representations which create bio-function through the protocol. The supported conclusion is that the genetic system is semiotic, and by logical extension, its origin requires a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    By the way, the purpose of the argument from the beginning was to inventory the necessary and sufficient material conditions for the transfer of recorded information.

    I think this is valid (and I agree with the conclusion, by the way), but I don’t think the argument is sound.

    The argument is sound if the conclusions flow from the premises and the premises are true. Establishing a problem with the logic and premises is the (thus far) unmet challenge of the OP.

    What I believe still needs to be established is that genetics is categorically arbitrary and not reducible to natural law (i.e. unconscious mechanisms). There is some evidence that the apparently arbitrary elements of genetics are in fact law-driven – this evidence needs to be addressed.

    Stereochemistry seems to be a dead end. Advances have come to a drought, not because a proper methodology for advancement has not revealed itself, but because the tantalizing possibilities develop no real distinctions. We are now at the point where avid researchers are now reviewing each other’s lack of advancement.

    On the whole, it appears that the aptamer experiments, although suggestive, fail to clinch the case for the stereochemical theory of the code. As noticed earlier, the affinities are rather weak, so that even the conclusions on their reality hinge on the adopted statistical models. Even more disturbing, for different amino acids, the aptamers show enrichment for either codon or anticodon sequence or even for both (76), a lack of coherence that is hard to reconcile with these interactions being the physical basis of the code.

    – Koonin / Novozhilov

  159. 159

    Hi Larry,

    I guess I’m not sure about the “prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution.” When does “Darwinian evolution” begin? What’s happening before evolution?

    “When does Darwinian evolution begin” is an interesting question. If you read the peer-reviewed writing of biosemioticians, they leave no doubt. Darwinian evolution began at the origin of Life with the establishment of the semiotic system that organizes living systems. To me, their claim may be the most coherent and supported claim in all of Life origins research.

    More broadly, isn’t everything in the universe already a semiotic state? I ask because your last post didn’t use the word “quality,” which was the original point of focus in my questions. It seems like now you are saying that the curious quality of the two objects, representation and transfer protocol, is the quality of appearing designed. This quality, in turn, results from the two objects being set in a pre-existing semiotic state that organizes and coordinates them.

    Firstly, I do not believe the whole of the universe is in a semiotic state. I have given my reasons. Secondly, it is beyond the scope of this argument to determine if a specific thing was designed, instead, this argument is intended to list the necessary and sufficient conditions for TRI, or more precisely, to list what must be observed in order to confirm an instance of TRI. It is unavoidably apparent that the use of representations and rules (i.e. semiosis) are two of the foundational requirements (the other two being the preservation of the arbitrary component of the representation, and the production of unambiguous function from that arbitrary component). The conclusion then becomes that the genetic translation apparatus demonstrates a semiotic state, and will therefore require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    The thesis of Design is corroborated and made immediately arguable from these conclusions, but the validity of that argument does not change the observations made here.

    Design thinkers (such as UD’s gpuccio and others) are quite capable of arguing from the establishment of genetic semiosis to the necessity of artificial input.

  160. Upright BiPed @ 158

    CLAVDIVS: What I believe still needs to be established is that genetics is categorically arbitrary and not reducible to natural law (i.e. unconscious mechanisms). There is some evidence that the apparently arbitrary elements of genetics are in fact law-driven – this evidence needs to be addressed.

    UB: Stereochemistry seems to be a dead end. Advances have come to a drought, not because a proper methodology for advancement has not revealed itself, but because the tantalizing possibilities develop no real distinctions. We are now at the point where avid researchers are now reviewing each other’s lack of advancement.

    But Upright BiPed, as I pointed out, for the argument to hold water it must be categorically established that genetics is not reducible to natural law.

    That in your opinion research in this area appears to be a dead end, therefore genetics is not reducible to natural law, is a fallacious argument because it’s an appeal to ignorance.

    Strictly speaking, an appeal to ignorance is the fallacy of the excluded middle: that it’s not proven that genetics is reducible to natural law still leaves numerous possibilities open:
    1. genetics truly is not reducible to natural law;
    2. genetics is reducible to natural laws that are presently unknown but may be known in future;
    3. genetics is reducible to natural law but we can never establish it because the relevant historical evidence has been destroyed by the passage of time;
    4. etc.

    In short, the true position is we do not know whether or not genetics is reducible to natural law. Therefore, any argument that assumes in its premises that we do know this is unsound.

    Cheers

  161. CLAVDIVS:

    The old fallacy again.

    We are speaking abour empirical science here, not mathematics.

    Therefore:

    1. The genetic code is not reducible to natural law.

    is the only sound empirical explanation compatible with known facts.

    Your other “points” are empirically irrelevant:

    2. genetics is reducible to natural laws that are presently unknown but may be known in future.

    Who cares? If we reasoned that way, we could well renounce all empirical science. Why build theories for quantum mechanics or anything else, if the same facts could in the future be explained by completely different laws, at present not even guessed? The simple truth is that empirical science is all about the best explanation compatible with present facts and knowledge, and has no room for false logical reasonings like yours.

    3. genetics is reducible to natural law but we can never establish it because the relevant historical evidence has been destroyed by the passage of time.

    Same nonsense. We go on with the facts we have, or we can reasonably assume. Science does not stop because some facts could have been lost.

    4. etc.

    There is simply no acceptable etc.

    But please, explain why you seem to have changed your argument. In your post 151, you stated:

    There is some evidence that the apparently arbitrary elements of genetics are in fact law-driven – this evidence needs to be addressed.

    which seems an acceptable empirical argument. Unfortunately not true.

    So, why in your 160 are you retreating to such pseudo-philosophical nonsense?

    Just to know…

  162. 162

    Hello Clavdivs,

    But Upright BiPed, as I pointed out, for the argument to hold water it must be categorically established that genetics is not reducible to natural law.

    At first glance I would say you’ve simply misunderstood the argument. The question being addressed by the argument is not whether genetics is reducible to physical law, so as a consequence of that, its validity is not dependent on the answer to that question. The question being addressed by the argument is about the operation of the genetic system. The argument concludes that the TRI in the genetic system demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state. If your goal is to understand the origin of a system, then it is an advancement in knowledge to understand how that system operates and what its origin must therefore entail.

    You will notice that there is no stipulation that the genetic system must be reducible to physical law, or even that the mechanism of its origin be reducible to physical law. The argument being presented demonstrates that the system operates by the use of an arrangement of matter that evokes an unambiguous functional effect within the system, but does not physically determine what that effect will be. If it does not physically determine what that effect will be, then it does not have a local physical relationship to it. Instead, the effect is determined is material isolation from this arrangement of matter, by a second arrangement of matter. That is the threshold that the mechanism must be able to meet, because that is the way the system operates, and that is the way we find it.

    On second glance though, I would say your comment hits the nail on the head – is there a categorical distinction here? The answer to that question is ‘yes’, and again, this is the specific distinction that the argument is making. Allow me to shift gears and I’ll explain, and try not to botch the explanation. Perhaps I can express the essence of the issue.

    There is a principle in physics that says that any physical structure will distort and twist, and naturally orient itself to seek its lowest potential energy. It draws on the simple distinction between a stretched rubber band and a relaxed rubber band. The interactions of different physical structures will also seek this lowest potential energy state, making interactions dependent upon the rates of change and exchange of energy. Now consider the nucleic triplet C-T-A. This is an isolated and identified causal structure within the process of protein synthesis. C-T-A will evoke a specific effect within the system which is not based upon its mere presence, but based upon its arrangement (i.e. C-T-A). But its arrangement is not determined by its lowest potential energy, and can be re-arranged in order to evoke a different effect.

    Now consider that while this arrangement evokes an effect, it does not physically determine what that effect will be. Instead, the effect is determined by a second arrangement of matter which is both spatially and temporally isolated from the first. This demonstrates that unambiguous function is being derived from an arrangement of matter (i.e. the sequence of C-T-A) which is not determined by its lowest potential energy. In other words, the unambiguous function of life is not reducible to the principle of lowest potential energy, but to the relationship that exist between two sets of isolated arrangements of matter. You asked for a categorical distinction, and now you have one.

    The mechanism required for the origin of this system will need to coordinate the relationship between these two sets, and also be a source of the sequence in the first, leading to unambiguous function (otherwise, we would not be here to observe it).

    - – - – - – - – -

    And I might add that all of this must be in place in order for Darwinian evolution to even exist as a causal force in the natural history of life on earth.

  163. 163
    critical rationalist

    UD Editors: No one has come close to refuting UB’s thesis after 129 comments. We are moving this post to the top of the page to give the materialists another chance.

    Representations are abstractions. It’s unclear how the existence of abstractions is actually a problem for evolutionary theory. Nor has UB clarified what he means by “observations of the transfer of recorded information” in regards to observers and justification of the transfer.

    Is the conclusion is that existence of abstractions requires some ultimate arbiter? If so, this represents justificationism and is parochial. It also assumes that all high-level explanations should be reductionist in nature. However, this simply isn’t the case. Nor is it necessary or even desirable to do so for us to actually make progress.

    For example, in terms of fundamental physics, we encounter events of extreme complexity on a daily basis. If you place a pot of water on a stove, every computer working on the planet could not solve the equations to predict exactly what all those water molecules will do. Even if they could, we’d need to determine their initial state, the state of all external influences, etc., which is also an intractable task.

    However, if what we really care about is making tea, enough of this complexly resolves itself into hight-level simplify that allows us to do just that. We can predict how long water will take to boil with reasonable accuracy by knowing it’s overall mass, the power of the heating element, etc. If we want more accuracy, we may need additional information. However this too exists in the form of relatively high-level phenomena which is also intractable.

    So, some kinds of phenomena can be explained in terms of themselves alone – without direct reference to anything at the atomic level. In other words, they are quasi-autonomous (nearly self-contained). Resolution into explicably at a higher level is emergence.

    IOW, it’s not necessary for genetics to be reducible to law for it to be *explicable*.

    This leads us back to my initial comment…

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    Every conceivable transformation of matter is either impossible because of the laws of physics or achievable if the right knowledge is present. This dichotomy is entailed in the scientific world view.

    If there was some transformation of matter that was not possible regardless of how much knowledge was brought to bare, this would be a testable regularity in nature. That is, we would predict whenever that transformation was attempted, it would fail to occur. This itself would be a law of physics, which would be a contradiction.

    Furthermore, if we really do reside in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. Any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above (this realm supposedly effects us), this also means there can be no better expiation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well.

    In other words, our everyday experience in this bubble would only appear explicable if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions. Note this bares a strong resemblance to a pre-scientific perspective with its distinction between an Earth designed for human beings and a heaven that is beyond human comprehension.

  164. 164
    critical rationalist

    gpuccio: Well, now I understand better you terminology. So, you call “non-explanatory knowledge” what I (and others) would call “unguided generation of useful information in a system by random variation”.

    You’re overlooking a key point: non-explanatory knowledge has significantly less reach that explanatory knowledge. If I lack an explanation as to why the coconut is opened when it accidentally fell on the rock, then its usefulness is limited to just that scenario. To open other coconuts from other trees without rocks beneath them, I’d cary them up a tree that did, then drop them. It’s a useful rule of thumb.

    However, there are always explanations for non-explanatory knowledge, even when they are not explicit. In the case of the coconut, these explanations include mass, inertia, etc., and has significantly more reach. Rather than dropping the coconuts from the tree to land on a rock, I can stay on the ground and strike any coconut with any rock. And I can substitute rocks and coconuts with other objects, such as anchors and shells, etc. This is significantly greater reach.

    This is a significant distinction which represents progress in our ability to, well, make progress as people. It also explains our recent, rapid increase in our ability to make progress.

    gpuccio: I wonder: do you believe that “non-explanatory knowledge” can explain (in the scientific sense) a system where digital coded, complex information is first stored, and then translated, by two completely different sets of code aware, complex procedures, like it happens in DNA protein genes? Just to know…

    I’m still not sure exactly what your asking or how it’s relevant.

    Translation mechanisms perform transformations of matter. Transformations occur with the necessary knowledge is present. In addition, cells build themselves based on the knowledge found in their genome. These transformations occur when the requisite knowledge is present as well. So, in both cases, the question is, “how was this knowledge created?”

    Knowledge is a high-level explanation for phenomena. For example if someone is defeated by a chess program, we do not say they were defected by electrons or sand. Yet, you seem to be asking me how electrons or sand can defeat a chess player.

    Are you suggesting that science should always explain everything reductively?

  165. gpuccio @ 161

    CLAVDIVS: genetics is reducible to natural laws that are presently unknown but may be known in future.

    GPUCCIO: Who cares? If we reasoned that way, we could well renounce all empirical science. Why build theories for quantum mechanics or anything else, if the same facts could in the future be explained by completely different laws, at present not even guessed? The simple truth is that empirical science is all about the best explanation compatible with present facts and knowledge, and has no room for false logical reasonings like yours.

    If you presently have an empirically demonstrable explanation for the origin of genetics — something science doesn’t think it has, as pointed out by Upright BiPed — then let’s hear it.

    So, why in your 160 are you retreating to such pseudo-philosophical nonsense?

    Discussion about logical fallacies is not “pseudo-philosophical nonsense”, it is relevant and expressly called for by the OP. Nor is it being “retreated to” because I don’t have the burden here, as anyone can see.

    Cheers

  166. Representations are abstractions.

    It is unfortunate that you didn’t clarify your thought. In this instance, representations are abstractions of what, precisely?

    It’s unclear how the existence of abstractions is actually a problem for evolutionary theory.

    It is only a “problem” to the extent that evolutionary theory (specifically Darwinian theory) is fully dependent on the arrangements of matter being described here, which I have referred to as “representations” and “protocols”. It is their material existence that is being observed and presented (by extension) as the necessary material conditions for evolution to occur. Therefore evolution cannot be the source of their existence.

    Nor has UB clarified what he means by “observations of the transfer of recorded information” in regards to observers and justification of the transfer.

    Not only is that not the case, but for anyone over the past 40-50 years who has even a modest understanding of protein synthesis, it is not even particularly arguable what someone might mean by the using the phrase “the transfer of recordeed information”. If you feel that I should clarify the fact that we observe this phenomenon, I’ll be happy to do so. We observe this phenomenon, just like all the others.

    As for the remainder of your comment, it seems terribly like you want to shoehorn a perspective onto these observations which doesn’t actually effect them.

    If I am misunderstanding your point, then you should be able to relate it specifically to the text of my argument and point out the issue as it interrelates.

  167. Discussion about logical fallacies is not “pseudo-philosophical nonsense”, it is relevant and expressly called for by the OP.

    Clavdivs, if you’ll read my 162, you’ll see that you asked a question that the OP did not attempt to answer. An argument that doesn’t provide an answer to a question it wasn’t designed to ask – is not a logical fallacy.

  168. 168

    Clavdivs,

    Just as a further point of clarity, here is a additional view:

    Evolution requires the genotype-phenotype distinction, a primeval epistemic cut that separates energy-degenerate, rate-independent genetic symbols from the rate-dependent dynamics of construction that they control.

    Semiotic systems consist of (1) a discrete set of symbol structures (symbol vehicles) that can exist in a quiescent, rate-independent (non-dynamic) states, as in most memory storage, (2) a set of interpreting structures (non-integrable constraints, codes), and (3) an organism or system in which the symbols have a function.

    -Howard Pattee, Prof. Emeritus, SUNY

  169. critical rationalist:

    My point is simple. Only “explanatory knowledge”, that is a knowledge that originates in a conscious agent, can explain a system like DNA protein coding genes and the translation system, with the double implementation of the same symbolic code. That is my point.

    So, the only reasonable explanation for that kins of system is design.

    “Non explanatory knowledge”, that is the informational arrangement that could arise by unguided events in a material system, has “significantly less reach that explanatory knowledge”, as you say. So much so, that its reach is infinitely far away from those types of complex symbolic systems.

    And I am certainly not “suggesting that science should always explain everything reductively?”. Just the opposite. As should be clear from what I write.

  170. CLAUDIUS:

    A design paradigm is a mcuh better explanation frame for that.

    And it was you who posted about supposed “evidence”. So yes, the butden is yours to present that evidence. If you don’t do that, that is retreating, for me.

  171. Upright BiPed & gpuccio

    Thanks for your responses.

    Unfortunately, I’m considerably distracted by family business this weekend. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to respond soon.

    Cheers

  172. Upright BiPed:

    Perhaps I am completely mistaken, or perhaps I just didn’t read enough for context – but I thought I saw you say somewhere that I wasn’t claiming the genetic system was a semiotic system. But the use of “representations and rules in a process” is the very definition of a semiotic system, and that is my claim.

    I think perhaps you didn’t read enough for context. Was that in this thread? I can’t find it. But, iirc, someone was claiming that you were claiming that DNA is “the system.” Your argument is broader than just DNA and yet they were trying to restrict it to just DNA. I was trying to be helpful and point out they were misrepresenting your argument.

    At least that’s the way I remember it.

    :)

  173. mahuna:

    Or more generally, I can represent a dinosaur with a toy dinosaur. My daughter can be complete satisfied with this representation, but many paleontologists might complain about its completeness and accuracy.

    Actually, the toy dinosaur is an instance of an abstraction of an abstraction. Unless you’re going to argue that it’s an abstraction of a ‘specific’ dinosaur.

    Maybe Upright BiPed will address the difference between abstraction and representation.

    Hmmm… maybe the toy dinosaur is a material representation of an abstract concept. Surely there’s some information here somewhere.

  174. mahuna:

    Or more generally, I can represent a dinosaur with a toy dinosaur. My daughter can be complete satisfied with this representation, but many paleontologists might complain about its completeness and accuracy.

    Actually, the toy dinosaur is an instance of an abstraction of an abstraction. Unless you’re going to argue that it’s an abstraction of a ‘specific’ dinosaur.

    Maybe Upright BiPed will address the difference between abstraction and representation.

    Hmmm… maybe the toy dinosaur is a material representation of an abstract concept. Surely there’s some information here somewhere.

  175. Upright BiPed @ 162

    CLAVDIVS @ 151: I’m not sure I grasp the purpose of the argument in the OP. The idea seems to be that there exist certain arbitrary elements of genetic information transfer systems, where arbitrary means not reducible to natural law. [Because of] these arbitrary elements, such systems produce very organised, complex effects. Therefore, there must exist some organising principle over and above, and not reducible to, natural law.

    You did not challenge this paraphrase of the OP, other than to substitute “because of” for “in spite of”. But then, later, you wrote:

    UB @ 162: At first glance I would say you’ve simply misunderstood the argument. The question being addressed by the argument is not whether genetics is reducible to physical law, so as a consequence of that, its validity is not dependent on the answer to that question. The question being addressed by the argument is about the operation of the genetic system. The argument concludes that the TRI in the genetic system demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state. …
    You will notice that there is no stipulation that the genetic system must be reducible to physical law, or even that the mechanism of its origin be reducible to physical law.

    So, to be crystal clear, do you grant, for purposes of this discussion, that the origin of genetics is entirely reducible to mechanistic laws, including the origin of the mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state?

    Cheers

  176. CLAVDIVS,

    Let me get this straight.

    You ask for a categorical distinction that the genetic system is not reducible to physical law. So I show you that the centerpiece of the system (the precise point where the unambiguous function of Life is derived) is categorically not reducible to physical law.

    And so in your very next question you want to quietly slide past all that, and want me instead to agree that the system is reducible to physical law.

    That is really quite funny.

  177. Empirical data does not matter to the opponents of ID.

    Demonstrated.

  178. Upright Biped,

    Empirical data NEVER mattered to them. Does “eons of time” ring a bell?

  179. Upright BiPed @ 176

    UB @ 162: The question being addressed by the argument is not whether genetics is reducible to physical law, so as a consequence of that, its validity is not dependent on the answer to that question.

    Right here you state the argument is not dependent on whether genetics is reducible to physical laws. Therefore, logically, it should not matter to the argument to grant that genetics is reducible to physical laws, because such is irrelevant. I asked you (@ 175) to confirm this, and you responded:

    UB @ 176: You ask for a categorical distinction that the genetic system is not reducible to physical law. So I show you that the centerpiece of the system (the precise point where the unambiguous function of Life is derived) is categorically not reducible to physical law.

    And so in your very next question you want to quietly slide past all that, and want me instead to agree that the system is reducible to physical law.

    I was just trying to clear up the apparent contradiction between your post @ 162, where you say the reducibility of genetics to physical law is irrelevant to the argument in the OP, and your post @ 176, where you say it’s highly relevant. Please take it as constructive criticism that these two comments appear contradictory and confusing.

    Going with your most recent post @ 176 — that the argument is dependent upon the irreducibility of some elements of genetics to physical law — we can return to my original criticism @ 160 that the argument is an appeal to ignorance and your rebuttal of this criticism:

    UB @ 162: … unambiguous function is being derived from an arrangement of matter (i.e. the sequence of C-T-A) which is not determined by its lowest potential energy. In other words, the unambiguous function of life is not reducible to the principle of lowest potential energy, but to the relationship that exist between two sets of isolated arrangements of matter. You asked for a categorical distinction, and now you have one.

    I had in mind categorical as in a universal statement in formal logic with no qualifications or exceptions i.e. ‘All S are P’.

    Your premise about the irreducibility of elements of genetics is of the form ‘No S is P’, namely ‘no physical laws (S) fully explain genetic information transfer (P)’. This is the dreaded universal negative — you cannot establish it just by enumerating instances of physical laws that fail to fully explain genetic information transfer, such as molecular energy levels.

    To establish this universal negative you must establish some property of S or P that entails that No S is P. I appreciate you’ve tried to build that argument up by reference to material separateness and the apparently arbitrary nature of the genetic code, but neither of those strictly entail the irreducibility of genetic TRI to physical laws. The robber’s shadow is a counterexample of TRI via materially separate elements. And organic life is rife with examples of arbitrary configurations that are then ‘locked in’ for all descendants, like the number of legs of tetrapods, which is explained by a mathematically simple branching tree model. How can one rule out the possibility of a similar kind of model of the origin of genetic TRI?

    So I still feel this part of the argument is weak.

    Cheers

  180. 180
    critical rationalist

    CR: Representations are abstractions.

    UB: It is unfortunate that you didn’t clarify your thought. In this instance, representations are abstractions of what, precisely?

    Are you sure we’re talking about the same comment? Or perhaps it is unfortunate that you didn’t read my comment in its entirety?

    CR: It’s unclear how the existence of abstractions is actually a problem for evolutionary theory.

    Is the conclusion is that existence of abstractions requires some ultimate arbiter? If so, this represents justificationism and is parochial. It also assumes that all high-level explanations should be reductionist in nature. However, this simply isn’t the case. Nor is it necessary or even desirable to do so for us to actually make progress.

    UB: It is only a “problem” to the extent that evolutionary theory (specifically Darwinian theory) is fully dependent on the arrangements of matter being described here, which I have referred to as “representations” and “protocols”. It is their material existence that is being observed and presented (by extension) as the necessary material conditions for evolution to occur. Therefore evolution cannot be the source of their existence.

    It’s unclear what the difference is between the example/question I asked you (and criticized) and your response. Can you clarify the difference?

    CR: Nor has UB clarified what he means by “observations of the transfer of recorded information” in regards to observers and justification of the transfer.

    UB: Not only is that not the case, but for anyone over the past 40-50 years who has even a modest understanding of protein synthesis, it is not even particularly arguable what someone might mean by the using the phrase “the transfer of recordeed information”.

    Yet the majority of people with significant understanding of protein synthesis do not see it as problem for evolutionary theory. As such, I’m unclear what you mean by “observations of the transfer of recorded information”

    For example, do you mean information only transferred if it is verified or justified in someway? Does the verification occur by some observer or arbiter? Which observer/arbiter and what what hard to vary role do they play, if any?

    UB: As for the remainder of your comment, it seems terribly like you want to shoehorn a perspective onto these observations which doesn’t actually effect them.

    Again, it’s not necessary for genetics to be reducible to law for it to be *explicable* or for us to make progress. If you mean that we cannot justify genetics with some ultimate cause then you are projecting your problem on me. Specifically, I’m a critical rationalist, not a justicationist.

    From the following essay on Hayek, Bartley and Popper: Justificationism and the Abuse of Reason

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

  181. 181

    CLAVDIVS

    Right here you state the argument is not dependent on whether genetics is reducible to physical laws. Therefore, logically, it should not matter to the argument to grant that genetics is reducible to physical laws, because such is irrelevant.

    The argument is not dependent of the reducibility of genetic information to physical law because that is not the question being addressed by the argument. Do you understand this distinction? Further, do you believe that such distinctions are neccesarily made with regard to questions and answers, and that those distinctions are important in assessing the validity of arguments? For instance, the 2nd Law of thermodynamics does not explain why my daughter’s favorite color is purple. That fact however does not weaken the 2nd Law of thermodynamics. This should be somewhat obvious, yet you seem completely intent on conflating the two anyway, and you seem to want to do this for the expressed purpose of questioning the validity of the argument – which is exactly what you cannot do. This is either a case of terribly poor reasoning on your part, or a tactical maneuver in order to avoid the conclusion of the argument, or perhaps both.

    As for granting a priori that the system is reducible to physical law (even though it is irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument) … well, it’s irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument, so there is no reason to grant it. If it is reducible, that doesn’t change the observations being made here. If it isn’t reducible, that still doesn’t change those observations. It’s irrelevant. Do you understand? Once again, this should be obvious.

    I was just trying to clear up the apparent contradiction between your post @ 162, where you say the reducibility of genetics to physical law is irrelevant to the argument in the OP, and your post @ 176, where you say it’s highly relevant. Please take it as constructive criticism that these two comments appear contradictory and confusing.

    Again, there is no contradiction. What you suggest is a contradiction is based upon an issue that is irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument. May I ask you to pay particular attention to a particular sentence? The following is that sentence: The conclusion of the argument is that the transfer of recorded information from the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state. If we can be so lucky as to there being no problem in comprehending that sentence, then clearly, you will see that there is no stipulation that the system (or the mechanism of its origin) be reducible, or not reducible, to physical law. Given that fact, the question of whether or not it is reducible does not impact the conclusion of the argument.

    Now, the remainder of your comment is entirely based upon this irrelevant issue. However, if you agree that distinctions can be made as to what questions any particular argument might address, and that those distinctions are critical in evaluating the validity of those arguments, then there is no need for me to address the remainder of your comment. It is beset with an inescapable flaw in reasoning.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Critical Rationalist

    I asked a straightforward question in order to evoke a straightforward response. You were unsuccessful. I do not intend on trying to make your case for you. If you cannot coherently articulate it, then so be it.

    I noticed in your response you bolded three portions of text. The first of these three begins with this question: “Is the conclusion is that existence of abstractions requires some ultimate arbiter?” To answer that, again, allow me to post the conclusion written in the OP:

    CONCLUSION: These two physical objects (the representation and protocol) along with the required preservation of the arbitrary component of the representation, and the production of unambiguous function from that arbitrary component, confirm that the transfer of recorded information in the genome is just like any other form of recorded information. It’s an arbitrary relationship instantiated in matter.

    (…which has been generalized elsewhere as…)

    “The conclusion of the semiotic argument is that the transfer of recorded information in the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state”.

    If the answer to your question is not clear enough, allow me to answer in a single word: No.

    The second of your bolded text states: “According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests.”

    I see that you present this tidbit of wisdom as the hood ornament of your movement. But the remainder of humanity has pretty much been doing this all along. We don’t typically step in front of speeding buses, because we’ve calculated what outcomes from that action are more ‘quite likely’ than others. All in all, it’s not a particularly new way of viewing the world.

    Your final bolded text then says: “Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference”.

    There is nothing particularly interesting about that text, perhaps you feel your views are particularly valuable to humanity because you say you hold none of them closely (having nothing invested in them) and your proof of this takes the form of “because I said so”. At the same time, my views are based upon the real world observations of nucleotides and such. Frankly by comparison, I think your substantiation is a bit of a yawner.

    What is more interesting is the text that precedes this bolded portion. Here you say that you hold all your positions open to criticism, which you are quick to point out is not taking a position, but other people must think it is, and these other people criticize it as being useless, but in the end that’s okay, because when you get around to the real world of speeding buses, you are allowed to take a position anyway.

    That’s groovy man. Really.

    - – - – - – - – -

    UD

    After two weeks, there hasn’t been a single opponent able to provide a flaw in either the material observations themselves, or in the logic of the conclusion. At this point I am left with one objector who cannot help but manage to add his own mess to the argument, and a shadow boxer who can’t even manage that.

  182. Well I see the denizens over on TSZ are still upset because their position still doesn’t have any positive evidence nor any way of testing to see if their mechanism has the capabilities of producing transcription and translation.

    Heck if they could produce a testable hypothesis for such a claim that alone would go a long way to giving their position some hope. But they can’t even do that.

    But they sure as heck can misrepresent and misconstrue an argument though.

    The TSZ saying:

    “When you can’t beat them with evidence, baffle them with BS and claim victory.”

  183. Upright BiPed @ 181

    As for granting a priori that the system is reducible to physical law (even though it is irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument) … well, it’s irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument, so there is no reason to grant it. If it is reducible, that doesn’t change the observations being made here. If it isn’t reducible, that still doesn’t change those observations. It’s irrelevant.

    That’s fine. I understand you are stipulating that at no point in your argument do you rely upon either the irreducibility or the reducibility of any elements of genetics to physical laws.

    The conclusion of the argument is that the transfer of recorded information from the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    Well, then, we return to my earlier observation (@ 151) that I am not sure I grasp the purpose of the argument.

    Let’s acknowledge, just for this discussion, your conclusion that genetics exhibits semiotic states, and therefore the origin of genetics requires a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    So what? You are merely observing that if system X has property Y, then – however system X came about – it must have involved at some point the introduction of property Y. This is almost tautological.

    What is it about semiotic states that is supposed to make this conclusion interesting? What does it tell us that we didn’t know before?

    Cheers

  184. Joe, has any of the TSZ circle tried to answer the syllabus of 18 q’s here, cogently? I know someone has been struggling with No. 1, on induction ,as in the major part of real world reasoning on evidence. KF

  185. Kairosfocus,

    Not that I have seen. Right now they are focused on UB’s semiotic argument, Dembski’s LCI, misrepresenting ID , over-stating their position and equivocating.

    They did toy with your post for a while but I guess they gave up.

  186. CLAVDIVS-

    Semiotic states require knowledge- knowledge of what symbolizes what. In this case knowledge of what codon represents which amino acid. Knowledge that blind molecules just do not have.

  187. Allan Miller thinks the knowledge lives in the molecules. Well Allan if it does then they were programmed and nature doesn’t program. Blind and undirected processes don’t program. Only intelligent agencies program.

    Unprogrammed molecules don’t have any knowledge and cannot create a semiotic state.

    That said any of you can just step up and actually support your position with real evidence…

  188. 188

    Yes Joe, I see that. I find it amazing that they are still playing the “You didn’t answer Keith” card.

    Keith asked me to summarize my argument, so I did. He didn’t like my summary so he revised it (a common practice at TSZ) by adding several things that weren’t part of my argument. Amazingly, he then took issue with all those things he added.

    I suppose they keep talking about it (without actually linking to it) because if they did, someone might see that I already responded to Keith on more than one occassion by pointing out that he had added a bunch of irrelevant things to the argument. I suppose someone might see that as me having already responded to Keith, and linking to it might poo poo on their rhetoric.

    This is the kind of “academically rigorous” analysis that Elizabeth Liddle wants associated with her name; and Keith, Allan Miller, Alan Fox, Pertrushka, Toronto, Reciprocating Bill, Dr Who, Flint, and Mike Elzinga are only too happy to provide it for her.

    They also want me to respond to Allan Miller’s challenge that there is nothing stopping a system comprised of a single amino acid from becoming a two amino acid system, and then a three amino acid system, etc. I already pointed out that a single amino acid system does not have the information carrying capacity to code for itself, and therefore it is physically unable to become ‘a system’. That didn’t seem to matter to them.

    BiPed to Keiths – May 21st, 2012

    As for your rewrite, I have a very simple question to ask of you. Do you think it is relevant to this conversation that the semiotic argument does not contain a B1, or a B2, or a B3? Moreover, do you think it is relevant to the validity of my argument that you ignore the opportunity to challenge the actual premises of the argument, only to inject foreign material into the argument and challenge those instead?

    Allan Miller to BiPed – May 4th, 2012

    Your argument does go away when there is a single acid being attached by a ribosome to a peptide chain. So, to evade that possibility, you simply point to the undisputed fact that no known life forms have a tRNA library with a single member. Yet you have no biochemically-based argument for dismissal of consideration of precursor systems, only its inconvenience for your theory. [emphasis added]

    BiPed to Allan Miller – May 9th, 2012

    Which do you think would be more difficult; predicting amino acids from the material make-up of nucleotides or coding for the production of a ribosome in a mono acid system?

    BiPed to Elizabeth Liddle – May 11th 2012

    As for the comments of Allan, he is entirely tied to the idea that a mono-acid system could evolve into a two-acid system, and so on. Even granting huge assumptions, the fact that a mono-acid system (coding for one acid and stop) is physically incapable of coding for a mono-acid system, does not seem to affect his confidence, and therefore he must simply take the system itself for granted.

  189. 189

    CLAVDIVS

    That’s fine. I understand you are stipulating that at no point in your argument do you rely upon either the irreducibility or the reducibility of any elements of genetics to physical laws.

    Good, you now understand that my argument is not dependent on a reduction to physical law. On the other hand, the general thrust of your counter-arguments above very much courted the idea of there being nothing in the system that wasn’t reducible to physical law. When I pointed out that physicists can demonstrate that symbol structures (like nucleic triplets) are indeed not reducible to physical law, you shrank from that observation by minimizing it as being unsatisfactory to you. Imagine that.

    Let’s acknowledge, just for this discussion, your conclusion that genetics exhibits semiotic states, and therefore the origin of genetics requires a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    So what?

    You mean…”other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?”

    If you are a Richard Dawkins pumping out best-sellers – waxing over the effervescent elegance of the Darwinian mechanism to the throngs of non-curious patrons of scientific imagination – you sure don’t want to start talking about the critical requirements for that mechanism to exist, particularly if those requirements include arbitrary representations and transfer protocols.

  190. 190

    Allan Miller 09042012:

    “And yet molecules are blindly transcribing and translating, right now worldwide. Where does this ‘knowledge’ live? If you answered ‘in molecules’, you were correct.

    - – - – - – - –

    …from UB at 162:

    There is a principle in physics that says that any physical structure will distort and twist, and naturally orient itself to seek its lowest potential energy. It draws on the simple distinction between a stretched rubber band and a relaxed rubber band. The interactions of different physical structures will also seek this lowest potential energy state, making interactions dependent upon the rates of change and exchange of energy. Now consider the nucleic triplet C-T-A. This is an isolated and identified causal structure within the process of protein synthesis. C-T-A will evoke a specific effect within the system which is not based upon its mere presence, but based upon its arrangement (i.e. C-T-A). But its arrangement is not determined by its lowest potential energy, and can be re-arranged in order to evoke a different effect.

    Now consider that while this arrangement evokes an effect, it does not physically determine what that effect will be. Instead, the effect is determined by a second arrangement of matter which is both spatially and temporally isolated from the first. This demonstrates that unambiguous function is being derived from an arrangement of matter (i.e. the sequence of C-T-A) which is not determined by its lowest potential energy. In other words, the unambiguous function of life is not reducible to the principle of lowest potential energy, but to the relationship that exist between two sets of isolated arrangements of matter. You asked for a categorical distinction, and now you have one.

    The mechanism required for the origin of this system will need to coordinate the relationship between these two sets, and also be a source of the sequence in the first, leading to unambiguous function (otherwise, we would not be here to observe it).

    - – – – – – – – –

    And I might add that all of this must be in place in order for Darwinian evolution to even exist as a causal force in the natural history of life on earth.

  191. 191
    critical rationalist

    UB: I asked a straightforward question in order to evoke a straightforward response. You were unsuccessful. I do not intend on trying to make your case for you. If you cannot coherently articulate it, then so be it.

    It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature. In fact, you actually pointed this out when you wrote..

    It is only a “problem” to the extent that evolutionary theory (specifically Darwinian theory) is fully dependent on the arrangements of matter being described here, which I have referred to as “representations” and “protocols”. It is their material existence that is being observed and presented (by extension) as the necessary material conditions for evolution to occur. Therefore evolution cannot be the source of their existence.

    To summarize one of my previous comments…

    So, some kinds of phenomena can be explained in terms of themselves alone – without direct reference to anything at the atomic level. In other words, they are quasi-autonomous (nearly self-contained). Resolution into explicably at a higher level is emergence.

    Darwinism fits under the umbrella of Popper’s universal theory of knowledge creation. As such, it includes the theory that the knowledge of how to build organisms is genuinely created, rather than having been present in some form at the outset. This knowledge is emergent.

    As such, the assumption that Darwinism needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” (material or otherwise) that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

  192. Upright Biped-

    Of course because we observe semiotic systems in living organisms AND we “know” blind and undirected processes are responsible for living organisms , well because we don’t see any darn designer inside, then your argument is refuted (condensed from other matter we did. 2nd law saw to that).

    Nothing to see here- move on

    :roll:

  193. It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system.

    And DARWIN wrote about that mechanical system- ie the system that replaces the designer. The system that we now know does nothing of consequence.

    What do you think the whole debate is about?

  194. CR

    It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature.

    My argument doesn’t even mention Darwinism.

    In fact, you actually pointed this out when you wrote.

    The comment you quote was written as a response to your comment about Darwinism.

    Darwinism fits under the umbrella of Popper’s universal theory of knowledge creation. As such, it includes the theory that the knowledge of how to build organisms is genuinely created, rather than having been present in some form at the outset. This knowledge is emergent.

    Are you incapable of understanding that the heritable information that Darwinian evolution is based upon requires heritable information?

    As such, the assumption that Darwinism needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” (material or otherwise) that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

    For someone who sells themselves as a watcher of argumentation, you surely have a dim understanding of how argumentation is conducted. What you account for as an “assumption” is a actually conclusion. (There is a difference in these two, in case you weren’t aware). And the conclusion is based upon the empirical work of people like Franscis Crick, Marshal Nirenberg, and others – and isn’t even controversial). The challenge of the OP was to show the premises to be false, or the logic to be invalid – which you have done neither.

    If you have a complaint about the evidence itself, then your complaint is with empirical reality, which frankly, would not surprise me a bit.

    As far misunderstanding Darwinism, please put your money where your mouth is and describe for me Darwinian evolution without recorded heritable information.

  195. Here you say that you hold all your positions open to criticism, which you are quick to point out is not taking a position, but other people must think it is, and these other people criticize it as being useless, but in the end that’s okay, because when you get around to the real world of speeding buses, you are allowed to take a position anyway.

    That’s groovy man. Really.

    Haha. So reminiscent of the exchange between Elizabeth Liddle and nullasalus.

  196. CR:

    As such, the assumption that Darwinism needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” (material or otherwise) that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

    I must have missed that part where Upright BiPed pointed out that Darwinism can’t even get started, much less succeed.

    It’s in the same sense that an internal combustion engine needs combustion.

  197. Grant the initial thesis and conclusion are unassailable can similarly waterproof implications or follow-on argumentation be outlined? (If this is a work in progress no worries.)

    The reason I ask is that I’ve seen many threads on UD spent trying to get the opposition to walk through an open door while we traverse a spiral of errors with claims that there is no door.

    So the thread never enters the room!

  198. Congratulations to Upright Biped for getting the members of TSZ mumbling and grumbling. And if keiths wants to talk about evasion all he needs to do is watch evos when asked to support he claims of their position.

    Ya see keiths, IF your position actually had positive support you would just present that to refute UB’s argument. That you have failed to do so after all this time tells everyone that you don’t have anything.

  199. 199
    critical rationalist

    Mung: It’s in the same sense that an internal combustion engine needs combustion.

    See my above comment regarding quasi-autonomous phenomena

    Substitute wanting to make tea with powering a car. Substitute combustion with boiling water. Substitute water molecules with air and fuel molecules.

  200. 200
    critical rationalist

    Theories are explanations. While it’s not limited to just biology, darwinism is an explanation the origin of the knowledge of how perform the transformations that build biological adaptations was created.

    As such, the assumption that Darwinism [which is an explanation] needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” (material or otherwise) that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

  201. How are you defining “explanation”? Because as far as I can tell darwinism is an “explanation” in the same way school kids explain why they don’t have their homework.

  202. 202
    critical rationalist

    CR: The second of your bolded text states: “According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests.”

    CR: I see that you present this tidbit of wisdom as the hood ornament of your movement. But the remainder of humanity has pretty much been doing this all along. We don’t typically step in front of speeding buses, because we’ve calculated what outcomes from that action are more ‘quite likely’ than others. All in all, it’s not a particularly new way of viewing the world.

    Which is a strawman. Specifically, the sections I quoted begins not with one but three attitudes.

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism

    Are you suggesting there is no difference between these attitudes as presented?

    Furthermore, I bolded the parts of the third attitude, which points out you are projecting your problem, by virtue of your pre-enlightenment, authoritative, justificationist conception of human knowledge, on me.

    From the quote…

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    Justification is impossible. For example, conclusions of an argument are not proven unless the premises are proven, which is impossible. You either have to assume that you’ve proven them, which isn’t’ the same as actually proving them, or you are faced with an infinite regress.

    Critical Rationalism is neither justificationism or relativism, as outlined in the excerpt from the paper which can be found in it’s entirety here. So, your argument is parochial in that is assumes a dichotomy of either relativism or dogmatism / “true belief”.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Critical Rationalism….

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    According to Bartley, some justificationists are positive about this mistake. They are naïve rationalists, and thinking that their knowledge can indeed be founded, in principle, it may be deemed certain to some degree, and rational.
    Other justificationists are negative about these mistakes. They are epistemological relativists, and think (rightly, according to the critical rationalist) that you cannot find knowledge, that there is no source of epistemological absolutism. But they conclude (wrongly, according to the critical rationalist) that there is therefore no rationality, and no objective distinction to be made between the true and the false.
    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

  203. 203
    critical rationalist

    UB: Here you say that you hold all your positions open to criticism, which you are quick to point out is not taking a position, but other people must think it is, and these other people criticize it as being useless, but in the end that’s okay, because when you get around to the real world of speeding buses, you are allowed to take a position anyway.

    “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism, as it applies to all ideas.

  204. “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism, as it applies to all ideas.

    Perhaps it is a bad criticism, but not for the reason you give.

    I can’t help but notice how you insulate your own ideas from criticism.

  205. 205

    Apparently my comment at #188 has provoked Keith (at TSZ) into challenging me once again to respond to his revised version of my argument. This is a revision where he first adds language to my argument that appears nowhere in the original, and then he victoriously attacks the very language he’s added.

    (geez…)

    Among other things, Keith wants to revise my argument by adding “design” to the premises of the argument (he begins by adding it to the very first line of his revision) thereby making the argument assume its conclusion. Why he thinks I would feel obligated to defend his revision is a complete mystery. Furthermore, why he thinks I am on the end of his chain is an even bigger mystery.

    In actuality, none of this is a mystery at all. The details of my argument had already been fairly well tested in front of specialists, so I knew going in that the material observations were supported and that the logic was valid. The only question was negotiating a nest of emotional and belligerent ideologues. Knowing up front that the group at TSZ could not advance any material objections, the only option that would be left to them was to redirect the argument and seek a better position, which is exactly what Keith (and others) have been attempting to do. Mankind’s strategic godfathers have been writing about this tactic for over 2500 years, and it was a safe bet that the gurus at TSZ were not going to invent any new methods of engagement.

    - – - – - – - – - – - –

    Keith,

    Allow me to explain to you what happened. I intentionally maintained direct competitive contact with a single opponent at TSZ and didn’t allow that single conversation to get out of hand. I simply paced the hogwash coming from the gallery, and managed to maintain this central conversation long enough to defeat the specific objections of my target. That target was Reciprocating Bill, who by his own words deflated both of his key objections. (Pushing RB into defeating his own arguments took entirely too long, and that was my fault for unrelated reasons). In any case, the attempts to dislodge this central conversation were all destined to fail for the very reason that it was all too obvious. The acrimonious boo-hoo-ing over ‘not understanding the argument’ could not have been more transparent. People who pretend not to understand concepts should not then turn around and use those same concepts in their subsequent objections. All of you should try to be more like Patrick, who has ‘playing stupid’ down to an art form. If he was not so careless as to reveal himself by constantly lying in the midst of a recorded conversation, one could honestly think he was a complete idiot.

    The bottom line is that you’all were unable to identify any flaws in the material observations (or the logic) after two months of trying. You lost. Get over it. If it makes you feel any better, it was not ID, or me, or strategy that beat you – it was the material evidence itself. Since all of you give lip service to being empiricist, the identity of your victor should help you swallow the loss a little easier.

    :)

  206. 206

    CR at 200,

    CR to UB: It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature.

    UB to CR: My argument doesn’t even mention Darwinism.

    CR to UB: While it’s not limited to just biology, darwinism is an explanation the origin of the knowledge … the assumption that Darwinism … needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” … that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

    My argument doesn’t even mention Darwinism.

  207. 207

    CR at 202,

    facepalm

  208. 208

    CR at 203

    “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism, as it applies to all ideas.

    “Idea X is not justified” is not my critique of your input here. My critique is that you haven’t harnessed any novel manner of knowing. When you come out from being up in your head, you’ve transcended nothing.

    And no offense, but I personally find the conversation boring.

  209. Upright BiPed,

    Apparently my comment at #188 has provoked Keith (at TSZ) into challenging me once again to respond to his revised version of my argument. This is a revision where he first adds language to my argument that appears nowhere in the original, and then he victoriously attacks the very language he’s added.

    I noticed keiths’ TSZ post earlier today and was hoping you’d respond here or there.

    I think you deserve a lot of credit for discussing your argument in what, despite Lizzie’s best efforts, could easily be considered a hostile venue. Even when people are on their best behavior, trying to answer points from a dozen or more different individuals without anyone assisting you is difficult.

    Leaving aside the observations and logic of your argument, though, I must confess to having considerable difficulty following it, both when you were commenting at TSZ and here at UD. Please don’t take this criticism as an insult, it is entirely possible that the fault is completely mine, but your prose is simply too dense for me to easily analyze. For that reason alone, I for one would very much appreciate it if you would take the time to respond to keiths’ challenge and either correct his summary or provide an equally clear and concise one.

    Whether or not one agrees with keiths, his breakdown of definitions, premises, conclusions, and overall logical flow is remarkably direct. If you could provide something similar, with explicit definitions of all important terms, short sentences with few if any conjunctions, and clearly labeled premises and conclusions, it would go a long way to making your argument more understandable.

    You’ve obviously spent a lot of time developing this argument. With just a little more effort you could make it available to a much broader audience. I hope you will consider doing so.

  210. 210
    critical rationalist

    Reposting to fix formatting errors:

    CR: The second of your bolded text states: “According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests.”

    CR: I see that you present this tidbit of wisdom as the hood ornament of your movement. But the remainder of humanity has pretty much been doing this all along. We don’t typically step in front of speeding buses, because we’ve calculated what outcomes from that action are more ‘quite likely’ than others. All in all, it’s not a particularly new way of viewing the world.

    Which is a strawman. Specifically, the sections I quoted begins not with one but three attitudes.

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism

    Are you suggesting there is no difference between these attitudes as presented?

    Furthermore, I bolded the parts of the third attitude, which points out you are projecting your problem, by virtue of your pre-enlightenment, authoritative, justificationist conception of human knowledge, on me.

    From the quote…

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    Justification is impossible. For example, conclusions of an argument are not proven unless the premises are proven, which is impossible. You either have to assume that you’ve proven them, which isn’t’ the same as actually proving them, or you are faced with an infinite regress.

    Critical Rationalism is neither justificationism or relativism, as outlined in the excerpt from the paper which can be found in it’s entirety here. So, your argument is parochial in that is assumes a dichotomy of either relativism or dogmatism / “true belief”.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Critical Rationalism….

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    According to Bartley, some justificationists are positive about this mistake. They are naïve rationalists, and thinking that their knowledge can indeed be founded, in principle, it may be deemed certain to some degree, and rational.
    Other justificationists are negative about these mistakes. They are epistemological relativists, and think (rightly, according to the critical rationalist) that you cannot find knowledge, that there is no source of epistemological absolutism. But they conclude (wrongly, according to the critical rationalist) that there is therefore no rationality, and no objective distinction to be made between the true and the false.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

  211. 211
    critical rationalist

    UB: CR at 202,facepalm

    The blogging software I’m used to using doesn’t allow posts with unclosed tags and lets you delete posts. WordPress does neither.

    While it’s not hard to figure out where the formatting errors are, I’ve reposed it in case you’re having difficulty.

  212. 212

    Onlooker, my argument is at the top of this page.

    You can indicate what words you are having a hard time with, and I’ll be happy to explain.

  213. onlooker-

    Start with this:

    1.In this material universe, is it even conceivably possible to record transferable information without utilizing an arrangement of matter in order to represent that information? (by what other means could it be done?)

    2.If 1 is true, then is it even conceivably possible to transfer that information without a second arrangement of matter (a protocol) to establish the relationship between representation and what it represents? (how could such a relationship be established in any other way?)

    3.If 1 and 2 are true, then is it even conceivably possible to functionally transfer information without the irreducibly complex system of these two arrangements of matter (representations and protocols) in operation?

  214. Upright BiPed @ 189

    CLAVDIVS @ 183: That’s fine. I understand you are stipulating that at no point in your argument do you rely upon either the irreducibility or the reducibility of any elements of genetics to physical laws.

    UB @ 189: Good, you now understand that my argument is not dependent on a reduction to physical law.

    Nor is it dependent upon an irreducibility to physical law – let’s not forget that part.

    UB @ 189: When I pointed out that physicists can demonstrate that symbol structures (like nucleic triplets) are indeed not reducible to physical law, you shrank from that observation by minimizing it as being unsatisfactory to you.

    As you say, all this is irrelevant as you’ve stipulated that your argument at no point relies upon the reducibility or irreducibility of anything in genetics to physical laws.

    CLAVDIVS @ 183: Let’s acknowledge, just for this discussion, your conclusion that genetics exhibits semiotic states, and therefore the origin of genetics requires a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state … So what?

    UB @ 189:You mean…”other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show?”

    If you are a Richard Dawkins pumping out best-sellers – waxing over the effervescent elegance of the Darwinian mechanism to the throngs of non-curious patrons of scientific imagination – you sure don’t want to start talking about the critical requirements for that mechanism to exist, particularly if those requirements include arbitrary representations and transfer protocols.

    Again, so what? Nature is rife with apparently arbitrary configurations of matter, where we do not understand the causes that bring about that particular configuration rather than another one. Why does an electron have a rest energy of 5.11 MeV? Why do quadrupeds have four legs and not six? Either the evidence is not available to us or, if it is, we have not figured out its significance. To base any kind of argument on this is a classic appeal to ignorance, and is fallacious – as I have been pointing out.

    In any case, the conclusion of your argument – which you took pains to spell out @ 181 – does not even mention the significance of genetic semiotics or its apparently arbitrary nature. Here it is again:

    UB @ 181: The conclusion of the argument is that the transfer of recorded information from the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    All this conclusion states is that system X has property Y, therefore – however system X came about – at some point it required the introduction of property Y. This is at best trivial, at worst tautological.

    To make this a non-trivial argument you must recompose it so that this ‘conclusion’ is instead a premise, combined with another premise establishing the significance of semiotic states.

    At this stage I concur with Onlooker @ 209 that it is quite unclear to me what your argument is supposed to demonstrate. I urge you to recompose it into syllogistic form to make this clear.

    Cheers

  215. 215
    critical rationalist

    CR to UB: It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature.

    UB to CR: My argument doesn’t even mention Darwinism.

    CR to UB: While it’s not limited to just biology, darwinism is an explanation the origin of the knowledge … the assumption that Darwinism … needs something capable of “establishing a semiotic state” … that would be the source of that knowledge represents a gross misunderstanding of Darwinism.

    While I’ve already clarified it at 203….

    it’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes [explanatory theories] should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature.

    My criticism doesn’t use the word “Darwinism”

  216. 216
    critical rationalist

    CR: “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism, as it applies to all ideas.

    Mung: Perhaps it is a bad criticism, but not for the reason you give.

    I’m not following you. “Idea X is not justified” does not apply to all ideas?

    Mung: I can’t help but notice how you insulate your own ideas from criticism.

    Not following you here either. How does pointing out it’s impossible to justify any idea, including my own, represent insulating my ideas from criticism?

  217. 217

    CR,

    Your 202 did not received a facepalm from me because of the formatting errors.

    I was motivated by my pre-enlightenment authoritative concept of knowledge. So clearly, I need to become a exponent of critical rationalism.

    Perhaps I’ll have time this weekend.

  218. 218
    critical rationalist

    UB: My critique is that you haven’t harnessed any novel manner of knowing. When you come out from being up in your head, you’ve transcended nothing.

    Where did I say it was novel?

    Most people do not realize they are justificatioinists. And there are many misconceptions regarding Popper’s universal theory of the growth of knowledge because people do not recognize their own conceptions of human knowledge as as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    For example, in 011 you seem to consider yourself a Popperan. However, Popper explicitly rejected justificationism and elaborated as to why at length in several books.

    Having been a justificationist myself, I held several misconceptions about Popper. And those are just the ones I’ve discovered to date. One of Popper’s key points is that the grown of knowledge occurs when we correct errors.

    And what did Popper say about Darwinism and design?

    [Darwin's theory of adaptation was the first nontheistic one that was convincing; and theism was worse than an open admission of failure, for it created the impression that an ultimate explanation had been reached. [Popper 1976, p. 172]

    [What Did Karl Popper Really Say About Evolution?]

    An abstract designer with no defined limitations doesn’t stick its neck out in a way that allows significant criticism – in the sense that allows us to make progress.

  219. Upright BiPed,

    Okay, let me try to analyze the first few steps of your argument.

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    I’ll try to put this in something like the form used by keiths. This line item becomes (‘D’ for “definition”):

    D1. Representation: An arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.
    Examples include:
    Written text
    Spoken words
    Pheromones
    Animal gestures
    Codes
    Sensory input
    Intracellular messengers
    Nucleotide sequences

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    My first question is for clarification of this definition. How exactly can information be measured? Does it have standard units? Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    (‘P’ for “premise”):

    P1. It is not logically possible to transfer information in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    This seems redundant because you’ve already defined “representation” as an arrangement of matter. That means we should be able to simplify P1:

    P1′. It is not logically possible to transfer information in a material universe without using a representation.

    I’m not sure of the need for the “in a material universe” qualifier. That seems to unnecessarily involve discussions of dualism and other topics unrelated to the matter at hand. We can simplify P1 even further:

    P1”. It is not logically possible to transfer information without using a representation.

    Finally, the word “representation” has baggage associated with it from normal, everyday usage. P1 might be more clear like this:

    P1”’. It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    Is my restatement of this premise accurate?

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    This word seems important to your argument, so a precise definition is required. Does it simply mean “separate”? What does the qualifier “materially” add to “arbitrary”?

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    This is where my understanding starts to break down. There are too many concepts packed into this sentence for me to parse it. By “representation of form” do you mean “information” (I am guessing at that based on D1 and D2)? What does “consequence of its own material arrangement” mean? What does “necessarily arbitrary to” mean (this may be answered when D3 is more detailed)?

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    I’m too lost at step 3 to get anything out of step 4, but what do you mean by “material component” as opposed to “arbitrary component”? What do you mean by “reducible to physical law”?

    I think you’ve got several more definitions and premises residing in steps 3 and 4. It would be most helpful to extricate them and make them explicit.

  220. Okay, let me try to analyze the first few steps of your argument.

    It’s like deja vue all over again (cue twightlight zone music)

  221. vu- :)

    vu who?

  222. 222
    critical rationalist

    UB: I was motivated by my pre-enlightenment authoritative concept of knowledge. So clearly, I need to become a exponent of critical rationalism.

    Strawman. I’m contrasting the two as a means to point out why your argument is parochial.

    And, just so I’m clear, are you denying that you hold a pre-enlightenment, authoritative conception of human knowledge?

    For example, from another comment on another thread…

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    While empiricism is an improvement it still depends on inductivism, so it still shares the same fundamental flaw.

    Is there something in the above you disagree with? Better yet, wouldn’t such a conception explain objections to Darwinism? And not just any objections, but specific objections that we see here and elsewhere?

    If someone thought the knowledge of how to build the biosphere could only come from some ultimate authoritative source, would it come as a surprise they would conclud the biosphere cannot be explained without a designer? And if Darwinism were true would, would they not then conclude there could be no knowledge? Everything would simply be meaningless and random and astronomically unlikely, which is a commonly argued strawman of evolutionary theory. Finally, since everything is not random and meaningless, would they not conclude Darwinism must be false?

    I don’t know about you, but this sounds vaguely familiar.

    However, this is parochial in that it doesn’t take into account our current, best explanation for the growth of knowledge.

  223. 223

    Onlooker,

    These are your questions:

    My first question is for clarification of this definition. How exactly can information be measured? Does it have standard units? Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    A measured content of information is of no consequence here, only the material conditions of the transfer.

    Is my restatement of this premise accurate?

    Yes, I have stated it in an abbreviated form as well, but only after I’ve explained it. For instance, among other things, you’ve left out the disambiguation of “information”, i.e. the form of a thing, as well as the qualifier “recorded information” to distinguish it from “physical information”. Otherwise, I’m happy you were able to discern the data, given that the text you so carefully revised came from nothing more than a conversational blog post, not a formal paper.

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    This word seems important to your argument, so a precise definition is required. Does it simply mean “separate”? What does the qualifier “materially” add to “arbitrary”?

    Did you read the text after you cut and pasted it?

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    This is where my understanding starts to break down. There are too many concepts packed into this sentence for me to parse it. By “representation of form” do you mean “information” (I am guessing at that based on D1 and D2)?

    Yes, “representation of form” refers to those things you cut out from the previous sentences. Information is the ‘form of a thing’ instantiated in matter by means of a representation.

    What does “consequence of its own material arrangement” mean? What does “necessarily arbitrary to” mean

    This is what you missed when you said you couldn’t understand that a) for the arrangement of one thing to b) represent the form of another thing, two things will be needed. That means they won’t be the same thing. I know in the information age it’s sometimes hard to imagine a distinction between a medium and information, but that is exactly what this passage is about.

    I’m too lost at step 3 to get anything out of step 4, but what do you mean by “material component” as opposed to “arbitrary component”? What do you mean by “reducible to physical law”?

    If the making an tangible distinction between a material medium (which might contain information), and the information itself (contained within material medium), causes a conceptual problem for you; then I am simply not going to be of any help to you.

    Sorry.

  224. 224

    CR

    While I’ve already clarified it at 203….

    it’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes [explanatory theories] should be reducible to some mechanical system. As such, it’s parochial in nature.

    My criticism doesn’t use the word “Darwinism”

    What?

    Your criticism as stated in #191:

    It’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes Darwinism should be reducible to some mechanical system.

    Then your edited “clarification”:

    it’s really quite simple: your argument implicitly assumes [explanatory theories] should be reducible to some mechanical system.

    And then your follow-on remark:

    My criticism doesn’t use the word “Darwinism”

  225. 225

    CR,

    Most people do not realize they are justificationists. And there are many misconceptions regarding Popper’s universal theory of the growth of knowledge because people do not recognize their own conceptions of human knowledge as as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    For example, in 011 you seem to consider yourself a Popperan. However, Popper explicitly rejected justificationism and elaborated as to why at length in several books.

    Having been a justificationist myself, I held several misconceptions about Popper. And those are just the ones I’ve discovered to date. One of Popper’s key points is that the grown of knowledge occurs when we correct errors.

    And what did Popper say about Darwinism and design?

    So you have concluded that I am a justificationist who has misconceptions about Popper, who doesn’t recognize that my conception of human knowledge is an idea that can be criticized, so I should remember what Popper said about Darwinism.

    And reading your other statements, it seems you’ve also concluded that I have a pre-enlightenment, authoritative conception of human knowledge, who only objects to Darwinism because I think the biosphere can only come about by an authoritative source, or there can’t be any knowledge, er something.

    That’s a whole lot of individual distinctions. May I ask a question? Have you justified these assumptions of me, or is this one of those positions you hold open because “no position can be positively justified”? Perhaps it’s even an “untrue unbelief [that is] unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons”. Which is it, exactly?

    One other question, are you familiar with the fallacy of ad hominem? How about Roseman’s theory of appraisal?

  226. 226

    CLAVDIVS,

    Nor is it dependent upon an irreducibility to physical law – let’s not forget that part.

    Hardly forgetting it, I’ve repeated it several times already.

    You stated that you had no problem understanding what ‘materially arbitrary’ meant, but you wanted me to satisfactorily establish that genetics was “categorically” not reducible to physical law. I told you that my argument was not dependent on such knowledge, but I also highlighted the fact that the existence of the arrangement C-T-A (as a local discrete causal structure within protein synthesis) is not reducible to physical law, and happens to be the very source of biological function. Unhindered by that material fact, you then asked me to go ahead and grant a priori that the system and its mechanism of origin are reducible anyway. And the stated reason for this request (as should be obvious to any rational observer) is because I already said it was irrelevant to my argument.

    Hello?

    Quite frankly Clavd, your comments show every indication that you might have thought one thing, then found out another, and now it doesn’t matter.

    Again, so what?

    Is this your agreement that the genetic system demonstrates a semiotic state and its mechanism of origin will require the ability to establish that semiotic state?

    Nature is rife with apparently arbitrary configurations of matter, where we do not understand the causes that bring about that particular configuration rather than another one. Why does an electron have a rest energy of 5.11 MeV? Why do quadrupeds have four legs and not six?

    Configurations of matter are not the issue here, nor is the source of physical law. Configurations of matter which are arbitrary to the unambiguous function they produce in a formal system (as described in the argument) – that is what is at issue.

    Either the evidence is not available to us or, if it is, we have not figured out its significance.

    The evidence of what, exactly? That the thing conforms to a prior assumption?

    Is that the evidence we are missing?

    To base any kind of argument on this is a classic appeal to ignorance, and is fallacious – as I have been pointing out.

    Let us say there is a system we wanted to understand, and we were capable of observing its operation. Would it then be a fallacy to discount the evidence of its operation which we’ve already observed (and know exists), in favor of evidence that we haven’t observed (and don’t know exists) because the evidence we’ve observed doesn’t conform to someone’s prior assumption? And if we choose to discount it entirely, do we then create yet another fallacy by insulating our prior assumptions from any test to the contrary? And would it not also be a fallacy to mis-label valid observations as “ignorance” in order to substantiate doing so? What do you think?

    All this conclusion states is that system X has property Y, therefore – however system X came about – at some point it required the introduction of property Y.

    Basically correct.

    This is at best trivial, at worst tautological.

    If you think it’s tautological for someone to state that the sufficient and necessary conditions of a thing’s existence must exist in order for that thing to exist, then so be it.

    As far as being trivial, I take that as your tacit agreement that the genetic system is semiotic and its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.

    To make this a non-trivial argument you must recompose it so that this ‘conclusion’ is instead a premise, combined with another premise establishing the significance of semiotic states.

    So the semiotic state in protein synthesis is a trivial observation, which needs something else in order to establish its significance?

    And if I should – as you say – recast my conclusion as a premise, then I take it that you agree with that premise?

  227. Upright BiPed @ 226

    CLAVDIVS @ 183: That’s fine. I understand you are stipulating that at no point in your argument do you rely upon either the irreducibility or the reducibility of any elements of genetics to physical laws.

    UB @ 189: Good, you now understand that my argument is not dependent on a reduction to physical law.

    CLAVDIVS @ 214:Nor is it dependent upon an irreducibility to physical law – let’s not forget that part.

    UB @ 226: Hardly forgetting it, I’ve repeated it several times already.

    Great, now we are crystal clear on this point.

    UB @ 226: I told you that my argument was not dependent on such knowledge, but I also highlighted the fact that the existence of the arrangement C-T-A (as a local discrete causal structure within protein synthesis) is not reducible to physical law, and happens to be the very source of biological function. Unhindered by that material fact, you then asked me to go ahead and grant a priori that the system and its mechanism of origin are reducible anyway.

    All this is irrelevant to your argument, as we have just agreed. Since it is irrelevant, then you cannot treat the irreducibility of the arrangement C-T-A as one of your premises.

    If you think the irreducibility of the arrangement C-T-A is important to your argument, please say so. Then we can discuss whether it can be granted or whether it needs to be defended.

    But please don’t continue bringing it up and then saying it’s irrelevant.

    CLAVDIVS @ 183: Let’s acknowledge, just for this discussion, your conclusion that genetics exhibits semiotic states, and therefore the origin of genetics requires a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state. So what?

    CLAVDIVS @ 214: Again, so what?

    UB @ 226: Is this your agreement that the genetic system demonstrates a semiotic state and its mechanism of origin will require the ability to establish that semiotic state?

    Not at all. I granted that conclusion only for the purpose of discussing that, even if that’s true, it appears to be either trivial or tautological.

    UB @ 226: So the semiotic state in protein synthesis is a trivial observation, which needs something else in order to establish its significance?

    No. It is your conclusion that is trivial; namely, that “the transfer of recorded information from the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.” In other words, if system X has property Y, therefore – however system X came about – at some point it required the introduction of property Y.

    The concept “semiotic state” as applied to genetics in your argument is not trivial in my view, and, yes, its significance needs to be established. You have raised some points in favour of that but I believe that discussion is premature whilst the conclusion appears trivial.

    To make your argument non-trivial your conclusion has to be something other than “system X has property Y, therefore at some point in its history it required the introduction of property Y.”

    UB @ 226: And if I should – as you say – recast my conclusion as a premise, then I take it that you agree with that premise?

    No – see above. Right now I am just critiquing your conclusion as trivial.

    I do agree that biology exhibits semiotic states, at the level of human consciousness, for example. But I am not persuaded this is established at a biomolecular level. However, my mind is open to the possibility.

    Cheers

  228. Upright BiPed,

    My first question is for clarification of this definition. How exactly can information be measured? Does it have standard units? Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    A measured content of information is of no consequence here, only the material conditions of the transfer.

    Why do you use the word “measured” in your definition then?

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    Nothing in your definition of “information” mentions “material conditions of the transfer”, so I’m confused by your response. Could you please clarify this definition further or replace it with a standard definition of “information” that matches yours?

    Is my restatement of this premise accurate?

    Yes, I have stated it in an abbreviated form as well, but only after I’ve explained it. For instance, among other things, you’ve left out the disambiguation of “information”, i.e. the form of a thing, as well as the qualifier “recorded information” to distinguish it from “physical information”. Otherwise, I’m happy you were able to discern the data, given that the text you so carefully revised came from nothing more than a conversational blog post, not a formal paper.

    My restatement of your premise comes directly from your item 2:

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    I don’t see the terms “recorded information” or “physical information” in that. If you consider my restatement accurate, though, this isn’t an issue.

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    This word seems important to your argument, so a precise definition is required. Does it simply mean “separate”? What does the qualifier “materially” add to “arbitrary”?

    Did you read the text after you cut and pasted it?

    Indeed I did. Here it is again, as I quoted it:

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    The only definition of “arbitrary” I can get from that is that you seem to be using it as a synonym for “separate” in one sentence. That seems incomplete, at best, given how important the term appears to be to your argument. Could you please define it precisely?

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    This is where my understanding starts to break down. There are too many concepts packed into this sentence for me to parse it. By “representation of form” do you mean “information” (I am guessing at that based on D1 and D2)?

    Yes, “representation of form” refers to those things you cut out from the previous sentences. Information is the ‘form of a thing’ instantiated in matter by means of a representation.

    I didn’t cut anything. I have quoted your numbered paragraphs in full.

    The phrase “instantiated in matter by means of a representation” is unnecessarily verbose and potentially confusing. As I noted previously, you already defined “representation” as “an arrangement of matter”, so the whole phrase is redundant.

    In any case, based on your response the best restatement of your premise that I can come up with is:

    P2′. If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.

    Is this close to what you mean? I am basing this in part on the next bit of your response:

    What does “consequence of its own material arrangement” mean? What does “necessarily arbitrary to” mean

    This is what you missed when you said you couldn’t understand that a) for the arrangement of one thing to b) represent the form of another thing, two things will be needed. That means they won’t be the same thing. I know in the information age it’s sometimes hard to imagine a distinction between a medium and information, but that is exactly what this passage is about.

    You didn’t directly answer my question regarding the meaning of “consequence of its own material arrangement”, so I dropped that out of my restatement of your premise.

    I’m still not entirely clear by about what you mean by “necessarily arbitrary” and “two things will be needed”. Could you please either precisely define “necessarily arbitrary” or modify P2′ to eliminate those words while still making your point?

    I’m too lost at step 3 to get anything out of step 4, but what do you mean by “material component” as opposed to “arbitrary component”? What do you mean by “reducible to physical law”?

    If the making an tangible distinction between a material medium (which might contain information), and the information itself (contained within material medium), causes a conceptual problem for you; then I am simply not going to be of any help to you.

    Sorry.

    I am simply trying to understand your argument. The best way I know of to do so is to ask questions, then restate my understanding in my own words and confirm with you that my restatement reflects what you meant.

    In this case you have only further confused me by not answering my questions about the terms you are using and by adding in what appear to be assertions or definitions regarding information, representation of information, and physical laws. I’d like to figure out what you’re talking about, but I need good faith responses from you.

    If you aren’t interested in having me understand your argument, please just say so.

  229. 229

    CLAVDIVS,

    All this is irrelevant to your argument, as we have just agreed. Since it is irrelevant, then you cannot treat the irreducibility of the arrangement C-T-A as one of your premises.

    I don’t treat it as a premise – and you know it. This comment is disconnected from reality.

    If you think the irreducibility of the arrangement C-T-A is important to your argument, please say so. Then we can discuss whether it can be granted or whether it needs to be defended.

    Establishing the irreducibility of symbol structures is not a requirement to make the observations contained in my argument, just as I have said from the start. However, it would certainly come into play in establishing the type of mechanism capable of creating the system.

    But please don’t continue bringing it up and then saying it’s irrelevant.

    Clavs, did you not ask me to “bring it up”? Did you not say that you wanted a categorical distinction for the irreducibility of genetics to physical law?

    Not at all. I granted that conclusion only for the purpose of discussing that, even if that’s true, it appears to be either trivial or tautological.

    Merriam-Webster defines “trivial” as commonplace and ordinary. So by your estimation, an argument which establishes that the TRI in genetics is accomplished by the use of arbitrary representations and systematic operational rules is commonplace and ordinary. Or more precisely, that view of genetics is commonplace and ordinary. If that is true, then as a logical consequence, such an argument would receive uncontroversial agreement, right?

    The question then becomes; is your estimation of triviality actually reflected in the real world or not? I can assure you that it is not.

    No. It is your conclusion that is trivial; namely, that “the transfer of recorded information from the genome demonstrates a semiotic state, and therefore its origin will require a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state.”

    Again, if the conclusion that ‘genetic information transfer is semiotic’ is trivial, then it is commonplace and ordinary, correct? But that is not the case, is it? Isn’t it a fact that such a conclusion is vehemently resisted in the real world? And as for the requirement of a mechanism capable of establishing a semiotic state, that would be a logical consequence of a non-trivial conclusion, would it not? Or does it suit your sensibilities more to refer to it as a trivial consequence of a vehemently resisted (non-trivial) conclusion?

    The concept “semiotic state” as applied to genetics in your argument is not trivial in my view, and, yes, its significance needs to be established. You have raised some points in favour of that but I believe that discussion is premature whilst the conclusion appears trivial.

    Physics has demonstrated that symbolic representations are not reducible to the physical laws that govern their make-up. This is not merely raising “a point in favour” of establishing the significance of semiosis; it is a physical reality. Yet in your view, the recognition of this physical reality can be viewed as “premature” until we resolve the question of whether we should refer to the need for a semiotic-capable mechanism as a trivial observation or a logical consequence.

    To make your argument non-trivial your conclusion has to be something other than “system X has property Y, therefore at some point in its history it required the introduction of property Y.”

    Does this view of triviality stand up if the property Y is vehemently resisted as a requirement of system X? If not, is it the system X, or the property Y, or the claim of triviality that is unsupportable?

    I do agree that biology exhibits semiotic states, at the level of human consciousness, for example. But I am not persuaded this is established at a biomolecular level. However, my mind is open to the possibility.

    Thank you for your input CLAVDIVS. The semiotic process at the heart of genetic TRI was functioning to create living systems long before we human beings appeared on this planet. This is logically supported by the fact that a) we are here to observe it as a consequence of its operation, b) we have no evidence of there being any other system, and c) it is conceptually not possible to transfer recorded information by any other method.

  230. 230
    critical rationalist

    @UB RE: 224…

    Again, it’s unclear what you mean by “arbitrary”. When attempts to clarify this failed, I asked what consequences it would have for Darwinism in hope it would shed much need light on the term.

    You replied

    It is only a “problem” to the extent that evolutionary theory (specifically Darwinian theory) is fully dependent on the arrangements of matter being described here, which I have referred to as “representations” and “protocols”. It is their material existence that is being observed and presented (by extension) as the necessary material conditions for evolution to occur. Therefore evolution cannot be the source of their existence.

    I then pointed out …

    Is the conclusion is that existence of abstractions requires some ultimate arbiter? If so, this represents justificationism and is parochial. It also assumes that all high-level explanations should be reductionist in nature. However, this simply isn’t the case. Nor is it necessary or even desirable to do so for us to actually make progress.,

    So, some kinds of phenomena can be explained in terms of themselves alone – without direct reference to anything at the atomic level. In other words, they are quasi-autonomous (nearly self-contained). Resolution into explicably at a higher level is emergence.

    Rather than address this, your response can be summarized as …

    My argument doesn’t even mention Darwinism.

    If by “mention Darwinism” you mean nothing more than contain the word “Darwinism” then it seems I’ve satisfied your objection to my criticism by removing the word “Darwinism” and replacing it with “all explanatory theorires”

    On the other hand, as pointed out in 200 [not 203], Darwinism is an explanatory theory. If by “mention Darwinism” you mean Darwinism the explanatory theory, then your argument does refer it by nature of Darwinism being an explanatory theory of the specific biological complexity we observe. This includes an explanation for how the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations, which is found in the genome, was created.

    From your ongoing conversation with Clavidivs, you wrote:

    To make this a non-trivial argument you must recompose it so that this ‘conclusion’ is instead a premise, combined with another premise establishing the significance of semiotic states.

    However, you’ve ignored the following from my 210 [originally 202]…

    Justification is impossible. For example, conclusions of an argument are not proven unless the premises are proven, which is impossible. You either have to assume that you’ve proven them, which isn’t’ the same as actually proving them, or you are faced with an infinite regress.

    One could just as well object on the ground it was necessary to make that premise a conclusion, combined with another premise establishing whatever established the the significance of semiotic states, etc.

  231. 231
    critical rationalist

    UB: So you have concluded that I am a justificationist who has misconceptions about Popper, who doesn’t recognize that my conception of human knowledge is an idea that can be criticized, so I should remember what Popper said about Darwinism.

    Which is yet another strawman. Again my criticism it that your argument is parochial. What do I mean by that? It means an argument that has a limited or narrow outlook or scope.

    For example, you could be a Larmarckian that (in addition to “use” and “disuse”) includes the idea there is some universal law that mandates organisms become more complex and that we only still see less complex organisms because a continuous stream of them are being spontaneously generated (As Lamarck did). This too includes a form of justificationism in that it assumes the knowledge of how to improve organisms was already present at the outset in some law of physics.

    Again, this is counter to Darwinism, in which the knowledge of how to build adaptations is genuinely created.

    If you prefer a more formal approach, take the following argument..

    P01. John has a favorite ice cream flavor.
    P02. John has a favorite ice cream shop.
    P03. John just ordered his favorite ice cream flavor at his favorite ice cream shop.
    C01. John just ordered vanilla ice cream.

    Does the conclusion follow from the premises? No. Why not? Because there is an implicit premise that John’s favorite ice cream shop only serves one flavor of ice cream: vanilla. Furthermore, all one needs to do is point out John’s favorite ice cream shop offered him significantly more than one flavor.

    If you are suggesting there is something unique Darwinism, (the day John bought his favorite ice cream flavor they were out of every flavor but vanilla), then I’ve already addressed this in that you appear to be confused about the underling explanation behind Darwinism itself, which is a higher-level explanation.

    As for this committing the fallacy of ad hominem, are you suggesting *all* theories of knowledge were developed before the enlightenment? Are you suggesting the great majority of post-enlightenment conceptions were not non-authoritative and non-justifcationist in nature? Are you suggesting there are no significant differences between those theories and post-enlightenment theories of knowledge, such as Popper’s?

    Furthermore, are you suggesting there are no conflicts between your expressed views and common misconceptions of Popper – especially in regards to justiifcationism?

    IOW, your response of “ad hominem” further suggests you do not recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    Again, was there something in my brief outline of authoritative, justiifcaitonist conceptions of human knowledge that you disagreed with? If so, please be specific.

  232. 232
    critical rationalist

    Correction: As for this committing the fallacy of ad hominem, are you suggesting *all* theories of knowledge were developed before the enlightenment? Are you suggesting the great majority of [pre-enlightenment] conceptions were not non-authoritative and non-justifcationist in nature? Are you suggesting there are no significant differences between those theories and post-enlightenment theories of knowledge, such as Popper’s?

  233. CR, you failed to answer my question:

    Have you justified these assumptions of me, or is this one of those positions you hold open because “no position can be positively justified”? Perhaps it’s even an “untrue unbelief [that is] unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons”. Which is it, exactly?

  234. Onlooker,

    If you aren’t interested in having me understand your argument, please just say so.

    Why are you interested in understanding my argument?

  235. Upright BiPed,

    Why are you interested in understanding my argument?

    Because I don’t. ;-)

    I’ve got a bit more free time now than when you were active at The Skeptical Zone, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask you directly about the questions I had then.

    As it stands, I can’t tell what you’re trying to say and I don’t see how it supports ID even if your conclusion is coherent and correct. I suspect that there are other (unnamed) onlookers in the same boat. Are you interested in making yourself better understood, and thereby promoting ID, or not?

  236. 236

    Here’s the deal Onlooker.

    I have no desire to play definition derby with an ideologue. This argument has already been in front of specialists in relevant fields and not a single one of them asked me what I meant by anything I said. When I say that, I am not saying that I didn’t have to re-explain much, or not very much – I am saying I didn’t have to change a single word in order to be understood. So when an ideologue rolls up and overplays his position by taking every opportunity to position the argument as incomprehensible, I rightly call bullshit on it. That’s a classic defensive maneuver which is intentionally irresolvable for the purposes of generating rhetoric. It’s the intellectual carcass from defending a weak position.

    I’ll use my time otherwise.

    You have two choices. You can either demonstrate that the conclusions don’t follow from the premises or that the premises are false – or, you can slide back and satisfy yourself with a rhetorical victory.

  237. 237
    critical rationalist

    UB: Have you justified these assumptions of me, or is this one of those positions you hold open because “no position can be positively justified”? Perhaps it’s even an “untrue unbelief [that is] unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons”. Which is it, exactly?

    Given that I’ve pointed out justification is impossible, why would I assume that is a serious question?

    Furthermore, you seem to be implying my criticism isn’t valid unless it is justified. However, as I’ve pointed out before, “idea x isn’t justified” is a bad criticism, as it’s applicable to all ideas.

    Of course, feel free to explain how justification *is* possible, in practice. Please be specific.

  238. Upright BiPed,

    I have no desire to play definition derby with an ideologue. This argument has already been in front of specialists in relevant fields and not a single one of them asked me what I meant by anything I said. When I say that, I am not saying that I didn’t have to re-explain much, or not very much – I am saying I didn’t have to change a single word in order to be understood.

    Who are these specialists? Are they available to answer questions about your argument?

    So when an ideologue rolls up and overplays his position by taking every opportunity to position the argument as incomprehensible, I rightly call bullshit on it. That’s a classic defensive maneuver which is intentionally irresolvable for the purposes of generating rhetoric. It’s the intellectual carcass from defending a weak position.

    I pointed out exactly where I found your prose confusing. I asked very specific questions. The fact is that your argument as written above is completely incoherent. If you disagree, I challenge you to find anyone who can summarize it with the clarity that keiths demonstrated without getting significantly more information from you.

    You have two choices. You can either demonstrate that the conclusions don’t follow from the premises or that the premises are false – or, you can slide back and satisfy yourself with a rhetorical victory.

    I have a third choice — I’ll simply point out that your prose is impenetrable while your refusal to answer simple, direct questions speaks volumes.

    Speaking of keiths, he raised a similar point at The Skeptical Zone:

    Every time I summarized your argument, I a) asked you whether my summary was accurate, and b) invited you to amend my summary if it was not. You refused each time, even when others (who also found your prose impenetrable) repeatedly asked you to do so. Why is that? If your argument is as strong as you claim, why do you work so hard to prevent your audience from understanding it?

    When I have a good idea, I actually want other people to understand it. When they ask questions, I answer them. If I see that they misunderstand me, I clarify things. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I try to hide my good idea?

    You, on the other hand, seem ashamed of your argument and afraid of what might happen if you stated it clearly and explicitly. Instead of clarifying, you obfuscate. Instead of answering questions straightforwardly, you evade them. You complain that others are misrepresenting your position, but when they ask you for correction, you refuse to give it. Then you declare victory, saying that no one has defeated your argument!

    For you, the entire exercise seems to be more about saving face than it is about communicating your ideas. In fact, you appear to be deliberately avoiding communication precisely in order to save face. Why should anyone take your argument seriously if you are so ashamed of it? Why are you afraid to communicate it in a way that your audience will actually understand?

    I would be very interested in hearing your answers to those questions.

  239. 239
    critical rationalist

    @ UB

    Again, you could easily clear this up by simply pointing differentiating your conception of human knowledge from the following…

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    Also, do you not share the same dichotomy between designers with knowledge and designer-less theories in which there is no knowledge and everything is merely random? Why *this* particular dichotomy?

    If someone thought the knowledge of how to build the biosphere could only come from some ultimate authoritative source, would it come as a surprise they would conclud the biosphere cannot be explained without a designer? And if Darwinism were true would, would they not then conclude there could be no knowledge? Everything would simply be meaningless and random and astronomically unlikely, which is a commonly argued strawman of evolutionary theory. Finally, since everything is not random and meaningless, would they not conclude Darwinism must be false?

    If my assessment is incorrect, you should have no problem pointing out where I got it wrong and how your view differs, in detail.

  240. 240

    CR,

    justify verb

    a) to show sufficient reason; reasonable

    Do you promote your personal assumptions without sufficient reason?

    ad hominem : (Latin, “to the man”)

    > logical fallacy
    > an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it.

    Your comments are related to me, not the material argument being presented.

  241. 241

    Onlooker,

    Isn’t it amazing, you took this incoherent statement:

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    …and this incoherent statement:

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    …and very confidently produced this statement without becoming confused:

    It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    So now you know that you have an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. a representation of the form of a thing) which will evoke an effect within a system. You clearly understood what a representation was, what an arrangement of matter was, etc, etc. So we can assume you understood what you wrote when you wrote it, as evidenced by your methodical approach in creating your revision without confusion.

    Is that correct?

  242. Upright BiPed,

    Isn’t it amazing, you took this incoherent statement:

    [snip]

    …and this incoherent statement:

    [snip]

    …and very confidently produced this statement without becoming confused:

    It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    Indeed. I then proceeded to your next numbered paragraph:

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    Here I noted that you have a very important undefined term:

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    This word seems important to your argument, so a precise definition is required. Does it simply mean “separate”? What does the qualifier “materially” add to “arbitrary”?

    You have thus far not deigned to precisely define that word as you use it in your argument.

    I further noted that my understanding of your argument started to break down here:

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    I find that there are too many concepts packed into this sentence for me to parse it and I asked further questions that you also have not answered.

    Being able to tease out your meaning from the simplest of your numbered paragraphs, with your assistance, doesn’t mean that all of your paragraphs are understandable.

    I hope you will choose to answer the questions I raised so that I can understand paragraphs 3 and 4, with the eventual goal of understanding your entire argument.

  243. 243

    Onlooker,

    So now that you know you have an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. a representation of the form of a thing) which will evoke an effect within a system. Also, you have already isolated three things: 1) an arrangement to evoke the effect, 2) a system where the effect will be evoked, and 3) the effect itself.

    Since you understand this, there are a few other things that you can easily understand. For instance, you know that it is not merely the presence of the matter that evokes the effect, but is instead the arrangement of that matter. In other words, it is specifically the arrangement that will cause the constraint in the system.

    Do you think an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. the form of a thing) as a consequence of its arrangement* can also be the effect it evokes within the system? Or are they necessarily separate things?

    * The phrase “as a consequence of its arrangement” should not be difficult to understand. Think of it in these terms: The key fits the lock as a consequence of its arrangement – i.e. the matter contains information as a consequence of its arrangement.

  244. 244

    I’ll return in a short while.

  245. 245
    critical rationalist

    @UB re: 240

    UB: a) to show sufficient reason; reasonable

    UB: Do you promote your personal assumptions without sufficient reason?

    Given that I’ve clarified this at length in comment 180, it’s unclear why should I consider this a serious question either. Are you suggesting there is no significant differences in the attitudes presented there?

    Is this the part where you, as the justificationist, stop asking serious questions? If so, I’m surprised it took this long.

    UB: > logical fallacy
    > an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it.

    UB: Your comments are related to me, not the material argument being presented.

    Again, when I attempted to clarify what you meant by arbitrary, you wrote…

    It is only a “problem” to the extent that evolutionary theory (specifically Darwinian theory) is fully dependent on the arrangements of matter being described here, which I have referred to as “representations” and “protocols”. It is their material existence that is being observed and presented (by extension) as the necessary material conditions for evolution to occur. Therefore evolution cannot be the source of their existence.

    So, apparently, your use of arbitrary in your argument excludes the creation of knowledge as a high-level explanation for the specific adaptation of raw materials into proteins, etc, you are confused about the underlying explanation behind Darwinism (knowledge of how perform the transformations was created by a form of C&R) or none of the above.

    We create knowledge by guessing then testing our guesses for errors. My questions are designed to do just that. Is there a particular reason why you are unwilling to stick your neck out to the degree that we can actually make progress in regards to your argument and your views?

  246. 246
    critical rationalist

    UB,

    Again, in an attempt to clarify your argument, is the definition of “arbitrary” in your argument a problem for darwinism? If so, why? Please be specific.

  247. critical rationalist-

    Arbitrary would mean not determined by physical law. Darwinism can only explain that which is determined by physical law.

    Artificial ribosomes do not function and partially artificial ribosomes barely function. That show tell us that ribosomes are not reducible to matter and energy, ie how they function is not determined by physical law.

    Codons do not become their respectove amino acid- they represent it. And that takes knowledge that blind molecules just do not have. Programmed parts could do it though.

  248. And keiths is still clueless:

    You want to conclude that a Designer is responsible for the complexity of life. You know about mutations and natural selection, you know that they’ve been observed in nature, and you know that you can’t argue against them without utterly destroying your scientific credibility.

    Earth to keiths- natural selection, which includes mutations, has never neen observed to do anything of consequence. That means all YOU have is a bald declaration- ie no evidence.

    But if you concede that they happen, then what’s to stop the evilutionists from arguing that they can happen over and over, leading to complex adaptations — and rendering God superfluous to the process?

    Hellooooo?!! “That which can be asserted without evidnce can be dismissed without evidence”- C Hitchens- one of YOUR guys.

    Ya see keiths- YOU are so wedded to YOUR dogma, so unwilling to doubt it that you will just say anything.

  249. 249
    critical rationalist

    @joe:#247

    Joe: Arbitrary would mean not determined by physical law. Darwinism can only explain that which is determined by physical law.

    Except that is the misconception I keep pointing out. Apparently, you’re confused about the underlying explanation behind Darwinism, which is that the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    Joe: Artificial ribosomes do not function and partially artificial ribosomes barely function. That show tell us that ribosomes are not reducible to matter and energy, ie how they function is not determined by physical law.

    Apparently, you missed what I wrote here….

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    So, every conceivable transformation of matter is either impossible because of the laws of physics or achievable if the right knowledge is present. This dichotomy is entailed in the scientific world view.

    If there was some transformation of matter that was not possible regardless of how much knowledge was brought to bare, this would be a testable regularity in nature. That is, we would predict whenever that transformation was attempted, it would fail to occur. This itself would be a law of physics, which would be a contradiction.

    Are ribosomes prohibited by the laws of physics?

  250. critical rationalist:

    Except that is the misconception I keep pointing out. Apparently, you’re confused about the underlying explanation behind Darwinism, which is that the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    There isn’t such a thing- all darwinism has is someone’s imagination, not evidence.

    Are ribosomes prohibited by the laws of physics?

    No, but neither is my car, house nor computer. And blind and undirected physical processes cannot produce those either.

  251. Joe:

    The hostility to the notion of a designer is the clue, the motive in the end is emotional and psychological not logical.

    That is why, when confronted with the obvious, that science reconstructs what we do not see through how its traces parallel the signs that are characteristic of the causal processes we do see, there is a cognitive lock-out. The logic of induction on empirically reliable sign, per observation of same, is lost on those too angry at even the possible shadow of God, to hear.

    All we can do is point out the absurd inconsistency of accepting a story on the past of the world purporting to be on the same — even in absence of clear current demonstration of the powers of claimed causes and their characteristic signs — even while rejecting that which DOES have that support, because it does not fit the favoured ideological narrative and agenda.

    Get a clue, folks: if even isochrons give trouble, and if we have never seen chance variation and differential reproductive success create a novel body plan feature — loss of function does not count — but we are ever so eager to use the timelines and evolutionary just so stories spun on such thin ice, but we are UN-willing to accept that the only observed and analytically plausible source of FSCO/I is IDOW — a new acronym: intelligently directed organising work — ten that tells us all we need to know.

    This is not about warrant it is about support for an ideology of a priori evolutionary materialism that leads to radical relativisation of knowledge, reasoning and morals. Indeed, we are right back up against what Plato warned on 2350 years ago, in The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them . . .

    Such is patently true and unanswerable, so there is no answer, just the pretence that nothing significant has been said.

    It would be amusing if it were not so sad and so fraught with hazard for our poor mortally wounded and bleeding out civilisation.

    And so, when we look back at what UB had to say, we see why there is ever so much evasion, side-tracking and the like. UB is patently right, so right that what he says is routine in telcomms systems: we encode, modulate and transmit then receive, demodulate and decode messages instantiated by being impressed into states of matter organised into comms systems and using comms protocols, codes and systems all the time. Indeed the whole Internet, plus radio plus Television and telephone are all about that.

    Let’s clip, to remind ourselves:

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc). [--> I would add, digital symbols and analogue modulation of wave forms through AM, FM, Phase Mod and pulse mod]

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter. [--> Comms systems are about the imposition of modulations to represent information; which also happens to be true in the world of life. To go from transmitrer to receiver the codes, mod systems, protocols etc have to be given physical instantiation, E.G AM IS BASED ON MATHEMATICS OF MULTIPLYING SINUSOIDS AND CREATION OF SIDE BANDS AS A RESULT, BUT IS EFFECTED USING ELECTRONICS TECHNIQUES IN CIRCUITS. (And I will let the accidental caps lock stand . . . ]

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. [--> Without the contingency to make one thing stand for something else by analogue or code, we cannot communicate] And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    5. If that is true, and again it surely must be, then there has to be something else which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representation and the effect it evokes within the system. [--> We design comms systems, and the protocols or conventions involved are not driven by deterministic physical forces or by chance but by intelligent choice] In fact, this is the material basis of Francis Crick’s famous ‘adapter hypothesis’ in DNA, which lead to a revolution in the biological sciences. In a material universe, that something else must be a second arrangement of matter; coordinated to the first arrangement as well as to the effect it evokes. [--> For a receiver to work, there must be a transmitter]

    6. It then also follows that this second arrangement must produce its unambiguous function, not from the mere presence of the representation, but from its arrangement. It is the arbitrary component of the representation which produces the function. [--> Transmitters and receivers are planned together to match under protocols]

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process [ --> TX and RX] ; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. [--> The impressed design] The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. [--> Yes] They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information.

    Next time you use a PC on the web using TCP/IP (= “Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP)”), think about it. Same for the Global System for Mobile Telephony (GSM) etc.

    If it were not so sadly revealing of something gone very wrong, it would be laughable to see the attempts to evade the obvious.

    KF

  252. 252

    Onlooker, (if you decide to return)

    By your own words, you now clearly understand that you have an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. a representation of the form of a thing) which will evoke an effect within a system. And you’ve also isolated that there is: a) an arrangement which evokes an effect, b) a system where the effect will be evoked, and c) the effect itself.

    So the question I posed is simple: Do you think the arrangement of matter that contains the information (i.e. the form of a thing) can also be the effect it evokes within the system? Or are they necessarily two separate things?

    You might look at the issue like this: Let’s say you take the genetic symbol C-T-A and put it in your pocket for safe keeping. And tomorrow, you will take it out and run it through a ribosome where it will evoke its specified effect. You can now ask yourself a simple question of logic; can a thing that will not even exist until tomorrow also be in my pocket today?

    And if it helps you to answer this question, you might also remember that the effect that is produced tomorrow will actually contain none of the matter that is in your pocket today. So are they the same thing, or are they two necessarily discrete things?

  253. 253
    critical rationalist

    KF: The hostility to the notion of a designer is the clue, the motive in the end is emotional and psychological not logical.

    Can you point out where I’m hostile to the notion of a designer? Rather, I said an abstract designer with no defined limitations is a bad explanation, and went on to explain why, in detail. Furthermore, designers adapt matter into things like microscopes, cars, etc. We have an explanation for how the knowledge they use is created.

    So, it not that I’m ignoring evidence about designers or hostile to them – It’s what we do know about designers which makes an abstract deigned with no defined limitations a bad explanation.

    Nor am I hostile to inductivism. I’m merely pointing out that no one has managed to present a “principle of induction” that actually works, in practice. However, feel free to present one that actually does work. Please be specific.

  254. 254
    critical rationalist

    CR: Rather, I said an abstract designer with no defined limitations is a bad explanation, and went on to explain why, in detail.

    An example from a comment on another thread…

    I would add two more possibilities.

    07. There are a number of designers that are equally powerful, but each had different goals. The resulting biosphere is a strategic compromise.

    08. The designers are equally powerful twins. However, one is perfectly good and the other is perfectly evil. The resulting biosphere is a standoff in which neither ended up with what they intended.

    I’d also note that, assuming the terms “good” and “evil” can be used to determine what a designs a designer would or would not produce, either of these are better theories than an abstract designer with no defined limitations as there are more ways they can be found to be in error.

    To use an example, even the statement that “all swans are white”, which is found in conflict with observations and therefore false as a whole, is better than merely “all swans have a color” as the former has more ways to be found wrong. All theories usually contains errors to some degree. In my example, the error is “all”, but it does bring us closer to the truth than merely “all swans have a color” because it encompasses the theory that there are *white* swans. Popper called this property Verisimilitude.

    I’m also assuming that one actually attempts to criticize the theory that there was a committee of designers, rather than one. For example, If one uncritically accepts there is only one designer, this is the equivalent of saying “all swans have a color” since you are intentionally choosing not to criticize it.

    However, in comparison to my additions, there are even better theories for the origin of the biosphere that have significantly more informational content (and therefore more significantly more ways to be found in error) and greater verisimilitude.

    For example, it’s logically possible one or more designers intentionally went out of its way to obscure its role in designing biological organisms. Even if this was the case, Darwinism would still be the best explanation because it encompasses the theory that the biosphere appears *as if* adaptations of organisms were created by genetic variation that was random to any specific problem to solve and natural selection. IOW, the theory encompasses a specific means by which the designer set out to obscure it’s role, which could also be found false as compared to some other specific means of obscuring its role. As such, this too represents a better theory than merely an abstract designer with no defined limitations.

    This is one example of what I mean when I say the current crop of ID is a bad explanation.

  255. critical rationalist-

    The limitation is parsimony. Meaning we only invoke a designer as required by the evidence. And that means if necessity and/ or chance cannot account for it AND it meets some criteria, we infer it was designed.

  256. 256

    It appears that Onlooker only wanted to “undertand my argument” to the extent that he could run his mouth. If the discussion is returned to logic and observables (as it was in 241, 243, and 252) suddenly the conversation is not worth pursuing.

    How totally surprising is that?

  257. Upright BiPed,

    Onlooker, (if you decide to return)

    I’m glad you’re so eager to continue the discussion that you start to miss me after less than 18 hours. Unfortunately, work occasionally gets in the way of blog discussions.

    By your own words, you now clearly understand that you have an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. a representation of the form of a thing) which will evoke an effect within a system. And you’ve also isolated that there is: a) an arrangement which evokes an effect, b) a system where the effect will be evoked, and c) the effect itself.

    Well, let’s summarize what I’ve managed to get out of your argument above thus far:

    D1. Representation: An arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.
    Examples include:
    Written text
    Spoken words
    Pheromones
    Animal gestures
    Codes
    Sensory input
    Intracellular messengers
    Nucleotide sequences

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    P1”’. It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    I’m still hoping for some clarification of D2 and definitely need a precise formulation for D3 to understand your argument to this point.

    So the question I posed is simple: Do you think the arrangement of matter that contains the information (i.e. the form of a thing) can also be the effect it evokes within the system? Or are they necessarily two separate things?

    Is this supposed to be in response to my questions about your paragraph 3? I extracted a provisional P2 from that as follows:

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    I then proposed this restatement (see comment 228):

    P2′. If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.

    and I noted that I’m still not clear what you mean by “necessarily arbitrary”. (I now ask again if you can either precisely define it or modify P2′ to eliminate those words while still maintaining your meaning?)

    Given those open questions, I don’t think I can yet answer your question, nor do I understand how it answers mine. Perhaps if you define how you are using “information” more clearly than “the form of a thing” I would be able to do so. If I understand your working definition, I may be able to come up with an example of “information” being an “effect” or it may simply become clear that they are two different concepts.

    I’m still quite interested in understanding your full argument. I do hope you’ll assist me in doing so by answering my questions clearly and directly.

  258. It appears that Onlooker only wanted to “undertand my argument” to the extent that he could run his mouth. If the discussion is returned to logic and observables (as it was in 241, 243, and 252) suddenly the conversation is not worth pursuing.

    How totally surprising is that?

    Hmm.

    No swearing.

    Try to be polite.

    Try to be tolerant.

    Try to keep belligerence and sarcasm in check.

    No one is perfect. We’ll try to be forgiving.

    While I am unable to be on UD 24×7, I assure you that I will respond to you more promptly than you have responded to the still outstanding questions in your threads at The Skeptical Zone.

  259. 259

    UB: Isn’t it amazing, you took this incoherent statement:

    [snip]

    …and this incoherent statement:

    [snip]

    …and very confidently produced this statement without becoming confused:

    ”It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system. “

    - – - – - –

    Onlooker: Indeed.

    - – - – - –

    UB: So now that you know you have an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. a representation of the form of a thing) which will evoke an effect within a system. Also, you have already isolated three things: 1) an arrangement to evoke the effect, 2) a system where the effect will be evoked, and 3) the effect itself.
    Since you understand this, there are a few other things that you can easily understand. For instance, you know that it is not merely the presence of the matter that evokes the effect, but is instead the arrangement of that matter. In other words, it is specifically the arrangement that will cause the constraint in the system.

    Do you think an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. the form of a thing) as a consequence of its arrangement can also be the effect it evokes within the system? Or are they necessarily separate things?

    - – - – - –

    UB: So the question I posed is simple: Do you think the arrangement of matter that contains the information (i.e. the form of a thing) can also be the effect it evokes within the system? Or are they necessarily two separate things?

    You might look at the issue like this: Let’s say you take the genetic symbol C-T-A and put it in your pocket for safe keeping. And tomorrow, you will take it out and run it through a ribosome where it will evoke its specified effect. You can now ask yourself a simple question of logic; can a thing that will not even exist until tomorrow also be in my pocket today?

    And if it helps you to answer this question, you might also remember that the effect that is produced tomorrow will actually contain none of the matter that is in your pocket today. So are they the same thing, or are they two necessarily discrete things?

    - – - – - -

    Onlooker: I’m still not clear what you mean by “necessarily arbitrary”

    I asked the question in order for you to understand. So if you are serious about understanding, then I ask you again to answer the question.

  260. Upright BiPed,

    I asked the question in order for you to understand. So if you are serious about understanding, then I ask you again to answer the question.

    I just explained that without more clarity around your definition of “information” the question is not well formed and hence unanswerable.

    Responding to questions with questions is deliberately evasive. Do you want people to understand your argument or not? I’m investing the time to do so; I would appreciate a good faith effort to communicate in return.

  261. D1. Representation: An arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.
    Examples include:
    Written text
    Spoken words
    Pheromones
    Animal gestures
    Codes
    Sensory input
    Intracellular messengers
    Nucleotide sequences

    How do nucleotide sequences evoke an effect within a system? The system uses nucleotide sequences to evoke an effect.

    Responding to questions with questions is deliberately evasive.

    Not really. Sometimes that is the way to go so that the argument doesn’t go off on some senseless tangent.

    And it is both strange and very telling that only his opponents have difficulty understanding UB’s argument.

    It’s as if they really don’t have any interest in understanding it but would rather engage in a type of filibuster so that every gets confused about what the argument is.

    All that when all they have to do is step up and produce some positive evidence that their proposed mechanisms can account for something like transcription and translation. So that too is very telling-> that they just don’t do such a thing.

  262. 262

    Onlooker,

    Ah yes, I remember now. You were confused by words like “information” and “representations” so you skillfully worked them out of your revision and came up with something you could completely understand. That was:

    “It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.”

    Oh wait, I now see you left the term “information” in your text after all, so I can only assume you knew what you meant when you wrote it. But if that is the wrong assumption, then you can tell me what you meant, and how you conceptualized it could be transferred by using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system. Clearly, the level to which you understood the word when you conceptualized it correctly in this sentence, is more than sufficient for the discussion.

    You successfully conceptualized that information could be transferred by an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system – and that is precisely what the current question involves. Armed with the proper conceptualization as you have demonstrated, the question before you remains. I assure you, answering this question will help you understand “necessarily arbitrary”. And don’t worry about being asked a question in order to understand a concept. People have been doing that from time immemorial. To label that as “evasive” is to cast an aspersion on human communication that can’t be supported.

    Do you think that the arrangement of matter in your pocket today can also be the effect that won’t exist until tomorrow?

  263. CR: Bob was apt: “Who de cap fit, let ‘im wear it.” I spoke to a common phenomenon with abundant examples in point starting with the no 1 “new atheist.” And I spoke in a context with excellent antecedents ranging back to Plato [since say Paul is liable to cause even louder eruptions in various fever swamps, let us start with Plato . . . ], whom I cited. KF

  264. 264

    I can give you a hint Onlooker,

    The representation cannot logically be the effect it evokes, and this is supported by observation.

    And if they are not the same thing, then the relationship between them is necessarily arbitrary from a physical perspective (regardless of how that relationship originated). If you do not like that word, you can use whatever word you like. I have seen such described as “immaterial”, or “non-material”, or “physico-dynamically inert”, etc, etc. You can also use the word Dr Liddle suggested – “materially dissociated”.

    It matters not, to me.

  265. 265

    Ah well… I’m out.

  266. ok, I think I am beginning to understand the problem here.

    Upright BiPed needs to set it out step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step ….

  267. CR:

    …the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    Created by who or what?

    And stored where?

    And transmitted how?

    And what is a non-genuine creation?

    And what’s required to get to the point where biological adaptations are even possible?

    What is an adaptation, after all?

    You’re still not even in the same discussion, CR. No wonder there’s so much confusion.

  268. onlooker:

    I just explained that without more clarity around your definition of “information” the question is not well formed and hence unanswerable.

    IOW, I don’t wantto answer it, because I understand the consequences of my answer, therefore I will assert without any supporting argument that the question lacks sufficient clarity (I can’t answer it the way I want to) and therefore it is unanswerable.

    Now, let’s put to the test the assertion that the question is unanswerable.

    “Do you think an arrangement of matter that contains information (i.e. the form of a thing) as a consequence of its arrangement can also be the effect it evokes within the system?”

    Well, gee, no. That would be illogical.

  269. onlooker:

    Responding to questions with questions is deliberately evasive.

    Except when you do it.

  270. And for those how might be interested, look what I stumbled upon:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Yes, and, if you remember, I retracted my claim.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-408199

    my oh my

    what began with such a bang
    ended with such a whimper

  271. 271

    “…understanding the consequences of your answer…”

    That is exactly correct. Once you allow that information is the form of a thing instantiated in an arrangement of matter, i.e. in a material medium, then you have allowed that a rate-independent representation exists, and the entire remainder of my argument falls out from that – because it physically has to.

  272. 272

    …and that is the reason for the acrimonious excuses that the argument is “just too confusing to understand”, as well as the constant definition derby, obfuscation and ad hominem attacks.

    Materialism simply sucks for materialist.

  273. F/N: The UD glossary defn of info:

    ____________

    >>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 [--> including, acting on (including per algorithmic programs such as a branch on condition, etc)] 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].” >>

    ___________

    Good enough for you UB?

    KF

  274. 274
    critical rationalist

    Joe: are you actually reading my comment before replying?

    CR: Except that is the misconception I keep pointing out. Apparently, you’re confused about the underlying explanation behind Darwinism, which is that the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    Joe: There isn’t such a thing- all darwinism has is someone’s imagination, not evidence.

    Even if that were true, (which I’m not suggesting it is) your response is a non-sequitur – that is unless you are denying that Darwinism as a *theory* with an underlying explanation exists.

    Joe: Artificial ribosomes do not function and partially artificial ribosomes barely function. That show tell us that ribosomes are not reducible to matter and energy, ie how they function is not determined by physical law.

    CR: Are ribosomes prohibited by the laws of physics?

    Joe: No, but neither is my car, house nor computer. And blind and undirected physical processes cannot produce those either.

    Yet another non-sequitur. Ribosomes are constructed every time a cell divides. Are you suggesting some intelligent designer directly intervening to construct them?

    My point is, If something isn’t prohibited by the laws of physics, then the only thing that could prevent us from doing it is *knowing how*. This includes adapting matter into artificial ribosomes.

    Joe: The limitation is parsimony. Meaning we only invoke a designer as required by the evidence. And that means if necessity and/ or chance cannot account for it AND it meets some criteria, we infer it was designed.

    First ,again with the stramwan. Darwinism isn’t merely chance and necessity. That’s like saying someone defeated by a chess program was defeated by electrons and silicon.

    Second, “That’s just what a deigned must have wanted” doesn’t explain why we end up with one biological adaptation rather than another. It doesn’t actually explain the question at hand.

    Third, I’d again ask: are you actually reading my comments?

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    Every conceivable transformation of matter is either impossible because of the laws of physics or achievable if the right knowledge is present. This dichotomy is entailed in the scientific world view.

    If there was some transformation of matter that was not possible regardless of how much knowledge was brought to bare, this would be a testable regularity in nature. That is, we would predict whenever that transformation was attempted, it would fail to occur. This itself would be a law of physics, which would be a contradiction.

    Furthermore, if we really do reside in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. Any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above (this realm supposedly effects us), this also means there can be no better expiation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well.

    In other words, our everyday experience in this bubble would only appear explicable if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions. Note this bares a strong resemblance to a pre-scientific perspective with its distinction between an Earth designed for human beings and a heaven that is beyond human comprehension.

    IOW, if you assume the designer is inexplicable, yet is actually a good explanation, then why isn’t “Zeus rules here” the best, parsimonious explanation for falling apples and orbiting planets, along with everything else? A simple, abstract designer with no limitations would be simpler “theory” than anything else we could possibly conceive of. And, according to you, such a designer is necessary for anything to exist.

    If we wanted to incorporate into our world view an imaginary realm of which we have no evidence and can be no evidence, then we need not have bothered do abandon the myths of antiquity. And we wouldn’t have. But we did.

  275. Ribosomes are constructed every time a cell divides.

    So what? THAT does NOT eman blind and undirected processes didit.

    Are you suggesting some intelligent designer directly intervening to construct them?

    Nice strawman. Does a programmer have to intervene for Word to do spellchecking?

    First ,again with the stramwan. Darwinism isn’t merely chance and necessity.

    Yes it is- but what else do YOU think it is?

    And BTW, ID does not try to answer the “why”. ID tries to answer the question “how did it come to be this way?” ie by design or not.

    IOW, if you assume the designer is inexplicable, yet is actually a good explanation, then why isn’t “Zeus rules here” the best, parsimonious explanation for falling apples and orbiting planets, along with everything else?

    I see you don’t understand parsimony.

  276. 276
    critical rationalist

    UB,

    Take a piece of paper and write the letters “TGCA” on it. Take the PDF instructions for drawing the glyphs “TGCA” and encode them into a strand of DNA (use Craig Venter’s encoding scheme if you like) . Speak the words “TGCA” and record the vibrations generated. Arrange carbon atoms in the shape of the characters “TGAC” using an electron force microscope.

    Now, replace the actual base pairs “TGAC” in an organism’s genome with any of the above. Do you end up with the same effect?

  277. 277

    CR

    Take a piece of paper and write the letters “TGCA” on it.

    If I did that, would the letters I write exist as rate-dependent structures that can be explained by physcial law, or are they rate-indepedent structures that can only be explained by a relationship established within physical system?.

    - – - – - – -

    From comment #30 above:

    UB “I believe your perspective is made clear here. You are talking about making arbitrary choices with regard to a program you write on top of a symbol system. I am talking about the symbol system itself. The fact that the letter “A” can be represented by “1000001” is arbitrary – not inexorable law.”

    - – - – - – -

    CR, you contunue to be unable to properly orient yourself to the discussion. I’ve lost interest in trying to orient you against your will.

  278. 278
    critical rationalist

    Joe, It appears a recap is necessary…

    Joe: Artificial ribosomes do not function and partially artificial ribosomes barely function. That show tell us that ribosomes are not reducible to matter and energy, ie how they function is not determined by physical law.

    CR: Are ribosomes prohibited by the laws of physics?

    Joe: No, but neither is my car, house nor computer. And blind and undirected physical processes cannot produce those either.
    CR: My point is, If something isn’t prohibited by the laws of physics, then the only thing that could prevent us from doing it is *knowing how*. This includes adapting matter into artificial ribosomes.
    Joe: So what? THAT does NOT eman blind and undirected processes didit.

    I’m pointing out that your first premise is a contradiction. That’s what. From an earlier comment…

    For example, in terms of fundamental physics, we encounter events of extreme complexity on a daily basis. If you place a pot of water on a stove, every computer working on the planet could not solve the equations to predict exactly what all those water molecules will do. Even if they could, we’d need to determine their initial state, the state of all external influences, etc., which is also an intractable task.

    However, if what we really care about is making tea, enough of this complexly resolves itself into hight-level simplify that allows us to do just that. We can predict how long water will take to boil with reasonable accuracy by knowing it’s overall mass, the power of the heating element, etc. If we want more accuracy, we may need additional information. However this too exists in the form of relatively high-level phenomena which is also intractable.

    So, some kinds of phenomena can be explained in terms of themselves alone – without direct reference to anything at the atomic level. In other words, they are quasi-autonomous (nearly self-contained). Resolution into explicably at a higher level is emergence.

    In other words, it’s not necessary for genetic to be reeducate to law for us to explain the concrete biological complexity we observe.

    Are you suggesting the appearance of design cannot be explained? What is the appearance of design?

  279. 279

    Hello KF,

    I will have to put some thought into that. Obviously, I think it is incomplete as it relates to the material exchange of information and how that might serve to define it.

    Thank you for asking.

  280. Upright BiPed,

    Ah yes, I remember now. You were confused by words like “information” and “representations”

    Please re-read what I wrote. I specifically asked you to clarify what you meant by “information” because I found your definition lacking in clarity. That definition again, for your convenience, is:

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    My outstanding questions are:
    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    I removed “representation” from

    P1”’. It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    because it is an unnecessary term that has the potential to cause confusion based on the differences between your definition and standard usage. All this was clearly stated in my previous comments.

    I can give you a hint Onlooker,

    I would prefer direct answers to my specific questions. For example, your item 3 is:

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    In my attempt to understand what you are saying here, I extracted premise 2:

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    and I proposed this restatement:

    P2′. If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.

    I have at least twice now noted that I’m still not clear what you mean by “necessarily arbitrary”. If you are interested in making your argument understandable, please either precisely define that term or modify P2′ to eliminate those words while retaining your meaning.

    The representation cannot logically be the effect it evokes, and this is supported by observation.

    While I still don’t see what that has to do with the questions I have posed about your argument, that depends on your definitions of “representation” and “effect”. If it turns out that this is important to clarifying your meaning, I’m happy to discuss this further. At the moment, though, I am unable to parse your paragraph 3 without direct answers to the open questions in my last few comments.

  281. Mung,

    ok, I think I am beginning to understand the problem here.

    Upright BiPed needs to set it out step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step-by-step ….

    Absolutely. I refer you to what I quoted from keiths in comment 238:

    When I have a good idea, I actually want other people to understand it. When they ask questions, I answer them. If I see that they misunderstand me, I clarify things. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I try to hide my good idea?

    I am interested in understanding Upright BiPed’s argument detailed in the original post to this thread. I have questions that prevent me from understanding it. Why do you think it is unreasonable to ask for clarification?

    If you feel that the argument as stated is perfectly clear, I invite you to answer the questions I have posed to Upright BiPed. If you can add some clarity and Upright BiPed agrees with your clarifications, we might be able to make progress more quickly.

  282. From 262

    Onlooker: “It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.”

    UB: I now see you left the term “information” in your text after all, so I can only assume you knew what you meant when you wrote it. But if that is the wrong assumption, then you can tell me what you meant, and how you conceptualized it could be transferred by using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system.

    Armed with the proper conceptualization as you have demonstrated, the question before you remains. I assure you, answering this question will help you understand “necessarily arbitrary”.

    So can the effect which will not even happen until tomorrow also be the arrangement of matter in your pocket today, even though that effect tomorrow will contain nothing that is in your pocket today? Or are these two things necessarily not the same thing?

  283. UB:

    Maybe this from 251 will help, in light of actual on the ground comms stuff:

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc). [--> I would add, digital symbols and analogue modulation of wave forms through AM, FM, Phase Mod and pulse mod]

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter. [--> Comms systems are about the imposition of modulations to represent information; which also happens to be true in the world of life. To go from transmitrer to receiver the codes, mod systems, protocols etc have to be given physical instantiation, E.G AM IS BASED ON MATHEMATICS OF MULTIPLYING SINUSOIDS AND CREATION OF SIDE BANDS AS A RESULT, BUT IS EFFECTED USING ELECTRONICS TECHNIQUES IN CIRCUITS. (And I will let the accidental caps lock stand . . . ]

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. [--> Without the contingency to make one thing stand for something else by analogue or code, we cannot communicate] And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    5. If that is true, and again it surely must be, then there has to be something else which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representation and the effect it evokes within the system. [--> We design comms systems, and the protocols or conventions involved are not driven by deterministic physical forces or by chance but by intelligent choice] In fact, this is the material basis of Francis Crick’s famous ‘adapter hypothesis’ in DNA, which lead to a revolution in the biological sciences. In a material universe, that something else must be a second arrangement of matter; coordinated to the first arrangement as well as to the effect it evokes. [--> For a receiver to work, there must be a transmitter]

    6. It then also follows that this second arrangement must produce its unambiguous function, not from the mere presence of the representation, but from its arrangement. It is the arbitrary component of the representation which produces the function. [--> Transmitters and receivers are planned together to match under protocols]

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process [ --> TX and RX] ; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. [--> The impressed design] The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. [--> Yes] They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information.

    Next time you use a PC on the web using TCP/IP (= “Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP)”), think about it. Same for the Global System for Mobile Telephony (GSM) etc.

    KF

  284. I’m pointing out that your first premise is a contradiction.

    You need to do a better job than just saying so.

    In other words, it’s not necessary for genetic to be reeducate to law for us to explain the concrete biological complexity we observe.

    Where did I say it had to be?

    Are you suggesting the appearance of design cannot be explained?

    Where did I suggest that?

    What is the appearance of design?

    Something that appears designed.

  285. onlooker:

    How exactly can information be measured?

    By counting the number of bits it contains. But that is irrelevant

    Does it have standard units?

    Yes, the bit, but again irrelevant

    Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    Just the one used by everybody on the planet every day of their lives. The one you use in order to communicate will suffice.

    Ya see onlooker it was questions such as those that exposed your agenda.

    Just sayin’…

  286. I would like to clear up one bit of a confused poster- confused on how science does things:

    If ID claims “evolution CANNOT therefore ID”, why can’t the evolution argument be, “ID CANNOT therefore NOT ID”?

    1- ID does NOT claim “evolution CANNOT therefore ID”

    2- It cannot be “ID CANNOT therefore NOT ID” because design doesn’t even get considered until necessity and chance, NOT ID, have already tried and failed. THAT is the whole point of parsimony, Toronto.

    And your other strawmen prove that you are totally clueless wrt science.

    Is that what you were shooting for? Really?

  287. What?

    What I was shooting for is that ID and evolution are not peer “theories” and you have granted that is the case by not treating them as peers.

    ID is not anti-evolution. Why do you equivocate?

    If schools should teach the “controversy”, clearly it is NOT a choice between ID and “Darwinism”.

    Darwinism is untestable nonsense and ID has withstood all tests. No choice…

  288. And one more, for laughs:

    How did ID pass the test of knowing what was required for future functionality?

    How did ID pass the strawman test? But anyway, as Dr Spetner said back in 1997- “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

    If as Joe says ID is not anti-evolution, how does the designer stop evolution from changing a working design into something that will not meet his design requirements 1000 years from now?

    And another strawman- and a designer could just set limitations on what evolutionary processes could do- and guess what? That is what we actually observe.

  289. onlooker,

    1. What do you think information is?

    2. What do you think a representation is?

    3. Do you think it is possible to encode information?

    4. Do you think it is possible to transmit information from a sender to receiver via a communications channel?

    Put another way, is it possible to communicate information, and if so, how can that be accomplished?

    5. Attempt to relate the activities you are engaged in and the processes that must take place when you post here on UD to the above questions.

    I’m willing to grant that you may be a serious enquirer. Let’s find out.

  290. Upright BiPed,

    Your 282 is completely non-responsive to the questions I raised about the definitions and logic of your argument.

    This is an unfortunate pattern in your communication. When Lizzie was posting here trying to get operational definitions for your terms, you blocked her every time it seemed like she was getting close enough to actually test your claims. At The Skeptical Zone you wrote copiously for months, until the other participants managed to work through your nearly impenetrable prose and ask pertinent, direct questions, at which point you ran away. Now here you are evading answering simple, equally direct questions.

    As keiths noted at TSZ:

    When I have a good idea, I actually want other people to understand it. When they ask questions, I answer them. If I see that they misunderstand me, I clarify things. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I try to hide my good idea?

    You, on the other hand, seem ashamed of your argument and afraid of what might happen if you stated it clearly and explicitly. Instead of clarifying, you obfuscate. Instead of answering questions straightforwardly, you evade them. You complain that others are misrepresenting your position, but when they ask you for correction, you refuse to give it.

    You are clearly not acting like someone who has the courage of his convictions and confidence in his argument. In fact, your behavior is indistinguishable from someone who wishes to obfuscate in order to hide the flaws in his argument and avoid any potential challenge to his beliefs.

    I can’t conclude any better than to quote keiths’ final paragraph. I’d like to hear your answers to his questions as well as mine.

    For you, the entire exercise seems to be more about saving face than it is about communicating your ideas. In fact, you appear to be deliberately avoiding communication precisely in order to save face. Why should anyone take your argument seriously if you are so ashamed of it? Why are you afraid to communicate it in a way that your audience will actually understand?

  291. Upright BiPed and Mung,

    I strongly recommend Ray Dalio’s principles as an explanation of the importance of brutal honesty and direct communication in order to root out flaws in our own opinions.

  292. Upright BiPed,

    Should you choose the path of intellectual integrity rather than continued evasion, I am still very interested in understanding your argument. The currently open issues are:

    Given this definition of “information”:

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?

    Given this statement of one of your premises from your paragraph 3:

    P2′. If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.

    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean?
    - Please restate this premise using different wording to make your point more clear.

    Note that all of these questions and issues can be addressed with direct statements, not questions, clarifying your meaning.

  293. Mung,

    1. What do you think information is?

    2. What do you think a representation is?

    I am trying to understand Upright BiPed’s argument. In order to do so I need to understand his definitions and premises. My definitions are immaterial and will not help me achieve the goal of understanding his.

    I’m willing to grant that you may be a serious enquirer. Let’s find out.

    Attempting to distract from Upright BiPed’s failure to answer direct, simple questions about his argument by replying with questions is a transparent rhetorical ploy that has no place in a serious discussion.

  294. onlooker:

    You are clearly not acting like someone who has the courage of his convictions and confidence in his argument. In fact, your behavior is indistinguishable from someone who wishes to obfuscate in order to hide the flaws in his argument and avoid any potential challenge to his beliefs.

    Nice projection.

    And if you are referencing keiths, then you have already lost.

  295. onlooker-

    Perhaps you should buy a dictionary. OR you could look up the definitions on the internet.

  296. F/N: Genuine onlookers, notice the absence of responsiveness and actual dialogue on the part of the objectors, backed up by an evident pretence that communication systems (yes, my always linked that I have been referring to for days to deal with related questions on thermodynamics . . . ) are some strange, ill-understood and dubious entity. All the while, while using the Internet with its TCP/IP protocols on the ISO’s OSI 7-layer “layercake” model, instantiated into material entities in accordance with intelligently designed rules and technologies, including those used to set up home wireless networks etc etc. Not to mention, we can discuss the telephone network, the cable TV network, satellite networks, and broadcast radio and TV etc etc etc. For those who genuinely wish to understand, information, comms systems, protocols, codes, digital — discrete state — info, etc etc can all be reasonably discussed, but how easy it is for these objectors to instead pose on selective hyperskepticism and make the pretence that that which is well grounded is suspect and dismissible. Because, it points where they would not go. That is why Mung’s Q 5 above is so apt: “Attempt to relate the activities you are engaged in and the processes that must take place when you post here on UD to the above questions.” KF

  297. F/N: Just for record, note that the measurement of info and of FSCI onward, is surveyed here on in the always linked, and the grounding of the log reduced chi metric is explored here on in context (and BTW, this uses a hard atomic resources limit that gets over the pretended objections to Dembski’s CSI). These corrective points have been repeatedly highlighted over the past 18 months but the pretended objection is still being advanced that the MG sock puppet objections have merit. That is why — given some of the tactics that have been used — I have long since (for cause . . . you don’t want to see what has been going on in the fever swamps . . . ) concluded that we are dealing with ruthless, amoral faction-spirited closed-minded objectionism and talking points in service to evolutionary materialism as ideology imposed on science, education and society [cf Plato's warning on that and the self-refuting incoherence of this view here and here], and frankly intended — on the part of those who do or should know better — to mislead the naive, not reasonable objections, at least on the part of those who are playing the MG talking points games. KF

  298. Petrushka is still spitting up equivocations:

    Apparently one only has to assert that evolution can’t do it and your argument is complete. No muss, no fuss, no icky research.

    1- No one sez “evolution can’t do it” as ID is OK with “evolution” doing it.

    2- No one has ever observed blind and undirected processes doing it because obvioulsy there is too much muss, fuss and icky research involved.

    Ya see petrushka YOUR position doesn’t have any research to support it. All you can do is baldly assert and throw father time at all issues.

    And to dr who- the entire planet has missed the part in which your position has any positive evidence to support its claims. “Self-replicating” molecules? You cannot demonstrate blind and undirected processes can construct such a thing.

    Nylonase? YOU cannot demonstrate blind and undirected processes didit (as opposed to “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

    And BTW RB- you guys can’t even account for DNA replication via blind and undirected processes.

    IOW you guys have nothing and your continued flailing exemplifies that fact.

  299. 299
    critical rationalist

    CR: Take a piece of paper and write the letters “TGCA” on it. […] Now, replace the actual base pairs “TGAC” in an organism’s genome with any of the above. Do you end up with the same effect?

    UB: If I did that, would the letters I write exist as rate-dependent structures that can be explained by physcial law, or are they rate-indepedent structures that can only be explained by a relationship established within physical system?

    First, I’ll again point out that your argument is parochial in that is appeals to a specific level of reductionism. See comment #163, which you have completely ignored. IOW, it is unclear how would this prevent us from making progress in explaining the concrete biological adaptation in the biospehre, in practice.

    Second, and for the umpteenth time, it is also parochial in that it implicitly includes the idea that knowledge / information must be justified by some ultimate source. How do you justify whatever arbiter defines this relationship? And how do you justify that, etc? Will you respond with a serious question this time?

    Despite attempts to point out otherwise, it seems you are unable to recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. As such, I extended my criticism to you in hope you would recognize it. Nor have you responded to my simple, direct questions designed to illustrate it, in detail. Again, you could easily clear this up by differentiating your conception of knowledge from the conception I presented.

    Then again, I’m not surprised by this in the least, as most ID proponents have enough sense to avoid the question as if it were the plague.

    UB: CR, you contunue to be unable to properly orient yourself to the discussion. I’ve lost interest in trying to orient you against your will.

    You seem to be blaming me for the ambiguity of your argument. For example…

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    All of my examples were representations of the actual base pairs TGCA, which are arrangements of matter. And they all evoke an effect in a system, such as vibrations, etc. These representations are arbitrary in the sense that their mapping is an agreement by geneticists as to which alphabetic characters represent each base. However, geneticists could have used some completely different set of letters. We can say the same about the sounds that represent those words, the shapes that make up the letter, etc. It’s though this agreement that geneticists can make progress.

    However, your initial premise seems to assume *all* arrangements of matter that “cause things” represents “something else” in a system. This sounds similar to Aristotle’s idea of a “first cause”, which would be built into your argument from the start.

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    What is information? What does it mean to transfer it? Does this take into account the rest of our current, best explanations for phenomena?

    For example, “Quasar” originally meant quasi-stellar object, which was just a fancy way of saying something that looked a bit like stars. However, not only do we now know Quasars are *not* stars, but we know what they *are*. Quasars were created billions of years ago and billions of years from here when material from the center of a galaxy collapsed towards a super-massive black hole. Intense magnetic fields directed some of the energy of that gravitational collapse, along with some of the matter, back out in the form of tremendous jets that illuminate with the brilliance of roughly a trillion suns.

    On the other hand, the physics of the human brain could hardly be more different that these jets. Not only does language break down when trying to describe them, but we could not survive in one for even an instant. IOW, the environment in the jet of a Quasar is about as different from our environment as you can get. Yet, these jets happened in precisely such a way that, billions of years later and on the other side of the universe, our brains could accurately describe, model, predict and explain what was happening there, in reality. One physical system, the brain, contains an accurate working model of the other, the quasar. And not just a superficial image of it, although it contains that as well, but an explanatory model, which embodies the same mathematical relationship and the same causal structure. This is knowledge. And knowledge is information that that tends to remain when embedded in some form of media, like human brains.

    What is the origin of this knowledge? How did it get into our brains? Does this fall under the “transform of information”, if not what is it?

    From what I can grasp from your argument, a “transfer” of “information” occurs though some kind of effect of a “representation”. And your example is DNA being transcribed to mRNA, which is then mediated by tRNA molecules within ribosomes. However, all of these examples are local and current, not billions of miles away and billions of years ago.

    Furthermore, the faithfulness of which the one structure, the brain, resembles the other, the quasar, is increasing over time. This is the *growth* of knowledge.

    IOW, it’s unclear how the information from quasars can get “transferred” into our brains, let alone grow more accurate, via inductivism. Yet, there it is.

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    At this point, given we haven’t defined anything in any sort of useful sense, It’s unclear how the previous “surely must be” true. Nor how anything logically follows from it.

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    Apparently, the same word “arbitrary” now has two meanings: “not the same thing” and “not reducible to physical law”. Or perhaps that is what you originally meant in the first place. Or perhaps you have redefined it, which could be equivocation? I honestly cannot tell. Regardless, this is a recipe for confusion.

    5. If that is true, and again it surely must be, then there has to be something else which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representation and the effect it evokes within the system. In fact, this is the material basis of Francis Crick’s famous ‘adapter hypothesis’ in DNA, which lead to a revolution in the biological sciences. In a material universe, that something else must be a second arrangement of matter; coordinated to the first arrangement as well as to the effect it evokes.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Transfer RNA…

    Organisms vary in the number of tRNA genes in their genome. The nematode worm C. elegans, a commonly used model organism in genetics studies, has 29,647 [12] genes in its nuclear genome, of which 620 code for tRNA.[13][14] The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has 275 tRNA genes in its genome. In the human genome, which according to current estimates has about 21,065 genes [15] in total, there are about 4,421 non-coding RNA genes, which include tRNA genes. There are 22 mitochondrial tRNA genes;[16] 497 nuclear genes encoding cytoplasmic tRNA molecules and there are 324 tRNA-derived putative pseudogenes.[17]

    tRNA is controlled by knowledge laden genes. Again, Darwinism’s explanation is that this knowledge is genuinely created, rather than having existed in some other form at the outset. There is no infinite regress.

    6. It then also follows that this second arrangement must produce its unambiguous function, not from the mere presence of the representation, but from its arrangement. It is the arbitrary component of the representation which produces the function.

    See above. We have an explanation for this knowledge: it was created by a form of conjecture and refutation, which is an error correcting process.

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information.

    Suddenly, we have something called “recorded information”. How does “recording” information differ from transferring information? For example, as a verb, the term recorded indicates the information in question was initially absent, then placed there in some form of storage. Does the recording of information need “protocols” and “representations” and “forms”? Is it also part of a “irreducible complex core”, etc?

    8. During protein synthesis, a selected portion of DNA is first transcribed into mRNA, then matured and transported to the site of translation within the ribosome. This transcription process facilitates the input of information (the arbitrary component of the DNA sequence) into the system. The input of this arbitrary component functions to constrain the output, producing the polypeptides which demonstrate unambiguous function.

    See above. At this point, the term arbitrary is used twice without any sort of clarification. Is tRNA “different” that mRNA or is it “not reducible to physical laws”? And now the concept of DNA being “arbitrary” has been introduced as well. The question is, in what sense?

    9. From a causal standpoint, the arbitrary component of DNA is transcribed to mRNA, and those mRNA are then used to order tRNA molecules within the ribosome. Each stage of this transcription process is determined by the physical forces of pair bonding. Yet, which amino acid appears at the peptide binding site is not determined by pair bonding; it is determined by the aaRS. In other words, which amino acid appears at the binding site is only evoked by the physical structure of the nucleic triplet, but is not determined by it. Instead, it is determined (in spatial and temporal isolation) by the physical structure of the aaRS. This is the point of translation; the point where the arbitrary component of the representation is allowed to evoke a response in a physically determined system – while preserving the arbitrary nature of the representation.

    Again, tRNA ligase (aaRS) is controlled by knowledge laden genes. See: “Sticky” Mice Lead to Discovery of New Cause of Neurodegenerative Disease. Darwinism explains this knowledge in that it was created by an error correcting process of conjecture and refutation. Mice with this defect can still reproduce despite exhibiting serious symptoms.

  300. Unfortunately for CR darwinism cannot explain tRNA, mRNA, tRNA ligases nor genes with knowledge…

  301. And Toronto steps upo the equivocation:

    We’re agreed on 1, that evolution CAN do it.

    Intelligent design evolution, yes. Your position’s blind watchmaker eviolution, no.

    And your continued equivocation proves that you just don’t have a clue.

    On the other hand, no one has ever observed the “intelligent designer” actually at work “designing” changes in life.

    No one ever observes a programmer checking and correcting their spelling when writing a Word document. IOW your ignorance, while amusing, is not a refutation.

  302. 302
    critical rationalist

    UB: If I did that, would the letters I write exist as rate-dependent structures that can be explained by physcial law, or are they rate-indepedent structures that can only be explained by a relationship established within physical system?

    History is filled with leaps to universality in evolving systems. These leaps occurred despite indifference to the goal of actually reaching universality. Number and writing systems are just a few examples.

    Another example is the capacity for any universal computer to simulate any other universal computer. This leap occurs whenever the capacity to perform the necessary repertoire of computations are present in digital systems. This includes using electric switches that can either be on or off, or even cogs that can be in one of 10 possible positions.

    The purpose of Babbage’s Difference Engine, along with all of the stepwise improvements before it, was parochial: to automate laborious calculations, such as those used in engineering, navigation, etc., of which Human computers were notoriously error prone. As such, they only a very implemented a limited repertoire of computations. However Babbage, among others, eventually realized the leap to universality was possible. Had he actually managed to implement his, the Analytic Engine, it would have been the first Universal Turing Machine (UTM).

    How is this important? Despite being constructed from gears and cogs, Babbage’s machine would have been shared the same universality as even modern day universal computers. This includes the ability to run other program that it can, in principle. While this would be impractical due to the vast difference in processing speed and the staggering number of punch cards necessary to store and execute them, this represents a leap to universality in that the behavior of any finite physical object (including some other universal computer) can be simulated with any desired accuracy by another universal computer.

    Furthermore, all digital computers represent information as discrete physical values. This is in contrast to analogy computers which represents information as variable physical values. The reason why we hardly use analog computers today is because there is no such thing as a universal analog computer. Digital systems can be programed to emulate any of them and outperform them in nearly every application. In addition, computational systems require error correction. Without it, errors would build up in lengthly computations due to variances of component imprecations, temperature changes, random outside influences, etc. Analog computers would diverge so far off the intended path that the results would cease to be remotely useful.

    The key point here being that knowledge is created by error correcting systems. This includes digital systems for storing that knowledge and operating on it. Analog systems are bound by the above limitations.

    A replicator is a unit of information which content plays a causal role in whether or not it is copied. When imperfectly copied with some finite probability variants of that replicator will arise. Some will managed to copy themselves. Others will not. New variants might exhibit the ability to copy itself better in the same environment than the original. Or it might exhibit the ability to copy itself better in a new environment. As such, variants of replicators can become better adapted.

    DNA is also digital in that it stores information as discrete physical values, which allows for error correction. Furthermore, error correction is the means by which the knowledge of how to build adaptations, which is found in the genome, is created.

    Replicators arise in biology, such as in the information found in germ line cells or the DNA / RNA of viruses. These replicators are called genes. Genes undergo mutation that is random to any specific problem being solved, which produces new variants. Some variants may exhibit the ability to copy themselves better than the original in the current environment. Others may exhibit the ability to copy themselves in a different environment where the original could not. This process can result in different variants to become greatly different over time, resulting in the rise of new species.

    So, the underlying explanation behind Darwinism is that the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations was created by conjecture, in the form of genetic variation that is random in respect to any particular problem to solve, and refutation, in the form of natural selection.

    What I’ve attempted to present in this brief comment is a universal explanation of how all knowledge in general is created. For example, we too have made a leap to universality. In our case, it’s a leap that is completely unique to what we consider “people” : we are universal explainers. We can create explanatory knowledge.

    This includes creating explanations for the appearance of design.

    It also includes how to build artificial ribosomes that actually work. Being universal explainers, the only thing that would prevent us from doing so is creating the knowledge of how.

  303. 303
    critical rationalist

    CR: I’m pointing out that your first premise is a contradiction.

    Joe: You need to do a better job than just saying so.

    I didn’t “just say so”, I present an argument.

    CR: In other words, it’s not necessary for [genetics] to be [reducible] to law for us to explain the concrete biological complexity we observe.

    Joe: Where did I say it had to be?

    Then why do we see some concrete adaptations, instead of other concrete adaptations? Why do they exhibit the specific constraints we observe? How do you explain it?

    CR: Are you suggesting the appearance of design cannot be explained?

    Joe: Where did I suggest that?

    you wrote:

    Joe: And BTW, ID does not try to answer the “why”. ID tries to answer the question “how did it come to be this way?” ie by design or not.

    Why doesn’t it? Why do you think artificial ribosomes do not work? Is design some irreducible primitive that cannot be further explained?

    CR: What is the appearance of design?

    Joe: Something that appears designed.

    It’s unclear why I should even bother responding if you are not going to give a serious answer.

    What *constitutes* the appearance of design? Why is the same explanation for the origin of a rock found in a field insufficient for the origin of a watch? Is that clear enough for you?

  304. 304
    critical rationalist

    Joe: Unfortunately for CR darwinism cannot explain tRNA, mRNA, tRNA ligases nor genes with knowledge…

    Why is that Joe? Could it be that you think all knowledge is justified by authoritative sources?

    Perhaps you will answer the question I asked UB?

    For example, from another comment on another thread…

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    While empiricism is an improvement it still depends on inductivism, so it still shares the same fundamental flaw.

    Is there something in the above you disagree with?

    Better yet, wouldn’t such a conception explain objections to Darwinism? And not just any objections, but specific objections that we see here and elsewhere?

    If someone thought the knowledge of how to build the biosphere could only come from some ultimate authoritative source, would it come as a surprise they would conclud the biosphere cannot be explained without a designer? And if Darwinism were true would, would they not then conclude there could be no knowledge? Everything would simply be meaningless and random and astronomically unlikely, which is a commonly argued strawman of evolutionary theory. Finally, since everything is not random and meaningless, would they not conclude Darwinism must be false?

    I don’t know about you, but this sounds vaguely familiar.

    Does your conception of human knowledge conflict with the above? If so, exactly where did I get it wrong and how do your views differ, in detail?

  305. 305

    Onlooker:

    Your 282 is completely non-responsive to the questions I raised about the definitions an logic of your argument.

    Let’s not lose sight of your question. You asked about my use of the word arbitrary, remember?

    My argument states there is a ‘materially arbitrary relationship’ between a) an arrangement of matter and b) the effect it evokes within a system. Your question was what I meant by the word “arbitrary”. You asked if it simply means “separate” or something else as well.

    In the course of your comments, you correctly wrote: “It is not logically possible to transfer information without using an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system”. You conceptualized this sentence, and in doing so you clearly identify both the arrangement of matter and its effect. So I picked up exactly where you left off. I asked you to envision putting that arrangement of matter in your shirt pocket until tomorrow, when you will then take it out and use it to evoke its effect. My question was simply if you thought it was possible that the effect – which won’t even exist until tomorrow – could also be what is in your pocket today? Or are they necessarily not the same thing? I even added that the effect – which won’t even come into existence until tomorrow – will contain nothing whatsoever that is in your pocket today. But still you refuse to answer.

    Having refused to answer a simple question, you now claim that by using this example, I am being “non-responsive” to your question. The reasons for your claim are certainly not obvious, particularly since giving examples is virtually synonymous with giving an explanation, yet you offer no reasoning whatsoever. And given that this is the third time you’ve declined to answer the question (and participate in understanding the issue), I can correctly assume your interests lie elsewhere.

    The truth of the matter is rather obvious. You won’t answer this simple question because for you to openly admit that nothing exist between these two items except for a relationship, is to give away your ideological farm. The entire remainder of my argument necessarily follows from this simple observation, so consequently, you must not allow it.

    In the face of a question so simple that a child could answer, you are left with nothing but the adolescent deception that you don’t understand the words. And all the while, you vent your spleen with ad hominem attacks.

    Your rhetorical victory is at hand, and you are welcome to it.

  306. Joe:

    It would be amusing to see the flailing around at TSZ, if it were not in the end ever so sad.

    What is plain is that they don’t seem to realise that he design inference is working the same way that their own attempts to reconstruct the past of life do, only on better empirical warrant. For, we do routinely see designers creating FSCO/I but have never seen blind chance and mechanical necessity doing that through accumulated accidents. And, we know that there is a major gap for the solar system or the cosmos to have enough atomic and temporal resources even in 13.7 bn y, to search sufficient of the config space of 500 or 1,000 bits, that even 500 or 1000 bits could be reasonably seen as coming up by blind processes, per sampling theory. The only thing that is reasonably warranted on such processes would be sampling the bulk of possibilities, which would not be functional.

    In short, it is clear that we are dealing with ideology, not scientific rationality.

    CR:

    Re: Take a piece of paper and write the letters “TGCA” on it. […] Now, replace the actual base pairs “TGAC” in an organism’s genome with any of the above. Do you end up with the same effect?

    You know better than this, You know tha t the genetic code works off D/RNA bases and that information is coded in their sequence. This is easily accessible and has been presented to you any number of times.

    In addition, the AA’s loaded on the tRNA’s that key to the mRNA codons, are loaded on a standard CCA end. They are INFORMATIONALLY loaded based on the config of the particular tRNA, by special loading enzymes. That is the connexion between the codon triplet and the AA added to the protein chain is informational not driven by deterministic chemical forces.

    But it is evident that the facts do not point where you will so you are setting up and knocking over strawmen.

    This is even worse, and condescending as well:

    it is also parochial in that it implicitly includes the idea that knowledge / information must be justified by some ultimate source. How do you justify whatever arbiter defines this relationship? And how do you justify that, etc? Will you respond with a serious question this time?

    In effect5 you grudgingly imply that you cannot provide an actual case of coded, functionally specific information of 500 + bits coming about by known forces of chance and necessity without intelligent direction. That is obvious for if you had a case you would not be going into such convolutions but would triumphantly trot it out. But the Canali on mars failed, Weasel failed, GA’s failed, and the Youtube vid on how a clock could evolve from gears and pendulums failed too, etc. So you cannot bring forth an actual case to make your point.

    To brazen it out, you want to demand the right to suggest without evidence that chance and necessity can and do on the gamut of accessible resources, create FSCO/I. Sorry, a demonstrated source — design — is an obviously superior explanation to something that has no such base.

    FYI, there is no question-begging circle on what “must” be the source of knowledge, codes, intelligent messages etc, WE HAVE OBSERVATIONS, abundant and unexceptioned observations, that show that FSCO/I comes from design.

    So, you ate going up against an empirically abundantly justified induction. And your trick is to assert question-begging.

    Sorry, FAIL.

    It seems unlikely that you will acknowledge error and amend your thinking, but the genuine onlookers can see for themselves what is going on.

    KF

  307. PS: Joe, any sign of a serious response to my syllabus of 18 questions?

  308. 308
    critical rationalist

    @mung#267

    CR:…the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    Mung:

    Created by who or what?

    And stored where?

    And transmitted how?

    See comment #302.

    And what is a non-genuine creation?

    All bad explanations for the biosphere either fail to explain how the knowledge in adaptations is created or attempt to do so badly. Specifically, they all discount the role that knowledge plays in the creation of biosphere. The worst offender is, ironically, creationism.

    For example, If a supernatural being created the world we observe at the moment that Darwin (appeared) to have made his greatest discovery, the true creator of that discovery would not have been Darwin but that supernatural being. And we can say the same regarding all earlier discoveries as well.

    Such a theory denies the only creation that did actually take place in the origin of the designer’s discovery. This is a form of genuine creation, which is possible due to emergent levels of explanation.

    So, Creationism is misleading named. It is not a theory explaining knowledge as arising due to creation, but the exact opposite. It denies that creation happened in reality by placing the origin of that knowledge in an explanationless realm.

    Creationism is a general purpose means of creation denial. For example, one could appeal to the logical possibility that some intelligent designer with no defined limitations created the world when you (appeared) to have authored the comment I’m responding to. Therefore, the author of the comment wouldn’t be you, but that abstract designer.

    The very idea of an open-ended stream of genuine knowledge creation conflicts with creationism by undermining its motivation. Potentially, at some time in the future, anyone will be able to design and implement a more harmonious, moral, complex biosphere than the one here on Earth. And they will do assisted by massively powerful computers created using this same open-ended stream of knowledge creation.

    At which point, the suppled designer of our biosphere will appear morally deficient and intellectually unremarkable.

    This leads me to a question: If you were sent forward in time and observed a demonstration of such a biosphere, would you still be a design proponent?

    Of course, there is always the chance that we will choose not to create the necessary knowledge in time and eventually go extinct as a species. But the potential is there. For example Mitt Romney thinks man made global warming is real, yet his position is it would be wrong to do anything about it. This too discounts the role that knowledge plays in the creation of the biosphere.

    Mung:

    And what’s required to get to the point where biological adaptations are even possible?

    In the same way that systems can be digital despite taking different forms, such as cogs or transistors, digital systems can have different degrees of error correction. Even the slightest degree of improvement can make a difference.

    DNA evolved from primitive replicators which gradually included better error checking. DNA stopped evolving once it make the leap to universality – the ability to encode instructions for all forms of life on our planet, including those that wouldn’t exist for billions of years, along with those that do not yet exist.

    Mung:

    What is an adaptation, after all?

    From a comment on another thread…

    It was William Paley who noted some objects not only can serve a purpose but there are objects which are *adapted* to a purpose. For example, if you slightly altered the design of a watch (or a microscope) it would serve the purpose of keeping time (or magnifying samples) less well, or not even at all. On the other hand, we can use the sun to keep time, even though it would serve that purpose equally well if its features were slightly or even massively modified. Just as we adapt the earth’s raw materials to serve a purpose, we also find uses for the sun it was never design or adapted to provided. So, merely being useful for a purpose, without being hard to vary and retaining that ability, does not reflect the appearance of design.

    IOW, good designs are hard to vary. This is a reflection of our long chain of independent, hard to vary explanations for how microscopes work.

    Adaptations represent transformations of matter. In the case of a microscope, raw materials are adapted into glass and metal, which are adapted into lenses, gears and frames. These components are adapted into a particular configuration in a particular order. If you varied these adaptations slightly the microscope would not serve the purpose of magnifying samples as well, or not even at all.

    These transformation occur with the requisite knowledge of how to preform them is present.

  309. CR, you didn’t answer Mung’s questions.

    “Stored where?”
    “Transmitted how?”

  310. Kairosfocus,

    I am not sure they even understand English, let alone adress your points….

  311. Why is the same explanation for the origin of a rock found in a field insufficient for the origin of a watch?

    Rocks can be reduced to matter and energy, watches cannot. Watches require something other than matter and energy to explain their existence.

    Ribosomes are not reducible to matter and energy, they, like watches, cars and computers, although not in violation of any physical laws are not explained by them.

    Unfortunately for CR darwinism cannot explain tRNA, mRNA, tRNA ligases nor genes with knowledge…

    Why is that Joe?

    The main reason is there isn’t any evidentiary supprt for darwinism producing them. No testable hypothesis for the premise.

    DNA evolved from primitive replicators which gradually included better error checking.

    Evidence please.

  312. keiths is still spewing:

    Anyone out there who actually understands Upright’s argument: Please present it clearly, concisely and explicitly, using the style I employed in the OP, either here or at UD.

    Again, why is it that only the anti-IDists, who claim they are smarter than us IDiots, cannot understand Upright Biped’s argument? Is keiths really admitting that he is dumber than us IDiots?

    Strange that evos cannot communicate the argument for their position in a clear, non-equivocating way. And all they can do is obfuscate whenever an IDist steps forward and clearly communicates the argument for ID.

  313. That is why Mung’s Q 5 above is so apt: “Attempt to relate the activities you are engaged in and the processes that must take place when you post here on UD to the above questions.”

    Thanks KF!

  314. And in a show of total confusion petrushkas sez:

    we have spotted him the semiotic part. Now he needs to prove a negative. That the system could not have evolved. That’s the ID movement in a nutshell. The assertion that you can prove a negative by thinking or reasoning about it.

    So Upright Biped needs to provide evidence for YOUR position? The point is, petrushka, there isn’t any positive evidence in support of the premise that blind and undirected processes can produce semiotic systems. There doesn’t even appear to be a testable hypothesis for such a thing.

    Also ALL design inferences are forced to eliminate nature, operating freely, BEFORE they can say design. That is the very nature of Newton’s four rules of scientific investigation.

    IOW all you guys have to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes ae up to the task and Upright Biped’s argument no longer suports ID.

    The PROBLEM, however, is you won’t ever do so.

  315. onlooker:

    I am interested in understanding Upright BiPed’s argument detailed in the original post to this thread. I have questions that prevent me from understanding it. Why do you think it is unreasonable to ask for clarification?

    If you feel that the argument as stated is perfectly clear, I invite you to answer the questions I have posed to Upright BiPed. If you can add some clarity and Upright BiPed agrees with your clarifications, we might be able to make progress more quickly.

    I see now that was just so much hooey on your part.

    You don’t want to understand. You don’t even want to try to understand.

    I strongly recommend Ray Dalio’s principles as an explanation of the importance of brutal honesty and direct communication in order to root out flaws in our own opinions.

    Let me know when you want to start being honest.

    I posted in good faith. You didn’t even attempt to engage in an ongoing dialog.

    I should read a 123 page treatise to try to figure out why? No chance in hell.

    You’re no more open to honest discussion that was Liddle when she showed up here.

    Let’s not forget, you were the one who invited me to attempt to assist in in bridging the gap between you and Upright BiPed.

    here

    My definitions are immaterial and will not help me achieve the goal of understanding his.

    And that’s just a flat out lie. If Liddle was in fact banned from UD it’s probably due to similar behavior. Actual actions inconsistent with stated intent. Dishonesty.

    Your understanding of terms is of utmost relevance, by your own admission. Yet now you say what you think a term means is immaterial. ARE YOU SERIOUS!? I guess not.

    Remember, I am a third party here.

    You don’t understand what UPB means by representation?

    Well, what do you think the term means. Maybe you two are closer to agreement than you think. But you’d rather not say what you think it means.

    You don’t understand what UPB means by information?

    Well, what do you think the term means. Maybe you two are closer to agreement than you think. But you’d rather not say what you think it means.

    Rejoice. You’ve exposed yourself for all to see.

    Let me know if you want to try again. Otherwise please stop wasting our time. You’re turning out to be no better than a troll.

    You have an idea of what information is, otherwise you would not be posting here on UD and asking questions.

    You probably have some idea what is involved in the transmission of information over the internet as well.

    The fact that you won’t even acknowledge the relevance of my questions to the current debate is telling indeed.

  316. CR:

    What is information? What does it mean to transfer it?

    How and why are you posting here at UD?

  317. CR:

    IOW, it’s unclear how the information from quasars can get “transferred” into our brains, let alone grow more accurate, via inductivism. Yet, there it is.

    Quasars are sending us information? About what? Their favorite color?

  318. CR:

    All of my examples were representations of the actual base pairs TGCA, which are arrangements of matter.

    Actually, T, G, C and A are themselves representations.

    One might even say they are representations of representations. Which, I guess, makes your examples representations of representations of representations.

    Now, what makes you think that all representations are transitive and that a representation can be substituted for what it represents to the same effect?

  319. 319
    critical rationalist

    UB: CR, you didn’t answer Mung’s questions.

    CR: …the knowledge of how to create biological adaptations is genuinely created.

    Mung: “Stored where?”

    What do I mean by “knowledge”? I’m referring to information which when embedded in a storage medium tends to remain there and is consistent with Karl Popper’s definition that knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. While they serve many other purposes as well, both brains and DNA act as storage mediums.

    The non-explanatory knowledge of how to adapt matter into tRNA is stored in specific regions of the genome.

    Mung: “Transmitted how?”

    Through the creation of a series of knowledge laden processes which allow us to scan the genome, encode it, transmit it in some agreed on form, and then reverse the process. For example, the knowledge of how to build computers is created. Systems are constructed and are sent to different locations. We can say the same regarding network hardware, scanners, storage systems, etc. They are then connected and the transfer occurs. Since different hardware designs can implement the same standard, you do not need exact duplicate systems on both ends.

    For example, one could scan and encode the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, transmit it to some other computer, then synthesize it unchanged based on the techniques developed by Craig Ventier’s group.

    Note: these are high-level explanations, that address the emergence of knowledge from material arrangements of matter.

  320. 320
    critical rationalist

    I’d point out that Onlooker and I have taken different approaches to criticizing UB’s argument.

    Onlooker is (and reasonably so) refusing to move forward until clear definitions are provided. On the other hand, I’m asking for and conjecturing the *consequences* of UB’s argument in attempt to deduce them. Specifically, the consequences his argument would have for evolutionary theory, conceptions of knowledge, etc., then pointing out the implicit assumptions they would make.

    Yet, in both cases, it seems that UB isn’t actually responding to criticism.

  321. 321
    critical rationalist

    Mung: Actually, T, G, C and A are themselves representations.

    Representations of what? And are they representations in the same sense as “TGCA” are representations of the actual bases T, G, C, A? If not, in what sense are they representations?

    Furthermore, whatever it is that T, G, C, A themselves supposedly represent, do they represent something else? And does this something else also represent something else as well, etc.?

  322. CR:

    Onlooker is (and reasonably so) refusing to move forward until clear definitions are provided.

    And yet when onlooker was faced with actually discussing definitions, onlooker, quite unreasonably, declined.

    onlooker:

    My definitions are immaterial and will not help me achieve the goal of understanding his.

    One can only hope that you, CR, are not taking the same attitude towards definitions and mutual understanding.

    How can his/her/its definition of a term be immaterial to understanding?

    If Upright BiPed defines horse as:

    “an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae.”

    And onlooker defines horse as:

    “having a vocal tone characterized by weakness of intensity and excessive breathiness”

    Surely one can question whether the two of them are even talking about the same thing.

    What reasonable person would blindly accept onlooker’s assertion that his definition of horse is immaterial?

  323. Mung: Actually, T, G, C and A are themselves representations.

    CR: Representations of what?

    Among other things:

    Nucleosides are glycosylamines consisting of a nucleobase (often referred to as simply base) bound to a ribose or deoxyribose sugar via a beta-glycosidic linkage. Examples of nucleosides include cytidine, uridine, adenosine, guanosine, thymidine and inosine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleoside

    Am I the only one not struck by the wondrous fact that ‘A’ does not solely represent Adenosine?

    What would communication be like if ‘A’ was a single sole representation?

  324. The non-explanatory knowledge of how to adapt matter into tRNA is stored in specific regions of the genome.

    Why is it “non-explanatory”? And what is “non-explanatory knowledge”?

    For example, one could scan and encode the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, transmit it to some other computer, then synthesize it unchanged based on the techniques developed by Craig Ventier’s group.

    But Venter et al., used an existing cell minus its DNA. Knowledge did NOT emerge from material arrangements of matter.

    Onlooker is (and reasonably so) refusing to move forward until clear definitions are provided.

    The definitions are in dictionaries.

  325. Upright BiPed, you are such a trooper, and I commend you.

    represent

    1.a. To stand for; symbolize: The bald eagle represents the United States.
    1.b. To indicate or communicate by signs or symbols: Letters of the alphabet represent sounds.

    I love that first one.

    The bald eagle represents the United States.

    Upright BiPed, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take every instance of “United States” that you can find and replace it with “the bald eagle.”

    Does it produce the same effect?

    If not, then your argument clearly fails.

    TSZ rejoices.

  326. F/N: Of course, one familiar selectively hyperskeptical rhetorical game is the infinite regress of demanded definitions (including of course the operational definition . . . and what is the operational defn of an op defn? . . . why is 1/273.16 of the triple point of H2O often a less satisfactory definition than a measure of the average random energy per degree of freedom at micro level?).

    Definitions stop at primitives and examples that define concepts.

    Information long since has been adequately defined and representation, likewise. Function, is recognisable from relevant cases in point and specificity of function is familiar to anyone who has had to get just the right part for a bit of electronics to work. KF

  327. Or maybe, because the definitions are not mathematically rigorous (wink, wink), the TSZ denizens refuse to accept them.

  328. 328
    critical rationalist

    CR: Take a piece of paper and write the letters “TGCA” on it. […] Now, replace the actual base pairs “TGAC” in an organism’s genome with any of the above. Do you end up with the same effect?

    KF: You know better than this, You know tha t the genetic code works off D/RNA bases and that information is coded in their sequence. This is easily accessible and has been presented to you any number of times.

    You know what a rhetorical question is, right? I’m pointing out the ambiguity of the terms “relationship” and arbitrary” in the first premise of UB’s argument.

    KF: In addition, the AA’s loaded on the tRNA’s that key to the mRNA codons, are loaded on a standard CCA end. They are INFORMATIONALLY loaded based on the config of the particular tRNA, by special loading enzymes. That is the connexion between the codon triplet and the AA added to the protein chain is informational not driven by deterministic chemical forces.

    Entirely new cells are constructed when they divide. This includes all of the components of the system you are referring to. Unless a designer is intervening to build tRNA when a cell divides, the knowledge of how to construct all of them is found in the genome.

    So, the question is, how was this knowledge created?

    KF: In effect5 you grudgingly imply that you cannot provide an actual case of coded, functionally specific information of 500 + bits coming about by known forces of chance and necessity without intelligent direction.

    Exactly where did I imply this?

    KF: That is obvious for if you had a case you would not be going into such convolutions but would triumphantly trot it out. But the Canali on mars failed, Weasel failed, GA’s failed, and the Youtube vid on how a clock could evolve from gears and pendulums failed too, etc. So you cannot bring forth an actual case to make your point.

    Pointing out that justification is impossible is not “going into such convolutions”. It’s a criticism of one’s form of epistemology and the impact it would have on their conclusions.

    Perhaps you would like to answer the questions I asked UB? Where does your conception of human knowledge differ from the conception I outlined? Please be specific. Here’s your chance to show that my assessment is wrong, by pointing out how your view differs, in detail.

    KF: To brazen it out, you want to demand the right to suggest without evidence that chance and necessity can and do on the gamut of accessible resources, create FSCO/I. Sorry, a demonstrated source — design — is an obviously superior explanation to something that has no such base.

    I’ve already outlined why ID is a bad explanation on your “Questions on the logical and scientific status of design theory for objectors (and supporters)” thread, here.

    I take it you haven’t had the time to address them yet?

    KF: FYI, there is no question-begging circle on what “must” be the source of knowledge, codes, intelligent messages etc, WE HAVE OBSERVATIONS, abundant and unexceptioned observations, that show that FSCO/I comes from design.

    FSCIO/I isn’t well defined. Nor can we observe causes. And you’re ignoring what we do know about designers: namely our best current explanation for how all knowledge is created.

    KF: So, you ate going up against an empirically abundantly justified induction. And your trick is to assert question-begging.

    My response is to point out that justification is impossible. Of course, being open to criticism, please feel free to point out how it’s possible, in practice.

    KF: It seems unlikely that you will acknowledge error and amend your thinking, but the genuine onlookers can see for themselves what is going on.

    How is it an error to point out your argument is parodical, in that it completely ignores other forms of epistemology? What sort of acknowledgment would “correct” or “amend” this? Should I deny they are well formed or that they exist as alternatives?

    What actually seems to be going on is that you cannot recognize your specific conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. Specifically, your response so far seem to be that “everyone knows we use induction”, as if you accept it uncritically and that it’s a taboo to even question it. Yet, you haven’t actually presented a “principle of induction” that works in practice.

  329. 329
    critical rationalist

    Joe: Why is it “non-explanatory”? And what is “non-explanatory knowledge”?

    I’ve already explained the difference at length here and here in this thread.

    Are you sure you are actually reading my comments?

    CR: For example, one could scan and encode the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, transmit it to some other computer, then synthesize it unchanged based on the techniques developed by Craig Ventier’s group.

    Joe: But Venter et al., used an existing cell minus its DNA. Knowledge did NOT emerge from material arrangements of matter.

    Again, are you sure you’re reading my comments? Do you know what this was actually in response to? Your comment suggests that you do not.

    Mung asked: “transmitted how?”

    My response was..

    For example, one could scan and encode the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, transmit it to some other computer, then synthesize it unchanged based on the techniques developed by Craig Ventier’s group.

    Note that I said nothing about implanting the resulting genome in a cell.

  330. 330

    CR: Yet, in both cases, it seems that UB isn’t actually responding to criticism.

    CR (like Onlooker) complains that I am not responding to his criticism. He came to this thread in comment #23 and immediately wanted to know what I meant by the word “arbitrary”. Oddly enough, (although he criticizes me now for doing the exact same thing with Onlooker) he actually used an example to demonstrate what he thought of the word “arbitrary”. By doing so, I could immediately understand his use of the word.

    As a software developer, CR relayed an example of the “arbitrary” decisions that his clients would make regarding software he would write. So in comment #30, I responded:

    I believe your perspective is made clear here. You are talking about making arbitrary choices with regard to a program you write on top of a symbol system. I am talking about the symbol system itself. The fact that the letter “A” can be represented by “1000001” is arbitrary – not inexorable law.

    And what was his response to this?

    Zero.

    Then 247 comments later, after immense diatribes about every conceivable topic under the sun (and every “ism” and “ist” I could possibly be) I once again tried to re-engage CR on his original critique. I restated:

    I believe your perspective is made clear here. You are talking about making arbitrary choices with regard to a program you write on top of a symbol system. I am talking about the symbol system itself. The fact that the letter “A” can be represented by “1000001” is arbitrary – not inexorable law.

    What was his response to this?

    Zero.

    So tell me, how much weight should I give this person who avoids a discussion about the very thing he objects to? The same goes for Onlooker. Both of them flip and flop around pretending they just can’t get their hands around what I mean by “materially arbitrary” but neither of them wants to engage in an example of it – even the one who provided his own example !

    . . .

    Here are just two quick examples of what I have said on this very thread about my use of the word “arbitrary”:

    The first object is a representation; an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system, where the arrangement is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes. The word “arbitrary” is used in the sense that there is no material or physical connection between the representational arrangement and the effect it evokes (i.e. the word “apple” written on a piece of paper evokes the recall of a particular fruit in an observer, but that recall has nothing whatsoever to do with wood pulp, ink dye, or solvent).

    … and

    [regarding the word "arbitrary"] It’s not really the word I rely upon; it the material observation which has been made. Proteins aren’t constructed from nucleotides. There is no inherent physical property in the pattern of cytosine-thymine-adenine which maps to leucine. That mapping is context specific, not an inexorable law. This has been shown in the lab.

    And I have even gone so far as to say:

    And if they are not the same thing, then the relationship between them is necessarily arbitrary from a physical perspective (regardless of how that relationship originated). If you do not like that word, you can use whatever word you like. I have seen such described as “immaterial”, or “non-material”, or “physico-dynamically inert”, etc, etc. You can also use the word Dr Liddle suggested – “materially dissociated”.

    It matters not, to me.

    And how many times were these comments directly addressed by either CR or Onlooker?

    Zero.

    Mung: Upright BiPed, you are such a trooper, and I commend you.

    Thanks Mung. Some may wonder why I’ve refused to play definition derby on this thread. I know exactly why. I literally just spent over two fricken months arguing at TSZ over my use of the word “entailment”. I used the word in a sentence, then in the very next sentence I gave the Merriam-Webster definition of the word, and then coherently restated my first sentence using the dictionary definition in place of the word itself. What more could one ask, right?

    In the end (after 120+ days) the objector finally conceded that my usage had been valid all along. What a pathetic way to have to protect your beliefs.

    Definition derby is a defensive strategy, not a search for clarity.

  331. 331
    critical rationalist

    What I find particularly interesting is how supporters here keep making arguments that implies knowledge must come from justified sources; yet when I directly ask if they hold an authoritative conception of human knowledge they act if they are offended and/or refuse to answer the question.

    This is even after pointing out the parallels between such a conception clearly overlap clams made elsewhere on this blog and how the consequences of such a conception match just the sort of objections and misrepresentations of Darwinism.

    So, it seems that not only do supporters deny that knowledge is created, but they deny holding a conception of human knowledge that denies it.

  332. CR:

    So, it seems that not only do supporters deny that knowledge is created, but they deny holding a conception of human knowledge that denies it.

    1. What is knowledge?

    2. Who (or What) creates knowledge?

    3. How is knowledge created?

    4. How is knowledge retained?

    5. How is knowledge transmitted?

  333. 333

    CR,

    Perhaps your inability to enage has to do with the fact your concepts don’t impact the material observations made in the OP. Many have tried to get you to grasp this.

    Here is a demonstration, which I will take from your diversionary comment at 331:

    What I find particularly interesting is how supporters here keep making arguments that implies knowledge must come from justified sources”

    Specifically state the material observation made in the OP used to argue that “knowledge must come from justified sources”.

    It doesn’t exist.

  334. CR:

    I am sorry to have to say this in so many words, but it seems you are not in the same reality as the rest of us. Also, you seem to insist on both strawman tactic snip and snipe games and recirculating endlessly already adequately corrected erroneous objecting talking points; which creates the impression of being here to object and disrupt rather than seriously dialogue. Let me speak to points from 328 to show what I mean:

    1: CR, 328: FSCIO/I isn’t well defined.

    Here, first, you don’t even seem to bother to get the abbreviation right: Functionally Specific Complex organisation and associated Information, FSCO/I. You also fail to address the way that it is developed, e.g. here on in context, and seem to want to take for granted the objections as though they are well founded. They are not, for reasons the context of the linked will make plain.

    Namely:

    a: functional specificity of configurations is objectively real and routinely observable, just think about finding a spare part of of what happened when that comma sent a NASA rocket veering off path and forced a self destruct.

    b: Complex, functionally specific organisation with associated information is equally real and observable, as we can see from how AutoCAD etc in effect create node and arc meshes to describe objects and functional networks through sets of bit strings.

    c: As the AutoCAD file size number also shows, such are measurable in bits.

    d: In addition, we can show that on the gamut of the solar system, the maximum sample that can be taken with atomic resources using the fastest ionic chemical reaction rates as clock tick, is as one straw to a cubical haystack 1,000 LY across, i.e about as thick as our galaxy.

    e: So, sampling theory tells us that — even if such were superposed on our galaxy — we have no right to expect anything from such a sample but straw. This is the needle in the haystack, on steroids.

    f: In addition, we may quantify this threshold, once we can observe functional specificity being present (and using S = 1/0 as a dummy variable, default 0 but 1 if FS is objectively present) and produce a Chi_500 metric, as the linked shows, where measured info content is I:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold of sufficient complexity to be FSCO/I

    I therefore must say to you that beyond a certain point, sustaining a dismissive distortion in the face of plainly adequate correction becomes willful distortion of truth.

    2: Nor can we observe causes

    This is at best nearly meaningless pedantry.

    Consider a dropped heavy object, where reliably we see that it falls at 9.8 N/kg. This is mechanical necessity in action.

    Similarly, if the object is a fair die, it will reliably then tumble and come to rest with uppermost sides from the set {1, 2, . . . 6} at probability 1/6 per face. Much the same would obtain for a 2-sided die, i.e a coin, where the H/T would be with probability 1/2 apiece. This is chance based high contingency.

    Now, if we had a string of 504 such coins in a slotted tray, we could find the coins in states from TT . . . T to HH . . . H by chance and/or by choice. And as a simple case, if we were to see the coins arranged so as to show the first 72 letters of this post, in order, we would with all but certainty, have excellent reason to infer that the best and empirically warranted explanation of such was intelligently directed organising work (IDOW), AKA design.

    It is quite reasonable to say of such that we may see the relevant causes in action, and that we can trace them from empirically testable, reliable signs. For instance, due to the binomial distribution for 500 coins [~ 5.24*10^151 possibilities], the at random tosses would be overwhelmingly near 50:50 H/T in no particular order. The bare possibility of getting a special arrangement as above, would be so remote on the gamut of our solar system’s atomic and temporal resources that we can dismiss the possibility of this by chance as all but impossible. Such is, reliably, empirically unobservable. An unwinnable lottery.

    It is thus reasonable to say that we observe causes in action, mechanical necessity leading to natural regularities, chance contingency to stochastic distributions, and choice contingency often leading to things such as FSCO/I.

    3: you’re ignoring what we do know about designers: namely our best current explanation for how all knowledge is created.

    Strawman.

    4: I’m pointing out the ambiguity of the terms “relationship” and arbitrary” in the first premise of UB’s argument.

    Strawman.

    Context makes the meaning abundantly clear.

    5: Entirely new cells are constructed when they divide. This includes all of the components of the system you are referring to. Unless a designer is intervening to build tRNA when a cell divides, the knowledge of how to construct all of them is found in the genome.

    Strawman, off a red herring.

    What you are distorting is the reported, easily shown fact:

    KF: the AA’s loaded on the tRNA’s that key to the mRNA codons, are loaded on a standard CCA end. They are INFORMATIONALLY loaded based on the config of the particular tRNA, by special loading enzymes. That is the connexion between the codon triplet and the AA added to the protein chain is informational not driven by deterministic chemical forces.

    You are ducking the established fact of INFORMATION ENCODED IN MATERIAL MEDIA AND ALSO USED TO DECIDE WHICH aa GOES ON WHAT tRNA, TO MATCH TO CODON IN THE RIBOSOME, SO CORRECTLY CHAINING A PROTEIN THROUGH TRANSLATION FROM THE RNA CODE.

    And, since that process has in it oodles of FSCO/I, e.g. the genome starts at about 100 – 1,000 bits of digitally stored info, we know the best explanation for such FSCO/I per reliable sign, IDOW, or design. Life’s origin is on design, the onward replication and reproduction from generation to generation carries forward what was built in.

    6: Unless a designer is intervening to build tRNA when a cell divides, the knowledge of how to construct all of them is found in the genome. So, the question is, how was this knowledge created?

    Strawman, again.

    Cf just above.

    7: where did I imply this? [inability to provide a counter instance to FSCO/I reliably being produced in our observation by IDOW]

    This is evident from your tactics, as was pointed out in 306, above but neatly omitted:

    CR, 299: it is also parochial in that it implicitly includes the idea that knowledge / information must be justified by some ultimate source. How do you justify whatever arbiter defines this relationship? And how do you justify that, etc? Will you respond with a serious question this time?

    KF (pardon typo): In effect5 you grudgingly imply that you cannot provide an actual case of coded, functionally specific information of 500 + bits coming about by known forces of chance and necessity without intelligent direction. That is obvious for if you had a case you would not be going into such convolutions but would triumphantly trot it out. But the Canali on mars failed, Weasel failed, GA’s failed, and the Youtube vid on how a clock could evolve from gears and pendulums failed too, etc. So you cannot bring forth an actual case to make your point.

    To brazen it out, you want to demand the right to suggest without evidence that chance and necessity can and do on the gamut of accessible resources, create FSCO/I. Sorry, a demonstrated source — design — is an obviously superior explanation to something that has no such base.

    FYI, there is no question-begging circle on what “must” be the source of knowledge, codes, intelligent messages etc, WE HAVE OBSERVATIONS, abundant and unexceptioned observations, that show that FSCO/I comes from design.

    So, you ate going up against an empirically abundantly justified induction. And your trick is to assert question-begging.

    The strawman tactic is evident.

    8: Pointing out that justification is impossible is not “going into such convolutions”. It’s a criticism of one’s form of epistemology and the impact it would have on their conclusions.

    Of course, warrant per observation, consistent pattern seen in such observations and reasonable inference to best explanation, is sufficient for all practical and responsible purposes. But to the hyperskeptic such as CR, such can be simply swept away by using dismissive words. When it is suitable.

    “Justification [--> more accurately, warrant] is impossible” of course cannot be consistently lived by. It refutes itself.

    Let me give a case of warrant to undeniably certain truth. Statement E: Error exists. This is obviously so per general observation and experience, but it is also an undeniably true claim. To try to deny E at once instantiates it, as either E or else its denial NOT-E must be false. So, even to deny E ends up supporting it.

    Similarly, it is a reliable induction that a dropped heavy object near earth falls more or less towards the centre thereof, with initial acceleration 9.8 N/kg. Likewise it can be warranted that reasonably pure water at sea level boils at about 100 degrees C, under standard atmosphere conditions. Similarly, there is a certain body of Pt alloy near Paris that is the standard of mass, the kilogram. One metre is the distance light travels in about 3 ns.

    (There is a more exact time, used in the current formal definition of the metre. It is also demonstrable that this definition is a successor to one in terms of a certain number of wavelengths of light, thence onwards the distance between two scratch-marks on a certain bar of Pt alloy, and thence onward per the original definition, a fraction of the distance from the Earth’s pole to the equator through Paris. That is an example of historical warrant that produces morally certain knowledge.)

    9: Where does your conception of human knowledge differ from the conception I outlined? Please be specific. Here’s your chance to show that my assessment is wrong, by pointing out how your view differs, in detail.

    Strawman, that pretends that there was no answer to the assertions, at length previously. The above list of cases that can be fairly easily fleshed out, should suffice to show, again, why CR’s claims are utterly wrong-headed.

    10: justification is impossible. Of course, being open to criticism, please feel free to point out how it’s possible, in practice . . . . How is it an error to point out your argument is parodical, in that it completely ignores other forms of epistemology? What sort of acknowledgment would “correct” or “amend” this? Should I deny they are well formed or that they exist as alternatives? What actually seems to be going on is that you cannot recognize your specific conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. Specifically, your response so far seem to be that “everyone knows we use induction”, as if you accept it uncritically and that it’s a taboo to even question it. Yet, you haven’t actually presented a “principle of induction” that works in practice.

    The strawman tactics continue, again and again. Onlookers who wish to see more of why this is completely a caricature, may wish to follow the original post and exchanges in this thread. (CR is trying to rebut the force of Q 1 of 18. He manifestly fails but is unwilling to acknowledge adequate and repeated correction.)

    KF

  335. UB: CR objects to the basic definition that knowledge is well warranted, credibly true belief. He sees such as a naive justificationism that especially on matters of experience leads to knowledge claims based on induction which in his view is never justified. This is a spin off Popper. He is apparently unable to accept that from Newton and Locke et al on, we have a clear understanding of scientific knowledge as provisional, and warranted on induction where by evidence provides reasonable and often substantial support but not ultimate and unquestionable proof. Hence some of my remarks just above. KF

  336. KF

    Thank you for your detailed response to CR. I have been glued to this thread, and others like it from the beginning, and saw it as a real shame that people like CR couldn’t just stick to the initail points raised in the OP.

    From what I can see you have done a marvelous job.

    Much appreciated.

  337. F/N For those puzzled by the debate over verification, falsification, corroboration and induction, this little introductory note on Popper’s challenges with corroboration should suffice to show that tested empirical support for a claim is still important and provides a degree of warrant for accepting (provisionally of course) those which have a good track record of testing and prediction. In short, inference to best current explanation backed up by empirical testing and support, is a serious view and induction is not dead. KF

  338. PJ: Appreciated. KF

  339. For example, one could scan and encode the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, transmit it to some other computer, then synthesize it unchanged based on the techniques developed by Craig Ventier’s group.

    Note that I said nothing about implanting the resulting genome in a cell.

    Umm Venter’s group implanted it in the cell. And the synthesized/ artificial DNA has nothing- no knowledge- everything it needs is in the cell.

  340. Upright BiPed,

    Your 282 is completely non-responsive to the questions I raised about the definitions an logic of your argument.

    Let’s not lose sight of your question. You asked about my use of the word arbitrary, remember?

    My argument states there is a ‘materially arbitrary relationship’ between a) an arrangement of matter and b) the effect it evokes within a system. Your question was what I meant by the word “arbitrary”. You asked if it simply means “separate” or something else as well.

    In the course of your comments,
    [snip]

    And you go off into another round of evasion without answering the simple and direct questions I asked.

    Once again, your attempt to distract from your refusal to clarify your argument is a transparent rhetorical ploy. You are continuing to demonstrate that you are so lacking in confidence in your own position that you will do anything to avoid making it clear.

    If your previous pattern of behavior is any indication, your next steps will be to continue to avoid putting your argument at any risk of being challenged, either by refusing to engage in good faith or by running away, and then to claim victory, collecting kudos from a half-dozen ID proponents, none of whom are able to defend your argument any better than you.

    If your desire for those accolades and your fear of being proven wrong are greater than the value you place on intellectual integrity, well, that’s your choice. If, on the other hand, you are at all interested in finding out if your views can stand up to a challenge, if you do value the truth at all, I’m still more than happy to try to understand your argument. Here are the current open issues again, summarized for your convenience:

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?
    - What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?
    - Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.
    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

  341. Mung,

    My definitions are immaterial and will not help me achieve the goal of understanding his.

    And that’s just a flat out lie.

    It’s a simple statement of fact. Upright BiPed is using words like “information”, “representation”, “arbitrary”, and “semiotic”, among others, idiosyncratically. My definitions of those words have no bearing on his argument. Using my definitions when his are clearly different makes no sense.

    You are correct that there is dishonesty in this discussion, but it’s on the part of people who are desperate to avoid making their logic understandable and those who support them.

    Let me know if you want to try again.

    I’m not the one who has stopped trying. If you think you can answer the questions I posed to Upright BiPed, please do so and we’ll see if your responses actually make his argument understandable and if he agrees with you.

  342. Upright BiPed,

    In the end (after 120+ days) the objector finally conceded that my usage had been valid all along.

    This is factually incorrect. What happened is that you were equivocating, using at least two meanings for the word “entailment”. Reciprocating Bill makes this very clear in this comment and throughout the enclosing thread, for anyone interested in reviewing the discussion for themselves.

  343. Umm Reciprocating Bill doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    BTW onlooker, Upright Biped’s argument is directly opened to challenges. And I have told you how to do so. That you refuse to even try tells us that you have nothing. And your questions prove that you are clueless. For example:

    - How exactly can information be measured?

    In bits but that is irrelevant, That you keep bringing it up exposes your deceptive tactics.

    – Does information, by your definition, have standard units?

    Yes, the bit but again that is irrelevant

    – Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    Yes and you are using it right now. Buy a dictionary.

    – What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?

    Look it up, what is wrong with you?

  344. Upright BiPed is using words like “information”, “representation”, “arbitrary”, and “semiotic”, among others, idiosyncratically.

    Prove it.

    My definitions of those words have no bearing on his argument.

    Yes it does. For one it will tell us why you don’t understand those words. For another it will tell us if you are worth the effort.

    If you think you can answer the questions I posed to Upright BiPed, please do so and we’ll see if your responses actually make his argument understandable and if he agrees with you.

    I have answered your questions and all you do is to repeat them. And that pretty much proves that you are willfully ignorant.

  345. 345
    critical rationalist

    UB,

    The problem is in your first premise.

    For example, you wrote

    I believe your perspective is made clear here. You are talking about making arbitrary choices with regard to a program you write on top of a symbol system. I am talking about the symbol system itself. The fact that the letter “A” can be represented by “1000001” is arbitrary – not inexorable law.

    The meaning of “arbitrary” is contextual in that it refers to “A” and “1000001”, which are abstractions. However, it’s unclear what you mean by “arbitrary” in the context of “representations” of “causes” found it [01].

    This is why I keep asking you for the consequences in leu of a specific definition.

    Nor was my criticism merely limited to this.

  346. Folks:

    It seems I need to again pose the 18 Q’s that objectors to design need to cogently answer on the principle that every tub must stand on its own bottom:

    _______________

    >> 1: Is argument by inference to best current explanation a form of the fallacy of question-begging (as was recently asserted by design objector “Toronto”)? If you think so, why?

    2: Is there such a thing as reasonable inductive generalisation that can identify reliable empirical signs of causal factors that may act on objects, systems, processes or phenomena etc., including (a) mechanical necessity leading to low contingency natural regularity, (b) chance contingency leading to stochastic distributions of outcomes and (c) choice contingency showing itself by certain commonly seen traces familiar from our routine experiences and observations of design? If not, why not?

    3: Is it reasonable per sampling theory, that we should expect a chance based sample that stands to the population as one straw to a cubical hay bale 1,000 light years thick – rather roughly about as thick as our galaxy – more or less centred on Earth, to pick up anything but straw (the bulk of the population)? If you think so, why (in light of sampling theory – notice, NOT precise probability calculations)? [Cf. the underlying needle in a haystack discussion here on.]

    4: Is it therefore reasonable to identify that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I, the relevant part of Complex Specified Information as identified by Orgel and Wicken et al. and as later quantified by Dembski et al) is – on a broad observational base – a reliable sign of design? Why or why not?

    5: Is it reasonable to compare this general analysis to the grounding of the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. that under relevant conditions, spontaneous large fluctuations from the typical range of the bulk of [microstate] possibilities will be vanishingly rare for reasonably sized systems? If you think not, why not?

    6: Is digital symbolic code found to be stored in the string-structure configuration of chained monomers in D/RNA molecules, and does such function in algorithmic ways in protein manufacture in the living cell? If, you think not, why not in light of the generally known scientific findings on transcription, translation and protein synthesis?

    7: Is it reasonable to describe such stored sequences of codons as “information” in the relevant sense? Why or why not?

    8: Is the metric, Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold and/or the comparable per aspect design inference filter as may be seen in flowcharts, a reasonable quantification or procedural application of the set of claims made by design thinkers? Or, any other related or similar metric, as has been posed by Durston et al, or Dembski, etc? Why, or why not – especially in light of modelling theory?

    9: Is it reasonable to infer on this case that the origin of cell based life required the production of digitally coded FSCI — dFSCI — in string data structures, together with associated molecular processing machinery [cf. the vid here], joined to gated encapsulation, metabolism and a von Neumann kinematic self replicator [vNSR]? Why or why not?

    10: Is it reasonable to infer that such a vNSR is an irreducibly complex entity and that it is required before there can be reproduction of the relevant encapsulated, gated, metabolising cell based life to allow for natural selection across competing sub populations in ecological niches? Why or why not? (And, if you think not, what is your empirical, observational basis for thinking that available physical/chemical forces and processes in a warm little pond or the modern equivalent, can get us, step by step, by empirically warranted stages, to the living cell?)

    11: Is it therefore a reasonable view to infer – on FSCO/I, dFSCI and irreducible complexity as well as the known cause of algorithms, codes, symbol systems and execution machinery properly organised to effect such – that the original cell based life is on inference to best current explanation [IBCE], credibly designed? Why, or why not?

    12: Further, as the increments of dFSCI to create dozens of major body plans is credibly 10 – 100+ mn bits each, dozens of times over across the past 600 MY or so, and much of it on the conventional timeline is in a 5 – 10 MY window on earth in the Cambrian era, is it reasonable to infer further on IBCE that major body plans show credible evidence of design? If not, why not, on what empirically, observationally warranted step by step grounds?

    13: Is it fair or not fair to suggest that on what we have already done with digital technology and what we have done with molecular nanotech applied to the cell, it is credible that a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter etc would be a reasonable sufficient cause for what we see? If not, why not? [In short, the issue is: is inference to intelligent design specifically an inference to “supernatural” design? In this context, what does “supernatural” mean? “Natural”? Why do you offer these definitions and why should we accept them?]

    14: Is or is it not reasonable to note that in contrast to the tendency to accuse design thinkers of being creationists in cheap tuxedos who want to inject “the supernatural” into science and so to produce a chaotic unpredictability:

    a: From Plato in The Laws Bk X on, the issue has been explanation by nature (= chance + necessity) vs ART or techne, i.e. purposeful and skilled intelligence acting by design,

    b: Historically, modern science was largely founded by people thinking in a theistic frame of thought and/or closely allied views, and who conceived of themselves as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts — his laws of governing nature — after him,

    c: Theologians point out that the orderliness of God and our moral accountability imply an orderly and predictable world as the overwhelming pattern of events,

    d: Where also, the openness to Divine action beyond the usual course of nature for good purposes, implies that miracles are signs and as such need to stand out against the backdrop of such an orderly cosmos? [If you think not, why not?]

    15: In light of all these and more, is the concept that we may legitimately, scientifically infer to design on inductively grounded signs such as FSCO/I a reasonable and scientific endeavour? Why or why not?

    16: In that same light, is it the case that such a design theory proposal has been disestablished by actual observations contrary to its pivotal inductions and inferences to best explanations? (Or, has the debate mostly pivoted on latter-day attempted redefinition of science and its methods though so-called methodological naturalism that a priori undercuts the credibility of “undesirable” explanatory models of the past?) Why do you come to your conclusion?

    17: Is it fair to hold – on grounds that inference to the best evolutionary materialism approved explanation of the past is not the same as inference to the best explanation of the past in light of all reasonably possible causal factors that could have been at work – that there is a problem of evolutionary materialist ideological dominance of relevant science, science education, and public policy institutions? Why or why not? . . . .

    18: In light of concerns raised since Plato in The Laws Bk X on and up to the significance of challenge posed by Anscombe and others, that a worldview must have a foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, how does evolutionary materialism – a descriptive term for the materialistic, blind- chance- and- necessity- driven- molecules- to- Mozart view of the world – cogently address morality in society and resolve the challenge that it opens the door to the rise of ruthless nihilistic factions whose view is in effect that as a consequence of living in a materialistic world, knowledge and values are inherently only subjective and/or relative so that might and manipulation make ‘right’? >>

    [Notice, the answers from a design perspective that I and others have had to offer have been linked immediately following, through the exposition at IOSE etc.]
    _______________

    I observe just above the continued irresponsible pretence that design thinkers are unable to address the definition and quantification of information that functions in linguistic/ semantic and/or algorithmic contexts. This is false, and has been shown false ever since the objector Patrick’s MathGrrl persona posed the question.

    The upshot of this is that we can measure information using the Shannon metric, modified to account for function and specificity [in various ways, I give one simple way, per observed linguistic or algorithmic function] and that we can on needle in haystack grounds establish a threshold beyond which it is maximally implausible that FSCO/I beyond that threshold has been achieved without intelligently directed organising work, IDOW, i.e. design.

    Namely:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

    In particular, let us note form the OP how UB speaks of information:

    in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information . . .

    This precisely fits a generalised Shannon info comms network model (I omit noise but it is pervasive, especially in the channel):

    Source –> Encoder > Modulator > Transmitter –> /channel/

    /channel/ –> Receiver > Demodulator > Decoder –> Sink

    For info to move from source to sink via a channel or by intermediate storage, there must be encoding and modulation, then transmission to the channel [or the storage medium] of some physical variable connected to the material objects that carry out the functions. Similarly, this requires certain protocols, which establish rules of symbolisation and communication across the channel.

    Once the receiver is in place and can detect the signal, we then can demodulate and decode, to produce a form amenable to the sink. For each level in eh process, there is a protocol, an arrangement of correspondence that allows for transforming the input and reversing the transformation to yield the output message.

    In simple AM for instance, a microphone transfers signals from air pressure variations to electrical analogues with a more or less linear transformation. This is then imposed as a modulation of the amplitude of an oscillator usually at much higher frequencies, often by simply varying power supply amplitude. This is then transferred to an antenna and coupled tot he air as radio waves. A receiving antenna then tunes to the carrier frequency and picks up the signal, which is then usually boosted and may be switched to intermediate frequencies by heterodyning, it being convenient to process at a fixed frequency, often 455 kHz. The IF signal is then demodulated, often by being fed into a low pass filter with a half wave rectifier, recovering the baseband audio electrical analogue signal. This is used to drive audio amplifiers and then a loudspeaker that recreates the original sound with more or less of fidelity.

    In the living cell, we have a digital comms system that uses sequences of nucleic acid bases and their configurations to store 4-state signals, similar to how dot patterns in braille encode the alphabet or prongs in a Yale type lock encode the sequence to open a lock.

    A complex process unwinds targetted DNA and transcribes to messenger RNA, which then is processed to remove non-coding segments and has a header and tail on it, and is then passed through a port in the nucleus to the endoplasmic reticulum that has the ribosomes. A ribosome captures the tape and begins coding from the head end with UGA, Methionine. In succession tRNA molecules add required AA’s to make a protein until the end codon is reached. The protein chain is released and may be chaperoned to fold into useful form.

    Here the information that determines protein sequence is stored in DNA, is transferred in mRNA and is translated using the separate coded loading of tRNA with the correct AA’s, using a configuration detection by loading enzymes. The AA’s are added to a standard CCA coupler end, so the bond does not physically determine which AA goes on which tRNA.

    Thus we see an irreducibly complex communication network used in protein synthesis, and it is immediately an instance of the general system Shannon discussed.

    We routinely and easily see that the basic info content of the three-base codon is 2 bits [4-states] * 3 = 6 bits [2^6 = 64 possible states as the codon table illustrates . . . ], but also that the generally observed pattern that real codes have some degree of difference in frequency of character states means that the code uses a bit less than that per codon. Also, we have several codon states that carry the same AA meaning and three stop codons.

    We see here the impression of information unto matter, using rules, and a structured functional system of communication, one that is central to the processes of cell based life. We also see that we do have a storage and transmission side and a receiver side to the process. There are definite rules of correspondence on the TX and Rx sides, and these allow information to have effect in a material entity, by impressing information unto matter using conventions, to FORM matter to convey message using a FORM-al system.

    None of this is particularly hard to find out, if one does not know it already.

    That for weeks and months there is a strident insistence on denying and dismissing such, is utterly revealing on the blinding power of evolutionary materialist ideology.

  347. F/N: Arbitrary is often used in science and technology to mean in effect conventional, not predetermined by mechanical necessity, i.e. to be determined on chance or by choice or by convention. So, for instance, there is nothing that determines that 455 kHZ and 11.7 MHz should be intermediate frequencies used in radio systems, but it is a convenient choice that has become an industry standard. Similarly the ASCII codes for the various glyphs used as alphanumeric characters in English text is arbitrary as say the existence of alternaticve schemes such as EBCDIC shows. Similarly we see conventional differences between English and American spellings of words and even choices of words for objects. In Jamaica it is a gully, here it is a Ghaut. In the US is it the hood, in the UK it is the bonnet of a car. In the UK, Japan and the Caribbean we drive on the left of the road, in the US, and a lot of other places — including Belize BTW, on the right. And so forth. The attempts to endlessly debate the common usage of “arbitrary” as UB has in sci-tech contexts, reflects willful ignorance or worse, as there are sci tech people even on the objector side who MUST be familiar with the usage.

  348. And of course there are dialects in the DNA code [e.g. Mitochondrial DNA], which immediately tells us that it is conventional and not a matter of necessity.

  349. 349
    critical rationalist

    @KF#337

    KF: F/N For those puzzled by the debate over verification, falsification, corroboration and induction, this little introductory note on Popper’s challenges with corroboration should suffice to show that tested empirical support for a claim is still important and provides a degree of warrant for accepting (provisionally of course) those which have a good track record of testing and prediction.

    See here and here.

    To summarize, Salman is a justificationist, yet he has not formulated a principle of induction that actually works, in practice. Popper presents a straight forward logical argument as to why justification is impossible, which Salman did not refute.

    The same of criticism addressed here in this very thread where Salman exhibits the second of three attitudes.

    IOW, these criticisms reflect confusion about Popper’s attitude. And they stem from the fact that, as justificationists, they simply cannot see it any other way. As such, they assume justification must be true.

    And there are plenty more misrepresentations of Popper. A few of which can be found here.

    Again, to reiterate…

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    Inductivism is suffers from the same fundamental flaw.

  350. Onlooker: What happened is that you were equivocating, using at least two meanings for the word “entailment”. Reciprocating Bill makes this very clear in this comment

    Thank you Onlooker. I probably couldn’t have found a better example of Definition Derby. After Reciprocating Bill/Diffaxial/Voice Coil was forced to concede both his points of contention, he was understandably looking to save some face. And THIS ridiculous position is the one that worked for him.

    What does he say?

    UB, your “entailments” cannot both be a “necessary result” of and “the required material conditions” for the transfer of recorded information.

    Really?

    There are “required material conditions” for the transfer of recorded information, which are sufficient to confirm that such a transfer took place. If such a transfer did in fact take place, then these material conditions will be found as a “necessary result” of that transfer.

    Like I said, it’s a pathetic manner in which to have to justify yourself – to insulate your beliefs from any evidence to the contrary.

  351. OK Kairosfocus, Toronto tried to answer you:

    kairosfocus: “>> 1: Is argument by inference to best current explanation a form of the fallacy of question-begging (as was recently asserted by design objector “Toronto”)? If you think so, why? “

    Why would you claim that I assert that “inference to best current explanation” is a “form of fallacy”?

    Most likely because of your posts.

    If you’re best suspect is the butler, you now have to prove it.

    No, you just have to find supporting evidence.

    It is not a “form of fallacy” to believe that the butler did it, but a good cop would then try to prove his case with evidence.

    The problem is that your position doesn’t have any supporting evidence.

    If you agree that proof is required before conviction, why is proof not required for ID?

    Science is not about “proof”. And your position cannot be proven.

    Why does an “inference to ID” not require evidence?

    Inferences are based on evidence, duh.

    If I’m wrong show me that the “butler of ID” had motive and means.

    Show us that Stonehenge builders had motive and means- you can’t. The best science can do is say there must have been a motive and means because there is Stonehenge.

    Now since I’ve answered a KF question, maybe he’ll have the courage to answer one of mine.

    How do you download the “semiotic codes” into the first cell?

    If we knew that then we wouldn’t need science. But prove me wrong by demonstrating how the “semiotic code” arose via blind and undirected processes.

  352. BiPed: In the end (after 120+ days) the objector finally conceded that my usage had been valid all along.

    Onlooker: This is factually incorrect.

    As for your insinuation that RB did not concede my point:

    BIPED on June 10:
    Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does its existence entail the existence of those specific conditions?

    Reciprocating Bill on June 11:
    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment” … I take your point.

  353. CR

    The meaning of “arbitrary” is contextual in that it refers to “A” and “1000001”, which are abstractions. However, it’s unclear what you mean by “arbitrary” in the context of “representations” of “causes” found it [01].

    Representations are not abstractions?

    I have stated on this thread:

    A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    … and

    The first object is a representation; an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system, where the arrangement is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes. The word “arbitrary” is used in the sense that there is no material or physical connection between the representational arrangement and the effect it evokes (i.e. the word “apple” written on a piece of paper evokes the recall of a particular fruit in an observer, but that recall has nothing whatsoever to do with wood pulp, ink dye, or solvent).

    … and

    Firstly, the representation (by necessity) is materially arbitrary to the effect it evokes within the system. This is evidenced by the simple fact that the matter the representation is instantiated in, is not the effect it represents to the system. Secondly, the physical protocol must establish the material relationship between the representation and its effect, but it must do so while preserving the arbitrary nature of the representation. In other words, neither the representation nor the protocol ever becomes the effect.”

    … and

    [regarding the word "arbitrary"] It’s not really the word I rely upon; it the material observation which has been made. Proteins aren’t constructed from nucleotides. There is no inherent physical property in the pattern of cytosine-thymine-adenine which maps to leucine. That mapping is context specific, not an inexorable law. This has been shown in the lab.

    … and even

    And if they are not the same thing, then the relationship between them is necessarily arbitrary from a physical perspective (regardless of how that relationship originated). If you do not like that word, you can use whatever word you like. I have seen such described as “immaterial”, or “non-material”, or “physico-dynamically inert”, etc, etc. You can also use the word Dr Liddle suggested – “materially dissociated”.

    It matters not, to me.

    What more do you need?

  354. Joe:

    Toronto seems to forget that he featured as a poster child of irresponsible commentary for his comment at TSZ here (if it is still there):

    Kairosfocus [Cf. original Post, here]: “You are refusing to address the foundational issue of how we can reasonably infer about the past we cannot observe, by working back from what causes the sort of signs that we can observe. “

    [Toronto:] Here’s KF with his own version of “A concludes B” THEREFORE “B concludes A”.

    That is a clear accusation that inference to best current explanation on empirical evidence is circular reasoning.

    I don’t have a lot of time just now, I will clip my comments in rebuttal in the OP already linked:

    Let’s take it from the top, bearing in mind the parallel case we already looked at:

    1 –> In science (and in other fields of significance) we are often interested in getting an accurate understanding of what may have happened in the unobserved or unobservable past, or in places and objects that we cannot directly inspect.

    2 –> In such cases, we are led by the logic of inference to best explanation. The Information Philosopher cites Gilbert Harman:

    The inference to the best explanation” corresponds approximately to what others have called “abduction,” the method of hypothesis,” “hypothetic inference,” “the method of elimination,” “eliminative induction,” and “theoretical inference.”

    I prefer my own terminology because I believe that it avoids most of the misleading suggestions of the alternative terminologies.

    In making this inference one infers, from the fact that a certain hypothesis would explain the evidence, to the truth of that hypothesis. In general, there will be several hypotheses which might explain the evidence, so one must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a “better” explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true.

    3 –> In short, we consider the alternatives that are possible and try to eliminate down to the remaining one. Of course, in science we cannot eliminate all possible hypotheses, so we infer provisionally [--> Notice this quiet correction] on a best current explanation basis.

    4 –> Where, we accept that if a pattern of plausible initial and intervening conditions and known laws and statistical patterns could reasonably produce an effect this is reasonably the best explanation. Such as the way we explain the HR diagram of the stellar clusters with their branches from the main sequence heading to the giants bands above. [--> Cf the linked]

    5 –> Likewise, when we see the characteristic sign of a deer track, we normally infer to deer as best explanation.

    6 –> Now, there is indeed a point where fallacious circularity could enter the picture.

    7 –> Ironically, it is a problem that design theorists and others have repeatedly pointed out to a priori materialists of the Lewontinian stripe: if there is a known possible causal factor that could explain an effect more readily than one’s preferred materialist scheme, then it is improper to play gerrymandering games with the rules and methods of science to lock it out of consideration.

    8 –> In the case of design theory, we do have a vast empirical base that shows that routinely functionally specific and complex organisation and information are produced by designers, using processes of intelligently and purposefully directed configuration and contingency.

    9 –> Not only so, but such is the ONLY observed cause of such FSCO/I. In short there is good reason to infer that this is an empirically reliable sign of design. Thence, to infer from it that things which show this feature may be best explained as designed.

    10 –> What does Toronto do to lock this out? He tries to twist about the question-begging, by ignoring the nature of empirically anchored, provisional inference to best current explanation, and caricaturing the argument then falsely accusing those who properly use such an abductive process of fallacious question-begging.

    _____________

    That’s rich.

    And so, Toronto joins our list of poster children for the errors of a priori evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers.

    It seems Toronto is trying to back away from this blunder, by pretending it did not exist.

    Telling.

    KF

  355. Upright BiPed,

    BiPed: In the end (after 120+ days) the objector finally conceded that my usage had been valid all along.

    Onlooker: This is factually incorrect.

    As for your insinuation that RB did not concede my point:

    BIPED on June 10:
    Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does its existence entail the existence of those specific conditions?

    Reciprocating Bill on June 11:
    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment” … I take
    your point.

    I notice that you are careful not to link to the actual exchange, making it that much more difficult for any readers to view it in context and draw their own conclusions.

    Reciprocating Bill addressed your equivocation himself shortly after you made it.

    Flint also called you on it:

    I looked at the context, and what Bill said was basically, “that would be a valid use IF AND ONLY IF you could demonstrate that your causes are both necessary and sufficient — that is, that no other set of causes can produce your entailments”. And you simply ignored that requirement, you continue to act as though Bill didn’t say it, you purposely omit it when quote-mining him, and you simply continue to pretend he conceded something he did not concede.

    This is dishonest. Do you think nobody notices?

    So, do you think nobody notices?

  356. Joe

    Second pause.

    The entire context of my discussion has been inference to best explanation as an inductive inference on empirically reliable sign. Where the empirical investigation of possible causes, within our observation, is able to identify characteristic results of known causes, and so we may identify signs. This has been cogently discussed over and over again, just irresponsibly brushed aside.

    As for how the original information and functional organisation were placed into the first living cells, the best answer is that there is more than one way to skin a cat-fish. We have a sign of intelligent cause as opposed to chance contingency, but that leaves open specific mechanism.

    It suffices that we already see some possible methods on what Venter et al are doing. That is taken up in onward questions in the list.

    In short, a credibly sufficient cause would be a sufficiently advanced molecular nanotech lab. Indeed we will probably have such labs within the next several generations. (My interest, though is at a higher scale, a self-replicating industrial system suitable for transforming 3rd world communities and for space colonisation. (As in solar system.)

    NASA has already done studies towards such.

    A bit grandiose and expensive, but the Rep Rap and kin are already pointing to some possibilities on a more useful scale.

    KF

  357. Onlooker,

    So when Bill finally conceded my point, he also positioned his concession as non-consequencial. How surprising, right?

    He added:

    Not a very useful entailment, however, as you must already know that a phenomenon has both necessary and sufficient conditions, and what they are, before reaching your conclusion that those conditions obtained.

    And you think that by leaving this out of the concession, I have left out tremendous context, right?

    But it is you who has left out the context. Bill argued for two months (over my repeated objections) that he needn’t even address the content of the argument because of a perceived logical flaw which he eventually forced to conceded away.

    Then upon concession, he pleads ‘its subject to evidence’.

    Well, no duh. That is exactly the way it was presented both before and after his concession. The argument is subject to evidence – which is exactly what he was unwilling to address.

    How about THAT context Skippy? Do you think no one noticed?

    Reciprocating Bill: April 18th My remark above underscores a fatal logical non-sequitur in your reasoning and doesn’t turn on “counter examples.”

    Reciprocating Bill: May 8th I assert (not suggest) that you do not understand entailment, and due to your failure to grasp entailment you have constructed an argument beset with a fatal logical flaw … As for evidence for my position: recall that my position is that your argument is fatally logically flawed.

    BiPed: May 14th I challenged him [Bill] long ago to provide rationale that demonstrated the physical consequences of recorded information could not confirm a semiotic state, and he provided nothing. And if it is possible that they confirm semiosis, then the statement could be true or false; making the matter subject to evidence.

    …and after his concession:

    BiPed: July 17 Those relationships render the argument subject to evidence, which is exactly the way it was presented and argued for. You have steadfastly presented it as “fatally flawed”, yet once again, you were eventually forced to reject your own argument. (“Of course if the necessary and sufficient conditions of a phenomenon are present, then [the] phenomenon is present”).

    The only plausible reason to repeat an argument after you’ve rejected it, is because the alternative (i.e. dealing with the evidence) is even less satisfying, and acknowledging the validity of the argument is out of the question.

    You can keep bringing it Onlooker. But, you will lose every time.

  358. And since it’s subject to the material evidence, why don’t you take a shot at it Onlooker?

    Which of the material observations is false?

  359. KF, thank you for your post at 334.

  360. I’m paying 10 to 1 that Onlooker returns with more justification/obfuscation instead of demonstrating a falsity in the material observations.

    Who’s in?

    :)

  361. UB I see a couple of typos, 505 coins and 100 – 1,000 kbits in the basic genome. KF

  362. Something is wrong today, 504 coins.

  363. CR:

    I see: Salman is a justificationist, yet he has not formulated a principle of induction that actually works, in practice.

    In fact, no basis of warrant, including mathematics post Godel, delivers absolute certainty. What we live with is defeat-able reason and reason-able faith inextricably intertwined in the roots of all worldviews.

    As to induction, from Newton and Locke forward, we see a pattern of reasonable and provisional warrant not claims of absolute certainty. Where, however, some conclusions are strong enough to be morally certain.

    KF

  364. F/N: It is illuminating to compare the issue actually raised — the implications of the challenge of corroboration in a world where any number of hyps may not have been falsified — to the tangential issue CR chose to highlight.

    On the tangent, I simply suggest there is abundant evidence that we live in a world that is full of reliable patterns, so inductive reasoning albeit provisional, is a good strategy of reasoning. Avi Sion has aptly summed up:

    We might . . . ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms.

    Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world.

    The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.
    Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

    The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

    It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases [[of inferred generalisations; try: "we can make mistakes in inductive generalisation . . . "] that have not been found worthy of particularization to date . . . .

    If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .[[Logical and Spiritual Reflections, BK I Hume's Problems with Induction, Ch 2 The principle of induction.]

    So, induction is not the species of utter irrationality that has been suggested. There is even a principle of provisional reasonable warrant.

    The previously linked is interesting on the corroboration challenge:

    Inductive: Truth of premises supports (but does not guarantee) truth of conclusion. (The relation of support is called confirmation.) . . . .

    Science appears to need inductive inferences. Theories go beyond the observed evidence; they do not follow from the observed evidence by any deductive rule . . . .

    Popper’s solution: deductivism. There is no justification for scientific theories. There is only falsification, and deductive logic is good enough for that . . . .

    Salmon agrees: philosophers have not solved the problem of induction. But he rejects deductivism. Basic problem: too many unfalsified hypotheses to choose from!

    Deductivism rules out falsified hypotheses, but gives us no reason to prefer a corroborated hypothesis over a completely untested hypothesis.

    Crucial thesis (p. 436): There is (or ought to be) a rational basis for preferring one unrefuted generalization to another for use in a predictive argument . . . .

    Third Popperian response (p. 442): The best-corroborated theory is accepted because we have “nothing nearer to the truth”. Now reliance on corroborated hypotheses rests on assumption that they are ‘likely’ to track genuine regularities. But that looks like accepting induction!

    6. Final remarks.

    a) Salmon suggests that induction is needed even for rational prediction (and hypothesis-preference) in a theoretical setting.

    b) If Salmon is right – both that rational prediction needs induction, and that no justification for induction yet offered succeeds – should we embrace inductive scepticism, the view that rational prediction is not possible?

    Now, the reasonable man’s answer is the obvious one. We live in a world where the sun reliably rises on mornings, and where even chance processes follow lawful patterns. So, it is reasonable to expect to be able to read such patterns from the course of general experience, at least sufficiently to make generally reliable predictions that can guide decision-making. These are error prone but in many cases have high reliability and indeed no prospect of being overturned.

    So, we have every reason to cautiously trust well tested patterns to be reliable, especially in regions of performance that are well tested. The best present explanation is a reasonable model for the future, and a lot better than no model. If a new one comes along that is sufficiently superior, a switch can always be made.

    And given the value of truthfulness, it is worth insisting that scientific models should be potentially truth-bearing. That way, at a minimum they cannot be known false, or known impossible. (A model that works can be even defiantly or ludicrously false as long as it is reliable, the models used in many systems of electronic circuit design being a capital case in point. My favourite being “transistor man” who watches the input current and adjusts the output circuit to follow a rule, e.g. Ic = beta*Ib. Talk about Angels pushing!)

    The founding scientists could with equanimity accept that hey were finite, fallible and often mistaken, but had a confidence in the intelligibility of nature reflected in one of their favourite terms: laws of nature.

    This reflected their confidence in the Architect and Builder of the cosmos whose thoughts they sought to think after him.

    (And BTW, that there is a usual course of nature under such an Architect, is equally untroubled by the thought that for good reason that Architect may occasionally act beyond the usual course of the world. The over-wrought panic of today’s materialists at the imagined chaos that a world in which miracles could happen, is inadvertently revealing of a deep epistemic insecurity. That insecurity is also reflected in many of the over-wrought concerns we can see concerning inductive reasoning.)

    I find that behind much of the huffing and puffing today, is a loss of confidence consequential on the rise of inherently irrational and self-refuting evolutionary materialism.

    KF

  365. Upright Biped defeated by bald assertion:

    For example, he includes in his list of phenomena demonstrating the “the transfer of recorded information” and hence “a semiotic state” items such as pheromones, sensory input, animal signaling, etc. for which we already have strong justification for asserting evolutionary origins by Darwinian means.- reciprocating bill

    Of course by “strong” he means he is really convinced it was via darwinian means. Really, really convinced and you would be too if you didn’t require steenkin’ evidence.

  366. Reciprocating Bill adds:

    So we ask UB: What happens to semiotic theory, and the unspoken (but lurking) implications thereof, when it is shown that a number of phenomena that he asserts demonstrate the “entailments” of the TRI, and hence a semiotic state, in fact arose by natural, unguided means?

    Start demonstrating- if you could have you would have. So what are you waiting for?

    I have my pencil, notepad and magnifying glass ready- anytime you are ready…

  367. onlooker:

    My first question is for clarification of this definition. How exactly can information be measured? Does it have standard units? Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432406

    Answered:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432420

    Asked again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432731

    Answered again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432740

    Asked yet again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432765

    And again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432927

    Answered yet again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432931

    Yeah, we see what you’re all about.

    Cut paste repeat.

    Your claim to want to move the debate forward has been exposed as a lie. You have no such interest.

    If you did, you would reflect upon what is involved in the transfer of the thoughts in your head into a form that can be transmitted over the internet just to appear on some web site where others can read it and respond.

    I bet you’d find that once you started banging on your keyboard BITS and BYTES and ASCII start to rear their ugly heads and that key on your keyboard with an I on it somehow when you pushed it ended up producing an effect of a character appearing on your computer screen that looked oddly similar.

    Now pull that key off your keyboard and swap it for another key and then press it again. Now what appears on your screen?

  368. Mung, You seem to be leaving off my own contribution that elaborated just what is going on with not only bits but the wider info comms system. O/L is in the position of the monkey who so unwisely climbed higher and higher and higher, to crow its triumphs. Splang, zoot, thunk [arrow hits home], THUD [poor monkey falls], arrow-pierced monkey-meat for lunch (at least that’s my reading of a common Caribbean proverb: de higher monkey climb, de more ‘im expose ‘imself . . . as in, lunch). O/L has for some time been simply about recycling already adequately answered objections to be disruptive here and to allow those elsewhere to continue to drum out the intoxicating claims of fallacious and poisonous talking points without having to look at whether they are well grounded in light of evidence. Drumming it out and chanting hypnotically do not turn fallacy into soundness. As in, info has standard units, and FSCO/I can be measured in ways that build on such. Bits that do a particular job in a particular context are after all quite familiar. And it is a fact, on much experience and one backed up by analysis, that blind chance and necessity cannot credibly account for FSCO/I, but IDOW* — design — does routinely in our observation. And so forth. KF

    *PS: Intelligently directed organising work, such as O/L carries out when he punches keys on computer keyboards in correct sequence to compose and post messages of objection here at UD.

  369. Now Toronto is still asking for a mechanism, which is strange because I have already provided that. And it is clear, via scientific testing, that their mechanism is NOT up to the task of creating semiotic states. Natural selection doesn’t do anything- we know that from many years of observation and testing.

    And get this, if we don’t know how the designer loaded the first cells with the software required then we don’t have anything. Yet archaeologists can determine something is an artifact BEFORE knowing the mechanism used to make it. Toronto does not understand science.

    So Toronto, ID has a mechanism that has been tested and PROVEN to be able to construct semiotic systems. YOUR position’s mechanisms have also been tested and found wanting.

    Those are the facts. You can continue to ignore them because you love your ignorance but just remember ignorance is not a refutation.

  370. Upright BiPed,

    So when Bill finally conceded my point, he also positioned his concession as non-consequencial. How surprising, right?

    Your use of the word “conceded” is disingenuous. What actually happened was that you used the word “entailments” incorrectly, were called on it by Reciprocating Bill, and later used it correctly. Reciprocating Bill acknowledged that correct usage. You are mistaking a pat on the head for some kind of victory.

    Reciprocating Bill has addressed your distortions further at TSZ. Anyone still interested can get the facts for themselves there. I’m done discussing it in this thread since you are using it as yet another distraction from your failure to clarify your semiotic argument.

  371. Upright BiPed,

    And since it’s subject to the material evidence, why don’t you take a shot at it Onlooker?

    Which of the material observations is false?

    I’ll be happy to address the issue of any material observations once we’ve gotten to that point in your argument. At the moment, as I’m sure you’ll recall, we’re stuck on your paragraph 3 until you man up and address the open issues. They are:

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?
    - What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?
    - Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.
    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

    I look forward to making some progress in understanding your argument. Unfortunately, based on your previous patterns of behavior I predict that you will continue to refuse to answer directly, throw up numerous transparent distractions, and ultimately run away from the discussion while claiming victory. Please prove me wrong.

  372. Mung,

    Upright BiPed’s definition of information is this:

    D2. Information: a) the form of a thing
    b) a measured aspect
    c) a measured quality
    d) a measured preference

    He has yet to explain why he uses the word “measured” if measurement is not important. He has also yet to clarify this definition, which is both imprecise and not apparently related to more widely used definitions of the word.

    If you’d like to take a shot at making it more clear, and Upright BiPed agrees with your formulation, that would be most helpful.

  373. Here is my specific usage of the word “entailment” to which Bill objected for two months (before conceded its proper use). You would like to claim it is incorrect? Please point out the incorrect use:

    So here we have a series of observations regarding the physicality of recorded information which repeat themselves throughout every form – no matter whether that information is bound to humans, or human intelligence, or other living things, or non-living machines. There is a list of physical entailments of recorded information that can therefore be generalized and compiled without regard to the source of the information. In other words, the list is only about the physical entailments of the information, not its source. I am using the word “entailment” in the standard sense – to impose as a necessary result (Merriam-Webster). These physical entailments are a necessary result of the existence of recorded information transfer. And they are observable.

  374. Folks:

    I see O/L is playing the EL, MG etc trick — pretending that that which has been cogently answered any number of times is unanswered and presumably unanswerable. bet your bottom dollar that that is how it will be played in the fever swamps for years to come.

    Just scroll up folks, to see how many times he has been answered on what info is and how it can be measured in the relevant senses, but refuses to respond responsibly.

    And when he takes up something new it is only to project another hyperskeptical challenge this time to cast doubts on what it means to measure.

    Measurements are used to assign values on scales, O/L et al — ratio scales, interval scales, ordinal scales and nominal ones, per comparison with standard values for such scales.

    It turns out that digital entities use nominal scales based on thresholds, with the bit being 1/0, T/F. N/S On/Off, Hi/Lo etc. We usually do a contrast with analogue or continuous scales — between any two values there is a valid state.

    The 4-state genome code is G/C/A/T (or for RNA, U).

    My favourite contrast is the ladder vs the rope. Between rungs there is no valid state, but you can hang on to a rope at any point. That is how I used to teach my intro Digital Electronics classes.

    I will bet that this will not be good enough.

    NOTHING will ever be good enough because this is not the root problem. This is the distraction form the a priori, self-refuting materialism that is driving the agenda, and which is also — as Plato warned 2350 years ago — feeding the ruthless amoral materialist factionism we see coming from the fever swamps. (And, it is highly likely that O/L is a sock-puppet for one of these. Joe and I have some suspicions.)

    That, on my considered opinion, is a clear mark of someone here only to derail focus, polarise and deflect attention, not to seriously dialogue.

    But such and their misbehaviour can be exposed for reasonable people to see through what is going on.

    KF

  375. Joe:

    The mechanism of design is IDOW: intelligently directed organising work, that imparts the functionally specific or otherwise desired configuration.

    We see it going on all around us, so it is only the willfully blind who will not acknowledge its reality.

    And when it comes to the applicability of IDOW to cell-scale technologies, just note what Venter et al have already done.

    “There is none so blind as he who WILL not see!”

    “If the light in you is darkness, how great is your darkness!”

    KF

  376. kairosfocus: “The mechanism of design is IDOW: intelligently directed organising work, that imparts the functionally specific or otherwise desired configuration. “

    toronto:
    What KF has provided is nothing more than an acronym, not a mechanism.

    Buy a dictionary toronto, design is a mechanism- that is according to the standard and accepted definitions of the words “mechanism” and “design”.

    And AGAIN toronto, reality says that we don’t have to know how BEFORE determining design. Your position can’t say how beyond vague claims of accumulating mutations.

    And finally (again) your position’s mechanisms have been analyzed and cannot do what is required.

  377. KF: I see O/L is playing the EL, MG etc trick — pretending that that which has been cogently answered any number of times is unanswered and presumably unanswerable. bet your bottom dollar that that is how it will be played in the fever swamps for years to come.

    I have reached a stage, sadly, where I am no longer able to read posts by CR and O/L as they have not moved the discussion any further forward, like I hoped they would.

    There has been very little of any real value from either of them, and I don’t think we can expect anything of any real substance possibly forthcoming.

    To say I’m dissapointed would be putting it mildly.

    I had hoped for much better.

  378. Peter,

    That is how I felt in discussion with Mike Elzinga. If he would have just set aside his ideological war long enough to address the material issues.

    Not going to happen.

  379. Joe:

    Has Toronto ever designed something?

    Built to a design?

    Debugged and got it to work?

    Has he paid attention tot he progress of genetic modification/engineering technologies with Venter and co as illustrative of one way to do it?

    Or, is he just whining.

    Let’s see, IDOW:

    INTELLIGENTLY — as in intelligence that we know all about.

    DIRECTED: — according to purpose, plan and co-ordination to a goal

    ORGANISING — as in hooking up in accordance with the wiring diagram

    WORK — as in what happens when a force moves its point of application along its line of action, here being in accordance with a plan and wiring diagram.

    Sure sounds like a method/mechanism to me. Do I need to call names like TRIZ again?

    KF

  380. And repeated yet again:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-433018

    Like a broken record.

    Don’t want to enter into a discussion? Just repeat your demands again.

    Well, two can play that game. But rather than go the copy and paste route I’ll just post a link.

    Let us know when you have answered these questions Onlooker.

    A Test of Sincerity

    So far, you’ve failed the test.

  381. onlooker:

    If you’d like to take a shot at making it more clear, and Upright BiPed agrees with your formulation, that would be most helpful.

    Upright BiPed:

    A measured content of information is of no consequence here, only the material conditions of the transfer.

    Sorry onlooker, I don’t believe I can make it any more clear than that.

    And your response has been simply to tell Upright BiPed that he’s wrong because it’s of consequence to you and you’re the one asking the question.

    Red Herring

  382. toronto chokes:

    Design is not a mechanism any more than the term art defines a mechanism.

    But a dicttionary toronto, your ignorance is not a refutation.

    Design is to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.

    A plan is a process, technique, or system for achieving a result.

    Therefor design is a mechanism.

    It is a very simple and basic thing to understand.

    As a matter of fact the only people who don’t think that design is a mechansim are uneducated people.

  383. oops:

    A mechanism is a a process, technique, or system for achieving a result-

    Design is to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.

    A plan is a process, technique, or system for achieving a result.

    Therefor design is a mechanism.

    It is a very simple and basic thing to understand.

    As a matter of fact the only people who don’t think that design is a mechansim are uneducated people.

    All of that is in the dictionaries toronto…

  384. How the Game is Played.

    Read an OP.

    Pretend to not understand the terms.

    Ask for definitions of the terms.

    Ask for clarifications of the definitions.

    Dispute at every turn.

    Assert you’re just seeking clarity.

    Amend the terms and ask if the amended term is what the author really meant to say all along.

    When asked to supply your own definitions of the terms, claim your own definitions and understanding of the terms are irrelevant.

    Why is it so important to avoid stating your own understanding of the terms?

    1. People would be able to see that your understanding is no different than the way the term is being used, exposing the real intent of your pretended lack of understanding.

    2. The author of the OP would be able to amend your terms to bring clarity (which is the last thing you really want).

    3. You know you’re just playing a game, and don’t want the game to be turned against you.

    There’s no one watching this thread that doesn’t see exactly what is going on.

    Perhaps onlooker is a sock puppet. But he also may jst be the most recent graduate from The School of Intellectual Dishonesty.

  385. And another round of ignorance:

    Yes, with a “specification” of the “functionality” required *before* I started designing, unlike ID, which assigns “specific functionality” after the “design” is in operation.

    We do it just as archaeologists and forensics do it. Ya see toronto, we could not have known the specs beforehand because we were NOT the designer. WE can only look at the design and attempt to deduce the spec.

    And obvioulsy your position has nothing because you are reduced to spewing your ignorance- well that is all you do anyway…

  386. 386
    critical rationalist

    UB: Which of the material observations is false?

    Which assumes it’s possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework. This is yet another false assumption of inductivism…

    From a comment contrasting Critical Rationalism and Inductivism on another thread..

    Inductivism

    - We start out with observations
    - We then use those observations to devise a theory
    - We then test those observations with additional observations to confirm the theory or make it more probable

    However, theories do not follow from evidence. At all. Scientific theories explain the seen using the seen. And the unseen doesn’t “resemble” the seen any more than falling apples and orbiting planets resemble the curvature of space-time.

    Are dinosaurs merely an interpretation of our best explanation of fossils? Or are they *the* explanation for fossils? After all, there are an infinite number of rival interpretations that accept the same empirical observations, yet suggest that dinosaurs never existed millions of years ago.

    For example, there is the rival interpretation that fossils only come into existence when they are consciously observed. Therefore, fossils are no older than human beings. As such, they are not evidence of dinosaurs, but evidence of acts of those particular observations.

    Another interpretation would be that dinosaurs are such weird animals that conventional logic simply doesn’t apply to them.

    One could suggests It’s meaningless to ask if dinosaurs were real or just a useful fiction to explain fossils – which is an example of instrumentalism.

    Not to mention the rival interpretation that an abstract designer with no limitations chose to create the world we observe 30 days ago. Therefore, dinosaurs couldn’t be the explanation for fossils because they didn’t exist at the time.

    Yet, we do not say that dinosaurs are merely an interpretation of our best explanation of fossils, they *are* the explanation for fossils. And this explanation is primarily about dinosaurs, not fossils. So, it’s in this sense that science isn’t primarily about “things you can see”.

    (I’d also note that the above “rival interpretations” represent general-purpose ways of denying anything, but I’ll save that for another comment.)

    This is why I keep pointing out the flaws in Inductivism.

    Justificationism is simply impossible. But, by all means, feel free to present a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice. All I’ve seen so far is claims that “everyone knows induction works” or “everyone uses it, so it must be true”, along with common misconceptions, which doesn’t refute Popper’s criticism.

    Show me how you can justify whatever it is you use to justify something, etc.

    Furthermore, it’s apparent that many here are not actually familiar with Popper’s criticism or hold significant misconceptions. For example, KF wrote…

    CR objects to the basic definition that knowledge is well warranted, credibly true belief. He sees such as a naive justificationism that especially on matters of experience leads to knowledge claims based on induction which in his view is never justified. This is a spin off Popper. He is apparently unable to accept that from Newton and Locke et al on, we have a clear understanding of scientific knowledge as provisional, and warranted on induction where by evidence provides reasonable and often substantial support but not ultimate and unquestionable proof. Hence some of my remarks just above. KF

    Yet this is clearly at odd with Popper’s Critical Rationalism. Nor does “we have a clear understanding of scientific knowledge as provisional, and warranted on induction” refute Popper’s criticism.

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    Which brings me back to my original criticism. The argument is parochial in that it ignores other forms of epistemology and assumes all theories should be reductive in nature. You might not “like” or “believe” in the alternatives, but that is irrelevant to my criticism.

    Again, it’s as if you simply cannot recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. Rather, you uncritically assume it is true.

  387. UB: Which of the material observations is false?

    CR: Which assumes it’s possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework.

    So place the observations into the explanatory framework of your choice and answer the question.

  388. F/N: before I head off, let me remind all of the clip from Newton in Opticks Query 31 (1704), where the inductive approach to scientific method was laid out long before this exchange and which has been sitting in the IOSE appendix on methods all along. I think I have even clipped it before:

    _____________

    >> As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [speculative] Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [[Emphases added.] >>
    _____________

    The strawmannisation of inductive thought in science, should be plain to anyone looking on with an open mind.

    Plainly, Newton held that inductive methods yielded potentially true conclusions but not conclusions demonstrated beyond correction. And Locke, writing at roughly the same time, was quite similar, making the comment that we have no excuse to protest that we have not bright sunlight, if we have candle light, echoing BTW, Prov 20:27.

    This, too I have cited.

    And I have noted how ever since Godel, even deductive systems are left less than beyond all doubt. Also, that in science we not only have theory refinement but theory replacement. When it comes to Popper the critical issue remains the need to account for why stick with corroborated theories, which is in my opinion tantamount to the same basic concept of inference to best current empirically tested and reasonably reliable explanation.

    So — sadly — there is no responsiveness on CR’s part, to the evidence and actual argument put forward ever since Newton et al, only the putting up and knocking over of a strawman caricature.

    And also, it looks like all of this grand exercise on methods and the credibility of inductive reasoning — yes that is what is being challenged — is a distraction. For in the end we are back at best current provisional and empirically reliable explanation.

    Bottomline, there is by implication of evasion no real solid objection on the merits to informed design inference based thinking so the objections have majored on distractions and abstruse speculations on whether or not inductive reasoning is reasonable.

    KF

  389. So petrushka and toronto prove that they do not understand the English language nor science, and Allan Miller chimes in with his special pleading- “The OoL and the first living organisms didn’t need no steenking proteins to make proteins- the RNA world, blah, blah, blibbidy-blibbidy,blah”

    Well Allan blind and undirected chemical processes have yet to be demonstrated to provide a RNA world AND the RNA world has never been demonstrated to give rise to something else- oh and the RNA world hasn’t even been demonstrated to exist.

    So if imagination were evidence, you would have a point…

  390. Haven’t heard of Nats and Hartleys in a LOONG time!

  391. From the OP:

    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system

    I see the letter ‘A’ appear on my computer screen.

    That’s the effect. Letter ‘A’ appears on screen. Some arrangement of matter presumably brought about that effect. The arrangement of matter which brought about that effect we call a representation.

    Good so far?

    Could some other arrangement of matter within the system have brought about that same effect?

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    I press the key on my keyboard that is displaying the ‘A’ symbol. An ‘a’ appears on my computer screen. That constitutes a transfer of information.

    It is not logically possible that the representation which evoked the effect of the ‘a’ on my screen as a result of the pressing of the ‘A’ key on my keyboard is immaterial.

    I honestly don’t see the difficulty people claim to have with this argument. Are they of a mind that immaterial entities can bring about physical effects in a material system without bringing about an arrangement of matter?

    onlooker:

    But how exactly can information be measured?

    Relevance, please. Are you claiming that if we cannot measure the amount of information transmitted that we cannot know that any information was transmitted at all?

    You assert that if you press the letter ‘A’ on your keyboard and the letter ‘a’ appears on your screen that this either does not involve a transfer of information or that you cannot be sure that it does?

    onlooker:

    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?

    Relevance, please. Where did Upright BiPed define “information”?

    onlooker:

    Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    I guess that answers my previous question.

    Do you have any reason whatsoever to believe that Upright BiPed means, by his use of the term information, anything other than what is commonly understood by the term and available from any standard dictionary?

  392. Red Herring

    Also Known as: Smoke Screen, Wild Goose Chase.

    Description of Red Herring

    A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    Topic A is under discussion.
    Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
    Topic A is abandoned.

    This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

    The Red Herring

    Yes indeed, what do we do with the red herring?

    Topic B is introduced (How exactly can information be measured?) under the guise of being relevant to topic A (I need to understand everything that can possibly be known about information in order to grasp your argument) when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A.

    That’s right. Irrelevant.

    Topic A in this case is whether information can be transmitted in a material system (a material universe) without a material representation (without using a representation instantiated in matter).

    Information was transmitted for thousands of years before Claude Shannon ever came along and defined a measure.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1400096235

  393. Question for Upright and others, why is none of this or any other research guided by ID principles, presented at mainstream science conferences?

  394. CR:

    I need to add to Mung, this, on the strawman fallacy (which, strictly speaking is a species of red herring — a willfully introduced and sustained distractive irrelevancy . . . ), from the IEP fallacy page:

    Your reasoning contains the straw man fallacy whenever you attribute an easily refuted position to your opponent, one that the opponent wouldn’t endorse, and then proceed to attack the easily refuted position (the straw man) believing you have undermined the opponent’s actual position. If the misrepresentation is on purpose, then the straw man fallacy is caused by lying.

    Example (a debate before the city council):

    Opponent: Because of the killing and suffering of Indians that followed Columbus’s discovery of America, the City of Berkeley should declare that Columbus Day will no longer be observed in our city.

    Speaker: This is ridiculous, fellow members of the city council. It’s not true that everybody who ever came to America from another country somehow oppressed the Indians. I say we should continue to observe Columbus Day, and vote down this resolution that will make the City of Berkeley the laughing stock of the nation.

    The speaker has twisted what his opponent said; the opponent never said, nor even indirectly suggested, that everybody who ever came to America from another country somehow oppressed the Indians. The critical thinker will respond to the fallacy by saying, “Let’s get back to the original issue of whether we have a good reason to discontinue observing Columbus Day.”

    On points:

    1 –> Now, CR, you have had ample opportunity to know that the issue of the relevance of induction to the design theory question is being considered in a context where Toronto suggested that inductive reasoning by inference to best current explanation is question-begging or arguing in a circle.

    2 –> You further know or should know that it was pointed out to him that first, inductive arguments are now understood as arguments where evidence supports but does not demonstrate the claim being made, such that inference to best current explanation — contrary to a claim made earlier — is an inductive argument.

    3 –> Where also, the competition across possible explanations and the choosing of a superior one across factual adequacy [including predictive power regarding new facts], coherence and explanatory simplicity as opposed to both simplisticness and ad hoc-ery, are material considerations as to whether a given argument is “best.” IF, any given explanation is best. (That, too was explicitly pointed out as a “we may have to live with it” possibility.)

    4 –> So, the false charge of question-begging falls to the ground, per this comparative process.

    5 –> Similarly, you know or should know that the degree of warrant discussed is provisional, i.e. following Newton et al, it is understood that such reasoning is not ultimately demonstrative beyond possible correction. Thus, best CURRENT explanation.

    6 –> Which superiority of warrant, moreover, is not assessed in any metric probability space, the issue is that we have that which is well warranted per the comparative process, and is empirically reliable; also, potentially actually true. (This is where scientific theories differ from models, which can be even ludicrously false so long as they deliver useful results in a zone of tested applicability, as the “Transistor man” model of the BJT in say Horowitz and Hill shows. So soon as a theory shows itself false, it is a model and/or empirically unreliable in that zone of falsity.)

    7 –> In addition, per Avi Sion’s apt summary, it has been highlighted that we live in a world that is known to exhibit strong patterns of predictable regularity [e.g the rising of the sun, the falling of objects under gravity, the breatheability of air, the friction we rely on to walk or drive, etc etc etc . . . ], regularities that can be summed up in models, hypothesised principles, empirical laws, and explanatory theories.

    8 –> Thus, as he writes and as you have been repeatedly given but have ignored even as you pursue a tangential discussion across several threads:

    We might . . . ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms.

    Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world.

    The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.

    Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

    The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

    It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases [[of inferred generalisations; try: "we can make mistakes in inductive generalisation . . . "] that have not been found worthy of particularization to date . . . .

    If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .[[Logical and Spiritual Reflections, BK I Hume's Problems with Induction, Ch 2 The principle of induction.]

    9 –> So, the reasonable man will reckon with both our finitude and fallibility on the one hand, and the evident presence of reliable uniformities — including in many cases where randomness itself follows regular patterns [e.g. Gaussian, Binomial and Weibull distributions etc] — on the other. Hence the Newtonian premise that we accept general claims that have stood the test, subject not to unsupported contrary speculations but to correction in light of further evidence of observation and/or contradiction to known certainties, i.e. discovery of incoherence where the other claim is known true and/or of incoherence within the framework, it being accepted that A AND NOT_A is an absurdity and necessarily false.

    10 –> In this context, well-grounded scientific knowledge claims are seen as fallible but well warranted per inference to best current explanation. That is, we have here a weak form knowledge claim, with provisionality but with confidence in empirical reliability and potential — and in some cases morally certain — truthfulness. (This last, meaning that one would be irresponsible to resume the balance of evidence and reliability as misleading such that one may freely assume the falsity and ignore the claim in decisions of significant import, e.g. a court case or a case of potential tort through negligence of duties of care.)

    11 –> Now, the above may be many things, but it is not a naive inductivism or justificationism. You have set up and knocked over a strawman repeatedly, despite correction and even protest. Beyond a certain point, that sort of behaviour is not merely error but deceit. You are unfortunately, quite close to that threshold of willfully or insistently deceptive neglect of duties of care to accuracy and fairness. Continuing misrepresentation is a form of deceit.

    12 –> Now, further, I have pointed out that in discussing actual scientific progress, Popper, whose flag you fly, has been forced to suggest a concept of corroboration. Where, well tested theories are seen as “corroborated.”

    13 –> This — so far as I have gathered over the years since I first saw it — is not seen as meaning “probably true” and assignable to some specific numerical or nominal and rankable degree of probability on some scale, but in effect as tested and found empirically reliable thus reasonable to take seriously until and unless later defeated by further evidence and/or logical argument.

    14 –> So far as this has some merit, it is speaking of a kind and degree of warrant. Where I beg to differ is this: since we do live in a world full of highly reliable and in some cases morally certain inductively supported regularities and truths, there are also many cases where is IS possible to assign a position of degree of warrant on a nominal but ranked scale, or a numerical scale.

    15 –> For instance, it is morally certain that we are mortal, and that the sun will rise on the morrow, that dropped heavy objects near earth fall at an initial acceleration of 9.8 N/kg, and that if such an object is a fair die, the probability of any of its six faces coming up when it settles, is 1/6.

    16 –> Similarly, it may be seriously argued that it is well warranted that mechanical necessity, chance and/or intelligently directed choice and organising work are causal factors that we may see in action, much as when we look at the screen of an old fashioned analogue cathode ray oscilloscope we “see” an electron beam in action writing a trace across the screen. (In such a case it is silly pedantry to insist that we have never seen an electron and must treat it as an unsupported or dubious hypothesis. Tell that to the engineers who designed my personal favourite, trusty good old Tektronix 465 ‘scope. I contend — on much support — that much the same holds for the pretence that necessity, chance and choice are dubious when presented as causal factors.)

    17 –> It is in that context that I have argued that in a lot of scientific work, we deal with things that we do not or even cannot directly observe. Electrons count. Stars count. The remote past of origins counts.

    18 –> For centuries, scientists have investigated such things on traces coming from what we do not see, which are consistent with inferred best explanation causes and reliably observable characteristic effects we can more directly observe.

    19 –> So, we for instance routinely infer the composition, surface temperatures and structure as well as likely life cycle position of remote stars from various analyses of apparent brightness, peak spectral wavelength, Fraunhoffer lines, etc. [Cf. here on for my discussion at 101 level.]

    20 –> Likewise, we routinely accept inference to best explanation in light of characteristic signs, not only in looking at a deer track (cf. UD discussion here) but also in looking at signs of necessity in action [low contingency natural regularities in certain aspects of a system's behaviour -- a pendulum's swinging], chance based process [stochastically distributed contigencies -- Gaussian errors in observations] , and choice [e.g. functionally specific, complex organisation and/or information -- e.g. the text of this post].

    21 –> For telling instance, when we have a communication system and see a received apparent signal of some complexity that bears evident information, we routinely and reliably infer to intelligent message not mere lucky noise. Indeed, we actually use the diverse “signatures” of signals and noise to establish the key quality metric: signal to noise [power] ratio.

    22 –> This is the context in which information is a relevant concept and observable-measurable phenomenon, manifest in how material objects and/or wave-based signals are modulated to carry intelligent messages, which may be in analogue waves or coded representations.

    23 –> As UB has emphasised in the OP and in subsequent exchanges, such information is expressed using material representations, which manipulate forces and materials of nature intelligently. The screen on which you are most likely reading this post is a case in point, as are the various bits and pieces of electronics that back it up.

    24 –> It is reasonable to infer from such FSCO/I, that intelligence was involved and that these entities manifest information, which is observable and measurable to the point where the bit is now a common unit and term in our culture. As Mung just reminded me, Nats and Hartleys didn’t make it as these are less convenient, never mind that in the world of logarithms and math, base e logs are natural and base 10 Briggsian logs are — actually, were — overwhelmingly common. I guess the most common place to see base 10 logs in action these days is in decibel charts and log-log or log-linear plots. (Logs used to be so important that Gen Rommel memorised the log tables and used this to do all sorts of powerful analyses in his head. I don’t know if this was required in the old Imperial German Army’s cadet academies. I only happened on the case in a history book.)

    25 –> So, we are now back on track: FSCO/I is a well warranted sign of intelligent action as a material causal factor. Indeed, it is a sign of intelligence.

    26 –> So, the problem and challenge for those who object, is to actually show good evidence that FSCO/I can reasonably and routinely be produced by blind mechanical necessity and/or chance processes.

    27 –> Plainly, the concept is not incoherent and equally plainly this test has not been met — that is why we see so many weird and wonderful tangential debate tactics and talking points being used by objectors to design theory.

    28 –> That itself speaks volumes.

    KF

  395. Mung,

    Upright BiPed:

    A measured content of information is of no consequence here, only the material conditions of the transfer.

    Sorry onlooker, I don’t believe I can make it any more clear than that.

    I responded to that statement of Upright BiPed’s by asking why, if measurement is of no consequence, he uses the word “measured” in his definition.

    Nothing in his statement clarifies what he actually means by the word “information”.

    People who want their arguments to be understood define their terms clearly and answer questions to resolve confusion. Those who don’t, don’t.

  396. Upright BiPed (et al.),

    I just checked out The Skeptical Zone and see that keiths has posted an assortment of ways to make progress in this discussion. Since you seem disinclined to answer my questions, perhaps some of these alternatives will be of greater interest:

    Upright,

    You’ve now been offered four distinct ways to correct your communication failures and get your argument across to your audience:

    1. Look at my summary of your argument in the OP. If it’s accurate, tell us. If not, amend it while maintaining its concise and explicit format.

    2. Answer onlooker’s questions, so onlooker can do the work for you and recast your argument in the same concise and explicit format that I used in the OP.

    3. Get one of the “specialists” to do the work for you. You wrote:

    This argument has already been in front of specialists in relevant fields and not a single one of them asked me what I meant by anything I said. When I say that, I am not saying that I didn’t have to re-explain much, or not very much – I am saying I didn’t have to change a single word in order to be understood.

    It only took me a few minutes to come up with my summary. A “specialist” who understands your argument well should be able to do even better.

    4. Get anyone else in the world to do the work for you (as long as they have better writing skills than you). According to you, onlooker is only pretending not to understand what you’re trying to say. If your accusation is true, there must be lots of people who do understand your argument. Pick one — any one, as long as he or she has better writing skills than you — and ask him or her to summarize your argument, using the concise and explicit format of the OP.

    A reminder: You claim to have a “Semiotic Theory of ID” that applies to the protein synthesis system. Your argument must therefore lead to the conclusion that the protein synthesis system is designed. If it doesn’t lead to that conclusion, then your argument fails to support the “Semiotic Theory of ID.”

    You’ve been whining about having to answer onlooker’s questions. Okay, if you don’t like answering onlooker’s questions, then pick one of the other three options above. Everyone is watching — and waiting. Will you deliver, or will you fail again?

    I look forward to your response.

  397. wateron1

    Question for Upright and others, why is none of this or any other research guided by ID principles, presented at mainstream science conferences?

    That’s an excellent question.

    Speaking only for the argument above, I began trying to work through this issue starting in Sept 2009, and have never seen the argument articulated above until I wrote it out myself. However, the material basis of each point in the argument obviously appears in any number of peer-reviewed papers (none of it is even controversial). Since I am a Research Director in Network media, I do not produce peer-reviewed science articles. That is why this particular argument has not appeared in any journals, and subsequently is why it has not appeared as part of a conference either.

    However, to address your larger question, the answer is rather simple – mainstream peer-review journals and conference submissions are biased against data which could logically support an ID paradigm. This is not even a question, and the clues are scattered around for anyone to see. Take for instance the people who are most likely to gravitate towards the argument above – biosemioticians . Read a biosemiotician’s paper on origins and they leave no doubt whatsoever: life began with the onset of semiotic content. It is the organizing reality that life requires in order to separate itself from inanimate objects. (Thomas Sebeok; “life and semioisis are coextensive”, Jesper Hoffmeyer “the basic unit of life is the sign, not the molecule”, Marcello Barbieri “semiosis not only is a fact of life but is ‘the’ fact that allowed life to emerge from inanimate matter”, Howard Pattee “life is matter controlled by symbols”, etc, etc).

    Yet, look at the paper by Marcello Barbieri (“A Short History of Biosemiotics”) where he writes of the “new unification” of differing schools of semiotic thought stemming from their annual conference in 2004. He states that there are two postulates that forged this unification. The first postulate is that ‘semiosis appeared at the origin of life’, differentiating it from pansemiotics and physiosemiotics (which promoted semiotics in inanimate matter). And the second postulate was simply that biosemiotics will have nothing to do with ID. And if you read the literature, there is massive justification for postulate #1 and nothing whatsoever for postulate #2. It pure ideology and power control. His specific words are: “The second postulate is the idea that signs, meanings and codes are natural entities. This sharply divides biosemiotics from the doctrine of ‘intelligent design’, and from all other doctrines that maintain that the origin of life on Earth was necessarily the product of a supernatural agency.”

    Anyone truly familiar with ID will immediately notice that this postulate lumps ID in with “other doctrines”, yet ID proper does not share any commitment to “supernatural entities”. That is not within its scope. Period.

    Yet, the deal is done nonetheless. It’s as if the academy will allow these biosemioticians to go ahead and think about symbols systems and such, and they can even have their separate conferences and their own separate journals – just as long as they keep it to themselves, and swear to God they won’t lend their support to ID. And so, the fix is in. Everybody is happy, and the truth is trampled upon.

    So on one side ID has the materialist ideologues who will go to no end to bias all discussion, and on the other side are the biosemioticians who are only too happy to watch their step if it means they are given a modicum of legitimacy – even if only among themselves.

    In the end, we have three groups: one has the science wrong and assumes its conclusion, the other has the science right but assumes its conclusion, and the third has the science right and is internally prohibited from any conclusions beyond the science itself.

    - – - – - – - – - -

    By the way, you can see the practical benefits (of maintaining this enforced separation) in the comments coming from TSZ. Keith is literally in a full blown tantrum, rocking back and forth in his seat and kicking his feet. He and Onlooker act as if I myself invented biosemiosis, which is an incoherent argument with absolutely no basis in material fact. It simply cannot be allowed. You’ll also notice how the frontline scientists and researchers I have approached (i.e. Moran, Matzke, etc) have refused to get into a debate with me about it. It’s a no winner for them, and they have something to protect. They sure as hell are not going to engage in a public argument over the meaning of words like “arbitrary” and “information”. That’s beneath them. They will leave that to the internet’s bottom feeders like Patrick and Keith, who are unencumbered by the thought of appearing completely irrational.

  398. Why is it that only the anti-IDists who have tardgasms every time the word “information” is mentioned?

    How is it that these people use the intertubes, buy food, drive a car, use a phone- all of which require information- but don’t even understand what it is they are doing, ie using information?

  399. People who want their arguments to be understood define their terms clearly and answer questions to resolve confusion.

    The terms are clearly understood by anyone who A) knows how to use a dictionary (or the English language) and B) isn’t on an anti-ID agenda.

    You and the TSZ regulars appear to be both A and B. But that is because you guys are the big C, as in Cowards.

    Congratulations…

  400. keiths:

    You claim to have a “Semiotic Theory of ID” that applies to the protein synthesis system.

    It does.

    Your argument must therefore lead to the conclusion that the protein synthesis system is designed.

    It does as it fits the criteria.

    You lost, get over it already…

  401. Upright BiPed,

    Keith is literally in a full blown tantrum, rocking back and forth in his seat and kicking his feet.

    That interpretation of the comment I quoted from TSZ is no more accurate than your claims about Reciprocating Bill. keiths is giving you the courtesy of actually paying attention to what you are saying and attempting to understand it. Your choice to cast baseless aspersions in lieu of providing answers says far more about your character than his.

    They sure as hell are not going to engage in a public argument over the meaning of words like “arbitrary” and “information”.

    I’m not trying to debate your definitions, merely to get enough clarity about them so that I can understand what you are trying to convey with your argument.

    I note for the record that you have still failed to answer any of the direct questions posed to you nor have you chosen any of the other three options presented by keiths. The only conclusion that can be drawn at this point is that previously quoted from The Skeptical Zone:

    You, on the other hand, seem ashamed of your argument and afraid of what might happen if you stated it clearly and explicitly. Instead of clarifying, you obfuscate. Instead of answering questions straightforwardly, you evade them. You complain that others are misrepresenting your position, but when they ask you for correction, you refuse to give it. Then you declare victory, saying that no one has defeated your argument!

    For you, the entire exercise seems to be more about saving face than it is about communicating your ideas. In fact, you appear to be deliberately avoiding communication precisely in order to save face. Why should anyone take your argument seriously if you are so ashamed of it? Why are you afraid to communicate it in a way that your audience will actually understand?

    You are behaving exactly as one would expect you to if you lacked confidence in your ability to defend your argument and were more concerned with not being proven wrong than with finding out the truth. Is that really how you want to be perceived?

  402. Onlooker, you are just not any good at this. Allow me to explain.

    Anytime you try to flank your opposition (i.e. a move into uncontested territory; a diversion away from the strength of the position in front of you) it is 100% incumbent upon you to get your opposition to take your bait. Otherwise, your maneuver will fail. That is a tactical rule that has been well understood for about 2500 years.

    Well… I’m not taking your bait.

    You desperately need me to think “wow, my argument is just so hard to understand” that “people might think I’m afraid to clarify it”. If you could just get me to buy off on that, then I would give you your desperately-needed diversion. Your problem is that you are not even the slightest bit convincing.

    We can set aside the fact that my argument has already been vetted by specialists elsewhere; and we can set aside the fact that Barry wouldn’t have posted it here if it was incomprehensible; or that others on this forum (some of them biologists, technologists, engineers, programmers, and doctors) seem to read it correctly.

    However, the one thing we cannot set aside is that I have been watching you shoot yourself in the foot from the beginning, or that I own a dictionary.

    - – - – - – - – -

    By the way, you coming on this board and taking the 63 words of my #1 and #2 in the OP, and spending 260 words explicitly illuminating just how masterfully you could trim them down to just 23 words in a coherent statement that suits you, is not much of a demonstration of how incomprehensible the argument is. In fact, that was a rank amateur’s mistake, performed with great fanfare.

    But don’t sweat it. It was obvious you wanted to show how smart you are.

  403. onlooker:

    keiths is giving you the courtesy of actually paying attention to what you are saying and attempting to understand it.

    And his pretense is no doubt just as sincere as your own.

    Why won’t you answer the questions, onlooker?

  404. By the way, you coming on this board and taking the 63 words of my #1 and #2 in the OP, and spending 260 words explicitly illuminating just how masterfully you could trim them down to just 23 words in a coherent statement that suits you, is not much of a demonstration of how incomprehensible the argument is.

    LOL!

  405. UB wrote:

    We can set aside the fact that my argument has already been vetted by specialists elsewhere…

    Would you kindly provide links to those vettings? That should shut up the doubters. Or, at least give them something to chew on…

    Respectfully,

    Daniel

  406. Is that really how you want to be perceived?

    How we are perceived by a bunch of equivocating intellectual cowards is of no consequence.

    Upright Biped is sooooo ashamed of his argument that he posted it on how many forums? At least one of “theirs” and one of ours. And all he gets for that is total argument in minutia and semantic quibbling.

    Obviously you don’t care how you are perceived…

  407. You definitely did NOT show us any ID courage when you refused to take a stab at providing evidence for the downloading of the first “arbitrary semiotic codes” and the “onlookers” have noted that.

    That has nothing to do with ID. As I said we can determine designed or not without having to know how. And YOUR position can’t tell us the “how” of anything so obvioulsy it isn’t a requirement

    They see us asking you for mechanisms and your side providing none.

    They see I have provided several- 1- “built-in responses to environmental cues” 2- targeted search 3- designed to evolve/ evolved by design 4- front-loaded evolution

    But then again you don’t seem to understand what a mechanism is….

    And Allan, seeing that you don’t have any evidence to support your position, what would you debate if you could post here?

  408. >”That has nothing to do with ID. As I said we can determine designed or not without having to know how. And YOUR position can’t tell us the “how” of anything so obvioulsy it isn’t a requirement”<

    How true this is, how many times do we here the repetitive drum beat of, "Evolution has nothing to do with Abiogenesis"

  409. Hello Daniel,

    I should have been more explicit.

    Here is a snapshot: The ID critics have been given the argument. Their response has been to do anything whatsoever except engage the evidence. RB took the intellectual lead at TSZ and denied any need to engage the evidence because there was a supposed logical flaw in the argument. It took two months for him to concede otherwise. After his concession he was unfortunately left with the need to engage the evidence. But did he do so? No, he regressed back into the comfort of his supposed logical flaw, and summarily started the whole thing over again. Then there was Keith. Instead of engaging the evidence, he simply rewrote the argument itself, and attacked that instead. This is a move he continues to this very day. Then there was Elizabeth. Instead of attacking the evidence, she simply conceded all my points and then stood there wondering why any of this could be construed as an argument for design. The list goes on and on. Now the argument is “it just too incomprehensible to understand”. Of course, a forthcoming attack on the evidence is sincerely promised, even threatened, but only after those difficult words like “arbitrary” are understood. Give me a break. :|

    My comment above (which you referred to) is simply to say that my argument has been read and understood by many. In this instance, it doesn’t even matter if others agree with it, but only that they understood it. (which they did). So to avoid the evidence and hide behind “OMG it’s just too difficult to understand” is pure BS. And it’s in endless supply.

    As for identifying those who have read my argument, I will refrain for the specific reasons I’ve already stated.

    People are free to make of that whatever they wish. That has been the standard thus far.

  410. That has nothing to do with ID. As I said we can determine designed or not without having to know how.

    And speaking of pure BS-

    You cannot “determine X” without testing whether X is possible.

    So archaeologists rebuilt Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Puma Punku, etc using the peoples and technology of the times in which they were built?

    But I digress, we know, because we have direct observation of, that agencies can do things with nature that nature itself cannot do.

    THAT is the whole point of the design inference- we have direct observational evidence of agencies producing semiotic systems, producing CSI, producing counterflow and leaving behind signs of work.

    IOW the design infernece is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships in accordance with uniformitarianism- meaning it has been and is being tested every day.

    But then again you guys don’t seem to understand how science works because you hold to your position despite the total lack of supporting evidence because you do have a handful of promissory notes…

  411. To keiths-

    Please explain, line by line, how you came up with your “summary” of Upright Biped’s argument. IOW clarify yourself as we don’t understand your point.

    Use your “summary” line for line against this thread’s OP. That way we can understand your problem and possibly help you with it.

    That is if you are really interested in reaching an understanding…

    :razz:

  412. Are you saying we can “determine Darwinism” without testing whether “Darwinism” is possible?

    That is exactly what you have done, toronto-> you have determined darwinism without testing whether it is even possible. However that is not science, but you don’t seem to know anything about science, either.

  413. UPB:

    Then there was Elizabeth. Instead of attacking the evidence, she simply conceded all my points and then stood there wondering why any of this could be construed as an argument for design.

    MUWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    I wonder if she still thinks 100 pennies ‘contain’ 100 bits of “Shannon information.”

    Wasn’t she the one who proposed that she could demonstrate that ‘the semiotic system’ could arise with mere random variation and selection?

    The same one who later had to retract that claim?

    The same one who we were being so kind to by even allowing her to try to use ‘a darwinian process’ to bring about the very system needed for the very existence of a darwinian process?

    The same one accused on numerous occasions of intellectual dishonesty?

    And after is said and done, doesn’t know why it supports ID?

    Oh my. The NERVE. The AUDACITY. The CHUTZPAH. (In more traditional usage, chutzpah is invariably negative.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chutzpah

    The INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY!

    Do we really need to go back and review all her past attempts to argue against “the semiotic hypothesis” on the basis that it supports ID?

    And now she claoims to not know how or why it could be taken to support ID?

    OH! EM! GEE!

    For this I might even be tempted to open an account over at TSZ.

    Well, onlooker, just look at the competition you have.

  414. Please explain, line by line, how you came up with your “summary” of Upright Biped’s argument.

    And please define summary. Otherwise we won’t really be able to know for sure if what you have given truly qualifies as a summary.

    :rollseyes:

  415. In studying any complex adaptive system, we follow what happens to the information.

    Murray Gell-Mann

  416. But you Joe, have accepted design without testing whether it is possible.

    Nope, design is the only way living organisms are possible. Design is the only known process known to create semiotic systems. Design is the only way to get software into or onto hardware.

    BTW tonto, how do we know Stonehenge was possible? I gave you the answer already…

  417. UB (& Joe et al):

    We have now come full circle to why the objectors are unwilling to even accept a basic understanding of what information is, how it is expressed in material systems and how it functions in such systems, in especially communicative and cybernetic contexts.

    It would cost their deeply locked in views too much.

    So, they cannot afford to concede the obvious, even if it costs them the price of clinging to the patently absurd.

    Where the reality of information and associated functionally specific complex organisation — FSCO/I — points ever so plainly to its well-known cause.

    Yes, points.

    For, we are here dealing with inference to the best empirically grounded causal explanation of a sign.

    The logic is not that hard to follow, in the end; IF we are but willing to be led by the evidence and reasoning:

    a: We live in a technological world, in an info age, where the commonest measure of info, the bit, is a day to day familiar term. One we can look up in any dictionary, or basic book on communications theory. We know the equation, ever since Shannon & Hartley:

    I_i = – log_2 [Pi], in bits.

    b: Info systems, per Shanon et al, follow a well known pattern by which sources communicate with systems by encoding, modulating, transmitting, storing, transferring, receiving, demodulating, decoding and applying information.

    c: Systems routinely use such info to do things, ranging from control systems to PIN-controlled bank account access systems.

    d: In all of these, no observed exceptions, there is an intelligently directed organisation of material components to fulfill the requisite tasks, as we see from yesterday’s announcement of the iPHONE Gen-5 model, with Apple at nearly US$ 640 bill mkt cap and poised to zoom yet further.

    e: In short, we understand all of this, sufficiently so that Apple has moved nearly 300 billions in value over the course of a bit over a year since Mr Jobs’ passing. because hard and software products that embed FSCO/I are highly valuable properties.

    f: So, we know the sign, FSCO/I, and what it points to, cause involving IDOW, i.e. design. Where we have whole schools in our universities that teach budding engineers and computer scientists the skills, knowledge and techniques of design. (Apparently, we are being expected to shut our eyes to these massively evident facts.)

    g: Q: Why is this? A: because cell based life — shock and awe — is BASED on similar info technology, using molecular nanotech. We see storage and transfer of coded info, we see step by step algorithmic processing and informationally controlled assembly of components, we see despatch systems with addressing, we see walking trucks and highways, we see codes, thus LANGUAGE, and algorithms thus purpose and planning. And more, a veritable world of ultimate info tech, well beyond our own achievements to date, but recognisably related.

    h: The reasonable man or woman would ask: what is the observed cause of such FSCO/I, and is it analytically plausible that other ways can get there?

    i: The answers are plain: design, and per the needle in the haystack/ monkeys at keyboards type analyses, we see that it is not plausible for blind necessity and/or blind chance to create a sufficiently complex instance of such, where 500 bits of informational complexity in something that is functionally specific is a good threshold on the gamut of our solar system, and 1,000 bits for the observed cosmos.

    j: But, such is not acceptable, to the committed a priori Lewontin materialist, for that has in it unwelcome worldview level import, especially when we go up to the next level, the origins of a cosmos that is evidently fine tuned and organised form the basic physics of the cosmos for such cell based life.

    k: But, fighting on worldviews turf surrenders the rhetorical advantage of claiming “science” as your authority. So, artificial and patently specious objections are endlessly manufactured. To the point of increasingly evident absurdity.

    The latest one seems to be, circling all the way back to restart the process:

    You cannot “determine X” without testing whether X is possible . . . . But you . . . have accepted design without testing whether it is possible.

    The neat trick here is to duck addressing the relevant X.

    What is the known — massively observed — and only credible source of FSCO/I again?

    (And if you now want to suggest that FSCO/I is ill-defined, kindly explain to me what he ASCII code that is expressed in the glyphs on your computer screen as you read this is, apart from functionally specific complex organisation of components and associated information. By direct comparison, just what is it that is being expressed in the observed string data structures in D/RNA, using the genetic code to step by step assemble the proteins, the workhorse molecules of cell based life that fold to functionally specific and complex form based on that coded sequence?)

    So, if we see something that has in it the SIGN, of FSCO/I, what are we warranted to infer as best causal explanation?

    As in, “like causes like”?

    As in, the same way we infer to the composition of stars we will never be able to directly insect or make for ourselves based on the signs they exhibit and what we know about the cause of such signs?

    Plainly, you cannot have it both ways. Either inference on sign is a reasonable approach in BOTH astrophysics and explaining the origin of FSCO/I, or it is not credible for either.

    And, it is obvious that the whole edifice of origins sciences is built on the claimed reconstruction of the past on traces we see in the present and studies on what causes could give rise to those same signs. Where in many cases, the strength of association between traces and cause-sign investigations is much, much weaker. (As in, even isochrons are not nearly as reliable as are advertised, and as in there is little or no actual observational, empirical support for the idea that minor adaptations can be reasonably extrapolated into body plan level changes.)

    In short, we see double standards in warrant all over the place. Weaker or non-existent evidence based on gross extrapolation is acceptable if it fits the evo mat narrative, but not even the strongest degree of support is acceptable if it does not.

    That is neither scientific nor rational, it is ideological captivity of science, education and civilisation that we are seeing.

    It is time to wake up and leave the cave of evo mat shadow shows confused for genuine realities!

    KF

  418. tonto proves to be totally clueless:

    Here’s a cell.

    Download some “arbitrary semiotic codes” into it.

    We, humans, don’t have the ability to do that yet. But that doesn’t mean anything. Heck there are tribes of people that couldn’t figure out how to build a computer but that doesn’t mean computers are not designed.

    Do you understand what all the readers are expecting?

    Yes they are expecting you to put up or shut up. But the safe money is that you will never do either.

  419. Does Toronto understand the difference between ROM — including occasionally reprogrammable ROM — and RAM?

  420. Yet ‘naturalistic’ evolution is the accepted paradigm throughout academia – even of the sainted Genetic Code.

    And it is very noticeable that no one in academia can produce positive evidence taht supports it. Nor can they tell us how to test it.

    No-one in biology is bothered by the presence of translated protein in the protein translation system. Is that because they are ideologues, or because they are capable of recognising that plausible mechanisms can readily account for it?

    Stubborn ideologues

    aaRSs, in particular, appear to be much younger than proteins of their type. If they were fundamental, they would be expected to be among the oldest proteins.

    But blind and undirected chemical process cannot produce aaRs.

    But the real issue is evolvability, and I don’t think you have done anything to support your case that it isn’t evolvable, by virtue of arbitrariness, ‘semiosis’, proven irreducible complexity or anything else.

    Actually the real issue is the total lack of positive evidnce that it could evolve via blind and undirected processes.

  421. Kairosfocus-

    I think toronto knows about RAM and ROM as he claims to be a programmer. He wants to know the interface and the code used to program cells, not a computer.

    However it is because of the current paradigm that we do not know how to do so.

  422. Does he recognise embedded ROM when he sees it, and does he recognsie a read-off and edited control tape used to run a NC machine?

  423. Upright BiPed,

    Onlooker, you are just not any good at this.

    At getting someone who is clearly frightened of the possible results of clarifying his position to do so? I must agree based on the thread so far that I do indeed suck at that.

    Allow me to explain.

    Anytime you try to flank your opposition (i.e. a move into uncontested territory; a diversion away from the strength of the position in front of you) it is 100% incumbent upon you to get your opposition to take your bait. Otherwise, your maneuver will fail. That is a tactical rule that has been well understood for about 2500 years.

    Well… I’m not taking your bait.

    It appears that we have two very different perspectives on this discussion. I don’t see this in the martial terms you use. For me it is, or could be, more of an academic discussion. You’ve presented an argument. I don’t understand some of your terms and claims. I would like to, so I ask questions.

    Unless you know that you’re hiding something behind your impenetrable prose that you don’t want me to find, there’s no reason to think that I’m attacking you.

    I am genuinely interested in understanding your argument. I have devoted a considerable amount of my limited free time to participating here in order to do just that. Do I think that I’ll agree with it once I understand it? Probably not, but I have no way of knowing what it is you are saying or whether or not I agree unless you make your position more clear. Anyone with confidence in their position would be happy to do so.

    You desperately need me to think “wow, my argument is just so hard to understand” that “people might think I’m afraid to clarify it”. If you could just get me to buy off on that, then I would give you your desperately-needed diversion. Your problem is that you are not even the slightest bit convincing.

    Your paragraphs 3 and 4 above are nothing but word salad until you define some of your terms and rephrase some of your claims. Not even your supporters here have been able to do that for you, so clearly they don’t understand what you’re on about either.

    We can set aside the fact that my argument has already been vetted by specialists elsewhere;

    “Specialists” who you have yet to identify. That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

    and we can set aside the fact that Barry wouldn’t have posted it here if it was incomprehensible;

    You don’t want to play that card. Barry also allows kairosfocus to post.

    Joking aside, if Barry understands what you’re saying, you should ask him to provide the definitions and restatements required to communicate your meaning.

    or that others on this forum (some of them biologists, technologists, engineers, programmers, and doctors) seem to read it correctly.

    None of whom have demonstrated any ability to define your terms or clarify your claims.

    By the way, you coming on this board and taking the 63 words of my #1 and #2 in the OP, and spending 260 words explicitly illuminating just how masterfully you could trim them down to just 23 words in a coherent statement that suits you, is not much of a demonstration of how incomprehensible the argument is. In fact, that was a rank amateur’s mistake, performed with great fanfare.

    As I noted earlier, managing to extract some meaning from your first two paragraphs, with grudging help from your good self, says nothing about the clarity of the remainder of your text.

    To refresh your memory, here is exactly where I find your argument impossible to follow:

    D3. Arbitrary: ?

    This word seems important to your argument, so a precise definition is required. Does it simply mean “separate”? What does the qualifier “materially” add to “arbitrary”?

    P2. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents.

    This is where my understanding starts to break down. There are too many concepts packed into this sentence for me to parse it. By “representation of form” do you mean “information” (I am guessing at that based on D1 and D2)? What does “consequence of its own material arrangement” mean? What does “necessarily arbitrary to” mean (this may be answered when D3 is more detailed)?

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    I’m too lost at step 3 to get anything out of step 4, but what do you mean by “material component” as opposed to “arbitrary component”? What do you mean by “reducible to physical law”?

    I think you’ve got several more definitions and premises residing in steps 3 and 4. It would be most helpful to extricate them and make them explicit.

    I remain interested in reading a good faith response to these questions and in continuing this discussion with a goal of mutual understanding.

  424. Upright BiPed,

    RB took the intellectual lead at TSZ and denied any need to engage the evidence because there was a supposed logical flaw in the argument. It took two months for him to concede otherwise. After his concession he was unfortunately left with the need to engage the evidence. But did he do so? No, he regressed back into the comfort of his supposed logical flaw, and summarily started the whole thing over again.

    Anyone is free to read the exchange on The Skeptical Zone and find that this is such a gross mischaracterization of the discussion that it can only be a deliberate falsehood. Toronto recently provided a nice summary of what you are trying to do here.

    Then there was Keith. Instead of engaging the evidence, he simply rewrote the argument itself, and attacked that instead. This is a move he continues to this very day.

    Another falsehood. keiths rephrased your argument in an attempt to understand it and repeatedly asked you to either confirm that he had it right or to correct any misconceptions he may have had. You continuously refused to do so.

    Then there was Elizabeth. Instead of attacking the evidence, she simply conceded all my points and then stood there wondering why any of this could be construed as an argument for design.

    No, she accepted your definitions for the sake of argument and then asked how, even with this generous interpretation, your argument supports ID. As with keiths (and myself), you refused to answer and simply ran away from The Skeptical Zone.

    My comment above (which you referred to) is simply to say that my argument has been read and understood by many.

    This is a step back from your claim that your argument has been “in front of specialists in relevant fields”. If there are people who understand your argument and you continue to refuse to clarify it, invite one or more of those people to provide the definitions and explanations required for others to understand it.

    As for identifying those who have read my argument, I will refrain for the specific reasons I’ve already stated.

    People are free to make of that whatever they wish.

    What I make of it is that these people don’t exist. Prove me wrong.

  425. Joe: Maybe that is the problem. He is a high level software only programmer, so he does not really have a feel for programming in machine-oriented code, close to the metal. That might explain not seeming to see that object code stored as states in physical strings is code. KF

  426. Genuine onlookers,

    it seems O/L thinks he can intimidate people into revealing the identity of people who have helped, the better to target them for nasty personal attacks in the fever swamp sites and threatening their jobs. Sorry, we know all about that already.

    The evident fact is that UB has said stuff that is not particularly hard to understand, and which is in fact a commonplace of comms systems, as I have shown by inserting commentary above, last time at 283.

    Let’s pull it down:

    __________

    >> 1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc). [--> I would add, digital symbols and analogue modulation of wave forms through AM, FM, Phase Mod and pulse mod]

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter. [--> Comms systems are about the imposition of modulations to represent information; which also happens to be true in the world of life. To go from transmitter to receiver the codes, mod systems, protocols etc have to be given physical instantiation, E.G AM IS BASED ON MATHEMATICS OF MULTIPLYING SINUSOIDS AND CREATION OF SIDE BANDS AS A RESULT, BUT IS EFFECTED USING ELECTRONICS TECHNIQUES IN CIRCUITS. (And I will let the accidental caps lock stand . . . ]

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. [--> Without the contingency to make one thing stand for something else by analogue or code, we cannot communicate] And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    4. If that is true, then the presence of that representation must present a material component to the system (which is reducible to physical law), while its arrangement presents an arbitrary component to the system (which is not reducible to physical law).

    5. If that is true, and again it surely must be, then there has to be something else which establishes the otherwise non-existent relationship between the representation and the effect it evokes within the system. [--> We design comms systems, and the protocols or conventions involved are not driven by deterministic physical forces or by chance but by intelligent choice] In fact, this is the material basis of Francis Crick’s famous ‘adapter hypothesis’ in DNA, which lead to a revolution in the biological sciences. In a material universe, that something else must be a second arrangement of matter; coordinated to the first arrangement as well as to the effect it evokes. [--> For a receiver to work, there must be a transmitter]

    6. It then also follows that this second arrangement must produce its unambiguous function, not from the mere presence of the representation, but from its arrangement. It is the arbitrary component of the representation which produces the function. [--> Transmitters and receivers are planned together to match under protocols]

    7. And if those observations are true, then in order to actually transfer recorded information, two discrete arrangements of matter are inherently required by the process [ --> TX and RX] ; and both of these objects must necessarily have a quality that extends beyond their mere material make-up. [--> The impressed design] The first is a representation and the second is a protocol (a systematic, operational rule instantiated in matter) and together they function as a formal system. [--> Yes] They are the irreducible complex core which is fundamentally required in order to transfer recorded information.

    Next time you use a PC on the web using TCP/IP (= “Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP)”), think about it. Same for the Global System for Mobile Telephony (GSM) etc. >>
    __________

    UB has not spoken in the terms that a technical t/comms person would use, but he has highlighted certain features of telecomms systems that are relevant to the question.

    KF

  427. kairosfocus,

    it seems O/L thinks he can intimidate people into revealing the identity of people who have helped, the better to target them for nasty personal attacks in the fever swamp sites and threatening their jobs.

    That’s quite an unwarranted leap you made there, dear. I don’t care who can provide clarity around Upright BiPed’s argument and I don’t care what pseudonym they may choose to post under. I just want to understand what he’s trying to convey.

    Perhaps you can help. Here are the current open issues preventing me
    from getting past his paragraph 3:

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?
    - What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?
    - Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.
    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

    Thanks!

  428. PS: Wiki has a reasonable 101 on AM, here. See the way the above is carried out technically. Notice how in plate mod [a very simple case], in effect the Audio is used to vary the amplitude of the power supply, which is physically equivalent to the multiplication of wave forms, per the analysis. Observe how side-bands emerge through sum and difference frequency effects.

  429. PPS: On the detection end, a good example is the diode feeding a cap to detect envelope on half wave rectification. This can even be effected with dissimilar materials contact so we have cases of a long fence with an earphone to GND detecting AM.

  430. Onlooker,

    Toronto recently provided a nice summary of what you are trying to do here.

    Toronto says that the act of handing someone a book “transfers information”. Forgive me for not following what Toronto says.

    keiths rephrased your argument in an attempt to understand it and repeatedly asked you to either confirm that he had it right or to correct any misconceptions he may have had. You continuously refused to do so.

    I responded directly to Keith immediately after he provided his revamp. He has yet to even mention that response, much less respond to it. You think otherwise? Post the link.

    [Elizabeth] accepted your definitions for the sake of argument and then asked how, even with this generous interpretation, your argument supports ID.

    She did far more than just accept definitions:

    UB: 1) In this material universe, is it even conceivably possible to record transferable information without utilizing an arrangement of matter in order to represent that information? (by what other means could it be done?)

    EL: No

    UB: 2) If 1 is true, then is it even conceivably possible to transfer that information without a second arrangement of matter (a protocol) to establish the relationship between representation and what it represents? (how could such a relationship be established in any other way?)

    EL: No

    UB: If 1 and 2 are true, then is it even conceivably possible to functionally transfer information without the irreducibly complex system of these two arrangements of matter (representations and protocols) in operation?

    EL: I don’t see why such an arrangement should be “irreducibly complex”.

    lol

  431. Onlooker,

    I remain interested in reading a good faith response to these questions and in continuing this discussion with a goal of mutual understanding.

    Okay. You say you do not understand my use of the phrase “materially arbitrary”. I used a legitimate example of “materially arbitrary” in order to convey my use of the phrase.

    So is the effect - which will not even exist until tomorrow - also the arrangement of matter in your pocket today, or are the necessarily not the same thing?

  432. - How exactly can information be measured?

    By counting the number of bits

    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?

    It isn’t his definition. He uses the standard and accepted definition. And bits are still the standard units

    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?

    Absolutely, but you don’t appear to know any of the standard defintions. So it is going to be impossible to communicate any ideas with you.

    – What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?

    The same as all the dictionaries. But you coukld try plugging in “not determined by law/ necessity”

    – Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.

    Why is it that only evos on an agenda cannot understand that?

    – What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

    Why the difficulty with the English language?

    Do you really think that you are fooling objective onlookers?

  433. Upright BiPed,

    Okay. You say you do not understand my use of the phrase “materially arbitrary”. I used a legitimate example of “materially arbitrary” in order to convey my use of the phrase.

    So is the effect – which will not even exist until tomorrow – also the arrangement of matter in your pocket today, or are the necessarily not the same thing?

    People interested in being understood do not use evasive rhetorical tactics like answering questions with questions. Here again are the open issues preventing me from understanding your paragraph 3:

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?
    - What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?
    - Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.
    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

    Please demonstrate your interest in actually communicating by directly addressing these straightforwardly presented points.

  434. toronto:

    Here is your problem in a nut-shell.

    petrushka: “Other than an omniscient god, what designer has the index to the Library of Babel? The one that stores all the emergent properties of all possible molecules? “

    petrushka’s strawman is my problem?

    Toronto- seeing that your position cannot answer anything it is very cowardly of you to expect ID to have all the answers before it can be considered scientific. The FACT that we don’t have all the answers proves that the design inference is far from being a dead-end.

    BTW guys, if God did do it then science has to deal with that as science only cares about reality. Newton saw science as a way of understanding God’s Creation. And when it comes to science I will take what Newton said over what evos say.

  435. People interested in being understood do not use evasive rhetorical tactics like answering questions with questions.

    And people interested in understanding don’t act like belligerent little children who can’t even read a dictionary. Yet here you are claiming that you are interested in understanding and acting like a belligerent little child who cannot read a dictionary.

    And as I said seeing that you do not understand the definition of information communicating with you would be impossible as communication invloves the transfer of information.

  436. Onlooker at 434,

    You asked what I meant by the phrase “materially arbitrary.”

    I provided an example of “materially arbitrary” exactly as I have used the term. This is an entirely legitimate manner in which to communicate ideas. Graphs, visualizations, thought experiments, pictures, charts, etc, etc, are all ubiquitous in the explanation of concepts, and are foundational in the intellectual communication of human beings.

    You respond thus:

    People interested in being understood do not use evasive rhetorical tactics like answering questions with questions.

    The crux of the situation then becomes immediately apparent: Is your claim of “evasion” valid? This is a question which can be answered by the evidence.

    You began by asking about a specific thing. If I then provide an example as a means to communicate that specific thing, but it turns out that the example I provided has nothing whatsoever to do with it, then that example is invalid. It may even be presumed to be an evasion of the topic.

    On the other hand, if that example clearly illustrates the specific thing you asked about, then that example is not only ‘not an evasion’, but is instead an entirely valid attempt to communicate the specific thing which you asked about.

    You may now support your claim that my example is “evasive” by stating exactly why the example I provided has nothing whatsoever to do with the specific thing you asked about. Or, you can repeat the claim without justification, in which case you run the risk of being labeled evasive yourself. Or you can change the topic away from your claim, which will then demonstrate that your claim was either unwarranted or (itself) evasive. Or you can answer the question posed by the example and we can move on to address how that demonstrates “materially arbitrary” (i.e. the specific thing you asked about).

    It’s your choice.

  437. By the way Onlooker, you keep saying that I have not responded to Keith’s revamp of my argument. I have already posted a link (249 comments ago) to where I responded immediately after he posted it. The fact is that Keith has never directly responded to my post, yet, you keep right on saying that I have not responded.

    So, in #431 I asked you to post the link to Keith’s specific response to my rejoinder.

    Are you planning on posting the link, or will this be the last we hear of how I haven’t responded to Keith?

  438. Upright Biped,

    Thank you for your kind reply @410.

    You said there, in response to my request for examples of “vettings” of your argument by “specialists” :

    My comment above (which you referred to) is simply to say that my argument has been read and understood by many. In this instance, it doesn’t even matter if others agree with it, but only that they understood it. (which they did). So to avoid the evidence and hide behind “OMG it’s just too difficult to understand” is pure BS. And it’s in endless supply.

    I’m sorry to tell you that I’m disappointed by your response. I thought that “vetting” meant endorsement of the argument and that “specialist” meant a person with special expertise in a field of science.

    I don’t want to distract you, but if you have the time and the interest, I think it might have more impact on the general public if you could indicate what kind of specialists you were citing and what they said. I, for one, would much appreciate clarification by you.

    As always,

    Daniel

  439. onlooker:

    For me it is, or could be, more of an academic discussion. You’ve presented an argument. I don’t understand some of your terms and claims. I would like to, so I ask questions.

    But won’t answer any questions yourself. Some discussion.

    I am genuinely interested in understanding your argument.

    That sure rings hollow. Let me suggest that you begin to act in accordance with your words.

    Probably not, but I have no way of knowing what it is you are saying or whether or not I agree unless you make your position more clear. Anyone with confidence in their position would be happy to do so.

    Anyone? Then why aren’t you willing to clarify your own position?

    Perhaps if you were willing to discuss your own understanding of the terms involved there could be some progress.

    But you won’t. Which makes you a fraud.

    Your paragraphs 3 and 4 above are nothing but word salad until you define some of your terms and rephrase some of your claims. Not even your supporters here have been able to do that for you, so clearly they don’t understand what you’re on about either.

    Most of us understand the terms just fine and see no reason to change them. It has nothing to do with some perceived inability on our part to understand. So what’s your problem?

    I remain interested in reading a good faith response to these questions and in continuing this discussion with a goal of mutual understanding.

    You sure don’t act like it.

    People interested in being understood do not use evasive rhetorical tactics like answering questions with questions.

    Actually, they do. That is one of my favored ways to teach and it has a long and distinguished history.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maieutics

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method

    I need to do a cut and paste from those articles. Loads of good material.

    But here’s just a taste:

    Maieutics is a pedagogical method based on the idea that the truth is latent in the mind of every human being due to innate reason but has to be “given birth” by answering intelligently proposed questions (or problems).

    Test:

    In maieutics, who is doing the asking and who is doing the answering? Is the “giving birth” taking place in the mind of the student or of the teacher?

    So now what’s your next excuse?

  440. Daniel,

    The basic objection being put forth is that the argument, as stated, includes terms that onlooker doesn’t want to understand. Upright BiPed indicates many others have read and understood, and in fact we have plenty of evidence of that right here in this thread.

    Onlooker’s failure understand is indicative of the fact that she does indeed understand the argument, and just doesn’t like where it leads.

    Which makes your intrusion nothing more than a Red Herring.

    So frankly your disappointment can’t be laid upon Upright BiPed, it’s your own fault. This is particularly true in the face of Upright BiPed’s own earlier indications that he wasn’t going to go off on these wild goose chases.

    I’m sure not going to blame him if he chooses not to contradict himself now just to satisfy your misguided curiosity.

  441. Mung,

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    It seems to me that Upright Biped can speak for himself.

  442. 443
    critical rationalist

    UB: So is the effect – which will not even exist until tomorrow – also the arrangement of matter in your pocket today, or are the necessarily not the same thing?

    The transformation of matter – which will not occur until tomorrow – does occur then because the knowledge of how to perform that transformation, which is currently in your pocket, will be present there tomorrow – in the genome.

    Again…

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    [...]

    [So], Every conceivable transformation of matter is either impossible because of the laws of physics or achievable if the right knowledge is present. This dichotomy is entailed in the scientific world view.
    If there was some transformation of matter that was not possible regardless of how much knowledge was brought to bare, this would be a testable regularity in nature. That is, we would predict whenever that transformation was attempted, it would fail to occur. This itself would be a law of physics, which would be a contradiction.

    So, the universe is explicable. At which point, I do not see how this is a problem for Darwinism.

    To think otherwise only leads to bad explanations.

    … if we really do reside in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. Any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above (this realm supposedly effects us), this also means there can be no better expiation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well.

    Once you admit the existence of a realm where some inexplicable being can reach into our material bubble via some inexplicable means using some inexplicable method, one could appeal to the idea that any experience merely appears explicable, but is actually not.

    In other words, our everyday experience in this bubble would only appear explicable if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions. Note this bares a strong resemblance to a pre-scientific perspective with its distinction between an Earth designed for human beings and a heaven that is beyond human comprehension.

  443. 444
    critical rationalist

    KF,

    You have yet to respond to the folloiwng…

    We seem to agree observations cannot be used to conform theories. However, you do seem think that observations can make a theory more probable. But this assumption is highly parochial, as it doesn’t take into account the different kinds of unknowability.

    The first kind of unknowability are scenarios where the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable.

    On the other hand, any piece of evidence is compatible with many theories (see above) This includes an infinite number of theories that have yet to be proposed. You cannot assign probabilities to un-conceived theories, because those probabilities would be based on the details of a yet to be conceived theory. In addition, scenarios that depend on the creation of knowledge represent a different kind of unknowability, despite being deterministic. For example, people in 1900 didn’t consider nuclear power or the internet unlikely. They didn’t conceive of them at all. As such, it’s unclear how they could have factored their impact into some sort of probability calculation about the future.

    As such, in the face of this kind of unknowability, probability is invalid as a means of criticizing explanations, despite what our intuition might tell us.

    Furthermore, inductivism doesn’t tell us what we should observe or why those observations are relevant because all we have are observations at the outset. Until we devise a test, we do not know what observations to make. And without at least one theory, we have no way to devise a test that might result in observations that conflict with that particular theory. If initial observations did tell us what test would actually conflict with a theory, there would be no need to devise a test in the first place.

    For example, the evidence that collaborated Newton’s laws of motion has been falling on the earth’s surface for billions of years, which is far longer than the entirety of human inhabitance. Yet, we only got around to testing them about 300 years ago after Newton conjectured his theory. As such, it’s not evidence that is scarce, but good explanations for that evidence. And we can say the same about all other phenomena.

    So, we should look for explanations, not justification. Good explanations solve problems and allow us to make progress. When criticizing theories, we look for observations that can be better explained by one theory, rather than another. And we take into account all of our other current, best explanations for the purpose of criticism. Arguments that do not take them into account are parochial – which is narrow in scope.

    Most relevant in our discussion here, the objection that “idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism because it applies to all ideas.

  444. 445
    critical rationalist

    Contrast you’re conception of human knowledge with the following…

    In that spirit, I’ll attempt to further clarify the difference between these two forms of epistemology.

    Critical Rationalism

    - We notice a problem.
    - We propose solutions to the problem
    - Since proposed solutions are essentally guesses about what is out there in reality, we…
    - Criticize the theory for internal consistency. Solutions that are internally inconsistent are discarded.
    - Criticize the theory by taking it seriously, in that we assume it’s true in reality and that all (empirical) observations should conform to them, *for the purpose of rational criticism*. “All observations” reflects all of our current, best solutions to other problems, which are themselves conjecture that have survived criticism.
    - This process continues until only one proposed solution is left, rather than positively supporting one particular theory.

    - The process starts all over again we notice another problem, such as new observations that conflict with our remaining proposed solution.

    Observations are themselves based on theories. So, when a new observation conflicts with a deep, hard to vary explanation, one form of criticism is to criticize the theory behind the new observations by conjecturing a theory why those observations might be wrong, then criticizing that theory as well.

    An example of this is OPERA’s observations of faster than light neutrinos, which conflicted with Einstein’s special relativity (SR). These results didn’t tell us anything, one way or the other, as we had yet to devise a good explanation for the observations, such as we have for microscopes. In the absence of a good explanation, we had no way to criticize these observations. (For example, in the case of microscopes, the samples could have been prepared incorrectly or mislabeled. This is part of the hard to vary explanation as to why microscopes tell us something about reality.) So, observations are neutral (in the sense you’re referring to) without good explanations. As such, they could not falsify SR. Eventually OPERA did come up with an explanation for the observations: an improperly attached fiber optic cable and a clock oscillator ticking to fast. SR lives on to be criticized another day.

    If one assumes microscopes return accurate results merely because “some abstract designer with no defined limitations wants them to”, we have no way of criticizing the resulting observations, as the explanation for the results could be easily varied. For example, you might put the wrong sample under the lens or replace the lens with a penny, but an abstract designer with no limitations could still display the right sample because “thats what the designer wanted”.

    Nor is it clear how appending,”because some abstract designer with no defined limitations wanted them to play those roles” to our current, long chain of independently formed, hard to vary explanations as to why microscopes return accurate results, adds to the explanation or is even desirable in regards to actually solving the problem.

    For example, would you start discarding observations from microscopes if this addition was absent, but the long chain of independently formed, hard to vary explanations remained? Would this stop us from making progress?

  445. 446
    critical rationalist

    CR: [KF and I] seem to agree observations cannot be used to [confirm] theories.

    That being said, feel free to deny that you think knowledge is justified by authoritative sources, which shares the same flaw as inductivism.

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    If my assessment is wrong, then please point out where, along with how your view differs. Please be specific.

  446. CR: You have been sufficiently answered for the moment, and have already been corrected for putting up and knocking over strawmen. when you can show me that you can accurately represent those with whom you differ, then perhaps a dialogue will be possible. In the meanwhile, you need to learn the difference between citing antecedents to acknowledge an intellectual debt and making a blind appeal to authority. When you learn to do so and to address issues on the merits rather than strawman caricatures, progress will be possible. Meanwhile, when it suits me, I will lay out the posterchild errors you are making, in more detail than this outline. KF

  447. PS: I have very explicitly pointed out how observations, per logic of induction, provide support for models, hypotheses and theories. This is certainly a form of confirmation, though it does not fit your strawman inductivist who sees confirmations as equivalent to deductive proofs from undeniable axioms. if Newton, 300+ years ago, as I explicitly cited, does not fit the strawman, shouldn’t that tell you something is wrong with the picture you are painting?

  448. Daniel:

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    You and onlooker both seem to have issues understanding plain English. The rest of us are lowering our expectations for the two of you, that’s for sure.

    Do you know what a Red Herring is? Hopefully you’ll not respond that answering you with a question is evasive, or that what your understanding of a Red Herring is is irrelevant.

    Why is it the only people here who are truly interested in discussing the OP are the pro ID crowd?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if onlooker’s posts about what is going on or has gone on over at TSZ are outnumbering the number of posts she’s made relative to the OP now.

    Anything but the issue at hand.

    Keep it up.

    But let me educate you just a tad:

    Upright BiPed:

    The actual content of my argument doesn’t really matter; instead, you want me to address something else entirely…

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-431007

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-431008

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-431064

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432501

    Upright BiPed:

    Anytime you try to flank your opposition (i.e. a move into uncontested territory; a diversion away from the strength of the position in front of you) it is 100% incumbent upon you to get your opposition to take your bait. Otherwise, your maneuver will fail. That is a tactical rule that has been well understood for about 2500 years.

    Well… I’m not taking your bait.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-433117

  449. Now here’s an interesting sequence of posts:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432511

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432577

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432616

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432796

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-432953

    Looks like onlooker is just a big fraud.

    As we can see, no real interest in discussion or understanding the argument.


  450. “Toronto- seeing that your position cannot answer anything it is very cowardly of you to expect ID to have all the answers before it can be considered scientific.”

    tonto:

    I expect your side to be looking for answers but the response is always, “Once design is implied, we don’t need mechanisms”.

    Strange that you don’t expect your side to be looking for answers, but the response is always “Eons of time cannot be reproduced in a lab and all we have is eons of time to hide behind. Oh and a bunch of promissory notes”

    Your first problem is, how do we know what to load?

    So now my first problem is another strawman? We don’t know what to load and we don’t know how to load it. That is why Venter had to use every thing else in an existing cell and just inserted synthesized DNA.

    As for the designer, well, the designer would know the what and how just as computer designers know the what to load and how to load it to get computers to function-> they designed them.

  451. Ah, more hilarity! People trying to make the reality work like their metaphor. Transcription/translation is a ‘program’? Downloadable and everything? Not just like a program? The filling in my latest chuckle sandwich.

    Sez the guy who thinks all of this is just the result of a bunch of accidents and that an untestable position is scientific.

    Why is it that artificial ribosomes do NOT function? If their functionality was the result of their physical and chemical components then artificial ribosomes should function just as the ribosomes found inside living organisms.

    Artificial ribosomes are lacking the programming required by compilers to function.

  452. Joe:

    It looks like Toronto is willfully refusing to see the obvious that can be found all over Youtube etc or in any reasonable educational text.

    Protein synthesis, by:

    a: transcription and editing mRNA,

    b: transfer of same,

    c: insertion into the ribosome from the start end,

    d: subsequent chained assembly of an AA sequence string on the codon sequence and termination then

    e: folding and despatch [Golgi post office and kinesin walking trucks on cellular highways),

    . . . are obviously deeply embedded with step by step, purposeful, finite, goal directed processes using coded, symbolic digital information -- thus protocols for symbols and rules for their use -- and string data structures.

    In short, algorithms are at work.

    Next, programming uses coding of algorithms that access info held in relevant physical/logical data structures.

    Which is what we are seeing, in an obvious embedded processing system that uses the Ribosome as a tape-controlled NC machine.

    And BTW, the loaded tRNA's that convey the AA's to the ribosome as assembly site are mobile, position-arm robots with AA-loaded CCA tool tips, per Drexler's discussion. (We need to be able to recognise position-arm systems, e.g. a bird's head, beak and neck are just that. Notice, how they build nests. And, in the old days, a lot of people used their mouths as clamps in doing work. In fact, well known quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada uses her mouth to draw/paint.)

    This is not dismissible analogy, it is highly recognisable instantiation.

    I guess Toronto does not know that in von Neumann's kinematic self replicator, info was to be coded in prongs, similar in the end to those on a Yale lock type key, which is a mechanical implementation of a password.

    In the end, the evident desperation to avoid the obvious is the dead giveaway.

    These objectors are ever so eager not to see what is in front of them because it is a threat to their comfortable ideology. That is why the red herrings, the ad hominem laced strawman tactics, the projections of demonisation, the just outright abuse. The clinging to the patently absurd.

    Those are threat reactions.

    What is so threatening?

    Obvious, the unwelcome shadow of the notorious Divine Foot drawing close to the door of their evolutionary materialist clubhouse that so proudly flies the false flag of "science."

    Certainly, that is what Lewontin said in almost so many words.

    And it certainly comes out behind the angry God-judging rhetoric of Dawkins and other so-called New Atheists.

    It plainly comes out in the demand to substitute license for liberty -- notice, how ever so many of us don't even know the difference and find this use of the word license strange and unfamiliar? [No prizes for guessing why . . . ] — that is leading our civilisation over the cliff into the abyss of chaos that invites tyranny on the hope of restoring order.

    And so forth.

    It is time to wake up and come out of the cave of materialist shadow-shows and the intoxicating smoke of burning ad hominem soaked strawmen confused for reality.

    KF

  453. Joe:

    I have a draft speech to follow up on, but could not resist this:

    the [Darwinist/Evolutionary materialist] response is always “Eons of time cannot be reproduced in a lab and all we have is eons of time to hide behind. Oh and a bunch of promissory notes”

    This brings to front-centre, the issue of the unobservable in science I headlined yesterday with the classic Tek 465 CRO as an illustration of how we infer to the unobserved in science per inductive warrant. (Which surfaces the pivotal importance of that syllabus of 18 Q’s.)

    Electronics is built on the electron, which is accepted as very real, even a fact of day to day life, though unobserved or even unobservable. We simply see too many convergent effects that cry out for the electron as common cause.

    We are as a result morally certain of its reality, though what we actually see are things like little drops of oil in a Millikan oil drop exercise, drifting up/down as we try to balance the voltage against gravity. (I well recall my own frustrations working with a lab set for replicating that classic exercise!) Or, we may see curlicues of bubbles in a bubble chamber or droplets of cloud in a cloud chamber, or of course the trace on a CRO’s phosphor screen.

    The inferred, convergent, best explanation is the electron.

    Never yet directly seen, and probably never will be, but an accepted fact of life from its effects.

    Let’s clip someone politically incorrect on that sort of thinking:

    Jn 3:3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

    3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]”

    4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

    5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

    10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[d] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.[e]

    16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him . . . 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h][NIV, cf here on in context and here on in context for a 101 look at some of the warranting context]

    Uh huh, believing in the invisible can make a lot of good sense, to those willing to be docile — teachable — before the evidence. No promises for the willfully defiant who will resort to selectively hyperskeptical objections and cling to any absurdity to protect a cherished materialism proudly flying the false flag of science. (And denizens of TSZ et al, that is an exercise of the right of fair comment on responsible investigation.)

    In science, too, we often need to assess the reality of the unobserved.

    As I have repeatedly pointed out, where that addresses something like origins, that is done by inference to best current explanation in light of traces of the unobserved and cause-effect patterns and characteristic signs we can and do observe in the present. Where, if we know that per repeated experiment a certain causal factor reliably leaves certain characteristic signs, then it is reasonable to infer from sign to associated cause per that body of investigation. I have long used the case of inferring deer from deer tracks as an illustrative case on the logic involved.

    What happens, as was already discussed, is that the living cell is full of FSCO/I, which is a characteristic trace of IDOW, i.e. design. So, if we see FSCO/I, we are properly entitled to infer to design as cause, given what we observe and what we can see on the needle in the haystack analysis.

    The verbal stunts and rhetorical gymnastics we have seen for years form those disinclined to accept so simple a pattern of thought, and the number of spurious counter-examples put forth tell us that the inference is obviously cogent and well warranted.

    Why it is controversial is not because it is well warranted, but because it is cutting clean across an entrenched ideology that likes to dress up in a lab coat and loves to fly the flag of science, evolutionary materialism, for descriptive convenience. (And yes, TSZ, that is just a descriptive term, and accurate one.)

    So, it is time for some serious rethinking that requires leaving the materialist cave of shadow shows and clearing he mind from the poisonous influences of the smoke of burning ad hominem laced strawmen.

    KF

  454. This is great, when reality refutes your position just deny reality:

    I’d say that if you have an ‘artificial ribosome’ and it does not function, you probably do not have an artificial ribosome. You have a piece of RNA. A non-functioning artificial ribosome is much like my artificial heart made of lettuce, my sundial with the ice gnomon and my sand car. It does not become what you say it is just because you say it.

    I will go with the scientists who said they created an artificial ribosome that doesn’t function over an obvious ideologue who doesn’t have a clue.

    It’s not ‘programming’ that is lacking, it is the correct molecular configuration to perform ribosome function.

    Then I take it you will be joining their labs and setting them straight. Ya see they claim to have the correct molecular configuration. But I am sure you know better than all of those scientists.

    Chemistry is not programming. Programming, meanwhile, is not chemistry.

    True but living organisms are more than just chemistry. There is something directing the chemistry and that something is programming.

  455. Upright BiPed,

    You began by asking about a specific thing.

    No, I asked what you meant by a specific term. I asked for a definition. Examples are well and good, but a precise definition is required for the kind of argument that you are attempting to construct. If your argument is at all coherent, you must have a particular meaning in mind for the words and terms you use. I would like to know that meaning in order to understand your argument.

    If you are using a particular dictionary definition, please just point to it. If you are using your own definition specific to your argument, please state it as a dictionary definition.

    This really shouldn’t be so hard for someone interested in communicating their views. You are still not behaving like that is your goal.

    Here are the open issues again for your convenience. A clear, coherent, direct response would be greatly appreciated.

    - How exactly can information be measured?
    - Does information, by your definition, have standard units?
    - Does your definition correspond to any standard definitions?
    - What is your precise definition of “arbitrary”?
    - Please restate your premise “If there is an arrangement of matter that constitutes information, that arrangement is necessarily arbitrary to the thing to which the information refers.” to clarify exactly what you are trying to communicate.
    - What does “necessarily arbitrary” mean in that premise?

  456. 457<